Tome of Magic introduces three new magic subsystems for the D&D game. Any or all of these systems can easily be inserted into a campaign. Pact magic gives characters the ability to channel lost souls, harnessing their abilities to gain supernatural powers. Shadow magic draws power from the mysterious Plane of Shadow. Truename magic gives characters that learn and properly use the true name of a creature or object immense power over it. All three systems introduce new base classes and spellcasting mechanics. Also included are new feats, prestige classes, magic items, and spells.
The excerpts below include information about each of the three new systems, a couple of vestiges, the noctumancer prestige class, a weapon special ability, the Lexicon of the Evolving Mind list, and a creature. For more from the main introduction in this book, check out the February 2006 Preview.
|Drawing a vestige's seal
Beings that cannot exist inhabit a place that cannot be. Cursed by gods and feared by mortals, these entities fall outside the boundaries of life, death, and undeath. They are untouchable by even the most powerful deities, though they can be summoned and used by the weakest mortal.
The practitioner of pact magic contacts these alien forces by means of special symbols and rituals. Once a summoning is complete, he strikes a bargain with the summoned being to gain great supernatural power.
This chapter of Tome of Magic provides all the information you need to use pact magic in your game, whether as a player or as a DM. It details a standard class and several prestige classes for PCs and NPCs, feats for users of pact magic and others, and related magic items that characters can make or discover in their adventures. In addition, DMs might find many uses for the strange monsters associated with pact magic, the descriptions of the organizations that either employ it or battle those who do, and the sites for adventures involving this form of magic.
LESSER PACT MAGIC
Pact magic exists in many forms. Oaths, a lesser form of pact magic, are often used to add power to words. Indeed, oaths are so commonplace that few recognize their similarity to the pacts made by pact magic practitioners.
OATHS TO IDEALS
Many characters make pacts with themselves. Such an unspoken promise can be as binding as any contract signed by a merchant -- and far more effective at forcing a person to keep his word. For example, a druid who abandons her allegiance to nature or adopts an extreme outlook must seek forgiveness or remain forever divorced from her former source of comfort and power. A monk who sets one foot off the path to spiritual purity can never walk that path again. Even barbarians, wild and inconstant as they are, must gird their thoughts against lawful leanings or risk losing the wild emotion that gives them power.
VOWS TO DEITIES
By pledging to serve a deity, a cleric puts his soul into the hands of a greater power. If he thereafter falters in his duty, he can lose his wondrous powers. Similarly, the cause of a paladin requires a constant heart. The slightest doubt or hesitation can lead to disaster, rendering the paladin unable to continue her mission without a deity's consent.
BARGAINS WITH OUTSIDERS
Mortals can make binding agreements with outsiders. Spells such as lesser planar ally, planar ally, and greater planar ally allow a spellcaster to bargain for the services of an outsider or elemental. The planar binding spells work in a similar manner, allowing a character to task a particular creature in return for its freedom.
Some spells create a hidden pact between caster and subject, although the target need not be willing. Geas/quest and its lesser version force a creature to do the caster's bidding or suffer the consequences. Mark of justice sets up clear expectations for the subject's behavior and defines the punishment that will follow should the subject choose to behave otherwise.
THE METHODS OF PACT MAGIC
A promise possesses power. An oath owns its maker. These two simple statements express the fundamental principle of pact magic. From this kernel, pact magic grows and branches, letting mortals draw from a wellspring of power that no divine power can touch.
A pact magic practitioner gains his power by bargaining with entities called vestiges -- the remnants of once-living beings now trapped beyond life and death. Whether they were mortal souls strong enough to shatter the cage built by death, wayward outsiders too willful to cease existence, or dead deities unable to lie quietly in their astral graves, vestiges are the outcasts of the cosmos. They dwell in a place no one can reach and exist in a manner no one truly comprehends. This eternal distancing from reality drives most vestiges mad and twists their views of all beings -- even themselves.
Because vestiges have been divorced from normal reality by some extraordinary means, they can return to it only by binding themselves to other souls. Binders, so named for their willingness to share their souls with these exiled spirits, can summon them forth by means of special rituals. Since vestiges constantly hunger for any small taste of reality, they always answer the call of any binders powerful enough to draw them forth from the void.
Each vestige is associated with a seal -- a series of lines within a circle -- that acts as its symbol and as a portal through which it can enter normal existence.
To call a vestige, a binder must know and be able to draw its seal. In fact, anyone can draw a seal, but only someone with the power to host a vestige can hope to create a pact that opens a door for it.
Immediately after drawing a seal, a binder must ritually invoke the desired vestige's name and title to summon it. Again, though anyone can intone the proper words, the binder's power is the key to success. Even so, a binder can summon only those vestiges that are within the range of his personal power.
The origins of a vestige's name and title seem associated with both its previous existence in reality and its current state. These appellations can change over time, although such alterations occur only rarely. For this reason, most binders spend a great deal of time studying the origins and theories of pact magic in order to gain the insight that will allow them to foresee future developments.
Once a summoned vestige manifests, a binder must formally address it and request a pact. The general terms of the pact are always the same, no matter which vestige is summoned. To gain the powers that a vestige offers, a binder must agree to host it for a period of 24 hours.
When a binder offers a pact, a contest of wills ensues between him and the vestige. This contest might be played out by means of an argument, a staring match, a riddle posed to the binder, or in any number of other ways. If the vestige ultimately wins, it maintains an amount of influence over the binder for the duration of the pact. If the binder does not act as the vestige wills, it can punish him. However, if the binder reigns supreme after the contest, the vestige quietly accompanies him.
Once a binder makes a pact with a vestige, the two are inextricably bound. A shard of the vestige's soul fuses with the binder's spirit, creating a link so tight that the binder's body manifests some physical sign of the vestige's presence. The inconvenience of such a sign is a small price to pay for the supernatural powers that the vestige grants -- powers that require no components, no complicated gestures, and no tongue-twisting words to use. When a binder wishes to use the abilities granted by a vestige, he simply wills the desired result to happen.
LEARNING PACT MAGIC
Those who practice pact magic expound upon its ease. A binder need never beg on his knees for power or study moldy tomes for hours on end to grasp the secrets of a few simple spells. Once he learns the basics of pact magic, he can call up a vestige at any time and take its power for his own. Vestiges never refuse pacts, and they ask little in return for the power they grant.
However, the tempting ease of pact magic and the necessity of soul binding with a being whose nature is completely alien generates suspicion about its practitioners. Many churches actively hunt binders and attempt to eradicate evidence of pact magic to prevent the faithful from learning that beings can exist that are beyond the reach of the gods. This general condemnation of pact magic makes discovering it difficult, even though the art itself remains quite simple.
Many binders are defrocked priests or acolytes who took up pact magic after discovering the rituals to contact vestiges in heretical texts kept hidden in secret temple libraries. Others take up the path after discovering the secrets of pacts and seals during investigations of ancient ruins. A few gain their knowledge of the binder's arts from elder binders, but tutelage is rare because of the secrecy that most binders try to maintain and the cloud of suspicion under which they must work.