Knacks: Rain, Sand, Spirit, Star, Wind
Apprentice Degree: Song of the Elements
Adept Degree: Shield of the Elements
Master Degree: Fury of the Elements
The Yilan’bazlik, Ruzgar’hala, Jadur’rihad, and Aldiz’ahali tribes collectively practice an archaic Sorcery which draws upon their perception of the four elements: sand (earth), wind (air), rain (water), and sun (fire), along with a fifth element, spirit, which transcends the other four. The Sorcery has its origins in the earliest days of the Empire, a gift from the elemental spirits known as the Djinn.
At one time, the Djinn (the honorable Jann, vicious Ifrit, alluring Ba’jehn, and deceitful Yemman) fulfilled a role in the Crescent Empire equivalent to the role of the Sidhe in Avalon. Rather than existing utterly without emotion, however, Djinn were hyper-emotional, experiencing all the desires, foibles, and rivalries of humans in overwhelming proportions. To secure favors of one sort or another, Djinn would provide gifts to ordinary humans (leading to the legend of the Djinn and the wish). Particularly crafty humans wished for a shred of the Djinn’s power. Over time, these humans rose to power of their own and intermarried, mingling their bloodlines and producing the Sorcery known as Sha’ir.
Rather than being identified by a specific physical trait, a practitioner of Sha’ir (called a Sha’iri) can be identified by a lack of certain characteristics. Neither his hair nor his clothing will ever be rustled by the wind, no matter how strong. He is never inconvenienced by falling rain; it rolls right off him without even dampening his hair or robes. No matter how long he spends under the blazing sun, his skin never changes from its natural coloration. Finally, a Sha’iri never leaves footprints while walking on sand (even wet sand), though any mount he may be riding will.
The first powers manifested by a Sha’iri are those of perception. While less dramatic than the more potent powers they will develop later, these perceptive powers are generally considered the most useful, and ensure that even a Half-Blooded Sha’iri can easily find work as a guide or navigator.
Once an Apprentice has been to an oasis in the desert and drunk from its waters, he becomes attuned to it. At any time he may make a Wits + Rain roll against a TN of 20 to get an idea of the direction and distance to the nearest oasis to which he has become attuned. Direction is determined along one of sixteen compass points (north, north by northeast, northeast, etc.), and distance is measured as Near (within ten minutes’ walk), Not Far (within two hours’ walk), Far (within a day’s walk), Very Far (within a week’s walk), or Extremely Far (more than a week’s walk away).
In addition, he can always sense the current positions of stars, moons, planets, and other heavenly bodies, even when they are not visible due to daylight, weather, having his eyes closed or covered, being indoors, and so on. He is also innately sensitive to the geometric relationships between them. He is always aware of the exact time and his exact latitude and longitude, and receives a number of free Raises equal to his Rank in the Star Knack on any Navigation roll he attempts.
Finally, by making a Wits + Wind roll against a TN of 15, the Apprentice may send a message on the wind to any other person within the Crescent Empire and underneath the open sky. The message may only be one word long, plus one additional word for every Raise made on the roll. This may only be attempted once per Scene; if the roll fails, the wind is simply too weak to carry the Sha’iri’s words.
As a Sha’iri grows in power, he begins to develop resistance to the more common threats the elements may throw at him in the Empire. He cannot be harmed directly by sand: he may fall any distance onto sand without damage, and any amount of sand may be dumped onto him without effect, so long as the sand contacts him or his possession directly. Thus, a forty-pound bag of sand dropped onto an Adept from a height will inflict damage as usual, because the bag prevents the sand from contacting him directly. No amount of sand obstructs his breathing, even if he is completely buried, and airborne sand (e.g., during a sandstorm) never obstructs his vision.
Furthermore, the Adept never suffers damage from falling onto water (even frozen water, should he encounter it), or from having water dropped directly onto him. He is capable of breathing underwater, , and never needs to fear drowning. Similarly, he is protected at all times from sunburn and the damaging effects of strong wind. An Adept never suffers damage from warm weather (i.e., the two right-most columns on the Weather Table in the Game Master’s Guide), and rough weather only increases damage if the Adept encounters it in cold climates.
A Master Sha’iri can draw upon the most primal forces of the elements to summon storms: the precious, life-giving clouds of a rainstorm or the angry savagery of the sands. The Sha’iri must spend a Drama Die and make a Resolve + Rain roll against a TN of 30. If successful, he summons a light rain storm that will drop one quarter inch of water over the next twenty-four hours, plus an additional quarter inch for every Raise made on the roll. This ability may not cause existing storm to worsen, nor does it cause a shift on the Weather Table.
If he prefers, the Sha’iri can summon a sandstorm. To do so, he must spend a Drama Die and make a Resolve + Sand roll against a TN of 20. If successful, the current weather shifts one category toward the top of the Weather Table, plus one additional category for every Raise made on the roll. Beginning with the Round it is summoned, the sandstorm inflicts the damage specified on the Weather Table to everyone in the area (except an Adept or Master Sha’iri) at the beginning of Phase 10 every Round until the storm ends or until they find some form of shelter. While the storm rages, the Sha’iri who summoned it may spend an Action to have the storm target one specific creature. The Sha’iri rolls Resolve + Sand to make this attack, which cannot be parried (either as an Active Defense, or as a Knack to determine Passive Defense). If successful, the Sha’iri makes a 5k3 Damage Roll. The storm lasts a number of Rounds equal to the Sha’iri’s Rank in the Sand Knack, or until he chooses to end it by simply spending an Action.
Finally, a Master Sha’iri can call upon his connection with the winds to create one of the true wonders of the Crescent Empire: a flying carpet. Once (and only once) in his life, the Master may infuse a finely-made carpet with the essence of the wind. A Wits + Wind roll against a TN of 30 is sufficient to create a flying carpet sized for one person (typically, but not always, the Sha’iri himself), and under the empathic control of its owner. Carpets of larger size require one Raise for each additional passenger, or for the ability to carry an extra fifty pounds of non-living equipment (or valuables). For example, a carpet enchanted to carry the Sha’iri, one additional passenger, and two hundred pounds of equipment would require a roll against a TN of 55. The carpet must be made of the finest materials and craftsmanship, at a cost of 100 altyni times the TN to create the carpet (in the example above, the carpet intended to harness the wind must be worth at least 5,500 altyni).
If this roll fails, the wind becomes incensed at the Sha’iri’s attempt to restrain it. The carpet is ripped to shreds, the Sha’iri cannot attempt to create another flying carpet for at least another year, and the price of the carpet to be enchanted at that time is doubled. If the Sha’iri succeeds at this roll, he has successfully created a carpet capable of carrying him (or whomever he designates as the owner) on the wind. The carpet is incapable of movement unless its proper owner is standing or sitting upon it; at all other times, it appears to be a normal (though finely-made) carpet. Only individuals with the ability to detect Sorcery will be able to determine it is something more.
For purposes of overland travel, the carpet ignores any sort of terrain hazard, moving at the speed of an unencumbered horse across well-paved ground, to a maximum of seventy-five miles in a single day. Attempts to move faster than that will result in the passengers being swept off the carpet (which will then flutter to the ground). The carpet can also be ridden in battle with no effect on speed, but the owner of the carpet may command it to move freely from one Level of elevation to another, and may be able to hover out of reach of his enemies. Anyone on the carpet must use Balance (or Parry) instead of Footwork as a Defense Knack, and if one of the riders fails a Balance Active Defense Knack, the Game Master may spend a Drama Die to have him fall off the carpet, taking falling damage accordingly (the owner of the carpet is never in danger of falling off in this manner).
The carpet only recognizes one owner at a time, typically the Sha’iri who created it. The owner may freely give the carpet to another person at any time, and it will recognize the recipient as the new owner.
Rain. In addition to its uses for his Mastery Level abilities, a Sha’iri can use his Rain Knack to attempt to dowse for water. To do this, he spends a Drama Die and rolls Resolve + Rain against a TN of 5. Success on this roll allows the Sha’iri to find a water source where, with about ten minutes of digging, he can find one pint of fresh water, plus one additional pint for every Raise taken on the roll. Once exposed to the dry Crescent air, the water will evaporate shortly if not gathered or consumed.
Sand. The Sand Knack is predominantly used by Master Level Sha’iri to summon sandstorms and direct their attacks. Once he has summoned a sandstorm, or when he encounters one which is naturally occurring, the Sha’iri may spend a Drama Die (in addition to the Drama Die spent to summon the sandstorm, if applicable) to give it a specific shape, such as a giant serpent or a pack of wolves, and cause it to behave accordingly. If he is in control of the shaped sandstorm, he may add twice his Rank in the Sand Knack to any rolls direct attacks of the storm. Regardless, the damage inflicted by the storm (on each additional attack, or on Phase 10 of each Round) in increased by his Rank in this Knack, as the storm is able to act with semi-sentience and strike with improved focus.
Spirit. The Spirit Knack relies on the use of tonal chanting to combat and drive away supernatural creatures, including the Sidhe and some Syrneth creatures. The Sha’iri spends an Action and a Drama Die to enter into a contested roll of his Resolve + Spirit vs. his target’s Resolve. Whichever one wins the roll inflicts a number of Flesh Wounds equal to the margin of his victory on the opponent. Wound Checks are made after this damage is inflicted, as usual. The final list of which creatures may be affected by this power is up to the Game Master, but it certainly includes all types of Sidhe, undead skeletons and zombies, mirror ghosts, will-o-wisps, echoes, rakshasas, qan’avars, and night terrors.
Star. By spending one Action studying a person, spending a Drama Die, and making a contested Wits + Star roll vs. that person’s Wits, a Sha’iri may gain a sense of what astrological sign that person was born under, and what signs govern his destiny now. If he succeeds at this roll, the Sha’iri gains one Star Die, plus an additional Star Die for every Raise taken on the contested roll. A Star Die may be used to increase a roll made against the person observed as if it were a Drama Die. It can also be used to activate that person’s Hubris or Flaw (if he has one). Despite their similarities, Star Dice are not Drama Dice, and never convert to Experience Points. They disappear at the end of the Scene if they are not used.
Wind. A Sha’iri knows that the spirits are all around him, carried on the wind, and many Sha’iri develop the uncanny ability to speak with these spirits. Once per Story, a Sha’iri may spend a Drama Die to make a Resolve + Wind roll against a TN of 25. If successful, the Sha’iri may ask the Ghost Wind one question. The question must be something the Wind can answer: the Wind is only able to see things above the ground, so anything indoors or buried is beyond its comprehension. The Ghost Wind has a long memory and can answer questions about the past, but it knows nothing about the future.
Game Master’s Secrets
Sha’ir is an amalgamation of the various Sorcerous Advantages (Rimál, Ruzgar’canli, Sharkici, Sulimaq, and Takim’aldiz) available to some of the tribes described in the Crescent Empire sourcebook. This Sorcery should be used in lieu of those Advantages; they can be replicated in limited form by making a Half-Blooded Sha’iri and only giving him access to one or two of the Sorcerous Knacks presented here.
The Djinn are not allied with the Bargainers. In fact, they are violently opposed to those races’ evil machinations, and (when they can be bothered to put aside their own petty jealousies) seek to protect the people of the Crescent Empire from them. Consequently, the Sorcery of Sha’ir has a rejuvenating effect on the Barrier. The Barrier is essentially a weave of raw elemental energies: fire, earth, air, water, and even spirit. By siphoning off a shred of Wind (air) here, or a tatter of Sand (earth) there, to fuel his powers, a Sha’iri unknowingly purifies the elements comprising the Barrier, strengthening it and making it better able to repair itself.
As mentioned above, flying carpets may be freely given to a new owner, but will not function if they are stolen or taken against their owners’ will. If a carpet’s owner dies without passing it on to someone else, the carpet becomes inert until someone expends some effort to activate it. In legends, this is often someone who “liberates” the carpet from a treasure vault, perhaps thinking it to be nothing more than a valuable heirloom and discovering its true power through chance. More often, however, asserting ownership of an unclaimed carpet requires some act of confidence in its magic, such as pitching one’s self off a a high cliff with nothing but the carpet for protection from the fall.