Focus Stones and Spell Plates: Magic for the People in End of Kings

Service Notification: I am looking for Beta Readers for the Blade Breaker (Shadow Wolf Sagas #1). If you are interested PM me.

As part of my continuing interest in Steampunk/Industrial Age Fantasy I started running a homebrew RPG that I call End of Kings. As the name denotes the game is about revolution and the growing pains of democracy and the modern state as they shift away from a feudal power base. In End of Kings the basis for the power of the aristocracy is not inherited land, peasants, and the right/obligation of arms, but power that is literally passed down through noble bloodlines. The kings and other nobles have powers associated with their bloodline which make them far more formidable than regular mortals.

  • Bloodline Powers are essentially a set of inherited magical powers that all members of a particular bloodline share.
  • Bloodline Powers are watered down if the ‘noble’ breeds with a ‘commoner’, they can also be enhanced through selective breeding or altered by breeding with other families. Obviously this leads to eugenics.
  • Bloodline Powers are based on industrial age literature, with vampires, ghosts, lovecraftian beasts, and so on making appearances among the nobility.
  • Magical items were tied to the Bloodline.
  • Inbreeding is a major factor in the plot. As the ruling families breed to concentrate power they make increasingly powerful, but unstable progeny.
  • Obviously, there are a large number of bastard children with bloodlines powers. This is important for next point.
  • Before the current era, when a noble family became too unstable to be viable they were eliminated by the other nobles, or the Church. The Church, who believe that the source of the bloodline powers is a streak of divinity, keep tabs on the bastard children of noble families, often taking them and raising them. When a noble family became a problem, the church could easily find a replacement, even when the nobility could not.
  • Yes, the Church in End of Kings has a small army of elite Bloodline powered orphans.

So what changed all this and allowed mere mortals to even the scales somewhat with the super-powered nobility of end of kings? In a word the discovery a of a new form of magic that was available to a new set of people. Focus Stone is Chromatite an uncommon mineral that changes colour when a person concentrates on it. For the longest time it was simply a mildly interesting bauble, mostly favoured by the lower classes. However, as early systematic inquiry came into being (similar to our scientific method) scholars became interested in WHY it changed colour when people concentrated on it, and why some people were so much better at it and why a few travelling performers who worked with the stone had achieved a great deal of control over the colours. Eventually this line of inquiry led to the first true Focus Stone, a mineral that could convert willpower into magical energy and store it briefly. By itself the Focus Stone could be used to power devices like a battery, and revolutionized methods of production, slowly giving rise to machines and early mass production.

What really challenged the reign of kings was combination of the Focus Stone with The Spell Plate. The Spell Plate was an older device that was used by aristocrats to createenchanted items keyed to their bloodline powers that could be used by others. Eventually those interested in the uses of Focus Stones considered using Spell Plates to create effects. After much trial and error they figured out how to do so, and revolutionized warfare.

  • Many Firearms in End of Kings use Focus Stones and Spell Plates. The user arms the weapon by concentrating on the Focus Stone, which changes colour depending on how much energy it holds. Once it is armed, the user points the weapon at the enemy and pulls a trigger which briefly connects the Focus Stone to the Spell Plate. The Spell Plate translates the energy into a spell effect which is then fired from the gun.
  • The Focus Stone and Spell Plate method powers a number of devices beyond firearms including melee weapons.
  • A further refinement over the Spell Plate method is Spell Shot. Spell Shot uses part of the energy transferred from the focus stone to create an arcane explosion or magnetic effect that propels a bullet. Spell Shot is cheaper and requires less concentration to energize than a full Spell Plate. The best arms available combine Spell Shot and Spell Plate to create a projectile that has a spell effect on impact, but these are specialist weapons.

While a Spell Plate weapon doe snot make an ordinary soldier the equal of a powerful noble suffused with bloodline power, it does make it possible for a mob of people to take one down. Even worse, trained soldiers can become exceptionally adept with focus stones, becoming even more of a threat. Hegemony is broken and the wold changes.

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