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[CLASSES] Illusionists

June 13, 2010

Illusionists draw their magic from the manipulation of shreds of the divine melam, that awesome radiance which is the manifestation of a god’s power. The formulas for this control are written on their tablets in the specialised tongue intelligible only to members of the class. Using these formulas and incantations illusionists able to remould the world after the fashion of gods; but as they employ proxies and their understanding is not complete this modelling of the world is often partial, transitory – illusiory.

To understand the art of the practitioners of the manipulation of the divine radiance, it is useful to outline briefly the creation of man and something of the nature of the gods. In those far-off Antediluvian days the gods had tired of their work and desired slaves for the clearing of canals, the digging of ditches and the work of the field. To quell the brewing rebellion of the gods far-sighted Father Enki decreed the creation of such slaves, humankind. Enki said:

“One god should be slaughtered.
Nintu shall mix clay
With his flesh and his blood.
Then a god and a man
Will be mixed together in clay.
Let us hear the drumbeat for ever after,
Let a ghost come into existence from the god’s flesh
Let her proclaim it as her living sign
And let the ghost exist so as not to forget the slain god.”
They answered ‘Yes!” in the assembly,
The great Anunnaki who decree fates.

With a joyous unanimous shout the Anunnaki in assembly decree the slaughter of their fellow god Geshtu-e. His essences are mixed with clay and therefrom humans are created and in that act the divine radiance, the melam, was entrapped too in both men and all the multiple things that move about the surface of the earth. The melam shimmers about all creatures of power and is a source of their awe. Gods are enrobed in it; the demon Humbaba sent seven auras of radiance against Gilgamesh and Enkidu in the mountains; and even Gilgamesh, two-thirds god and one-third human, was alight with a fearsome radiance on the walls of Uruk.

Inanna cloaked in melam

Some illusionists call themselves priests of the slaughtered god. They have refined techniques for the capture of that brilliant glamour which inheres in all intelligent life since the sacrifice of Geshtu-e. In order to cast spells, therefore, an illusionist must murder a sentient being (a creature of animal intelligence or above) with a ritual knife. For first level spells, a creature of 1 HD must be killed for spells to be normally efficacious. For second level spells, a sentient being of two hit dice must be killed, for third, a 3 HD creature, and so on. The illusionist may be aided in this but must personally deliver the killing blow. The ritual knife employed must be composed of a highly reflective material: obsidian (most prized), quartz, flint, copper, silver or gold; this knife entraps the melam of the dead creature and must be carried at all times for spells to be effective. Slaughtering a creature of animal intelligence results in a 25% chance of spell failure and grants +2 on saves to the illusionist’s opponents. Semi– to low intelligence sacrifices result in a 10% chance of spell failure and +1 to opponents’ saves. Average to very intelligent sacrifices allow an illusionist to cast spells as normal. Exceptionally intelligent sacrifices mean the illusionist’s spells are of increased power; opponents’ saves are at –1. Genius and above sacrifices cause saves to be at –2. Creatures of a lower hit dice than that required are considered one intelligence category worse for determining the efficacy of spells. An illusionist who fails to slaughter a creature of appropriate hit dice may still advance but will be unable to cast spells of the requisite spell level. The killing and capture of melam must be done only once for each spell level, thus normally sometime at 1st, 3rd, 5th, 8th, 10th, 12th and 14th level.

Illusionists have accordingly developed a slight ability in assassination. Using only the ritual knife – no other weapons are permitted – a starting illusionist may attempt to assassinate as a 1st level assassin. This ability increases at 4th level to be equivalent to a 2nd level assassin’s abilities, and increases by one assassin level every three levels thereafter.

It is whispered (often among the cloistered priests and nuns of the gipar) that the most powerful of these sorcerers attempt the entrapment and slaughter of some of the myriad Anunnaki and Igigi themselves, seeking to leech and entrap these gods’ greater melam and weave from them ever more compelling enchantments. Others venture willingly into the Abominable Desolation to ensnare the whispering spirits roaming there or hire mercenaries to do so for them, and likewise launch expeditions into the mountains both for their shining materials and the lingering monsters and spirits crawling in shadowed valleys.

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