Thursday, December 4, 2008

Circle of Darkness (long)

Subject: [GREYTALK] Circle of Darkness (long)
Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 17:45:33 -0600
From: John C Wright
Reply-To: The GREYtalk Discussion List

Lisa Stevens wrote:

>IMC, the Circle of Darkness will actually be the balancing half of the
>Circle of Eight. I got to thinking, if you truly believe in neutrality,
>nobody is going to trust you and it will be hard for you to get things
>So when I say that the Circle of Darkness is the balancing half of the
>Circle of Eight, I mean that the eight wizards who make up the Co8 are
>the same wizards who make up the CoD, only in different guises and under
>different names.

I can see this as being somewhat plausible, but in the long-run...when the wizards know that adventurers can and often do screw things up and figure things out, then the entire Co8 and CoD ploys would be totally useless as no one would trust the wizards in any of their guises. If the Co8 is truly behind the CoD (which is very possible) then they would instead prefer to work through intermediaries I would think to limit the possibility of their being revealed as working in conjunction with the forces of evil.

Scott Casper wrote:
>Wouldn't a mid-level spellcaster have been able to cast Locate Object, wh=
>standing next to the body in question, and "look" for the remains of Cymr=
>ia? =
>If the body was a fake, the spell wouldn't register it.

Locate object on the body? The way I understand the spell it doesn't work on living beings, and on objects (which a body is of course) it requires complete familiarity to function properly. So if the wizard is looking at the body...why would they need to locate the spell would reveal the body is directly in front of them still. I would like to hear more on this from others though, as my interpetation is of course only my own. High-level divinations could very well reveal that it is not her body...or could show that it is. As I stated in the notes, Cymria may or may not be depends of course on how the DM wishes to run it. In most campaigns where the players do not know her, then it would of course be no loss, except to Tenser. In my campaign though, Cymria is a common friend to many in the group and her loss is felt by them and will be investigated thoroughly.

Chris Anderson wrote in response to Lisa Stevens:
>I see where you're going with this, but it strikes me that it's impractical.
>In a world of divinatory magic, et al, I don't think that you could keep a
>secret like that for very long.
>Besides, there's nothing wrong with having non-Co8 high-level groups that
>have differing motivations.
>IMC, I have the Scarlet Circle (no, it's not related to the Brotherhood),
>the Knights of the Golden Dawn, the Iron Fist, and some other
>(non-flashy-named) groups which coexist with the Co8. All have differing
>goals and purposes.

Secrets can be kept amazing lengths of time depending on how involved the group is in the world at large. The Scarlet Brotherhood for example has been almost completely unknown for centuries, and were only recently 'discovered' as being involved in the world. The CoD could have kept their initial existence secret easily, and only through the mistakes with the Doomgrinder do they stand a chance of being revealed to the world. Of course as they become more enmeshed in the world, then their group will become more noticed of course. As for their secrecy, the Co8 is commonly heard of, but few people actually know who all make up the Co8, at least according to the 'canon' information in the Greyhawk supplements. Secrets are wizards best friends, and for more ideas on secret societies check out the recent Dragon Magazine article on them.

Kent Matthewson wrote:
I find it hard to imagine a situation wherein the Circle would justifiably
work on the side of evil (excluding evil in the name of preventing a greater
evil for example). If I were to define the Circle of Eight's objective, it
would be to restore the balance that has shifted towards evil, which is
still somewhat different from working for "good".

The Co8 are likely some of the most misunderstood groups about. Due to their being filled by some of the biggest wizard names about, everyone assumes they are all good and nice, but a key thing is to note how Tenser looks at them (especially after the Rot8 adventure). In old novels, and sources the Co8 worked for means less than noble, and in the Gord novels if I am not mistaken, it is revealed that Mordenkainen and the Co8 are part of the reason that the Prince of Furyondy was removed. Good grew too powerful in their minds with the union of Veluna and Furyondy, so Mordenkainen helped to arrange that it would not happen. (This of course is being covered in the adventure I am currently working up, which pits the adventurerers as either allies of Tenser, or the Co8 and how they deal with the methods of each group).

Keldreth wrote:
>While I could not imagine the Co8 trying to destablize the future of this, if
>they tried, there are certain mages and others who would have big problems
>with this.

The Co8 will likely involve and work against anything which they do not see as being in the best 'balance' for Oerth. A circle of arch-magi would have a tough time dealing with all of the magical avenues available to a determined high-level opponent. Yes, I have found that to be true.

Chris Anderson wrote:
>We're talking about contacting other planes and powers, clerical divinatory
>magic, magic-user spells, speaking with dead, etc. Have you tried to do
>this in a real game? It's damn hard without pulling out the "deus ex
>machina" excuse as to why their attempts fail.

I have tried to use many of the divinations in various games. And they are not all knowing by far. If used properly, the spells can be useful, but many times they can give little to any information, especially if the target is amply shielded from divinatory magics. (non-detection, mind-shielding, mind blank, etc.) Add in a limited wish or two, for either prevention of scrying, or for those who attempt divinations against the target to say suffer the effects of a feeblemind, and the wizard is quite amply protected.

Few deities offer high-level divinations, and those which do are most likely of a neutral bent (Rao and Delleb being exceptions of course). So before these priesthoods bend their power to using their greatest divinations, either they must be involved in the current problems, or others must come to them with sufficient reason to involve them. Even then, the answers are not guaranteed. As for Speak with Dead, if the dead person knows nothing, or if their soul has been stolen or imprisoned, there is little information they can give. For wizards, divinations often run along with dangerous side-effects. Contact other Plane gives the wizard a significant chance for insanity, and few wizards would risk this chance unless they were directly involved.

Eric VdW wrote in response to Kent Matthewson:
>I see your point, but then what were the Co8 doing before the Greyhawk
>Wars? You're right, I can't see Drawmij (well, maybe Drawmij...he's
>got a very cold description) attacking a group of paladins in order to
>"preserve the balance", but remember that the Co8 work behind the
>scenes to make sure these things happen.
>But what are their goals following this middle path? In other words,
>what do we do with these guys?

Check out Warnes Starcoats write-up. If anyone is going to kill some paladins to further the balance...this is the man to do it. He has already gotten into a huge argument with King Lynwerd and he is definitely a cold fish who would not mind sacrificing a few 'noble' souls to see his beliefs carried out. As for what do we do with them? We use the Co8 as a group who believes that due to their innate superiority (they are all powerful wizards, and vastly more intelligent than the common man or ruler...or so they believe), that it is up to them to insure that the world runs smoothly. And if some idiot cambion or some fool paladin tries to throw a monkey-wrench in the works, they turn a bit of that magical might on them and clean out the gears.

Miles wrote:
>The Co8 have seen what happens when people get too powerful. ie - invoked
>devestation and rain of colourless fire, and so have decided that the best
>way to stop this ever happening again is to stop people getting too
>powerful - good or evil.
>This could mean that when the PC's are lower or mid level, the Co8 could be
>of great help to them, but when they start getting high level and their
>adventures start having world shattering consequences, the Co8 might start
>sending other adventurers out to get them.

Exactly, the Co8 uses adventurers until they become too problematic, then use newer adventurers to clean out the old.

Well this string went from original questions about the CoD on into deep philosophical questions about the goals and motives of the Co8, but I hope that the points I have tried to cover and the questions I have tried to answer were clear.

John Wright

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