Gnomes

From Tearsofblood

This article is currently under revision due to dated content and excessive length.

Gnomes are viewed with fear and suspicion by those unlucky few who have encountered them. Most surface-dwellers know of them only through fireside tales of plundered graveyards and ancient cities deep underground. Nearly everyone has a talkative friend or an eccentric uncle who claims to have seen a gnomish skyship belching smoke as it cut through the clouds, but few can honestly claim to have seen or spoken to them. Few besides the most potent of wizards try to seek them out, and what dealings they might have with these secretive masters of arcane lore is unknown.

Storytellers say that forty centuries ago, a flotilla of Halfling ships were caught in a terrible storm. Desperate to find refuge, they steered their ships into a massive cave by the sea. Inside, they discovered no end to the flooded caverns. Exploring deeper and deeper into that labyrinthine, sunless world, they decided to stay. Some say they were pirates, seeking to escape from justice. *Others say they were adventurers, seeking ancient treasures long forgotten. Still others say that the cave entrance collapsed behind them, condemning them forever to life in the pitiless Beneath.

Whatever the truth may be, the bards agree on what the Halflings found next. Buried beyond sight or living memory was a ruined city, built in unknown epochs by a nameless race. Its silent halls and galleries were filled with arcane lore and forbidden knowledge long lost. A malevolent Wyrm ten centuries old had made that city her lair, and had spent countless years studying the terrible legacy of its extinct builders. For reasons known only to them, the wayward Halflings became her pupils in the lost art. Through millennia of magical manipulation, they became a race entirely distinct from Halflings.

Like their Halfling ancestors, gnomes are said to travel in ships. But in the silent caverns beneath the ground, there is no wind to fill their sails. Instead they have found a way to create ships that fly. Scholars have noted, however, that the ships reported flying through the sky are quite unlike the ships that navigate the tunnels Beneath. They theorize that the different ship designs indicate a schism in the gnomish ranks, in which one faction tired of life below ground and made their way to the surface. A handful of reputable wizards have hinted that the dispute is over some obscure point of religious doctrine. The real nature of this divide, as with so much else about the gnomes, may never be understood by outsiders.

Contents

Personality

Gnomes are wily and cunning, and enjoy outwitting others and arranging elaborate practical jokes. They consider riddles a high art and practice convoluted word-games from a young age. Outsiders report that their speech is laced with double meanings and subtle insults. Gnomes are also very curious, and share an equal passion for adventurous exploration and quiet study. They are fascinated by machines and delight in experimentation and invention.

Physical Description

Gnomes are about waist-high to a human and weigh around 50 pounds. They have fine, silky hair and prefer simple but elegant hairstyles. They have piercing eyes, ranging in color from ice-blue to fiery yellow. When encountered on one of their ships or in their factories, Gnomes are often seen wearing bulky protective clothing and gas masks to protect themselves from the hazardous smoke and chemicals they work with. On the rare occasions they venture into the surface world, they disguise themselves as Halflings, who they resemble closely.

Relations

Gnomes are extremely isolationist, and have few dealings with outside races. They get along well with Halflings, who they see as fun-loving cousins. They also like Dwarves, who they found to be stout and reliable allies in the caves Beneath. They feel comfortable meeting with Elves openly, since they are often fellow students of the arcane arts and have a well-developed sense of discretion. Gnomes tend to be wary around the other races, and prefer to deal with them in the guise of Halflings.

Gnomes bear no personal malice toward Plaguetouched, but view them as a possible source of new infections and would rather not deal with them, except as research subjects in Plague-related experiments. Most Gnomes who became Plaguetouched left to become solitary wanderers, or joined the tribes of savage Gnomes rumored to lurk in the furthest recesses Beneath.

Alignment

Gnomes are most often neutral, preferring their intellectual pursuits to issues of morality. Some become so obsessed with their own interests that they tend toward evil alignments.

Lands

The Gnomish homeland, if indeed it can be called such, lies deep below the surface in an ancient city. Although it had fallen into ruin when the Gnomes first arrived, they have spent the last forty centuries rebuilding it. Few outsiders have ever seen this city, and some say that even the Gnomes have not yet fully explored its ancient secrets.

Culture

Although the city is the capital of Gnomish culture and religion, most Gnomes live on their flying ships. The two major Gnomish factions are easiest for outsiders to distinguish by their different ship designs. *The Nether Gnomes fly bulky, ironclad vessels through the cavernous reaches Beneath, while the Aether Gnomes fly lighter wooden skyships high above the surface. These two groups avoid open hostility with one another, and put aside their differences (mostly) when returning to the city for religious reasons or to study.

The Gnomes have no central government as such. A religious council based in the ancient city claims dominion over all Gnomes, although in practice the wizards and clerics on that council have little to do with the functioning of Gnome society. Like the Halflings they descended from, Gnomish captains are the highest authorities on their ships. A handful of dark tales suggest that the ancient city is ruled by a dracolich of unspeakable power, the undead revenant of the ancient Wyrm who originally tutored the Gnomes in arcane lore. But it is difficult to give these stories credence, as few surface-dwellers who have traveled to the city ever returned alive, and the Gnomes themselves refuse to speak of it to the other races.

Religion

Gnomes worship Curuiindor, the Lord of Magic. Every Gnomish ship has at least one of his clerics aboard to minister to the crew and pray for safe passage. His clerics teach young Gnomes that their highest goal in life should be to study magic and learn how to manipulate the outside world with it. Gnomes believe the dragon who tutored their ancestors was an avatar of Curuiindor, and their religious symbol is a dragon skull to honor him. Most Gnomish clerics carry a dragon skull symbol crafted from silver.

As the highest representative of their god on board ship, Gnomish clerics often act as judges in disputes between Gnomes. However, since there is no central church structure, Gnomes of other ships who disagree with a cleric’s ruling may simply ignore it. Stories abound of feuds between Gnomish ships in which the clerics of each issue proscriptions against each other. Some suspect that the hostility between Aether Gnomes and Nether Gnomes began with a doctrinal dispute over a minor religious matter that escalated as different ships declared judgments against one another.

The oldest and wisest Gnome clerics eventually train a replacement to take over their duties aboard ship, and retire to the hidden city. There, along with the most accomplished Gnomish wizards, they study arcane lore, record their knowledge in the libraries, and sit on a supreme religious council.

Plague Casualties

Of all the susceptible races, the Gnomes suffered least from the Plague. Their natural reclusive ness and distrust of outsiders prevented many ships from being infected. Ships that got infected were shunned by other Gnomes and were prevented from returning to the hidden city. Some say that eventually every Gnome these blighted ships died or became Plaguetouched, and the ships themselves either floated away on the wind or crashed to the ground. A handful of the hardiest treasure hunters have even reported finding the remains of these crashed ships in remote corners of the world.

Language

Gnomes speak a very simple and logical language. Wizards who have studied it claim it is entirely unlike Halfling, and it seems likely that it is an artificial language, constructed by the early Gnomes to organize their thoughts more efficiently when tapping into arcane energies. They also have a unique ideographic script whose origins remain a mystery. Aside from the Gnomes themselves, few indeed have ever learned Gnomish, and those who have are usually interested in studying Gnomish magic. Some believe that in addition to their constructed language, the most learned Gnomes speak another tongue, one derived from the primeval creators of the ancient city and taught to them by the Wyrm. What purpose such a long-dead language might serve is unclear, and may be nothing more than the ramblings of overly imaginative storytellers.

Names

Gnomes have complex names that identify them individually, by profession and by ship. Personal names can be anything a Gnomish parent can dream up, and can be anything from the name of a landmark to something heard in a dream. Profession names describe what their specialty is aboard ship. Finally, they attach the name of their ship when dealing with others. Whenever a Gnome switches ships, either because of marriage, shipwreck, banishment, or any other reason, they take on the name of the new ship as their own. For example, a shipboard cleric’s name might be Snixon Cleric Fleetwind. A captain’s name could be Naria Master Cavestar.

<Names to be replaced with Babylonian type names.> Male Names: Argot, Alban, Boonswipe, Cargill, Feldsnatch, Garmeson, Norlim, Ringot, Snixon.

Female Names: Alarra, Elsmere, Isalore, Lali, Moonflower, Naria, Ravena, Solea, Tulura.

Professional Names: Acater, Actuary, Aeronaut, Alchemist, Alewife, Bard, Boardwright, Boatswain, Cleric, Scribe, Shipwright, Supercargo, etc.

Ship Names (Aether): Cloudcore, Fleetwind, Glittersky, Moonfollower, Starseeker, Stormwind, Swiftwing.

Ship Names (Nether): Arcanus, Cavestar, Darkrunner, Lightkiller, Nightstalker, Ironmast, Truthfinder.

Adventurers

Gnomes love exploration and discovery, but know full well how dangerous it would be to travel openly in human or Feldarin lands. Some Gnomes are driven to wandering when banished from their ship for committing a crime against another Gnome. Others may simply have let their curiosity get the better of them. More often, young Gnomish wizards set out to find truly obscure spell components, uncover long-forgotten arcane secrets, add exotic spells to their books, or to simply gain experience being a spellcaster. Evil Gnomes may adventure in order to learn tricks and skills their Gnomish rivals aren’t aware of.

Racial Traits

  • +2 Intelligence, -2 Strength: ...
  • Small: As a Small creature, a Gnome gains a +1 size bonus to Armor Class, a +1 size bonus on attack rolls, and a +4 size bonus on Hide checks, but he uses smaller weapons than Humans use, and his lifting and carrying limits are three-quarters of those of a Medium character.
  • Gnome base land speed is 20 feet.
  • 90' Darkvision.
  • +2 racial bonus on saving throws vs illusions.
  • +2 racial bonus to Listen, Alchemy, and Spellcraft checks.
  • Knowledge (arcana) is a Class Skill regardless of Class
  • Spell-Like Abilities: 1/day - dancing lights, ghost sound, prestigitation. ...
  • Automatical Languages: Feldarin and Gnomish.
  • Bonus Languages: ...
  • Favoured Class: Wizard. A multiclass Gnome's wizard class does not count when determining whether he takes an experience point penalty for multiclassing.
Races
Dwarves - Elves - Feldarin - Giantkin - Gnomes - Halflings - Humans - Orcs
Acquired Templates and Bloodlines
Fleshwrought - Plaguetouched

Suggested Changes

Mostly Harmless: I also think, after further reflection, that we need to give Gnomes a +4 bonus to disguise when trying to disguise themselves as Halflings, or some other way to reflect that because I think a lot of Gnome adventures are going to have to do that.

Also, we need names for the following - the ancient city, the wyrm/dracolich, and the magic god aspect they worship.

Finally, I don't know if anyone will like the naming scheme I came up with here, that is certainly up for discussion so if you have a better idea let's discuss it.

History

"The elven minstrels actually have the right of it - once upon a time we were halflings. The ancient flotilla was blown into the channel by a fierce storm, created from nothing by Holy Mother Wyrm. The Holy Mother took us in, sheltered us from the storm, and collapsed the tunnel behind us. Her teachings have evolved us into greater than we could ever have been. She has guided us through millennia of study and research into the secrets of the Masu. She is the benevolent light guiding our way." - Terrenak, Sage of the Mother Wyrm, speaking to his acolytes


Gnome Clans and their Cities

The Maqtar

The Maqtar are the most serious of the Nether Gnomes, living in a city that represents a melding of iron and stone unrivaled in all the history of Ursole. The city of Maqtarum is in the center of a massive vein of iron that reaches for untold distances – indeed the end of the vein has never been found. And not just iron, but mithril, adamantium, and other metals are also present in substantial quantities.

The city itself is ancient Masu, as all the other gnome cities are. Maqtarum appears to have been molded out of the very vein of iron that gives the city its name. The metal bridges and buttresses common throughout the city do not have any seams that can be detected between them and the surrounding rock. Indeed it is as if the city was planned when the vein was found, and then the iron left in place to form the buildings and walkways. For all its hardness, the city was constructed using a deft and delicate hand.

The Maqtar themselves are the most stern and dour of the Gnomes, their personalities matching the hard surfaces and edges of their buildings and ships. But while the Maqtar may be brusque, they are also solid, dependable, and trustworthy. The other gnomes have a saying, “the walls of Maqtarum would shatter before the word of a Maqtar would.”

In their choices of professions, the Maqtar match their city. They are the defenders of the realm. In play, Maqtar are more likely to choose professions such as weapon or armor smith, mason, or the like. Adventurers would most likely be fighters, knights, or duskblades, with the most prevalent arcanist specialties being Abjurers or Evokers.

The Maqtar earthships are an extension of the clan as much as any other gnome vessel. They are metal-clad monstrosities, beautiful only to their crews. The ships are by far the best protected and powerful in the gnome fleet, but there is no subtlety about them whatsoever. They are loud due to the metal pieces vibrating and hitting each other while the ships are in motion, as well as putting out more pollution than any other gnome earthship due to the larger engines needed to move the greater bulk.

While each vessel is individual in design and shape, most are larger than any comparable Nether clan ship, with Maqtar ships twice as large as a comparable Qaq or Kalmat ship not uncommon. Most appear as large metallic cylinders, tapering to a point at the front with a large glass or crystal for a cockpit window. They often have some sort of landing skids or claws, but must be very large to handle the load of the ship. Some vessels have ‘claws’ or ‘arms’ that can extend, retract, and grasp objects or creatures encountered below (these ‘claws’ are a mix of Masu technology and gnome ingenuity, allowing both cargo manipulation and combat capabilities). Exhaust comes from large holes in either the top or rear of the ship.

The Kalmat

The Kalmat are in many respects everything the Maqtar are not. The Kalmat are evasive where the Maqtar are forthright, subtle where the other is overt, and hidden where the other is announcing their presence. Based in their city of Kalmatu, the Kalmat are a very close knit clan where subtlety and guile are prized above overt strength and bloodless victories are the most celebrated.

Kalmatu is not blessed with the same mineral richness that Maqtar has. Indeed, the area Kalmatu is in is completely unremarkable geologically. Without natural resources to benefit their clan, the Kalmat have learned that the most efficient path to victory happens often without a battle. The Kalmat are devious, subtle, evasive, insightful, and inquisitive. Clan members often become merchants, bankers, politicians, or spies. Those with an adventuring bent become rogues, bards, or beguilers, where the arcanists usually specialize in illusion and enchantment.

Kalmatu itself is a wonder of design. The architecture itself lends itself to the subtle ways of the inhabitants. Entrances and exits are hidden from view when the observer is within a room. Passages are cleverly hidden from view of passerby. Even doorknobs and hinges are masked within the carvings and flowing lines of the buildings in the city. As is the case in all Masu cities, the effect is otherworldly to those unaccustomed.

Kalmatu ships appear as large insects, complete with landing gear that look like beetle legs, ‘feelers’ that extend from the front, bulbous ‘eyes’ that allow pilots a view, and a shimmering surface that could easily be mistaken for chitin. In profile, they appear ovoid or egg shaped, with the front dominated by crystal ‘eyes’, the base having fine legs that can be retracted into the hull. In general, they are the smallest ships in the Beneath. The Kalmat ships are much quieter than other Nether earthships, due to the smaller engines needed for the lighter hulls. Special care is also given to details such as muffling parts of the ship that could vibrate and make noise, betraying their presence. For obvious reasons, these are the ships used for missions that require ‘delicacy’, which to those outside the Kalmat clan mean ‘sneaking’.

One remarkable feature of the Kalmat ships is that the ‘feelers’ on some ships can be used to grapple enemies allowing the gnomes to hold ‘conversations’ with those who would otherwise wish to not be enlightened by the Kalmat crewmen.

The Qaqq

Gnome scholars have theorized that the city of Qaqqadu is the basis for legends of the Underworld where the souls of the damned go after they die. These legends tend to be relatively similar throughout the various surface humanoid cultures. This has led some of the more controversial Gnome scholars to theorize that it means the Masu were around during the earliest times of the different cultures histories and there was interaction between the races.

Qaqqadu is a geological oddity, in that the prevalent granite, basalt, and other igneous rocks common throughout are present, but the entire area is completely criss-crossed and streaked with pure sandstone. It is this sandstone that gives the city its unique characteristics.

The enormous cavern that the city resides in looks from the inside like the cavity of a long dead, colossal god. Massive ribs stretch overhead, meeting at a central breastbone. And all the buildings are of the same sandstone, mimicking smaller skeletons and giant skulls. Entryways become open jaws, windows are eyes. Walkways are skeletal arms and legs, stretched over the roads below. As with all Masu architecture, there are no seams visible, no sign of carving or cementing. It all appears natural.

There were some real skeletons present as well when the Gnomes first discovered the city, from massive four-legged creatures much larger than any previously known dragon. No complete skeleton was found, so no other conclusions can be drawn about these creatures, but several titanic skulls were removed for further study.

The scholars believe this was either a Masu graveyard or place of worship, perhaps both. Based on this, the scholars further theorized the real skeletons found were ‘guard dogs’ employed by the Masu to keep their ‘holy place’ safe. Unfortunately, no other archaeological evidence relating to the biology of former residents has ever been found.

The inhabitants themselves have adapted their studies to match their new home. Most are quiet and reserved, content to pursue lives of study and reflection. The Qaqq clan is home to the more scholarly Gnomes in the Beneath, and many Qaqq go on to be teachers, healers, and scientists. Adventurers tend to be clerics, necromancers, and diviners.

The Qaqq earthships are also remarkable in that the makers have been influenced by their surroundings and design their ships to match. Most Qaqq ships have a skeletal motif, centered around a large skull forming the prow of the vessel, with the eye sockets being what the pilots see through. Often ribs continue back the hull of the ship continuing the skeleton motif.

These bones are usually bleached wood or polished sandstone, but very rarely one of the skulls of the creatures found in the city will be allowed for use in the construction of the vessel. The most common motif used if that of a skeletal dragon. In addition, many Qaqq ships have a magical horn placed within the 'jaws' of their 'skull', which when sounded can replicate the effect of a fear spell.

Umuk Damu and the Kimazzuk

One subject never broached in polite Gnome conversation is Umuk Damu. Umuk Damu was the fifth (and latest) Masu city found and populated by the Gnomes. Rather than see infighting and conflict ensue between the clans for settlement claims, the Great Mother wisely advised that each of the three clans send equal numbers of settlers to populate and study the new city. The Great Mother, as a sign of her interest and concern for the well-being of Umuk Damu, allowed one of her Beloved Children, Nikurtu, to settle with the pioneers in a purely advisory role, to assist them in their endeavors.

Over time, these settlers formed their own clan, the Damuzhan. As befitting their mixed heritage, these were the least bound by previous traditions of behavior and action. Great science and philosophy flowed from Umuk’s walls, and experiments in Masu technology were constantly performed, bringing Gnome culture and knowledge leaps and bounds ahead. Truly the Great Mother was wise in her suggestion.

But then, betrayal and tragedy. Unbeknownst to the rest of the clans, Nikurtu had been working in secret with several of the Damuzhan scientists on alternate fuels and uses for the Masu engines. One of the experimental fuels was corpses of dead Gnomes, which had promise as an alternate fuel though it did pollute more than the oil and coal usually used by the other clans.

Eventually they were discovered, and the moral outrage resounded throughout the rest of the clans, though none were more hurt or betrayed than the Great Mother herself, who valued her Gnome ‘family’ more than anything, and to see them used thusly made her seethe in anger.

Each clan contributed to a force sent to Umuk to take control of the city from the Damuzhan and cease all experimentation. But the final betrayal was still to come. Anticipating such a move, Nikurtu gathered his followers and had them fill all their ships with everything valuable they could carry, and he led them on an exodus to the surface world before the combined force could arrive. His most cruel and dastardly act soon followed. Gnome scientists are unsure to this day how he did it, but they theorize that he somehow overloaded a Masu engine and set it in the middle of the city. The resultant explosion destroyed what had been called the most beautiful Masu city, as well as half the combined force. Those that survived were blinded by the explosion, and sickened for the rest of their days. It is said that the howls of the Great Mother echoed through the Beneath for years, and that is you place your ear to the stone, you can still hear her cries of anguish.

Umuk itself is still only rubble, except for some small buildings since constructed by the Gnomes. The site is now only used as a defensive post, and the occasional magical experiment zone for tasks deemed to dangerous for experimentation within a city.

The Damuzhan became the Kimazzuk, the ‘Lost Blood’. While no Gnomes remain alive that witnessed the Betrayal, the clan memories are still heavy on the Gnome mind. Relations between the Kimazzuk and the rest of the Gnomes are strained at best, but by agreement the Kimazzuk are permitted to come to Nekrazzadar in peace to keep some form of relations with their cousins.

As for Nikurtu, the Kimazzuk claim that they have not seen him since shortly after they left the Beneath. This has led many to speculate wildly on his current location, and what he could be doing.

DM notes: 1) This was all part of the Great Mothers plans of course. She needed a way to get sizable numbers of gnomes to go to the surface to begin polluting it as well. 2) Nikurtu is alive, and controlling the Aether much the same way the Mother controls the Nether. He stays out of sight, and leads through trusted intermediaries or by altering himself into a Kimazzuk gnome

Nekrazzabar

For all the awe that the three clan cities the Gnomes populate Beneath inspire, they all pale in comparison to the pure beauty that is Nekrazzabar. Even the briefest glimpse can reduce the hardest soul to weeping.

Description

Housed deep with in an ancient dormant volcano in the Fire Wolf Range (so named for the mountains resemblance to a canine mandible and the numerous volcanoes that dot the landscape), Nekrazzabar was the capital of the Masu in times forgotten. It was their crowning glory, and their lasting legacy.

Entry to Nekrazzabar can be through multiple tunnels that run to other parts of the Beneath, through the caldera above to the top of the volcano, or through the water passage to the east that the original Gnomes used to find their home. Entry into the city from any of these beholds a truly magnificent (and to the gnomes, divine) sight.

The city itself is housed within a spherical void with buildings lining the interior. The sphere is approximately two miles across. Docking bays for Nether ships line the bottom hemisphere; Aether ships rest in the upper. A mile wide circular platform sits on giant crystalline buttresses at the equator of the sphere, upon which sit the Temple of Magic, the Gnome Council chambers, and the Dragon’s Eryie.

Above the platform, and centrally located above the Temple of Magic, is the Portal. The Portal hangs at a point in space approximately ¼ mile above the platform, radially directed towards the upper pole of the sphere. The Spire of the Temple arises just beneath it, and as it approaches, spindles of crystal arise to encompass it in their multicolored arms. These spindles control the Portal, allowing the Gnomes to control the heat and light output precisely.

Light from the portal, from the caldera above, and from any other light source (torch, daylight spell, etc.) are not absorbed by the surfaces, but are reflected by and transmitted through the structures. This gives the city a feel as if it is glowing (which it is in a sense), and a feeling of soothing warmth, as if sitting in front of a comfortable fire. Such was the Masu skill that no shadows normally appear within the city – light emanates from every surface eliminating them. Masu esthetics had that during construction, the exterior walls of buildings would be translucent, and interior walls are opaque. All surfaces still bestow a light corresponding to the color they bear however, regardless of their transparency.

The buildings lining the sphere are all very angular, yet organic, as if the inside of a two-mile wide geode. They generally conform to vertical standards, but some appear to have grown radially towards the center.

The platform in the center holds the heart of all that is Gnome in Ursole. The Temple of Magic is both their main university and place of worship, as magic IS religion. Within the Temples sweeping cathedral of crystalline color all manner of experiments and study are undertaken. The Masu designed the walls to exhibit magical properties of their own, and the different colors can be induced to give magical effects. In the more important laboratories, Prismatic Walls or Spheres can be conjured automatically to protect those studying some of the darker, more dangerous secrets found in the Beneath. (NEED MORE WORK AND DETAIL HERE)

Rising steeply form the Temple is the Spire. The Spire possesses the strongest protective magics imaginable, and is made of the hardest substances. Woe betide the Gnomes if something were to happen and the Spire would fail, removing their protections and control of the Portal….

The next structure shares its name with the group that meets within its halls, the Sarratu. The Sarratu is the ruling Gnome council, comprised of members of all three clans and the Aether. Much of the power here is for show only, as most items of substance are decided well before they would be brought up in council chambers by the different shadowy societies that permeate Gnome society.

The last structure on the platform is the Eyrie, the home of the Dragon. Few are permitted the honor to enter Her home, and she is rarely seen outside of it. But all Gnomes pray silently to Her at least once a day, thanking Her for their continued good fortune and benevolent guidance, showing them the way to True Enlightenment.

City History

The Masu found the mountain millennia ago, and quickly saw that the volcanic activity was not natural. Finding a stable portal to the Elemental Plane of Fire located deep within the mountain gave them the answer to the mystery, but also provided them with a great opportunity – imagine the power that could be had if we were to harness this Portal?

And so, using the magical skill they already possessed, the Masu began their first Great Project. They used the spherical void the Portal had already created as their home, and magically protected them selves from the heat and flames, only allowing it to escape in directions they chose. Eventually they discovered how to ‘filter’ the opening, or how to only allow as much light and as little heat as they wanted (this is the light source for the city). Knowing that crystals form through careful application of heat and pressure, they merged their magic and the Portal to create their magnificent capital city.

The buildings, walkways, everything, are created from pure crystals. All the colors of the spectrum are represented, the different colors created by different minerals carefully added during the formation of the crystalline structure. Light from the portal, from the caldera above, and from any other light source (torch, daylight spell, etc.) are not absorbed by the surfaces, but are reflected by and transmitted through the structures. This gives the city a feel as if it is glowing (which it is in a sense), and a feeling of soothing warmth, as if sitting in front of a comfortable fire. Such was the Masu skill that no shadows normally appear within the city – light emanates from every surface eliminating them.

Over the centuries the city grew to its present form. Other cities were formed (several of which to be later occupied by the Gnomes), but none as magnificent as Nekrazzabar. Then, with no more explanation than was left at the other Masu cities, the Masu disappeared. All that was left was their jewel of a city, and their magic.

Eventually, the Dragon found Nekrazzabar. Even though she was only looking for a place to hide from her pursuers, she immediately saw the opportunities this treasure presented. She spent centuries studying its wonders, never going outside the volcano, learning all the secrets the city could bestow, before her Children arrived, giving Her companionship, and more importantly pawns, in her grand game.

First sight

The first thing a newcomer sees is color – in the most brilliant and pure forms imaginable. All the colors of the rainbow, bright and pure. The city is also brightly lit, (equivalent to a daylight spell) so that any surface dweller would be able to clearly view the splendor.

As strangers sweep their eyes around to take in the scene, they are drawn to something high within the Sphere. A giant ball of fire rages with uncontrolled fury, yet stays unmoving and unsupported by any structure. (This is the portal to the Elemental Plane of Fire – sharper PCs may reason (correctly) that this is not a real volcano but any volcanic symptoms were actually a result of an uncontrolled portal to the elemental planes.)

As the visitor grows accustomed, he sees that the buildings, walkways, and even the ground are the reason for this. Closer examination will reveal that these are no ordinary building materials in use. Dwarves or any characters with a rank in Appraise will easily be able to see that all visible surfaces and materials are actually crystals. The closest examination will detect no flaw.

(NEED MORE DETAIL)

Other items to be added: Chromatic spells Study of Chromomancy Defenses (Scorching Rays fueled by the Portal anyone, focused through the Crystals – “Gnomes with frickin’ laser beams!”) School for Initiate of the Sevenfold Veil Prismatic Walls around key structures on command Magical hybrid-rat/bat creature that scours the crystals eating the pollution

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