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How would a sorcerer-king protect his palace?

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  • How would a sorcerer-king protect his palace?

    My players are getting a little daring, and have decided to sneak into the palace of a Southern sorcerer-king. How would a sorcerer protect his palace? Bound demons and watch-spirits are obvious, of course, but some ideas of magical traps, useful demons/spirits (I only have the 3rd Edition books, and lack the books on demons of previous editions), and other ways a powerful magician would be able to use to protect his turf?

  • #2
    What is he like, as a person? Is he paranoid? Does he have any human staff in the palace who need to move about without being killed by traps/spirits? How callous is he? Does he show no mercy to intruders?

    Just off the top of my head, he could have a set of badges for human guests/palace staff, where the bound spirits are under orders to ignore those bearing them, allowing potential non-sneaky PCs a way in. They might even permit a wearer to bypass some of the traps, such as a hallway that's filled with poisonous gas (which is breathable if your feet touch the right section of floor, which appears in gold to a person wearing a badge).

    Another option he might use is animals, either mundane or enhanced with Workings - for instance, having magically-silenced lions prowling the inner courtyard, or a giant spider with terrifying speed guarding your treasure room.

    How about a horn that emits a steady stream of giant bubbles that produce an explosive conflagration when touched with steel? Or a hypnotic plant? Iron statues that come alive in the moonlight?

    (Robert E. Howard is great for inspiration.)
    Last edited by TheCountAlucard; 04-20-2017, 07:05 PM.


    • #3
      He is the king of a city, so he has the need to have people constantly moving in and out the palace: diplomats, the daily workings of the court, and other daily movements in a nation´s capital. As such, he needs a way not to kill everybody who enters into the palace, so, it can´t be a instant death trap everywhere you step. I like the badge idea, so the players can try to get some of these badges, making them all capable to participate in the "heist", and not leaving it only to the Night Caste.

      He isn´t overtly... unmerciful with intruders, specially if he thinks they have a common ground: he will prefer to recruit them, or at least try to get something useful out of them (information, servitude, or something similar), only resorting to death if he thinks that no other way can benefit him in a relatively safe way: death is too permanent to be granted lightly. So, most ways to protect his place would be, I think, more focused in alerting him and incapacitating his rivals, that in really killing them. A living prisoner is more useful than a corpse in the backyard/cliff by the sea, you see?


      • #4
        What Circle of Sorcery does the king have? How long has he been alive? Is he a very hands on ruler or does he spend most of his time on his research? Does he have any other supernatural powers aside from sorcery?


        • #5
          A panic room with some kind of working to promote healing might be a good idea. I'll admit I'm not sure what kind of spirits would be bound for that kind of job, but I can see a benefit to having a room with easy access to healers in case things have gone horribly wrong and he's , or someone important to him, has been attacked.


          • #6
            Assuming for the moment that the Sorcerer King is a mostly mortal Terrestrial Circle Sorcerer, his magical protections are likely to boil down to Terrestrial Ambition Workings and Summoned Demons. Most Terrestrial Circle Spells, at least in previous editions, didn't really operate on locations, especially not long term. And, while there are rules for the King to try performing Celestial or even Solar Ambition Workings, those are the sorts of undertakings that you can easily take years or even decades to attempt to accomplish.

            So. Security principles. You said that this is a building where lots of people are going in and out. Presumably there are areas of higher security (the money vault, the King's personal chambers, etc) and lower security (the offices of minor bureaucrats, the front entry hall) . I'd probably keep the magic security stuff to the high security areas. At most a couple of dematerialized demons serving as roving watchdogs in the lower areas. Human guards will work fine here, possibly with dogs or other guard animals (most Solar Stealth charms protect against vision so dogs can be a very cost effective way to hamper the Night Caste).

            In the high security areas, thick walls, unobtrusive doors, and a palace layout that means that anyone trying to get in to them has to go through a buch of checkpoints (or find a very unorthodox way in, like cutting a hole in the roof) are your first line of defense. A floor that was designed to squeak unless you walk on it in a certain way would also be good. Peepholes and listening tubes built into the walls could give guards easy ways to spy on people.

            As far as magic goes, like I said, you're probably limited to Terrestrial Ambition Workings and Summon Demon, so lets look at those options.

            Summoning - the thing to keep in mind about demons is that they're intensely loyal but they don't think like humans do. A Blood Ape will tend to become grumpy and despondent if it hasn't killed anyone lately (but they like torturing and eating cats, so you probably need a cat farm if you have a lot of them). And, while it isn't necessarily that hard to summon thirty demons over a period of a month, that's thirty wildly eccentric people who are personally loyal to only you and likely have very specific needs and desires that have to be managed. If the King wants to keep people alive, I'd suggest no Blood Apes and not that many other demons, say five or six total.

            As for not having the books with other demons in them, don't worry about it so much. As long as your demons are weird, it'll be fine to create your own, especially if the players aren't going to have to interact with them much. Like, if you had a demon that was, I dunno, a cloud of winged eyes, that mostly just stayed immaterial and watched things, all you would really need to know is what it's "see stuff" dice pool was. You could use the bird stats in the core if the Twilight managed to spot one and wanted to fight it. Maybe give it a power where it gets more perception dice the more eyes that are in a single area and, if it's all together, maybe it gets the effect of Keen Sight Technique or something. Give it a weird quirk like an intense enjoyment of watching people eat or a fear of ravens that the players can try to exploit and you're all set.

            Another idea: in previous editions you could summon one of Sigereth's playing pieces like it was a First Circle Demon, so if you like the idea of "living statues" you could run with that.

            As for Terrestrial Workings, of the examples listed, granting mutations or minor supernatural powers to people seems like the main thing that would be useful. So, the King could have an elite cadre of guards who have all been enhanced with any of the supernatural merits in the book or maybe he bred a special flower which emits a soporific gas and gave himself immunity to it. The main limiting factor here is that every person enchanted, plant created, or whatever is going to need something like a month of the King's personal attention, so, again, it should be a fairly small force.

            The other limiting factor is Finesse. How much control the Sorcerer King has over the exact result of the Working. If the King is willing to settle for getting what he wants without knowing exactly what form it will take or what side effects might occur, them a single Celestial Ambition Working could easily spread security through the entire building. This would give you license to add on a bunch of "WTF" type stuff in various places which might be exploitable as a way to bypass the security.

            ....that got long. I hope it will be helpful?


            • #7
              Each of the eyes in statues are linked to a crystal ball, acting as CCTV, although he has to leave some one to watch the crystal balls, both to actually use and if the crystals are not continual watched they break. The Sorcerer-king uses the watchmen at the crystals to keep an eye around the castle, and if they see someone who is not supposed to be there, they sound the alarm and guards attack the intruder.

              Alternatively, there are gates at the boundaries of districts of the city and sections of the castle, divided into various levels of clearance by colour (red to orange to yellow, etc.), with many keys for each colour coded clearance level. If one does the open the gate from the outside with a key of an equal or greater clearance, it opens up to the physical other side of the gate. If a correct key is not used to open the gate from the outside, then it links to another gate of the same clearance so the intruder will be stopped from entering deeper into the domain of the sorcerer king.

              My homebrew blog


              • #8
                Some of the doorways are Mirrors of Chiaroscuro glass. Stepping into them places you in the reflection of the palace, and only the king knows the charm to release those caught within.

                His majordomo wears a heavy cloak that obscures his identity. More than one clever thief or assassin has tried to incapacitate the fellow, only to learn that the cloak itself is the servant, and the would-be infiltrator finds themselves its newest host in a long line of people who thought they were clever.

                The garden has a rule: either you tend to the blooms, or you bloom yourself. Even the sorcerer only admires it from his balcony; though he laid the spells in place, he would likely set down roots and join the exotic flora were he to set foot in there; only the groundskeepers tread there. Even along them, those who the magics deem lazy may find themselves never leaving.


                • #9
                  I like the idea of a sprawling "low-security" outer wing for the functionaries and bureaucrats with only pockets of security in the most sensitive areas (i.e., those areas where bribe-able human guards or servants are a liability). Guardian demons bound to the door of the vault, living (and deaf) statues in the diplomatic salons, and so on. Places concerned with the general day-to-day of government are probably not worth the cost of securing so strongly.

                  The king's inner sanctum, as well as places he must personally interact with people regularly (e.g. the audience chamber) are a different matter; even if he's not particularly paranoid he will surely recognize that he is a high-value target and take appropriate steps.

                  Also, as a ruler of reasonably high influence, he may have a Cselenite Pact with a local, minor elemental court, so that he can count on some nice, pleasant elementals in his private quarters instead of using demons for everything...


                  • #10
                    Rooms and corridors that tend to exit in to publicly accessible parts of the palace if the person isn't authorized to be in the restricted parts of the palace.

                    Actually, just make all the doors inside and leading to restricted parts of the palace only open to public places unless the person opening the door has the authority to access the restricted area.


                    • #11
                      He could build his palace as part of an ancient manse or use discovered relics and monsters to buff up his defences. For example a wyld mutant from the Far East that can only live in the shadows, but moves like the Winds of the North to rush it's prey with four blazing onyx talons, with it being enslaved by the magic of the Sorcerer King, so the poor thing can only attack intruders. Hopefully the Sorcerer King is not to cruel a boss, and the poor mutant is payed in food, comforts and 'pleasure'.

                      My homebrew blog


                      • #12
                        don't forget a neomah and stomach-bottle-bug working behind the scenes in the sorcerer-king's harem, to keep the girls looking pretty and to do away with an unwanted pregnancies

                        Malfeas F'Tagn - go check out my epic MLP/Exalted crossover "The Scroll of Exalted ponies" @ Fimfiction


                        • #13
                          How would either of those demons "keep the girls looking pretty?"


                          • #14
                            Particularly skilled ones could preform some form of plastic surgery, especially under the service of a well-read master. Although my question is why would be reducing pregnancies, wouldn't he want many heirs to secure his throne.

                            My homebrew blog


                            • #15
                              Actually Neomah flesh crafted offspring might not be a bad idea for security purposes. I mean I can see a Neomah being tempted with the prospect of being given specimen or samples to use in it's work to create new lives.