What is the Spell Plague?
As far as the mortals on Ea-reth are concerned the Spell Plague was a violent magical storm that occurred in 1289 of the Fifth Age. It arose over the southern edges of Yathe. Blue flames licked across the sky. The ancient Towers of Balance in Yathe and The Citadels of Magic on Ovelesk saw their lode stones shatter and crumble. Ley lines across the Feywild, Shadowfell and Ea reth ceased to function. The great storm moved across the continent changing the lands as it passed. It laid waste to Ghenna, turning the land to a smoldering waste known as the Plaguelands. A great rift opened up to the Underdark in the Wirdarmik Mountains. The drow city beneath was crushed by the collapse and areas formerly reached thru hundreds of miles of tunnels were suddenly open to the bright sky.
Virtually none of the population of Ea-Reth was left untouched by the passage of the storm. Hundreds of mages, all those casting spells or rituals at the time the storm appeared, were destroyed or driven mad by its power. Many more apprentices died battling the results of their master’s magic loosed upon the world. For the next ten years magic remained unpredictable and dangerous. Few chose to train in spellcraft, and the great magic schools of the world closed. Gradually over the next few years, the great storm faded from the sky. With it all manner of magic ceased to function completely. Psionics, technology and religion gained followers and power. Priests began to discover that a great divine battle had taken place. Gulohg the Usurper, and the Raven Queen were no more. Their deaths had been brought about by the power of the slaying stones. As a result all the lode stones and their granular form, residuum, around the world were destroyed. A cult arose dedicated to Draccorrin, god of the afterlife. Draccorrin priests claim that their deity is master over spirit and animus. They preach that when one dies you are judged by Draccorrin, if he finds your actions fit you pass on to an afterlife in service to your deity. However, if he finds you unfit, you are returned to life as an undead. For nearly twenty years humanoids were cut off from the Feywild, Shadowfell, Astral Sea, Sigil and the Elemental Chaos as planar magic, like all others had ceased to function. These years are called the Wailing. It was a sad and dangerous time where only muscle, mind and faith stood against the wild creatures of the world. In Kinderland the Alia Tai faced a revolution from their people. Without lode stones the ruling elite and their kin were hunted down and slain in a great purging. Mages across the world faced similar attacks, bereft of magic and their Alia Tai protectors many fled. Mobs tore down towers and took books of magical learning to be used as toilet paper and fuel for fires. Millenias of knowledge and history were lost. Remote towns and settlements bereft of magical means to receive goods and services ceased to exist or where over run by hordes of orcs and goblins. All contact was lost with Sigil, and many suspect that no one survived.
How did this stop?
It was in the middle of the Great Plain, north of the Molmosarc that things began to change. On Hexa Hexus 6th 1313 of the fifth age, a single red flower suddenly sprang into being before a young barbarian boy. His tribe looked on in astonishment as blue light filled his eyes and fire sprang from his hands. The young boy was summarily put to death for his crime of witchcraft. Similar, events spread across the world over the next six months. Former magic users felt the return of power, some ignored it but many returned to their calling. They soon found that magic was not as they remembered it. With many magical texts lost or destroyed the slow accumulation of knowledge began again.
Impact to Ritual Magic
Without residiuum, the universal conduit of magic, many of the rituals needed to be rediscovered. Ritualists soon found that herbs, plants and minerals that resided in areas formerly containing Ley lines contained a lesser form of the power, residuum did. Thru experimentation and careful study many rituals were rewritten with these components as catalysts. Further, research found that as a caster grew in power he could channel his own life force into simple rituals and cast them in seconds rather than minutes.
*Game terms *
Rituals of five levels lower – Replace 100% of the value of ritual components with 1 healing surge for a casting time equal to 1 action. (Standard, Minor, OR Move)
Rituals of a lower level – Replace 50% of the value of ritual components with 1 healing surge for a casting time equal to 1 round. (Ie all 3 actions, Std, Move and minor)
Rituals of your level – Replace 50% of the value of ritual components with 2 healing surges for a casting time as printed
Rituals greater than your level – 100% components and casting as printed
Rituals greater than your level +5 – Can’t Cast
Impact to Magic Items
Many items formed in the vicinity of lodestones, made with residuum or made from lodestones ceased to function. Magic swords became well crafted hunks of sharpened metal. Suits of armor and maigcal cloth rusted or crumpled to dust. Once intelligent crystal chess sets became little more than carved stone. Only items that had to be manually activated by ritual or keywords, and powerful artifacts survived the Wailing intact. For many years no new magical items could be fashioned, without residuum the art of enchanting steel and cloth seemed to forever be lost. It was a dwarf by the name of Rundik Silverbeard that came across the solution to the problem. Travelling across the Valley of the Twelve tribes he happened to meet a primal goliath that still made magic items for his tribe. Rundik spent several winters with the novice smith. He traded the art of forging Mithril, much to the dismay of his kin, for the knowledge of enchanting items. The primal tribe had long infused stone and wood items with a bit of their life-force. This life-force acted as a catalyst for the other ritual components in the process. Rundik perfected the art before taking it back to his clan. They soon started to fashion an assortment of common magical items that are being sold in major cities today. All Rundik’s items are marked with the dwarven sigil for twelve in remembrance of the legendary tale about the forging of the first weapons by Moradin and the twelve lives he sacrificed in his craft, and the trade that was made with the primal barbarians of the Twelve Tribes.
*Game terms *
Enchant Magic Item – 75% cost of printed ritual components and a HS is permanently expended by the crafter of the item, this ritual can not be cast in haste
Transfer Enchantment – As printed this ritual can not be cast in haste
Disenchant Magic Item – creates ritual components worth 15% the value of the item, the healing surge needed to craft the item is lost to the ethers (ie returns to the original caster) upon disenchantment
Brew Potion – Can be cast at 50% of listed cost but the caster expends a healing surge (this surge is regained by the caster when the potion is consumed), can also be cast at 100% cost of components
Impact to Fey Crossings, Shadowfall and Portals
Fey crossings, shadowfalls and portals remain inert unless activated via ritual by someone of the correct origin. For example an elf/eladrin/gnome (Fey) caster who journeys to a Fey Crossing can activate it via ritual. Once activated it returns to functioning normally. Shadowfalls can be activated by Shades/Shadar-kai etc (Shadow Origin). Portals need to be activated by their destination race (ie a DemonElemental would need to open a portal to the Elemental Chaos, or an Immortal/Devil to open one to the Astral Sea). No one has yet discovered what type of race will be needed to open a connection to Sigil, City of Doors.