Despite my best efforts to keep these ATGMs small enough to be self-contained, it was inevitable that sooner or later there would be one that was simply too big for a single post.
Part one of the answer looked at the question “Why Bother?”, and discovered that once the negative associations were minimized, Arcane Components could provide a wealth of content for a campaign, along the way constructing a more rigorous classification system for such components. In part two, I took the lessons learned in Part 1 and used them to derive a process for generating more entries in each category. In this concluding part, I am going to list some exotic examples that I have created using that process. As an extra bonus, these also have utility as exotic substances even if you don’t use arcane components in your campaigns!
I have ten such substances to offer, but (as many of you will know), medical circumstances have been playing hob with my ability to meet deadlines lately. This will certainly continue to be the case for a while to come – I’m already behind schedule this week despite using a pre-prepared filler article on Monday. As a result, it may be necessary to split this final part in two, turning the three parts into four. I am trying hard to avoid this, but time is against me. If there are only five substances described below, there will be another five to follow!
I’ve relied heavily on past discussions regarding D&D/PFRPG with Ian Gray, in D&D and the Zenith-3 campaign with Nick Deane, and in general with Graham McDonald many years ago, for these articles. Ian’s contributions were a major element of Part 1 of this series, and Nick and Graham (unknowingly at the time) contributed to a number of elements of part 2. I have drawn on inspiration from all three in this final part, though their contributions are more indirect.
The Exotic Components
Originally, there was only going to be one of these, present to illustrate the process described in the previous part of this series. There were two flaws in that plan: I kept thinking up more of them, and the process ended up being clear enough that no example was needed. And yet, I felt that my answer to GM Roy would be incomplete without at least giving him some material components, even though the question was asked quite a while ago and was no doubt resolved within his campaign long ago.
The first two that I thought of were Perfect Octarine and Ethereal Alloy, and they established a pattern. I wanted one example from each of the inner planes of existence, but didn’t quite get there. Some are more completely-realized than others, which are a bit on the sketchy side. But they will all hopefully be a lot of fun to introduce to your campaigns!
I should start by going through the format that I’m going to be using to describe these Exotic Materials, even though they should be fairly self-evident.
Each element has an illustration. In fact, it has two – if you click on one of the thumbnails, you will get, in a new tab or window, what is supposed to be a high-resolution image for printing but which my photo editor insists on saving as a larger, screen-resolution image. So you will have some work to do in order to use the image as intended, but by offering a big image, in a way, you are actually getting the best of both worlds. Most of the images aren’t that large in file size, so feel free to download and use however you see fit!
What does it look like (for those who may be visually-impaired)? What are its physical properties? What can be added the description that you can’t see in the illustration?
If the material exists naturally, this is where you’ll find it. If it doesn’t, this will be blank. There may be multiple potential locations for some of the materials.
If the material doesn’t exist naturally, this is where you have to go in order to create it. If it does, this will be blank, unless there is some form of refinement required before the material is actually available that can or must be performed in a location other than the “created” location (ie a two-step process, finding and refining).
What does the material symbolize? This will be an incomplete list but will give some idea of the sort of spells that the material is suitable for.
What do you have to do to get/create it? How is it created – according to best knowledge?
What are the dangers involved in getting/creating it? What are the dangers (if any) of having it around? What precautions can a character take against these dangers?
The suggested rating on the rarity scale. Subject to revision by the GM, even mid-campaign if the circumstances are right.
Anything else that I have to say about the material.
- Description: An opal-like gem, naturally smoothed and polished, that reveals perfectly ordered and symmetric internal facets when it is angled under a light source. Closer inspection reveals complex patterns within the colors and a deeper symmetric ordering, and yet there is an almost random, haphazard quality to the internal facets. The more closely the gems are studied, the greater the internal complexity that can be discerned. Normally elliptical in shape, it remains cool to the touch no matter what heat it is subjected to. Physically it is no tougher than spun glass, making it extremely fragile. The name derives from the 8-fold symmetry and the perfection of form within each gem.
- Found: Astral Plane, Plane of Water, Plane of Fire, (very rarely) Plane of Earth – refer below. When found anywhere but on the plane of Earth they can usually be identified by the melee that surrounds them (see below).
- Created: Astral Plane if the natural process is replicated, and this is usually the safest way of obtaining one. Each such act of creation inherently and explicitly warns the inhabitants of the other planes involved that an Octarine has been created, (see below for the consequences).
- Qualities: Order, Condensation, Freezing, Fire Suppression, Law, Chaos, Interdimensional Portals.
- Process: On extremely rare occasions, the boundaries between the inner planes can weaken and fluctuate unpredictably. On even more rare occasions, multiple breakdowns can occur in the same region of the Astral Plane. And on still more infrequent occasions, these can occur between exactly the right outer planes, in just the right order, for just the right length of time, to produce a matched quartet of Perfect Octarines.
First, the elemental plane of Earth must leak a cubic foot of Fundamental Earth into the Astral Plane. At the very instant it is about to emerge, a Pure Flame from the Elemental Plane of Fire must melt it instantaneously. Because liquid cannot withstand the interplanar compression as the portal from the Plane Of Earth closes, the molten rock is condenses and compressed, in turn compressing the small amount of Astral Plane that is mixed with the molten Earth. The instant before the portal from the plane of earth closes, a portal from the Elemental Plane of water opens and rapidly cools the compressed Fundamental-earth-and-Astral Plane mixture. All three portals must then close at the same instant. Understandably, this is a very rare phenomenon.
The bubbles of Astral Plane within are extremely turbulent and chaotic but the surface is reduced to perfect order, trapping the chaos and imposing structure upon it, while the whole is coated in a very thin layer of glass, forming a set of Perfect Octarine at the point where the portals close. One Perfect Octarine is drawn into each of the three planes whose properties created the Gems, leaving a fourth to float through the Astral Plane.
- Dangers: Perfect Octarines are prized by beings of Law because they add an instant character level / HD to such beings, sometimes more (the most common add three, the largest ever discovered adds 5). The levels so “earned” are stored within the gem including all skill adds, hit points, to-hit bonuses, etc, and these may be bequeathed to another character simply by handing over the Perfect Octarine. However, those levels do not exist when the being of Law confronts a being of Chaotic disposition.
Perfect Octarines are also highly prized by beings of Chaos because they not only confer Character Levels / HD to such beings, they confer a threshold of harm (blows must do more damage than the added character levels before they have any effect) against all attacks by creatures of Law.
Perfect Octarines are hated by beings of Water because they freeze such beings solid, usually killing them, and any other such beings in contact with them at the time, instantly (destroying the Perfect Octarine simultaneously). They are hated by beings of Fire because they explode on contact with such creatures, evaporating / dissipating all such creatures within a 250′ radius, usually killing them instantly (and destroying the Perfect Octarine at the same time). As such, they are a constant threat to such beings, and mere possession of a Perfect Octarine, or potential possession of one, is deemed an act of violence against such creatures.
Beings of Earth cannot sense Perfect Octarine within their realm, and are subject to no known effects from encountering them. However, they dislike intruders of Fire or Water and will usually destroy Octarines whenever they encounter one. It is rumored that when in the possession of a non-Earth being, that being is also immune to Earth Elemental’s tremorsenses (etc).
What’s more, the gems issue an almost-irresistible siren call to all four such types of beings who pass within 1km of the Perfect Octarine. This siren-call is even strong enough to overwhelm the control of summoned creatures. The only thing that can distract from this siren call is the presence of a rival possessor of the Octarine. It follows that Perfect Octarines are always surrounded by representatives of all four planes of existence fighting an all-out war with each other for possession of the Octarine.
Mortals are not subject to the siren call (though the siren call of greed may form an acceptable substitute – they are so rare they are worth 100,000gp/level conferred), but (depending on their alignment) may be affected as either a creature of order or chaos. Only creatures of Neutrality upon the Law-Chaos axis are unaffected by the Octarines and usually regard them as a universal menace to be destroyed immediately – along with the possessor of the Octarine, if necessary.
Not only does anyone seeking possession of the Octarine have to fight off everyone else who wants it (or wants to destroy it) but they will regularly be under threat of attack by Lawful, Chaotic, Water, or Fire-based creatures. Worse still, for some unknown reason, possessors of Perfect Octarine earn no experience for vanquishing other would-be possessors or destroyers of the Octarine.
- Rating: Exotic.
- Comments: The fact that these are usually seen as being more trouble than they are worth only makes them more appealing to collectors. It is also rumored that an Assassin’s Guild somewhere has mastered the art of manufacturing faux-Octarine (no benefits but otherwise indistinguishable from the real thing) and uses these to “persuade” extra-planar creatures to do their dirty work for them.
It is worth noting that the process of manufacturing Perfect Octarines from scratch costs more than the value of the gems.
- Other Uses: refer above. In addition, Perfect Octarine can be used to create permanent passages between planes of existence, in the process nullifying their other properties and effects. Such passages can only be closed by first destroying the Octarine – but very few people, even amongst the learned on the subject, know this (DC 40 Planar Knowledge check, cannot take 20 or 10, cannot retry if the character fails without GM permission resulting from the acquisition of a new source of knowledge).
This material is based on ideas contained within the Mongoose Publishing game supplement,
Classic Play – Book of The Planes which I heartily recommend. There are still a few copies available on Amazon for those that don’t have it. Recommended for all Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Horror, & Cthulhu GMs!
- Description: This looks like slag that has been reheated just enough to work into a shape by a blacksmith, metal plates or armor made from leftovers. On closer inspection, the “impurities” that give the metal its somewhat mottled appearance seem to move at random intervals, especially when exposed to light, heat, electricity, or physical force. Cannot be worked once forged, so usually includes a superstructure that rivets the pieces into shape.
- Found: -
- Created: Ethereal Plane
- Qualities: Protection, Defense, Warding, Permanence, Etherealness, Immutability, Obscurity, Concealment, Resistance to Planar Travel, Lightness, Healing, Regeneration
- Process: It’s very hard to smelt and forge metal in the Ethereal Plane. It’s cool and clammy, and there is no gravity, and while the plane is morphic insofar as its shape mimics the structures that are/were in the adjacent plane, heat and work tend to dissipate those structures back into Ectoplasm in hours or less. The ectoplasmic mirroring of material plane structures thus tends to break down in forges, bakeries, and the like when any attempt to use these is made. On top of that, there is no gravity and nothing really solid to brace yourself against – even seemingly-solid structures like floors and walls can be penetrated with a strength of 7.
It is possible to “seed” the ectoplasmic mirroring of a new structure in an adjacent plane by shaping the mist into a shape resembling the whole or part of the structure. The more such seeds, the faster the structure is mirrored.
Ectoplasmic objects often vary considerably in mass relative to the original, sometimes lighter, sometimes heavier. This property is also morphic in some way, changing from time to time, though the mechanism and behavior of this change is not understood. As a general rule of thumb, Ectoplasmic objects mass only about 5-20% of their real-world counterparts.
On rare occasions, for reasons that are still unknown, small regions of the Ethereal Plane spontaneously coagulate, preceded by 2d4 rounds (ave 5) of a wild and mournful violin-like sound as the stiffening ectoplasmic fibers rub against each other. In rarer cases (apr. 1%), this warning sound lasts for 2d4 days instead. The sound has also been likened to 10,000 fingernails scraping on a blackboard. Coagulation typically affects a radius of 6d6 x 10′ (ave 210′) beginning at the center of the affected volume and expanding at a radius of 1d8 x 10′ per round (ave 45’/round). The Coagulation lasts for 7+3d10 hours half the time and 7+3d10 days the other half (averages 23.5 hrs and 23.5 days, respectively). Once coagulation takes place, any empty spaces within that are not sealed against this are filled with uncoagulated Ectoplasm, i.e. the normal “atmosphere” of the Ethereal Plane.
This is normally described as a hazard to travelers within the Ethereal Plane, because Coagulated Ectoplasm blocks interplanar travel to anyone who is caught in it, but it is actually a natural phenomenon that can be taken advantage of; Coagulated Ectoplasm is resistant enough to survive being worked and heated.
Creation of Ethereal Alloy requires extensive preparations. When preparations are complete, the would-be metalsmith must locate a point within the Ethereal Plane that is about to experience coagulation, and, before coagulation takes place, build a forge in the co-locational position within the adjacent plane of existence. 99% of the time, this must be complete within rounds, but 1% of the time, a (slightly) more leisurely approach is possible. He must then reenter the Ethereal Plane at that location and “seed” the formation of an Ethereal Reflection of the forge by creating brick-shaped pieces of Ether and placing them in walls etc.
The smith must also bring in unforged metal, fuel, food, and water for the maximum duration of the Coagulation event into the phantom Forge, and any assistants required. Mirroring of the forge and stockpiling of supplies must be complete before Coagulation occurs, trapping those participating in the Forging.
The metal can then be forged “as usual” until the Coagulation ends, but that alone is not enough to create Ethereal Alloy, which requires the melting of a congealed ectoplasm into the metal being forged. The ectoplasm must be mirroring something which would melt at the temperatures being achieved within the forge, which will be only about 70% of the normal temperatures. The heat of the furnace breaks down the mirrored structure formed by the “normal” Ectoplasm, but not before it is transformed (melted) by virtue of the properties of the object being mimicked. In this way, the ectoplasm is infused into the metal, “alloying” itself to form Ethereal Alloy.
The amount of Ethereal Material infused is critical. If insufficient ectoplasm is infused, it will leak out again; if too much, the alloy will crumble like wet biscuit. Nor is the process a linear one; it is exponential in nature, because every piece of ectoplasm not only adds to the ectoplasmic content, it reinforces the alloy’s ability to hold more Ectoplasm. The critical point is a little under 4% by mass. But that’s tricky to assess in a no-gravity environment, especially since objects masses are morphic. You can’t judge by eye, you need to work the metal until it “feels” right, using experience built up over many attempts, or using trial-and-error and luck.
And, of course, there’s a deadline (the Ectoplasm de-coagulates eventually, reverting to normal Ectoplasm, which cannot maintain its mirrored structure within the intense heat), but you don’t know when that will be. It could be hours or it could be days, you can’t tell. This is the reason small parts and components are what are usually constructed from Ethereal Alloy which can then be riveted together at a later time and in the normal way. Creating Ethereal Alloy is a DC35 blacksmithing check under ideal circumstances. Once the alloy has been forged and cooled, it is unworkable beyond simple joining; any attempt to do so will release the alloyed ectoplasm leaving you with a pile of metal trash. This includes “shape metal” spells of any kind.
- Dangers: Ethereal Alloys are so useful that some entities monitor attempts to create it in hopes of being able to usurp the construction or steal the finished product while the smiths are still in the Ethereal Plane and (relatively) vulnerable. Others have been known to set up ambushes with similar intent. At the moment the Congealment ends and the ‘mirror forge’ reverts to normal Ectoplasm, it is no longer able to contain the heat that was generated within, which erupts into the surrounding space – it’s as though the smith was placed in the middle of his own forge. This can be instantly lethal or can inflict devastating burns. There are a few creatures that inhabit the Ethereal Plane and many passing travelers; these may take “an interest” at any time, especially if there’s the prospect of some Ethereal Alloy in return. Because extra-planar travel is impossible from within the Congealed Ectoplasmic Forge, if supplies are inadequate, characters may starve. It is speculated that in 1% of 1% of cases, the congealment may last months or years instead of hours or days, but this has never been proven. Aside from these, there are no inherent dangers in the creation of Ethereal Alloy.
- Rating: Exotic.
- Comments: The metal within the alloy is partially in a quasi-ethereal state at all times, greatly lightening it (approx 40% reduction). This gives Ethereal Alloy its scaly “slag-like” appearance; to some extent, you can actually see into the metal, rather than just seeing the surface. This is also why these scales migrate from time-to-time when exposed to a hostile force or energy.
- Other Uses: Ethereal Alloys have four attributes that yield a wealth of other uses, making the material very desirable.
First, as already noted, it weighs only about 60% of what it should, by volume, so it’s popular in arms and armor. Second, the qualities of the original metal are enhanced and improved. Copper becomes even more bendable and malleable, and an even better conductor of heat. Brass becomes even more fragile (not so helpful). Steel becomes tougher. Third, anything made from Ethereal Alloy automatically has the “Ghost Touch” characteristic, ie it is solid to otherwise insubstantial creatures. And fourth, it regenerates. A sword bent out of shape will resume that shape over a 24-hour period. Armor will lose its dents, and close rents and tears, in a similar time-frame (it is common for Armor forged from Ethereal Alloy to be enchanted to also regenerate the wearer).
Weapons often have barbs and hooks designed to break off and cause additional damage or blood loss to those impaled or struck; should the owner of the weapon win the fight, he needs only to extricate these additions from the corpses of his enemies and reattach them to the weapon using some temporary means (wax or honey are popular) and they will knit back together in less than an hour.
Smaller objects resume their shapes even more quickly. This makes it especially valued for mechanisms of all sorts. A clock-spring made from Ethereal Alloy is effectively self-winding – as the clock runs down, it distorts the Ethereal Alloy, which then restores itself to the fully-wound position if that is the shape in which it was created. Trap mechanisms can be self-rearming, even if disabled; the Ethereal Alloy is capable of exerting STR100 in this way, more then enough to twist and tear even a dagger in the workings apart. Self-repairing wheel hubs, self-repairing tools and implements, the list of applications is endless. Some clever artisans have even found ways to harness that incredible Strength for spring-powered weaponry like crossbows. These applications also suit the potentially-short time-frame for manufacture of the Alloy.
Firespheres are based on some incomplete original ideas for the environment within the elemental plane of Fire. These ideas were intended to be supplemented with analogous treatments for the other elemental planes, but I never got around to it. For that reason, the notes have been rewritten to imply that these attributes are unique to the Plane Of Fire. If any GMs want to finish the work by extrapolating out to the other Elemental Planes, feel free to do so; you can even keep the text as written by postulating that the Plane Of Fire version was the only one known at the time the “text” which is being quoted was written.
- Description: In appearance, this is a ball of red-and-gold fire that is always backed by black shadows no matter from which angle it is viewed. Multiple people can look at the same Firesphere at the same time from different directions and all will see it against a black background which appears to fray into tattered non-existence at the edges. Any stand or pedestal also appears in front of this black shadow as though it were behind whatever is supporting the ball. After a few minutes close inspection, stars can be observed twinkling in the blackness, though these are never present to casual inspection. Sizes range from 1 inch to about three feet (40 inches) in diameter. Firespheres are actually cool and solid to the touch, more akin to a glass sculpture. Gazing into one gives the impression that the fiery interior is actually some unfathomable distance away and much bigger than the firesphere can contain. When so studied, genuine Firespheres (there have been some attempts to produce fakes over the years) grow inexplicably warm to the touch.
- Found: Plane Of Fire
- Created: -
- Qualities: Fire, Duplication, Reproduction, Growth, Universality
- Process: -
- Dangers: Firespheres are typically protected by 2-6 Fire Elementals of size Large or bigger. Refer “Other Uses” below.
- Rating: Exotic.
- Comments: As noted above, planar boundaries occasionally fluctuate and permit a leakage of material from one plane to another. Within the Elemental Plane of Air are streamers and bubbles of various gases, drifting in isolation, sometimes intersecting and coming together in strange alchemies. Some of these are highly flammable. When planar flux permits the release of a portion of the Elemental Plane Of Fire into such an environment, the Gas ignites, momentarily creating a flame that is hotter than that of the Plane Of Fire itself.
The Elemental Plane Of Fire is unique amongst the Elemental Planes in that any fire more intense than that of the plane, and that borders it, is immediately drawn into the Plane. The emission is thus reabsorbed into the Fire Plane just as it consumes itself, becoming a pocket of Quasi-non-flame within the Plane which immediately condenses to a much smaller size. The interface between this Quasi-non-flame and the Plane around it is a Firesphere.
Some fire elementals believe that the entire Elemental Plane of Fire is the interior of an inverted Firesphere – the “outside” being inherently not Planar Fire. Others complain that this is a meaningless extrapolation of physical principles beyond their point of applicability, and therefore nonsensical.
- Other Uses: Firespheres are nesting environments for “baby” Fire Elementals. Initially populated by one such infant per square inch of surface area (4 pi r squared), these young are “cannibalistic” and fight for access to the surface, growing by consuming the other contenders until it completely “owns” the surface area. It then grows by absorbing the energy that drifts through the plane until the infant is large enough to survive on it’s own (4′ long, wrapped around the sphere), at which point it separates itself from the surface and leaves the “nest”, leaving it available for habitation by the next generation.
Fire Elementals are mono-gendered. One mechanism by which Adult+ Fire Elementals reproduce is by separating off a portion of their own mass sufficient to inhabit the Firesphere (there are also other methods, including internal incubation). While the infants inhabit the firesphere, the parent will guard the firesphere. For some reason that is yet unexplained, once an Elemental has used a Firesphere, they will not use that particular Firesphere to reproduce again; it is thought but unverified that differences within spheres contribute to individuality within the Elemental population.
In addition to the Guardian protecting its young, there will be other Fire Elementals inclined to reproduce waiting to claim the vacated space, and who will fight to protect the Firesphere itself.
- Description: Ghostwood appears to be a somewhat-spherical piece of hollow driftwood which has holes eroded in it through which sparkling blue-white energy is visible. It is very soft and slightly wet to the touch (think of wet cork) except in the “gaps” which are solid nothingness – most objects inserted are Disintegrated to the point of contact with the invisible “surface”, including fingers, daggers, etc. Magical objects inserted into a gap are not Disintegrated and are instead transported to the Ethereal Plane, losing one magical plus, one minor ability, or 20% of their remaining charges (round up) in the process. Such objects are somehow still “bound” to the Ghostwood, and if the Ghostwood is kept in one place for long enough, will “follow” it through the Ethereal Plane until they come to rest within 2d20x10 feet of the “Ethereal Shadow” of the Ghostwood (see also “Other Uses,” below). The period of time required for such migration of objects is 1 week per year since the Ghostwood swallowed the object, plus d4 weeks for each time the Ghostwood has been teleported since. Only by removing the object from the Ethereal Plane can this link be broken. This does not restore the lost magic in the item, which has been permanently diminished.
- Found: Negative Energy Plane, Ethereal Plane.
- Created: -
- Qualities: Death, Life, Planar Travel, Disintegration, Destruction, Healing, Immunity to Negative Energy, Positive Energy
- Process: -
- Dangers: Aside from treasure-hunters (refer below), creatures of negative energy hate and fear Ghostwood. If a piece comes within 20 miles of them, they have an uncomfortable feeling which more experienced sentients may be able to identify. Within 10 miles, they have a definite awareness that something that is anathema to their kind is moving out there. Within 5 miles, they can get a vague direction. Within 1 mile, they get a clearer direction. Within 500′, they are aware of exactly where it is, relative to them. It is also possible that Ghostwood influences the mental state of the Wielder (refer below).
- Rating: Exotic.
- Comments: Ghostwood is the ghost of a tree which has been eroded by exposure to the Negative Energy Plane, having been sucked through during planar flux.
Not just any tree becomes a Ghost when it is destroyed; it must somehow be elevated to sentience, one step beyond the awareness that some say the Elves rouse in them. The tree must then die in a manner that makes it appropriate that it reform as a ghost of itself. This usually involves strong motivation, something trees are not often associated with – they tend to be fairly fatalistic. Before it can gather enough Ectoplasmic Energy to manifest itself on the Prime Material Plane, something only a few Ghosts ever manage, it must either be attacked by intense Negative Energy or be drawn into the Negative Energy Plane.
Both methods are likely to result from Planar Flux; the only difference is the direction of travel through the planar barriers. If Negative Energy is released into the Ethereal Plane, the Ghostwood can subsequently be found there; if the Ghost is thrust into the Negative Energy Plane, that is where the Ghostwood will exist.
The Negative Energy destroys the residuum of life that gives the ghost form, sentience, and purpose, but cannot occupy the “spiritual space” left behind the way it does with other ghostly forms to create some forms of undead, who will eventually make their way to the Prime Material Plane. The “Negative Energy Vacuum” that results continually draws Positive Energy into itself, eventually reaching the point of equilibrium where the Negative Energy can no longer affect the Ghostwood. The Negative Energy that is neutralized by the Positive Energy combines with the Ectoplasm of the wood that remains to restore it to solidity. In this form, it drifts through the Ethereal Plane until found by someone who knows what it is and who returns it to the Prime Material Plane for their own purposes.
Some philosophers suggest that the motivation of the original tree lingers at an instinctive level and manifests as a personal goal of the wielder each time Ghostwood is used, but there is no evidence to support this.
- Other Uses: In ages past, the Ethereal fate of magic items “consumed” by Ghostwood was not appreciated, and many dangerous magic items were “destroyed” by dumping them into the gaps in the timber of larger pieces of Ghostwood. Whenever such Ghostwood is found, Medium-level treasure hunters flock around it, making regular excursions into the Ethereal Plane to see what they can find. More expert (and dangerous) Treasure Hunters (including Vampires, Liches, Arch-Liches, Demons, Devils, Dark Gods, etc) will reason that it’s easier to win the race if you are the only one in the running. Other, more positive forces recognize the dangers that this poses, and will seek to oppose them. They will all recognize that the whole task becomes easier if they are the being in possession of the Ghostwood. The Ghostwood thus becomes a very dangerous MacGuffin to possess.
Some employ the Ethereal Passage of magic items in pursuit of the Ghostwood to which they have become linked to leave a trail that can be followed, either by secreting the Ghostwood somewhere about the person of the individual to be tracked and then following the trail through the Ethereal Plane, or as a means of enabling reinforcements to follow after the possessor when he sets out on a dangerous mission.
The final usage of note for Ghostwood is the destruction of Undead. Upon contact with Ghostwood, the Negative Energies that suffuse an undead are disrupted (if not destroyed). This also disrupts/destroys the Positive energy within the Ghostwood at the rate of 8 cubic inches per HD of disrupted creature. If this does not exhaust the Positive energy (Volume is equal to 4/3rds pi r cubed), destroying the Ghostwood, the Positive energy will regenerate at the rate of 1HD per hour. Ghostwood can also be used to disrupt magic weapons and armor that has a Negative Energy component or effect; each +1 is the equivalent of 4HD, each charge is the equivalent of 1/4th of a HD. Minor abilities are 4HD equivalent, Medium abilities are 8HD, and Greater abilities are 16HD.
The combination of these abilities is such that Ghostwood is very highly prized by beings who will stop at nothing to take it from whoever possesses it.
I’m really proud of this piece of completely original digital art. Even at full size (click the thumbnail) you can’t tell that it isn’t a photograph!
- Description: A perfect sunset in a bottle.
- Found: This is nothing more complicated than a vial of Air from Elysium.
- Created: -
- Qualities: Air, Heaven, Rest, Wind, Clouds, Life, Light, Purity, Good.
- Process: Go to Elysium, unstopper a bottle or vial, reseal the bottle or vial. Survive the experience.
- Dangers: Normal dangers of Planar Travel, plus (see below).
- Rating: Very Rare.
- Comments: There is a common belief that taking the Air from Elysium reduces its capacity for housing the Worthy Dead, raising the bar of admission that little bit higher. People uncertain of their chances tend to resent this, and at least some of them are going to take it personally. In addition, good people with more wayward children can become extraordinarily hostile under these circumstances.
- Other Uses: When held by an individual, the air glows to reflect the intensity of the purity of their beliefs. It is thus a perfect lie detector. It reacts to the presence of strong evil by dimming. It maximizes half the random damage component of any spell cast by a Good spellcaster, while minimizing half the random damage component of any spell cast upon the bearer by an Evil spellcaster. It prevents the “acquisition” of negative character levels, once per day, and finally, if breathed in, functions as a Heal spell (consuming the Heavenly Airs).
Well, I’m half-way through, and – as I feared – running late. It’s probably worth mentioning that I expected all the entries to be about the size of “Heavenly Airs”, above! So I’ll wrap this up next week with the other five exotic materials!
About the contributors:
Mike is the owner, editor, and principle author at Campaign Mastery, responsible for most of the words of wisdom (or lack thereof) that you can read here. You can find him on Twitter as gamewriterMike, and find out more about him from the “About” page above.
Ian Gray resides in Sydney Australia. He has been roleplaying for more than 25 years, usually on a weekly basis, and often in Mike Bourke’s campaigns. From time to time he GMs but is that rarest of breeds, a person who can GM but is a player at heart. He has played many systems over the years including Tales Of The Floating Vagabond, Legend Of The Five Rings, Star Wars, D&D, Hero System, Gurps, Traveller, Werewolf, Vampire, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, and many, many more. Over the last couple of years he has been dirtying his hands with game design. He was a contributor to Assassin’s Amulet, the first time his name appeared in the credits of a real, live, RPG supplement. Recently he has taken to GMing more frequently, with more initial success than he was probably expecting, based on his prior experiences.
Nick also lives in Sydney. He started roleplaying in the mid-1980s in high school with a couple of friends who got him into D&D. That group broke up a year later, but he was hooked. In late ’88 he found a few shops that specialized in RPGs, and a notice board advertising groups of gamers led him to his first long-term group. They started with AD&D, transferred that campaign to 2nd Ed when it came out, tinkered with various Palladium roleplaying games (Heroes Unlimited met Nick’s long-term fascination with Marvel’s X-Men, sparking his initial interest in superhero roleplaying), and eventually the Star Wars RPG by West End Games and Marvel Super Heroes Advanced Set. This also led to his first experiences with GMing – the less said about that first AD&D 2nd Ed campaign, the better (“so much railroading I should have sold tickets”). His second time around, things went better, and his Marvel campaign turned out “halfway decent”. That group broke up in 1995 when a number of members moved interstate. Three years later, Nick heard about what is now his regular group while at a science-fiction bookstore. He showed up at one of their regular gaming Saturdays, asked around and found himself signed up for an AD&D campaign due to start the next week. A couple of weeks later, He met Mike, and hasn’t looked back since. From ’98 he’s been a regular player in most of Mike’s campaigns. There’s also been some Traveller and the Adventurer’s Club (Pulp) campaign, amongst others. Lately he’s been dipping a tentative toe back into the GMing pool, and so far things have been going well.
Nick is unique amongst the GMs that Mike knows in that he has done some PbP (Play-by-post) gaming, something Mike neglected to include in an article on the evolution of RPGs and was quite rightly taken to task over (the article was updated within 24 hours to correct the omission).
“I’ve played spellcasters in a number of games and systems. In Mike’s original Fumanor campaign I played a cleric-monk hybrid and later a druid, while in the spin-off, Seeds of Empire, I have run a lawful good Orcish War-priest throughout the campaign. I’ve also played spellcasters in a couple of superhero games – a couple of Marvel campaigns from 1988-1995, and my modern-Norse spellcaster Runeweaver in Mike’s current Zenith-3 campaign for getting on for a decade. I mention this at Mike’s request because it, more than my GMing experience, is how I have been able to contribute to this topic.”