So I'm designing a new Sci-Fi setting and I decided I was going to finally give in to my desire to have a low-magic setting where the only type of magics were the type that were either natural and inexplicable or only accessible through Carcosan type rituals. Thank Mr. Kangaroo for inspiring me with his post, which is here. That is one of the primary influences for this new setting, along with what Dan D has written about Mothership, what Skerples has written about his pirate campaign and its all topped off with a heaping helping of Warhammer 40,000.
The State of Magic in Sea of Stars:
There is no caster class or reliable magic. Most people don't even believe in magic.
This will be my official position as the Game Master, by the way, until revealed otherwise. That way, when I spring Cthulhu on the players, it's going to be so much funnier.
But sorcery, witchcraft, magic, it is very real.
So with that established, let's talk principles.
Firstly, all magic, sorcery and spiritual weirdness comes from the Emptiness. The Emptiness is the Spiritual Plane that overlaps the Physical Plane. This is your Astral or Immaterial Plane, the Empyrean, etc. All magic comes from here, along with all living creatures with souls, though that is secret knowledge. The reason it is called the Emptiness is that when traveling through it, no sensor can determine if anything is outside.
But the fact that the Emptiness is the source of magic is a secret. What is widely known, at least among some communities, is that the Emptiness is how Mankind circumvents the FTL limit. By opening a portal into the Emptiness, starships can easily cover the vast interstellar distances that would take far longer otherwise. So traveling across the galaxy is possible, if your ship has an Emptiness Drive.
Ships that travel through the Emptiness must also follow Emptiness Security Protocols, or suffer. ESPs include such things as preventing people from gazing out into the Emptiness through translucent spaces, not at all hard on most space ships, as those windows are actually just viewing monitors hooked up to external cameras. Among these Protocols are rules where starships who tranverse the Emptiness must also have networks of symbols carved into their frames. Very few know exactly why, but these symbols prevent any weirdness from overtaking them. Voidborne widely refer to these symbols as 'Ward-Nets', no matter how much their captains try to use other language. But Voidborne are a superstitious and bizarre group, so who really cares what they think. Regardless, ships with damaged ward-nets tend to not return.
Looking out into the Emptiness is said to be extremely hazardous, usually leading to madness, revelation or both. Being physically exposed to the Emptiness is even worse and all the stories on the subject say it leads to sudden, unavoidable death, but the stories do not agree on why.
How do I get some?
There are only two sources of magic. Firstly, you can perform a ritual. All rituals require some kind of materials and usually require specific ceremonies. They are often hazardous, but can provide some incredible powers. As for where you can learn rituals, you will find them hidden in forbidden tomes, scratched on the walls of abandoned asylums and in the hands of would-be magicians.
If you don't have time for that, though, you can sell your soul. Not really, usually, but some of the creatures from the Emptiness can provide you with special powers or abilities. However, they will need something in return, usually sacrifice, but they can also require allegiance, favors or even worship. But more on that later.
How to Perform a Ritual:
To cast a ritual requires you to make any preparations you wish to, then make two 1d20 checks.
The first check is your Incantation Check. This is based on whether or not you performed the ritual correctly, whether you pronounced the words correctly, whether you drew the symbols correctly, whether you danced well enough, etc, etc. If your roll equals or exceeds a ritual's DC, count this as a successful check.
The second check is your Invocation Check. This is based on whether or not you manage to successfully draw upon the power of the Emptiness. If your roll equals or exceeds a ritual's DC, count this as a successful check.
Now, for the tricky part.
If your Incantation Check and your Invocation Check both succeed, then the ritual is successful and works as it is intended, though if you were trying to do something stupid with it, it might still end up causing trouble for you.
If you succeed on your Incantation Check but fail your Invocation Check, roll on the 'Innate Magical Turmoil' table.
If you fail your Incantation Check but succeed on your Invocation Check, roll on the 'Perils of the Emptiness' table.
If you fail both your Incantation and Invocation checks, nothing happens.
Also, be sure to include any relevant modifiers:
- 3 to both checks if the true nature of what is being attempted is not understood (the meddling amateur penalty)
- 2 to both checks if the preparations are botched, interrupted or rushed
- 1 to both checks if the proper materials were not used, such as substituting wine for blood or something like that
- 1 to both checks if the veil between worlds is stronger here (mostly this occurs at sanctified or holy places)
+ 1 to both checks if the proper materials are used
+ 1 to both checks per additional caster helping with the ritual (max +3)
+ 1 to both checks per HD of the creature sacrificed, if one was (max +3)
+ 1 to both checks if the veil between worlds is weaker here, or the stars are right (+2 if both are true here)
+ 2 to both checks if the caster has sworn allegiance to one of the Hollow Kings and invokes one of them by name
1- Door, Down, Down, Down. DC: 10. You will need a door, a dark room, a knife and a sacrifice. First, carve the required symbols and words into the door. Then kill the sacrifice and paint the door in its blood, then recite the words as carved. Then open the door. Do it correctly and when you open the door, you will be in a dark place, full of suffering and malice. But here, deals can be made, certain allies can be recruited and rare resources gathered. Also, stolen objects or items of a sufficiently vile nature can be found in great number. But evn if you perform this ritual correctly, beware all the wickedness on the other side following you back. To determine what exactly you see when you open the door, roll on the 'We need to go deeper' table below.
2- Nearly Departed. DC: 4+[1 per Undead being raised]. You will need a place with a great number of dead, incense, funerary bells, a sacrifice, a brush, a bowl and the ability to dance. Arrange the corpses around you, being sure to keep them separate from each other. Bleed the sacrifice, but do not kill it yet, and collect the blood and be sure not to spill a drop. Then take the blood and smear a little bit of it on each of the corpses you intend to wake. Recite the words of preparation and if you know the names of the deceased, read them aloud. Then ring the bells and sing a dirge, and at the height of the song, when you are at your loudest, kill the sacrifice. If you have done it correctly, the marked corpses will animate and join in the merriment. Finish the song and then stop. If you have done the ritual correctly, the dead will rise and obey you. If you have not, the dead will not be under anyone's control and free to do as they wish.
3- Flight from Death. DC: 4. You will need a weapon, a high pain tolerance and a victim. Say a prayer to the Red Princes of Murder over a weapon. Then hunt down an intelligent creature and kill it with that weapon. Then butcher the creature. Collect that creature's blood and organs, mashing the latter into a mash. Additionally, if the creature killed was a male, cut off its manhood and add that to the mix. Mix with blood till you have something resembling a bloody porridge, then eat it. If done correctly, this ritual will grant you that creature's plundered vitality and next time you are near death or when you wound yourself with the murder weapon, that creature's vitality will rush into you, healing you an amount equal to the creature's strength. If you do this ritual incorrectly, a piece of the murdered creature's soul will enter you, leading to all sorts of problems.
4- His long shadow. DC: 6. You will need a drop of a creature's blood, a piece of flesh or etc; a container for fluids, certain poisonous herbs and a live salamander. Gather a sample from the creature you wish to harm and mix it together with the other ingredients, then kill and add the salamander. Blend together till combined, then distill until it resembles a clear liquid. Then administer the liquid to the creature you wish to harm. If this ritual was done correctly, the creature's pre-existing wounds will worsen or his wounds will become infected. This doesn't guarantee death but it is likely, all but certain with sophisticated medical technology or sorcery. Do the ritual incorrectly and the creature will sicken, but not die.
5- Raiding Oneechan's Wardrobe. DC: 10. You will need mud, sticks, twigs, animal dung, animal blood and the heart of a freshly slaughtered animal. Have one person take off all his clothes. Mark him with the runes, either painting them on or carving them into the person's skin. Then smear the person in mud with dung and sprinkle them with blood. Then have them eat the raw heart of the freshly slaughtered animal. Then, under the light of the moon, dance around this person, singing the song as instructed. If you have done it properly, the marked person will transform into the animal whose heart he just ate. He will remain like that until sun shines upon him once more. While in animal form, he retains all of his mental stats and gains any abilities the animal might have had, along with its physical stats. He also loses any abilities that require a human body, though, unless his new body can also perform those actions.
6- Cave Guardian. DC: 4. You will need a series of chemicals easily accessible, mortar and pestle, charcoal, a fragment of bone, a sacrifice and a fire. Mix the chemicals together, along with the charcoal. Add water to make a paste, then smear it on the sacrifice into the appropriate shapes, marking them with the runes. Then attach the bone to the sacrifice. Make sure the sacrifice is restrained so that he cannot damage the runes. Then, offer him to the spirits of primordial Chaos and hurl the sacrifice into the blaze. If you have done your work well, the sacrifice will be consumed by the flames and the fire will spring to greater heights, burning brighter and hotter in degrees depending on the vigour of the sacrifice.
7- Man among the ruins. DC: 6+[1 per dose of clay substance you wish to make]. You will need a computer or calculating device, an electrical device, a power source and some cheap good produced by machinery, not by hands. Smash the computer into pieces. Do the same for the power source, the electrical device and the cheap good. Take the shards and place them in a metal bowl, then burn them. Recite the words over them, as instructed. If you have done it correctly, when you are finished, you will find the bowl filled with a sticky, rubbery substance that resembles clay. Any machine that has a bit of this gray susbstance stuck to it will begin malfunctioning. The more complex the machine, the less you will need. Once the substance has caused something to not work, the power will have left it and it will crumble into dust.
8- Back to Hell. DC: 10. You will need sunlight, a small box, a thing of natural beauty that is not alive (no live puppies or etc) and a happy memory. Place the small box in the sun and place the object of natural beauty in the box and let it sit outside for as long as you wish. Do not let it be exposed to cloudy skies or night. Then, designate a happy memory and let it flow into the box. You will forget it while the box remains closed, but it will return to you, as soon as the box is opened. Then seal the box. If you have done the ritual correctly, when you open it in the presence of the Undead, all those with fewer HD than half the amount of hours the box sat out in the sun are instantly destroyed. Those with greater than half or equal HD to the amount of hours must save or be destroyed. Those with greater HD are not destroyed, but merely damaged. If you have done this ritual incorrectly, nothing will happen when you open the box, but you will have not forgotten the happy memory either.
9- Puppet Master. DC: 10. You will need a piece of paper, something to write on it, a method of attaching the paper to a creature, a marker or a knife and a creature. First, write a series of instructions on the paper. You may write as much as you like, but the more you write, the less likely they are all to be completed. Then attach this paper to the creature you wish to control. Cover the creature's various motor centers in small glyphs. You can carve these in, but drawing on the creature's skin will also work. Then, whenever you wish, snap your fingers or say the magic word and the creature will spring into action, performing whatever action you commanded it to do. But beware, if the paper is removed before you can give your command or while the creature is carrying out your orders, it need not obey or continue obeying.
10- Incite Disaster. DC: 15. You will need a doll, a mirror, a ladder, a salt shaker, a lock of someone's hair or some fresh blood or a tooth, a ribbon and some creativity. Collect your sample and tie or apply it to the doll. Then speak the incantation and make a sympathetic connection between the doll and the person who it is connected to. Then throw the doll at a salt-shaker to knock it over, move it under a ladder, without going under it yourself and have it break the mirror. This will cause the doll to accumulate bad karma. Then, whenever you wish, destroy the doll in such a way that the sample of tissue or blood is also destroyed. This will cause all the bad karma the doll has accumulated to head back to the creature who it was linked to, causing that creature to immediately suffer some sort of catastrophe. This catastrophe will always make sense based on wherever the creature is. For example, if he is walking on a mountain path, he might find a rockslide heading toward him or if he is standing outside during a thunder storm, he will be struck by lightning. Depending on the amount of bad karma the doll has 'acquired', the disaster will vary in severity. Additionally, there is almost always a chance that the creature survives the disaster.
11- Sorcerous Insurance. DC: 4. You will need a chest, some fresh blood, a large amount of currency, a piece of paper and a pen. First, take the fresh blood and paint a sigil on one of your possessions or body parts. Then, paint the same sigil onto your chest, and be sure that the chest could contain the body part or possession. Then fill the chest with a sufficient amount of currency to purchase a new body part of that sort or that possession. Make sure your possession is not something sufficiently rare, unique or magical, as otherwise the ritual will automatically fail. Then write a note specifying that if the current possession or body part you have is damaged, you would like a replacement. Place the note in the chest and seal it. Do not open it unless the possession or body part you designated is lost, stolen or otherwise needs replacement. If it does, if you have done the ritual properly, when you open the chest, you will find the currency and note missing, along with a replacement for what was requested.
12- Transform and Command Slave. DC: 15. You will need a creature who has some particular vice and knowledge of what this vice is. You will probably want other materials, but they are not required. You must then confront the creature and inform it of its vice and offer it a chance to indulge that vice. You must not coerce it into making this choice- it must choose of its own free will. If it chooses to do so, the creature begins transforming, turning into a sub-human Sin Beast, a creature who will recklessly pursue its impulses until it is killed or destroys itself. You may, however, shortly after it transforms, bind the Sin Beast to you. Do this properly and the Sin Beast will obey you, but only as far as the letter of your commands go.
13- Hateful Blade. DC: 10. You will need a drop of someone's blood, some paint and a weapon. Mark the weapon with the appropriate, then dip it in the blood of the creature you wish to harm. Then inform the blade of all the terrible things the person whose blood it just touched has done. It need not be true, only believable. If you have done the ritual properly, the blood will boil off the blade, leaving it pristine. If you have done it incorrectly, the blood will instead transform into smoke. If done properly, the blade will seek out the creature whose blood it tasted. Depending on the amount of blood, the blade's pursuit abilities will vary. A blade will only a few drops shed on it will seem to guide the user's hand toward that creature. A weapon immersed in the blood, on the other hand, will seem to be guided by the blind workings of the deterministic universe, the laws of motion itself aiding the blade in striking its target, Final Destination style.
14- The Tomb's embrace. DC: 4. You will need a mostly air-tight container, a sacrifice, and a weapon. Trap the creature, or just its head, in an air-tight container, then kill it. Strangulation is recommended but not required. Keep the container sealed as best you can. If you have done the ritual properly, when you open the container, a cloud of cold, clammy fog that raises the hackles will emerge and surround everything nearby. Anyone injured in this fog has any damage taken multipled by the sacrifice's HD. If the sacrifice only had 1 HD then when rolling damage roll twice and select the larger amount. The fog remains for a number of minutes equal to the decades the sacrificed creature lived. If you have done the ritual improperly, nothing will be released from the sealed container but a murderous ghost.
15- Volcano Milk. DC: 4. You will need hot, but not scalding water, ash from a wood fire, a chunk of igneous rock and ground pumice. Heat the water to a warm temperature and mix the various ingredients into it. Then speak the words over the water. If you have done it properly, the water will begin bubbling and releasing aromatic smoke. Do not drink or touch the water at this point. Then, have the creature you wish to affect either drink or bathe in this water. Doing this will curse them with hot blood. The creature will feel an intense, internal heat and his bodily fluids will reach temperatures far hotter than they should. Depending on the amount ingested or how much of the creature's body was immersed in the water, the temperature will increase, from simply too hot to scalding to flesh-melting. The creature himself will not be affected by his or her heated fluids, but will instead, depending on the intensity of his or her internal heat, feel much hotter all of the time, may "glow" with attractiveness and may have light shine out of any orifices he or she has, besides his or her mouth.
16- Funerary Garb. DC: 4. You will need a knife, a fresh corpse, perfume, a strong stomach and a steady hand. Bless the corpse, consigning it to rest peacefully and not stir when you start cutting. Then remove its face and peel it off. Once you have done this, place it over your face and recite the words. If you have done the ritual properly, your appearance will change to that of the corpse while it was alive. Your voice, face and even scent will change, but you will not gain any special knowledge of who the corpse was. The change lasts until you, or someone else, removes the face or until you expose your disguise to direct sunlight, after which it crumbles away and immediately ends.
17- Time on my Side. DC: 10. You will need a time-piece, access to moonlight, a candle, a knife and matches. Take an unlit candle and scratch a line into it with the knife. Then burn the candle down to that line, but no further. While the wax is still hot, gather some of it and drip it first onto your time-piece, then your flesh. Do not scrape it off. Then extinguish the candle. Then hold the time-piece up while bathed in moonlight. Keep it there for as long as you wish, but it should be at least 1 minute. That is the minimum amount of time. Be careful if you tarry longer, you might attract attention you would not like. Then shut the time-piece and hide it from the moon. Do not let her see you, nor your theft! Then, whenever you wish to use the power locked in the time-piece, whisper a condition into it, such as "If the President comes out on stage," then, if that condition occurs, the power will be released and you may make a number of actions equal to the number of minutes you bathed the time-piece in moonlight.
18- Me, Myself and I. DC: 20. You will need a large mirror, a dummy, some of your personal possessions, a lock of hair, a knife and possibly a sacrifice. Take the dummy and decorate it, dressing it in your clothes or adorning it with your possessions, then attach a lock of hair freshly cut from your hair. A drop of blood will also work. Then, draw the symbols as instructed on the mirror and speak the incantation over the dummy. Then, if you are using a sacrifice, slay it and drench the dummy in its blood. Finally, press the dummy up to the mirror. If you have done the ritual correctly, the dummy will vanish and someone else will be standing there. It will be another version of you. To determine what self shows up, roll on the Alternate Self table below.
19- Destroy Time's Tyranny. DC: 10. You will need a notebook or other object that can permit writing, the means of which to write on that tool or object, a pair of masks, and a knife. First, before the point of turning from one day to another, at midnight, seal yourself alone in a room and place the two masks on the floor in front of you. Recite the words as instructed. Then cut both of your index fingers and wait. At exactly midnight, mark both masks with your blood. To the one on your left, say, "To who I was," and to the one on the right say, "To who I will be." Reverse this if you are left handed, or do it whatever way you prefer if ambidextrous. Then, take both masks and keep them with you. If you ever wish to know the answer to a question, write it in the notebook, then close it. Then put on whatever mask that designates the future. Nothing will happen and that is normal. Then take off the mask and re-open the notebook. If you have done the ritual correctly, you will see an answer written by yourself, in the future. You might, upon opening the book, also find questions from your past self. Do not be alarmed if you cannot remember being in those circumstances. That is also normal.
20- Prince of Freaks. DC: 4. You will need a bowl of water, a toad's skin, a cookoo bird, a broken mirror and a piece of flesh, bone or some blood from a disfigured creature. Mix the ingredients together and stir well, until you make something resembling a crunchy batter. Anyone who touches this batter with bare flesh will find the affected area of skin becomes disfigured. Splattering someone or pouring it him or her is the best way, but the batter can also be diluted by mixing it with large amounts of water. This lessens the intensity, but allows many more creatured to be affected by it. Once it touches someone, the batter dissolves into the creature's skin and is gone.
We meed to Deeper:
1- You arrive in an enormous, seemingly endless office building. People are constantly running around, carrying books of paperwork and forms in need of certification. The people all here seem to either be just a little too invested in their work or highly skilled slackers who are merely experts at looking busy. Paranoia and casual cruelty is absolutely rampant here, and there is a definite undercurrent of violence. Occasionally a group of armed men enter an office, grab someone and drag them into the elevator, kicking and screaming. That person is never seen or heard from again and everyone else just pretends like nothing happened. All the elevators only go down and all the clocks simply read, 'Too Late'.
2- You arrive in a rainy city under a perpetually overcast sky. It seems to be evening, though the sky will never get any brighter or darker than the evening half-gloom, nor will the clouds ever go away. The city is quiet, with people quietly going about their business. Neighbors quarrel quite severely with each other and the lack of intellectual life in the city is quite disappointing. But it's not that different than any other city. The city's government is hopelessly corrupt and the syndicates are ruthless and dangerous, but its not as bad as it could be.
3- You arrive on the rocky shore of a lake of fire. As per Goblin Punch's Hell.
4- You arrive in a dark, grey land populated by silent shades. At first, the shades call to you with syrupy-sweet voices, urging you to come with them. But as you travel, the shades will grow more aggressive and less friendly. Eventually, they will attack you. They do not derive pleasure, only a small amount of satisfaction in hurting you. They do it anyway. There are also far worse things here, creatures that prey upon the shades and you in equal amounts.
5- You find yourself waking up in a hotel room, ready to start a new day. You have a task you came to do, you remember. But as you go to do it, one or more of your companions dies through an attack or a freak accident. As soon as this happens, the day restarts from that morning. This repeats, forever, until you manage to get out of there.
6- You find yourself in an air-filled underwater cave. If you stay in the water for too long, it will mutate you into a creature that cannot survive on land or anywhere else but here. Holding your breath and breathing air will delay this process, but neither of those is a long term solution.
Alternate Self Table:
- Add +2 if a righteous person voluntarily sacrifices themselves
- Add +1 if you sacrifice a valuable possession or treasure
- Add +1 if you yourself are a righteous man
- Subtract -1 if you are wicked
- Subtract -1 if you offer a sacrifice of a living creature that does not wish to offer itself
0 or lower: Hellbound Self. This version of you is all you hate, despise and fear about yourself. He is you if you let your worst habits consume and control you, then let those same habits get worse for thousands of years. He is terrifying, imposing and utterly seductive. He drips disgust and perverse glee, as well as liquid sensuality. His words are like honey, his fingers like steel. You know he is probably a liar, but his promises, they sound too good to pass up. Besides, what's the worst that could happen? Your hellbound self has all your abilities, plus an additional number of levels in another class to make him a 9th level character. He can also teleport when no one is looking at him, to other places where no is looking and possesses the ability to steal the life and youth of others.
1-2: Evil Self. As an Alternate Universe Self, but actually evil. May declare this outright, but is much more likely to lurk in the shadows, remaining on your good side for as long as possible. If you start doing evil things in his presence, he may even encourage you, or reveal his true colors, so to speak. He need not be an enemy, but he is definitely not a good person. Your evil self will possess all of your abilities, but flavored to be slightly darker. For example, if your class is Wizard, he is a Necromancer.
3: Undead Self. This version of yourself sacrificed his soul to gain the world. Does he regret it? Possibly. Never being able to go out in the sun, being shunned by society, being a twisted abomination created by dark powers, these may be problems he never thought about or they may have been his realities for as long as he lived. For abilities, he will possess all of your current abilities, plus all the benefits and drawbacks that come from being Undead.
4-7: Alternate Universe Self. This version of you is basically just you, but from a parallel world. He is slightly different, but not by much. Maybe he has styled his hair differently or wears different clothes. The choices he made will be different than yours, but not by much. Maybe you choose to go track down a long lost enemy, even though the enemy hadn't been seen in many years, while he isn't choose to hope that the very same enemy was dead, or would never return. If you talk with him, you might even be able to find the divergence point between your worlds. Your Alternate Universe Self will possess either all your abilities, or if he is from a universe vastly different than yours, an equal amount of levels in a different class.
8: Self-droid. This version of you has exchanged mortality and humanity for iron and immortality. Your self-droid is possesses your mind/soul, but otherwise his body is composed entirely of robotic components. He is you, but stranger. He is the type of person who would willingly sacrifice all the benefits of a human body for his own purposes. Driven doesn't even begin to describe it. Is he insane? Maybe, but also maybe not. He might have just made the smart choice. Your self-droid will possess all of your abilities, plus all the benefits and weaknesses of having a sophisticated, superhuman body.
9: Experienced Self. This version of you is seasoned by a long life, what you might become after years of this process. He will be older than you, though whether or not he is decreipt will depend on how much older he is. He will know things you do not and remember things you haven't done yet. He is wise and likely considers you a punk kid. For abilities, your experienced self will have all your abilities, plus +1d3 levels and a wealth of fighting experience that you do not. He may suffer from the predations of old age, though.
10: Righteous Self. This is you at your most heroic. This version of you will aid in any good endeavor, but will balk at anything evil or unsavory. He is not necessarily you at your strongest, but he is you at your most confident. Your righteous self will have all the abilities of a character of your level, plus a bonus equal to his level to resist all spells and abilities of evil creatures.
11+: Heavenly Self. This version of you is a beautiful, radiant creature, shining with the light of divinity and providence. All you are and all you could become. Compared to him, you will feel small, weak, and pathetic. These are accurate assumptions. But your Heavenly Self will have nothing but great love for you. Your Heavenly Self will possess all the powers of a 9th level character of your class, plus the ability to fly and conditional immortality.
Other Possible Rituals:
- Astral Projection. I couldn't find a good example of this, so I'll probably have to write one myself.
Creatures native to the Emptiness:
Passing Fancy: A shred of personality, the lingering remains of a dream, fragments of habit, drifting freely through the Emptiness. These Fancies are drawn to intelligent creatures like moths to a flame, circling them impotently. Sometimes though, one manages to penetrate someone's internal defenses. This causes the person to become slowly fixated on whatever the Fancy embodies, an old habit or remnant of one, such as writing furiously in a notebook, even if the only thing they ever write is nonsensical scribblings.
USes [Us-es]: Imagine if you took every first impression of yourself, every half-glimpsed image of you buried in everyone's subconscious, from your parents to the person who you bought a candy bar from two years ago then never saw again and then combined all those impressions of you. That's what an USes is. It looks like you, but distorted, as if its body was drawn by a caricature artist looking at your reflection in a cloudy mirror. It acts like you, almost, mimicking some of your habits and traits, but poorly. Underneath the thin veneer of personality it's hollow though, a thin shell with nothing underneath.
Figments: Figments are imaginary monsters, living delusions, walking hallucinations. They can only be seen by people who believe them and the more people that believe in them, the stronger they are. Figments defy the standard rules of physical creatures, mostly because they aren't physical. They act more like the killer in a slasher movie than a real person with a knife, an abstracted representation of mankind's inner neuroses, except unlike in a movie, there's no guarantee you walk away from this on. Actually, not that I think about it, that makes it almost exactly like a movie.
Empty-Men: An Outsider.
Hollow Kings: A Daemon Prince, as per my original post. They don't refer to themselves that way though- they call themselves the Immortals, or the Chosen, or the Forever People, or they just abandon all subtlety and declare themselves to be Gods.
Kalimantras dot com
When things go wrong:
Here are the tables to roll on.
Innate Magical Turmoil
1- One caster spends his or her next action vomiting a glowing, opalescent slime. The slime smells like sugary cereal. It tastes horrible. Otherwise, it is normal.
2- One caster takes 1d6 damage as the incantation twists his innards.
3- Nothing happens at first. Several hours later, a cat, pigeon or frog appears in the possession of one of the casters. The animal is totally normal, but the caster is convinced that he or she loves this animal and would do anything for it. Nothing can dissuade him or her from this course of action.
4- One caster glows in the dark for the next 1d10 minutes.
5- One caster's skin changes color to 1d4 [1= Black; 2= Red; 3= Yellow; 4= Blue.]
6- One caster has all his or her hair fall out, leaving him bald. His hair will grow back.
7- One caster gains a mutation. After 1d6 turns, he may save. On a successful save, the mutation goes away. Otherwise, it is permanent.
8- The weather changes where the casters are. It changes to 1d6 [1= Sunny; 2= Rainy; 3= Thunderstorm; 4= Tornado; 5= Foggy; 6= Snowy.] The weather change lasts for 1d8 hours, then the climate returns to normal.
9- One caster is blinded for 1d10 minutes. After the duration ends, the caster regains the ability to see.
10- A ball of bubbling energy flies out of one of the caster's mouths and hovers in the air before him. Then it makes an attack against another randomly selected target. Any creature struck by this orb takes 1d8 electric damage.
11- One caster has his age altered by 1d10 years. There is a 50% chance he gets older, with an equal chance he gets younger.
12- One caster suddenly realizes that he is in danger of falling into the Room Without Walls. He also knows the warding symbols that he can carve into his flesh to prevent this fate. Doing this will require 1d6 hours and do 1d4 damage. It will also make the caster much stranger in appearance.
13- A wave of energy explodes out from the casters and strikes everyone within 100', including them. Every person for the next 1d10 minutes is surrounded by a glowing aura, giving them -1d4 to stealth and AC.
14- For the next 1d10 minutes, loud music can be heard from the ritual site. This music will suit the mood of those at the ritual site- if they are agitated it will be shredding heavy metal, if they are calm, it will be the gentle tinkling of a piano.
15- On all the walls not being observed, blasphemous graffiti will appear, describing chilling threats and scorning the Gods, along with strange characters or runes that are hard to look directly at and induce migraines in those who stare directly at them. Pictures on the wall also start to weep blood.
16- If there are any bodies within 100', they immediately reanimate as Undead and go on a rampage, attacking the nearest living creature they can find.
17- All view screens or holograms in the area become distorted, the people in them acting out disturbing scenes, either committing evil actions or simply doing distressing things, such as crying until they weep tears of blood.
18- Nothing appears to happen. Then, shortly after, an old enemy coincidentally arrives, having arrived in a sheer fluke. Only pick an enemy who could have some kind of reason for being near the casters. If the casters do not have any old enemies, have someone who would have a reason to be antagonistic toward the casters suddenly arrives.
19- A hallucinogenic fog blankets a 50' space, centered on the casters. Everyone in the cloud starts suffering wild hallucinations for 1d6 hours.
20- A swarm of wild animals suddenly bursts into the same areas as the casters and begins causing problems as an ordinary swarm of that type of animal would.
Perils of the Emptiness
1- One caster receives a vision of a gruesome future, involving someone he knows being murdered and an unlikely culprit doing the killing. The vision has a 25% of being a true premonition, otherwise it is simply incorrect.
2- All casters involved in the ritual must save. Anyone who fails their save, if they touch another living creature within 1d10 minutes fuse with that creature. Both creatures retain their minds but now inhabit one body. The casters do not know this.
3- All creatures involved with or participating in the ritual must save. Any creature who fails his save switches bodies with another creature. The Referee should choose another creature who failed his save as well, or if none is available, the closest available creature.
4- One caster, randomly determined, has all the power of the ritual flow into his body. He gains a number of Stat points equal to the Ritual DC and may allocate these points in any way he wishes, increasing any of his stats up to 18(+3). He also gains 1d4 additional Luck Points. However, along with all these benefits, he will find he is actually dying as the enormous mass of power within him burns through his mortal frame. He will be the strongest man in the world, for a brief period. Then he will die.
5- A portal opens in the center of the ritual site. This portal leads to another point in space. This portal begins sucking in everything within 50' for 1 minute. Anyone who is pulled through the portal ends up in another location. Roll on the 'Wormhole Express' table to see where anyone who falls through the portal ends up.
6- The closet 1d6 animals to the ritual site gain human intelligence and the ability to speak. These animals are intensely self-interested and excessively violent. They will also be somewhat grateful to the casters for blessing them with consciousness and can be recruited to act as hirelings. Alternatively, they may just return to the wild, to terrorize other animals and humans with their new intelligence.
7- All the casters must save. The first caster to fail his save has a latent psychic entity implanted in his mind. For 1d4 weeks, this seemingly has no effect. But then, once the allotted time has passed, the entity will be done germinating and begin growing. Within days, the caster will simply have strange thoughts popping into his head, thoughts he might not have. Within another week, he will begin to feel strong compulsions to do specific things that he must make a saving throw to resist. Within another week, whenever the caster goes to sleep, the psychic entity will assume control of his body and begin doing whatever it wishes. During this time, the caster's body will change form, either subtly or distinctly, depending on the specific nature of the entity. After another week, the entity will have grown strong enough that it cannot be contained by a mere mortal and the caster will die, the burden of carrying such a powerful soul being too much for his mortal body to bear. If the caster wishes to live, the entity must be extracted or destroyed before this occurs.
8- One caster, randomly determined, has a sudden premonition of his own death. He sees flashes of how it will occur and what source it will come from. He will know if it is a bullet to the brain or being hung from a sturdy oak. He will also be able to feel the phantom pain of his fatal wound. If the hangman's noose is what does him in, he will feel the coarseness of the rope around his neck. As the fated hour approaches, the pain and the flashes of insight into the future grow sharper, more distinct. As the Referee, you should roll 1d20. This is how many days that the caster has before the future catches up with him. This fate is not inevitable, but it's not easily avoided either.
9- One caster, randomly determined, next time they enter a place with a lot of people has one particular NPC latch onto them. This will be a NPC of the opposite sex who has fallen in love with that caster. However, it will quickly be revealed that this particular NPC is dangerously obsessed with the caster and will do anything for them, and do anything to those who harm, threaten, seem romantically interested in, or even make strange looks at the caster. Additionally, each time the caster goes to a new place with a significant number of people, he or she gains another NPC lover. All the caster's lovers will be equally obsessed and equally psychotic. They will all despise the others, if they ever encounter each other.
10- One caster, randomly determined, develops a strong craving for human flesh. For the next 1d6+1 days, the caster gains no nourishment from any other type of food. If the caster resists these cravings, they pass and the caster is fine. If the caster consumes human flesh, even if it is just a small amount, the cravings immediately disappear for 1d10 days. However, once that happens, they return, stronger than ever. This cycle reoccurs, with the cravings getting stronger and more human flesh being required each time.
11- One random caster turns invisible. This invisibility is permanent and doesn't affect clothing or equipment. Enjoy being naked.
12- One random caster turns into a beast under some kind of astronomical event or time of day. That event is:
1- The Full Moon, the animal is a terrible Eurasian Wolf. The caster's instinct is to hunt game and look after his 'pack'.
2- The New Moon, the animal is a black panther. The caster's instinct is to run and hide.
3- Night-time, the animal is a fruit bat. The caster's instinct is to find tasty fruit.
4- Day-time, the animal is a labrador retriever. The caster's instict is to be annoying and follow around one particular person.
5- A lunar eclipse, the animal is a Carnosaur. The caster's instinct is to hunt big game.
6- A Solar Eclipse, the animal is a Maggot-Wurm. The caster's instinct is to go on a rampage.
13- One random caster loses his turn as he vomits up:
1- 1d6 live serpents
2- 1d20 pale, eyeless cave fish
3- A large, glistening black egg
4- A cloud of white butterflies
5- 1d4 baby octopuses
6- A baby
14- For the next 1d10 hours, one random caster has any fluid they touch turn to:
3- Molten Steel
4- Liquid Nitrogen
6- Hot Cocoa
15- One random caster finds that he drains the life of anyone he touches. Touching the caster or letting him touch you does 1 damage a round, gradually weakening the other person until he or she dies. The caster gains the accumulated damage as temporary hit points that last for 10 minutes, before disappating. However, this life draining effect never stops. Don't shake anyone's hand or touch any babies.
16- An obelisk of polished pink granite appears before you, shining and reflecting all the light around it. A booming voice fills your mind, demanding to know what you desire. The first person to speak his desire aloud has it granted as per a wish. The person should then roll 3d6. If he rolls a 12 or less, the wish is twisted to mess with the person who made it. If it is higher, the wish doesn't ruin the person's life.
17- For the next 1d10 hours, one random caster is immune to non-magical weapon damage. He can still be hurt by everything else, including fists and bare hands. The invulnerabilty wears off at the exact worst time.
18- One random caster finds his body has become unstable. Whenever he is below max health, he has muscle spasms and his limbs occasionally, involuntarily move. If he ever gets down to a quarter or less HP, he must save. On a failure, his skeleton rebels against him and rips its way out of his body. This is almost always fatal, unless the skeleton can be asked to take up its post once again.
19- All portraits, paintings, pictures and other images of people temporarily animate and gain the ability to speak for 1d10 minutes. They begin screaming terrible profanity, uttering blasphemies and revealing the secrets of nearby people to anyone who could possibly hear them. Otherwise harmless, but probably quite traumatizing.
20- One random caster, the next time he sleeps, has a vision of a laughing man with long, flowing hair bound in braids, strung with bells. He wears fine garments and wears a crown of gold, though it is hard to tell, because from the top of his head to his mid-chest, he is soaked in blood, with small drops of it everywhere. He is holding an ornate sword and standing on a high hill, overlooking a burning city, staring down with an emotionless expression. The man then turns and walks down the hill, carefully stepping over the fresh corpses of a dozen attackers, all who were slain by his sword. The dream then suddenly ends as the man turns and notices the caster, fixing him with a stare. The caster awakes in a cold sweat, grasping a single bullet, which he knows is intended for the man the caster saw.
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