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Wendar -- Power Lines & Sentient Buildingsby Bruce Heard
Following the idea that Mystara is inherently magic I imagined that arcane powers flow unevenly through the world. The planet itself is designed to balance out the flow of magic to a point. As a result, magical currents cris-cross the underground, with various intensities.
Although this does not directly affect spellcasting - so far it hasn't - it could if the flow was disrupted enough. For example, magic could be more or less powerful in some areas, either affecting the level at which a spell is cast and altering the potency of its effects. Some areas could be more prone to manifestations of Chaos or Law, or even the propensity to support more or less entropic trends.
The planet itself has a way of "healing" problem areas where several "power lines" intersect and conflict with each other. This sort of healing has not been used since a very long time, when the planet was being modelled by the Immortals and new races were being added. But ever since the Day of Dread struck, several areas on the world have become unbalanced. One of them is Wendar.
In order to ease the power tensions that chronically build up in some areas, the planet resorts to a sort of "world acupuncture" to reset the flow of magic in some areas. These "needles" appear as sometimes very large stone structures that seem to take root deep in the ground. These structures draw their power from faulty "power lines" below, and redirect the flow more properly.
In order to achieve this, the planet needed caretakers to build the structures and maintain them. In the origin of the world, spirits of nature were used, but with the spreading of sentient populations, the form of these spirits had to be modified. At the time, one of the main races that existed on Mystara was the elves. As a result, a vast number of small mounds appeared in various regions of the world, containing beings that looked in every way like elves. They were in fact spirits of nature materialised in the form of elves, with a very pale white skin and silver hair. Elves were convenient because of their longevity.
These elves left their mounds, and began their task of locating power surges and building the needed structures. Over the hundreds of years following their appearance on Mystara, these elves eventually mixed with others, allowing some variety in their appearance. As the world settled into its daily routine, they forgot their science. Until the Day of Dread struck. Quickly thereafter, the spirits in them awakened again, and started bringing back the ancient knowledge, especially in those on or near a troubled area, like the elves of Wendar.
So far, the elves of Wendar have just begun to recover their ancient knowledge. They know how to create new structures, and how to commune with them. They aren't sure why exactly yet. In return for their labour, the structures use some of their power to benefit their caretakers in various ways. Such is the Wendar Stone Magic.
The ancient knowledge is a blend of special architectural skills, specialised spellcasting, and inherent empathic talents. These are needed to choose the construction site, build the initial structure, and then connect it with the flow of magic underneath. Important buildings must be carefully positioned as a result. The structure then slowly awakens as the stones used in its construction fuse together. Unknown from outside observers, a structure grows deep roots seeking the flow of magic. When found, the troubled energy is absorbed through the structure's roots, condensing it into a thick liquid. The liquefied power then travels the entire structure through veins inside the rock, and exits through other roots. If the source of troubled power underneath is tremendous, the building will probably grow over the years to handle the excess capacity. As a result, the original builders must carefully choose the types of buildings these structure are intended to be.
A structure has the ability to feel the latent desires of its builders. Over time, it will respond in some way to satisfy these needs. So for example, if the prevailing thought is to pray to a given Immortal, a structure will probably endorse that desire and boost the effects of prayer, meditation, or communion - provided this thought is maintained throughout the structure's existence. If the structure were more like a hospital, some healing properties would start to develop.
By design, the structure seeks to soothe a point of tension, whether it is a magical power surge, or an unfulfilled need from its builders. A recurring and persistent feel of want or need appears to the structure as a source of trouble, much like power surges themselves. It's important to understand this because the absence of such trouble or need conflicts with the nature of the structure, and eventually damages it. If abandoned, or chaotic, patternless thoughts continually prevailed in their midst, these structures would eventually go bad and harm their occupants. In the worst case, the structures could also fail entirely to fulfil their primary purpose - that of settling the power surges. Regional magic would instead be corrupted and the minds of the structures' occupants altered in some destructive way.
A single structure does not have sentient thoughts. However, some areas will require multiple structures to be concentrated in a single spot in order to handle the many turbulence in the magic flow there. For observers, these are towns and cities inside Wendar. The unique feature of these cities is that the structures can feel each other's presence and work together to coordinate their efforts. As a result, such cities develop a sort of collective intelligence that the higher level Wendar elves can communicate with. Likewise, should this sort of city be conquered by an ignorant, unsuitable race, the city's mind could be damaged and as a result, the city could effectively be seen as going mad.
As the cities grow and regulate the flow of magic in the region, it is possible that more power be diverted through the region to alleviate a problem elsewhere in the world. This in turn creates new surges in the area, prompting builders to seek the construction of newer structures. In the case of Wendar, this could take them beyond their present borders. As a nation, the builders may want to conquer or annex the new trouble-prone region in order to clear it and start building.