Nodes of Power

Another idea inspired by fiction, this one is based on the Dance of the Rings series by Jane S. Fancher (I’ve only ever found three books; there’s a fourth book in the works).

In this series there are ‘leythium nodes’, places of power. Leythium seems to be a form of plotdevicium, so there really isn’t much detail about how it works or what it does, beyond “these are places of power”. I’ve inferred the following:

  • A leythium node is a place of power.
  • Nodes may have different powers available (one is known for healing).
  • Nodes have different natural levels of power.
  • A node may be ‘capped’, there is a method for controlling (or at least making use of) the power of a node.
  • Capping a node requires a certain degree of skill; more powerful nodes are harder to cap.
  • Capped nodes may be linked to each other, increasing the power available to those who make use of the nodes.
  • As a capped node becomes more linked, the area affected by the node gets bigger.
  • The person who controls a capped node (the Ringmaster, named after the rings of the device that governs the capped node, and the links to that node) can make rather direct use of the power of the node.

Now, aware that the leythium nodes of Dance of the Rings are a plot device more than a gaming element, I’m going to try to come up with some rules to model the observations made above.

Game Mechanics

The mechanics below are fairly general. Specific numbers will be hard to come by (save and skill check DCs won’t be listed, etc.).

Glossary

Attuned Creature A creature bound to a node (wild or capped). Mostly spell casters, though noncasters can gain some benefit.
Attuned Item A magic item that is bound to the magic of a capped node and uses only those spells associated with the node. These items have power only in the attuned node space, but are markedly cheaper to produce.
Capped Node A node that has been capped (someone is controlling, or at least making use of, the power of the node). Creatures and items may both be attuned.
Linked Node A node linked to another node, so their power is shared. In conversation at one end of a link, usually refers to the other end of the link.
Linked Node Spells Node spells gained from linked nodes.
Natural Node Spells The spells permanently associated with the node. One spell of each level zero-ninth, plus spells as known by a sorcerer of the same level as node level.
Node A place of power, being described by these rules.
Node Cap A magic item (probably a wondrous item) used to cap a node and gain some control over the node’s magic. May not be reused (if the cap is successful, the item is in permanent use; if the cap fails, the item is destroyed).
Node Level The total degree of power of a node, equal to the node natural level plus the number of linked nodes.
Node Linked Level The sum of the Node Level and the number of links to the node, used in determine skill check DCs, node spells available, and certain other things.
Node Master The person (or people) who control the cap on a node. Must be attuned to the node, must take the Node Master feat. May manipulate the node’s links (establish new ones, remove old ones, change the node spells, etc.).
Node Natural Level The natural degree of power of a node, ranging from one to nine.
Node Space The area of effect of a node, where creatures and items attuned to the node can make use of the node’s power. Radius is equal to 100 feet times the node level times one more than the number of linked nodes.
Node Spells Spells associated with a node.
Wild Node A node that has not been capped. May only be used by attuned creatures, items may not be attuned.

Node Spells

Each node ‘knows’ spells relating to the power of the node. These spells may come from any spell list (using the spell level as a wizard, cleric, or druid first; for other classes determine based on level at which the spell become available). The base spell list contains a spell of each level (zero to ninth), plus spells as a sorcerer of the same level as the node (a ninth-level node would ‘know’ 8/5/4/3/2 spells (levels zero-fourth), plus one spell per level zero-ninth).

As the node becomes linked to other nodes, its effective level (for spell knowledge) goes up. The additional known spells must be taken from linked nodes, and the node must know at least one spell from each linked node. As nodes are added (usually a good thing) or removed (usually a disaster), the list of spells known from other nodes can change (“the interactions of the nodes is a complex thing and hard to predict”, if you want a handwave for why the node no longer knows a particular spell).

Only spells ‘castable’ by a sorcerer as the combined level of the node will be available to casters and items attuned to the node (any node can ‘know’ a ninth-level spell, but only a ninth-level node with nine linked nodes can provide access that spell).

Attunement

Characters can be attuned to a node (wild or capped), using a feat.

While in the area of effect of the attuned node an attuned spell caster can spontaneously cast the available node spells. Casters that prepare spells gain by being able to cast spells spontaneously, spontaneous casters can gain by having their effective ‘known spells list’ significantly enlarged.

An item may be attuned to a node (capped only). Any item crafted in the node’s area of effect that uses only node spells (those of the natural node or gained through linking) has its base price halved, the base XP cost for creation is waived, and the item is usable by any character attuned to the node as if the spell were on the character’s ‘class list’. Market price is still increased for special materials and XP costs of the spell itself (so no really cheap attuned ring of wishes).

Attunement and ‘Class Spell List’

This does not change the caster’s ‘class spell list’. If your cleric gained access to fireball by attunement to a node you cannot use an arbitrary wand of fireball, though you could use a wand of fireball attuned to the node. An attuned spell caster can use an attuned spell completion item (scroll) as a caster of his best caster level (so a 10th-level cleric can safely use a scroll of fireball (CL10) if both are attuned to the same node). A noncaster can also use such an item, but as a 0-level caster odds of it going bad are pretty high. A noncaster can safely use a spell trigger item, if both are attuned to the same node.

Capping Nodes

A node is a place of power on its own, but capping a node makes it more usable (items may be attuned) and gives the potential for greatly increased power through linking to other nodes.

To cap a node, a character must first attune himself to the node by taking the appropriate feat. After this is done, the character must create a node cap, a wondrous item that will govern the power of the node and make it usable. The highest-level spell available to attuned items will be capped by the maximum spell level of the node cap, and the highest node linked level is capped by the maximum linked level.

It will be possible to update the node cap to make it more powerful, but that will require ‘uncapping’ the node, updating the cap, then recapping (with all related risks).

tentative cost: maximum spell level * maximum linked level * 1000gp.

Linking Nodes

Capped nodes may be linked. This requires cooperation between the node masters and increases (perhaps greatly) the power available through the linked nodes.

A network of nodes may be formed. A node may be linked to multiple nodes, and adjacent nodes may be linked to the same nodes (nodes A, B, and C can form a ‘linked triangle’). The network must form a planarity (the edges between the linked nodes may not cross).

I haven’t worked out all the details, but the node master will be able to manipulate the linked node spell list. The natural node spell list is fixed and cannot be changed, but the spells taken from other nodes may be changed. This will undoubtedly require a skill check, with a DC based in part on the levels of the spells being changed and the number of nodes involved (or perhaps a check for each other node involved — swapping two spells provided by a single node is less hazardous than dropping a linked spell from one node and adding a linked spell from another node because it’s one check rather than two).

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