Grimoire: Meteor Swarm

Meteor Swarm


9th level evocation

Casting time: 1 action

Range: 1 mile

Components: Verbal, Somatic

Duration: Instantaneous


History

“…we kept to the edge of the forest, and made camp at the base of the mountain among piles of broken scree. I could feel the heat of the day still radiating from the bare stone, long after the dusk had deepened to night. Battlemage Craester was arguing with the head guide about their pay again. I walked a little away from the darkened tents – we had not had campfires, of course, since we had left the safety of the southern pass – to stand on an outcrop, taking the opportunity to look out over the blasted stone wasteland that loomed above us, pale in the dim moonlight, which we would have to summit tomorrow.

Suddenly my attention was caught by lights in the sky. Four tiny points of orange streaked smouldering past the stars and vanished from my sight behind the shoulder of the slope. I had no sense of their size or distance until the flash that followed, when an enormous orb of fire exploded on the mountain’s upper flanks. Then the shockwave hit; a deep roar that set the pebbles at my feet trembling. Craester’s argument was cut short behind me.

When pressed for an explanation, the head guide shrugged and said that the Thaneguard knew the secret base was in the mountains, but did not know exactly where — so apparently they had taken to systematically shelling the countryside in the hopes of scoring a lucky hit, or at least of making life difficult for those of us who had to travel there.

They certainly succeeded in that last point. The next eight hours were spent miserably in my tent while the fireballs periodically rained down on the mountainside. Sleep was impossible, as was study, so I was forced to lie awake and endure. Now I understood why the slopes were so bare, and the scree so shattered and angular. I did not relish the thought that a team of enemy battlemages was not more than a mile away, and was thankful for the wards and shields we carried against scrying…”

Jermana Olfar, Magistara Prima of Llewn, A Magistara’s Apology (p203)

This famous account of the terrifying Meteor Swarm is one of the earlier references I have been able to find. In the early years of her long and illustrious career, Magistara Olfar found herself involved in a defensive war that threatened her home and her people (her first exposure to battlefield magick, but certainly not her last). In fact the war had been ongoing for many years by the time that Jermana was old enough to experience it firsthand, with the Llewnan forces flagging and being beaten further back by the day. Their foes were the Thaneguard of Colt, a powerful political faction within Paragon with a long and storied history of dealing in fire magicks, first started by the famous Yor of Colt as an elite guard, but which had long since become something else entirely.

Yor, the discoverer of the ubiquitous Fireball spell, would surely not have expected his disciples to carry his work so far. The most powerful battlemages of the Thaneguard had, in their eyes, perfected the evoking and shaping of the explosive nature of flame into a single massive attack, for the purpose of obliterating whole armies at a time.


Learning and Casting Meteor Swarm

Meteor Swarm requires mental stamina and thermokinetic sense so great that only the most experienced evokers can support the stress it places upon the weave of the world. Following the defeat of the Thaneguard at Farharbour, the Llewnan high council ordered all written copies of the spell destroyed and the Thaneguard battlemages imprisoned, but some knowledge of the spell escaped the purge. The stigma has faded over the intervening years, and now most arcane colleges with a master evoker will carry written instructions for Meteor Swarm – though, typically, under lock and key.

As for casting the spell, you will know when you are ready. Meteor Swarm is not technically demanding on the caster; any experienced evoker will find it almost natural to perform. However, as the magnitude of the arcane energies involved are extreme, if not controlled properly the spell can have dramatic repercussions. If you have to think about it, you are not ready.

Verbal Component

The verbal component for Meteor Swarm is based upon the Infernal language, like the Fireball spell’s, and indeed a modified version of the same. Say weirkk-svlaw in time with the somatic component. Literally this phrase translates as “spark-hive”, which is likely why we call the spell Meteor Swarm rather than the (perhaps) more obvious Meteor Storm. As one’s familiarity with the spell develops, this verbal component can be streamlined to a strong open-mouthed inhalation followed by a hissing exhalation.

The Thanguards’ source for the modified verbal phrase is unknown, though speculated to be demonic in origin. Much like with Yor’s own original work on Fireball, we will likely never know the details.

Somatic Component

Ball your fist and point your index fingers, with thumbs held out at right angles. Raise your arms in front of you so that your elbows are bent at 90 degrees and your forearms are nearly vertical. The bases of your palms should nearly be touching. This coincides with an in-drawn breath and the weirkk part of the verbal component. You should feel an enormous amount of tensile pressure building in resistance, but hold your pose firmly. Then when you feel the crest of the spell strike you, rapidly release your arms out wide, wing-like, in a downwards sweeping motion. You must maintain the shape of your hands, and your palms should end facing down. You will feel your arms pushed outwards by the rush of the spell’s power, but resist the urge to let them relax. You must maintain control at all times. As you perform this part of the motion, complete the verbal component by saying svlaw with a determined exhalation.

Spell Effects

Four blazing orbs plummet to earth anywhere within range, as directed by the caster. Where they strike the ground, the orbs explode outwards, blossoming into a spherical fireball 80 feet in diameter. Creatures caught in the resulting firestorm are buffeted by the explosion and burned by the flames, which spread around corners easily. While explosions might overlap, this does not make the result strike harder or burn hotter.

Failure and Success

If you are ready for Meteor Swarm, you will not fail. If you are not ready, you will fail. The only failure is from not controlling the spell’s potency through the entirety of its casting, and you will be struck by aftershocks that ripple across the arcane weave underlying reality. You might succeed in causing the intended effects, but you will be the locus of an upsurge in magick, and there is no telling what effects that might have on you and those around you.


Notable Usage

Other than the numerous stories of the Thaneguards and their brutal effectiveness on the battlefield, one familiar tale stands out to us. This is the time when the dwarven wizard Borin Baraxalsheim sacrificed his life to aid his companions, calling down a Meteor Swarm upon himself and a horde of undead as he stood at the narrowest point of a ravine, collapsing the walls on either side and buying his friends time to escape. Borin’s heroism has been immortalised in the sombre ballad “The Lay of the Lost and Lonely”, and also in the not-so-sombre yet surprisingly popular drinking song, “Borin’s Blazing Balls”.


– from The Writings of Markas Tydewhiel, Arcano-Historian, Visiting Scholar at Wayford.

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