Soul Crafting Part 1: Sacrifice Rituals

Posted by: Jason Silverain / Category: , , , ,

Creeping slowly back into consciousness a thudding pain centred in her temple it felt as though her head would split, a feeling only made worse by the sensation of cold stone below her. With reluctance she attempted to rise only to find herself pinned her hands bound above her, now with sudden urgency as the memory of her earlier encounter returned to her groggy mind Tiasel forced her eyes open squinting at the flickering light that greeted her sight,  
Twisting her body she tried to work her hands free from their heavy iron bindings as she took note of her surroundings her senses sharpening once more, she lay upon a raised stone altar in a dimly lit stone room around which cloaked figures shuffled tending to blood red candles and arcane symbols that made her eyes blur and unfocus which covered the floor however her observation were cut short as her movements attracted unwanted attention.

“Awake already? Well this is unexpected I must remember in future to make the dose stronger or perhaps you are of unusual stamina in any case at least you can now see what use I will make of those gems you brought me or did you think angering the stone giants was my only objective.”
The speakers voice was all too familiar though there was no doubt to the owner as he stepped closer into the flickering light, a wickedly hooked knife in his grip the mayors fingers toyed with the Jet pommel a dark grin upon his lips.

Often touched upon in fantasy novels and various campaign settings, a soul is the thing that set mortals apart from the gods, the currency of angels devils and demons for those desperate to bargain and often found trapped within ancient artifacts of both good and evil. Very few D20 systems however give any game mechanics regarding the use of souls even when they provide methods to obtain them so here are my suggestions for potential methods of soul crafting.

It should be mentioned that gaining the knowledge of any of these methods in character should be difficult requiring actions such as demonic pacts to obtain and using them is unarguably an evil act.

The Ritual Sacrifice

A firm favourite amongst evil cults and budding necromancers this is the traditional fantasy scene of the altar and ritual circle, this method is the easiest but least powerful of soul gathering methods however it has the advantage that it can be used on multiple victims and when given time can be used anywhere.
The traditional ritual sacrifice requires four items, a ritual magic circle in which the sacrifice needs to be made, a sacrificial knife, a gemstone in which the soul is captured and of course a sacrificial victim.

Creating a Sacrifice Ritual Circle requires the character to be able to cast 3rd level spells of either Arcane or Divine and a material component of ground obsidian or bloodstone mixed with sand soaked in unholy water worth 10 Gold Pieces (GP).
Drawing the Ritual Circle by hand takes 10 minutes and requires a DC 20 Spellcraft check including any additional modifiers that a DM may wish to apply for difficult due to terrain, during this time the material components are spread in a 3-foot diameter circle on the floor (or ground) around the creature to be sacrifice or the altar where the creature will be sacrificed. The circle can be made larger however requires an additional 10 minutes and 10GP of materials per 3-foot to the diameter.

Like a traditional magic circle you can take 10 when drawing the diagram if you are under no particular time pressure to complete the task. If time is no factor at all, and you devote 3 hours and 20 minutes to the task, you can take 20. However they also suffer the same downside as normal magic circles in that if the circle diagram is disturbed or damage the circles effect is destroyed until it is redrawn.
Some temples of evil gods have been known to mix the material components into the mortar of their flooring or patterned surface of their altars to create permanent Magic Ritual Circles which cannot be easily disrupted.

The actual sacrifice process itself traditionally involves a masterwork dagger in which further runes are etched or painted in Infernal or Abyssal requiring a DC25 Knowledge Religion or Arcane and a days work to do so. The second item require (often slotted into the hilt of the dagger or worn as a necklace on the victim) is a gemstone which the victims soul is transferred into, this gemstone does not have to be of a particular type and may hold as much experience points as the value of the gem.
Using this prepared dagger ensures the victim's soul does not escape from the circle during the ritual and sends a fraction of the soul to the entity whose name is inscribed on the dagger, using any other item to slay the victim gives a 25% that the soul will escape the circle and not absorbed into the gem.

To be a valid sacrifice the creature must be alive this means undead creatures cannot be sacrificed; this also includes Liches because the link to their phylactery is far too powerful for the ritual to break. Intelligent humanoids or magical animals are preferable as these provide the strongest souls, mundane animals can be used as a sacrifice however they provide very little power.
Each victim sacrificed in this manner transfers 10 experience points into the gemstone, mundane non magical animals sacrificed in this manner only give 2 experience points. Special bloodlines, outsiders or rare magical animals such as unicorns or dragons may add up to an additional 15 experience points to the sacrifice on top of the initial 10.

For Pathfinder players remember the conversion cost is traditionally 5GP per 1XP so this would convert easily into 50GP for a intelligent humanoids and magical creatures, 10GP for mundane animals and 125GP for creatures of special blood lines.

Anyones soul who is captured in this way cannot be raised or communicated with by spells such as speak with dead, if the gemstone is destroy any souls it contains are released, however the entity who received a fraction of the soul will still possess it which can lead to side effects should a victim be raised from the dead examples of common issues are partial memory loss possibly resulting in level drain or personality alterations, horrific nightmares or visions that are caused by occasional sensations sent to them through the soul fragment. The only way to retrieve these fragments is either by a wish or miracle spell or to retrieve them directly from the devil or demon either by force or bargain.
If the experience points in the gem are spent as crafting experience points the souls are destroyed (in the order of storage) and cannot be restored short of a wish or miracle spell, the process also blackens the gemstone from whatever its original colour and the gem can no longer be used to store further souls eventually shattering into worthless shards when the last of the experience points within are removed.  

As previously stated while the effectiveness of this style of soul gathering is extremely limited it does have the advantage that multiple gems can be gathered over time and it requires little resources other than knowledge and some basic spell casting.
It is mainly used as part of existing worshiping rituals for cults of evil gods rather than as an end to a means, this said however there is nothing stopping an ambitious spellcaster (apart from the extreme difficulty of preventing the circle from been disrupted, mapping it upon uneven ground and obtaining a suitable gem of worth) from encircling an entire village before slaying those within.

Quick Link: Part 2 Part 3

“In the name of the Dark Ones how hard is it to subdue one bound girl?” The words snapping from him in frustration the lord mayor of Pryham lashed out at the nearest figure knocking back its hood revealing the scared baker beneath who mumbled pitifully in reply. “I’m sorry sir we didn’t think to bind her legs with her hands locked and all, at least Brian's nose has stopped bleeding though it might be broken.”

Turning on the smaller man with a snarl, embarrassment fuelled raged glinted in his eyes “His nose will be the last thing he will be worried about if he bleeds on the magic circle again, I WILL NOT be embarrassed before our patron by your collective ineptness at our first proper sacrifice to..”
A sudden pained cry echoed throughout the hall interrupting their exchange as the hooded figure known as Brian slumped to the floor an arrow sticking from his chest, gazing at its source revealed the adventuring party that had entered town only days before including the dwarf who smiled grimly hefting his axe.

A moment of silence dominated the room as the two groups stared each other down, gazing amongst his fellows with weary sigh the mayor gestured towards the rooms new arrivals “WHAT ARE  YOU WAITING FOR? GET THEM!...” shaking his head slowly as his followers charged the intruders he couldn’t help but darkly mutter “Someone will be sacrificed tonight one way or another.” the Jet jewel of his knife pommel now glowing evilly as the souls of the dying were trapped within.

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Feedback Thanks

Posted by: Jason Silverain / Category: , ,

First of all I want to thank my recent visitors from Reddit for the feedback regarding my blog, I'm updating the appearance a little bit at a time and always welcome suggestions. A extra special thanks to those who caught a few typos too, while I do try to have my posts proof read by one of my gaming group they are not always available and as anyone who has written any essay knowns the hardest errors to spot are the ones that you've been looking at for the last hour.

In addition to the blog I am also working upon a small board game called Encumbrance which I hope to showcase in the coming months and may even have a PDF available for download however the blog will still be my priority between the two.

Just a reminder Steampunk at the Seaside 2014 is coming up next month so if your planning on going remember to book soon.

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