So it begins...
- Undead. Are we good on this? This means Charisma based HP, immunity to a ton of stuff (mind affecting, critical hits, subdual damage, just about anything involving a Fort save). This also means you can be turned or controlled by channel energy.
- Channel Resistance +4. This is pretty common for all intelligent undead. Only powerful clerics have a chance to turn and control you. Although any cleric can at least hurt you.
- Resurrection. If you die by any means accept for very specific ways, then you crumble to dust and ash. If these ashes are not salted or scattered into running water before 1 hour passes, or night fall comes (whichever comes second), then you reform at 1 hp and maybe 0 spirit points.
- Note: Like any undead, this happens at 0 hitpoints. Not your negative constitution, as you have none.
- Pure water. You cannot cross running water unless you are carried. Either by horse, carpet, or in somebody’s loving and tender embrace.
- Over Running Water. If you are somehow forced over running water, you are Staggered and incapable of using any CB powers.
- Exposure to running water. If submerged in running water, you suffer. You take 1/3 your maximum hitpoints (rnded up) every turn until death. This kills you permanently.
- Holy Water. You have vulnerability to holy water. Half again as much damage, regardless of save.
- Slam Attack. You have a slam attack that causes energy drain. But here’s the thing, I’ve been looking at this and comparing it to the Devourer you guys just fought, and they use touch attacks, and given the way your power reaches out like Alucard’s shadows (only more fiery), a touch attack might make more sense. Either way, you’d be considered armed when unarmed.
- Kindling. Like a vampire feeding his blood to others, a CB can spread the Crucible fire burning them to others, like two torches held together. Doing this, I envision them drawing forth the fiery essence within them and enveloping another. It will probably cost a spirit point, but doing so puts the slightest ember of the Cherufe upon them. When they die, their body will undergo transition.
- Transition. When one who has caught fire dies. Their body will cremate slowly. After some amount of time passes, the person rises from the ashes as a CB.
- This CB inherits any learned abilities or clan attributes of the CB that sired him.
- Would you like to play with the idea of sire and slave? It’s pretty classic Bram Stoker, so I’d be cool with it.
- Transition. When one who has caught fire dies. Their body will cremate slowly. After some amount of time passes, the person rises from the ashes as a CB.
- Salt. Vulnerability to salt. CB’s cannot cross powered salt. If their ashes are annointed with salt when they’re in ash form, they die. If a weapon is soaked in salt, it bypasses a CB’s DR.
- The Urn. I’d like to see the urn come into play somewhere—like a coffin to a vampire. Obviously Soltari hasn’t been using an urn, because he wouldn’t know to. But the urn would be a safe place for a CB to rest. They would basically flow in and out of the urn like a genie. While turning into an ash cloud might cost something, this would be free.
- There would be reasons for a CB to choose an urn. Perhaps it simply gives them a greater comfort than a bed ever can. Perhaps instead of sleep, a CB must rest there.
- Or maybe the CB does not burn spirit points when inside the Urn (or they burn very very slowly), allowing a CB to remain there resting for a long time, maybe centuries.
- The reason vampires take coffins is to avoid the sun. The original Dracula could come out in daylight, he just didn’t have any powers. Maybe something similar? We could use the sun, although I’d like to at least consider other ideas if we do this at all. What are your thoughts?
Possible Burn Rate Progression (Not used)
- Darkvision, Kindle, Slam attack (energy drain), this can also be used more subtly, such as scraping the soul of someone sleeping.
- DR 5/good or silver
- resist fire 5, poison 5 (if not undead)
- Fast Healing 1 hp/10 min
- burrow 20 ft., earth glide
- fast healing 1
- resist fire 10, poison 10 (if not undead)
- 10/good or silver, fast healing 2
- fast healing 3
- immune fire, poison (if not undead). resist acid 10, cold 10
- fast healing 4
- 15/good or silver, fast healing 5
I’ve broken feats into two categories: good and evil. Although that’s not to say that an evil person might not take a good feat. Those feats are also quite pragmatic.
Good Crucible Feats
Self control- The CB has learned to control the fire within him, mitigating the amount it burns. The amount a CB’s consumption reduces his spirit pool per day is reduced by 2 (minimum 0).
Forced Burning- Through force of will, the CB has learned how to dredge the recesses of his victims’ souls to find every last scrape of goodness within them, and to pepper that goodness among his basic humanity, thereby enabling him to burn spirit that isn’t necessarily good. The CB gets +2 spirit from neutral targets, and +1 from evil targets. If he couldn’t feed from evil targets before, he can now.
Improved Forced Burning- The CB has learned that even evil can be corrupted and burned. He can force the fire within him to feed on evil. The CB can get +3 from all victims, regardless of alignment. If he chooses to take all 3 points, he cannot leech any memories from the target.
Basking- The soul is a source of infinite energy, and each one radiates energy like a star. Magicians know this. Gods know this. And now the CB has learned how to bask in this energy and absorb it. Through physical contact, the CB can pull one spirit point from a good-aligned target without causing energy drain. This effect is not unpleasant for the target, nor does it harm them in any way. However, only so much spiritual energy is given off by a target. Once a target has been basked from, the CB (or any other CB) cannot bask before them that day. Basking counts as a feeding for the purpose of fasting and accruing consumption. Basking is not considered an evil act.
Evil Crucible Feats
Spirit Well- Through gorging, the CB has learned how to contain more spirit within himself. The CB’s spirit pool increases by his HD divided by 2 (rounded down).
Improved Spirit Well- Prerequisite: Spirit Well. The CB’s spirit pool is now increased by his HD instead of his HD divided by 2.
Unconventional Receptacles- The CB has learned how to harvest the spirit of unconventional targets. The CB can now harvest from fey, outsiders, incorporeal, and soul stones.
These are some example abilities that might be earned by feeding upon a powerful soul, learning an ancient secret, evolving one’s body through magic. Once obtained, any CB spawned by this CB would inherit these abilities, thus creating a clan. Any power that consumes spirit points cannot be used unless the CB’s consumption rate equals or exceeds the same number of points. For instance, a CB could not cast Ash form I unless their consumption was at 5.
Ash form- This spell functions as Elemental form, only the form is ash, which is identical to an air elemental except that those inside the elemental have partial concealment. 5 spirit points for Ash Form I, 7 for II, 10 for III, and 13 for IV.
Ash storm- The CB can generate an ash storm centered on himself. 3 spirit points.
Fire Storm- The CB can generate a fire storm centered on himself. The CB is immune to his own flames. 15 spirit points (the spirit point cost of this one must be equal to or greater the consumption level that grants fire immunity)
Transfer spirit points- The CB has learned how to use their collected spirit to patch and heal others. The CB can transfer spirit points to others, not to kindle them, but to remove negative levels.
Earthquake- The CB has learned to tap into the rock and fire around him, to move it as though tied to it. The CB can cast Earthquake like the spell, 15 spirit points.
Flame Lash- The CB’s inner fire lashes out from him like tongues of corrupted fire. As an attack action, the CB can perform a ranged touch attack against a target within 60 ft. If hit, the target must succeed a Will save or be affected by the CB’s energy drain. Targets drained in this way count as feedings.
Devour- The CBs inner fire lashes out to all around him. As a standard action, the CB makes a ranged touch attack against all within 20 ft of him. If hit, they must succeed a Will save or be affected by the CB’s energy drain. Each affected target counts as a feeding.
(These last two might be made more easily accessible by some other means, just listing it here for now. Maybe they’ll be in the consumption progression chart.)
Control Weather- The CB can alter the weather of his environment, as the spell. However, he is limited to: hot weather, heat waves, ash storms, and any other weather appropriate to the theme. Spirit cost: 15.
Alter Self- The CB has mastered control over his own hearth construction. He can cast Alter Self as the spell. Spirit cost: 3
- A Crucible-born has a spirit pool equal to its HD + Wisdom modifier (in your case, 8).
- They have a consumption rate, which is initially 1.
- Every day (at long rest or whenever), the consumption rate is subtracted from the spirit pool.
- The spirit pool can extend into negative numbers, but for each point below zero a Crucible-born goes, they gain one negative level as though by energy drain.
- Once a Crucible-feeds and reduced their negative penalty, then 1/day, a Crucible-born can make a Will-save (DC = 10 + Consumption rate). If they succeed, then one negative level goes away. If they fail, the negative level becomes permanent.
- (OR, the lost level becomes a HD of Undead or Outsider, this nicely represents a Crucible-born’s slow corruption into an infernal or undead creature. This could actually be worse for Crucible-born; creature HD are never as good as class levels, and while lost levels can always be regained with experience, creature HD will never go away. So they’ve permanently slid closer to losing their humanity. They may appear more demonic too. The cool effect of this is that when a Crucible-born succumbs, they become something comparable in power to what they were in life.
- A CB (crucible-born) can never reduce their negative levels below what their current negative spirit pool. (I.E. A CB with a -4 spirit pool will have at least 4 negative levels, and no amount of time or restoration will fix this.)
- I’m undecided whether restoration spells and the like can help a CB recover levels lost in this manner.
- If CB gains negative levels equal to their HD which are not Outsider/Undead HD, then they succumb. The Crucible fire inside them consumes them, and they become whatever demonic/undead monster they’re fated to be. This creature would have no shred of humanity left, i.e. you would hand over your character sheet and reroll your character.
- A number of times per day equal to their consumption rate, a CB can feed on a humanoid to restore spirit points. This works exactly like energy drain. They make some kind of attack (let’s stick with slam for now) against another. The target must succeed a Fortitude save (DC is Charisma based, in your case, it’s 19 with your CHA at +5) or gain one negative level.
- The target can recover this negative level normal as per energy drain rules.
- The CB gains spirit points back depending on the alignment of the target humanoid.
- Against good-aligned creatures, the CB gains 3 spirit points for each negative level bestowed.
- Against neutral-aligned creatures, the CB gains 1 spirit point.
- The CB either gains nothing from evil-aligned creatures, or evil-aligned creatures are immune to this energy drain. I’m undecided.
- The CB regains HP equal to 5 + Cha modifier for each negative level bestowed. (I’m not taking Charisma all over the place because it’s good for your character. Charisma is the undead trait. This all just happens to fit well with Soltari).
- The CB can feed more times per day than their consumption rate, but each time a CB does so, their consumption rate increases to match the number of times they’ve fed that day.
Reducing consumption rate
- A CB reduces consumption rate by fasting. To fast for a day is to go that day without feeding at all. After an initial day of fasting, then for every following day of fasting, the CB makes a Will save. (DC = 10 + consumption rate). If he succeeds, then his consumption comes down 1. If he fails, his consumption remains the same.
Aaand… there’s a lot more. For one, the advantages you get when you maintain a high consumption rate. But also, I’ve outlined a ton of feats (some earned through quests, others bought when leveling) that can give advantages. I’ll write those up maybe later tonight, but I seriously need to get to work now. But for now, you’ll notice some interesting characteristics of the system I’ve outlined.
- You can increase your consumption rapidly now, but bringing it back down is a trial. In fact, if you’re low enough level and your wisdom isn’t great, it’s impossible to recover from high consumption without suffering energy drain. In bad enough cases, you might not ever be able to reduce consumption.
- For example, your character has 8 points. If you have a consumption of 5, then you require a minimum of 2 days of fasting before you can make rolls to reduce consumption, at that point, you’ll be at -2 spirit at best. At -8 sprit (or after 4 days of fasting), you succumb. So if you want to bring down your consumption, you’ll have to do ween your way down over time. Fast two days and hope to get to 4. Recover. Then fast again to get to 3.
- This system is also particularly unkind to low level characters. If a 1st level character becomes a CB, and they have a wisdom modifier of +0. Then they have a maximum 1 spirit point. They can go a single day before needing to feed. After two days, they succumb. If their wisdom is -1, then they will succumb guaranteed after 24 hours. wisdom = -2? They succumb immediately.
- There are feats that can make this whole process much easier and safer. A basic example: a feat that reduces spirit points lost to consumpt by 2 (minimum 0). In that case, you could actually maintain consumption of 1 or 2 indefinitely without needing to feed ever. And higher consumption comes down more easily.
The first was an idea I had that answered why it is that infernal beings are always targeting innocents when there are always enough people damning themselves with their own actions. The story was focused on an infernal device which I think I tentatively named “Belial’s Crucible”. The premise was that when a person dies, their soul gets pulled to their final destination by the weight of their soul. A sinner get’s pulled to hell or wherever because their souls are pulled there. And in hell, the idea is not that they get eternally tortured, but that they’re either consumed to feed other or that they just become denizens of hell or whatever. Either way, they never return to the mortal plane.
However, demons were always coming to the surface to make pacts with people, because once the pact is fulfilled, they get dragged off to hell, body and soul. These beings have the potential to return, which is why demons covet them so much. These victims would get put into the Crucible, which would burn away any remaining good in them, corrupting it, turning it into something demonic. When they emerge, much of their humanity is gone. They are now demons themselves, although lesser demons, and there is still much of their old selves there.
This is why demons love targeting innocents. They either try to make pacts with innocents themselves (which is really hard), but more often they convince pact makers to offer up others besides themselves, like their mother, or infant sister, or maybe some devout worshippers or something. Then these innocent people get dragged to hell instead, body and soul. When they get put into the Crucible, there is so, so much more goodness inside them to burn, and so little sin is left once it’s done. But that’s the idea. What little since remains in them is so pure, so undiluted, and now it’s attached to so much more demonic corruption. When the innocent person emerges, there is barely a scrap left of their humanity, and the demon they have become is so much more powerful than others.
So for example, let’s say a devout nun were offered up by some demon worshippers. She has been a good and wholesome person her entire life, except for a few bashful, sultry thoughts she has which she’s probably never shared. When she emerges from the Crucible, that small drop of lust is pure and unadulterated, and is powered by all the demonic power that now occupied where the rest of her soul used to be. She’d be something like a succubus I imagine. Truly powerful. Truly devious, and capable of returning to earth to further hell’s agenda.
An innocent child with a few ardent thoughts of violence and selfishness might become a powerful demon of destruction and wrath. A mother with nothing but unconditional love for her children, but who is capable of great wrath should anything threaten them, might become some kind of demonic brood queen or guardian, who’s motherly instincts have been warped to defend the demons she’s charged with.
That’s the idea. I drafted up a short story around it, but I’ve yet to get around to writing it. I’m basically putting the crucible idea into the D&D world, and the idea is that somehow your character has “caught the fire of the Crucible”. Your soul slowly smolders, and you must feed it the good of others, lest it consume you.
I’m realizing that this email is getting very long, so I’ll be quicker about the other idea.
A few years ago I looked into alternatives to vampires. Things that still had the same aspects that make vampires so appealing (immortality, power, romantic, something anyone can become, but a conflicted state of being with drawbacks that make it morally interesting). I talked with a lot of people about this. I came up with one idea that ended up being the basis for the first book I wrote, but another one I liked but didn’t use was based around the symbolism of ash (or dust).
It means something in just about all cultures. It represents death, but also rebirth (phoenix and stuff). Many, like the Catholics, see it as a final state, like a completion of entropy. In itself it’s seen as entirely worthless. For instance, yogis and sadhu will smear themselves with ash as a demonstration of humility. So in many ways, it’s sort of like a foundational element.
Genesis 3:19: “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”
It’s a state between life. And I always thought a being made of ash and dust would be an interesting creation. It also ties in nicely with the Crucible above, as ash can be seen as what remains after the goodness is consumed. In many ways, I suppose your body has become like a glowing hearth. Its ash contains the fire of the Crucible.
Soooo… that’s where I stand. Everything below are elaborations assuming we use the model I’ve designed so far.
The demonic, corrupting fire of the infernal Crucible is now your source of life (as I see it right now, but I do want your feedback). You reave on the goodness of others to feed the fire. Because it doesn’t eat the sinful parts of others’ souls, those just kind of linger inside you for a while, until they either evaporate away or you claim them. As we are a product of our memories, thoughts, emotions, and ambitions, it basically gives you the ability to learn from their sins, which can be an effective information gathering tool.
You can also see why I’m torn about the creature type thing. It’s a toss up to me. But look at this:
Aberrations. Their traits are pretty vanilla actually.
- Darkvision: 60 ft (sure, you already have this anyway)
- Natural weapon proficiency. (which makes your Slam attack make sense, but all types have something like this)
- Aberrations eat, breath, and sleep. This doesn’t fit you well in your current form
Outsiders. They’re more interesting, but I don’t think they’re a good fit. Because Outsiders are their soul. Where as you still have your dual nature. You have a body, and a soul. They’re separate. Although Outsiders don’t eat or sleep, which fits better to you than aberration.
Undead. Their traits are many
- Immunity to all-mind affecting effects. (With this, I think what you are doesn’t fit the Undead model that well as it stands right now)
- No constitution score. This makes sense. You don’t have a body made of flesh. If you a being made of ash, a receptacle for infernal fire, then it makes sense that you’re immune to anything requiring a Fort save (poison, disease, breathing, eating). Your hit points would be Charisma based, which frankly, would give you a shit-ton more hit points.
- Not subject to nonlethal damage, ability drain, or energy drain. You are a being of ash, this all makes sense.
- Cannot heal damage on your own, nor does standard magical healing help. This would be a major drawback. You’d have to reave to recover hit points. This does make sense to me if we go with the current model though.
- You cannot be resurrected by normal means, as your body is not a flesh and blood body.
- You would not eat, breath, or sleep. This makes sense. You already don’t eat. Breathing doesn’t make sense for you. Sleeping neither.
So this is why I think undead is a better descriptor for the curse I’ve described. Although. I do want your feedback on this. We can kick most, or all, of this in the head and do something different. I don’t want to make you into my own personal brainstorm. It’s your character, you should have control over this.