The Burnt World of Athas

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From: Anticus, dwarven scholar slave

To: Corlinicus of the Veil.

I realize that writing this letter is dangerous to both you and myself, but I have had the shock of my life. I have always regarded my master as eccentric: spending long periods locked in his study away from human contact, always fully clothed in even the hottest weather. Now I know why.

Two days ago, while my master was out, I crept into his study (which he always keeps locked, but he does not know I know where he keeps the key). Looking around, nothing seemed out of sorts, only many books stacked on shelves along the walls. I don’t know what I expected to find in my master’s secret study, maybe a harem of pleasure slaves, I don’t know. I was disappointed though, especially when I began to examine the topics of the books: halfling etiquette, known thri-kreen pheromones, pottery techniques of Draj…

I was about to leave when I heard someone approaching the door. My master had returned early! If my master knew that I had disobeyed him, he would punish me severely. With no way out, I found a hiding place behind a thick curtain that covered the windows of the room.

My master did not see me, but went to one of the bookshelves, pressed a latch that I had not seen before, and said: “Parodos.” A section of the bookshelf rotated forward to reveal a small storage area beyond. From this, my master withdrew a large tome and carried it to his desk. Before he sat down, he removed the heavy robes that he always wears. I was shocked by what I saw - most of his body was nothing but dark shadows. I was stunned, and almost gasped out loud, but was able to check myself.

As I stared dumbfounded, my master sat down at his desk and opened the book. He began to recite phrases from the book in a soft whispery voice. I have heard you performing your magic before, and am able to recognize wizardry when I hear it.

As the initial shock wore off, I began to scrutinize my master for the signs you told me to look for to determine whether he was a preserver or a defiler. However, as my master practiced his magic, I was unable to determine one way or the other. None of the signs you told me to look for could I find. Is this some new magic that my master wields? I knew I must help you find out.

I waited five hours for my master to finish his study before he left the room. Once he left, I cautiously did the same. Today, my master went out again, and I crept into his study, opened the hidden safe, and removed my master’s magical tome. I have copied one of the spells contained within, and placed the book back in its safe without drawing anyone’s attention. Now I pass it along to you. Please study it. Discuss it with your colleagues. Have I copied the spell correctly? Are there any errors? Will it work for you as it does my master? Please write to me and let me know what you and your colleagues think.

Later I will try to sneak back into my master’s study and copy down more of his mysterious new magic.

Darkwing (Conjuration)
Level: 2
Range: 60 yards
Components: V,S,M
Duration: 1 round/level
Casting Time: 2
Area of Effect: Special
Saving Throw: None
This spell summons animated magical pieces of the Black, shaped like bats, with one piece per level of the caster being conjured. The “bats” attack any target designated by the caster. All of the “bats” form a single swarm that can only attack one target at a time, but the caster can move them from one target to another, as they fly at 20(A).

The first time a “bat” hits its target it strikes the victim’s face and raps around the victim’s eyes, blinding him for 1 round per level of the caster. The “bat” remains on the victim, performing no other actions. Any “bat” that successfully attacks after the first bites the victim, causing 1-2 hit points of damage and the striking “bat” dissipates.

The “bats” are immune to physical attacks but magical attacks that cause 4 hit points will destroy a single bat. A continual light spell will destroy all the “bats”, but a light spell only keeps them at bay (they cannot enter the light spell’s area of effect).