Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Ostari: Discussions of Magic and Psionics in the Imperial States

The Ostari: Discussions of Magic and Psionics in the Imperial States

When initially coming to terms with Ostar and its inhabitants I had a couple of key foci. The first and largest was a meritocracy built around service to the Empire and the development of the Imperial state as something greater than any other nation-state. I wanted a nation based around transhumanist ideals; to create a humanity which was greater by the establishment of cells of superhuman individuals who would serve the Imperial State and develop their own unique traits.

This vision, of course, was biting off more than I could chew . . .

However, I think that I really was able to get a lot of the ‘taste’ into the material. The Ostari court has survived uprisings, great crises, and economic collapse. The Imperial line, almost deific in its clean succession, would serve as the ideal form of this constant growth of the human condition. Science fiction (from the works of Herbert and Card) left a very heavy imprint on the surface of things . . . in a fantasy situation the Ostari would not need a finite physical resource to build their empire. Rather than the spice they would use magic, that endless source of fancy and cool which any high fantasy uses to make the best out of the world presented. The magic involved would be something rarely seen, and the image of the robed wizard would be something out of the norm.

Most Ostari spellcasters are ‘unorthodox’ casters; warmages, beguilers, hexblades, and even the occasional Book of Nine Swords styled warrior would serve as the magocratic elite. Bards serve as attaché and ambassadors, minor nobles and the ‘court’ magicians of various fringe elements of the society. Psychics serve as an interesting element, used by those who understand psionics as a complexity (while other societies have developed a large pool of psionically inclined mystics, only the Children of Sucur serve as a group of psychics in the Imperial State). The complex mixture of mental and arcane magic helped give rise to many of the interesting objects in the Imperial; the Sucuran Guard, the breeding of the Councilor Birds, and one of the most feared talents of the Justices of Ostar; disrobing.

Disrobing is… well, it’s a scary thing for a magic-using character. The setting has checks against mages; magebane artifice, the use of Qishi and other narcotics and neural agents . . . but disrobing is a fierce thing. In essence, Justices may create an object which is inserted behind the eye of a mage and, through channeling of low levels of energy, robs a mage of his ability to cast spells. This is manifested by a low psychic ‘pulse’ and a curse effect which cannot be removed save by high level spellcasters. Mechanically, the process reduces mental scores to 9. The threat of disrobing is a nasty little bug and an excellent deterrent to PC and NPC breaking of the laws of spellcraft.

Some may say it is inappropriate to do such a horrible thing to a PC; however, the ability to retrain and earn back the breaking of the process is always presented. Many talented fighters were once disrobed, and it is possible for one to ‘beat the system’ by using Intelligence-boosting items or another’s spellcraft in the setting. It is also appropriate for PCs to have an option of capture and assured dismissal of a dangerous NPC caster rather than murder (a big no-no in such a strongly mage-friendly society).

Our next writeup will cover some of the more unique applications of this magic including Councilor Birds, and the use of the Grey.

Good Gaming,

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