Caer Holineth is playing host tonight, not to the wondrous glories of the Tournament, or the explosive magics of a wizard duel, but to a market of rare things.  While spell components, and power components used to enhance said spells, are of great interest to divine and arcane spellcaster’s alike, I am neither.  Thus, I have had my messengers arrange another interview for the enjoyment of all who could care less about glass rods and bat guano.

Unfortunately, we were unable to catch up to Jol, the dwarven artificer who created the swiftshadows, at the conclusion of the battle a few days ago, but we WERE able to convince one of the tournament mages to answer a few questions for us!

As most of you know, the tournament mages are responsible for the creation of the battlegrounds for each battle, as well as maintaining the illusion fields throughout the fight.  They are also charged with running all of the potential contestants through a set of rigorous magical tests to verify their abilities and ensure not only that the creation abides by the rules of the tournament, but also that they pose a minimal threat to the public.

I’d like to welcome Holn Brengrin, graduate of Malla Zhaunil with a split specialty of necromancy and artifice, member of the city’s 3rd circle of wizards, and one of the supervising arcanists in the testing process.  Welcome sir!

Tournament Mage

Image courtesy of Antonio De Luca

“Thank you for this opportunity.  Before we get to your questions, I’d like to take a moment to talk about the arachast.”

Normally I don’t let the interviewee run the interview, but I suppose this time I can make an exception, provided you don’t melt me down with some spell or anything.  After all, I was going to ask you about that anyway!

Holn smirks a bit at the comment.  “The arachast was vetted by the tournament mages like all of the others.  There was a slight aberration when testing the limits of its Creator’s control, but it was small enough that we assumed it was a glitch, and still within the bounds of our requirements.  Obviously, if we had thought there was a true risk to the public we would have never allowed the spider to compete.”

So, what actually happened then?

“The incident is still under investigation.  But it seems, that when the creature was on the brink of destruction, its instinct somehow overcame the magic that controlled it, which should be impossible since that magic is tied in with the incantations that animate an undead creature.  Rest assured, I have skilled arcanists analyzing the slaina, and interrogating its Creator as we speak.”

Well, I know I’ll rest easier knowing that there is something being done about it, and I’m sure others will too.  But let’s talk a bit about why the creator of the arachast chose to make an undead.  What makes crafting an undead creature a better choice than a construct in this case?

“Undead creatures tend to be much less costly to create than constructs.  The raw materials are much more readily available, even with the use of rare ingredients that some Creators, both this year and in the past, have used to customize and empower their creations.”

I can see how a corpse would likely be less expensive than a body made of mithril and adamantine, or even simple iron and stone for that matter.  But that can’t be the only advantage can it?

“Of course not, but it really depends on the Creator’s preference.  An undead creature can use some of its original spirit in order to empower it.  This means that the animating force is already familiar with the movements of the body, and more easily adapts to any modifications that might be added.  It also, normally, reduces the chances of it attempting to wrest control from the Creator, since it is in a form that seems relatively natural to it.”

That makes sense to me.  If it’s so much easier to make an undead creature, why would anyone, let alone the majority of Creators this year, choose to make constructs?

“Because constructs, by definition, are more physically powerful.  While an undead creature can be animated with its own spirit, including its intellect, will, and mental abilities, a construct can inflict more physical damage, is more resilient and resistant to damage inflicted upon it, and more easily customized.  However, it is also much more expensive generally speaking.”

You speak as if constructs are merely automatons, with little ability to think on their own.  Yet in the last two battles, we’ve seen constructs demonstrate an amazing amount of free will, even creativity with the way they deal with their opponents.  The Razor Fiends attempted to topple a pillar on the arachast and then used the very dangers of the terrain itself to claim victory.  The swiftshadows employed incredible tactics to take advantage of the size of the minocre they fought.  How might the Creator’s achieve this level of free thought?

“While I’m not at liberty to discuss the creations while they are still fighting in the competition, I can say that generally, it means the creators are allowing a bit more of the animating power than normal into the created form.  Stereotypically, elementals are used to power constructs,  But at times, other outsiders have been attempted.  Most often, only a shard of their essence is used to power the construct.  Just enough to give it life, but not enough to give it free will, or it might turn on its Creator as the arachast did.  The more free will they grant their creatures, the more likely they are to have enough mental power to turn on them.  This is the risk they take as they allow more of the animating creature’s essence into the corporeal form.”

If that’s the case, should we be afraid of another incident like the spider?  Is it safe for people to attend these battles?

“I assure you, all of the competitors have been thoroughly examined and their controlling magic is solid.  We’ve also put some additional precautions in place after the incident that will ensure the safety of spectators for all future matches.”

That’s good to hear!  I’d hate to think that my undeniable wit and incredibly tempting charm were luring people here to a death trap!  That would be almost… evil!

The tournament mage laughs.  “No, no.  I don’t think you have to worry about that.  Not remotely.”

I’m not entirely sure how to take that.  I think I may have just been insulted.

“Take my comments as you will sir.” He says with a sly grin on his face.

On that note, and in an attempt to avoid any further blows to my ego, I wish to thank you for taking the time to talk with us, and putting some of our worries at ease.

“It’s been a pleasure I assure you.  Keep an eye out for changes in the terrain during the later rounds of the tournament.  We have a few surprises in store that will make things more than a little interesting.”

Thank you for the inside information!  We’ll look forward to it!

Later this week, Caer Holineth will be hosting the battle between the fiery Magma Serpent, and the brutish Tumbler.  Who do you think will claim victory and advance to the semi-final round of this year’s Tournament of Souls?

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