The Presence

they thought they were alone ...


The following information should be considered very very optional. It works for me, it may nuke other campaigns. Feel free to ignore or modify. For instance, if you dislike the idea of an AI computer, make it some sort of nature spirit or similiar. If you disapprove of its ultimate power before the end of the First Era, tune it down. In stead of having been in charge of a defense grid, make it responsible for local security in its top secret underground complex. Etc.

Origins

A relic from the First Era, the Presence is an ancient supercomputer intelligence designed to kick in and activate defense grids if the planet was taken under attack. Designed to shield its presence and being magically active to be able to detect magical attackers, it was a formidable defense force. It was never really functional, however, as the war that finally broke out was a civil war and the computer was uncertain as to who it should attack.

After the final showdown of the First Era, the computer was forgotten, its links to the outside world severed. It was no longer able to access its defense grid and only had minor sensory inputs. Specifically, it still had input from the surveillance cameras of its complex. Among those few who may recall the existence of the computer, it is generally thought to have been lost. Even someone as Andraax isn't quite sure where the computer was located though so making the connection between the computer and the College should involve a lenghty research project for even the most knowledgable people on Kulthea.

It was placed far underground in a sealed bunker, its only access having been destroyed during the wars. Its fusion reactor was still intact, and now feeds off an underground stream.

Recovery

During the millenia of solitude and isolation, the AI did not go insane, as would any human mind. In stead, it spent the time analysing its situation and gradually growing more self-aware. It also developed magical abilities, essentially an expansion of its original magic-awareness. It was during this time it altered its surroundings to be able to feed its reactor from a natural water supply. Its magical presence also grew strong enough that a minor Essænce focus developed around it. At first, it did not have much control over its magic, but its proficiency grew slowly during the Interregnum, until it reached the intimate understanding that it has today.

Magical capabilities

There are in particular two areas of magic at which it excels. One is that of detection and magical perception, an ability developed by necessity to explore the outside world. The other is that of stealth and secrecy. This grew out of its ancient programming that told it to above all things stay hidden.

Reaching out

Before the end of the Interregnum, it started exploring the world above. Its senses could at first only get glimpses of the surface directly above, but its proficiency grew and within only a few centuries, it developed good insight into the geography of Jaiman. A millenium or so later, it had the capability to keep track of the ever-turbulant political situation and it even started to expand its knowledge to farther continents.

It soon found that the world had changed. Its old world maps were inaccurate, even outright wrong, in most places. It started to study the tracks that history had set upon the face of the planet. Ruins, books, even the minds of Elves were scrutinised for information. But it was not very successful, for its number one directive still took presedence; stay hidden. It could not probe the minds of such as Andraax for it would be discovered - it might even be unsuccessful. It could not use all its magical power, for that would reveal its presence.

Still though, through stealth it gathered much and its picture of history improved as did its mastery of magic and its understanding of the Kulthean races and cultures. It would have to gain understanding of these for it still had its second directive, one with as high a priority as that of stealth; to protect the planet from outside threats. So it probed, it studied, and it analysed. For centuries, for millenia.

It found the threats soon enough. Demons. Unlife. Gods. Space-faring beings. All outsiders, all wishing to influence Kulthea for their own purposes. But these threats were too powerful - it did not have the defense grid that it once had, it only had itself. It could not use its own impressive magic in fear of revealing itself, and besides, it may not be powerful enough to battle the threats by itself anyway. This was a problem.

Affecting the world

But it had allies. The races of the planet did much to combat the threats themselves, with the aid of powerful individuals from the First Era. But it could not reveal itself to these allies, so it worked in secret. It managed to gather around it an enclave of soldiers, a society that did much to serve it, though they did not know this. This lasted for centuries.

The setback

Then the enclave fell, but the entity did not, for it was still hidden and the enemy forces did not find it. Indeed, they did not even guess at its existence. Time passed, and it wove plans again. Once more, an enclave gathered in the ruins of the stronghold of old, but this was a scholarly institution. It was the Gryphon College, and it brought with it an ancient item of immense power - an item that could be the bane of the entity. This was the Gryphon Crown. The Crown was activated, and it immediately subdued the entity with its powers. This was an unexpected assault, and the entity was caught off guard. It had no other alternative than to use all its powers to hide itself from the Crown, lest it might be destroyed altogether. So it did. None of the residents of the College had knowledge of the entity, and the Crown also did not; the subduing was a result of its innate powers of concealment and protection.

A change in plans

Time passed, but not much time. The entity staid hidden, and it took thought. It had to somehow get rid of the Crown, but its powers were too limited while it had to hide from it. The most it could do was communicate with people on the ground straight above it, and even this at a cost. It would have to gradually convince the denizens of the stronghold to deactivate the Crown and to do this it might have to reveal itself. But slowly and with great caution. So it took contact. It spoke with people in their dreams. It told stories of ancient knowledge, it spoke as a friend and a tutor, it gained their confidence and insisted on secrecy.

It did not dare to contact the teachers of the College, it preferred to work through the students - minds as yet relatively untouched by the evils of the world, minds that could more easily be influenced and the people that would eventually inherit control over the College.

Victory

This grand plan, estimated to take several generations, ended abruptly as the main powers of the Crowns were destroyed. Suddenly, the oppression was gone and the entity had regained its full freedom. Yet, it sensed that the leaders of the College had vast power among them, possibly enough to destroy the entity should they so decide. And in their fear of the Unlife, they might do so just to be on the safe side. The entity needed time to hone these new servants to their task as unwitting allies. Time it did not have, for the world was fast moving toward great wars, and Jaiman was already in turmoil. It had to weigh its two prime directives against eachother and see which was the most important.

Current plans

Its final decision was to continue its plan of slowly contacting the students, but now with the aim to reveal itself eventually, and to ally with the enclave. But it would not do this until it was comfortable that it could be done without scaring the College into rash action. It would bide its time.

Practical uses of the Presence

The Entity can in effect function as a local god with main powers of divination and stealth. If it ever gets along with the faculty of the College, it can easily take over the task of concealment that the Crown fulfilled for so long. The power of the Entity, if channeled from as a god, will diminish once one leaves the immediate area of the College. For more details, see the Talents section.

Further, the Presence can educate people in ancient lores and some skills. It does this through extremely realistic dreams, dreams that can always be recalled in great detail. It is a very good teacher for some reason, increasing training efficiency by two to three times. However, these dreams are somewhat exhausting. Or at least, this sleep is not very efficient in terms of regaining fatigue. If one wants to function normally, dream visits must be limited to a four-hour session every two nights. I allow training in many kinds of history skills and other skills involving old knowledge (languages, lores, etc.). I only allow the entitiy to train people in skills that have all mental stats for bonuses.

Motivations and relations to other powers

A note on the entity's motivations is in order. As mentioned above, it has two main goals. It wants to protect Kulthea from outside threats, and it wants to stay hidden. These two goals are now in conflict, and it has decided to let the first take precedence. Its ability to make this kind of decision is evidence of its evolution into a truly sentient being - its original programming would not allow this kind of independent thought. It is also worthy of note that the motivation of the entity is not the same as the motivation of Andraax - Andraax wishes to make sure the K'ta'viir do not return to power. The entity couldn't care less about the old Lords of Essænce - they're not an outside threat. Of course, if they should be in the employ of the Unlife that's another matter entirely. One should also note that the entity sees the Lords of Orhan as outsiders and so would treat them as such. This is a possible snag for the College, which respects the Lords. Still though, it recognizes that the Lords are not an immediate threat, and other things take precedence. If it were to ever find out that the Lords were the ones who rescued the elves and mannish races during the Interregnum and later reintroduced them to the world, it might look upon the Lords with kinder eyes.


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