World of Khoras => General Discussion and Questions => Topic started by: Delbareth on September 13, 2018, 07:57:25 AM

Title: Alliance mage Lords
Post by: Delbareth on September 13, 2018, 07:57:25 AM
Hi !

I'm currently preparing a session for a WE of RPG. The scene will take place just before (and after) the Sundering.

I have a question about the Alliand Mage Lords. They were incredibly powerful, but why ? I see several possibilities, but I would like to have your thoughts about that :
Of course the issue is to explain how they were so powerful, but also how it completely disappeared after the Sundering.

(in fact some Mage Lords were still alive after, like Karnus for instance, and were able to do quite good spells. So option n°2 is discarded)
Title: Re: Alliance mage Lords
Post by: David Roomes on September 13, 2018, 09:58:34 PM
I always viewed the Alliance mage lords as having developed a complete branch of arcane science that is different than, and more powerful than, the magic of modern wizards. (Essentially, #1 on your list). This is what allowed them to accomplish such incredible feats on such a large scale. Some of the major feats they accomplished included:

Engineering entire new species of plants and animals and humanoids
The creation of a network of advanced teleport gates that spanned the Thullian Empire
The creation of vastly powerful magic items which are now artifacts today
And of course the Focusing spell itself.

Using D&D terms, I've always imagined that the Alliance mage lords were capable of 10th, 11th, and even 12th level spells. The Focusing would be an example (and probably the only example) of a 12th level spell... something that required the combined efforts of hundreds of wizards, had a casting time measured in years and literally tore apart a star and indirectly reshaped the world.

All of their incredible magic was lost when the Alliance mage lords were hunted down and killed after the Sundering. They were able to be hunted down and killed because, in the years after the Sundering, magic become unpredictable and difficult to control. Much of their wealth, magic and knowledge was destroyed by angry mobs and vengeful kings in retribution for the Sundering. Their magic today only exists as the occasional artifact that shows up in a treasure horde (most artifacts, in the traditional D&D sense, are enchanted items that were created by the mage lords).

Also, they have a written magic system called Huridian, which is so complex that it confounds all attempts to translate it. Though rare, there are books and scrolls written in Huridian that survive to this day. Most such books and scrolls are jealously guarded in the libraries of wizard guilds. Adventurers occasionally unearth an ancient tome written in Huridian. Any wizard who successfully translates Huridian could potentially unlock the power of the mage lords. Although that would likely take years or decades. Huridian has successfully defied all attempts to decode it for centuries. Many have tried. All of failed.

Well, almost all...  in actuality, there are two wizards who have successfully decoded Huridian. Though neither of those wizards has made that information public knowledge. And both of them live far from civilization.

Karnus was one of the few Alliance mage lords to escape. Years after the Sundering, he learned to regain control of his magic, relocated to another continent (Qeshir) and used his magic to help build a new nation (Anquar) which was dedicated to peace. He also created the Eight Talismans of Anquar (definitely artifacts) which helped build the nation.

So, that's how I run Khoras in my games. Feel free to adjust things for your games.

Hope that helps.

Rereading your comment, I would say that #3 and #4 are also true. The Alliance was heavily funded by the Empire and cooperation between mages was a major part of their strength. Both of those things helped them achieve  great things. But #1 is what really set them apart.

Title: Re: Alliance mage Lords
Post by: Delbareth on September 14, 2018, 05:46:57 AM
OK so the next question is : when this new technic appeared ?
In the History section, it is only said that Ozryk was a very talented sorcerer and that is formed the Alliance with 12 of his friends. And "Despite its growing size, true power eluded the group until Thull X, the Emperor’s son, joined." It seems to imply point #3 only.

Well, I guess we can suppose that such very talented mage started to discover a new way to do magic, and were searching funds to do their researches. And when they had, their strengh grew considerably. We can also guess they protected their secrets by creating Huridian, in order non-Alliance mages (I suppose there were a lot of second class mages who didn't belong to the Alliance) cannot have the same power.

It would be quite consistent. I like it !

In my next game, I want to make the character go to the Assembly Hall few days before the Sundering. At this time, I'm sure a lot of trouble with Drellikar were noticed y Alliance, Traxx and League. Alliance were "working on it", trying to brain-storm of the potential consequences and correctives actions to do. On the other hand, Traxx sent a suicid commando team to sabotage the spell. And I was wondering what Traxx mages can do to make the commando sneak in the Assembly. I though of very potent anti-magic spells, just to give the squad time to reach the core.
Of course it will fail (anyway, even if it succeed, it's too late and the Traxx mission success would have been kept secret by the Alliance the following days), and the Sundering will happen. Back in their home city before the sundering, PC will then have survive the chaos and protect their Mage-lord master.

What will be tricky for me as a GM is to avoid the player realize they live during the Sundering events. They all know the general history of the world (event if they lack details), and I have to prevent me pronouncing some words like "Thull", "Alliance mage-lord", "Focusing", etc...
Title: Re: Alliance mage Lords
Post by: tanis on September 15, 2018, 04:33:10 PM
That's kind of the impression I've always had as well.

On a slightly different point, I'm curious about which mages have decoded Huridian in Khoras canon. I'm guessing Morlokk and Tolkarus?

As for the adventure you're describing, Delbareth, that sounds like fun, but it'll definitely be interesting to see how well you can keep your players unaware.
Title: Re: Alliance mage Lords
Post by: Delbareth on September 18, 2018, 02:03:31 AM
I have another question regarding the Focusing.

What was known of this experiment by the common population. I guess in North Aden they were quite aware of a this spell. But was it known that Alliance wanted to change something in the star ? (by official speech or rumors...)
Title: Re: Alliance mage Lords
Post by: Delbareth on September 19, 2018, 09:17:39 AM
I add a new question :
It is said that Mandacas was kill during the fall of Bekaï in 89 CC. Was he an very old Mage-lord (kept young by magic), or did the Alliance continue to form new mages ? (did the Alliance even existed still after the Sundering ? I bet no)
Title: Re: Alliance mage Lords
Post by: David Roomes on September 19, 2018, 11:37:28 AM
I'm about to get on a plane. I'll be gone for 5 days. I'll answer this when I get back. :)
Title: Re: Alliance mage Lords
Post by: David Roomes on September 24, 2018, 08:23:30 PM
Ok, to answer all the questions:

1. The history pages really don't go into much detail and I need to fix that. But I've always imagined that the magic of the Alliance mage lords (I should come up with a name for their magic) evolved as the group evolved. The group and their advanced form of magic were tied together. And no one outside of the Alliance had access to the new, more powerful, type of magic. As the group grew in size, their magic evolved into something that far surpassed normal magic. I never really saw a single sudden moment, but again, not much detail in that area. I suppose there could have been some sudden flash of insight that started it all.

2. Yes, the two mages who have successfully decoded Huridian are Morlokk and Tolkarus. Both did it independently. Tolkarus is unable to leave his mountain for reasons explained in the Crystal Dominion campaign. I should probably write up a page on him. Anyway, he can't leave his mountain and so the world is safe from him. And Morlokk, although extremely powerful, is not at all interested in world domination. He's actually a kind old man who is more interested in his magical studies and traveling the world and multiverse beyond.

3. The general population knew very little about what was going on in North Aden. The commoners knew that a powerful and secretive order of wizards was working in a great castle and there were tavern talk and rumors and gossip, but nothing solid. Very few people, mostly kings and arch wizards and heads of powerful organizations, knew that the Alliance was working on a vast and powerful project of sorcery. Even few knew exactly what it was.

4. After the Sundering, there were no new wizards joining the Alliance as members. Alliance mage lords were able to prolong their lives and vigor with powerful magic. Many of them were quite old.

Eventually I will get around to organizing and expanding the history pages. The History section should be a lot better than it is.

Delbareth, that sounds like a really fun campaign you're planning. Can't wait to hear more about it!

Title: Re: Alliance mage Lords
Post by: tanis on September 25, 2018, 01:27:19 AM
Yeah, go me! Lol. Morlokk was obvious, so I just had to guess which other wizard was comparable to him in power, and Tolkarus seemed the most likely candidate.

When I was double-checking my assumption, I noticed that Tolkarus doesn't have his own page, which I did find a bit odd, especially given how powerful he obviously is. I'd be very interested to see more information on him in future.

As for the History section in general, and the section on the Alliance specifically, it seems like there would always be more to know, but, while I would certainly always like to see more information added to the site, along with greater explication and clarification of what's already present, it does seem to me that it would be entirely likely that information on that period of history, and the Alliance itself, would be quite spotty anyway. For one thing, there was an enormous cataclysm which killed most of the Alliance's members, and presumably destroyed most of the contemporary written sources, followed by an equally destructive period of total war between three states and multiple non-state factions, for another, the Alliance itself was a secretive organization, which means that much of the relevant information would have either been intentionally obscured, perhaps through Huridian, or simply died with the Mage Lords in whose minds it solely resided, and finally, it's nearly three thousand years later in Khoras's timeline that most play is occurring, which means that it's not dissimilar from the difficulty we have studying the period around the Bronze Age Collapse in our own world (which, sans magic/magic-related solar catastrophes, is actually quite parallel to the events, despite the Thullian empire clearly being more closely modeled on Rome), and that with our vastly more advanced academic infrastructure and highly developed disciplines of study compared to a medieval society.

So, in a sense, it's almost a bit apropos that the details of that period are a bit fuzzy.
Title: Re: Alliance mage Lords
Post by: Delbareth on December 28, 2018, 03:46:21 PM
3. The general population knew very little about what was going on in North Aden. The commoners knew that a powerful and secretive order of wizards was working in a great castle and there were tavern talk and rumors and gossip, but nothing solid. Very few people, mostly kings and arch wizards and heads of powerful organizations, knew that the Alliance was working on a vast and powerful project of sorcery. Even few knew exactly what it was.
It was fine for me, until I re-read some pages and found some things I missed last time :

It just appear impossible that the goal of the Focusing and the Assembly Hall were secret. It's not a good news for me, since I need to find a way to avoid my player realize when their characters are living  :-[
Title: Re: Alliance mage Lords
Post by: David Roomes on December 30, 2018, 03:04:23 PM
Well, feel free to adjust for your campaign. You could make it so that the Thullian Empire and the Alliance worked very hard to keep it under wraps. You could even make it a "Cold War" kind of thing. Secret meetings, spies from other nations smuggling secrets about the project out and so forth. Or maybe the Alliance was working on it secretly and even the Empire was not entirely informed on the scope of their project. After all, what they were trying to achieve stains belief.

The "large and elaborate ceremony" might have been limited to nobles. Perhaps two dozen people in the entire kingdom might be privy to certain things. For the rest of the kingdom, it's just rumor and gossip, most of which is wrong or exaggerated.

The varying number of Mage Lords refers to the number of Mage Lords who were living in the Assembly Hall. Not all Mage Lords were working on the Sundering project. Most were, but there were some working on other projects or being given assignments that required travel, etc. So, the exact number varied. Also, the servants, slaves, laborers, apprentices and craftsmen would not be directly involved in the project and their knowledge of it would be, again, very limited, not much more than rumor and gossip.

Are your players familiar with the Khoras site? If they have delved deep into the site, then yes, trying to surprise them might be difficult. You'd have to change the names of organizations and people and such. But I think it's doable.
Title: Re: Alliance mage Lords
Post by: Delbareth on December 31, 2018, 02:57:32 AM
Thanks for your answer.
Obviously I can always adapt the Khoras Canon, but I prefer to stay in it (or argue to change it if I have arguements).
I even think it's better to imagine a worldwide known Focusing, as every one on Khoras known WHO is responsible of this disaster. It's easier to explain the Mage Lord hunting, and it's a better "humility lesson" from gods. Nevertheless, it does not mean tat every commoner, even in Aden, know exactly how it works and what is the Focusing schedule. But I guess everyone there know the final goal of the Mages.

My players are not used to read the website. I did not forbid them nor encourage them to read it, but they know that it would somewhat "kill the mystery". They know what their character knows and that's fine. However, it seems to me that one of them did read some part of the website. Anyway, they all know the principle of the Sundering, the Alliance Mage Lords and the Thullian Empire.

I think I will be obliged to use some tricks :
- replace names with former names : the Thullian Empire and Traxx Legion will be called the Miratz Empire and Kingdom of Gekron.
- present a different type of Focusing spell : something to change the magic in the Empire (why not a magical protection for the whole empire, a way to change the magical field, etc...)
- place the event in a neutral period (and say it clear) to avoid questions about Drellis
I have already presented them they will play on a different continent (hey, Ithria was very different at this time, wasn't it ?), with an organisation of very potent arch-mages. I guess they imagine playing on a fourth continent (we have already played on Queshi and Agraddar), kept secret because quite far or different. So a very powerful mage organisation in 2700 C.C on a remote continent is a reasonnable assumption for them.  ;D
The adventure will take place partially in the Assembly Hall, but is not focused on the spell itself, so I guess the trick will work. As soon as they will understand what is happening, I will reveal the truth.

I will change some things on the Focusing/Sundering events, and I have arguments for it.
It is usually admit the magic does not travel very well through matter. Tens ot hundreds of meters of matter are enough to stop most spells. Even if Alliance Mage Lords were able to enhance the spell penetration through matter, it is impossible to be enough to reach the inner layer of a star (thousand of time the "thickness" of a whole planet). So I prefer to imagine they send the magical energy with an interdimensionnal portal directly inside Drellikar, rather than letting the magical energy travelling through space and drilling through the star.
When the Sundering begun, a portal was open to send magical energy (to try to reverse what appeared to be an immense mistake). A tiny part of the huge sundering energy overcame the portal protection, and Drellikar energy came directly on Khoras surface, wiping out the Aden entire region. Only 8-9 minutes later came the brillant flash and so on.
As the players came back to Tosche, via a small scale portal, they are safe from the Aden events. But the energy also goes through this second portal to make the mage tower explode. Few minutes later, the shock wave of the Aden region reach Tosch and make violent earthquakes. Then come the flash which severly burn every square meter exposed to the direct light. Magic is gone, giant dust storms, eartquakes again, burning rocks falling from the sky (from Aden)... Exciting program !  ;D
I will post a description of the sundering events after the game.
Title: Re: Alliance mage Lords
Post by: David Roomes on January 02, 2019, 07:19:26 PM
Sounds great! Very cinematic. And that makes for great adventure. :)  Looking forward to hearing more about the campaign as it goes.
Title: Re: Alliance mage Lords
Post by: Drul Morbok on January 03, 2019, 07:08:23 AM
Yeah, great campaign idea, also looking forward to any reports how it went.

Just out of interest: Your players are aware of the fact that the adventure predates the sundering...?
From how I understand it, they know enough that this would be pretty obvious from looking at the sky...

Edit: Sorry, I failed to read that you want your players to assume to live in the "present", i.e. the end of the timeline.
And while I'm aware of the fact that in a pen&paper game, players don't "look at the sky" as naturally as in the real world (or in a modern video game), I don't think it's easy to be consistent about sky-related wordings...
Title: Re: Alliance mage Lords
Post by: Delbareth on January 03, 2019, 03:32:13 PM
In fact, even with Karrym and Drellis, I very often say "the sun" and never "the suns" or "the stars". So There won't be any problem for that I guess.

- A real problem could have been the lack of Drellis effect, but the scene takes place the first week of July during a would-be balanced phase.
- I already though about changing names of countries or languages ("-PC : Hey DM, you didn't told us the name of the empire we live in ! - DM : Uhhhh...).
- They could ask me in which year they live, but last time I played in Carrikos around 2500 C.C they didn't ask... Anyway, I will say their country have set its own calendar, and they live in the 470th year.
Please, tell me what else could be a clue for you to discover the truth.

The main issue of this adventure idea is that these events are very cool to describe, but not necessarily interesting to play. It's a kind of survival adventure, not at all what I want. I want to show the Assembly Hall, but there is nothing some PCs can do there. Mage-lords are extremely powerful and can solve every problem without help. So I imagined two things :
- a Traxx commando attack, shielded with the most potent traxxian anti-magic. A situation where quickly-reacting warriors can have a role, before mage-lords can understand and adapt to the situation (and kill the commado).
- a false adventure: to make it simple, their mage-lord master thinks there is a treator among the other mage-lords, who plots to overcome his own position. In fact it's only the pre-Sundering disturbances which destroy some of their cosmology spells. PCs are sent in the Assembly Hall to find the treator (they have clues he can be there at this very moment).
When they come back in Tosche, and when the Sundering happens, my goal is to make them think as long as possible it's "only" this treator assaulting their master mansion. Tower explosion, OK. First earthquake, OK because they don't know it is a continent-wide earthquake. Burning light, why not. End of magic, OK he can be very strong in metamagic. Dust clouds and storms, easy. 15 minutes long meteor shower, uuh ?. As the time goes on, it will appear more and more unlikely a single mage-lord (or even few of them) could or will destroy an entire region just for them. Few days later, after numerous replica, and a completely ruined city, a piece of cloudless sky will reveal the truth: two distinct stars in a giant shell of ejected gas. Angry mob will then assault the mage-lord mansion to kill him.

This is a quite psychologic adventure. Players will be gradually stripped from their power (all the magical weapons and tools which behave eratically), from their mission (this treator issue was nothing but thin air), from their confort (everything is destroyed around them, lot of dead friends/collegues) and finally from their loyalty or their live (without magic and greatly overnumbered, their only chance is to abandon their master ; it will be an individual decision and I don't know who (if any) will choose to do that).

I want them to FEEL how the sundering destroyed everything of the former world.