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The Corpus Hermeticum

17 Apr

[Hermes:] Concerning Soul and Body, son, we now must speak; in what way Soul is deathless, and whence comes the activity in composing and dissolving Body.

For there’s no death for aught of things that are; the thought this word conveys, is either void of fact, or simply by the knocking off a syllable what is called “death”, doth stand for “deathless”.

For death is of destruction, and nothing in the Cosmos is destroyed. For if Cosmos is second God, a life or living creature that cannot die, it cannot be that any part of this immortal life should die. All things in Cosmos are parts of Cosmos, and most of all is man, the rational animal.

– from The Corpus Hermeticum

The Corpus Hermeticum is the body of work most widely known of the ancient Hermetic texts. It is one of three major bodies of works that are considered essential to the study of Hermeticism and Hermetic Magic. These books are set up as dialogues between Hermes Trismegistus and a series of others. The first book involves a discussion between Nous (God) and Hermes, supposedly resulting from a meditative state, and is the first time that Hermes is in contact with God. The secrets of the Universe are unfolded to Hermes, and later books are generally of Hermes teaching others.

The Hermetic Order of Wizardry instructs Initiates from the teachings of the Corpus Hermeticum during their ten year apprenticeship.

Mime Zombies & Other Things

15 Apr

Last night I was thinking of an alternate post to do besides my earlier one on The Multiverse.

“What wackiness could I do with Mimes in RPGs?”  I came up with a few quick ideas:

Mime as Character Class or Sub-Class
This one is pretty obvious. I don’t know if it has been done before, but I am sure it would be interesting.
A Mime could possibly be a Jester Sub-Class or a Non-Verbal Magic User Sub-Class. In these cases, the Mime would get advantages to somatic only performances, charm, spells and the like. A Mime might have a positive diplomatic skill among intelligent creatures where the language is not known. They could also be quick to pick up skills by mimicking them.

Mime as Human Sub-Race/Species
In this scenario, Mimes would be totally non-verbal beings, able to communicate 100% telepathically amongst each other, as their minds are attuned to their kind. When communicating with other humans, they can either do so one-way telepathically or empathically. Mimes would dress very visibly according to such things as their personality traits, mood, social status, profession and the like. A Mime would have a bonus to perception, as they observe a lot instead of speaking. A Mime species might be an advanced one (good for Sci-Fi aliens) or one that lives in places where verbal communication is less likely to occur (like the Underdark), as the GM sees fit. Mimes could be of any class the GM allows when they are played as a species.

We now turn to the poster I made above…
Mime Undead
A Zombie Mime would be creepy! The undead Mime would be acting out how it wants to eat your brain and faux clawing you before it ever made contact. I could see a “Save vs Insanity” roll coming for the Character when one of these things approaches! A Mime vampire or other undead type might be freaky too, for that matter.

I think real life Mimes are entertaining, but there is something “other” about them that just makes them surreal.

-Jeff
“Retro”

Ki-rin (Qilin or Kirin)

13 Apr

Magical mythological creatures, Qilin (or kirin in Korean and Japanese) are always lawful & good. They resemble unicorns and may be related.
They are powerful spellcasters, and roam the skies looking for good deeds to reward, and malefactors to punish. It has a head like a dragon, antlers of a deer or other horned beast, scales like a fish and hooves like of an ox. Its tail is like a lion’s with scales. It legs are sometimes ablaze with magical fire! Seeing a Qilin is a good omen. If attacked it can shoot fire from its mouth, but can also be so gentle as to be able to walk upon water.

In D&D, the ki-rin first appeared in the original Dungeons & Dragons game supplement Eldritch Wizardry (1976) and then in the 1977 Monster Manual.

 

bronze Qilin from the Ming Dynasty

Appendix J of the Dungeon Masters Guide

12 Apr

Appendix J


The Advanced D&D Dungeon Masters Guide contains a most unusual and either useless or extremely useful Appendix J: Herbs, Spices and Medicinal Vegetables.

Many character types could make use of the plants listed in it. “Woodsy Types” such as Druids, Rangers and Forresters could find these plants in the course of their normal duties. Such plants could be sold to merchants & Herbalists of the local populace, where they might enter the hands of other PC types, such as the alchemists of the Hermetic Order of Wizardry, Healer Types, and Rogues. Courtesans would desire many herbs as aphrodisiacs. The potential uses in a campaign are limited only to the interest and imagination of the DM and the players.

Some of the plants have multiple uses. Some will be reputed, but non-effective folk medicine placebos. The Uses And/Or Powers listed are for healing, but in larger doses some could be poisonous, therefore useful to Assassins and the like. As mentioned before, alchemists and Magic Users might use them in potions or rituals, etc.

I noticed that of the ones listed in Appendix J that a few had a question mark to denote unknown uses. I decided to take a peek at what the Wiki had to say about the uses of 3 of them that had a “?”.


Bay leaf (plural bay leaves) refers to the aromatic leaf of the bay laurel (Laurus nobilis, Lauraceae). Fresh or dried bay leaves are used in cooking for their distinctive flavor and fragrance. The leaves are often used to flavor soups, stews, braises and pâtés in Mediterranean cuisine. The fresh leaves are very mild and do not develop their full flavor until several weeks after picking and drying.

In the Elizabethan era, some people believed that pinning bay leaves to one’s pillow on the eve of Saint Valentines day would permit one to see one’s future spouse in a dream.

Bay leaf has been used as an herbal remedy for headaches. It contains compounds… which have proven useful in the treatment of migraines. Bay leaf has also been shown to help the body process insulin more efficiently, which leads to lower blood sugar levels. It has also been used to reduce the effects of stomach ulcers. Bay Leaf has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Bay leaf is also an antifungal and antibacterial and has also been used to treat rheumatism, amenorrhea, and colic.

Some members of the laurel family, as well as the unrelated, but visually similar mountain laurel and cherry laurel, have leaves that are poisonous to humans and livestock. While these plants are not sold anywhere for culinary use, their visual similarity to bay leaves has led to the oft-repeated belief bay leaves should be removed from food after cooking because they are poisonous. This is not true – bay leaves may be eaten without toxic effect.

So, we see that the lowly Bay leaf has many potential gastronomic, healing and (if an improper variety that could be quietly slipped in instead of the regular variety) a poison. Perhaps powdered bay leaf could be used to keep Shriekers from alerting wandering monsters to the presence of PC in a fungal forest in the Underdark.


Lotus


The lotus tree (Greek: λωτός, lōtós) is a plant that occurs in two stories from Greek mythology:

In Homer’s Odyssey, the lotus (tree) bore a fruit that caused a pleasant drowsiness and was the only food of an island people called the Lotophagi or Lotus-eaters. When they ate of the lotus tree they would forget their friends and homes and would lose their desire to return to their native land in favor of living in idleness.

In Greek Mythology, the lotus-eaters… were a race of people from an island… dominated by lotus plants. The lotus fruits and flowers were the primary food of the island and were narcotic causing the people to sleep in peaceful apathy.

In Ovid’s Metamorphoses, the nymph Lotis was the beautiful daughter of Neptune, the god of water and the sea. In order to flee the attention of the violent deity Priapus, she invoked the assistance of the gods, who answered her prayers by turning her into a lotus tree.

Botanical candidates for the lotus (tree) include Diospyros Lotus, which is a sub-evergreen tree native to Africa that grows to about 25 feet and has uninteresting yellowish green flowers. Other Lotus plants are discussed in the Lotus-eaters article.


The lotus tree is also mentioned in the Book of Job 40:21-22, verses which refer to a large hippopatamus-like creature referred to as “behemoth“. The passage states: “He lies under the lotus trees, In a covert of reeds and marsh. The lotus trees cover him with their shade; The willows by the brook surround him.”

Ok, now we have a mythical type of lotus tree as well as the various varieties of real world water flowers we can inject into the game.
A quest for the fruit or flowers of the elusive “Lotus Tree” complete with a Behemoth guardian may be necessary for the PCs to successfully undertake. In the Arduin Multiverse, the infamous “Black Lotus” was extremely lethal and used as a poison (and perhaps a dangerous hallucinogen). Some lotus types might be needed to open the user to the Dream Lands in a campaign that has Cthulhian aspects to it. White lotus has been used as incense and other types as food.


Peppermint has a long tradition of medicinal use, with archaeological evidence placing its use at least as far back as ten thousand years ago.

Peppermint has a high menthol content, and is often used as tea and for flavouring …It is the oldest and most popular flavour of mint-flavoured confectionery. Peppermint can also be found in some shampoos and soaps, which give the hair a minty scent and produce a cooling sensation on the skin. Used in this way, it has been known to help with insomnia.

Peppermint has promising radioprotective effects for cancer patients undergoing cancer treatment.

Peppermint flowers are large nectar producers and honey bees as well as other nectar harvesting organisms forage them heavily. A mild, pleasant varietal honey can be produced if there is a sufficient area of plants.

Peppermint oil has a high concentration of natural pesticides…

I could see some weird Gamma World use for Peppermint, due to possibly having radioprotective properties. Giant Insects might be battled with the oils of the peppermint plant. It is certainly a pleasant flavor that would be valued in many foodstuffs, etc.


It really doesn’t take much to find a use for Appendix J in a campaign – just a little imagination and maybe some research into the plant’s possible alternative medicinal, magical and alchemical usages. It may be perhaps the least gleaned appendix of the Dungeon Masters Guide, but it can become more than fluff in the hands of a good DM.

-Jeff
“Retro”

A Friendly Eye

10 Apr

Hermetic Order of Wizardry

9 Apr

Hermetic Order of Wizardry


The Hermetic Order of Wizardry is an ancient and secretive group of magic users, whose origins and purpose remain shrouded in mystery.

The little that is known about the Hermetic Order is conflicting at best, because its members are sworn to secrecy. The wizards’ headquarters is a secluded complex, complete with a tower, where it is rumored that anything from magical research to contact with other-dimensional beings is conducted.

The Order does open trade in minor magicks through authorized distributors, all of which are members of the Order itself. Elemental Wine is one famous example and is highly pized among the wealthy nobility of many nations.

In lands where magic is outlawed or persecuted, the Order maintains an invisible profile. In civilized lands, the Order attempts to influence through the authorities or by their presence certain strictures upon the use of magic. It is the regulation of magic and its practitioners that either alarms and causes fear in people, believing it a sorcerous conspiracy to control all magic and perhaps the world through it – or which makes the Order respected as seen as a force for societal good.

The Order does not solicit members. Those that wish to join the Order contact one of its local representatives in the area where they live (for the Order has many lodges scattered throughout the known lands). If the candidate passes an initial interview and examination, conducted under magical means, they are given an apprenticeship in the Order. All candidates are then sent for a 10-year training period at the main compound. During their training, the apprentice is initiated progressively into the arcane secrets & rituals of the Order. Some apprentices have never returned, but most are sent out back into the world to gather information or rare items in pursuit of the Orders desire for ultimate magical knowledge. Other wizards are sent off to pursue their own path, but remain tied to the Order and they report back to it of their travels and dealings.

The library maintained at the Hermetic headquarters is undoubtedly the greatest one ever collected, though few have seen it to tell of its wonders. Some believe the wizards are plotting the subjugation of the world – others believe they are trying to protect it from unseen dangers.



The symbol of the Hermetic Order of Wizardry is a tower and an all-seeing eye. The eye is always seen on the ceremonial robes of the wizards, which are worn during their rituals.

This secretive group of sorcerers is the source of whispers and rumors in taverns and drawing rooms everywhere. Whatever the truth is, their power and influence is unquestioned.

-Jeff
“Retro”

Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set (Blue Box)

5 Apr

Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set (Blue Box)

My brother and I slaying the dragon 😉

 

This is what caused me to get into the hobby.
When it first came out I had no idea what a war game or RPG was, yet. Just like a random encounter or a wandering monster, I stumbled across this mesmerizing beauty   in the strangest place: the old Woolworth’s store that was in downtown St.Paul, MN.

The cover art by David Sutherland drew me in immediately! I quickly spent 2 months worth of my saved allowance get it, because I had to have this new thing!  (I was saddened by his death in 2005 and it was only then that I learned that he had been a Minneapolis native).

The entire experience of opening this box up and finding the treasures inside was an adventure in itself. I pored over the rules and finally shanghaied my little brother to play. He and I both enjoyed D&D and continued to game together in various home brew Holmes campaigns over the years.

I lost my original set in a move 😦
Thankfully, I was able to score a replacement set later, but by that time, AD&D was out and my group had already migrated to it.

As I stated in an earlier post, I found it funny that our earliest characters slew a Red Dragon (at 2nd level! lol) There has to be a dragon in the dungeon, because it’s Dungeons & Dragons, ya know? I probably didn’t know exactly what I was doing then, but Dungeons & Dragons and RPGs in general have been my lifelong hobby ever since those wonderful, whacky days 🙂

The Old School Renaissance has done much to bring back the experience of OD&D, Basic and AD&D to the table again. Whatever flavor you play, Old School or Modern, I wish you happy gaming.

Let the dice roll as they may, forever!

-Jeff
“Retro”