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    Default [RIVALRY] "Heart and Soul"... (rookie)

    The sky was overcast and grey, but that seemed somehow appropriate for the day. It was, after all, Safria's birthday. And just like every other birthday she could remember, it was disappointing. Yet again, her parents had failed her. It wasn't like she had asked for anything spectacular; just a ticket to the upcoming "Carnival of Night and Day". The injustice of it all! Two of the greatest musicians ever to walk the land inexplicably decide to perform practically in her back yard - and she couldn't even go!

    'It's too expensive' her mother had said. 'I'm sorry, sweetheart, but that's just the way things are.' her father chimed in. 'Besides', they had said in unison, 'why would you want to go listen to that devil music?' Devil music... as if! Old people just didn't understand. Nobody understood. Safria was just different, the music was like an expression of her soul.

    The girl was startled when a piece of paper came fluttering by her on a breeze. "To the Carnival - Admit One" it read. More surprising, though, was the note attached to the ticket: "To Safria: never let it be said I would disappoint a fan." But what did that matter? She had a ticket! It was like a dream come true! She practically skipped into town, before remembering that skipping wasn't cool. Her parents would be mad, but so what? "Besides," she said aloud, "it's not like this is actually devil music..."

    In the shadows of a nearby tree, a figure watched. His long black hair and dark red overcoat blew slightly in the breeze. But his most striking features were the tiny horns that grew from his forehead, the scaly red tail that lashed about behind him, and his feet - like the cloven hooves of a goat. He chuckled softly to himself. "If she only knew..."





    The Carnival of Night and Day


    Some call it the 'greatest show in this land or any other'. And indeed, the pair of traveling minstrels that run the Carnival are vested with such incredible talent that none can hear their music and forget it for as long as they live. Kiriel, an elven songstress, moves grown men to tears with beautiful songs from her even more beautiful voice. Szusumuri, a human guitarist, plays gritty, heavy, almost evil sounding music that nevertheless leaves you wanting more. For 15 years, they've traveled the world, putting on shows wherever they please. As exorbitantly expensive as tickets for these shows are, nobody seems to mind. The setup for the stage and the miniature "town" that springs up around it provide good if temporary jobs to the common folk, and 100% of the profits from the shows go to fill the coffers of local charities.

    But this heartwarming description is hardly the full truth of the matter. For neither performer is what he or she appears to be, and far more is at stake than anyone in attendance ever seems to realize. The friendly competition is, in fact, not. Rather, it is an intense rivalry for the title of "greatest musician", and a battle for the souls of all in attendance. For Szusumuri is really a Devil, and would love little more than to drag entire villages down to the Nine Hells. And all that stands in his way is the Eladrin: Kiriel.

    One may look at these two and wonder why such mortal enemies would bother to play such a complicated game rather than tearing each other limb from limb. The answer lies not in their differences, but in their similarities (and there are more of those than one might think). Both prefer nonviolent solutions, and both consider themselves consummate musicians and showmen. Most importantly, this competition is the only way either being will ever lay claim to the mysterious artifact known only as the Heartstrings.

    Perhaps it is not so surprising, then, that these two chose to sit down and work out rules for a competition (an act which took nearly a year in and of itself!). Amazingly, the rules are fair and balanced, containing no loopholes for either party to exploit. The written, cosmically binding copy of these rules resides on Mechanus.

    Szusumuri and Kiriel are only allowed to use powers pertaining to music (although they may enlist the aid of others to provide visual effects). Each plays 4 songs over the course of the day, concluding the day with a duet (and a total of 9 performances). Since the Carnival lasts for 24 hours, there are naturally breaks in between songs. During this time, the audience is free to wander about; eating, drinking, and playing various games (it is from this that the Carnival draws its name). At the end of the duet, the audience is asked to select which musician they believe to be more talented (the choice is generally a matter of which has the highest combined Perform check, although a DM may add specific mechanics at his leisure). After the selection is made, the every member of the audience must attempt a DC 20 Will save, with failure changing their alignment one step on both the Law/Chaos and Good/Evil axes towards the alignment of the winner over the course of the next week. The conditions for final victory include the revelation of the Heartstrings, and thus are vague and little understood by even the beings of Mechanus.

    On stage, Szusumuri appears as a human with long black hair in flashy leather clothing dyed in combinations of dark red, black, and purple. His music is mainly driven by his use of the Axe of Malsheem, but this is not to say his vocals are unimpressive. An example of the style of song he might sing is include below:
    Spoiler
    Show
    Song: The Stand
    Lyrics by The Protomen

    Tell me now. Is there a man among you here? Is there no one who will stand up and try to fight? Tell me Man, is there not one in all your ranks? Is there not one who values courage over life?

    They looked to me once. Now they turn to you. Do you understand now? Do you see that the truth is they don't want to change this? They don't want a hero. They just want a martyr, a statue to raise!

    I've given everything I can. There are no heroes left in man.

    So it begins!

    No matter which one of us lives, the ground we're standing on will crack and blow away. You will fight. And when you fight, you'll fight alone. And in the end you'll see there was no other way.

    I've been here before. I've stood where you stand. They called me a hero, "The Hero of Man". But why should we save them when they stand for nothing? If they deserve life LET THEM STAND FOR THEMSELVES!

    We've given everything we can. There are no heroes left in man. They'll watch you die to save their lives. They will not stand here by your side.

    We've given everything we can. There are no heroes left in man. So let them watch as we decide the very fate of all mankind.


    Instrumental example - Metastatic Bloodline


    On stage, Kiriel appears as a beautiful elven woman. She dresses primarily in light blue and white, but this often changes depending on her mood at the time. Her music tends toward much more pleasant topics, and tends to be more vocally driven, but thanks to her prodigious talents she is able to carry multiple tunes at once, each sounding like whatever instrument she chooses. To date, no one is quite sure how she accomplishes this feat, although many have guessed (incorrectly), that she uses a hidden orchestra. An example of the style of song she might sing is included below:
    Spoiler
    Show
    Song: Journey's End
    Lyrics by Jill Goldin

    Spoiler
    Show
    The tide's come in
    But I can't go on again
    I feel a voice within fading

    I need your touch
    Why does it hurt so much?
    I've never known such loneliness

    The world is right
    But I'm so alone this night
    I can't find the light; guide me

    Take heart
    I'm by your side
    Though we're apart
    I have not died


    Performance example - Journey's End - sans techno


    Last edited by PhoeKun; 2007-01-23 at 05:17 PM.
    Flowers blanket all the countryside like freshly fallen snow
    I know the answer's waiting somewhere, as it was once long ago
    Do you wait to cross the river from the shores of shallow tide?
    And what will happen to your phantom if you reach the other side?
    ...Hear me crying...

    Avatar by Kairaven.

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    Default Re: [RIVALRY] "Heart and Soul"...

    The Rivals

    Szusumuri, Falxugon Rogue 16 CR 23

    LE medium outsider (baatezu, evil, extraplanar, lawful)
    Init +11; Senses see in darkness; Listen +3; Spot +13
    Languages Celestial, Common, Infernal; telepathy 100 ft.
    ----------------------------------------------------------

    AC 24, touch 17, flat-footed 17
    (+7 Dex, +7 natural)
    hp 182 (25 HD); DR 15/good or magic
    Immune fire, poison
    Resist Acid 10, Cold 10; SR 33
    Fort +14; Ref +23; Will +14
    -----------------------------------------------------------

    Speed 30 ft. (6 squares)
    Melee dagger (1d4+7 /19-20 plus 2d6 unholy plus infernal debt)
    Space 5 ft.; Reach 5ft.
    Base Atk +21; Grp +23
    Atk Options infernal debt, sneak attack +8d6
    Special Actions summon baatezu
    Spell-like Abilities (CL 25th):
    At will – disguise self, greater teleport (self plus 50 pounds of gear only)
    1/day – mirror image
    3/day – dispel magic, vampiric touch (melee touch +28)
    -----------------------------------------------------------

    Abilities Str 14, Dex 24, Con 16, Int 18, Wis 16, Cha 30
    SA infernal debt (DC 26), sneak attack, spell like abilities
    SQ alignment mask, defensive roll, improved uncanny dodge, improved evasion, refuge of the damned (DC 26), slippery mind, trap sense +5
    Feats Ability Focus (refuge of the damned), Improved Initiative, Quick Draw, Weapon Finesse, Versatile Performer(1), Brand of the Nine Hells (Asmodeus)*, Mark of Nesus*, Skill Focus (Perform), Ability Focus (infernal debt)
    Skills Balance +9, Bluff +37, Concentration +28, Decipher Script +30, Diplomacy +35, Disguise +35 (37 while acting), Escape Artist +12, Forgery +30, Hide +17, Intimidate +37, Jump +4, Listen +13, Perform (string instruments) +41 (+43 with Axe of Malsheem), Sense Motive +8, Sleight of Hand +29, Tumble +12
    Possessions Serpent’s Kiss, Axe of Malsheem

    *These feats come from the Fiendish Codex II.
    (1) Szusumuri has selected Act, Dance, Oratory, and Sing as the targets of this feat
    -------------------------------------------------------------------

    Szusumuri is a Falxugon, colloquially known as a Harvester Devil. As appropriate to his station, he is primarily concerned with the corruption (and subsequent damnation) of souls. But unlike his brethren, Szusumuri does not use iron-clad contracts and one-sided deals to hunt his prey. Indeed, he has long since discovered a much more powerful weapon: music. There is no argument in all of creation that cannot be made more poignant when accompanied by the proper notes.

    To say that Szusumuri discovered the secrets of music may be something of a lie. More likely, it was ingrained in him from the start. The archdevil Belial would know better than any, for it was in the chorus of tortured souls on Phlegethos that the diabolic guitarist first began his life in Baator. Several centuries of adding his own lyrical cries of agony to those of countless others by the shores of the Lake of Fire scarred three things into his instincts: first, a fear of pain. Second, a belief in the power of song. And lastly, a need to be noticed and thought of as better than his peers.

    Szusumuri is a natural showman. His performances are the stuff of legends, and the bleak and depressing lyrics of his songs have induced hundreds of mortals to commit horrible acts of corruption and obeisance in their own right. Every heart thus swayed to the cause of Hell increases his personal power, and raises his esteem in the eyes of the Overlord, Asmodeus. Already he has been rewarded with the powerful Axe of Malsheem, but one goal yet eludes him: he is not a Lord of the Nine. He does not care which layer he is given dominion over, so long as it happens. But in order to depose one of the current Lords, he needs more powerful music. For that, he needs the Heartstrings. And for that he must prove himself a better musician than Kiriel...

    Szusumuri abhors combat. A coward at heart, he simply cannot abide by anything that could risk injury to himself. As such, he will say and do almost anything to avoid a fight. In the event that a fight is unavoidable, he will always begin by summoning lemures, taking advantage of the confusion and the sanctuary-like effect of his Refuge of the Damned to slip away. If retreat is impossible, he will instead try to sew greater confusion by striking someone with Serpent's Kiss, his +5 unholy dagger, and leaving them inflicted with his Infernal Debt. In this way, he hopes to turn allies against each other while setting up opportunities for either escape of flanking to take advantage of his sneak attack. If Szusumuri is ever in battle for more than 4 rounds without some sort of ally, he will teleport away, leaving only curses behind.





    Kiriel, Tulani Bard 5 CR 23
    CG Medium outsider (chaotic, eladrin, extraplanar, good)
    Init +12; Senses Darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Listen +32; Spot +32
    Languages Auran, Celestial, Common, Draconic, Elven, Infernal, Sylvan
    -------------------------------------------------------------------

    AC 38, touch 18, flat-footed 30
    (+8 Dex, +20 natural)
    hp (23 HD); DR 15 cold iron or evil
    Immune Electricity, Petrification
    Resist Acid 10, Cold 10, Fire 10; SR 35
    Fort +20 (+24 against poison); Ref +23; Will +22
    --------------------------------------------------------------------

    Speed 40 ft. (8 squares), fly 90 ft. (perfect)
    Melee +4 brilliant energy holy longsword +31/+26/+21/+16 (1d8+10/19-20 plus 2d6 holy) or
    Ranged Dream Ray +29 touch (1d6 Cha)
    Space 5ft.; Reach 5 ft.
    Base Atk +21; Grp +27
    Bard Spells Known (CL 5th):
    0 (6/day)– light (DC 22), lullaby, message, open/close, prestidigitation, summon instrument
    1 (6/day)– hypnotism (DC 23), remove fear, hideous laughter (DC 23), ventriloquism (DC 23)
    2 (4/day)– blur, eagle’s splendor, minor image (DC 24)
    Spell-Like Abilities (CL 23rd):
    Always active – blessed sight, detect law, detect magic, magic circle against evil (20 ft. radius), tongues, true seeing
    At will – chain lightning (DC 30) (damage increased by one-half as if affected by the Empower Spell metamagic feat), mass charm monster (DC 30), cure serious wounds, dancing lights, detect thoughts (DC 24), dispel magic, divine favor, haste, greater invisibility, major image (DC 25), polymorph any object (DC 30), righteous smite (DC 29), greater teleport (self and 50 pounds of gear only), telekinesis (DC 27), wall of force
    1/day – heal, meteor swarm (DC 31), power word kill, time stop
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Abilities Str 22, Dex 26, Con 26, Int 24, Wis 24, Cha 34
    SA Dream ray, gaze, spell-like abilities, sword of light, bard spells
    SQ alternate form, bardic music (as level 23 bard), bardic knowledge, protective aura
    Feats Dodge, Improved Initiative, Mobility, Purify Spell-like Ability*, Spring Attack, Power Attack, Words of Creation*, Skill Focus (Perform)
    Skills Bluff +38, Concentration +34, Diplomacy +38, Gather Information +38, Hide +29, Intimidate +32, Knowledge (arcane) +17, Knowledge (local) +32, Knowledge (nature) +17, Knowledge (the planes) +32, Move Silently +34, Perform (Sing) +41, Sense Motive +32, Sleight of Hand +10, Spellcraft +32
    Possessions Empyreal Embrace

    *These feats are from the Book of Exalted Deeds
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    "Music soothes the savage beast" they say. Few know the phrase originates from the Eladrin Court of the Stars, and from the Tulani scholars in particular. It is for this reason that these exemplars of freedom and goodness train in the Arts of Song as much or more as the Arts of War. No one is so naive as to believe there can be a peaceful solution to every problem, but if one can be found, is it not better to seek it? No matter how despicable the opponent, can they not be redeemed?

    Even among the Tulani, few uphold these principle better than Kiriel. Even fewer are as independent. She hardly ever appears among her fellows in Arborea, preferring a more hands-on approach to aiding mortals on the Material Plane. She is gifted with what is perhaps the most beautiful voice in three millenia. And with that voice, she raises the spirits of all mortals who lend her their ear (and most do). Never in her life has she suffered hardship, and never in her life has she done battle. If she can help it, neither of these things will change.

    Kiriel's songs are vested with great power, and with the aid of her choker, Empyreal Embrace, she is capable of creating any type of music with nothing more than her voice. With this voice, she seeks to ease the suffering of mortals, and to redeem the wicked. This includes Szusumuri, something the Falxugon despises her for. Not that his ire particularly bothers her. He is, after all, a Devil... he can't really help it. Until he is made to see the light, that is.

    What Kiriel desires is an end to suffering on the Material Plane. But such a lofty goal is beyond even her powers. And it is for this reason that she seeks the Heartstrings, which puts her in something of a paradox. She cannot obtain them without first overcoming Szusumuri, but in doing that she would likely give up all chance of ever aiding the baatezu. But maybe, just maybe, proving herself his superior is the only way to save him...

    Kiriel always attempts diplomacy before fighting, but if pressed, she can be a fearsome opponent indeed. She usually begins combat with mass charm monster or her dream ray in the hopes that she can end the fight without bloodshed. Only if this ability consistently fails, and either her life or that of an innocent is in danger will she resort to lethal tactics, and by then mercy is a but a far-off dream. Opponents who have pushed her this far can expect to be assaulted with repeated chain lightning, and possibly even a meteor swarm. Kiriel prefers not to fight at melee range, but if so pressed she can more than hold her own with her sword of light.

    ---------------------------------------------------

    Variant: SRD alternatives. Szusumuri and Kiriel were created using the Fiendish Codex II and the Book of Exalted Deeds. As such, DMs without access to these books may have a hard time using them. If this is the case, Szusumuri can easily be restatted as an Erinyes Rogue. Kiriel can be made as a Ghaele Bard, although beware that in remaking her as such her Bardic music will suffer a reduction in power. If such proves to be a problem, it may be advisable to boost the power of Empyreal Embrace to compensate.
    Last edited by PhoeKun; 2007-01-22 at 01:50 PM.
    Flowers blanket all the countryside like freshly fallen snow
    I know the answer's waiting somewhere, as it was once long ago
    Do you wait to cross the river from the shores of shallow tide?
    And what will happen to your phantom if you reach the other side?
    ...Hear me crying...

    Avatar by Kairaven.

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    Default Re: [RIVALRY] "Heart and Soul"...

    The Axe of Malsheem (minor artifact)
    This sinister artifact resembles a 6-string guitar, and was created as a gift for Szusumuri's impressive service record by none other than Asmodeus. Forged from the very pits of Nessus itself in the Infernal Fortress of Malsheem, the instrument is comprised entirely of jet black stone ending in sharp angles. It is among the most sinister items ever created, representing the willingness of Hell to take any form to corrupt the hearts of men.

    Being a creation of Asmodeus, non-devils have trouble even holding Axe of Malsheem. Non-Evil creatures who touch the instrument suffer 2 negative levels for as long as they continue to hold the artifact. These negative levels never result in actual level loss. Furthermore, the metal strings are razor sharp and deal 1 point of damage every time they are plucked by a creature without at least a +1 natural armor bonus. Victims who take 3 such points of damage also take 1 point of temporary Dex damage as their fingers become raw and difficult to manipulate. For a player capable of wielding the instrument, the Axe of Malsheem functions as a masterwork instrument.

    Its true power and purpose, however, lies in the corruption of souls. 3 times per day, the user may offer a limited wish to someone who has heard him play the Axe of Malsheem for 1 minute. The benefits of this wish are fulfilled "naturally" over the course of the next three days, and often in terrible ways (a merchant wishing for money may find his competitor robbed, the thief falling dead in the merchant's own home after tripping and falling on an "unfortunately" placed dagger). With the wish granted, the recipient's alignment slowly shifts toward Lawful Evil over the next nine days. So gradual is this shift in philosophy that nobody, not even the victim's closest friends and family, can tell it is happening until it is too late. Having benefited from the power of Hell, a truly penitent victim must undergo a quest as part of an atonement cast by a 17th level Cleric of a Good deity. This ability does not function on creatures that are already Lawful Evil.


    Empyreal Embrace (minor artifact)
    This beautiful gold choker was given many hundreds of years ago to Kiriel by the Queen of Stars, Morwel. It is a glimmering example of hope and the purity of music turned toward the cause of Goodness. It is incapable of causing harm to any, but it will not function for Evil creatures.

    Empyreal Embrace allows its wearer to ease the suffering of and encourage freedom of choice in those who hear her sing. It can cast any cure spell on a target listening to the wearer sing. Metamagic feats may be applied to these spells, but the wearer cannot activate this particular ability again for one round per spell level the metamagic feat would increase it by. Furthermore, the wearer may grant one listener the benefits of a foresight spell once per day.

    Not everyone can appreciate the subtleties of an a-Capella performance. In deference to this, Empyreal Embrace also allows its wearer to make up to 4 simultaneous Perform (sing) checks. Any number of these can be made to sound as though they were another type of perform check (and are treated as though they were a check of that type). In this manner, the wearer might hum an orchestral backup to her vocals without ever having practiced with a string instrument, or even having additional musicians on hand.


    The Heartstrings (major artifact)
    Often it is said of excellent music that it "tugs at the heartstrings". They cannot know how right they are. The Heartstrings are the source of all music in the multiverse. There is not a single note that is played anywhere that does not draw power from this mysterious source. It is impossible to say just how the Heartstrings came into existence, for they have been since as long as the oldest deities can remember.

    No one has so much as seen them for eons, and it is said they can only be seen, much less held, by the one who is the greatest musician in all existence. Only such a prodigious performer could possibly hope to wield their awesome power. For the Heartstrings represent the true, terrifying power of music: the ability to manipulate emotions.

    The Heartstrings are malleable in form - if held, they the form of whatever instrument the possessor is most familiar with (or a book of songs in the case of a singer). Even so, the artifact will not suffer itself to be held by anyone other than the greatest musician. Every day, the wielder of the Heartstrings must succeed on a DC 60 Perform check, or suffer the effects of a 10d6 points of damage per round until the wielder is either dead or releases the Heartstrings (this damage results from purely cosmic and divine sources, and thus is not subject to energy resistance of any kind). In either case, they will then return to their hiding place in between the folds of reality, waiting a more suitable master.

    But for one capable of appeasing the Heartstrings, the benefits are immense. Firstly, the wielder of the Heartstrings may use any Bardic Music as a Bard equal in level to his total hit dice. Secondly, anyone who hears the Heartstrings played directly must make a Will save with a DC equal to 10 plus 1/2 the wielder's hit dice plus the wielder's Charisma modifier or else lose control of their emotions. This acts much like calm emotions, except the wielder may choose any emotions to suppress or bring forth. In this way, a depressed man might be made to feel joyous, or an otherwise peaceful man be sent into a raging fury.

    Additionally, the wielder of the Heartstrings controls all music in the multiverse. He is automatically aware of any Perform check as though he were a deity with music in his portfolio. If he so chooses, the wielder can make his own Perform check in opposition to the target's. If the wielder's check exceeds the target's, the wielder gains control of the music, and may change it however he wishes (or silence it altogether).

    Unknown to all but the greatest gods of knowledge, the Heartstrings also function as a divine spark. Indeed, they yearn with a supernatural desire to create a god, for that is their true purpose. If a wielder of the Heartstrings is able to maintain control over the artifact (that is, he does not fail a Perform check) for a prolonged period of time, the two begin to merge. Over the course of 45 days, the Heartstrings slowly become one with their possessor. Should he be able to maintain the Heartstrings for that amount of time, they will permanently merge with his form, granting him the ability to become a god of music. Essentially, this process grants the wielder Divine Rank 0.
    Last edited by PhoeKun; 2007-01-28 at 10:27 AM.
    Flowers blanket all the countryside like freshly fallen snow
    I know the answer's waiting somewhere, as it was once long ago
    Do you wait to cross the river from the shores of shallow tide?
    And what will happen to your phantom if you reach the other side?
    ...Hear me crying...

    Avatar by Kairaven.

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    Default Re: [RIVALRY] "Heart and Soul"...

    The Glove of Finger Picking:

    When an artist becomes famous, there are many who attempt to imitate him. When an artist like Szusumuri grows famous, many grow frustrated by their inability to imitate him. Indeed, his skill with the guitar and unique style seems to elude even the most talented Bards. And, as one might expect from a situation centering on a Devil, there are those who try to skip over the hard work needed to achieve success. That is why Drazani, a moderately talented wizard and zealous fan of Szusumuri, created the first Glove of Finger Picking.

    This dark red glove is made of fine leather. The fingertips are treated differently, making them much harder than the otherwise soft and supple glove. This design, combined with the magic of the glove, makes it much easier to play, granting the wearer a +5 competence bonus to Perform (String Instruments) checks.
    Faint Transmutation; CL 3rd; Craft Wondrous Item, Eagle's Splendor; Price 2500 gp.
    Last edited by PhoeKun; 2007-01-27 at 11:14 PM.
    Flowers blanket all the countryside like freshly fallen snow
    I know the answer's waiting somewhere, as it was once long ago
    Do you wait to cross the river from the shores of shallow tide?
    And what will happen to your phantom if you reach the other side?
    ...Hear me crying...

    Avatar by Kairaven.

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    Default Re: [RIVALRY] "Heart and Soul"...

    Axe of Malsheem? Bloody awesome.
    avatar by kuja.girl
    sign by egobuttz


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    Default Re: [RIVALRY] "Heart and Soul"...

    Thats kick ass

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    Default Re: [RIVALRY] "Heart and Soul"...

    Thank you for the commentary thus far, limited as it has been (and yet so glorious in scope!)

    I hope that now that the entry is a little less nebulous and undefined than it was previously, it will not disappoint. I freely admit, though, that I have no idea what kind of spells I want to make for this thing...
    Flowers blanket all the countryside like freshly fallen snow
    I know the answer's waiting somewhere, as it was once long ago
    Do you wait to cross the river from the shores of shallow tide?
    And what will happen to your phantom if you reach the other side?
    ...Hear me crying...

    Avatar by Kairaven.

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    Default Re: [RIVALRY] "Heart and Soul"...

    I like the line who I read it.
    Its true power and purpose, however, lies in the corruption of souls. 3 times per day
    Hehe.

    More meaningful comments will come after class and during time.

    edito-
    Wow, I still really like the Axe. Especially the corruption power. I've been wanted to work a wish fulfillment like you did into something of mine for a long time. Very cool. I also enjoyed the backgrounds as it characterized not only the characters but the scene and feel of the rivalry as well.

    Question though. Compared to the Axe's corrupting power, the embrace seems a bit underpowered. I think it should have some active power, right now it seems like Szusumuri is doing all the active corrupting and power gain and Kiriel can only stand back and wait so she can prevent. Not really actively trying to help.
    Last edited by Amotis; 2007-01-23 at 02:02 PM.
    avatar by kuja.girl
    sign by egobuttz


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    Default Re: [RIVALRY] "Heart and Soul"...

    What you're picking up on is part of the point. The Axe is supposed to be the more actively powerful of the two artifacts. A corrupting evil like Szusumuri has to be more active than someone like Kiriel if he ever wants to get anything done.

    However, I've been worried that the gulf is too big between the two artifacts, so I'm probably going to give Embrace a little bit of a push.
    Flowers blanket all the countryside like freshly fallen snow
    I know the answer's waiting somewhere, as it was once long ago
    Do you wait to cross the river from the shores of shallow tide?
    And what will happen to your phantom if you reach the other side?
    ...Hear me crying...

    Avatar by Kairaven.

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    Default Re: [RIVALRY] "Heart and Soul"... (rookie)

    Very nice idea here, I like it.

    What if the Embrace was able to cast foresight on one person per day? That would kind of offset the Limited Wish ability of the other one, and instead of being reactionary would allow the person affected to still make their own choices as to what they do?
    Quote Originally Posted by Starsinger View Post
    You sir, are my hero.

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    Default Re: [RIVALRY] "Heart and Soul"... (rookie)

    Thank you for the advice; it has been taken to heart (get it?).

    At this time the artifacts have all been completed. Soon, I'll have the magic item (or items, if I feel inspired) up, and after that we'll see whether or not I have the creative energy left to make spells. At this point, I'm feeling kind of doubtful.

    Thank you for the comments thus far!
    Flowers blanket all the countryside like freshly fallen snow
    I know the answer's waiting somewhere, as it was once long ago
    Do you wait to cross the river from the shores of shallow tide?
    And what will happen to your phantom if you reach the other side?
    ...Hear me crying...

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    Default Re: [RIVALRY] "Heart and Soul"... (rookie)

    Whoa...them things are powerful. How 'bout instead of vocalist's song book maybe it can meld with her vocal chords?
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    Default Re: [RIVALRY] "Heart and Soul"... (rookie)

    Because if they immediately become her vocal chords, she couldn't hold or drop them.

    The idea here is that the Heartstrings start out as a physical object, and then slowly merge with your body.
    Flowers blanket all the countryside like freshly fallen snow
    I know the answer's waiting somewhere, as it was once long ago
    Do you wait to cross the river from the shores of shallow tide?
    And what will happen to your phantom if you reach the other side?
    ...Hear me crying...

    Avatar by Kairaven.

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    Default Re: [RIVALRY] "Heart and Soul"... (rookie)

    I see. It's just that song books become rare for live bard performers.
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    Default Re: [RIVALRY] "Heart and Soul"... (rookie)

    You have a point. I'll try and think of something else.

    In the meantime, take solace in the fact that if anyone watching the performer thought she looked stupid holding a songbook, he'd probably feel differently about it shortly thereafter...
    Flowers blanket all the countryside like freshly fallen snow
    I know the answer's waiting somewhere, as it was once long ago
    Do you wait to cross the river from the shores of shallow tide?
    And what will happen to your phantom if you reach the other side?
    ...Hear me crying...

    Avatar by Kairaven.

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    Default Re: [RIVALRY] "Heart and Soul"... (rookie)

    True. It's just songbooks are for using in practice really. Performances are memorized. Should be, at least.

    edito - On second thought; song books are for practice. Performances should be memorized.

    edito2 - On third thought; song books are for practice. Performances should be memorized.

    edito3- You know...songbooks are for practice. Performances should be memorized.
    Last edited by Amotis; 2007-01-24 at 09:06 PM.
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    Default Re: [RIVALRY] "Heart and Soul"... (rookie)

    Is there an echo in here?

    *deep breath* Ok, after a lot of consideration, I have come to the conclusion that if I do much more to this, I will only hurt it. As such, I tentatively declare myself a finished.

    Also, if there's anybody who isn't Amotis who would like to comment, I'd really appreciate hearing from you!
    Flowers blanket all the countryside like freshly fallen snow
    I know the answer's waiting somewhere, as it was once long ago
    Do you wait to cross the river from the shores of shallow tide?
    And what will happen to your phantom if you reach the other side?
    ...Hear me crying...

    Avatar by Kairaven.

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    Default Re: [RIVALRY] "Heart and Soul"... (rookie)

    Song books are for practice. Performances should be memorized.

    Good Job Phoekun, good luck to ya! : D
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    Default Re: [RIVALRY] "Heart and Soul"... (rookie)

    Like Wizard books? Just think of them like that.
    "I reject your reality, and subsitute my own" Adam Savage

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    Default Re: [RIVALRY] "Heart and Soul"... (rookie)

    This looks amazing! I can't believe it's a rookie entry!

    One small thing though; there's no way the two performers could wield the Heartstring for any length of time. They'd have to roll 19 or 20 on a Perform check every day

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    Default Re: [RIVALRY] "Heart and Soul"... (rookie)

    Ah, you noticed that, did you? Yes, the Heartstrings are meant to be at a level of power that is beyond the skill of either competitor, albeit just barely.

    That said, both of them have access to anywhere between 212,000 and 530,000 gold, as appropriate for their CR and creature types. While their competition expressly forbids them from using anything other than their own talent and respective artifacts, nothing is stopping the winner from shoring up his Perform modifier with things like a cloak of charisma or Tome of Leadership and Influence, or even the glove of finger picking (Empyreal Embrace allows Kiriel to benefit from the glove as well). All those things considered, that's looking at an extra +10 to their Perform checks.

    It's still very much a risky venture, but not utterly outside their capabilities...
    Flowers blanket all the countryside like freshly fallen snow
    I know the answer's waiting somewhere, as it was once long ago
    Do you wait to cross the river from the shores of shallow tide?
    And what will happen to your phantom if you reach the other side?
    ...Hear me crying...

    Avatar by Kairaven.

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    Default Re: [RIVALRY] "Heart and Soul"... (rookie)

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoeKun View Post
    Ah, you noticed that, did you? Yes, the Heartstrings are meant to be at a level of power that is beyond the skill of either competitor, albeit just barely.

    That said, both of them have access to anywhere between 212,000 and 530,000 gold, as appropriate for their CR and creature types. While their competition expressly forbids them from using anything other than their own talent and respective artifacts, nothing is stopping the winner from shoring up his Perform modifier with things like a cloak of charisma or Tome of Leadership and Influence, or even the glove of finger picking (Empyreal Embrace allows Kiriel to benefit from the glove as well). All those things considered, that's looking at an extra +10 to their Perform checks.

    It's still very much a risky venture, but not utterly outside their capabilities...
    That makes sense. This really is an incredibly cool entry, especially with the very different 'feel' of both characters.

    EDIT: I have a quick question about the axe. Does the musician actually have to approach the person who makes the wish (i.e. does the 'wisher' have to be aware that someone is going to grant their wishes, no questions asked, or are they just standing around, and their wishes mysteriously come true)? Also, do people with their wishes granted have the option to refuse what they've wished for? For instance, in the example of the merchant wishing for money, if the man spoke with the police and returned the money to its owner, would he still turn lawful evil?
    Last edited by Green Bean; 2007-01-28 at 05:03 PM.

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    Default Re: [RIVALRY] "Heart and Soul"... (rookie)

    The person targeted by the Axe of Malsheem can hear the powers of Hell whispering to him, telling him that if he wishes for something, they will grant it to him.

    Usually, this is his chance to back out and refuse. He is under no compunction to wish for something (but as you can imagine, most do). Once the wish has been granted, it's usually too late. The target's already changing viewpoint attempts to justify his keeping of the boon (so the merchant might reason that his competitor was an unscrupulous man, and deserved to be robbed. The thief certainly deserved to die, and in any case, the circumstances are just too much to be a coincidence. Surely, the universe is telling him this money is his to keep).

    This is the target's last chance to save himself. The merchant in the above example can turn the money in to the authorities, but there is still a taint on his soul from his dealings with the dark powers of Baator, and he will need to atone.
    Flowers blanket all the countryside like freshly fallen snow
    I know the answer's waiting somewhere, as it was once long ago
    Do you wait to cross the river from the shores of shallow tide?
    And what will happen to your phantom if you reach the other side?
    ...Hear me crying...

    Avatar by Kairaven.

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    Default Re: [RIVALRY] "Heart and Soul"... (rookie)

    I'm not familiar enough with 3.5 mechanics to comment on the game related details but ...

    Wow. Incredible backstory, and a small yet engrossing flavor text. I'm not sure how I would drop them into a campaign, players don't like having their alignment shifted - but your references to "letting others do ___" is interesting, perhaps a party of PC's works for one and is always opposed by a NPC (NPC party) working for the other [and they can't resort to combat.]

    A quick question, which may have to do with my not knowing the books referenced: Is Serpent's Kiss a "standard" unholy weapon? Is the Infernal Debt a side effect of being in melee with Szusumuri?
    I have decided that my two year old daughter is Chaotic Cute. The four year old is ... four </shrug>.

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    Default Re: [RIVALRY] "Heart and Soul"... (rookie)

    Quote Originally Posted by Ironfist Orc View Post
    I'm not familiar enough with 3.5 mechanics to comment on the game related details but ...

    Wow. Incredible backstory, and a small yet engrossing flavor text. I'm not sure how I would drop them into a campaign, players don't like having their alignment shifted - but your references to "letting others do ___" is interesting, perhaps a party of PC's works for one and is always opposed by a NPC (NPC party) working for the other [and they can't resort to combat.]

    A quick question, which may have to do with my not knowing the books referenced: Is Serpent's Kiss a "standard" unholy weapon? Is the Infernal Debt a side effect of being in melee with Szusumuri?
    Wow, so many great responses! I'm honored that you guys like my stuff! I can think of a whole bunch of different ways to incorporate this into a campaign, from a simple distraction to an epic quest to prevent (or maybe cause) the birth of a new god. To be sure, these two work best when presented to mature players who are ok with exploring different facets of their characters through different filters (alignments). But it also doesn't have to come up. Not everyone who deals with Szusumuri and/or Kiriel changes alignment because of it. I just happen to think it's a good way to represent the fate of a soul with game mechanics...

    In answer to your question, nothing really distinguishes Serpent's Kiss from any other +5 unholy dagger, but my personal belief is that every devil in Hell that's worth mentioning is egotistical enough to believe his personal weapon deserves a unique name. The Infernal Debt is simply one of Szusumuri's abilities as a Harvester Devil, which is unfortunately not part of the OGL. Essentially, those he attacks receive penalties to their rolls until they attack a Good creature with full force.
    Flowers blanket all the countryside like freshly fallen snow
    I know the answer's waiting somewhere, as it was once long ago
    Do you wait to cross the river from the shores of shallow tide?
    And what will happen to your phantom if you reach the other side?
    ...Hear me crying...

    Avatar by Kairaven.

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    Default Re: [RIVALRY] "Heart and Soul"... (rookie)

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoeKun View Post
    The person targeted by the Axe of Malsheem can hear the powers of Hell whispering to him, telling him that if he wishes for something, they will grant it to him.

    Usually, this is his chance to back out and refuse. He is under no compunction to wish for something (but as you can imagine, most do). Once the wish has been granted, it's usually too late. The target's already changing viewpoint attempts to justify his keeping of the boon (so the merchant might reason that his competitor was an unscrupulous man, and deserved to be robbed. The thief certainly deserved to die, and in any case, the circumstances are just too much to be a coincidence. Surely, the universe is telling him this money is his to keep).

    This is the target's last chance to save himself. The merchant in the above example can turn the money in to the authorities, but there is still a taint on his soul from his dealings with the dark powers of Baator, and he will need to atone.
    Thanks for the clarification!

    Truly this entry is like a hamburger. Good solid meat, with lots of juicy, juicy flavor.

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    Default Re: [RIVALRY] "Heart and Soul"... (rookie)

    Well, concerning the alignment shift, I find it odd that the entire audience's alignment is shifted towards the vote winner, even if only half+1 of them voted for the winner. I'd say that when they hold the vote, each voter's alignment shifts towards the one he personally voted for. If a voter chooses neither (or gives them a tie), there's no alignment shift.

    That gives the PCs a bit more say in which way their alignment shifts, plus it would deeply divide the crowd between the two performers, leading to flamewars with actual flames.
    PCs: Horacio, Gorby, Helionaluxis

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    Default Re: [RIVALRY] "Heart and Soul"... (rookie)

    Justification: During the duet, a taste of the true power of music is unleashed from both Szusumuri and Kiriel. These powers mingle throughout the crowd, feeding off of another power - public perception (in other words, what people think matters). Once the decision has been made, one power gains dominance over the other, and the crowd is affected accordingly.

    Actual response: you bring up a very compelling point. I'll look into tweaking the mechanics to give PCs more of a say in the matter of their own damnation/salvation.
    Flowers blanket all the countryside like freshly fallen snow
    I know the answer's waiting somewhere, as it was once long ago
    Do you wait to cross the river from the shores of shallow tide?
    And what will happen to your phantom if you reach the other side?
    ...Hear me crying...

    Avatar by Kairaven.

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    Default Re: [RIVALRY] "Heart and Soul"... (rookie)

    Most excellent. I had been planning on making a bardic rivalry as something a bit more family-friendly than my own entry, and probably would have if my own revisions hadn't stretched so long, but I couldn't top this.

    I'd assume that damage reduction would have the same effect on the plucking effect of the Axe of Malsheem as a natural armor bonus, namely, making it safe to play, if not in the strictest sense. Might depend on the DR, though. I'd assume the strings cause slashing damage, anyway.

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    Default Re: [RIVALRY] "Heart and Soul"... (rookie)

    Thank you for the compliments.

    You would be right on the subject of DR - I neglected to mention it because I couldn't think of anything that has DR and doesn't have natural armor... well, I guess maybe a Barbarian, but what is he doing with a guitar?
    Flowers blanket all the countryside like freshly fallen snow
    I know the answer's waiting somewhere, as it was once long ago
    Do you wait to cross the river from the shores of shallow tide?
    And what will happen to your phantom if you reach the other side?
    ...Hear me crying...

    Avatar by Kairaven.

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