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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Army of Clay

This artifact is a collection of small clay figures, each about three inches high. The figures are primitive, but bear a certain elegance of design the belies their crude form. Each is coated with layers of brightly colored powdery glaze, chiefly blue, green and red. There are several types of figures in the collection:
  • Swordsmen - These figures are depicted wearing heavy green armor and helmet and wielding a stabbing sword and tall rectangular shield. Each figure's shield bears the faint red outline of a spread-winged bird of prey. There are 18 of these figures in the collection.
  • Spearmen - These figures wear lighter blue armor and wield a heavy two-handed spear. They also wear cloaks decorated with the same red bird of prey device as the Swordsmen's shields. There are 18 Spearmen in the collection.
  • Archers - These figures wear the same armor and cloak as the Spearmen, but wield a short recurve bow and have a long knife at their belt. A quiver of arrows hangs from their shoulder. There are nine Archers in the Army.
  • Charioteers - There are only three of these figures in the Army. Each depicts a chariot pulled by a pair of white-glazed horses fitted with red barding. A driver tends the reigns while a second javelin wielding figure stands behind him in the chariot. Both are wearing lightweight armor and cloaks similar to that worn by the Spearmen.
The entire Army is contained with a shallow chest of black oak fitted with bronze hinges. The interior is lined with a thick layer of padded leather, which holds the figures securely when the lid is closed. A simple latch holds the chest closed. The figures radiate Epic alteration, combat and animation magic. A Superb test of divination will reveal their purpose, but an Epic test of research in ritual magic is required to unlock the process required to active the Army.

The Army is a terrible weapon of war. When the proper ritual is performed each figure comes to life, slowly growing until they reach their full height of about 15 feet, a process that takes several minutes. Once fully grown their commander can indicate their foe which sets the Army on it's inexorable path. The army moves as a unit, each figure assuming a position within the ranks and striding toward the target at a steady pace with military precision. As they approach they change formation to suit the terrain and tactical situation. Once set upon their course the Army marches until they engage the targeted foe, fighting until either their foe is destroyed or they are shattered.

Each figure in the Army is a terrible engine of destruction, fighting with Epic skill. The Archers and chariot-riding Javelineers fire and hurl magical missiles that can crack stone walls with ease. Each figure has Epic toughness and armor and Great resistance to mundane weapons. The figures are immune to fire- and cold-based attacks. Figures continue to attack so long as they have limbs to strike with. Should a figure be rendered inert it will shrink to its original three inch height. All figures revert to their small size once the battle is won or all figures are destroyed. Any figure, or portion thereof, returned to the containing chest, will regenerate into a complete figure in one month's time.

Activating the Army is a Great test of ritual magic. It requires the ritualist to sacrifice the life of a blood relative and douse the Army in their blood. This ritual can be carried out once per moon at most.

Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/blake_lennon/ / CC BY-NC 2.0
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