Illumian

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Illumians are a human-offshoot species in Dungeons & Dragons, introduced in the 3e supplement "Races of Destiny". They resemble tall, pale-skinned and slender humans, clean-shaven and either bald or possessed of blonde or red hair, with one or more sigils of mystical light floating in perpetual orbit around their head. They were created when a wizard-monk named Tarmiud noticed certain patterns repeating in the various ancient arcane texts he was translating; with patience and study he created a new magical language derived from the common language he had discovered underpinned all of these ancient works. This culminated in the Ritual of Words Made Flesh, where he used this language to transform himself and the rest of his monastery into beings who could more readily utilize this new language, from which they took their name: Illumian. After proving that they had become a true-breeding race, the illumians divided the ritual into many parts and scattered, with each illumian band, or cabal, vowing to guard their fragment of the ritual so that its power could not be used to harm or destroy other people.

Illumians as a People[edit]

Illumians are driven by the need to understand a given situation, then master it. An illumian wants to be the one who finds the flaw in the blackguard’s strategy, or who casts the perfect spell to destroy the lich forever. Illumians would rather lose a fight to a superior foe than defeat a less capable enemy—especially if they were able to demonstrate grit and brains in the losing effort. Winning and losing don’t matter, but mastery does (and mastery and victory tend to go hand in hand).

Of course, illumians are realistic enough to recognize that no individual can master everything. Accordingly, illumians settle for demonstrating competence at tasks beyond their “true calling.” An illumian fighter, for example, might seek mastery of the dire flail, but he’ll take enough ranks in Ride to call himself a competent equestrian.

The flip side to an illumian’s drive for mastery is his predilection for variety. Once an illumian is satisfied with his level of competence or mastery in a specific area, he’ll enthusiastically move on to something new. This craving for variety eventually pushes illumians beyond the walls of their cabal’s stronghold. Illumians often progress in completely different fields, which is why mid- to high-level illumians are so often multiclass characters. An illumian paladin, for example, might have become satisfied with his martial prowess and now seeks expertise in the shadow arts of stealth and subterfuge by taking a level or two in the rogue class.

The drive for mastery among illumians manifests itself in another way: a complex, hierarchical social structure. In any group, an illumian is acutely aware of her position in the hierarchy. Even more than humans, illumians have an instinctive drive to be at the top of their hierarchy. Vying for social position is entirely natural to illumians, and they are puzzled by social structures that limit advancement by birth, gender, race, or other immutable characteristics. Until they’ve studied the matter, illumians might have a hard time understanding why a serf can’t become a lord or why the elderly king retains his crown when his sons are clearly more capable rulers.

When the social structure in question is populated entirely by illumians (as is the case in most illumian cabals), the competition for social status can grow intense, with each illumian plotting her own rise to power while guarding her position against the predations of rivals. But because the drive for mastery is so instinctive to illumians, they rarely take the ebb and flow of political fortunes within a cabal personally. Illumians are pragmatic enough to realize that within their cabal, today’s rival may be tomorrow’s ally. They don’t bear grudges unless the political machinations of their fellows have unusually cruel or disruptive results.

Illumians love language and are intensely social, eagerly engaging friend and stranger alike in conversation. But just as with other activities, an illumian isn’t conversing simply for the sake of comradeship. He’s assessing his relative position in the social hierarchy, trying to learn as much as he can about his conversation partner, and looking for opportunities to demonstrate his mastery of a conversation. Perceptive conversationalists who spend time talking to illumians feel as if their every word is being scrutinized. They sense that they’re being “sized up” even in casual conversation, as if the illumian is looking for potential allies and possible rivals.

The outside world sees illumians as power-obsessed schemers who wall themselves off in isolated strongholds—and there’s certainly an element of truth behind the stereotype. But what nonillumians don’t realize is that illumians wouldn’t want it any other way. Illumians relish the opportunity to wield power from behind the scenes, because doing so demonstrates their mastery while employing the studied caution that is an illumian trademark.

Leisure[edit]

Illumians find the concept of leisure for its own sake a foreign notion. They teach their children from birth that spare time is wasteful—calisthenics or meditation is an acceptable substitute if they can’t find something more productive to accomplish. An illumian is never happier than when she’s putting her skills and powers on the line in a bid for mastery. Dispelling a rival’s protective spells, stealing a lorebook from a dragon’s hoard, or completely beheading a hydra — that’s fun for an illumian.

But while illumians spurn leisure, they crave variety in their studies and exercises. Illumians tend to be patient and goal-oriented, discounting simple pleasures such as a streetside puppet show or a tankard of ale at the local tavern. They’d genuinely rather be learning a southern dialect of Draconic, resharpening their crossbow bolts, or observing the patrol routines of the city guard.

This doesn’t mean that illumians are killjoys. A traveling illumian might find a late-night chess opponent in an elf party member, but he would reject the very idea that chess counts as leisure, instead regarding the game as training in strategic thinking and anticipation of an opponent’s future actions. Likewise, an illumian might regard a card game as an exercise in memorization and probability math. Others accuse illumians of taking the fun out of everyday events, but they derive a great degree of satisfaction from turning trivial activities into useful training.

Arts & Crafts[edit]

Illumians appreciate and savor life’s luxuries—from the taste of spicy food to the poetry of an ancient epic to the glitter of a jeweled pendant—but their enjoyment of these pleasures is ancillary to a more prosaic purpose. An illumian cares more about the nourishment of the food, the magic lore embedded within the epic poem, and the portable wealth of the pendant.

Illumians create art for three reasons: to inspire their fellows, to pass along information, and to show off their skill as artists.

Stylistically, illumians favor a sort of idealized realism in their art. Portraiture is particularly common, whether in the form of a marble bust, an oil painting, or a chalk drawing in a sketchbook or historical tome. Many illumian cabals have a “hall of revered destinies” in their fortresses, full of marble busts and oil paintings of champions and historical figures important to the cabal.

The wall frescoes that commonly decorate a cabal’s interior walls feature group portraits of illumians important to the cabal, as well as battle scenes that depict illumians slaying monsters and defeating foes. Both the portraits and the battle scenes are highly posed, with the more important illumians occupying higher positions in the painting. Traditional illumian paintings never depict anyone looking down on the central illumian—their eyes are always lower than the sigils that surround the illumian’s head.

Another stylistic conceit common in illumian art is the sigils themselves, which are an exception to the illumian tendency toward realism. Traditional illumian portraits don’t show the actual sigils that float around the head of a particular illumian. Instead, the artist paints the name of the subject (in Illumian) where the sigils would ordinarily float. Sculptors employ a similar technique, but the limitations of the medium mean that they rely on illusion magic to create the floating names.

Even illumian jewelry and decorative arts follow the trend toward realism. Illumian handcrafts are intended to represent a specifi c creature or object: a necklace that looks like a serpent, a ruby pendant that looks like a drop of blood on an open palm, and so on. Embroidery and other decorations on clothes likewise depict real objects. The edge of a cloak, for example, likely bears an embroidered feather or vein pattern, not a simple stripe or abstract design.

Magic & Technology[edit]

A magical ritual created the first illumians, and as a result the race has close ties to magic. Furthermore, the illumian facility for language and love of the written word nudges many of them into wizard training—at least as a sideline to their other pursuits. Because illumians have such a strong magical heritage, they regard the study of such arts quite highly. An illumian who learns the greatest arcane secrets isn’t just expanding the study of magic, but delving into the forces that created his race. Diviner and illusionist wizards are particularly common among illumians, because those spells are so useful in an intrigue- and espionage-filled world. However, the race’s most powerful wizards and sorcerers include a multitude of enchantment spells in their repertoires. The power word spells, above all enchantments, are regarded with particular awe by illumians.

Illumians are a young race, and their deities attained godhood only within the last few centuries. As a result, they don’t show the same fervor for divine magic that humans do. Illumian clerics are as likely to worship a nonillumian deity—or venerate a set of philosophical principles—as they are to pray to an illumian god.

Illumian enclaves always feature an extensive library of arcane texts, bestiaries, biographies of important magicians, outer-plane travelogues, and tomes of interest to spellcasters. Illumian wizards create spellbooks with various magical protections, and they’re willing to trade a finely crafted spellbook for lore they don’t possess.

Illumian enclaves show off the race’s affinity for alphabets and languages in another way: Secure areas are guarded with glyphs of warding, explosive runes, or one of the symbol spells.

Many illumian enclaves also include a magic portal that leads to Elirhondas, the illumian city on the Plane of Shadow. Older illumian enclaves still maintain portals to the Astral Plane, where the illumians’ Great Library once stood before the githyanki sacked it centuries ago.

War[edit]

When Tarmuid created the first illumians centuries ago, he instructed them to form cabals across the surface of the world—a directive the illumians took to heart. Illumians do not openly govern great cities or nations, although more than one monarch is under the secret influence or control of an illumian cabal. Illumian wars tend to be small-scale affairs involving a handful of cabals and less than a thousand illumians. But what they lack in epic grandeur, illumian battles make up for in subterfuge and ruthlessness.

Conflict among illumians occurs most commonly when two cabals find themselves working at cross-purposes and are unable to settle the issue diplomatically. Such “silent wars” begin with various dirty tricks, then gradually escalate into sabotage and assassination before culminating in an all-out assault on the fortress of one of the cabals. Illumians employ nonillumians as willing allies or uninformed catspaws, but in either case many of the casualties in a silent war aren’t aware of the true nature of the battle.

More rarely, an illumian cabal specifically targets another cabal—probably because the target has access to magic, lore, or a power source that the aggressor cabal wants. This activity is particularly common among ascension cabals and gauntlet cabals (described below), which tend to be more aggressive than other cabal types.

While illumians most often war among themselves, that isn’t to say that every cabal is too paranoid to trust its fellows. Illumians are nothing if not pragmatic, and they recognize the value of reliable allies. When two cabals form an alliance, they usually exchange a number of members, jointly reveal secrets to one another, and intertwine their operations as much as possible. The closer the integration between two allied cabals, the less likely a betrayal will occur, because each cabal can quickly wreck the operations of the other.

Because illumians live in isolated fortresses and work their plots subtly, it’s rare for a nonillumian army to make war on them. But if a cabal’s palace plot goes awry, an angry king may mount a crusade and besiege the offending cabal’s fortress. Illumians rarely meet such threats head on. They’re more likely to foment revolution elsewhere to distract the king, or subvert the military leaders of the retribution force, often with magic, bribes, or promises of power.

Law & Justice[edit]

Illumian law sits entirely in the hands of each cabal’s arbiter, who enforces the cabal’s laws and metes out punishment. No one, visitor or cabal member, is beyond the reach of the arbiter for crimes that occur within the walls of the enclave or during a cabal mission. The arbiter handles every aspect of the illumian justice system, from the investigation of a crime to the trial and the sentencing.

The arbiter heads the justice directorate and investigates the most serious crimes personally, assigning subordinates to more routine cases (assuming the cabal is large enough to warrant assistants). Any member of the justice directorate can make arrests, but only the arbiter can judge someone’s guilt or innocence. The arbiter is more than just a judge, however. The arbiter questions witnesses, cross-examines the accused, and can stop a trial to gather evidence. When the arbiter is satisfied that he has all the relevant evidence, he renders a judgment (and sentence, if necessary) on the spot.

The illumian code of laws varies from cabal to cabal. Because illumians love the written word so intensely, arbiters keep a law library full of Black Table decrees, legal precedents, and prior opinions they can turn to for guidance. In this respect, the illumian justice system is more like a modern court system than a medieval one. However, the notion of an impartial judge and a separate jury is foreign to illumians. An arbiter has total control of the legal process, which is efficient if the arbiter is fair and competent and potentially dangerous if the arbiter has an ulterior motive.

Those who feel an arbiter’s decision is unfair can draft a written appeal to the Black Table. The members of the Black Table must read the appeal, but need not act on it. By custom, they can only overturn the arbiter’s decision by removing the arbiter from his or her post, but they can change a punishment by decree. The right of appeal isn’t limited to the accused; victims or other wronged parties may appeal to the Black Table if they feel a punishment was too lenient.

The illumian formula for sentencing includes restitution for the victim, a deterrent punishment, and some degree of social stigma for the criminal. Arbiters employ great creativity in developing punishments that thematically fit the crime. For example, an illumian convicted of poisoning a rival’s wine might be assigned the following punishment:

  • Pay an annual stipend to the victim (restitution).
  • At every meal, serve the victim (social stigma).
  • Taste each course before offering it to the victim, but receive no other food and thus linger on the brink of starvation (deterrent).

The Cabals[edit]

Illumians live in isolated strongholds known as cabals. Each cabal forms a support and training network for the machinations of the senior leadership. Equal parts fortress, monastery, college, and way station, the cabal is the center of illumian life. Almost all illumians grow up within the cabal’s walls, learn a profession from the cabal’s instructors, and strive to earn a seat at the “Black Table” where the cabal’s leaders rule.

The day-to-day life of an illumian is dictated by the needs of the cabal. Younger illumians spend their time in training, while their elders act on orders from the Black Table. Depending on a particular illumian’s station and abilities, the Black Table’s directive could be anything from “Operate the cabal’s pottery kiln” to “Summon a powerful elemental and bind it to the cabal’s service” to “Assassinate the mayor of the human town to the north.”

The main social bond a typical illumian feels is to his or her cabal. Because the cabal raises its children together, bonds of family aren’t nearly as important as they are to other races, but loyalty to the cabal is reinforced each and every day within the walls of the enclave.

A cabal consists of between one hundred and three hundred members. At any given time, more than 90 percent of a cabal’s members live within the walls of the cabal’s fortresslike enclave. There they study, raise their children, provide for the cabal’s defense, and hatch plots for use in the outside world. Some illumians never leave the safety of their cabal’s enclave, although most journey beyond its walls on missions from time to time.

Every cabal has its own structure, but most adhere in general terms to the structure of the first cabals established by Tarmuid when he created the illumian race and bade them spread across the world.

A council of elders known as the Black Table rules each cabal. They set broad objectives for each of the cabal’s directorates: groups of several dozen illumians led by a director. The directors make the day-to-day decisions that keep the cabal running, from how to acquire provisions to which magical experiments to attempt.

A cabal might maintain directorates for defense, child rearing, magical research, espionage, internal loyalty, resource acquisition, and religion. The Black Table assigns all adult illumians to a directorate, and the director who leads that directorate assigns daily tasks that further the directorate’s (and by extension the cabal’s) goals. Most cabals include a few nonillumian members, but these individuals rarely interact with the culture of the enclaves, instead acting as go-betweens or long-term spies in larger communities near the enclave. Members of other races fi nd long-term residence among an illumian cabal to be stifl ing and monotonous. Short-term visits are another matter. Illumians tend to be hospitable (to invited guests, anyway) and accommodating, so those who have spent a week or two within the walls of an illumian enclave remark more on its orderly, peaceful nature than on the regimented, driven aspects of cabal life.

Black Table: The original cabals set nine seats at the Black Table, although the size of this ruling body can vary between six and twelve. Illumians and only illumians sit at the Black Table, and they do so for life. When a vacant seat opens at the Black Table, those who hold seats send an invitation (often but not always to a current director) to someone satisfactory to at least two-thirds of those currently seated at the Black Table. By custom, the oldest illumian at the Black Table acts as a chairperson when the group meets, but each seat at the table has an equal say in the affairs of the cabal. The youngest illumian at the Black Table functions as a liaison between the ruling body and the rest of the community, issuing decrees and taking matters of import back to the Black Table for consideration. The other illumians who sit at the Black Table remain aloof from the rest of the cabal, preferring the company of their fellows and relishing the deference that other illumians show them.

Director: While those who sit at the Black Table can be aloof, mysterious figures, the directors are the hands-on leaders of the cabal and the most well-known (if not always the most popular) members. Cabals have between six and twelve directorates, each with dozens of members. Some directorates handle mundane tasks required to keep the community functioning, such as gathering food, maintaining the enclave, and caring for children. Other directorates handle more dangerous or difficult work: protecting the cabal from attack, keeping rivals under surveillance, or conducting magical experiments. Directors serve at the pleasure of the Black Table, and they can be removed or reassigned by decree of the ruling body. In practice this happens only when a director’s ethics or competence is called into question, because bad directors reflect poorly on the Black Table that appointed them. Directors suspected of wrongdoing or guilty of frequent failure are summoned before the Black Table long before the rest of the cabal knows of a leadership crisis. The directors of large directorates empower sub directors to make decisions on minor matters. For example, the director of a large cabal’s defense directorate might have subdirectors for day watch, night watch, magical defenses, strategic reserve, and training. Directors can hire and fire subdirectors as they wish.

Arbiter: Almost every cabal has a justice directorate, which in a small cabal consists of just one illumian: the arbiter. An arbiter is the judge and jury for crimes committed within the walls of the cabal’s enclave—he or she orders arrests, questions witnesses, decides the case, and metes out punishment. If the cabal has more than a few dozen members, the justice directorate will be filled out with subarbiters who act as investigators and court officers for the arbiter. Subarbiters can make arrests, question suspects, and research illumian case law, but only the arbiter can render judgments.

Lorekeeper: Lore directorates are also common among illumian cabals. The director, referred to as the lorekeeper, functions as the head librarian for the cabal. Lorekeepers are expected to have great familiarity with the tomes in their keeping, and as a result lorekeepers are great sages and researchers. Many illumians aspire to the position of lorekeeper because of their love of language. In some cabals, the lorekeeper is more highly regarded than the illumians who sit at the Black Table.

Final Seed: From the earliest days of the illumian race, cabals have sent one or more capable members to live away from the enclave. These members, known as the final seed, have only one duty: rebuild the cabal should misfortune befall it. Final seeds are given copies of key illumian texts so they can start a new library if they have to, and they know how to contact friendly cabals for aid. While illumians agree that being chosen as a final seed is a great honor—they are considered paragons of the cabal’s ideals—many accept the honor only with great reluctance. A final seed must live apart from the safety of the cabal, visiting it only briefly. For illumians who have grown up in the structured environment of their enclaves, the outside world can be a lonely, bewildering place.

Cabal Types[edit]

While all illumian cabals have the same overall structure (Black Table rulers instructing multiple directorates, all secreted away in an isolated enclave), they have varied goals. A cabal that communes with the spirits of its members’ ancestors has different goals, and thus a different set of directorates, than a cabal devoted to protecting the Gamrakian Forest from further harm.

Ascension[edit]

Among the more mysterious types of cabals, ascension cabals exist to help one or more of their members achieve godhood. After Tarmuid created the Ritual of Words Made Flesh, he spent the rest of his mortal life trying to find a way for the Illumian language to express a divine state. He succeeded on his deathbed, and Tarmuid’s final utterance has inspired other illumians to attempt the same feat. So far only a handful of illumians have successfully made final utterances. Despite the low success rate, dozens of cabals across the multiverse feverishly conduct magical research in hopes of making a chosen illumian ready to attempt a final utterance and take the mantle of godhood. Some ascension cabals are little more than cults of personality led by the most powerful illumian in residence. Others have made significant progress in unlocking the secrets of immortality and divine power. Ascension cabals are often named after the illumian who seeks godhood with the cabal’s help. Notable ascension cabals include Chelshae, Sons of Galadan, Zhukasti, Finalsteps, and Valak Ascendant.

Typical Directorates: Ascension cabals maintain the usual array of directorates, named in honor of the illumian deity-to-be. For example, the Sons of Galadan cabal refers to its intelligence directorate as The Eyes of Galadan, the defense directorate as the Fists of Galadan, and the resource directorate as the Bounty of Galadan. The personal retinue and servants of the would-be deity form a directorate unto themselves, and research-related directorates are as large as the cabal can manage.

Plots: Ascension cabals keep an eye on their neighbors — the better to protect the ascending illumian — but the majority of their plots involve tracking down lore about the final utterance and the ascension process. This means garnering lore from rival illumian cabals, whether ascension cabals or otherwise. A rival ascension cabal might possess previously unknown aspects of the final utterance, and cabals of different types might have clues to ascension in their histories and arcane tomes. Because cabals closely guard their knowledge, ascension cabals don’t hesitate to resort to trickery, theft, or violence to acquire the information they seek. Intracabal plotting is likewise fierce among ascension cabals. Mid- to high-level members of a cabal constantly jockey for position, try to curry favor with the deity-to-be, or even supplant the ascendant one’s place on the path to divinity.

Enemies and Allies: More ascension cabals collapse from within than are destroyed from without. Either the infighting over the illumian chosen for ascendancy tears the cabal apart, or the cabal disperses after a candidate for godhood fails to make a proper final utterance. More rarely, an ascension cabal falls to an outside force such as another ascension cabal, a stronger cabal angered by too-aggressive lore seeking, or some magical or monstrous force the cabal unwittingly unleashed. Ascension cabals have few external enemies, and likewise few allies. Ascension can bring little to an alliance other than a promise of a god’s favor when ascension occurs, and that’s a promise that few nonillumians take seriously. Particularly charismatic illumians in charge of an ascension cabal can sometimes found their own mystery cults and attract nonillumian worshipers.

Enclaves: The enclaves of ascension cabals look like temples or churches. They include sanctuaries, altars, and areas set aside for various ceremonies to honor the deity-in-waiting. The living quarters of the ascendant one are generally lavish, if for no other reason than the various directorates’ competition to please the future deity. Compared to other kinds of cabals, ascension cabals defend their enclaves lightly. They tend to possess less magic, lore, and riches than other cabals because they’re so focused on achieving ascension. An ascension cabal enclave is relatively easy to find, but the outside world regards it as just another cult out in the wilderness.

Chain[edit]

Chain cabals are one of the two most common kinds of illumian cabal (gauntlet cabals are the other). Chain cabals pride themselves on their top-notch spy networks, which infiltrate nearby power centers such as governments, churches, and even monster lairs. Preservation of the status quo—with the cabal kept safe to observe everything—is the highest goal of a chain cabal. Notable chain cabals include Bloodwing, Rustdreamer, Blackpennant, Thirdhorizon, and Kilnfire.

Typical Directorates: A chain cabal has a spy directorate for each power in its immediate region, usually named with an “Eyes on” construction. For example, the Bloodwing cabal is concerned with the machinations of the Sumberton nobility, the barghest-led Hellmaw tribe of goblinoids in the nearby forest, and a mysterious group of Tiamat-worshiping dragon cultists. The Bloodwings have an Eyes on Sumberton directorate, an Eyes on Hellmaw directorate, and an Eyes on Tiamat directorate. Nearly all cabals include a directorate with a mandate to observe the outside world, but the “Eyes on” chain directorates are more aggressive than others. When the subject of its spying threatens the regional status quo, a directorate takes covert action—diplomatic maneuvering, sabotage, or even assassination—to keep the illumians safe and the existing power structure intact. Chain cabals also maintain home directorates responsible for administering the enclave and education directorates that raise young illumians. Directorates devoted to the enclave’s defense and research are present in nearly every chain cabal.

Plots: Chain cabals, acting through their “Eyes on” directorates, spend their efforts upholding the status quo. Usually, nonillumians don’t even know of the cabal’s existence—and if they did, they wouldn’t necessarily be happy about it. For every chain cabal that keeps a placid province free of marauding monsters and political skullduggery, another chain cabal keeps a tyrant in power and her people impoverished. Chain cabals tend to be amoral, interested only in preserving existing conditions and keeping themselves unobtrusive and safe. Intracabal plotting is particularly rife among chain cabals. Directorates responsible for spying on the outside world plot against each other as they compete for the cabal’s resources and the Black Table’s attention. Some go so far as to plant agents in a rival directorate’s ranks or sabotage crucial missions so the rival directorate will be embarrassed and politically weakened. The Black Table stamps out overheated rivalries when it finds out about them, unless the rivalry has escalated to the point where the members of the Black Table themselves take part.

Enemies and Allies: The “Eyes on” directorates prize agents who blend in with their targets, so chain cabals employ nonillumian allies—humanoids who live nearby or wield significant political power. Shapechangers such as doppelgangers are enticed with riches to join a chain cabal, or threatened with exposure if they spurn the cabal’s advances. A chain cabal tends to have few enemies because it’s adept at remaining secret, or at least deflecting attention away from itself in a crisis. But by definition, the “Eyes on” directorates target the powerful forces near the cabal’s enclave. If a government or other regional power discovers evidence of illumian spying—and survives the destabilizing missions the illumians are sure to launch—the chain cabal has created a motivated and powerful enemy.

Enclaves: Because they expend their effort in covert actions, chain cabals have relatively modest enclaves, such as a well-guarded keep in the middle of nowhere. Some chain cabals build portals or teleportation circles that help their agents travel back and forth between their targets and the cabal’s enclave. Chain cabals also develop a network of safe houses and secret lairs where members can meet without returning to the main enclave. Such places are well hidden and heavily trapped against intruders. An abandoned siege tunnel, forgotten catacombs, and an unassuming flat above a merchant’s shop are havens where the spies of a chain cabal might meet in secret.

Eclipse[edit]

Nobody knows how many eclipse cabals exist, and that’s the point. When Tarmuid, the creator of the illumian race, assembled the first cabals, he gave each a fragment of the Ritual of the Word Made Flesh and commanded the illumians to keep it safe. The eclipse cabals haven’t expanded beyond Tarmuid’s original mandate. They keep themselves as secret as possible, devoted utterly to protecting the part of the ritual in their possession. The perfect eclipse cabal disappears shortly after its founding, reappearing only when the illumian people need to reassemble the Ritual of Words Made Flesh. They aren’t well known, but Duskwatcher, Blacktower, Driftcloud, Rubytalon, and Evershade are all names of eclipse cabals.

Typical Directorates: Eclipse cabals maintain the same directorates as other cabals: administration, defense, education, and resources. If an eclipse cabal has an espionage directorate or a research directorate, it’s usually rather small.

Plots: Eclipse cabals tend to be drawn into plots unwillingly, because all they care about is keeping their very existence a secret. A cabal might have to take action, however, against someone who learns its secret. Members of an eclipse cabal also might need to leave its enclave periodically to refresh its magical protections or acquire resources the enclave can’t provide for itself. Finally, eclipse cabals are storehouses for items and lore from the earliest days of the illumians.

Enemies and Allies: An eclipse cabal spurns an alliance on the rare occasion when someone finds the cabal in the first place. No one is to be trusted beyond the cabal—not even well-meaning noneclipse illumians. Eclipse cabals rely almost exclusively on allies whose loyalty is beyond question, such as constructs and summoned creatures.

Enclaves: Eclipse cabals have the most well-protected enclaves. They are always located in forbidding, isolated places far from curious eyes, protected by layer after layer of illusions and mundane camouflage. An intruder who pierces the veils that obscure an eclipse enclave must contend with a heavily trapped fortress guarded by magical constructs and illumians desperate to keep their existence a secret.

Gauntlet[edit]

While chain cabals spin a web of intrigue to preserve the status quo, gauntlet cabals use espionage as a means of control. They don’t have armies at their disposal, so they employ a combination of diplomacy, magic, and trickery to exert influence on the political and religious leaders near their enclave. Notable gauntlet cabals include Stormwind, Blackflame, Palerider, Warhorn, and Frostpeak.

Typical Directorates: Gauntlet cabals have the usual directorates focused on the cabal’s upkeep: resources, education, defense, and research. But because the outside world draws their attention, gauntlet cabals produce a number of agents who work beyond the walls of the enclave. Gauntlet cabals organize multiple directorates devoted to diplomatic efforts, espionage, and small-scale military actions, divided both by the kind of activity and the target. For example, one directorate might be responsible for diplomacy and espionage against Baron Vulreget, while another directorate spies on the baron’s army and a third handles the cabal’s relations with the rebels seeking the baron’s overthrow. Because gauntlet cabals seek as much power and control as they can manage, the directorates within a particular gauntlet cabal shift as the cabal wins victories and suffers defeats. A directorate assigned to overthrow a church’s hold on a particular province, for example, disbands or takes on new duties once it succeeds at destroying the church. As a result, the directorates within a gauntlet cabal may have vague names or names that don’t describe what they actually do. The Stormwind cabal, for example, has a special projects directorate that handles issues of internal loyalty, a third column directorate that handles magical threats, and an honor directorate that trains elite strike teams, which are then used by the other directorates.

Plots: Gauntlet cabals are ambitious and always active, constantly fomenting plots against political, religious, and magical powers. The local government near a gauntlet cabal is always riddled with spies in the pay of the illumians, and a successful gauntlet cabal has achieved direct or indirect control over the government’s actions as well. A gauntlet cabal likewise tries to control or drive off powerful individuals or monsters (such as the wizard in the mysterious tower or the blue dragon lairing nearby). The most effective gauntlet cabals act as puppet masters, using their pawns to control others. For example, a gauntlet cabal might use blackmail and magic to control the commander of a military garrison, then turn that garrison against the elf community in a nearby forest. Or the gauntlet cabal could have the garrison pledge its troops to a religious crusade sponsored by the local church of Heironeous—in exchange for the placement of a few illumians in the higher levels of the priesthood.

Enemies and Allies: Gauntlet cabals rarely lack enemies—any group that has fallen on the wrong side of a gauntlet cabal plot is a potential foe. On the other hand, if the cabal’s plans come to fruition, the foe is rarely left with enough power to exact revenge on the illumians. A careful gauntlet cabal can avoid reprisals from failed plots by covering its tracks and pinning the blame on nonillumians. But no plot is foolproof, and many gauntlet cabals have been destroyed by military sieges, magical attacks, religious crusades, and assassinations by secret societies. Just as a gauntlet cabal can have nearly anyone as an enemy, so too can it ally itself with nearly anyone. Gauntlet cabals care only about power and control, and if an alliance helps one toward those ends, the cabal’s Black Table is rarely squeamish about making a deal. Even an arrangement with the githyanki isn’t out of the question, although any cabal known to have dealings with them would be ostracized by other illumians. A gauntlet cabal has only one implacable enemy: another gauntlet cabal. When two gauntlet cabals try to control the same prize, the conflict quickly escalates into war; gauntlet cabals easily recognize the “fingerprints” of rival illumians. Gauntlet cabals sometimes war with chain cabals, who see the gauntlet cabals’ efforts as meddling. But because gauntlet cabals and chain cabals seek different prizes, the possibility exists for a mutually advantageous pact (turning a chain cabal into a network of spies for a gauntlet cabal, which then focuses its attention elsewhere).

Enclaves: Gauntlet cabals know that it’s just a matter of time before they anger someone with the wherewithal to attack the cabal’s enclave. Therefore, gauntlet cabals spare no effort to ensure that any attack on the enclave is costly for the attackers. But unlike eclipse cabals, gauntlet cabals place less effort on keeping the location of their enclave secret, instead choosing to make the enclave obviously more trouble than it’s worth to attack. A gauntlet cabal might establish an enclave in the middle of a swamp, amid a steep mountain range, or buried deep beneath the earth. Each enclave features strong battlements clearly augmented by magic, as well as monstrous defenders such as dragons and giants. Inside an enclave, the focus shifts from a demonstration of strength to a demonstration of power and wealth. Lavish interior decoration adorns areas seen by nonillumians, the better to court visitors to the enclave as potential allies. Colorful illusion magic, magically animated statues, and richly dressed servants project the impression that the cabal is successful and so an alliance might be lucrative.

Gibber[edit]

Unlike other kinds of cabals, gibber cabals attract chaotic illumians. They tend to be smaller cabals, but they perform an important function: They are responsible for the creation of new words in the Illumian language. Gibber cabals experiment with nonsense syllables, words, and phrases. Usually they create only gibberish, but occasionally they produce a word or phrase with a mystical meaning previously unknown to illumian scholars. Gibber cabals otherwise function like typical illumian cabals. They plot against power structures in their vicinity, protect their enclave against attack, and accumulate magical and historic lore. Gibber cabals assume nonsensical names. Notable gibber cabals include Swordfeather, Greenmouth, Ablecadaver, Turtlewing, and Openstalker.

Typical Directorates: While other cabals take prosaic or themed names for their directorates, gibber cabals employ fanciful or nonsense names. While this custom can be confusing to outsiders, those who grow up within the walls of a gibber cabal enclave know the directorate names through daily use. The Openstalker cabal, for example, uses a rhyming slang to name its directorates. The pretense directorate handles defense, the besmirch directorate handles magical research, and the split-sticks directorate handles logistics.

Plots: Gibber cabals devote themselves to various forms of esoteric magical study, which include experiments that increase the vocabulary of the Illumian language. Sages within gibber cabals contend that when everything in the universe can be described perfectly in Illumian, those who speak the language will be able to reshape reality just by speaking their every desire. Mid- to high-level members of a gibber cabal rarely leave the enclave because they’re too busy with magical rituals and experiments. Defense and the day-to-day operations of the cabal’s enclave fall to lower-level members and those with less interest in magical affairs. Gibber cabals maintain a cadre of illumian barbarians on guard against enemy attack; illumians from gibber cabals usually have at least a few levels in the barbarian class to reflect a young life spent guarding the enclave. Gibber cabals sometimes try to infiltrate nearby communities or exert political influence on a regional scale, but are too inward-looking to make concerted efforts against the outside world.

Enemies and Allies: Gibber cabals befriend communities of outcasts, who then take up residence within or near the cabal’s enclave. Given their habit of spouting gibberish, illumians from gibber cabals tend to be less judgmental than others. The Swordfeather cabal, for example, draws driders from across the underground realms to its labyrinthine enclave. Different gibber cabals work with therianthropes or with tieflings, half-celestials, and similar crossbred creatures. Because gibber cabals feature confusing passages and mazes, cabals keep trained minotaurs as guards. Gibber cabals keep to themselves, so they don’t have many enemies. The Swordfeathers battle the drow because the illumians harbor driders, but there’s no other reason for enmity between the two groups.

Enclaves: Gibber cabals build underground enclaves so they’re less likely to be disturbed. Almost all feature twisting corridors, dead-end hallways, frequent illusions, and a plethora of secret doors. The labyrinthine nature of a gibber cabal enclave is its best defense. Intruders become so confused when navigating their way through an enclave that the cabal can muster an effective hit-and-run defense, then capture the intruders when they discover they can’t find the exit.

Gravewhisper[edit]

Like other illumians, members of gravewhisper cabals speak fluent Illumian—but they speak it to the dead. Gravewhisper cabals keep their elder members active after death by turning them into liches, vampires, or similar undead. Gravewhisper researchers study necromancy to the exclusion of other schools of magic, and undead minions guard the sinister enclaves of the gravewhisper cabals. Illumians in gravewhisper cabals regard themselves as more pragmatic than the rest of their race. There’s no need to lose the accumulated wisdom of the cabal to old age or misadventure, they contend, when necromantic rituals can keep those who sit at the Black Table alive—and contributing to the cabal’s agenda—forever. Notable gravewhisper cabals include Cryptdelver, Blackshroud, Finalveil, Darkwake, and Lore-Reborn.

Typical Directorates: In addition to the usual directorates of security, intelligence, research, and education, gravewhisper cabals maintain an acquisitions directorate (which acquires unusual or noteworthy bodies from the outside world), a rites directorate (which handles burial and body-preservation activities), and a deathruler directorate (which handles day-to-day control of the cabal’s undead minions). The administration directorate, responsible for feeding and caring for the denizens of the enclave, tends to be smaller and less powerful than in other kinds of cabals because many gravewhisper cabal members don’t require sustenance or creature comforts.

Plots: Gravewhisper cabals know that much of the outside world doesn’t understand their fascination with necromancy and the undead; on occasion, crusading paladins and various other do-gooders have put gravewhisper enclaves to the torch. Gravewhisper cabals rely on the wisdom and leadership of powerful undead, so a successful attack can leave a gravewhisper cabal permanently bereft of such leadership. Gravewhisper cabals are therefore paranoid about the safety of their enclaves. They aggressively infiltrate any nearby power structures (political, religious, or magical) and maintain a network of agents to warn them of potential threats. Gravewhisper cabals lust after necromantic lore of all kinds, going to great lengths to acquire tomes that detail the finer points of lichdom rituals, ways to contact a soul after death, and similar matters. They also occasionally engage in corpse snatching, stealing the body of a recently deceased noble, hero, or notable citizen. Once the body is safely ensconced within the gravewhisper cabal’s enclave, the illumians raise it, transform the body into a loyal undead minion, or perform other experiments on it.

Enemies and Allies: Undead creatures perform the basic functions within a gravewhisper cabal. Zombies and skeletons make up much of the cabal’s manual labor, while ghouls and wights guard the enclave from attack. Shadows and spectres act as the cabal’s spies in the outside world. Intelligent undead, however, are actually members of the cabal, not just its servants. A gravewhisper cabal usually includes vampires or liches among the members of its Black Table.

Enclaves: Gravewhisper enclaves feature extensive catacombs. While the catacombs crawl with ambulatory undead, they are dominated by bodies lying in various states of preservation, waiting for resurrection, conversion to undead, or ritual use.

Quill[edit]

While vengeance cabals take the fight to the githyanki, quill cabals instead attempt to reassemble the lore the illumians lost when the githyanki sacked the Library of the Sublime. Avaricious book collectors, quill cabals stop at nothing to acquire tomes they don’t already possess. Their libraries are first-rate, which makes them a target for forces that desire the knowledge ensconced on the shelves of illumian enclaves.

Typical Directorates: The two most important directorates in a quill cabal are the acquisitions directorate (which acquires new tomes and lore for the cabal’s library) and the collections directorate (which organizes, researches, and guards the library). The other directorates exist solely to support these two directorates, and the illumians at a quill cabal’s Black Table are almost all former acquisitions or collections directors. Quill cabals also include outreach directorates devoted to working with libraries in nearby communities, often at a wizards’ college or major temple. The illumians arrange to staff the library with their sages and make loans from the quill cabal’s library in exchange for access to the stacks. While the illumian librarians quickly extract any useful lore from the library they’re staffing, they remain afterward to watch for new books.

Plots: A quill cabal does its utmost to obtain new or recently discovered books, so the acquisitions directorate is at the forefront of the cabal’s plots. An acquisitions directorate might hire explorers to delve into ancient ruins, or it might sponsor a long journey to acquire a work of great worth—sometimes from a willing seller, but often without the knowledge of the book’s current owner. Quill cabals have their share of intracabal plotting. Conflict can emerge between the acquisitions directorate and the outreach directorate if an outside library has important lore. The acquisitions directorate wants to seize the material outright, but the outreach directorate wants to preserve the relationship with the outside library.

Enemies and Allies: Quill cabals maintain friendly relations with other kinds of illumian cabals—they have a reason to be cordial, and all cabals recognize the value of rebuilding the storehouse of knowledge that was once the illumians’ greatest possession. Through their outreach directorates, quill cabals develop powerful allies among wizard colleges, religious libraries, and collectors of lore. While these alliances are pervasive, they don’t always run deep. For example, the church of Boccob may appreciate the librarians from a quill cabal, but that doesn’t mean they would mount a crusade to save the cabal from a githyanki attack.

Enclaves: Quill cabals are packed to the brim with books, maps, scrolls, and lore in all its forms. Shelves line even the hallways in a quill cabal enclave. The central library is usually riddled with traps that kill or imprison intruders while leaving fragile books unharmed. Every quill cabal enclave has a shrine to Aulasha, and she figures prominently in much of the artwork and architectural ornamentation. Quill cabal enclaves also maintain the usual array of magical laboratories as well as workshops for papermaking, binderies, and the like. If the cabal has an active outreach directorate, the enclave creates magic portals to remote libraries where its librarians work.

Root[edit]

The rarest of illumian cabals, root cabals establish enclaves in the most isolated, forbidding wilderness the world has to offer. Root cabals are fervent defenders of the forests, mountains, and swamps they call home, protecting the area around their enclaves from predation by monsters and settlement by civilized races. In the solitude that isolation affords, they study the local flora and fauna, trying to tap into the life energy of the natural world. Notable root cabals include Autumnleaf, Thorntwist, Frostrime, Tidechant, and Oakmaw.

Typical Directorates: Root cabals contain a gleaner directorate responsible for gathering food from the surrounding land, a predator directorate that patrols the area for intruders, a nurselog directorate that instructs the young, a seeder directorate that uses magic to protect and sustain the land, and a taproot directorate that performs magical research into life energy.

Plots: Root cabals expend a great deal of effort keeping their turf safe from marauding beasts and encroaching civilization. A typical root cabal might try to frighten away human pioneers, sow dissent among a clan of nearby giants, or acquire the magic balm that arrests an epidemic of tree-blight.

Enemies and Allies: Root cabals work with intelligent creatures that can be trusted to live in concert with the land, such as centaurs, goliaths, and lizardfolk. Others ally themselves with fey inclined to help guard their lands, such as dryads and nymphs. The most strident root cabals trust only plants and animals, relying on druid-enhanced flora and fauna as guardians. Root cabals stay out of illumian politics, so their only enemies are those who threaten the ecosystem that surrounds a cabal’s enclave. Root cabals often have to drive intruders away, whether those intruders are well-meaning human settlers, marauding orc armies, or aggressive giant clans. Root cabals that use their lands for magical experimentation sometimes draw the ire of self-styled defenders of the natural world, such as treants, nonillumian druids, and organized groups of therianthropes.

Enclaves: Root cabals use the natural terrain at their disposal to build their enclaves. Sometimes their enclaves are camouflaged by terrain, such as a dungeonlike enclave under a mossy hillock. More often their enclaves appear as weird structures that stand out from the surrounding land while obviously being a part of it; root cabals want the architecture of their enclaves to imply that “These lands are under our protection.” In a forest, a root enclave might be a spherical tangle of branches supported by dozens of massive oak trunks—with animated branches set to grasp intruders. A mountain enclave might be a graceful series of towers attached to a sheer cliff at the end of a box canyon. A subterranean enclave might be a warren entirely within a hollowed-out stalagmite in a massive underground cavern

Vengeance[edit]

Vengeance cabals are the most recent cabal type to emerge in illumian society, and the least common cabal type. They are somewhat more common outside the Material Plane, because an extraplanar location provides them readier access to their greatest enemies. Vengeance cabals exist to hunt down and slay as many githyanki as they can find, in revenge for the destruction of the illumians’ Library of the Sublime. Notable vengeance cabals include Astralhunter, Githslayer, Tornpage, Bitterblood, and Oathkeeper.

Typical Directorates: Like other cabals, vengeance cabals are divided into directorates, but they have a military organization within each directorate. The directorates themselves have names inspired by the military, such as infantry, headquarters, and intelligence. A captain is in charge of each directorate, supported by a network of lieutenants as well as rank-and-file illumians.

Plots: Almost everything a vengeance cabal does is devoted to revenge against the githyanki for sacking the Library of the Sublime. Vengeance cabals combine direct action (illumian strike teams that roam the Astral Plane looking for githyanki to slay) with subtler interventions (giving githyanki city maps to mind flayers and aiding githzerai assault teams). Vengeance cabals take reasonable care to avoid reprisals from the githyanki, but if a vengeance cabal can lure angry githyanki into attacking its enclave, that’s just another chance to kill more of the hated enemy.

Enemies and Allies: The githyanki are obviously at the top of a vengeance cabal’s enemies list. Most cabals disregard other enemies unless they directly threaten the well-being of the cabal. Githyanki from communities or military units that actually took part in the sacking of the Library of the Sublime are particularly hated. Illumians can usually identify such githyanki if enough of their history is known, and they are shown no mercy. Vengeance cabals have common cause with the githyanki’s two traditional foes: githzerai and mind flayers. Because githzerai and illumians share a lawful outlook and a love of learning, cooperation between them is commonplace. Alliances with mind flayers happen less often, simply because mind flayers make such disturbing allies. Mind flayers also seem overly curious about the lore contained within the Library of the Sublime, so vengeance cabals wonder whether they have ulterior motives in hunting down the githyanki who looted it.

Enclaves: Even more than other cabals, the enclaves of vengeance cabals are armed camps. Most are walled fortresses in isolated wastelands of the Material Plane or the Plane of Shadow, although a few vengeance cabals create floating fortress-ships that drift on the haze of the Astral Plane. Almost all enclaves of vengeance cabals have one or more planar portals within them, leading to the Astral Plane or to the shadow city of Elirhondas.

Travelers & Renegades[edit]

Not every illumian belongs to a cabal, and even those who are part of illumian society don’t necessarily spend all their time answering to a director or the Black Table. An illumian might take up the life of an adventurer for any number of reasons.

An Agent Outside: Cabals are eager to learn about life beyond the walls of their enclaves, so they’ll send representatives—young illumians trained in self-defense—to explore the surrounding world. As long as the illumian provides periodic reports on her activities and whereabouts (in person or via magical correspondence), cabals are content to allow this “detached duty” to last for years.

Seeker of Lore: Cabals covet rare tomes, maps of recently discovered ruins, and specific items of historical or magical significance. They send trained members out into the world on missions of acquisition. As long as a particular illumian continues to make valuable “finds” from time to time, a cabal keeps him delving into ruins.

Renegade: Cabals don’t banish members as punishment, because an illumian knows too many of his cabal’s secrets to be released into the outside world with a grudge against the cabal that raised him. Sometimes, though, an illumian flees his cabal’s enclave rather than face the judgment (fair or unfair) of an arbiter. The arbiter (and by extension the cabal) is pragmatic enough to weigh the value of recapturing a renegade illumian against the cost in manpower that such a pursuit would require.

Orphan: Not every cabal lasts forever. The survivors of a cabal destroyed by rivals must make their way in the world as well as they can until they join another cabal or found a new one. Some illumians, once they have tasted independence, spurn cabal life for good, living among humans or other races and no longer associating with their own race.

Illumian Gods[edit]

The Illumians worship a diverse array of deities. Whilst multiple illumians have ascended to the position of demigodhood and are worshipped as a result, the illumians are just as likely to revere human gods of magic and knowledge, such as Boccob or Vecna, or even to worship abstract spiritual philosophies.

The illumian pantheon consists of:

PC Stats[edit]

No ability score modifiers
Humanoid (Human)
Medium
Base land speed 30 feet
Luminous Sigils (Su): The sigils that orbit an illumian’s head glow softly, providing illumination equal to that of a candle. Illumians can make their sigils disappear by concentrating for a moment (a standard action), but they don’t receive the sigils’ benefits and can’t use any special abilities granted by illumian words (see below) while they’re doused. Restoring the sigils to visibility is a free action.
Luminous sigils (including power sigils; see below) are insubstantial and disappear into any matter they touch. An illumian’s sigils remain present and in effect even when the illumian takes another form, unless she would lose her supernatural abilities as a result of the form change. An illumian wizard who casts a polymorph spell on herself retains her sigils, but an illumian who becomes a zombie loses them.
Glyphic Resonance (Ex): Illumians are the physical embodiment of a magical language, so they interact strangely with symbol-based spells. This group includes all spells whose names contain the word glyph, rune, sigil, or symbol (such spells in the Player’s Handbook include explosive runes, glyph of warding, greater glyph of warding, sepia snake sigil, and the various symbol spells). When an illumian encounters such magic, one of two things happens: Either the illumian’s resonance overpowers the spell, or the foreign magic corrupts the mystical language that defines the illumian. Illumians have a –4 racial penalty on saving throws against these effects if their level is less than the caster level of the spell. If an illumian’s level equals or exceeds the spell’s caster level, she is immune to the effect.
Power Sigils (Su): In addition to the array of dimly glowing luminous sigils that orbits her head, a 1st-level illumian has a single brightly glowing power sigil that grants her certain bonuses (see below). A power sigil can be discerned from other sigils surrounding an illumian with a DC 10 Spot check, and identified with a DC 15 Knowledge (arcana) check. On attaining 2nd level in any class, an illumian gains a second different power sigil, and the bonus granted by each power sigil increases to +2. Depending on the combination of power sigils she chooses, an illumian gains one or more extra special abilities (see Illumian Words, below). The benefit of each power sigil is given below, along with the Common translation of each sigil’s Illumian name.
  • Aesh (“vigor”): +1 bonus on Strength checks and Strength-based skill checks.
  • Hoon (“life”): +1 bonus on Wisdom checks, Constitution checks, and Wisdom- or Constitution-based skill checks.
  • Krau (“magic”): +1 bonus to caster level for all spells and spell-like abilities (up to a maximum value equal to the illumian’s character level).
  • Naen (“mind”): +1 bonus on Intelligence checks and Intelligence-based skill checks.
  • Uur (“grace”): +1 bonus on Dexterity checks and Dexterity-based skill checks.
  • Vaul (“soul”): +1 bonus on Charisma checks and Charisma-based skill checks.
Illumian Words (Su): Each combination of two power sigils’ names makes an Illumian word of great power, and thus grants extra abilities to a character who possesses those two power sigils. The benefit of each word of power is described below.
  • Aeshkrau: The illumian can use her Strength score to determine the bonus spells she gains for a high ability score, instead of the normal ability score used by her class to determine this feature. If she has more than one spellcasting class, she may use her Strength score in place of any or all of the ability scores used by those classes for this purpose.
  • Aeshoon: Twice per day, the illumian can spend a turn or rebuke attempt as a swift action to gain a bonus on weapon damage rolls equal to her Wisdom bonus. This effect lasts until the beginning of her next turn, and it applies only to weapons with which she has selected the Weapon Focus feat.
  • Aeshuur: When the illumian deals damage to a target with a sneak attack or a critical hit, she gains a +2 dodge bonus to her AC against that target until the beginning of her next turn.
  • Hoonkrau: The illumian can spend a turn undead attempt as a swift action to add 1d8 points to the damage healed by any cure spell she casts before the end of her next turn, or a rebuke undead attempt as a swift action to add 1d8 points to the damage dealt by any inflict spell she casts before the end of her next turn. The illumian may use this ability twice per day.
  • Hoonvaul: Twice per day, the illumian can expend a spell slot (but not a slot holding a prepared spell) as a swift action to gain a bonus equal to the spell’s level on turning checks, turning damage rolls, and on attack and damage rolls when making a smite attack. This effect lasts until the beginning of the illumian’s next turn.
  • Naenaesh: During the time when the illumian prepares spells, she can choose to leave up to two spell slots unfilled to gain the ability to cast any other prepared spell (or spells) of the same level as if it had been prepared with the Still Spell feat. This effect lasts until the next time the illumian prepares spells. She cannot fill the vacant spell slot (or slots) until the next time she prepares spells.
  • Naenhoon: Twice per day, the illumian can spend one or more turn or rebuke undead attempts as a swift action to add a metamagic effect to a spell she is casting, with no effect on the spell’s casting time or effective level. She must have the metamagic feat whose effect she wants to apply. The illumian must expend a number of turn or rebuke undead attempts equal to the normal level adjustment of the metamagic feat (for example, it costs two turn or rebuke attempts to apply an Empower Spell effect). If she chooses to apply the Heighten Spell effect, it costs her one turn attempt per level that she heightens the spell, up to a maximum of 9th level.
  • Naenkrau: During the time when the illumian prepares spells, she can choose to leave up to two spell slots unfilled to add +1 to the save DCs of all her other spells of that level (including spells from different classes). If she leaves two spell slots unfilled, they must be at different spell levels. This effect lasts until the next time the illumian prepares spells. She cannot fill the vacant spell slot (or slots) until the next time she prepares spells.
  • Uurhoon: Twice per day, the illumian can expend a spell slot (but not a slot holding a prepared spell) as a swift action to gain an insight bonus equal to her Wisdom bonus on Reflex saves and her Dexterity bonus on caster level checks to overcome spell resistance. This effect lasts for 1 minute per level of the spell slot expended.
  • Uurkrau: The illumian can use her Dexterity score to determine the bonus spells she gains for a high ability score, instead of the normal ability score used by her class to determine this feature. If she has more than one spellcasting class, she may use her Dexterity score in place of any or all of the ability scores used by her classes for this purpose.
  • Uurnaen: During the time when the illumian prepares spells, she can choose to leave a 1st-level or 2nd-level spell slot unfilled to add an insight bonus equal to the spell slot’s level on attack rolls when making an unarmed strike or a sneak attack. This effect lasts until the next time the illumian prepares spells. She cannot fill the vacant spell slot until the next time she prepares spells.
  • Vaulaesh: Twice per day, the illumian can expend a spell slot (but not a slot holding a prepared spell) as a swift action to gain an insight bonus equal to the spell’s level to AC and on weapon damage rolls. This effect lasts until the beginning of the illumian’s next turn, and the damage bonus applies only to weapons with which she has selected the Weapon Focus feat.
  • Vaulkrau: Twice per day, the illumian can expend a spell slot (but not a slot holding a prepared spell) as an immediate action to gain an insight bonus equal to the spell’s level on the next saving throw she makes before the start of her next turn.
  • Vaulnaen: Twice per day, the illumian can use a spell slot (but not a slot holding a prepared spell) to spontaneously cast any of her prepared spells of the same spell level. For example, a 3rd-level bard/1st-level wizard who had prepared burning hands as a wizard spell could use one of her 1st-level bard spell slots to cast burning hands. The spell is cast using the caster level at which it is prepared (the bard/wizard in the above example would cast burning hands as a 1st-level caster).
  • Vauluur: The illumian may expend a spell slot (but not a prepared spell) as a swift action to add 1d6 per spell level to her unarmed strike damage rolls and her sneak attack damage rolls. This effect lasts until the beginning of her next turn, and she may use it twice per day.
Final Utterance (Ex): When an illumian dies, her body releases the stored Illumian language within it. For 1 round per Hit Die of the illumian, anyone within earshot hears ululating Illumian syllables—usually gibberish, but occasionally a prophetic phrase or a final curse on the illumian’s enemies. The illumian’s body need not remain intact for the final utterance to occur. Even if an illumian succumbs to a disintegrate spell, her disembodied voice still utters strange gibberish for several rounds.
+2 racial bonus on saves against spells with the shadow descriptor: The illumians’ magical heritage is tied to the Plane of Shadow.
Superior Literacy: Illumians are always literate, regardless of their character class. Speak Language is always a class skill for illumians, regardless of class.
Automatic Languages: Common and Illumian.
Bonus Languages: Any except for secret languages (such as Druidic). Illumians love languages and travel far and wide to learn new languages from other races.
Favored Class: Any. When determining whether a multiclass illumian takes an experience point penalty, her highest-level class does not count. (See XP for Multiclass Characters, page 60 of the Player’s Handbook.) Illumians hold versatility in high esteem, and most members of the race are multiclass characters. Furthermore, illumian paladins and monks can leave those classes and return to them without penalty.

Illumians of the Astral Sea[edit]

Illumians existed in the past of the World Axis cosmology; here, they were the followers of "The God of the Word", a nameless God of Creation who was ally to Ioun and who fell in battle during the Dawn War. After it ended, Ioun was asked by the now-orphaned servitors of the God of the Word to rule them, but she declined, and instead charged them to preserve his former Dominion of Shom in the Astral Sea. Such was her respect for these humans that she entrusted them with two of the Words of Creation which the God of the Word had created before the Dawn War; the Words of Mind and Soul.

Of course, even with divine approval, no ordinary mortal could contain the power of two of the divine words that had been used to fashion the multiverse. So, each Word was entrusted to half of the new race, dividing them into subraces of Mind and Soul. Unfortunately, even with the fact that an illumian of one Word could be born to parents of the other, this division fostered chaos within their society; even as they studied the concatenations of each syllable of unfettered supernal might, the illumians became enamored with their own power. Factionalism grew and fermented, stoked by aid from malevolent deities like Vecna and Asmodeus. A series of civil wars devastated the illumian people, until they had winnowed their race down greatly.

The end came when, after the reasonable illumians had either perished or scattered across the planes in the flight from their former home, the fanatics who still claimed Shom as their own sought out the aid of the Maruts to finally determine once and for all which Word was superior, and thus which subrace should bear the full weight for the destruction they had experienced. In their arrogance, they demanded harsh penalties, and so when the Maruts concluded that neither subrace was worthy of holding the Words of Creation, the divine arbitrators fell upon both factions with brutal force, extinguishing them to the last and devastating Shom, which now floats in the Astral Sea as a wasteland of ruins, traps and monsters.

Rumors persist that the Maruts took a particular delight in this, as they have a rather close tie to the Words of Creation themselves and are believed to have viewed the illumians as unworthy to hold the Words that they did.

The illumians theoretically still exist, but like the bladelings they are a scattered, broken people, a minor faction on the backdrop of the planes.

See Also[edit]