Power among the fey kelirs, or houses, balances precariously. Family members, especially the matriarch and heir, use every resource available to secure and strengthen their family's position. Powerful magic items play a key role for the matriarch, augmenting her strength and enhancing her house's prestige. The kelir fiercely guards these items, as their loss could cause the matriarch to lose face with her family or damage the status of the house.
Seelie Court fey prefer defensive, protective, and enchantment-focused magics items. Even low-ranking fey families frequently ward their lands from enemies using a circle of friends spell or enhance their gardens with magic statues. Rare items, such as jewelry made from the dazzling stone, can be found in the high-ranking kelirs of the court.
Circle of Friends
Enchantment (Charm) [Mind-Affecting]
Level: Bard 4, sorcerer/wizard 5
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: 1 hour
Target or Area: Object touched or up to 5 sq. ft./level
Duration: Permanent until discharged (D)
Saving Throw: See text
Spell Resistance: No (object) and Yes, see text
This spell functions as a very specific glyph of warding except it is always a spell glyph with a charm monster spell effect that makes the target regard the owner of the property as a good friend.
This powerful inscription takes hold of those who enter, pass, or open the warded area or object. A circle of friends can guard a bridge or passage, ward a portal or boundary, trap a chest or box, and so on.
"Epicarica Grominia, more commonly know as the Dazzling Stone, is valued for its property of adding desirability to whatever surrounds it. Found only in the deepest underground caverns, it is difficult to mine, as exposure to light causes viewers to find themselves so attracted to the dank landscape that they are loath to destroy any part of it. The stone itself is indistinguishable from an ordinary opal to the untrained eye."
Properties of Earth, Both Rare and Common:
A Comprehensive Look at the Formation of Rocks in One Hundred and Thirty Nine Volumes
"The last remaining natural deposit of epicarica grominia lies in the lair of the tarrasque. Those who venture there must contend with the allure of the stone. The only reliable sighting of the stone comes from a survivor of an expedition that sought to find the tarrasque. She tells of her companions standing enraptured, staring at the cavern wall, and offering no resistance while the great creature ate them one by one."
Annotated Version of Properties of Earth, Both Rare and Common (Volume 79 of 412)
You set the conditions of the ward. Any creature entering the warded area or opening the warded object without speaking a password (which you set when casting the spell) is subject its magic.
The creature triggering the ward receives a charm monster spell effect that makes the creature regard the owner of the property as a good friend. Except as noted here, circle of friends functionsexactly like a glyph of warding that stores a targeted spell.
Material Component: You trace the glyph with incense, which must first be sprinkled with powdered diamond worth at least 200 gp.
For the last millennium, the dazzling stone teardrop collection has been the property of the Tel'Andarial Kelir. Typically the matriarch wears the necklace, the heir wears the bracelet, and one to three favored family members each wear a single piece of jewelry.
Dazzling Stone Teardrop Collection: This set of jewelry consists of five items: A necklace with a single large white teardrop stone attached to a silver chain, a pair of teardrop earrings, a teardrop bracelet, a teardrop cloak or tunic fastener, and a teardrop pin. The set is more powerful when worn by several different creatures.
The wearer of the necklace receives a +6 enhancement bonus to Charisma, as well as an additional +2 to all Charisma-based skill checks. The necklace also provides a +4 resistance bonus on saves against enchantments. All enchantments she casts are at +1 caster level. She can cast a suggestion spell three times per day (using her own, adjusted, Charisma modifier to determine the DC).
All the other pieces of jewelry convey the following benefits: +4 enhancement bonus to Charisma. +2 resistance bonus on saves against enchantments.
When two or more pieces of the collection are worn by different creatures within 30 feet of each other, the wearers gain a +2 deflection bonus to Armor Class.
When all five of the pieces of the collection are worn by different creatures within 30 feet of each other, the wearers gain the effect of a heroism spell.
Strong abjuration, enchantment, and transmutation; CL 20th; Weight ---.
Unseelie Court kelirs control magics that allow them to dominate those around them through superior physical strength or will. Common items include weapons that increase the damage of the attacking force, artifacts (such as the Harp of Simmering Beauty) that can ensnare minds, and magical traps that cause trespassers to vanish with agonizing screams.
"Many tales abound concerning Merinda's fascination with music and the properties of sound. She is believed to have discovered a way to imbue vibrations of air with magical qualities. One of the many instruments she created to do this was the harp of shimmering beauty. It is supposed that when the harp is played, the air around it shimmers and transforms into a sea of iridescent butterflies. Rumor credits these colorful creatures with the ability to infest the mind of a nearby creature, causing the creature to be controlled by the possessor of the harp. Unfortunately, the exact workings of the harp are unknown -- Merinda's journal on the subject, as well as the harp itself, was destroyed along with her workshop in the implosion of the island of Kant four thousand years ago."
From the Unofficial Lore of Merinda Orindell
Harp of Shimmering Beauty: When played, this powerful artifact creates a swarm of burrowing insects that are capable of understanding a simple mental command to search for and infest a single creature.
To the casual observer, these insects appear to be scarlet red maggoty creatures with sharp mandibles that wiggle through the air until they locate their target. However, this vile mien is mere illusion. If a creature makes a Will save (DC 20), it sees small, fluttering butterflies in a rainbow of colors. Those seeing the butterflies for what they really are must make another Will save (DC 25) or become fascinated by them.
The player of the harp sends the swarm after a single individual and it will unerringly seek out its target (as long as it is on the same plane). Once the harpist selects a subject, she has no further control over the swarm; however, the harpist is continually aware of the condition and location of the swarm as if she had cast a status spell on it. If the swarm reaches and touches its intended target (and only its target), the harpist can take control of the creature. The target must succeed on a Will save (DC 19+ Cha modifier of the harpist) or fall instantly under the harpist's influence as though by a dominate monster spell (caster level 20th).
The harpist can dominate a number of creatures equal to her Charisma modifier. Attempting to control an additional creature automatically releases the victim who was longest under the control of the harpist.
The harp cannot create a second swarm while the first one exists. A shimmer swarm dissipates 5 rounds after first touching its target or after a year and a day.
Strong conjuration and illusion; CL 20th; Weight 15 lbs.
Diminutive Vermin (Swarm)
Hit Dice: 6d8 (27 hp)
Speed: 10 ft. (2 squares), fly 40 ft. (average)
Armor Class: 18 (+4 size, +4 Dex), touch 18, flat-footed 14
Base Attack/Grapple: +4/--
Attack: Swarm (2d6)
Full Attack: Swarm (2d6)
Space/Reach: 10 ft./--
Special Attacks: Distraction, dominate monster
Special Qualities: Darkvision 60 ft., immune to weapon damage, seek target, swarm traits, vermin traits
Saves: Fort +5, Ref +6, Will +2
Abilities: Str 1, Dex 19, Con 10, Int ---, Wis 10, Cha 2
Challenge Rating: None (creature summoned by the harpist of the harp of shimmering beauty)
Alignment: Always neutral
Level Adjustment: --
A swarm of scarlet red bugs with sharp mandibles wiggles through the air.
Only shimmer swarms created by the harp of shimmering beauty have ever been encountered.
A shimmer swarm seeks out its target and ignores all other creatures.
Distraction (Ex): Any living creature vulnerable to the swarm's damage that begins its turn with a swarm in its square is nauseated for 1 round; a DC 13 Fortitude save negates the effect. Even with a successful save, spellcasting or concentrating on spells within the area of a swarm requires a Concentration check (DC 20 + spell level). Using skills requiring patience and concentration requires a Concentration check (DC 20). The save DC is Constitution-based.
Dominate Monster (Su): See text of the harp of shimmering beauty.
Seek Target (Su): A shimmer swarm always knows the direction and distance to its target, if on the same plane.
Swarm Traits:A swarm has no clear front or back and no discernable anatomy, so it is not subject to critical hits or flanking. A swarm made up of Tiny creatures takes half damage from slashing and piercing weapons. A swarm composed of Fine or Diminutive creatures is immune to all weapon damage.
Reducing a swarm to 0 hit points or fewer causes the swarm to break up, though damage taken until that point does not degrade its ability to attack or resist attack. Swarms are never staggered or reduced to a dying state by damage. Also, they cannot be tripped, grappled, or bull rushed, and they cannot grapple another.
A swarm is immune to any spell or effect that targets a specific number of creatures (including single-target spells such as disintegrate), with the exception of mind-affecting effects if the swarm has an intelligence score and a hive mind. A swarm takes a -10 penalty on saving throws against spells or effects that affect an area, such as many evocation spells or grenadelike weapons. If the area effect attack does not allow a saving throw, the swarm takes double damage instead.
Swarms made up of Diminutive or Fine creatures are susceptible to high winds such as that created by a gust of wind spell. For purposes of determining the effects of wind on a swarm, treat the swarm as a creature of the same size as its constituent creatures. Wind effects deal 1d6 points of subdual damage to the swarm per spell level (or Hit Die of the originating creature, in the case of effects such as an air elemental's whirlwind).
A swarm rendered unconscious by means of subdual damage becomes disorganized and dispersed, and does not re-form until its hit points exceed its subdual damage.
Vermin Traits: A shimmering swarm is immune to all mind-affecting effects (charms, compulsions, phantasms, patterns, and morale effects). It also has darkvision (60-foot range).
An Intriguing Situation (Part 3: Conclusion)
Misfortunes one can endure. But to suffer for one's own faults -- ah! -- there is the sting of life.
-- Oscar Wilde
Sor'k tensed as he heard the door to his quarters open. When he saw M'hele enter, he relaxed back into his bath with a groan.
"I hope you are not looking for sympathy from me." M'hele sat down on a stool in the corner. "You are lucky I agreed only to let Elok use you for target practice. Those bruises will heal in a couple of days."
"Just tell me that the rest of the agreement -- the part that didn't include me screaming in agony -- secured the necklace."
M'hele held up a gold choker encrusted with amethysts, sapphires and emeralds. "Brina should have known better than to trust a greedy man with a hunger for inflicting pain. A little bit of gold -- and you, of course -- and he was more than willing to give me everything I wanted."
Sor'k stared at the jewelry that could have meant the end of his life, or at least banishment from the court and disgrace to his house. "How do you plan on getting it back to the queen's room before she notices it is missing?"
"Who said anything about returning it to the queen? Just arrange for another one of your picnics in the woods with your lover tomorrow."
* * *
Startled shouts dragged Brina from her unconsciousness. She struggled to open her eyes. What had happened?
Sor'k had been feeding her. He had dipped his hand in the wine, brushed it over her lips, and . . .
Brina instantly realized three frightening things: She had been drugged with dream draught, both she and Sor'k (who was lying half on top of her) were naked, and the queen -- along with her sister, the Eylys heir, and M'hele, Sor'k's cousin -- were galloping towards them on horses.
"Get off me." She untangled her limbs from Sor'k, grabbed the blanket, and wrapped it around her torso. As the Queen of Air and Light rode up, Brina sunk into a graceful curtsey. She snickered to herself as she realized that beside her, Sor'k was trying to manage a nonchalant bow -- somewhat difficult to do in his state of undress.
"Your Highness, I apologize." Brina began in what she considered to be an appropriately humble manner. "If I could just explain-- "
"What would you care to explain?" The queen's gaze settled on Brina's throat. "Why you disobeyed me by taking a lover without my approval, or why you believed you could 'borrow' my jewelry without bothering to ask my permission?"
Brina reached her hand up in disbelief, feeling around her neck the necklace she'd believed to be in Elok's possession. Her fear overcame her anger at having been set up, and she threw herself down on the ground before the queen.
M'hele kept her features sympathetic as she watched the arranged scene play out. It was delicious to see Brina begging for her life, and the Eylys heir struggling to prevent Brina's insult from tainting the rest of the kelir. Not that the heir could, of course. It was all over. The Eylys house was now disgraced, which meant the family would have no support left for its side of the feud. All that remained was for M'hele to bring her version of these events to the attention of the Greelyn matriarch, and wait to be chosen as the heir.
Dream Draught: Small quantities of this sweet-tasting poison are vary hard to detect. Noticing the dream draught in a drink or dish requires a DC 25 Spot check. Creatures with the scent special quality gain a +5 bonus. Type: Ingested DC 20; Initial Damage: Sleep; Secondary Damage: 2d4 Int and 2d4 Cha; Price: 1,500 gp.
About the Authors
Gwendolyn F. M. Kestrelis an editor for Wizards of the Coast's Roleplaying Games R&D department. Recent credits include editingFaiths and Pantheons,Oriental Adventures, andMagic of Faerūn, and designing part of theBook of Challenges. She's a frequent contributor to the Wizards of the Coast website. Also, check out the website she created for her fiancé, Andy Collins, at www.andycollins.net.
Faith M. Price accidentally fell into the adventure game industry nine years ago. Since then she has worked for two game manufacturers, and has written for numerous magazines. She currently lives in Washington with two RPG designers and two cats, all of whom require regular feeding and attention.