Atlas   Rules   Resources   Adventures   Stories       FAQ   Search   Links

Spell of Preservation

by James Ruhland

Perhaps the most important guideline a DM or writer should use in determining how to employ the Spell of Preservation (SoP) in the Hollow World (HW) is the principle of Economy.

Roughly defined, the Principle of Economy would state that when faced with a choice between alternative interpretations of the demands of the SoP, one uses whichever is least disruptive of (1) the Hollow World as a whole and (2) the culture in question.

How would this work? Well, take the example of the Blackmoor Elves - part of the technological civilisation of the Blackmoor Era which was preserved in the Hollow World.

However, in preserving them, several alterations were made to insure that their impact on the Hollow World would be limited: first, their devices are not really technological, they are magical. Secondly, those devices only work in their own region (their Valley). Their way of life is preserved, but they neither understand nor can duplicate the "technologies" they use, nor can these items spread into the Hollow World as a whole. Their impact is reduced to the smallest possible.

Another example, in my opinion, should be Alphatia - though keeping them from conquering the Hollow World is important, this should be done in a way that introduces the smallest amount of change into their society as possible. Note that it might require little or no change (because Alphatians can't get to the other HW nations except by skyships, and most of these were either lost during the war or left stranded on the surface when Alphatia sank, because most surviving ships would have been involved in various activities related to the war effort).

The principle of economy might demand that Alphatia, instead of being able to direct its energies outward in either conquering (their cultural norm) or protecting (an induced change) the Hollow World, that they direct those energies inward in a variety of internal conflicts (not necessarily hugely destructive, because, remember, the SoP would save individual Alphatian Kingdoms to the degree that they themselves represent unique societies that are preserved, thus preventing any one kingdom from being destroyed and also preventing any one kingdom or kingdoms from achieving absolute pre-eminence). This introduces the smallest amount of change possible in Alphatia's already fractious society and therefore preserves both their culture and the HW generally.

Note also that, along the lines that Patrick recommended, the Principle of Economy's function with respect to spreading new spells and the like. In this instance the SoP does not preclude researching new spells, new magic items, and the like. It only precludes them from widespread adoption. The question arises whether a sorcerer's apprentices can adopt his teachers unique concepts, but in this case I would say that to a limited degree they can, so long as they never threaten to make these concepts (spells, items, etc) commonplace. Thus one can have limited change, important for a dynamic campaign (and limiting stasis), but which does not threaten to unravel the SoP and make it a "dead letter."

A final example of how the Principle of Economy can be employed is to use a "strict interpretation" of the SoP; use its self-regulating aspects, rather than imposed changes that alter fundamental aspects of a society, to police the Hollow World. This would keep any conquests that occur short term and of extremely limited impact. Thus one can have lots of activity, even complete reversal of positions (Nithia might be beating up on Milenia, but then the SoP induces events that put the Nithians on the defensive and end their threat to Milenia). This would apply to outside agitators, such as the Heldannic Knights as well - they will find permanent conquests as impossible to affect as native nations do.