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The Mechanics of Destruction:
Origins of the Twin Cataclysms

By Rick “Duicarthan” Miller and Denis “Maldin” Tetreault
Version 2.0 (from the Oerth Journal #22)

“It has come to my attention that various spellcasters and factions throughout the Flanaess are seeking to either possess the essence of power magic or to conceal it. Many have hypothesized that the artifact known only as Xodast’s Tome of Research may very well have survived the Twin Cataclysms.

Upon further research, and with a little bit of outer planar help, I have deduced that the book itself was made from the red and black scaly substance of a creature not of this world. From the notes of an apprentice to Slerotin, I have learned that the creature the substance comes from is commonly referred to as a pyroclastic dragon.”

- From a letter discovered in the ruins of Maure Castle by Mordenkainen, circa 566 CY

History of the Invoked Devastation

The Invoked Devastation was the result of a spell developed by Xodast Xuel-Crix, arguably one of the most brilliant minds of the last two millennia. Xodast’s main reference work was an ancient and mysterious tome titled the Codex of the Infinite Planes. Within this tome, Xodast discovered the means to temporarily transpose one plane over another, effectively producing a major planar breach. During this breach, properties of the transposing plane could affect a vast area. Early experiments were conducted within the confines of his laboratories, in the ancient Suel city of Suendrako, with varying, though staggering results.

It was not until he tapped into the Gray Wastes that Xodast discovered the true destructive power of such a planar conjunction. He quickly penned several scrolls describing the process and recorded the entire experiment into his spellbook (now known as Xodast’s Tome of Research). Years later, while pouring over these notes, Xodast developed a wondrous artifact used to enhance the effects of all spells involving extraplanar activity or planar transposition. Fearing the catastrophic implications of using such a device, he quickly secreted the device away within the vaults of the Royal Academy of Magic. He further warned the headmasters that it was not to be used, for it was the “bringer of all doom.” 

Many years passed and Xodast’s work lay all but forgotten until the Suel, forewarned of impending cataclysm, sought out the arcane device. The greatest of all the Suel wizards from each house (listed below) were hastily summoned to the Imperial Council Chamber in the capital city. As the hour grew dim, they finally agreed to remove Xodast’s Tome of Research from the vaults and to activate the bringer of doom. Assembled in the grand Council Chamber, many of the spellcasters used various scrying devices to determine the width and depth of the magical assault they planned. Finally, after much consultation, Xolan began casting the ritual aided by the other eleven wizards. Within minutes, a gout of grey smoke belched from the bringer of doom as the spell struck the Baklunish Empire. 

On the Baklunish plain thick clouds of virulent grey vapor darkened the mid-day, appearing to taint, infect and rot all living matter they touched. As the decaying nature of the Gray Wastes bled into the Baklunish Empire, all life for hundreds of miles was annihilated and structures began to crumble, leaving no trace of habitation. As the two planes bled into one nightmarish realm, thousands of hordlings from the Gray Wastes suddenly found themselves on the Prime Material Plane along with their master, the god Incabulos, whose realm was within the area. Delighted at the invitation to this realm, Incabulos rampaged through the Baklunish capital of Udrukankar, leaving a trail of pestilence and death in his wake. 

As the nightmarish decay and destruction rapidly crumbled their world into dust, not all Bakluni were paralyzed by the unbelievable horror. Assembling at the ancient site of Tovag Baragu, they gathered and prepared their counterstrike.

The Twelve Suel Mages of Power

1. Slerotin, House Zelred
2. Rellimirck, House Rhola
3. Xiomara, House Malhel
4. Maquel, House Zolax
5. Saeryn, House Neheli
6. Itzal, House Cruski
7. Xolan, descendant of Xodast, House Xuel-Crix
8. Ferrelen, House Shnai
9. Jekova, House Fruztii
10. Mareena, House Lerera
11. Gargerenis, House Linth
12. Kevellian, House Maure

New Epic Spell: Invoked Devastation (Ritual)

Conjuration [Destruction]
Spellcraft DC: 52 or with artifact boost 40
Components: V, S, Ritual, XP
Casting Time: 10 minutes
Range: (See below)
Effect: 1d6 damage per round (60ft. radius), plus hunefer rot or with artifact boost 2d6 damage per round (900 mile radius), plus hunefer rot
Duration: 1 round/ level.
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: No
To Develop: 468,000gp; 10 days; 18,720 XP
Factors: destruction seed (DC 29), Decay (+28 DC), No Spell Resistance (+10 DC), 1d6 Damage/ Level (+1 DC), Range (Long 400ft. + 40ft. / level) (+2 DC), 60ft. radius (+2 DC)
Mitigating Factors: burn 2,000 XP (-20 DC)
Factors with artifact boost: destruction seed (DC 29), Decay (+28 DC), No Spell Resistance (+10 DC), 2d6 Damage/ Level (+2 DC), Extended Duration (+20 DC), Unlimited range on current plane (+200 DC), 900 mile radius (+200 DC)
Mitigating Factors with artifact boost: eleven additional casters contributing an epic-level spell slot (–209 DC), burn 1,000 XP per caster (-120 DC), Major Artifact contributor (-120 DC).

Casting this spell invokes the decaying nature of the Gray Wastes to transpose over the currently targeted area, in this case boosted by the bringer of doom, a device rumored to intensify spell effects involving planar breaches from one plane to another (as detailed in Manual of the Planes 220).

The spell initiates an incurable decay resembling hunefer rot that, over a matter of minutes, completely destroys anything it touches, whether plant or animal. As the two planes touch, a near-invisible gray mist sweeps through the designated area appearing to taint and decompose all living matter. The mist is merely an effect of the planar contact, however, rather than a cause. Protection from gas (or any other type of physical barrier) has no affect. Any target within the area of this spell when it is cast suffers 1d6 points of damage/round for 1 round per level of the spellcaster. While damage (and decay) occurs over a number of rounds, the initiation of the incurable spell affect is instantaneous, and will continue unabated if the victim is teleported away from the area. If the target is reduced to –10 hit points or less (or a construct, object, or undead is reduced to 0 hit points), or reaches 0 Constitution, it is utterly destroyed as if disintegrated.

Hunefer Rot (Su)

Unlike normal diseases, hunefer rot requires a victim to make a successful Fort saving throw (DC 35) every round or take another 1d6 points of temporary Constitution damage. The rot continues until the victim reaches Constitution 0 (and dies) or receives a remove disease spell or similar magic. An afflicted creature that dies shrivels away into sand unless both remove disease and raise dead (or better) are cast on the remains within 2 rounds.

New Artifact: The Bringer of Doom

This metallic, 6-inch-square, box-shaped device is covered in various sigils and engraved with arcane markings and predates the destruction of the Suel Imperium. In fact, the arcane device actually exists across many more dimensions then can be perceived, its appearance merely its representation within normal 3-dimensional space. Its true shape is neither known nor fathomable by mortal minds. It is the very same artifact that was used in the Invoked Devastation against the Baklunish Empire. The bringer of doom, created by Xodast Xuel-Crix around - 618 CY, was crafted with the aid of another even more ancient and mysterious artifact known as the Codex of the Infinite Planes. Utilizing the arcane knowledge within the Codex, Xodast breached the planar boundaries, allowing for a temporary planar transposition, and from thence the bringer of doom was first utilized.

When activated, the bringer of doom allows its user to enhance the effects of any spell that involves extraplanar activity. If used with the proper rituals, large areas of one plane can temporarily transpose over another, effectively producing a major planar breach. During this breach, properties of the transposing plane can affect a tremendous area.

Xodast’s early experiments were tested within the protective confines of his laboratories. During these conjunctions, denizens of the transposed plane could cross the barrier without gates or portals, effectively existing on both planes at once, though once the spell expires the outsider must choose which plane to stay on (such as in the case of Incabulos and the hordlings released during the Invoked Devastation).

Three centuries later, after Xodast’s untimely demise during a major planar breach, the artifact was removed from the vaults of the Royal Academy of Magic and used in a rare ritual developed by Xodast himself, called the “Invoked Devastation” (which, ironically, became the name for the actual event as well).

While using this artifact, any spells cast that utilize conjuration or evocation are Intensified, Extended, Enlarged, and Widened. The spell’s range extends to Unlimited, as long as the caster can see the target (including scrying) and as long as the target is on the same plane. The spell’s duration is extended by 2 ranks, (instantaneous becomes 1 round/level). The spell’s area of effect also can span up to a 900-mile radius. Spells cast in this fashion require the aid of eleven other spellcasters to empower the artifact. Each spellcaster must submit an epic level spell and burn 1,000 XP.

Overpowering evocation and conjuration; CL 21+; Weight 5 lbs; Reference Monster Manual II (1st-edition) 75, Star Cairns 38

History of the Rain of Colorless Fire

When the noon sky over Udrukankar began to darken, buildings began to crumble under their own weight, gruesome diseases began to spread like wildfire across been assembled once, on the day that Ilkben called down the Rain of Colorless Fire upon the Suel Empire. Except for an obscure reference in the Scroll of Dust (http://melkot.com/mysteries/scroll-of-dust.html), there is very little information recorded about this ancient item. The three the land, and thousands of demon spawn began appearing everywhere and rampaging through the populace, Ilkben and his team rushed to Tovag Baragu with the assembled ashen staff.

With the ashen staff, Ilkben and six other Bakluni mage-priests performed a ritual combining positive and negative elemental energies into one. At the climax of the ritual, Ilkben inserted the staff into a 2-inch hole at the very center of Tovag Baragu and opened gates to the Elemental Energy planes. Though what occurred next was unclear, it is believed that Dorgha Torgu (greater god of natural elements and demiplanes) emerged from a gate and aided the waning spellcasters. By sacrificing his own divine ranks Dorgha Torgu was able to control (and target) the empowered spell, producing what appeared to be an intensely bright straw-yellow beam that emanated from the center of Tovag Baragu and shot up into the sky.

The searing beam of light reached a thousand miles into the sky before returning as colorless droplets of fire. From the Baklunish capital it seemed to disappear into space, falling back to Oerth over the Suel Empire. The beam was so bright that early Flan mythology from the eastern Flanaess speaks of a night when the moon in the sky briefly brightened three-fold as light from the beam reflected off its surface.

As the beam expanded, unfathomable energies poured into Ilkben, his fellow wizards, and beyond, for the full one-mile diameter of Tovag Baragu. (It has been discovered that energy continues to leak from Tovag because the gates were not properly shut down. Currently, these open portals help maintain the Sea of Dust’s present condition. Only by assembling the ashen staff again, a very dangerous task indeed, can one shut the gates at Tovag Baragu.)

Though severely drained by their efforts the wizards, unbeknownst to history, did not die. Complex interactions and resonances between the ashen staff, Tovag Baragu, energy from the positive and negative energy planes, as well as divine energy from Dorgha Torgu himself, transformed them into the cursed soulless husks called hunefers. Further, since these now-undead demipowers could not be allowed to roam free as a threat to all life, the grieving Istus was forced to place these soul husks into stasis for all time. Rumors purport that these spellcasters were imprisoned somewhere in the lands north of what would much later become Iuz’s holdings, somewhere in or near the Howling Hills. Only Iuz knows for sure and he’s not telling, as he later discovered them and found a unique use for the husks.

New Item: The Ashen Staff

The Ashen Staff is a three-part collaborative major artifact created by the Baklunish archmage Ilkben and the council of elders using the Codex of the Infinite Planes. It has only parts are known as the rod of ash, the great krystal of Askaf, and the fire rod of the Suloise, respectively.
Each of these pieces shares the following traits:

• All are immune to all divination, scrying, and detection spells.
• All are made of an unknown material that has been hardened, making it nigh invulnerable.

Collection Benefits

To assemble the pieces of the ashen staff, the fire rod of the Suloise must be inserted into the hole in the rod of ash, leaving approximately a half-inch protruding from the top. The great krystal locks onto this protrusion, and over the top of the ashen staff.

In addition, the combined pieces grant the user the following abilities:
(At will) - use the effect of the fire rod of the Suloise as a swift action
(3/day) - add up to all four metamagic feats from the rod of ash to a cast spell, as a free action and incurring the same penalties.
(1/day) – time stop (special) - control Tovag Baragu (the crystal alone cannot)

Combining all three pieces grants the user the following abilities in addition to those listed above:
The staff’s wielder may alter the crystal’s planar “setting” by attuning to it; otherwise the staff remains attuned to its last planar setting. Given that the staff has only been assembled once, it is likely a new wielder will find the crystal still has its original setting. It is possible that Quaal managed to change the setting on the crystal, if the nature of the Defiled Glades is any clue (see below).

Inserting the assembled ashen staff into Tovag Baragu, the most powerful gate system on Oerth (and an artifact in its own right) opens the gates there for the caster to control at will; however, these gates might remain open unless deliberately closed by the staff wielder (and the wielder may be otherwise too distracted to think of doing such a thing). Without fully understanding how to control the ashen staff and Tovag Baragu it would likely be a truly unwise action of epic (and continental) consequence to open such portals.

The Rod of Ash

After reading accounts of former apprentices, a sage in Melkot believes that Marchanter Melkotia once possessed this item. However, no one else believes that those sketchy accounts of a white staff refer to this particular item and it has not been used enough times through history for accurate information to have been passed down.

The main shaft (the only portion that is normally referred to as the ashen staff) resembles a white, unglazed ceramic staff approximately 5 feet long and 2 inches in diameter, with no markings or decorations. In the top of the staff is a small hole approximately a half-inch in diameter. The staff is much lighter than its ceramic-looking composition would suggest; it is about the same weight as a similarly sized wooden rod. The unglazed ceramic has an almost gritty feel, and the few historical references to this artifact attribute the staff’s name to that feature. There is no record of this item ever being used for anything special, nor is there a record of its maker.

When wielded, this item functions like a greater metamagic rod of enlarge, extend, maximize and widen spell; except that the user may can apply two abilities to a cast spell rather than once. This ability can be used up to three times per day. Activating the staff in this capacity temporarily drains 1 Charisma point per level increased.

(For Example: if the user uses both maximize spell and empower spell, the user is drained 5 points of Charisma. Charisma points lost in this manner cannot be restored by spells and recover at the rate of one per day.)

If a properly prepared “spell template” is inserted into the hole at the top of the staff, its true power is revealed.

Strong (no school); CL 20th; Weight 4lbs;
Reference: Secrets of the Twin Cataclysms 

The Great Krystal of Askaf

This 6-inch-diameter, perfectly transparent, crystal sphere bears a slight lavender tint. The crystal has a 2 inch diameter circular depression in it approximately an inch deep. In the center of that depression is another depression a half-inch in diameter and a half-inch deep.

Spending most of its history inert and undetectable, it is believed that Quaal once possessed the crystal. It is unknown what he learned about it, if anything, and the krystal has been lost since. After stumbling onto several writings of Quaal during his Vesve campaigns, Iuz has come to believe the artifact could be of great use to him for controlling gates, and currently has several teams searching the Flanaess for it. Unbeknownst to anyone (including Iuz), the crystal still contains the psionic “mental signature” of one of Ilkben’s special assistants - the assistant that imbued it with psionic energy. Since 545 CY (6060 SD), the crystal is no longer inert, and it began “leaking” energy in 584 CY. In the relatively short time since then, the Defiled Glades (WGR4 The Marklands 51) within the Vesve Forest have formed and continue to grow. The artifact’s immunity to detection and divination has thus far prevented anyone from discovering exactly what is forming the Defiled Glades.

To attune to the crystal the user must make a successful Psicraft or Spellcraft check (DC 30). When attuned to both the user and an existing planar gate, the user can force the gate to open to a desired plane, create planar breaches, and activate planar touchstones (See Planar Handbook 153). The crystal is treated as a master gate-key (see the Planescape campaign setting for descriptions of gate keys).

The krystal is reputed to have both arcane and psionic properties. What is not known is that it can also control the flow of energy through an activated gate, and has indeed only been used once in that function. When assembled, the krystal is what provides the primary source of arcane energy by tapping into any nearby gates, and funneling it through the fully assembled ashen staff.

Further, once the user is attuned he may use the following spells/ psionic abilities:
(3/ day) resist planar alignment, false gravity
(1/day) - plane shift, seal portal
(1/week) - astral seed, gate, greater plane shift
(1/ month) – genesis, precipitate complete breach

Using the crystal’s gate-key function, or any of its spell-like powers, grants any outsider close to the portal an immediate Spot check (DC 25) to notice the gate and investigate of their own volition. Most good outsiders will not choose to pass through the gate. This acts as a uncontrolled gate spell.

Strong (no school); CL 20th; Weight 4lbs; 
Reference: Secrets of the Twin Cataclysms 

Fire Rod of the Suloise

This third part of the ashen staff is a small ceramic rod a half inch in diameter and 10 inches long. A few ill-informed (and inexperienced) sages believe this is the device that caused the destruction of the Suel Empire, while most others believe it may have been created merely as a pale, albeit deadly, simulation of the event. No scholar doubts that its creator was a wizard of great power and violent tendencies. Ironically, those disreputable sages are correct. In truth this device is the first and true fire rod of the Suloise, which has since had many imitators. The rod is rarely bought or sold, since few wizards dare to use it. More often than not, it falls into the hands of an unsuspecting spellcaster who never realizes its full powers and dangers until it is too late.

The fire rod of the Suloise actually functions as a spell template for the ashen staff, and is the item that defines the spell effect that the ashen staff produces from whatever energy source that it taps into. Although Ilkben created only a single template, it is theoretically possible that a sufficiently knowledgeable and skilled arcane spellcaster (if one had ever existed again) might have since created another.

Unlike the other two parts of the ashen staff, the fire rod of the Suloise has been passed from wizard to wizard for centuries, having built up quite a long history about itself. While its magical effect is undeniably deadly, it is of limited range and power, and true experts all agree that this could not possibly be the source of the actual historic event. As a seemingly minor item of limited ability, most never realize that it is indeed an artifact, thinking that it is an item that merely has anti-detection properties imbued within it. The last known owner of the rod was a mid-level member of the City of Greyhawk’s Wizard’s Guild. He was killed in an accident that utterly destroyed his residence. The present location of the rod is unknown.

The rod can summon deadly gouts of hellfire to rain down in a 60-foot cube from a range of up to 400+ feet. The hellfire inflicts 6d6 points of damage per round to all creatures, regardless of protections, resistances, or immunities to normal or magical flame. Such damage cannot be cured by any spell less powerful than a heal spell. Furthermore, the fire destroys buildings of less than stone construction and evaporates freestanding liquid to a depth of 1 foot per round.

Objects exposed to the hellfire must make a successful Fortitude save (DC 30) or be destroyed. Note, however, that matter is burned to dust and ashes, not vaporized. Though the fire never affects the rod itself, it has a 5% chance of malfunction, in which case the effect is centered upon the user.

The fire rod requires three charges to operate and has a minimum duration of six rounds. After this, the user can end the rain by concentrating for a round and making a successful Will save (DC 30).

Each round the rod continues to operate after initiation drains one more charge (therefore, the first 8 rounds drains 5 charges). If all charges are emptied, then the fiery rain vanishes and the rod appears to explode, engulfing the wielder and everything within 10 feet in a blast that inflicts 20d6 points of damage. In actuality, the rod has “short-circuited” the Prime and Elemental planes by contacting the elemental energy planes while recharging and teleports to a seemingly random location within a 1000 mile radius (although it seems to be attracted to other powerful magic, and hence tends to reappear in rather dangerous places). It can be recharged before it is fully drained by taking it to the border between the Elemental Plane of Fire and the Negative Material Plane, forcing a “short-circuit” (and causing the same explosive effect). For an unknown reason, the rod always teleports back to a random location on Oerth.

Strong evocation; CL 20th; Weight 1lb; Reference: Greyhawk Adventures hardback 75.

New Epic Spell: Rain of Colorless Fire

Conjuration [Destruction]
Spellcraft DC: 54, with artifact boost 71, with artifact boost and divine empowerment 80
Components: V, S, Ritual, XP
Casting Time: 10 minutes
Range: Long 400ft. + 40ft./ level
Effect: 6d6 damage/ round (60ft.-radius) or with artifact boost 15d6 damage/ level per round (2 mile radius without Tovag, 900 mile radius with Tovag)
Duration: 1 round/ level.
Saving Throw: Reflex for half
Spell Resistance: No
To Develop: 486,000gp; 10 days; 19,440 XP
Factors: energy seed (DC 19), No Spell Resistance (+10 DC), Extended Duration (+20 DC), 6d6 damage per round (+19 DC), Range (Long 400ft. + 40ft./ level) (+2 DC); change rain to globules of positive and negative energy (ad hoc +24 DC)
Mitigating Factors: backlash 10d6 damage (-10 DC), burn 1,000 XP (-10 DC), increased casting time to 10 minutes (-20)
Factors with artifact boost: energy seed (DC 19), weather seed (DC 19), Vaporization (+10 DC), No Spell Resistance (+10 DC), Extended Duration (+20 DC), 15d6 damage per round (+48 DC), Unlimited range on current plane (+200 DC), 900 mile radius (+200 DC); change rain to globules of positive and negative energy (ad hoc +24 DC) = 566 DC
Mitigating Factors with artifact boost: six additional casters contributing an epic-level spell slot (–114 DC), backlash 20d6 damage to each contributor (-140 DC), burn 1,200 XP per caster (-84 DC), Major Artifact contributor (-120 DC), specified location (-25 DC)
Factors with artifact boost and divine empowerment:
energy seed (DC 19), weather seed (DC 19), Vaporization (+10 DC), No Spell Resistance (+10 DC), Extended Duration (+20 DC), 15d6 damage per round (+48 DC), Unlimited range on current plane (+200 DC), 900 mile radius (+200 DC); change rain to globules of empowered positive and negative energy (ad hoc +110 DC), lingering effects (x2)
Mitigating Factors with artifact boost and divine empowerment: deity sacrificing 1 divine rank per caster [1 DR = 5] (-729 DC), six additional casters contributing an epic-level spell slot (–114 DC), backlash 20d6 damage to each contributor (-140 DC), burn 1,200 XP per caster (-84 DC), Major Artifact contributor (-120 DC), specified location (-25 DC)

This spell summons a swirling thunderstorm that rains positive and negative globules rather than raindrops down upon the designated target and everything within a 60ft. radius of that target. Everything caught unprotected or  unsheltered in the deluge takes 3d6 points of positive energy damage and 3d6 points of negative energy each round. A successful Reflex save halves this, and must be repeated each round. The planar energies destroy all organic matter, leaving behind a sooty grey dust. The fiery storm is stationary and persists even if the caster leaves.

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