Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Shards from "Isle: Imperium"

Up until recently, my wife and I were involved in Dean Alfar's RPG campaign titled Isle, now on its 9th "season". It's a very rich and complex universe involving generation-long plots and schemes, and tour de force exploration of unusual magical systems such as crafts and... as illustrated below... shards.

Shards are semi-cylindrical fragments of stone that impart ultra-normal abilities (and distinctive costumes) to those who can bear them. Using other semi-mystical shards called Brightlight, bearers can "purchase" abilities of the shard, unlocking more abilities and sometimes triggering changes in the shard's nature. Interestingly, it is possible (in general) for shard bearers to use abilities that they have from other shards provided they have sufficient attributes and "slots" in their ultra-normal forms to access them, leading to strange and sometimes powerful mixes of abilities and the occasional nasty surprise for those who tend to judge based on appearance.

What separates these shards from being mere tools of power is that there are sentiences behind the abilities. Hints of their leanings appear in dreams and sometimes emotional responses to events (or other shards). There are rivalries and allegiances between shards that sometimes color the way mounts perceive events. A few have been known to withhold abilities from mounts they did not like or trust. It is argued that the shards find ways to manipulate their bearers or further their own agendas.

Furthermore, each shard has a history in the long-standing war with chaos - most having sworn allegiance to one or more of the legions in the Army of Shards in their century-long careers. These histories are oftentimes associated with the bearers, resulting in prejudice, fear, or fondness from other shard-bearers (as well as from the enemies of the Legions - the Blue-infested Chaos Courts).

This is the Essential Savant of Bone, as worn by my character Mantius (a former slave and gladiator in the Roman-inspired Aeternum Empire).

Ossis Potior (the latin flavor text that accompanies the shard) was one of the earliest shards borne by our group. It was known then as Bone Collector, but after Mantius mastered the shard it became the Accomplished Bone Collector and then finally Ossis Potior Excelsis - the Essential Savant of Bone.

Mr. Potior (as he has become known to our group) has a reputation for being hunted by the mysterious Bone Legion, hated by one of Mantius' other favored shards (the Renegade Warder), and has been known to sacrifice greatly in order to safeguard the well-being of our group.

Mantius and Mr. Potior are currently working for the head of the Diamond Legion's intelligence operations.

Other shards currently in use by the group (all art done by Andrew Drilon, by the way) include:

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