The Lyceum Archives

An exploration of magic in Talislanta Tenth-Anniversary Edition
By Mark "Tipop" Williams

"The Lyceum Archives" will be an ongoing series of columns designed to spark your imagination about the Tenth-Anniversary Edition magic system. I'll discuss ideas for new spells, new ways of using the modes, new enchanted items, guidelines for the adventuring mage, and new magical legends and tales you can add to your own campaigns. I'll use stories and anecdotes from my campaigns to illustrate these ideas.

In this first column I'll describe some new enchanted items. You'll find no +2 swords or wands of fire in these pages. I intend to stretch your imagination somewhat. Don't be alarmed, I'll be gentle...

To start, let us consider the problem of medicine on the battlefield. As most of you know, the state of the doctor's art in Talislanta is hardly worth mentioning. Quacks, charlatans, and bunglers are mixed in with ill-informed medicine men and the rare true medic. The only reliable form of healing is magical, which can be difficult to obtain, especially in the numbers needed for an army after a battle.

This was the problem facing a young Nicademas on his first adventure. He had been traveling in the Quan Empire, following some hints and half-destroyed maps he had discovered in the Lyceum Arcanum archives that might show the location of an ancient Archaen settlement. Upon locating the area, he found it occupied by a battalion of Kang warriors, resting after a long battle. After some discussion with their commander, Nicademas was able to reach an agreement whereby he would be allowed to dig up the land in the area after providing his services as a magical healer.

What Nic hadn't anticipated was the tremendous demand for healing that the Kang had... They had virtually no healers among themselves, and the few Mandalans they had brought with them had either died or were missing after the fighting and presumed dead. There were scores and scores of wounded, some dying, and more on the way as soon as the next encounter with the enemy occurred.

That's when Nicademas decided that something more long-term was needed. He set about the construction of a large cauldron, ordering the Kang blacksmith to make it according to his specifications. Being a pyromancer, Nic spent a great deal of time in the forge, reaching into the flames and caressing them, teaching them how to mold the metal. He inscribed runes along the softened iron (he was also a cryptomancer) and carefully filled them with molten gold. When he was finished ten days later, he had the Cauldron of Mending, which could be used to cook the meals of the wounded. The meals so prepared would have minor healing properties: not enough to cure any of the wounded completely, but enough to stave off death and increase the recovery rate.

Now, in game terms, what did he do?
The enchantment was a first level cryptomantic healing spell. I borrowed an idea from the Alter mode, allowing the spell to affect multiple targets by taking a -1 to the casting roll per target after the first. So the cauldron could heal a dozen people per use, one hit point each. It can be used three times per day. To reduce the enchanting time even further, Nicademas also put a requirement that the cauldron must be placed in a bonfire each night to recharge it, at which time the golden runes along the edge would glow with a ruddy internal heat. Thus the enchantment was reduced from two weeks to ten days. So, up to thirty-six wounded Kang could receive minor magical healing each day, which would greatly reduce their mortality rate, and (as a side benefit) make them very grateful to this Cymrilian youth in the future.

For our second idea-sparker, let's take a look at the idea of "targeted" weapons, using the reverse of the Ward mode, Hex....

Read all of Tipop's article in the first issue of Tamar.
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