What’s Vile Got To Do With It?
I continue to work on The Vile Magics of Argonax the Mad, in my “spare” time. So, let’s talk for a moment about the word “vile.” While it has the same letters as evil, something can be vile without being morally questionable. I would call a raw-tuna-and-grape-jelly sandwich “vile,” but I wouldn’t feel eating one made someone a bad person.
So obviously if I’m promising vile magic, my book needs to contain various magic effects that would seem off or bothersome to reasonable people, but aren’t (necessarily) evil. Obviously I’ll touch a bit on artifacts (as those are the focus of Argonax’s multiple-lifetime quest, and I’ll present the Create Minor Artifact feat to show his progress), but I also want to include material that can be more easily worked into a campaign. Such bits can either serve as bread-crumbs for GMs wanting to lead players deeper into the mysteries of Argonax, or as dreadful options for characters who want to take a darker turn.
I’m not even sure how many such items I’m including yet (I’ll wait to see how big the project is after I finish the crucial bits), but below are some undeveloped examples of “vile magic.”
Aura: Moderate evocation; CL: 10th;
Each time the wearer of a suit of retributive armor is struck by a successful attack roll, the wearer gains a +1 bonus to the next attack made against that foe. If the wearer is hit multiple times before making an attack, the bonus to the wearer’s next attack roll increases by +1 each time the attacker hits (to a maximum of the wearer’s level/3, minimum +1). A character may only have this bonus against a single creature at a time (if a second creature strikes the character while it still has a bonus on a previous attacker, the bonus against the earlier attacker ends).
Craft Magic Arms and Armor, bane, unerring weapon; Price: +2 bonus.
Soul Stealing: A soul stealing weapon drinks in the immortal spirit of any creature it kills. If the blow that ends a creature’s life comes from the soul stealing weapon, that creature’s soul is stolen. Until and unless the soul stealing weapon is broken, the creature cannot be restored to life through any means (including clone, raise dead, resurrection, reincarnation, true resurrection, miracle or wish), and it’s body is immune to the speak with dead spell.
A ranged weapon with this ability confers it on ammunition fired.
Once per day, the wielder of a soul stealing weapon can name one creature killed by the weapon and ask it two questions, as if casting speak with dead on the creature’s complete corpse.
If the soul stealing weapon is broken, those killed by it can be restored to life through all normal means, and their bodies become vulnerable to the speak with dead spell.
A soul stealing weapon cannot also be defending, merciful, or holy.
Strong necromancy; CL 18th; Craft Magic Arms and Armor, soul bind; Price +5 bonus plus 6,000 gp.
You can regain spells using the life-forces of those you slay.
Prerequisites: Ability to cast speak with dead, Heighten Spell, Necrothurge, two metamagic feats.
Benefits: Once per round as a swift action, when a spell you cast kills one or more foes, you can use the dying target’s lost life force to restore your magic abilities. The creature killed must be within close range (25 ft. +5 ft./2 levels), and must have HD no less than 1/2 your level. If you are a spontaneous spellcaster (such as oracles and sorcerers), you regain the lowest-level spell slot you have already used. If you are a preparation spellcaster (such as magi and wizards) you may regain the use of the lowest-level spell you have already cast for the day. This feat can never allow you to exceed your normal maximum of spell slots or prepared spells.
School: necromancy [curse]; Level: antipaladin 1, cleric/oracle 2, witch 1
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Components: V, S
Range: close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Target: one living creature
Duration: 1 min./level
Saving Throw: Fort negates; Spell Resistance: yes
You curse the target’s blood, so it literally forms mouths with needle-sharp fangs to attack anyone who tries to heal the target. Anyone adjacent to the target who makes a Heal skill check, or uses a conjuration (healing) spell on the target is attacked by the tiny blood fangs. They strike with an attack bonus equal to your base attack bonus plus your Int, Wis or Cha modifier (whichever is higher), and deal 1d6 damage + your Int, Wis or Cha modifier (again, whichever is higher). The blood fangs can only attack a specific creature once each round, but a creature hit while casting a spell must make a concentration check with a DC equal to the spell’s save DC, or the healing spell is lost without effect.
These aren’t in extrenal playtesting yet, though I have unleashed some on the players in my playtest campaigns. But overall I suspect the final versions will look at lot like these. Thoughts?