Spell Weaver

N Medium aberration (extraplanar)

[The spell weavers are only tangentially related to the Age of Worms AP, but I’ve been looking for an excuse to stat them up for some time. The original 3e version cut some minor abilities from the original 2e version which have been reinstated, and I’ve changed its type from monstrous humanoid to aberration. This is based mostly on the “Ecology of the Spell Weavers” article from Dragon Magazine’s 3.5 days, which gives them lots of really weird flavor that I’ve incorporated into this version.

Also, I found this art that combines the best features of the 2e DiTerlizzi version and the Raven Mimura one from 3.0. But it has seven arms for some reason.]

Spell Weaver
This spindly humanoid creature has a narrow face with wide eyes atop a long, flexible neck. Six arms grow from its torso, each arrayed with delicate fingers.

Spell weavers are strange creatures native to some lost plane with incredible magical gifts. A spell weaver’s anatomy is unusual—its blood is a metallic blue, it can turn its head all the way around, and their skin grows darker as they age. According to their lore, they once ruled an empire that spanned the universe, but it was sundered by the gods for the spell weavers’ temerity in attempting to ascend to divinity. Only a renegade spell weaver treats divine powers with anything but utter contempt.

Spell weavers desire magic items above all other things, especially ancient or unique ones, and they most frequently interact with other races when attempting to obtain these artifacts by any means necessary. Although their chromatic discs appear to be magic items themselves, they are in fact an organ kept outside the body, something like an external brain that can tap into additional arcane power. Between their six arms and their chromatic disks, a spell weaver can unleash devastating amounts of spells in a short time. Although they are immune to fear, they do possess common sense, and will flee from a losing battle.

Spell weavers are almost completely silent, communicating with each other through telepathy and sign language. They do make twittering noises as verbal components for their spells, but rare spell weaver writings suggest that they abolished spoken language as a protest against the gods. They live for six hundred years if not slain through violence. A spell weaver can “regenerate” six times, being reborn as a young adult with only vague memories of its former lives. At the end of its sixth life, a spell weaver ritually kills itself if it is able, in so doing spawning six new children. A spell weaver stands about five feet tall and weighs 100 pounds.

Chromatic Disk (Su) A spell weaver carries a metallic disk about six inches in diameter, which is an extension of their bodies and spellcasting ability. A spell weaver can use a chromatic disk to cast an additional 10 levels of spells per day, in any combination. A spell weaver must be holding the disk in one hand to use it, and can use these spells in conjunction with its spellweaving ability.Only a spell weaver can use a chromatic disk, and a DC 30 Use Magic Device check is required for another creature to even hold it safely. If this check is failed, the disk explodes, dealing 4d10 force damage to all creatures in a 30 foot radius (no save). A spell weaver can create a new disk in one hour, but may only have one disk at a time.

I am converting the Lamentations adventure "Doom Cave of the Crystal-Headed Children" for D&D Next to run this Sunday night. I'll keep this blog post free of dirty details, but basically in that adventure, a guy finds a massive crystal in a cave that gives him 22 centuries of knowledge (Earth pop culture…??). He, uhhh, "uses" it's entry port to make an army of crystal-headed children which he will force to take over the world or something.

I know this kind of thing is too wacky for some. My group gets a big kick out of it. Although in this instance, I want to remove the "earth pop culture" element. I need some other entity to be behind the crystals - so I chose one of my favorite monsters - Spellweavers!

As a fan of the art of Tony DiTerlizzi, I first noticed the spellweavers through his illustration of them in the AD&D Monstrous Compendium Annual Volume One. They just look awesome and weird.

That said, I despise some of their depictions in 3rd edition, particularly the "black t-shirt bird face" version. Unacceptable!

- The thing that I like the most about them is how dangerous and weird they are. They have 6 arms, and can cast multiple spells per round! That's one arm for each spell level. So they could cast two level 3 spells at once (two lightning bolts?), or 6 level one spells (6 magic missiles!), etc.

- They are from some alternate prime material plane. They come to our realms to steal or study magic items and phenomena.

- They carry a chromatic disk in one hand. It gives them more spell points (normally the amount of spells they cast per day is tied to their hit points). If other races try to use a chromatic disk, it explodes in a 30 foot radius doing 10d4 (I hate rolling that many d4s) damage. It is said that they make these disks by drawing energy out of other magic items.

- They communicate telepathically. Attempts to contact them telepathically result in insanity for d6 days!

Better, but still not close to DiTerlizzi.
- Once per day it can create a 200 foot radius zone that blocks scrying and planar travel. It lasts for ten minutes.

- They reproduce through "magical fission". A spellweaver will split into two beings.

- Sometimes they lie dormant and invisible for months in a magic location. If you wake them up, they will probably kill you.

- The entry includes charts for determining which and how many spells they know.

When reading up on spellweavers, I discovered that they actually debuted in Dragon Magazine. The article is virtually identical to the entry in the appendix. It includes art by the author which definitely confirms that the DiTerlizzi depiction is more "correct" than the dude in the black t-shirt.

There is an "ecology" in one of the Paizo Dragon magazines. I am kind of pumped about it because Paizo comes up with some badass stuff. Let's see what we get:

- Spellweavers are the last descendants of a magically advanced empire that spanned worlds and planes.

- This empires had colonies, called nodes - big pyramids of stone and steel powered by magic furnaces. They were connected through a portal network.

- They enslaved primitive creatures, and would wipe out threatening cultures by giving them powerful magic items that would destroy them from within (maybe like a deck of many things? Or the classic douche move - the mislabeled potion of poison, heh heh).

- They are obsessed with different types of language and communication.

- They tried some experiment that would alter reality that caused a catastrophe. All of their furnaces exploded. There were relatively few survivors.

- They can turn their necks completely around. Their blood is blue and like quicksilver. That's awesome.

- This article says chromatic disks can be made from a mediation process, where the spellweaver exudes blood and fluids to for a new one out of metallic resin.

- They live for 600 years. When it is time for them to die, they drain the magic from an epic pile of magic items and make a coffin. Then they lie in the coffin for at least a month, and then emerge renewed and with darker skin, ready to live for another 600 years. Pretty cool.

- Spellweavers can "regenerate" like that 6 times. Then they do this ritual with six disks where they decay and a newborn rises up with all of the memories and mental abilities of the 'parent'.

- They do not revere deities. They are looking for gems that contain pieces of the "Code of Reversion", which is a thing that can reverse time to before the catastrophe that destroyed their empire. They refer to the catastrophe as "The Disjunction". There are two theories as to what the spellweavers were doing that caused the catastrophe:

1. Ascension: The spellweavers discovered the language that could alter reality. Gods have some knowledge of this language. The entire spellweaver race tried to learn this language to ascend to godhood en masse. The gods may have thwarted this, creating a magical backlash. That is epic.

2. Unification: The spellweavers thought that all planes and worlds sprung from one reality that were chopped up by deities. The spellweavers tried to merge them again.

Can't even….
There is a supplementary article with some more Spellweaver stuff. Unfortunately they kick it off with a picture of some birdface BS holding a frisbee.

- The Silver Hexameric Folio is 3 separate pentagonal books made of silver and covered in spellweaver hieroglyphics. A metallic cord connects them. There is art of this, because Paizo is awesome.

- It is sentient and will try to get your PC to rebuild the spellweaver empire.

- If you figure out the secret of the folio (re-arrange the pages) you can learn new spells created by the spellweavers:

Anamensis: You tap into the collective memory of the spellweavers and gain a bonus to knowledge checks. It lasts an hour per level, and during this time you hear hums and clicks, as if some weird thing was trying to contact you. Kind of cool. I'd change this from just a static bonus.

You can hold your dice in them.
Cynosure: This spell makes plane shift and teleport spells more accurate.

Modulate: You can use this spell on a wand to then infuse the wand with another spell, to cast instead. That's pretty crazy. This only lasts one minute per level, though.

Siphon: You can drain charges from a magic item to allow yourself to cast an expended spell.

Spell Star: You create a hovering star. You cast spells into it. If anyone casts those spells at you, the spell star automatically counters it! Nasty. Pretty creative!

Spellweavers were used in the Shackled City adventure path, in an adventure called The Demonskar Legacy. The spellweavers had built a thing called the Starry Mirror.

They used the Amaranth Elixir, a magic potion that made ogres stronger but more easily controlled.

The heroes fight their way through an ancient Spellweaver lair, now over-run with monsters. There's some hags that control spellweaver skeletons. The PCs have to jump through the Starry Mirror, which was basically a mirror portal network.

When I ran this back in around 2008, one PC bravely jumped in. Another, a selfish rogue, refused. The rogue was scolded by the paladin's trusty minion, a one hit point kobold, who tied a rope to his waist and jumped in after his liege.

Passage between mirrors was not direct. The heroes ended up in color-coded puzzle rooms that were very confusing. As I recall, my PCs couldn't figure it out. I am terrible at puzzles like this myself, so an NPC aided them. It was one of those puzzles linked to the color wheel aka ROY G BIV.

There is another Shackled City adventure that involves Spellweavers. It is called Secrets of the Soul Pillars. Underneath the city the heroes live in is another Spellweaver ruin called Karran-Kural which was a complex designed to research a combination of necromancy and cold magic.

Inside are glass tubes that hold motionless spellweavers in them. They are not alive or dead. If the PCs check them out, there's a cool little chart that you roll on to see what the spellweaver does. It's mostly a thing to freak out the PCs. If freed they dissipate into black smoke.

There are soul pillars - things made of necrotic grey flesh that contain spellweaver lore. PCs can ask the pillars questions of the spirits trapped within. They answer in "yes" or "no". This seems kind of… not very spellweaver-y.

The whole place is guarded by an undead dragon named Vitriss Bale. My party had a truly epic fight with him. The party rogue was riding the dragon, stabbing it, and puled off this maneuver where he got it to bite at him as he jumped off of it onto a ledge, triggering the paladin's mark, killing it.

In Dungeon 130, there's an Age of Worms adventure with.. a spellweaver lich! What a great idea. The text then goes on to say that not only is its' chromatic disk not used as a phylactery, it's not even used at all. Sheesh it seems like the disk is beyond perfect as a phylactery. Just make one and stash it somewhere.

Then the text goes on to tell us this guy is just like a normal lich. Well.. uh.. OK.

Seems like a waste!

The 4th edition version of these creatures is a misfire, in my opinion. They are reclassified as "weavers". There's battleweavers, thoughtweavers, etc. And they used the black t-shirt art again on the second page! Come on!
Not quite…

The lore claims that the weavers tried to fight "a terrible incursion from the Far Realm". Why do you have to fix what isn't broken? And really.. the Far Realm? I've just never found it very interesting. There's not too much you can do with the Far Realm. Madness! Tentacles! Got it. Although hey, maybe someone could cook up an entire Far Realm adventure path, what do I know. I do remember there being a very cool Far Realm encounter in Madness at Gardmore Abbey.

The book (Monster Manual 3, that is) goes on to say that the nodes and furnaces are active. The weavers are working toward The Disjunction in 4th edition. I love 4e, but this is not doing it for me.

They are extremely high-level. Level 28! Their stat blocks are very underwhelming. When dazed, they get a standard… and a minor action! Gasp. They're level 28, just say they can't be dazed due to their multi-tasking brains and be done with it.

I can stomach the other types of weavers. I guess it gives depth to their culture.

So there you go, a ridiculously thorough inspection of what I consider a very cool and under-utilized monster. I think you have to be careful not to portray them too much like aliens from Independence day or Close Encounters of the Third Kind. They feel like it'd be easy to make them too sci-fi for the liking of some.

But I think with care and the proper tone, these can be freaky and deadly creatures for mid to high level characters to come across. Please, just don't put them in a freaking t-shirt.

Yet another wonderful compilation of sources on a great creature. I'm here long after you posted these, but I really appreciate you keeping them up for posterity.

I agree, Spellweavers are underused in the background, and I too have a place for them in mine like Jason R has above.

In my campaign, the Battle of the Fields of Pesh (ultimate battle of the War Against Chaos, Mishka the Wolf Spider and the Queen of Chaos vs. the Wind Dukes of Aaqa etc.) was fought on many planes and even timelines at once. The goal of the forces of chaos was to collapse the planar divisions, placing everything on top of everything else at once, resulting in a breakdown of all sense and logic in the multiverse. it would be a bit like what happens in the Cloverfield Effect, if you've seen that. Anyways, they didn't succeed but the conflict left a lot of healing/standing rents in between the planes.

The Spellweavers came along and capitalized on that, building their network of planar nodes and energetic engines through those rents/wormholes/whatever. Their goal was something like building a new structural lattice for the multiverse, that they could control to empower themselves. They messed it up, of course.

I'll be dropping that bit in as background fluff in some of the GH adventures I run, like the Seeds of Sehan arc (partially set in Exag, which I make into a Spellweaver engine ruin). And I may pull some of those Shackled City adventures with Spellweavers out, and use them as elements as I restructure the Scales of War for a 3.5 build with more roleplaying and a wee bit less crawling.

Anyways: your writeup helped me find more sources and see them from a slightly different perspective. Thanks!

Spell weavers are mysterious six-armed beings with an uncanny control over magic. They are exceptionally rare and mysterious, typically encountered only when they appear to steal magic items for unknown purposes. Spell weavers usually act alone, but on rare occasions, small groups of spell weavers perform highly coordinated raids to achieve their objectives, using magic to hide or disguise themselves in humanoid society.

Spell weavers never speak, except to utter a strange language of whistles and clicks as verbal components when they cast spells. They speak only with their own kind, through a silent combination of telepathy, sign language, and the shifting colors and patterns of the chromatic disks that all spell weavers possess, allowing them to convey hours of conversation in mere moments. The only communication spell weavers make with other races is the occasional cryptic, rambling written message left for other races to find after their raids are complete.

Spell weavers with class levels are fairly common. Most take levels as sorcerers, almost exclusively favoring the Arcane bloodline. A few also take levels of rogue or fighter so as to enter the arcane trickster or eldritch knight prestige classes. Divine spellcasters are unknown among spell weavers, as their race is strictly atheistic.

The history and motivations of the spell weaver race is unknown. The very rare cases in which spell weaver communications have been deciphered hint at an ancient empire that vanished mysteriously, and those who try (and inevitably fail) to make telepathic contact with spell weavers sometimes tell of visions of great step pyramids, hundreds of feet tall, amid the temporary insanity induced by the spell weavers’ alien minds. Bas reliefs from ruined ziggurats of ancient Ninshabur depict six-armed figures that some sages identify with spell weavers; these beings, called the annunaki in the Ninshaburian language, were believed to be a race of gods who helped lift Ninshabur out of barbarism and taught them the secrets of building pyramids. Finally, though the lost continent of Sarusan is a mystery to sages everywhere, the veil that prevents magical scrying of its location has briefly parted at times, giving diviners passing glimpses of a great triangular structure somewhere in the continent’s vast, arid outback. What any of these clues might mean, none can conclusively say.

Chromatic Disk: A spell weaver is never without its chromatic disk. This 6-inch-diameter indestructible disk glows with colors that slowly shift through the spectrum. This object stores ten additional spell levels of energy that the creature can tap and use as it wishes - the spell weaver could, for example, cast two extra 5th-level spells in a day, or three 3rd-level spells and one 1st-level spell, or any other combination of extra spell levels that adds up to ten, so long as no single spell is higher than 5th level. (For this purpose, two 0-level spells are equivalent to one 1st-level spell.) To tap this spell energy, a spell weaver must hold the chromatic disk in at least one of its hands. The disk automatically recharges itself to full power whenever the spell weaver rests to regain its spell slots. A spell powered by the disk is cast as though the caster had the Spell Focus feat for the spell in question.
Only a spell weaver can utilize a chromatic disk. Should any other creature pick one up and try to tap its energy (by employing the Use Magic Device skill, for instance), it explodes, dealing 4d10 points of damage to everything within a 30-foot radius.

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