Montsalvat and the Stone of Destiny

   Evil is easy, attractive, and seductive. Its rewards are ease and wealth, power and pleasure. From petty greed and willful blindness on through the grandiose evil of epic villains, the worlds are filled with it.

   Good is demanding and difficult, and – all too often – its rewards lie only in the realm of personal satisfaction, in the hope that you have, in some small way, made the world a better place.

   Fortunately, Evil is not cooperative. It does not rush to the aid of other evils when they are threatened or seek to leave a legacy for others. It is, by it’s very nature, selfish.

   Thus the forces of the light are forever rallying at strongpoints, finding unexpected aid, locating ancient weapons and legacies, and rescuing each other – whereas the forces of darkness are forever throwing vast legions of expendable minions at the grossly outnumbered heroes and thus fueling drama and epic quests.

   The legend is always the same as well. The forces of light teeter on the edge of oblivion. The last, shining, heroes of the age hold a final fortress or bastion of civilization, the last barrier before the dark hordes would reach the peaceful lands beyond. Some fall, but their sacrifice suffices to halt the advance of the forces of darkness.

   The wounded and the dead are laid to rest within the walls of that fortress – which then fades into legend with the surviving heroes, leaving behind only a promise that the heroes will return once more to provide aid in the realms darkest hour.

   Arthur and Merlin, Bran the Blessed. Matthias, Charlemagne, Constantine, Fionn mac Cumhaill, Ogier, Rodrigo, Owain, Barabossa, Väinämöinen, Tecumseh, William Tell, Theseus, Thomas the Rhymer, and many more, all await a final battle, when all other hope is gone and there is no other choice than empire, to rise once more with their retainers and ride forth.

   Now seems to be that time. It is a time when the current heroes of the land will not suffice, when seeking out an ancient legend represents a final chance at salvation – for at the core of that legend lies a kernel of truth.

      Montsalvat is, indeed, a bastion of the light, a place of heroes, and a final hope. It is the legacy of ages past, and an enduring dream. It is the final gift of long-forgotten heroes to the peoples of the worlds, and it has been polished and perfected across the ages.

It is a combination of a Ward Major and a Heartstone of tremendous power – and if a group of heroes can seek it out, they may indeed find therein the power to save their world.

   Of course, by the time they find it, deal with whatever mess it’s entangled in at the moment, and gain a share of it’s power, they may well be ready to save their world anyway.

   “You have finally found the resting place of Oskavin, Champion of Legend! Sadly, he will NOT be able to return with you to your world and save you because he’s long dead! The locals will, however, offer to train you to take his place and meet the demon horde in battle!”

   Oh well. At least the place will give our heroes a substantial boost. To that end it has a well-trained militia, several different knightly orders and groups which can provide training, numerous temples to the various gods of light, master craftsmen to create equipment, and the option to consult the Ward itself – which is one of the greatest sources of information in existence.

   Physically, Montsalvat is a beautiful city, a well-designed and most formidable fortress*, and a modest realm; the power of the Ward covers a radius of slightly more than twelve miles. It’s purpose is to host, train, and enhance heroes – and to be a bulwark against the powers of darkness. To that end it occasionally moves itself between the worlds, appearing where civilization is in peril and – indeed – where all other hope is lost.

   It has to do that. There is only one of it, and there are always a hundred spots under attack.

   *If using Eclipse, it will have been designed by a very powerful mystic artist, and will incorporate a variety of useful features therefrom.

   Montsalvat:

  • Rank-12 Epic Ward (320,000 GP and 204,800 XP to create after applying the Realm, Cooperative, Controlled, and Virtually Indestructible modifiers. It has a “purchase price” of about 1.6 million GP – if you ignore the city, which is a required component. Overall? Probably tens of millions of gold pieces).
  • Int 36, Wis 26, Cha 40, Ego 61. Lawful Good. Note that the Ward has enhanced it’s attributes through Wishes and through level advancement – but is now at the limits of it’s potential.
  • Skill Points: 17 x (12 base + 40 levels; twenty of Cleric and twenty of Wizard) = 816, with a maximum level of +51 – or sixteen maxed-out skills (twenty after Adept). These will include Diplomacy, Gather Information, all eight Knowledges, Listen, Sense Motive, Spellcraft, Spot, and six other skills of choice. The Ward receives an additional +10 bonus when using sensory skills within itself.
  • Feats: Material Link, Returning (as long as any of it’s residents survive, the Ward can be rebuilt), Augmented Bonus (Adds Cha Mod to Knowledge Skills for another +15), Occult Sense/Reading the Heart, Shaping (can produce minor magical effects in the immediate vicinity), +3 Skill Focus, Stunt, and Epic Stunts with Knowledge Religion and Spellcraft (providing access to Epic Spellcasting in both the Clerical and Wizard styles), Healing Touch, Occult Sense/where to intervene, Adept x2 (Buys all knowledge skills at half cost), Leadership, Five Wizard Bonus Feats (mostly item creation) and two Feats of Choice.
  • Speaks: Common and thirteen additional languages, reads all languages and magic.
  • Senses: Vision, Darkvision, Blindsense, and Hearing out to 120′.

   Minor Powers (6) :

  • Industry. Mundane productivity is multiplied by a factor of seven within the Ward.
  • Beauty: The warded area is exceptionally lovely, and the residents gain a +2 Morale Bonus to their saves, BAB, and armor class while defending the area.
  • Enduring: The structures, and features of the landscape, of the Ward gain SR 30 and triple their normal hardness.
  • Oracle: The Ward can communicate with it’s residents through the Stone of Destiny.
  • Lore: Those looking out from the cities towers can discern the shadows of rising evil, even in distant realms.
  • All residents are protected by a continuous Protection From Evil effect.

   Major Powers (5)

  • 3x Distant Gifts. Everyone who is accepted by the Ward forever after enjoys Longevity (aging at one-tenth the normal rate), Warcraft (gaining a bonus d10 hit die, +2 BAB, and proficiency with shields, light and medium armor, and simple and martial weapons), and Immunity to Curses, Charms, and malevolent Enchantment effects.
  • Eldritch Ban. Montsalvat inflicts five negative levels on all evil creatures which venture within its borders.
  • Tithe. Montsalvat absorbs a tiny portion of all experience gained within it’s borders. Over several millennia, this has raised it to it’s maximum possible level – forty – and provided plenty of experience with which to make items and enchantments for it’s residents and to develop a wide array of epic spells.

   Montsalvat – of course – also boasts a number of magical features, including most of the items to be found in the Social Magic Items chapter of The Practical Enchanter – but those chiefly make life more convenient for it’s residents.

   Awesome Powers (4)

  • Mobile: Montsalvat – in theory – resides where it was created, basking in celestial light upon the borders of the higher planes. In fact, it travels the myriad worlds, always appearing at the borders of civilization where the forces of darkness threaten. There, in a hidden valley, atop an isolated mountain peak, or astride a vital pass, Montsalvat will be found, blending smoothly into the area as if it had always been there. There it will remain until it is no longer needed or until it’s very walls are being overrun. In either case, after a brief period of recovery, it will soon be found in some other, similar, location.
  • Distant Gift: Anyone the Ward accepts as a resident is forever afterwards granted the ability of major power of Recovery; ten times per day, up to once per round, they will heal as if a full day had passed – including recovering attribute damage and throwing off negative levels. This effect will activate automatically when needed.
  • Overlay: Montsalvat has multiple aspects: it can accommodate life forms with radically different needs, selectively inflict a variety of terrain penalties, allow visitors to find it in ruins – or even as a virgin wilderness – and it can even overlay itself on an existing city and terrain. This makes for some confusing mapping if you’re not used to the place.
  • Air of Magic: The Ward bestows the Half-Celestial template upon it’s residents – an effect which will persist for 2d6 days after they depart it’s area of effect.

   The Stone of Destiny:

   The Stone of Destiny is the Altar of the Eternal Flame in the Tabeshveli Cathedral – in the hall of the guardians – in the center of Montsalvat. From the cathedrals towers, the pure of heart can see across the worlds to wherever the darkness gathers.

   There it is surrounded by the elder knights of the order of Marzdari – and by the heroes who have been laid to rest there. It is said that, with each hero who returns to Tabeshveli to be interred and to take his or her eternal rest there, the altar’s flame grows brighter.

   Those who can stand before that flame undaunted, and face both the emissaries of the higher planes and their own darknesses, may train to join the order, and share in the power which the stone offers to it’s chosen champions.

   The Stone of Destiny has been known by many names on many worlds, but it is – at its heart – simply a Rank-12 Heartstone which has – over the millennia – been imbued with a full load of minor, major, and awesome powers.

   No, on second thought, there’s no “simply” about that. Any item which can bestow a couple of hundred thousand gold pieces worth of enchantments on every single member of a major order is not “simply” anything. It’s a major power, and may have a greater impact on the worlds than many gods do – just like Montsalvat itself.

   The Stone of Destiny:

  • Sentience Rank 12 (21,000 GP), Int 36, Wis 24, Cha 20, Ego 61. Lawful Good.
  • 180 Skill Points: +15 Base in Diplomacy, Gather Information Heal, Knowledge (All of them, at a total of +35 – and granting a +4 assistance bonus with those skills), Listen, Sense Motive, Spellcraft, and Spot. All of it’s knights automatically receive a +2 assistance bonus on checks using those skills.
  • Feats: Material Link, Returning (as long as any of it’s knights survive, the stone can be quested for and – eventually – restored, no matter how throughly destroyed it may have been), Augmented Bonus (Adds Wis Mod to Knowledge Skills), Occult Sense/Reading the Heart, and Shaping (can produce minor magical effects in the immediate vicinity).
  • Speaks: Common and thirteen additional languages, reads all languages and magic.
  • Senses: Vision, Darkvision, Blindsense, and Hearing out to 120′.
  • Spell Formula Storage Limits: L0: 90, L1: 80, L2: 70, L3: 60, L4: 50, L5: 40, L6: 30, L7: 20, L8: 15, and L9: 12.
  • Characters who take the Heartstone Attunement feat can draw on the Stone’s powers whereever they may be – and those powers include:

   Primary Powers (6):

  • Sense The Darkness: Detect Evil at will at Caster Level One = 8000 GP.
  • Aura of Light: Protection from Evil at Caster Level One, continuous effect, but only affects the linked character and anyone he or she is touching at the moment (x.8) = 6400 GP.
  • Whistle up the Wind: Summon Warhorse (as per Summon Natures Ally I, but summons a light or heavy warhorse and tack) = 8000 GP.
  • The Seal of Light: The Lesser Seal of Solomon (on this site) at Caster Level Nine, Once Per Day (x.2), only usable on the linked character (x.7), only protects the powers bestowed by the Stone of Destiny (x.7) = 10,080 GP. The various powers bestowed by the Stone of Destiny cannot be Dispelled.
  • Voice of Authority: (Amplify Voice; the user can easily make himself heard across a crowded battlefield and gains a +3 circumstance bonus to Intimidate checks) = 8000 GP.
  • Unseen Squire: Unseen Servant, only to bring weapons, assist in donning, removing, or floating in armor, taking care of steeds, etc (x.7) = 5600 GP.

   Extraordinary Powers (5):

  • Spell Link: This is the basic Heartstone power, allowing spellcasters linked to the stone to use it to create a Spell Pool. Details can be found in The Practical Enchanter (48,000 GP).
  • The Healing Hand: Greater Invocation/Any healing effect of level four or less (including Remove Curse, Neutralize Poison, Remove Disease, Etc), Level Five at Caster Level Nine, only usable three times per day (x.6) = 54,000 GP.
  • Strength of Purpose: Heroism (+2 morale bonus on attacks, saves, and checks), Spell Level Two, Caster Level Three, only works on the linked character (x.7) = 33,600 GP.
  • Inner Strength; Immortal Vigor II (+24 + 4x Con Mod HP), Spell Level Two, Caster Level Three, only works on the linked character (x.7) = 33,600 GP.
  • Prayer of Banishment: Dispel Magic at Caster Level Five, usable twice per day (x.4) = 48,000 GP.

   Awesome Powers (4):

  • Inspiration of the Light: Grants any two Feats other than Very Complex Mental Feats (such as Augment Summoning, advanced Metamagics, and Item Creation Feats) which a character would otherwise qualify for (Anything up to Complex Mental Feats [L3 Base] allowing selection from a Large Group [+2 Levels] but not allowing skipping prerequisites [+0 Levels] and granting Two Feats [+1 Level] = Level Six (and caster level twelve). Feats may not be changed once selected except by learning one or both of them, in which case the user can select replacements (x.8), require at least a month of practice to acquire (x.8), and can only be granted to the linked character (x.7) = 258,048 GP.
  • Sight of Heaven: Greater Warding Rune at Caster Level 12. Provides a +6 Resistance Bonus to all Saving Throws. Can only be granted to the linked character (x.7) = 201,600 GP.
  • The Forge of the Eternal Flame: Holy Weapon (a level five variant on Holy Sword) at Caster Level Twelve. This works on any weapon, but is otherwise equivalent to Holy Sword. Only works on the linked characters weapons (x.7), only works on weapons which have been specifically blessed at the Altar of the Eternal Flame (x.7) = 235,200 GP.
  • The Light Eternal: Heavenly Wild Puppet Technique (allows the user to continue functioning for Con Mod + 6 rounds after being incapacitated or “killed”, during which time he or she can be healed normally, on this site), Level Six at Caster Level Twelve, Three Times Per Day (x.6), only works on the linked character (x.7) = 241,920 GP.

   OK. Here we have two grotesquely potent items, working together to be a plot device – or a way to abruptly promote everyone in the party into the epic levels. It’s also an excellent retirement for overly-powerful heroes; they get even more power, and a chance to once more ride to the rescue (and to continue to do so without end) – while being neatly eased out of the campaign until you have an epic level storyline ready for them.

   Secondarily, of course, once the characters are away from Montsalvat proper, they will continue to enjoy the benefits of it’s Distant Gifts, and any who have managed to join the Marzdari will continue to gain the powers the Stone of Destiny bestows – but those are a lot less impressive than the powers of the Ward itself.

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3 Responses

  1. Looking these over, a significant amount of the power of Montsalvat and the Stone seems to be that they receive feats, which seem to equate to 6 CP per “feat slot” gained, as they are spent on abilities from Eclipse.

    However, looking at the entries for Wards Major and Heartstones in The Practical Enchanter, I can’t see where it says that either of these are supposed to gain feats, only skill points and special powers (though some of the samples listed seem to have feats, which is odd).

    What am I missing in this regard? Are these gaining feats as per the NPC conversion rules in Eclipse? Or is there a rule in The Practical Enchanter that I overlooked (and if so, what’s the metric for determining how many feats a given ward major or heartstone has)?

    • Ah, an easy one! (Even if I am getting to it rather late).

      The note on sapient items getting feats is under the basic Sapience effect on page 82 of The Practical Enchanter: Their “First Level Bonus Feat” is always Material Link (allowing them to bond with an item), and they gain an additional feat at ranks 3, 6, 9, and 12.

      For Heartstones there’s the note on Heartstones bestowing the feats they possess on those linked to them more easily (page 208, first column) and the feats listed for the fully-developed Heartstones on pages 209 and 210.

      Wards Major, as “the result of imbuing a structure or area with sentience”, get feats too – but I didn’t bother listing them (or skills) in most of the examples in The Practical Enchanter because it usually didn’t matter a lot; Wards Major generally function as an environment for adventures or places to claim – not as beings who interact with the player-characters directly. I probably should have supplied some feats for Hendrick’s Tower and Zhandrek Outstation- but the Practical Enchanter is stand-alone, and so I’d have been giving them standard feats which would probably never come into play. Thus even Caer Tenebri only got it’s powers as a ward listed, a note on it’s skills, and a note that it had thirty-six spellcaster levels and “a fine selection of epic spells and devices”. As with the lesser examples, I just didn’t think that statting up a thirty-sixth level caster that most games would never see act directly was worth the space it would have taken up.

      Montsalvat is a full writeup, and thus has it’s feats listed (at least until I ran out of ideas as to what to give it). As usual, it has Material Link as it’s first-rank bonus feat, then gets four more feats for having rank-12 Sapience, Wizard bonus feats for being a 20’th level Wizard, and feats for having forty character levels. I converted Summon Familiar into another wizard bonus feat, simply because I really couldn’t think of an appropriate familiar for a city. I pulled some of it’s feat-based abilities from Eclipse, but didn’t convert to Eclipse for building it’s levels. After all, it wouldn’t need hit dice, or most saves, or a base attack bonus, or much besides more magic – which would have both required a lot more explanation and have made it even more unreasonably powerful.

      The Stone of Destiny – since it has no ability to gain levels – gets Material Link (the standard bonus feat for Imbued Sapience) and four additional feats for ranks 3, 6, 9, 12.

  2. […] Metropolis – a place like Sigil, or Tanelorn, or Cynosure (for a writeup here, see Montsalvat and the Stone of Destiny). Even if it offers less dramatic powers than that, such a city can also afford another 327,000 GP […]

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