Friday, June 14, 2013

Shaman Spell Lists of the Mater Milia - Pahvelorn House Rules

In Brendan of Necropraxis' long running G+ game Vaults of Pahvelorn, due to the slow evolution of the game world, it recently made sense for my thief to hire a henchman/spiritual adviser name Lau Taxan. Lau is a former clerk and embezzler out of the holy city of Illum-Zugot, but he is also chosen by the rat goddess, and after a few months of adventuring he developed the abilities of a rat priest.

Der Rattenkonig
Now one of the things that's developed in Pahvelorn is an interesting religious dichotomy between followers of the orthodox sky religion, the Eternal Empire and the resurgent cults of old local spirits.  Many local spirit cults are animal in nature, and have very different powers.  In order to make this religious split interesting (it's changed party dynamics a bit - with (arguably evil) the thief and child witch trying to outdo the (arguably good) two clerics with good acts to prove their dubious rat deity is a more generous god than the Empire. One could also comment that the PCs religious beliefs have made the party less mercenary, and more focused on helping the various towns and human civilizations rather than narrowly focused on loot and advancement.

Under Brendan's rules, the distinction between the way priests and traditional religious practitioners work is interesting with an entirely different kind of casting and limited menu of spells based on summoned spirit.  Details on the Cult can be found in this post about Lau Taxan, but it has recently been described as "Rat focused Marxism" and indeed a common mantra of its worshipers is "To the glory of the Mother according to her needs, from each according to ability"

Shaman are practitioners of traditional religions and leaders of various spirit cults. Cat gods worshiped by assassins, rat deities followed by the poor and petty thieves, bee gods holy to farmers, the servants of otherworldly powers dedicated to ruin and snake cults that  claim to protect certain regions.  Presumably even ancestor worshipers and perhaps even non-human religions are led by shamans.  These individuals share many of the characteristics of clerics, and like them are specifically chosen as their deities' representatives in the physical world.

Unlike Clerics shamanistic relation to the spirits invoked is direct, personal and even sometimes antagonistic.  Shaman do not ask for boons from a single all powerful god, they cajole, beg and compel various lesser spirits, petty gods and local powers to intervene on thier behalf.

Shamanistic Magic involves the practitioner contacting and then making a pact with his or her deity or a related lesser spirit.  Once a rapport has been established, the Shaman may conduct a ritual to invite the spirit into his being and act as a channel for the spirit's power.  This channel is not perfect and most spirits are not always content to do the bidding of the Shaman, both the interference of other entities and the reluctance of the spirits to expend energy and effort acting in the world.

Below are sample Rat spirits (including a repost of the Rattus Legatus, currently the only power used in game by a PC - with some variations) - all are summoned through a chant in high Muriane (which sounds like a thousand rats squeaking in unison from the walls of an echoing hall).

Rattus Vegrandius (The Least Rat - The Overlooked Borrower)
A spirit of concealment and survival, the Vegrandius is a a lesser and cowardly spirit and while ridden the Shaman must role a check vs. CHR on a D20 to engage in melee combat.  Within the courts of the Mother of Thousands the Vegrandius is a messenger and errand runner.  He is the patron god of ratlings, and also frequently the object of prayers from unsophisticated petitioners to the Mother for food, survival and success in petty thievery.

The Vegrandius appears as a normal sized white rat of uncanny speed and grace. He has unmatched abilities at concealment and theft, but shuns confrontation of any kind.

Insignificance Charm (10) Allows the caster to hide in shadows, listen and move silently as a thief of the same level by dulling the senses of those who perceive her. Catastrophic failure produces terror and feelings of inadequacy in the caster.

Speak with Rats (11) Allows caster to speak with rats in their own high pitched tongue. Catastrophic failure usually results in saying rude things to the target rats, or the Shaman being unable to remember human languages for the rest of the session.

Murine Possession (14) Allows caster to temporarily transfer her consciousness to that of a nearby rodent. If the rodent is killed while possessed, caster will suffer a similar wound for 1D6 HP (or more depending on the manner of the rodent's death), and be trapped in a fevered dream for 1D6 days.  A catastrophic failure usually results in the rat's spirit swapping positions with that of the Shaman, which can be dangerous if the caster is not properly restrained.

Silence Other (15) The caster may remove the ability of a target to make noise through the use of this spell for 2D6 rounds.  On a failure it often backfires resulting in loud noises or silencing the caster.

Augury of Danger (18) The Vegrandius will whisper true information about a nearby threat (is any exist) to the caster. These are often simple descriptions as they are pulled from the minds of rodent witnesses, and the terrified nature of the rats they are taken from frequently makes threats sound much worse than they are.  Additionally threats that aren't dangerous to rats will not be recognized as such.  Failure will frequently lead to the shaman quaking in terror afraid of everything, which is the common lot of rodent kind.

Summon Vegrandius (20) The Vegrandius is a timid spirit and does not like to appear, but it may be coaxed into appearing and directly intervening.  The Vegrandius is a poor combatant, and if somehow forced to fight it will make a few half hearted attempts to backstab opponents before fleeing back to the Courts of the Mother of Thousands.  The Vegrandius excels at theft however and will undertake missions of scouting or thievery with less convincing. If angry when summoned the Vegrandius rarely resorts to violence - though kidnapping, theft and placing the offending Shaman under a geas are all likely.

Rattus Vegrandius HD 5*, AC2, SV TH12, ATK 1, DAM 1D6**, MV 5D6, ML6
* May use thief skills as a 12th level thief and additionally has the at will abilities as the spells: Invisibility, Silence 10' radius, Geas.  The Vegrandius is immune to poison and disease.
** May attack from behind as a 12th level thief

Rattus Legatus (Rat General - The Suave Gentleman)
This major-domo and chief lieutenant of the Mother of Thousands is the most active of her court on the material plane. The Legatus has a large variety of petitioners, both as marshal of the Mother's gnawers on the pillars of the universe and as master of her earthly affairs.  He is suave and intelligent, an embodiment of rodents adaptability and cosmopolitan ubiquity.  Served by a wide variety of petitioners - those who seek to use the Mother's powers to channel and direct the chaos of poverty for their own purposes, as well as those who would improve the world and even delay it's prophesied collapse.

In appearance the Legatus is most often depicted as either a titanic glossy rat with gem eyes, a wealthy merchant of suave, even unctuous, demeanor with snarling rodent heads for hands (concealed by long rich sleeves) or as a the clothes of a wealthy merchant and a smiling mask inhabited by a colony of giant rats and aping the manners of a man.

Speak with Rats (11) Allows caster to speak with rats in their own high pitched tongue. Catastrophic failure usually results in saying rude things to the target rats, or the Shaman being unable to remember human languages for the rest of the session.

Sticky Feet (12) climb rough vertical surfaces at half movement, no chance of falling unless struck with a damaging attack (which requires a save vs. Petrification to avoid falling).  Catastrophic failure results in a coating of mucus like slime that impedes movement until washed off with vinegar.

Psychic Swarm (13) Target is afflicted by a swarm of shadowy psychic rats swarming over them, and suffers -2 penalties to AC, saves, and attack. Furthermore, target must save versus magic or use their actions to either attempt to flee or claw madly at the illusionary rats. For the later effect to continue the Shaman must concentrate and control the swarming illusory rats. Catastrophic failure is likely to cause the rats to swarm the caster or another friendly target for 1D4 turns.

Fever Bite (13) Caster grows long ratlike incisors for one encounter/exploration turn. Bites that hits require a save or the target becomes afflicted by a wasting disease that automatically does 1 HP damage per round. The bite is ineffective against huge creatures or those with more than 6 HD.  Catastrophic failure often results in the teeth growing too rapidly and injuring the caster, soemtimes poisoning him as well.

Hole Spotter (14) spend a turn and perform a smoke ritual that may reveal hidden hidey-holes. Only hidden things with gaps that smoke could find are discoverable, so some sophisticated secret doors might not be located, even on success. The smoke seems to take the form of thousands of tiny, questing rats.  Catastrophic failure often produces temporary blindness or a heavy 'high' feeling from inhaling too much smoke and resulting in penalties.

Summon Dire Rats (17) A pack of 1D4 Dire Rats boil from the floor.  They are half-material an amenable to control for one battle or action, but afterwards will solidify and flee to follow their own collectivist and treacherous plans.  Dire Rats are treated as monsters after the normal encounter and will have attracted normal and giant rat hordes.  They are semi-intelligent and often demand a contribution to their colonies (in the form of flesh or wealth) from any they encounter.  Devotees of the Mother gain a +2 from reaction checks with Dire Rats. Catastrophic Failure results in a total lack of control over the perturbed Dire Rats

Dire Rat - HD 2, AC 5, SV F2, ATK 1, DAM 1D6*, MV 3D6, ML 8 +1 per additional Dire Rat present.  Special Attack - may back-stab on initial attack if undetected (not summoned) or surprising target for +4 hit X3 damage.
*As two handed weapon (only after they break free from summoning)

Summon Legatus Rattus (20) The Rattus himself may be summoned and asked for assistance in combat. A failure often means the Legatus deems the summoning an intrusion and will often attack, or demand restitution or a quest on her behalf.

Rattus Legatus -  HD 10, AC 3, SV CL5, ATK 3, DAM 1D6 MV 4D6/2D6 (climbing), ML 12

Lues Rex (Plague King - The Thousands - The Unclean Swarm)
A creature of horror, destruction and plague.  The Rex may be the Consort of the Mother, but he is not often welcome in her halls at the roots of the universe.  Filthy, immense and without much reason, to summon the Lues Rex is to invite disaster and mayhem.  Yet the orgy of destruction brought about by revolution, plague or societal collapse is sacred to the Mother of Thousands, and within it contains the  carnival days of the underclasses' triumph or the leveling of all social distinctions.  The joy and rejuvenation found in this moment is also within the power of the Rex, though the price paid for accessing it can be high.  As such the Lues is worshiped by the most fanatical of the Mother's social reformer followers and millenarian offshoots of her cult.

Each invocation of the Lues' power requires a sacrifice of either a person of wealth or standing (may be conducted up to a day prior to casting) or the destruction of a luxury item valued at a minimum 100GPxLVL of caster.

The appearance of the Lues Rex is as a great filthy mass of rats, their tails and often bodies melted together.  It moves as a protean swarm, with hundreds of screaming rodent voices crying out for contradictory things.

Fever Bite (13) Caster grows long ratlike incisors for one encounter/exploration turn. Hits require a save or the target becomes afflicted by a wasting disease that automatically does 1 HP damage per round. Ineffective against huge creatures or those with more than 6 HD.

Decay Cloud (14) The caster breaths out a 10'x10'x30' cloud of foul reeking gas that hangs yellow and sickly in the air for 1d3 turns.  All creatures within the cloud must Save vs. Poison each round to avoid being paralyzed by the horrible stench of rot and decay.  Even after escaping the cloud a victim will be subject to -2 to all physical rolls for 1d6 turns as they are torments by retching and nausea.

Euphoric Rejuvenation (18) Through this spell the target is healed of 3D6 points of damage and imbued with a sense of joy and purpose, gaining a +1 blessing to all actions for the next 2D6 Turns.  Critical Failure will cause despondence and penalties in all who witness it for a like time.  

Cause/Cure Disease (20)  By laying hands on a diseased person after this spell is cast the Shaman will drive the disease out of them.  As an alternative the Shaman may inflect a terrible wasting plague on a healthy target.  A critical failure will have the opposite of the intended effect, or draw a disease into the Shaman.

22 - Devouring Frenzy (22) Allows the caster to perform a speech, or other public spectacle that will incite the viewers into a frenzy of violence and destruction.  The audience must be relatively peaceable at the beginning of the spell, and gathered through mundane means.  Upon listening to the orator (or watching a play, maybe viewing a satirical piece of art) this crowd will become violent and destructive, striking out at whatever symbols of authority they can reach.  Crowd members effected will fight (and have HP) equivalent to Fighters of +1 their current level, potentially making even a crowd of peasants very dangerous.  The crowd is not under control of the caster but a successful casting will allow simple goals, such as "storm the Bastille!" to be implanted.  On a critical failure the caster will himself be effected along with some of the crowd (size depending on how close to their own ideals/grievances are to the caster's goals) or the crowd will turn violently on the caster with intent to kill and/or turn him over to the authorities.

Summon Lues (25) regarded by all but the most insane or chaotic Shaman as a terrible idea, Summoning the Lues is extremely dangerous.  To do so requires a fresh human sacrifice, with the Lues forming from the mass of rodents that devour the victim.  When summoned the Lues is a powerful enough spirit to avoid compulsions and a malicious enough one to twist any requests towards slaughter and chaos.  Even if a summoning is successful the avatar of the Lues will refuse to leave and remain in the material world wrecking havoc until it is destroyed, forcibly banished or creates a kingdom of misrule under it's control and grows bored.  On a critical failure the Lues avatar will not appear, but instead numerous magically augmented rat swarms will tear apart the Shaman and likely anyone one else within several hundred feet.

Lues Rex HD 12*, AC 2, SV F10, ATK 5, DAM 1D6** MV 2D6(swim/climbing), ML 12
*The Lues regenerates at the rate of 1D6 HP per round in urban settings and 1HP per round in the wilderness as new rats scurry to join it
**The attacks of the Lues are poisonous and a save vs. poison is required or the victim will die in pox covered agony in 1D4 rounds.  Victims poisoned by the Lues will rise the next night as wererats 25% of the time.  In addition the Lues Rex may cast the following spells once per turn: Decay Cloud (above), Cure Critical Wounds, Continual Darkness.

Mater Milia  (Mother of Thousands - Nester in the Lowest Pillared Hall)
The Mother of Thousands herself, glorious and terrible to look upon, only the greatest Shamans may call her, and even then rarely without cost.  Unlike the other spirits above the Mater Milia is something akin to a demi-god, and acts on the material plane only at a remove.

The Mother is a vastness of misrule, rejuvenation, change and entropy, and her goals are nothing less than the destruction of all human social institutions and remaking of the world as an endless field of neglected ruins where her human, ratling and rodent children will thrive in a state of anarchy without interference from powers of order or chaos.

Speak with Rats (11) As Legattus Above

Psychic Swarm (13) As Legattus Above

Blessings of the Mother (14) A hex upon the armor or body of the target (including caster) that causes temporal and spatial distortion while active. The blessing reduces AC by 2 points (to AC 2 at best) until the blessed takes physical damage from an attack.  While the blessing is active, the blessed also receives a +1 to all saves vs. poison.

15 - Rat Swarm (15) A swarming mass of hungry, fierce rats erupts around the feet of the Shaman.  the swarming mass is almost impossible to destroy with normal weapons as the rats are so numerous and keep arriving from beneath the earth. The rat swarm will make a 10' radius circle around the point of summoning for 3D6 rounds, and anyone in the area except the caster will be viciously attacked by innumerable rats.  Each round the swarm attacks all in its radius (except the caster) as a 3HD creature for 1D6 points of damage, and an additional D6 for every 2 points its attack is over over the needed to hit roll.   On a critical failure the swarm is still likely to be summoned, but the rats will ignore other targets in favor of the Shaman, attacking him alone until he is dead or has escaped the circle.

Augury of Danger (18) As Vegrandius Above

Cure/Cause Disease (20) As Lues Above

Reincarnation (22) On a successful caster the spirit of a dead ally will be reborn into a nearby baby rat.  Within a week or two, the rat will grow to become a ratling with the memories and mannerisms of the reincarnated individual.  Skills and knowledge will remain unchanged, but all statistics must be re-rolled and if the reincarnated individual had levels other than thief levels they will no longer be able to advance in them, instead advancing as a Level 1 ratling (though XP requirements remain as if they were thier former class).  Catastrophic failure of this spell is likely to transfer the spirit into a normal rat or to transfer the spirit of a feral and death maddened rat into the corpse of the decedent.

Summon Mater (30)  Summoning the Mater Milia is a reckless act.  She will not come to the aide of a shaman who summons her without grave reason (a simple battle is insufficient), and when she does appear she will act as her own interests dictate. The mother has no physical presence but as a demi-god may bend space, time and reality in minor ways to suit her will.  These powers are somewhat akin to a wish or other spell and can emulate the effects of any magic-user or cleric spell if the Mother elects.

Most often she is summoned to provide advice or insight rather than direct intervention.  The Mother knows any thing that has been observed by any rat, past or present and has a divine intellect.  She will of course twist what she tells summoners to her own purposes, but very little is outside her knowledge.

A critical failure to summon the Mother results in instant abrogation and the shattering to the Shaman's soul into tiny insane fragments each implanted in the consciousness of a newborn rat.  Sometimes these fragments can form themselves into magic using Ratkings, though this is rare. 

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