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The Legacy of Kromyn the Accursed:by Carl Quaif
This is a collection of items and spells created by the Alphatian Wizard Kromyn, called "the Accursed" by his peers because his creations, though powerful, always bore some flaw or chaotic side-effect which made their use less than desirable. Kromyn, born in 733 AY, was a creative genius with a passion for invention, but lacked the wisdom or patience to ensure his devices and dweomers functioned correctly.
Torque of the Sea:
This item is a hinged, decorated gold collar, worn as decoration around the neck. Kromyn created it to allow the wearer to breathe water indefinitely.
The Torque is activated whenever the wearer is submerged in water; it automatically casts a variant Water Breathing spell on the Wearer, causing him to grow gill slits on his neck beneath the Torque. The spell's duration is 1 hour, but is recast every hour by the Torque for as long as the wearer is under water. If the wearer leaves the water before the spell expires, the Torque magically permits him to breathe air until the gills vanish; removing the Torque before this time causes the wearer to begin "drowning" (see below).
The Torque has an unfortunate side effect; each time the Water Breathing spell is cast, the DM makes a secret percentage roll. On a result of 1-84%, the spell lasts for 1 hour, as normal, but a roll of 85-100% means that the spell is permanent. Those afflicted with permanent gills are unable to breathe out of water unless wearing the Torque; without it, they "drown" in air, taking 1d6 damage per round until dead. The gills may be dispelled by a Dispel Magic cast by a 20th+-level Mage, or by a Wish; otherwise, they cannot be removed.
Kromyn made ten of these devices, all with the same side effect; by the time of his "death" in 896 AY, a colony of roughly 80 unwillingly-gilled humans and demihumans, calling themselves "the Torquera", had been formed off the shores of Alphatia. Any children born to the Torquera have a 90% chance of being gilled water-breathers themselves (the remaining 10% are left on-shore, to be adopted by nearby fishing villages), so the colony has grown considerably since then, to nearly 12,000; The racial makeup of the Torquera is roughly 70% human, 20% Elf and 10% Halfling - called Humoi, Elvai and Hindari, in the debased Torquera tongue. The classes and abilities of the Torquera are the same as their surface-dwelling relatives, although the spells used by Clerics and Mages have altered somewhat.
The sinking of Alphatia resulted in the deaths of 65% of the Torquera still living in their original settlement (about 30% of the total populace). The remainder of that branch of the race have since moved into the flooded lower caverns of Monster Island. The Torquera retain four of the Torques, one for each major settlement (the Monster Islanders had a second, but it was lost during the sinking), which they use both to send emissaries above the waves, and to gain "new blood" for their race. The location of the remaining five Torques is unknown.
These are longswords made of highly-polished steel, with hilts wrapped in White Dragon-hide. Each one has runic script running the length of the blade, which reveals both the name and function of the sword, legible only via use of a Read Magic spell.
The three Honour Blades - Gorias, Hemlaun and Weyva - were made by Kromyn for the brother-Paladins Justian, Dirram and Egrethar of Bettelyn. Each Blade is a Longsword +2; however, the bearer may at any time Dedicate his Blade to the slaying of a particular being, or group of beings, whom the bearer will then pursue to the exclusion of any other foe. Until the target(s) is/are slain, the sword is +5 against them. The swords may not be re-Dedicated until the chosen targets are dead, by whatever means.
Unfortunately, the Honour Blades' enchantment is somewhat stronger than anticipated; should the bearer of a Dedicated Blade die before completing the Dedication, the magic of the sword will reanimate his remains as a mindless Zombie, whose only purpose is to destroy the chosen target. No matter how many times the bearer is killed, enough of it will be reformed to continue the hunt; and until the target is slain, the soul of the bearer cannot go to its final rest. For instance, the unliving remains of Egrethar, Weyva's bearer, hunted the Huge Red Dragon Karyathrom for nearly three centuries; he was freed from the curse when another group of adventurers who, knowing nothing of him, slew the beast for its treasure.
The three Honour Blades have known various masters over the centuries. Weyva lies now within the hoard of Karyathrom's offspring, Duralamas, who discovered it only a mile from his mother's lair; Hemlaun is part of the Royal Treasury in Alphatia's Capital, Sundsvall, now resident in the Hollow World; and Gorias, for centuries the prized possession of the Line of Justian, has been lost for two hundred years, and may turn up anywhere.
Kromyn's Creeping Darkness
Effect: creates an area of darkness
This variant form of the Continual Darkness spell was created by the Wizard Kromyn to facilitate the breeding and rearing of light-sensitive species above ground. The original intention was to create an area of Darkness which was twice the normal diameter; as was often the case with Kromyn's creations, the spell far exceeded his expectations.
The area affected by Kromyn's Creeping Darkness grows continuously, if not dispelled; the growth is slow (roughly 1' additional diameter per week), but inexorable. A Continual Light spell, cast upon the Creeping Darkness, will only cancel a portion of it equal to half the Continual Light's normal diameter; a Dispel Magic will disrupt an amount of Creeping Darkness equal to the full Continual Light diameter. If any Creeping Darkness remains undispelled, however, it will eventually grow back to fill the empty area.
Kromyn's experiments using this spell were carried out on a small, unnamed island located far to the south-west of Bellissaria; in the centuries following his "death", the Creeping Darkness has spread to encompass both the entire island and a few miles of surrounding ocean. The island, known by a few Alphatian Sages as "Umbra Isle", is home to several darkness-dwelling species of animals, as well as a pale-skinned, dark-adapted subspecies of the orcish Kara-Kara race, called the Umba-Kara, or "People of the Dark".
Duration: permanent (see below)
Effect: curses a line of descent
This spell, originally called Mark of Honour, was originally created by the Wizard Kromyn to ensure that a group of mercenaries he hired to perform specific tasks would do so. It acquired its current name from later wizards who gained access to it from Kromyn's notes.
The caster touches the recipient with the palm of his right hand and specifies the task, the time limit within which the task must be completed (usually expressed by the age of the recipient, i.e. "before Uther the Black's 30th birthday"), and the effect caused by failure to complete the task (premature ageing, spontaneous combustion, heart failure, etc - anything the caster desires). The spell imprints the mark of the caster's palm on the recipient's flesh to seal the enchantment. The recipient must complete the task within the time allowed, or the failure-clause is activated, subjecting the recipient with whatever curse the caster chose.
Unfortunately, Kromyn's spell was more powerful than even he knew; if the task is not completed by the recipient, or is of a wide and repeatable scope (i.e. "Kill 13 Troglodytes in the Malpheggi Swamps before your 25th birthday"), the mark will appear on the children, or other heirs, of the afflicted person. They must complete, or repeat, their forebear's task, or suffer the same fate. If the recipient was enchanted to perform a very specific task, the Hereditary Curse is cancelled upon its completion. If the task is a repeatable one, the curse recurs once per generation, usually until 7 generations have passed. Only a carefully-worded Wish can otherwise cancel a Hereditary Curse.
(NB: the effects of Kromyn's spells and items are designed to have long-term and far-reaching effects, which could be disrupted by the Day of Dread. To give a rational explanation why the magic should perpetuate during these times, I decided that Kromyn achieved Immortality - more by luck than judgement - in the Sphere of Energy in 896 AY (104 BC). Although still only a Temporal, his influence ensures that his creations do not fade on this day - e.g. the Torquera retain their gills, and Umbra Isle its cloak of Creeping Darkness, although the growth of the latter is halted for the day. For this purpose only, his surviving spells and magical effects count as Immortal magic.)