Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Nine Worlds: Everyday Magic

-->People in the Nine Worlds make use of many small magic’s in their daily lives, leaving the greater workings to gods, clerics and wizards. This is largely evident in the daily rituals and practices observed in nearly every home, farm and household. To survive in the chaotic and often hostile environment of the Nine Worlds, people take part in a number of simple magical practices. Many of them involve no more than simple offerings of respect to local spirits (fey, outsiders of elementals), while others are more complex and even dangerous.
The Adept Class
"No one alive could talk as well as he did
On points of Medicine and of surgery,
For being grounded in astronomy,
He watched his patient’s favorable star
And by his Natural Magic knew what are
The lucky hours and planetary degrees
For making charms and effigies."
-Chaucer, “Doctor of Physic.”
Adepts, skillymen, witches, cunning folk, herb folk, whatever they are called, these NPC spellcasters can be found all over the Nine Worlds practicing their trade in “small” but useful magics. Adepts work as bone-setters, midwives, leeches, veterinarians and potion makers. The large majority of spellcasting servants of the gods will in-fact be Adepts rather than Clerics or Druids, and will always have an excellent grasp of the local political and spiritual environment.
The magic practiced by the Adept is considered good and helpful magic for the most part (though evil Adepts certainly exist). Theirs is the way of folk remedies, luck and dealing with the fickle spirits of field, crop, water and weather, and not the great and terrible magic of wizards or clerics. Adepts tend to be straight talking folk with attitudes and dress similar to that of any other craftsfolk in their community.
Most adepts are Humans or Trolde. Dwarves prefer Diviners, and Elves and Half Elves are far more likely to have full Vanir Clerics. Trolde adepts are almost always male, as female Trolde spellcasters are almost always Druids.

Ceremonies and Rituals
A great many rituals fill the day to day lives of mortals in the Nine Worlds. Many, like marriages and harvests, are mostly parties and an excuse to celebrate lifes small joys. Others are far more sombre affairs, requiring magical rites to perform. Some are detailed below.
Blood Oaths: Blood oaths are when two persons seal an oath or bond with the mingling of their blood. This process is a sacred one to the gods (Aesir, Vanir and Jotun), and is never entered into lightly. This ritual requires that a spellcaster able to cast 3rd level divine spells preside over the event. Once struck, if one of the participants breaks his oath, he of she immediately falls under the effects of a bestow curse spell. The duration of this spell is permanent and cannot be dispelled unless restitution is made towards the offended party.
Burial: Ceremonies for the recently departed are enormously important in the Nine Worlds. For if a dead man or woman is left to rot, he or she is likely to become an undead spirit or walking corpse of some kind. Burial rites require a divine spellcaster capable of casting at least 2nd level spells to send the dead on to their destinations.
Curses: Jelousy and malice sometimes inspire men to use wicked magic against others. Curses of all sorts are used by people all over the Nine Worlds, though it is considered a cowardly and dishonorable practice. Though use of the spell bestow curse is the most effective, non spellcasters can use several small rituals to bring the attention of malicious spirits against an enemy. This usually involves making offerings of blood, burnt hair or other materials (taken from the person to be cursed) given to the spirit. The spirit will become negatively disposed towards the victim, and will often seek to do him or harm. This is considered an evil act, and can carry the punishment of torture unto death at the Althing.
Sacrifice: Sacrificial offering to the gods are common occurrences at feast days or before battle. Such rituals are usually symbolic and meant to flatter and cajole a spirit or god in particular so as to gain its favor and goodwill. Other sacrifices actually enhance spellcasting power based on the type and quality of the victim. See feats below for details.

"Ring around the rosey,
Pocket full of posies.
Upstairs, downstairs.
We all fall down."
-Ring a Ring o' Roses
Disease in the Nine Worlds is caused by curses, spirits, rats, spiders and worms. Spiders are known to carry disease in their bites and that worms can appear in flesh, teeth and bones at any time (see spontaneous generation above). Treating these ailments require the aid of those skilled in herbs, alchemy and magic. Worms must be driven or pulled out, rats killed and spiders and evil magic driven away. DM's (Gamemasters, Treasure Keepers etc) are encouraged to invent their own foul ailments to bedevil PC's.
Magical Healing: Though a great many spells exist that can combat or even cure diseases, the services of spellcasters is not cheap, particularly regarding more potent spells. Local adepts will often work under a barter system with local farmers and craftsfolk so that healing services can be purchased even by the poor.
Plague: Outbreaks of disease can encompass whole families, villages, towns of even countries, threatening the lives (and souls) off everyone that comes near. In game terms, merely resisting the initial infection of a disease is not enough. Characters dwelling or adventuring near an outbreak of a disease must make saving throws for every hour of exposure.
Undeath: Undead are commonly created from disease, particularly zombies, ghosts, spectres and wraiths. Ghouls and Ghasts often become quite bold when disease is about, as such diseased flesh is often quite tasty (seasoned as they put it), and will often create more of their kind from those not yet dead from such disease. Corporeal undead and flesh golems can carry any disease, carrying the threat of infection to anyone they touch, speak to or who comes into contact with their flesh of fluids. Skeletons have no flesh, and thus rarely carry disease (waterlogged skeletons being the exception).

"Sure-hoofed is my steed in the day of battle: The high sprigs of alder are on thy hand: Bran by the branch thou bearest Has Amathaon the good prevailed."
-Cad Goddeu (the Battle of the Trees)
Druids, Sorcerers, Wizards and NPC Adepts are regularly approached as healers and midwives. As-such, knowledge in Nine Worlds healing and herbalism is very important. Gathering and using these herbs is considered a magical, mysterious art, and those who do so are seen as at least part magician, but are much appreciated for their skill. Some herbs commonly found in a herbalists garden are as follows:
Apple Blossoms (Silver Bough, Tree of Love, Fruit of the Gods): Apple blossoms are sacred to many fey and lesser gods, and is thought to represent a passage into underworld. Used to treat diseases brought by the touch of the undead and as a potent aphrodisiac.
System: Apple Blossom medicines grant a +2 to Fort saves to resist necromantic touch attacks such as ghoul touch, ghoul/ghast paralysis and the like. Apple blossoms are indeed a potent aphrodisiac, taken by men and women.
Basil (Witches Herb, Aethiope, Dittany): Basil is commonly strewn on floors to purify a home, and is used to establish harmony. Basil grows in great abundance in warmer lands, and is used as a seasoning in many tasty foods.
System: Use of basil by a spellcaster grants a +2 enhancement bonus to Decipher Script and Scry checks. Dried Basil leaves will become scorpions if left on the floor overnight.
Catnip (Catmint, Cat's Wort, Nepeta): Catnip is used in the making of love potions, and is adored by cats and cat monsters.
System: Potions of catnip cause all cats and catlike monsters (including outsiders) and women to view the character as attractive and pleasant company. Initial encounters are always begun at friendly, and all attempts at befriending cats gain a +2 enhancement bonus.
Chamomile (Ground apple, Whig plant, Maythen, Ostar Camomile): Chamomile is used for purification and protection, and can be used in incenses for sleep and meditation.
System: Chamomile medicines grant a +2 to Will saves to resist enchantment effects. It also grants deep sleep when taken before bedtime.
Hyssop (Yssop): Hyssop is used in the cleansing sacred places, cleans corrupting flesh, dispels negative (undead) energies. This herb is also repulsive to incorporeal undead.
System: Hyssop potions cause incorporeal undead (ghosts, spectres, etc) to become Sickened (see page 50 of the Blood and Treasure Players Guide).
Lavender (Asarum, Nardus, Elf-leaf): Lavender is used to treat epilepsy and other disorders of the brain. Used to clean sickrooms and to sweeten the air of wealthy homes.
System: Characters treated with Lavender regain WIS damage at a rate of 2 point per day of rest (light activity, no combat or spellcasting). Complete bed rest restores 4 points per day.
Peppermint (Lammint, Brandy mint): Peppermint is used in healing, purification, and the freshening of foul places. Peppermint grows wild in many regions, and is used in many sorts of tasty foods as well as medicine.
System: Peppermint potions cause corporeal undead (ghouls, zombies etc) to become Sickened (see page 50 of the Blood and Treasure Players Guide).
Rosemary (Compass weed, Polar plant): Rosemary is used in the strengthening the memory and helping the brain. Rosemary is also associated with the fidelity of lovers, and is presented to wedding guests as a gift.
System: Characters treated with Rosemary regain INT damage at a rate of 2 point per day of rest (light activity, no combat or spellcasting). Complete bed rest restores 4 points per day.
Sage (Garden sage): Sage is used as a treatment for ulcers, sores, urination issues and hair regrowth. Sage is also used to increase wisdom and mental acuity.
System: Potions of sage grant a spellcaster a +2 to Concentration checks while casting a spell. Sage treatments also grant a +2 to Fort saves to resist diseases of the bladder, and infections.
Thyme (Common thyme, garden thyme): Thyme is used as an antiseptic, for mummification, healing and to bring about restful sleep. Women who wear thyme on their person are irresistible to men, enhancing the scent of female sexuality.
System: Use of thyme on a patient regains subdual damage at a rate of 2 hit point per hour per character level. Women using thyme gain a +2 enhancement bonus to Trickery checks when dealing with men.
Tobacco Leaf: Tobacco is used to treat muscle spasms, and is beloved by many spirit beings. Smoking of tobacco is widespread throughout the Nine Worlds, with an assortment of specialized blends.
System: Offerings of tobacco grants a user a +2 enhancement bonus to Diplomacy checks when dealing with Air Elementals, Water Elements and Fey. Smoking tobacco grants a +2 to saves to resist fear and paralysis effects.
Valerian (All-heal, Heliotrope, Amantilla, Setwall): Valerian is used for treating menstrual cramps, blood loss, and other physically draining diseases. Valerian is also used as an aphrodisiac.
System: Characters treated with Valerian regain CON damage at a rate of 2 point per day of rest (light activity, no combat or spellcasting). Complete bed rest restores 4 points per day.
Yarrow (Arrowroot, Achillea, Lady's Mantle, Woundwort): Yarrow is uses as an anti-depressant, for healing, and to resist fear effects.
System: If a patient is treated with Yarrow and undergoes complete bed rest (doing nothing for an entire day), the character recovers two times the character's character level in hit points.

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I saw Eternity the other night,
Like a great ring of pure and endless light
-- Henry Vaughan