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Behind the Spells: Floating Disk

Behind the Spells: Floating Disk

Welcome back to Behind the Spells, the series that provides a historical background, secret effects, and related material to classic spells of the world’s most famous fantasy roleplaying game. The rules (presented after the “Spell Secret” header) are compatible with any 3.5/OGL fantasy game, and the background weaves the spell into lore of the game’s previous three editions. Each “Behind the Spells” release is narrated by an ancient gold dragon named Maxolt Alberiim.

Reznett Moh’Jelv lived centuries ago in a small dark elf city called Emberdac. A wizard of incredible talent, Reznett had as much freedom as a male drow was allowed, given that males lived under the thumb of the fanatical priestesses of the Spider Queen. That freedom was threatened became imperiled when the earth shook. The prideful drow assumed that such minor quakes were beneath their concern. They were wrong. [More…]

When a major quake and its aftershocks crushed an entire noble house, the dark elves finally realized the tenuous nature of the vault they called home.

The drow prepared to move to a suitable cavern some 30 miles away. However, the matrons of Emberdac’s most powerful families would not even consider walking with the common rabble, much less trekking such a distance. Riding on subterranean pack lizards was certainly beneath them.

No, when matrons moved through the city, they were carried atop elaborate sedan chairs, but the length of the journey and weight of the chairs ruled out this mode of transportation as well. Finally, due to the radiations of the underdark, mass teleportation was also not an option. Magic, however, did seem like the best approach to solve the matrons’ dilemma. For that, all eyes turned to Reznett.

Under Duress
The matron of Emberdac’s first house ordered Reznett imprisoned in his laboratory until he devised an appropriately worthy means of conveyance for the city’s leading priestesses and matrons. While the wizard enjoyed a magical challenge, this was not the ideal situation in which to solve one. Reznett held no love for the matrons and the Spider Queen to begin with and being shackled (literally) with fashioning a new means of pleasing them was infuriating. The wizard swore he would come up with something, but that would be the last the priestesses saw of him.

The next tremor to crack the stone wall of his lab gave Reznett the inspiration he needed. A stream of silvery fluid leaked from the crack and puddled on the floor: mercury. A lone spider caught in the stream rode the quicksilver unharmed to the floor. The spider paused at the edge of the pool, as though it enjoyed the ride, then skittered away. Reznett took a drop of mercury from the leak and performed some quick experiments.

By the next day, he had developed a minor spell—floating disk—which became the prototype for larger disks. Reznett abandoned the idea of expanding his force-based disk to accommodate a person due to time constraints. Instead, he modified the arcane premise and developed special levitating disks of stone. The matrons could adorn these more concrete carriages as they wished, and have plenty of room for luggage besides.

The Exodus
The first matron released Reznett from his house arrest after the wizard presented the first “float disk.” Reznett explained their creation to Emerdac’s more learned spellcasters and mass construction began (over two dozen float disks were required!). During the exodus, Reznett slipped out from beneath the watchful eyes of the high priestesses and disappeared into the mists of history.

Emberdac’s inhabitants moved successfully before a final quake destroyed the city. The float disk found its way quickly to other dark elf cities but never was its creator credited. Reznett was, after all, just a male.

So what became of Reznett, you ask? Prominent sages of arcane lore have conflicting theories. I believe Reznett migrated to the surface. He had no love for his drow relatives or colleagues (for what arcane knowledge could they impart that he did not already know?) and, he believed life underground could yield few opportunities to learn magics of different cultures.

One wild belief even has Reznett changing his name and taking on the permanent guise of a human. His new persona and wizardly power allowed him to join an elite group of eight archmages. And while these mages were normally involved in goodly affairs, the former dark elf followed suit as long as his disguise allowed for further magical study and advancement. While fanciful, this particular tale of Reznett’s fate makes sense since the persona he is linked to (an archmage whose named begins with a “T”) was renowned for creating floating disk and using it to carry mounds of treasure (in some cases from “fortunate finds” of dark elf caches).

Spell Secret

Throughout the spell’s existence, floating disk has used a drop of mercury as its material component. The elemental drop serves as the foundation around which the disk-shaped force energy converges to create the object for which the spell is named. But mercury has other properties besides the negative surface tension which so inspired the spell’s creator. One of those properties is that it has a highly reflective surface. The spell secret below certainly helps snoop down adjacent halls, beneath doors, and when fighting medusae.

With an easy Spellcraft check (DC 11), you can cause the floating disk to become a two-sided mirror. The spell continues to function normally but, if not supporting anything, the disk can be made to pivot as you desire. With a very easy Concentration check (DC 6), you can turn the disk up to a 90-degree angle once per round, giving you a mobile mirror. If turned back horizontally, the disk can again support weight as normal. You can interchange mirror-shelf functions as necessary throughout the spell’s duration (Concentration check still required but can be retried as needed).

Related Research
The original “float disks” were created as little more than mobile platforms for lazy drow matrons. But as the concept and mechanics for the item spread throughout the various cultures, inspired spellcasters put their own stamp on the idea. Described below is a battle disk as discovered in a remote jungle by an old associate of mine. The identity of its creators is unknown beyond the fact that they were undoubtedly warlike, likely using the disk as either a troop transport or secure vantage for a directing general.


Measuring 25 feet in diameter and 6 inches thick, this disk of solid stone is inscribed with primitive drawings separated by lines of arcane runes. The drawings depict all kinds of violence and death in graphic detail. The runes form a pinwheel of five spokes that radiate out from a plain stone seat at the disk’s center and continue beneath the disk to meet again on the bottom.

Any Medium-size or smaller creature with 10 or greater Intelligence that sits in the throne instantly knows the powers of the battle disk and can activate them by command word. When the controlling creature leaves the throne, all active effects immediately cease. The disk has three powers, each usable only once per round.

• Fly: The battle disk can levitate vertically up to 10 feet per round (maximum height of 60 feet) or can move horizontally up to 20 feet per round.

• Defend: A dome of shimmering energy springs from the disk’s rim and closes at 20 feet above the throne. This dome acts as a lesser globe of invulnerability and is usable once per day up to 8 rounds.

• Attack: A wave of lightning erupts in a 20-foot burst from the disk’s rim. The arc fans outward requiring all creatures parallel with the disk’s elevation to succeed a DC 15 Reflex save or take 2d6 electrical damage. Alternately, the controller can release a standard lightning bolt (DC 15 Reflex save) which inflicts 8d6 damage in an 80-ft. line. The attack mode is usable 5 times per day.

Moderate abjuration; CL 8th; Craft Wondrous Item, fly, lesser globe of invulnerability, lightning bolt; Price 103,680 gp.

Behind the Spells: Floating Disk is the fourth in a series produced for KoboldQuarterly.com by Tricky Owlbear Publishing, Inc.

Open Game License for Floating Disk

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