Anomaly – Avrinthos and its Birthrights

While no one is entirely sure of why, the Anomalies realms tend to be laid out in hexagons. It’s hard to be sure how precise that is, since the borders are not always easily detected, some realms seem to occupy more than one hexagon, and the hexagons themselves seem to be roughly 4280 miles across. There are fairly often geographical features that form natural boundaries – but at that scale it’s hard so say if it’s a coincidence or not.

Avrinthos is a mountainous realm, a place of valleys, towering peaks, and hidden places. The climate is generally cool and temperate, and much of the area is heavily forested. Few of the many waterways are navigable for any great distance; there are far too many waterfalls, rapids, and gorges. The occasional great lakes / inland seas, and the rivers feeding them, are the only major exceptions; those often support small kingdoms where the water offers easy access. The highest peaks are often frozen year round and a few even host small glaciers at high altitudes.

Scattered through Avrinthos – often clustered around a way-locus (a place where the barriers between realms are thin) – are many small villages, usually connected only by rough forest tracts. Most host several species, but virtually all of them are heavily defended, fairly primitive by most standards, and extremely insular – suspicious of strangers and with little organized government and “rights” for outsiders. That’s because Avrinthos has been – at least for the last six or seven millenia – a realm of paths and gates, where the dimensional barriers are easily penetrated and a host of other worlds touch upon the “reality” (such as it is) of the Anomaly. Not only are there an atounding number of ways to get on and off the Anomaly there (if only rarely to anywhere you actually want to go), but there are an incredible number of weird creatures that pop up out of the various linked dimensions. It’s likely that nowhere else within many hexes has quite such a random assortment of menaces to deal with.

Currently the characters have found themselves near Vitromasse – a small town near the “southern edge” of Avrinthos – in fact, beyond the southern mountains is another realm, a place of terrible beasts. The village primarily trades in items brought in from Ioun through the Light Pool nearby and employes a good many Gaunthound Slaves to protect itself with.

Common Birthrights – and thus commonly accessible universes – in Avrinthos include:

The Dreaming Thunder, via the Slumbering Gates.

This universe allows easy access to the realm of dreams – allowing those in distant locations to communicate easily, for dreamers to visit the dream-realms of alien worlds, and for a thousand fantasies to walk free. Dreamers may be able to contact the denizens of certain other worlds in their dreams, and have been known to trade for “alien” objects, but it’s very hard to tell if their contacts are actually “real” or if they are simply manifestations of dream. Dreaming Thunder Birthrights can weave illusions, enter the realm of dreams, and tap into the powers of nightmares.

  • Cloak Of Dreams: Those attuned to dreams may tap into some of the aspects of dream in the real world, often surviving things that they would normally have no right to survive and becoming slightly more idealized versions of themselves. Innate Enchantment (up to 5500 GP Value, 6 CP): Healing Belt (MIC, 750 GP, x.7 Personal-Only = 525 GP. +2 Competence Bonus to Heal, Spend 1/2/all 3 of its daily charges to heal 2d8/3d8/4d8 damage as a standard action). Amulet of Tears (MIC, 2300 GP, spend Spend 1/2/all 3 of its daily charges as a swift action to gain 12/18/24 temporary hit points), +2 Enhancement Bonus to any one attribute (Personal Only x.7 = 1400 GP), Lesser Force Shield (+2 Shield Bonus to AC, 700 GP), and most of the remainder as “mundane” gear suited to their favored dream-role.
  • Dreamchilde: Witchcraft II (12 CP), 3 Basic Abilities: Dreamwalker (Dreamfaring, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect/the user physically enters the realms of dreams when he or she falls asleep, returning when they awaken no more than a few feet from where they fell asleep. They will effectively experience a double life, but have no way to control this and lack other Dreamfaring abilities beyond being able to interact with dream-entities while awake), Infliction (Nightmare Strike), and Net Of Dreams (Elfshot, Specialized for Increased Effect / the user may expend 1 Power to inflict a Greater Dirty Trick effect lasting 1d4+2 rounds on any target within 30′ who fails to save – or may spend 3 Power to target everyone within a 10′ radius).
  • The Inward Shadow: Ritual Magic, Specialized in Dream Magic (3 CP), plus (Int Mod + 3) Minor Rituals (Dreamsending, Dreamwarding, Fair Dreams, Waking Trigger, Prepared Illusion, etc, 1 CP) and two Major Rituals: Nightmare Binding (twists the reciepient into a monstrous form and permanently trades in Attribute Points for Bonus Feats, gaining bonus feats worth 1/2 the cost of buying the attributes traded in back up. Most resulting creatures are sterile, but this is not always true, 1 CP) and Dreambinding (inflicts powerful curses on a helpless victim, often used to help compel obedience, 1 CP).

Gyfara, via the Straight Ways.

While little is known of Gyfara proper, it is believed to be a place of great instability and of mutable space and time. Gyfara Birthrights possess an innate ability to locate swift routes – moving in a flash and accomplishing journeys far more quickly than can be rationally explained. Most trading groups employ at least one Gyfara Aspect guide.

  • The Straight Ways: Immunity / Travel Time (Very Common, Minor, Major, 12 CP). Gyfara can take a 5′ step as an immediate action, move their movement as a swift action, run / take a full move as a move action. take three full moves as a standard action, or take five full moves as a full-round action. When traveling longer distances they take only one-fifth of the normal time. They are quite capable of taking a ten day train trip and disembarking from the train at the destination eight days early – long before the train arrives as far as anyone else is concerned. They can also share this with others (Improved Blessing, Specialized and Corrupted / only to share this specific immunity with a group, only for long-distance travel purposes, only works when they are leading the way, 4 CP), +3 Speciality to Knowledge/Geography/figuring out where you are (1 CP), +3 Speciality to Survival/identifying directions (1 CP).
    • Like so many natural-law immunities, this is flatly unreasonable and potentially game-breaking.
  • Bonded Steed: Companion (Mystic Mount variant, 6 CP).

There are supposed to be a few routes that lead from the Anomaly to Gyfara proper – but, if so, they are either well-hidden or unstable or both. There certainly isn’t any regular traffic.

Ioun, via the The Light Pools of the Star Treaders.

Ioun, the Realm of the Star Treaders, is one of the few otherworlds that is directly accessible from the Anomaly without actually leaving it’s surface. In Ioun the local version of “hyperspace” manifests as something like the classic “Gravity Table” – a plane of twinkling points of light who’s surface is distorted by mass in the underlying space time. It’s also much smaller than the space it reflects; light years translate to a few miles each – and light-pools (generated through psionic effects but then self-maintaining) can allow an easy transition from normal space to hyperspace and vice versa. Unfortunately, unshielded matter in hyperspace soon drops back into normal space as a scattering of elementary particles, so it is airless.

Star Treaders (creatures vaguely resembling a rhinoceros, but with crystal-encrusted hides) can easily make the transition, pulling along and protecting enough mass to handle the rest of their herd – or a sizeable caravan. They can “hold their breath” for weeks or months, although they will require a few hours in a breathable atmosphere to renew their reserves between trips. Taming the Star Treaders has allowed the local sapients to reach the stars using little more than airtight wooden wagons and carved crystals. Since repeatedly-used routes tend to become brighter and more “substantial”, navigation is relatively easy as long as you stick to the common routes.

Star Treader Birthrights can focus psychic energy through crystals, preform preemptive maintenance, and improvise low-tech solutions to small-scale high-tech problems.

  • Focused Starlight: Innate Enchantment: 1 CP (pays the base cost only, provides no abilities), Double Enthusiast with Adaption, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect on Double Enthusiast, and for reduced cost on Adaption / only usable to purchase Innate Enchantments, must have appropriate focusing crystals for the desired effect (generally worth about 10 GP for a L0 effect, 25 for a L1 effect), active crystals glow and, if not fastened down somehow, orbit the user like little stars, 7 CP), and Immunity/The experience-point cost of Innate Enchantments (Common, Major, Trivial (covering level zero and one effects only), Specialized in Innate Enchantments paid for with Enthusiast (1 CP).
  • Master Tinkers: Immunity/Malfunctions (Very Common, Major, Major, 15 CP). An Iounian’s gear almost never breaks down. Rationally, an Iounian Star Caravan – a wooden vessel much like a slightly-oversized Gypsy Caravan, but bound with iron hoops, heavily varnished inside and out, and fitted with small windows and double doors forming a crude airlock (with a wooden pump) could not reasonably be expected to hold an atmosphere for long. It should leak madly around the hand-carved fittings, the varnish should give way, weak points in the wood should burst, the axles should sieze up as the lubricant evaporates, the cold should shatter the iron tires, the little boxes of airplants should not be able to keep up with the oxygen requirements, and the less said about the hand-sewn leather “spacesuits” and space-goggles the better – but for the locals it all works. For them, any low-tech solution that could conceivably work (even very badly) for a little while will work just fine indefinitely.

The Etheric Seas via the Mingled Waters.

In this universe the cloud-seas and drifting islands of the Etheric Plane support distant voyages, who’s length is measured more by drama than by actual distance, but inhibit high technology – and so the crews and ships of a thousand worlds sail the Etheric Seas as explorers, traders, fishers (of some very strange creatures), sea-miners (extracting alchemical catalysts from the Ether), pirates, military forces, or all of those at once in an endless voyage across the galaxies.

The Etheric Seas universe does not touch on the Anomaly directly, but – for whatever reason – some of those with it’s birthright can navigate between dimensions, sailing their ships across the gap between the Etheric Seas and the waters of Avrinthos.

Etheric Sea Birthrights carry the shifting power of the Etheric Seas within their very blood. They can imbue items with a variety of alchemical effects and can store and produce items from the Ether.

  • Adept: Pays half cost for Acrobatics, Athletics, the Burning Powder Martial Art, and Profession/Sailor (6 CP).
  • +2 Template Bonus to their four Adept Skills (4 CP).
  • Fast Learner, Specialized in Adept Skills (all are automatically bought up to HD+3) (6 CP).
  • Immunity/normal limits on skills, Specialized and Corrupted/only applies to the Adept skills in this template, only allows two special tricks per skill, tricks are usually DC 20 where relevant (Very Common, Major, Minor, 3 CP).
    • Acrobatics Tricks: Erratic Movement (may charge over hindering terrain, turn while charging, or even swing on ropes and such while executing movement-based maneuvers), Evasion (may attempt a check after a successful reflex saving throw for half effect; a success negates the effect entirely).
    • Athletics Tricks: Aerial Combat (may roll to fight without penalty while balancing on spars, hanging from one foot, swinging from ropes, or on wildly rolling decks) and The Flynn Effect (may roll to find a rope ready to hand when he or she needs one to swing on, avoid falling, or tie something up).
    • Burning Powder Tricks: May select Block (Melee) and Weapon Kata (All Napoleonic Era Naval Weapons) as martial arts techniques.
    • Profession/Sailor Tricks: Shipboard Accident (when aboard a ship may roll once per round as a free action to cause an opponent to get entangled in a rope/get in the way of incoming missile fire/slip or trip on something on the deck/get hit by a boom/whatever) and Dimensional Piloting (DC 40 to pilot a ship into another dimension within their local group, or through the plane of shadow past a terrible storm, or some such).
  • Innate Enchantment (up to 10,500 GP Value, 11 CP). In general, all abilities caster level one, spell level one, unlimited-use use-activated, personal only – for a base cost of 1400 GP. Note that these are Etheric Powers, not “magic”; they can be blocked or limited by dimensional barriers and such, rather than by dispelling and antimagic.
    • Handy Haversack (2000 GP). Etheric Sailors can store their stuff in the etheric plane; searching them is generally a waste of time.
    • Etheric Alchemy: Call Item at 100 GP or Less (L2 / 3 Power, Manifestor Level 3, x 2000 GP for unlimited-use use-activated x.4 only to produce alchemical items, x.6 for 3/day = 2880 GP)
    • Burning Black Powder/Produce Flame (Corrupted, requires a “Flintlock” for a focus, 933 GP).
    • Flashing Parry/Force Shield I (Corrupted, requires that the user have either a Dagger or Rapier in hand, 933 GP).
    • Rugged Metabolism. Sailors are healthy and recover very very quickly: Fast Healing I for 18 Rounds 2/Day, Relieve Illness 1/Day, Relieve Poison 1/Day, and Lesser Restoration 1/Day. From the Hedge Wizardry list on this site and The Practical Enchanter (1400 GP).
    • Inspiring Word. +1 Morale Bonus to Attacks, Weapon Damage, Saves, and Checks. They always have great morale, 1400 GP.
    • Equipment: Masterwork Alchemists Lab. Etheric Sailors can mix up alchemical items, brew up exotic alcoholic beverages, and otherwise make trouble at a +4 on their rolls with nothing more than a few ingredients and a wooden bowl or two (250 GP).
    • Advance Pay: Etheric Sailors get some 1400 GP worth of assorted equipment, but this is Specialized for Reduced Cost (700 GP effective) – it must actually be taken out and used, and must be replaced if lost, damaged, or expended. This does, however, mean that the list can include expendable items.
  • Birthright Disadvantages: Broke (Sailors tend to spend money when they’ve got it, although they may opt to stash it in awkward hiding places to spend later when they get a lot, -3 CP) and Accursed (Call of the Etheric Seas. People with the Etheric Seas birthright are, at the least, obsessed with ships, travel, and the seas, tend to move near the sea, want to live on boats, and are easily recruited for distant voyages, -3 CP).

Burning Powder Martial Art (Dex):

Some people aren’t happy with fighting sensibly. They want to swing on ropes while hacking at each other with swords, fight duels on pitching decks during raging storms, and otherwise act like they’re in a really bad movie.

This is Eclipse; never let it be said that you can’t do what you want.

Burning Powder is Specialized for Double Effect (one technique per skill rank)/the user cannot wear anything beyond leathers, is spectacularly obvious as a flamboyant rogue, and will find himself or herself drawn into insane adventures on a regular basis. It’s normally taken for use with the Burning Powder ability.

  • Requires: The “Burning Black Powder” ability.
  • Basic Techniques: Attack 4, Defenses 4, Strike, Toughness 2, Synergy/Acrobatics, Synergy/Athletics, and Synergy/Reflex Saves.
  • Advanced and Master Techniques: Combat Reflexes, Sneak Attack I, Mighty Blow and (Combat) Expertise.
  • Occult Techniques: Inner Strength x2, Light Foot and Touch Strike.

A specialized martial art is always iffy, but this one shouldn’t be TOO bad. Other, similar, arts are possible – but the majority of the Etheric Sailors on the Anomaly have this one.

Hyperborea via the Forgeways:

Hyperborea only touches on Anomaly through the occasional Iron Paths – sections of strange, and nigh-indestructible, metallic road which cause strange mental disturbances in those who touch them and which transmit a bitter cold. Attempting to follow such a path usually runs into walls of ice – but if those are broken through the roads vanish into a frozen wasteland where unknown perils lurk. The sun there is weak and pale, and no signs of civilization have ever been reported.

  • The Hyperborean Birthright is regarded as strange, ominous, and dangerous – and brings echoes of terrible, ancient, beings into the world. It simply consists of the basic Bokor package, although the usual ritual for summoning and channeling an entity is involves donning a mask representing the entity and allowing it to merge with the user’s face for the duration. A very few Hyperborean Birthrights learn to call on the Discordant Powers – but that is, in general, a very bad idea.

Tindalos, via the Angled Spaces.

Tindalos… may have more or less “normal” worlds in it somewhere, but what touches upon the Anomaly is a realm of twisted space, distorted time, and impossible cosmic forces, sometimes malevolent, more often utterly indifferent, and completely alien.

It is said that Tindalos Birthrights can call on truly strange and terrible creatures, but often go mad when they tap into their powers. Tindalos Birthrights often study ways to duplicate the tricks of another aspect well enough to pass as one of THEM, rather than using their own powers.

  • Hysteria (Magical Abilities), Specialized and Corrupted / only to get a +6 to the user’s effective caster level, only for Hexcrafting (2 CP).
  • 1d6 (3) Mana, Specialized and Corrupted/only to power Hysteria (2 CP).
  • Rite of Chi, Specialized and Corrupted / only to restore the Hysteria Pool, only works overnight (2 CP).
  • Hexcrafting: Six Narrowly-Themed Cards (Cthulhu Mythos Cards), Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost: such spells are blatant black magic, cause strange environmental disturbances, each card expended reduces the user’s base will save by one for 1d4 days (if it falls to zero he or she will become confused, if it goes negative he or she will become dangerously insane), results of the “Major” level and above are not fully controllable, cannot use any cards at all until basic language skills are well developed, cannot use more than one card at a time until achieving level two (12 CP).
  • +2 to base Will Saves (6 CP).

Tindalos Birthrights are believed (or hoped) to be rare – but every so often someone will choose to study those terrible forces (buying up the Hysteria to Double Effect, picking up a little more Mana and bonus recovery, and picking up some more cards and Base Will) – and try to use them for their own purposes. This rarely works out well.

Malavon, via the Alfar Roads.

Malavon seems to be a fairly classical everything-goes fantasy medieval kitchen sink setting – but with the interstellar and interdimensional Alfar Road Network active, it touches upon many other realms in an ever-expanding network of trade and adventure.

Malavon Birthrights can draw power directly from the dawn or sunset and are highly adaptable – capable of using devices from many different sources and realms.

  • Flux Tapping: Characters from Malavon do not need sleep or rest to replenish their abilities: they can tap into the energy flux from hyperspace, or into subspace, that occurs at dawn or dusk. They tend to be limited by how much power they can store and handle, rather than by how much is available to tap into. In d20 that’s Immunity/The need to sleep or rest to recover “daily uses” of powers and abilities (Common, Minor, Grand, 12 CP).
  • Literary Magic Items: Characters from Malavon can use Charms and Talismans without having to learn to do so (Shaping, Corrupted and Specialized for increased (level one and possibly 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 limited by wealth and lifestyle) and take some time to attune for use (6 CP)), Artifacts, and Relics – although they normally need to invest their personal CP in Relics if they wish to use more than a few of them. This initial allowance can be purchased as Double Enthusiast, Specialized in Relics for Increased Effect (6 CP). That lets any inhabitant of Malavon “attune” a total of 4 CP worth of Relics – which is enough for them to have a pretty potent item or two.
  • Malavon doesn’t offer direct access to any Occult Skills – although you can certainly buy access to some if you wish – but it does offer free access to pretty much every system of magic, psionics, spiritualism, reality alteration, metabolism, or technology that exists. Pretty much any independent gadget that they pick up can be expected to work in their hands. That’s modeled as Double Enthusiast, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / only to buy the ability to use other realms special equipment (6 CP).

Álfheimr, via the Fey Rades.

Álfheimr is apparently a bronze-age world of fey magic and strange demigods fighting an endless war against the uncontrolled powers of nature incarnate. Each year heros must defeat the avatars of the seasons to keep the year turning, pilot the sun, and ensure that the rains come and the crops grow, and so much more. Not surprisingly… heroic oaths, and mighty heroes, are pretty common.

Fortunately, the Anomaly is far less demanding – allowing Alfheimr Birthrights to turn their hands to other things.

Alfheimr Birthrights can bind oaths, employ a magical system of runes, and perform minor mystical ceremonies.

  • Fast Learner, Specialized in Skills for Increased Effect, Corrupted/only to keep Birthright skills maxed out at (Level + 3) (4 CP).
  • Adept (Bullet Time, Ceremonial Magic, Craft, and Dream Binding, 6 CP).
  • Oathbinding (6 CP).
  • Access to Occult Skill / Bullet Time (3 CP).
  • Access to Occult Skill / Dream-Binding (Via scribing mystical runes on things, 3 CP).
  • Access to Occult Skill / Ceremonial Magic (3 CP).
  • Disadvantage: Illiterate. For an Álfheimr Birthright all runes and symbols are magical, potent, and dangerous. They must train carefully to use them for something as mundane as communication.