Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Q is for ... Qoril, The Scholar-Mages of

The Scholar-Mages of Qoril

Some see the minions of this wide-reaching organisation as thieves, grave robbers and looters; others value them as the foremost scholars of many ancient civilisations and forgotten languages. Those engaged in the profession of exploring long abandoned ruins will have invariably come across members of “The Seekers” (as they are commonly known to the public) through party members, signs, clues or sigils, or devilish traps disarmed or reset. Wizards in lonely towers may have bargained with their representatives, trading a scrap of irrelevant lore or undecipherable writings for items or information to be retrieved from known or unknown resting places. To the general public that have an interest in real stories of adventure and treasures gained and lost, they are viewed as somewhat Indiana Jones-like, at least, as much as one can in a quasi-medieval fantasy world...


Senses - level variable 1+

Subtly enhances one of the basic senses (sight; hearing; touch; smell; taste; intuition) for every level that the spell is cast at, up to a maximum of 6. The duration is 60 minutes, divided by the number of senses enhanced. All senses end at the same time.

The basic effect is to give +1 (on a d20 scale) to all actions that rely on that sense. Combinations give cumulative bonuses (i.e. searching for secret doors – sight and touch gives +2; testing potions for effect – smell and taste +2).

In Southern Kheldaria, a few miles north of the City of Brythyn, along the main road that skirts the edge of the plain where it drops to the green river valley, sits a half-ruined fortified manor house, on the plain side of the road. Although pillars have fallen, and rubble and thorns choke most of the grounds, there is a well worn track threading past several mounds of fallen masonry, to a low dark opening in the wall. Most must duck under the stone lintel.

Within lies a labyrinthine-like network of passages, corridors and rooms, all carved out of the earth and lined with cut stone blocks. Here is the nerve centre of the Scholar-Mages, and where their vaults, libraries and leadership are all safely tucked away. There is a Great Assembly Hall, various separated libraries, each housing volumes and notes relating to a different civilisation or major site.


Subvert Trap - level 3

This allows the mage to temporarily disarm (or render inoperable, etc) an already identified trap. At the end of whatever simple conditions are set, it returns to full operation and impact.

It can be used for the mage to skirt past a trap, knowing that his pursuer will fall victim, or he may set it to allow the first three people through, knowing that the fourth member of the party bears him ill will. It may also be able to be disarmed for a finite amount of time – no more that one hour per level of the mage, and only accurate to half an hour. If no conditions are set, it will stay harmless for 24 hours, minus an amount for the quality of the trap, and a random adjustment (d6 hours?)

There are around a dozen Grandmasters, each with a wealth of knowledge of a particular little known but lucrative ancient civilisation. These worthies are supported and encouraged, and spend their days investigating legends and tomes to discern locations of ruins, decipher runes and sigils, and avoid or mitigate traps, locks and guardians.

These each have a group of lesser scholars to follow certain theories, experiment, transcribe or translate writings and do the grunt academic work.

Overseeing this hive of scholarship are the Chapters, who glean information of practical use from the Grandmasters, and set in motion activities to make use of it. Part of this is co-ordination of the resources and field staff of the Scholar-Mages to excavate, explore, steal or acquire. It also involves setting rumours through a network of carefully placed contacts in governments, guilds and especially the establishments where one-armed men give cryptic clues. It is these stories of wealth and adventure that usually create a flood of sellswords, itinerant mages and rogues flocking to a particular dungeon, ruin or border town, with the Seekers field staff accompanying, or venturing in once all the ways have been opened, guardians slain and gold looted. It is then that the secret and hidden treasures, the writings and engravings, the statues and fountains, can all be dissembled and removed to a safehouse, with items of incredible academic, magical or financial worth eventually making their may to the Chapters and Grandmasters.

Perhaps there is an ultimate aim for the Order rather than just the accumulation of lore, but if so, none outside the leadership of the Chapters knows it.

The real strength of the Scholar-Mages of Qoril are the field operatives. All recruits, except the outstandingly academic ones, start here, where they are part thieves, part mages, part contract managers, public relations experts and networkers. A few are undercover, such as spies in academic institutions or in positions of responsibility in governments or royal courts, but the majority make no secret of their loyalties, referring to it as though it were a guild, or a reasonable employer, but nothing more.

Their role is to sniff out items, places or lore of interest to their higher-ups. Whether researching tomes in distant keeps or libraries, travelling as a bard amongst isolated settlements or actively participating in exploration of dangerous places and the extraction of items, they are a low level but constant presence to those in this line of work.


To Track a Ghost level 2+

This is similar to Senses, but involves obscuring traces and tracks of the Seeker. Cast at second level, it will obscure traces from one chosen sense (i.e. sight would remove all visible signs of passing such as footprints in dust, but not physical damage to plants, masonry, etc). Every additional level it is cast at will remove one more sense’s traces. Smell and taste are important when tracking beasts are involved, and intuition adds a penalty to detection by magic. Must be cast separately for each additional creature to be rendered traceless. Also, it does not remove the traces, but obscures them for the duration – same as for Senses.

The field operatives are spread thinly, so their method is to direct other, stronger or more capable groups to clear dangerous or blocked paths, and reward them for extracting items, or, more usually, accompanying them and assuring that the group is happy with items that are not those that interest the Seekers. This is not usually hard, as most groups of dungeon delvers value gold and silver over engraved tablets, indecipherable notes and illuminating statues.

Dragon Warriors Profession

Stats – min 9 Reflexes and Intelligence.

Attack, Defence, MA and MD & Health Points – same as mystic, only no bonus MA/MD bonus at certain levels.

Skills – thief skills as assassin, only slightly less chance (maybe 5 - 10% less).

Magic- 2 spells/level, and 2 MP level. All relate to finding, inquiry and detection, misdetection and Jedi mind tricks.

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