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Detecting and Opposing the Oardsby Rodger Burns
The threat of the oards is subtle, immediate, and wide-ranging – a difficult measure to oppose for the humans of Mystara. What’s worse, the Immortals of the Sphere of Time, who’d normally be the first line of defence against the sort of peril posed by the oards, are completely blind to eschaonic energies and eschaonic manipulation. Fortunately, though, there are other means to identify the oards’ targets.
First among these is to enlist the aid of individuals who have survived previous oard attacks. Anyone present when the oards unleash eschaon can detect its future use anywhere within fifty miles of their location, if they succeed in an Intelligence check. Success provides direction and distance of the action, and allows the character to identify the intended target of the oards’ action if within line of sight. Characters with this ability gain no special knowledge about the oards’ identity or larger plans, but will be able to link future disruptions with the same sense of crawling wrongness as they experienced the first time they encountered eschaonic energies.
A similar ability is available to clerics of Immortals of Time. Though the Immortals themselves may be too close to Time’s own purity to detect eschaonic activity, their servants are not as limited. A cleric of an Immortal of Time who is aware of the threat posed by the oards may choose to gain the ability to detect eschaonic attacks, in a manner similar to individuals who have survived an oard attack. To gain this ability, the cleric must prepare one fewer spell each day, of the highest spell level that they can memorise; doing so allows the cleric to automatically sense eschaonic attacks, without the need for an Intelligence check. This ability persists until the cleric next prepares spells.
Finally, certain monster races possess certain sensing abilities related to eschaon. Ogre wokani can sense the level of eschaon in the world, and know when it increases or decreases; they can report on this to inform others as to the success or failure of oard activities. The ocean-dwelling kna can, if they observe the location of an eschaonic disruption no more than 24 hours after it occurs, predict the time and place of the next strike planned by the oards. Sphinxes are unfamiliar with eschaon, but if questioned regarding its effects or the actions of the oards may respond in oracular riddles whose meaning not even they themselves understand – but which nonetheless offer valuable clues for combating the oard menace. Finally, dragons can sense any eschaonic disruption that occurs, anywhere on Mystara, but only if they are asleep and dreaming when the attack occurs. This limits their ability to directly respond to the oard threat, but if treated with respect they may be able to offer advice and counsel to adventurers wishing to take action against the oards.
Commentary: More adventure-fodder. Immortal blindness to eschaon is designed to shove the PCs front-and-centre - with the Immortals' role in modern Mystara, if they knew about the oards they'd take immediate and effective action. With them out of the picture, the PCs have much more of a chance to take a leadership role and demonstrate their heroism.
The special abilities of different monster types were created to provide some additional options for getting information, and provide some interesting roleplaying encounters in finding out what the oards are up to. Imagine bargaining with a sphinx to get a strange oracular riddle, or trying to convince a dragon to schedule naptimes to get a sense of where the oards are striking!
Up Next: Oard monster write-ups