What are the 'Lost Treasures of the Codex'?
The 'Lost Treasures of the Codex' is a series of articles on the Earthdawn Blog which will present you source material for Earthdawn 3rd Edition.
The series is called the 'Lost Treasures of the Codex' because the source material was originally part of a submission for the 'Earthdawn Codex' Open Call from RedBrick back in 2007. But it is a shame that this material was never published as the Earthdawn Codex project wasn't realized. That's also a reason why the original author Joeri decided to provide the material to publish it step by step on the Earthdawn Blog.
The series will cover various descriptions of interesting places, new magical weapons, creatures, Earthdawn legends, disciplines and much more, to use in your game.
There will be several volumes of the Lost Treasures. I am revising the original files and texts to create articles and PDFs for Earthdawn fans to use it in their game. The original author Joeri 'Cpt. Cutlass' Winkeler and I thought this would be much better than having the files "rotting on his HDD".
Please keep in mind that the documents are based on Earthdawn 3rd Edition rules! You'll find the PDF-file at the bottom of the article. The PDF will of course be added to the 'Downloads Section' too.
So where to start? Ah of course:
Lost Treasure of the Codex Vol. I
This location is created for adventurers visiting Haven, the corner of Parlainth held and protected by Namegivers. Although it is meant for Havenites, you, as a GM may wish to use them elsewhere. Places like this should be available all over Barsaive where civilization is found. Some simple adjustment in Names and Gamemaster Characters will do the trick.
The Spire of Thaumaturgy
This relative newly erected building lies just outside of Haven bordering the dark, lush jungles surrounding Parlainth. The Spire was build due to popular demand several years after the founding of Haven. The building is a large, squat dome with a broad, spiraling tower in the middle. The tower extends some 12 feet in the air and is topped off with several smaller spires laid out in a haphazardly fashion. Surrounding the building is a 2 feet thick, 5 feet tall wall, completely covered with runes and protective wards. Inside the wall several small herbal gardens seem to flourish unchecked and present and array of exotic flowers and smells.
The complex is of obvious dwarven design with the occasional statue of Upandal, Passion of construction.
Astrally, the building is an impregnable fortress, protected by a host of spirits and enchantments, designed to ward off both horrors and thieves.
Due to the numerous adventurers exploring the Parlainth ruins, the services of spellcasting adepts were in high demand, if not for their magical knowledge and expertise then for the training of younger adepts into higher circles. Seeing an excellent business opportunity the dwarf Illusionist Dassor Miragus "The Illustrious Phantasmagoria" conveyed with his friends and Torgak, founded the arcane school and Named it The Spire of Thaumaturgy. Along with Dassor two other magicians co-founded the school and continue to run it. These are Vodar, a 12th Circle human Nethermancer and Elhindel, a 10th Circle elf Wizard.
In order to use the facilities of the Spire visitors are required to pay a membership fee of 400 silvers. This fee will grant access to the Spire's library, meditation chambers, lodgings, alchemy labs and experimentation chambers for a year and a day. After this time a renewal fee of the same amount is demanded.
Explorer's who can't afford or do not wish to pay this exuberant fee of the Spire of Thaumaturgy's membership can instead 'volunteer' to perform a service for one of the school's owners. This service can be one of several tasks, depending on the needs and whims of the spellcasters. Usually these adventurers are asked to retrieve documents, spells or books from the ruins but the Spire's close affiliation with Torgak, Vardeghul and several caravan owners means the character(s) may be challenged to do anything the GM fancies. Investigation, protection and exploration are the chief assignments amongst these jobs.
The Spire of Thaumaturgy, or the Wizards Tower as it is commonly called is run by three magicians of considerable repute, they concentrate on their specific branch of the mystic arts and the protection of Haven. Dassor, the eccentric dwarf Illusionist is the one who deals with outsiders and newcomers the most. He also makes sure that the Spire remains unaffiliated with any other organization. Vodar, the human Nethermancer is the Spire's expert on horrors and horror hunting as well as astral travel and spirits. The elf Wizard Elhindel researches new spells and tries to keep up with Torgak's constant demands for healing aids that are sold in his shop.
See the individual descriptions of these magicians below.
Using the Spire of Thaumaturgy in your games
The Spire can be a source to many adventures; depending on your approach you can use it as a base of operations, an encounter sparking new adventures or as a side plot. The three mages that own the Spire can be very potent allies and rewarding employers; on the other hand they can be dangerous and cunning adversaries as well.
Individual descriptions of the magicians also state possible adventure hooks.
In addition to the description provided here you might want to include extra secrets and affiliations. True, the Wizard's Tower aspires total independence but as long as the other two don't know it, one of the magicians may want to work together with other organizations like The Eye of Throal, The Liferock Rebellion or any other organization you fancy.
Usually this cooperation is only temporary and the magicians will never willingly work with truly evil organizations like The Hand of Corruption and the Keys of Death (they could be tricked into working together tough).
Due to the nature of the Spire, adventures involving this location should always have a magic theme. Here are some ideas as an example.
Astral travel can be quite dangerous, especially near the corrupted region of Parlainth. Frequently, would be astral travelers hire magic wielding adepts as bodyguards when exploring astral space. Reasons for entering Astral Space may vary but commonly involve the slaying of a certain horror, striking deals with spirits, information gathering on the astral imprint of the Lost City and other 'real world' patterns like those from Namegivers and magic items.
Like described above, membership requires payment of 400 silvers. In addition to this costs specialized services like circle advancement, spell research or schooling, in depth magic identification and divination will probably implore the characters involved to run some errant or another for one of the proprietors of the Spire of Thaumaturgy. For more information review the individual magician’s descriptions.
Sometimes the Spire's magicians cannot get their hands on what they want through the appropriate channels and they are forced to use a more crooked approach. In these cases outside assistance by other Namegivers is employed. On the other hand, various shady characters and organizations crave the possession of some of the knowledge or artifacts held at the Spire. Breaking into the building should produce both a challenging and interesting adventure.
Despite the constant attention to protecting the Spire of Thaumaturgy both physical as astral there is the occasional security breach. Adventures concerning this possibility could involve tracking down astral beings that haunt the Spire, banishment of malicious spirits, defending the spires occupant from marauding horrors or their constructs and the like. Other adventures could focus on protecting a specific item, person or grimoire and the recovery of stolen goods.
Game Master Characters
Dassor Miragus "The Illustrious Phantasmagoria"
Dassor is an elderly but buzzing dwarven Illusionist who is the co-owner of the Spire of Thaumaturgy in Haven. He has a huge squared nose, long sleeveless multicolored robes, curled slippers and ample shiny jewelry. Although he is a striking figure he is somewhat introvert, preferring to keep to his own business. He rarely leaves the Spire and has a tendency to mutter to himself when he does. Apart from exploring the magical arts of illusion Dassor is also the connoisseur on ancient writings. He renders translation services but these are extremely costly, in most cases Dassor is quick to let potential customers run some "errands" for him as payment. These errands can range from finding and retrieving texts or books from Parlainth to acting as a messenger service or private caravan for the transport of books or to buy some rare book somewhere.
Dassor does not deal in information, ever. Characters seeking knowledge may want to pay the fee for examining the library at the Spire of Thaumaturgy or, more likely are brushed off and told to visit Vardeghul. The Illusionist considers himself a good friend of Vardeghul. The two frequently exchange documents and books and he'll never try to compete with her in business.
Those illusionist adepts who want to learn from him may do so after a series of complicated tests (GM's choice).
"You see: the difference between reality and fiction often lies just beyond the reach of most Name-Givers perception, it takes a great deal of seasoned schooling to overcome this obstacle. I doubt you will ever learn."
"You're much too young to possess such knowledge, go see Vardeghul and stop wasting my time."
"Ah yes, an excellent work of art, if you want a translation it'll cost you 200 gold. Of course there are always methods and means for me to do it free of charge. I have here a list of texts I'd like from the Library Of Throal…"
Dexterity (12): 5/d8
Strength (7): 4/d6
Toughness (9): 4/d6
Perception (19): 8/2d6
Willpower (17): 7/d12
Charisma (18): 7/d12
Dwarven Trade Routes: 8/2d6
Dwarven Racial Lore: 8/2d6
History: Theran: 10/d10+d6
History: Scourge: 9/d8+d6
Lore Horrors: 8/2d6
Magical Lore: 9/d8+d6
As Circle 12 Illusionist with a focus on Read and Write Magic, Threadweaving, Spellcasting, Matrices and Detect Falsehood.
Adventure Idea: "The lore pilferage"
The last batch of adventurers who were running an errand for Dassor run across something foul, they never appeared at their destination. Now Dassor seeks new adventurers to recover his lost transcripts. Upon investigating the characters learn that the lost adventurers were followed by a small band of Orc Scorchers.
Investigating the Scorchers will tell them that a known nobleman hired them. Research on the nobleman will lead to his hideout (possibly with more scorchers) and that the noble was denied access to Dassor's library (giving him a motive for the crime).
Once they find the Noble's hideout the characters must seek the stolen transcripts and rescue any surviving adventurer. Successful completion of this adventure will grant the PC's a very useful contact, Dassor may teach mages some illusory tricks for free or provide them with a minor magical item or the location of a unique magic item within Parlainth.
Adventure Idea: "The Tainted Codex"
Ever since Dassor "The Illustrious Phantasmagoria" got this new book he's been acting strange, even more bizarre than usual. He has somewhat lost it and is experimenting with various summoned illusions. These illusions then run amok and terrorize the inhabitants of Haven.
Once it is established that the creatures are mere illusions Dassor is confronted. After some heated discussions the cause of the riotous Illusions is determined to lie within the new book. All involved agree that the book is too dangerous and must be destroyed. This however does not work and attracts the attention of the horror that cursed the book. This horror sends in waves of creatures to recover its book (some of these creatures illusions themselves). In order to stop the cursed book from running AWOL and to stop the horror's attacks the adventurers can try one or more of the following options.
The book must be returned into Parlainth, the heroes face the irregular task of burying treasure in the city rather than uncover it. They must make sure no one else gets away with the book.
The horror that cursed the book must be destroyed in order for the curse to lift. It's particularly dangerous since its well vested in the arcane knowledge of illusions. Characters should take great care to examine the horror and find its weak spot (GM's decision).
Actually, the one who the characters think is Dassor, is actually a very powerful Illusion created by the horror to confuse and misdirect any investigations. The characters must discover this fact and find and rescue the real Dassor who will then use a powerful ritual to clean the book from its horrid taint.
The wizard Elhindel is an experienced old elf who originally hails from Travar. He's one of the few remaining original adventurers who helped Torgak clean out the ruins now known as Haven.
His adventuring days are long over and now he focuses on spell design, enchanting and the investigation of ritual magic.
Apart from this the old elf is also one of the proprietors of the Spire of Thaumaturgy where he trains younger adepts into the ways of magic. His many travels, both in Barsaive and in Astral Space have made him familiar with a good number of secrets, tactics for survival in hostile environments and knowledge on spirits and elementals. This knowledge has come to him at great costs and he is reluctant to share it with anyone.
The Elf has the quintessential posture and demeanor of the elven race; tall and lean with a stern but fair character. His long, white hair flows loosely behind him, cascading from his shoulders like a white, frozen waterfall. His skin is of the rare pearly white color known as Cetharel amongst the elves.
His long wizard robes are of an icy blue trimmed with wavy, black borders. Like most wizards Elhindel is an expert in robe embroidery, adorning his gowns with the patterns of his favorite spells. These are: Karmic Connection, Counterspell, Doom Missile and Spell Cage.
"An empty matrix is like a blank canvas, instead of filling it with a standard spell one should try to implore a variety of techniques to recreate a beautiful work of art."
"I believe there was an ancient ritual written in a book from a time long before the Scourge that describes a way of removing astral taint. The difficulty lies in obtaining the necessary ingredients…"
"According to these texts there were more magical Disciplines that the ones we all know, I would like to send an expedition to the place where these texts were found, you seem like the survivalist type…"
Dexterity (16): 7/ d12
Strength (8): 4/ d6
Toughness (7): 4/ d6
Perception (16): 7/ d12
Willpower (16): 7/ d12
Charisma (14): 6/ d10
Canvas Painting: 8/2d6
Magical Theory: 12/2d10
Magical Lore: 11/d10+d8
Research: 10/ d10+d6
Trading information: 7/d12
As Circle 10 Wizard with a focus on Astral Sight, Matrices and Willforce.
Adventuring idea: "Jungle excursion"
Elhindel who is looking to hire them for a job approaches the characters. He explains he is creating a cure for a disease called Break bone spasm. The disease is very rare and no cure exists today. If the adventurers agree the Wizard will give them a list of plants along with some rudimentary sketches of their appearance. According to the elf these plants can be found in the Thornspike Jungle surrounding the Lost City.
While looking for the ingredients the characters are attacked by a Wood Elemental (in addition to any other challenge the GM can come up with). Once the Elemental is about to be defeated it tries to retreat. When the characters make no attempt to follow the creature let it take some valuable item from one of the characters.
The retreating Elemental leads the adventurers to its summoner, a Windling Shaman Named Palaron. The Shaman explains he has summoned the Wood Elemental to ensure the safety of his home, he apologizes for the attack and explains that he could help the characters with their errand if they in turn help him to defeat or otherwise banish the pack of Skeorx hunting in the area.
If the characters don't mention their assignment have Palaron petition for their aid anyway. Unfortunately the Skeorx aren't the heroes only problem, two Theran Beastmasters have housebroken the creatures and plan on using them to raid Throalic caravans to and from Haven. Having one of the Therans escape would make for an excellent reoccurring villain.
Adventure idea: "The cursed artifact."
In this adventure the characters are asked to guard a recently recovered artifact from the ruins.
After thorough research Elhindel is convinced the item is horror marked and a very powerful item that could be used to summon the Horror in question to the physical realm. No matter the precautions taken the item is stolen from the characters and the trail of its thieves leads into the ruins.
After the usual dangers and encounters the heroes find the culprit's hideout and discover a cult devoted to the Horror. The cult is in the process of conducting a blood ritual to summon the Horror.
The artifact would prove a great help in stopping the evil cultists but is one of the characters brave enough to accept a horror mark in order to achieve this, especially with the Horror on the brink of awakening?
Vodar is a middle-aged man with jet-black hair and a stiff goatee, he misses his right eye and has placed a blood charm in its place. He has lived in Haven for as long as he can remember and has worked at the Spire of Thaumaturgy since its existence. Vodar is tall and lean and a good looking man in his mid 30s. As an apprentice of the great Nethermancer Scamath he has a vast knowledge of the astral worlds and spirits and horrors that reside herein. As such Vodar is frequently visited by other namegivers for advice and counsel. The Nethermancer is a very busy man and loathes these visits. He'll think of numerous excuses not to speak with visitors and is quite adept at brushing them off. Only the bold and persistent visitor has a chance of speaking with him. Even then Vodar tries to rush the meeting and asks exuberant prices or counter- payment in the form of one quest or another.
When visitors are Nethermancers themselves Vodar is more inclined of listening and offering advice yet he'll still be gruff and will keep complaining about "lost time" and "better things to do".
A good suggestion on how to soften the rude temperament of Vodar would be to present him with a gift, this is common knowledge amongst the residents of Haven so prepared characters will have more chance of encountering a good natured Vodar.
Those who wish to train and study with Vodar should be at least Circle 4 before he even considers it. A present can help possible students overcome his natural reservation. Furthermore students will be asked to "run the Gauntlet", these are a series of difficult tasks and tests intended to determine the candidate's worth. This Gauntlet is something entirely different as the tests that Vodar's colleague Dassor devises. A series of corridors and rooms are riddled with traps, brain twisters, cryptograms and spirits. The Apprentice must complete the Gauntlet before training can begin.
Vodar is also a big fan of legends and stories so characters with little funds may try to bring a good story instead of a present when requiring aid from Vodar.
"If that is the best you can do I'm afraid I cannot help you."
"The easiest way of visiting the spirit world is to die, this implicates that other ways are harder than dying, the price of failure is death."
"Come back tomorrow, I'm very busy right now."
Dexterity (14) 6/d10
Strength (11) 5/d8
Toughness (12) 5/d8
Perception (15) 6/d10
Willpower (18) 7/ d12
Charisma (15) 6/d10
Magic Lore: 10/d10 +d6
Lore Spirits : 14/2d12
History Barsaive: 8/2d6
Racial lore: Therans: 8/2d6
Legends and heroes: 12/2d10
Trap Detection: 8/2d6
As Circle 12 Nethermancer with a focus on Astral Sight, Spellcasting, Threadweaving, Spirit Hold and Spirit Talk.
Adventure idea: "Running the Gauntlet"
During one of his testing sessions (perhaps with the characters) something goes wrong. Instead of the usual minor spirit interaction a greater spirit manifests itself and presents an impossible challenge. Vodar is unable to control the spirit due to a powerful spell effect by the spirit and an apprentice seeks the help of the (other) characters.
The characters must overcome the spirit's challenge to successfully banish it. Once this is accomplished Vodar will ask the heroes to help them find the cause of this accident. Investigation will reveal that the Gauntlet was tampered with; several clues lead to an old enemy of Vodar who wanted to discredit him and the Spire of Thaumaturgy.
The adventure ends with the confrontation of the culprit. This can both be a mystery themed ending as a showdown of forces.
Adventure idea: “The final deed”
For years Vodar has searched for the Key Knowledges of his Nethermancer Staff. After all this time only one knowledge kept eluding him until, one day he came upon an historic text that revealed the Name of the creator of the staff. Vodar tried to summon the Nethermancer through a ghost ritual but to no avail. Determined to speak with the deceased he now plans a visit to the Netherworlds. He wants to hire the adventurers as bodyguards and seek out the spirit of the creator of the staff.
Traveling through the Netherworlds will be a dangerous and bewildering experience where the heroes fight corrupted spirits and interact with others while seeking a path through difficult and unpredictable terrain.
There are several options on how to conclude the adventure:
Vodar and the heroes find the Spirit they’re looking for but it refuses to help them. The Spirit wants something in return but what could a Spirit need? Perhaps it wants to set something in its past right? Perhaps it is bugged by other Spirits? This option would lead to a secondary adventure.
Vodar and the heroes find the Spirit they’re looking for but it is corrupted by a Horror. They cannot destroy the spirit because that would mean the last Knowledge is lost. Instead the adventurers will have to find a way to release the Spirit from the Horror’s grip. Destroying the Horror would do the trick but obviously this is very dangerous, maybe there is another way?
The adventurers are led on a wild goose chase and cannot find the spirit. Ultimately they find out that this spirit does not exist! This means that the person they were looking for is no longer dead. Has he been resurrected or is the creator of the Nethermancer staff now one of the undead?