In the centre of Acyrn's bay all is not well. From the towering spire, conjured into existence several months ago, a vast inky vortex is swirling into being, slowly spreading across the sky and casting the bay into darkness. As the maelstrom moves toward Acryn panic is beginning to break out and the people are blaming the city's arcane community. The market stalls of several hedge-wizards have been burnt to ground and its no longer safe for students of the colleges to walk the streets at night as the populous rages against the callous disregard of the magical elite.
Meanwhile in the adventuring community: several parties of adventurers sent to investigate the summitless tower have not returned. The Brotherhood of the Closed Eye has now put out a call for Acryn's best and brightest to form a mission to the tower and once and for all put an end to the insane Arch-mage that surely dwells within: the dread Harlon Quirk, ravager of cities and master of fell sorceries.
It is only in the College of the Star's theoretical astrology department that anyone has noticed the great celestial conjunction occurring in the heavens beyond the storm of shadows.
(NB: Since Arcane defense force doesn't sound very fantasy-ish they are henceforth called the Brotherhood of the Closed Eye)
After a brief experimental procedure on Alastair the party set out to destroy the vile Arch-Mage Harlon Quirk, unaware that one of them is in fact the very same. Avoiding the inky storm of power they enter the tower and find themselves within a living testament of the Primal Arch-Mage Atrvium. It seems the 18th Rune was a powerful ward created to imprison an ancient and terrible evil, Farashima the Weaver, one of three Dragonborn sorcerer-kings who led the primeval war to eradicate the Primals. As the party ascend they live-out recreations of the Great War and ravages it inflicted upon the world. They are also shown other visions by Vecron the Progenitor, one of other dark triumvirate unleashed by Harlon, who attempts to convince them to free his fellow.
As they ascend above the clouds they find the tower is merely a way to ascend to the nexus of the 18th Rune which is bound around the hewn obsidian form of a vast floating fortress: the Vault of Stars that Vecron has spoken of to Harlon.
Within the party discover the long-lost secrets of the ancient floating city of the Dragonborn, filled dark magics and fell artefacts. Worst of these is what appears to be the heart of the citadel that contains a void into nowhere, a void which draws in the party with a terrible curiosity. Lost with a realm of nothingness the party are hunted by a terrible presence lurking beyond sight…a Dragon. As the entity draws in to annihilate the party Reginald calls upon the might of the builder to bring the power of creation to this realm of nothingness and in so doing forges his very soul into an artefact of terrible power: a Hammer of divine might. As Alastair fends off the dragon, whose monstrous form shifts and changes in tidal storms of blood, Jarred strikes at its revealed heart with the hammer. The dragon screams in agony and fury and as it thrashes it seems to disintegrate, its spasms tearing the fabric of reality to shreds. As it screams unearthly bellows from its wounds pour the ethereal forms of tattered souls in their multitudes, some flowing through the cracks in reality and some being lured by the glowing ruby heart held aloft by Alastair.
As the party flee back to reality they watch in horror as the firmament is torn asunder, great wounds rippling across the sky as a rain of blood fills the vault of heaven. In some deep and permanent way they know that the fabric of existence has been changed, and the dragon wounded and changed as none have ever wounded such an entity before. In an attempt to heal the sundering firmament Harlon draws upon the arcane energies found with the Vault of Stars and invokes one of the great Draconic Doewmers. Vast crimson chains race across the sky and space and time along with the wounds in reality are compressed into a crimson pearl, which falls into Harlon's outstretched hand…the other hand having been consumed by the dragon.
Despite Reginald's sacrifice and the apparent near destruction of reality the party know they must press on before the Weaver is freed. They learn that the Dragonborn have physical souls, manifested within the world, and they destroy the Weaver's with Harlon's wit, Jarred's determination and Alastair's soul fire, rendering the creature mortal.
Finally, high atop the Vault of Stars, the surviving party confront the Weaver, who has been bound for eons within a single moment of time by the power of the 18th Rune. The creature radiates a terrible and unnatural glory and it attempts to seduce the party with promises of power and aid in return for its freedom. They resist its insidious influence and attack, facing down the ancient sorcerer's devious mental manipulations. At last Harlon smashes down the Dragonborn and Alastair drives his sword into its form as it erupts into spectral fire and is annihilated.
Calm descends, but the ancient allies of the Weaver are not done. The party's wounds begin to spew blood as Vecron speaks a doom upon the them. However, even as it does so the air fractures revealing the imperious form of the ruler of the Magisterium, who must be the third of the antediluvian triumvirate of sorcerer-kings. However, it is Vecron who is undone for his sibling betrays him, wounded as he is from Harlon's own betrayal and a blow from the mighty hammer, drawing Vecron into himself and seeming to absorb his power. It appears the Dragonborn do not tolerate weakness.
The Great Dragonborn sorcerer regards the party and mocks their efforts, telling them that though the triumvirate may be broken the age of the Dragonborn is begun and soon his power will sweep over the world and all within it. It seems the creature is not willing to back its threats up with direct confrontation however, and as Alastair marches towards it it dispels the magic keeping the fortress aloft. As they begin to plummet it laughs and is rather taken by surprise by the lightning-bolt Harlon sends into its face. The last they see of it, as they fall, is a look of terrible, malevolent hatred flickering over its alien visage.
Desperate to stop the tumbling Vault of Stars from obliterating Acryn, Harlon performs a risky last minute casting of the Crimson Key of Vulstragorn and manages to compress the falling citadel into another magical pearl.
The City is saved and the only evidence of the terrible existential doom wrought upon reality is the bloody aurora that ripples in the sky…that and the three missing constellations bound up by Harlon.
The party make a solemn pact to ensure that the crimson pearl is never ever broken. They all have a sense that if this were to happen it would be truly truly terrible.
In return for his aid the party agree to fake Harlon's death, allowing him to use the magics he learns within the Primal library to walk unseen in Acryn, his mighty wizard tower summoned away from Acryn.
Down in the city the citizens have watched the titantic events above in awe, as blood filled the sky and cities fell from the heavens. Above all, it was priests of the Builder most affected each of whom experienced a flash of vision from their god as a supreme work of creation was wrought. The High Architects of the church meet the party and reverently request to see the holy creation they bear. In glory they place the hammer within the church of the founders, the greatest weapon of Acryn, only to be used in the time of most dire need by those deemed worthy. As statues to Reginald are raised the masses flock to his church to see the wondrous artefact.
Captain Hopkins of the Brotherhood of the Closed Eye, thanks the party for ending the threat of Harlon Quirk and destroying the tower in the bay. He offers to share the Closed Eye's techniques for hunting magic users with Alastair in return for further study on the results of fusing the strange banner into him. He rewards the surviving party with 500 riel, 200 of which they donate to the church of the founder.
(Pending larpo addition/change)
The heavens above Acryn are forever changed, the stars themselves plucked from the sky, a seething crimson aurora rippling in the darkness of the night sky in their place.
Though few will know it the dragon Tuireann has been deeply metaphysically wounded. This may impact mages who use the rites associated with the dragon. Perhaps more importantly the dragon is, for now, no longer consuming the souls of the dead, weakened as it is, much of its realm bound within the crimson pearl.
The great tower no longer stands in the centre of the city's bay.
Reginald - transformed into the mighty divine hammer capable of rending the fabric of worlds
Jarred - His abilities have been refined through a combination of Harlon's ritual and consumption of an ancient Dragonborn artifact…still an enormous liar however. Can buy skills from the 'Smith of Legend' epic tree. The doom pearl: the crimson pearl containing a metaphysical calamity of terrible scale. It would be a very bad idea to break it.
Harlon - One arm bitten off by a Dragon and replaced with an inanimate black gauntlet. Has mastered the lost rite of Obfuscation (GMs to provide) to conceal his identity. Has the mastercrafted quarterstaff of Farashima the Weaver. One black pearl containing the Weaver's fortress. A summonable paper tower that reaches into the clouds, this counts as an Arcane library and contains a vast amount of knowledge of the ancient primals.
Alastair - With a combination of experimental alchemy and training from the Brotherhood he can purchase skills form the 'Wizard-slayer' epic tree. Is being followed by an invisible legion of souls freed from within the dragon.
Through a combination of unusual alchemy known to the Brotherhood of the Closed Eye of Acryn and training in their techniques for hunting down dangerous magic users you have mastered the skills need to hunt down dangerous arcane foes. The power of the Divine is never affected by the skills in this tree.
You have studied long and hard to be able to detect the tell-tale hints that someone is a magic user. By spending a few minutes observing them you can use subtle clues (i.e. ink stains on the fingers of a scribing mage) to determine what rites of magic they can use and what level of spell they are likely to be able to cast (as long as its a rite you've previously seen in action). With observation you can generally tell what the effect of a ritual will be (though you won't understand how it works) and you will be able to tell which item on a mages person is their implement.
The strange alchemies coursing through your veins make you particularly resistant to the ravages of the arcane. As long as you make an effort to get out the way of direct magical attacks you can generally brush off their effects. Mechanically you can burn a two dodges (or if in heavy armour two resists) to call a RESIST against a spell targeted at you. Once you take this skill you find enacting change within the world to be harder in minor ways: fires become difficult to light, trees harder to chop down etc. GMs can use this to annoy you.
You have trained in battle strategies to maximize your and your allies chances against those wielding the forces of magic. Whenever you are fighting against a mage in an encounter you and your allies gain a DODGE as long as you roleplay shouting commands to those you are trying to help.
The unique properties of your blood are anathema to magic. Once per encounter you may smear it on your weapon to gain the SHATTER IMPLEMENT call. A mages implement struck with this call will break as usual (and with the requisite explosion if filled with mana) but cannot be instantly reformed by the mage with the retrieve implement ability. The implement won't function as normal for a full day. Out of combat this can also be used to destroy arcane artifacts.
You have honed you mind against the insidious influences of magics that seek to affect your thoughts. You are immune to FEAR calls caused by spells and any similar call that relies upon influencing your mind (such as 'You dare not strike me' or Fault of Temperance). Likewise illusions or any magic that seeks to conceal the truth from you will fail to trick you for more than a few minutes.
You may push this defence of the mind outwards to become a defence of the body, this is a retirement option.
When faced with a truly terrible arcane threat you may focus your training and will and stand against even the mightiest of sorceries. For one encounter you may call IMMUNE to all magical or wayfinder calls as you evade all abilities used upon you or simply shake off the effects as they ravage your body. During the encounter you will slowly find your body seizing up. At the end of the your body will continue its transformation, turning you into what will appear to be a marble statue of yourself. The area around you will be stabilised and casting magic will take twice its usual cost.
Some craftsmen are masters and their works are the talk of cities. Some truly great craftsmen however transcend history to become the creators of artifacts of legend and though their names may be forgotten their works ensure that their genius will echo through the ages.
This tree is based around the idea that the Smith of legend will work toward the creation of a single, utterly peerless creation (normally a weapon, though GMs can give other benefits in line with the skill descriptions for items that are not weapons). As such these skills can only ever be used once on a single item (though each one can be used on a different item, and they can be used to upgrade existing items), the skills representing the pinnacle of the craftsman ability which can only be reached once in their life. It compatible with the 'legendary item' skill, with the normal assumption that any smith worth their salt would create their legendary item and then refine it with the skills in this tree. The downside is that the item is in no way bound to the Smith and it may be stolen, a many people would do anything to possess such an object.
Pre-req: Master Craftsman
Some merely sharpen a blade, but a master knows that the perfect edge must be intrinsic to the weapon, created at the moment of its forging.
Once the weapon is created its razor edge cuts light into rainbows it is so sharp, and any person foolish enough to attempt to test their own edge against it will find their own weapon wanting.
Mechanically, the weapon you forge with this skill may call a SHATTER against anyone who attempts to disarm it as their own weapon is simply cut in two as it meets this weapon.
Pre-req: Master Craftsman
Against the ravages of age the works of lesser smiths rust or rot away. The item created with this skill is inured to the ravages of time and will endure where other works are found wanting.
The item created with this skill becomes permanently IMMUNE to SHATTER, and will survive virtually anything,from being hurled into a volcano to being eaten by a tyrant lizard. Nothing short of ritual magic can destroy it permanently.
Pre-req: Master Craftsman
You are a master of your art, your skills the stuff of legend. A weapon baring your mark is a thing of beauty and terror. Admired by those who see it and feared by those it is turned against.
When held aloft above the head of its wielder, the weapon created with this skill may strike people dumb with its beauty or fill the wielder's enemies with terror. Once per encounter the wielder may call a MASS FEAR, as long as they hold the weapon aloft for all to see for 10 seconds (during which time they can do nothing else and preferably catching the light in a dramatic way). Those who see it will cower or flee before it as the situation dictates.
Pre-req: Master Craftsman
The master smith knows that steel is only as strong as the flesh that wields it. A truly great weapon must be wielded by its true owner, created for them and only them. In their hands it will have no rival.
With this skill the smith chooses a person(which may be themselves), when that person wields the weapon this skill is applied to they gain a DODGE and three times per encounter they may call +1 damage, which stacks with other damage modifiers.
Pre-req: Master Craftsman
A true artist has within them a single work of such transcendent, flawless perfection that it may never again by recreated. Once, and once ever, the master smith may forge such a thing: a weapon of destiny, created with a purpose and named toward that end.
As they pull it from the forge, the smith names their weapon and in so doing gives it purpose. All who see the weapon will know it for what it is and rumour of it will spread gradually throughout the known world. In their naming of their creation the smith gives it a destiny, one which it will achieve (though how it does so is GM dependant). For example, a smith who named their weapon 'Kingslayer' could set upon the it the destiny of killing the King, with the knowledge that somehow that would come to pass.
In making their masterpiece a greater part of the smith's genius passes into the weapon and their creative spark flickers out, for after the creation of such an artefact forging anything else would seem a pale shadow by comparison. They may never again use any craftsman related skill, other than to repair broken items.