|The Beguiling of Merlin (source)|
The act of spell casting opens up magic-users to dark forces and draws the attention of wicked spirits. In order to defend against such dangers, many magic-users wear garments imprinted with powerful and esoteric pictograms. Such wards help protect a magic-user against psychic pollution or opportunistic attack.
To function correctly, the wards must be imposed spiritually between the magic-user’s soul and the magical threat. There are some extremely powerful magical periapts that can accomplish this task without the symbolism of clothing, but they are very rare. More common are robes which stand directly between the flesh of the sorcerer and the external threat, particularly flowing clothing such as robes, which provide more space for esoteric symbols.
Just like physical armor, robes provide a defense rating, from 1 to 6. This rating functions as a bonus to the save versus magic and does not provide any bonus to physical armor class. Warded robes also function, by referee determination, as AC against certain special creatures (such as those that are ethereal). In Hexagram, the magic defense trait bonus does not stack with the bonus from warded robes, though the magic defense trait may be used to protect a companion (see the path of wonder trait descriptions).
The symbolism of clothing requires that the robes bridge the space between flesh and threat, so conventional armor may not be worn at the same time. However, most magic-users fear arcane assault more than physical assault (which may be guarded against by certain abjuration spells and loyal warders). Thus, many magic-users opt to wear robes rather than traditional armor (though they may forego wards and wear armor if desired). There are legends of warded mage armor, particularly among the faeries, but such treasures rarely come without strings attached.
The base cost of warded robes is as follows, by robe level. This includes the cost of materials and the labor of skilled tailors. Robes take one week per level to create.
- 10 gp
- 100 gp
- 500 gp
- 1000 gp
- 5000 gp
- 10000 gp
In addition to the saving throw bonus, warded robes may have up to N special wards (where N is equal to the level of the robes) which can provide special protection. The nature, cost, and availability of these additional wards are up to the referee, but often require special materials or far away knowledge.
Robes must be attuned to a particular magic-user. The cost of attuning a set of robes to a new owner is half the original cost. Additionally, the magic-user must cast a spell of level N as part of the attuning procedure. Warded robes that have not been attuned function at half-level (rounded down) until the garments are reworked to fit the soul of the new wearer. Some magic-users may also work curses into their garments (these would fall under the category of special wards) as insurance against theft.
In addition to psychic defense, warded robes also have social value. They advertise to strangers that the character is a magic-user. Such open magic-users are assumed to follow the laws of the ancient academy and to reject black magic such as diabolism and necromancy. One of the responsibilities of magic-users following the ancient rules is to hunt down and punish sorcerous rebels. Many magic-users are quite zealous in this task, in order to protect their fragile reputation. Within the society of magic-users, the complexity of robe symbolism also functions as a crude method of assessing another magic-user’s skill and power.
It is assumed that there are only three kinds of magic-users that do not wear robes openly. Those that are too poor or inexperienced to craft proper garments. Those that wish to conceal their nature (this is considered evil and is a crime in many places). And those, like the arch-mages of myth, that are powerful enough to need no external protection.