Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Smiths and Artisans are the Real Enchanters pt 4

Magic apples are a mainstay in European myths and folklore. Golden Apples are the most common form of apple found in myths, and are the focus of this post. Notable examples of Golden Apples include:

Trickery and guile always wins the race.

The Distraction of Atalanta: Atalanta’s father abandoned her as an infant, but in typical jerk-bag style, he reclaimed her as his daughter after she had grown into an incredible huntress. Sadly, his first instinct was to marry her off, and with Atalanta being sane in her enjoyment of her freedom, she was not pleased with this turn of events. She possessed an incredible level of physical prowess and used that to her advantage by requiring a prospective husband beat her in the foot race, those that lost the race forfeited their lives. This required forfeiture reduced the number of possible men willing to take on the challenge. A man named Melanion became obsessed with Atalanta, and prayed to Aphrodite for something to help him with the race. The goddess granted Melanion three Golden Apples, and told him to toss them aside during the race to distract her. Even with the distractions, Melanion nearly lost the race, and his life, for Atalanta was truly fast. While the couple married and produced a heroic son named Parthenopaios, they were turned into lions for offending the gods. 

The Garden of the Hesperides. Art by A. Rackham

The Garden of the Hesperides: The Hesperides were the daughters of Atlas, and tended to Hera's orchard of trees that produced immortality granting Golden Apples. As part of Hercules' twelve labors, he tricked Atlas into stealing the apples in exchange for holding up the world. Hercules, being a complete d-bag, didn't hold up his end of the bargain (pun intended) and walked out on Atlas as he still held up the world.

The party that got really out of hand.

For the Most Beautiful: Eris, goddess of discord, was upset that she wasn't invited to the wedding of Peleus and Thetis that many of the other gods and goddesses were attending. Her lack of an invite was mainly due to the fact that she was a complete jerk who reveled in the complete chaos she caused in the lives of others. To entertain herself, she carved 'To/For the Most Beautiful' (Greek Transliteration: Ti Kallisti) into a Golden Apple, then rolled the apple into the midst of the party. A disagreement erupted among the vain goddesses at the party, that eventually spun out of control and resulted in the start of the Trojan War.

The orchard of Idunn. Art by A. Rackham.

The Apples of Idunn: Idunn, Norse goddess associated with apples and youth, tended to the apple orchards that granted the Norse Aesir and Vanir immortality and youth. These apples, as with the other apples in the post, were Golden Apples.

Apples into Metal
The biggest question that might be asked after reading this post, so far, is how might one forge metal-like items from apples? The answer, you don't forge stuff from the apples, rather you use apples to help forge metal items. A bit of historical and scientific facts might help to illustrate what I mean.

Most fantasy geeks have heard of Damascus Steel, with the unique patterns that appear across the surface of such steel as well as its high quality. While modern materials exceed the capabilities of the specimens they have of the steel, it was deserving of its fame during its time (3rd to 17th Century AD). In 2006 a German team discovered nanowires and carbon nanotubes within a Damascus Steel blade, leading the team to believe that the presence of the nanowires and nanotubes gave the steel its resiliency and ability to hold an edge so well. The exact methods they used to produce the steel are still unknown, although there are a number of plausible theories. One theory states that extra biomass was used during the smelting process, since nanotubes and nanowires can be derived from plant fibers. In the smelting process, the organic material is burned away, but the nanotubes and nanowires persisted and were 'mixed' into the steel ingots.

Just as the biomass was added to the smelting process to create Damascus Steel, these apples are sliced and added into the smelting process of a metal. The unique qualities of the apples are imbued into the metal they are smelted into, giving the metal a golden hue. Why wouldn't someone just eat the apple and become immortal as the legends suggest, rather than pounding it into metal? Unless someone has a steady supply, eating a single apple is more trouble than it is worth. While the eater may gain immortality for a short time, they need to continue to eat these same apples, otherwise they die, no matter how young or healthy the person is. If a person has only one apple, its better to make a item from it than eat it and die a few weeks later from withdrawal.

Golden Steel / God Metal
Metal smelted using Golden Apples is most commonly referred to as Golden Steel (when steel is used) due to its color, non-steel smelted with Golden Apples is usually referred to as God Metal due to the origin of the apples.

A Golden Steel Sword.

Golden Steel Sword: These weapons are coveted by mortals, and hated by gods as well as other powerful beings. No matter the power of the intended target, a Golden Steel Sword is capable of harming them, even if the target is a god. When the Golden Steel is forged into a weapon, the power of the Golden Apple is turned against those that might have benefited from it.
Game Mechanics: A weapon made of Golden Steel can harm any being, no matter how high of a '+' is needed to harm them. The steel does not grant any other ability beyond the ability to kill powerful beings, meaning a prospective god-killer will still need the skill necessary to hit the god and the toughness to survive whatever attacks the god might use against them. 

A selection of God Metal Rings
God Metal Ring: These rings are coveted by monarchs, scholars, and anyone else who needs more time or fears growing old. The rings stave off time, disease, poison, and even possible death from bodily harm. Though there are many legends that tell of 300 year old kings removing their ring, only to turn into dust the moment it leaves their finger.
Game Mechanics: The ring provides immunity to aging, while the ring is worn time is held at bay like water behind a dam. Once the ring is removed, time flows back onto the wearer all at once, suddenly aging them by all the time they once held at bay. While this may not be a detriment for someone who wore the ring for a day or even a year, wearing it for 20 years and removing it can turn a spry youngster into someone reaching middle age. The ring also grants immunity to all non-magical diseases and poisons. A magical poison, for the purposes of the ring, is a poison taken from a magical/mythical animal/plant or a poison produced on another plane. Finally, the ring can help stave off death from outright damage by giving the character an extra store hit-points in the form of their own Constitution. For each point beyond the 'death number' (e.g. 0 HP, -10 HP, Etc...) the character may reduce their Constitution by 1 point, with the character not dying until they reach 0 Constitution (e.g. in a system where -1 HP is death: a character with 5 HP is hit for 8 points of damage, would be taken to 0 HP and have 3 points taken from their Constitution). As long as the character has Constitution left, they can be brought back to consciousness by healing. Lost Constitution is regained at 1 point every 3 days, meaning it can take weeks for someone to fully recover from their near death experience.

A selection of God Metal Talismans

God Metal Talisman: These talismans protect the wearer from all things that would distract them from seeing reality as it truly is. God Metal Talismans are often used by those who deal with the fae, since it grants them protection from the illusions and tricks of the fae.
Game Mechanics: The most obvious ability that the talisman grants its wearer is complete immunity to illusions. However, it also grants another, more subtle, ability, the capability to detect when someone is lying to the wearer. The ability only comes into effect when the wearer is lied to, lies told to others in the wearers presence are treated normally. When the wearer is lied to, the DM makes a secret roll, attempting to roll under the wearer's Wisdom, at a -5 penalty, with 1D20. If the roll is successful, the character gets a vague feeling that they are being lied to, but not specific knowledge as to what part of the statement is true and what part is false.

An ancient priest with a God Metal Virge.

God Metal Virge: These items are coveted by both illusionists, enchanters, and healers. The virge adds its own potency to certain spells, empowering them beyond the level the caster could normally achieve.
Game Mechanics:

Illusion/Phantasm and Enchantment Schools: At base, any spell from these schools that is cast while the caster is wielding a God Metal Virge, the spell is cast as if the caster was 3 levels higher. If the caster sacrifices a number of HP equal to twice the level of the spell cast, then the spell is treated as if it was cast by someone twice the caster's level when determine the level dependent variables of the spell (e.g. If an 8th level wizard casts Blindness, a 2nd level spell, and sacrifices 4 HP, the spell is cast as if the wizard was 16th level).

Healing Spells: Any spell that heals HP that is cast by someone wielding a God Metal Virge, heals an additional amount of HP equal to the caster's level (e.g. If a 5th level Priest casts Cure Light Wounds, the spell would heal an addition +5 HP on top of the normal amount healed.). If a Priest, or any other class that is capable of casting healing spells, wields the God Metal Virge, they have a number of D4's to use for healing equal to their level. These D4's may be rolled on their own, as if the wielder was casting a spell, or added to the total number HP healed by another spell, these D4's may be split in anyway the wielder wishes amongst castings. (e.g. A 5th level Priest has 5D4 to use that day. They may use 2D4 to outright heal some minor damage to one character, and add 3D4 to the total HP healed by a Cure Light Wounds.)

Resurrection: The God Metal Virge may be sacrificed to resurrect a person or creature who has been dead for less than the person/creature's HD in months (e.g. Bob the Blacksmith, a level 2 commoner, was killed in the recent goblin raid. As long as Bob hasn't been dead for longer than 2 months, he may be resurrected). Someone resurrected by the sacrifice of the virge suffers no ill effects from the resurrection.