Obscurati
Table of Contents

Obscurati Covers

Each constable chooses one of the following “covers.” Share this page with the players. It has the mechanics for handling their temporary bodies.

Going Undercover

Note the difference between your Strength, Constitution, and Dexterity scores and those of the vessel you have been implanted into. For every two points of difference, you have either a –1 penalty or +1 bonus to skill and ability checks and attack and damage rolls using that stat.
Adjust your Armor Class, Fortitude, and Reflex based on your new stats and gear. You use your normal Will defense. You’ll have to choose which if any magic items you wear or carry, which may adjust these at the risk of possibly arousing suspicions. It would not be unusual for Obscurati officers to wear magic items, but a librarian wearing a flaming cloak would stand out.
You can use all your old powers that are granted by classes, and if you are in gestalt (see below) you can also use one or two powers possessed by your host. You cannot generally use racial powers.

Contest, Crisis, and Rejection

Normally while inside the bodies of these Obscurati officers, you have full control. However, each day when you go to sleep, when you first become bloodied in an encounter, or when you attempt to enter gestalt (see below) there’s a chance the host’s mind will try to take back over. This is called a contest.
When a contest occurs, the game master rolls an attack in secret against your Will defense. The hosts’ attack bonuses are known only to the DM, listed on page 110.
If the host “hits,” it regains partial control, which is called a crisis. Each round you are in crisis you are dazed and may make a saving throw at the end of your turn to get back in charge. In the meanwhile, the host can stammer and take a move action each round, which might be enough to cause trouble.
If you fail three consecutive saving throws while in crisis, the host gets full control. This is called rejection. The host becomes aware of what happened and can act of its own free will. You can attempt a new saving throw once every five minutes, and a success puts you back in charge.

Gestalt

Even while in control of your host’s body, you cannot normally access his memories. You can attempt, however, to enter gestalt. Doing so is a free action, wherein you make an attack against the Will defence of your host’s body. The attack bonus is equal to half your level + your Wisdom or Charisma modifier +6.
If you fail, you trigger a crisis. If you succeed, you gain access to the host’s memories and can flawlessly mimic his personality for five minutes. You also can use the listed “gestalt powers.”

Mindmaker Aid

Alexander Grappa can recognize the signs of a psychic crisis brewing, and his mind magic can let him subdue a vessel’s soul before it can gain control. As long as he’s nearby you generally don’t have to worry about the officer personalities rising to the surface. You can safely travel to the convocation, at least, but thereafter he cannot guarantee he’ll always be around. He encourages you to be cautious and only attempt gestalts when necessary.

Obscurati Officer Profiles

Ken Don

Head research inquisitor of the Clergy’s Jenevah Library in Alais Primos.
Male Human. Str 8, Con 10, Dex 10.

Ken_Don.JPG

Background

The Jenevah Library in the city of Alais Primos acts as the primary repository of scholarly and mystical knowledge for the Clergy. It also is a bit of a honey trap for would-be ne’er-do-wells. Librarians keep track of books being referenced, of the comings and goings of researchers, and of any unusual requests that might indicate a person is planning on animating the dead, binding a demon to possess someone, or use other forbidden magic.
The wiry and stern Ken Don oversees these bookish inquisitors, and has earned the respect of the Clergy hierarchs during his four decade career. He was enticed to aid the Obscurati because he was tired of simply preventing abuse of mystical lore, and wanted to actually find ways to safely and responsibly apply the dangerous knowledge to some positive goal.

Obscurati Involvement

Ken helps Obscurati-affiliated researchers delve into forbidden topics without being noticed. He comes to the convocation alone, but he has interacted in the past with Obscurati agents named Ottavia Sacredote and Caius Bergeron.

Personality and Ideology

Quiet and macabre, Ken has a deep well of knowledge regarding the occult and is fluent in the infernal language of the Demonocracy. His preferred method to deal with unwanted disturbance is to recite religious poetry, though not in any language the listener will recognize.
Ken believes that men are good by nature and want to help each other, but that the struggle for resources leads to people making selfish choices. Religion is not as important as prosperity. Even a well-educated man will steal when he is starving. He hopes the Obscurati is going to find a way to increase the wealth of the world and share it with the poor.
Also, he thinks that the dead owe a debt to the living, and so using undead as labour is justifiable. The only problem is that normal necromancy makes the souls of the dead suffer. He thinks, though, that it’s possible to create a similar spell where the dead serve willingly.

Gestalt Traits

When you are in gestalt with Ken Don, you can use the following powers.

Bibliogeist
A spectral librarian appears before you, awaiting your question. If you ask too loudly, it shushes you.
Daily Standard Action
Effect: You conjure the ghost of a librarian and direct it to read one or more books, either retrieving specific information or summarizing the whole text for you. The ghost
can finish a few hundred pages per minute, and can travel up to a mile from you to find the necessary books. Between five minutes and one hour later, the ghost returns and
you learn what it discovered. The ghost has Defenses of 10 and 1 hit point.
Forbid (psychic)
You quietly will a location to be off-limits.
At-Will Minor Action
Effect: Choose a square within 5 squares. Until the end of your next turn, any hostile creature that enters that square or ends its turn their takes 15 psychic damage.

Gran Guiscard

Head of Gorgeous Cell in Beaumont, with spy network of artists and entertainers.
Male Human. Str 12, Con 16, Dex 12.

Gran_Guiscard.JPG

Background

Gran’s Danoran father took a dark-skinned Risuri woman as his wife shortly before the Third Yerasol War, and they settled in a small village in Danor. Gran was teased as an outsider throughout his childhood, but he developed a personality so bold and outlandish that no one could tell the insults actually hurt. Eventually the bullies stopped bothering him, though he never had many friends.
As a young man, Gran moved to the Danoran city of Beaumont and studied as an opera singer. With his distinctive appearance and booming baritone voice, plus his willingness to perform rousing patriotic shows during the Fourth Yerasol War, he quickly rose to prominence. He’s probably the most famous Obscurati officer who isn’t a politician, and he runs into fans of his shows wherever he travels.

Obscurati Involvement

One night after an opera, as Gran drank and partied with a tiefling nobleman, both of them complained about how some of the actors had flubbed lines and ruined the show. Gran’s home had recently been broken into, and he had the thought, if actors can’t follow their lines, how can we punish anyone for breaking the law. The nobleman offered Gran a chance to make sure the world had fewer flubbed lines.
After a few months of tests to ensure he could be trusted, Gran was first tasked with using his international tours as opportunities to deliver messages between members of different Obscurati cells, including Mayor Reed Macbannin in Flint. Eventually he began to recruit other performers with similar interests in making the world a better place, using them as couriers or spies. His greatest mistake, he believes, was trying to recruit Rock Rackus. Gran could not manage to explain the subtleties of the missions to the man, so he passed Rock off to Caius Bergeron to use as an adventurer and treasure hunter.

Personality and Ideology

Self-indulgently melodramatic, Gran loves to name drop celebrities he has dined with, and he always carries a pen and a book of songs so he can tear out pages, sign them, and hand them to fans.
While on his travels for the conspiracy, Gran has heard many ideas of how the world could be improved. The one that appeals to him most is just to remove free will and make people do the right thing. He’s seen improvisational theatre, and he hates it. Scripted stories are much better.

Gestalt Traits

When you are in gestalt with Gran Guiscard, you can use the following powers.

Seek the Limelight
You make a big show of yourself, to distract those who don’t know better.
Encounter Standard Action
Attack: Close Burst 20 (enemies in burst); +18 vs. Will.
Hit: Until the end of your next turn, the target takes a –5 penalty to Insight and Perception checks, and a –2 penalty to attack rolls for attacks that don’t include
you as a target.
The Show Must Go On
You exhort an ally to finish the scene.
Encounter Minor Action
Effect: One ally within 10 squares who can hear you can spend a healing surge, gain an extra 3d6 hit points, and shift 1 square.

Livia Hatsfield

Spies on the king of Risur in Torfield Palace, researching fey titans and the rites of rulership.
Female Elf. Str 10, Con 10, Dex 18.

Livia_Hatsfield.JPG

Background

Though she’s nearly two hundred years old,
Livia only moved out of the rural forest-lands of Risur twenty years ago. She acted as liaison to fey visitors in the manor of Duchess Ethelyn, sister of King Aodhan, then eight years ago transferred to Torfield Palace in the capital city Slate. She travels often throughout Risur for her work, but in order to attend the Obscurati convocation she had to ask for leave for her first ever international trip.

Obscurati Involvement

Livia was only recently recruited, after Duchess Ethelyn’s failed bid to seize control of Risur from her brother. An agent, who has since been killed fleeing capture by the RHC, asked her to research Risur’s rites of rulership, claiming a desire to help weaken the power of the king and place someone else on the throne. She agreed, and eventually wormed her way through several contacts to actually speak with Lya Jierre. Through clever posturing and feigned preference for peace over patriotism, she was given more responsibilities.
Yes, Livia is a double agent of sorts, hoping to get as close to the heart of the Obscurati as possible. She’s not sure whether Ob magic might catch her in lies, though, so she has not risked telling anyone in Risur what she’s doing. She worries what the Ob might do with the information she gave them, both on the nature of the Rites of Rulership—how one becomes monarch of Risur and what powers it grants—and on the specific defences of Torfield Palace. If she doesn’t return within a month, she has arranged for a package to be delivered to Principal Minister Harkover Lee, revealing what she has done.

Personality and Ideology

Livia worries she may have read too many romantic novels, because she recognizes she’s far more excited by this “adventure” than is probably safe. She talks readily and is excellent at turning conversations to be about other people instead of herself. She assumes being quiet will look suspicious, but doesn’t want to risk accidentally revealing her own intentions. Despite her loyalty to Risur, she admits she’s curious just what the Ob are planning, and whether their talk of making the world better has any real basis.

Gestalt Traits

When you are in gestalt with Livia Hatsfield, you can use the following powers.

Royal Might
You exploit Risur’s rites of rulership for a moment to gain great power. You have worked for the king, almost an extension of his body, and the body of the king is
reinforced by the will of his people.
Encounter Standard Action
Effect: You can spend a healing surge and regain 3d6 extra hit points. Until the end of your next turn you gain a +4 bonus to attack and damage rolls, defences, saves,
and skill or ability checks.
Elven Recovery
Whether an attack or a lie, you are quick to recover from a mistake.
Encounter Free Action
Trigger: You make an attack roll or Bluff check and don’t like the result.
Effect: Reroll the attack or check and use the new result.

Kiov Hetman

Drakran specialist on tower magic, tasked with bringing down old dwarven defences.
Male Dwarf. Str 14, Con 18, Dex 8.

Kiov_Hetman.JPG

Background

Kiov apprenticed himself to a wizard who claimed to hold the secrets of Drakr’s towers—impenetrable monoliths of stone or polished steel that dot the landscape and notably line the border with the Malice Lands. They kept the chaotic energy of the Great Malice from reaching Drakr, and Kiov is one of the few who knows how.

Obscurati Involvement

Kiov worked as the arcane defence consultant for Ramos Zoltan, a dwarf businessman who owns all the prisons in northern Drakr. Ramos is responsible for implementing the Obscurati’s lighthouse retrofit, and he directed Kiov to the Ob to help them determine how the old towers and monoliths throughout Drakr might meddle with the planar powers of the lighthouses.
Kiov did copious research, determined the nature of the tower magic and the means to access their previously locked interiors, and delivered his report to the eerie undead leader of Lantern Cell, Vicemi Terio. Now Kiov coordinates parties of adventurers whose mission is to negate the enchantments of these towers.

Personality and Ideology

Kiov is a scientist, not an idealist. He’s simply very talented and not particularly wedded to any particular philosophical or political movement. If anything, he’d like wealth to not be so dependent on physical goods, since he is quite clever, and he has educated his children and relatives to value knowledge, but hasn’t quite made a profit studying ancient and enigmatic artifacts.

Gestalt Traits

When you are in gestalt with Kiov Hetman, you can use the following powers.

Tower Defence
A black wall slides across the vision of all present, then resolves into the translucent form of a structure, easy to step through but otherwise nigh impervious to attacks.
Daily Standard Action
Effect: You create an immobile zone in a Burst 3 centered on your square, which lasts until the end of your next turn. Choose an energy type: allies in the zone have resist
20 against that energy. Creatures entering the zone must spend 1 extra square of movement. Attacks cannot enter the zone from outside, and those inside effectively
have total cover. Attacks from within can affect those outside normally.
Sustain Minor.
Hack Through Wall
You step through a wall. Hopefully it’s safe on the other side.
Encounter Move Action
Effect: You move your speed and have phasing during this movement.

Oscan Ligurio

A snitch in the Family, tasked with creating shell personalities and businesses for international smuggling and money laundering.
Male Human. Str 12, Con 10, Dex 18.

Oscan_Ligurio.JPG

Background

A lifetime of loyalty to the Crisillyiri crime syndicate known as The Family earned Oscan a crooked nose and a twitchy demeanour. He once earned a lifetime pardon for his sins, courtesy of a bishop he was holding at knife-point, so he figures he may as well make his life on this world as fun as possible. After his fifth or sixth murder he stopped really sweating the day-to-day morality stuff, and looked for grander ways to transgress.

Obscurati Involvement

Oscan offers a vital service for the Obscurati: he’s motivated to do horrible things explicitly because they’re horrible. When the Ob needs a person murdered and his estate managed by proxy for a few weeks, Oscan handles it. When they need five strangers kept alive in an oubliette for a year so others can impersonate them while divinations report that they’re still alive, Oscan rises to the challenge. He uses quantity of money laundered per month to let him keep score with how much trouble he’s causing.
Oscan hears the Ob are planning to upset the order of the world. He wants to end up on top, to have slaves and servants and people afraid of his name. Oh, and it sounds like most of the people in this crazy conspiracy are doing this stuff because they want to “make the world a better place.” Thankfully Oscan’s a damned good liar, playing the part of a down-trodden victim of a bad system, forced to crime but deep down devoted to making sure no one else has to do the horrible things he has to. He’s pretty sure the Ob guys are buying it.

Personality and Ideology

Loyalty is important, and so is honesty, so Oscan’s made sure he can fake those convincingly. He doesn’t want to be unbelievable, though, so he still has his foibles—binging on fey pepper and liquor almost seems to make these guys more sympathetic to him, as long as he pretends to be contrite.

Gestalt Traits

When you are in gestalt with Oscan Ligurio, you can use the following powers.

The Sweet Sound of a Bloody Gurgle
Your blade sinks into the throat of your enemy.
Encounter Standard Action
Requirement: You must be holding a dagger.
Effect: Use an at-will attack against an adjacent enemy. If the attack hits, you deal an extra 3d8 damage and the target cannot speak until it receives magical healing or
can rest for a day. This does not affect creatures that don’t require a functioning throat to speak.
False Identity
You quickly change your face.
Encounter Minor Action
Effect: You change your appearance and your clothes with an illusion to resemble another person.

Xavier Sangria

Malice Lands knight tasked with monster slaying.
Male Human. Str 20, Con 14, Dex 8.

Xavier_Sangria.JPG

Background

Xavier’s is the usual story of a kid whose parents were eaten by monsters, and who decided someone should really stop that kind of stuff from happening again.

Obscurati Involvement

Xavier has been with the Obscurati for nearly thirty years. Initially he signed on as a bodyguard in the Malice Lands for some scholars researching the magic there, but he showed enough interest that they gave him the tools he needed to educate himself so he’d be more useful to their investigations. It was his insight that helped them discover that Malice magic responds to emotions.
He really hit his stride, though, as a monster hunter. Now he has a band of several dozen adventurers trained in numerous unorthodox techniques for killing horrible creatures large and small. He tries not to think about the fact that most of his men joined up after their families were killed by monsters.

Personality and Ideology

Confident and straight-talking, Xavier tries to come across as serious and respectable, but often falls back on goofy jokes to lighten tension and make himself seem less threatening. He has flashes of temper, though, especially when those he works with are in danger. He prefers operating in the wilderness, away from civilization, since he’s not comfortable with lying. He’s mostly in this conspiracy so he can make the world safer from the wilderness.

Gestalt Traits

When you are in gestalt with Xavier Sangria, you can use the following powers.

Bad Luck Magnet
The chaotic energies of the Malice Lands linger around you, primed to lash out at just the wrong moment.
Trait
Whenever you roll a natural 1 on an attack roll, you take psychic damage equal to half your bloodied value. Whenever an enemy rolls a natural 1, 2, or 3 on an attack roll
against you, that enemy takes psychic damage equal to half your bloodied value.
Malicious Deflection
You hold back a surge of anger until just the right moment, evoking the hate-filled wild magic of the Malice Lands to disrupt an attack.
Encounter Immediate Interrupt
Trigger: A creature hits you or an ally within 5 squares with a non-weapon attack. (Natural weapons like claws and such count as weapons).
Effect: The attack instead affects a random creature within 5 squares of the original target. Use the original attack roll.

Obscurati Officer Roster

Leadership

1. Nicodemus. Head of conspiracy. Resides in body of Andrei von Recklinghausen.
2. Han Jierre. Tiefling sovereign of Danor. Representative of the Panarchist faction.
3. Kasvarina Varal. Not in attendance. Eladrin matriarch. Currently under protection of Asrabey Varal and other eladrin in Elfaivar, recovering memories stolen from her by Alexander Grappa. Creator of Miller's Pyre faction.

Ber

4. Grargh Nobble. Jumpy orc barbarian. Spy among the unincorporated tribes.
5. Praesidia de Vaca. Dragonborn bard. Latest in a line of spokesmen of the Panoply, responsible for making Berans look outward to other nations and cultures, so they’ll fall in line.
6. Lam Aqua. Orc artificer. Responsible for industry and construction of a planar lighthouse in Seobriga.
7. Ignitio dola Serra. Lizardfolk wizard. Spy in Reo Pedresco secret wizard order. Tasked with constructing a planar lighthouse.
8. Sergio Flores. Goliath businessman. Building a planar lighthouse in Ursaliña.
9. Trevio Addaz. Minotaur cleric. Head of Bounty Cell, responsible for sneaking mages, priests, and the like to perform secret “miracles” to reduce conflict for resources among poor tribes.
10. Nicholas Sermon. Half-orc bard from Risur. Monster hunter, prepared to slay any dragons that might get roused by the Ob’s plans. Also hunts for forgotten hoards.
11. Barro Bangristo. Minotaur professor. Head of Scroll Cell, responsible for spying on universities to seek potential recruits and use student rebellion as a tool for change. Brags about villainy in a brief vignette.

Crisillyir

12. Zimand Dexlano. Human priest. Part of Bishop Vigilio’s retinue. Secretly replaced by Vitus Sigismund, who is discovered when trying to enter the palace.
13. Bishop Ortisei Vigilio. Human cleric. Liaison with business interests in Vendricce, and master of a network of spies. Appears in opening scene.
14. Carlast Hevny. Human priest. Head of archaeological activities in Crisillyir. Appears in opening scene.
15. † Ken Don. Human archivist. Research inquisitor of the Clergy. Ensures Ob agents don’t get caught for looking into heretical information.
16. † Oscan Ligurio. Human rogue. Vile member of The Family. Sets up fake identities and businesses to launder money and cover for unusual international activities.
17. Rakovnik Brasny. Human cleric. Responsible for building a planar lighthouse in Sid Minos.
18. Tittling Grainet. Gnome cleric. Responsible for building a planar lighthouse in Alais Primos.
19. Cardinal Testamenta Suchdol. Human inquisitor. Hunts demons, tasked with finding out how to banish their taint to other planes. Earnest proselytizer.

Danor

20. † Gran Guiscard. Human bard. Head of Gorgeous Cell in Beaumont. Uses network of entertainers and artists to recruit tier 5 Ob agents.
21. Bert Facie. Human gunslinger. Head of Han Jierre’s bodyguard attachment. Master of whispers in the whole nation of Danor. Appears in the opening scene.
22. Dame Constance Baden. Human knight. Head of Cerulean Cell in Cherage, the Obscurati’s “blue sky” division devoted to researching outlandish ideas to see if they’re possible.
23. Glaz du Sang Magie. Human ice mage. Engineer behind the conspiracy’s small submersible fleet.
24. Satine Tibeaux. Tiefling cleric, head of Fisher Cell, responsible for investigating the true dead magic zone in the city of Methia, former capital of the Clergy.
25. Gardienne du Cherage. Tiefling scion of the Cherage line, head of College Cell which manipulates Danoran culture to be more friendly to Risur by means of subtly imposing economic and cultural penalties on those more hostile groups.
26. Admiral Vidal Strausse. Human fighter. Spy in the Danoran navy.
27. General Shane Wallisonne. Human fighter. Spy in Danoran army.
28. Luc Jierre. Nephew of Han Jierre, sister of Lya. Developed and built the prototype wayfarer's lantern.

Drakr

29. † Kiov Hetman. Dwarf wizard. Researching magical towers and monoliths throughout Drakr, coordinating adventurers to break in and deactivate their defences.
30. Erskine Haffkruger. Dwarf environmental biologist responsible for ensuring life can flourish under different planar alignments. After his initial tests with flora and fauna were encouraging, he abducted dozens to perform “human trials.”
31. Ramos Zoltan. Dwarf businessman. Head of Prison Cell, owner of numerous prisons in Drakr, and responsible for building a planar lighthouse.
32. Dengar Kriegshaff. Human wizard. Head of Blood Cell, designing giant weapons to slay the fey titans of Risur.
33. Zartan Arkel. Human druid. Giant hunter, tasked with cataloguing and preparing to defeat threats in the Drakran wilderness. Old and patient.
34. Von Hastenschrieft Willimarkanova. Dwarf philosopher. Main Ob agent in Drakran politics.

Elfaivar

35. Cula Ravjahani. Half-elf Vekeshi mystic, former aid to Kasvarina Varal coordinating elf- and fey-oriented cells. Representative of the Miller’s Pyre faction.
36. Ines Shilubi. Human knight. Hunts fey monsters in Elfaivar, bounty-hunts eladrin enclave warriors, but also spies on Clergy colonization efforts in the jungle.
37. Solace Petrov. Human economist. Head of Barter Cell, devoted to re-establishing a functioning economy, under Ob control, in Elfaivar.

Risur

38. Leone Quital. Human steelshaper. Former head of colossus construction. Body taken over by Alexander Grappa.
39. Catherine Romana. Human wizard. Heir of a previous Risuri monarch. Politician tasked with infiltrating allies of Duchess Ethelyn and sabotaging efforts to discover the Obscurati. Representative of the Colossus faction. Has a pet cat.
40. † Livia Hatsfield. Elf spy in royal palace. Studying Rites of Rulership so the king may be replaced. Plans to betray Ob, but hasn’t told anyone in Risur what she’s doing yet.
41. Abiera Stackhouse. Halfling representative of the Eschatologists of Flint United, a fringe end-times group. Keeps in contact with crazy conspiracy theorists to see if anyone has stumbled upon the actual plot.
42. Erdanen Torrance. Half-elf politician. Member of Catherine Romana’s retinue.
43. Alloquicious. Halfling artificer. Head of Iron Cell, responsible for recruiting geniuses in Risur. Murdered most of his underlings a year ago so the RHC wouldn’t track him down, and is transitioning to trying to influence Risur’s economic system.

Other

44. Bruce McDruid. Human explorer. Donates arms and technology to primitive people at the edge of civilization, earning their trust and acclimating them to a new world order.
45. † Xavier Sangria. Human fighter. Malice Lands beast hunter. Heads band of adventurers who hunt monsters.
46. Jade Hericano. Sea elf explorer. Native of the Yerasol Archipelago, head of Bathy Cell, searching sunken ruins for clues to the Ancients.
47. Hanse Randall. Wealthy architect, head of Shingles Cell, responsible for greasing palms in the Malice Lands city-state of Orithea, to build a planar lighthouse.
48. Oort Magnus. Earth genasi sorcerer. Cell leader in Nalaam, coordinating the search for the Ancient temple to Urim.
49. Bob Stela. Human ranger. Cell leader in a border state.
50. Ed Pollack. Human druid. Cell leader in a different border state.
51. Tim Twiggerson. Human rogue. Cell leader in yet another border state.
52. Neil d’Ray. Human factotum. Cell leader in a border state you’ve never heard of. Seriously, these guys do excellent work, are incredibly busy, and are really under-appreciated by the Obscurati leadership.

Ghost Council

In addition to the three named officers below, the Ghost Council consists of twenty-four additional members that vote as one block. There are dozens more ghosts in the council, but many have lost their sense of individuality altogether.
53. Vicemi Terio. Head of the Ghost Council, leader of Lantern Cell. Archmage.
54. Reed Macbannin. Ghost and former head of operational secrecy in Flint. Representative of the Arboretum faction.
55. Amielle Latimer. Ghost of a tiefling gunslinger, in the Ghost Council. Originally established friendly industrial connections between Danor and the city of Flint, after helping King Lorcan defeat the witch coven in the year 400 A.O.V. Representative of the Watchmaker faction.

Obscurati Grand Design

Overview

Our organization, though composed of powerful industrialists and brilliant thinkers the world over, has operated with little communication between cells. Though we all desire to change the world, you should be realizing that the scope of change possible to us demands that we not let any one person make the decisions.
Our leader Nicodemus has called you together to listen to proposals, debate their merits, and ultimately choose the spirit of the next age.

The Method of Change

As mentioned, our world is linked to eight planes. This connection was set by a ritual performed several thousand years ago, which buried eight stone pillars underground in a location we are going to keep secret for now. Those pillars were then sealed beneath a plate of gold 200 feet in diameter and nearly three feet thick.
To get access to the ritual pillars, we designed the mechanical colossus that has been making the news lately. Though it was activated earlier than we wanted, we are bringing it to a place where we can free it from the Dreaming. As soon as we have it on the right world and under our control again, we’ll be able to proceed with altering the ancient ritual.
The changes will affect the whole world, but to help transition between the two worlds, we are constructing lighthouses, towers, and similar tall monuments, all equipped with magic lanterns. By triggering these all simultaneously we’ll create a field of stability. In the event something does go wrong, we’ll be able to abort the ritual at any moment up to when we drop the lid of the giant gold seal back down.

Planar Primer

There are eight planes tied to the world we live on, and each has aspects that distinguish from any old plane with an elemental trait. While the Plane of Air is vast, and there are many worlds that are carved from slivers of it, some of those slivers have storms, others are filled with birds, and some are smoky and concealing. The nature of each plane determines what traits it lends to our world.
It seems when the Ancients decided what worlds ours would be connected to, they did not care much for traits. Indeed, many of these planes are fairly mundane, and our organization has access to many more impressive options.

  1. Jiese, Plane of Fire. (Secondary: Life) Its trait is Cunning. The fire from this plane is less destructive than a typical elemental world, and its flames can be used intelligently, like a tool. Our scholars suspect most worlds never achieve the industrial revolution ours has because they lack this trait. Changing this plane might stymie technological progress.
  2. Avilona, Plane of Air. (Secondary: Death) This world appears to have been damaged since it was originally tied to our world, so now its trait is Calm. Changing this plane might lead to stronger storms, and could make the world in general more energetic and changing.
  3. Av, Plane of Life. (Secondary: Death) This glassy hollow world is our moon and has the traits of Reflection and Dream. It allows our world to have the two parallel planes of fey and darkness, The Dreaming and The Bleak Gate. Changing this world would remove those planes and might have consequences involving dreams and undead.
  4. Mavisha, Plane of Water. (Secondary: Time) Its trait is Mystery, and it is responsible for the many islands that dot the world with their various secrets. We think this trait can be easily abandoned.
  5. Urim, Plane of Earth. (Secondary: Space) This golden world has fractured into many pieces, but its trait—Barrier—causes gold in our world to block teleportation.
  6. Apet, Plane of Space. (Secondary: Air) The Distant Plane is responsible for keeping our world and its bonded planes far from the rest of the multiverse and less likely to attract extraplanar attention.
  7. Reida, Plane of Time. (Secondary: Life) Most scholars don’t even realize that the incomplete silvery ring that surrounds Apet is another plane altogether. Its traits of Limited Fate allow for prophecy, but enforce that after a given time the world must change. We suggest caution in tampering with this plane, but experiments show such efforts are possible.
  8. Nem, Plane of Death. (Secondary: Time) Its trait is Annihilation, and it destroys any who try to travel from our star system of planes to the outer multiverse, and vice versa.

The Cardinal Rule

It is risky to directly alter behaviour or personality. Free will is an all-or-nothing option, and we cannot force people to be “good” without also turning them into complete automatons. We can, however, nudge people, and you’ll see some example options below.

Proposals and Voting

The leadership has five proposals to consider. We encourage you to come up with revisions or even new proposals. Whatever design we agree on will no doubt demand some compromise and disappointment.
Our initial five factions are:

  • The Arboretum. Order nature so it can spread and be controlled like industry.
  • Colossus. Grant ourselves semi-divine powers to fix problems as they arise.
  • Miller’s Pyre. Enact subtle changes, focused on making people more empathetic and less susceptible to hypocrisy, so they can more easily pursue goodness and justice.
  • Panarchists. Grant individuals enough power to make governments unnecessary.
  • Watchmakers. Eliminate free will and design a thousand-year destiny of progress for the world.

Tonight you will meet the representatives of each faction, and then we will hold a preliminary vote to see which proposal holds the most support. This evening and tomorrow morning will be opportunities to make coalitions and alterations. Starting tomorrow afternoon we will grant everyone who desires a chance to speak, and by the end of the evening we hope to hold a second vote.
For a proposal to win, it must have support of at least 75 percent of the officers in attendance. Including the leadership there are 49 officers present, and an additional 27 votes are given to the Ghost Council, which has a tradition of voting as one. Thus, out of 76 voters, a proposal must get the support of 57 officers.

The Arboretum

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Order nature so it can spread and be controlled like industry.
The proposal of the faction known as the Arboretum is represented by the ghost of Reed Macbannin, a former mayor in the city of Flint, known for its traditional druidic magic and its modern industrialism.
The goal of the Arboretum is to increase the bounty of nature, to reduce the impact of natural disasters, and to have them both be under the control of the Obscurati. We see it as poor design that weather and the earth are so unpredictable, and that horticulture progresses so slowly, generation by generation.
Our proposal would replace the current planes of air, earth, water, and life with new ones. Key will be replacing the moon—the current plane of life, which has Dream and Mirror aspects—with one that has aspects of Craft and Artifice. The other elemental planes will have to include slight Lawful traits, which will make them more susceptible to magical control, as well as making it easier to predict them with divinations.
We feel the drawbacks of the plan are minor. The new plane of Life will yield somewhat weaker harvests if nature is not tended, so areas lacking civilization will tend to become deserts. Likewise, storms will actually be more intense unless they are controlled, but it would only require moderate effort to distribute trained mages throughout the land to deter this.
The most significant change would be the severance of two realms known as The Dreaming and The Bleak Gate, which are the fey and shadow mirrors of the real world. The replacement of our current moon would remove and possibly destroy these two realms. The pernicious deceptions of the fey would be eliminated, as would the predation of many types of shadowy and incorporeal monsters. Members of the Ghost Council could endure by binding themselves to objects, or perhaps willing people, but henceforth when something dies, its soul would pass on immediately.
When properly tended, nature in this paradigm is significantly more bountiful, which would reduce the competition for resources that drives warfare. Additionally, one of our officers, Erskine Haffkruger, has already created new lifeforms in the portal painting pocket dimension. We invite you to visit the Portal Gallery to see it.
Compared to other faction proposals, the Arboretum plan may be the most modest, but we think it is also the safest and simplest way to improve the world with minimal risk of negative consequences.

Colossus

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Grant ourselves godlike powers to fix problems as they arise.
Catherine Romana, a descendant of a former queen of Risur, represents this faction. She believes history teaches us that common people abuse power, but in the hands of the enlightened it is a powerful tool.
The Obscurati has come this far because we have used our power intelligently, and have acted decisively despite the fact that society as a whole would oppose us. The best course of the action in the future is to consolidate our power and become the de facto rulers of the world.
The challenge is in granting power to a limited set of people. We have discovered a set of elemental planes each with a secret truename. These planes would still provide the normal energy needed to keep the world together, but those who know the truenames would be able to tap a greater power. And the Obscurati would decide who is told these truenames.
This truename power would be tied to two new planes. First, a plane of Space would grant the ability to sense events and teleport to areas within one's domain. Second, a plane of Death with a “Cyclicality” aspect would orbit our world as a new, dark moon. Each person who learns the truenames will choose a point on the month’s cycle to be at the height of her power, and a half-month later she will only have the power of a normal mortal.
This will ensure a window of vulnerability so that if anyone abuses her power, she can be removed by consensus of the rest of the Obscurati.
The drawbacks to this plan are that the new elemental planes would result in stronger storms, and the seas would draw back slightly, and the world would grow colder. Perhaps the largest threat is that, since the current Plane of Death acts as a defense against extraplanar incursion, the world might be accessible by creatures from other planes. However, we believe that as the newly-empowered rulers of the world we could easily drive back such threats.
To experience a sample of the power Colossus would grant you, visit our sample demi-plane in the Portal Gallery.

Miller's Pyre

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Increase empathy, reduce hypocrisy. Increase goodness and justice.
Our proposal’s name refers to the philosopher monk William Miller who, five centuries ago, wrote treatises on potential societies, discussing their positive and negative traits. His works were generally critical of the religious establishment, and shortly after he tried to found a nation of his own following his ideals, the Clergy burned him as a heretic atop a pyre of his own books.
The Pyre was first proposed by one of our conspiracy’s leaders, Kasvarina Varal, who knew Miller and spoke to me fondly of his teachings. Alas, she must be absent today. I am Cula Ravjahani, and Nicodemus can attest that I am Kasvarina’s right hand. I ask you consider the wisdom that our conspiracy was founded on.
In the view of the Pyre, most suffering is due to misunderstandings between people with very different backgrounds. We seek to improve the world with invisible changes that will make people more aware of the thoughts and emotions of those around them. We would make people particularly keen at detecting hypocrisy.
The Pyre would replace the current plane of Space with one that has an “Empathy” aspect. This would give people mild psychic powers to detect emotions, but our tests show that the effect is not obvious. Test subjects brought into the sample demi-plane simply found themselves coming to agreement more easily, or at least were more amenable to discuss problems rather than view a stranger as an enemy. We can implement this new world order with no visible disruption to people’s lives. There will be no chaotic upheaval as with some other proposals.
Additionally, with a bit of clever orbit-tracing, the Pyre will remove the current planes of Air and Fire and replace them with a binary world, the air plane possessing a Speech trait, the fire plane possessing an Expression trait. This will cause those who speak to have their true emotions more easily sensed, and likewise cause words themselves to carry more weight, making it easier for a strong argument to sway a person’s opinion.
The last change is that the plane of Earth will be replaced with one that has the traits Logic, which the Pyre hopes will lead people to appeal to reason in their arguments. Otherwise we worry that the strengthened emotional connection might have negative consequences.
Drawbacks include stronger storms, and weather that will respond to local moods. As with Colossus’s plan, the world will again become vulnerable to extraplanar visitors, but the Pyre takes an optimistic view of what civilization will be capable of if it is attacked. Perhaps the visitors will be simply sways by our arguments, and become allies.
Finally, the binary pairing opens up a slot for a potential extra plane. It would need to be fairly weak—perhaps a moon rather than a full planet—but it would be possible to add some extra trait. The Pyre is open to making agreements with other factions.

Panarchists

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Grant individuals “super-powers,” making governments unnecessary.
The Panarchists propose by far the most radical change of any starting faction in the Convocation. Our goal is to eliminate the ability of those in power to become corrupt, and our chosen method is to eliminate the need for people to be in positions of power in the first place.
The purpose of government has traditionally been to protect people as they travel, to protect property, and to enforce contracts. The Panarchists wish to shift these tasks to individuals.
We will use a plane of life with a Healing aspect, the same plane of space as the Colossus faction, to grant teleportation powers and the ability to sense events, and a plane of death with a Possession aspect. Combined, these planes will make people more resilient and able to heal from injury, able to infuse a tiny sliver of their soul into objects in order to bond with it, to sense those objects as easily as their own bodies, and to teleport easily.
People would no longer be vulnerable to assault, since unless an attack killed them before they could respond they could teleport away and quickly heal from their wounds. A person who attuned with an item would be able to find it if it were stolen (and just teleport in to take it back), and no one else could attune to it without the current owner's permission. People who made agreements would be able to share a bit of each other’s soul, which would make pledges binding. Anyone who shirked on a promise would forfeit a piece of his soul.
This would drastically alter the nature of society, reducing the importance of places and increasing the value of trust over physical might. We encourage you to see such a world for yourself in the Portal Gallery.

Watchmakers

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Eliminate free will and design a thousand-year destiny of prosperity for the world.
So much of the progress these past two hundred years has been because of the scientific method. It proposes a theory, holds an experiment, strives to eliminate variables, and comes to a conclusion. I am Amielle Latimer, and any of you who have fired a rifled gun did so in part because I helped find a viable design and a way to manufacture it on a large scale. And it was through many experiments.
With this proposal too I have experimented. For decades I have discussed possible ways the world could become better, witnessed actual tests in limited environments like towns or the ever-popular demi-planes. And the problem, every time, has been that most splendid of variables: people.
Our researchers have determined that it’s just not possible to simply force people to behave a certain way via planar alignments, or elaborate interactions of magic. Free will is inherent to mortal intelligence. For a person to regularly choose moral actions, he must have been raised to value morality over selfish power. So I propose to eliminate free will entirely for one thousand years, during which we will enforce a precise course of events that will result, like clockwork, in a world where all people have been raised to behave morally. Then, after a millennium, the clock will wind down and leave all mortals with free will and a wholly moral society.
To accomplish this, I would replace three of the eight planes. Time shall have an aspect of Clockwork, and the plane’s connection will be inscribed with the details of destined events. I have an extensive series of tomes with a suggested future history, and despite some misgivings about the scale of my plan, I assure you that my fellow ghosts who have read it can endorse that it is a quality plan.
The plane of life will need a Goodness aspect to drive people against their will to be good. Death will have Domination to bind people so they are slaves. I’m not mincing words here. We’ll be enslaving the world for a millennium, ourselves included. I don’t suggest this course of action lightly, but I do not see a way to achieve true harmony while people are able to make the wrong choices.
The Watchmaker proposal is the riskiest of all the factions. True, we’ve created pocket dimensions and watched as those within acted as puppets, doing exactly what we scripted for them. But the specifics of my thousand year plan cannot be tested, just put into motion. But the design is flawless, and the risk is worth the reward.

Minor and Radical Factions

By the morning of the second day of the convocation, you’re aware of the following minor factions, and rumors say some people are organizing a few radical factions in secret, hoping to push for things that might not be approved by the majority of the Obscurati.

Minor Factions

  • Aegis. The current planes prevent invasion from other worlds, and it has worked well so far. Aegis insists that if the current planes of Space and Death — which are the source of that protection — are changed, that some other defenses be put in their place. Represented by Dengar Kriegshaff, human wizard of Drakr.
  • Bards. This faction wants people to have a more discerning taste when it comes to entertainment, and for performers to constantly seek to hone their craft. Represented by Praesidia de Vaca, dragonborn bard of Ber.
  • Economists. This group wants people to have a stronger sense of the value of things and a more intuitive grasp of economics. They hope this will lead to more workers participating meaningfully in a new industrialized economy, rather than wasting money or time on things that are traditional but less utilitarian. Represented by Solace Petrov, human economist of Elfaivar.
  • The Long Now. People live a long time, but typically plan only for the short term. This faction wishes to find a Plane of Time that will make people consider a longer timespan in their decisions. Represented by Zartan Arkel, human druid of Drakr.
  • Mortal Mind. This faction opposes all religion as a distraction from the enlightenment of the mortal mind. They desire a world where people reject religion. Such mind control is not doable, so their plan is to eliminate people’s ability to feel religious awe, creating a much more rational existence. Represented by Von Hastenschrieft Willimarkanova, dwarf philosopher of Drakr.
  • The Sky League. Make flight possible, preferably easy. If it is feasible, they would like to be able to fly constantly, without need of casting spells. Represented by Dame Constance Baden, human knight of Danor.
  • Trekkers. Not content to limit mortal races to a single world, this faction wants to choose planes that are habitable. Represented by Cardinal Testamenta Suchdol, human inquisitor of Crisillyir.
  • Weapon-Mongers. Believing that technological progress is of great value, this faction wants to ensure that whatever new world is created is not one of pathetic peace and harmony, where invention and innovation is stifled by the lack of war. Represented by Glaz du Sang Magie, human ice mage of Danor.

Radical Factions

  • Amorals. This highly philosophical faction questions whether anyone ought to decide what is of value in a new world. They suspect that the initial bonding of this world to other planes created an artificial sense of morality and value. If we can change what people value simply by altering the nature of reality, what makes us think our own morality is not also enforced? They propose not linking to any specific planes, but instead letting our world be loosely connected to the entire multiverse. This would be the only way for people to be truly free to determine their own ideology, without outside influence.
  • Celestial Bureaucracy. This faction suggests the world should be linked to a plane inhabited by just and noble angels, which will guide the moral races and provide judgment, since we do such a poor job of it.
  • Humble Hook. This faction rejects the major goal of the Obscurati. While they support making the world better, they say it is every individual’s challenge in life to make him- or herself better. They do not think it is their place to try to alter reality on such a fundamental level. The purpose of life is to prevail over adversity, and by making the world “a better place,” they fear it will actually eliminate the meaning of life.
  • Materialists. This faction believes that magic is irrational and creates too many problems. They suggest reducing the power of magic as much as possible.
  • Nationalists. There are supposedly several patriots who want to make sure their home nation profits most from the new world order.
  • The White Tongue. Rumors suggest that an unknown number of Obscurati members have made a pact with the fey titan known as the Voice of Rot, which seeks to gain power by simply letting the present world die.

Obscurati Palace

Located on Mutavir, an island 20 miles off the coast of Vendricce.
In the Bleak Gate, during the day everything is dimly lit, and at night it is pitch black. No breeze blows, and even the sea is eerily still.

Exterior

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A. Garden

A gravel path circles a reflecting pool, and small wayfarer’s lanterns glow with nourishing light, keeping alive rows of flowers and other greenery. The grass and trees elsewhere on the Bleak Gate version of the island are dry and lifeless, but the Obscurati see this garden as proof that they can change the world for the better.
The guards stationed here are split into two groups. Normally these guards patrol the path around the palace, each group making a circuit every 12 minutes, so guards pass by any given area every 6 minutes.

B. Obscurati Palace—Central Building

Pristine white plaster at ground level gives way to dramatic religious carvings near the roof, which peaks at 55 feet above the ground. The clay tiles of the roof gently slope, though without rain the gargoyles (actual stone carvings, not the monsters) are somewhat useless in the Bleak Gate.
Two large windows sit on either side of the entrance at ground level, while a row of windows spans the entire face of the second floor, 15 feet up.
A small detachment of guards keep watch at the entrance.
At any given time two senior ghost councillors will be assigned the task of strolling through the central building, on the look-out for trouble.

C. Obscurati Palace—West Wing

The roof here peaks at only 40 feet above ground. Small chimneys dot the rooftop. Sixteen windows on each floor are nearly all unlit from within. This hall has few guests, at least not living ones.

D. Obscurati Palace—East Wing

Identical to the west wing, except that here most of the windows will have lights on during waking hours. Two pairs of bookpin guards make slow circuits of the wing.

E. Lighthouse

A recent addition to the palace, the lighthouse serves as a giant wayfarer’s lantern. With a minute’s preparation, oil of different combinations can be lit, producing either a coherent beam that can be aimed up to three miles away, or a broad glow that illuminates the entire island and the sea out to a half mile. This can create various magical effects, but it is primarily primed to be able to make the island coterminous between the Bleak Gate and the real world, in case an emergency evacuation is needed.
The lighthouse also has a mechanism that can feed different varieties of gas to the lanterns in different parts of the palace. Since all the mansion’s gaslamps can function as wayfarer’s lanterns, this allows an operator here to affect different parts of the palace with different types of planar energy.
The top floor of the lighthouse rises 100 feet above ground level (and a further 40 feet above sea level). It is serviced by two interior freight elevators. Sixty feet up is the gas supply and the pumps that feed it to the various lamps throughout the palace.

F. Carriage House

When the guards are not active, they rest here. They have converted the carriage and horse stalls into small rooms. At any given time half of the guards are actively patrolling, while the other half are here resting or preparing food, cleaning, etc.

G. South Balcony

The ground level exit of the lighthouse feeds onto this wide balcony, which is normally unlit. Stairs lead down 40 feet to the sea, where boats could row in and deliver visitors or supplies.

H. Beach Trail

This plain path leads to the flatter beach on the eastern shore, and eventually circles around to the main docks, about two miles away. In the Bleak Gate there are no waves, no surf, and no sea breeze.

I. Sea

The water here is fairly shallow here, only about 10 feet deep.

J. Cacciatrece de Nav

This massive spire of rock rises dramatically out of the sea, wider in its middle than at its base, and looking like it would blow over in a strong enough storm.

Interior

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Gaslight lamps illuminate the mansion except where noted.

K. Grand Foyer

This vast entry hall stretches eighty feet in either direction, and has twenty-foot ceilings. Luxurious red rugs guide walkers across a marble floor with a repeating zig-zag pattern in black and white. Fine wood covers stone walls, and rare pieces of painting, sculpture, and jewelry are on display here and throughout the palace.
Double stairs lead up to the second floor. Doors lead sideways into two lounges, while a set of double doors lead south to the main hall. Heated plumbing warms the floors here, as well as in the lounges and
main hall.

L. Lounges

Each lounge has comfortable leather chairs where up to thirty people can drink expensive spirits while discussing weighty matters. The side rooms have closets for people to hang cloaks, as well as racks of alcohol and shelves with a few hundred books for research or conversation starters.

M. Main Hall

Over a hundred feet across, this hall can seat a hundred people at tables for dinner or special events. A stage rises at the south end, and chemical spotlights can illuminate speakers or performers. A heavy red curtain separates the main hall from the back stage, where mechanisms control the lights. A double doorway leads south to the lighthouse.

N. Kitchen

This long room has multiple cook stations to prepare food for large gatherings. The Obscurati didn’t want to risk bringing that many cooks here, so only a handful of guards with cooking talents work here, directing special unseen servant-style spells.

O. Icebox

This room stores most of the perishable food supplies of the palace. Magic keeps it perpetually just above freezing.

P. Storage

Furniture, linens, and similar domestic necessities are stored here.

Q. Dry Goods

Non-perishable foodstuffs, plus a few tools for repair. Casks of lantern oil are stacked along one wall.

R. Lighthouse, First Floor

Mostly empty, this area has ladders along the interior walls, as well as two freight elevators. Sixty feet up is the gas supply and the pumps that feed it to the various lamps throughout the palace.

S. West Wing, First Floor

Stairs lead up to the second floor, with a maintenance closet beneath. The ghost councilors lurk in these rooms, often floating silent and dormant unless their counsel is needed. Sometimes they fly out of the windows and circle the building, watching the goings-on of the still-living with cold detachment.
The rooms here are all empty except five. The four on the west end (near Area T) have lights so ghosts can read books if they desire, and one additional room acts as the cell for the spy Vitus Sigismund. A portal
painting has been placed in that suite’s bathroom, the door to which is locked and watched by two guards.
The painting leads to a demiplane with several nigh inescapable prison cells, their defenses magically enhanced. A dozen other men—condemned prisoners from Crisillyir—are also kept here in their own cells. Members of the Ghost Council occasionally come by to observe Vitus, but they leave the interrogation to Vicemi.

T. Den

The Ghost Council meets here if they need to discuss matters. It is left unlit, with sheets over the furniture.

U. East Wing, First Floor

Though physically identical to the west wing, this area is full of life, with nearly every suite occupied. Each suite has a desk in one corner, a bed in another, a bathroom, a closet, and a fireplace. The fireplaces in the two central rows of rooms that sit back to back share chimneys.

V. Trophy Room

In the real world version of this room, old tattered taxidermied heads of beasts hang from the walls. Here they are covered with sheets to hide their morbid decay. Guests can enjoy a pool table, a piano, and a set of instruments stored along the west wall. The entire north, south, and east walls are windows.

Interior, Upper Floor

On the upper floor of the central building, the walls are covered with a dozen floor-to-ceiling paintings. Each is covered with a curtain when the party arrives, and are only unveiled later in the evening. These paintings are portals to demi-planes. Each demi-plane spans about 100 feet and represents a possible confluence of planar energies. In short, these are demos of the new worlds the Ob could create.

W. Council Room

Nicodemus holds meetings here. Usually his affairs are watched by members of the Ghost Council, and there are always at least a half dozen or so ghosts floating outside the windows here.

X. West Wing, Second Floor

The four suites nearest the upstairs council room (Area W) host Nicodemus, Han Jierre and his bodyguard Bert Facie, Cula Ravjahani, and Catherine Romana. The other rooms here, and the hallways, are unlit.

Y. Chapel

The real-world version of this room was a chapel for daily prayers. Here the religious iconography on the walls have been covered by thick red curtains, and the room is stocked with snacks and drinks, so those on the second floor don’t have to go downstairs if they’re peckish.

Z. Infirmary

This has lots of mostly-useless medical supplies, ready just in case something goes horribly wrong and there are more injured people than there is magical healing available.

AA. Library

This vast library has ten rows of bookstacks, plus eight long tables for researchers.

BB. East Wing, Second Floor

As on the first floor, most of the suites here are occupied.

CC. Dance Hall

Since only a handful of the Ob officers would dance even if asked, this area’s fine dance floor has been covered with high and low tables, chairs, stools, and several other sets of furniture to motivate conversation.

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