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Calling all wordsmiths

Suggestions/House Rules/Homebrew

I've put together the concept of a unique item to be offered the PCs as loot, based largely on inspiration from folks in the Jade Regent thread. My version, however, calls for chapters of magnificently bombastic arcane or philosophical meanderings, each followed by utterly absurd metaphysical exercises. (Except that the final chapter consists only of blank pages.) The players will get the following explanation:

GM wrote:
Despite the absurdity of the prose, you each do feel drawn to read a different, specific chapter -- other than the final one on Universal. Please choose a unique chapter now. Let me know if you do study your chapter; it will take 24 hours in increments of 4 to 8 hours a day to master the material. And if you ever choose to read a second chapter, by all means let me know!

Top Secret Key to the Book, for non-players only:
PCs who study a chapter will gain a bonus feat of their choice, from within a specific category related in concept to the school of magic that the chapter theoretically concerns. In other words, each chapter's category of feats should benefit a PC of any class. (Even if some would be of greater benefit to a given character than others.) The feat chosen may not have another feat as a prerequisite and the character must meet all prerequisites by their next level-up at latest.

Fine Print: The GM rules on whether a particular feat fits a chapter’s category and may rule out some feats arbitrarily, specifically including metamagic feats that boost the spell level by more than 1. PCs who try to study an unread chapter after even starting on a different one must make a Will DC 30 save or find themselves permanently drained of one level--while not benefiting from a second bonus feat. (Restoration will restore the level, as usual.)

Feat categories:
Abjuration ------ Defense
Conjuration ----- Skill Focus for 1 physical skill (any Dex or Str)
Divination ------- Skill Focus for 1 knowledge skill (any Int)
Enchantment --- Skill Focus for 1 interaction skill (any Cha or Wis)
Evocation ------- Class ability
Illusion ---------- Dice roll bonus or reroll (no saves or skill bonuses)
Necromancy ----- Damage (melee, ranged, or spell)
Transmutation -- Statistics (a save, movement, etc)
Universal -------- N/A (This will eventually offer an advanced bonus feat in the same category as the first.)

I'd appreciate, first of all, SPOILERED comments on the feat categories I've got. (The players shouldn't know what the chapters will teach until the PCs have all chosen a chapter.)

Secondly, I don't know what the book will radiate: Strong Universal???

I also would like some help on meeting the high (or low, depending on your point of view!) standard of "magnificently bombastic arcane or philosophical meanderings." Fortunately, I'm only writing two snippets from the Prologue, and the diverse chapter titles. I believe I could put these in the clear, but I'm spoilering them anyway, just to save on screen space. I'm really wordy, but this is bombastic, remember? :)

Wordsmith forge:
The prologue reads, in part, “The deepest mysteries of magic are subjacent to the elven soul at its basest roots -- indeed, not just the elven soul, but the sentient soul. One need not cast magic in its conspicuous form -- its many forms, that is, each a distinct fragment divorced from the solitary all -- to be able to work it upon the world. For the proof of that, one need only watch an innocent child at play, creating a unique world never to be glimpsed again, yet discovered in the depths of a simple toy; or else listen to a couple quarreling bitterly, lacerating both of their worlds with pain and shame, even as they seek greater weapons in the merest mist of words with which to ravage the other; or in fact witness this very philosopher as he humbly pens this brief and inadequate treatise.…” [A margin note reads, ‘This copy has been penned by a far humbler translator, who merely transmits the magic of the lost ages, and is responsible for none of it.’ Despite both claims, of course, the copy detects as quite magical.]

“… Nonetheless, to expose what is subjacent to the soul is to bend it ever so slightly, to twist it toward a greater light, certainly, but still, to create in that soul a specific helix that abounds with power. Returning to gain more power is ever so attractive, undoubtedly, but nonetheless a danger that the humble author, who has pondered these mysteries so deeply, who has delved into them with abandon, who has stripped his soul bare in order to explore the veriest roots of being in the solitary all, must warn the gentle reader against. He must beg the reader, above all, no matter how his prose moves the reader to explore the full volume of his research, not to read more than the tiniest whole contained within that volume, being a single chapter. Indeed, the humble philosopher who will act as the reader’s guide in exploring what is subjacent to his soul has provided a full treatise only in the hopes that his poor research will draw the attention of many readers, each of whom will undoubtedly be directed by his inner being to the mystery most pertinent to that reader’s deepest need, his greatest drive, the thirstiest sink in the basest roots of his being. It must be said, in short, that reading more than a single chapter of this book -- most fortunately, not including this very prologue that falls upon the reader’s eye at the moment of reading this warning -- is to be considered a danger to one’s sanity. Even so, the author of this work must beg the reader to persist in plunging into the solitary all for the space of that one chapter that will offer that reader the best glimpse of true magic, if only to contrast it with the shabby trappings of it found all too often in this world.”

Proposed chapter titles:

  • On stepping subjacent, not aside: Abjuration
  • On finding the plenitude in the solitary all: Conjuration
  • On envisioning what is ere it becomes: Divination
  • On how the solitary all is subjacent to all: Enchantment
  • On when the meaning of ‘is’ is too fleeting for being: Evocation
  • On when what is is what is not: Illusion
  • On detaching another from the solitary all: Necromancy
  • On seeing your subjacent face in the glass: Transmutation
  • On finding all in the solitary, and the solitary in all: Universal (blank)

I especially would like help on the chapter titles.

Thanks so much for making this item even more memorable!

Hmmm. No wordsmiths yet...

Skill Focus is potentially a much weaker feat than the other possibilities, especially if it turns out that, say, a conjurer wizard chooses to study the conjuration chapter and they have no physical skills. Depending on your PCs this may not be a problem, I don't know.

Rather than a general plan I'd produce a short list of feats, maybe 3 or 4 for each feat category. This should allow you to put something useful for each PC in each category while keeping them more or less themed with the spell schools.

The text and titles seem bombastic enough. Are you asking for more such text or what?

Avr, thank you!

You put your finger right on probably the weakest link: a conjurer wizard grabbing the Conjuration chapter. Would they have NO interest in Acrobatics, Fly, or Stealth? Hmmm. All right, maybe they'll accept a +3 bonus in Fly, say, but are unlikely to build the skill (or any other physical skill) to 10 ranks for the big SF pay-off. That is pretty lukewarm, I have to admit. What if it's simply "physical skills"? (And correspondingly, "knowledge skills" & "interaction skills".) At that point, you could take a Skill Focus, or one of the paired bonus skills, or some other feat that concerned a skill of that type.

Then all of the following would be examples of feats that would qualify for Conjuration, in addition to a particular type of Skill Focus:

  • Acrobatic
  • Animal Affinity (also qualifies for Enchantment)
  • Athletic
  • Deft Hands
  • Go Unnoticed
  • Mocking Dance (requires Acro 4 ranks)
  • Skilled Driver
  • Skilled Rager (physical skills only; nice for a bloodrager or barbarian)
  • Slow Faller (requires Acro 5 ranks)
  • Stealthy
  • Sure Grasp (requires Climb 1 rank)
  • Undersized Mount (possibly of greatest interest for a wizard)
Is this now broad enough?

Or do I indeed need to add the obvious extra category to each chapter: feats related to magic of that school? That would give Conjuration the following possible feats, as examples:

  • Critical Cure
  • Spell Focus (Conjuration)

{Added possibility:
Or Conjuration, Divination, & Enchantment might not give a feat at all. Instead they might give 1 skill point per character level in a specific skill of the corresponding type. (I'd let players choose the skill, and reallocate any ranks already assigned to other skills of that type, in a legal manner.) Then the character would continue to gain one rank in the chosen skill as they leveled. Is that now too powerful?}


As for the text, I'm content with your reassurance that I have achieved bombasticity. If more felicitous wording happens to strike your mind, please do put forward alternative suggestions, however. :)

Yeah, if you want to leave it open to the imagination of the players the first idea works, more or less. An unlucky and unimaginative player might need assistance, if you have such a player.

If you're planning to read those out rather than giving them as a handout you might want to practice them at least once to avoid falling over your tongue. It's happened to me.

<grin> yeah, I think I'll make this a hand-out! Even if I didn't trip over my tongue in reading the prologue, the players' eyes would glaze over long before I got to the crucial warning, and they'd never sort the chapter titles out! I'll make a player read it out loud, though...

I think I was troubled by my chapter titles because some of them pertain too closely to a school of magic, and insufficiently clearly (in hindsight) to the actual topic. Conjuration is a prime example. Here's a new set, with changes bolded.

Proposed chapter titles:

  • On stepping subjacent, not aside: Abjuration
  • On finding physical plenitude in metaphysical all: Conjuration
  • On glimpsing what becomes by observing what is: Divination
  • On how the solitary all is subjacent to all: Enchantment
  • On ??: Evocation
  • On when what is is what is not: Illusion
  • On disjoining a single other from the solitary all: Necromancy
  • On seeing your subjacent face in the glass: Transmutation
  • On finding all in the solitary, and the solitary in all: Universal (blank)
The reason that Evocation got replaced with "??" is that its category, class abilities, is important but hard for me to relate to Evocation.
> Can you suggest an angle on Evo that fits with "class ability feats"? (Something I could use as the basis for my mumbo-jumbo.)
> Or is there a category of feats that I don't already have that would be a better fit for Evo?
> Or a school with a category that I could swap with? For instance, I could reasonably give Enchantment or Transmutation class ability feats, but I don't see an angle for giving interaction skill or statistics feats to Evocation in exchange.

{Added: I've been coming back to edit the Conjuration title ever since I first posted, and I'm still not happy with the wording... but I'll quit editing now.}

Thanks for your help!

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