Magic Books of Faerûn
By Sean K Reynolds
Treasure of the Golden Hills - (Spells from Gnome Pantheon)
Bound in sturdy brown leather, this small book's cover bears a drawing (inlaid in gold) of a cluster of small hills dotted with trees. Underneath the picture is one line of Dethek runes, also gold-inlaid, which is repeated in smaller form on the spine. The pages are vellum but unadorned. The book smells of old dry leaves, though it is not an unpleasant aroma.
Last Record: Valem, troll priest, 13 Alturiak, 1373 DR.
Description: This book is approximately the same size as a gnome spellbook. The gold-inlaid drawing on the cover features a group of small hills dotted with trees. Any character with a gnome patron deity recognizes the drawing as a representation of the Golden Hills, the plane where the gnome pantheon resides; other characters may attempt DC 15 Knowledge (the planes) or Knowledge (religion) checks to recognize the symbol. The lines of gold-inlaid Dethek runes on the cover and spine are the title, Treasure of the Golden Hills, written in Gnome. The cover bears no other adornment. The pages are simple but high-quality vellum. The cover page says "Treasure of the Golden Hills -- Anecdotes of the Lords of the Golden Hills, and magic pertaining to their stories and worship." The cover and interior pages are lettered in a fanciful but readable script (in Gnome). Small illustrations of the gnome gods adorn these pages, acting out the events of their stories or illustrating the use of the spells described in the book.
The book is slightly worn but seems much older than it appears, as if it has been passed from gnome to gnome over several centuries and always treated with care and respect, though it is a bit battered from recent use.
History: This is one of at least four copies of this book, all written long ago by a gnome religious scholar who wanted a way to introduce gnome religion to younger gnomes in the hopes of inspiring more of them to become priests. Most copies of Treasure of the Golden Hills have never been out of gnome hands, since gnome communities value them highly as historical and religious documents. The one copy that has popped up from time to time can be traced back to a clan from the southern Far Hills, which was driven out of their home in 1305 DR by a young red dragon and his pack of kobold fighters (all bound to him with magic and an oath sworn on the dragon's own blood that gave them strange powers). One of the fleeing gnome priests took the book with him in the wake of the clanhome's destruction; unfortunately his small group was overtaken by raiding bugbears, who brought the gnomes back to eat at the raiders' cave lair. Lacking a cleric or even an adept, the bugbears tossed the book into a pile of debris and forgot about it. Years later when the raiders had gained enough allies to be particularly troublesome, a group of Neverwinter mercenaries called the Iron Crows wiped out the bugbears. The mercenaries found the book, threw it in with the rest of the bugbear treasure, and went to Baldur's Gate to celebrate their victory. Thick-headed with too much ale, they agreed to take on a job from a mysterious merchant (now believed, after several divinations, to be an agent of the Red Wizards) who sent them into the Troll Hills, which is the last anyone ever heard of them.
In 1370 DR, a gnome priest of Gaerdal Ironhand (and descendant of the clan driven out by the dragon 65 years before) named Dorgannan Blackwood discovered via magic that the missing book was in the hands of a troll living in the Troll Hills. Gleeful at the prospect of returning the book to his people after decades of being lost, he recklessly started off on his own, pausing only to inform some of his friends of the general nature of his quest and that it was important to gnomes as a whole. That was the last time he was ever seen alive. Recently his friends raised enough money to purchase a minor divination and verify that he was in fact dead, and the creature responsible for his death is a troll named Valem. The Red Stallion adventuring company from Baldur's Gate went into the Troll Hills with a dozen cattle and parleyed with the first group of hungry trolls who attacked. The trolls, momentarily sated by the meal of easy beef, said they knew of a troll priest named Valem from a differing tribe, but the last they had heard he had gone north into the Trollbark Forest for some unknown reason. The adventurers left before the trolls grew hungry again and are currently debating whether they wish to brave the Trollbark Forest in search of this strange troll and the treasure he almost certainly carried.
Contents: Each spell in Treasure of the Golden Hills is prefaced with a short story about one or more of the gnome gods, which serves as a teaching tool for the gnome faith. Each story takes 4-6 pages. Those stories plus the 14 pages of actual spells in the book and the title page mean the book is 86 pages long.
The 14 spell pages describe seven divine spells originating from or particularly relevant to the gnome pantheon. These spells are considered unusual spells, and any spellcaster who wishes to use them must first decipher them as described in the Divine Magical Writings section of Chapter 10: Magic of the Player's Handbook. Some of the spells have different versions for clerics, druids, or even rangers, but the differences to each type of caster are explained within the spell, taking up no extra space.
The spells in the book are scribed in order of the name of the story pertaining to that spell. "Baravan and Chiktikka Escape the Orc Army," lesser tree healing
- "Callarduran and the Sneaky Thief," stalactite trap
- "Gaerdal and the Kobold Spy," deafening clang
- "Garl and Arumdina Teach Kurtulmak a Lesson," weapon of the deity
- "How Flandal Invented Smithing," steelskin (a variant form of the silverbeard paladin spell, giving the caster metallic skin instead of a metallic beard)
- "How Segojan Helped Mrs. Badger," burrow, cleric version only)
- "Segojan's Clever Defense," Segojan's armor
At least one copy of this book is rumored to have been made by a cleric of Urdlen (presumably copied from one of the original versions). It supposedly contains an additional spell called blood frenzy, which causes the caster to enter a berserk state similar to that of barbarian rage and gives them the ferocity ability (they fight without penalty while disabled or dying). The rumors do not say if the spell is prefixed with a story.
Price: 700 gp (spellbook value only). As a collection of gnome religious stories, it is worth 100 gp to a collector of such things. A gnome aware of the item's historical and religious significance -- which is any gnome cleric or druid and any other gnome who succeeds at a DC 15 Knowledge (history) or Knowledge (religion) check -- knows gnome clans or churches are willing to pay 1,000 gp or more just for its nonspellbook value, or up to 2,000 gp in magical or crafting services (such as spellcasting, providing masterwork armor or weapons, and so on), plus the value of the spells if they can use them. Anyone who returns the book to such a group is likely to receive honors or some other form of reward in addition to monetary or material compensation.
Last Known Bearer: Valem, troll priest of Talona
Valem was a hardy but otherwise unexceptional troll living with his tribe in the Troll Hills. A raid by a rival tribe drove his tribe into a part of the hills that had already been depleted of game. All his people could find were the rotting carcasses abandoned by another group of trolls who were scared off by a wild magic effect. Valem's tribe ate the rotting meat, and one by one they succumbed to horrible stomach pains and a wasting disease that interfered with their natural ability to regenerate. Only Valem was unaffected, and eventually he ate his own dead and dying tribemates. Alone and starving, he wandered in a delirium and received a vision from Talona, who appeared to him in troll-shape and said she had picked him to be her speaker among the trolls, that the troll gifts of strength, hardiness, and rapid healing were from her many generations ago but forgotten after a battle between her and Vaprak, god of trolls (lies, but a believable lie to a dumb troll).
She awakened parts of his mind, taught him the rudiments of her religion, and turned him loose to teach other trolls about the Talonite faith (more as an experiment than anything with a real hope of success, though if it annoys Vaprak, it's enough for her). So far he has met with little success; most trolls care little for religion as it doesn't fill their bellies, and those tribes with an adept are resistant to changing their religion. Valem has been spreading disease among these tribes, planning to return later to cure them and show Talona's power. As disease follows in the wake of his failures to convert the tribes, other trolls are starting to see him as bad luck. Recently he turned northward to the Trollbark Forest, hoping to find others more accepting of his teachings.
Valem has the missing gnome book. Dorgannan Blackwood found the tribe that had the book (as with the bugbears, it was discarded in a pile of refuse), sneaked into their lair, and stole it without them noticing, only to run into Valem an hour later while trying to get out of the hills. Valem, on his way to the recently thieved tribe to preach, attacked the tasty-looking gnome; Dorgannan was no match for the troll and was killed and eaten. Valem can't read the book (he can't read at all, despite having levels in the cleric class) but keeps it because he likes the pictures and carries it in a sack with his other valuables.
Valem: Male troll cleric 5; CR 7; Medium giant; HD 11d8+77; hp 126; Init +2; Spd 30 ft.; AC 24, touch 13, flat-footed 22; Base Atk +7; Grp +13; Atk +13 melee (1d6+6, claw); Full Atk +13 melee (1d6+6, 2 claws) and +8 melee (1d6+3, bite); Space/Reach 10 ft./10 ft.; SA rebuke undead 1/day (+0, 2d6, 5th), rend 2d6+9; SQ darkvision 90 ft., low-light vision, regeneration 5, scent; AL CE; SV Fort +16, Ref +5, Will +9; Str 23, Dex 14, Con 25, Int 6, Wis 13, Cha 6.
Skills and Feats: Knowledge (religion) +3, Listen +7, Spot +8; Alertness, Combat Casting, Iron Will, Track.
Rend (Ex): If Valem hits with both claw attacks, he latches onto the opponent's body and tears the flesh. This attack automatically deals an additional 2d6+9 points of damage.
Regeneration (Ex): Fire and acid deal normal damage to Valem. If Valem loses a limb or body part, the lost portion regrows in 3d6 minutes. He can reattach the severed member instantly by holding it to the stump.
Cleric Spells Prepared (caster level 5th): 0 -- create water (5); 1st -- command (4, DC 12), protection from good[D]; 2nd -- resist energy (2), shatter[D]; 3rd -- contagion[D] (DC 14), cure serious wounds.
[D] Domain spell. Domains: Destruction (smite 1/day, +4 on attack, extra 5 points of damage), Evil (cast evil spells at +1 caster level).
Possessions: +1 chainmail, ring of protection +1, 300 gp worth of assorted coins, gems, and small valuables. Tactics: Valem has learned from experience that adventurers usually bring fire, so if he hears or scents humanoids in the area, he casts resist energy (fire) on himself and tries to find a way to attack from hiding or at least in a place where his enemies can't shoot at him many times while he closes for melee.
NOTE: Valem's CR is lower than normal for a creature of his race and class, since his low Intelligence prevents him from utilizing his spells in the most effective manner and he has less gear than normal. At the same time, cleric is a non-associated class for a troll, which also affects the CR.
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