One of the most fundamental elements of an occult game is the idea that those versed in the supernatural can use strange, hidden powers that are inaccessible to others. This section contains a variety of occult powers and abilities for characters to use in your game.
Characters with psychic magic or the Psychic Sensitivity feat can unlock unusual uses of skills in which they're trained. With new uses ranging from the ability to read psychic impressions from an object using Appraise to the power to dowse for water and more using Survival, skills will never seem mundane again.
This section expands auras to include not just magic and alignment auras but also health and emotion auras. A master aura reader can tell what conditions afflict a creature, as well as the state of that creature's emotions.
Ki users with psychic abilities can use kundalini serpent-fire energy to unlock their chakras for strange and powerful effects, starting with the humble root chakra and moving up to the mighty crown chakra.
Practitioners of the occult can pit their minds against each other in a terrifying psychic duel. Such psychic combatants enter a mindscape where they can create whatever they can imagine to form attacks, defenses, and even manifested allies called thought-form creatures.
This section explains rules for possession magic, both new and old, including corner cases like what happens when you try to possess someone who's already possessed.
Occult rituals are rare and powerful rites that anyone who knows the right secrets can perform. Rituals are long and difficult to perform, and they always come at a price.
Characters capable of casting psychic spells or who have the Psychic Sensitivity feat gain access to skill unlocks—a host of esoteric skill uses not available to other PCs. These are not entirely new skills, but rather new uses of existing skills for those trained in the occult arts. A character must be trained in the appropriate skill to use that skill's unlock, even if the skill can normally be used untrained. It's impossible to take 10 for an occult skill unlock. Occult skill unlocks require intense concentration and strenuous effort, so the amount a character can use each skill unlock is limited to once per day or per week. This limit is for all uses of the skill unlock; if a character uses hypnotism to implant a suggestion, he can't also use it to recall memories on the same day.
This section describes each new skill unlock and the typical DCs and modifiers for associated checks. Some new types of gear in this section grant bonuses on specific occult skill unlocks.
You can produce mysterious writing that pertains to the immediate future, either under the influence of enigmatic guiding spirits or by unleashing your subconscious intuition.
Check: Once per week, you can spend 1 hour posing questions while your hand unconsciously scribbles messages of varying legibility and accuracy. At the end of this hour, you attempt a Linguistics check to decipher the meanings of these messages. If successful, you gain information as though you had used augury. If you have 10 or more ranks in Linguistics, you can attempt a higher DC check to instead gain information as though you had used divination. The chance of successfully producing coherent or meaningful writing from any of these effects equals 60% plus 5% for every 1 by which your check result exceeds the DC (to a maximum of 90%). You must choose which DC you'll try to meet before attempting the check. The GM rolls the check and d% roll secretly, so that you can't tell whether the messages are accurate.
|Writing Results||Ranks Required||DC|
|As augury spell||1||20|
|As divination spell||10||30|
Action: Automatic writing takes 1 hour.
Try Again: Yes. You can attempt to learn more about a subject, but can still attempt only one check per week.
You channel mysterious forces in the nearby environment to locate hidden resources.
Check: Once per day, you can follow a dowsing rod's movements to locate a particular type of location. Each attempt requires 10 minutes of intense concentration, after which you attempt the Survival check with the DC listed on the table below. The maximum range at which you can detect anything using dowsing is 400 feet + 40 feet per rank in Survival you possess. The rod's directions persist for up to 10 minutes. You choose a particular target each time you dowse, and get the following information on a successful check.
Find Water: The dowsing rod points toward the largest source of fresh water within range, including aquifers, lakes, ponds, and springs.
Grave Dowsing: The dowsing rod points in the direction of the largest burial site, cairn, or tomb within range.
Locate Metal and Gems: You concentrate on a specific metal or mineral. On a successful check, the dowsing rod points to the largest quantity of the selected mineral within range.
Action: Dowsing attempts take 10 minutes to initiate. The results of the check persist for 10 minutes afterward.
Try Again: Yes. You can try to dowse from the same location more than once, but still only once per day.
You apply esoteric principles to temporarily suspend or remove curses, diseases, and ability damage.
Check: You can use faith healing once per day. The DC and effect of the Heal check depend on the task you attempt. You can't use faith healing on yourself.
Restore Vitality: You suppress ability damage. You perform a 1-hour ceremony, after which you attempt a Heal check against the DC of the effect that caused the ability damage. If you succeed at the check, you temporarily suppress 1 point of ability damage for 1 hour, plus 1 additional point and hour for every 5 by which the check result exceeds the DC. A creature can benefit from this treatment no more than once per day.
Suspend Affliction: You treat one curse, disease, or poison affecting a creature. You enter into a deep trance for 1 hour while you treat the subject, after which you attempt your Heal check. If the check is successful, you suspend the effects of the affliction by 1 hour, plus 1 hour for every 5 by which you exceed the DC. This time doesn't count against the effect's duration (if any). The affliction can still be cured by other means while it's suspended.
Remove Affliction: You can attempt to permanently remove an affliction in an 8-hour ceremony, after which you attempt a Heal check. If the result of the check is at least double the DC of the original affliction, the sufferer can attempt another saving throw using the original DC to permanently cast off the effect.
|Restore vitality||Effect's save DC|
|Suspend affliction||Affliction's save DC|
|Remove affliction||Double the affliction's save DC|
Action: Restoring vitality and suspending afflictions each require 1 hour in a quiet environment. Permanent removal of afflictions requires 8 hours of heavy activity.
Try Again: Varies. A creature can't be the subject of faith healing more than once per day. You can't try to permanently remove an affliction again.
You use the power of suggestion and subtle psychic influence to alter a subject's mind and dredge up repressed memories.
Check: You can use hypnotism once per day. The DC of a Diplomacy check to hypnotize is 20 + the subject's Will save modifier against mind-affecting enchantment (compulsion) effects. All uses of hypnotism are mind-affecting enchantment (compulsion) effects.
Implant Suggestion: You can implant a suggested course of reasonable action in the mind of a willing creature, along with a defined trigger. To implant a suggestion, you spend 1 minute inducing a trance-like state in the subject, after which you attempt a Diplomacy check. If the check is successful, you implant the course of action, as a suggestion spell with a duration of 10 minutes plus 10 additional minutes for every 1 by which your check result exceeds the DC. If the subject ceases to be willing, it can attempt a Will save once each round to shake off the effects. The save DC is equal to 10 + 1/2 your character level + your Charisma modifier. You can attempt to subtly implant a suggestion in the mind of an unwilling creature with an attitude of indifferent or better after 1 minute of continuous, calm interaction with that creature, but the DC is 10 higher.
Recall Memory: You can draw out forgotten memories from a willing subject. You spend 1 minute inducing a calming, trance-like state in the subject, after which you attempt a Diplomacy check. If you succeed at the check, the hypnotized creature can reroll any previously failed Intelligence or Knowledge check to recall the forgotten information with a +4 bonus. The information must be something the subject once knew or was exposed to.
Action: Hypnotism takes 1 minute of calm interaction.
Try Again: Yes. You can try to hypnotize the same creature more than once, but only once per day.
You examine the skulls of intelligent creatures to analyze the subjects' psychological attributes, since the shape of the brain influences the shape of the skull.
Check: Once per day, you can use your fingertips to examine the shape of a creature's skull. Reading a creature's skull requires 1 minute of concentration and scrutiny while you physically manipulate the skull. This technique can be used on a willing, helpless, or paralyzed creature, or on decomposed remains (as long as the skull is intact or can be pieced together). This skill can't be used on creatures without discernible skulls, such as constructs, elementals, oozes, or plants. After the minute is up, the GM attempts a secret Knowledge (arcana) check. The DC is typically modified by the subject's Hit Dice. With a single check, you determine all the information whose DC you meet. For instance, if you had a result of 22 when examining a creature with 2 HD, you would learn that creature's race and age, gender, alignment, and class, but not its level or HD.
|Determine race and age||10|
|Determine alignment||15 + creature's HD†|
|Determine class||20 + creature's HD†|
|Determine level or HD||25 + creature's HD†|
|† A dead creature's skull uses the HD the creature had when alive.|
|Determine alignment||15 + creature's HD|
|Determine class||20 + creature's HD|
|Determine level or HD||25 + creature's HD|
|Determine fortune as augury spell||25 + creature's HD|
Action: Reading a creature's fortune requires 10 minutes of uninterrupted contemplation, and the subject creature must be present.
Try Again: Yes. You can attempt to read a particular creature's fortune repeatedly, but only once per 24 hours.
Special: Specially crafted items purchased for the exclusive use of this skill grant a +2 circumstance bonus on Sense Motive checks to prognosticate.
You can read the psychic impressions left on objects or in places by previous owners and events.
Check: Once per day, you can concentrate for 1 minute while in physical contact with an item or location, during which you receive flashes of insight regarding the subject's nature and ownership. After 1 minute, you attempt a DC 15 Appraise check to decipher the visions. You gain one piece of information about the historical significance or the last previous owner—such as a glimpse of the last owner's appearance or its emotional state when it last used the item—determined by the GM. You learn one more piece of information for every 10 by which your check result exceeds the DC, as long as you concentrate for 1 additional minute for each piece of information. If you fail the check by less than 5 or the item has no significant psychic imprint, you don't learn any information. If you fail this check by 5 or more, the item appears to be psychically significant even if it's not, and the information you gain is wildly inaccurate. If you attempt to use psychometry on an item affected by charge object or implant false reading, you automatically learn all information imprinted by the spell. You must also attempt a Will save. If the item is affected by an implant false reading spell, on a success, you realize the information was false, and can determine the true information as well. On a failure, or if the item is affected by a charge object spell, you believe the information is true.
Action: Reading an object requires at least 1 minute of uninterrupted concentration.
Try Again: Yes. Multiple readings on an object or place always give the same results unless its circumstances or ownership have changed, but additional checks might reach further back into an object's history. You don't reroll the saving throw to determine if a psychic imprint is false. You can still use psychometry only once per day.
Your psychic sensitivity allows you to read the psychic and magical auras of creatures and objects.
Check: Once per day, you can examine the natural aura of a creature or object to discern the subject's alignment, emotions, health, or magic. This requires 10 minutes of concentration, after which you attempt a Perception check. Each time, you must pick one of four auras to read: alignment, emotion, health, or magic. The result of the check applies only to the selected aura. You must be within 30 feet of the subject at all times during the reading. Objects typically have only magic auras, though some also have alignment auras (and intelligent items have emotion auras). You can still attempt to detect a type of aura an object doesn't have, but you get no results. The DC varies depending on the aura, as shown on the table.
Read Alignment Aura: You attempt to read the alignment aura, learning the alignment and its strength. An alignment aura's strength depends on the creature's Hit Dice or item's caster level, as noted in the description of the detect evil spell.
Read Emotion Aura: The colors within the target's aura reveal its emotional state. If successful, you learn the target's disposition and its attitude toward any creatures within 30 feet of it. For a number of rounds equal to the amount by which you exceeded the skill check's DC, you gain a +2 circumstance bonus on Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate, and Sense Motive checks against the target.
Read Health Aura: Viewing the flow of vital force, you assess a creature's physical condition. You learn if the creature is unharmed or wounded, if it is poisoned or diseased, and whether it is affected by any of the following conditions: confused, disabled, dying, nauseated, panicked, staggered, stunned, and unconscious. You also learn the total number of points available in its ki pool, grit pool, or similar resource.
Read Magic Aura: You attempt to determine the number and power of all magical auras on a target creature or object (see detect magic to determine a magic aura's power). If the check is successful, you can attempt Knowledge (arcana) or Spellcraft checks to determine the school or identify properties of a magic item, as normal. If the item is affected by magic aura or a similar spell, you can realize this and determine the actual properties of the item if your check result exceeds the DC by 5 or more. If the spell is of a higher level (such as aura alteration), increase this threshold DC by 2 for every spell level beyond 1st.
|Read alignment aura||15 + creature's HD or item's caster level|
|Read emotion aura||20 + creature's HD or item's caster level†|
|Read health aura||15 + creature's HD|
|Read magic aura||20 + creature's HD or item's caster level|
|† Intelligent items only.|
Action: Reading an aura requires 10 minutes of study.
Try Again: Yes. You can read a creature or object's aura more than once, whether you read the same aura or a different one. You can still attempt only one skill check to read an aura per day.
All living creatures are imbued with a spark of the cosmic fire that burns at the heart of the multiverse. This vital principle grants beings animate force, carrying directions from their greater intellects to their gross physical forms. With practice, an initiate in the occult arts can manipulate this force to create fantastic manifestations of psychic phenomena. Different traditions have different names for this vital force—prana, odic force, orgone energy—but it is most commonly known as ki, the source of inner power that grants the monk his incredible powers.
Practiced initiates can learn to pierce the veil between the Material Plane and the Ethereal Plane to gaze upon the interplay of ki within a creature's body. The energy concentrates in seven swirling circular pools positioned throughout the body, known as chakras. From there it flows through the creature's form, and even emanates 2–3 feet out, creating an ovoid nimbus around the creature—its aura.
The energy of the aura permeates the body and spirit of a living creature, influencing its health and vitality while in turn being influenced by the creature's disposition, conception of self, and general emotional state. A creature's aura thus comprises many different auras intermixed with one another to form a singular whole. Emanations of the creature's ki form its health aura. Radiations of thought and belief issuing from the creature's soul suffuse the health aura with patterns that can be interpreted as its alignment aura. The flashes of color flowing through the whole reveal the creature's attitude and disposition, and are known as its emotion aura. Finally, an aura might contain emanations of a magical origin, which is usually a consequence of outside forces at work on the creature.
Various spells can detect aspects of a creature's or object's aura. The analyze aura spell and the read aura occult skill unlock are the most comprehensive ways to assess a creature's entire aura.
A creature's alignment aura reflects the true nature of its beliefs and inner soul. This aura resembles a churning mist that suffuses the health aura. Close observation of the strange currents in this mist can identify the creature's alignment. Objects or locations infused with powerful magic attuned to a particular alignment (such as the blood-splattered altar at which a debased cult holds its unspeakable rituals or a gilded cup holding the tears of a long-dead saint) sometimes also have alignment auras.
The strength of an alignment aura is based on the creature's Hit Dice or the magic item's caster level, as referenced in certain detect spells.
A creature's emotion aura reveals its current disposition and attitudes. These factors color the emanations of the aura with a coruscation of hues known as the emotional spectrum. Any combination of colors from the list in the sidebar can define a creature's emotional state. Typically, methods of perceiving the emotion aura reveal the emotions themselves, as well as the associated colors. The secrets of the emotional spectrum are laid bare to the initiate, and should not remain mysterious to the player.
Since emotion auras are a function of the health aura, they are not often associated with objects or undead creatures, which are not technically alive. Intelligent magic items sometimes have an emotion aura, while undead—particularly those on the Ethereal Plane barred from the afterlife because of emotional distress or unfinished business—may bear a tattered remnant of their auratic energy clinging to their haunted forms, even though the life energy that created them ceased long ago.
A character trained in auratic techniques sees an interplay of colors within a creature's aura. Understanding the colors of this emotional spectrum can reveal a great deal about the observed creature. The colors constantly blend and shift as the creature's thoughts, emotions, and surroundings change. An observation of a creature's aura is a snapshot of its feelings and general character in a given moment, and might not be accurate days or even minutes later.
Anger (Bright Red): Bright red flashes, usually on a field of black, denote anger. The more selfish the anger, the more the red is tinged with brown. Righteous indignation, or anger for what the creature considers a just cause, manifests as lightning-shaped flashes of brilliant vermillion.
Deceit (Oily Green): An oily green aura denotes deceit and cunning, making spells like analyze aura very useful during interrogations.
Faith (Blue): A blue aura signifies religious thought, emotion, and feeling. The hue varies based on the nature of the sentiment, its basis in tolerance or prejudice, and its degree of self-interest. The lighter the tone, the more altruistic and beneficent the feeling. Deep, dark violet denotes religious belief twisted toward selfish or malevolent ends.
Fear (Livid Gray): The colors of the aura of a creature experiencing fright and terror fade away, leaving a livid gray cloud in their place. Some overwhelmingly evil creatures—particularly undead—exude a fear aura whose tendrils extend out several feet, reaching toward nearby creatures and bringing an oppressive malaise to their surroundings.
Flexibility (Emerald Green): A creature possessed of versatility, adaptability, and a willingness to please gives off an emerald green aura. Though green is usually associated with deception, it here represents compromise and low deceit—going along for the greater good despite personal misgivings or other preferences.
Greed (Brown-Red): A dull, brown-red aura—nearly the color of rust—suggests avarice and greed, and usually manifests in parallel bars across a creature's body. Greenish-brown tinged with red flashes represents jealousy.
Hatred (Black): Thick black clouds within the aura denote hatred and malice. When a person is overcome with passionate anger, dark images twist and turn within the cloudy aura like ghostly snakes swimming through smoke.
Intellect (Golden): Gold denotes a person's intellect. When aimed at lower, personal ambitions, the hue tends toward deep, dull shades. The hue assumes a glowing brilliance as the creature mixes spiritual illumination with intelligence.
Love (Scarlet): Among the loveliest auratic hues are the crimsons of a creature in love. The associated shades range from the gorgeous rose shade of selfless love for another to the dull, heavy scarlet tinged with the brown of greed for selfish love concerned with how much it receives in kind. A brilliant rose tinged with lilac denotes spiritual love for all creatures.
Melancholy (Gray Lines): A gloomy series of dark gray, parallel vertical lines conveys depression or deep melancholy. Like the brown lines of greed, the gray bars of melancholy suggest an emotional prison.
Passion (Blood Red): Sanguinary red suggests animal passions and unconscious instinct. As a creature sleeps, its aura tends to be overtaken by this hue as its visceral nature takes over while the mind wanders the Dimension of Dreams in the sheath of its lucid body.
Pride (Orange): Orange indicates pride and ambition, and ranges in hue as these emotions are flavored by jealous competition (green), fear of falling behind (pale gray), or even self-love (dull crimson).
A creature's health aura is a direct representation of the vital force flowing within its body. Ki comes from various sources in the outside world and flows into and throughout the nervous system via a series of swirling pools known as chakras. Within the body, vital force has a faint rosy hue that fades outward into a vaporous white cloud. This aura is streaked by lines extending like bristles. When a creature is in normal health, these bristles stand out stiffly; when the creature is ill, they droop like the whiskers of a weary animal.
Interpretation of the vital force's flow between chakras and the fine lines emanating through the greater aura can allow the observer to note whether the creature is unharmed or wounded, if it is poisoned or diseased, and whether it is under any of the following conditions: confused, disabled, dying, nauseated, panicked, staggered, stunned, or unconscious.
Magic auras are usually the result of external forces working on an object, creature, or location. Each magical effect swirls together in the greater aura, but remains discrete. It's possible to target specific effects within the aura to, for example, dispel a single magical effect while leaving the others intact.
Other magic auras are the result of a creature's inherent supernatural abilities, and can have game effects on those who approach too closely. Such auras (such as a dragon's frightful presence) often force creatures to attempt saving throws to resist their effects. For more information on magic auras, see detect magic.
According to esoteric traditions, the vital force of ki derives from the Positive Energy Plane and flows to initiates via the emanations of the sun. To students of the occult, every star holds a gate to the realm of positive energy, and through these gates flows the force of life itself in the form of ki. Ki collects in seven mystical vortices within the body called chakras. When observing a living creature's etheric double—its manifestation on the Ethereal Plane—its chakras appear as small disks whirling with brilliant, colorful energy. The chakras distribute this energy throughout the creature's physical body, granting it animate force and giving order to its constituent molecules.
Enlightened initiates versed in the mysteries of ki can awaken their chakras to unlock fabulous mystical powers, but doing so means channeling an even more dangerous and esoteric life force than ki—the potent and ancient kundalini, also known as the serpent-fire.
Unlike ki, kundalini flows not from the heavens above but from the ground below. Some mystics claim its colorful name derives from the fact that its mastery was first pioneered by the ancient serpentfolk who ruled the world millennia ago, but another explanation is that kundalini energy flows through the seven chakras in a coiling, ophidian manner. The kundalini flow awakens each chakra in turn. As it progresses from the root chakra at the base of the spine to the crown chakra at the top of the head, the serpent-fire opens new vistas of personal power to the initiate, granting her unique supernatural abilities.
Awakening the chakras requires a basic mastery of ki energy techniques, and is possible only for an initiate with the ki pool class feature or some other means of utilizing ki (such as the rogue's ki pool rogue talent). The initiate must also possess the Psychic Sensitivity feat or have levels in one of the occult classes presented in this book.
Awakening chakras or maintaining awakened chakras is a swift action that costs 1 ki point. On the first round, this opens the root chakra. Each round after the first, it opens the next chakra in the sequence, up to the crown chakra on the seventh round. Once the initiate has begun awakening his chakras, each round he must continue opening chakras or maintain his awakened chakras, or all of his chakras close and he must begin again from the root chakra. If he pauses in the progression, he can resume it at any time, provided he has spent 1 ki point per round in the meanwhile to maintain his open chakras. Each round, when expending the ki for that round, the initiate can select the benefit from one chakra awakened up to that point. For example, if after 4 rounds the initiate has awakened three chakras, he can gain the ability of any of those three. To open a chakra, the initiate's character level (or total HD) must equal at least double the chakra's rank. For example, an initiate must be 14th level to open his crown chakra.
Manipulation of the serpent-fire involves considerable risk. Every round in which a character has one or more awakened chakras, he must succeed at Fortitude and Will saving throws, adding his Charisma modifier to each save, to resist the inherent dangers of the kundalini flow as it suffuses his body with spiritual fire. The save DCs are equal to 10 + the sum of the ranks of the awakened chakras. For example, awakening the root, sacral, and navel chakras would result in a DC of 16. Opening all seven chakras at once results in DC 38 saves. The save DC totals are listed after each chakra's rank and title. If the initiate fails the Fortitude save, he takes 1d6 points of damage per awakened chakra. If the initiate fails the Will save, he is overcome with visions related to the emotions and concepts associated with the awakened chakras, causing him to be dazed for 1 round and causing all of his chakras to close.
1. Root Chakra (DC 11): The root chakra is associated with instinct, security, survival, and potential for greater development. It energizes the desires of the flesh and distributes ki throughout the blood to circulate heat to the body. Kundalini energy is sometimes depicted as a serpent coiled around the root chakra, ready to ascend on a path from the body's lower, basic urges and instincts to the heights of a disciplined and enlightened mind.
By awakening his root chakra, the initiate opens himself to an inflow of serpent-fire energy. The bloom of occult power strengthens his aura, granting him DR/— equal to the number of chakras opened for 1 round. The initiate must be at least 2nd level before he can open this chakra.
2. Sacral Chakra (DC 13): The sacral chakra is closely associated with the generative power of the reproductive cycle, as well as pleasure, addiction, creativity, emotional needs, and relationships. When the sacral chakra is awakened, the adept recalls moments of sensual or creative ecstasy, when consciousness slips from the physical body into astral realms of weightless bliss. When opened, the sacral chakra gleams with sunlike radiance.
By awakening his sacral chakra, the initiate gains a fly speed equal to his base movement for 1 round with average maneuverability. The movement must begin and end on a solid surface. The initiate must be at least 4th level before he can open this chakra.
3. Navel Chakra (DC 16): The navel chakra is sometimes called the power chakra, for it is associated with fire, combustion, digestion, anger, joy, fear, anxiety, and laughter. Here the serpent-fire swirls and swells with heat and vital energy, the source of the so-called "fire in the belly" of common parlance.
Upon awakening his navel chakra, the initiate can channel the serpent-fire as a breath attack that deals 2d8 points of damage in a 30-foot cone. This radiant gout of orange-red liquid flame somewhat resembles fire, but bypasses all forms of energy resistance, protection, and immunity. The amount of damage increases by 1d8 for each open chakra beyond the 3rd, to a maximum of 6d8 if all of the chakras are awakened. The initiate must be at least 6th level before he can open this chakra.
4. Heart Chakra (DC 20): The heart chakra is the seat of higher feelings and emotions, an inner realm of compassion, tenderness, love, and rejection. When infused with the substance of a creature's aura, the energies of the heart chakra can take on powerful healing capabilities.
Once the heart chakra has been awakened, the initiate can channel his serpent-fire into a torrent of healing energy. He can use this ability on himself or touch any adjacent living creature with this fire to heal an amount of damage equal to 1d8 + double the number of chakras he has awakened. In addition, he can remove one of the following conditions from the creature healed: confused, nauseated, sickened, staggered, or stunned. This fire has no effect on constructs, undead, or other creatures that are not alive. The initiate must be at least 8th level before he can open this chakra.
5. Throat Chakra (DC 25): Speech and hearing are nothing more than vibrations, and the throat chakra thrums with the occult vibrations that govern existence. Here the urges and emotions of the lower chakras give way to more refined, cerebral vistas, making the throat chakra the bridge between feeling and thinking.
By awakening the throat chakra, the initiate can tap into the primordial mystical language underlying all things—the raw tongue of the multiverse that gives motion to atoms, keeps planets rotating in infinite space, and orders the coruscations of the stars. When using this chakra, the initiate slips into a kind of trance. He can take actions as normal, but he constantly mutters incoherent, often disturbing utterances of a vastly primal nature. Each round, he can select one enemy within 30 feet. That foe must succeed at a Will save to resist becoming staggered for 1 round. The DC of this save is 10 + 1/2 the initiate's total Hit Dice + his Charisma modifier. This is a sonic mind-affecting effect. The initiate must be at least 10th level before he can open this chakra.
6. Brow Chakra (DC 31): Also called the intuitive chakra, this force center governs occult vision, both literal and metaphorical. Once the brow chakra has been opened, the initiate gains the benefits of true seeing for 1 round. Engaging this force center literally opens a shining third eye of psychic energy upon the initiate's forehead. The mystical eye is easily perceived by anyone looking at the initiate, and persists so long as he maintains the brow chakra. The initiate must be at least 12th level before he can open this chakra.
7. Crown Chakra (DC 38): Channeling serpent-fire through all seven chakras at the same time aligns the initiate's life energy to its utmost potential, bathing his aura in glimmering golden hues that illuminate his head like a gleaming halo. For the briefest of moments, he transcends mortality to become a being of temporary divinity. This alignment with the cosmic harmony of the multiverse grants him enormous sway over probability.
Once the crown chakra is opened, the initiate becomes fully in tune with the powers of the multiverse, allowing him to gain the benefit of any two distinct chakras each round. He gains this benefit even if he doesn't select the crown chakra. If he selects the crown chakra, every time he would roll a d20 during that turn (such as when attempting an attack roll, a saving throw, or a skill check), he can roll twice and take the higher result. The initiate must be at least 14th level before he can open this chakra.
Psychic duels are battles in which combatants' minds become intertwined within a binary mindscape. Though psychic spellcasters wield tremendous power in such battles, other creatures can also wield mental might with surprising potency.
A psychic spellcaster creates a binary mindscape when a target fails its save against instigate psychic duel. The caster's and target's minds are then merged in a psychic duel within that mindscape until either the spell's duration ends or the psychic duel reaches its conclusion. If the duel begins during combat, each of the dueling characters retains its initiative order and the psychic duel goes on in conjunction with the initial combat.
If the duel begins outside combat, the initiator can take a swift action to create a supernatural effect called a psychic manifestation (see below) upon entering the binary mindscape, before her opponent's first turn.
While locked in a psychic duel, the combatants' physical bodies become unresponsive. They retain their positions, but they can take no actions and lose their Dexterity bonuses to Armor Class for the duration of the duel.
Each combatant in a psychic duel attacks her opponent and defends herself with the power of her imagination and force of her personality. Such combatants appear in the binary mindscape much as they appear in reality (unless using a mental mask), but their abilities and attacks are enhanced in some ways and limited in others by the strange laws of the binary mindscape.
While the illusion of physical movement exists in the mindscape's reality, such things as speed and position have little bearing on a psychic duel. Combatants are limited to purely mental actions, speech, and the creation of psychic manifestations (see below). With very few exceptions, spells and spell-like abilities can't be used (see Concluding a Psychic Duel).
When a character enters a binary mindscape, she uses the following statistics as they were prior to entering: her current hit points; ability scores; AC and touch AC; Reflex, Fortitude, and Will saving throws; highest melee attack bonus; and highest ranged attack bonus. These attack bonuses apply on melee and ranged offensive manifestations, respectively. Regeneration and fast healing are the only special abilities that apply in a psychic duel; uncanny dodge and damage reduction, for example, do not.
Bonuses and penalties granted by items, as well as spells and effects active before entering the mindscape, apply to these statistics, as such items and effects gain psychic equivalents when a creature enters a mindscape. However, while the mind is engaged in a psychic duel, only damaging and healing spells and effects cast on the body of a combatant have an effect on the battle.
Manifestations retain many of the manifestor's combat capabilities. The nature of the binary mindscape translates martial prowess into psychic parallels; after all, such prowess comes from training, muscle memory, and other subconscious components of the mind. This means that while martially inclined characters have fewer resources in a psychic duel, they can still make powerful attacks against their foes with great accuracy.
Conditions gained during a psychic duel rarely carry over into the real world, but damage is dealt to the physical body of the duelist, so it's possible for combatants to die. Similarly, unlike all other effects that occur in the real world after a psychic duel begins, damaging and healing a duelist's physical body carry over to the psychic duel.
While engaged in a psychic duel, the combatants don't attack or cast spells normally. Instead, the combatants create psychic manifestations, abilities that can be used only within a binary mindscape; these represent changes to the mindscape's fabric (see Mindscapes).
Psychic manifestations are fueled by psychic energy, represented by manifestation points (MP). Each combatant has a manifesting level equal either to its highest caster level or half its number of Hit Dice, whichever is higher. The maximum number of manifestation points a combatant can spend when creating a manifestation is equal either to the highest-level spell the combatant can cast or 1/4 its HD (minimum 1 and maximum 5), whichever is higher.
In order to create a psychic manifestation, a combatant must generate MP in any of four ways: from ability scores, from class features, by sacrificing spells, or by sacrificing spell-like abilities. She can use each of these methods only once per manifestation. For example, a character who is a gunslinger 1/wizard 8 could generate 1 MP from ability scores, 1 MP from grit, and 2 MP by sacrificing a 2nd-level spell, thus reaching her per-manifestation limit of 4 MP, but she couldn't do so by sacrificing four different 1st-level spells. If a combatant doesn't use all of the manifestation points it generates immediately, the extra points are lost.
Generating MP from ability scores doesn't deplete the ability score, but it has other consequences for a combatant once the duel is concluded (see below). All other sources of MP deplete the spent resources in the real world as well.
Generating MP from Ability Scores: Every combatant begins a psychic duel with a pool of MP equal to the combatant's HD + the average of her Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma scores. As a free action, a combatant can draw from this pool to generate MP. A combatant who draws any number of points from this pool is fatigued upon leaving the binary mindscape. A combatant who draws half or more of these points is exhausted upon leaving the mindscape, and takes a –4 penalty to Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma for 24 hours thereafter. If a combatant expends the entire pool, she becomes unconscious after leaving the mindscape. The fatigued, exhausted, and unconscious conditions and the –4 penalty ignore all immunities and last for 24 hours; they can't be removed before that time except by a wish or a miracle.
Generating MP from Select Class Features: As a free action, a combatant with an arcane, grit, ki, panache, or phrenic pool (or any other similar class feature the GM chooses) can spend points from these pools to generate MP at a rate of 1 MP per point spent.
Sacrificing Spells to Generate MP: As a free action, a combatant can sacrifice a single spell slot (if he's a spontaneous caster) or prepared spell (if he's a prepared caster) to generate a number of MP equal to the level of the spell slot or prepared spell sacrificed. Alchemists and investigators can sacrifice an extract slot as if it were a spell slot, but only if that extract slot is currently open and not already invested in a physical extract.
Sacrificing Spell-Like Abilities to Generate MP: A combatant can sacrifice a use of a spell-like ability in a way similar to sacrificing spells to generate MP. However, each at-will spell-like ability can be sacrificed only once during a single psychic duel; it is not a source of infinite MP.
Psychic manifestations have three main types: offensive manifestations, defensive manifestations, and thought-form creatures. For the purpose of concentration checks, creating a manifestation is considered casting a spell with a spell level equal to the number of MP spent to create the manifestation. The combatant creating the manifestation treats her manifesting level as her caster level for such checks.
This type of manifestation is a direct attack on an opponent, a thought-form creature, or both. An offensive manifestation can attack a variety of defenses, depending on the number of MP spent and the desires of its creator. Creating an offensive manifestation requires three steps.
Step 1—Create Sensory Effects: Combatants creating psychic manifestations are limited only by their imaginations as to the look, sound, feel, and smell of each manifestation; these sensory effects guide combatants in their later choices. For example, if a combatant envisions an offensive manifestation as a giant ball of lava he throws at his opponent, that might suggest that the attack should force a Reflex saving throw rather than targeting the opponent's AC. Regardless of the effect's form, damage dealt by a manifestation is always untyped damage, and can be mitigated only by defensive manifestations.
Step 2—Determine Attack Type: By default, an offensive manifestation acts as either a melee or ranged attack (creator's choice) that resolves against a single target's AC. The creator can have the manifestation resolve against touch AC instead by increasing the cost by 2 MP.
Alternatively, the creator can instead force both his opponent and any thought-form creature it controls to attempt a saving throw to avoid the effect; this increases the cost by 1 MP. The DC is equal to 10 + the total number of MP spent + the Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma bonus of the creator (whichever is highest). The creator chooses which kind of saving throw—Fortitude, Reflex, or Will—the target must attempt. By default, a successful save negates the manifestation's damage, but the creator can increase the cost by an additional 1 MP to cause the manifestation to deal half damage on a successful save.
If an offensive manifestation's effects can be negated or reduced with a saving throw, the creator can increase the cost to have the manifestation apply a condition (see Step 3).
Step 3—Determine Damage and Conditions: After determining the manifestation's attack type, the creator determines its number of damage dice. The creator must spend at least 1 MP on damage, which grants the manifestation 1 damage die, but she can spend more to increase the number of dice, as shown on the table below.
|MP Spent on Damage||Number of Damage Dice|
|1 MP||1 die|
|2 MP||4 dice|
|3 MP||6 dice|
|4 MP||8 dice|
|5 MP||10 dice|
|6 MP||12 dice|
|7 MP||14 dice|
|8 MP||16 dice|
|9 MP||1 die per creator's manifesting level (maximum 20 dice)|
The manifestation's damage die type depends on the source of the manifestation's MP. Psychic spells and spell-like abilities sacrificed grant d8s. Arcane spells and other spell-like abilities grant d6s. All other methods of generating MP (including mixed methods) grant d4s. If the manifestation's attack resolves against AC or touch AC, a natural 20 on the attack roll threatens a critical hit for double damage.
If the manifestation allows a saving throw, the creator can spend additional MP to add one condition from the list below (she must still spend at least 1 MP on damage). A successful saving throw always negates the condition. Conditions gained in a psychic duel end if the duel ends before the condition's normal duration expires. The conditions below otherwise follow the normal rules for those conditions, with the following exceptions and additions.
Blinded (3 MP): Affected creatures are blinded for 1 round; they can't use offensive manifestations that require saves.
Confused (3 MP): The affected creatures are confused for 1 round, breaking concentration automatically. If an affected creature is forced to attack the nearest creature, it attacks its opponent's thought-form creature if one exists, or the opponent if not. A confused combatant never attacks her own thought-form creature, or vice versa. This condition can be applied only to manifestations that require Will saves.
Dazed (4 MP): The affected creatures are dazed for 1 round. A dazed combatant can continue to concentrate on thought-form creatures and create defensive manifestations, but can't create thought-form creatures or offensive manifestations. This condition can be applied only to manifestations that require Will saves.
Entangled (2 MP): The affected creatures are entangled until they take a full-round action to end this condition. This condition can be applied only to manifestations that require Reflex saves.
Nauseated (4 MP): The affected creatures are nauseated for 1 round. A nauseated creature can create only defensive manifestations. This condition can be applied only to manifestations that require Fortitude saves.
Shaken (1 MP): The affected creatures are shaken for 1d4 rounds. This condition can be applied only to manifestations that require Will saves.
Defensive manifestations protect a combatant from her opponent's manifestations. A combatant in a psychic duel can manifest the following defensive abilities.
Evasive Mind (1 or more MP; swift action): The combatant gains a +2 bonus on all saving throws and gains evasion for a number of rounds equal to the number of MP she spent to create this manifestation.
Hardened Mind (1 to 4 MP; swift action): For 1 round, the combatant's Armor Class increases by an amount equal to the number of MP she spent to create this manifestation, and her touch AC increases by half that (minimum +0).
Thought Barrier (1 or more MP; swift action): A thought barrier reduces the damage dealt to the combatant by offensive manifestations and thought-form creatures by 5 points. This manifestation lasts for a number of rounds equal to the number of MP the combatant spent to create it.
Disruptive Counter (variable MP; immediate action): When the combatant's opponent creates a manifestation, the combatant can spend a number of MP equal to that manifestation's cost + 2 to counter that manifestation. When she does, any currently active thought-form creatures or defensive manifestations she has are dismissed.
Nimble Mind (2 MP; immediate action): When the combatant is attacked with an offensive manifestation that targets her touch AC, this ability changes it to target her full AC.
Psychic Redirect (1 MP; immediate action): When the combatant would take damage while she has a thought-form creature active, she can use this ability to apply the damage to her thought-form creature instead. If the attack targets both the combatant and the thought-form creature, the thought-form creature takes the damage for both itself and the combatant and suffers any condition conferred by the attack, but the combatant suffers no effects.
A thought-form creature is a mentally constructed thrall that takes any form its creator desires. Creating a thought-form creature takes 1 full round (as if the creator were casting a spell with a 1-round casting time) and lasts as long as its creator concentrates on the creature's existence as a full-round action; a combatant can manifest only one thought-form creature at a time. A thought-form creature must make its attacks against another thought-form creature if one is manifested; if not, it can attack its creator's opponent. The creature makes its attacks when its creator uses a full-round action to concentrate on the thought-form creature. When a thought-from creature is reduced to 0 or fewer hit points, it disappears and its creator takes an amount of damage equal to the thought-form creature's psychic backlash (see Thought-Form Creature Statistics below). A thought-form creature can be dismissed as a free action.
A basic thought-form creature costs 1 MP to create, and has the following base statistics.
Thought-Form Creature Statistics: AC creator's AC; touch AC creator's touch AC; hp 1/2 creator's current hit points; Attack Bonus creator's manifesting level + creator's Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma modifier (whichever is highest); Damage 1d6 + creator's Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma modifier (whichever is highest); Saves creator's save bonuses; Psychic Backlash 1d10 + the MP cost of the thought-form creature.
Thought-Form Creature Augmentations: When creating a thought-form creature, the creator can apply any of the following augmentations, up to her maximum MP limit.
Increase Attack Bonus: Increase the cost by up to 4 MP to increase the thought-form creature's attack bonus on all its attacks by the same amount.
Extra Attacks: Increase the cost by 2 MP to grant the thought-form creature a second attack each round. Increasing the cost by an additional 2 MP grants it a third attack, but the creature makes the third attack at a –5 penalty.
Increase Armor Class: Increase the cost by up to 4 MP to increase the thought-form creature's AC by the same amount and its touch AC by half that amount.
Increase Saving Throws: Increase the cost by 2 or 4 MP to increase the bonus on all of the thought-form creature's saving throws by half that amount.
Increase Hit Points: Increase the cost by up to 4 MP to increase the thought-form creature's hit points by 10 × that amount.
Increase Damage: Increase the cost by 1 MP to increase the thought-form creature's damage die type for all its attacks to d8, or by 2 MP to increase the damage die type to d10. If the thought-form creature has only one attack, its damage bonus with that attack increases to 1-1/2 × the creator's Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma bonus (whichever is highest).
Protective Ability: Increase the cost by 1 MP to grant the creator a +4 bonus to AC (both normal and touch), a +2 bonus on Reflex saving throws, and evasion for as long as this thought-form creature exists. Increasing the cost by an additional 2 MP also grants the creator immunity to attacks against AC or touch AC for as long as this thought-form creature exists.
There are a number of ways a psychic duel can conclude and the combatants' minds can return to their bodies (aside from the end of the instigate psychic duel spell that started the combat). The duel ends immediately if one of the combatants reaches 0 or fewer hit points or both combatants agree to end the psychic duel. Each combatant can make this agreement as a free action that can be taken even when it isn't that combatant's turn. Rarely, a spell or ability can allow combatants to leave a psychic duel. For instance, unlike most spells, mindscape door can be cast while in a psychic duel, allowing the caster to leave the mindscape and end the duel. Lastly, a creature adjacent to the body of a combatant can attempt to shake that creature out of its torpor as a standard action. Doing so is a melee touch attack that deals no damage but allows the combatant to attempt a new saving throw against the effect that started the psychic duel. If the check is successful, the mind of the roused creature returns to its body and the duel ends. A creature in a psychic duel can attempt no more than one additional save per round in this way.
Rather than introducing new rules, this section explains the nuances of possession magic, as used in the new possession spell, as well as monster abilities and other spells.
True possession is when a creature displaces or overrides the target's consciousness with its own, establishing direct control over the target's body. The Pathfinder RPG features several effects that are often conflated with possession. The section below describes several possession and possession-like effects and the differences between them.
Domination: Dominate spells are often confused with possession, as they produce superficially similar outcomes. However, domination and possession are not the same. Domination is mind-control, enslaving the target's mind and forcing it to carry out the caster's will; thus, the caster doesn't directly control the target's body. The target's dominated mind merely carries out a mandate given by the caster with the means, knowledge, and experience it has available.
Spell Possession: Prior to Occult Adventures, the primary source for possession mechanics in the Pathfinder RPG was the magic jar spell. magic jar allows the caster to detach her soul from her body and place it in the body of another creature, displacing the host's soul and leaving the caster's own body essentially "empty." Like possession, these effects belong to the necromancy school of magic, as befits magic that manipulates life force and souls. This is true possession, as the end result is control of the host's body rather than the mind. The marionette possession spell operates under an identical principle, but does not displace the host's soul because the target cedes control to the caster willingly.
These forms of possession carry great risk for the caster. The caster has no means of survival without a body to inhabit, so if her soul is ejected from the host's body while her own body is out of the spell's range, the caster dies instantly.
The possession spell follows similar rules to magic jar and marionette possession, but with a few key differences. possession does not displace the host soul when the possessor seizes control of a creature's body. Additionally, the caster does not perish instantly if her body is outside the spell's range when she is ejected; the range on the possession spell pertains only to the distance the caster can be from her intended target at the time of casting. Once ejected, the caster's soul snaps back to her body from any distance, so long as it remains on the same plane.
Incorporeal Possession: Ghosts, shadow demons, and similar creatures do not possess physical bodies—they are simply disembodied souls. They use the rules below to govern the interaction between their mental characteristics and their hosts' physical forms. Such a creature merges with the host's body and is unharmed when ejected. Creatures that use magic jar can often use the new possession spell instead.
The possession spell contains the core mechanics for possession. The description of the magic jar spell states the possessing creature can use her "mental abilities," and the possession spell works similarly. This term wasn't previously defined, and has been a source of confusion in many games. The term "mental abilities" as used here refers to the following.
Supernatural abilities (with the exception of class abilities) are not considered mental abilities, as they generally rely upon a creature's physical form. The GM can choose to make a specific exception if she believes an ability is solely mental in nature.
Several different mechanics allow a creature to influence or control another creature, and sometimes it isn't clear how these competing effects should play out, whether it be possession versus compulsion or even possession versus possession. These systems interact in the following ways.
Possession versus Charm and Compulsion: Possession overrides charms and compulsions that are in control of another creature. Neither type of effect prevents the other from functioning, but possession bypasses the mind and takes direct physical control of the body—which may result in a possessor enslaving an intelligence that is essentially helpless already because of a compulsion. Compulsion and charm effects move with the mind or soul of the creature originally targeted. For example, if you cast mind swap on a dominated creature, the domination effect remains active but transfers with the originally dominated mind to its new host body, and a dominated creature capable of possession could possess another creature while still remaining dominated.
If the host's mind or soul is not displaced from the body, a dominating creature can still telepathically interact with its now-possessed target, even though the target is helpless within its own hijacked body. The dominating creature can even command the target to explain what the host body is doing, if the host has access to its senses.
Conversely, a caster can target a possessing creature with a compulsion or charm effect. If the possessing creature is the only mind or soul in the host body, the compulsion or charm effect works on the possessing creature normally. If the possessing creature is later evicted from the body, the compulsion or charm effect remains active on the possessing creature when it returns to its original body. For instance, if a mesmerist is using mind swap on a bard, and a succubus uses her dominate monster spell-like ability when she meets the possessed bard, the mesmerist must attempt a saving throw against the spell. If he fails, the mesmerist becomes dominated by the succubus, and when his possession ends and he returns to his body, he remains at the mercy of his new mistress.
When both the host creature and a possessing creature occupy a body at the same time, a charm or compulsion effect can target either one. However, the caster must be aware of the possessing creature's presence in the host body in order to target it. Otherwise, the effect targets the host by default, generally with limited effect.
Possession versus Divination Effects: Possession does nothing to obfuscate or block most divination spells. For example, if an evil mesmerist is possessing a paladin, detect evil will sense the presence of an evil creature when the paladin's body enters the area of effect. The Hidden Presence feat can assist a possessing creature in foiling divinations. If a creature's body and soul are in two different locations, as in the case of a caster of magic jar, divination spells that depend on location, such as locate creature or scrying, fail to produce results. The exception is discern location; this powerful spell provides both locations unless the body and soul are protected by mind blank or a deity.
Possession versus Possession: If you attempt to possess a creature that is already possessed, the possessing creature must succeed at the possession spell's save or be ejected, allowing you to enter the host. If the possessing creature voluntarily fails its save, first that creature is automatically ejected and then the host attempts the Will save instead. A possession effect that doesn't allow a saving throw automatically causes the possessing creature to be ejected.
It's a common belief that only those initiated in the rites and practices of arcane, divine, or psychic magic can cast spells, but this is not strictly true. Hidden within dusty libraries and amid the ramblings of lunatics lie the mysteries of another form of spellcasting—occult ritual magic. These spells are rare, coveted by both those eager to gain their power and those wishing to hide their existence. Most traditional spellcasters consider these rituals dangerous and uncontrollable, something to be avoided or used as a last resort. They fear the power these ceremonies grant to the uninitiated, as the rituals allow those with only a glimmering of understanding the ability to interact with the underlying fabric of magic.
While anyone can attempt to cast occult rituals, the process is fraught with peril. The strange and intricate incantations are often challenging to perform with precision, and failure can weaken the casters or even unleash horrors upon the world. Even when successfully performed, each occult ritual has a price—a backlash that affects at least the caster leading the ritual, and often those assisting in its performance.
Before performing an occult ritual, the primary caster must assemble and ready all the components needed as well as any secondary casters. Some occult rituals require the casting to occur at a specific time or place; attempting to cast such rituals at a different time or a substandard location is nearly impossible.
Casting an occult ritual requires at least 10 minutes per ritual level and sometimes as long as 1 hour per ritual level. One of the casters—either the primary caster or a secondary caster who the primary caster specifies—attempts one of the skill checks required by the ritual every 10 minutes of the casting, unless the ritual takes 1 hour per caster level, in which case the caster attempts the check every hour of the ritual. These checks cannot benefit from the aid another action, and the caster attempting the check can't take 10 or take 20, even if she has an ability that would normally allow her to do so when threatened or distracted. Furthermore, because of the specific procedures of ritual casting, mundane equipment that grants bonuses on skill checks can't usually increase the caster's bonus on the checks required by the ritual, unless the GM allows it. Bonuses on the skill checks required for the ritual that are granted by feats, spells (with enough duration to last throughout the casting), traits, and magic items usually apply, at the GM's discretion. The primary caster decides the order in which the various skill checks are attempted, but the GM rolls for the checks and tracks the progress of the ritual casting in secret. Once a ritual casting begins, it must be performed to its completion unless it's disrupted by outside influences or fails.
The primary caster leads a ritual's casting, often with the aid of a number of secondary casters. Secondary casters can be indispensable to the ritual's casting even when they're not taking an active role in ensuring its success. Unless stated otherwise in the ritual description, secondary casters must be within 100 feet and line of effect of the primary caster and each other during the entirety of a ritual's casting.
If a ritual allows the participation of secondary casters, in such cases, the ritual's Components line includes "SC" ("secondary casters") as an entry, immediately followed by a parenthetical that details any maximum or minimum number of secondary casters required to cast the ritual. If a ritual description has no secondary caster entry, that ritual does not permit the assistance of secondary casters. While secondary casters can help by attempting the skill checks the primary caster assigns them, their chief purpose is to aid in the ritual's casting. If a ritual's casting is aided by at least four secondary casters, all casters gain a +1 bonus on all skill checks attempted as part of casting the occult ritual. This bonus increases by 1 for every four secondary casters beyond four (up to a maximum bonus of +5 for 20 or more secondary casters).
To cast an occult ritual, the primary caster must learn the ritual's secrets (see Discovering Occult Rituals). Secondary casters can assist in the casting without fully understanding the intricacies of the ritual.
Since it is possible for those lacking the ability to cast arcane, divine, or psychic spells to cast rituals, variables that would normally rely on caster level (such as range and spell resistance) use the character level or total Hit Dice of the primary caster instead. This is the case even for a ritual caster who has the ability to cast spells. Characters with a caster level gain a +1 bonus on skill checks to cast a ritual, and this bonus increases by 1 for every 5 caster levels they possess (to a maximum of +5 at caster level 20th) as their understanding of the fundamentals of magic grows.
It's difficult to disrupt a ritual. Casting a ritual does not provoke attacks of opportunity, and the casters can pause the ritual to engage in combat or take other actions—though not without consequences. For each round an occult ritual is paused in this way, the DC of all the ritual's subsequent skill checks increases by 1. For practical purposes, a ritual is successfully disrupted when its casting is paused for more than 1 minute or any of the casters are incapacitated, killed, or moved more than 100 feet from (or out of line of effect of) all other casters.
If more than half the skill checks for an occult ritual are successful, the ritual succeeds, and the primary caster (and the secondary casters if specified) experiences the ritual's backlash before the ritual's effect occurs. The DC for a saving throw against a ritual's effects (if applicable) is equal to 10 + the ritual level + the primary caster's Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma bonus (whichever is highest).
If the casters fail half of the skill checks required for an occult ritual (rounded down), the ritual ends, the casters also experience the ritual's backlash, and the failure consequences occur. The consequences of failure are detailed in each ritual's description.
The mysteries of occult rituals are jealously guarded secrets, often painstakingly obscured by a ritual's originators or those who stumbled upon the obscure formulae detailing it. The particulars of casting occult rituals are hidden within coded tomes, concealed in puzzles, or referenced only through allusions woven into esoteric tales. Recovering the casting method of an occult ritual can be an adventure within itself, something revealed by hallucinatory visions, coerced from an occult practitioner, or passed on by a true initiate hovering at death's door and wishing for his genius to live beyond his mortal existence.
If an occult ritual is taught or its secrets are explained directly, it takes at least 1 day per ritual level to learn the method of its casting. Learning a ritual from hidden clues or from scratch takes a week or a month per ritual level (GM's discretion). At the end of this period of study and contemplation, the person attempting to learn the ritual must succeed at an Intelligence check (DC = 15 + the ritual level if learning from clues or a coerced teacher, or DC = 10 + the ritual level if learning from an instructor eager to teach). Failing the check means the secrets of the ritual elude the learner's understanding, though she can start the process anew at the same rate of potential discovery.
A primary ritual caster with the ability to cast spells or use spell-like abilities can tap into a ley line within 30 feet by performing a simple ritual that takes 1 hour per 2 caster levels of the ley line. At the end of the ritual, the primary caster must succeed at a Spellcraft check (DC = 15 + the ley line's caster level) to attune herself with the ley line. If she fails, she can try the attunement ritual anew. On a successful check, the primary caster and any secondary casters gain a +1 bonus on skill checks to cast an occult ritual using the ley line, provided they remain within 30 feet of the ley line. This bonus increases by 1 for every 5 caster levels of the ley line, to a maximum of +5.
This form of attunement can be broken in the standard ways described in Using Ley Lines.
The following are a selection of occult rituals. Occult rituals are formatted in a similar manner as spells, but also feature a backlash and failure entry.
School enchantment (compulsion); Level 4
Casting Time 40 minutes
Components V, M (a piece of rowan wood charcoal), F (a small silver mirror worth 50 gp)
Target one dungeon door
Duration 8 hours
Saving Throw Will negates (harmless, object); SR yes (harmless, object)
Backlash The caster takes 4d6 points of damage.
Failure The target door swings open and cannot be closed by the caster by any means short of a limited wish for 24 hours.
The caster begins by placing a mirror on one side of the door and writing occult symbols on the other side of the door that conform to one type or subtype of creature on the ranger's favored enemy list. Upon completion of the ritual, creatures of the chosen type or subtype cannot open, touch, or even magically manipulate the door by any means (with no save or spell resistance applicable). A dungeon door can have only one avoidance ward at a time.
Breach the Veil of Dreams
School conjuration (creation); Level 6
Casting Time 60 minutes
Components V, S, M (incenses burned in a bowl filled with grave earth, a bottle of wormwood wine for each caster), F (an ornate silver and mithral key worth 5,000 gp), SC (up to the Intelligence modifier of the primary caster)
Duration instantaneous; see text
Saving Throw none; SR no
Backlash The primary caster takes 2d6 points of damage and becomes exhausted.
Failure An animate dream appears at the site of the ritual and attacks the casters. At the GM's discretion, the animate dream may have the advanced template, be accompanied by fellow animate dreams, or both.
This ritual must be cast at night on the Material Plane. The casters drink the wormwood wine and begin chanting the incantation as the incense burns. The casters mix the ashes with the grave earth and use the mixture to draw a threshold with a keyhole. They then insert the key into this door as the incantation is completed. Success indicates the casters pass through the portal and enter a random location on the Dimension of Dreams.
If the casters wish to return to the Material Plane from the Dimension of Dreams, each must succeed at a DC 35 concentration check to do so. This is a full-round action that doesn't provoke attacks of opportunity. The DC of this check is reduced by 1 for every 2d6 points of damage the traveler willingly takes from psychic and physical trauma as part of the full-round action (this damage can't be reduced in any way). If successful, the caster is transported back to the site of the ritual's casting of the Material Plane. The casters can try again if they fail their concentration checks. A caster can use her character level + her Charisma modifier as her bonus on the concentration check if she isn't a spellcaster or if that value is higher than her usual concentration bonus.
Call Beyond the Veil
School conjuration (calling); Level 6
Casting Time 60 minutes
Components V, S, F (either an object once possessed by the spirit or entity called, or the name of the spirit or entity called), SC (up to 8)
Range primary caster
Effect call on the spirit of a single deceased creature or a psychic entity
Duration concentration of the primary caster
Saving Throw Will negates; SR no
Backlash All casters become exhausted and gain 1 temporary negative level (DC = 16 + primary caster's Charisma bonus to remove after the first day).
Failure All casters gain 1 permanent negative level and are exhausted until that negative level is removed.
The primary caster attempts to compel the spirit of a specific individual or a psychic entity to manifest from its final rest or extraplanar location. Unwilling spirits or entities can resist the summons by succeeding at a Will save. If a spirit or entity succeeds at the saving throw, it doesn't manifest, but the ritual is still considered a success. Spirits or entities that fail or forgo this save are summoned into the primary caster's body, where they speak by way of the caster's voice, which takes on an otherworldly timbre. Though the spirit or entity speaks through the primary caster, it has no further control of that caster's mind or body, and can't use any spells, spell-like abilities, or even purely mental supernatural abilities it may have. It must leave the primary caster when that caster ends his concentration. While the spirit is speaking through the primary caster, the secondary casters can ask it questions at a maximum rate of 1 question per round (regardless of the number of secondary casters). The spirit or entity speaks in a language it knows or knew while it was alive, and can refuse to answer questions or attempt to deceive its questioners and the primary caster using Bluff. It is not otherwise beholden to the ritual casters.
School abjuration [variable; see text]; Level 4
Casting Time 40 minutes
Components V, S, M (powdered silver), F (a stylus made of mithral and diamond worth 5,000 gp), SC (up to 8)
Range 10 ft.
Effect a 20-foot-radius magic circle
Duration 1 day/character level of the primary caster
Saving Throw Will negates (harmless); SR no, see text
Backlash The primary caster takes 2d6 points of damage.
Failure The casters believe their work was successful, though when they attempt to use the circle, nothing occurs.
This ritual requires the casters to create a large magic circle outlined with the silver powder and shaped with the focus stylus. The circle must be painstakingly molded to attune it to the alignment targeted (chaos, evil, good, or law), which is chosen during the time of creation. The ritual gains the descriptor of the alignment selected. Once the circle is complete, it becomes invisible to all but the casters of the ritual or to creatures with see invisibility, true seeing, or some other method of seeing invisible objects.
Once the circle is complete, it can be used to trap an outsider whose subtype matches the chosen alignment, as if it were an inward-focused magic circle spell of the appropriate type (thus, an ensnaring circle attuned to evil acts like an inward-focused magic circle against evil). For an outsider to be trapped in this manner, the entire space of the outsider must be within the circle, at which point the primary caster can activate the circle as an immediate action. The primary caster must be within 100 feet of the circle and be able to see it and the outsider he wishes to trap in order to activate the circle. It is possible to trap multiple outsiders of the appropriate subtype in the circle if more than one are in the circle when it is activated. However, if any such outsider is not completely within the circle, it is not caught within the circle's confines and is free to disrupt the circle as described in the magic circle against evil spell description.
As with a magic circle, the trapped outsider cannot cross the circle's boundaries or reach over or beyond the boundaries, nor can it disrupt the circle either directly or indirectly, though it can make ranged attacks beyond the circle's boundaries. If the outsider has spell resistance, it can test the trap once per day. If the primary caster fails to overcome the outsider's spell resistance, the circle is disrupted and the outsider is freed from the circle's restraints. An outsider capable of any form of dimensional travel can simply leave the circle using such an ability.
Unlike with a magic circle, you cannot create a special diagram when creating the circle to make the ensnaring circle more secure.
School evocation; Level 5
Casting Time 50 minutes
Components V, S, M (a dollop of ectoplasm and paste extracted from ground lotus root worth 500 gp), F (an obsidian dagger with at least a +2 enhancement bonus and the ghost touch special weapon ability, worth at least 18,301 gp)
Effect a rip between the Material Plane and the Ethereal Plane
Duration 1 hour/primary caster's character level and instantaneous; see text
Saving Throw Reflex negates; SR no
Backlash The caster takes 4d6 points of damage.
Failure The caster gains the incorporeal subtype and is confused for 24 hours.
Upon this ritual's completion, the focus dagger is imbued with the power to cut a momentary rift between the Material Plane and the Ethereal Plane, though only if the caster adheres to the restrictions of the ritual.
At the ritual's start, the caster must find the perfect spot for such an incision: a place where the features of the Material Plane and the Ethereal Plane are closely aligned (the exact spot is determined by the GM). Then, after mumbling an incantation that weakens the borders of those two planes at that location, the caster must evenly coat the entire focus blade with a mixture of the material components. When that is compete, the ritual is successful and the backlash occurs, but the ritual's true effect can be delayed. As long as the caster does not move from her space, and does not stop holding the focus dagger, she can use the dagger to cut into the weakened border between the two planes as a standard action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity, but she must do so within 1 hour per character level after successfully completing the ritual and taking the backlash. Doing so has an immediate and dramatic effect—the rip attempts to suck all creatures and unattended objects within 30 feet of the caster's space that weigh less than 200 pounds into either the Ethereal Plane (if the rip is made on the Material Plane) or the Material Plane (if the rip is made on the Ethereal Plane). With a successful Reflex save, a creature avoids the rip's pull. Creatures and objects pulled into the rift land in a corresponding space on the other plane. The ritual caster can choose whether she wants to be sucked through the rift or stay on the plane where she cast the ritual.
School necromancy; Level 7
Casting Time 70 minutes
Components V, S, M (special paints and a small, salted pastry), F (silver bell worth 500 gp), SC (up to 18)
Target one haunt within 60 feet
Duration 1 hour and 10 rounds (D); see text
Saving Throw Will negates; SR yes
Backlash The primary caster is exhausted.
Failure The casters take 1 permanent negative level and a –4 penalty on all skill and ability checks for as long as the negative level persists.
This ritual must be performed within 60 feet of a haunt. The primary caster rings the silver bell using an object associated with the haunt's origin or source of power. Once this is done, the primary caster draws an intricate circle adorned with occult symbols around a plate bearing the small, salted pastry.
If the incantation is successful, the haunt's spirit enters into the pastry (making the haunt inert for the duration of the ritual) and one of the casters must eat the pastry before the next hour or the ritual ends. Failure to do so allows the haunt to go free and increases any DCs of the haunt's effects by 4 and grants a +4 bonus on attack rolls made by the haunt for 24 hours. Once a caster eats the pastry, the spirit of the haunt speaks through the individual who ate the pastry, and is required to truthfully answer 10 questions (1 question per round) before departing, though since the haunt is an emotional echo, the answers may be brief, cryptic, or repetitive, as with speak with dead. Once the 10 questions are answered or the spell is dismissed, the haunt can manifest as normal.
Opening the Third Eye
School transmutation; Level 5
Casting Time 50 minutes
Components V, S, M (incense), SC (up to 12)
Target primary and secondary casters
Duration 1 day (D)
Saving Throw Fortitude negates (harmless); SR yes (harmless)
Backlash All casters take 2d6 points of damage.
Failure All casters gain a temporary negative level (DC = 16 + primary caster's Charisma bonus to remove after the first day), and the primary caster is afflicted with a more potent version of the mindfire disease (DC 17; 2 saves; 1d4 Int; 1/day).
Through a ceremony of meditation and recitation, the casters of this ritual become psychically attuned. Casters who don't have levels in an occult class gain the following benefits.
Casters who do have levels in an occult base class gain the following benefits.
Each of the ritual's casters can choose to dismiss this ritual's effects for themselves individually.
School abjuration; Level 6
Casting Time 60 minutes
Components V, S, M (diamond dust worth 500 gp), F (mithral mirrors worth a total of 10,000 gp and a lit lantern)
Target one creature
Duration 1 day/character level of the caster
Saving Throw Will negates (harmless); SR yes (harmless)
Backlash The caster takes 2d6 points of damage and is exhausted.
Failure The caster takes 1 permanent negative level.
The caster must begin this incantation at dusk or dawn, in a windowless room with the intended target (if it is not the caster), surrounded by mithral mirrors pointed inward. As the ritual concludes, the caster blows out a lantern using the diamond dust, leaving her and the target in the darkened room. While in the darkness, the caster must touch the ritual's target before exiting the room. Then, for a number of days equal to the caster's character level, the target gains a +4 bonus on saving throws against psychic spells and abilities, but can't use any psychic magic abilities, can't cast psychic spells or use psychic magic, and can't be engaged or engage in a psychic duel.
School abjuration; Level 4
Casting Time 40 minutes
Components V, S, M (vial of holy water), F (silver holy symbol), SC (up to 12)
Range close (25 ft. + 5 ft./character level of the primary caster)
Target one helpless possessed creature or a restrained possessed object
Saving Throw Will negates; SR yes
Backlash All casters become exhausted.
Failure All casters gain 1 temporary negative level (DC = 16 + primary caster's Charisma bonus to remove after the first day), and the primary caster takes 4d6 points of damage.
You force the life force of a possessing creature to leave its host. Upon the completion of this ritual, the possessing creature attempts a Will saving throw. If it fails the save, the possessor is expelled, as if the duration of the spell or effect it used to possess the target had expired. If the possessing creature succeeds at the save, it continues to stay within the host creature or object, though the ritual can be attempted anew as long as the possessed creature is helpless or the object restrained.
Seek Astral Insights
School divination; Level 6
Casting Time 60 minutes
Components V, S, M (a number of candles made of pure beeswax equal to the number of wandering stars in conjunction when the ritual is attempted), F (a mithral chain worth 5,000 gp), SC (up to 8)
Range primary caster
Duration 1 hour/character level of the primary caster
Backlash The primary caster is rendered speechless for 1 week (if the ritual fails, this duration begins after the end of the feeblemind effect).
Failure The primary caster's Intelligence and Charisma scores drop to 1 and she gains the other effects of a feeblemind spell for 24 hours.
This ritual can be cast only at midnight on a night when no fewer than three wandering stars (planets) are in conjunction and within view of the casters. The ritual must be performed at the top of a hill, mountain, or other natural vantage point. The primary caster is first wrapped in the focus chains, and the candles are lit in the pattern of the stars in conjunction. The primary caster must sit in complete silence, concentrating on the light of the candles, while the secondary casters circle, chanting the occult incantation. If the ritual is successfully completed, the primary caster's mind is allowed to wander the Astral Plane unhindered, and she can ask one question each hour her mind wanders. The spirits of the Astral Plane answer the caster truthfully, though there is usually only a 60% chance that they will have the answer the primary caster seeks (the chance may be higher or lower at the GM's discretion, depending on the nature of the information sought). If they don't have the answer, the spirits admit that they lack the knowledge the caster seeks rather than trying to deceive her.
School illusion (glamer); Level 8
Casting Time 80 minutes
Components V, S, M (a half-gallon of water from a fresh spring and a potion of invisibility), F (a pair of mithral pitchers and two golden aspergillums, worth 25,000 gp total), SC (at least 4 and up to 12)
Range close (25 ft. + 5 ft./character level of the primary caster)
Area one 20-ft. cube/character level of primary caster
Duration permanent (D)
Saving Throw Will disbelief (if interacted with); SR no
Backlash The primary caster takes 1 permanent negative level.
Failure All casters cannot be targeted by any beneficial glamer effects (such as invisibility) for 1 year (this is a curse effect, and can be removed with remove curse and similar effects).
The primary caster starts this ritual by placing the fresh spring water in one of the mithral pitchers and the potion of invisibility within the other. The caster then mixes the components of the two pitchers by pouring the water into the pitcher that holds the potion and then transferring the mixed contents back into the pitcher that initially held the water. She then repeats this transference between pitchers six more times, before handing one of the pitchers to one of the secondary casters. In complete silence, the primary caster and the chosen secondary caster use the aspergillums to splash the mixture on a building or structure they wish to veil, which must be no larger than the ritual's area. If the building or structure is in a natural environment, the casters must attempt Knowledge (nature) checks for the ritual. If the building or structure is in an urban environment, they must attempt Knowledge (local) checks.
Upon the successful completion of the ritual, the building is veiled, and it appears as if the area were devoid of anything but its natural or urban setting. All of the ritual casters are still able to see the faintest outline of the building and interact with it normally. The primary caster also gains the ability to grant up to 10 creatures per day that she touches the ability to see the faintest outline of the building for a 24-hour period.
While the occult rituals give you numerous options with which to dabble, eventually you may want to create your own rituals. Creating a new occult ritual has five main steps.
Step 1—Concept: As when creating any rules component, you should begin by deciding what you want the ritual to do. Rituals are often an interesting way to introduce unusually powerful magical effects into your game in a limited or controlled way. They can also introduce these effects in a manner that is more specific than similar higher-level spell effects. The ritual's purpose should influence subsequent design decisions.
Step 2—Determine School: Once you have the concept for the ritual, next determine which school best suits the ritual's effect, just as if it were any other type of spell. If you're unsure which school is most appropriate, compare the effects with existing spells. If a ritual could have one or more possible schools, determine which is the most relevant school and use that one.
Step 3—Determine Ritual Level: This step involves setting the level of the occult ritual. Occult rituals are always equivalent to at least 4th-level spells. Often the best way to determine a ritual level is to compare it to other spells in the game, or to use the guidelines for designing new spells. The ritual level determines how many total successes are required to cast the ritual, the DCs for the skill checks needed to complete the ritual, the save DC for the ritual's effect (if applicable), and indirectly determines the ritual's range and duration.
The number of skill checks the ritual requires is equal to the level of the ritual, and the base DC of the skill checks needed to complete a ritual is 28 + the ritual level.
Any saving throw DCs of the ritual (including any DC to remove a temporary negative level gained by the backlash or by failing the ritual) are equal to 10 + the ritual level + the primary caster's Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma bonus (whichever is highest).
In general, the spell a ritual is based on will give guidelines on the range, targets, area, effect, duration, and any saving throw or spell resistance that applies. If you are unsure or are creating a new effect for your ritual, you can use the suggestions in the Ritual Benchmarks Based on School section.
While the ritual's school or the spell it's based on gives you a starting point for the ritual's details, you may want to deviate from those examples when determining the particulars. Doing so to a greater or lesser degree can and should affect the skill check DCs for casting a ritual, and can also affect the casting time of a ritual. The Modifying Occult Rituals table gives some examples of how to modify DCs and casting times.
|Casting Time||Check DC Modifier or Modification|
|Casting time is restricted (such as "only during a full moon")||-4|
|Casting time is severely restricted (such as "only during a lunar eclipse")||-8|
|Focus and Material Components|
|Expensive material component (500 gp)||-1|
|Expensive material component (5,000 gp)||-2|
|Expensive material component (25,000 gp)||-4|
|Expensive focus (5,000 gp)||-1|
|Expensive focus (25,000 gp)||-2|
|Greater range than normal||+1 to +6|
|Shorter range than normal||-1 to -4|
|Larger area than normal||+1 to +6|
|Smaller area than normal||-1 to -4|
|Unwilling target must be helpless||-2|
|Limited targets (by HD, creature type, and so on)||-3|
|Single target to multiple targets||4|
|Greater duration than normal||+1 to +6|
|Shorter duration than normal||-1 to -4|
|One year or more||casting time in increments of 1 hour/level instead of 10 minutes/level|
|Per 2d6 points of damage||-1|
|Caster is exhausted||-2|
|Per temporary negative level caster gains||-2|
|Per permanent negative level caster gains||-4|
|Caster reduced to -1 hp||-3|
|Caster infected with disease||-4|
|Caster suffers curse effects||-4|
|Backlash affects secondary casters too||-1|
Step 4—Determine Ritual's Skills: This step involves determining the skills required to cast the ritual. The chosen skills should have a connection to the concept or the effect of the ritual. While a number of Knowledge skills are obvious choices (especially Knowledge [arcana] and Knowledge [religion]), more interesting rituals may feature other skills. Often these other skills allow secondary casters to play a more active role in the casting or make the ritual more interesting and challenging. In all cases, you should require checks from two or more skills.
Step 5—Create Backlash and Failure Effects: The last step is to figure out the effects of the ritual's backlash and what happens to the casters if the ritual fails. Like modifying the base spell or deviating from the baselines of the ritual's school, the backlash and its severity can affect the DCs of the skill checks made to cast the ritual (see the Modifying Occult Rituals table). Backlashes should be minor debilitations rather than severe punishments, and you need to decide whether they affect just the primary caster or all the casters.
Failure effects should be much more severe and should not invalidate or overlap with the effects of the backlash (since the backlash occurs whether or not the ritual succeeds). They should always represent the cost associated with the casting of uncontrolled magic, and they can be very debilitating to the casters, and could even harm those not associated with the ritual (especially for high-level rituals).
Each summary below specifies the range, target, duration, and other aspects of an occult ritual associated with a particular school.
Abjuration: Range close; Target one or more creatures, no two of which can be more than 30 ft. apart; Duration minutes; Saving Throw Will negates; SR yes.
Conjuration: Range close; Target one creature; Duration hours (instantaneous for teleportation subschool); Saving Throw Will negates (harmless); SR yes (harmless).
Divination: Range long; Target personal; Duration minutes; Saving Throw none; SR no.
Enchantment: Range close; Target one living creature; Duration minutes; Saving Throw Will negates; SR yes.
Evocation: Range medium; Area 5-ft.-wide bolt or 20-ft.-radius burst; Duration instantaneous; Saving Throw Reflex half; SR yes.
Illusion: Range touch; Target one living creature or 20 cu. ft. of matter; Duration minutes; Saving Throw Will disbelief; SR no.
Necromancy: Range close; Target one or more creatures or corpses; Duration instantaneous; Saving Throw none; SR no.
Transmutation: Range medium; Target one creature or 20 cu. ft. of matter; Duration rounds; Saving Throw Fortitude half (or harmless); SR yes.