May Project: Geese Part 1

The third story in Sword and Sorceress VIII is Geese by Laurell K. Hamilton. Yes, it’s by that Laurell K. Hamilton. You would think with my love of Harry Dresden, Rachel Carson, and Mercy Thompson that Anita Blake and especially Merry Gentry would be regular reading for me but they aren’t. This is the first Hamilton I’ve read and I actually enjoyed it quite a bit.

This is the first of two posts bringing elements from the story to the May Project Setting setting.

Perhaps I had been a goose for too long. Perhaps it was time to become human again, but the desire was hazy. I was no longer sure why I wanted to be human. I could not quite remember the reason I had hidden myself among the geese.

Quote from Geese, copyright Laurell K. Hamilton.

The protagonist of the story begins it changed into the form of a goose. She is at the edge of losing her human identity and fully becoming a goose when she is shocked out of the form by an attack on children.  While contemplating as a goose at the beginning she mentions spending summers in the form giving it an apparently unlimited at will duration.  Clearly, though, the longer one stays in the form the more likely one is to never return from it, a common idea in folklore and fantasy stories.

Gelace’s Forms of Hiding
Magic-User Level 4
Duration: Unlimited (but see below)
Range: Self

The caster to shifts into the form of a normal animal smaller than herself.  The assumed form cannot have more hit dice than half the caster’s level (round up) nor may it have more than half mass than the caster.  The caster gains the physical capabilities and statistics of the new form but initially retains her mental abilities.  Special abilities the caster has, such as spell casting, are not available while in the changed form.  The caster does retain memorized spells while in the animal form despite their inability to cast spells (although, see below).  Any geas or quest spell on the caster becomes inactive while in the animal form but will immediately return in affect upon returning to human form.

The spell is unlimited duration in the sense that the caster may remain in the form as long as they desire.  However, prolonged form changes risk the caster’s mental abilities shifting from their original form to match that of the animal form.  To shift back to human form the caster must make a successful save versus spell.  A failure means the caster must wait at least a month before making another attempt to shift back.  They may gain a bonus to this saving throw by channeling a memorized spell into it.  They bonus is the spell level divided by 3, rounding to nearest (so at least a 2nd level spell must be sacrificed to gain any bonus).

While in animal Every month the caster spends in animal form she must make a save versus spell.  Every time the caster fails this roll they gain a cumulative -1 to their restoration saving throw.

History: The Ballad of Gelace and Lonan tells that Gelace  said to have spontaneously created this variation on the more common Polymorph Self trying to escape the death of her entire family at the hand of the Baron Madawoc.  After several years in hiding (a period unduplicated since) she returned and killed the Baron, gaining both her family’s land and Madawoc’s traditional lands for herself.

As per the licensing page the material in this box is available under Open Gaming License or the Creative Commons. While I prefer the Creative Commons because the text is based on OGL material I do not believe it is proper to offer this under the CC.

May Project: Wings of Fire Part 1

The second story in Sword and Sorceress VIII is Wings of Fire by Mercedes Lackey. At the risk of trashing what little old school cred I have I have to admit to enjoying a lot of Misty’s writing. My favorites were her Diana Tregarde novels of which there were only three due to poor sales although a novella appeared in a 2010 collection. There were two short stories about Diana originally written to be included in Stalking the Night Fantastic.

Wings of Fire is a Tarma and Kethry. While the main characters and broader setting elements aren’t easily transferable to the Grjeee setting (although some could fit the Maerr Idnn) I have found a few things I’d like to important at this early stage. The first is a spell.

The bird shrieked in alarm and shot skyward. Tamara cursed; Kethry was too busy trying to breathe.
It’s the paralysis spell, she thought even as she struggled to get more air into her lungs. But she couldn’t breathe in without first breathing out, and every time she did that the hand closed tighter on her chest. That’s-supposed-to-be-
A darkness that had nothing to do with the hour dimmed the moonlight, and her lungs screamed for air.
Blackness swooped in like a stooping hawk, and covered her.

Quote from Wings of Fire, copyright Mercedes Lackey.

Okay, you say lost spell and I hear campaign material. What we know is it is called the paralysis spell and it suffocates the victim to unconsciousness but not death. Because it is used to paralyzed both main characters to capture them it seems to follow the Hold Person and Hold Monster spells but it also causes damage but not fatally. It also seems to be general in effect.

Magic-User Level 6
Duration: 1 round/level
Range: 120’
This spell will render any living creature paralyzed. Targets of the spell are aware, but cannot breathe normally or take any actions, including speech. A successful save vs. magic will negate the effect. The spell may be cast at a single monster, which makes its save at -2, or at a group, in which case 1d4 of the creatures in the group may be affected.

The inability to breath will deal 1d6 damage per round but will not take the victim to negative hit points. If the victim reaches 0 hit points due to the spell’s damage he will fall unconscious.

A winged creature which is paralyzed cannot flap its wings and falls (if in flight at the time). A paralyzed swimmer can’t swim and may drown.

If a magic item or spell operates to partially negate the effects of paralysis, failure on the saving throw will have the effect of a Slow spell rather than completely immobilizing the target and will only cause 1d3 per round damage from breathing difficulty.

As per the licensing page the material in this box is available under Open Gaming License or Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. I prefer the Creative Commons license.