This month, we take a look at another interesting far corner of the world. Whereas previous installments in this column explored deserts, jungles, mountains, and other remote locations, the "terrain" we focus on now is one that can appear anywhere in the remote reaches of your campaign world: the Lost City.
Ruins of former empires, be they in the form of a sand-hidden necropolis, a frozen capital, or a jungle-cloaked theocracy, have been a staple of Dungeons & Dragons since the beginning. Haunted by both the ancient legacies of their former masters and by newer denizens from the surrounding environs, lost cities can be set in any of the previous terrains and, as such, can give you ample opportunities to use any of the spells detailed in previous "Far Corners of the World" columns. Yet just like any other terrain, adventurers and explorers have developed specialized forms of magic to help cope with the unique dangers and situations that might arise during the exploration of these ancient places, or alternatively, capitalize on the unique terrain to create dangerous effects.
A wizard named Kiolimar originally developed this spell. Frustrated after having one too many times been stymied by collapsed passageways or rubble-filled rooms while on his expeditions to a lost city to accumulate lore on the secrets of the ancients, he began using telekinesis to quickly move aside the rubble. Unfortunately, this method was still too slow for the impatient Kiolimar. His initial version of expeditious excavation used the fundamentals of telekinesis and magnified it greatly; with one spell, he could excavate entire hallways and chambers quickly, providing access to rooms beyond. Kiolimar shared his spell with his apprentices, otherwise it, like him, would have been lost the day the tunnels he excavated suddenly collapsed on him, burying him in a vault of the lore he so dearly coveted.
When this spell is cast, powerful telekinetic forces take hold of all loose rubble, stone, and earth in a space up to one 10-foot-cube per caster level. These forces push aside the stone and rubble, rebuilding the stone walls and floors and ceilings of the collapsed chambers and then holding the rebuilt room sound and true for the spell's duration. Non-earth or stone objects and creatures are unaffected; an expeditious excavation is a highly efficient method of recovering buried objects or allies. The telekinetic magic has no effect on solid tone or metal, but it can be used to dig a stable tunnel through gravel, sand, earth, mud, or soil. This spell has no power to restore anything of artistic or scholarly value to a collapsed wall; if a chamber's collapsed walls once held beautiful bas-reliefs and inscriptions, the images and words are not restored by this spell.
After the spell's duration, the telekinetic forces that hold the room together vanish, and the room collapses back into rubble in 1 round. Any creatures in the room when it is collapsing must each immediately make a Reflex save. If successful, the character must still use whatever means possible to escape the collapsing area; if she cannot escape the area in 1 round, she automatically fails her Reflex save. A failed Reflex save indicates the character becomes pinned and completely buried in the rubble as it fills in the area in a cacophonous crash. This inflicts 8d6 points of damage and buries the creature. Buried creatures take 1d6 points of nonlethal damage per minute while buried. If such a character falls unconscious, he must make a DC 15 Constitution check. If it fails, he takes 1d6 points of lethal damage each minute thereafter until freed or dead. Canny wizards have been known to use this spell to create escape routes, and then dismiss the spell to bury their pursuers.
This spell's effects can be made permanent with a permanency spell.
Material Component: 500 gp worth of diamond dust.
Focus: A miniature platinum pickaxe worth 500 gp.
One thing the lost cities share, despite their diverse locations, is a history of loss and despair. Had no tragedy occurred, the city would have remained vibrant. Yet something -- some terrible fate, be it plague, disaster, war, madness, or worse -- befell the ancient citizens of the now empty city, and an echo or remnant of their final hours is firmly imprinted in what ruined stones still remain in their one-time homes.
Ghost storm calls upon the residual energies of anguish, fear, terror, and despair embedded in the stones of the region and magnifies them to a terrifying degree. As the spell is cast, dozens of wrathful, shrieking spirits rise out of the ground and ruined walls of the surroundings, filling the area with a whirling storm of wretchedness and agony. As the spirits move around and through any creatures caught in the area, their anguish and pain is transferred to any living creatures in the area.
All living creatures in a ghost storm who make a Fortitude save simply become shaken for 1 round. A new saving throw is required each round the creature stays in the ghost storm. Living creatures that fail this saving throw flail and claw at the ghosts in a hopeless attempt to prevent the spirits from assaulting them. The only action such a creature can take is a single move action per turn, and the creature loses its Dexterity bonus to Armor Class (if any). Worse, the unhealthy contact with the necromantic spirits of a ghost storm inflict one negative level for each failed Fortitude save. Negative levels imparted by a ghost storm fade at the rate of one per minute once a character exits the ghost storm area; no saving throw is required to remove negative levels gained from this spell, but otherwise the negative levels have their normal effects (see the Glossary). Any creature who gains negative levels equal to his Hit Dice is immediately slain.
Once created, a ghost storm remains stationary. A creature that enters the area must immediately save against its effects, even if he has already made a previous saving throw against the same spell.
This spell is far less effective in areas other than lost cities (a "city" is a community with a population 5,000; see page 137 in the Dungeon Master's Guide). If the spell is cast in a location where a city never existed, the ghosts produced fill only a single 10-foot square.
Hide the Path
Denizens of the lost city understand that their lairs carry a unique mystique that beckons adventurers and explorers like flies to a carcass. Many use their magic or skills (or the magic and skills of their minions and slaves) to erect defenses, traps, secret doors, and other methods of protecting their lairs from intrusion. To these creatures, one spell is more dangerous than an entire legion of soldiers: find the path.
With this one spell, a party of adventurers can quickly and easily divine the safest, most direct route to a destination (often the lair of the creature in question). The response to this threat is hide the path, an equally potent (though much rarer) spell. Hide the path wards a large, continuous area with powerful abjuration magic that specifically defeats the find the path spell; this spell simply won't function in an area warded by hide the path. Yet the effects of hide the path extend beyond this simple (but valuable) effect.
Hide the path also interferes with other divination spells of 6th level or less. When casting or aiming such a spell within the area warded by hide the path, the spellcaster must make a caster level check with a bonus equal to the divination spell's level (1d20+caster level plus divination spell level against a DC of 11 + the caster level of the spellcaster who cast the hide the path spell). If the check fails, the divination spell reveals nothing, but is not dispelled and the caster can try again if the divination spell's duration allows.
Focus: A 6-inch onyx sphere mounted upon an obsidian stand; the entire focus must be worth no less than 1,000 gp. Any creature in physical contact with the focus may cast divination spells without restriction from the hide the path effect. If the focus is destroyed or brought beyond the boundaries of the hide the path effect, the spell is immediately dismissed.
Ruin Delver's Fortune
More than other classes, bards are drawn by the mysteries and allure promised by the lost city. The thrill of discovering a forgotten civilization, of defeating strange and unusual monsters, of surviving perilous and deadly traps, and of restoring ancient legends from bygone ages are what the best of the epic bard tales are built on. Yet the field research into these areas can be quite dangerous. Bards who make their living on discovery and exploration often take pains to learn ruin delver's fortune as soon as possible, for it can often make the difference between life or death.
You can cast ruin delver's fortune as a free action, even when it's not your turn. Casting this spell counts toward the limit of one quickened spell per round. When the spell is cast, you call upon your hidden reserve of skill and love of life to enhance your abilities for a short period to cope with sudden peril. Choose from one of the following effects when you cast the spell. Once chosen, the effect cannot be changed for the duration of the spell. The benefits granted by ruin delver's fortune are fleeting, but often the benefits granted are just enough to get you out of a tight spot.
Once the spell's duration expires, the surge of energy and skill vanishes, leaving you hollow and depressed. You become fatigued (see Glossary) unless you make a successful DC 15 Constitution check.
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