Hitchhiker's Guide to the Planes
“And in the dawn may Lathander watch over you, and in every life to come.”
Tears rolled down Liara’s cheeks as she closed her old friend’s prayer book for the last time. A hollow silence hung over the young sorcerer, and the Wizard at her back.
“Thanvar would’ve been proud. They all would’ve been,” Marek said softly, gently placing a hand on her shoulder. The pair stood, quietly weeping at the three simple mounds of earth as the sun broke over the horizon.
“And they’ve forgiven you. Wherever they may be.”
“Marek, you know what you have to do now.”
Nightmares plagued the pair in the following days. Marek couldn’t remember if his survival had been thanks to his own magical talent, or if Liara had managed to control the unleashing of wild magic just enough to keep him safe. He saw the sickening rictus grin on the Lich’s face as the lightning bolt spiked through his body; heard Liara’s scream upon seeing him fall to the ground; and how the scream grew until it burned his skin, and how for one brief moment the whole battlefield screamed with fire. Then darkness.
“You couldn’t have decorated the place out a bit? Not even a little rug or something?” Liara smiled at Marek as firelight and shadow flickered across her face. “You could’ve killed me on a beach, or a breath-taking mountaintop, and you picked a cave?”
“It was the most remote place I could find. Just in case.”
“I know – I was joking. Come here.” Liara put a hand on Marek’s cheek and drew him close, kissing him slow and deep.
“I love you, Marek.”
“I need to hear you say it one last time.” Her eyes darted to the small jade figurine in Marek’s hand, carved exactly in her likeness.
“What’s that? Something to remember me by?” Marek looked at the ground. He started to mumble to himself, and a blue light shone from his hands, filling the cavern.
“What’s happening, Marek?”
“I’m going to save you, Liara.” A look of drunk confusion flashed across the Liara’s face as she fell to the ground with a soft thud.
“I’m going to save you.”
Imprisonment is one of the most terrifyingly powerful spells known to Wizardkind. In casting Imprisonment, a Wizard overrides a fundamental law of nature: the law that dictates that all things must die. It is one of a handful of spells whose effects are truly permanent, and one of the only magic spells known to grant any kind of immortality. It is thus not without good cause that the spell is deeply taboo in some cultures. Death should come to us all; but in Imprisonment, death never comes. Instead, the target remains trapped for as long as the Wizard desires, never ageing, and requiring neither food, drink, nor air. In many cases, the target remains conscious during its Imprisonment. In the hands of a lawful Wizard, the spell is often augmented with conditions that grant the target freedom once certain conditions are met: until a predetermined length of time has passed, for example, or until a victim is ready to forgive their Imprisoned wrongdoer. In malevolent hands, however, the spell can create a literal Hell on Earth for its unfortunate target.
Arcanists believe that the spell was created by a Lich known as The Watchman. Once a Mage of great power, The Watchman found himself unable to kill the woman he loved when her existence threatened the realm. Instead, he developed a spell to contain her for all eternity while he sought a way to cure her. Having failed to find a cure as he reached old age, he descended into obsession and madness, pursuing lichdom in order to continue his search. As a Lich, he found the spell he created could be twisted to darker ends, Imprisoning innocent souls in his phylactery for sustenance.
Since its creation, other Mages have adapted the spell to match their own objectives and tastes, though it is accepted that there are five standard versions of the spell. In all cases, the caster requires a picture or statue in the likeness of the target, as well as additional rare and expensive components.
Understanding the Spell
Archmage Rodric Jorhagen, with the help of several extremely trusting volunteers, has conducted extensive research into Imprisonment. His findings suggest that in casting Imprisonment, a Wizard is forcefully binding (or threading) the target’s soul directly into the Weave itself. After binding, the target’s soul may not move from its fixed location in space, and is in turn sustained by the Weave. The sheer energy required to bind a soul means that the spell cannot succeed without a capitulation of the Weave itself. It is chiefly for this reason that the spell requires such expensive components: not for the components’ inherent magic power, but as a sign of reverence for the Weave. The stronger the soul of the target, the more expensive the components required. Wizards offering the Weave inferior components often find themselves Imprisoned instead of their target, as punishment for their disrespect. The other essential component – an effigy of the target, either carved or drawn – is for purely pragmatic purposes, serving as a conduit between the Wizard’s spell and the target’s soul.
Casting the Spell
Because of its unique material requirements and longer casting time (1 minute), Imprisonment is rarely cast unless specifically prepared for. Much of the spell’s difficulty to cast lies in the fact that the spell’s verbal aspect more closely resembles singing than speaking, and uses pure vocal sound rather than words. Jorhagen believes that this is because purer sound makes the Weave more malleable to the caster’s will. The caster vocalises while concentrating on manipulating the Weave around the target, binding it one “thread” at a time to the target’s soul. However, for reasons unknown, one word does appear in every known incantation of the spell: “Liara”.
To perform the spell’s somatic component, the caster must first hold the specialised material component in the right hand, and the effigy of the target in the left. The spell begins with the caster levitating the effigy out of their left hand, leaving it to hover at chest height. The caster proceeds to make delicate plucking movements in the air; if this is done correctly, it should create white flashes of light from the Wizard’s fingertips. The movements grow more and more forceful as the casting progresses, with the white flashes of light growing into fluid, incandescent blue orbs; the caster then directs the orbs at the target with strong, open-palmed throwing movements. The specialised component also flies forward to encircle the target at this stage, shattering the effigy in the process. The casting culminates in wide, spiralling arm movements, and is completed by the sudden bringing together of both hands of the caster, with the back of the right hand facing upwards. Some who have witnessed the spell’s casting report that a heavy thudding sound accompanies the completion of the spell, while others claim that the sound more closely resembles a clicking noise. It is likely that the sound created is dependent on the caster, and the type of prison created by the spell.
What happens next depends on the manner of Imprisonment desired by the caster (see below).
Note: a Wizard may learn to cast the spell more quickly if they can already cast the spells Sequester, Hold Monster, Teleport, Magic Jar, Reduce, and Otiluke’s Resilient Sphere, as the fundamental magic processes of all these spells must be understood in casting Imprisonment.
Special component: A small mithral orb. In this variation, the spell’s blue orbs coalesce into a large sphere surrounding the target, which traps the target and is then instantaneously transported deep underground at the moment of spell completion. This variation of the spell was developed by the tyrannical Deephammer Clan of Dwarves, who used the spell to punish Dwarves caught venturing above ground to deal with other races. The punishment is known to have driven many of the Dwarves to insanity.
Special component: a fine chain of precious metal. In this variation, the spell’s blue orbs lengthen, transforming into heavy chains that bind the target to the ground. Imprisonment through Chaining was created by a Fiend Wizard of the Nine Hells, who sought to impress his Infernal master with the spell. This version of the spell particularly lends itself to acts of cruelty against the target, who remains conscious but immobile.
Special component: a miniature jade replica of the intended prison. In this variation, the spell’s blue orbs coalesce on the ground and drag the target down into a prison demiplane designed by the caster. This variation of the spell was created by the same Wizard that developed the spell Maze. The Wizard, furious to discover his spell was powerless against Minotaurs, tweaked the Imprisonment spell to make its prison a demiplane labyrinth that was truly inescapable. Upon perfecting the spell, he found that he could shape the demiplane prison into other forms, as long as the structure was confining in nature or design.
Special component: a large, transparent gemstone. In this variation, the spell’s blue orbs engulf both the target and the gemstone designated as the prison, before shrinking and evaporating until only the gemstone remains, with the target trapped inside. Created by the Wizard Arlgren the Arrogant, who liked to keep unique trophies of all rivals he defeated in single combat.
Special component: rare, soporific herbs. In this variation, the spell’s blue orbs become fluid, entering the target’s body through their nose, mouth, eyes and ears and sending the target into an eternal sleep. The oldest form of the spell Imprisonment, legend tells that this was the original spell developed by The Watchman in antiquity.
Note on the rules of the spell: To my mind there is a minor lack of clarity regarding the rules of this spell. The PHB states that you can only use a “particular special component” to create one prison at a time. But are you then allowed to use 5 diamonds and create 5 minimus prisons? It looks like you can to me.