Tuesday, August 23, 2022

OSR: The Book and the Rod- other types of Exorcists

This post is an unofficial part 2 to my previous post on Exorcists.

There are three types of Exorcists- Exorcists of the Book, Exorcists of the Rod and Exorcists of the Chain. 

I wrote about the last type already (see above).  But with the other two, I felt like they didn't need a whole class written about them.  These other types are more like additional class features players can choose (or not) to staple onto their characters.  As such, both are here.     

by Alexandre Chaudret
Exorcists of the Book:

These Exorcists strike pacts with mighty or Noble Spirits, offering service or other items in exchange for power.  These Exorcists are the least powerful overall, but they possess the most freedom in how they utilize their abilities. 

This is because they primarily deal with powerful Spirits, as they can offer more power, but also because these Spirits are less likely to care about the specific activities of said Exorcist.

These are often called Exorcists of the Book, or Book Exorcists, because they collect the names of spirits, as well as information on how best to summon them and what things they generally ask for.  They usually store this information in books that they hang from their belts or wear across their backs.  Sometimes they hide these books, but in some places, carrying a book like that is will make ruffians think twice about attacking such an individual, for fear of arousing a Spirit's wrath. 

Additionally, sometimes these Exorcists share this information with each other, swapping notes and the names of famous Spirits.  They never do this for free, but only when it suits them, usually in exchange for some other piece of vital information or some other form of favor. 

Mechanical Notes:

Those who make Pacts with Spirits can gain a number of special abilities that they can use either innately or X/Day, depending on the power and the pact.  The spirit acts as a patron, offering this power in exchange for service or services that are negotiated before the pact is sealed.

Here is an Example-

Chernobog, the Burning Lord

A Spirit of Desolation, Fire, Fear, Luck and Beauty, Chernobog most often appears in the mortal world as a shapeless face from the midst of a fire.  In the Spirit World, he is a towering giant constructed of ash and flames, hung with broken chains of molten gold and blazing iron, a diadem of blue flames burning in his brow.

In terms of personality, Chernobog is violent, rapacious and childlike.  It lives for destruction, to eat and consume anything it can.  It almost exclusively works with mortals who will use it's power to spread destruction and fear, as well as those willing to feed it's flames. 

Pacts it will make:

- In exchange for your soul, Chernobog will grant you the power to command fire, a beautiful appearance and a charmed life, with Fortune's gaze forever falling on you. 

- In exchange for regular human sacrifice, Chernobog will grant you the ability to absorb life from burnt offerings to heal wounds, to produce tongues of fire from your hands and the ability to never be burned by flames or touched by heat. 

- In exchange for beginning and leading a war of conquest, Chernobog will grant you the ability to invoke fear in those you choose, the right to summon his flames to strengthen yourself and those you choose and prevent you from dying unless you die by drowning, freezing to death or are impaled by a frozen spear. 

And for a lesser example...

Miyishi Three Tails

A Spirit of Nature, Mysteries and Knowledge, Miyishi is a Kitsune.  In the mortal world, she appears as a human woman with furry ears growing out of the top of her head, white hair and three fluffy tails.  She also sometimes possesses amber eyes and pointed teeth.  She clothes herself in robes of colorful silk and pins her hair up with elaborate golden jewelry.  Sometimes she will conceal her ears, but her tails always remain with her, though she can hide them under baggy clothes.  In the Spirit World she appears as an enormous doglike creature with three huge tails, her fur white as snow, her eyes the color of red gold, a rope of glowing lights strung around her throat.

In terms of personality, Miyishi is mischevous, playful and cunning.  She cares only for her own pleasures, namely excellent food, wine and being pampered and waited on.  She will also collect young men of pleasing attractiveness to entertain her, though her dalliances with them never last.  She is also fond of musicians, poets and artists, particularly if they are willing to create works that flatter her.  That being said, she is not as impulse-driven or as vain as she appears.  She also has a strong sense of justice and will often lead on those who she feels are wicked, only to abandon them and leave them to their fate.  She always finds their shocked expressions incredibly amusing. 

Pacts she will make:   

- In exchange for gifts of wine and tasty food, Miyishi will give you her cunning, allowing you to easily evade social manipulation and potential traps. 

- In exchange for humiliating or punishing a person Miyishi feels deserves it, she will grant you her ability to comprehend all mortal languages, spoken or written.  

- In exchange for a composition or work of art that praises and flatters her, Miyishi will grant you a tuft of her fur which will mark you as an Ally of Nature.  Beasts will not attack you, thorns will not cut you, brambles will not bar your way.  These bonuses will only last for as long as you stay in Miyishi's good graces and respect the rights of plants and animals.

from here

Exorcists of the Rod:

Also called Mediums, Exorcists of the Rod allow Spirits to possess them in exchange for power.  This grants the Spirit the ability to interact with the physical world more readily and in exchange, the Exorcist gets not only the ability to wield the power of the Spirit, but also gains their strength, which improves and strengthens the Exorcist's body. 

Rod Exorcists are called so because they pass the 'Rod' of control to another, entering into a partnership with one or more spirits.  Some of these Exorcists also carry around staves carved with their and their Spirit's names as a token of esteem and partnership, but this is generally considered tacky.

Rod Exorcists do not partner with the strongest spirits, as most bodies cannot contain them.  Instead, they partner with spirits of the middle tiers, the spirits that most would identify as 'Demons' or 'Angels'.  These spirits are generally as smart as, if not smarter than a human and are limited in the boons they can bestow.  They cannot make you King or Immortal, but they can provide many other, more flexible abilities. 

However, the downside for being a Rod Exorcist is that you must take your partner's feelings into account.  While it is possible for one soul to dominate the other, at least temporarily (a state called 'Possession'), in order to properly work as a Rod Exorcist/Medium, you will need to cooperate.  Only then will you be able to reach your full potential. 

However, this is not the only option.  Some Rod Exorcists instead choose to partner with lesser spirits, gaining a coterie of smaller followers.  This is often easier, as smaller Spirits are more abundant and more easy to bribe or bully into agreement.  But the problem is that with many Spirits come many different demands.  A Rod Exorcist with many partners will have to walk a tightrope to keep the Spirits happy, or they will leave him for someone more willing to serve their needs. 

Working with your partner(s) is more than just not dominating them, however.  While you are Hosting them, you must not use their power for anything the Spirit finds objectionable.  But all Spirits have an agenda, that is why they are even bargaining with you at all.  If you do not help them work towards this agenda, your partnership will be short and unsatisfying for both of you.

from The Posssession movie

Mechanical Notes:

You have no magical abilities while your Spirit is not indwelling within you.  You can invite them in as an action. 

A Spirit can remain in you for a number of hours equal to their Damage Threshold - Your level.  So if your Spirit has a Damage Threshold of 7 and you are level 3, you can host your Spirit for a maximum of 4 hours.  For each additional hour they remain inside you, you take 1d6 CON damage.  If this reduces you to 0 CON, you die.  CON damage reduced like this is permanent.  You can only regain time by resting.  For each day you go without being possessed, you regain 1 hour of hosting time.  And even if your Spirit only enters you for a few minutes, this still consumes a minimum of 1 hour, no matter for how short it was. 

You can choose to have multiple Spirits indwell within you.  To calculate how long your body can endure, add the Spirit's Damage Thresholds/HD Totals together into one number. 

While your Spirit is indwelt, it gives you access to X Mana Dice (MD), where X is equal to the Spirit's Damage Threshold.  You will also have access to the Spirit's powers, natural abilities which it can use innately.  You will probably, but not necessarily, have to spend MD to activate these abilities.  These MD burn out on a 5 or 6, but do not trigger Chaos or Corruption. 

A Spirit may have some lesser abilities that you can use as long as the Spirit dwells within you. 

Additionally, Exorcists always suffer some minor physical changes to their bodies when possessed.  These changes never last, only remaining as long as the Spirit is within the Exorcist's body.

You can attempt to force a Spirit to remain within your body by contesting with it in a contest of wills.  Each of you should roll a COG check.  Each round, the winner may take an action, regardless of the other's opinion, including leaving the body (for the Spirit) or expelling the Spirit (for the Exorcist).  If someone wins 3 COG checks, and these need not be consequective, then that creature gains total control of the body and for the rest of the day, does not have to listen to the other.  However, if damaged, exposed to mind-altering drugs or powerful magics, a spirit can be persuaded to let go of the Medium, or a Medium's death-grip on a Spirit can be broken.       

Some Examples:

The Prince of Tigers (Damage Threshold 7).  The First of his kind and Father of all Tigers (or so he claims). 

Grants the following abilities:

+3d8 HP
+4 MD

By spending MD, you may add +[sum] to any roll made to sneak or hide.  You turn invisible if [sum] exceeds 10.  You turn visible if you attack or do something strenuous. 

By spending MD, you may give yourself +[sum] FS.  This FS lasts for 10 minutes or until consumed.  You can reabsorb this FS as a free action.  4 FS = 1 MD.

You gain the ability to grow claws from your hands and feet.  These claws do 1d6+Atk damage.  This counts as magical sharp damage.

You gain the ability to speak with animals as if you shared a language. 

Restriction: While Hosting The Prince of Tigers you...
- Fear Fire and must make a save to approach an uncontrolled fire or an enemy which can wield fire as a weapon.  If you take any Fire damage, you must save or flee.  If reduced to half HP and there is a chance of taking fire damage, the Tiger King will attempt to exit your body. 
- Must always take revenge upon those who hurt your kin and allies.  Refuse to do so and the Tiger King will attempt to leave your body. 

When hosting the Tiger King you gain stripes on your skin and slit-pupil eyes like a cat's.      
Aqualana, Mother of Royuno (Damage Threshold 8).  The Patron Spirit of a long dead civilization, once revered as a God, but now must make due with the babbled prayers of the Royunan's degenerate descendents.

Grants the following abilities:

+2d8 HP
+6 MD

By spending at least 1 MD, you can control an amount of water equal to what you could hold in a barrel or bathtub.  For each MD you spend, double the amount of water.  You may freely manipulate this, freezing, vaporizing or otherwise altering it as an action.  Attacks made with this water make attack rolls at 1d20+1d6+[dice] and do 2[dice] damage. 

By spending at least 1 MD, you can conjure clouds of fog.  1 MD creates a fogcloud that covers 50' square.  Double the size for each MD spent.

You can speak to crocodiles as if you shared a language.  By spending MD, you can control crocodiles and have them do your bidding.  For each MD you spend, you can control up to 2[dice] HD of crocodiles.  These crocodiles generally obey you, but are of limited intelligence and if forced into a suicidal or situation they perceive to be too dangerous, they must succeed a morale check or flee. 

You gain gills and can breathe underwater.

You gain the ability to swim as fast as a crocodile. 

Restriction: When hosting Aqualana, Mother of Ryuno you...
- Must never allow a crocodile to come to harm if you can prevent it, and punish those who do so.  Refuse to do so and Aqualana will attempt to exit your body. 
- Never give succor or aid to the ancestral enemies of Ryuno.  If you do so, Aqualana will immediately attempt to leave your body.   

While you host her, you will have blue-green hair and your skin will begin breaking out into patches of scales.

Lesser Examples-

Quival the Carpoi (3 HD).  A spirit of grain and harvest. 

Grants the following abilities:

+1d8 HP
+2 MD

By spending MD, you can cause plants to grow rapidly.  For each MD spent, a plant experience's one full season of growth in 1 minute.  Plants that would bear edible parts will have these parts fall off and be larger than normal.  If 4 or more [dice] are used, the fruits or produce of the plants will never spoil and heals 1d6 HP when consumed. 

By spending MD, you can cause plants to grow from your skin.  This gives you +[dice] to any stealth checks if in an area with plants, such as a field or in long grass.

Restriction: While hosting Quival the Carpoi you...
- Must not destroy the crops of any farmers or gardeners
- And aid any whose crops were destroyed, through accident or disaster

While hosting Quival your hair takes on the appearance of the local plant life, in spring it is full of green buds, in summer it is full of flowers in full bloom, in autumn your hair is russet gold, pumpkin orange and deep scarlet, in winter you are bald.
Yuito the Shurale (2 HD).  A spirit of the wild wood, but far more whimsical and gentle than the Folk. 

Grants the following abilities:

+2d8 HP
+3 MD

By spending MD, you can release a cloud of pollen that unbalances people and puts them in an inebriated state.  If [sum] exceeds their HP, they pass out for [dice] hours or until slapped awake. 

Restrictions: While hosting Yuito the Shurale you...
- Must flirt with and pursue comely girls (which by Yuito's standards is anything young that doesn't resemble a horse's rear). 
- Gather shiny objects.  He can't tell the difference between gems and shiny, but worthless objects such as glass beads.

While hosting Yuito your skin takes on a greenish hue and your limbs become slightly longer.

Exorcists of the Chain:

Spirits, just like people and animals, come in a variety of shapes and sizes.  They range from the smallest and most insignificant of cantrips to the godlike Sovereigns of the Faerie Courts, the Royals of the Animal Kingdoms and the Elemental Princeps. 

If they could be quantified as such, Exorcists of the Book commune with the most powerful spirits they can contact, Exorcists of the Rod mingle with Spirits who serve them as courtiers or as the ones who wish they could be permitted that honor, then Chain Exorcists deal with the beasts of the Spirit World. 

Exorcists following the path of the Chain seek out lesser Spirits, too strong and dangerous to be familiars but generally too weak or unintelligent to have much of a mind of their own and utilize them for their own purposes.  They are closer to animal trainers than true Exorcists, though the beasts they choose to work with are far more unnatural and bizarre than even the strangest things produced by the depths of the Wild.

Chain Exorcists summon these Spirits from the Other Side and put them to work here.  Sometimes they summon bestial spirits and train them like hunting hounds, while other times they will summon lesser spirits that do possess something of a self-aware mind, but those that have limited agendas or intelligence.  Generally, Chain Exorcists prefer a Spirit with some level of intelligence, so that it is possible to bargain with it, but not so smart that it can't be easily tricked or bullied into doing what you want.

Then, depending on what the Spirit wants and how intelligent it is, a pact will be sealed.  Pacts can be made between an Exorcist and Spirits without reason, those these bargains are closer to the bond between horse and rider or man and dog than between two peers. 

These Spirits can then be summoned by a Chain Exorcist, who will fight alongside them and aid them in their endeavors. 

Chain Exorcists are often looked down on by other Exorcists, but this might simply be because the Chain Exorcists have found great success.  Their approach works, and it does not require the great sacrifices of the path of the Rod or the Book, while still providing a non-neglible source of power.  And though Chain Exorcists generally lack the firepower of their greater cousins, they possess a flexibility that neither of their cohorts can match. 

Mechanical Notes:

I wrote about these in part 1.

from here

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