Not all wizards live ostentatious lives. Some prefer study and contemplation, undisturbed by sword-swingers, thieves and temples. Indifferent to temporal power or wealth, they value mystical lore over gold. The Mouse Cage is such an order, named by a jester mocking their perceived cowardice and convict status. The name has stuck and the wizards acknowledge it, turning mockery into distinction. Founded in a city-state's prison, a disillusioned wizardess imprisoned for not serving her liege taught her arts to inmates tired of games of state. In time, she helped overthrow the tyrant from her cell. When freed, she claimed the prison as reward, turning it into a haven for wizards, keepers of lore and scribes. It has declined every political overture and patron since it's inception. Though funding is has been erratic, the Mouse Cage retains a neutral stance.
Over time, the Mouse Cage sent members further afield, forming chapters in other city-states and even other nations. The Mouse Cage stratified over time to form three ranks. The familials are scribes, scholars and negotiators who provide services to paying clients and working for the higher ranks. They are managed by the earthcoats who co-ordinate and represent familials from the local chapter house as well as selling potions and minor magic items for funds. They are co-ordinated by whitecoats, senior members who test the aspirants in wizardry and ritual and who in time may found their own chapter house. These learned individuals will use magic to steer the chapter house into maintaining it's neutrality. A number of whitecoats still bear the scars of imprisonment or persecution; those hunted by political players find the Mouse Cage an unexpected refuge and discreet source of information.
Requisites: To be accepted into the Mouse Cage, an aspirant needs Arcana, Diplomacy and Insight skills. They must persuade an existing member of earthcoat rank to sponsor them, renounce loyalty to all lieges and titles, endure a night-long vigil in chains and show skill in wizardry and ritual before an member of whitecoat rank of the Mouse Cage. Once this is done, each rank has it's own fee and attendance requirements. Failure to do so means the member loses their rank and benefits until they resume both attendance and payments.
Familial (the unseen servant)
The familial pays annually 10gp in coin or 30gp in goods (at resale value) useful to the Mouse Cage and must attend the local chapter house for two weeks a year. In return, they gain a +2 bonus to Diplomacy checks due to correspondence and training in negotiation with wizards and authority figures. They may also learn these rituals: comprehend languages, detect secret doors, endure elements, make whole, secret page and silence but pay their full purchase cost. Their duties include acting as paid scribes, scholars and negotiators for wizards and private individuals as well as providing favours .
Earthcoat (the liveried servant)
The would-be earthcoat must renew their repudiation of allegiances, endure a three-night vigil in chains, show improved skill in wizardry and mastery of the familial rituals above before a whitecoat-ranked member and provide a ritual book containing all the familial rituals to them. On acceptance, they are given a grey-brown coat with stone buttons inscribed with mystic runes. This coat gives a +1 enhancement bonus to AC as long as the wearer refuses all allegiances and maintains their obligations. An earthcoat pays annually 100gp in coin or 300gp in goods (at resale value) useful to the Mouse Cage and must attend the local chapter house for one month without leaving every year. They also gain a +2 bonus to Insight checks from training in negotiation between familials and their customers as well as spending time working on projects for the whitecoats. They may also learn these rituals at full purchase cost: brew potion, enchant magic item, knock and sending.
Whitecoat (first among equals)
The would-be whitecoat must renew their repudiation of allegiances, endure a week-long vigil in chains, show mastery of the earthcoat rituals before three whitecoat-ranked members and provide a ritual book containing all the earthcoat rituals to them. On acceptance, their coat leaches colour and the buttons become white marble. The coat now provides a +2 enhancement bonus to AC as long as the wearer refuses all allegiances and maintains their obligations. A whitecoat pays annually 1000gp in coin or 3000gp in goods (at resale value) and must attend their local chapter house for three months without leaving every year or found their own. Their influence on a chapter house is significant, a whitecoat will typically be able to command the loyal services of familials and earthcoats alike. They may learn these rituals at full purchase cost: detect object, linked portal, passwall and wizard's sight.
(inspired by http://rustybattleaxe.blogspot.com)
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