Void Design – Temper


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Atomic ACKS – Pure-Strain Custom Classes

You know how sometimes you get an idea and can’t focus on anything else until you get it out of your system? I should be finishing up the new characters for my Black City campaign, but for some reason am thinking about how I’d set up a post-apocalyptic ACKS game.

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XP House Rules

Art by David Trampier

Here’s a collection of XP-related house rules. I’ve actually been using these for most of my ACKS campaigns; it’s time I post them…

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Forbidden Magic & Corruption

(This post continues the theme from the past two days, providing information about the Invisible School and life as a Wizard in Minaria.)

The Eaters of Wisdom:

The Invisible School is secretly ruled by the Eaters of Wisdom, an Illuminati-style cabal of high-level Wizards. Ranking Wizards would have heard rumours about them; Autarchs know that they control the Invisible School. It is the Eaters of Wisdom who decree which lines of study are “forbidden” and have the authority to declare a spellcaster “outlaw”.

Currently forbidden topics include:

  • Demon-summoning. (It’s fine to summon elementals and natural animals. Shadows and oozes are considered problematic, but not forbidden.)
  • Free-Willed Undead. (Skeletons & zombies are fine, but necromantic transformation and free-willed undead are not allowed.)
  • Sentient constructs. (Research into the ancient Dwarven warforged is forbidden; this also applies to Juggernauts.)
  • Sentient crossbreeds. (Monstrous crossbreeds of animal intellect are fine, but no new sentient species can be created.)
  • Cataclysmic rituals. (Such as Cataclysm, Plague, and the like.)

(Of course, the Eaters of Wisdom themselves are allowed to research these subjects, and they jealously restrict all such Forbidden Lore to themselves alone.)

Wizards who conduct forbidden research are declared “outlaw”. To be re-admitted into the order, they must relinquish any forbidden items and material and take a magically-binding vow to avoid such topics in the future.

(Belief in the Light of Truth is not “forbidden”, but will severely limit a Wizard’s advancement within the Invisible School. The use of gunpowder is similarly distrusted, but is generally under civil jurisdiction rather than Wizard law.)

Corrupted Wizards:

The Invisible School keeps and eye for severe corruption in its members. Wizards who succumb to corruption are quietly given the opportunity to “retire” to a remote location and be more careful with their activities. Often, though, corrupted Wizards in positions of power need to be “taken out” by a (super-powerful, super-secret) Eaters of Wisdom strike team.

(In my current campaign, the Invisible School now has a problem with Malakis. He’s been on the “edge of corruption” for several years, but is also one of the most powerful Wizards in Minaria. He was offered a senior position with the Eaters of Wisdom, but rejected it and appears to have gone batshit crazy.)

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The Invisible School and You

(This is a follow-up to yesterday’s post, providing some rule hooks for the Invisible School.)

The Invisible School refers both to the actual Invisible School on the shores of the Well of Lered as well as the whole system & infrastructure of Wizard rulership.

All ranking Wizards (5th-level and above) are expected to be members in good standing of the Invisible School. For independent Wizards, their monthly upkeep costs are assumed to include dues & payments to the Invisible School. However, most funding for the Invisible School comes from Wizard-ruled domains (see below).

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The Life-Cycle of a Wizard

(Here’s an explanation about how Wizards work in my Age of Autarchs campaign. I’ve had this saved as a textfile in my folder of campaign notes and figured folks might be interested in it from a worldbuilding perspective.)

(Note that the Invisible School refers both to the actual Invisible School [on the shores of the Well of Lered] as well as the whole system & infrastructure of Wizard rulership. I’ll explain more in future posts.)

Apprentice Wizards:

Wizard by Atom Taylor, in the
style of Russ Nicholson.

Typically, youths who have an aptitude for magic are identified by a “surveyor” from the Invisible School (via the “Sensing Power” proficiency). They are taken from their parents (bought & paid for) and given to a ranking Wizard as a servant and apprentice (usually in a different area).

The child is taught to read and write and learns the principles of magic (curriculum is expected to cover the “Collegiate Wizardry” proficiency). Those who pursue their studies eventually become 1st-level Wizards. Many cannot master “true” magic and become ceremonialist Thaumaturgists instead. Or turn down a dark path and become Diabolists.

Those who become Wizards are typically receive further training from their master in a particular School of Wizardry until they reach 3rd level. At that level, the apprentice Wizard is expected to journey themselves to the Invisible School to complete their training and become a “ranking” Wizard.

Ranking Wizards:

To become a ranking Wizard, the candidate must complete their final training at the Invisible School and pass the following five challenges:

  1. Be able to see and enter the Invisible School (true spellcasters or Second Sight).
  2. Be able to pass the “theory” portion of the exam (Collegiate Wizardry proficiency; although in some cases they may substitute Knowledge (occult) or Theology).
  3. Prove their understanding of “applied” magic (craft a magic item; typically a scroll).
  4. Demonstrate “advanced” spellcasting ability (cast a 3rd-level spell in a single round [thus excluding ceremonialists]).
  5. A candidate’s degree of Corruption is also assessed. One corrupting weakness is typical, two is a potential concern, and three weaknesses is often enough to be rejected.

Once a candidate is deemed acceptable, they must take a magically binding “oath of office”. (This oath is not optional.)

Some Wizards choose to remain independent. However, those with an aptitude for politics are granted land and title of nobility within one of the Wizard Kingdoms (often in name only; see also “separating land from lordship” rules from Axioms #3).

In return, the newly-minted Wizard-Baron must collect tithes from his domain’s citizens to fund the Invisible School, and is expected to train new apprentices when they are identified by a “surveyor”.

The Autarchs:

Higher-ranking Wizard rulers (lvl 9+) are called “Autarchs”.

Back before the fall of the Bright Empire, the Autarchs were regional governers of conquered provinces. Originally a military position, the Autarchs were expected to develop a self-sufficient economy in a newly-acquired territory and send tribute back to the Emperor. In practice, they developed their own power bases and starved the Empire of needed tax revenue. As power shifted from Parros to the territories, the generals were replaced by Wizards who further consolidated their own authority and independence.

The Autarchs maintained control over their territories after the Bright Empire’s collapse, becoming the Wizard-Kings. Their domains are bulwarks of civilization which have preserved knowledge and learning through the centuries.

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Simplified Ceremonies

(One of the henchmen in our campaign is an Ecclesiastic – a ceremonial caster devoted to the Light of Truth. So far I’ve been handwaving his ceremonial casting, but in the background I’ve been thinking on how to treat ceremonial magic in Minaria.)

Magic in the Age of Autarchs campaign focuses on actions of “true” spellcasters (Wizards and Sorcerers). Ceremonialists exist, but are generally considered mere “hedge mages”.

I used the full Heroic Fantasy Handbook ceremonial casting rules in my previous Black City campaign, but the specifics around performance checks, creating trinkets, and tracking stigma are too fiddly for the current game, so I’m switching to a “simplified” version of Ceremonial Casting.

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