Feb 3, 2012

Sorcery in the Dawnlands: Sarxianism

All practitioners of sorcery as known as "gnostics" or "wizards", and the practice itself is referred to as "the Knowledge", "Gnosticism" or "Sorcery". Sorcerers can be found across the Dawnlands, though they are most common in Dwer Tor and the Orthocracy of Kaddish. Still, some live on the plains, even amongst the Kadiz and the Hill People, who preserve their own unique style of magic, the Sarxian style.

The origins of Sarxianism lie in the Children of Night, the nation who became the Hill People when the kingdom of High Kaddish eradicated their civilisation in a series of brutal wars several centuries ago known as the Wars of Dawn and Dusk. Before its destruction, the Kaddish sorcerer Zulaith the Patriot studied it, codified it along with Psychomimetism and Logokratonism, and preserved it even after the fall of the Children of Night. Not all Sarxian sorcerers were destroyed during the Wars of Dawn and Dusk, and those that weren't have continued to teach others.

Sarxianism is the most concrete school of sorcery. It focuses on unlocking the magical potential of substances, places and people and altering the world by the application of the magical energy released. 

Sarxian Spells

All Sarxian spells use the same skill Sorcery (Sarxianism), regardless of their source. When a PC sorcerer learns a spell, it should be noted which tradition they learnt it under. PCs may learn the same spell in multiple styles, and may choose which style (and thus skill) they wish to use. Sarxianism contains all sorcery spells (as do the other two styles), but very few people still teach its practices in a systematic way.

Costs for Sarxian Spells

Casters using the Sarxian style who cast spells with ingredient costs calculated in gold ducats do not pay gold ducats. Instead, they must inflict damage in HP equal to the number of gold ducats, either to themselves or others (animals count) each time they wish to cast the spell. All HP loss must come from a single source, which may necessitate finding a mighty beast with enough HP for powerful spells.

Some Ways to Learn Sarxianism

Ulmeric's On the Essence of the World

Ulmeric was a gnollish pupil of Nasuul Tomb-Breaker about four hundred years ago, right before the Wars of Dusk and Dawn. His "On the Essence of the World" is a distillation of the mystical teachings of his mistress and is the book on Sarxianism in widest distribution, with translations into every language. Copies of it can even be found amongst the Hill People and Kadiz, often the only book a gnostic on the plains will own.

It teaches the Sarxian versions of Mystic Vision, Spiritual Projection, Vision Projection, Hearing Projection, Create Familiar, Create Spell Matrix, and Create Scroll.

Hermitage of Guravius

Another pupil of Nasuul Tomb-Breaker was Guravius, who wrote little but spoke much, and founded his Hermitage on the plains with a community of like-minded gnostics. The Hermitage is open to all, Kadiz and Hill People alike, though life there is difficult even by the standards of the plains. It is located on a patch of barren karst land in the north-eastern plains where no livestock can survive. Guravius died long ago, but the Hermitage continues to educate the occasional student who will make the trek. There are about a dozen inhabitants of the Hermitage at any given time, mostly a mix of hobgoblins, gnolls, elves, half-elves with a few humans. The Hermitage itself is focused on a statue of Guravius, which every day at dawn speaks and recites a different spell or point of theory.

The statue knows all spells, but its method of instruction is haphazard and slow, and it does not respond to questions or requests. It does repeat itself over a long enough period of time (every few years). Until it does, a student who wishes to learn more must speak with one of the hermits and hope they know the spell.

The Dravindi Fraternity

The Dravindi Fraternity are the pupils of Randulthine, the Lady of Ash and Stone. They are based out of Randulthinvarnir, Randulthine's Mountain, located in the southern Stormbreaker Mountains. Magically, they focus on elemental control and alteration, a simple but highly effective method. The Dravindi are war-wizards without a war, and often roam the plains looking for trouble to "help" with or for new recruits. They are hated by the Hill People, and captured members are tortured for their magical knowledge before being killed and eaten. The Dravindi reciprocate by teaching the Kadiz dangerous elemental magic to use against them.

The Dravindi teach Animate (Fire, Water, Air and Earth) each as separate spells, along with Form (Fire, Water, Air and Earth) each as separate spells.

The Legend of Bullat Numir

Bullat Numir was a mighty warlord who conquered the entire plains, including Dwer Tor, High Kaddish and the Cities of Night centuries ago, but whose empire fell apart at his death. Bullat Numir has lived a strange half-life of obscurity since then, half-remembered but with many details forgotten or lost, even amongst the meticulous chroniclers of the Dwer. There is an epic song about him, but no one seems to know the entire thing. One tribe will have three or four sections, while another has three more, while a third has two from the first tribe and one from the second, and so on.

There is one extremely curious feature about that epic song though, which is that every location mentioned in it that has been found has been a place of geomantic power. Beyond that, recitation of the appropriate section at that same place will place the poet into a deep sleep, where they dream of a man (Bullat Numir?) teaching them a spell of the Sarxian school. While only two locations are widely known (the Bones of the Carnean Worm and Balwan, neither having changed in the intervening centuries), there are dozens of locations in the extant verses merely waiting for the right person to find the places they refer to.