This black book is small -- barely wider than an elf's hand. A black rothé leather cover painted with two Elven runes encloses pages of fine thin parchment. Tiny Elven letters written in a jagged hand form words on the pages.
Last Record: Zulifein T'orgh of Sshamath, Vhaeraunian drow wizard, 7 Hammer, 1373 DR.
Description: This small book was designed for elven hands -- drow elf, but elf nonetheless. The Elven runes on the cover spell Obsul Ssussun, meaning "Door to Light" in Undercommon. The writing inside is in Undercommon and in a masculine hand, with small but jagged letters. The text is black, with a few small notes in the narrow margins made in red ink. No illustrations break up the jagged text. The book is in good condition and of recent manufacture. It does not radiate magic.
History: One of the bands of Auzkovyn drow roaming the forest of Cormanthor was led by a veteran drow wizard known only as the Widower. According to the rumors about him, he once served as the consort and house wizard to a matron mother in a Lolth-controlled city. Vhaeraun spoke to him in his dreams, guaranteeing escape from the city and a position of status among free drow if he assassinated the matron mother. The wizard agreed, and he throttled his lover in her sleep, fleeing under the Masked Lord's shadow, never again speaking his name to any other drow and binding his identity tightly with spells Vhaeraun placed in his mind. Vhaeraun led him to a group of Auzkovyn drow who had recently lost their leader in a clash with a group of Spider-Kissers. The Widower, as he now called himself, took control of the leaderless group and kept it safe from its enemies for nearly two years. The Widower had a friendly (for drow) relationship with Jezz the Lame of House Jaelre, and from time to time the Widower's group would team up with warriors from that house in raids against enemy drow camps or dangerous elven sites. He worked with a Vhaeraunian cleric to create at least two spellbooks of the Masked Lord's favorite spells, giving both arcane and divine versions so clerics, sorcerers, and wizards of the Auzkovyn drow could use them. Door to Light is one of these books.
The Widower abandoned camp one night late in 1372 DR without a word about his destination. He left behind a small bundle of papers and Door to Light; the contents of the papers are unknown other than they said that followers of Vhaeraun were to use the book in their war against Lolth. The book was given to the Widower's secondwizard, a promising student named Zulifein T'orgh. The most recent sighting of Zulifein places him in the Far Hills, in the general area of a known tunnel to the Underdark. He was alone (rather than with other members of his nomadic group) and his purpose near the city remains unknown.
Contents: The opening pages of Door to Light describe three spells, all of which have arcane and divine versions. These spells are considered unusual spells, and any spellcaster who wishes to use them must first decipher them as described in the Arcane Magical Writings and Divine Magical Writings sections of Chapter 10: Magic of the Player's Handbook. Following the spell pages is a page of notes on the vhaerath (a type of outsider created by Vhaeraun to serve him on Faerûn) as well as notes on how to summon them using summon monster II or similar spells.
The spells the book contains are as follows:
- elf disguise
- soul charge
- Vhaeraun's nightshield
Level: Bard 1, Cleric 1, Sorcerer/Wizard 1
Components: V, S, DF
Duration: 1 hour/level (D)
This spell works much like disguise self, except that you cannot change your height or build. Instead, you can change only hair color, eye color, and complexion to match a particular kind of Faerûnian elf (moon elf, sun elf, wood elf, wild elf, or drow). The specific coloration is limited to common colors for that type of elf. For example, if you chose to disguise yourself as a moon elf, you cannot give yourself tan skin (because moon elves have fair skin), red hair (because most moon elves have black, silver-white, or blue hair), or brown eyes (because moon elves have blue or green eyes). You are easily recognizable as yourself to anyone familiar with your normal appearance. Unless you normally have an elflike build, this spell does not help Disguise checks to appear as an elf.
If you are an elf, this spell lets you easily pass as a different kind of elf, although height differences may give away the disguise. (For example, drow are significantly shorter than other elves, and a very short drow disguised as a sun elf will attract attention for his remarkable shortness.)
The drow name for this spell is golhydarthiir, meaning "surface-elf disguise." They invented the spell, and while they have no use for the ability to disguise themselves as drow, they found it easier to finish the spell research with the drow option included than to extend the research to exclude it.
Level: Cleric 3, Sorcerer/Wizard 3
Components: V, S, F
Casting Time: 10 minutes
Target: Creature touched
Duration: 24 hours or until discharged
Saving Throw: Fortitude negates
Spell Resistance: Yes
You steal a portion of the target's soul and use it to activate a wand or other spell-trigger item. The spell bestows one negative level to the target (with the normal repercussions of gaining a negative level, including the possibility of losing a level 24 hours later) and transfers the soul's energy to a crystal you carry. When the crystal holds a charge, you can use the energy in it to power a spell effect from a wand or other spell-trigger item instead of using a charge from the wand. Even if the spell normally expends two charges from the item, soul charge can add only one charge per use.
To use this spell to active an item, you must be able to activate the item yourself. That is, the spell effect you activate must be on the spell list for your class. The spell also must be 3rd-level or lower, and the item's caster level must be less than or equal to your caster level.
Example: A 13th-level wizard with a staff of defense wants to use this spell to trigger the staff. Only one of the staff's powers -- shield -- meets the requirements for soul charge. The other powers, shield of faith, shield other, and shield of law, aren't on the wizard's spell list.
Focus: A piece of crystal worth at least 100 gp. The crystal receives the energy stolen from the soul. A single crystal can hold only one charge. A character can carry more than one charge at a time, but must have a separate crystal for each charge.
A vhaerath is a planar servant of Vhaeraun, created from the soul of one of his petitioners. It looks like a normal drow (male or female) except that its body and equipment are utterly black -- as dark as a shadow. Vhaeraun uses them as his mortal agents in Faerûn. A typical vhaerath is a 1st-level drow warrior (as presented in the Monster Manual). The Masked Lord's followers can summon these "common" vhaeraths with a summon monster II spell if they know the proper magic keys. (Door to Light contains this information.)
Creating a Vhaerath
"Vhaerath" is an inherited template that can be added to any drow of nongood alignment (referred to hereafter as the base creature). A vhaerath uses all the base creatures' statistics and special abilities except as noted here.
Size and Type: The base creature's type changes to outsider. Vhaeraths are always extraplanar outsiders.
Skills: Vhaeraths have a +4 racial bonus on Hide and Move Silently checks. The Hide bonus increases to +8 in shadowy conditions or darkness.
Alignment: Any evil.
Summoning a Vhaerath: A divine spellcaster who has Vhaeraun as a patron can use a monster summoning II spell to summon a 1st-level drow warrior vhaerath, provided that the character can cast monster summoning II and provided the character has read the summoning notes in Obsul Ssussun.
Level: Cleric 1, Sorcerer/Wizard 1
Components: V, S, DF
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Duration: 1 minute/level or until discharged (D)
You protect yourself with a cloaklike aura of black energy. This aura has two effects. First, it absorbs 5 points of magic missile damage per caster level, similar to a brooch of shielding. Second, it provides a +1 resistance bonus on saving throws; this resistance bonus increases to +2 at caster level 6 and +3 at caster level 9. The spell ends if it absorbs its full capacity of magic missile damage.
Price: 550 gp (spellbook value only, though as its pages contain arcane and divine versions of spells, a buyer who can use only one or the other type would offer much less). A buyer interested in planar lore might pay up to 100 gp more for it (or only 100 gp if the buyer can't use it as a spellbook). The church of Vhaeraun is willing to pay a flat 2,000 gp for the book, no questions asked. If presented to a group of Auzkovyn drow, they would offer to pay in drow goods and throw in lifetime safe passage through Auzkovyn-patrolled territories in Cormanthor. (The booksellers in question would receive tokens of passage representing this agreement.)
Last Known Bearer: Zulifein T'orgh of Sshamath, Vhaeraunian drow wizard
Zulifein was born in the male-dominated drow city of Sshamath, a younger son of a middle-ranked city wizard. Raised in an environment where his gender and his profession made him superior to the common folk of his home, Zulifein grew bored and sought interesting ways to entertain himself. Starting with torturing animals, he advanced to torturing slaves and eventually drow commoners. After a series of torture-murders that his father covered up with bribes to the city guards, Zul made the mistake of abducting a plaything of Ryld Coborel, one of the city's most powerful wizards, and when he realized his error he fled before Ryld discovered the offense. Heading upward, he threw in with a group of Auzkovyn drow, selling his services as a wizard in exchange for his life. Zul came to the surface via portal like many of his adopted clan and has spent dozen months living in Cormanthor. When his group was attacked by a team of Lolth-worshiping drow and their leader was killed, Zul was pushed into a leadership role by the survivors but was saved from that task by the appearance of the Widower. The mysterious senior wizard took Zul under his wing and named him as his secondwizard.
When the Widower left in the middle of the night, Zul inherited the Door to Light and some of the Widower's notes. Some in the group pressured him to be the new leader, but Zul wanted neither the responsibility nor the attention and deferred to Divolg Luen, the leader of the group's rangers. With Door to Light in his hands (a prized item for its religious and arcane value even if its sale value is significantly less), Zul felt he could buy off Ryld's desire for vengeance by presenting the book as a gift. At the next opportunity, he left his fellows and fled to Cormyr, using the elf disguise spell to avoid attention. He then traveled via trade route to the Western Heartlands, researched the location of a tunnel to the Underdark, and is now looking for that tunnel so he can follow it to his home city. When he gets there he will remain in disguise so he can learn if Ryld's anger has cooled and if there is a bounty on his head; once he finds out, he'll figure out the best way to present the book and extricate himself from this tangle.
Zulifein T'orgh: Male drow wizard 6 (transmuter); CR 7; Medium humanoid (elf); HD 6d4; hp 15; Init +4; Spd 30 ft.; AC 17, touch 15, flat-footed 13; Base Atk +3; Grp +2; Atk or Full Atk +7 melee (1d6-1/18-20, rapier) or +8 ranged (1d4/19-20, masterwork hand crossbow); SQ darkvision 120 ft., drow traits, light blindness, spell resistance 17; AL NE; SV Fort +2, Ref +6, Will +5; Str 8, Dex 18, Con 11, Int 16, Wis 10, Cha 14.
Skills and Feats: Concentration +9, Decipher Script +8, Hide +6, Knowledge (arcana) +6, Knowledge (dungeoneering) +8, Knowledge (nature) +6, Listen +3, Move Silently +11, Profession (torturer) +5, Search +5, Spellcraft +8, Spot +3; Daylight Adaptation, Scribe Scroll, Stealthy, Still Spell, Weapon Finesse.
Languages: Common, Draconic, Drow Sign Language, Elven, Goblin, Undercommon.
Drow Traits: Zulifein has immunity to magic sleep effects. If he merely passes within 5 feet of a secret or concealed door, he is entitled to a Search check to notice it as if he where actively looking for it. He has Martial Weapon Proficiency (rapier), Martial Weapon Proficiency (short sword), and Exotic Weapon Proficiency (hand crossbow) as bonus feats. He gets a +2 racial bonus on saves against enchantment spells and effects and a +2 racial bonus on Listen, Search, and Spot checks (already figured into the statistics above).
Light Blindness: Abrupt exposure to bright light (such as sunlight or a daylight spell) blinds Zulifein for 1 round. On subsequent rounds, he is dazzled for as long as he remains in the affected area.
Wizard Spells Prepared (5/5/5/4 per day; caster level 6th): 0 -- detect magic (2), mage hand (2), message; 1st -- disguise self (2), expeditious retreat, ironguts (Magic of Faerûn), Vhaeraun's nightshield; 2nd -- cat's grace, false life, invisibility (2), spider climb; 3rd -- analyze portal (Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting), fly, slow (2) (DC 16).
Spellbook: 0 -- As above plus acid splash (+6 ranged touch), arcane mark, detect poison, disrupt undead (+6 ranged touch), ghost sound, mending, open/close, prestidigitation, ray of frost(+6 ranged touch), read magic, resistance, touch of fatigue (+6 ranged touch; DC 13); 1st -- As above plus cause fear (DC 14), color spray (DC 14), elf disguise, identify, launch item (Magic of Faerûn), low-light vision (Magic of Faerûn), magic weapon; 2nd -- As above plus minor image (DC 15), rope trick; 3rd -- As above plus soul charge (DC 16).
Possessions:Bracers of armor +2, ring of protection +1, rapier, masterwork hand crossbow with 50 bolts, boots of elvenkind, 2 potions of cure light wounds, 2 pearls (for the identify spell; 100 gp each), rope, 194 gp.
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About the Author
Sean K Reynolds lives in Encinitas, California, and works for a video game company. His D&D credits include the Monster Manual, the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting, and Savage Species. He'd like to thank Brian Cortijo for his advice in this article series, and Ed Greenwood for the writeup of the Codicil in Pages From the Mages. You can find more game material at Sean's website, Sean's website.