Nagakanya, the Handmaid of Kwan Yin, Child Instruction, and the Devotions Of Celestial Mercy

The cherrywood staff is inlaid with adamant quotations from the Lotus Sutra, bears blossoming flowers, and is topped by a golden dragon’s claw clutching a massive, luminous, lunar pearl. It’s soft radiance drives back the night. AC 7, Hardness 20, HP 20 + Spirit HP (see below).

Nagakanya takes the form of a Pathfinder-style (and thus permanent magic item) Staff (can only hold ten charges, but can be recharged at one charge per day through the expenditure of an appropriate spell slot), with a few additional functions.

Staff Functions (Base CL 13, Base Save DC 20):

  • Greater Invocation of Kwan Yin: L7, creates any Conjuration (Healing) effect of up to L6. [L7 x L13 x 800 GP + 5000 GP (50 x 100 GP worth of material components to cover possible costs) x.8 (only works for good characters with a total Heal bonus of at least +10) = 62,240 GP. Note that you will have to either rebuild spells that require material components in excess of 100 GP so that they don’t or supply them.
    • Greater Invocations are basically similar to Limited Wish – but instead of using an expensive component to reduce the level of the basic “can do almost anything within it’s power limits” effect (which is usually about +3 levels over the top level that can be duplicated, -2 for a midrange expensive component) they use drastic restrictions on the type of effect that can be produced.

Nagakanya also has several Wondrous Item functions

  • Self-Charging / Pearl of Power (L7 Spell, only works to make the staff automatically regain one charge per day (x.6) = 29,400 GP.
  • Rod of Bodily Restoration, only works for good characters with a total Heal bonus of at least +10 (2480 GP).
  • Orb of Mental Renewal, only works for good characters with a total Heal bonus of at least +10 (2480 GP).
    • Since these three items do not take up item slots in the first place, there is no special cost for adding these functions to another non-slot item.
  • Healing Belt; Since this IS a slot-based item, adding it’s effects to a non-slot-based item doubles it’s base cost to 1500 GP – but to make things come out even, I’m going to be adding it twice, for 3000 GP and 6 charges (spend one 1/2/3 to heal 2d8/3d8/4d8) per day. (Yes, anyone can use the basic healing function, skilled or not, evil or not).
  • Crystal of Illumination, Lesser (The Pearl); Can shed bright light to 20′, shadowy illumination to 40′ (400 GP).

That gives us a net cost of an even 100,000 GP.


  • Nagakanya has Int 16, Wis 16, Chr 16 (6000 GP), Neutral, Speech and Telepathy (1500 GP), 120′ Senses (1000 GP), +5 Ranks in Heal (2500 GP, net +5 +3 (Wis) +2 (Healing Belt Function) = +10), Amulet of Hands (Practical Enchanter, 4000 GP), Casts Shatter 2/Day (4800 GP) = 19,800 GP, call it 20,000 GP. Ego 21.

Net Cost: 120,000 GP. Note that the creator needs to be able to create all of the “individual items” involved, not just Staves.

As a Follower:

Level Six Follower: 168 CP (Base) + 18 (Bonus Feats) = 186 CP. 27 SP for Int, +1 level bonus to Wisdom. Siddhisyoga Equipment Allowance of 2800 GP (+2 to Wis, 2000 GP).

  • Adept (Heal, Knowledge/Religion, Spellcraft, and Survival, 6 CP). Skills: Heal +19, Knowledge / Religion +12, Spellcraft +12, Survival +13, Speak Language (12 languages), and +3 Specialities in Child Care and Knowledge/Religion/Kwan Yin.
  • The Guiding Star: Major Privilege: Nagakanya may send a dying spirit in his or her vicinity painlessly on to any appropriate afterlife (6 CP). As a special effect, this seems – at least to them and the spirit – like a moment caught out of time for conversation.
  • Looking Within The Shadows: Occult Sense/The Energies of the Spirit World. Nagakanya can detect spirits, undead, the approach of death – and the places where an unnatural disturbance of those cycles requires correction (6 CP).
  • Warden Of The Innocent: Occult Sense/Children: Nagakanya is automatically aware of the current activities, location, and condition of all small children who need watching within a 120′ radius (6 CP).
  • Pedagogue: Leadership, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / she may only recruit youngsters of level one or below, it requires at least two months per level to promote them, any promoted to level two or above will automatically graduate and leave class, these are students, not minions (2 CP).

D20 has a generational problem; in real life a youngster taking over as king, or guildmaster, or whatever, is likely to be a bit less competent than whoever previously held the job – but not too much so. In d20, where the old boss probably had quite a few levels on said replacement, they’re utterly incompetent. Worse, there are no stated rules for teaching*. Ergo… Leadership.

*I considered using Craft/Teaching (Child DC 10, Young Adult DC 15, Adult DC 20), at 1 XP = 1 SP, with the “raw materials” cost being primarily the students time (6 coppers/day for unskilled child labor, with a few coppers her and there for slates and chalk and such) – allowing each student to gain up to 2 XP/Day if focused on learning (apprentices and such, who spend a lot of time on actual work, get less than half that per day – although they generally get more days). Presuming that surviving childhood diseases and accidents is sufficient experience to get from level (-2) to (-1), that 250 XP gets you from (-1) to (0) and 500 XP from (0) to (1), a kid needs about 750 XP to hit level one.

An ordinary first level teacher with a +5 bonus (+4 at L1, +1 attribute bonus) can “Take 10″ and generate 150 XP per week, for a total of 5400 per 36-week school year. A class of thirty kids would need 22,500 XP in total to all reach level one – requiring four to five years of elementary-school education to do so. Intensive tutoring from a master could get a wealthy or noble child there much faster. Of course, the ever-escalating structure of the experience point tables means that – even with a really good teacher – a youngster will soon need to get out and gain experience normally if they want to get to the higher levels.

That was actually pretty reasonable, but it really doesn’t cover where you get an effective successor to a high-level ruler or official. It’s also very slow and rather dull. Thus the use of Leadership; if you take it as a way to train your young relatives, they can start off at a high enough level to be effective in their jobs when they grow up. Of course, since you’ll be splitting up your adventurer-style wealth between them, and they won’t be adventuring nearly as much to gain more funds, they’ll wind up with NPC wealth-by-level instead of PC wealth-by-level. Given the limitations of leadership (“up to the user’s level minus three”) level and inherited wealth will tend to drop as the generations go by – so most dynasties will last for three or four generations at most before someone takes over – unless someone goes out adventuring, earns more levels, and reinvigorates the line of succession.

Of course, you can combine both methods: the commoners get teachers (using Craft/Teaching, and mostly being taught by priests and such), the wealthy and the nobility get to use Leadership – and you wind up with a reasonably stable social structure. Upward mobility comes with being an Adventurer, while the more passive nobility tends to slowly sink back into the lower classes across the generations.

  • Celestial Emissary: Returning (6 CP): Simply breaking the Staff will not keep Nagakanya down for long. To truly destroy “her” you must seek her spirit out on the celestial planes and slay her there before she can reform and return to the material plane.
  • Touch of the Light: Innate Enchantment (8 CP).
    • Arcane Tendril (SL 1 x CL 1 x 2000 GP (Unlimited-Use Use-Activated) = 2000 GP. The user may touch things at Close (25 foot) range. If used to manipulate things, it’s Strength equals the user’s (Int -8) and it’s Dexterity equals the (User’s Wisdom -8) and fine manipulation is impossible in any case.
    • Healing Lorecall (Sl 1 x CL 1 x 2000 GP (Unlimited-Use Use-Activated) = 2000 GP.
    • Cure Minor Wounds (SL 1/2 x CL 1 x x 2000 GP (Unlimited-Use Use-Activated, as a cumulative effect actually limited to (2 x Level – currently twelve) daily uses = 1000 GP.
    • Child Ward (Hedge Wizardry Spell) (SL 1 x CL 1 x 2000 GP (Unlimited-Use Use-Activated) = 2000 GP.
  • Reflexive Guardian: Reflex Training/3 Extra Action per Day variant(6 CP).
  • Hand Of The Goddess: Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized / only for Saving Throws (6 CP)
  • Strength of Will: Finesse: Bases HP on her (Wis Mod) (6 CP). (6d4, 42 HP plus base HP = 62)

The Generous Hands:

  • Create Item, Specialized & Corrupted/only as a prerequisite (2 CP)
  • Harvest of Artifice, Specialized & Corrupted for triple effect/only for use with Transmutation, only to produce cash (6 CP): Provides 300 XP/Month to use with Transmutation..
  • Transmutation, Specialized for Double Effect/only to produce money (6 CP). 300 XP per month will produce 1200 GP per month.
  • Equipage with Purchasing and 80% Returns (18 CP)

This particular power set lets Nagakanya accept offerings and – in return – provide supplies as needed.

  • Blossoming Celestial Radiance: Metamagical Theorems: Area, Extension, and Sculpting, with Streamline V (+4 Area, +3 Extension, +3 Sculpting) and Empowerment (Staves), all Specialized and Corrupted/only works with her basic Greater Invocation function (16 CP). This normally gives her healing effects a 20′ radius of effect, long range, and lets her either reshape the area on the fly as long as she keeps the same volume or select who she wishes to affect within the radius.
  • Heritage of the Dragon: Shaping, Specialized and Corrupted/only as a prerequisite (2 CP), Dragonfire (6 CP), Eye of the Dragon x 3 (Absorb up to 48 spell levels per day, store up to 108, 18 CP), Finesse/Path of the Dragon Abilities are based on Wis, not Con (6 CP), Blessing, Specialized for increased effect/only to share her absorption ability and the use of her Eye of the Dragon spell level pool with her bearer (6 CP). Note that she CAN power the Greater Invocation of Kwan Yin with levels from her Eye of the Dragon pool.

The Devotions Of Celestial Mercy:

  • The Devotions: 6d6 (21) Mana with Reality Editing, Specialized and Corrupted/can only be used for a set of specific reality edits, below (12 CP). The greater the level of the edit used, the larger the area and/or the more dramatically supernatural the effect:
    • Blessing: A blessed child is effectively under the care of a skill 15 Healer at all times until adulthood. If less than one year of age, the child may reroll it’s lowest attribute, although this will never result in lowering it. More powerful blessings may either apply to greater groups or result in low-grade magical assistance (User’s Cha Mod) times before adulthood – a but of direct healing, or protection from a house fire, or some such.
    • Escape: Threatened women, children, and other noncombatants can be offered a chance to take refuge in ways ranging from a passing driver being willing to give them a ride on through room being found on an evacuation train – and up to a giant turtle-island coming by to offer a them a lift.
    • Guardian: Nagakanya can allow a willing individual to place himself or herself between an area – whether that is a humble temple where the villagers are hiding on the low end or a city-state on the high end – and an attacking force. While he or she bars the way and withstands the onslaught, no member of the attacking force may reach the guarded area or harm it’s people.
    • Nativity: The celestial powers can grant children to those who wish for them – in ways ranging from simply granting easy conception and pregnancy to a couple who have been having trouble through opportunities for adoptions and on to outright supernatural events, such as a child (and likely future hero) emerging from a peach.
    • Panacea: A Healing spell gains the capacity to remove one or more additional conditions, such as Crippled (lost limbs, damaged organs, birth defects, and similar), Negative Levels, Attribute Drain and Damage, Petrification, Mind Control, and similar problems (see: Break Enchantment). In general, expanding a Heal spell to do a couple of those is a minor edit, expanding a Cure Light Wounds spell to remove a bunch of conditions is more Grandiose.
      • Yes, Regeneration is in the SRD as an independent level seven spell. – making it harder to restore a limb than to raise someone who’s been dead for a week. It’s a legacy spell anyway of course, given that d20 normally hasn’t GOT any rules for long-term crippling injuries. Worse, you can just take Monstrous Regeneration from Magic of Faerun – a spell which turns everything but fire and acid damage to subdual damage, heals subdual damage at 4/round, and allows the user to regrow limbs (even if the short base duration hinders this) – at level five. Evidently Regeneration is not so big a trick after all – which is why it’s relatively easy to add.
    • Serenity: The Celestial Hand can calm the turbulent powers of nature in ways ranging from calming a flooding stream on up through ending droughts, stopping avalanches, calming a mighty storm, or stilling an erupting volcano. Secondary problems – fires, collapsed buildings, injuries, and so on – will remain, and must be dealt with normally.
    • Sustenance: For the next seven days the common folk and creatures of an area will be able to find – with effort – enough to eat and drink, and sufficient shelter and warmth to survive, despite any famine or food shortage, water shortage, sweltering heat, or arctic cold.
  • Rite of Chi with +8 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted/only usable to restore Mana for The Devotions Of Celestial Mercy, above. (6 CP).

Exactly how powerful are The Devotions Of Celestial Mercy? Well… this is Reality Editing, and so it depends on how well any particular edit fits into the setting and the storyline. Secondarily, of course, d20 is generally a game of heroic fantasy; the characters are usually expected to fix whatever problem they’re presented with. In those terms… why did the oncoming horde choose a route full of chokepoints where a small group could hold them back for lengthy periods anyway? Especially knowing that bands of high-level adventurers are notorious for stunts like that?

The Devotions Of Celestial Mercy allows the game master to present the characters with some overwhelming problem – whereupon the player characters can use a Devotion to cut it down to something they can deal with. So you have stilled the volcanic eruption? There are still injuries, fires, people lost down the crevices that opened up, avalanche victims to be rescued, and the bunch of bad guys who will move in to loot the place. But those are problems that a small group can deal with. They generally can’t deal with thirty square miles of territory being blasted by a pyroclastic cloud short of trying for a major miracle.

Nagakanya is a high-end example of an artifact-follower – and a good illustration of why a character design that doesn’t have to spend points on anything outside it’s focus can be so powerful within those limits. Nagakanya is an immensely powerful device within it’s specialties – but is pretty thoroughly focused on healing and protecting lots of people and is virtually useless outside those specialties.

As written, Nagakanya has 24 unspent CP (thanks to an uncorrected copy-and-paste error. my thanks to Alzrius for pointing that out). I’ll try to get back to this with a suggestion or two for using them, but leaving them available for customization works fine too.

4 Responses

  1. A truly impressive artifact! Between being sentient and having a few levels of its own, this “item” is a force to be reckoned with, even if it is performing a support-style background function.

    I had a few quick questions: for the greater invocation function, is each use considered to be a single charge? I ask because, for Pathfinder staves, some of the more powerful functions take up two or even three charges, but there’s nothing to that effect here.

    Also, for the greater invocation power, I noticed that the pricing formula uses a x800 multiplier, which isn’t on the table on p. 106 of TPE.

    Finally, Nagakanya is given 144 CPs for being level 6, but at that level shouldn’t it have 168 CPs? Did it not gain CPs for level 0?

    • Each use of Greater Invocation is, indeed, a single charge. (The original design used a bunch of different spells, costing various numbers of charges – but, as so often happens, just using a Greater Invocation wound up being a much cleaner and simpler approach).

      The x800 pricing is from Pathfinder. Since I was making a Pathfinder-style item, I used Pathfinder-style pricing. You can do the same thing with Eclipse and The Practical Enchanter (or the original SRD, albeit with a lot of ad-hoc modifiers) of course – but looking at that…

      SL7 x CL13 x 1500 GP (Unlimited-Use Spell Trigger Activation) + 5000 GP (50 x 100 GP worth of material components to cover possible costs) = 141,500. Of course, a Staff gets to use the user’s statistics if they’re better than the staffs and we have several other modifiers to account for. Ergo…

      x1.33 (can use the user’s statistics instead of the items where they’re better) x .9 (can hold a maximum of ten daily “charges”) x .5 (only regains one use per day) x .9 (user must supply an appropriate spell slot to allow recharging) x .8 (only works for good characters with a total Heal bonus of at least +10) = 60,975 GP.

      That involves assigning a fairly arbitrary value to the “can use the user’s statistics instead of the items where they’re better” modifier, comes out about the same, and is more complicated – but comes out very close to the same number.

      And you’re quite right; it should be 168 CP – an adjustment I forgot to make when I copied the line over from something else and made it L6 instead of L5. I think that I will call that a copy-pasta error, and blame the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I shall have to fix that and add a few things).

      Blossoming Celestial Radiance has a typo there. It should indeed be “V”, not “IV”. The price is right though, so that one is really easy to fix.

      The Siddhisyoga option should really have been noted, but the note got left behind in the character (should be posted relatively soon) that got me started making some sapient items. I shall add it here and in the description…

      “In Eclipse followers normally get NPC wealth by level, and will continue to do so without their boss having to worry about it. If their boss or the party in general wants to give them something extra, that’s up to them. Construct Followers get their choice of actual equipment (which works for golems and things) or built-in slotless equipment (equivalent to Siddhisyoga), which is less trouble but effectively halves their allotment since everything costs twice as much as usual.”

      And yes, the +2 bonus to Wisdom applies to the user as well as to Nagakanya. Of course, if you’re interested in Wisdom you’ll probably have better bonuses by the level at which you can afford Nagakanya – but it seemed appropriate.

  2. A few follow-ups: Blossoming Celestial Radiance has four purchases of Streamline, but is granting +10 levels of metamagic, which should cost five.

    Also, giving a free use of Siddhisyoga for Nagakanya’s gear value was unexpected (presumably that’s an inherent function or an intelligent item), but I noticed that the purchased +2 Wis bonus was priced as being 2,000 gp. Does that mean that it can use this on its wielder as well as itself? Because if it could only increase its own Wisdom, that should only cost 1,400 gp, which would then leave another 1,400 gp left over, enough to buy another 1st-level personal-only continuous-use spell.

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