Eclipse – The Shadow Elves

   Next up we have a race which is currently coming into play – the Shadow Elves.

   The ancestors came to the Twilight Isles long ago. Perhaps they were already one people, perhaps they were of several variant races – but they were relatively few, and their children were soon enough a new race – the Shadow Elves.

   The Shadow Elves have, over the centuries, adapted somewhat to the continuous flux of magic in the Twilight Isles. The children who could handle that flow of power, or, better yet , instinctively channel it into personal augmentations, lived.

   The others burned out, and died young – usually before leaving any children to follow after them.

   Today, that magic is an inborn part of the Shadow Elves, so instinctive that most are not even aware of it – save for when they attempt to carry too many external magical devices. Charms and Talismans, which channel the energy they naturally radiate, are no problem. Relics, which amplify and focus their own abilities are no problem – although they can only use a limited number of such things before overload problems again rear their heads. External magic items, which pollute the natural flow of magic, are a bit like carrying around a personal cloud of toxic gas. The Shadow Elves can tolerate a few such items, but their tolerance for such things is strictly limited.

   Shadow Elf Racial Modifiers:

  • Self-Development: +2 to any one attribute (12 CP)
  • Nightsight: Occult Sense/Low-Light Vision (6 CP).
  • Use of Charms and Talismans: Purchased as Shaping, Specialized and Corrupted for increased (level one and weak level two) effects/can only produce the effects for which the user has the appropriate foci ready, can only support a limited number (seven and three) of minor charms and more notable talismans at one time, charms and talismans are modestly expensive (and thus are limited by wealth and lifestyle) and take some time to attune for use (6 CP).
  • Relic Use: Double Enthusiast, Specialized in Relics for Increased Effect (may use 4 CP worth of relics, 6 CP)
  • Inherent Magic: Innate Enchantment, all abilities unlimited use-activated, personal-only (x.7 cost) where applicable. 12,000 GP base value (13 CP).
    • +2 Intelligence (1400 GP).
    • +2 Dexterity (1400 GP).
    • Immortal Vigor I (+2d6 – effectively 12 due to at-will use, +2x Con Mod HP, 1400 GP).
    • Warding Rune (1 + Caster Level/3, +4 max, resistance bonus on saves, 1400 GP).
    • Dancing Lights 1/Day (200 GP).
    • Detect Magic 1/Day (200 GP).
    • Faerie Fire 1/Day (400 GP).
    • Fast Healing 1 (up to a maximum total of 16 points of damage per day, 280 GP), and
    • Magic Weapon 1/day (400 GP).
      • Every Shadow Elf bears the heritage of a particular House – abilities which simply run in their bloodlines. The abilities are transmitted with reasonable consistency through the mother, although oddities do occasionally pop up – possibly starting a sport bloodline if in a female.
      • Enhance Attribute/+2 to Str, Con, Wis, or Chr (1400 GP).
      • Skill Mastery/+3 to a particular group of skills (1400 GP). Common groups include those linked to a particular attribute, stealth-related skills, scholarly skills, priestly skills, travelers skills, and many other groups.
      • Any single first-level spell permitted by the game master (2000 GP).
    • Immunity/Stacking limits when combining innate enchantment effects with external effects (Common, Minor, Trivial – only covers L1 effects, 2 CP).
    • Immunity/Dispelling and Antimagic (Common, Major, Epic, Specialized and Corrupted/only protects innate enchantments that provide personal augmentations, 9 CP).
    • Immunity/the normal XP cost of Innate Enchantments (Uncommon, Minor, Trivial [only covers first level effects at caster level one], Specialized/only to cover initial racial abilities, 1 CP).
  • Environmental Awareness: Augmented Bonus/may add their Int Mod to their scores in wisdom-related skills (Heal, Listen, Profession, Sense Motive, Spot, and Survival, 6 CP). +2 bonus to Search (2 CP).
  • Magic Resistant: Resist/+2 bonus to Saves versus Spells (3 CP).
  • The Shadow Elves also suffer from a minor racial disadvantage; they are inherently enchanted, and so can be readily spotted – and their houses identified – by a simple Detect Magic spell unless they take special measures to prevent this (-3 CP).

   That has a net cost of 63 CP – normally resulting in a +1 ECL race. Whether fortunately or unfortunately, however, the entire package is Specialized/the Shadow Elves can only use Relics who’s cost can be covered by the points available from their Enthusiast allotment and can only tolerate (Con) “points” worth of regular magic items – and the “point” cost of any given item is up to the game master (as a rule, low-level single-charge items are little trouble, spell storing items are only moderately troublesome, and permanently active personal enhancement items are very troublesome). Annoyingly enough, this limit also affects temporary external spells – although their short-term nature means that the limit is increased by the user’s (Con Mod). That brings them down to 31 CP – right at the limit for a +0 ECL race.

   It’s a good thing that their innate abilities are fairly formidable, because they’re going to have to rely on them quite a bit more than most characters do – one reason why many of them buy the Empowerment ability, Specialized in their racial talents, so as to upgrade those abilities effective casting level.

Uncontrolled Substances II – Kos and Narhan

   First up for tonight, here we have the next couple of entries in the “fantastic drugs and compounds” list.

   Kos (Awakener, Dawnfire) is a musty, grayish, powder, with a flavor vaguely reminiscent of cinnamon and vanilla. Sub-clinical doses of related compounds – such as are found in natural vanilla beans and the seedpods of several related orchids – are very flavorful, and become increasingly so as they take effect. Sadly, producing Kos from it’s natural precursors requires extensive alchemical work. In it’s final form, Kos is a sensory heightener and – at higher does – an extender, capable of extending the user’s senses beyond the physical capabilities of his or her sensory organs, an apparently magical effect. Kos is mildly psychologically addictive, and may induce a mild fever – possibly due to over-excitement – but is physically harmless. While massive doses may extend the duration or boost the dosage level (depending on purity and the delivery method), the only way in which Kos can harm a normal creature is through the confusion and mental overstimulation induced by the sensory overload. Kos is often used as a recreational drug, combined with aphrodisiacs (or reputed aphrodisiacs) by those who wish to heighten those sensations, taken by those who wish to be exceptionally alert for a time, or forced upon torture victims.

   Dosage Levels:

  1. Raises the users senses to a remarkably keen – but not inhuman – level. While this greatly boosts the users effective perception, it renders him or her very vulnerable to sensory-based assaults and to pain. As a rule, Kos takes effect relatively slowly, so the effects of a dose will start off at this level, gradually ascend to the peak effect, and then gradually fade away again.
  2. Grants the user “hypersenses” – raising his or her senses to an impossible peak. Users can track like a bloodhound, detect poison by its odor, and crack safes by feeling the movement of the tumblers. The senses of sight, touch, hearing, scent, and taste are all extended to the inhuman level. Unfortunately, the user can very easily be temporarily stunned or injured by relatively normal stimuli – such as a simple loud noise.
  3. In addition to the effects of dosage level two, dosage level three extends the range of the users senses, letting him or her see into the infrared and ultraviolet, hear the squeaks of bats and the subsonic rumbles of the deep earth, and taste and smell the faintest of odors. Unfortunately, while this greatly increases the amount of data that the user can perceive, it also makes it nearly impossible to focus, causes confusion, and vastly increases the number of things that can annoy the user – most classically, frantic itching. It takes a well-disciplined mind and great powers of concentration to actually focus on anything at this dosage level or higher.
  4. In addition to the previous effects, dosage level four boosts the users senses to the point where the most mundane stimulai are acutely painful. Things that would normally be painful are beyond description. This level is occasionally used for torture, but it has few other applications.
  5. At this level the users normal senses begin to fade into a background of “white noise” – amplified to the point where the input of the basic physical senses is overloading the brains capacity to deal with it. Oddly enough, this isn’t much of a hindrance at this level, since this allows the now-amplified low-level psychic senses inherent in most living creatures to come into play. While the user tends to be a bit fuzzy on the physical level, remarkable insights can be made on the mental level. Sadly, few people seem to be able to remain coherent as the effect builds up through the lower levels of effect.
  6. Dosage level six so overloads the sensory centers of the brain that all sensory feedback from the physical world is lost – leaving the user effectively limited to twitching and drooling. It heightens the user’s psychic senses to an astounding level however, allowing the user to sense and evaluate even the most subtle disturbances or impressions on the psychic level. Unfortunately, the flood of raw information bypassing the senses and pouring directly into the mind is quite likely to drive the user completely mad – and almost always results in some minor lingering derangement.
  7. Ironically enough, dosage level seven produces a fugue state resembling sensory deprivation – resulting from a total overload on both the physical and psychic levels. The usual result is mental paralysis; only those with near-ultimate powers of concentration will be able to do anything at all in this state – and even they will have no way of getting any feedback as to what they’re actually doing. Most victims will go at least temporarily insane from the overstimulation however.

   Narhan (Woundbane) is a bitter, pale yellow, powder or salve. It’s derived from a deep-sea seaweed which – when damaged – repairs itself with astonishing speed. Sadly, during that process, it also attacks animal life nearby, wrapping around it, and growing rootlets into it to feed on it, with equally astonishing speed – and these properties extend to small, separated, pieces. Fortunately, the process soon burns out, and the weed dies if the damage is too extensive – but that will also exhaust the supply of Narhan which could otherwise be extracted from it. Harvesting Narhan requires specialized supernatural abilities or the use of inhibiting chemicals in a controlled environment – chemicals which must then be separated from the extracted Narhan before it can be used. Narhan is quite expensive. Fortunately, it’s also extremely potent.

   Narhan is a regenerative stimulant that accelerates and enhances natural tissue-repair and healing processes. It has little effect on the immune system and can be quite dangerous if the would-be user in infected with a macroscopic parasite or growth. As usual, the effect increases as larger and purer doses are taken. It is usually applied in the form of salves or diluted solutions since it must be applied directly to the tissue to be repaired and introducing it into the digestive tract or bloodstream vastly increases the likelyhood of unwanted side effects. Fortunately, Narhan is metabolized during the healing process; all you have to do to make sure that you have all of it out of your system is to wash throughly, administer a purgative if you took some orally, and inflict small injuries on yourself until they cease healing with unnatural speed.

   Dosage Levels:

  1. The users normal healing rate can be increased by anything up to a factor of six, depending on the patient’s physical endurance and the skill of the user. An unskilled user can get the healing rate up to twice normal by simply smearing small amounts of salve directly into a wound, but attempting to achieve higher rates unskilled can easily cause malformations and excessive scarring.
  2. Induces visible-level regeneration, healing wounds amounting to up to 20% of the user’s vitality within a minute. Unfortunately, if applied at this level by anyone but a skilled healer, this is likely to result in horrific scarring, inappropriately fused tissues, and potentially crippling deformities. It invariably leads to at least a slight fever (with most of the heat focuses in the areas so healed), fatigue, ravenous hunger, and a tremendous stress on the organism being treated – effects which continue to apply, and to increase, at higher dosage levels. Using Narhan to heal injuries again before the bodies reserves have had a chance to replenish themselves, or too often, is asking for physical breakdowns, organ failures, exhaustion, and starvation-like symptoms.
  3. At this dosage level Narhan acts as a kind of “flesh glue” – allowing the ready re-attachment of severed limbs (although learning to use the rewired neural connections is likely to take days or weeks), the quick sealing of severed arteries, easy treatment of burns, and instant closing of superficial wounds. Unfortunately, taking a dose this strong internally is very likely to kill, the tissue growth and fusion it induces is almost certain to result in a full or partial blockage of the airway or digestive tract if taken orally and to induce circulatory blockages near the injection site if taken intravenously. Attempts to use it as a poison on weapons have occasionally been made, but are usually ineffective at best, counterproductive at worst. Attempts to use perform transplant surgery using Narhan usually require additional drugs or specialized occult abilities as well.
  4. The (very carefully) medically-controlled application of Narhan at this level allows the induction of minor regeneration – restoring items such as fingers, noses, and toes over a period of hours to days. It does not suffice to induce regeneration of major organs and the central nervous system. In conjunction with supernatural interventions, it can be used to create patchwork creatures, although this rarely works out very well.
  5. Extremely-carefully medically-monitored applications of Narhan at this level can induce the regeneration of major organs and systems – such as entire limbs, vital organs, and portions of the central nervous system, although this requires very careful work to prevent errors in the process and days to weeks. The problem, of course, lies in keeping the patient alive, fed, and metabolizing in the meantime – a process which is distinctly awkward if one is attempting to repair organs such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, or liver. Experiments have been performed in using Narhan to induce the growth of new organs, limbs, and similar dubious “improvements” in creatures, but this requires the use of some very high technology, magic, or psychic effects to properly direct the process.
  6. Doses of Narhan at this level induce cancers in adult organisms, even if only applied to the skin. While extremely hazardous to handle, doses of this potency are used in organ and full-body cloning, since they can induce even a small cell sample to regenerate. Sadly, this requires a specialized life support system – whether technological or supernormal – for practical use.
  7. Doses of Narhan at this level are quickly lethal for conventional organisms, transforming them into an undifferentiated mass of cancerous tissue – an effect is most pronounced on creatures with enhanced healing processes, or regenerative abilities.

   Dependence on Narhan sometimes occurs when it is repeatedly applied at dosage level two or higher. If and when this occurs, the patients body will begin to lose it’s ability to heal itself without additional applications of Narhan (or other aids), which will only exacerbate the problem. Eliminating such dependence is difficult, requiring weeks or months of relying on natural healing only.

   The side effects of Narhan include accelerated aging, increased appetite, jumpiness, “caffeine nerves”, and an increased risk of cancers and wild tissue growths. Careless users have been known to get the higher-purity forms on their skin, and to wake up with parts of their body grown together.