The Silmarils of the Manifold

   Recently the Federation-Apocalypse game has developed a need for an Eclipse Classless d20 version (available in a Shareware Version Here) of Tolkien’s Silmarils – so here’s at least one possible version.


   In the Silmarillion, Tolkien’s Silmarils are primarily MacGuffins – hotly pursued by gods, elves, and half the world for no apparent reason other than being really really pretty. The only group with an actual use in mind – the Valar who want to use the light within them to revive the Two Trees – are about the only group that doesn’t actively pursue them.

   What do we know about the Silmarils?

  • They are virtually indestructible. “But not until the End, when Feanor himself shall return who perished ere the Sun was made, and sits now in the halls of Awaiting and comes no more among his kin; not until the Sun passes and the Moon falls, shall it be known of what substance they were made. Like the crystal of diamonds it appeared, and yet was more strong than adamant, so that no violence could mar it or break it within the kingdom of Arda”.
  • They are “Hallowed by Varda”, and sear the flesh of mortals who touch them – unless, like Beren, there is some touch of fate upon them, or they’re noble, or heroic, or… Well, actually, despite this being a directly-cited effect, they never seem to bother anyone who doesn’t fall into the other categories mentioned – the unclean and those of ill intent. Even then, such individuals can carry and wear them as long as they don’t touch them directly.
  • “The Light of Aman” and “the fates of Arda, it’s earth, it’s seas, and it’s air”, is “locked within them”. Ok, so evidently they’re some sort of focus for the powers of light and destiny. Interesting, if pretty unspecific as to what they might or might not actually be good for.
  • A Silmaril lent dreadful power to the madness of Carcharoth – sufficient for that wolf to ravage the world and defy all the powers of gods and men even as the Silmaril burned within him.
  • The refugees of Gondolin believed that a Silmaril brought them blessing and healing – but no details are provided as to what form such blessings came in or even why they believed that the Silmaril was responsible.
  • Beren, alone among men, returned from the dead – but how great a role was played in this by his having held a Silmaril, none may say.
  • They’re small enough to be carried in a hand, worn on a crown or headband, or incorporated into jewelry.
  • They were unparalleled adornments, and apparently lent some portion of their beauty to those who wore or bore them, as they were said to do to Luthien.
  • They inspire obsession, overwhelming those flawed by greed for wealth, power, or the possession of beauty with an unrelenting and obsessive desire to secure them.

   Little more is said.

   Yet the light of the Sun is powerful enough to give illumination to the world and to drive back the undead and creatures of the darkness across it. With a bit of focusing it is strong enough to melt the toughest of metals. The Moon shines across the world less brightly, but its power of transformation governs the rise and fall of the seas, the lives of werewolves and other shapeshifters, and the pulse of life. Yet the Sun and Moon are but the final Fruit and final Flower of the two trees; the merest residue of their light. The true light of the trees now lives in the Silmarils alone.

   A mere ray of light from a Silmaril, caught within the waters of Galadriel’s Mirror and placed in a crystal vial blazed brightly enough to drive back Shelob, to bring light into dark places, and to silence the two watchers at the tower of Cirith Ungol. Admittedly, this may have been invoked by it’s bearer’s “indomitable spirit”, but neither Men nor Halflings are supposed to have any inherent magical power to draw on. Ergo, the power was already within the light, and merely needed to be called forth.

   Within the indestructible Silmarils is the unfading light of the two trees, the radiance of creation’s dawn. Their power is great – and flawed, like Feanor their creator, who is said to have imbued them with a portion of his essence. It seems that even the pure light of the beginning, like the sun shining through mist, casts shadows and magnifies flaws when it shines through the substance of the material world.

   So: How do we translate the Silmarils into an actual game? In particular – for reasons noted below – into Eclipse: The Codex Persona d20 Point Buy for the Federation-Apocalypse Manifold Campaign?

   Well, we’ll start off with a couple of assumptions.

  • First, that – while there may or may not have been any differences between the Silmarils originally (the fact that reviving the two trees would apparently have involved Feanor unmaking all three may or may not imply that there was), for gaming purposes, we’ll assume that there are some differences between them. Three identical artifacts are boring.
  • Secondarily that they CAN be represented within the game system, that there was a reason why Feanor couldn’t simply make more, and that – being outside their rightful universe – the “fate” locked into them is more or less a moot point. Even on Arda humans are supposed to be able to shape much of their own fates anyway.

   Well, obviously enough, they’re relics. That takes care of the “unique” aspect, and explains why Feanor was so upset about losing them: he had his own personal character points tied up in them. They’re powerful and dangerous and sought by many – but at least a few of their lesser effects can be used without any major consequences. In Eclipse terms that means that they have both normal and specialized (those with some serious downside) powers. Like all powerful relics, they will be eagerly sought and – naturally enough – those who most seek power and dominion will seek them most eagerly and obsessively.

   The basic powers of the Silmarils will aid anyone who bears them – although there is the minor drawback that any display of such blatantly priceless magical gems may attract unwanted attention, since they inspire obsession in those covetous of wealth or beauty. Worse, if you happen to be in (or near) Arda, they may also attrack Morgoth, anyone sworn to the Oath of Feanor, and various servants of the Valar.

  • Each Silmaril provides +2 Charisma (8 CP in settings using the half-cost attributes rule, 16 otherwise)
  • The Silmaril of the Air provides Cloaking; it’s inherent power tends to mask it’s bearer’s magical aura. (4 CP)
  • The Silmaril of the Earth provides +6 to Ritual Magic checks (4 CP)
  • The Silmaril of the Water provides Action Hero/Crafting (4 CP).

   These basic functions make each of the Silmarils a 2-point Relic (at least in the Federation-Apocalypse campaign, which uses the half-price attribute rule). That’s useful and powerful, but it’s not useful or powerful enough to make them such major foci of activity.

   That’s what their greater powers are responsible for.

   Unfortunately, their greater powers are all Specialized: when the greater powers of the Silmarils are used they inspire obsession (as above) whether they’re displayed or not, emit a blatantly obvious power signature, draw enemies who wish to either seize them or prevent the use of such holy artifacts, and magnify the flaws of their wielders – tending to induce insane self-righteousness, overconfidence, and other problems (add three relevant disadvantages). Only the most focused and disciplined minds may resist such effects.

  • Each Silmaril provides seven uses of Channeling (Positive Energy) per day (6 CP), at +4 Intensity (+6 with two, +8 with all three, 3 CP), and +2d6 Magnitude (3 CP).
  • The Silmaril of the Air also grants Censure (Outsiders, 3 CP), Damaging Turning (3 CP), and the complete Tides of Light and Darkness Path (18 CP).
  • The Silmaril of the Earth also grants Censure (Material-Plane Creatures, 3 CP), and the complete Path of Infusions /Complete, with the full Living Matrix function (21 CP).
  • The Silmaril of the Water also grants Censure (Elementals, 3 CP), Conversion (the Secret Fire)/to any Holy Light based effect of up to level six – a level eight invocation effect (12 CP), and Seal of Life from the Planar Bonds Path (3 CP).

   This makes each of the Silmaril’s an eight-point relic, with two points worth of basic powers and six points worth of channeling abilities. Now that would be well worth fighting over even if they didn’t tend to inspire it anyway. Even a basic eight-point relic is basically worth two levels worth of abilities. With the specialized and corrupted modifiers applied, they’re worth even more than that.


   In the Manifold setting all dreams are somewhere made real – and those dreamed by many may be mighty indeed. Of course, in the Manifold, dreams may blend, a thousand alternate versions may be found, and human souls may wander in and out of a thousand roles. The dreams of men may call phantasms and worlds into being, but new souls come only from the Core Reality and the children of its people. While every sentient race of the core has been gifted with immortality, eternity, and every world of which they have ever dreamed, none of them may call a soul into being within a role they have imagined.

   Thus it was that Ryan O’Malley, Captian Calzin, and several other members of the crew of the Soravin, were the first Openers to visit the realm of the Silmarillion, taking on the roles of Feanor and other nobles among the Noldor, finding themselves (at least locally) bound by Feanor’s Oath, and committed to the war against Morgoth.

   Naturally enough, the story took some wild swings from there – although, in the Manifold, the spirits of Men do indeed pass beyond the borders of the world and “deceased” elves may return when another takes that role – the nuclear strike against Morgoth during a peace conference, and the blasting of the Silmarils out of Arda, was not exactly part of the original story. Neither was the period the One Ring spent in a box under a child’s bed in Pennsylvania, the Orcish Invasion of Appalachia, Jayce (a player-character mystic artist) swiping a branch from the Two Trees, accidently delivering it to the distant past of the Slayers anime universe, there inspiring the Water Dragon King to create Zeal (a player-character ice wizard). A thousand years later Zeal embedded his staff – made from that same branch – in the back of Ungoliant (who was draining the light from the world of Slayers), where it took root and blossomed into another tree of light, reclaiming and resurrecting the light that Ungoliant had stolen so long ago – whereupon the characters returned most of the power and light of the new tree to Valinor.

   While the worlds of the Manifold do tend to rest themselves when shaken so violently, items taken out of them remain – including the three Silmarils which had been lost.

   Recently, at least two of them have been found again – one in the depths to the Underdark of Faerun and one in the long-forgotten lore-storehouse of the Gray Knights of the Expanded Universe Star Wars reality.