Excerpts 02/02/2005

Lost Empires of Faerûn
By Travis Stout

The past has left its mark on the present of Faerûn, and now you can get a glimpse of what went before in Lost Empires of Faerûn, the latest sourcebook for the Forgotten Realms setting. Information for both players and Dungeon Masters includes prestige classes, feats, and spells commonly employed by characters who delve into the secrets of the past or keep alive the ancient traditions of realms now vanished into history. The bulk of the rest of the book delves into the Crown Wars, the Old Empires of Mulhorand and Unther, the empire of Netheril, the powerful states of Coramshan and Jhaamdath, the fabled realm of Myth Drannor, various artifacts and monsters of the past, and several other topics that Dungeon Masters can find useful when creating Forgotten Realms campaigns. Our sneak peek includes a look at ancient feats, a prestige class, ancient spells, some artifacts, plus several tidbits of past lore.

A Prestige Class

Elf sages watch over the prisons of ancient demons and guard artifacts of terrible evil power. Modern mages resurrect the ancient magic of Athalantar. In Mulhorand, servitors of ancient gods rule the nation and lead its armies. A secret society composed of fallen Netheril's descendants works to prevent the return of that empire, struggling covertly against the Shades and any mage they deem too close to discovering Netheril's secrets.

Here is a sample prestige class from the book:

Rimmen of the Scarlet Eye, a magelord


"So they ran me out of Secomber. They said I wasn't good enough. They said my spells were too weak. Now they will see what kind of wizard I've become. They'll see. Who'll be sorry then?"

-- Rimmen the Magelord

Quick to anger, haughty, and proud of his Art, the magelord is an arcane spellcaster who studies an ancient magical tradition known for extremely fast and versatile spellcasting. Sometimes a spellslinger for hire, sometimes a professional arcane duelist, the typical magelord believes he has the right to wring respect, wealth, and power from the world around him through the use of arcane force. In reality, he is little more than a cruel bandit lord who uses his magical gifts to dominate and intimidate less talented individuals.

Like a school of fencing or a martial arts style, the magelord tradition has been passed down over the centuries from one practitioner to another. Few magelords give away such knowledge -- indeed, anyone who would study this aspect of the Art must either bribe a magelord with princely gifts and service or undertake years of research to unearth ancient texts describing the techniques.

The way of the magelord rewards ambition and recklessness, and it tends to encourage a certain contempt for the risks of power. Thus, most magelords regard their power as a tool with which to fulfill their own desires as opposed to a gift they can use to serve others. A few, however, study magelord lore in hopes of using their magic against tyranny and injustice.

Magelords are relatively rare, but societies and fellowships of them have arisen in many lands over the centuries. The most famous of these was based in the old realm of Athalantar, the Kingdom of the Stag. Bards still sing of the cruelty and evil of the magelords who ruled over the nation, evoking terrible images of a century when tyranny and deadly ambition reigned. The wizards of the Stag Kingdom were cruel, avaricious, driven men with an exceptional talent for magic. Ostensibly, they served as high officials of the realm who brutally enforced their prince's will, but in truth they ruled the Stag Kingdom from behind the throne.

Becoming a Magelord

You must find a practicing magelord and persuade her to teach you the secret techniques of using magic in the magelord style. This process usually requires you to spend at least ten days in that wizard's company and either pay her at least 10,000 gp or offer a service of equivalent value. If you cannot find a magelord willing to tutor you, you can research the secret traditions of the magelords on your own. To do so, you must locate and obtain rare tomes and treatises costing at least 10,000 gp and spend 1 month practicing the techniques described therein. You can fulfill this requirement at any point in your arcane career prior to adding a level of magelord, so you need not wait until you are ready to advance to do so.

Wizards, wizard/rogues, and wizard/assassins make excellent magelords, and wizard/blackguards are also good candidates for this class. Wizard/fighters are more rare, though their fighting ability lends itself well to this prestige class.

Intelligence is the most important ability for a magelord, since it bears directly on spellcasting. Constitution is also important, since magelords tend to live in uncivilized lands and often engage in combat, making Concentration checks a frequent necessity.

Entry Requirements

Skills: Intimidate 3 ranks, Knowledge (history) 6 ranks, Knowledge (arcana) 6 ranks.

Feats: Improved Initiative, Spell Mastery, Signature Spell[PG], Weapon Focus (ray).

Spells: Ability to cast 5th-level arcane spells.

Special: You must have the evasion special quality as either a class feature or a racial trait.

Special: You may not be lawful in alignment.

Special: You must be tutored by a magelord or obtain rare tomes to study the tradition. Either option costs no less than 10,000 gp or a service of equivalent value.

Table 1-5: The Magelord

Hit Die: d4

Level Base
Special Spells per Day/Spells Known
1st +0 +0 +2 +0 Sneak attack +1d6 +1 level of existing arcane spellcasting class
2nd +1 +0 +3 +0 Bonus mastered spell +1 level of existing arcane spellcasting class
3rd +1 +1 +3 +1 Signature supremacy +1 level of existing arcane spellcasting class
4th +2 +1 +4 +1 Bonus mastered spell +1 level of existing arcane spellcasting class
5th +2 +1 +4 +1 Sneak attack +2d6 +1 level of existing arcane spellcasting class
6th +3 +2 +5 +2 Bonus mastered spell +1 level of existing arcane spellcasting class
7th +3 +2 +5 +2 Signature supremacy +1 level of existing arcane spellcasting class
8th +4 +2 +6 +2 Bonus mastered spell +1 level of existing arcane spellcasting class
9th +4 +3 +6 +3 Sneak attack +3d6 +1 level of existing arcane spellcasting class
10th +5 +3 +7 +3 Magelord mastery +1 level of existing arcane spellcasting class

Class Skills (2 + Int modifier per level): Bluff, Concentration, Craft, Hide, Intimidate, Knowledge (all skills, taken individually), Move Silently, Sense Motive, Spellcraft, Spot, Tumble.

Class Features

The magelord tradition emphasizes mastery of a variety of spells and teaches practitioners to employ mastered spells with greater speed and flexibility. All the following are class features of the magelord prestige class.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: You gain no new proficiency with weapons, armor, or shields.

Spells per Day/Spells Known: At each magelord level, you gain new spells per day (and spells known, if applicable) as if you had also gained a level in an arcane spellcasting class to which you belonged before adding the prestige class level. You do not, however, gain any other benefit a character of that class would have gained. If you had more than one arcane spellcasting class before becoming a magelord, you must decide to which class to add each level for the purpose of determining spells per day and spells known.

Sneak Attack (Ex): Beginning at 1st level, you deal extra damage when you are flanking an opponent or at any time when the target would be denied its Dexterity bonus. This extra damage applies to ranged attacks only if the target is within 30 feet. See the rogue class feature, page 50 of the Player's Handbook.

Bonus Mastered Spell (Ex): When you attain 2nd level, you can choose one spell that you already know. From that point on, you can prepare that spell without referring to a spellbook, as if you had chosen to master it with the Spell Mastery feat. You can choose another known spell to master in this manner at 4th, 6th, and 8th level.

Signature Supremacy (Ex): By 3rd level, you have become so familiar with your mastered spells that you can convert any 4th-level or lower prepared spell into any 4th-level or lower mastered spell, just as a good cleric can spontaneously cast prepared spells as cure spells. Upon attaining 7th level, you can convert any 9th-level or lower prepared spell into a 9th-level or lower mastered spell in the same manner.

Magelord Mastery (Ex): At 10th level, you can apply one or more metamagic feats that you know to a spell that you have converted to a mastered spell by means of either the signature supremacy ability or the Signature Spell feat. The level of the prepared spell to be converted must equal or exceed that of the mastered spell with the desired metamagic feats applied. For example, you could convert the 5th-level prepared spell teleport into the 1st-level mastered spell magic missile modified by the Empower Spell, Still Spell, and Silent Spell feats.

Magelords in Faerûn

Because magelords often hire themselves out to anyone willing to meet their prices, they can be found almost anywhere in Faerûn. However, their generally greedy and ambitious nature makes them likely to switch employers on the spot when a better deal presents itself. In fact, it's not uncommon for a hired spellslinger to become the master of the house if his employer proves weak or foolish. Magelords flourish in lands without a strong central authority, particularly places where an individual's wits, skill, and ruthlessness offer the best opportunities for personal gain, and where issues of law are settled by tests of individual strength.

The fact that no societies or fellowships of magelords exist in Faerûn today is probably a result of the fact that most magelords are loners. However, if a group of them were to find common cause, a new society could arise at any time.

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