2012-10-25, 03:47 PM (ISO 8601)
Colossus in the Playground
Re: Aether from the Ashes: Etherworld Second Edition
Appendix 1: Rule notes
Magic in the Aether
Many of the most powerful magical effects known in other campaign settings do not work or only work with difficulty in the Aether. With the loss of the ethereal and outer planes, spells and items that accessed them have lost their power as well. What follows are a few suggestions and guidelines for dungeon masters to decide which magics would fall under this rule, and how they could be adjusted.
Summoning and calling: Of course, creatures from the outer planes, especially outsiders, can not be called to the Aether, even if they still exist. This limits the lists of most summoning spells, and especially calling spells such as Planar Binding and Planar Ally. These spells can instead be used to call Elementals or Genies and other outsiders of the elemental planes for service.
Transportation spells: Most transportation spells work by accessing the astral plane and as such no longer work in the Aether.
Especially the long-distance Teleportation range of spells have the additional problem that they go against one of the fundamental setting premises of Aetherworld, that travel should be arduous and time-consuming even with aetherships and should therefore be disallowed.
Traveling via the Shadow Plane, as with the shadow walk spell, still works, both from the perspective of the Shadow Plane still existing, and under the premise of difficult travel, though the dungeon master may wish to include additional dangers of the Shadow Plane on such journeys.
Short-distance teleportation such as dimension door might be disallowed, or it might be explained as working via the strange pathways of the Deep Ethereal, such as the Nathri use for their Ways.
Ethereal Spells: Spells and abilities such as Ethereal Jaunt or the Ninja class that make a creature ethereal of course no longer work on the Ethereal Plane, where everything is already ethereal. These might instead turn a creature incorporeal, or they might simply not work.
Extraplanar and nonplanar space: Extraplanar space is often explained as being on the Astral Plane, which lies outside of conventional reality. With the destruction of the Astral, such space likely does no longer exist. This would make spells such as the Mage's [Building] line and bags of holding impossible. Alternatively, these might be ruled as accessing tiny, specialised ethereal demiplanes that are temporarily created for the needs of the spell or item.
Contacting the Gods or Outer Planar entities: Since the gods and various outer planar entities likely no longer exist or at least can't be reached, they can not be contacted by Contact Other Plane and similar spells. Such entities might contact creatures of similar power such as the Archomentals or Genie Lords (which however do not have knowledge even remotely approaching the week-long foreknowledge of the gods) or they might simply be disallowed.
Alignment-bound Magic: The outer planes are the planes of alignments and faith. With their destruction, the gods and most of alignment based magic would be gone. Spells such as Detect [Alignment], Magic Circles against [Alignment] and spells which deal aligned damage might be removed from the game, or they might be explained as being simply powered by the personal beliefs of the user, in which case they might be limited to divine casters.
Knowledge (and Heal)
Since Etherworld is set in a world that fundamentally differs from many of the assumptions of a “normal” campaign setting, in that it is not set on the Prime Material Plane and, indeed, much of the planar architecture is fundamentally changed, it is suggested that Knowledge categories might likewise be changed to reflect this change in focus.
A change in the application of the Knowledge Skill to identify monsters should likewise be considered. A scholar would not study an entire type of creatures, as they would often be quite diverse, but creatures from one location. What follows is a list of suggested knowledge categories and which creatures types would fit into them.
Core Worlds: The Core Worlds, their geography, natural phenomena, history, laws, customs politics and
isations, such as those described above.
Outer Worlds: Border Worlds and Open Worlds, their geography, natural phenomena, laws, customs and resources, tales and legends about worlds outside the Guild Sphere.
The Aether: The Elemental Aether, Open Ethereal and Border Ethereal, its inhabitants (such as the Nathri, the Mistborn and various monsters) and their customs, Ethereal phenomena such as cyclones. +2 synergy bonus to Navigation and Survival in the Aether. Most Undead would belong in here.
Elemental Planes: The layout and creatures of the elemental planes and the politics associated with them. Creatures of the Elemental Type, and Outsiders hailing from the Elemental Planes such as the Genies.
Arcane: Magical rituals and items, magical institutions and traditions, magical signs, sigils and ingredients, creatures created by magic such as constructs, or embodying magic such as dragons or magical beasts, undead created by magic.
Technical: Maintenance, development and use of alchemical items and mechanical constructions employed by the Guild and various other organisations, as well as engineering, architecture and related subjects.
Religion: Knowledge on not only the large religions, which are also covered by knowledge: Core Worlds, but about the religions of the Old Material and the Outer Gods, the small cults of all kinds that spring up all over the Core and Border Worlds constantly, their practices, symbols and famous practitioners. General theological theory. The identification of non-elemental outsiders and Small Gods, divine magic.
Esoterical: Knowledge of the strangest phenomena known in the Aether: power sources such as Incarnum, Pact Magic or Psionics, the Plane of Shadows, the Dreamscape, the Prime Material and the Outer Planes. The Fey, Aberrations and Oozes.
Medicine: Also serves as the Heal skill. How to cure various injuries and sicknesses, information about rare diseases and how to cure them. Humanoids, Monstrous Humanoids and Giants.
Natural: The rare and strange study of how things act when no magic is involved with them directly. Subjects such as Geology, Botany and nonmagical Physics. Animals, plants and Vermin.
A note on Mortal Races
I have taken some effort to avoid naming any mortal races in the entries on the core worlds. While I have some personal ideas on which planes correspond to which races, race is ultimately not as important in this setting as personal power, political allegiance and core or border origin, and the GM is encouraged to put in whatever races they and their players would like to play and encounter.
There are a few exceptions, such as the notes on the Faceless and the Asha'im suggesting changelings and warforged, respectively, and the Traitor of Caligo being explicitly called a Sahuagin. Even those, however, can easily be changed by the DM to whatever they see as a fit replacement: the traitor can be of any aquatic race, I merely like the look and flavour of the Sahuagin.
Appendix 2: New Rules
Distilled Life, or Vis Vitae, is, quite simply, life in a bottle. The oily solution is filled with so much positive energy that it takes on a faint golden-green glow. It functions in an identical fashion to a potion of Cure Light Wounds, except that it is entirely nonmagical.
To create: Craft: Alchemy DC 25
Market Price: 75 Gold Pieces
Everbright, or as the scholars call it, Distilled Luminiferous Aether is a weightless, invisible and intangible material that permeates all things that are translucent, forming the medium which waves of light use to travel through the air. The name is perhaps ill-chosen, as the material is not related in any way directly to the Aether, the mists or protoplasm. It is ubiquitous in nature, but exhibits interesting properties when distilled: when a strong light source falls upon it just before it is bottled in a light-proof container, the light is stored within.
Everbright is used to transport light to dark places, where it is allowed to escape slowly. Most commonly, the light of magically bright sources is stored in this way, but coloured light has also been used for various measures. The typical Everbright flask works as a normal bull's eye lantern except that it can store up to four hours of light while weighing only half a pound. If the light of a magical source such as a daylight spell or Ashaton's sun is stored, the light becomes twice as bright, and affects those in its radius as a daylight spell. The lanterns are fashioned in a way that lets the Aether escape only slowly, so that the lantern can be refilled by simply exposing it to light for as long as it is supposed to give of light afterwards.
To create: Craft Alchemy DC 25
Market Price: 150 gold pieces for one lantern
Phlogiston, or Elemental Fire, is used in many alchemical and technical processes, despite the difficulty of its production. It is an orange-glowing, weightless, gaseous substance that radiates tremendous heat without ever consuming itself or any fuel. A sphere of Phlogiston, which usually hovers in the air motionlessly unless moved by wind, deals 3d6 fire damage to anything it touches, and 1d4 fire damage to everything within five feet, unless stored in a special metallic container. Even creatures resistant or immune to fire receive always at least half that damage, unless they are elementals of the fire subtype, which are healed 3 points of damage every turn they touch the magical fire instead..
To create: Craft: Alchemy DC 30
Market Price: 500 gold for a one-foot sphere
Stabilized Protoplasm, Flask
While Protoplasm is ubiquitous in the Aether, it is difficult to bring into any place that isn't on one of the ethereal planes. However, Protoplasm can be stabilized via an alchemical process and sealed into containers. A flask of stabilized protoplasm contains half a pound of protoplasm that can be released for controlling as a standard action. Unless controlled, the protoplasm forms into a hovering, shimmering sphere that stays stabilized for one round before dispersing into a 10 ft. cube of mist that grants 20% concealment to every creature inside or on the opposite side of the mist. The mist evaporates after one minute, during which it can be re-condensed by a controller.
To create: Craft: Alchemy DC 18
Market Price: 50 GP per flask
Ur-stone, or Elemental Earth, is a golden metal of enormous density and hardness. In fact, it is so resistant (hardness 60), that no one has ever managed to work it into any shape other than the small spheres alchemists produce, which are mainly used as ballast. A cubic inch of the material weighs nearly a pound, while a cubic foot of it weighs more than 1500 pounds. The material has one other power it is utterly immune to magic of any kind (infinite spell resistance, as a golem), and thus can not even be shaped in that fashion. Finally, creatures of a chaotic nature fear its touch. The touch of ur-stone deals 2d6 points of damage to any creature with damage reduction that is overcome by cold iron, or cold iron and/or some other material or magic.
To create: Craft: alchemy DC 30
Market Price: 200 gold per one-inch sphere
After year-long study, you have finally learned how to create artifical living creatures from non-living matter in your laboratory, to serve as livestock or servants.
Prerequisites: Craft: Alchemy 8 ranks, Knowledge: Nature 8 ranks, Heal 4 ranks
Benefit: You can create Animalculi, alchemical copies of living creatures, in your laboratory. This is fundamentally different from crafting other objects, however, and both more involved and more complicated.
First, choose a creature to be created. The creature can be any animal or vermin, and is created with the Animalculus template (see the Template section, below). You must succeed on a knowledge (nature) check DC 15+HD of the animal first, in order to gather enough knowledge to successfully create it.
Second, you must prepare the raw materials. Creating a living creature requires raw materials worth 25 gold pieces per HD of the creature, and one vial of lifespark per four HD of the animal (you may split a vial amongst several creatures).
Third, you need a laboratory. This must be any room large enough to house the animal and yourself at the same time. In the room, you need a vessel large enough to store the animal, which must not be tampered with throughout the process.
Fourth, you can begin crafting. Creating the creature takes one week, plus one day per HD of the animal. You must succeed on a craft (alchemy) check, DC 15+HD of the animal every day. Failure on any of these checks means that the animal is not successfully created. During the first and last day, you must spend 8 hours working on the process, after that, it only takes 10 minutes per day to monitor the growth.
You were born amongst the ghosts of the Aether, and for some reason, they see you as one of their and won't attack you.
All incorporeal undead creatures start out with an attitude towards you of no worse than indifferent. Furthermore, you can communicate with even non-intelligent ghost. By meditating one minute together with a non-hostile incorporeal undead, you can gain a vague impression of their memories. You find out the ghost's name, if they had one in life, and whether they have any still-living relatives, as well as a vague idea on how they died (you could tell they were violently murdered, but not necessarily the precise circumstances or who killed them.)
However, the living find your presence slightly uncomfortable, and you suffer a -2 penalty on all charisma checks made towards living creatures.
Animalculi are artificial animals, fashioned by alchemists from nonliving materials. Many see the creatures as twisted mockeries to be destroyed, but it takes a careful eye to even notice the difference. While artificers can create perfect copies of animals that seem to be alive, they have not yet found the secret of souls, creating soulless husks instead.
Since most of what is used in the production of Animalculi is lifeless material, alchemists skilled in their production are much sought after on many worlds that lack the resources for large-scale livestock farming, but have the means to produce the necessary growth vessels and raw materials.
Animalculus is an inherited template that can be added to any animal or vermin. Their production reqiures the Animator feat.
Type: The creature's size and type do not change.
Soulless: Animalculi do not have souls. Therefore, their souls can not be trapped upon their death, nor can they be drained or otherwise removed, nor used for power. Animalculi have a +4 bonus against all charms and compulsions, but they can never profit from a morale bonus of any kind, and they are immune to all spells and effects that create emotions, such as Rage, Good Hope or Crushing Despair.
Obedient: Animalculi instinctively know their creator. They are always initially treated as friendly towards him, and the creator gains a +6 bonus on all Handle Animal checks towards them.
Attributes: Charisma -4, to a minimum of 1.
Challenge Rating: +0
The nobility of Ember stands out. Literally. They are a head or more taller than most of their compatriots, their skin in bright hues of azure blue and faintly glowing even in daylight. Those high nobles with the gift of fireblood, as they call it, are fiercely protective of their bloodlines and few would ever consider tainting it with common blood.
Emberite Highborn is an inherited template that can be added to any humanoid, monstrous humanoid or giant.
Type: The creature's type does not change.
Inner fire: The blood of highborn emberites is not red, but a bright, firey orange. They have fire resistance 5 and always shed light like a lit candle. Their natural healing is twice as fast. Finally, while in Ember, they do not need to eat or sleep.
Spell-like abilities: Lesser vigor 3/day, at a caster level equal to the Noble's HD.
Abilities: Con +2, Cha +2
Level adjustment: +1
Generations have passed since the worlds were opened and mortalkind spilled forth into the mist. Already, some of the most hardy and adventuresome folk live in the Aether permanently. Some are merely second or third generation Aethersailors, eschewing worldfall more and more for the open mists. Others have made their homes stationary, not just on the Evershard, but amongst the ghostwood trees and rocks of other shards along the trade routes, where supplies are still possible to come by.
Whatever their reason and home may be, it was soon discovered that children born in the Aether show strange changes in their anatomies. Without gravity pulling at them every day of their lives, their bodies have become light and frail, but they have also gained new powers, an inherent insight int the mists and their movements. Their appearance changes in subtle ways: the colours of their skin, hair and eyes is pale, often pale grey, but their skin also tends to shimmer in strange colours when seen under the right light, waves of faint, pastel colours passing over it. These Mistborn, as they are called, are highly sought after by the guild, priced as controllers and sailors of unmatched skill.
Mistborn is an inherited template that can be added to any corporeal living creature.
Type: The creature's type does not change, except for animals, who become magical beasts.
Mist affinity (ex): Mistborn can see twice as far in the mists as other mortals. Furthermore, Control is always a class skill for them, and they have a +2 racial bonus on control checks.
Protean Blood (su): A Mistborn's blood is filled with the protoplasm that makes up the mists they come from. By dealing damage to themselves with an attack (by biting, stabbing or otherwise harming themselves), they can draw tiny amounts of blood that serve as raw material for their control skill. For every point of damage they deal themselves, they can produce one eight of a pound worth of protoplasm.
Furthermore, they have a +1 bonus to their caster level with all transmutation spells, and a +1 racial bonus on all saves against those spells.
Slight Build (ex): Mistborn are petite, with long, slender limbs and frail bodies. This makes them count as one size category smaller than their base race whenever it would be advantageous to them.
Attributes: Dex +2, Wis +2, Str -2.
Level Adjustment: +1
Belief is a strange thing. It's said that in earlier ages, there were entities known as Gods, or Deities, that were almost omnipotent, able to create new worlds and mortal races at will, and yet they were only empowered by the faith of mortals and could only live on the Outer Worlds, those strange realms no modern scholar can comprehend.
And yet, though the Starplane is severed, faith does not just vanish. It once could move mountains, some say. Mortals still believe, though now that the Outer Gods no longer walk among them, most of their religions have become stranger, more complicated, their faith invested in concepts, abstract powers, entities beyond that do not interact with mortals personally.
Or at least, that's how it is for the Core Worlds. Out on the Border, there are other worlds, where desperate mortals have turned to worship almost anything. Some worship their rulers, some powerful magical creatures that have survived on their planes, and some even worship animals as harboring some kind of divine spirit.
When the object of worship recognizes that fate and starts to culture it, things happen. They do not turn into gods, not truly, for the Demiplanes are not as mutable by human faith as the Outer Worlds. But they do become vessels of faith, able to work small miracles.
Small God is an acquired template that can be added to any creature that has an intelligence score of 3 or greater. A Small God uses all the base creature's statistics and special abilities except as noted here.
Type: The creature's type changes to outsider, with the native subtype.
Special Abilities: The Small God gains the following special abilities:
Immortal: Small Gods do no longer die from old age, and they take no penalty to their physical ability scores for aging.
Spellcasting: a Small God gains the ability to cast spells a Favoured Soul with a caster level of three, gaining spells known and spells per day as a favoured soul of that level. (Note: many take more levels of Favoured Soul as they age, representing their increasing power. Their spellcasting from class level is added to that of their
Domains: Choose two domains for the Small God. The Small God can use the domain powers of these domains as a cleric of their Hit Dice. Furthermore, they add the domain spells (up to their maximum level of spells known) to their spells known from the Favoured Soul class.
Divinity: The Small God gains a +2 luck bonus to all saves, skill checks, ability checks and their armour class. Furthermore, they gain 1 luck reroll per day, which they can use to reroll any single d20 roll per day. Alternatively, they can use their luck reroll to let any other creature within 60 feet of them reroll a single d20 once per day.
Spell-like abilities: Imbue with Spell Ability 3/day.
Abilities: Constitution +2, Charisma +4
Level Adjustment: +3
Challenge Rating: +2
In the open ethereal, one is constantly surrounded by the whirling, rainbow-coloured clouds of protoplasm and half-formed ideas known as the mists. Some individuals, known as shapers, know how to control and form the mists, forming images and, eventually, fully formed objects, which, however, quickly fall back into mists.
Those with a talent as shapers are rare and highly valued among aetherfarers, especially for their ability to improve visibility by pushing away the otherwise impermeable mists and to create temporary replacement parts for damaged ships on the fly. Skilled controllers can expect an officer's salary if serving on a guild ship, and even higher payment if they risk working for pirates or rogue traders.
Control is a class skill for all classes.
All uses of the control skill only work while on the open ethereal plane.
Create Image: You create a figment, a ghostly image formed from raw protoplasm. This works like the Silent Image spell and has a base DC of 15 to create an image filling one ten-foot cube or less. You can choose to increase the DC, filling one additional ten-foot cube per point of DC above 15, to a maximum of 16 cubes at DC 30. The resulting image is a supernatural effect, and has a DC of 11+your charisma modifier to disbelieve if interacted with.
Create Object: You can create a transitory object of up to one cubic foot in size, as if by a Major Creation spell at DC 20. For every +1 you choose to increase the DC by, the object can be another cubic foot in size. This use of the spell takes ten minutes, and you can only create one such object at a time. For complicated items, you must still make the appropriate craft checks. When brought to any place not on the open ethereal, including ethereal demiplanes, the object becomes translucent and fades away after 2d6 rounds.
Push Mists: You can mentally push the mists away from you, creating a sphere of improved visibility around you. The bubble has a diameter of two times your skill check result in feet. Inside the sphere, no other control powers can be used. Keeping the sphere open requires no active concentration, however, if you lose consciousness, the sphere collapses.
Pull Mists: The opposite of pushing, the mists can also be pulled closer and made denser, hampering vision even more than normal. At a DC 10, you can create the equivalent of an Obscuring Mist spell centered around you, which lasts for one minute and counts as a supernatural effect.
Last edited by Eldan; 2013-08-04 at 08:03 PM.
"You raise your baton. The glass kettle drums pound out the the overture. Your vision clouds with blood. You wipe it away and continue. The xylophonist's hair bursts into a violet flame, but he continues playing. He's either a consummate professional or very drunk indeed..."
Originally Posted by Palanan