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1
World and Lore / Official MW Lore: Battle Lines, Part 5 (Conclusion)
« on: June 16, 2016, 08:50:18 AM »
Part 4 recap: Unphased by the potential scholarship of the star map, Domatra races ahead and touches the Orb – which the couple now realize is not a V’Tar Orb but some sort of teleportation artifact. The celestial map fades away, and the Drakkonian power of the Nexus Orb teleports the couple to a cross-shaped chamber with large vaulted ceilings and a collection of ancient tomes and scrolls – the lair of a ancient Drakkonian Archmage. The lair is filled with silver Orbs that Bellarax and Domatra now instinctively know to be V’Tar Orbs; even more impressive is the V’Torrak that is here, able to open a direct portal to Voltari. The two mages stare at the wealth of treasure and power before them – and they know that their destinies – and the destinies of the nations of Etheria – hinge on who obtains the Drakkonian magic first.



BATTLE LINES: Part 5 (Conclusion)

Bellarax was a seasoned fighter but after many years of Academy life, he knew he was less likely to win in a straight out fight to the death. Domatra had lived in Ivarium all her life, save for the few short years they had been in Sortilege together, and she was often on the move with the Imperial Legions. Add to that her natural prowess as a Forcemaster -- well, Akiro might play those odds, but he would not.

Domatra would try to cut him down, to end their match swiftly, he was sure. But he meant to stay alive -- and to do that, he would have to use more than a little guile. From his study and translation of the stone tablet, he suspected that a daring mage could harness the power of the Orbs themselves during combat, bringing a new synergy to battle that just might turn the tide in his favor.

Still she would not be able to resist gaining control of at least one Orb first -- her curiosity would get the better of her. Plus, he knew that her Force spells would have little effect on these creatures. That could give him a slight advantage -- her ability to control the landscape around her was legendary.

He was gratified to find he was right. Domatra had moved closer to the first Orb, awakening the Guardian. Unlike her previous experience however, she knew what was coming, and deflected its attack on her forcefield as she moved in close to take the creature out with her forceblade.

Rather than running for another Orb, Bellarax rushed toward Domatra's battle, summoning a suit of of Harshforge Plate, along the way. Then, as soon as he was in range, he cast a tanglevine on Domatra, watching the vines wrap themselves around her legs, holding her fast.

The Guardian sliced down again, but once again Domatra's forcefield was able to deflect the blow. She flicked a withering glance at Bellarax, then teleported out of the tanglevine, right behind him. "Surely you remember this move." The forceblade arced out, across his face.

Except that it didn't. Bellarax revealed the Reverse Attack spell he had cloaked upon him, and the attack reverberated back at Domatra, sufficient enough to bring down her forcefield. In the wave of that blow, he summoned an Iron Golem, and positioning himself to strike her with his own blade.

"Enough!" The air around him rippled with force, and he watched as Domatra push herself backward a pace, giving her space to maneuver.

"’No success is enough, until there is victory’," said Bellarax, as he summoned his Helm of Command, and bound a Charge spell to it. He directed the spell at his creature, bringing his Iron Golem rushing back in, swinging at the Forcemaster.

He savored his latest quotation from the Arts of Lord Bellicar for all of a split second, before Domatra's Force Hammer spell slammed into his cranium, temporarily making him see white. Shaking it off as best he could, he sent the golem off to attack the Guardian, while he moved on to the next Orb.

Domatra accessed the situation, taking a quick look at the Guardian. The creature was hurting already, and with an iron golem in the mix, he surely wouldn’t last long. She lunged forward, closing range again with the guardian and the golem, but this time, targeting the Guardian with her forceblade, bringing the creature to the ground.

Bellarax saw his opening and took it. He cast Whirling Strike on his golem, which attacked Domatra first, then took control of the Orb with his additional attack. Bellarax could feel a strange new power flowing through him, healing him, and energizing his very senses.

Denied the first Orb, Domatra reassessed the situation. She knew Bellarax was a worthy adversary, but she suspected he would be no match for her up close, at least not without some serious support. Still, an iron golem and a V'Tar Orb… that might change the equation a bit. For the first time, she realized this was not the arena -- that a victory here might mean actual death for her colleague. But now that the die had been cast..., there could be only one outcome.

She whirled backward and danced away from the iron golem, and cast an unexpected Pillar of Light, damaging the golem, and momentarily blinding Bellarax, just enough for her to roll low and come up swinging against the Sistarran professor. Despite the Harshforge armor, her blade found its mark, and blood popped as it sizzled along its blue force edges.

Despite his tactics, Bellarax was in trouble. Domatra's attacks and force spells had done him serious harm. He caught his breath, gripped his sword a little more tightly and searched for a way to turn the tables, once and for all.

"You must end this!"

The voice did not come from Domatra. He assumed a guard position and quickly scanned the chamber, noting Domatra was doing the same. He looked over at her, the question plain on his face. "This is not some Mind spell trick of mine," she said, taking the opportunity to catch her breath.

"Then who..."

 Runed lines of a portal lit the air before them, opening a silvery blue archway. From it, two figures stepped through, both tall and lanky. Their cloaks and hoods were deep emerald green, with red velvet trim and golden filigree. Each carried a long staff of aged Wychwood, carved in the likeness of a serpent, body and tail entwined down the length of the shaft. They pulled back their hoods to reveal smooth Elven features, but their faces were longer, their eyes larger and deeper set. Though Elvish, they were not High Elf or Wood Elf.
 
 "And you are?..." Domatra demanded.

"We are mages of the Scaled Order," said the first of the Elves. "The Drakkons -- or Dragons as many call them in this day and age -- made Guardians to protect their Orbs and the V'Torrak. But to watch over their Legacy, they entrusted Us."

He continued. "You are scholars, you know the what will happen if the world is once more lit by fire and V'Tar. Leave this place, and leave the secrets of the past in peace."

"Interesting,” said Bellarax. “We are scholars, and yet we have never heard of you. Why should we believe you and your scaled order? As a scholar, I have to entertain the idea that perhaps you simply want all this for yourself. Leave this place? I'm sure you'll be right behind us, right?"

"How did you even get in here? Or find us?" added Domatra. "That's a pretty good trick of itself."

The first mage of the Scaled Order shrugged. "We have our ways, but suffice to say that when an Orb is touched, we know of it. We wouldn't be very good watchers if we didn't, would we?"

The second mage broke in, "Regardless, we're here now. Heed the last message of the Drakkons, the message they bid us deliver to whomever found their lairs, spellcraft and objects of power: ‘Know this -- the pure power of Voltari is not a thing meant for the consumption of the weak. It is an untamed tempest, and only through Domination can it be weathered. At the last, a moment will come in which that Domination will be undone, and the tempest will rage anew. This is no riddle, lest you miss our meaning -- we speak of V'Tar. We speak as sons of the Elemental Lords to the creations of the New Gods -- some things are best left alone."

The words rang through the chamber, and for the moment, Domatra and Bellarax were silent. But only for a moment.

"Best left alone? You simply want all the power for yourself!"

"You expect us to believe that? What scholar walks away from the secrets of the past? There's not a frost spell's chance in Infernia that's going to happen."

"I agree."

The first mage sighed. "I suspected as much. If you would awaken the V'Tar, then take control of them... if you can."

He raised his staff, and the ground of the chamber rippled, like stones tossed in a pond. In their wake the floor was left changed, with areas of deep pits, glowing lava, and quickly spreading ethereal mist.

The other mage murmured what sounded to Bellarax like Drakkonian, phrases of power that he had not seen or heard in his studies. In a second, many of the Guardians near the orbs had shifted form, becoming larger, broader, and covered in heavier spiked chitin.

"This is the Grand Arena," said the first mage. "If you wish to defy Drakkonians wishes, then stay alive." The two mage leveled their staves at Domatra and Bellarax, and readied their spells.

Domination of Etheria had begun.



Hope you guys enjoyed this Battlegrounds themed lore. Cheers!  -- Sabrath

2
World and Lore / Official MW Lore: Battle Lines, Part 4
« on: June 09, 2016, 10:04:29 AM »
Part 3 recap: As they race toward the Drakkonian Orb, Bellarax and Domatra begin to realize that this event, the discovery of long-lost Drakkonian magic, will be interpreted differently by different factions across the land of Etheria. Scholars will want to study it, soldier and military machines (like the armies of conquering Ivarium) will wish to harness it, using it against their enemies. Their musings are short lived as they arrive at the Orb, and find a looming alien statue next to it. As Domatra moved forward toward the Orb, the statue comes to life – and attacks the Forcemaster. They battle the Guardian, eventually defeating it, and as they do so, the stars overhead change, slowing revealing a celestial map showing the location of all the V’Tar Orbs across Etheria.

Now, enjoy part 4! -- Sabrath Kell



BATTLE LINES: Part 4

No sooner had she touched the Orb, than it had begun to spin rapidly. Above her, the points of light quickly faded out, save for one single point that became brighter and larger. The strange veins of purple light that crisscrossed the floor of the island also pulsed, quicker, faster, brighter. 

By then Bellarax had made his way to the pedestal and grabbed Domatra by the shoulder, spinning her around. "What have you done!" he yelled, gesturing to the now largely empty skies above them. "Do you know what we witnessed? It was a map! A map showing the locations of all the V'Tar Orbs. But you – you were too greedy! Where is your scholarship? Your training?"

"Who needs the map when you have the Orb in front of you?" she replied, leveling her forceblade at his chest. "There are larger forces at work than the endless debate of history, Bellarax."

The sky above them was white now, and began to flicker, brilliant flashes of white light that punctuated their every word, capturing each gesture and facial expression as if it were imprinted on clay. Other than themselves and the light, nothing else existed.

"Domatra!" Bellarax yelled, somehow trying to drown out the brilliance of the light. "This was no V'Tar Orb. I think this is the Nexus! Don't you get it? That orb was some other kind of Drakkonic magic -- something that powers this place. Gods only know what happens now."

Then suddenly, the flickering stopped, and the light receded. 

They were no longer on the Nexus; the island and the strange orb and the dead guardian were nowhere to be seen. Instead, they were in a cross-shaped chamber, with large vaulted ceilings and smooth stone floors. Along the walls, shelves and tables were arranged, each holding collections of thick tomes, scroll tubes, odd glass bottles and objects that were certainly not from the current age. This was the lair of a Drakkonian Archmage, one which had not been visited for many, many hundreds of years. And yet, the real prizes lay on each side of the chamber -- spherical orbs, metallic in color with glowing purple runes etched upon them. Next to each were more of the Guardian creatures from the Nexus. These, finally, were the V'Tar Orbs, the pair suddenly knew of a certainty.

Even more incredible, near the center of the chamber, a strange device lay humming. Bellarax could not shake the impression that it resembled the heart of some long dead god or giant, with monstrous veins that pulsed to the beat of some far off circulation. How the Drakkon Archmages of had crafted such things, he had no idea, but like the certain knowledge that the metallic orbs were V'Tar orbs, he knew that this was a V'Torrak, a device that could literally open a portal to Voltari, siphoning in its pure, ineffable power. 

He looked at Domatra, found her staring at him. 

"I may have been foolish before, Bellarax, but this time, I am certain. How many scholars have lived before us, who have studied musty scraps of parchment all their lives, hoping to see what we see before us now?"

Bellarax nodded, but kept his eyes on Domatra. He smiled, sadly.

"You know Domatra, we are witnessing the line of our age. Once the nations awaken and find pure V'Tar power in their grasp...  who is to say what will keep them in check. For five centuries, the Mage War Accords have sheltered our diplomacy, our disputes, our rivalries. For five centuries, the dreams of Mereveran have allowed us to rebuild our land, by relegating our baser instincts to the safety of the arena. Now? I wonder how the history books will remember our age. Will we be another Age of Catastrophe? Or another Golden Age?"

"You always did know how to deliver a moving speech, old friend," said Domatra. "And I think your time at Sistarra has only honed your ability. 

"I say it's a fitting honor that we find ourselves here today. Two representatives of the Society of Everlore, an organization bent on rediscovering the powers of the past. A scholar of Sortilege, training the land's future mages, and a emissary of the Empress, a chance at long last to reforge the Pellian Empire, bringing back the lost sheep of Westlock and the Selenia into the fold of the new Ivarium Empire."

Bellarax sighed. "I was afraid you were going to saw that. I'm afraid 'The Scholar I once knew has become the Tactician.'"

"Don't quote "The Arts of Lord Bellicar" at me. This is destiny, Bellarax. 'Only fools shrink from opportunity.'"

"Yes. Yes, you are right, of course." said Bellarax. "And we are no fools." His voice was husky, but no longer wistful. "Should we find ourselves on some other field, perhaps even on the same side some day, let's discuss this day in length. But until then --"
 
 As if a thunderclap had struck the chamber, the two Mages hurdled themselves forward, each toward one of the Orbs. As they moved, they cast familiar spells and enchantments, and summoned armor and wands. 
 
The Line of the Age had been crossed.

...to be concluded...

3
World and Lore / Official MW Lore: Battle Lines, Part 3
« on: May 31, 2016, 02:46:14 PM »
Part 2 recap: Bellarax and Domatra begin translations on the strange Drakkonian artifact. As they mouth the ancient words and trace the runes, the tablet flares to life, surrounding them in shimmering white light. All around them, they feel the deep vibrations of a primal hum, and see a purple mist begin to rise. When the light recedes, they find themselves floating on a celestial island, with the stars overheads moving through their paths overhead, as if time flowed more quickly in this place. In the center of the island, they can see a strange Orb, floating and pulsating with multicolored light. Casting aside their book-learning, the two scholar-warriors race forward to examine it.

Now, enjoy part 3! -- Sabrath Kell



BATTLE LINES: Part 3

The center of the island was not far, but far enough that Bellarax and Domatra noticed that the ground itself did not appear to be natural. Though the sparsely growing vegetation, spiraling and occasionally intersecting veins of bright purple light were drawn. Occasionally, several veins would coalesce together, forming small, pulsing pools.

"Assuming we get out of this place," said Bellarax as he ran, "imagine what we can learn from all this! Actual Drakkonian artifacts -- and access to this place -- whatever it is! Perhaps this is the Nexus -- it certainly seems far removed from the nations of Etheria. From here, think of what the scholars of the Lyceum can learn of the movement of stars, of our moons, maybe of how time works in realms outside of our own! Who knows what else this place can help us find? I'll be writing scholarship on this until this brown beard of mine turns grey or falls out completely."

"Seriously?" Even in a full run, the contempt in the way she said the word came through solidly, and thick. "You are a scholar of the Age of Catastrophe, as knowledgeable as anyone can be of the wonders and powers of the Drakkons, and all you want to do with the knowledge that we have a V'Tar Orb nearly in our possession is write about it? There was a time when you still remembered what it meant to be Ivarium. Even with all the teaching and hand-holding that you do at Sistarra these days, surely you can still remember that the world outside those borders is bleeding! Have you forgotten that our soldiers have reannexed most of the city-states of Salenia? And those self-righteous-Westlockian-Asyra-lovers haven't so much as raised a single blade against us. But just imagine if we had a little more Drakkonian firepower to assist us." She smiled, and this time, the smile did warm those bright blue eyes of hers.

"They call it the Age of Catastrophe for a reason Domatra, or had you forgotten? The Drakkon artifacts were too powerful for the humanoid races. Supposedly, they drew upon the pure power of Voltari. More than one reference talk about how that unchecked power melted mountains, reshaped terrains, and perhaps was even responsible for creating the Darkfenne. Surely you are not foolish enough to unleash something like that into the world again. We've yet to fully recover from it from the first time."

They neared the center of the island, What they assumed was the V'Tar Orb sat suspended atop a metal base in the middle of a dark black pedestal, rotating slowly clockwise. All around the base were more of the Drakkonic runes that they had seen on the tablet. The orb itself appeared as smooth as Dwarven glass, but from what they could see, the glowing power of its center was not enclosed by any surface. It pulsed with color, red, then yellow, blue then green, then back to red again. 

More importantly however was the statue that stood before the orb. It loomed over them, angular and alien, carved in the likeness of a creature that neither had seen before. It had two sets of eyes and a set of formidable mandibles. Large, predatory arms ending in impaling spikes rose outraised, and a segmented thorax that might have been a tail wrapped around its legs. It was vaguely insectoid, as if it were the original nightmare insect from which all future bad dreams had evolved.

"I always assumed the Drakkons would be, you know, more dragon-like," Domatra said, eyeing the statue. 

"I don't think this is a Drakkon," said Bellarax. "I think this is a representation of a Guardian, a SSlak or a Usslak. Supposedly, the Drakkons created a race of creatures to protect their treasures while they weren't around." 

"Well, I think it's sweet that they erected a monument to their guards. Obviously they were a thankful race. Anway, we'll have time enough to examine this monstrosity at length once we take a better look at the Orb." She took a step closer to the pedestal.

Within a heartbeat, the stone of the statue receded in on itself, leaving in its wake a living, moving, chitonous creature. Without a moment's pause, it swung its impaling spikes down at Domatra, raking down the back of her arm and side in a spray of blood. Its tail swung around as it moved sweeping her backward off her feet, and away from the orb. 

Without thinking, Bellarax drew his blade and rolled in front of Domatra giving his comrade the seconds she needed to regain her feet. He parried another attack from the creature, deflecting its spikes and leaping backward from the bite of its mandibles. "Here's hoping magic still works in this place," he roared, as he cast a Hurl Rock spell at the creature. Luckily it did, and with a satisfying "crunch" the stone struck the creature, ripping off pieces of its chitin, forcing it to reevaluate its attack.

Domatra was back on her feet. "Out of my way, insect," she said dismissively, blasting the creature with a wave of force strong enough to push even a Steelclaw Grizzly into next week. The Guardian merely stared down at her with its double sets of eyes.

"Uh Domatra?" said Bellarax. "That thing's not budging. Got anything else?"

"More than enough of this," said the Forcemaster, vaulting over Bellarax's shoulder and twirling her forceblade around and down across the creature's face, splintering mandibles and ripping a deep chasm through its chest and the smaller, insectoid hands that writhed there. 

The creature gave out a short, high-pitched click-shriek, and collapsed before the two, leaving the way to the Orb open and unobstructed. Domatra raced forward, toward the orb, her prize now clearly in sight. 

Things began to change the second the Guardian's lifeless carcass hit the ground. The stars around the floating island had begun to shift and slide, some coalescing with others, some tracing fine, ghostly lines between their points, outlining the edges of shapes. Some points began to glow more brightly, others began to fade. 

"By all the Lords of Magic," whispered Bellarax, his sword lowered as he started upwards and around with awe. "It's… a map of Etheria." Some points were now red, others yellow, others blue or green. "Domatra!" yelled Bellarax. "Wait! Stop! This is significant!"

But Domatra had already reached the pedestal. "What power will prevent our nation's plan for reannexation now?" she said. "Ivarium will have the power of the Drakkons!" And with that, she touched the Orb.

...to be continued...

4
World and Lore / Official MW Lore: Battle Lines, Part 2
« on: May 23, 2016, 03:33:24 PM »
Part 1 recap: Magus Avilus Bellarax, a professor of War Magic at Sistarra Academy takes a secret portal to the coast of Ivarium where he meets Domatra, a Forcemaster and old colleague. The two examine a curious stone tablet that has washed ashore, covered in glowing runes. Upon examination, it appears to be Drakkonian, the language used by Drakkon archmages centuries earlier. Excited at what the discovery could mean, the couple begin their translations.

Now, enjoy part 2! -- Sabrath Kell



BATTLE LINES: Part 2

"Well?" What does it say?" said Domatra, as she huddled close to the tablet and Bellarax.

Bellarax took a moment to look up from the runes to see Domatra's face, her eyes fixed on his, a look of intensity on her face, as if she could somehow cast Drain Soul on his scholarship and take it for her own. This was the Domatra he remembered from the time they were both students in the Academy. While all students underwent basic study, only the truly gifted are accepted into one of the elite Lyceums. When Domatra had been accepted to the Limitless Vista (the Lyceum dedicated to the study of Mind Magic) she had walked around with that same look for days -- as if she were just sucking the manna from everyone whom she came into contact with.

It was also the same look she had when she had been accepted into the elite Society of Everlore, the organization that had arranged this rendezvous. The Society was a well-funded, scholarly organization that was dedicated to seeking out ancient civilizations, undiscovered creatures, and emerging insights in magic theory. It also had friends in high places. Though it was primarily a Sortilegian organization, over the course of the years, it had attracted scholars and academics from across Etheria. Now, the Society had scores of members, many of them well-placed in organizations with considerable politcal or economic clout. Both he and Domatra fell into that category -- he was the Professor of War magic, strategy and martial training at Sistarra, the topmost Academy of Magic Sortilege, and Domatra sat on the Empress' Assembly, an organization of senators and Mages that advised the Empress on a range of topics, foreign and domestic.

Bellarax turned his attention back to deciphering the mysteries of the tablet. He ran his finger along one set of glowing runes, reading in a strangely guttural-whispering manner. The words were reminiscent of the rush of wind and waves, and flowed from his lips and throat rhythmically, like the surf crashing upon the shore. "That's my best Drakkonic, such as it is. I believe it talks about something called "a Nexus". My best guess is that might be someplace that borders on Voltari."

"What about the passage about the V'Torrak?" asked Domatra. "What does that one say?"

Again Bellarax read the Drakkonic, his fingers lightly tracing the glowing scripts as he did so. "To the best of my knowledge that sounds something like 'The path to the portal will awaken the V'Torakk', or perhaps it should be translated 'When the portal is opened, so shall the V'Torakk await.' It's hard to say exact--"

He broke off abruptly as the stone tablet suddenly flared to life, the hardened grey stone blossoming into a tablet of shimmering white light. The air around the two suddenly became thick and muted, and small motes of twinkling dust danced around the corners of their vision. Bellarax and Domatra instinctively formed a back to back posture. In an instant, Domatra called forth her forceblade, it's blue energy blade crackling with an odd sound of feedback. Bellarax's blade made no sound, but was entirely at the ready. A smell of ozone filled the air, mixed with the smell of the deep ocean. All about them, they felt the deep vibrations of a primal hum, and a strange purple mist began to rise. It quickly filled the air, blocking their outward views. The light of the tablet cascaded through the mist, casting them in shimmering violet hues.

The hum changed to a roar, and then the light of the tablet overtook their senses, and everything became light as if the world were new again and just beginning for the first moment. They closed their eyes to the power of it, the brightness...

...then suddenly it was over. The two found themselves on an island of sorts, an island that floated free deep within what appeared to be the night sky. All around them, they saw the stars of Etheria, moving through their celestial orbits at speeds that seemed unnaturally tied to normal time. The twin moons of Etheria, Celestia and Ves, spun around and over their island, each eclipsing the other in seconds rather than their normal cycles of months.

But the thing that truly captivated them, that drew their attention back to the floating island that they found themselves upon, was the object that pulsated at its center. It's spherical shape and serpentine adornment left little doubt about what the object was. It had to be a V'Tar Orb, a Drakkonian artiftact crafted to control the V'Torrak. And if there was a V'Tar Orb, then chances were good that the V'Torrak was nearby, or at least accessible.

This was the mother lode of Drakkonian studies. Wherever this strange island happened to be, the two scholar-warriors cast booklearning aside, and raced forward to examine what lay at its center.

...to be continued...

5
World and Lore / Official MW Lore: Battle Lines, Part 1
« on: May 16, 2016, 07:19:18 PM »
Hi guys. If you've been hungry for more official stories set in the world of Etheria, then rejoice. Over the next month, I'll be releasing installments of the 5-part series "Battle Lines", a story that sheds light on the connections between Sortilege and Ivarium, V'Tar magics, and ancient artifacts.

Enjoy! -- Sabrath Kell



BATTLE LINES: Part 1

One second, Magus Avilus Bellarax stood in the shadow of the Academy of Sistarra, deep in the magic-governed nation of Sortilege. The next, he was breathing the salty morning air of the coastline of Ivarium and basking in its humid warmth. The distance between the two countries was easily a month away by conventional means of travel, even more considering the armies and Blood Wave forces that pocketed the region. Yet Bellarax had made the trip in a blink of an eye, thanks to portals that had remained largely unknown to all but those of considerably high scholarly standing.

He blinked, taking in his new surroundings, reestablishing his bearings. It had been a long time since he had been back to Ivarium, his motherland. He had been born in Compasso Antia, a town not far from the capital, and had lived there until he was ten. He had then been sent to Sortilege –  a common Ivarium practice in which sons and daughters of influential Mages, senators and merchants were exchanged with the sons and daughters of other Mages, politicians and merchants in distant lands for future political advantage. Now, three decades later, he felt more a son of Sortilege than of Ivarium, though a certain nostalgia rushed through him as he stood once more in his motherland.

The Magus felt a unseen force brush across his shoulder, and he whirled to find its source. Unlike many of the Mages of Sortilege, he was more fond of the sword rather than the staff, and he smoothly drew the blade as his turned, his Sistarran robes flaring outward in a practiced motion.

"Do you plan to cut down an old classmate?" It was a woman's voice, thick with the accents of royal Ivarium and old Imperial Pellia. "I guess all the White Towers and elven women haven't eroded your reflexes completely yet. It is good to see you again Bellarax."

"And you, Domatra." Bellarax took a second to take stock the woman, a formidable Forcemaster in her own right, and an academic colleague for the past twelve years. She was short in stature, with a slighty red tint to the dark hair that fell in ringlets to her shoulders. She wore leather boots and gloves, and carried a gleaming silver scimitar on a back strap.

"Stop staring Bellarax," she smiled, a smile that almost warmed her icy blue eyes. "I asked you here for a reason, and if I know you at all, you're going to like it. Something unseen for millennia of has been found."

"So the summons said. What is it? Can I see it?" The excitement in his words was palpable.

"This way. It washed up on shore, not far from here yesterday. And Bellarax -- in the day since we got word of this, the Society has been beside itself with anticipation. Apparently, you and I have Akiro's own luck to be the ones here today."

Domatra led him down closer to the beachline, not far from the surf, to a jut of stone that broke through the sand and vegetation like a giant troll's rotted teeth. With a wave of her hand, a portion of the stone vanished, revealing a hole containing a large canvas sack. Domatra pulled out the sack, and opened it.

Inside was a stone tablet, elaborately carved with delicate runes, and edged with metals that glowed with alternating purple, silver and green auras. Around the stone tablet was an aged frame, barnacled and eaten away by time and the salt of the ocean, but still roughly serpentine in nature. In counterpoint, the runed tablet interior was pristine, as if it had been carved earlier that morning.

Bellarax took one look at the runes then turned to Domatra, his eyes wide. "Can it be?..."

"Drakkonian! Yes, by the Gods I believe it is. Sadly, my Drakkonian is limited. But you on the other hand, the reknowned scholar of the Age of Catastrophe..." Her eyes locked on his, her question clear without being spoken.

"Can I translate it?" Bellarax smiled, though his heart was about to beat out of his chest, down the beach, and into the coastal waters. He ran his fingers over the runes. "Yes, I believe… I can… and Domatra -- " a thrill went through his body, "I know this rune. It is V'Torrak -- the name the Drakkon archmages gave to their artifacts that could open portals directly to Voltari, drawing on the raw, unfiltered magic that they used to craft spells and objects that we can only dream about. According to what we've been able to sift out of the history of the era, most Drakkons had their own V'Torrak. Maybe this tablet will lead us to one that still exists.”

"Imagine what we could do with that," said Domatra. But Bellarax did not hear, his attention already fully focused on finding a translation.


...to be continued...

6
World and Lore / Why Infernia Hates Pi Day
« on: March 14, 2016, 03:27:11 PM »
As every lore master will tell you, demons hate math.




Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

7
World and Lore / Official MW Lore: The Gods of Etheria
« on: January 06, 2016, 02:06:56 PM »
Hi all! One other thing I wanted to showcase at the beginning of this new year was all the Gods and Goddesses and Lords of the Etherian pantheon.

Some of these gods have been mentioned in card names or flavor text, a few in some of the forum articles, but for many gods, this may be the first “official spotlight.

Please pardon the long post. I thought having a single place where all the Gods got a little light shined upon them (sorry Taranis) would be a good idea as a reference. For those of you interested in fan fiction, this is a great resource. For those of you who have always wondered who Rajan, Ilashasa or Akiro was, here's your answer!


****

First, a quick nod to history. Etheria was originally created by the Elemental Lords (Al Abbeden, Ugulanthu, Val’as Sherean, and Ilasthasa.) These primal gods were eventually displaced by a set of New Gods during the Age of Catastrophe (3210 - 672 BPE).

Rather than aligning themselves into a hierarchy based on the fundamental elements of creation, the New Gods created a structure that was more nuanced and comprehensible to the humans that followed them. The resulting pantheon was ultimately used as the foundation for the six Major Schools of Magic. (The four elemental schools remained, but are viewed as “lesser” or “diminished” even to this day.)


THE NEW GODS
The following is a list of Etheria’s pantheon of New Gods, organized by the School of Magic with which they are aligned.

THE ARCANE SCHOOL OF MAGIC
The gods of the Arcane School are a tripartite group representing what are considered the three aspects of magic — not just the study of magic, but its rules and facets. True devotes of the arcane arts learn to weave a path that takes into account the talents and lessons all three mages provide, synthesizing these traits into true mastery of the Arcane School.

Aurtramagus, The Ineffable
Concerned with: Creation, Making and Unmaking
Artramagus embodies the crux of spellcraft — bringing into existence that which was previously only imagined, the true spirit of unexplainable fiat in magic. Autramagus provides follwers with inspiration for new spells, ideas for new rituals, and startling breakthroughs in arcane theory. He appears as a silver-skinned elf with piercing purple eyes dressed in a styllish black tunic and half cape with elaborate silver rune spell filligree. He carries a staff of pure V’Tar energy which can unmake magic and unbind creatures that have been summoned. He is always accompanied by Ordin, an intelligent (and often outspoken) animated tome of spellcraft.

Barin Stran, The Magister
Concerned with: Rationality, Ritual, and Tradition
Old and wise, the Master Stran embodies the rational side of magic.  Appearing as a wizened old man in ornate robes, the Magister’s spells never fail, and always provide the precise amount of arcane force to perform that appointed task.  Yet the rote nature of magic leads to predictability.  The spell that succeeds every time, following the same ritual, will never surprise an opponent.  The Magister commitment to strict application of magic, prevents his from acting spontaneously, or reacting quickly to threats.  His skills may be paramount, but caught without time to prepare he can be green as any apprentice.

Ferenne, The Trickster
Concerned with: Puzzles, Challenges, and Traps
Ferenne uses magic to bemuse, befuddle, and confound his foes. Of middle age and indeterminate gender, the Trickster appears in the robe and motley of a fool, face covered by a porcelain mask.  Creating magical traps, appearing and disappearing at a whim, summoning terrible and unknown creatures, Ferrette always has a trick up the sleeve (usually another sleeve with another trick).  Yet reliance on tricks and chaos can only carry a mage so far.  True masters of magic know that where the razzle dazzle fails, the direct attack may succeed, and that sometimes the most unpredictable is thing is to be predictable at the exact right time.

THE DARK SCHOOL OF MAGIC
The two gods of the Dark School draw their power from evil and death/undeath. There are few public temples to the Dark Gods (Elsbereth being a notable exception); rather, they are simply feared by most citizens of Etheria. The Dark gods are also worshipped by the denizens of Infernia. It is worth noting that Adramelech, the ruler of Infernia, wields extraordinary power within his own Realm, but is not a god in his own right. He serves Taranis.

Taranis, The Supreme Darkness
Concerned with: Evil, Darkness, Death, and Corruption
Taranis is the avowed foe of Asyra and the physical and spiritual representation of evil, he rules over both the infernal legions of Adramelech and the undead minions of the Silent Lady. Creatures that embrace, darkness, pain, and evil flock to his worship. Taranis appears as a tall, masculine figure cloaked in a high collared hooded robe made of pure shadow. On his hands are blackened and charred metal gauntlets, and on his feet are boots of the same material. His voice is mildly discomforting promising both eternal pleasure and endless torment. Next to Lord Bellicar, he is considered the most fearsome tactician of the New Gods. He has at times worked with  Akiro.

The Silent Shadow, also known as the Silent Lady
Concerned with: Death, Undeath, Loss, and Nothingness
The Silent Shadow is Taranis’ cold, malevolent consort, and rules over the dead, and is the final guardian of the last mystery. All risen dead revere her as mother, and all creatures acknowledge that at some point they will face her judging eyes. Although she is a member of the Dark school, characterizing The Silent Lady as evil is incorrect. In her view she merely performs a necessary task, the occasional outcome of which can result in terrible pain and tragedy. However centuries of killing have turned her heart stone, and left her deaf to even the most heartfelt pleas and reasoned arguments. She appears as a beautiful woman with pale skin and thick black hair with a bright white streak running through it. Across her throat is vivid scar running from ear to ear. When she speaks she emits no sound, but her voice seems to issue from all around echoing and reverberating to fill the space, yet no sound ever escapes her lips. She is clad in a dark hooded cloak. Oftentimes she will appear as a skeleton, dropping her fleshy disguise in favor of her true terrifying form of Death.

HOLY SCHOOL SCHOOL OF MAGIC
The gods of the Holy School are widely venerated across Etheria. In some nations, such as Westlock, the power of their Temples exert politcal pressure, shaping the politics of the day.

Asyra, The Fair One
Concerned with: Goodness, Light, Positive Energy, Order, and Community
Asyra is the primary force for good in the Mage Wars world. She is concerned with the positive development of all life, and the promotion of harmony. She is most frequently depicted as an incandescent golden light shaped vaguely into outlines of a woman. Her radiance can burn the corruption and wickedness out of any who gaze upon her. She is known for rewarding her followers when they least expect it, an endearing quality that has made her one of the most popular Gods of Etheria, and particularly of Westlock.

Bim-Shalla, The Soothing Balm
Concerned with: Healing, Safety, and Protection
Bim-Shalla is the goddess of healing energy and is worshipped by priestess and those who wish to master the healing arts. She appears as a young woman of peaceful continence wearing a golden laurel crown on her head carrying a golden amphora from which she can produce any healing or protection effect. Bim-Shalla’s symbol is a soothing hand.

The Dawnbreaker, Imposer of Judgment
Concerned with: Duty, Order, Judgment, Justice, and Vengeance
The Dawnbreaker is called upon by those who are certain in their convictions and dogged in their pursuits. The Dawnbreaker makes little distinction between the justice of the temporal world and the divine punishment. Fervent crusaders and judgmental tyrants are just as likely to worship him. He appears as a tall man in full covering plate mail. He wields a giant spiked mace that glows with a silver light, and a shield polished to mirror perfection, which reflects all the transgressions of the soul of his opponents. He is a favorite god of Paladins.

NATURE SCHOOL OF MAGIC
The Nature School embodies a vast number of concerns, from plants to faeries to beasts, from growth to weather. As such, the Nature Gods are a diverse bunch, each powerful in their own right, but somewhat isolated in their agendas. Nature Gods are more prevalent in the wilds, and in nations heavily dominated by Elves (Straywood/Sortilege).

Meredia , The World Spirit
Concerned with: Nature, the Environment, Life and Spirit
Meredia is the energizing life force that animates the world of Mage Wars. She is mother to all creatures that live (and embrace the natural order), and often appears as a gentle, playful breeze or a ripple upon the water. She is largely natural towards most things, but detests Necromancy as a perversion her gifts (while recognizing that death is a part of the order of things). She is unlikely to intervene personally on behalf of a worshipper, but may stir the attention one of her attendant lesser gods towards a particularly worthy follower.

Pago, The Speaker of Spirits
Concerned with: Spirits, Weather, Natural Phenomena
Oldest of the nature gods, and perhaps even older then Meredia the World Spirit, Pago represents the wildest and most savage aspects of nature, as well as the spirits of departed animals. Solitary and mysterious, many think constant exposures to the spirits have rendered Pago mad, as the information he provides is always crouched in riddle and metaphor. He can speak with the soft voice of the rain, or the powerful shout of a thunderclap. He appears as a bent, old man, with a long beard, and a scraggly loincloth. He carries a staff of pure yew wood, from which hang two preserved gourds. He is always in conversation with a number of spirit animals that only he can see, and it can take days for him to notice a living worshipper.

Rajan, Lord of the Beasts
Concerned with: Animals and the Hunt
Rajan is the jovial lord of beasts, and lives for nothing more then to stalk game across the wild plains with his pack of cats, or to run free in the wild, untamed spaces of the world. He appears as a fit young man clad in the skin of his latest kill, and accompanied by a number of beasts appropriate to his domain. He has little use for the refinements of civilization, and can converse with any known animal in their own language.

Rihanna, the Quiet Cultivator
Concerned with: Plants, Agriculture, Gardening
Twin sister to Rajan, Rihanna is the more sedate of the two, comfortable in the quiet places of nature, and concerned with nurturing harmony between people and plants. Although she maintains a calm demeanor, she is quick to lash out at those who despoil or wantonly harm her beloved plants. She appears as a beautiful young green-skinned woman, naked except for an adornment of leaves and vines seductively wrapped around her body. Her hair is a beautiful array of vines and flowers. She can take the form of a tree at will, and will oftentimes watch her gardens while in such a form. She is capable of producing any type of plant life, and the magic sickle she carries as both of a tool and a weapon.

Tellura, The Silken Snare
Concerned with: Fairies, Enchantments and Magica Creatures
Whether a playful trickster or promiscuous lover, Tellura is most at home using her looks and wiles to fool other creatures into cater to her whims. Revered by all fairies, as well as those mages who do not mind subverting others will, Tellura flitters from one lover to another never satisfied, or able to settle down. With flattery, her followers can solicit her support, but she could just as easily spurn if they offend her in some way. None have seen her true appearance, as everyone who gazes upon her views her as their ideal fantasy. Whatever form she appears in, she always wears a single crystal tear pendant upon her neck, a remnant of the only time she has ever cried. However, none know who or what this tear was shed for. She maintains a close friendship with Ferenne, the Arcane God of Tricks and Traps.

THE MIND SCHOOL OF MAGIC
The Mind School of Magic is the most enigmatic, and mysterious of the Schools. Many Mind mages believe that their ability to access magic represents a next step in human evolution. They embrace the idea of magic as an extension of their will.

The Nameless One
Concerned with: Telepathy, Mental Superiority and the Unknown
Many Mind mages do not worship a God at all. Those that do call upon a God referred to as The Nameless One. He is a being of great psionic power, with a mind powerful enough to reach out and communicate with those who also have telepathic powers, which he grants to his followers in return for their worship. The Nameless One was not recorded as  one of the New Gods during the Golden Age. His appearance is looked upon as suspect by other Gods, and little is known about him, leading the other schools to wonder where The Nameless One came from, or what true agendas he may have for Etheria.

THE WAR SCHOOL OF MAGIC
Next to the gods of the Holy School, the gods of the War School are the most commonly venerated across Etheria. While Westlock holds Asyra in highest esteem, Ivarium venerates Lord Bellicar and Akiro, and their worship permeates the militaristic nature of the nation, from simple folk, to legionairre, to senator. The gods of the War School are also highly respected in the Blood Wave and the Anvil Throne — places where a more rugged lifestyle has forced its inhabitants to see their environment as as constant battle.

Lord Bellicar, The Superlative Strategist
Concerned with: War, Combat, Tactics, Strife, Weapons, and Martial Spirit
Lord Bellicar is the strategist of the gods. A peerless warlord who leads other Gods into battle. There is nothing connected with the art of war that Lord Bellicar does not favor. He stands strong, noble, proud — an authority figure who immediately commands respect and instills confidence in his followers. He has white hair, and dresses in regal battle attire and armor befitting the grandest of Warlords. He carries an enormous two-handed sword that looks well used, but is in prime condition. He has a missing eye and wears an eye patch. He is often at odds with Akiro, The Boastful Champion, though the two have worked together at times throughout Etheria’s history.

Akiro, The Boastful Champion
Concerned with: Excellence in Skill at Arms, Clever Tricks and Luck, Dueling, Bravery, and Courage
Akiro is a  dynamic, extroverted and active God who thirsts for battle, and will readily intervene on behalf of his followers. Although all warriors pay homage to Lord Bellicar, those warriors who revel in the fervor and bloodlust of battle, enjoy dueling, and who live by the sword, tend to favor Akiro. Akiro appears as a young, handsome, strong human, with long silver-blonde hair, and wielding a mighty Warhammer. His hammer is the sigil for the War school. His armor and battle dress is similar to a barbaric Viking – his muscles bulging beneath the leather and steel. He is fast, clever, and somewhat mischievous on the battlefield. He favors the underdog who boldly faces overwhelming odds.

Eisenach, The Searing Bellows
Concerned with: Smithing, Invention, Siege Craft, and Dwarves
Eisenach is the god of weapon smiths, inventors designing the newest weapon or latest armor, as well those warriors engaged in construction and destruction of fortifications. Eisenach is strongly aligned with Dwarven kind, and appears as a dwarf whose left arm has been replace a finely worked metallic arm. He an intricate monocle and carries a complicated automatic crossbow of his own design.


THE ELEMENTAL LORDS
The Elemental Lords were the original Gods — in fact, they created the Realm of Etheria. They were displaced by the New Gods during the Golden Age, and fought against them (alongside the Dragons) during the Age of Catastrophe (Elemental Wars). Though they were ultimately driven back (not destroyed), the utter chaos that was wrought upon the land during this time has forever cast a shadow of mistrust upon these once great Powers. That said, they are still worshipped in various places of Etheria — in the rugged north, in the deserts of Djser-Tet, and among the Sea Peoples. 

El Abbeden, Emir of the Roaring Fires
Concerned with: Fire and Fire Creatures
El Abbeden is the lord of fire and reflects its mercurial nature as both sustainer of life and destroyer. He appears as a tall man with deeply tanned skin, wearing a set of billowing robes made of fire. He wields a huge scimitar and rides a fire breathing horse with skin the color of bronze.

Ugulanthu, Baron of the Rumbling Deeps
Concerned with Stone and earth, and Creatures Who Live There
Ugulanthu is the lord of the Earth and is as slow an unchanging as the stone. It can take him centuries just to greet a traveler to his grotto in the earth. However, when he speaks the ground rumbles. He appears as a massive man made of earth and studded that from an approximation armor. Most often he sets upon his throne contemplating his next action. When moved to fight, he wields a massive stone sledge made from the stones in his own body.

Val’as Sherean, Mistress of the Murky Phantoms
Concerned with: The Deeps and All Sea Creatures
From her alabaster palace deep beneath the waves, Val’as Sherean spend most days strumming on her lyre, or admiring the vast hoard of wealth she has accumulated. She considers all shipwrecks her personal property and all live in or make a living form the sea her subjects. She is vain and haughty, and loathe to abandoned her hedonistic lifestyle, but will become an intractable foe if provoked. She appears as a beautiful woman with green skin and flowing eyes. Below her torso she posses a massive scaly tail which she can shift into a pair of legs at her whim. In battle she wields a delicate, gem studded trident, and will call upon pet, Garalec, the Deep Devourer (an immense kraken) to aid her.

Ilasthasa, Duchess of the Windswept Aeries
Concerned with: The Skies, Air Creatures, and Dragons
Far above the cares of the world Ilashasa watches those creatures who most toil anchored to the ground from her sky citadel. She truly pities all who do not the freedom of drifting with the wind or ranging across the boundless skies. She can be the gentle breeze or the devastating tornado. She travels across the sky in a might chariot pulled by two great griffins whose feet spark lightning bolts, and whose bellows bring forth thunder. She wields a great bow from which she can shoot lightning bolts. During a powerful thunderstorm, it is said that Ilashasa is shooting her bow



8
World and Lore / Official MW Lore: The Mage Wars Accords
« on: January 04, 2016, 01:22:38 PM »
Hey guys! Thought we would start the year off right with a closer look at the driving force behind all our arena battles — the Mage Wars Accords.

What are the Mage Wars Accords?
In short, they’re why Mages enter the Arena to fight.



For the longer story, read on!

Since the Age of Catastrophe, the lands of Etheria suffered under wave after wave of conflict, battle and chaos, both magic and military. Following the epic, multi-national defeat of Adramelech and his demonic forces over a half millennia ago, there was little appetite for future conflict. General Mereveran, the Ivarium leader who had forged the Grand Alliance and had brought the nations together, put forward the idea of a framework of mage champions who could fight on behalf of the nations, sparing future generations the death and destruction that comes with warfare.
 
That idea ultimately became the Mage Wars Accords, and developed into a system of Mage based arena combats. Since their formal institution, most nations have come to rely on the Mage Wars Accords and Mage combats as critical for maintaining stability and order across Etheria.

How Does it Work?
Simply, Mages enter an Arena for magical combat. The winning side represents a victory for a nation, an ideal, or a dispute.

This simple formula has allowed nations to save lives and treasure, no longer forcing nations to field and fund military forces, except in the case of true external threat (::cough Blood Wave Invasion ::cough:: ). As a result, army sizes have been largely decreased (except in Ivarium and the Blood Wave), and the threat of day-to-day destruction has been mitigated for farmers and common folk.

In addition, the system of arena combat has created celebrities, heroes and faces both famous and infamous. It is a marriage of socio-political strategy with a highly visible and compelling system of sport and entertainment. People respond to heroes, and love to hate their heroes’ rivals. For most people in Etheria, particularly in Westlock where the arena system is most developed, this is simply the way things are. After 500 years (some 25 generations) it’s baked into the fabric of society. Stories of life before the Accords are usually filled with tales of destruction and demonkind.

In truth, the arena system has also become a highly lucrative system. A large portion of coin generated by arena matches is taken by the Arena Conclave, which is then parsed out to the nations who have signed on to the Accords, with larger percentages given to those who are participating, hosting the event, etc. As more and more factions join in, and more and more fights are put on even as exhibitions its become more and more profitable. Some arena personalities — like Tellas Vane for example — are hugely popular, and matches that feature him, draw large crowds, and expensive seats.

How is it Governed?
To oversee the matches and Mages, and to ensure fairness and propriety are maintained, there is an Arena Conclave. Each nation provides a council member to sit on this regulatory body. This Conclave is the administrative body that organizes matches, draws the terms officially, debate the legality of a match, and sanction cases presented by those who want to take matters into the Arena. They see to the upkeep of official arenas, collect “membership dues” from independent or non-National members who sign on to the Accords, and manage all proceeds from ticket admission and wagers. They are technically an official body of government.

Most matches take place in specially constructed Arenas, which are latticed with deep-rooted magics for the protection of the audience, and the safety of the participants. For example, the walls of the Arena are always layered in two-way illusions, such that they always seem enormously high from within, but to the audience outside, they see events as if they are “ringside”. The magics of the arena carry spoken words up to the audience, and their applause booms into the pit. Additionally the pit itself magically keeps the spells and effects from spilling into the audience (a very handy piece of magecraft).

The matches are presided over by a Grand Herald, a representative of the Arena Conclave. While in this position of authority, he or she is empowered within the Arena to override magics inside the pit. He may only do this when the Accords have been violated, or if the safety of the audience is in question. The Grand Herald serves as an announcer, commentator, and referee as necessary.



Sanctioned and Unsanctioned Matches
There are two forms of matches, sanctioned and unsanctioned.

Sanctioned matches follow the rules of the Accords, and are governed and monitored by the Arena Conclave and its representatives. Only sanctioned matches can have binding results for nations or organizations represented by the Mages who participate in the duel. For example, a match may be set to arbitrate between two nations who hold claims to a particular piece of land, or property. Or they may be used to settle disputes rather than send armies to field. In any case, such sanctioned matches are designed and drawn up by the Arena Conclave, and are then agreed upon by representatives of the two parties involved, and often, by the participants themselves.

Unsanctioned matches can occur in or outside an arena, by Mages of any nationality or affiliation. In general, they follow traditional Accord rules, and are fought to unconsciousness, not death. They are not presided over by a Grand Herald. These types of matches may occur in the wilderness, on-the-cuff, or in a personal situation between two Mages. These matches are still generally fought until the Rite of Surrender is invoked, but deathmatches do happen, especially when dealing with Dark Mages or shadowy organizations (Arraxian Crown ::cough:: ::cough:: )

Who Can Participate?
In an unsanctioned match, anyone can participate, at their own risk.

For a sanctioned match, participants must be registered with the Arena Conclave. Participants may register for political reasons, competitive/exhibition reasons, or personal reasons. In any event, a roster of official mages who may represent a given nation or organization is maintained by the Conclave. The affiliated nation or organization can decides when or if a mage is ready to participate in a sanctioned match for them. Different nations have their own rules and regulations on who may become their champions.

The Mage Wars Accords also allows for Universities, Academies and Schools of Training to test students officially in the public eye. In cases such as these, the organizations may sign themselves as independent entities, rather than falling under a national banner. (For example, Sistarra Academy in Sortilege is designated as its own independent entity, rather than a representative of Sortilege.) This allowance lets the mage community as a whole grow without having to fear any particular political disputes effecting their teaching. This also allows  “final exams” and major trials for a student to happen in the dynamic environment of an Arena.

Independent Mages also have the right to register personally with the Arena Conclave, so that they may legally engage in honor duels, property disputes, or simply test himself and any other reason he might have. 

Do All Matches Follow The Same Rules?
There are several types and varieties of matches, all with specific goals, set and agreed upon by the Conclave before a sanctioned duel begins. The “standard match” is to knock out or until a participant invokes the Rite of Surrender, whichever happens first. (The Rite of Surrender is a basic, simple incantation which all Mages must know to compete.  It terminates all of the mages ongoing magical effects, unsummons any creatures and, within the magics of The Arena proper, protects the mage from farther harm.)

There are other types of matches, including team battles, battles upon specific or magical terrain, and (rarely) deathmatches.

What If A Nation Or Organization Does Not Follow The Outcome Of A Sanctioned Match?
Failure to live up to the set terms of a sanctioned match could result in the Arena Conclave punishing the affiliated nation or organization, usually by incurring steep fines, or leveraging other nations and organizations to withhold trade or political connections. The Conclave can also decide to remove an individual, organization or nation from the Accords themselves, in which case they would immediately lose all funds associate with arena combat. In extreme situations, the Conclave is also able to rally political, military or magical force against a nation that decides to default on a sanctioned match.

In the 500 years since the Mage Wars Accord has been instituted, this has rarely happened.


A special thanks to Baronzaltor for all his help in preparing this very in-depth discussion.

9
World and Lore / Legends & Lore: Yoseph, Merchant of Many Things
« on: November 27, 2015, 03:15:42 PM »
Legends & Lore: Yoseph, Merchant of Many Things

In honor of all the shopping taking place on and offline today, we’ll take a look at Etheria’s most famous (infamous) merchant, Yoseph, Merchant of Many Things..

Yoseph is not a mage — but he knows what they like, and he knows how to get it.

The High Elf runs a network of artifact shops throughout Sortilege, but his main storefront is in the city of Sor Alorra, run in a small tower not far from the Old Campus at Sistarra Academy. Yoseph does such brisk business there that his shop is often referred to as “The Seventh Tower”, a reference to six towers of Sistarra, each of which houses studies for a school of magic.

Unlike many smalltime shop keepers, Yoseph maintains his “Discovery League”, a group of Mages, aspiring Mages, loremasters, whisperers, scouts, and muscle who are paid to continually refresh inventory with regular forays into the Darkfenne, the Underrealm, the jungles of Kumanjaro, the Haunted Desert beyond Dsejer-Tet and the glacier catacombs in the undead-controlled areas of the far North beyond the Rimemark.

Yoseph is loud, portly and gregarious, always ready with a quick (usually over-the-top) joke and a hearty laugh — an endearing quality to most Humans and Dwarves, but an anomaly among the other elves of Sortilege. However, behind the bluster, Yoseph is a careful and astute businessman, negotiator and student of history. He maintains an extensive list of contacts with nobles, politicians, and other influential members from all across Etheria — as well as with non-savory organizations such as the Arraxian Crown, the pirates of the Windlass Brotherhood, and the secretive Society of Rising Night.

Yoseph's personality is featured on a number of cards, including [mwcard=MWSTX1CKE01]Armor Ward[/mwcard], the original printing of Dissolve, Wispwillow Amulet, and the upcoming Cloak of Fire.

10
World and Lore / Favorite Legendary Soldier of Etheria
« on: November 11, 2015, 11:48:28 AM »
Happy Veteran's Day!

11
General Discussion / Honor the Soliders
« on: November 11, 2015, 11:41:46 AM »
In honor of Veteran’s Day in the US, here’s a few interesting “Soldier” FAQs:

• Total number of Soldiers currently printed: 28

• Number of Soldiers with Ranged attack: 9
• Number of Legendary Soldiers: 9
• Only Nature school Soldier: Bridge Troll
• Only Academy Soldier: Satyr Gruff
• Only Soldier to have only a single subtype: Sir Corazin
• Race with the most Soldiers: TIE, 6 Dwarf, 6 Goblin
• Solider with the most forms of attack: Goblin Alchemist
• Soldier with the lowest Casting Cost: Goblin Grunt (4 mana)
• Solider with the highest Casting Cost: Thorg, Chief Bodyguard (17 mana)
• Solider with the highest single roll of Attack dice: Grimson Deadeye, Sniper (6 Dice)
• Soldier with the lowest number of Attack dice: TIE Goblin Builder and Goblin Alchemist (2 Dice)
• Solider with the most Armor: TIE Brogan Bloodstone and Thorg, Chief Bodyguard (4 Armor)
• Soldier with the most Life: Bridge Troll (16 Life)


Happy Veteran's Day
--Sabrath

12
World and Lore / Official Mage Wars Lore: The Laws of Magic
« on: September 21, 2015, 11:44:47 PM »
This time around, let’s take a look at how spells and spellcraft work within the Mage Wars Universe. Some parts of this have been covered in other posts, but I wanted to post a thread that encapsulated the full scope of magic to be more comprehensive and searchable.

In the Mage Wars universe, magic power derives from the Realm of Voltari.

The Realm of Voltari exists around all other realms (planes of existence). To visualize, imagine all the universe as a kind of magic sponge — that’s the Realm of Voltari. The holes in the sponge are places where physical realms exist. (Etheria is one such place, as is Infernia).

Spell Power: Mana and V’Tar
Magic in Etheria taps into the sponge of Voltari -- the essence of magic is drawn in and distilled it into what the Schools of Magic call mana. In layman's terms, mana is "diluted Voltari”, meaning its safe enough to be channeled, stored, and reshaped into spells or items.

Although it is rarely done now in the Modern Age, it is possible to draw pure Voltari essence, called V’Tar, which is far more powerful and not distilled. Ancient artifacts, like the V'Tar Orbs or the V'Torrak were created using this kind of power to form and fasten their magical workings.

The Law of Magic
The Laws of Magic refer to understanding the workings of Voltari essence. Much like the physical laws that govern the physical world, the Laws of Magic govern the nature and manipulation of Voltari.

These laws were discovered (or at least passed down) to the mortals of Etheria, first by the Elemental Lords to their chosen, and then by the New Gods to their adherents, worshippers and followers. It should be noted that the Elemental Lords worked primarily with V’Tar, and passed that knowledge along to their creations (such as the dragons). The New Gods established a system of distilled magic, using spells that were fueled by mana. This system, and its more stable, organized hierarchy, is still widely used across all the nations (ie. the Six Major Schools of Magic).

The Magical Matrix of Voltari
All spells start with a magical matrix, a framework around which the Voltari essence builds. This Matrix can be disrupted, and if it is, the spell itself is negated. Once the Matrix is fully formed, depending on what type of spell the Mage is casting, it will swell with an influx of mana (or V’Tar), and fashion itself into a spell type — a creature, a conjuration, an incantation, etc.

This is especially true of Enchantments, since the matrix forms around the object it is targeting. Unlike the matrixes of Summoning or Conjuration spells, the Enchantment matrix can remain hidden and dormant, until the Mage who casts it determines it should have its effect.

Summoning
One of the most pronounced differences between the Laws of Magic and the laws that govern physical reality is the ability to Summon a creature.

When a Summoning spell is cast, the Voltari essence involved creates a magical construct of a creature that exists. It is entirely a real creature, with its own mind, life essence, knowledge, etc.

For example, if a Mage summoned a Timber Wolf, that Mage is creating a magical copy of a Timber Wolf. This construct is every bit as powerful and vulnerable as a real wolf, and it behaves and acts like a real wolf. (The wolf is not “picked up and teleported out of some nearby wilderness.”)

These constructs are not clones of some “perfect” specimen of Timber Wolf. Rather, each summoned Timber Wolf exhibits slight variations from summoning Mage to summoning Mage: they may have distinctively colored hair, eyes, fur patterns, etc. The basic species is being replicated, but not in specific detail.

However, there are some real and significant differences.

First, the magical construct’s mind is attuned to obey the commands of whomever summons it.

Second, it has a temporary existence, and will dissipate back into magical energy after a given time, particularly when the Mage mentally “lets go” of the link on the construct’s minds. (This usually happens at the end of an arena combat for example).

Third, if it dies during combat or while still attuned to the summoning Mage, its corpse will remain for awhile before dissipating later. (Allowing necromancers to make use of these clone corpses during the course of a battle.)

A Mage can easily learn creature spells from another Mage, during their time at an Academy or Spell School, and without having ever seen that particular creature before.

Summoning Legendary Creatures
Summoning creatures (whether they are common or rare) is a replication process. Summoning legendary creatures (meaning a specific creature) is something a little different, and draws upon other Laws of Magic.

When a Mage summons a legendary creature, he is creating an actual clone construct of a particular, singular creature. For example, he is not creating a generic Timber Wolf, he is creating an exact duplicate of Redclaw, Alpha Male.

To do this, a Mage uses the power of Voltari to borrow from the essence of a real creature, a process which de facto creates an attuned connection between the Mage and the summoned Legendary creature.

Because of this, two Mages in proximity to each other cannot cast the same specific creature spell at exactly the same time. Their mental attunements interfere with each other, disrupting the magical balance that summoning and controlling a creature requires. (This is why only one copy of a Legendary creature can be summoned at a time.)

It is theorized that Mages separated by great distances can summon the same legendary creature at the same time, possibly because the mental attunement at such lengths does not interfere.

In any event, the summoned clone has no connection to the actual creature, in that if it is harmed, or dies, or gains some powers in the arena, its real-life counterpart is unaffected. Conversely, if the actual unique creature that the spell is based upon dies, the copy is not affected, and even more bizarrely, the spell can continue to be cast.

These strange improbabilities and paradoxes have made “The Ethics of Legendary Summoning” a hotly debated topic among Wizards of Sortilege, as well as many followers of the Holy Gods, particularly Bim-Shalla.

Conventional Magecraft teaches that in order to learn Legendary creature spells, a Mage needs to have actually met and bonded with that creature at some point. Sistarran Professors point out that a Priestess might do this with volunteer subjects, whereas a Warlock might capture a victim to create his spell.

This is an over-simplification; the truth is that some Mage at some point had to have met the subject of the spell, and to have found a way to bind his/her/its essence to a summoning matrix. However, once crafted, the spell can be passed down, with the newcomer Mage ever having met the original subject of the Summoning. Because of this, it is theorized that Legendary creatures and heroes from earlier ages are possible to summon, although they are long since dead.

It should also be noted that very powerful beings from outside the Etherian Realm (like Adremelech, Lord of Fire) are not summoned in the fullness of their power, but are summoned as a “shadow” or “aspect” of their true self. Summoning beings of this magnitude requires very high levels of spellcraft, and often, a combination of mana/V’Tar.

13
World and Lore / Official MW Lore: Sistarra, the Grand Academy of Magic
« on: September 13, 2015, 11:02:02 PM »
This week, let’s take a look at one of the bright lights of learning and Mage craft in Etheria — Sistarra, the Grand Academy of Magic.

For aspiring academics of all persuasions, Sistarra represents the highest institution of collected learning, lore and magic that the nations of Etheria have to offer. It is the pride of Sortiliege, and attracts students from all corners of the world seeking knowledge and advance magical training. It is also the oldest magic-based academy still training future mages today.

Overview
Sistarra is located in the ancient city of Sor Alora, established on the southern coast of Sortilege. The city was built almost 2500 years before the founding of the Pellian Empire; it was nearly destroyed during the Age of Catastrophe and the subsequent magic battles that ultimately consumed Sen Ahreal, but was restored to greatness once more during the Pellian Empire, when Sortilege became part of the larger Empire. Sor Alora saw some fighting during the Demon Wars, but was in large part spared from the ravages of Adramelech’s forces.

As such, students who come to Sistarra find themselves in a city steeped in history, with architecture, fountains, statuaries, portals and bridges that hail from virtually every period of Etheria’s past. Add to that the fact that the geography of Sor Alora is incredibly picturesque; the city is housed on the high white cliffs of the southern coastline, surrounded by small hills and mountains to the north. (These natural features have protected the city from most invaders; until a visitor makes his way through the barrier mountains and down into the bowl of Sor Alora, the city is not even visible).

The Academy itself was initially established sometime around 2200 BPE. (Exact records were lost during the chaotic times of the Age of Catastrophe.) There are several buildings and sections to the institution, so in essence, Sistarra comprises a small city-within-a-city. Some key points of interest include:

The Old Campus
The rebuilt remains of the original towers that were destroyed during the Age of Catastrophe. This is the most iconic portion of the campus, particularly since it was built along the main river of the Sor Alora valley, and juts out on the edge of a waterfall which the river terminates into, cascading down to the ocean below. A spectacular promenade and towering statue of a Dragon launching into flight reminds students and visitors that education and learning will propel them ever higher. The Old Campus also houses the Academy Library  and the Hall of Wonders, a museum of artifacts from the city’s long history), as well as a collection of shrines to most of the Gods.



The Menagerie
A number of the most commonly summoned creatures are kept for study and familiarization. Several captive breeding programs have been established for those creatures who produce useful magical components.

The Battlegrounds
A reclaimed area of former marshland to the north of the Old Campus that has been designed to include numerous dueling pits, small arenas, testing pits, and other spaces to practice the more destructive aspects of magic. The Academy Legion (a campus security force that exists to contain escaped creatures, put down excessive magical manifestations, and protect important visitors) is also headquartered here.

The Six Towers
Students joke that Tir’Nassare (the capital city of Sortilege) may have a hundred towers (the White Spires), but Sor Alora has the six that really matter. (Of course, they don’t do this in hearing of their professors or any visiting Sortilegian politicians. Also, elves have uncanny hearing, so this joke really needs a considerable amount of privacy before it can be funny.) Each of the towers is dedicated to one of the six main spell schools and its Lyceum (more on that shortly). These towers are where students spend the bulk of their education at Sistarra. A large, domed structure houses the learning of the four elemental schools.

Academy Teaching
Sistarra’s curriculum is focused around broadening and intensifying a student’s understanding of the primary school of magic that makes up their calling. Unlike many smaller schools, where students tend to focus on a particular school of magic, Sistarran students are required to study the basics of all the major schools of magic, and are offered access to the minor elemental schools as well.

Though distasteful to those who come from Westlock, the Academy even offers training in the Dark school of magic. There is no law against Warlocks or Necromancers from practicing in Sortilege (unlike its more Holy-focused neighbor), and Sistarra even employs a Warlock (Ravenna of Eastmarch) as part of the faculty. (It is important to note that not all Warlocks are part of the Arraxian Crown, even though that is generally assumed to be the case by anyone in Westlock.)

Course work focuses on small group study. Faculty members are dived into Lyceums based upon the school of magic they practice. There is one Lyceum for each school magic. Lyceum is a shortened "Pellianized" version of the High Elvish word for school of magic: a’lissi’matheri). Each faculty member has a group of students studying under them. Faculty are responsible for overseeing their students studies and research.

Academy Faculty
As a final note, the faculty is incredibly varied, to provide students the largest sampling of what Etheria has to offer. In fact, the staff of Sortilege represents virtually every race, nationality and Mage type of Etheria (perhaps with the exception of the Blood Wave), including:

Magus Bellarax  (Human Warlord from Ivarium)
Professor of War magic, strategy and martial training
 
Magus Dargum (Dwarven Air Wizard of the Anvil Throne)
Professor of Air Magicks and Dwarven Literature
 
Magus Drallan (Human Priest of Bim-Shalla from Westlock)
Professor of Etherian History, focus on the Modern Age
 
Magus Erozar (Elven Forcemaster from Sortilege)
Professor of politics and political sciences
 
Magus Erx (Elven Earth Wizard from Sortilege)
Dean of Sartorial Studies
 
Magus Festendenti (Eleven Water Wizard from Sortilege)
Professor of Realm Theory (study of Voltari)
 
Magus Grimmwold (Elven Earth Wizard from Sortilege)
Professor of ecology and Etherian geography
 
Magus Jara (Elven Priestess of Asyra from Sortilege)
Professor of theology, Celestia culture and Holy magic

Magus Nenet-amon (Human Fire Wizard from Dsjer-tet)
Professor of Elemental Linguistics
 
Magus Nergol (Elven Necromancer from Sortilege)
Professor of the Dark Arts
 
Magus Norrell (Elven Druid from the Straywood)
Professor of Nature magic
 
Magus Oreheart (Dwarven Warlord from the Anvil Throne)
Professor of Number Practicum
 
Magus Pyr (Human Fire Wizard from Sortilege)
Professor of Fire magic and Infernal Politics

Magus Ravenna of Eastmarch (Human Warlock from Westlock)
Professor of Etherian History, focus on the Age of Catastrophe

Magus Remulex (Human Earth Wizard from Lupertra)
Professor of Agricultural Spellcraft
 
Magus Thessial (Elven Air Wizard from Sortilege)
Professor of Air magic
 
Magus Xer (Elven Air Wizard from Sortilege (and twin brother of Magus Erx)
Professor of Aesthetic Magery

14
Website Support and Feedback / Academy Cards Database
« on: September 13, 2015, 12:06:53 AM »
Will the Academy cards be part of the current database, or will they be coded into a separate Academy-only database?

15
Spellbook Design and Construction / Warlord vs. Wizard
« on: September 13, 2015, 12:04:44 AM »
Need some Warlord wisdom from the forums:

If you had to play a Blood Wave Warlord (but you could draw from any Arena set, promo card, or Academy card) and you knew you were going to have to play a Wizard, what tricks/cards/styles of play would you consider as best contenders?

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