The 20-level classes presented in books other than the Player's Handbook have become popular choices for players and DMs. Earlier articles in this series discussed how to import the classes from the Player's Handbook 2, the Complete series, the Miniatures Handbook, and Heroes of Horror. This installment focuses on one class from the Tome of Magic -- the Binder.
Throughout the extensive history of the Realms, numerous gods, outsiders, powerful creatures, and tragic mortals have fallen out of memory. For a variety of reasons -- curses, banishment, the dissolution of a faith, or magical imprisonment -- these beings have been forsaken, abandoned by the world as forgotten relics of a former age. These 'vestiges' no longer truly exist, instead inhabiting a realm that can be accessed by none. Somehow, through accident, quirk of fate, or sheer force of will, some find a foothold in the Realms. As with any source of power, enterprising mortals discover and exploit the vestiges. Most often, such mortals seek an easy source of power, but sometimes they are true scholars delving into forbidden mysteries and arcane taboos.
As a mainly individualistic pursuit, no single culture or empire has a strong history of binders, but they were most frequently seen among the ancient Nar and Imaskari. The Nar were obsessed with the summoning and binding of evil creatures in all its forms. Theirs was one of the few cultures in the history of the Realms where binders had little fear of retribution. Today, ruins and artifacts of ancient Narfell bear hidden symbols and glyphs that can provide a savvy binder with clues and leads on summoning vestiges.
The Imaskari were interested in magic that related to other planes of existence and frequently employed portals and extradimensional spaces. Some of these portals are now malfunctioning, creating dank environments full of environmental and monstrous hazards. They also contain artifacts and glyphs hidden by the sludge of leaking elemental gates. Their use of the Celestial Nadir and numerous planar magics put them in contact with alien beings and gave them clues about ancient vestiges. Meticulous binders can find a treasure trove of clues about the existence of forgotten and abandoned entities by exploiting such portals.
Binders are found all over the Realms, but they rarely concentrate in any one location. The easy power granted by vestiges appeals to many, leading individuals all over the world to discover vestiges under their own unique circumstances. Whether they hear the call from beyond or discover ancient runes that lead to a series of other clues, each binder is unique in how she comes upon her path.
Vestiges from the Tome of Magic
The following are adaptations of select vestiges from the Tome of Magic. The stories of the vestiges have been altered to fit the entities into the history of the Realms. Some, such as Andromalius or Ronove require little adaptation. Simply change Olidammara to Mask and make Ronove's patron Ilmater. Others, such as Buer, Grandmother Huntress, or Paimon, the Danger are generic enough that they require no changes. In the case of Karsus, the story can be expanded or altered slightly to include the greater detail present in the Realms, but the information can otherwise remain intact. Other entries require more substantial alterations.
Acererak, The Devourer
The story of a human who sought immortality by turning himself into a lich fits well with that of Sammaster, First Speaker of the Cult of the Dragon. Unlike Acererak, Sammaster did not seek to become a god, but he did hope to control the world with undead dragons, rivaling Acererak in ambition. When Sammaster was slain by the heroes of the Rage of Dragons, his essence was dispersed by the light of Lathander. Despite this obliteration, the will of the archmage was so strong that his presence sustained itself beyond the reaches of space or time. Now, a few of his loyal followers in the Cult of the Dragon have begun experimenting with methods to call upon his power via special sigils.
Agares, Truth Betrayed
The story of Agares has many parallels to that of the Djinni Calim, founder of the Calim Empire. Both were obsessed with the defeat of a rival genie. In the case of Agares, the genie was a rival commander. In the case of Calim, it was his arch-nemesis, the efreeti known as Memnon. Whereas Agares was betrayed by allies, Calim was, in a different manner, betrayed by the elves of Keltormir. When the elves bound the spirits of the genies to the earth and air, they placed them beyond space and time. Now, Calim can be summoned as a vestige that grants powers related to the elements of earth and air.
Amon, The Void Before the Altar
The parallels between Amon and the Netherese sun god Amaunator are such that little needs to be changed in Amon's entry to fit him into the Realms. Both deities were gods of sun and justice who were forsaken and neglected. Amon became twisted as a vestige such that some argue that the vengeful Bedine god At'ar the Merciless is just a twisted progression of abandoned Amaunator. For the purposes of the Realms, Amaunator can be substituted for Amon. Even if Lathander is an incarnation or progression of Amaunator, the very memory of the Netherese god's abandonment could have resulted in the creation of a vestige.
Aym, Queen Avarice
In the Realms, Queen Helmma of Ammarindar can be substituted for Aym. While Helmma's sister, Princess Olmma (LN female shield dwarf ghost fighter 6) defended Citadel Yaunoroth with her life, Helmma was busy counting and cataloguing her riches. Helmma had been visiting for a short period to examine the riches that were stored in Yaunoroth. When the hordes of Ascalhorn swarmed the citadel, Princess Olmma bought time for the citizens to flee, but Helmma was so greedy that she couldn't abandon her riches and perished in the flames of her avarice. Helmma cursed Moradin for not protecting Yaunoroth, and he in turn cursed her soul, preventing her from an afterlife with the dwarves. Seeing a kindred spirit (and enjoying any opportunity to get back at Moradin for losing dominion over the gold dwarves to Dumathoin), Abbathor, dwarven god of greed, turned Helmma into a vestige.
Marchosias, King of Killers
During the Time of Troubles, Bane absorbed the essence of all of the Bhaal-worshipping assassins in the world during his fight with Torm, greatly weakening Bhaal. The most despicable of the assassins, a strong-willed murderer by the name of Marchosias, would not be so easily subsumed. Marchosias managed to break free of Bane's control, and his soul slipped down into hell, where it rightfully belonged. While in hell, Marchosias was attacked by a throng of assassins and thugs he had murdered. In life, the assassin's favorite targets had been thieves, thugs, and murderers. In death, they were his undoing. His soul was torn to pieces by the legions of his victims, and he became a vestige in the void between space and time.
The following is a new vestige for the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting.
Zceryll, "The Star Spawn"
Zceryll was a mortal sorceress who communed with alien powers from the far realm. She became obsessed with immortality, seeking out the alien beings in the hopes of learning their eternal secrets. When she died, she became a hideously twisted vestige, forever seeking to re-enter the Realms via numerous artifacts she dispersed across the world. Zceryll grants you the ability to transform your body and mind into an alien form, granting you telepathy, resistance to effects related to insanity, the ability to summon pseudonatural creatures, and the power to unleash bolts of pure madness.
Legend: Thousands of years ago, an alienist sorceress known as Zceryll learned bizarre powers in a fight to defend herself against oppression. She was promised untold power by strange, alien beings known as star-spawn from beyond the world. All she had to do was to create portals to summon them.
Zceryll created the portals and summoned the star spawn to her aid. She fought back against her oppressors, finding a newfound purpose in her life. She traveled the world, creating many portals for her masters and items of her own devising.
Zceryll was unaware of the slow corruptive effect the star spawn had on her. By the time she realized something was wrong, it was too late to change. Eventually, her body became so suffused with alien power that she became one of them. When her life came to an end, she was a twisted and bitter old hag. She felt she had accomplished nothing and became obsessed with youth. When her time was up, her soul vanished into the far realms, and she became a vestige.
As a vestige, Zceryll, now a phantom twisted alien entity, seeks to exert as much influence over the Realms as possible. She has whispered clues to those who bind her in an effort to guide them to the location of artifacts and items she created, such as the bone scepter of Zceryll (in the Well of Dragons), the star-spawn scepter, the aberrant spheres, the black blood kaleidoscope, and the rod of Taupanga.
Manifestation: The area in and around the seal fills with thousands of tiny circular mirrors. A beautiful human woman is reflected in all of the mirrors, yet something is off about her features. After a few seconds, a scream is carried on the air and the image of the woman changes into a hideous mass of writhing tentacles. The mirrors then shatter, covering the floor with beautiful but alien patterns of glass that hurt the mind and cause the nose, mouth, eyes, and orifices to bleed black blood.
Sign: Your eyes appear as circular mirrors. In your peripheral vision, all other living creatures appear twisted, covered in tentacles, extra eyes, and vestigial organs.
Influence: Never admit that you need help or that you are weaker than anyone else. Treat those that are weaker than you with scorn and contempt, especially young women and spontaneous spellcasters.
Granted Abilities: While bound to Zceryll, your body and mind become alien, allowing you to channel the power of the star spawn in a variety of ways.
Alien form: While bound to Zceryll, you gain the pseudonatural template (page 161 of Complete Arcane).
Alien Mind: Your mind is alien and does not work like that of a normal mortal. You are immune to confusion, insanity, and weird spells. In addition, you receive a +1 bonus per four binder levels on saving throws against mind-affecting effects.
Bolts of Madness: You can fire a ray that dazes an opponent for 1d3 rounds. You must succeed on a ranged touch attack with a range of 100 ft. + 10 ft./binder level. A successful Will save negates the effect. Once you have used this ability, you cannot do so again for 5 rounds.
Summon Alien: You can summon any creature from the summon monster list that a sorcerer of your level could summon. Any creature you summon with this ability gains the pseudonatural template. Thus, at 10th level you could summon any creature from the summon monster I-V list. When you reach 14th level, you can summon any creature from the summon monster I-VII list. You can only summon creatures that can be affected by the pseudonatural template. Once you have used this ability, you cannot do so again for 5 rounds.
Telepathy: You gain the telepathy ability with a range of 100 feet (as described on page 316 of the Monster Manual) and the Mindsight feat (as described on page 126 of Lords of Madness).
About the Author
Eytan Bernstein hails from exotic Long Island and spends his days writing and editing projects for numerous game companies. In addition to his work on Dragons of Faerūn, the Magic Item Compendium, and numerous other projects, Eytan serves as a partner and PR & Marketing Manager for Silven Publishing. Eytan enjoys hunting for gems and minerals in rock quarries, studying religion and theology, composing music, and playing with his many pets. For more information about Eytan, check out www.eytanbernstein.com. Send questions and comments for Eytan here.
©1995-2008 Wizards of the Coast, Inc., a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc. All Rights Reserved.