Adventure Trove: Birthrights 101

As I’ve talked about the arcane and divine magics of the Seven Realms, it now falls to me to elaborate upon the natural magic of the same world. Characters can have lineages which tie them to a natural elemental force. This isn’t purely earth, air, fire and water. Instead of air we have light and dark, and the natural element of plants exists as well. Simply possessing a birthright, something most common to non-human creatures and races, gives one improved senses tied to the element. Those who practice can gain other powers, which includes externalization of the element, or thematic effects based upon it as well.Characters who possess a birthright are bonded to their element. Those who deepen the bond are called natural mages. The difference is the degree of expression allowed by their ability to channel their element. Because of this, most often the elements are referred to by color, as the expressions need not be purely physical.

For example, a dark mage does indeed have the capacity to make the area darker, and the ability to hide in shadows. However, they also possess the capacity to weave illusions and travel bodily through shadows. Thus, it is more often this is referred to as the black element, or the black birthright, rather than the dark element/birthright/etc. Most creatures, such as trolls, that can see plainly in darkness are black elemental creatures. The ones that have tapped into this birthright are often capable of magical feats as well. This is because, simply having a birthright gives you a minor ability. In the case of the black element, this is dark vision. More advanced powers, and talents are described as powers, not spells, would let a practitioner perform feats like creating darkness infused objects, generate spiritual attacks made of pure shadow, etc.

This is handled as a gateway trait, and the option to take further passive and active traits later on. To be clear, the main trait, Birthright, can only be taken at character creation. A Birthright is nothing more than a gateway to power, an option most characters don’t even choose to develop. Unlike with pact magic, where getting your foot in the door gives you access to almost everything, or sorcery where you have to learn access to spells over time but your mastery also increases, natural mages have to learn each talent on its own, and many of them require a Discipline roll to succeed, and are quite fatiguing.

Given that this is often part of a character’s lineage, it is understandable that most would wonder how it appeared in a human’s family tree. A player can decide that the power is dormant within them, meaning they can’t use even the minor gift all others with the trait gain, but they still have it. This is the most common backstory for human natural mages. The second most common story excuse relates to not knowing the character is different because the birthright gift isn’t obvious.

White Birthright’s gift is called Clarity, it gives the character exceptional vision, that other humans might mistake for Eagle Eye, a trait anybody could have. The Blue Birthright’s gift is called Detection, which instinctually informs the bearer of the purity of liquids, and the nearest location of same. The Yellow Birthright is similar, in that it gives information about rock and stone, which would be easy to dismiss outside of a quarry or mine. The Green Birthright’s gift is about health and quality of plants, and plant byproducts such as toxins, so could be mistaken for a green thumb and the Red Birthright’s gift is resistance to heat and flame, something which could go undiscovered throughout someone’s entire life.

It would be rare for a human to compare notes with any of the races which possess these ties, so even when the gift isn’t dormant, it often isn’t seen for what it is among humans until an adventurer comes along with a need for power.

Traditionally, characters and creatures with the same birthright share a kinship. This is more like the idea of a feeling of understanding between them. It doesn’t prevent conflict between such creatures. The fact that most trolls die at the hands of other trolls exemplifies that fact. However, it explains why fetches often flock to trolls come rampaging through the realms, and why gargoyles like to live in Jath, a country run by ogren, true ogres. Fetches are black elemental humanoids descended from ogres, and both gargoyles and true ogres, are red elemental humanoids.

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About Byron D. Molix

I am an information technology professional in Missouri. I've been an avid fan of fantasy and science fiction novels, comic books, pen and paper role-playing games, computer games and console video games for the last two decades. My dream would be to one day make a comfortable living while having the time to pursue writing (novels, rpgs, etc.) as a full-time hobby.

Posted on February 10, 2014, in AT, Gaming and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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