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Elves of Icevale additions

by Rodger Burns

Icevale Elves - Cultural Changes

One peculiarity of the lands of Icevale is that their mountains are almost completely lacking in deposits of flint, quartz, magnesium, or any of the other spark-susceptible metals usually used in flint and steel kits. Because of this, the elves of Icevale have a much more difficult time making and keeping fires than inhabitants of other cultures, and prize it very highly indeed.

They can still make and keep fires, of course. Bow drills can be used to spark a flame, though this is difficult and time-consuming (minimum of 10-15 minutes to do what a properly-handled flintstone can manage in about thirty seconds). Hot coals are kept and used to light new tinder, and most homes and villages have an insulated hearth for this purpose. A few elves travelling in the lands beyond Icevale have learned to carry and use flint, though the Spell of Preservation keeps the bulk of their kindred from adopting this. But the favoured way for Icevale elves to start fires is with fire-magic of some kind, and this is the method used for all their rituals, ceremonies and celebrations.

Because of this, the leaders and respected elders of the Icevale elves are almost always spellcasters of some kind. In an OD&D campaign, these elves have probably developed _Flame Burst_, described later. Icevale elves in a 3E campaign can be either divine or arcane spellcasters - clerics generally have the Fire domain as one of their two domains, while sorcerors and wizards learn such spells as _Burning Hands_ or _Flame Burst_ immediately. Druids are somewhat more rare, but can use such magics as _Produce Flame_ to assume a leadership role if they desire it.

An Icevale wizard able to learn the _Fireball_ spell from an outer-world wizard could likely become an elder over several towns or possibly a warleader of the entire Icevale culture - though he would have to be careful that no possible rival learned the spell, either...

The Mastery Duel

A tradition unique to the Icevale elves, the Mastery Duel is a ritual trial by combat used to settle disagreements when no other method will serve. Though duelling in general is common in many cultures, the specifics of the Mastery Duel are somewhat unusual - only open flame may be used as a weapon. It may be created through either mundane or magical means, but nothing else may be used to strike at an opponent.

Even among the Icevale people, Mastery Duels are rare - they are usually agreed to only as the final possible resolution to a grievance years or even decades in length. Once a Duel has been declared, the participants are kept apart for at least seven sleeps, and watched to ensure that neither comes to harm. During this time, either participant can choose to voluntarily leave the village, accepting defeat - this is a sentence of exile, though a bloodless one. If at the time of the Duel's announcement both participants still remain, they are led to the duelling site from opposite directions.

Mastery Duels always take place in open clearings, away from villages, roads or hunting grounds, and covered with snow at least a foot in depth. The two participants take up positions on the opposite sides of the clearing, and clan elders and warriors form a ring around the edge - both judging the fighters, and keeping wild beasts from interrupting the duel. Once both participants are in position, the duel begins.

As mentioned earlier, the only weapon allowed in the duel is fire. Each participant is given a burning torch as a weapon, which must remain lit - if it's extinguished, the participant forfeits. Leaving the clearing (willingly or unwillingly) or being reduced to half maximum HP also counts as a forfeit. Any attempt to use a weapon other than fire - bare hands, rocks, fallen branches, thrown or kicked snow, spells that are not fire-based - is a violation of the terms of the Mastery Duel, and can also result in a forfeit (though a first violation will usually simply result in a warning from the elders, unless the violation is extremely obvious).

A Mastery Duel rarely results in death for either participant. The loser is under sentence of exile, and must depart the village after the next sleep; he is shunned until that time, with no other elf in the village willing to meet his gaze or speak to him. The victor is not in a much better situation - though he is officially not to blame, most of the village residents will look upon him with suspicion, and the loser's family will generally quietly mark him as an enemy. Even after the cause of the Mastery Duel itself is forgotten, the burn scars from the battle will remain on both participants, causing a lingering suspicion and mistrust.

New Spell: Flame Burst
(Note: The description here is for 3E; porting the spell to OD&D is a simple matter of filing off the extra rule bits.)

1st-level sorceror/wizard spell
Conjuration (Creation) [Fire]
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Close (25 ft + 5 ft/2 levels)
Duration: Concentration (up to 1 round/level, maximum of 8 rounds)
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: Yes

This spell allows you to release small gouts of flame at a nearby target, one burst per round. This is sufficient to light a small fire in a campfire or hearth; multiple bursts cast in quick succession may be sufficient to start a larger bonfire, or set fire to a larger object (DM's discretion). If fired at a living target, each burst deals 1d4 points of fire damage. This spell requires caster concentration throughout its duration; if you take a different action during the spell's duration, concentration is broken and any additional bursts are lost. Individual bursts do not last more than an instant, and cannot be used for illumination or warmth on their own.

Material Component: A twist of charred cloth or tinder.