The 20-level classes presented in books other than the Player's Handbook have become popular choices for players and DMs. Earlier articles in this series discussed how to import the classes from the Player's Handbook 2, the Complete series, the Miniatures Handbook, and Heroes of Horror. The previous installment focused on incarnum as outlined in Magic of Incarnum, as a lead-in to this examination of Incarnates, Soulborn, and Totemists.
Incarnates are similar to clerics in their devotion to an ideal, but unlike clerics, these magic-users are obsessed with a single ideal. Most incarnates became aware of their abilities during or after the Time of Troubles. These mortals came in contact small amounts of raw magic during inter-deific warfare. The nature of their individual meld shaping depends on who they were allied with and the cause itself. A tyrannical warlord fighting in the name of Bane was likely to espouse evil; a benevolent healer in service to Torm was likely to dedicate his powers to good.
As a new phenomenon, incarnates are barely recognized as a unique form of magic user. Their powers are subtle in that they create what look like magic items or magical auras. Little physically differentiates incarnates from other warriors and magic-users. Unlike totemists, their powers do not have monstrous physical displays. They do not possess the unusual eyes of the soulborn. Their similarity to clerics means that few observers will be surprised by the azure glow of their items. As the deeds of incarnates become more well known, it is likely that they will eventually be recognized as possessing a unique form of magic, but their presence in the Realms (at least in substantial numbers) is so new that it hasn't yet been explored in depth by scholars.
Of all incarnates, those dedicated to law are most likely to form organizations. As such, it is unsurprising that one of the largest growing cells of incarnates was formed in service to Red Knight, goddess of military strategy. During the Time of Troubles, the Lady of Strategy helped defend Tethyr against a surge of monsters coming from the Forest of Tethir. She led the Company of the Red Falcon to numerous victories using her unrivaled tactical ability to outwit the overwhelming hordes. A small contingent of her army became aware of their incarnate abilities during the war. Calling themselves the Azure Falcons because of the blue glow of their powers, they dedicated themselves to military organization. Seeing glory in rank, file, and hierarchy, the Azure Falcons serve the Citadel of Strategic Militancy northeast of Baldur's Gate, acting as coordinators, planners, and drill sergeants. They are led by Captain Belgard Bloodhawk, cousin of High Lady Kaitlin Bloodhawk (high priestess of the temple).
Azure Falcons (Minor Military) AL LN; 10,000 gp resource limit; Membership 7; Mixed (5 humans, 2 half-elves); Dues Military service dedicated to Red Knight.
Soulborn share much in common with paladins and blackguards, fighting for a narrowly defined ideal. Whether benevolent king, freedom fighter, tyrant, or ravager, each soulborn is dedicated to one of the four extreme alignments. In this way, they are similar to paladins as well as paladins of freedom, slaughter, and tyranny (as presented in Unearthed Arcana). Where soulborn differ from paladins is in the nature of their allegiance. An individual soulborn might serve a god whose alignment matches her own, but she is not bound to any deity. Her powers are not divine, thus she is not beholden to any deity. She uses her passion toward an ideal as a conduit for her power, but it is not actually divine in nature.
Like incarnates, soulborn are a relatively new phenomenon. There have always been soulborn -- warriors who unwittingly derive power by channeling their moral fervor into magical power -- but always too few to be of any note. Since the Time of Troubles, there have been significantly more soulborn, though still relatively few compared to other classes. Like incarnates, soulborn gained their powers through contact with an avatar or some of the other means illuminated in the description of incarnates.
Soulborn differ from incarnates in two substantial ways. The first is that soulborn use incarnum to improve their fighting prowess -- fortifying, strengthening, and enhancing their bodies. The second difference is in ideology. Whereas incarnates are devoted to one single aspect of morality -- good, evil, chaos, or law -- soulborn are devoted to a single extreme alignment -- lawful good, chaotic good, lawful evil, or chaotic evil. As such, a soulborn tends to come across as more passionate and extreme than the seemingly more detached incarnates.
In the Realms, soulborn tend to be drawn to the same deities embraced by paladins of good, freedom, tyranny, and slaughter. Most soulborn start out in association with a god of one of these types, such as Torm, Selūne, Bane, or Malar. Unlike many incarnates, who exult in only one aspect of the deity who spawned their powers, most soulborn stay in contact with their religions of origin. They find neutral religions to be lacking in drive and passion, thus they are unlikely to follow any deity of a neutral alignment. Soulborn are in no way bound to their religion (though many are probably unaware of this), but many still feel a deep connection to the being responsible, albeit inadvertently, for their spiritual awakening.
Based in Nathlekh, City of Cats, the Sapphire Mane is made up of worshippers of Nobanion. The organization is mostly made up of soulborn, but also includes a number of incarnates and totemists. The organization was formed following the Time of Troubles when a number of the worshippers of Lord Firemane awakened to their meldshaping abilities while battling Malar, the Beastlord. Nobanion, with the help of his followers and the druids of the Emerald Enclave, drove Malar out of the Gulthmere Forest in a great battle that became known as the Roar of Shadows. Following the Time of Troubles, a group Nobanion's followers banded together, forming the Sapphire Mane. They have dedicated themselves to spreading the message of the King of the Beasts. The group proselytizes in the name of their lord but always with grace and never forcefully. They see their powers as the physical embodiment of their lord's mission to bring out nobility among the beasts of the Realms. At first the wemics and other residents of the City of Cats were wary of the meldshapers, but they soon came to see the incandescent blue flame of the meldshapers as a positive sign from their lord. All three major classes of meldshaper are found among the Sapphire Mane.
Sapphire Mane (Minor Religious) AL LG; 14,000 gp resource limit; Membership 17; Mixed (3 humans, 2 wood elves, 1 half-wood elf, 3 feline were-creatures, 8 wemics); Dues 12 weeks a year (need not be consecutive) spent in service to the cause of Lord Firemane Authority Figures: Sondar Torchmane (LG male wemic soulborn 8/incandescent champion 9), Nalorea Greenglen (LN female wood elf incarnate 2/cleric 3/sapphire hierarch 7), Shalishthsh (LG female weretiger totemist 9)
Totemists are somewhat of a paradox in that their power comes from sophisticated magical experimentation, but they themselves are primal and rustic. In general, totemists in the Realms derive their meldshaping abilities from the raw magic that is leaked when gods and enterprising mortals (usually wizards) experiment in the creation of magical beasts. When such creatures are created, a small amount of raw magic sometimes leaks into the ether. People who venerate these beasts occasionally learn to shape the spiritual energy associated with them into magical effects. They can draw upon the energy of each creature's creation, employing a variety of powerful abilities as a result.
Totemists are not common anywhere in the Realms, but they are most frequently encountered in areas where the populace venerates totems, beast gods, and nature spirits. They can be found in small numbers in certain Uthgardt tribes, acting as tribal shamans. In each tribe, the shamans are most likely to use soulmelds related to their totem. A Sky Pony shaman might use a pegasus cloak; a Gray Wolf shaman might employ a worg pelt; a Thunderbeast shaman is likely to use thunderstep boots.
Totemists are also found among beast cults. This includes the benign beast cult made up of followers of Lurue and Nobanion (described earlier), but also those devoted to Malar, the Beastlord. The benevolent cults tend to live in harmony with nature, praising and appreciating the nobility of their totems. The more malevolent cults revel in savagery, brutality, and bloodlust, using their powers in destructive, sanguine rages. Totemists associated with Lurue and Nobanion often come into conflict with those of Malar, fighting battles that resemble those fought by their gods but on a smaller scale.
Totemists exist among those who venerate nature spirits. In Rashemen, totemists are in league with telthor, powerful nature spirits of the land. These totemists derive their powers by channeling the energy of the telthor rather than raw magic leaked from the creation of magical beasts, but the results are much the same. Their land is one of raw beauty, and they exult in channeling the spirit of that terrible beauty into physical form. They are particularly common among spirit folk who are more attuned to the spirits of the land, being part spirit themselves. Other nature spirit-channeling totemists exist among the Osse who come from lands to the South of Faerūn. It is even suggested that a few small groups of wild elves and wild dwarves include totemists. Among these people, the use of incarnum is rarely differentiated from that of other forms of magic.
About the Author
Eytan Bernstein hails from exotic Long Island and spends his days writing and editing projects for numerous game companies. In addition to his work on Dragons of Faerūn, the Magic Item Compendium, and numerous other projects, Eytan serves as a partner and PR & Marketing Manager for Silven Publishing. Eytan enjoys hunting for gems and minerals in rock quarries, studying religion and theology, composing music, and playing with his many pets. For more information about Eytan, check out www.eytanbernstein.com. Send questions and comments for Eytan here.
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