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Alphatian Craft: Thelemicsby Andrés Piquer Otero
I will start my description of the Five Paths of Old Alphatian Magick (and I will try to be concise):
GENERAL GAME RULES
1. The Paths are exclusive: no PC of NPC mage may follow two paths (in that respect, they are similar to Glantri Crafts).
2. They are quite arcane; it is VERY difficult to find a true practitioner (about a 1% of Alphatian mage population). Most Followers of Air, Fire, Earth and Water just content themselves with practising Elementalism of the Element related to their chosen Sphere (Elementalism in Alphatia follows the rules of Glantri Elementalism Craft from GAZ3 or GKoM with one exception: there are no restrictions in the number of 5th Circle practitioners, although they are very rare -less than one per Alphatian Kingdom in the average).
3. It is possible to start practising Elementalism and then switching to (or combining) the True Path of the related Element (after all, it is a progression from the study of an emanation of the Spheres -the Elemental planes- to the Spheres themselves); in fact, most Alphatians do it.
4. Technically, there is no restriction to the race or species of the practitioner: he might be human, elf, monster wokan; Alphatian, Ylari, Glantrian... Nevertheless, the Paths are considered the most arcane and ancestral lore of Old Alphatia. Convincing an Alphatian Archmage of teaching a compatriot would be difficult, much harder to a foreigner!
5. Like Glantrian crafts, Paths are measured in terms of "circles"; each path has 4 circles and each circle has a single related ability. Besides reaching a minimum Experience Level, characters must allot a number of XP (which are lost) to master the ability. They must the pass a INT check and spend some weeks in training. If the check is failed, the XP are lost for good.
ABILITY LEVEL MINIMUM EXPERIENCE LEVEL XP COST TRAINING WEEKS 1 5 2500 4 2 9 5500 8 3 15 12000 16 4 25 30000 35
THE PATH OF AIR: THELEMICS
1. Followers of Air try to master the power of thought: for them, to think is to believe. This may be done through everyday low magic, but their craft assures them greater control and understanding in the world of ideas, feelings and perceptions.
2. This might be seen as the "official" Alphatian Path. Well, now that most knowledge of the Paths has been lost, most practitioners continue to be Followers of Air (about 90% of today followers of Crafts). They have been greatly changed in their ideas after the war that brought an end to Old Alphatia. Most of them have taken to contemplative life and spend much of their lives meditating upon the world and the structure of ideas. In Old Alphatia, Followers of Air would build cloisters in high peaks and cloud cities, impossible to reach by normal means. There are some cloisters, most of them in ruins, in Mystaran Alphatia, but they are kept by ordinary elementalists, without any knowledge of the True Path. It is rumoured to still exist one cloister where a handful of True Followers practise their teachings... if somebody could reach them...
3. These are the powers of the Path:
LEVEL 1: ORIENTATION
The novice Thelemic is taught to meditate on the order of the spheres and the ideas, so that he may rid his mind from mundane distractions and focus the true power of his thought. Application of this power is mandatory before trying any other Thelemic magic. The Thelemic must spend a number of rounds in meditation (without any disturbance) equal to the minimum level to practice his most powerful ability or spell (this is, a 5th Lvl Thelemic of the 1st Circle should spend 5 rounds, but a 7th level one should spend 7). This state last for a number of turns equal to his level and can be accomplished but once per day for each Path level the character has. Orientation requires absence of strong noises, a good night's rest and absence of major discomfort. Powerful Thelemics may orient themselves in terrible situations, like torture, but that requires a saving throw vs. Breath Weapon. To accomplish orientation, the character must pass both an INT and WIS check. Once orientated, he could only be dragged from that state by direct physical damage, but it is possible to avoid it by making a Saving Throw vs. Breath Weapon.
Benefits: besides being able of initiating other Thelemic powers, characters under meditation gain:
+2 bonus to every roll they should make involving concentration or self control.
+2 bonus against any attempt of mind-control or influence.
-2 to save against any spell cast by them involving the mind (illusions, charms, emotions...)
LEVEL 2: DISCERNING OF TRUTH
This power may be used as many times per day as Path levels the character has. The Thelemic automatically disbelieves any illusion or phantasm in his background (visual or otherwise), as well as magically-induced emotions or desires. He may try to dispel them utterly, so that they also stop hindering his. To accomplish it, he rolls against the caster as per the chances of a successful Dispel Magic (even if the Thelemic does not know that spell).
LEVEL3: ARTIFICIAL ELEMENT (EGREGORUM)
Useable as many times per week as Path levels the character has; this powerful ability allows the Thelemic to create an idea, emotion or desire and link it to a place or person. It may be as specific or as abstract as the mage wishes (from "hatred" or "fear" to "desire to read" or "a compulsion to kill Stefan Karameikos"). People entering the area (or being a direct subject to the incantation) must save vs. spell at -4 or be unable to resist the compulsion. Those who save may choose to resist, but will find great stress in doing so (-2 to every roll). In order to fix an Egregorum, the mage must "capture" the desired emotion from a convenient place: that is, anywhere where at least 1000 people are experiencing that emotion or thought. He might "accumulate" emotions by visiting different locales where people experience the same feeling (EG, five different temples of Ixion to create an Egregorum of "devotion towards Ixion", or 500 happy couples to capture "lust"). He must spend an hour at each site in incantation and use an expensive vessel (10000 gp value) to capture the emotion. Then, back at the desired place or person (which must be willing or restrained), he spends a full day in magical procedures, which culminate in the shattering of the vessel. The Egregorum or "Artificial Element" is then permanently fixed and may only be wished away or dispelled by a caster of a higher level than the Thelemic.
LEVEL 4: TRUE WILL
The ultimate power of Thelemics is finding out that spellcasting is a mere crutch for the powers of will. By reaching the highest level of power, the caster (4 times per week) may transcend the need of memorising spells and using hand-gestures, words and magical tools (if using AD&D). In fact, each spell slot the character possesses is like a Wish spell of the adequate level (that is, a 1st lvl wish could duplicate any 1st lvl spell or any effect with a power comparable to a 1st lvl spell; a 5th lvl "wish", like any spell of 5th lvl or under). A Wish follows the normal rules. This power is very great, for it lets a mage transcend the limitations of his daily spell choice, but it has its risks: each usage of the power may run for a day... but every time the magic-user uses 10 spell levels of "wishing magic", he must pass a saving throw vs. spells (at -1 for each 10 after the first) or become hopelessly mad from the experience of pure power (the DM takes the character as an NPC, unless the player agrees to make a fine and difficult role--playing job). As the "spells" do not need gestures or words, the caster may invoke his power while gagged, tied or underwater, etc.
4. Penalties: Besides the standard penalty for an Elementalist (if the character was one of such before initiating himself into the Path), Thelemics become quite self centred and may fall into lapses of deep distraction and absent-mindedness. Every time that they engage into an activity considered "routine" or "boring" (like waiting for someone at a pub table, walking down an apparently empty corridor or standing guard), the DM may deem opportune to have the character make both a WIS check and a Saving Throw vs. spell. If any of them fails, the character lapses into mental divagation and may commit serious negligence. Besides, Thelemics reaching the 3rd Circle become so deeply involved in continuous and divergent speculation that they suffer a permanent -1 penalty to initiative.