Magic of the Ancients

I've recently engaged in a fireside chat with +Josh over at Rise Up, Comus where we yelled in agreement at each other while gesturing wildly, and generally annoying delighting those around us. Booze was involved. Our lament was just the gods awful handling of magic items in Pathfinder. Buying some magic boots? Congrats, you've just ruined the economy of the small town of earning-three-copper-per-day peasants. That magic item merchant is now probably richer than the local lord.

You monster.

Either way, that led to this article, which put our thinkering better than my rambling ever could. The point of it is magic items should be rare. What got me out of his wordsmithing is the idea of a limited number of spells in existence. This leads to the further exclusiveness of wizardry.

I like that.

It also reminded me of the Sumerian me (pronounced [mɛ]). Me were spells handed down by Sumerian gods in ancient history mythology, deemed necessary for humanity and civilization; some good, some bad, all necessary. The thing about them though, was that, while spells, they also had a physical form, and there were a set number of them. At some point Inanna takes several from a drunk Enki, and shows them off to the people of her city.

Anyway, I made a spell list and a pseudo class out of them. Fluff and details follow.

Exactly nine hundred spells (nine copies each) were handed down from the gods to aid in the crafting of civilization. Once given to humanity, the gods retreated, allowing humanity to rise and fall as it saw fit, under it's own will.

While some are obviously more useful than others, the gods felt them important for the preservation of society - both the good and bad aspects. They, in their unknowable wisdom, saw the destruction of cities just as important as a strong leader to hold the cities together. It was for the humans to decide.

With such a limited number of spells given to the Ens - thems who cast the spells - the society that inevitably grew around them has to budget their resources heavily. Each new member to the society must be thoroughly groomed and, due to the nature of the mes, can only can enter into the society once a former member dies. Further causing trouble, is the fact that a large portion of the spells have been lost through out the ages. Of the original 100, only 64 (listed below) remain with at least one copy still intact.

You see, in order to even cast a me, you must first have the me of enship cast upon you. This casting rewrites your mind and makes you immune to mes, thus allowing you to handle and speak the spells without being altered by them yourself.

Yes, the mes are both physical AND spoken. Appearing as small tablets, covered in the script of the ancients, mes take physical form until read and known by the En, at which point the me absorbs (for lack of a better word) into the caster and awaits casting. Once spoken, the words will slowly begin to reform back into a small clay tablet. Save for the Mes of Enship. Once cast upon the target, they bound with them, and are only reclaimable upon the target's death, or the mes replacement by a higher one.

You can tell an En by the marks the mes leave upon them while within them.

The spells work not by affecting reality, but by affecting the mind of the target and, as such, resisting them is fairly difficult.

The complete list of  surviving mes follows. Their names are often poetical, and sometimes become lost in translation from the ancient tongue.

Mes of Enship

Enship - Once cast upon a target, it allows them the ability to learn and cast mes.
Ishib (a priestly office) - Advances target to second level of Enship
Lumah (a priestly office) - Advances target to third level of Enship
Guda (a priestly office) - Advances target to forth level of Enship
"Divine lady" (a priestly office) - Advances target to fifth level of Enship

Mes of Craft

Art of metalworking - The knowledge of alloy creation becomes known
Scribeship - Bestows literacy
Craft of the smith - Bestows knowledge of smithing
Craft of the leatherworker - Bestows knowledge of leatherworking
Craft of the builder - Bestows knowledge of Architecture and Engineering
Craft of the basket weaver - Bestoys knowledge of basketry and pottery
Art - The target is flooded with inspiration in crafting art
Music - As art, but with music
Lilis (a musical instrument) - Proficiency of lilis is gained
Ub (a musical instrument) - Proficiency of ub is gained
Mesi (a musical instrument) - Proficiency of mesi is gained
Ala (a musical instrument) - Proficiency of ala is gained
Guslim (a musical instrument) - Proficiency of guslim is gained
Lamentation - The artist is filled with sadness, and is unable to produce any work

Mes of Altering Tongue

Truth - Restricts the target to only speaking the Truth
Law - Target is filled with absolute knowledge of the Law. However, it becomes all they can speak.
Falsehood - Bounds the target to speak only in falsities.

Mes of the Heart

Heroship - Bestows upon the target a feeling of bravery and desire to do right
Fear - Fills a target with foreboding sense of fear
Terror - As fear, but for a crowd of targets
Peace - Fills the target with a sense of calmness.
Strife - As Peace but, you know, the opposite.
Weariness - Drains the same amount of energy from a target as a hard days march.
Straightforwardness - Banishes confusion from the mind of the target.
Enmity - Fills the target full of enmity for a stated thing.
Rejoicing of the heart - Fills the listener with
The troubled heart - Sends the listener into crippling sorrow

Mes of Person Change

Kurgarra - Removes the sex of the target.
Girbadara - Renders the target infertile.
Sexual intercourse - Returns natural functions to the target.
Prostitution - Makes the target more inclined to act against their morals when coin is involved.
Holy purification - Burns poisons and diseases from target, as well as rids of any demonic influence.
Attention - Causes target to automatically succeed on all perception based checks.
Libel - Turns the listener to be in conflict with written information about them. Can cause serious problems.

Mes of Governing

The exalted and enduring crown - Marks the target as an authority figure. Their authority is known to all who look upon them.
The throne of kingship - Those in power are known to be prone to corruption. This me reminds them of the responsibilities they bear, making them resistant to corruption.
The exalted sceptre - Fills the listener with the word of the gods, preparing them for service as clerics.
The royal insignia - Bestows the royal insignia upon the skin of the target, signifying them as a vassal of the royal family.
The exalted shrine - Sends the listener into a manic religious fervor.
Shepherdship - Bestows command over animals to the target
Kingship - Bestows command over men to the target
Lasting ladyship - Turns those of ill repute against their ways, reforming their nature.

Mes of Divine

"hierodule of heaven" - Allows the target to host a possession by the gods.
Eldership - Gifts the target with a life time of wisdom and experience. May cause mental side effects due to memories not their own.
Descent into the nether world - Allows the target to enter the land of the dead, to see and experience that which is beyond the veil. This trip is purely mental, though the body will move and react to what the mind is seeing.
Ascent from the nether world - Draws the target back to the world of the living.
Judgment - A mark of the target's crimes grows upon their skin
Decision - Gives the target a vision of the consquences of their possible decision
Counsel - Induces a vision in the target where they hold counsel with spirits, who provide wise advise.
Godship - Drains the corporal properties from a person for a stretch of time. Context of the name suggests "spirit hood"
The cult chamber - Has a chance of granting a vision based audience with a god. Not always a sure thing.
Sagursag (a eunuch, entertainers related to the cult of Inanna) - Bestows the target with knowledge of the holy myths, as well as the acting ability needed to portray them.

Mes of War

The battle-standard - The target glows bright with holy power, encouraging allies who fight within proximity to them.
The flood - The target errupts in a fountain of their own blood, those near them are burned as though by acid. While the flood is known to destroy, it is also known to replenish the fields. The ground covered in this blood becomes extremely fertile.
Weapons - Grants knowledge of weapon usage
The destruction of cities - Fills those who hear it with a desire to turn away from their lives, and go else where. Farmers leave their fields. Wives leave their families. Neighbors turn cruel to one another. Blood betrays blood. The effect spreads like wildfire via contact, effecting any who claim membership to the town in which the me was spoken.
Power - Increases the physical abilities of the target.
Victory - Bestows the hearer with unusual luck in their tasks.
Wisdom - The target gains strategic insight to the current situation.


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