Pact of Stone

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Jack of tears
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Pact of Stone

So in my current campaign the characters are caught up in a gods war and one of the pcs is being sent to the Elemental Plane of Earth to renew the Dwarven Pact of Stone. Essentially this is a pact the Dwarves have had for time immemorial to give them an affinity with the deep places of the earth. But in recent millennia the Dwarves have come to take the pact for granted and become poor wardens of the stone and some of the special affinity they had in the early days of their race has waned. With the gods war on top of them the Dwarven allfather wants to renew the pact but I'm curious what the manifestations of stone are going to ask of them.

What the Dwarves get out of this deal: Greater affinity with stone; they can navigate it faster and more accurately; they can shape it through ritual; they take less damage from stone; they can speak with stone; they can pass-stone via ritual; stone-sight; other various narrative stone affinity.

But what do they give in turn? Ideas?

Unsung
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Perhaps they're giving up

Perhaps they're giving up something of their worldliness, their mortality, their (for lack of a better word) humanity? Not selling their souls, but rather their bodies, as becoming better wardens of the Stones means that they must be wardens. More like Outsiders, more beholden to some numinous, archetypal concept. More like elves, in some ways. Creatures whose attachments lie beyond the world more than in it.

Other thoughts. What if the dwarves' enemies wanted to stop them from gaining this power? What if they sent agents or armies to interfere?

What if someone else came along and offered the dwarves a better deal? ...With strings attached, of course.

Jem
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So will this be every dwarf,

So will this be every dwarf, or just those that want to obtain the Pact of Stone? I.e., is this mission going to upgrade the usual dwarven stonecunning and similar properties, or will it be something an individual dwarf can take?

I will operate on the assumption that this is a race-wide thing, and that you are looking for penalties to offset greater bonuses. Not all of these should hold at once; it's just a list of ideas. Indeed, dwarves might be allowed to pick from the list within some boundaries.

Some thoughts:

If one gains a greater connection to earth and stone, presumably one loses some amount of connection to the other elements. Perhaps:

* A dwarf adds 5 to the DC of any Swim checks he makes.

* If given flight by any spell or other ability, a dwarf's maneuverability class decreases by one step from what he would otherwise gain, to a minimum of Poor.

The connection to stone could make them vulnerable:

* A dwarf adds 5 to the DC of saves he makes versus any kind of petrification effect.

To be one with the bones of the earth suggests difficulty operating in other environments:

* Fear of open spaces: when in an area open to the sky (a pavilion is acceptable, but forest cover is not), a dwarf is constantly shaken. Adventuring dwarves often practice rigorous mental discipline to rid themselves of this fear, and can buy this off at the cost of 2 skill points. (Or 1, if you want that to be easier. Or maybe a feat, if you want it to be a really serious investment.)

* Fear of heights: when within 10 feet of a visible sheer or underhung drop of 20 feet or more, a dwarf is constantly shaken. This even applies in zero-gravity environments, or during flight. Adventuring dwarves often practice rigorous mental discipline to rid themselves of this fear, and can buy this off at the cost of 2 skill points. (Or 1, or a feat.)

The stone presumably wants to be tended:

* If this is an individual trait, perhaps if an adventuring dwarf fails to maintain ranks in a Craft skill related to stone or metalwork at least equal to their ECL, they lose some of the benefits of the Pact of Stone.
* If it is a racial trait, then perhaps if a dwarven community fails to maintain a total number of ranks in such Craft skills, Appraise, or Knowledge (Architecture, Dungeoneering or Geography) equal to the total HD of all members of the community (one dwarf with HD+3 ranks allows three 1HD dwarves to not be skilled at all), the community loses some benefits of the Pact.

Jack of tears
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Damn, Jem, I was thinking

Damn, Jem, I was thinking narratively, not mechanically - that's a lot more work than I was asking for; I appreciate it.

These are all great ideas which are easily translated into their narrative components and applied when they become relevant to characters and encounters throughout the game.

Simile
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Essence

> But what do they give in turn? Ideas?

A part of their souls when they die. Something of their Essence travels to the Inner Planes to reconnect to their elemental essence. The remainder goes to the Outer Planes.

If the dwarves are negligent in their role as stone wardens, this could result in the soul essence that returns to the Elemental plan of Earth becoming corrupted or lost - which impacts the next cycle of Dwarven lives being incarnated across Prime worlds.