V is for Visage of Bolas


alphabet (v)

The now nameless planeswalker once named Nicol Bolas is the youngest and most infamous of the seven Elder Dragons to have survived the Elder Dragon War. He was also known as the Second Sun, the Forever Serpent, the Horned One, the God-Pharaoh of Amonkhet, and after the War of the Spark he was stripped of all names and titles by Ugin. He is dead to the Multiverse, his survival known only to Ugin and Jace Beleren. The «mortal dragon» is kept imprisoned on Ugin’s Prison Realm.

He had styled himself «the mind-ripper, the deathbringer, the winged dark that terrifies your dreams. The first to witness the sun rise on Dominaria, and the last to watch it set for the final time». On Ixalan he was known as Lord Nicolas, and on Ravnica as Master Venati.

Nicol Bolas would not rest until he was restored to his former glory.

At an undisclosed point before the Mending, Bolas turned his attention to Amonkhet, drawn to the strange metal named Lazotep and its reaction with necromancy. During his arrival, he found himself opposed by the eight gods of the world. Despite his waning power, the Elder Dragon proved to be a formidable enemy, laying waste to the population and driving the gods before him, until they gathered in the city of Naktamun for a desperate last stand. In secret, the god Bontu conspired with Bolas to betray her brethren. When the dragon broke through the protective barrier of the city, he cast a spell that killed every single adult being on the plane, weakening the gods enough to subdue them and corrupting them to worshiping him instead. Three gods were set aside and twisted in their forms to fully serve him, while the remaining gods were simply mind-controlled. The spells that maintained the corruption would be maintained by Bontu, who hoped to be rewarded by Bolas later.

Using the mummified dead of the plane to raise the children, he built himself monuments and wrote prophecies that would tell of his glorious return. Drawing on the phenomenons like the Curse of Wandering, one of these promises when he returns, he will shatter the Hekma, the magical barrier protecting the populace of Amonkhet from the horrors of the broken lands, and call those who have passed the Trials of the Five Gods to his side to grant them a true afterlife. The remaining ones, including the gods themselves, will have to prove their worth to him just like the mortals they tested before. The theology of this religion were kept in the Accounting of Hours. Afterward, Bolas left, waiting for the time his scheme would pay off. Additionally, Bolas warped the Angels of the plane to serve as his agents.

Bolas also spread rumors that he was the one who had created Amonkhet, which was later reiterated by Liliana. The people of Amonkhet found his false prophecies that he will return when the second sun is positioned between the effigy of Bolas’ horns on the plane. This is highly anticipated and reflected in figures of speech.

On Amonkhet, Bolas’s scheme worked as intended, with hundreds of the Worthy Dead being converted into his Eternal army. When he came to the plane and materialized above his throne in Naktamun, he found the city in ruins, the gods felled, and its population under assault from his minions. Pleased, he turned to the treacherous Bontu, commanding her to kill the last of the gods, Hazoret. When Bontu managed to defeat her sister, Bolas instead rewarded her with death, forcing numerous undead to tear her apart.

Visage of Bolas (2)In Dungeons & Dragons

Villains wanting to become gods are a staple of heroic fantasy, and D&D is no exception by any means. An apotheosis ritual and its components are more of a McGuffin than actual instructions to follow. Just as a lich performs a foul ritual to forego life and create a philactery, someone who achieve godhood (or pretends they have) may create visages to remind mere mortals that they are always watching.

Wondrous item, rare

When creating a visage, you link a piece of your conscience to project unto it using a slot from the highest level you can cast. As long as the visage exists, you can’t use that spell slot. The visage, even when it’s not, is always considered within reach if you want to use it as focus for a spell scrying, which allows you to use it from a different plane if you choose the visage’s location as the target for the spell. That location counts as familiar for purposes of divination and teleportation spells. Additionally, you can consider it the point of origin for a spell you cast of up to 3rd level, and finally, if someone casts a divination spell that depends on contacting an entity, such as contact other plane, within 120ft. from the visage you are the entity contacted and decide the answer to their questions. You can also make the spellcaster fail the respective saving throw if any. 

In Eberron

Given the indifference gods take on mortal matters in Eberron, visages are more used as tokens of vigilance from authority figures, such as the Deathless in Aerenal or the undead high clerics of the Blood of Vol.

How are you planning to incorporate the Visage in youir campaign? Is it part of a trap inside a megadungeon, or was it hidden among the party’s belongings to have an eye on them permanently? Is the Big Bad Boss planning to use it to teleport next to them at the least expected moment?

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