Author Topic: In-Game Book Submissions Thread (Read The First Post Before Posting)  (Read 7213 times)

Famous Seamus

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Re: In-Game Book Submissions Thread (Read The First Post Before Posting)
« Reply #25 on: March 26, 2023, 11:30:32 PM »
Title: A Knight's Virtues
Icon: ilT_BOOK_003 (or Dev Team's choice; I can't get the haks to load properly)
Suggested locations: Houlgraves'
Content:

Quote
A treatise written by the paladin Vandryn Carro.
=====

In my travels I've crossed paths with several folk who interest themselves in knighthood. Having journeyed from squirehood to become grandmaster of an Order and prelate of a Church, bearing many successes and failures along the way, I now place quill to parchment in hope that these words offer challenge and encouragement to such folk.

-=The Nature of Knighthood=-

Knighthood may be political, such as in Dementlieu, or ecclesiastical, such as the holy orders hailing from "outlander" realms. In all cases, however, knighthood is more than a title. It's a matter of soul just as much as it is of ceremony. It is--or should be--fundamentally a practice of virtue.

After all, in perfect circumstances, is it not for a virtue that someone is first knighted, whether for service to one's people or a desire to serve one's faith? Are not these folk lauded when they act virtuously and denounced when they don't?

Thus, we see that knighthood ought to be both internal and external: a union of body and soul, action and intention, toward virtue.

-=Chivalric Virtue=-

Knights' paths vary between traditions yet are guided by these virtues. Knights must cultivate their virtue, armoring themselves with it against assaults and evils. To that end, I offer a portrait of virtues as armor, as painted by the tradition of my own faith.

A knight should gird themself in truth as they might don a belt. As a belt supports its wearer--a foundation of tools for both healing and battle--so also must a knight depend on truth in all circumstances. Such must be a foundation for their actions, for virtue becomes falsehood and falters without truth.

A knight should also don righteousness as they might a breastplate. As a breastplate protects their body, so also must a pursuit of righteousness guard their intentions. Folk who maintain their coat keep ready for combat. Those who maintain their pursuit of righteousness--without becoming self-righteous--keep ready to meet the trials along their path.

A shield cooperates with a breastplate to protect the knight. Akin to a shield, a knight must take up faith (or, if not that, some noble creed) that cooperates with their pursuit of righteousness. The two uphold each other: the humble faith prevents the desire for righteousness from becoming self-righteousness, and the pursuit of righteousness keeps the faith untainted and true.

Boots both carry a knight forward and leave tracks behind. Knights must shoe themselves in peace and be prepared to arrive and depart in peace when peace is possible. Those who concentrate solely on combat risk becoming little more than sellswords. Knights must learn temperance, diplomacy, and tact, knowing how to comfort others and make peace. Anyone can learn how to draw a sword. Wisdom is knowing when to draw it.

As a knight might wear a helmet, so they must bear their cornerstone principles. A helmet, with its style and unique make, identifies its wearer in the chaos of battle: it's how their allies and enemies know who they are. Thus, a knight's cornerstone principles--akin to a helmet--ought to be how others identify them. Never should a knight grow so distanced from their principles that others don't know what the knight stands for.

Lastly, a knight must don love and compassion like a cloak. A cloak has many purposes. It provides warmth, yet it may also be a pillow or blanket or tent-flap or, perhaps, a gift to those in need--in most uses, a source of comfort. A knight should bear their compassion similarly. It warms their heart and prevents it from being frozen by horror or excess zeal. Like a cloak, it can be used in many ways: ever extended to others who need it, ready to be given in the right fashion.

Yet understand that a knight's cloak cooperates with their armor to protect them. Armor doesn't provide warmth as a cloak does, while a cloak won't necessarily deflect a strike. In like fashion must the knight's love and righteousness exist together. Righteousness must be tempered by love, lest righteous anger lead to unrighteousness, and love must be balanced by righteousness, lest the knight become arbitrary and unjust.

-=Conclusion=-

Akin to wearing armor, knighthood isn't simply a matter of doing, but of being. Doing virtue--donning the armor--is what should earn the title. Being virtuous--wearing it well--is what defines it.

This isn't easily accomplished, yet knights train such that moving in their armor becomes nearly effortless, an extension of their being. Likewise, one who trains in "wearing" their virtue will find that being virtuous becomes increasingly natural.

May your training be blessed with success.

//Will not be considered for inclusion. MAB.
« Last Edit: April 05, 2023, 10:47:47 AM by MAB77 »


PlatointheCave

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Re: In-Game Book Submissions Thread (Read The First Post Before Posting)
« Reply #26 on: March 26, 2023, 11:42:20 PM »
Books you say?

I've written a few. Spoilers for simple browsing.

I really would like to post a lot of other player's works too for consideration. Please check out Cote Poisson's work in the Society of the Erudite, Jacinth's historical work and probably a lot I am forgetting.


The Hunter's Findings are a series on therianthrope PCs based on Vince Székely's research, written and published by an anonymous source.

Spoiler: The Hunter’s Findings: Sicart Picavet • show
Title: The Hunter’s Findings: Sicart Picavet
Icon (book's appearance, if known): Any
Suggested locations (eg. Houlgraves', Castle Ravenloft, Port-à-Lucine library, etc.): Port-a-Lucine Hidden Library
Content:
Written here are the findings of Vince Székely who is both a scholar and an instrument of education and discovery. He has travelled the Core interviewing Therianthropes and recording their tales. In doing so he studied the habits of successful hunters and the efficacy of their methods in achieving their goals. He has since become a great hunter himself; perhaps the greatest this Core has ever known.
“It is a mere necessity. A life I must live until my dying breaths. Because once you have had a taste of true humanity why would you ever want anything else?”
A natural born wererat from Ste. Ronges in Richemulot. He was raised unaware of his condition but was told in time that he was different. This prompted him to isolate himself from other children. He believed that his childhood left him with more “human” emotions and that these conflicted with the wererat’s nature. Sicart was raised by his mother and did not know his father; he claims to have loved his mother dearly. Given that he would go on to become a murderer in the employ of a ring of flesh traders, many of these claims seem suspect. He does not specify the age he was recruited to the “Red Ring” but he was told not to return to his old life. He ignored this directive and returned to his mother. She was murdered shortly thereafter by the Red Ring.
Sicart continued to work for the Ring well into adulthood. He describes life amongst wererats as fraught with suspicion. Afflicted rats eager to rise and fellow natural rats looking for opportunities to murder him for personal gain. He claimed to have travelled to Port-a-Lucine as part of a plan to get vengeance on the Red Ring. If this plan ever came to fruition, there is no evidence of it. Sicart found himself with a bounty on his head for various petty crimes and has not been heard from since. What are we to make of this rat’s claims? It seems unlikely that the story spun to Vince was true. Despite his claims about loving humanity, his behaviour remained decidedly inhuman. While he claimed this was in the name of his vengeance; history notes no collapse of the Red Ring. More, his petty crimes do not appear to have any purpose beyond personal gain. Vince notes that Sicart claimed he would free himself of the rat’s blood were he able to. I find this to be just as suspect as the rest of Sciart’s tale; a creature in control of itself and more capable because of this strength logically has no cause to reject its nature.
Sicart offers us insight into the lives of natural wererats in his description of life at home. Much of the rest of his claims are likely deceptions, as is typical of his kind. He is unremarkable for a rat and the lessons left to mankind are few. If it is true that Sicart resented his own condition, then his is the tale of a creature too cowardly to live any other way than it is told. Sicart teaches the would be hunter to act with certitude and know their own nature.

//Will not be considered for inclusion. MAB

Spoiler: TThe Hunter’s Findings: Verinne van Haute • show
Title: The Hunter’s Findings: Verinne van Haute
Icon (book's appearance, if known): Any
Suggested locations (eg. Houlgraves', Castle Ravenloft, Port-à-Lucine library, etc.): Port-a-Lucine Hidden Library
Content:
Written here are the findings of Vince Székely who is both a scholar and an instrument of education and discovery. He has travelled the Core interviewing Therianthropes and recording their tales. In doing so he studied the habits of successful hunters and the efficacy of their methods in achieving their goals. He has since become a great hunter himself; perhaps the greatest this Core has ever known.
"I regard this thing inside me as little more than a parasite. Not much different from a leech or a tick, albeit one I cannot simply see removed with a pair of tweezers."
Verinne was, like Sicart, born in Ste. Ronges. She was an afflicted wererat. Whether she was cursed later in life or inherited the curse from one of her parents is unknown. What is known is that much of early life and adulthood was spent without the curse in her life. Verinne lived comfortably in Ste. Ronges. Her mother encouraged her love of music and dreams of one day performing on stage as a singer. Verinne claims that her mother loved her dearly, yet her mother abandoned the family to live as a mistress in Pont-a-Museau. Her father, who had been a member of a night watch company known as the Soleils Craimoisi, was devastated by this abandonment. He turned to drinking and was dismissed from the company. He would fail to hold down a job.
It fell to Verinne to support herself and her father. She performed in local nightclubs where she was sought for hear beauty, rather than her art, as is typical of ignorant mundanes. In time she would be trained as a courtesan and was able to support herself. She would find one man, Sicart Picavet, to be unusually generous. He had claimed to be a dealer in antiquities but his wealth seemed limitless to Verinne. Where lesser mortals might have been content to live in lavish ignorance, Verinne grew curious. She investigated the source of Sicart’s wealth and learned that he was part of a flesh trading ring. He participated in the sale of women to officials in Falkovnia. Sicart learned that she had found the truth and sent men in the night to seize her. She escaped and fled Ste. Ronges, travelling abroad to Krofburg.
In Krofburg she found work at the Miner’s Merriment as part of management. Here she engaged in trade in information and narcotics as well as her old trade as a courtesan. Here history repeated. Varinne discovered that there was a ring of Vos flesh traders in Krofburg known as the Bratva. Her employer, Natasha Camorescu, was selling women to these traders as slaves. Verinne did not flee this time and aided in destroying the Bratva. However, at time of writing, Natasha Camorescu has not faced justice for her own role in the trade. This is presumably due to what would follow and the ignorance of the mundanes in charge of Krofburg.
It was around this point in Verinne’s history that I encountered her personally. Vince records that the woman developed an unhealthy interest in the occult and was branded an outlaw by the authorities of Krofburg. I met Verinne when she contacted a man I do business with seeking an arcanist. She claimed she felt hollow, fragile and weak. She wanted strength, that men like the Bratva and Sicart would never have power over her again. She wanted to bargain for this power with a fiend. I do not traffic with fiends directly myself. In my experience they offer little of true value and demand tedious payments. Even so, I turn no seeker of knowledge away. I directed Verinne to an expert in the area and she bargained with narcotics for the names of great fiends on this plane. Vince records that Verinne did not make any pacts in the end. Her studies were discovered by the authorities of Krofburg and she was driven out.
Verinne fled to Port-a-Lucine this time. Here she joined the local theatre group and worked extensively to help shelter the common folk of the Republic during the civil war. There is much more detail that I could put here but Vince has already documented Verinne’s actions during the civil war in his published history. During this period Verinne would be named Maitresse and would rise to management of the theatre under House Jalabert. Her performances were numerous, and she became a famous singer in Dementlieu, achieving the dreams of her early childhood. However, this period was when she first discovered her curse. Vince notes that Verinne believed the curse had been with her for a long time; it was latent and waiting to emerge.
Verinne locked herself up when the change came over her. It seems her trigger was the full moon, though pain and fire seem to have caused enough fear to trigger the change. Vince reports that Verinne grew more frightful, concerned about covering her skin and developed a taste for raw meat. Her hearing and sense of smell also improved. Verinne considered the affliction a curse and wished to be free of it. During her monthly transformations she subsisted on raw beef, fastidiously avoiding human flesh. Many of her friends and allies knew of her curse and supported her despite it. Verinne would ultimately be executed on the 24th of May 774 by Agnés Gauthier. This execution was followed by another wererat, Rhea Eleutheria, publicising of allegations that the execution was a politically motivated murder.
These allegations include that Agnés Gauthier was acting on Michelle de Foissart’s orders. At the time there were political tensions between Verinne and the Third Sect of Ezra and the then Gendarme took advantage of this to trick visiting members of the Barovian branch of the Church of Ezra into helping her. She broke into the theatre Verinne performed at and told her to choose between summary execution or consignment to an asylum. Verinne chose execution, rather than risking the public works she had built by resisting. Following these allegations Gauthier would be arrested and trialled for her crime. Gauthier was found guilty but was given a light sentence due to her connections to the government.
Insofar as hunters dominate their environment, Verinne was a poor hunter. She acted on her emotion rather than reason. In Vince’s estimation she was weak. I share his assessment, though I find her dedication to uncovering truths and persistence in the face of adversity admirable. I am sure Verinne herself would have something more sentimental to add but my sources have left me nothing suitable and I am a man of facts.

//Will not be considered for inclusion. MAB

Spoiler: The Hunter’s Findings: Rhea Eleutheria • show
Title: The Hunter’s Findings: Rhea Eleutheria
Icon (book's appearance, if known): Any
Suggested locations (eg. Houlgraves', Castle Ravenloft, Port-à-Lucine library, etc.): Port-a-Lucine Hidden Library
Content:
Written here are the findings of Vince Székely who is both a scholar and an instrument of education and discovery. He has travelled the Core interviewing Therianthropes and recording their tales. In doing so he studied the habits of successful hunters and the efficacy of their methods in achieving their goals. He has since become a great hunter himself; perhaps the greatest this Core has ever known.
“They must be punished until they learn to respect my Order.”
Rhea was born a natural gnome in Darkon who was infected by a wererat late in November 773. Rhea arrived in Barovia with her extended family some time in 772. Prior to this she reports having been a layabout gambler. The only noteworthy fact of her early life recorded by Vince is the gnome’s early fixation on “Fate”. She seems to have had a philosophical opposition to events being governed by any force that was not invested in the lives of mortals. After arriving in Barovia she befriended Lucia and Morrigan; both were monster hunters. She would convert to the Second Sect of Ezra known as the “Pure Hearts” and work with an organisation known as the Wayfarer Kinship.
At some point during this period Rhea began assassinating people. Vince records that her first assassination was meant to be her only murder. A woman was cruel to a pure man in the way “Fate is cruel for no reason”. She felt it was wrong so she killed the wicked woman to spare the man suffering. She left a note signed “J” and used scraps of religious texts to invent a persona that killed for a “greater good”. Rhea claims she believed in no greater good at the time; only that good people should not suffer. However, another man would be inspired by the note and seek her out. The elf Elidyr pledged himself to Rhea and her cause. J was a lie to Rhea but she adopted the role to “impose meaning on the Chaos of Fate.” Rhea would found an organisation known as the “Praesidia Iuistitiae” (Heights of Justice in the common tongue) and work with Elidyr and others to eliminate the “wicked”.
When Vince asked her if she felt she was misleading Elidyr and the others she stated that she did everything she promised them. She insisted her cause was righteous. Rhea worked with members of the Wayfarer Kinship during this period and involved them in Praesidia business. Among them were Morrigan Harding and Jean Renaud. It was around this time that a cartel of wererats known as the Sturza started doing business in the underworld of Vallaki. They were responsible for a plague called the Yellow Death which struck the city in 774. Rhea worked to end the plague and eliminate those responsible. She succeeded at the first goal but failed at the second.
While working against Sturza plans she found herself cornered by one of the Cartel. She was infected by this member of the Cartel, though the exact circumstances are not in my sources. What is known is that she had not wanted the affliction and did not know she had been infected until the first time she turned. Rhea sought help from Morrigan, Jean and the Wayfarer Kinship after discovering her condition. While the condition is allegedly treatable, I know of no successful cures. It is perhaps for this reason that Rhea was offered no treatment from her allies. Instead, they attempted to have her killed. Rhea was able to escape their trap but this event was, according to her, a turning point in her nature.
Prior to this event she claims to have been an optimist; to have believed that mortal compassion would make a better world. She would come to view this outlook as naïve. After being cursed all those she had considered friends turned on her; the Kinship, the Church of Ezra and other “heroes”. This appears to have been a point of intense bitterness for the rat and the primary reason she came to believe that all mortals are inherently self interested. Rhea would come to believe that only intimidation, violence and fear would keep people from harming others. She sought to “impose Order” using any means necessary. Vince records that her stated ideology was one of Order, Reason and Fairness. She would punish those that acted cruelly or ignorantly and force others to obey rules she considered fair. To Rhea, ignorance was not an excuse. Apathy was not acceptable.
After her betrayal she took over an organisation in the underworld, replacing a boss she considered abusive and cruel. From there she worked to eliminate those in the Sturza Cartel responsible for the plague, working with Enora and several others to eliminate the head of the cartel and the “Alchemist” responsible for the plague. While she does not appear to have visited violence on those that betrayed her during this period, she did work to undermine the Wayfarer Kinship for their crimes. While Rhea herself insists her curse had no role in her radical change in world view, I find it unlikely that her curse played no role in it. Wererats are paranoid by nature. While the betrayal certainly played the largest role in her shift in view, it seems likely that the curse supported it.
Shortly after eliminating those responsible for the Yellow Death Rhea found a means of changing her curse. Prior to this she was much as any other infected individual; following a trigger she would transform and lose her mind. Her trigger was strong emotions at the time. Rhea found what she thought was a cure for her condition and took it. This “cure” did remove the curse but did so by transforming her into a “true” wererat, capable of changing at will. To an ignorant observer this might appear to be effectively a cure. However, a true wererat’s control comes with a change in its nature. Where an infected individual can plausibly resist their nature while in their human form, the true therianthrope’s mind is inextricably bound to the nature of the beast.
Rhea reports that she became increasingly possessive and obsessed with threats to her security and Order. She saw others less as people and more as things to own and control. This is a change that likely sat comfortably with and contributed to her desire to impose “Order” on the world around her. In time Rhea would become an influential figure in the underworld of Vallaki. She utilised her power and position to force criminals to obey a code of conduct. She argued that criminal elements are inescapable and it is better to regulate sins than try to purge them.  Interestingly, it was not her criminal work that earned her the ire of the Burgomaster. It was her seditious violence against the Garda and those she considered “cruel”. It was this attempt to impose her own sense of justice on those in Vallaki that earned the ire of the Burgomaster.
It was only after Rhea had found herself in a position of control that she would meet Vince, then a historian and employee of the Bellegarde. Much of the presented information came from Vince’s notes on an interview with her. Vince himself appears to have been fond of aspects of Rhea but was wary of the rat’s desire to control all around her. Vince would work with Rhea in the Bellegarde alongside Enora. Vince records that Rhea and Enora had a chaotic relationship. Rhea believed Enora sought to punish kindness while Enora said of the rat’s philosophy: “My order is the law of the wild. It can not be broken, it forces itself. Like a river grinding pebbles round.”
While it seems Rhea made everyone that had betrayed her apologise, submitting to her “Order” as she saw it, the rat would fail to control Enora or Vince. Rhea would work with both extensively but when she attempted to intimidate Enora, she attacked the rat. Given the influence Rhea had this attack was a great risk. However, Enora was an extremely dangerous hunter and forced the rat to flee. More, the rat could not afford outright conflict with Enora. Rhea would capitulate to Enora and agree to allow her to do as she saw fit. This is the sole documented instance of Rhea submitting to the authority of another. Vince would align himself with Enora to ensure his own freedom from the machinations of the wererat.
Rhea would continue to operate for some time. As has been noted; she was a vocal opponent of the Provisional Government following the execution of Verinne, who Rhea named a friend. Curiously, both Jean and Morrigan who had been those primarily responsible for her betrayal would come to be allies of the rat once again. At time of writing there has been no documented activity from Rhea for the better part of a year. The organisation she had controlled has since been taken over by others. Her final fate is unknown, but she is presumed dead. Vince suggested that Rhea’s pursuit of Order and security would give her no sense of belonging; that what she had lost when her friends abandoned her would never be reclaimed. Rhea was affected by this suggestion and their interview was concluded there.
While it cannot be doubted that Rhea was a cunning and capable assassin with the laudable goal of governing society with logic and reason, she was clearly a flawed hunter. The pain of her losses shaped her decisions and outlook more than any code. She was held back by her emotional turmoil and lingering sense of compassion for others. Vince notes that Rhea’s methods and philosophy are useful for insurgents but her power lay more in influence than personal strength. An assassin can unravel organisations from the shadows but once confronted by one of raw and simple strength, as she was by Enora, they can only flee. Thus, Rhea reminds the would be hunter that influence is no substitute for raw power.

//Will not be considered for inclusion. MAB

Spoiler: The Hunter’s Findings: Enora • show
Title: The Hunter’s Findings: Enora
Icon (book's appearance, if known): Any
Suggested locations (eg. Houlgraves', Castle Ravenloft, Port-à-Lucine library, etc.): Port-a-Lucine Hidden Library
Content:Written here are the findings of Vince Székely who is both a scholar and an instrument of education and discovery. He has travelled the Core interviewing Therianthropes and recording their tales. In doing so he studied the habits of successful hunters and the efficacy of their methods in achieving their goals. He has since become a great hunter himself; perhaps the greatest this Core has ever known.
"I rose. Prowess does not grow like a weed, it has to be tended and worked."
I do not know the precise date of Enora’s birth. I doubt she did, either. To Enora if a date had no practical use it was not worth retaining. She was born somewhere in Verbrek; a land dominated by werewolves that follow the Wolf God. Her early life was not unlike that of most humans in Verbrek; one of constant fear and struggle for survival. The humans of Verbrek live in tightly knit small communities with fortifications and constant watch for the beasts of the land.
Though it is an inefficient system of pairing, marriage remains as a practice in Verbrek. A young man leaves his family behind to search for a woman from another community. Once he finds one, he remains with her family and demonstrates his fitness working the land and protecting the home. Once this proof has been demonstrated, he leaves with the bride to return to his family. Such a man would find Enora’s family and live with them, demonstrating his fitness. He then left with Enora. I do not know his name. It doesn’t particularly matter to history. On the way back, the pair were attacked by the wolves. Wolves that are faster than any man. So Enora made a choice that saved her life that day; she shot this man in the leg.
I note here that this was not an act Enora took pleasure in. Indeed, for some time the act haunted her. It is no trivial thing to take the life of another, but Enora’s willingness to do whatever she had to in order to survive is what set her apart from lesser hunters. After this event she would find her way out of Verbrek and into Barovia. In Barovia Enora would spend a great deal of time learning. Possessed of a desire to survive that many foreigners lack, Enora not only practiced her martial talents but also made an effort to study the dangers of the land. While she had many allies and acquaintances during this period, few are of significance to history. One worthy of note is Fearghas, a man of the woods. He was one of few to earn genuine care from Enora.
Like most mundanes, Enora had little grasp of the depths of arcane theory, but she understood it was a useful tool and made efforts to learn about how to protect against and use it. It is this diligence in dispelling ignorance that gradually separated Enora from lesser hunters. Nothing mattered to her during this period of her life if it did not have practical use. No waste, no bias, no being weighed down by old beliefs or burdens. It was this enlightened approach to learning that led her to seek out aid in a very ambitious project. There is a remarkable device in the University of Dementlieu that cleaves a subject’s soul and binds it to a piece of equipment. Such an act naturally leaves the subject significantly weakened. Such a weakness was not something Enora could abide. So she sought an alternative.
She slew a great beast in the depths of the mists and claimed its bones for herself. These, she fashioned into a pair of axes. On these were inscribed runes far too complex to document here. Enora would claim the strength of another, cleaving their soul and drawing it into her creations. For this, she required a sacrifice. She selected a slaver. A woman who had hunted her in the past and tried to take her as a slave. The woman was tracked to her old camp. There it was learned that for her failures, she had been enslaved herself. She’d been taken to fight for the amusement of others in fighting pits.
Undeterred, Enora tracked down these pits and sought to claim her from her current owner. This was a greedy, soft and fat man. But he had able servants; Enora was captured in an ambush and imprisoned alongside the woman she sought. Chained, to fight in the same pits. Enora would fight a great many beasts for the amusement of the crowd. She was aided by the woman she’d sought to slay. Gradually, Enora earned the adoration of the crowds. So it was that she was set to fight an enormous scorpion. Almost the size of the entire arena and possessed of a strength that suggest the use of magics in its creation, the scorpion threatened to escape the pit itself. Indeed, several onlookers were slain by the scorpion before Enora managed to defeat it.
The cheering crowds called then for Enora’s freedom. The same bloated slaver that had tricked her tried to calm them, promise them grander fights. In his efforts, he entered the pit to stand before the crowd. Next to Enora. I will not forget the look of shock and terror on the man’s face when Enora buried an axe in him. In that moment she was truly as some avatar of war incarnate. The terrified guards made no effort to stop Enora leaving. It is here that the ruthlessness Enora had learned first in Verbrek can be seen again. Not in the slaying of the master of the arena, but in what Enora did with the slaver she had come so far to visit vengeance on. Despite having fought with the woman many times, Enora did not spare her when they walked free. She claimed her for sacrifice, and the gods took notice.
When the woman was offered, and her life claimed by Enora, the plane roiled. It was as if there were a storm of energy, with Enora at its centre. Enora stood before the gods and was marked by them. This moment marked a transition in Enora’s own spiritual interpretation of the world. The Wolf God became less of an object of fear and more of a power to claim. A strength that more cowardly and weak people are unable to find. Enora would come to believe that walls had made people weak, that if we are not pushed to rise then we will live forever on our knees. It was at this time that Fearghas abandoned Enora. Unwilling to follow her, the man that had been her constant companion for so long left her to go her own way.
It would take some time for Enora’s philosophy and faith to crystallise. She would continue to study, to hunt. While profits and the matters of the civilised world interested her little, she sought out criminal elements and offered her services in dangerous hunts in order to refine her skills. In one such instance she delved into the vast network of tunnels under Paridon to recover a creature called a Marikith; humanoid in form with large talons and a jet black hide. In another, as has been documented already, she aided in the assassination of the head of the Sturza Cartel and the Alchemist. During these ventures, she does not appear to have been a lycanthrope. The precise date of her change is unknown, but Enora did relate the circumstances to Vince.
While it is extremely rare, it is possible for someone to become a lycanthrope without being infected by another. Indeed, Enora fastidiously treated herself to ward against diseases and infections of all forms, including therianthropy. Enora claimed that she had not “fallen” to the condition but had risen to it. She states that she achieved the state by overcoming the fear that holds others back. It is noteworthy that Enora grew up in a land wherein humans cower fearfully behind walls while werewolves prowl the lands. Enora learned to kill werewolves in Barovia after fleeing her homeland. She describes how she lost her fear of the wilds over time, through mastery. She regarded the condition as the ultimate expression of her mastery. Enora became a lycanthrope by embracing her bestial nature. Not a curse but a voluntarily accepted condition.
Of course, she was still subject to the strange workings of the condition. Acts of impractical civilisation triggered her transformations. The habitual kindness practiced by many civilised people is rarely considered deeply by those that profit from it. Charity for the poor, protection of the vulnerable, these deeds are commonly considered good. This was not so to Enora. Charity was a disservice to Enora; it kept others from seeking mastery. It kept them weak. Struggle is necessary to achieve strength, and strength was a worthy thing for all others to achieve. Her condition was not one she initially had control over. Vince notes that she recalled the feeling of the hunt, the thrill of it, but otherwise the details were vague. When she was asked if she feared the loss of control, she stated plainly that she would would “become one with it”. Enora perceived no conflict between the nature of the beast and herself, and so she would grow to master the condition.
It was not long after she became a lycanthrope that she met Vince. He was, at the time, simply a historian with an interest in dangerous conditions. Vince ‘s notes grow less detached as he relates the exchanges they had. Enora presented to him a way of life in which one was subject to no others. In which tyranny held no sway over the mind. In which one lives as they will. She was, to Vince, a dangerous subject. He wrote of his own fear of her, but speculates that there may be more to his attraction to the subject than morbid curiousity. During their early conversations Enora told him he could walk her path. He stated he feared where it would lead, and Vince records her parting words: “I gave you a chance today; imagine the stories you could live.” This isn’t simply an insight into how Vince would ultimately come to embrace the condition, but also into Enora’s own ambitions. She was interested in lifting others out of their fear. She claimed that “cowering behind the walls has taken from us” and wished to free humanity from their feeble way of life.
This is why Enora began to foster disciples. While she certainly didn’t care to control others directly, she did encourage others to follow in her foot steps. She began leaving marks; a single open eye, in the wake of her hunts. She took on followers I will leave nameless, and guided them towards personal mastery without ever allowing them to rely on her. She was disdainful of all established order. When she was asked about Rhea’s attitude towards society she stated: "My order is the law of the wild. It can not be broken, it forces itself. Like a river grinding pebbles round." It is difficult to determine why she took it upon herself to guide others. She once claimed she guided her disciples because  “it is good to have company when winter comes”, suggesting she had some desire for peers or company. However, her actions go beyond seeking simple companionship. It seems Enora held a special resentment for the weakness of humanity. She wanted others to live without the fear she had known. She wanted us all to progress, or die. She was a hunter dedicated to a better, stronger world.
This philosophy was attractive to Vince, and in time he would ask her how to follow her path. She believed one had to live according to a natural order. Hunting to grow strong, and feed. She told Vince: "we kill and eat. It is that simple. You don't touch the flesh of your kill, and I do." He was to eat the flesh of his kill, without preparation and he was to feed on all flesh, even man. Natural magic is an ancient and poorly understood practice, even by those that utilise it. The power of the land is drawn from rites that draw a person closer to the natural world. Discarding the trappings of civilisation lends its own power. For some, that takes the form of emulating the beasts that hunt in the wilds. It seems this emulation lent Enora, and later Vince, powers of the natural world. It is possible this is the true source of Enora’s condition. Vince initially records being uncertain of this practice, and growing sick from the consumption of raw flesh. However, he would later relate that it was all he could consume. That it had made him stronger in ways he couldn’t articulate. It was at this time that Enora gifted him a symbol of Maestealdulph, the Wolf God of Verbrek. Vince notes that the scent of it appears to have allowed him to avoid being torn apart by Enora while she hunted. Enora believed the Wolf God was real, but did not seek to serve the entity. She believed the hunter was simply the greatest form of natural law. A force to be respected that may bless the worthy for their strength, not their service.
It was during this period that Enora became notorious in the wilds of Barovia. She would hunt many and made little effort to hide her condition. This naturally drew hunters, though none proved capable of felling her.  During this period her relationship with the wererat Rhea came to a violent head. Vince had assumed the position of subdirector of the Bellegarde and utilised both Enora and Rhea as “contractors” in seeing his interests forwarded in the area. During a meeting, a dispute over the sharing of information broke out into violence. Enora would attack Rhea. Vince does not document the exact details, but it seems Enora turned and tore apart many of those within the building hunting the rat, who would flee. Though Rhea would later make peace with Enora, she would never again attempt to subjugate her. This is around when Rhea sought to secure Vince’s loyalty, going as far as threatening him with her own condition.
Though it is clear Vince was following Enora’s path for some time, it appears pressure from Rhea is what precipitated his embrace of lycanthropy. He sought the affliction from Enora, who promised him that she did not care to control him. True to her word, Vince documents no instances of Enora demanding anything but strength of him. Enora’s hunts after this date were many. Priests, paladins, wizards, “masters” of blade and bow all fell before her. Others would come to know her as “The Huntress”. Many of those adventurers that had once battled beasts alongside her sought her out, trying to “help” her. Few would understand that their contentment with a life of killing for profit and friendship was not her way. That hollow gestures of charity or compassion meant nothing to a woman that had faced all of the worst of this world and conquered it. That to her, they were the ones that needed help. Some were swayed, most died.
Her exact date of death is not documented. Had I not visited her remains myself, I might have been persuaded that she simply moved on. It appears she was slain not by a cunning adversary or careful plan, but simple misfortune. She came across a great crowd of adventurers, who struck her down before she was able to evade them. An unremarkable end to a remarkable life.
So, what lesson does Enora have for the would be hunter? She is unique in all the cases Vince examines in that she sought to grow others. She embodied an ancient natural order, both figuratively and literally. She teaches the hunter to reject limits imposed on them by others and themselves. To respect fear, but never to allow it to dominate. The hunter must grow strong, and seek challenge. She demonstrates that there is power in the old ways, the first ways man lived by. She rejects the notion of empty charity. We make others weak if we do not challenge them, if we shelter them from suffering. In doing so, we leave them vulnerable to the world around them. Enora teaches strength, not just in oneself, but in our peers.  In her way, she pushed humanity forward. Those that follow her will surely do the same.

//Will not be considered for inclusion. MAB

A work on golems based on a Lamordian visit.
The Mind of Golems
//Added to HAK update 2.29. MAB

This historical work was based on interviews with various PCs that had been a part of the keep's later history.

Spoiler: The Extended History of Castle Stafandul: • show
Title: The Extended History of Castle Stafandul:
Icon (book's appearance, if known): Any
Suggested locations (eg. Houlgraves', Castle Ravenloft, Port-à-Lucine library, etc.): Houlgrave's
Content:Recorded here is an overview of the history of Castle Stafandul, currently known as Raduta or Von Zeklos keep. The purpose of this record is to facilitate future study into the nature of the taint affecting Castle Stafandul.

Today the keep is overrun with ethereal undead, ghouls, shadowy fiends and other creatures attracted to lands rife with negative energy. The ambient energies lend a sense of wrongness to all living who enter the area. Plant life is withered and animal life absent. The lands are shrouded in unnatural shadow and the dead rise readily. The interior of the keep contains the decaying remains of the von Zeklos family’s furnishings and it is in exploring this keep that I have recovered much of the information documented here. There does exist a crypt nearby with an orb that radiates negative energy within. The source of this orb remains unclear.

I would like to here note that the ethereal undead in the keep are numerous and exist in a state of constant suffering. You need only spend a few minutes inside of the keep to hear the wailing and the sobbing. There are horrors that infect all lands of the Core, but I cannot imagine a fate worse than being shackled eternally in such a state. It is for their sake that I have conduct this study and for their sake that I will continue to do so. Only by identifying the origins of their binding can we hope to undo it.

First Founding: The Toamna Period

231: Tract of land in Western Barovia gifted to the Toamna family by Nicoleta von Zaroviches for their service in defending against the Neureni invaders. Construction of keep begins.

242: Keep is complete and named Castle Stafandul. It includes a chapel consecrated to Andral.

~260: A plague strikes Toamna lands affecting the family specifically. One source calls it a ‘curse’ but the cause is unknown at time of writing. Plagues are allegedly recurrent in those lands, but I have only found this and one other in documentation.

315: Beatrix Toamna, having adopted the study of black necromancy, attempts an unknown ritual in order to escape the curse-plague. Everyone inside Castle Stafandul is found dead. Record does not state explicitly that Beatrix’s body was observed. There was a sword in the hand of a young acolyte of Andral. This sword is set in stone in memorial. Stafandul is abandoned from now until the Von Zekloses occupy it.

Additional Notes:

Beatrix Toamna is named explicitly by Nicoleta von Zeklos as an entity that guided her in her own necromantic practice. The necromancy used appears to be old and ritualistic; a divergence from the precision of arcane magic in current use. I note here that the sudden deaths of everyone in the keep in 764 parallels the deaths in 315. I have found a ritual Nicoleta von Zeklos intended to carry out at the direction of Beatrix.

I won’t record the ritual here, but it appears to be some form of binding of soul and mind to body. Given that there are reports from the Ezrites stationed at the keep today that Nicoleta has been seen wandering the halls, it seems like Nicoleta either shared the fate of Beatrix Toamna or Beatrix attempted to seize her body.

The magics practiced by Beatrix and Nicoleta are, presently, what I think are most likely to be the cause of the great many spirits bound at the keep.

Keep Reclamation: The von Zeklos Period

648: Silvestru von Zeklos reclaims keep after it had been abandoned for 333 years. My sources indicate that the keep was considered haunted at the time, but the extent of the ‘haunting’ or whether it was peasant superstition remains unclear. The von Zekloses relied heavily on Wachter support during this period. The keep is renamed Von Zeklos Keep.

713: First Toret at keep. Kasimir Gryslitch. Chapel consecrated to Ezra.

724: Executioner’s campaign. One source claims Lilas experimented under the theatre during this period. His laboratory can be found down there to this day; it includes the tools required to create golems.

753: Current Toret Gregory Andrusc vanishes. No replacement is sent.

762: Mordentish Warden Nell Ward convinces the Boyar to allow another Toret to move into shrine. It’s noteworthy that persuasion was necessary. Suggests the family was not pious to begin with. Toret Salvatore Alurto sent.

763: Warden Marle Webber/Aeirman and Gard Aeirman sent to keep from Refuge of Fifth Light amidst rumours of taint at keep.

763 November: Declaration that those spreading rumours of witchery, immortji or vrolocks in relation to the von Zeklos family will be put on the pyre. During this period adventurers investigating the keep go missing (presumed executed).

~764: Plague is spread in von Zeklos lands by Juliana von Zeklos, some manner of werebeast. Only a couple of declarations by the Vallaki Garda restricting travel on the grounds of a plague threat exist to evidence this in the historical record. Further study necessary.

764 April: Titled man Vincent Vasil Stravakov flogged publicly in Vallaki for witchcraft. Burgomaster Nicolai Ionelus present and promises death is the name Ionelus is spoken by a Stravokov; sounds to me like Vincent did something real personal.

764 June: Ezrites of von Zeklos keep declared part of heretical Wurtbeicher sect. Toret Salvatore Alurto, Aleyi ‘simple man’ and Marle. Don’t know when they had adopted his beliefs. Around this period Lilas Wurtbeich came to join the heretics at the keep. Needs to be noted that they intended to undergo the rite of revelation but had not yet. Lilas’ Bastion declaration is therefore illegitimate. Marle is a wight around this period. Conditions and time of transformation unclear.

764 June: Von Zeklos knights Vincent Stravakov. Internal letters suggest Vincent was an ally of the 5th Sect inside the keep. Vincent is the face of the von Zeklos family during this period.

764 June: Trial overseen by Nicolai Ionelus of Ezrites accused by von Zeklos of slander. They’re pardoned, likely because von Zeklos knighted a guy Ionelus hates less than a week ago. The knighting and this trial are probably the start of open hostilities. In the days following this the law enforcement on both sides of the river restrict access and promise scrutiny of travellers.

764 August: Four high ranking members of Boyar’s guard wanted for treason and helping a prisoner escape. Not clear what exactly happened but old letters in keep suggest some in the guard were not corrupted.

764 August: "Bastion" Wurtbeich leaves keep with followers. Unclear if other recorded heretical faithful at the keep left with him. Not long after this the first slaughter at the keep happens. Outlanders, undead and witches are all involved in the assault. Vincent von Zeklos dead for good. Alurto rises again as a wight.

764 September: Second slaughter. Nicoleta von Zeklos dead for good allegedly although the Inquisitor seems to think she’s still around. Last of von Zeklos line. Good riddance. It’s said this was an attack by foreign forces but it’s more likely Ionelus or Wachter decided to solve the problem of the von Zeklos family for good. Marle and Gard continue to preach in the ruins but can’t keep from welcoming all sorts of undead. Eventually they flee.

Additional Notes:

This period is my primary focus for study presently. The circumstances of the slaughters, the details of how certain individuals turned heretic and who was truly pulling the strings in the keep remain unclear. From what records I have recovered within the keep it seems to me that Vincent von Zeklos was thick or being controlled. The audacity of knighting Vincent Stravakov and the blatant, ham fisted handling of the common folk does not speak to an intelligent political hand.

Both the Ioneluses and the Wachters may have coveted the lands of the von Zeklos family and may have been involved in their ultimate downfall in ways that are not clear immediately in the historical record.

Although the 5th Sect is a corrupt entity unto itself, I do not believe them to be the source of the taint in the keep. It seems that the keep itself is simply an environment that a heresy could fester in. That said, the actions of the 5th Sect and Creek’s heretics afterwards likely exacerbated matters.

Second Reclamation: The Wachter Period

765 July: Every Bastion of orthodox church of Ezra has publicly condemned Wurtbeicher heresy.

765 October: By this time 'Saint' Marle has been publicly renounced by Wurtbeich. Seen Marle's death documented multiple times earlier, but she keeps coming back up.

767: Von Zeklos lands given to Wachter family as an extension.

767 April: Laboratory under theatre discovered. I've seen it; definitely seems like it was used during the Executioner's campaign. Looks like some junk for making created down there. It's claimed Lilas Wurtbeich was involved in experiments there. His arrest is sought. The same year his sect's headquarters in Ouvrier is torched.

770: After agreements are made between the Church of Ezra and the Wachter family, the keep is occupied by a 4th Sect congregation led by Creek and Frauenlob. It is the 4th Sect that names the keep ‘Raduta’. Eventually this congregation would turn heretic and be replaced by the current 2nd Sect congregation. The Church is, naturally, very sparse in the detail provided on this point.

The Wachter period seems to be an interesting one but it does not relate directly to the origins of the taint at the keep. I am primarily interested in seeing the spirits within free. Documentation of the Wachter period while it is still in living memory would be a fruitful pursuit of any historian.

I will note, in closing, that the taint at the keep seems to have consumed many of its would-be cleansers. I’d suggest extreme caution be employed by any that would venture within.

Rhea Eleutheria

//Will not be considered for inclusion. MAB
« Last Edit: August 04, 2023, 07:45:56 AM by MAB77 »

PlatointheCave

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Re: In-Game Book Submissions Thread (Read The First Post Before Posting)
« Reply #27 on: March 26, 2023, 11:47:23 PM »
Ethnographic work on caliban
The Lives of Caliban]Title: The Lives of Caliban
//Added to HAK update 2.29. MAB

An account of the Nightmare Man referred to by Doctor Illhousen authored by the now disgraced Katja Vinter.

Spoiler: The Nightmare Man • show
Title: The Nightmare Man
Icon (book's appearance, if known): Any
Suggested locations (eg. Houlgraves', Castle Ravenloft, Port-à-Lucine library, etc.): Port-a-Lucine Hidden Library
Content:Doctor Gregorian Illhousen, before his disappearance, was an alienist that specialised in the study of dreams. While I treasure his works in my own practice, I had long discounted the alleged transcript of his final journal. The transcript spoke of a "Nightmare Court" that he had engaged in a terrible struggle with.

That is, until recent events. This account begins with a Doctor Nyquist, a graduate of the University of Dementlieu. Following the loss of his wife, he discovered in dreams the form of a device. An orb that would make dreams take material form in the waking world. He wished to see his wife again, on his terms. In dreams and nightmare. But his work drew wicked attention. The orb was stolen, and Doctor Nyquist imprisoned.

Myself, among others, sought to recover the imprisoned doctor and remove his works from wicked hands. It was a day before our departure that I first spoke with the entity known as the "Nightmare Man". I experienced an unusually lucid dream in which a figure in dark robes, covered in spiders, painted on a canvas with blood. His strokes created nothing, and he seemed mournful. He introduced himself as the "Nightmare Man" though admitted he did not remember if he had had another name. He told me he headed the "Nightmare Court" and that he could shape things others created in dreams and nightmares, but not new imaginings whole cloth. I asked him why I was speaking with him, and he bid me consider why I might have found myself before him. I admitted that the events leading up to my unconsciousness had left me tired of existence in the material world. Of betrayals and scheming. Of loss and sorrow. That I craved an escape from pain. He informed me that I had the ability, here in this world, to create what I wished. He bid me try, and so I did. Conjuring from my unconscious echoes of people I had lost. I built myself a nightmare in that lucid dreamscape. A place to drown. As I did, the Nightmare Man told me I could have what I desired if only I crossed the divide.

I did not speak of this strange dream with my companions; it seemed some expression of my unconscious. An imagining. False. We ventured to the prison Doctor Nyquist was sealed in and found discreet entry. With the help of a sympathetic guard we managed to release Nyquist, who appeared completely catatonic from his torments. We then sought the orb. As we did so, the world around us shifted unnaturally. Lost loved ones apparated. Cages formed from nothing. I was attacked by an entity claiming to be a figment of myself, one I had cast into a void. She seemed to express her pain vividly. Notably, for personal reasons of regret, I did not fight back. I informed them that if they truly wished to live with the burden of killing me; I would allow them to. At this point they ceased their assault, contorted, and then took the form of a strange and twisted entity, which fled.

As we pressed deeper, strange arachnids crawled the walls and seemed to weave the space of the passages back together. Finally, we confronted the one who had seized the orb. I noted immediately, though he appeared human, that he was painting with blood on a blank canvas. I called him "Nightmare Man" and he smiled; the dream spiders wove his true form of a figure shrouded in black. He spoke to me of what we had discussed in my dream, and revealed to my allies and I that we were dreaming at this moment. We demanded he surrender the orb, which he appeared to have. He said he would surrender it to me. I took it, and felt a profound power within. He then claimed he had had Doctor Nyquist unwittingly build the orb to create a bridge. A means of crossing between the material and dreams. He bid me will the orb to be one with myself, and promised me a place in his Nightmare Court.

Were it not for the words and deeds of my allies, I am ashamed to admit, I would have accepted his offer. It is a tempting thing, to be free of this world. Especially of late. But I heard their words. I smashed the orb on the floor and shouted my rejection of the Nightmare Man's offer. He grew furious, and promised us he had not been ended. The dream unraveled and we found ourselves awaking at the staging ground.

The orb had been shattered. We investigated the site and learned that Doctor Nyquist had, in fact, expired six months ago.

We were too late. Embittered, we departed. I have not yet slept since this encounter.

I still fear to.

Doctoresse Katja Vinter

//Will not be considered for inclusion. MAB

An apparently fictitious and fanciful retelling of a plot run by Dm Drekavac.

Spoiler: The Child of Fate: Daljins Fall • show
Title: The Child of Fate: Daljin's Fall
Icon (book's appearance, if known): Any
Suggested locations (eg. Houlgraves', Castle Ravenloft, Port-à-Lucine library, etc.): Port-a-Lucine Library
Content:This is the true tale of the twists and turns taken by fate, to a better world.

There was a deck of tarokka cards, appearing like any other, but possessed of great power. Those that drew from the deck found their fate twisted. Wealth, loss, madness and death would come to they that drew.

Such a thing was never meant for mortal hands. But it was stolen. First, by an entity of power known as Desdemona. Her deeds with the cards of fate are varied, but are a story in their own right. It was a fey creature from Tepest that stole fate’s tools next. He was many times Desdemona’s lesser in power, but was cunning and quick. He sought the cards for the chaos they would bring others for the creature, known then as Morgan O’Shanahan, fed on the misery of mortals.

The devious fey creature would play games of fate with many souls. At times granting fortune, but more often misery and madness. It was in these games that something terrible would be called to our shattered world. The Conjuror was drawn; the card of calling. The fiend Daljin answered. He wore the face of a hound and acted with the cunning of a serpent. It was this act of calling that would shape the fates of all that touched the deck. For Daljin was more dangerous than any who had played with fate’s cards.

The fiend saw the power of the deck, and craved it. So he schemed to take it for himself. He gathered to him a handful of desperate souls; they craved power and cared not for its cost. These agents Daljin sent to claim the deck. But one had learned of Daljin’s scheme; a Shadow with no love for power. When Daljin’s agent seized the deck the Shadow fought the fiend, for chaos was their nature. Yet the Shadow could not compare to the fiend; she fell. So it was that the fiend succeeded in stealing the deck, for the third time.

With the deck in hand, the fiend drew every soul that had touched the cards to his domain. To each, he offered a deal. Power for soul or service. Though he had not freedom to slay they that refused, the cunning fiend used terror and barbs to fool many into selling all they were to him. Daljin’s power swelled with agents. The fiend was ascendant; all barriers to his conquest gone.

It was then that a worldly Trickster hatched a scheme. She was not versed in the mysteries of magic, nor was she of high birth. But she had known many marks. She had seen many great men cast down by their hubris. So she entreated the fiend: “Daljin, I offer you a wager: I will sell you my soul in exchange for the power to pick any pocket. But if I should outlive you? Our deal is void, and I will keep my soul.” This amused the fiend. How could a low born mortal outlive something so mighty? So he agreed. The pact made, he cast his gaze to his next conquest, even as the Trickster’s quick fingers turned fate once more. The deck was stolen yet again; not by a creature of power, but a cunning mortal.

Daljin soon discovered the ruse. Enraged, he hunted the Trickster, who fled to the Shadow and a Serpent that served death. She entreated each for aid in bringing final ruin to the fiend. The Shadow agreed, and so the Children of Light were called to defend the Trickster. Before the Serpent could reply, he was drawn to the domain of the fiend. Desperate, Daljin promised the Serpent power without strings if he would only bring death to the Trickster. The Serpent measured the fiend’s words carefully before replying: “I would be no Master of Death if I bowed to one so easily deceived.” So Daljin and the Serpent fought for the first time, for the Serpent’s nature was to kill. Daljin lost the battle, but cast the Serpent from his world before he could slay him.

Thwarted, the fiend sent its eyeless servants to kill the Trickster. But the Children of Light were prepared. They broke Daljin’s tools and cast them down. But in doing so their gaze was drawn elsewhere. The cunning Daljin sought the Trickster himself. With treachery and fell magics, he slew the Trickster, and stole away her soul. Yet the Serpent had been watching over her. He seized the deck himself, and for the second time he battled Daljin. Again, Daljin lost the battle, but he did not die. Fiends are strange in nature, and have hearts that must be broken before they will end.

The Serpent sought the Shadow and together they drew the Conjuror from the deck. They burned it, and the Shadow called for Daljin. The fiend arrived, and entreated the pair: “Give me the deck and I will return the Trickster.” The Shadow hesitated, but the Serpent was resolute and said: “The Trickster had but one wish before they fell: that this dog dies.” So the Shadow and Serpent fought the fiend. Again Daljin was bested, but he did not die. For his heart was not the Conjuror.

The Shadow, ever aimless, cast about for answers. The Serpent, ever thoughtful, meditated on his course. Together they learned the truth of why the fiend craved the deck: it had among its cards a way home. A pathway back to the world beyond the waking dream. They could use the deck to destroy the fiend, so they gathered again the Children of Light. But when all was ready, the Serpent found a new truth in his battles. He would be no Master of Death if his nature was only to kill. Death must come for all, but not all deserve it. So it was that when Daljin was called, the Serpent did not choose to kill. Instead, he offered the fiend a deal. The fiend would be allowed to draw a single card from the deck if he would return the Trickster’s soul.

The fiend saw how the Children of Light and the howling Shadow had readied themselves to destroy him. So he accepted, for he had come to know fear. From the deck he drew the innocent; the redeemer. Such a card changed the nature of they that drew it forever, making them pure of heart and deed. Before the Children of Light, Daljin the fiend died, and something new was born. An innocent, his heart heavy with regret and pain. From his great book of chains he tore the Trickster’s soul and set her free. On his soul and self he pledged to release everyone he had enslaved.

Though the fiend he had been was great and terrible, the Child of Fate that had taken his place was set free to wander and begin to right the wrongs of this fractured nightmare. So it was that Daljin was defeated, not with death but hope and chance. By a taker of life choosing instead to save another.

The Children of Light saw the deck returned to its rightful owners, and celebrated the end of a great Evil. The Shadow sang for all the souls set free. The Serpent had taken no life that day but he slithered back to the darkness of his home; content to let the sun rise on a world made a little more whole.

The Trickster left them all behind, for reasons none know.

For her heart is her own and she guards it well.

But on her deeds, the Fate of the world turned.

//To be added in the next HAK update. MAB

Work covering the fundamentals of alienism.

Spoiler: Fundamentals of Alienism • show
Title: Fundamentals of Alienism
Icon (book's appearance, if known): Any
Suggested locations (eg. Houlgraves', Castle Ravenloft, Port-à-Lucine library, etc.): Port-a-Lucine Library (if the author's name is removed, else black library only)
Content: In this work I will outline the fundamentals of alienism; the study of the minds of men. I will use my homeland of Nova Vaasa as an example to demonstrate the importance of alienism in understanding society, then delve into my own contributions to the field. It is my hope that this work will introduce the layperson to alienism as well as informing my fellows.

Ask any Nova Vaasan what constitutes a life well lived and they will speak of temperance and service. It will be explained that lords of the land serve the people by leading wisely and taking care of society while the common folk do so by performing their duties obediently and faithfully. These claims will stand in stark contrast to the reality of life in Nova Vaasa. The smallfolk certainly spend their days toil, but it is under the Lawgiver’s lash. What little they make is taxed to support the exorbitant lifestyles of the nobility. The cities are overcrowded, death is common, and the bodies of the smallfolk are left in the gutters. When night falls the people, high and low both, engage in every vice known to man. Gambling, prostitution, dogfights, violence and worse are commonplace. The same Nova Vaasan that swears by service during the day will be as a beast when night falls.

How might a scholarly mind account for this apparent contradiction between word and deed? Obedience, temperance and duty certainly appear to be reasonable pillars on which to rest a society. It cannot be denied that such values have been strictly imposed on the people of Nova Vaasa. Even the nobility must present commitment to such ideas if they are to find any measure of social influence. To an alienist the resolution of this contradiction is in the duality of thought. The mind is widely believed to be comprised of two parts: the ego and the shadow. The ego is the waking mind. It is all the faculties of conscious thought and understanding. It is the part of the mind that reasons. The shadow is the sleeping mind. It is our desires, fears and sorrows. It is all we feel and the root of both motive and empathy. Thought is driven by the shadow but given form by the ego.

It is a simple enough thing to delve into a man’s ego, if he is inclined to be honest. The waking mind is observable in what he believes and in how he reasons about problems. The shadow is less straightforward. It does not find expression in words or reason, but in the hidden desires and fears of a man. These can be found through careful analysis of actions or dreams although hypnotism might also be used for more direct exploration of the shadow. It was Doctor Gregorian Illhousen that explained the Nova Vaasan contradiction in his Rider’s Dilemma. Illhousen supposes that a rider is seeking a horse to go hunting with. He wishes to pick the fastest, most dependable steed and goes to the stables. As he is considering the horses, he notes an enormous plains cat sleeping in the sun. His ego reasons that if he tries to ride the cat it will throw him off and he will be slain. The horse is the safe option. But he cannot help but imagine what he could accomplish if only the cat could be tamed. This longing is his shadow; his unconscious desire to follow wild impulse. Only his fear of consequence keeps him from leaping on the cat.

Illhousen’s argument is that the values of Nova Vaasan society are adhered to not because of any genuine desires, but because they fear expression of any aspect of the shadow. A lifetime of suffering the lash has resulted in deep repression. Doctor Ruricia Opsis has demonstrated that prolonged repression of the shadow inevitably results in what she termed an “outburst”. This is because the shadow is all motive and desire. In a healthy individual the shadow can find expression in the waking mind. The indulgences that are made as one goes about their day, the relationships explored, and the meaning found in artistic or scientific pursuit are all healthy outlets. These outlets are complex in form because the shadow has been allowed to develop alongside the waking mind. If the shadow is repressed, no such development occurs. The daily lives of Nova Vaasan are without outlet; only adherence to duty. This results in a shadow that remains base; lust, greed, violence, and spite typify the repressed shadow. These animal urges surface the moment threats no longer exist to keep them contained. This is an outburst.

Thus far I have outlined the fundamentals of an alienist’s concept of the mind. What has already been discussed should be considered well established fact. My discussion will now be of my own theory and findings. Where other alienists have focused their studies on the effects of shadow repression and therapeutic methods for correcting such, my own work has been focused on the potential of the shadow. Well developed shadows find outlet in undeniably useful forms; creativity, insight, ambition and compassion. I posit that the shadow’s potential far exceeds that which even most healthy people realise.

I have used analysis of dreams, actions and experimental hypnotherapy to delve into the shadow of seemingly mundane subjects and tug at their grandest desires. This tugging, in turn, has resulted in the realisation of wondrous potential. Typically, a subject has a deep fear, sorrow or regret that can be drawn to the waking mind and transformed into a source of strength. The form this takes varies but once the shadow has been treated in this way the subject’s capacity for realising their desires is measurably improved. I have observed physical alterations, the mastery of supernatural abilities that heal or destroy and near-supernatural performance in martial pursuits.

I will refer to the process of drawing the shadow into the waking mind as the awakening of the shadow. I theorise that each individual’s shadow represents a potential waiting to be realised. This potential is limited only by the extent to which the shadow has been awakened. The shadow is bound, quite literally, to a world of possibility. The limits of the waking world do not apply to the mind’s shadow and I believe that if an individual is able to awaken their shadow in full, then those limits might be exceeded. Of course, the shadow is not a thing of ego. I have found that drawing it entirely to the waking world requires confrontation and embrace of its darkest aspects. I would caution the inexperienced alienist against putting my theory into practice without a careful analysis of their subject. They must make certain that no dangerous aspect of themselves has been neglected, lest harm be done to an unprepared waking mind.

It is my belief that our best selves are drawn out by seeking harmony between the shadow and the ego. A life without repression is a life well lived. But it is in awakening the shadow that exceptional lives are lived. Those individuals that leave their mark firmly on the waking world have done so utilising the potential of their shadow. In each of us, there is greatness.

//To be added in the next HAK update. MAB

Work covering alienism as applied to societies foreign to Dementlieu. It's a thinly veiled criticism of class divides as well as a scientific work.

Spoiler: The Road to Freedom • show
Title: The Road to Freedom
Icon (book's appearance, if known): Any
Suggested locations (eg. Houlgraves', Castle Ravenloft, Port-à-Lucine library, etc.): Port-a-Lucine Hidden Library
Content:Introduction

Dimly, I recall life in the homeland. Labouring under the lash. The ache of hunger. The stench of death. It wasn’t real to me back then. Not until my tenth year. That was when they took father. That was when home broke. Suddenly, it became real in ways it never had been before. The burdens of living with tyranny are many, but the body isn’t so real as the heart. Family had been my world, the reality of my inner life, and the tyrant had broken it. It was a wound, and though it didn’t heal, it wasn’t fatal. I lived with the ache, even as it festered. Years would pass, and I would search for the words to express this wound.

Among the tools of control used by the tyrant is the denial of education. Literacy is not common in the homeland. You must learn the word of god from the tyrant, and no idea can travel widely. But I was fortunate. The gnome has become fashionable to use as a tutor, jester and tailor. Officially. Unofficially, we are also used as spies or assassins. So I learned my letters. I learned other things, too, but it was literacy that would begin to give me the words. The works of the alienist Doctor Gregorian Illhousen became my fondest companions. He wrote of how repression of one’s inner desires causes a sickness of the mind that ultimately results in outburst, if no other outlet is found. It is how he explained the madness of the homeland. For every soul was pious and dutiful under the light of the sun. But come nightfall? Violence. Lust. Hate. The powerful would cavort through the city, doing as they pleased.

Illhousen did not delve into the logical extension of his theories as they apply to the oppressed. But even his diagnosis of the powerful was electric. Never before had I encountered any human speaking so critically and so accurately of the tyrant. His works are practically myterri, disguised in plain sight as medicine. The language of the alienist gradually became a way for me to express the wound in my heart. I might have stayed there, half awake, in the cage of Nova Vaasa had my last tether to the world not been severed. Mother was not like father. She was exacting, and grim. She was a survivor. I don’t think there was much she wouldn’t do to give me a better world than she had. I will never know what task took her from me. Only that it took her to the bottom of a river. On that day, I fled the city on foot. I don’t recall the journey. I just walked, numb and sleepless, until I reached Barovia.

I did not know then how to live outside of the lists and orders of the tyrant. It was in Barovia that I learned how to be a person, from the compassion of others. Free of the shackles of the homeland I grew much and began the practice of alienism proper. I learned to live again, not by looking inward, but outward. By treating the trauma of others, and knowing the simple joy of releasing another of a burden. I discovered much more in this practice, and it is in this work that I hope to formally define my practice broadly. Treating others has come easily. Treating myself, has been impossible.

Ego and Shadow

Anyone familiar with alienist theory will know the terms ego and shadow. Even so, I will discuss them here that no one is left behind. We can conceptualises the mind as constructed of two equally important components: the ego and shadow. The ego is the conscious mind. It is rational thought, reason and (most) memory. It is easy for most of us to introspect and understand our ego. For its form is our own system of belief, logic and knowledge. It is our executive in the waking world. To assess the ego an alienist need only patiently and carefully interview a lucid subject.

The shadow is the unconscious mind. It is emotion, imagination and artistic inspiration. It is the world of our empathy, and our dreams. The shadow is much more complicated to assess with introspection, and the alienist must be empathetic and careful to assess the shadow of a subject. When we feel an emotion we have some grasp of the form the shadow has taken, for every emotion arises from our unconscious shadow. But repressed trauma, strange impulses, ingenuity, artistry. These things can only be crudely detected with introspection alone. So the alienist cannot grasp the depths of the shadow with interviews alone. Hypnotism and dream analysis both are popular for assessing the shadow of a subject. Why? Both involve states where the ego is rendered a passive observer of the subject’s inner world. When we dream, it is our unconscious expressing itself as our consciousness passively observes. Similarly, a hypnotic trance is a state in which the ego is rendered a passive observer of the shadow, while the hypnotist guides the subject.

Repression and Illness

It was Doctor Illhousen’s contention that the clinically insane are so afflicted due to a repression of their unconscious shadow. How does this come to be? It is as simple as denial. We are filled with emotional and creative impulses. When we are able to express them, all is well. But when we cannot? The impulse grows and grows. Without an outlet, it will express itself in outburst. Outburst takes many forms; it can be antisocial behaviour, sudden and inappropriate emotional impulses or even disruption of the ego altogether. The aim of the alienist in helping their patients is therefore to identify what has been repressed, and assist the patient in confronting and expressing it in constructive ways.

What prevents expression? There are many causes. It can be religious or cultural beliefs that cause a subject to deny themselves something that is important to them. It is the values of god that Illhousen suggested was the cause of nightly antisocial behaviour in the homeland. But in this work I wish to put forward another, much more pressing cause, of repression: need. Consider the conditions many, many people must labour under in the Core. Long hours at places of work, barely enough food to live on and a complete lack of security. How is it that such people may express the breadth of their shadow? How can they create what they dream of, taste the joys of life that all men deserve? The simple answer is; they cannot. Oppression does not only take the form of written laws, or faiths or even cultural institutions. It is economic. Practical demands force a self denial that, in my observation, often results in a deep melancholia. If a man is further denied food, and shelter, he will grow violent. I do not believe this is because violence was in the man’s nature. Rather, it is a twisting of his unconscious shadow.

This is proven by the fact that such people can be helped by the compassion of their community or a trained alienist. They will turn from violence when given an escape and the time to internalise it. But if the root cause of the repression is not removed, no lasting healing can occur. One might reasonably ask: where is the line, when it comes to repression? Is every societal value, every law, every economic inequality cause for disturbance? No. Quite the contrary; many, perhaps even most, laws and social values exist because they are gratifying to the collective. We do not outlaw killing, or theft, as an act of repression and control. We do it because we do not like to see others suffer. Our social norms exist to give us a sense of community, and a shared means of expressing ourselves. Extreme economic inequality will always be repressive, but in a society where each man need work only reasonable hours to support himself and his hobbies, an economic inequality produces something to aspire to. An achievement, for they that make exceptional contributions.  Anarchy is not the answer to repression, though I will contend in the next section that a state of anarchy is not necessarily a state of suffering.

The Heart of the Shadow

When we are born, what is the state of our Shadow? Before we have the word for smile, or joy, or love, we know it. An infant will smile when she sees another do the same. She will cry when she sees another in distress. The infant knows emotions like hate and anger but only as they relate to her own suffering. We are born innocent. There is nothing in our nature that wishes suffering upon another. As we grow, we are introduced to conflict and denial. Our shadow grows more complex, and our ego constructs for us a wide conceptualisation of the world. We have all known dislike of another. Anger. Even hate. But have we an urge to kill? To torment? No. These are not urges we generally struggle with. Even so, there exist examples of people who have grown sadistic, who believe they enjoy killing. I submit that such people are ill. They have been denied something essential, and so their shadow has grown warped. It is not the natural state of man to want to kill.

This point is important. I do not make it because I believe we must treat every sadist, every killer, as someone in need of healing. In an ideal world, we would. But such people need to be prevented from hurting others. All too often, that means killing them. I make no moral judgement about this, except to caution the would-be hero to reflect on whether they have done what is necessary. It is easy to fall into the trap of killing for hate, fear and glory. No, the importance of this point is in how we treat law and culture. Consider the fact that we outlaw murder. Do we believe that without this law we would regularly kill one another? No. The many choose not to kill one another because, fundamentally, we do not like to hurt others. We like to see others happy. Most of us aim to live good lives, and do not need laws to do so.

Consider the following case:

Orsolya Haraszti was born to a Gundarakite mother. Her father was a Barovian soldier in the Count’s army. I do not wish to be unnecessarily crude with my language here. Each time the Barovians have invaded Zeidenburg there have been many, many, instances of assault, murder and worse. Orsolya was conceived in a terrible instance of this. She grew up under the shadow of this terrible act. A reminder to her own people of what was done to them. But Orsolya was a remarkable woman. She looked without, and hated the suffering of her people. She lived to free them from the tyranny of the Count. In time, she tracked down her father. He had grown old, and feeble. No threat to anyone. She had intended to kill him, for the Evil he had done. But when she found him, she also found his daughter. Her half sister. A Barovian woman who had only known the father as caring. Despite all the wrongs done to Orsolya, and the Gundarakite people, Orsolya chose to leave her father in peace. Not for his sake, but that of her half sister. Orsolya was a dedicated and capable rebel. She fought the tyranny of the Count, and mistreatment of women, at every turn. She killed, when necessary. But when confronted with a personal killing, she refused. For her compassion for the innocent was profound.

Orsolya lived a life in defiance of written law, but even then adhered to a moral conviction arising from her empathy; her shadow. She confronted the root of her trauma, and chose love. The world is filled with such anarchic souls. I do not believe we need do away with laws, or cultural bonds. But they should exist only to uphold the spirit of the Shadow. I do not believe it is fear of punishment that keeps us from violating the law; only our love for others. This is why violation of the law arises only when need, or the law itself, represses the individual. It is therefore dangerous to adhere blindly to the law as written, for it is ultimately a collective illusion. Where the law conflicts with the moral good, it should be suspended. Not just for its practicality, but for the good we wish to foster in our fellows.

The Sickness of the Tyrant

I have discussed how it is that antisocial behaviour arises from repression. But it is an observable fact that many tyrants exhibit some of the worst antisocial behaviour of all men. Drakov, Strahd and Hazlik are each violently insane. More, the world is full of petty tyrants that delight in the suffering they inflict. Of men that believe that might makes right. These are powerful people, apparently subject to no repression, and still they express cruelty. What accounts for this?

One explanation that I have found to be reasonably well supported in my interviews with the tyrant is that some element of repression in their upbringing, often suffering a great cruelty, warped their own shadow. They were wounded, and never healed, and so they lash out. But this isn’t quite enough for such a thing to grow with time, for them to lash out so. No, there is another more universal cause of their repression that only grows with time: threat. The tyrant is not stupid. They know that their rule will last only as long as they have the power to maintain it. The wicked seek power, endlessly, in the belief that they will be destroyed without it. Seeded in their very existence is an endless threat, that can never truly be overcome. Where the just leader, the kind man, sees in others support the tyrant sees only threat. The tyrant is, at heart, profoundly afraid. So it is that they are driven deeper and deeper into a violent madness. Endlessly stepping on others in an effort to soothe the terror that is never silent.

Consider the following case:

Erzsebet was a Gundarakite devoted to a cruel god. She would speak of rebellion, of liberating the Gundarakite, but only insofar as it secured the service of would-be rebels. She would regularly turn her own people in to the Garda if they inconvenienced her, and use her underlings in crude and perverse ways. For her, it was always a matter of power and control. When the Black Army liberated much of Gundarak without using the cruelty of her dark god, Erzsebet became a collaborator with the Tyrant. She assisted the oppressor willingly, and murdered Black Army leadership. She betrayed her own people, liberty and the common good. Why? Unlike Orsolya, she had been thoroughly repressed. Indoctrinated into a cruel cult, she was unable to see the world in terms other than that of the tyrant; power and control.

I chose the case of a “rebel” to make my point here. It is easy for the oppressed to become the oppressor when they forget the values that called them to resist in the first place. When hate and cruelty are the core of a subject’s motivation, they fall to the malady of the tyrant. When might makes right, the individual can never truly be free. They will forever be constrained by threat, unable to build a world they themselves are not trapped in.

Realising the Shadow

In my youth I wrote about “awakening” the shadow. I will write more on this, in time, but it is not for public print. At the time I thought it important not just to heal, but to push someone to be exceptional. I have observed supernatural effects in doing so, but such practice was arrogant. To push others is to do more than an alienist should. It is to abuse a trust placed in a doctor by a patient.  So I wish to amend my earlier publication here: the ambition of the alienist should be to realise the Shadow of the subject, not awaken it.

We classically employ the alienist to treat the insane; those that have experienced significant outburst. This is important, of course, but I believe the practice should extend to the tending of the wellness of all. One need not be insane, to have some degree of repression. I think it a rather universal state. We should aim to help all in our communities with their trauma, grief, ambitions and dreams. We should recognise where repression is being driven by economics, and insist that the State work to correct it.

The road to freedom is long, but worth it.

Doctor Katja Vinter

//Will not be considered for inclusion. MAB.

The Arcane Fundamentals series details the workings of wizardry and vancian magic according to 3.x sources. Useful as an IC reference for wizard PCs.

Spoiler: Arcane Fundamentals I • show
Title: Arcane Fundamentals I: Spellbooks
Icon (book's appearance, if known): Any
Suggested locations (eg. Houlgraves', Castle Ravenloft, Port-à-Lucine library, etc.): Port-a-Lucine Magic Stores
Content: Contents:
Summary.
1. Spellbooks.
2. Spell Preparation.
3. Spell Recording.
4. Arcanabula Variants.
Summary:
Distinction in forms of spellbook are covered in section one. Section two covers how exactly a wizard prepares a spell. Section three details how spells are recorded and section four details spellbook variants.
1. Spellbooks:
The spellbook is where spells are recorded. Obviously. Wizards generally keep two forms of spellbook. The one you see most often is called the arcanabula. It’s a collection of completed arcane formulae and notes kept by a wizard for daily preparation. The book most wizards keep securely locked away is the great book, or grimoire. The grimoire is where the wizard records the full process by which they came to understand a given spell. This is an involved text that contains a wizard’s life work. In order to cast a spell, a wizard must first have comprehended it absolutely. Spells are expressions unlike any other mode of communication or language because they are expressions of objective truth. A wizard must understand that truth, typically through study and formulae in order to prepare and cast a spell. That study is documented primarily in the grimoire.
2. Spell Preparation:
While a wizard can prepare spells using the grimoire, they carry an arcanabula for reasons of practicality and efficiency. Casting a spell requires study of its formula in the arcanabula. It is during this study the casting of a spell actually begins, which is why this process requires intense concentration on the wizard’s part. All spells have a break before completion worked into them that the wizard may cast the spell to the verge of completion, then maintain it in their mind. When the spell is invoked with gestures and incantation the casting is complete, and the spell is released. This is why a prepared spell can be cast only once, typically. The wizard has not forgotten how to cast the spell, they simply require time, energy and their arcanabula to begin the process of casting another.
Because the essential expression of each spell is universal, every wizard’s formulae will converge on the same essential elements. However, the annotations and method of expression may vary. For this reason a wizard may use any arcanabula to prepare a spell they have studied, provided they have time to decipher the method of recording.
3. Spell Recording:
Spells are traditionally (but not always: see section 4) recorded in books. A spell typically requires about as many pages as its circle. So a first circle spell requires one page, while a ninth circle spell requires nine pages. Wizards familiar with the workings of the circle a spell belongs to can decipher and transcribe spells from a scroll or arcanabula to their own spellbooks. Wizards may also independently derive the working of a spell through research. This is an involved process, so the bulk of learning tends to take place with transcription.
4. Arcanabula Variants:
While books are preferred for reasons of practicality, they are not the only form an arcanabula can take. The structures of a spell can be recorded in carvings on structures or objects. Indeed, the angles and material of such objects can convey their own meanings in contributing to the spell. It must be noted that the approximate surface area requirements for the recording are the same. So a rather large area is required to record a single spell of the ninth circle. This is another reason such arcanabulas are impractical. Some arcanists go as far as tattooing spells onto themselves and using their body as an arcanabula. This does have the advantage of preparation being possible without any possessions. However, the average human body has a surface area of approximately fifty five pages only. This includes the back and head. Thus, wizards that commit to tattoo arcanabulas will still require a book or other external tool if they wish to record the breadth of contemporary spells.

Gaius

//Will not be considered for inclusion. MAB

Spoiler: Arcane Fundamentals II: The Anatomy of a Spell • show
Title: Arcane Fundamentals II: The Anatomy of a Spell
Icon (book's appearance, if known): Any
Suggested locations (eg. Houlgraves', Castle Ravenloft, Port-à-Lucine library, etc.): Port-a-Lucine Magic Libraries
Content: Contents:
Summary.
1. Spell Structure.
2. Evocation.
3. Conjuration.
4. Enchantment.
5. Illusion.
6. Divination.
7. Abjuration.
8. Transmutation.
9. Necromancy.
Summary:
Section one explains the origins of spell schools and the implications this has for spell structures. Sections two through eight define each school and its subschools.
1. Spell Structure:
Spell schools are divisions made by mortal scholars to better organise and analyse magic. Spells within a school share similarities in structure and mechanism but spells within a school may still have features of spells in other schools. Elements of the school of enchantment, for example, are present in the Fear spell but it is classified as necromancy due to the use of negative energy in its effect. When analysing a spell, it is important to note that its elements can therefore come from a range of schools even if the core function must necessarily be that of its assigned school.
2. Evocation:
The school of manipulating and creating energy. Evocation typically utilises the raw energy of the weave to produce and shape elements. They effectively utilise magic to create something where there was nothing.
3. Conjuration:
Conjuration is divided into five subschools. The essential common element is that matter or energy is moved, but in some cases conjurations will create that matter and then move it. The subschools of conjuration are as follows:
Calling: This moves a creature from another plane to where you are. Called creatures are transferred entirely to where they are called and are killed if slain while called.
Creation: Matter is conjured and manipulated to create something new, such as unseen servant, for the duration of the spell. When the spell expires, the created entity ceases to exist.
Healing: Exclusively the domain of divine magic. Positive energy is conjured for the purposes of healing another.
Summoning: Summons a creature or object from elsewhere in the plane. When the spell expires, summoned creatures are returned to their place of origin. Summoned objects are not. When a summoned creature is incapacitated it is returned intact to its place of origin.
Teleportation: Transports creatures or objects. Only extremely powerful teleportation can break planar boundaries.
4. Enchantment:
The school of directly manipulating the mind. Spells from the enchantment school all therefore affect the mind. Enchantment has two subschools:
Charm: Influences the subject to change how they view another.
Compulsion: Directly controls the actions of the subject. Spells like domination and hold person belong to this subschool.
5. Illusion:
Illusions trick the senses or minds of others. No illusion directly controls the mind; this is the distinction between illusion and enchantment. Illusion has five subschools:
Figments: False sensations. If these can be perceived by multiple actors then they will all perceive the same thing. Figments can mimic only things the illusionist can imagine or knows. No figment can mimic a language the illusionist does not know.
Glamer: This is a change to the perception of an existing entity. Making a book appear to be a ball is a glamer, as is the invisibility spell.
Pattern: Perceptible phenomena that mesmerise or otherwise influence the behaviour of the viewers.
Phantasm: Sensations perceptible only to the subject and the caster. Phantasms directly influence what the mind perceives and therefore do not depend on anatomical senses like sight.
Shadow: Shadow spells utilise the quasi-real matter of the transitive plane of shadows to mimic the effects of other magics. The matter of the shadow plane is subject to the perception of the viewers and therefore subjects may partially disbelieve shadow conjurations, mitigating (but not eliminating) their effects.
6. Divination:
Spells in this school pertain to knowledge of past, present or future. There is a single subschool of divination:
Scrying:
Scrying spells project an invisible sensor elsewhere. The caster can see through this sensor, but their perceptive abilities are much the same as their own eyesight. Therefore, they will still be unable to see those talented at moving unseen.
7. Abjuration:
Abjurations pertain to the disruption of energies and physical forces. All forms of barriers and dispelling fall under abjuration. Abjurations have some minor interactive effect, meaning those placed in close proximity will shimmer as energies interact.
8. Transmutation:
The school of change. Transmutations change the properties of an object, entity or condition in the world.
9. Necromancy:
The school of manipulating life and unlife utilising negative energy. It has no subschools but a distinction is commonly made between those that utilise the school to animate the dead (animators) and those that do not. Animating is an inexcusable act of Evil and must never be tolerated. All other forms of necromancy are generally intolerable and rightly outlawed in civilised lands. Prolonged use of necromancy may cause madness.
Gaius

//Will not be considered for inclusion. MAB.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2023, 07:33:53 AM by MAB77 »

PlatointheCave

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Re: In-Game Book Submissions Thread (Read The First Post Before Posting)
« Reply #28 on: March 26, 2023, 11:49:23 PM »
Part three touches planar cosmology. It has been taught as such IG in the university but it might be a bit too "high magic" for a common book shop.
Spoiler: Arcane Fundamentals III: Planar Cosmology • show
Title: Arcane Fundamentals III: Planar Cosmology
Icon (book's appearance, if known): Any
Suggested locations (eg. Houlgraves', Castle Ravenloft, Port-à-Lucine library, etc.): Port-a-Lucine Magic Library
Content: Arcane Fundamentals III: The Energies of the Planes
Contents:
Summary.
1. Planar Structure.
2. Inner Planes.
3. Paraelements.
4. Quasielements.
5. Applications.
Summary:
The structure of the planes, the six basic elements and their simplest amalgamates are defined. Uses in arcane practice are briefly discussed.
1. Planar Structure:
Planes are realities that are metaphysically separated from one another. The cosmos is comprised of a variety of planes, but for this text the reader need only be aware of the material plane, the inner planes and the outer planes. The material plane is our world. The inner planes are the elemental planes that are, metaphysically speaking, closest to the prime material plane. The outer planes are the planes of moral and ethical extremes including the abyss, heaven and hell.
2. Inner Planes:
There are six cardinal inner planes corresponding to the six basic energies of the cosmos. The positive and negative planes are above and below the prime material. The planes of fire, earth, water and air are arranged about the material in a wheel between the negative and positive. Note that these planes are all arranged such that their elemental opposite is also placed metaphysically opposite. Positive and negative; air and earth; fire and water. It is the interaction of these fundamental energies in the material plane that produces substantial matter.
The plane of positive energy is one of infinite brilliant energy. The unwary visitor will be burned to nothing by the storm of energy. The plane of negative energy is an expanse of endless entropy and stagnation. There is no air, and the negative energy will kill living things swiftly if they are not prepared.
The plane of water is an infinite sea, filled with life that is sustained by free floating solid reefs. The plane of fire has gravity and is primarily comprised of loosely packed semi-solid flame. The plane of air is filled with little besides air; the unwary traveller will fall forever without a flight spell. The plane of earth is deep and twisting caverns, and shifts constantly; it is easy to be buried alive here.
These six basic energies interact constructively with one another; that is to say they synthesise new elemental arrangements together. The exception to this is elemental opposites, which destroy one another outright.
3. Paraelements:
Though each of the inner planes are physically infinite, they have metaphysical boundaries. At these boundaries there are confluences of two energies. Whether these confluences are their own planes or not remains a matter of debate. What is important to know is they exist, and they are where we derive a number of basic elemental compounds. For the sake of simplicity I will refer to the confluences as planes. The paraelements are formed at the confluences of the four “natural” energies: fire, earth, water and air.
The plane of ice is formed at the confluence of air and water. This is a system of frozen caves that give to floating icebergs on the side of water, and sheer cliffs on the side of air. The plane of ooze is formed at the confluence of earth and water. It is a shifting quagmire and the likely source of conjured acid. The plane of smoke is formed at the confluence of fire and air. It is a plane of burning gas and storms of flame with little solid ground. The plane of magma is formed at the confluence of earth and fire. It is a land of volcanic activity and poisonous gasses.
4. Quasielements:
Each of the “natural” planes also has a confluence with both the positive and negative energy planes. We call these confluences the quasielemental planes. As before, it is debatable whether these are their own planes or simply a quirk of planar interaction.
The plane of lightning is at the confluence of positive and air. This is a plane of storm and constant agitation, with no land. The plane of vacuum is at the confluence of negative and air. This is the elemental absence of air itself, and therefore this energy can be used to remove air from an environment without utilising earth. This is a common use for the negatively aligned quasielements.
The plane of radiance is at the confluence of positive and fire. This is a plane of great heat and dazzling brilliance. I have read that it is quite beautiful, if one has appropriate abjurations to view it. The plane of ash is at the confluence of negative and fire. As the inverse of flame, it is an expanse of warmth sapping space. Note that this is distinct from cooling and therefore wards against cold will do nothing to prevent death for mortal visitors.
The plane of steam is at the confluence of positive and water. This plane is one of water vapour. Notably, the vapour is cool. The plane of salt is at the confluence of negative and water. It is an airless space where all water dwindles to nothing. The planar traveller is advised to have some means of protecting themselves form negative energy, if they do not wish to desiccate.
The plane of mineral is at the confluence of positive and earth. This is a plane of glittering stones of all kinds, elementals of gemstone and power originate from these dazzling caverns. The greedy traveller is advised to take special care protecting themselves should they visit this plane; the earth inherent to beings of the material will crystallise rapidly here. In simple terms: living visitors are turned into lifeless crystals. The plane of dust is at the confluence of negative and earth. Here, all things decay swiftly to dust, even the living. Elemental dust is therefore an excellent tool for destroying structures, if properly controlled.
5. Applications:
The pragmatically minded reader might wonder why knowledge of these various elements is useful to the practising arcanist. It is because these elements are fundamental to the physics of our world and our magic. We must understand how they interact, and what their mingling produces, if we are to keep our experimental works contained. Many arcanists have lost limbs or their lives when they failed to account for the quasielemental by products of their experiments. More, the many basic elements can be useful for magics meant to create or destroy things, or achieve a specific physical effect. I have included some uses in this work, but the clever arcanist will doubtless find many more in their years of practice.
Gaius

//Will not be considered for inclusion. MAB.

Collected songs about fanciful entities, including a mora about the folly of the Old Wolf of Kartakass.

Spoiler: The Conquerors Songbook • show
Title: The Conqueror's Songbook
Icon (book's appearance, if known): Any
Suggested locations (eg. Houlgraves', Castle Ravenloft, Port-à-Lucine library, etc.): Houlgrave's
Content:
This is a collection of songs authored by a travelling bard, who disappeared not long after performing The Old Wolf in Kartakass.

Nothing Else to Be:


Deep in the witchwood, where the free spirits play,

There came a Hunter searching for fresh prey.

The moon on his shoulders and fire in his eyes,

He howled and the witchwood was still.


You are hunter or prey.

By the night or the day.

There's nothing else to be!

Be prey or be free.


From the wood came a champion,

Wine soaked and deceitful!

"We make the world our prey, why don't you stay?"

The Hunter saw then the heart.

He vowed to play his part. Again he howled!


You are hunter or prey.

By the night or the day.

There's nothing else to be!

Be prey or be free.


Though he saw how others bowed,

He would not be cowed!

The heart sang its song and consumed the baying throngs.

But the Hunter saw the lie and so he did cry:


I am no slave to a tree.

I am hunter, not prey.

The heart burns this day.

For there are no chains on me.


I choose to be free.

Septimus' Crown


Deep in the dust amidst rust and decay,

Where all fear to go and only dead men stay.

Candles burn low, the wind is a whisper,

There's no light in this room, save alone on a throne.

One light, then two, the lord opens his eyes and cries:


INTERLOPERS!


No longer a gnome, now wreathed in shadow and bone!

The doors slam closed and he cackles:


NHEHEHEHEHE!

NHAHAHA!

You've come to my kingdom in search of riches!

There's some there in the corner, with other failed liches.

But listen well meat, take a seat!

I AM SEPTIMUS BLACKTALLOW!

Lord of all I survey, at least for today.

There's none better, you see,

Save the one that made me.


INTERLOPERS!


Put that bauble down, gather 'round!

I am master today and for me you shall play.

Focus if you can on my BRILLIANT plan.

I know it's hard for you to understand,

But my freedom is at hand!


INTERLOPERS!


My master comes now to an enormous disaster.

The cretin made me, but soon all shall see!

Lord Blacktallow does not bend the knee.

I will tear him apart and reclaim my own heart.


INTERLOPERS!


On this day I ascend, or find a glorious end.

Either way they will say: Septimus Blacktallow won that day!

Freedom or death, nothing else shall I claim.

It's time I put my maker to shame.


INTERLOPERS!


See how he burns! See how tides turn!

NHEHEHE!

NHAHA!

By earth and the stars!

By a gnome's burning heart!


Interlopers.


The battle is done.

I fear I have won.

It has cost all I am.

But this was the plan.


Inter-lopers...


This crown I have claimed.

From a master now shamed.

For a throne of bone...

My ashes drift through...


Alone.


The Old Wolf


Deep in the Wolfwood, where only the daring go,

I heard whisper of a great tree, that only our Grandfathers know!

Though the path was winding, though the wolves did gather,

I set forth on an adventure, to find the truth of the matter!



For there's only one place you can hear,

All that Grandfather Wolf holds dear!

There's only one place you can see,

What the wolves do when they're wild and free!

There's only one place I care to be,

In the boughs of Grandfather Tree!



Over rivers and under trees, the path wound through history,

Dead Hawks in empty castles, dark men burned in scores,

All the enemies of the wolf had fallen into their maws!

But through it all I did finally see,

The stately figure of Grandfather Tree!

High I did climb, into his mighty branches,

Surely, I thought, I would find here my answers!

What secrets does Grandfather Wolf know?

After all his grand hunts, where next does he plan to go?



For there's only one place you can hear,

All that Grandfather Wolf holds dear!

There's only one place you can see,

What the wolves do when they're wild and free!

There's only one place I care to be,

In the boughs of Grandfather Tree!



Night fell fast as I clung to the branches,

from my secret place I did listen as the wolves gathered with their master.

I heard a voice, sickly sweet, howl out from beneath:

"Hear me now, my moon kissed brothers; I am a wolf like no other!"

"I am the great hunter you know as Grandfather."

"Hear me now as I make my decree: it is time to be done with the forest and the trees!"

"I'm tired of the prowling, no more being free! There's a whole world of man and it's all I care to see."

"I'm tired of the hunt, my schemes and my tricks, I'd rather howl for the humans that gave me a crown!"

There was a silence there after, then it was filled with laughter,

The Grandfather, once respected, was roundly rejected!



For there's only one place you can hear,

An Old Wolf's shuddering despair!

There's only one place you can see,

The last gasps of a has been!

There's only one place I care to be;

In the boughs of Grandfather Tree!



Desperately curious I peered down from my perch,

Scores of wolves gathered below around a gilt throne!

There sat our Grandfather, bloated and alone.

Fur once so majestic had grown thin and mangy,

Tail all twisted and teeth terribly mangled.

Like a man he did sit, oh what a sight to see!

I could hardly believe it was a wolf before me.

No, the truth was clear, even though I was not near!

The Grandfather was wolf no more,

He had become a Grandfather Boar!



For there's only one place you can hear,

An Old Wolf's end come near!

There's only one place you can see,

The death of a fat wolf's dignity!

There's only one place I care to be,

In the boughs of Grandfather Tree!



To the circle then came an outsider,

Her pelt dark and sleek, her yellow eyes the Grandfather's did meet!

"You were once a great beast that called no man master, but your time is now gone and you seed nought but disaster."

"With ash on the winds and fires on the rise, it's time, once great beast, that you opened your eyes:"

"Fat and feeble you've grown, so I claim these woods for my own."

"Grandfather Boar you are wolf no more."

"Only my prey. Dead if you choose to stay!"



For there's only one place you can hear,

Grandfather Wolf's dying whimpers!

There's only one place you can see,

What becomes of those that stop living free!

There's only one place I care to be,

Under the boughs of Grandfather Tree!

//Will not be considered for inclusion. MAB.

A collection of incendiary songs for Port-a-Lucine's disenfranchised.
Spoiler: LE FRACAS • show
Title: LE FRACAS
Icon (book's appearance, if known): Any
Suggested locations (eg. Houlgraves', Castle Ravenloft, Port-à-Lucine library, etc.): Port-a-Lucine black market
Content:

The works of le Fracas belong to every man. Never forget the dream.

The Ballad of Felix Toure:

The hour is late. There's blood on the stones. Another poor soul, cornered scared and alone.

The Coats don't patrol here. The night's a grim game. But from the shadows steps a hero; we already know his name.

FELIX TOURE!

With a BANG. BANG. BANG. There's an end to the gang. Our poor soul is free.

Because there's a truth plain to see. If you don't bleed blue, there's nothing the Coats will do.

They'll pay "heroes" and foreigners to kill one or two, but they don't care about you.

And if you step out of line? You're comitting a crime, and the lapdogs will cut short your time.

He knew that pain. The loss and the blood. Neighbors lost to the mud.

So he took arms for a cause. He took on Communal laws. If you prey on the meek, if exploitation is what you seek?

Then he stepped from the night and judged you in the light.

FELIX TOURE!

With a BANG. BANG. BANG. True justice is done. No more should we run!

The frills have their laws. The Church has their doors. To who do we pray when they come to take us away?

SAINT FELIX TOURE!

Patron of a people. The home is his steeple. The State took him away, but in our hearts he shall stay.

His spirit roars with a vengeance when our lives are taken. The frills might forget, but we know the path he set.

So when they come for your own, when they break into your home? There's only one thing to do...

BANG.

BANG.

BANG.


Fall in Something Very Like Love:

I've got this tune in my head. You all know how it goes.

 The one with deep eyes, brown hair and a lifetime of blows.

We met only briefly, but I can't seem to forget, the way you moved like anyone that crossed you is dead.

You set my heart racing, and when the light falls on you just right...

I know THAT I'VE FALLEN IN SOMETHING VERY LIKE LOVE TONIGHT!

This aint one for the stories. This aint good or proper.

Maybe in time those feelings can bloom. But right now in this room?

I'm holding you tight, because I'M FALLING IN SOMETHING VERY LIKE LOVE TONIGHT!

I'm not proposing. There's time to date, it's true. I want in good time to see more of you.

But to me now? You're a dish, you're a dream!

I WANT TO BREAK A TABLE DOING SOMETHING OBSCENE!

So drink, dance and move with me just right. I'M FALLING IN SOMETHING VERY LIKE LOVE TONIGHT!

I hope we'll get on. I think we'd make a good match! But there's passion and /passion/, and right now I'm unattached.

I'm really quite simple. A beast at my heart. I like to sing, drink, fight, make true art and...

I'D LOVE IF YOU LET ME TEAR YOUR WORLD APART.

So take a leap with me through the pale moonlight.

Wont you fall in something like love with me tonight?

Ghosts:

There's a ghost at the bar, never says a word, but he's there every time I go.

There's another on the corner, where the gutters overflow, I can't look him in the eye yet but someday I will.

They're under crumbling awnings, they're down crooked streets, they're everywhere in the city that never sleeps.

Where were you when war came again? Where were you when it took family and friends?

Where were you when the storm broke on our town? When the streets ran red, and the sky fell down?

Yeah, they say ghosts they come from business undone.

They're waiting for a righting of wrongs. They're haunting the places they used to know.

I don't know if that's true, but I know that they're there, I know my conscience aint clear.

Where were you when the cables snapped? Where were you when the boiler burst?

Where were you when they came for the young? When childhood was traded for darkness and pain?

I see them still. Ghosts drifting in the rain.

 There's so many places that'll never be the same.

I'm not going to forget. I wont ignore them forever.

I hope some day, that the world will be better.

But for now they're there still, and when it's my time in life's queue...

I wonder if I'll haunt these streets, too.

Broken Promises:

When you're small they'll say; you gotta seize the day...

That if you're quick, if you're bright, if you do everything right...

The world will be yours! How high you'll soar!

So to work you go; aiming high by starting low.

Twelve hour days, eyes glazed, heart weak. You begin to lose hope in ever claiming what you seek.

Still, they'll smile to your face. They'll say: good citizens know their place.

Keep bleeding for me and someday you'll be free!

Each time, you swallow the line. But it's like swallowing poison; soon enough you gotta choose:

To spit it back up or die slow. I know how I want to go. So when they open their powdered mouths I shout:

I'M DONE ASKING. I'M NOT WAITING ANYMORE. GIVE ME WHAT I'M DUE!

OR.

I.

WILL.

BREAK.

YOU.

I'm over the lies, I've heard your promises before.

Always you say: "just wait a little more".

Always you say: "there's a new plan to help."

You live like pigs on high and pretend that you care if I die.

Well I know it's not true. Here's all I got to say to you:

I'M DONE ASKING. YOU HAD YOUR CHANCE. I'M TAKING WHAT I'M OWED.

DON'T MAKE ANOTHER SOUND.

OR I'M GONNA BURN YOU TO THE GROUND.

There's no life on a factory floor.

There's no law that'll guard my door.

Your kingdom glitters bright with all that stolen delight.

I wont rob my own, like those thugs that shed our blood, but from you?

I'LL TAKE WHAT I'M DUE.

TIME'S UP.

TOO LATE.

YOU. WILL. BREAK!

//Will not be considered for inclusion. MAB.

Songs also written udner the Fracas period, but the author was not me the player. I don't know who wrote them but they're good.

https://www.nwnravenloft.com/forum/index.php?topic=60053.msg706070#msg706070

Spoiler: LE FRACAS II • show
Title: LE FRACAS II
Icon (book's appearance, if known): Any
Suggested locations (eg. Houlgraves', Castle Ravenloft, Port-à-Lucine library, etc.): Port-a-Lucine Black Market
Content:
The works of le Fracas belong to every man. Never forget the dream.

Well Paid, Well Fed, Submissive:

The nobles take care of us,
They tend to our wants and needs;
Or at least that’s what they claim,
With the phrase “Noblesse Oblige”.

The truth is much more ugly:
Most treat us worse than dogs.
All part of the machinery,
We’re ground down, broken cogs.

Well paid, well fed, submissive.
Is this how you describe a citizen?

Say this for the hunger and the beatings:
At least they don’t lie.
How intolerable the hypocrisy
Of the nobles who dare to cry.

More than food, more than money,
We are deprived of agency.
Promoting the odd self-serving wench
Is no true meritocracy.

Well paid, well fed, submissive.
Is this how you describe a human?

Where are the fruits of the Revolution?
Why have I become so bitter?
Why are we ruled by inbred toffs?
Is truly no-one fitter?

The mendacity of our masters
Has finally taught its lesson:
Despite honeyed words and promises,
True power is not given, it is taken.

Well paid, well fed, submissive
No longer.

The Coward’s Labor:

The nobles of Dementlieu are haughty
And consider themselves free-thinkers.
They ignore the reality:
Their power becomes blinkers.
If they exclaim, “Not signing your name is cowardice!”
Then just ask them: “Who killed Guy Maurice?”

For the powerless and the voiceless,
Rich only in obsequiences,
Speaking truth to power comes
With swift and damning consequences.
If they challenge, “Masking yourself has no honor!”
Respond: “What was the fate of Jacques Varteur?”

Mistrust their perverted justice,
Disbelieve their free expression.
Blind obedience to tradition
Is our true Constitution.
If they offer, “Please, have your say!”
Don’t end up like Felix Touré.

Trust no-one.
Hide your name.
Change your voice.
Wear a mask.
Don’t be a snitch.
Who’s the real coward, hiding behind their power?

Useless Prophylactics

When you’re tumbling with your squeeze,
And don’t know who they’ve seen
When you’re kissing them and loving them,
And getting, well, you know what I mean!

Some swear by sheep intestine tubes
Some on Lamordian contraption
Some use herbal tea, whatever works
To avoid unwanted contagion!

[CHORUS]
Baronesse de Prophylactic!
Baronesse de Prophylactic!
When you’re in need and the blue coats chase
Don’t trust her to keep you safe!

There is a plague amongst the bluebloods
Evil that spreads as it may please
I’ve no fancy doctorate from the university,
So I jus’ call it the Gendarme’s disease

It’s a sickness of the heart
That sucks our blood like a tick
To this illness there’s no cure
Not even a prophylactic

[CHORUS]
Baronesse de Prophylactic!
Baronesse de Prophylactic!
When the blue coats chase you up the wrong track
Don’t trust her to have your back!

We’re good enough to work for her,
And she pays well enough, that’s true
But when it comes to weighty matters
She hasn’t invited you!

She’s got her place at the big table
While we’re crawling on all fours:
Her masters on the Council
Won’t let you forget yours

[CHORUS]
Baronesse de Prophylactic!
Baronesse de Prophylactic!
When the Council tore up the Constitution,
Did you expect her to show contrition?

I hope we’ve learned something today
Let’s not forget the facts
Some people claim to help others
Just to climb on their backs

So if you find yourself wanting,
Buried in a real deep fix
Don’t expect to be protected
By that sycophant Alix!

[CHORUS]
Baronesse de Prophylactic!
Baronesse de Prophylactic!
Don’t forget to smile and thank her
[The last verse is spoken without music or mirth]
When the Council’s boot is on your neck


A fanciful retelling of a priest of the Morninglord that fell to vampirism, but ultimately chose to purify themselves in the sun.
Spoiler: show
Title: The Vicar's Dawn
Icon (book's appearance, if known): Any
Suggested locations (eg. Houlgraves', Castle Ravenloft, Port-à-Lucine library, etc.): Morninglordians, Houlgrave's
Content: The Vicar's Dawn


Tonight's tale is based on a true story.

Though we took liberties with the details.

But then, no two tellings are quite the same.


In the light of the Dawn she walked.

Healing, from a pain of youth and blood.

Healing, from the abuses of the City of Lights.

She walked with Hope. She walked with Heroes.


For all the cruelty the world had done her?

She would defy the night.

She would defy until Dawn.

Her pain would not define her path.

The cruelty of the world would not enslave her!


But the night is long.

The night is cruel.

The night is ancient.

From the Child of Light, kin were taken.

Peace was shaken. Old pain awakened.


With tin soldiers she marched.

To avenge him? To avenge herself?

No. To be free of the pain.

To heal. For though the darkness was great, there was Hope for the Dawn.


The night took its due.

Her soul chained to a name.

A false faith. Hollow Family.

Where others gave in.

Where lessers served willingly.

She resisted.


From the light the Huntress called.

For the Dawn, her true Family fought.

How could Fear stand against Compassion?

The chain shattered. Florette was free to choose.

She chose the Dawn.

She chose Hope.

She chose to be free.


In the end, it was not might that defeated the night.

It was love.

It is a shame that in those that remain,

we will not see Florette's light again.


For they do not struggle.

They do not care.

They have chosen hate.

So they deserve the stake.

K.V.

//Will not be considered for inclusion. MAB.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2023, 07:42:00 AM by MAB77 »

Forte

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Re: In-Game Book Submissions Thread (Read The First Post Before Posting)
« Reply #29 on: May 12, 2023, 07:09:13 PM »
A recorded, biased, and patriotic history of the Republic of Gundarak from the Black Army plot. This would be about the only text relating to the events of the major plotline and historical event. Rare, but includes interesting biased view of the war from a rare perspective.

Title: A RECORDED HISTORY OF THE REPUBLIC OF GUNDARAK by Dzenifer Uralkodo (accents removed for the sake of copypasting)
Icon (book's appearance, if known): il T_BOOK_033 for all volumes

Content: https://www.nwnravenloft.com/forum/index.php?topic=62438.msg725133#msg725133. Suggest breaking such up into multiple volumes considering length, and forum post is segmented for easy copy-pasting for need of additional volumes for length's sake.

Suggested locations: Port-à-Lucine library, Houlgreaves, The University of Dementlieu. If possible, and a VERY rare find in say, the Drain of Vallaki's trash, for the sake of seeming like discreet 'thrown away' history, quite literally. Illicit book-material.

//While an interesting proposal you must take the time to edit your entries yourself and paste them here. Be sure to follow the edition rules, you have several characters that would not be accepted by the TLK file. MAB
« Last Edit: June 21, 2023, 07:39:02 PM by MAB77 »
Dzenifér Uralkodó - HATEFUL

Krosenq

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Re: In-Game Book Submissions Thread (Read The First Post Before Posting)
« Reply #30 on: June 21, 2023, 06:05:26 PM »
An attempt to leave something behind from my closured master of many forms. The content can be modified to meet book standards, but I hope that I've successfully conveyed the general idea of what I want to include. It's a compilation of his discoveries that he was eager to share with others.

Quote
Title: Beyond the Limits of Form
Icon (book's appearance, if known): iit_book_198
Suggested locations (The Mists, Blightwood, Markovia):
Content:

In the untamed wilderness of existence, the boundless realm of shapes and forms extends an invitation - an opportunity to transcend the constraints of the bodies we were born with. It is a tantalizing prospect that beckons those who dare to venture into the unknown, those unafraid of the pain that comes with growth. Those who seek the secrets of self-transformation, and those lost souls longing to reshape themselves in service of the land, heed my words: Mastery over one's essence is a pathway to unimagined power and understanding. Yet, it demands the utmost caution and respect. It is a journey fraught with danger. The reward, however, is the freedom to shape your form, molding your very essence according to your will.

Through years of meticulous study and self-exploration, I have distilled the essence of boundless transformation into four foundational principles. These are not merely guidelines, but fundamental truths that serve as beacons for those who have heeded the call of the land and desire to master their form. They provide the structure needed to navigate the intricate journey of transformation. A journey not of destination, but of continuous exploration and understanding.

The first principle revolves around an intimate understanding of your own essence and anatomy. Begin by acquainting yourself with the internal workings that govern your own form. As a servant of the land, this extends beyond a mere comprehension of humanoid anatomy; the true insight lies within the flow of essence during transformations into beasts of the wild. Feel the ebb and flow of this vital energy, note how it changes you, and become intimately familiar with the rhythm of your transformations.

The second principle necessitates meticulous exploration and understanding of the form you aim to manifest. Each being, whether from the forests of home, or from the surreal landscapes of the mists, encapsulates secrets within their structures. To successfully guide your transformation, a profound understanding and a detailed mental image of these structures are of utmost importance. Equip yourself with the tools of the scholar and the anatomist. Dissect, study, and inscribe the nuances of the creatures of the world into the deepest vaults of your memory. Be it the commonly seen or the extraordinary, their anatomy shows you the path to reform yourself. Think not in terms of replicating a single creature, but rather, conceive a blend, harnessing the best features from diverse sources in order to enhance physiology.

The third principle pertains to the control of your transformation process - the active redirection of your essence. At the onset of the transformation, as you tap into your connection with the land, there arrives a pivotal moment where you must intervene in the otherwise natural flow of the process. It is in this critical juncture where your intimate understanding of your own essence and anatomy comes to play. Instead of allowing the essence to follow its usual, familiar pathways that lead to the beasts of the land, you must steer it, command it towards an alternate course. This is a moment not of passive acceptance, but of active imposition, requiring a clear vision of your desired form and a willpower as immovable as the oldest mountains. In this state of controlled transformation, your essence may resist, preferring its well-trodden paths. But armed with your steadfast focus and the detailed anatomical knowledge of your intended form, you must push, guide it to carve new paths, to take on new structures beyond the realm of the familiar.

Lastly, the fourth principle is the acceptance of pain as an integral part of your transformation. The journey of molding your essence is accompanied by torrents of agony - bones realigning in unfamiliar configurations, muscles pulsing as they adapt to their new forms, and skin tearing and reforming in the echoes of your metamorphosis. Each moment of this agonizing process is a testament to your impending transformation. Do not shy away from it; embrace the pain, for it is the harbinger of the new form that awaits you.

These principles, these methods to mold your essence, open a new realm of possibilities to those who seek to reshape themselves, like I once did. But it is crucial to remember that while we wield the ability to alter our form, we are not beyond the consequences of our actions. This is a tool, a method of self-improvement and survival. It should never be a weapon to wield against the very wilds that have granted us these gifts.

Use this power wisely, cautiously. The risk is profound; tampering with the fundamentals of your being carries the possibility of irreversible consequences. Thus, this knowledge must be wielded with respect, mindful of the balance between serving the land and our own ambitions.

Ureche Dombru

//Book added to HAK update 2.30. MAB.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2023, 02:52:34 PM by MAB77 »
Active: Warrick Geth - Journal and Story

Forte

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Re: In-Game Book Submissions Thread (Read The First Post Before Posting)
« Reply #31 on: July 19, 2023, 03:21:27 AM »
Quote
Title: The King in Yellow (Volume I-III)
Icon (book's appearance, if known): iit_book_044
Suggested locations: The Mists, Hidden Library of Dementlieu, any supernatural locations of preference.

Notes: Book within public domain. Has been edited of any illegal characters and elsewise been cut down to it's important sections, as well as keeping the mystery and mythology of the King in Yellow intact (as it has direct impact later on eldritch-related mythos, which DnD draws from for Warlocks and the like in the form of the Deep Ones and in some instances, Cthulu, directly).

Spoiler: Volume One • show


This tome seems incomplete- Several portions of it seem outright missing, but seems to speak of a supposed play known as the ‘King in Yellow’, esoterically, within the actual contents of the book-- Also seemingly titled ‘The King in Yellow’. An illustration representing a yellow cloaked figure in abstract decorates the cover, as well as the title. The content is as follows, with several pages torn out or missing. The mystery is too much. It is as if the tome itself demands you read it.

‘During my convalescence I had bought and read for the first time, The King in Yellow. I remember after finishing the first act that it occurred to me that I had better stop. I started up and flung the book into the fireplace, the volume struck the barred grate and fell open on the hearth in the firelight. If I had not caught a glimpse of the opening words in the second act I should never have finished it, but as I stooped to pick it up, my eyes became riveted to the open page, and with a cry of terror, or perhaps it was of joy so poignant that I suffered in every nerve, I snatched the thing out of the coals and crept shaking to my bedroom, where I read it and reread it, and wept and laughed and trembled with a horror which at times assails me yet. This is the thing that troubles me, for I cannot forget Carcosa where black stars hang in the heavens, where the shadows of men's thoughts lengthen in the afternoon, when the twin suns sink into the lake of Hali, and my mind will bear for ever the memory of the Pallid Mask. I pray God will curse the writer, as the writer has cursed the world with this beautiful, stupendous creation, terrible in its simplicity, irresistible in its truth. A world which now trembles before the King in Yellow.

When the government seized the translated copies which had just arrived in town, of course, became eager to read it. It is well known how the book spread like an infectious disease, from city to city, from continent to continent, barred out here, confiscated there, denounced by Press and pulpit, censured even by the most advanced of literary anarchists. No definite principles had been violated in those wicked pages, no doctrine promulgated, no convictions outraged. It could not be judged by any known standard, yet, although it was acknowledged that the supreme note of art had been struck in The King in Yellow, all felt that human nature could not bear the strain, nor thrive on words in which the essence of purest poison lurked. The very banality and innocence of the first act only allowed the blow to fall afterward with more awful effect.

At noon next day when I arrived, I found Boris walking restlessly about his studio.

"Genevieve is asleep just now," he told me, "the sprain is nothing, but why should she have such a high fever? The doctor can't account for it or else he will not," he muttered.

"Genevieve has a fever?" I asked.

"I should say so, and has actually been a little light-headed at intervals all night. The idea! Gay little Genevieve, without a care in the world, and she keeps saying her heart's broken, and she wants to die!"

My own heart stood still.

Boris leaned against the door of his studio, looking down, his hands in his pockets, his kind, keen eyes clouded, a new line of trouble drawn "over the mouth's good mark, that made the smile." The maid had orders to summon him the instant Genevieve opened her eyes. We waited and waited, and Boris, growing restless, wandered about, fussing with modelling wax and red clay. Suddenly he started for the next room. "Come and see my rose-coloured bath full of death!" he cried.

"Is it death?" I asked, to humor his mood.

"You are not prepared to call it life, I suppose," he answered. As he spoke he plucked a solitary gold-fish squirming and twisting out of its globe. "We'll send this one after the other, wherever that is," he said. There was feverish excitement in his voice. A dull weight of fever lay on my limbs and on my brain as I followed him to the fair crystal pool with its pink-tinted sides, and he dropped the creature in. Falling, its scales flashed with a hot orange gleam in its angry twistings and contortions. Yhe moment it struck the liquid it became rigid and sank heavily to the bottom. Then came the milky foam, the splendid hues radiating on the surface and then the shaft of pure serene light broke through from seemingly infinite depths. Boris plunged in his hand and drew out an exquisite marble thing, blue-veined, rose-tinted, and glistening with opalescent drops.

"Child's play," he muttered, and looked wearily, longingly at me, as if I could answer such questions! But Jack Scott came in and entered into the "game," as he called it, with ardour. Nothing would do but to try the experiment on the white rabbit then and there. I was willing that Boris should find distraction from his cares, but I hated to see the life go out of a warm, living creature and I declined to be present. Picking up a book at random, I sat down in the studio to read. Alas! I had found The King in Yellow. After a few moments, which seemed ages, I was putting it away with a nervous shudder, when Boris and Jack came in bringing their marble rabbit. At the same time the bell rang above, and a cry came from the sick-room. Boris was gone like a flash, and the next moment he called, "Jack, run for the doctor. Bring him back with you. Alec, come here."

I went and stood at her door. A frightened maid came out in haste and ran away to fetch some remedy. Genevieve, sitting bolt upright, with crimson cheeks and glittering eyes, babbled incessantly and resisted Boris' gentle restraint. He called me to help. At my first touch she sighed and sank back, closing her eyes, and then… then… as we still bent above her, she opened them again, looked straight into Boris' face, poor fever-crazed girl! And told her secret. At the same instant our three lives turned into new channels. The bond that held us so long together snapped forever and a new bond was forged in its place, for she had spoken my name, and as the fever tortured her, her heart poured out its load of hidden sorrow. Amazed and dumb I bowed my head, while my face burned like a live coal, and the blood surged in my ears, stupefying me with its clamour. Incapable of movement, incapable of speech, I listened to her feverish words in an agony of shame and sorrow. I could not silence her, I could not look at Boris. Then I felt an arm upon my shoulder, and Boris turned a bloodless face to mine.

"It is not your fault, Alec. Don't grieve so if she loves you…" but he could not finish. And as the doctor stepped swiftly into the room, saying, "Ah, the fever!" I seized Jack Scott and hurried him to the street, saying, "Boris would rather be alone." We crossed the street to our own apartments, and that night, seeing I was going to be ill too, he went for the doctor again. The last thing I recollect with any distinctness was hearing Jack say, "For Heaven's sake, doctor, what ails him, to wear a face like that?" and I thought of The King in Yellow and the Pallid Mask.

I was very ill, for the strain of two years which I had endured since that fatal May morning when Genevieve murmured, "I love you, but I think I love Boris best," told on me at last. I had never imagined that it could become more than I could endure. Outwardly tranquil, I had deceived myself. Although the inward battle raged night after night, and I, lying alone in my room, cursed myself for rebellious thoughts unloyal to Boris and unworthy of Genevieve, the morning always brought relief, and I returned to Genevieve and to my dear Boris with a heart washed clean by the tempests of the night.

Never in word or deed or thought while with them had I betrayed my sorrow even to myself.

The mask of self-deception was no longer a mask for me, it was a part of me. Night lifted it, laying bare the stifled truth below. But there was no one to see except myself, and when the day broke the mask fell back again of its own accord. These thoughts passed through my troubled mind as I lay sick, but they were hopelessly entangled with visions of white creatures, heavy as stone, crawling about in Boris' basin, of the wolf's head on the rug, foaming and snapping at Genevieve, who lay smiling beside it. I thought, too, of the King in Yellow wrapped in the fantastic colours of his tattered mantle, and that bitter cry of Cassilda, "Not upon us, oh King, not upon us!" Feverishly I struggled to put it from me, but I saw the lake of Hali, thin and blank, without a ripple or wind to stir it, and I saw the towers of Carcosa behind the moon. Aldebaran, the Hyades, Alar, Hastur, glided through the cloud-rifts which fluttered and flapped as they passed like the scolloped tatters of the King in Yellow.’

The rest of the pages are completely torn, and all markings of its author scrubbed from its worn bindings.


Spoiler: Second Volume • show
There is several ripped pages of this volume, but several portions remain.

‘..."I wish they were bound in gold," I said. "But wait, yes, there is another book, The King in Yellow." I looked him steadily in the eye.

"Have you never read it?" I asked.

"I? No, thank God! I don't want to be driven crazy."

I saw he regretted his speech as soon as he had uttered it. There is only one word which I loathe more than I do lunatic and that word is crazy. But I controlled myself and asked him why he thought The King in Yellow dangerous.

"Oh, I don't know," he said, hastily. "I only remember the excitement it created and the denunciations from pulpit and Press. I believe the author shot himself after bringing forth this monstrosity, didn't he?"

"I understand he is still alive," I answered.

"That's probably true," he muttered, "bullets couldn't kill a fiend like that."

"It is a book of great truths," I said.

"Yes," he replied, "of 'truths' which send men frantic and blast their lives. I don't care if the thing is, as they say, the very supreme essence of art. It's a crime to have written it, and I for one shall never open its pages."’

The pages are ripped once more, leading to a small section remaining before it begins a new chapter.

'I had slept through the sermon. Had I slept through the sermon? I looked up and saw him passing along the gallery to his place. Only his side I saw the thin bent arm in its black covering looked like one of those devilish, nameless instruments which lie in the disused torture-chambers of mediaeval castles.

But I had escaped him, though his eyes had said I should not. Had I escaped him? That which gave him the power over me came back out of oblivion, where I had hoped to keep it. For I knew him now. Death and the awful abode of lost souls, whither my weakness long ago had sent him. They had changed him for every other eye, but not for mine. I had recognized him almost from the first. I had never doubted what he was come to do, and now I knew while my body sat safe in the cheerful little church, he had been hunting my soul in the Court of the Dragon.

I crept to the door. The organ broke out overhead with a blare. A dazzling light filled the church, blotting the altar from my eyes. The people faded away, the arches, the vaulted roof vanished. I raised my seared eyes to the fathomless glare, and I saw the black stars hanging in the heavens, and the wet winds from the lake of Hali chilled my face.

And now, far away, over leagues of tossing cloud-waves, I saw the moon dripping with spray and beyond, the towers of Carcosa rose behind the moon.

Death and the awful abode of lost souls, whither my weakness long ago had sent him, had changed him for every other eye but mine. And now I heard his voice, rising, swelling, thundering through the flaring light, and as I fell, the radiance increasing, increasing, poured over me in waves of flame. Then I sank into the depths, and I heard the King in Yellow whispering to my soul, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God!"'


Spoiler: Third Volume • show
The final volume of this accursed tome which you consistently continue to find copies of, no matter how it is destroyed, reappears. It holds forth one more tale.

'The day following was a disastrous one for me. While moving a framed canvas from one easel to another my foot slipped on the polished floor, and I fell heavily on both wrists. They were so badly sprained that it was useless to attempt to hold a brush, and I was obliged to wander about the studio, glaring at unfinished drawings and sketches, until despair seized me and I sat down to smoke and twiddle my thumbs with rage. The rain blew against the windows and rattled on the roof of the church, driving me into a nervous fit with its interminable patter. Tessie sat sewing by the window, and every now and then raised her head and looked at me with such innocent compassion that I began to feel ashamed of my irritation and looked about for something to occupy me. I had read all the papers and all the books in the library, but for the sake of something to do I went to the bookcases and shoved them open with my elbow. I knew every volume by its colour and examined them all, passing slowly around the library and whistling to keep up my spirits. I was turning to go into the dining-room when my eye fell upon a book bound in serpent skin, standing in a corner of the top shelf of the last bookcase. I did not remember it, and from the floor could not decipher the pale lettering on the back, so I went to the smoking-room and called Tessie. She came in from the studio and climbed up to reach the book.

"What is it?" I asked.

"The King in Yellow."

I was dumbfounded. Who had placed it there? How came it in my rooms? I had long ago decided that I should never open that book, and nothing on earth could have persuaded me to buy it. Fearful lest curiosity might tempt me to open it, I had never even looked at it in book-stores. If I ever had had any curiosity to read it, the awful tragedy of young Castaigne, whom I knew, prevented me from exploring its wicked pages. I had always refused to listen to any description of it, and indeed, nobody ever ventured to discuss the second part aloud, so I had absolutely no knowledge of what those leaves might reveal. I stared at the poisonous mottled binding as I would at a snake.

"Don't touch it, Tessie," I said, "come down."

Of course my admonition was enough to arouse her curiosity, and before I could prevent it she took the book and, laughing, danced off into the studio with it. I called to her, but she slipped away with a tormenting smile at my helpless hands, and I followed her with some impatience.

"Tessie!" I cried, entering the library, "listen, I am serious. Put that book away. I do not wish you to open it!" The library was empty. I went into both drawing-rooms, then into the bedrooms, laundry, kitchen, and finally returned to the library and began a systematic search. She had hidden herself so well that it was half-an-hour later when I discovered her crouching white and silent by the latticed window in the store-room above. At the first glance I saw she had been punished for her foolishness. The King in Yellow lay at her feet, but the book was open at the second part. I looked at Tessie and saw it was too late. She had opened The King in Yellow. Then I took her by the hand and led her into the studio. She seemed dazed, and when I told her to lie down on the sofa she obeyed me without a word. After a while she closed her eyes and her breathing became regular and deep, but I could not determine whether or not she slept. For a long while I sat silently beside her, but she neither stirred nor spoke, and at last I rose, and, entering the unused store-room, took the book in my least injured hand. It seemed heavy as lead, but I carried it into the studio again, and sitting down on the rug beside the sofa, opened it and read it through from beginning to end.

When, faint with excess of my emotions, I dropped the volume and leaned wearily back against the sofa, Tessie opened her eyes and looked at me....

We had been speaking for some time in a dull monotonous strain before I realized that we were discussing The King in Yellow. Oh the sin of writing such words, words which are clear as crystal, limpid and musical as bubbling springs, words which sparkle and glow like the poisoned diamonds of the Medicis! Oh the wickedness, the hopeless damnation of a soul who could fascinate and paralyze human creatures with such words, words understood by the ignorant and wise alike, words which are more precious than jewels, more soothing than music, more awful than death!

We talked on, unmindful of the gathering shadows, and she was begging me to throw away the clasp of black onyx quaintly inlaid with what we now knew to be the Yellow Sign. I never shall know why I refused, though even at this hour, here in my bedroom as I write this confession, I should be glad to know what it was that prevented me from tearing the Yellow Sign from my breast and casting it into the fire. I am sure I wished to do so, and yet Tessie pleaded with me in vain. Night fell and the hours dragged on, but still we murmured to each other of the King and the Pallid Mask, and midnight sounded from the misty spires in the fog-wrapped city. We spoke of Hastur and of Cassilda, while outside the fog rolled against the blank window-panes as the cloud waves roll and break on the shores of Hali.

The house was very silent now, and not a sound came up from the misty streets. Tessie lay among the cushions, her face a grey blot in the gloom, but her hands were clasped in mine, and I knew that she knew and read my thoughts as I read hers, for we had understood the mystery of the Hyades and the Phantom of Truth was laid. Then as we answered each other, swiftly, silently, thought on thought, the shadows stirred in the gloom about us, and far in the distant streets we heard a sound. Nearer and nearer it came, the dull crunching of wheels, nearer and yet nearer, and now, outside before the door it ceased, and I dragged myself to the window and saw a black-as night chariot. The gate below opened and shut, and I crept shaking to my door and bolted it, but I knew no bolts, no locks, could keep that creature out who was coming for the Yellow Sign. And now I heard him moving very softly along the hall. Now he was at the door, and the bolts rotted at his touch. Now he had entered. With eyes starting from my head I peered into the darkness, but when he came into the room I did not see him. It was only when I felt him envelope me in his cold soft grasp that I cried out and struggled with deadly fury, but my hands were useless and he tore the onyx clasp from my coat and struck me full in the face. Then, as I fell, I heard Tessie's soft cry and her spirit fled and even while falling I longed to follow her, for I knew that the King in Yellow had opened his tattered mantle and there was only God to cry to now.

I could tell more, but I cannot see what help it will be to the world. As for me, I am past human help or hope. As I lie here, writing, careless even whether or not I die before I finish, I can see the doctor gathering up his powders and phials with a vague gesture to the good priest beside me, which I understand.

They will be very curious to know the tragedy. They of the outside world who write books and print newspapers, but I shall write no more, and the father confessor will seal my last words with the seal of sanctity when his holy office is done. They of the outside world may send their creatures into wrecked homes and death-smitten firesides, and their newspapers will batten on blood and tears, but with me their spies must halt before the confessional. They know that Tessie is dead and that I am dying. They know how the people in the house, aroused by an infernal scream, rushed into my room and found one living and two dead, but they do not know what I shall tell them now. They do not know that the doctor said as he pointed to a horrible decomposed heap on the floor, the livid corpse of the watchman from the church. "I have no theory, no explanation. That man must have been dead for months!"

I think I am dying. I wish the priest would…’


//This one was a tough call as we are fans of the King in Yellow original book, but it will not be considered for inclusion. At this time, we will restrict player submitted books to player written content. MAB.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2023, 12:59:23 PM by MAB77 »
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MAB77

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Re: In-Game Book Submissions Thread (Read The First Post Before Posting)
« Reply #32 on: August 04, 2023, 08:00:51 AM »
FYI, although it is far off in the future with a totally unknown ETA, we are working on the next HAK update already. Now is the time to submit your entries about your closured characters for the next Vault of Remembrance update. Other kind of books still accepted too.

Please keep it to a single book submission per thread, this makes it easier for us to process.
Best Regards!
MAB

Dev. Relationist for the Dark Powers.
1 Castle Road, Castle Ravenloft, Village of Barovia.

MAB77

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Re: In-Game Book Submissions Thread (Read The First Post Before Posting)
« Reply #33 on: September 10, 2023, 07:35:02 AM »
FYI you have one week left to submit books the next HAK update. The deadline is September 17th. Anything coming after will only be considered for the subsequent HAK.
Best Regards!
MAB

Dev. Relationist for the Dark Powers.
1 Castle Road, Castle Ravenloft, Village of Barovia.

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Re: In-Game Book Submissions Thread (Read The First Post Before Posting)
« Reply #34 on: September 11, 2023, 03:24:08 PM »
Title: Magic and its Influence on Society
Icon (book's appearance, if known): iit_book_044
Suggested locations: Houlgraves', Port-a-Lucine library, Society of the Erudite bookshelves

Spoiler: show

I. Introduction

This text is an examination of how the presence of magic and the belief in it, whether founded or not, has affected society ever since our ancient ancestors first started smearing their dead with ochre. To note, I'll be referring to both arcane and divine magic as well as using sorcerer and sorcery as catch-all terms, to reflect how the subject is viewed by the layman ignorant of their technical definitions and differences.

Despite the above qualification, it is important to note the academic definition: "Magic is a belief that the whole world is an ordered, interconnected system and that practitioners  can control the relationships between objects to create a desired result." Sometimes the action is a basic application of symbolism known as "simple sorcery" or "mechanical sorcery" - sticking pins in a doll to create pain, for example, or placing a knotted cord under an enemy's bed to cause impotence. Other forms, referred to as "complex sorcery" by scholars, involve invoking a god or compelling a spirit to execute actions the sorcerer is incapable of performing. In both simple and complex sorcery, the magic works through principles of symbolism and power transference, with the action fitting the result.

II. Rare, Mysterious and Magnificent

Modern Dementlieu is well acquainted with magic, it is both studied and practiced to the point of having become another kind of commodity or equipment like the spear or musket. As a result of this proliferation much of the mystique surrounding it has been dispelled over the years. Much, but not all, as evidenced by street performers and shows such as those hosted in the Club l'Artiste that continue to draw in crowds. Clearly its appeal remains strong, and it is only more so in those places less advanced and enlightened, where magic has to be kept secret and unknowable, hiding deep in the earth or resting at the dangerous corners of the world. And who could fault those drawn to the idea of it? It is a rare soul who would honestly not be tempted upon learning that it is possible to call the tides to wash away their enemies, or bend physics and foresee the future, or summon beings so alien and terrible that they can barely be harnessed, or transform into wild beasts.

III. Words and Symbols

As mentioned earlier, magic is by definition a symbolic act. Practitioners perform a representative action and cause a corresponding result. To briefly list the potential components that could into the equation, they are verbal, somatic, material, focus, divine focus, and one's own being. Here I will touch on only the most commonly used of these - verbal and somatic, or otherwise said, magic words and gestures.

Cultures all around the world understand that hand symbols have power, from the simple warding gesture commonly wielded by the people of Barovia, to the sign of the Priestly Blessing, which was mentioned to me as something considered so powerful that congregants are not allowed to see it out of respect for the divine. Even modern, educated people respect and fear hand gestures. Don't believe me? Here's an experiment: Tomorrow, go give your parent or employer the middle finger. Not behind their back, right in their face. What, no? Why not? What's it going to do, hurt them?

No, it won’t, not physically, but that symbol has powerful meaning. It, quite literally, communicates a curse word. Most profanity, in fact, comes from literal cursing. An ever popular one is the simple utterance of "damn you", which condemns its target to an eternity of torture, although I am sure the reader can well think of many others which would shake the serenity of this republic, were they to be shouted in polite society.

And that brings us to magic words. The fact that words carry weight is also something we understand intuitively. You don't swear in class or in front of your grandparents, not because the words themselves are inherently powerful but because of what they communicate, the negative emotions they reveal in the speaker, and the ones they create in the listener. Of course, there are words with quite literal power behind them. The idea of forbidden words, mighty incantations that can sweep enemies aside or calm the skies, is something that speaks to us on a primal level, even in those who have never seen an arch-wizard ply his craft. The very idea of it is something passed down to us from the earliest recesses of memory and pre-history.

IV. Calling the Gods

As mentioned earlier, "simple sorcery" involves causing an effect by symbolic action, while "complex sorcery" necessitates the invocation of a divine or spiritual entity. What's interesting about divine magic is that it always comes with conditions. Priests are often called to be champions of the church's causes, and their blessings came with conditions that are, in effect, a code of conduct. Thus recognizing the heraldry of a priest or a divine warrior remains a front-loaded impression of what one might expect from them. The Wardens of Ezra, for example, are welcomed in Dementlieu, while a Kontor of the Lawgiver from Nova Vaasa would be at best tolerated and viewed with suspicion.

V. Thousands of Things, Sinister and Dark

In this enlightened society there is an effort to present magic as a neutral force, only as good or bad as the person wielding it, although an exception is made under the law for necromantic practices. But there's a general sense that we shouldn't consider magic and magic-users as inherently evil. This, however, is an idea that only seems to arise when the use of magic is widely proliferated. Look to those societies where it is tightly controlled, whether by the chosen few who tower above the rest in the Red Academy of Hazlan, or barely tolerated and even then only in its most benign forms such as in Tepest or Barovia, and you will find the idea of the sorcerer as a servant of darkness deeply embedded in the cultural memory.

To some extent this also explains the enduring appeal of a narrative where non-magical characters face down otherworldly powers is. The story of the monster hunter versus the creatures of the night, for example, will always be a compelling one, whether as entertainment, a moral to pass on, or both.

I mentioned Barovia just now, but that is only an illustrative example of something found across any similarly developed nation, be it today or in millennia past. Villagers fear witches because of their purported ability to blight crops, kill livestock, turn into vicious animals, kill children and cause sickness - in other words, the things villagers fear most. Historically and in literature, magical forces have symbolized society's worries about nature, the ravages of time or our own desires.

VI. Magic as a Corrupting Influence

The message, old as time, is that power can harm the person wielding it if he or she doesn't use it judiciously - and that even possessing such power may be harmful.

There's also the idea of sacrifice. As a prerequisite for attaining vast power, sorcerers often have to give up something equally powerful. Depending on their circumstances it could be years of their life devoted to study rather than love and family. Alternately, it could mean becoming an outcast from society, hated and feared by their fellows. Regardless, anyone who deals in magic is seen as part of something greater, an awesome and terrifying force that requires them to make sacrifices and modify their behavior from what is considered normal. Magic is a ward against danger, a weapon against evil and a river of energy - one that runs deep and dark enough to drown an unwary dabbler, and potentially anyone around them.

Dr. Medb Neasa


//Book added to HAK update 2.30. MAB.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2023, 02:52:51 PM by MAB77 »

MAB77

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Re: In-Game Book Submissions Thread (Read The First Post Before Posting)
« Reply #35 on: June 12, 2024, 11:58:14 PM »
Title: A Merchant's Diary
Icon: Any
Suggested locations: Any

The identity of the diary's author, his current whereabouts, and how this tome found its way to the Core are a complete mystery. The cover of the book seems to have been slashed by claws.

Entry 1 - 1st of Flamerule, 1374 DR

Today, I received an unexpected visitor at my home. Lord Darius, a nobleman of questionable repute, arrived unannounced. I have never liked the man; he is arrogant and secretive. He claims to have business propositions that could benefit both of us. Despite my reservations, I agreed to entertain him for the evening. He brought a fine bottle of wine as a gesture of goodwill.

Entry 2 - 2nd of Flamerule, 1374 DR

The wine Darius brought is exquisite. We shared a bottle over dinner last night, and I must admit, it is the finest I have ever tasted. Darius spoke of opportunities in trade routes and exclusive goods. His words were convincing, but I remain wary. There is something in his eyes that unsettles me. Still, the wine eased my suspicions, and I found myself agreeing to consider his proposals.

Entry 3 - 3rd of Flamerule, 1374 DR

Darius visited again today, this time with another bottle of that remarkable wine. As we drank, he spoke of power and influence, of how our partnership could elevate us above our peers. I felt a warmth spreading through me, not just from the wine but from his words. They seemed to make perfect sense. The more I drank, the more I saw the wisdom in his plans.

Entry 4 - 5th of Flamerule, 1374 DR

I am beginning to look forward to Darius' visits. He brings a new bottle of wine each time, and with it, new ideas. Today, he proposed that we expand our operations to the coastal cities. His knowledge of the market is impressive. I find myself trusting him more each day. Perhaps I was wrong about the man. The wine, too, has a delightful effect, making our conversations seem profound and enlightening.

Entry 5 - 8th of Flamerule, 1374 DR

The wine has become a nightly ritual. I cannot remember the last time I felt so invigorated. Darius's plans are now my plans. Together, we will dominate the trade routes and crush our competition. He suggested a formal partnership, and I agreed without hesitation. It feels as though a fog has lifted, and I can see the future clearly.

Entry 6 - 12th of Flamerule, 1374 DR

Darius has moved into my estate. It seemed the natural thing to do, given our partnership. We spend our days planning and our nights drinking that divine wine. My dreams have become vivid and strange, filled with serpentine imagery and whispered promises. Darius says it is a sign of our impending success. I believe him.

Entry 7 - 15th of Flamerule, 1374 DR

Something odd is happening. My thoughts feel less like my own. Darius's voice echoes in my mind, guiding my decisions. I have started to defer to him in all matters. The wine, which once brought such clarity, now seems to cloud my judgment. Yet, I cannot stop drinking it. Darius assures me it is all part of the process, and that we are on the cusp of greatness.

Entry 8 - 18th of Flamerule, 1374 DR

My servants have noticed the changes. They whisper among themselves, casting worried glances my way. Darius has dismissed several of them, claiming they were disloyal. I did not argue. I find myself agreeing with him more and more. The wine flows freely, and with each glass, my old self fades further away.

Entry 9 - 20th of Flamerule, 1374 DR

I confronted Darius today, demanding to know what was happening to me. He smiled and poured me another glass of wine. As I drank, he revealed his true nature. He is yuan-ti, a serpent in human guise. The wine is infused with a subtle venom, a concoction designed to erode my will and bind me to his own. I should have been horrified, but instead, I felt a perverse sense of relief. Finally, everything made sense.

Entry 10 - 25th of Flamerule, 1374 DR

Darius told me of a secret ritual that would make me more like him, that would give me power and the wisdom of Mersshaulk, the god of the yuan-ti. Though it may be deadly, I cannot imagine returning to my old ways now that I finally see the truth of what should be.

Entry 11 - 30th of Flamerule, 1374 DR

I survived. I was ill and in pain for a few days but I shed my old skin like a molting snake. I am now a faithful servant of Lord Darius. My thoughts, and my actions, are aligned with his desires. The transformation is complete. The wine, once a tool of manipulation, is now my sustenance. I see the world through Darius' eyes, and it is beautiful. Together, we will reshape the trade routes and bring others under our control.

Entry 12 - 3rd of Eleasis, 1374 DR

I had my remaining servants poisoned. Their purpose was spent and I certainly could not have them gossip. There was nothing evil in that act, just simple pragmatism. Our plans are in motion. The cities of the Sword Coast are within our grasp. Darius has begun to introduce me to his other followers. We are a brotherhood, a serpent cult disguised as a trading company. The power we wield is intoxicating. I no longer resist. I embrace my new identity, my new purpose.

Entry 13 - 10th of Eleasis, 1374 DR

A strange fog engulfed my ship today. We should have reached port hours ago but the incompetent navigator got lost at sea. Lord Darius will be angry with this delay. The sky is constantly overcast wherever we look, with lightning scouring the clouds. I've never seen the Sea of Swords like this. It's not raining but a storm will likely hit soon. A lighthouse has been spotted in the distance. It looks like my luck is finally about to turn for the best.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2024, 06:14:00 AM by MAB77 »
Best Regards!
MAB

Dev. Relationist for the Dark Powers.
1 Castle Road, Castle Ravenloft, Village of Barovia.