The Engraved, The Branding, and The Gates
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Details: To enable planar travel, players must undergo the Branding and become Engraved. This process involves the carving of magical runes and bindings into the skin of the subject using shards of the Key to Paradisio formed into a set of blades. The carving process is extremely painful and potentially fatal, as the one receiving the Brand must be tattooed, iron-branded, and bled for many hours, sometimes days, as the extremely complex runes are placed onto their bodies.
The art of Branding is only performed by noble families as the Gates used in traveling between realms only respond to those of their bloodlines. During the Branding process, special binding inks used in drawing the runes must be mixed by a noble’s blood, which react with the magic residing in the Gates. With that, many noble families act as sponsors for many Engraved who may ask for special services or payment from the Engraved, depending on their individual needs.
The Branded may bring someone lacking a Brand through a Gate with a temporary Brand, a talisman drawn with the blood of the Engraved holding just enough magic to allow the talisman holder to accompany an Engraved through an activated Gate for a round trip through a Gate. These talismans are bound to the crafter and will not allow one lacking a Brand to travel through it unless the Engraved accompanies them during the trip.
An Engraved may use an action to activate a Gate from up to 30ft away with the Rite of Passage:
“I do invoke the power of this Gate and its receiver for safe passage.”
Afterwards, the Gate produces a thin purple film of light in which planar travelers step into and enter a realm of nothingness. This has been named the Void by scholars and has never been the subject of exploration. Potential exploration would prove difficult, as shortly after entering the Void, the traveling party seems to phase back into reality on the target plane.
As far as scholars have observed, a Gate and its receiving Gate are bound to one another as no instances of materializing in another location have been recorded. A pair of Gates has been theorized to be a protective tube that transports Engraved and talisman holders safely through it protects them from the Void while mid-transport.
Forging the Pacts
An Engraved can contractually bind a great spirit into providing council or assistance when called upon. Given the strange nature of Primarchs, many will ask that one provide them with services in exchange for their unique binding seals, the basis of the Pact, although few Primarchs of a benevolent nature may offer their seals freely as seen in a few documented cases. These Primarchs are seen as exceptions as many of the Primarchs encountered so far are usually blatantly greedy or have their own self-interests in mind.
When an Engraved and Primarch agree to the terms of the pact, the Primarch must present its seal in its hand and the Engrave rests their hand on it. When prepared, the Engraved incants:
“I do invoke the power of the Brand to bind thee, (name and rank), to my service.”
To which the Primarch responds with:
“I do acknowledge the pact and swear to provide council and power to thee, (name of binder).”
Once completed, the Primarch’s pact circle becomes memorized by the Engraved, which may be utilized when called upon. The Primarch will always have knowledge of which plane the Engraved resides on and may mentally request council across the planes. An Engraved may use their Brands to invoke the power of any pact they have with a Primarch. This invocation manifests in two forms: the Summoning or the Evocation.
The summoning requires the Branded to inscribe the Primarch’s seal into the ground and speak the Passage of Council.
“Spirit heed my words, I do invocate and conjure thee, oh great spirit (name), and being with power affirmed from the Supreme Power of Paradisio, I do conjure thee in the name of council.”
Once incanted, the spirit will appear and provide brief council to the best of their knowledge similar to the 2nd level spell Augury.
The evocation is similar to the summoning, yet is a shorter incantation drawing power directly from a Primarch’s inner power as agreed upon as a portion of the pact rites. This direct power is more potent, yet lacks consciousness found in the Summoning.
The evocation may be invoked in a single action, wherein the image of the Primarch manifests and casts a spell unique to the spirit. These spells are mighty spells not normally accessible through worship or regular pacts. While invoking the evocation, the Engraved’s Brand twitches with a quick pump and glows with a bright light as the Primarch’s seal is conjured in front of the Engraved. The Primarch’s spiritual image varies in size and is also unique to the Primarch.