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The Cleric-Mages of Zirchev

by Jennifer Guerra and Carl Quaif

The Order of Zirchev is a sect of the Church of Traladara dedicated to the defence of the country's wildlands against defilement or incursion. A small, little-known sect within the Order, the Cleric-Mages of Zirchev (officially, the Holy Magical Order of Zirchev Mageborn) train intensively at magic, hoping to aid in the restoration of an independent Traladaran state. These mage-priests have been banned, at King Stefan's command, from the School of Magecraft at Krakatos; most now train surreptitiously, with sympathetic masters - many among the Vyalia elves of eastern Karameikos.

The Cleric-Mages of Zirchev advance as clerics for game purposes, with all benefits and restrictions due to common clerics of the Church (with major spell access in the Plant and Animal spheres, and minor access in Healing). Due to their forest-based training, they receive the Tracking and Survival skills as bonus proficiencies.

However, in order to gain their training in the art of magecraft, Cleric-Mages cannot devote time to the art of war; therefore, they receive no weapon proficiency slots, and can use only a dagger or small blade (as per the mage class) in combat. In exchange for these lost abilities, the Cleric-Mage gains the abilities of a standard mage, beginning at the fourth clerical level (i.e., a fourth-level cleric gains the abilities of a first-level mage, etc.). Note that standard magical restrictions, such as spell components, memorisation of spells, and so on, still apply. The Cleric-Mages may progress in their magical knowledge over time to the equivalent of the sixth level of magecraft. They may progress as clerics as far as any standard cleric, though they may only gain a single weapon proficiency (short bow or longsword), a minimum of two levels after progression as a mage ceases.

Due to their magical "cross-training," many Cleric-Mages have sought to replicate magical effects in priestly spells over the years (no doubt to enhance their spellcasting efficacy). As a result of their efforts, some of their created spells have become standard for the sect. The following spells are thus among those granted to the Cleric-Mage followers of the Immortal Zirchev.

Dream Pollen

Level: 1
Range: 20'
Duration: 2d6 Turns
Effect: sends creatures within range to sleep

This clerical variant of the mage spell Sleep is ancient; legend has it that Zirchev devised it whilst still mortal, as part of his Quest for Immortality. Cleric-Mages today use it as a defence against both evil intruders and "accidental" visitors. Despite its name, the spell does not necessarily require pollen; any particulate vegetable matter (poppy seeds, ground tree bark, etc) will do. The caster must hold a handful of such matter in his left hand wile casting the spell; at its finish, he must blow sharply on the pollen, spraying it in an area measuring roughly 10' x 10'. All creatures of less than 4 HD in that area will immediately fall asleep (no saving throw) for 2d6 Turns, unless shaken awake. Creatures with more than 4 HD are not affected. A victim of this spell can be slain with a single blow from a weapon, although this is done only if the victim is an obvious or proven enemy; otherwise, most Cleric-Mages will simply remove the interloper to another part of the forest, away from their protected areas.

Note: Using the Clerical Special Powers from WotI, Cleric-Mages of Zirchev gain the ability to cast one Dream Pollen spell once per day at 1st Level (although, like normal Clerics, they gain no true spells until 2nd Level). This is in addition to the normal complement of spells.

Verdant Elixir

Level: 1
Range: 30'
Duration: special (see below)
Effect: charms 1 individual

This adaptation of the mage spell Charm Person has seen frequent use amongst Zirchev's followers, particularly at those times when their sect has come under heavy scrutiny and condemnation.

The spell requires that a herbal infusion, such as willowbark tea, be brewed by the Cleric-Mage. This drink is then enchanted with the spell, and given to the recipient. The liquid must be consumed by the drinker of her own free will (although she need not know that it is more than just a restorative), or the spell will fail. The enchantment takes effect with no saving throw, and functions more or less identically to a Charm Person effect, with a saving throw allowed approximately once per week to break the charm; however, many Cleric-Mages will have their Charmed companions drink more regular doses "for their health", to reinforce their control.

Currently, the spell is most often used on new initiates into the mysteries of Zirchev's worship, to ensure they are not spies; such imbibers are made fully aware of the nature of the potion they consume, as a test of their willingness to join. In olden times, however, certain Cleric-Mages were known to inveigle their way into the service of great lords, posing as wise men, wizards or simple apothecaries, in order to use this spell as a means to take power behind the scenes....

Forest Watcher

Level: 2
Range: 0' (caster only)
Duration: permanent until broken
Effect: camouflages caster in woodland settings

Designed to allow Cleric-Mages the opportunity to observe intruders into their domains without notice, this spell cloaks the caster with illusion, making him appear to be some small, unremarkable forest creature, such as a rabbit, squirrel etc (chosen during casting). The illusion is extremely lifelike, an moves with the caster, simulating the normal movement of the creature as the caster walks. Observers have a 1 in 6 chance, if they state they are suspicious of the animal, of spotting the one flaw in the illusion - the creature casts no shadow.

The spell is broken if the caster attacks another person; otherwise, it can potentially last forever. The spell is named for the Forest Watchers, the title given to those members of the Order of Zirchev whose duty it is to watch for interlopers and ravagers of the forest.

Sentinel Tree

Level: 2
Range: touch
Duration: 12 hours
Effect: temporary enchantment of 1 tree

This spell, which has no magical equivalent, enchants a single tree to "record" everything which happens nearby for the next 12 hours. The caster will usually select a tree near a known campsite, or by an established trail, for the purpose.

At any time up to 24 hours after the spell expires, the caster may touch his forehead to the tree's trunk to receive its recorded impressions. These are transmitted directly into the caster's mind in a single burst, requiring him to sit and meditate for at least one hour to decipher them. The images will be shadowy, with little detail. The caster can tell if, and when in the recording, living things passed by; he will know how many, and what movements were made, but no details of race or individual appearance can be discerned. Relative alignment can be guessed, as images of evil or cruel beings will appear "darker" than good ones. Since the tree keys into life-force for its recording, the spell cannot make the tree sense the presence of undead under any circumstances. The tree chosen to receive this spell must be alive and growing; a dead trunk may not be enchanted. A single tree may be used as the spell focus an unlimited number of times.

Ring of the Forest Watchers

This item is a plain copper thumb-ring; engraved on the inside is the Holy Symbol of the Cleric-Mages of Zirchev. The detail of the engraving is exquisite. Despite the soft metal they are made from, none of these Rings ever dent, bend or tarnish in any way.

When worn, the Ring renders the wearer invisible, while simultaneously creating the illusion of a small, common forest creature (squirrel, rabbit, fieldmouse, etc) in his place. As the wearer moves, the animal moves with him, using its own "normal" method of locomotion. These Rings are usually enchanted to produce up to 2d4 different animal images; the wearer may change between them at will, to allay suspicion in anyone who may notice they are being followed. If the wearer attacks someone, the Ring's magic is cancelled; the wearer may not reassume his animal aspect for a full Turn.

There are perhaps 15 of these Rings in existence; most, if not all, belong to members of the sect which enchanted them, the Cleric-Mages of Zirchev. Ownership of a Ring of the Forest Watchers is usually restricted to the high-level members of the sect, although some adventuresome members have been known to use them on occasion.