Here’s the class that actually sparked the entire setting idea for Empire of Gold. It has changed a bit since then, but the premise is still the same. They are the core caster class, a replacement for the archetypical wizard in a dress. They are instead creepy wizards tainted by the magic they wield. That’s a stereotype too, but a bit more interesting than “I’m an artillery piece for 15 minutes each day”.
Humans are not inherently magical. This is an unfortunate deficiency in a world once ruled by mythological beasts, and other creatures with sorcery in their very blood. Despite this, humanity managed to survive and even thrive, coming to dominate the known world through sheer number and determination. However, the lack of natural magical power still made its presence felt. Devotees of the gods gain some measure of power, but that was not what those who were to become the acolytes were after. After decades of study and experiments they found a way. By inscribing their skin with ground up crystals (often bought from dragons), formed in arcane patterns, they could trap spirits within their own flesh. This allowed them to use the spirit’s powers at their own whims. It was by no means a perfect procedure, but the breakthrough gave them enough momentum to advance.
The practice of tattooing, used to mark slaves and prisoners, now contained power. The stigma remained, however, and the first practitioners had a hard time finding recognition in society. The first recorded events involving these Acolytes were in 452 YE, but it’s probable that they had been around for some years before that. The order gradually built up its power during the years, but had difficulties gaining any definite footholds. This all changed with the Dragon War. After the first attack, the Empire’s forces were beaten back, and it would have been over there and then, had it not been for the Acolyte’s intervention. They struck with a century of collected knowledge and frustration. Even the dragons were momentarily surprised, as this was the first time humans showed magical potential. In the end they couldn’t win the war any more than the empire’s legions could. In the face of a dragon all creatures pale, but they managed to drag it out enough to slightly annoy the dragons. They claim they saved humanity that day, but that’s probably an exaggeration.
Acolytes work magic by means of captured spirits bound within their flesh. From a young age the possible acolytes are brought up trained in strange ways found effective through pure experimentation. When they have reached a suitable basic level they are granted their first tattoos, and then receive new ones continuously through their training. At the end of the basic training they are sent out into the world on an examination test. By then two-thirds of the original students will have died or gone insane, and many of them are used to produce so call spell keepers. These are still half-living corpses inscribed with the same binding circles as the Acolytes themselves, to keep spirits in storage. The peculiar fact of the matter is that the spirits can only be trapped in living flesh. However, these morbid truths are kept from the general public, and the corpses are kept in a gigantic crypt underneath the Order of Secrets’ stronghold.
The tattoos are not the source of the Acolytes’ powers, but a requirement for them. They are etched both in the skin, and through a torturous method inscribed in their bones. Through this lines are formed, stretching through the flesh to form a three-dimensional prison for spirits. This is the core of this kind of magic. This obviously uses no regular ink. Ground down crystals are used, and their arcane power remains even in this new form.
These tattoos are gained, in the following order:
- Quartz, in the eyeballs and forming a third eye on the forehead. Mostly unnoticeable unless reflecting light. This is what allows the Acolyte to see spirits and magical energy, and is obviously needed to catch them.
- Corundum (Ruby), across the right lower arm and hand. This is the exit of cast spells, the focus point where the energy is emitted.
- Corundum (Sapphire), across the left lower arm and hand. This is used to grasp spirits and move them between slot tattoos where they are kept.
- Topaz, multiple locations. These are the slot tattoos, of which more are added during the career until there are a total of eight of them in four symmetrical left-and-right pairs. The locations are: upper arm and chest, lower back, upper leg, and lower leg. The spells are kept in these spiritual “prisons” or holes.
- Diamond, two separately gained circles, one around the navel and the other on the upper back, across the shoulder blades.
- Diamond, full head. This, together with the two circles, allow the Acolyte to devour spells and carve them into their own brain.
|1||+3||+2 Slots (Topaz)||
|3||+9||+2 Slots (Topaz)|
|5||+15||+2 Slots (Topaz)|
The eyes of an Acolyte is marked to allow them to see spirits and magical residue. An acolyte is aware of gathering spells, free spirits, and other supernatural effects, unless they are utterly different or intentionally hidden.
During the ritual of recovery damaged eye tattoos require a quartz gem to repair.
These can store one spirit each. One needs a ruby marked arm to cast them, and a sapphire marked arm to move them between slots.
During the ritual of recovery every damaged slot tatoo require a topaz gem to repair.
To cast a spell, the Acolyte must have their right arm free.
During the ritual of recovery a damaged casting tatoo requires a ruby gem to repair.
To move or catch a spell, the Acolyte must have their left hand free and be able to touch both the old and new location of the spell (binding slot).
During the ritual of recovery a damaged grasping tatoo requires a sapphire gem to repair.
Until you have acquired the head tatoo these are only additional slot tattoos.
During the ritual of recovery a damaged circle tatoo requires a diamond gem to repair.
The ritual replaces all damaged skin with new, keeping tattoos intact. Takes two hours of meditation to prepare, and then takes and additional two hours to molt. Requires gemstones as noted under the tattoos.
This could probably be translated to a retroclone.
Sample Spirits (1d6)
Each of these powers would use half the spirit’s daily power to cause one effect.
Spirit of Wind (1)
Gust: pushes all light objects in a cone away. People-sized things must make a strength save or equivalent or fall down. Larger things are mostly unaffected.
Whirl: surrounds the caster with an armor of rapid wind for 1d3+1 minutes. Light projectiles like arrows get their damage reduced by 5.
Spirit of Fire (2)
Blaze: creates a minor fiery burst. Deals 2d4 damage to people caught (save for half). Will light readily flammable items on fire, and warm everything else.
Glow: creates a lantern-like light for 1d6+2 hours, which follows the caster. Dispellable.
Spirit of Emotion (3)
Calm: dulls a person’s emotions. Anger simmers down, and peace turns to apathy.
Fury: excites the emotions. Every feeling is heavily amplified.
Spirit of Locks (4)
Open: unlocks a regular locking mechanism and if possible slams open the door/lid.
Lock: safely closes and locks a regular locking mechanism.
Spirit of Beasts (5)
Communicate: the caster may socially interact with animals to some degree for 2d6 hours.
Command: the caster forces a dog-sized or smaller animal to obey for 1d3x10 minutes.
Spirit of Seeking (6)
Locate: know the direction of any object you have touched the last year for a day.
Awareness: know the approximate location of all nearby moving creatures.
- A set of decent clothes, a small pack, a book, and pen.
- A knife and rations for a week.
- 4 silver coins and 12 copper coins.
- 3 Quartz gems and a Topaz gem.
- A random spell spirit.
Is this all? I hope so because it’s late and I’m tired. Be prepared for later revisions to this. Oh well I’m done for today goodnight people…