In ages past, before the founding of Acryn, mighty barbarian Sorcerer Kings ruled much of the land on which the city was built and endless wars were fought over tracts of land, with terrible magics scarring the land around. Acryn owes much of its prominence as a city to the fall of these warring magi and the harnessing of the forces of magic by the city, primarily through the College of Stars. Acryn's application of magic to civil life allowed it to grow and expand where other city-states perished and fell.
In honour of magic's place in the City, every five years since time immemorial the College of Stars has held a grand 'Tournament of the Art' in which the greatest Mages, Alchemists and Mystics pit their arts against one another in a series of magical duels as they compete for the title of 'Battle-Magister of Acryn' (A largely symbolic position that historically was responsible for the magical defences and offences of the crown). This serves to remind the public of the importance of the city's scholars and, some say, ensures that a certain sort of magic user have a way to fulfil their need for explosions without laying waste to the countryside.
Now, for the first time since the upheaval, the tournament is to be held again. Times are tough however and the College of Stars has been forced into a humiliating deal to cosponsor the event with the People's College; with each offering the winner a generous fellowship in hopes of attracting them to the faculty. The tournament is not without controversy however, with wayfinders being refused permission to compete, despite the Guilds lobbying of the Colleges and Council.
Throughout the city visitors from remote locales are appearing, ready to compete. Meanwhile, in some of the adventurers' inns, a cloaked figure is soliciting the aid of skilled combatants; seemingly as interested in talented warriors as magic users, and with a lot of money to spend.
Hired by the nerdy young mage Daniel to win the heart of the beautiful Melandra and beat Daniel's jock-bully Chadsworth 'Chad' Darrish the party battle their way through the Tournament of the Art posing as Daniel's enchanted monsters. In each round they face the most devious of arcane workings that Acryn's best and brightest scholars can devise but they triumph each time.
With their adventuring skills they help Daniel rapidly progress through the heats. It is only when they face the 'Necro King' (the stage name of Arthur Dirk) that things go horribly wrong, as Alastair, unaware the protective wards around the arena have been sabotaged, hurls Arthur into the 'Killing Sphere of Oooberous', a legendary creation of a powerful fracturing ritual.
Suspecting that Daniel's rival Chad is responsible for the sabotage, the party track Chad's movements and uncover that he stumbled upon a mysterious passageway running deep beneath the College of Star's library. Deep beneath the college the party find the vault that contains the sarcophagus of Ventha Deschain, the founder of the college of Stars. She reveals to the party that centuries ago, at the time of Acryn's founding, she defeated the Sorcerer-King 'Dammeruung the Undying' but unable to kill him she banished his spirit to a place she calls 'The Labyrinth'. Unfortunately she could not destroy his implement, the knotted rod Chad now carries, and so her spirit guarded it for years until Chad snuck in and stole it. She tells the party that even now Dammeruung is slowly possessing Chad and will attempt to use the young man to free himself if he is not stopped. She implores the party to return the rod to her so that she can keep it safe, she also touches the souls of the party to ensure they can harm Dammeruung's ethereal form.
Journeying back to the tournament the party help Daniel face Chad in the semi-final. Empowered by the ancient sorceries of Dammeruung Chad is nearly unstoppable but Alastair cuts him down and rips off his arm to retrieve the knotted rod. However, even as he does so Dammeruung's hold over Chad allows him to fracture the fabric of the world, opening a rift to the mysterious Labyrinth.
Free at last the spirit of Dammeruung begins to raise the ancient armies that lie beneath the arena and chaos breaks out as wizards and commoners alike are assailed by the walking dead. The party are not so easily cowed however and forcing Dammeruung back through the portal they confront him in the otherworldly realm of the Labyrinth. An undead master of the arcane he seems nearly unstoppable until Alastair, using his inhuman strength and blade of impossible sharpness, breaks Dammeruung's rod of power. Titantic necromantic energies born of murderous rituals cast aeons ago erupt from the broken implement, discharging through Alastair and his exposed soul. Dammeruung's power is broken and his spirit is dragged screaming into the fabric of the Labyrinth by hundreds of grasping hands that rise from the maze's shadowy walls.
As the portal between the worlds begins to close the party leap to safety to see the undead hoards collapsing into dust. Raising Daniel's hand the party give him credit for the spectacular display of arcane might and Melandra falls swooning into his arms (having a thing for potent wizards). Order is restored and casualties are relatively few due to the rapid response of the party.
Gidner and Carl, having won in previous rounds, face off against one another in a semi-final. Both display extreme prowess in the arcane and alchemical arts but Carl is narrowly beaten in a last-minute-surprise-Tyrant-Lizard-transformation by Gidner.
Gidner goes on to triumph in the final, beating Daniel who is more than happy to let him win.
The magical community hails the party for their triumph in the tournament and defeat of an ancient undead Wizard-King, indeed the common folk agree that it was quite the most spectacular tournament in living memory. The party are paid by Daniel for their sterling work. Gidner is awarded the title of 'Battle Magister of Acryn' and accepts a professorship at the People's college, with a stipend (of 20 Acra an adventure) and some research students. Carl, using his fame as a skilled battle-mage, is able to get some of the College of Star's binding mages to unravel his disarming curse.
Alastair, his soul now afire, is prodded by Prof. Openheim Black of the College of the Stars and informed that he is in no immediate danger, though he may find himself condemned to walk the world for all eternity as a tormented spirit should he die (OC: he has access to the 'Burning Soul' Epic tree). He also cannot help but feel a deep spiritual connection to the obsidian blade through which the necromantic energy discharged into his soul (OC: should he ever buy the Rank 2 'Inflame the Soul' skill he will find the blade also inflames, becoming one with his soul and as unbreakable. While his souls burns the blade is unshatterable and may call a REND once an encounter as it cuts into the very souls of others). He also pays a visit to Chad in the college cells who seems genuinely remorseful for his actions, explaining that he lost control of himself as the evil spirit of Dammeruung infected him. He promises to ensure that Arthur Dirk's family are provided for.
Chad is true to his word, and Arthur is buried with honour beneath a large bronze statute of himself in his 'Necro King' costume being hurled, cackling, in the whirling blades of the Killing Sphere. It is emblazoned with the words 'Arthur Dirk. Let us never forget…to never summon the Killing Sphere again'.
Your soul has become infused with a power rarely possessed by mortals. With effort you may focus this power to contend directly with entities more spiritual than physical.
Your soul is a manifest part of you that may be honed into a weapon. When you move a spectral outline of your soul made manifest moves with you like an aura. This allows you to both perceive spiritual entities and interact with them directly. Mechanically this means you can attack and make calls against non corporeal entities (though any physical damage is capped at a single and they may be immune to standard combat calls).
You focus the power that burns within your soul and your spirit is set aflame. Spectral fire wreathes you and you will shine like a beacon to spiritual entities. For the rest of the encounter you are immune to all FEAR calls from supernatural beings. You may also call RESIST to the first supernatural effect call (be it from magic or a power of a monster) that is used against you, though this instantly ends the effects of this ability.
Using this ability burns your very soul and it is agonising. Hence you take a 30 second REND when activating this ability. Repeated use of this ability will scar your soul in a way obvious to spiritual beings and may have other effects.
You set your soul aflame fuelled with your very mortality and as your body dies your spirit steps free, unbound by the shackles of the flesh.
The fire wreathing your soul reaches a howling crescendo. For the next minute, you are immune to ALL calls. At the point where you reduce any target to 0 body hits, you can choose to envelop them and have both your own soul and their form and spirit consumed and destroyed utterly.
If you run out of hits, or the minute runs out, your soul flares one last time and is burnt away by the power unleashed.