Monday, September 26, 2016

Anticasters

In the setting I run, there are several orders that are dedicated to keeping the balance between magic and mundane level, or in favor of the mundane. Some see themselves as keeping the peace in these dark times, while others actively look to protect normal folk and crush the arcane. Magic and its practitioners are dangerous to decent folk that neither have the strength nor fortitude to fight back. And looking at history, it's hard to argue against it. Wizards are capable of bringing a nation to its knees with their arcane strength, or force anyone to do anything they wish against their will. Clerics are somewhat more accepted among the populace. However, with constant crusades, forced proselytization, and religious persecution and oppression,  both pauper and prince are becoming more and more exasperated with divine casters. As for psionics and mystics, there is a general distrust of the antisocial hermits that have removed themselves from worldly matters. Not to mention their ability to mentally assault kings and peasants puts them in the same category as warlocks and witches.

Some of the worst villains and tyrants have been casters or supernatural creatures. Several people have come together to create organizations that will protect the world from the supernatural and level the playing field, using their magical weaknesses against them. Here they are, and some of their tools.

The Rational Quencha Empire

In the southernmost continent of Thivola lies a land of extremes. Rain forests that carpet an entire nation, mountain ranges that pierce the heavens, and silt desserts that house primordial sludge make up some of the more memorable areas of Thivola. Making their home in Etapu's Spine mountain range is the Quencha Empire. For a long time, it was a theocracy that united most of the continent under the banner of the earth god Etapu, but has since become a secular nation that oppresses religion.

Quencha is under the leadership of Ka Macha the Terse, a slave turned president that overthrew the theocracy and has reformed it. Much of the human sacrifice and mortification has be outlawed and many of the surrounding cities and tribes no longer have to be afraid of these murderous practices. Macha is very popular among the poor due to his philanthropy and laws enacted to make life better for the lower classes.

However, this has come at a cost. Much of the money used to pay for these laws and the military have come from wealthy casters. Clerics, shamans, and other divine casters have been charged with treason for consorting with other powers against the will of Macha and have their wealth and property taken from them and given to the government. And since the populace are weary of crusades and mass sacrifice, there is little sympathy for the casters. While the focus is currently on hunting the divine casters, wizards and psionicists alike seem to be next on the chopping block.

Tools Employed

Lobotomy: While many kingdoms in the world have experimented with surgery, the Quencha have taken the plunge into anatomy and autopsy. A common method to permanently remove a caster's abilities is to subject them to a lobotomy. The magic prisoner has their head opened and certain pieces of their cerebrum removed so that the caster cannot form spell thoughts in their mind. The caster is no longer capable of casting spells and is also mentally handicapped. This process is irreversible through mundane means and requires powerful magic to heal the mind again. Lobotomies are said to be done as a kindness to the mage, but in reality, they act to send a warning to other casters.

A character that suffers a lobotomy loses 2d6 INT, WIS, and CHAR permanently. A 0 in any of these stats means that they are catatonic, nonfunctional, or otherwise unplayable. If they are a caster, they lose any spell casting ability forever. Powerful spells like wish or miracle can reverse these effects.

Painted Mages: These are the spooks of the Quencha Empire. A magic secret police of sorts, the Painted Mages are an order of anti-casters that use special pigments to both increase their hunting prowess as well as locking the powers of a caster for a time. They call themselves mages as a sort of insult to real casters, as these are just exceptional mortals with magical paints. The pigments are all created from the ground up bones of a polydactyl vicuna and the blood of a minhoc√£o killed under a full moon. 


Different dyes allow the paints to have different effects on the user or the victim and higher concentrations of the blood and bone can make the effects greater (such as greater bull strength or more spell damage). The pains only have an effect if it touches the wearer's flesh. The effects last until the pained is wiped off with alcohol, or flake off after 1d4 days (2d4 if the painted target stays away from the elements and combat). Alcohol takes the paint off instantly, while water and sweat take 1d6 hours to wipe the pigments off. Below are the basics of the dyes.
  • Puka (Red) - a common dye crafted with red clay, this imbues the wearer with great power. The user is treated like they are under the effects of bull's strength (PF, 5e), vigor (ACKS), or giant strength of strange waters II (LotFP). This takes five minutes of precise painting on the user's body to work.
  • Willapi (Orange) - treated alder bark gives this dye its orange color. This dye is traditionally painted over the eyes of the wearer. Users that wear orange can see in even the deepest, magical dark as if it were broad daylight. This takes a minute to paint.
  • K'ellu (Yellow) - The sickly jaundice colored paint from a dyer's mulberry tree and ground achiote makes the wearer sick anytime they cast a spell or use a magic ability. Casting a spell does Xd6 damage, where X is the spell level of the cast spell. Painting a victim takes an action and is treated like if it were a weapon attack.
  • K'omer (Green) -  a verdant green imbues the wearer with healing abilities. The wears can spend an action to regain a single hit die plus Constitution modifier worth of health. This takes three minutes to paint the intricate designs on the wearer's body.
  • Sut'ijankas (Blue) - made from lapis luzali ground into ultramarine, this is the most important pigment in a painted mage's arsenal. Painted a symbol of a seal on the mage's torso, head, wrists, and ankles prevents them from casting. Useful for transporting a mage to a close-by area. Painting these seals requires a helpless and nude victim and can take five minutes.
  • Kulli (Violet) - crafted from treated brazilwood, these regal pigments are rare and saved for the higher ranking painted mages. It gives the user king's sight, the ability to see through lies instantly. With a successful Perception roll against an enemy's Deception (or Wisdom against Charisma), the user also sees the flaws in the target's body. The user gains an advantage (5e) or a +4 on all attack rolls against the victim for 1 minute. This takes a minute to paint on your eyes.
These paints are not without danger. Wearing any of these magical pigments (except blue) force the user to make a Fortitude save of DC 12 + 1 for every color they are wearing (5e) or a Poison/Death saving throw with a +1 penalty for every color they are wearing (ACKS). This check is made everyone half hour. The difficulty increases by 1 for everyone half hour you wear the paint. Failing the check means that you a poisoned and take 1d4 Con damage every hour. Further successes don't heal the poison and you can only cure it by wiping the pigments off of your skin. Repainting yourself must wait for a day after you wash the colors off or else the penalties to the saving throws remain. The life of a Painted Mage is a dangerous but valuable one. There exists talk of secret dyes that are kept only for the most dangerous mages and the strongest of the Painted Mages.

There will be more ideas and items for anticasters in the future, as well as more about the Quencha empire.