Appearance: Woodwise is a marionette approximately fourteen inches high. Rare and magical ever-living woods were painstakingly shaped to form the body of the item. He was then carved with patterns resembling leaves and flowers, which were dyed in vibrant natural hues. A painted leather mask has been affixed to his head; soft and flexible, this gives him the full range of facial expressions. His eyes are golden cat's-eye jewels. When possible, he prefers to wear green clothes in normal woodsman style, and a wig made from fox fur.
Benefit: Woodwise is an item made long ago by powerful sorcerers to act as an advisor and familiar. Having long outlasted his creator(s), he has accumulated a vast amount of magical lore on a wide variety of topics, not all of them of a wholesome nature. Despite this, the magical bonds used in his creation prevent him from actively using his knowledge to cast spells - the mages who made him wanted no rival to their power.
His essence was crafted to allow magic workers to ensnare him in a familiar bond to tap the magical power that animates him, which is tied to both the magic of growth and of craft. Some say greater powers are possible, by using the manikin as a link to ancient primeval forest spirits, while others claim he is followed by the ghosts of his former masters, caught by the bonds they formed to never lie at peace.
Drawback: Woodwise was created with an innate conflict at the core of his nature, which has led him to become sharply sarcastic and quick to anger. Despite the quirk of his creation which allows him to be easily bound by magic, the natural magic of his components gives him a far greater amount of independence than the normal familiar. While he can be forced to serve, he cannot be forced to care about his master, and some tales claim that he has actively worked to foil harsh masters and bring about their early demise. At the end of such tales, he always escapes to freedom, only to be caught again; this may be the form of a curse or geas placed upon him at creation to try to curb his willful temperament.
Lore: Woodwise was created in ages past by the Gray Seers, an order of wizards who strove to create a means by which they could control the primal forces of nature. Dwarf master craftsmen articulated his body, using wood from undying trees stolen from the heart of an Elvish forest. His parts are held together by ensorcelled mithral wire, and tiny runes of eldritch power are hidden among the decorative carvings that adorn his body. The precise method of his creation is long lost, as the order's downfall was orchestrated by several nature cults who worked in concert to destroy their citadel in a storm of terrible fury which raged for a year without end; it is said that Elvish assassins tracked the few survivors to the ends of the earth to ensure that none escaped to further misuse the fruits of their dire experiments.
The precise whereabouts of the manikin are lost to the historical record until the journals of the mage Runcifer, who lived hundreds of years after the downfall of the Gray Seers. Claiming he found Woodwise in an old crypt, the wizard rose to prominence among the coastal cities until an assassin put a premature end to his career. Following this, Woodwise has bounced from master to master, usually associated with ambitious sorcerers whose stars glow brightly for a time until an unfortunate end.
Twist: Woodwise's precise magical origins are lost to the mists of time. Some believe that his spirit is the transformed remnant of a dryad's soul, while others claim it is the spirit of an ancient Elvish hero, brought from the Underworld and enslaved by mages of unspeakable power for their dark ends. At least one church has identified him as a minor demon sent to the world to tempt both wizards and elves to rash action.
Deeper powers might lie within the enchanted manikin. Perhaps a kindly master could draw more power from a willing assistant, or a scholarly mage could tease lost secrets of Creation from a study of runes that adorn his body.
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? Responses (8)-8
This is really good - I like this idea a lot. The lore is excellent and the item has a lot of potential.
My only concern is that the twist is too - fuzzy - it looks like bleed-over from lore. I guess these are _possible_ twists, with the actual twist left as an exercise for the GM.
Woodwise was designed for a RuneQuest III campaign I ran many years ago. The sorcerer character wanted a familiar, and in RQ3, familiars can be designed in any of a million different ways. I made Woodwise to tie into an overarching plotline relating to the elves; ultimately it would be found out that there were elvish sorcerers who promoted the attack to seize the knowledge and lore of the Gray Seers, and then later fell into the study/worship of Chaos.
Woodwise's soul was the spirit of a daughter of the elf goddess Aldrya, twisted and warped through foul Chaos sorcery. I came up with a number of possible outcomes: Woodwise could become something of a rogue woodland element, supporting rebellious elves; the PCs coud end up on the run from the remaining elvish sorcerers, undying magical abominations; or, the PCs could try to restore the spirit of the daughter of Aldrya, truly an epic feat worthy of heroes.
I needed to write that better in the submission; ah well, I'll know better for next time.
You can always edit the sub to include more detail or add them as idea scrolls at the end. I think the ideas you listed are intriguing and would be wonderful additions once fleshed out.
Excellent. I agree with valadaar on all points.
Intriguing, all too often familiars are treated as simple things, for a single skill-bonus or as just a delivery system for spells. Woodwise might bring great weal, but also great woe, for its master, depending on its treatment and on the possible plothooks you choose. This is definately not a familiar you can forget for a session.
I really, really like this. It's obvious that you put a lot of time into this sub. His physical description made me smile, and I was expecting him to be a kindly spirit -- a twist on Pinnochio, perhaps. His actual personality caught me off guard. Still, I can imagine that a party would be quite willing to help the little guy out once they learnt his history, and that could provide a whole mini-campaign arc to build around. Well done!
Liked this a lot, thanks. I'm going to be thinking about where he could be used.