|Climate/Terrain:||Elemental earth, mountains|
|Intelligence:||Very to Exceptional (11-16)|
|Movement:||12, Fl 21 (B), Br 9|
|No. of Attacks:||2|
|Special Attacks:||See below|
|Special Defenses:||See below|
|Size:||L (12’ tall)|
Noble dao are the rulers of the genies from the Elemental Plane of Earth. They command earth elementals, dao, xorn, and other slaves who toil for them searching for the gems they prize. Their attitude toward all other races can best be described as callous.
Noble dao are bald and squat, and both sexes are fond of earrings, turbans, and heavy necklaces. Male dao nobles are fond of beards and moustaches, which they take great pride in and often sculpt into ridiculous points, curls, and blocky forms. Their skin varies in all the colors of earth and stone, from grey and brown to tan, white, and ebony. Their ears are pointed and their retractable fingernails are unnaturally durable claws of pure metal, capable of tearing through flesh and armor. These nails give their fingers a pudginess and a stiffness of movement that remains with them even in other forms.
Combat: Dao enjoy combat only when they already know the result. Their stratagems and plans for both melee and war revolve around stacking the deck in their favor as overwhelmingly as possible before a dispute even begins. They are great fans of spies, bribery, and mercenaries and will never fight any battle when someone else can be paid to do it and suffer the losses. However, when forced to defend themselves, noble dao are rarely unprepared. They generally seek to summon reinforcements and delay opponents while a crushing counterattack or ambush is prepared.
Noble dao can use any of the following spell-like abilities at will three times per day, one at a time: change self, detect good, detect magic, assume gaseous form, polymorph self, become invisible, fulfill the wish of a creature from the Prime Material Plane (in a perverse way), cause misdirection, passwall, create a spectral force, and create a wall of stone. Noble dao can cast sand whisper and dust curtain at will, turn rock to mud six times per day, and dig a dozen times per day. They can also cast repulsion, stoneskin, and domination once per day. Noble dao perform all magic at the 24th level of spell use. When in gaseous form, noble dao resemble a dusty cloud or sandstorm.
It is possible for dao nobles to carry up to 2,000 pounds without tiring. Double weight will cause tiring within three turns. (For every 200 pounds of weight under 4,000 the dao may add one turn to the duration of its carrying ability.) After tiring, a noble dao must rest for six turns. Note that dao can move through earth (not worked stone) at a burrowing rate of 9. They cannot take living creatures with them.
Noble dao are unaffected by all earth magics, but take three times normal damage from holy water. They are also immune to maze spells.
Habitat/Society: Noble dao rule various rifts of the Great Dismal Delve in the Plane of Elemental Earth, although many of them spend much of their time at the side of the khan who rules them all. Stately processions between their rift estates and the court of the khan occur frequently; in times of unrest dozens of noble processions may wind their way across the Great Dismal Delve every day as dao nobles attempt to protect their estates, possessions, mining dispensations, and trading rights from infringement or destruction. A dao mazework far from the Sevenfold Mazework is usually home to 1-6 noble dao, 4-40 common dao, and 8-80 elemental and nonelemental slaves – vassals, servants, and miners who continually expand the dao estate.
The Great Khan of the Dao rules in splendor in the Sevenfold Mazework, the city at the center of the Great Dismal Delve. The noble dao vary in power from the lesser atamen and hetmen who only visit the Sevenfold Mazework to the favored seneschals. The loyalty of the ataman or hetman who acts on the advice of a seneschal is always questionable, but the seneschals are always chosen by the khan of the dao, and their loyalty is to him alone.
The miles of three-dimensional convolutions and magical distortions which make up the Sevenfold Mazework are said to confuse even minotaur slaves, but noble dao understand its windings, twists, and spirals instinctively. Since each noble is occasionally given the unavoidable honor of paying for and supervising additions to the mazework, the khan is able to expand it perpetually at very little cost to himself. More rarely, an obsolete, unfashionable, or over-traveled section is closed off and filled with rubble from new digging elsewhere. The mazework connects to pockets of all the elements, and gates connect it to the other elemental planes.
Light in the mazework is kept deliberately dim, as it is entirely lined with mica, pyrite, hematite, and carefully cut, reflective semi-precious stones.light is reflected over and over again down the corridors. Bright lights are used as alarms to instantly alert nearby chambers of some emergency. Dim colored lights serve as signals for slaves and servants to attend to the nobles.
Nobles of the court of the great khan live in self-contained sections of the Sevenfold Mazework known as halls or wings. A typical seneschal’s residence might contain 1-6 male dao nobles, 2-12 female dao nobles, 4-24 common dao, 2-12 minotaurs, 10-100 elemental and nonelemental slaves. Summoned elemental creatures are either special servitors, slave overseers, or pets. The home of a minor noble dao who keeps a primary estate far away in the provincial sections of the Great Dismal Delve is typically home to half as many occupants as indicated above.
Female noble dao are responsible for the care and well-being of the slaves and the oversight of new excavations, though they may not choose where and how much to dig. This gives them considerable influence, though they are bound by custom to their mates in all other things. Some female dao are granted recognition as atamen and hetmen, but they are strictly excluded from the world of haggling and commerce (including the buying and selling of slaves). All dao consider trade too vulgar and dangerous for the female nobles to engage in. Some female dao nobles have, through special dispensations from the khan, been allowed to use their private holdings as the basis of lucrative money-lending businesses.
Ecology: Seneschal dao extract as much work from the atamen and hetmen as they can, and, likewise, atamen and hetmen push their slaves as hard as they dare. They are sharp traders, always able to turn business to their advantage; they are notoriously hard bargainers, especially with creatures not native to the Elemental Plane of Earth. They are always willing to see how far they can push a mercenary before he will betray them. Noble dao tend to see others only in terms of how much profit can be made from them or how much power can be gained over them.
Some dao take a perverse pleasure in destroying the possessions of others while increasing their own wealth and prestige. This is rare, as most noble dao would rather buy or steal a possession for themselves than destroy it. However, joy in the misfortune of others is an entrenched part of noble dao culture among the highest grades of nobles (those living in the Mazework itself). Building a new wing in the Sevenfold Mazework may become twice as difficult if the project is opposed by noble dao in wings nearby. Successful human traders have occasionally been sabotaged by envious dao. Dao nobles hate marid and djinn, but they are on speaking terms with efreet, who trade worked metal for minerals. All other elemental creatures are only of interest to the dao insofar as they can be exploited.
Great Khan of the Dao
The Great Khan of the Dao is also known by a multitude of titles including Ataman of the Mountains’ Roots, Caravaneer of the Sevenfold Path, the Perfect Compass, the Stone Sultan, Carver of Destiny, Master of Traders, the Fountain of Wealth, and Balancer of All Earthly Accounts.
The Great Khan is always planning new engineering projects, and his followers surround him with new ideas for additions to the mazework, new caravans, financial tricks to turn greater profits on his trade routes, and inventions to increase the efficiency of his slaves. He is constantly accompanied and assisted in his work by 1-6 tasked builder genies, 3-30 common merchant dao, 2-20 common warrior dao, and 1-10 noble dao.
The Great Khan has all the abilities of a noble dao and access to all the spells of the province of sand magic once per day. In addition he may cast suggestion at will merely by speaking for a full round – no gestures are required. He can cast maze once per month. He has 25 Hit Dice and maximum hit points. The khan is immune to all weapons made of metal or stone, though wooden weapons affect him normally.
The khan is unusually fat for a dao, with none of the strength of limb that most of his nobles possess. However, his eyes are bright with schemes and he has a quick wit. He has a great interest in technological improvements such as optics, systems to transfer mechanical power from one set of belts and gears to another, alchemical findings, and developments in metallurgy and mining such as new pumps, shorings, and refining techniques.
The audience chamber of the Great Khan is called the Hidden Fulcrum of the Dao. It is hidden deep within the Sevenfold Maze, and not even all the noble dao know where it is. Visitors who desire an audience are expected to bribe guards and even noble dao to win entrance to the corridors of power. These gifts or bribes are often discussed quite bluntly, and the amounts vary from 10-80,000 gp. Once a bribe is taken, nothing may happen or the fortunate visitor may be informed (within 1-4 weeks) that a few moments of the khan’s time have become available. All visitors are blindfolded and led through the mazework to the court, a process that requires several hours depending on which path is taken to the center. The khan has cunningly had the Hidden Fulcrum covered with mirrors that reflect his image all around the supplicants who visit him, so that his true location is very difficult to determine. The khan prefers to ask constant questions rather than listen to the pleading and presentations of visitors.
Supplicants are often advised to strip themselves of wealth before entering the mazework, as the khan prefers that his subjects and his audiences be humble and poor. Those poor souls who arrive resplendent in finery and jewels are generally asked to make gifts of their riches to the khan.
The Great Khan rarely leaves the environs of the Sevenfold Mazework; when he does it will be to accompany some vital caravan or to personally supervise the haggling for and obtaining of some great prize object or rare material needed for the magics found in the Mazework. (His caravans are usually comprised of 10-100 common dao and 1-3 noble dao.) The khan prefers to travel incognito when with merchant dao, as his well-known skills at appraising and haggling make others reluctant to deal with him if they recognize him.
When the Great Khan of the Dao travels to the Prime Material Plane, his arrival is always preceded by a powerful earthquake capable of shaking down fortress walls and altering the course of rivers. Once he has arrived he generally travels to the accompaniment of smaller tremors, as his processions often take him through hills and mountains rather than over them. In the desert, his procession (containing no less than 2-200 jann and 2-16 dao) creates a huge sandstorm wherever it passes.
Last Modified: January 27, 2014, 22:18:57 GMT
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