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Anatomy of a Spell

Anatomy of a Spell

Article #2 – Armor of Ithan
By Alzandrion & Lord of Bones

Level 3 Invocation. Read spell description for exact effects. (RMB p. 170; BoM p. 96; R:UE p. 202). Due to copyrights, full spell can not be reprinted here.

Spell Summary
Armor of Ithan. Everyone knows it, or has at least heard of it. This invocation is perhaps the most widely known invocation of them all for both it's sheer practicality and relatively low P.P.E. Cost. In such a dangerous world, it comes as no surprise that most mages will have Armor of Ithan in their spell repertoire. As a result, this invocation is usually available in most places that sell magic items, scrolls, or other magic related paraphernalia.

Possible Origins
Popular legend and magic lore tells us that the original creator of the Armor of Ithan invocation named the spell after the magic armor of a dwarven king. Whether or not that is true is knowledge lost to time, as next to nothing is known about this legendary figure. Although the debate has raged for years, one popular opinion is that Ithan was a king shortly after The Age Of A Thousand Magicks when he fought in numerous battles bringing the dwarven kingdoms to prominence. It is said that the invocation was so named because it actually mimics the protective properties of the dwarven king's magic armor; namely the protection from various magical energies like fire and lightning. Those magical properties are believed to be the product of rune magic.

On Rifts Earth, even less is known about the origin of the spell. Whether or not it is based on an ancient king's rune armor or not is irrelevant to the denizens of such a dangerous world. The spell has been adopted by beings of nearly every race, with the only common thread being the cryptic name associated with it. Not surprisingly, even the name has been changed in some circles to reflect more representative icons. For example, the paranoid Alistair Dunscon has banned referring to the name of the mythical king in his presence, instead calling the spell "Armor of Nostrous".

Outside the Box
As is appropriate to any spell caster that suffers debilitating effects when wearing more than light armor protection, Armor of Ithan has long been the best defense through the lower levels of power. In every world that has developed it, Armor of Ithan has become an indispensable part of Techno-Wizardry and is used in a great many applications from personal armor to vehicular armor.

Just as with all useful things, there are a few drawbacks. The job of the creative wizard is to circumvent the limitations of magic to maintain the truism that magic has no limitations. How is that done? Well the most effective way is to combine Armor of Ithan with magic to enhance it's qualities. With such a low P.P.E. Cost, it stands as an excellent choice to store in a magic item to free up your precious P.P.E. Reserve. Lastly, Armor of Ithan is an excellent base from which a mage can develop new spells of protection.

Spell Anatomy
One of the most popular debates among Palladium gamers is how the spell, Armor of Ithan, actually manifests on the wearer. The most often used arguments, from both sides of the fence, are: "It doesn't say it can't or it doesn't, so it can" and the opposite "It doesn't say it can or it does, so it can't". Of course we are all free to decide how it works in our own games, but let's look at the actual spell description and try to draw some conclusions.

For starters, we'll look at the actual physical description of the armor and see that it is described as a "full suit of mystic armor". Some have taken that to mean that since the spell was named after a dwarven king, it must be something akin to full plate, since that is a common stereotype of dwarfs. Yet we don't know much about Ithan. Perhaps Ithan was a Wizard of some kind. After all, we know little of the era in which he was king. Social stereotypes and conventions may have been different. If Ithan was indeed a spell caster, he would have had to contend with the drawbacks of heavy armor on his spell casting and may not have fashioned the spell to appear as such. Or maybe he did fashion it to look like that, to follow convention.

What we do know for sure is that the armor is weightless, noiseless, and most importantly, invisible. While the name of the armor might imply that the armor should appear as something indicative of a dwarf, the fact that it is invisible in addition to it's other undetectable attributes opens up the door to all kinds of speculation! Was Ithan a spell caster? Was he an assassin or spy before becoming king? Did he or the creator of the spell simply not care how it looked, preferring a simple barrier?

Other armor spells like Armor Bizarre and Invincible Armor are very specific in the description of how the armor appears. Yet Armor of Ithan is vaguely described. Is it possible that the armor would appear in the form most relevant to the caster or how the spell was learned by the caster? That is to say that while a dwarf may wear it as mystic full plate, would someone who has never seen full plate wear it as the full suit most recognizable to his or her culture, such as a samurai? How would it appear on a Quick Flex alien spell caster? How does it appear on a Splugorth?!

Ultimately, the appearance is only important if you decide that the spell has a physical appearance to those who can See Invisible. Alternatively, you can choose to follow the idea that it isn't invisible by virtue of the fact that it was made to be hidden, but that it is invisible merely due to the fact that it simply has no physical appearance. In this case, the fact that it's a "full suit" is indicative of the fact that it's protective barrier applies to the entirety of the casters body; nothing more.

Moving on.

Armor of Ithan has a number of qualities in addition to it's physical protection. The spell provides the wearer with the ability to ignore some of the damage leveled at him through the use of fire, cold, and lightning magic. This has proven to be a great boon to those battling elementals and Warlocks, as well as those using TW weapons which mimic those effects.

Where some have questioned the ability to use natural weapons, such as claws and bites, with Armor of Ithan in place, there is no evidence to suggest that the spell hinders such attacks in any way. As a matter of fact, the spell has been designed to offer little in the way of hindrance. With that in mind, a recipient of this spell should be capable of utilizing his natural weapons without too much game imbalance from Armor of Ithan.

Spell Rating: 5 out of 5
For a new mage, this spell can't be beaten for it's efficiency and cost. Although there are better options, you get what you pay for, and a low level mage simply can't afford to pay that much and still be of use, magically, to himself and his comrades in a situation requiring the use of armor! It's usefulness is evident, and it remains a good back-up even at higher levels. It's utility in other applications merits high marks as well, thus the high Spell Rating.

Spell Combos
One of the most obvious and useful combinations calls for Armor of Ithan and Energize Spell (BoM p.111) to be combined for prolonged protection. Combining Armor of Ithan and Magic Shield is useful for mages who find themselves in melee combat with armed foes.

Spell Modifications
NOTE: Rules for spell modifications/variations of existing spells can be found on p. 38 of Nightbane WB 3: Through the Glass Darkly (TtGD). Penalties, bonuses, and changes to spell level do apply, as per TtGD.

Optional rules: Through the Glass Darkly normally uses the Principles of Magic Skill in its modification rules. Substitute Principles of Magic for Magic Lore in Rifts, or fifteen minus what G.M. determines to be the new spell level. In addition to the spell modification rules found in Through the Glass Darkly, I.Q. bonus should logically be applied here. This is another optional rule to be used at GM’s discretion. Again, some modified spells might actually resemble spells that already exist, but keep in mind that it is easier for a wizard in the game to use the knowledge he or she already knows, as opposed to learning a new spell from scratch.

Modified Armor of Ithan Spells, Invocations

Shield of Ithan
Range: Self
Duration: 1 round per level of the caster.
Saving Throw: None.
P.P.E.: Five
Level: Considered a 1st level spell.

Although not an actual shield per se, this minor Invocation produces a form of armor protection identical to Armor of Ithan (10 M.D.C. per level of the caster), albeit with a shorter Duration and providing only one quarter protection from magical fire, lightning, and cold.

Greater Armor of Ithan
Range: Self or other by touch
Duration: 2 minutes per level of experience.
Saving Throw: None.
P.P.E.: 25
Level: Considered a 6th level spell.

The Invocation produces an effect similar to Armor of Ithan but with far greater benefits for the caster. Greater Armor of Ithan provides the recipient with 15 M.D.C. per level of the caster and makes the recipient impervious to magical fire, lightning, and cold. In addition, the recipient is afforded full protection from poisonous gases, radiation, and low oxygen, as per a suit of conventional environmental body armor.

Ranks of Ithan
Range: 20 foot radius; 2 recipients per caster level.
Duration: 1 minute per level of the caster.
Saving Throw: Only required by unwilling participants.
P.P.E.: 10 per recipient
Level: Considered a 7th level spell.

The recipients of this spell receive a modified version of the Armor of Ithan spell, which provides 10 M.D.C. per level of the caster, but with none of the other benefits of Armor of Ithan.

This ritual costs 10 P.P.E. per recipient. The caster must draw at least one point of P.P.E. from each recipient that is to be covered by the spell. The caster may of course draw more than one point of P.P.E. if allowed to do so, but any difference must be contributed by the caster in some way, whether it's from his own reserve, drawn from a ley line, a P.P.E. battery, or some other way. If more than one caster is involved in the ritual, the difference in P.P.E. cost to complete the ritual is split among them.

If more than one caster is involved in the ritual, the caster level of the highest caster that knows the Armor of Ithan spell is used to determine the number of recipients, but the effects are not cumulative.

Gift of Ithan
Range: 100 feet (30 m)
Duration: One minute (4 melees) per caster level.
Saving Throw: None.
P.P.E.: 20
Level: Considered a 4th level spell.

This spell is exactly the same as the standard Armor of Ithan spell, but it can be cast at range to protect allies out of the caster's reach.

Grace of Ithan
Range: Self or other by touch
Duration: Lasts for one day per caster level or until damage is inflicted, at which time the actual spell duration begins.
Saving Throw: Only required by unwilling recipient
P.P.E.: 40
Level: Considered a 4th level ritual spell.

This version of Armor of Ithan is cast as a Ritual, the effect of which lays dormant after the casting until the mage is successfully attacked. The spell absorbs the damage and the standard spell's duration begins when the first damage received. Persons with Grace of Ithan cast on them radiate an aura of magic like that of a magic item.

Special Thanks: Special Thanks to Board Members Josh Sinsapaugh and xenocrates for their feedback.

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