My first TTRPG character was a Illumian Dread Necromancer/Warlock in a homebrew D&D 3.5 setting. Due to this, and despite having not played one since, the Illumian race still has a special place in my heart. Illumians in D&D 3.5, due to their Power Siglis and Illumian Words racial abilities, tended towards being very versatile in terms of their capabilities and the possible builds that the race could facilitate. A careful combination of sigils could patch the problems in multiclass builds or enhance the capabilities of certain classes. For example, and Illumian with the Sigils Aesh and Krau, which produced the word Aeshkrau could use their strength score to determine their number of bonus spells.
Below, I have tried to recapture the some distinctiveness of this odd and interesting race.
Hailing from the shadow-metropolis of Elirhondas, Illumians are contemplative humanoids, driven and ambitious, taught from an early age to master every field of study. This species’ distinctive halo of luminous sigils confers diverse abilities onto its members, allowing them to excel in sometimes vastly dissimilar fields. Illumians commonly look like the humans who first learned the Ritual of Words Made Flesh. Most are pale skinned and somewhat taller than average. More than half of all Illumians are bald, while the rest have blond or red hair. Facial hair is almost unheard of. A curious trait related to this species’s origin, is that they are born with an innate understanding of the Illumian language. Even Illumians raised in other cultures are fluent in Illumian.
Suggested Genres: Fantasy, Modern (if setting has a supernatural element).
You gain the following characteristics:
Luminous Sigils: You have a halo of softly glowing sigils that orbit your head, providing illumination equal to that of a candle. Your sigils are insubstantial and remain present and in effect even when you take another form. In addition to the dimly glowing sigils that orbit your head, you also have a single brightly glowing power sigil that grants you certain benefits while it is lit. The benefit of each power sigil is given below, along with its name and common translation. Choose one of the following power sigils:
- Aesh (“vigor”): You are trained in two of the following physical tasks of your choice: carrying, climbing, jumping, and smashing.
- Hoon (“life”): You are trained in Might defense tasks.
- Krau (“magic”): You gain one of the following abilities: Hedge Magic (CSR 149, CSC Adept T1 p. 31) or Magical Training(CSR 159, CSC Adept T1 p. 31).
- Naen (“mind”): You’re trained in two areas of knowledge of your choice.
- Uur (“grace”): You’re trained in two of the following tasks involving balance and careful movement of your choice : balancing, escaping, pickpocketing, and stealth.
- Vaul (“soul”): You’re trained in all tasks involving positive or pleasant social interaction.
You can suppress all of your sigils at once by concentrating briefly as an action. Doing so extinguishes their light and you lose the benefits of your power sigil. You can relight your sigils as an action, restoring the benefits of your power sigil.
Child of Elirhondas: You are trained in all tasks related to resisting the effects of darkness and shadows.
Second Sigil: Once, in lieu of gaining a new skill as part of your advancement you can choose to spend 4 XP to gain a second power sigil different from the one you already possess. The benefits of this additional power sigil are also lost while your sigils are.
Superior Literacy: You know two additional languages.
Inability: The light from your glowing sigils make you easier to detect in the dark. Any task related to sneaking or stealth in low-light or lightless conditions is hindered while your sigils are lit.
Inability: You are a creature of living magical words, and as such you are uniquely susceptible to foreign magical words and symbols. Tasks to resist magical writing and symbols are hindered by two steps.
Initial Link to the Starting Adventure: From the following list of options, choose how you became involved in the first adventure.
- You were sent by your cabal to collect books and new knowledge.
- Your mentor’s final words were a vague prophecy that led you here.
- You believed the mission will help learn more about the Ritual of Words Made Flesh.
- You blundered into this mission while trying to hide from your oppressive cabal.
Final Utterance (Artifact)
Form: Rotating halo of hard-light sigils.
Effect: Always sheds light, the brightness of which gives an indication of the user’s health as follows: Hale (lantern), Impaired (torch), Debilitated (candle). When the user dies this artifact activates and they become a conduit for the mystical energies that reside within Illumian sigils. Their voice echoes through the air for several minutes in ululating Illumian syllables, which are usually gibberish, but occasionally form a prophetic phrase or a final curse the meaning of which transcends language barriers. Roll a d10 to determine the effect. Illumians roll twice and pick which roll to keep.
|3||Major Prophecy: The utterance contains detailed knowledge of future events tailored to aid the user’s allies. Each of the user’s allies within long range, who can hear the user’s voice, gains an asset that lowers the difficulty of one future task, of the ally’s choice, by two steps.|
|4||Major Curse: The utterance has a baleful power, which robs the user’s foes of their strength. All chosen targets within long range, who can hear the user’s voice, increase the difficulty of all tasks by two steps for one minute.|
|7||Minor Prophecy: The utterance contains vague knowledge of future events tailored to aid the user’s allies Each of the user’s allies within long range, who can hear the user’s voice, gains an asset that lowers the difficulty of a future task, of the ally’s choice, by one step.|
|8||Minor Curse: The utterance has a baleful power, which robs the user’s foes of their strength. All chosen targets within long range,who can hear the user’s voice, increase the difficulty of all tasks by one step for one minute.|
Depletion: Automatic (upon depletion vanishes in a flash of light)
Final Utterance was originally an Illumian racial ability, but it seemed like it would be better represented as an artifact. This artifact should be considered as a viable candidate for gaining as a 3 XP long-term benefit, especially for Illumian characters.
Similar to Final Utterance, I chose not to include the Illumian Words ability in the species descriptor. Given Cypher System’s native flexibility with regard to character concepts, the boon to versatility enjoyed by Illumians in D&D 3.5, from this ability, would not be present here. More importantly, their structure and many of the effects they offer lack a direct match in Cypher System. That said they might be a good candidate for representation via cyphers. The following are a few examples I came up with(possibly more later):
Illumian Words (Manifest Fantastical Cyphers): Though a natural match for groups with Illumians in them, these physical manifestations of the mystical Illumian language could fit in any setting that includes Illumians. Illumian Words always take form of glowing sigils made of hard-light.
Level: 1d6 + 2
Effect: For 1 hour per cypher level, the user can use their Might pool to pay for abilities that would normally cost points from their Intellect Pool.
Effect: For the next day, each time the user successfully damages a creature that was unaware of their presence they gain an asset on their next might or speed defense roll against that creature.
Level: 1d6 + 2
Effect: For 1 hour per cypher level, the user can use their Speed pool to pay for abilities that would normally cost points from their Intellect Pool.
Level: 1d6 + 2
Effect: For ten minutes per cypher level, the user can spend points from their Intellect Pool to pay the cost of applying Effort to increase the damage they inflict with melee attacks made using light weapons.
CSC: Cypher System Core Rulebook
CSR: Cypher System Core Rulebook Revised