Places of Power

The Sinkholes of Evil rules are great, as far as they go, but they’re also rather limited. Not only do they only cover places of Evil, they only cover one specific kind of Evil - they’re really more “Sinkholes of Necromancy” than anything else. There are forms of supernatural Evil which don’t focus on animating the dead and, depending on your setting, there may even be some which are actively hostile to undeath.

And then there are the places of non-Evil power: Holy sites, of course. Magic glens and other places of natural power. Perhaps even the home of a particularly powerful wizard.

They can also overlap. In my campaign, there is a cave, high on a cliff, which contains a spring fed by a magical fountain in the caverns below it. The fountain below has powers of Life and Growth, but the cave above has been corrupted by cultists of a roach-god, twisting the natural Growth powers to become cancerous.

To me, this cries out for a broader treatment of Places of Power in general, based on the existing Sinkholes of Evil rules. Some basic ideas:

  • The "Corpse Reanimation" effect can, if appropriate, be converted to a chance for other Power-related creatures to spontaneously appear - demons manifesting in temples to dark gods, regular roaches becoming monstrous, slimes/jellies/molds growing in the caverns around my fountain, etc. It's not entirely clear how powerful these creatures should be or how often this should be checked, but that's just an implementation detail...
  • The adjustments to the effectiveness of "reversed/necromantic" and "lawful divine" spells can be easily translated into modifying "sympathetic" and "opposed" spells. e.g., In a volcanic Place of Power, fire spells would be at +2 class levels, while ice spells would (in a level 3 PoP) be at -2 class levels.
  • Similarly, the "Necromancy magic research" modifier can be changed to "Sympathetic magic research", so the volcanic PoP would give that bonus to researching fire-related spells and crafting fire-related items.[1]
  • The "Undead in Sinkhole" modifiers can be applied to supernatural creatures aligned to the local Power. Maybe also mundane creatures, but I think it probably works better with only amplifying those which are already supernatural.
  • "Animating Undead" maps to summoning sympathetic creatures. Possibly also to suitable constructs built there?
  • "Blood sacrifice" and "Turning undead" modifiers aren't that easily generalized[2], but, then, it seems reasonable that some (most?) types of Power would have unique special effects which don't readily map to other kinds of Power, so I'm not terribly bothered by this.

[1] Speaking of which, should there be a reduction in the special materials requirement for crafting items in a sympathetic Place of Power? If you’re crafting, say, a ring in the heart of Mount Doom, then the vast fiery powers there could be an adequate replacement for some of the hellhound tongues which the item would normally require.

[2] I’ve seen a couple blog posts floating the idea of expanding on the “turn undead” concept to cover other situations aside from just undead, such as elementalists turning elemental spirits. If you were to adopt something along those lines, then the “Turning undead” modifiers could be expanded to most Powers, especially if you were to go to the extreme of ruling that every kind of supernatural creature has someone who can turn it. But I doubt I’ll pursue that line of house ruling myself; my general inclination runs more towards removing turning from the game entirely, or at least greatly toning it down.

  1. If it were me, I would give a bonus to the magic research rolls instead. in the long run it saves you a ton of money by reducing the chance of blowing ALL your money.

  2. The first thing that comes to mind for me is the shamans in the D&D adaptation of world of warcraft. They had turn/control elementals similar to clerics hitting undead. Anything other than undead is going to be more obscure/less relevant in general. Places of power should be rare enough in your world that you could take the time to amp up/down the power with some manual tweaking until it makes sense. If an aspiring worldbuilding DM has so many places of power that they’re having a hard time keeping some of them relevant… that’s probably not the best way to go about things. Something as rare as this doesn’t NEED to be perfectly balanced. As long as it’s useful to SOMEONE and not ALMOST EVERYONE, it should be fine.

I like this a lot. It seemed obvious once I started reading, but I hadn’t thought of it myself, so it obviously wasn’t obvious. :slight_smile: I don’t have much to add beyond kudos at the moment though.

I’d love to see how you and others might extend it, but I suspect I’d treat it as a campaign resource rather than an exhaustive list. It seems like a setting element choice rather than a gap in the ruleset. That is, I might place a few on my map, and I’d be open to adding a couple more if players seek out a plausible one, but I’d rather have just a few unique sites than a comprehensive and symmetrical list of places of power, just for the sake of placing everything typed up.

re [1]… I have no idea. I actually lack any experience of high level play for mages. Which you’ve reminded me I’ve been meaning to post about anyway.

  1. I’m currently assuming that the bonus to research rolls is “in” by default. That footnote was just wondering out loud (I haven’t really thought this through much beyond what’s in the OP yet) whether it would make sense for an appropriate PoP to also reduce special ingredient requirements.

  2. I could definitely see myself ending up with a ton of PoPs, but doing it in a low-magic rather than a high-magic way. By which I mean I would, in that scenario, add some general penalties or restrictions on magical research, item crafting, etc. so that you need to find (or create, by building an “altar”) an appropriate PoP for those kinds of activities to be worthwhile.

And it now occurs to me that a lot of my thoughts here are broadly similar to “aura” and regiones in Ars Magica. This is probably not a bad thing to be similar to.

Definitely agreed that there’s little point in trying to make an exhaustive list. I’m thinking more along the lines of a generic framework which a GM (or perhaps the player of a high-level caster…) can use to design PoPs as needed, while maintaining an appropriate level of consistency between them. (They don’t all need to be balanced and they certainly shouldn’t all be mechanically identical, but having a systematic way of describing them with consistent terminology and some level of similarity in the kinds of things they do would probably be useful.)

In my own campaigns I have Pinnacles of Good, Furnaces of Elemental Fire, Aeries of Elemental Air, Fountains of Elemental Water, and Mantles of Elemental Earth.

You wouldn’t happen to have any plans to share and/or publish details on all of those places, would you? :smiley:

I rather like this idea… but why wouldn’t you want blood sacrifice in a volcanic place of power? Hungry gods, kali-ma, and all that.

I also have been advocating for places of power providing XP for magic item creation (basically divine power, but bound to a place rather than a people) for some time, in the Midnight idiom.

That’s a cool idea.

I do, in fact, plan to publish them in a campaign supplement.

I can’t give ALL my ideas away on the forums, yo.

The one-paragraph “Places of Power” thing I wrote for one of my insane classes rates them in terms of spell points/day. Someone who taps the place of power can gain that.

Given that spell points can be converted into divine power (and back and forth), the six tiers (I set them rating of spell level) can be genericized as follows, by rating:

1: 1 spell point: 5 divine power
2: 3 spell points: 15 divine power
3: 6 spell points: 30 divine power
4: 10 spell points: 50 divine power
5: 15 spell points: 75 divine power
6: 21 spell points: 105 divine power

(These are just the numbers from Alex’s old spell point post, which I use a lot.)

To tie back into the sinkholes of evil, a shadowed sinkhole qualifies as rating 2 (3/day), a blighted sinkhole as 3 (6/day) and a forsaken sinkhole as 5 or 6 (15/day or 21/day) at the Judge’s discretion.

(I note that there’s no need to restrict it to these exact numbers of divine power, but I like to use it as a default.)

You could make that number of divine power available the same across places of power, but limit its usage to items that are appropriate for the place in question.

A place of power that is specifically for magic might gain more points, or have some other kind of effect; or maybe the fact that it’s usable for all magic items would be enough of a bonus.

I’m kind of just thinking things here, but maybe it’s useful to someone!

Useful to me, at least. Thanks!