Friday, June 11, 2021

Spark of Inspiration (The Mad Poet: A Class for King of Kings)

 He appeared now here, now there. He wandered about in the small alleys between the tents and in the bazaar where the merchants and artisans have their stalls. He walked aimlessly, driven only by his aching heart, without heeding the staring eyes; tears springing from under his eyelashes like wild mountain streams. All the time he sang melancholy songs such as lovers are wont to sing in their misery.

When he passed by, people around him shouted: "Look, the Madman, Majnun is coming... Majnun!"

The reins had slipped from the rider's hand. His innermost being was revealed like the heart of a split fruit. He had not only lost his beloved, but also himself. Everyone saw in his face the reflection of the fire scorching his heart, saw the blood running from his wound. He was suffering because of his beloved, but she remained far away. The longer it lasted, the more Qays became Majnun. Burning like a candle, he did not sleep at night and, while he searched for a remedy to cure soul and body, both were filled with deadly pain. Each day, at dusk, the ghosts of his vain hopes chased him out into the desert, barefoot and bareheaded.

Then strange things began to happen. Majnun had been separated from Layla, yet his longing made him the slave of his imprisoned Mistress. A madman he became-- but at the same time a poet, the harp of his love and of his pain.
-The Story of Layla and Majnun, from the Khamsa or Panj Ganj of Nizami Ganjavi

Majnun visited in the wilderness

Not all who hear the whispers of the stars above can handle their poetry. Not everyone receives the kind of training, experience, or rigor that makes a true sorcerer. A spell is more than just a word; it is a stance, a dance, a gesture, a mentality. It is difficult to achieve these things! That is why to be a sorcerer takes dedication, same as to be a true swordsmaster. When the stars deign to whisper into a sleeper's ear, the hearer does not always have such resources or dedication. Often, the words must flow out from their mouths like sweetened honey or poisoned wine, or onto the page in the form of black ink. That is the mad poet, a poet possessed by the maddening glory of the stars above. From which star their dreams come they do not know, for they have not been trained in astrology. They are artists who wear their emotions on their sleeves, and awaken each morning with a new idea on their lips.

Sorry for the shitty pretentious quote and description I just thought it would set the mood. Oh also for those who don't know majnun basically means "bejinned" or "the jinn-haunted/jinn-possessed", translating is kinda hard.
No clue what this is but doesn't it look cool?

The Mad Poet

Requirements: None
Prime Requisite: CHA
Hit Dice: 1d6
Combat Bonus: 1/2 level, rounded down
Armor: Leather, chain, no shields
Weapons: All except polearms, two-handed swords, and warhammers (no big military-type weapons basically)
Languages: Shahanistani, one additional language
XP to Level 2: 2,300

The mad poet is an able lyricist. They know all about the art of poetry, and their reputation as an artist precedes them. Their poetry is moving and beautiful to the ear. If they write a poem, speech, or song for a particular purpose (persuading a given character, communicating a plan, inspiring love or hatred, etc), there is a base 1-in-6 chance of it being successful (i.e. convincing its reader/listener, etc). You have to be fluent in the language of the reader/listener for this to have any success. The chance of success increases by 1 every third level (2-in-6 at level 4, 3-in-6 at level 7, etc). You can receive a +1 modifier if you have a preexisting relationship with the reader/listener.
Just as their reputation as an artist precedes them, so too does their madness. People will treat you strangely, and often rather dismissively or patronizingly. You are often called mad, and the effect of the whispers on your personality can be determined with the table below.
Mystic Whispers
Every night in their fitful sleep, the mad poet receives feverish whispers from the stars. They remember them only partially, and have to decipher their meaning and purpose by piecing them together. You receive a number of mystic words equal to your level + 2 (3 at level 1, 4 at level 2, etc), which you can speak aloud to produce magical effects. These can be spoken singly or in combination, but the particular effect must be determined by discussion with the referee. You roll for new mystic words every morning, and any words you knew the day before are abandoned. The die you roll increases with level: 1d6 at level 1, 1d8 at level 3, 1d10 at level 5, 1d12 at level 7, 1d20 at level 9. The table for mystic words changes depending on certain moon phases and auspicious (or inauspicious) stars. When mystic words are spoken aloud, make a saving throw vs. magic, with a penalty equal to the number of words spoken in excess of 1. On a failure, roll on the magical mishap table. You lose a mystic word when it is spoken. Actually writing up said table and all of the special mystic words tables is going to be for another day however.
Saving Throws
Mad poets save as magic-users, but receive +2 to saving throws against illusion effects.
Mad poets are able to take their mystic words (see below) and scrawl them on paper to create scrolls. This takes one week and 100 drachmae per mystic word vested in the scroll. Since these words are trapped in a paper prison, they do not dissipate until spoken; the mad poet permanently loses that many words until the scroll is used. For instance, if a level 1 mad poet creates a scroll with two mystic words on it, from then on they only receive 1 mystic word each day. Creating a scroll does, however, allow non-spellcasters to use the magical effect even if the mad poet is not present. Most magical scrolls were penned by desperate madmen attempting to get the whispers out of their head and onto paper, and the scroll burns into nothing but ashes when its words are spoken aloud, casting the spell and opening the poet's head to the stars.

1: Obsession with a particular number
2: Rapid mood swings
3: Fear of clowns (you don't quite know what they are, but you have seen visions of them and you hate them)
4: Intense paranoia
5: Claustrophobia
6: Poor anger control
7: You walk on all fours
8: Almost always crying
9: Can't stop dancing
10: Anxious around people, calm around animals
11: Anxious around animals, calm around inanimate objects
12: You believe you are already dead and rotting
(To be clear, the discussion of "madness" and such here isn't reflective of how I see or treat neurodiverse people, and more about exploring how neurodiversity has been treated historically/in fiction)

Portion of a magic scroll from Ethiopia

1: Light
2: Rough
3: Egg
4: Strong
5: Dark
6: Warm
7: Fire
8: Child
9: New
10: Soft
11: Pain
12: Owl
13: Steel
14: Blood
15: Muscle
16: Tooth
17: Love
18: Snake
19: Ax
20: Old

A multi-purpose magical mishap table is forthcoming.

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