Sunday, April 28, 2019

Magic Items in the Artifice Saga

In order to preserve the intended fantasy setting of the Artifice Saga campaign, many elements of its sci-fi inspiration need to be either removed or heavily modified.  While Robotech and its predecessors are anime of the mecha genre, mecha are virtually unknown in the Artifice Saga.  Instead, artifice is the art of crafting permanent magic items:  armor, rings, rods, staves, wands, weapons, and wondrous items.

Consumable magic items--potions and scrolls--are common in all cultures; they can be created using "standard" magical techniques.  It is through the manipulation of ether, the otherworldly matter of the Ethereal Plane, that permanence and even sentience can be applied to magical items.  However, the ability to conjure, contain, and use ether requires exceptional degrees of arcane skill and understanding.
Ether is a stand-in for the Protoculture of the Robotech Universe.

A Brief History of Artifice

While the Faerie Queen appeared to be able to use manipulate ether naturally, this was made possible through the use of an ancient artifact called the Flower of Life.  This device could summon ether and consolidate it into "seeds," which could be manipulated through the craft of Artifice.  Should a seed go for an extended time without use, it would decay into "spores," which have a destructive influence on the material plane.

Zor learned the secret of the Flower of Life, and produced his own artifact: the Ethereal Matrix.  Ethereal mist summoned through the Matrix was housed in a shell called a storage matrix; this delayed the decay of the seeds--though the inevitable creation of spores would still occur.  Using his Matrix, Zor demonstrated the craft of Artifice to the leaders of his people.

A faction of Tirolean Elders became enamored of Zor's Matrix and his new skill of Artifice.  They encouraged Zor to experiment with the limits of the art--particularly how it could be used to enhance the schools of transmutation and necromancy. These Elders would come to call themselves the Artifice Masters, and when then could not persuade Zor to relinquish his Ethereal Matrix they set their sights on possessing the Flower of Life.

Using the few storage matrices that Zor had seen fit to give them, the Artifice Masters created an orc army.  Those orcs were sent to Optera, the homeland of the Invid, to acquire any many of magical items they could--most importantly the Faerie Queen's Flower of Life.  The orcs ravaged the land and pillaged nearly all the great weapons and armor of the Invid; they even succeeded in obtaining the Flower for their Master.

It is the loss of the Flower of Life that caused the Invid race to decay to its current goblinoid form.  Because of her extended possession of the artifact, only the Faerie Queen retained a semblance of her original form. Her husband retained his great power, but was forever changed into the Goblin King

Zor and his Disciples had hoped to maintain a peaceful relationship with the Invid--but that hoped was dashed by the Artifice Masters.  A Tirolean Civil War followed--sometimes called the Great Transition War--between the Artifice Masters and the Disciples of Zor.  Each side created new and grander magical items to best the other.

The tide of the war turned when the Disciples stole the Flower from the Masters.  The Masters pursued the Disciples mercilessly, destroying every ship in their armada save one:  Zor's ethereally infused flagship.  The Masters did manage to blockade the vessel in a Fantoman port city (some say Karbarra, others Praxis or Peryton--but none is certain).  A party of orcs came upon Zor and killed him; but the wizard's death was the only triumph--for his ship vanished from sight.

The Masters sought Zor's ship throughout Fantoma, conquering the continent--but their quarry was never found.  The orc forces were expanded, and fleets were sent out in all directions from the newly built Artifice Empire.  For ten years, these fleets sailed the vast oceans of the material plane.  It would be the orc warlord Breetai who would discover Micronia, and the greatly remodeled Tirolean galleon that was once the Disciples' flagship.

Ten years before, the ship materialized off the coast of Earthland, the human realm in Micronia.  It ran aground, and was found to be unmanned--but filled with magical treasures beyond the human's dreams.  The coast where it landed was a wilderness known as Macross; and a great city was built there as the treasures of the ship were explored.  The ship itself remained in seaworthy condition, and was modified only for minor repairs and to accommodate human seafaring traditions.

In these early days, humans did not seek to master Artifice, but only to se and modify the magical treasures already present.  Should the Ethereal Matrix or even Flower of Life had been present onthe ship, the scavengers who built the Macross city-state would not have know what they were or how to fully utilize them.  Nor were the orcs sent to recover the ship familiar with these artifacts.

To date, neither the Flower of Life nor the Ethereal Matrix has been found.

Flower, Matrix & Related Magic Items

Descriptions, powers, and statistics of these artifacts will not be provided until they become relevant to the campaign.  Both artifacts will play a role--each subject to its own set of "side-quests."  Any player with a knowledge of the source material could make a viable guess as to the whereabouts of either, but the Ethereal Matrix or Flower of Life will have to be actively pursued to learn more.

A handful of magic items specific to the lore of these artifacts will play a major part in the campaign.  These include:

Image result for invid flower of life
Raw, Unshaped Seeds of the Flower

  • Seed of the Flower - This is an otherworldly gem composed of condensed, solid ether.  Fairly common, every permanent magic item includes one (though it cannot be "harvested" without great sacrifice).  They are rare to find on their own--but are required to produce new magic items.
  • Spores of the Flower - When a Seed of the Flower remains unused, it shatters; the resulting dust is called spores.  If inhaled, they are a mind-altering, addictive, hallucinogenic drug.
  • Fruit of the Flower - TBD
  • Storage Matrix - This is a football-sized, clear-crystal jar capped on both ends with precious metal.  It contains the same amount of ether as a Seed, but in gaseous (not solid) form.  The ether can be seen as a multi-clourd mist swirling within the jar; some even claim that the illusion of a plant can be seen at the center of the mist.  As the ether in the vial decays, it condenses first into a liquid (used to create vials of ether, below); then into a crystalline solid (akin to a seed of the flower, above), and later dust (spores of the flower).  These devices are used in the necromantic rites of the Artifice Masters--particularly in the creation (or transmutation) of orcs and triumviroids.  
  • Vial of Ether - Magic items that are activated by using "charges" can only be recharged when a reservoir in the item is refilled with a vial of ether. If ingested, they are a mind-altering, addictive, hallucinogenic drug.
These "magic items" fill the same role in this campaign as dragonshards do in Eberron.

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