Runequest Thursday #194 - Runic Arcana: A New Way to Work Sorcery - Death Arcana!

Clint Staples

Last week, I introduced a different way of working sorcery, using my own sorcery system (included as a doc or pdf attachment to this article). Using the notion of Runic Arcana, sorcerers, and cabals, focus around their interest and exploration of particular Runes and their sorcerous capabilities. In this version of sorcery, one is more likely to find "themed" sorcerers and cabals, even themed books, arrayed around the study and implementation of one or two runes. The example Cabal that I created was the intriguingly named "Masters of Luck and Death", who associate themselves with the Runes: Luck and Death (Surprise, surprise!).

In a future article, I will write up the Masters of Luck and Death as a cabal. But building on last week's post, we can see that each member will strive towards the Feat: Runic Affiliation - obviously with one of the two runes associated with the cabal. More experienced members will probably have Runic Affiliation with both Runes. As noted in the previous post, gaining Runic Affiliation requires the foreswearing of an opposing rune. In the case of Death, the most obvious oppsing rune is Life. In certain settings, it could as readily be the rune: Undeath.

 

Last post ran down a list of spells - some of them in the core Sorcery document, and others that I wrote up specifically for the Masters themselves - that dealth with the Luck rune. Today, I will do the same for the Death rune.

 

Death Arcana - Spells from my Sorcery System Document

Heal/ Wound - if a particular Runic Affiliation: Death foreswears the Life rune, Heal becomes unavailable, and only Wound may be cast. But, as noted in Runic Affiliation, Death spells (like Wound) will cost 1 fewer Magic Points to cast.

Leech - If the Rune: Undeath is foresworn, this spell is unavailable.

Undead Swarm - If the Rune: Undeath is foresword, this spell is unavailable.

 

New Spells of the Death Arcana

 

Banish Undead

Area – 10 Yards        POW Check – Yes      Duration – 10 Rounds    Magnitude - Variable

Your command of the Death rune forced undead creatures from the area centered on you. By succeeding on a Power vs. Power Check against a masterless undead, or against the POW of a controlled undead’s master, you force one undead creature to exit the area of your Banishment. Affected undead are unable to return for the duration of the spell.

Additional Magnitude allow you to include more undead in your banishment. Each Magnitude doubles the number of undead affected. Roll your POW contest once, and compare it to all undead (or their master’s) to determine whether they are affected. Undead that are not affected can move freely into, out of, or through the Banishment. The spell imposed the power of the rune on individuals, not an area.

Spell Manipulation: Area, Duration.

 

Destroy Undead

Range – 10 Yards        POW Check – Yes      Duration – Instant       Magnitude – Variable

Your command of the Death rune tears away at the unclean power animating an undead creature. By succeeding on a Power vs. Power Check against a masterless undead, or against the POW of a controlled undead’s master, you deal 1d4+1 damage to that undead in a random location. For each Magnitude you have in the spell, you can deal another 1d4+1 to that undead, in another random location. Armor and Protection do not apply to this damage, but Countermagic and Resistance: Death take effect normally.

You may devote Magnitude to including more undead in your destruction. Each Magnitude doubles the number of undead affected, but does not increase the damage dealt. So a Magnitude 4 casting could do 4d4+4 to a single undead, 3d4+3 to two undead, 2d4+2 to four undead, or 1d4+1 to up to 8 undead. Roll your POW contest once, and compare it to all undead (or their master’s) to determine whether they are affected.

Spell Manipulation: Range.

 

Death Mask

Range – Self   POW check – No         Duration – 1 hour    Magnitude –  3

Your body takes on the trappings and certain aspects of the dead, appearing as a recently dead version of your living appearance, the details of which are up to you but could include such things as pallor, bloating, beginning corruption and a death wound. Though you are replete with death, you do not detect as undead. Mindless undead will accept you as one of their own automatically, while undead with a consciousness are unlikely to note you as alive unless you do something that gives yourself away, in which case they can make an INTx5% to notice, or take such actions as casting an appropriate Detection spell (should they have such).

As a Magnitude 3 spell, you can feign the appearance of a zombie, wight, or similarly obviously corporeal undead creature. As a Magnitude 5 spell, you can feign the appearance of a vampire. In no case do you suffer from any vulnerabilities associated with these forms of undead, such as fleeing from the Death Rune, being Turned, nor are you subject to spells that target undead specifically.

In addition to appearing undead, your bodily processes are slowed and feign death (or undeath) reasonably well. Your body is less reactive to pain and you bleed slowly, if at all. You gain 1 temporary HP per location for the duration of the spell, and will not die of blood loss if you reach 0 total Hit Points, or negative HP in a location and cannot treat the wound (which would be a giveaway in certain circles). You still lose the use of locations that are at 0 HP or lower, and will die normally from grievous damage to the head or chest.

Spell Manipulation: Range – You may cast this on a willing subject, Duration.

 

Mortality

Range – 30 Yards   POW check – Yes         Duration – 10 Rounds     Magnitude – 3

Invoking the Death rune, you turn your gaze upon one foe, living or dead. Make a POW Contest. If you succeed, the target is Demoralized for the Duration, or as long as it remains in your Line of Sight and Range.

Spell Manipulation: Range, Duration.

 

Touch of Death

Range – Self   POW check – No         Duration – Instant      Magnitude – Variable

Charging your body with the power of the Death Rune, you touch a living target and release that energy into them. Make a roll to hit in melee, with an unarmed or weapon attack that deals no damage of its own, acting only as a conduit for the Touch of Death. The target may Evade to negate your touch, but blocking or parrying do not avert its effect. If you hit, make a POW Contest against the target, doing 1d6 per Magnitude to the total HP of the target. Armor and Protection do not apply to this damage, but Countermagic and Resistance: Death take effect normally.

If you do not succeed in the POW Contest, the target is Demoralized for its next action, temporarily overwhelmed by the flood of death energy and the certainty of its imminent demise.

 

Note: The attached Sorcery doc and pdf include the feat: Runic Affiliation, and the spells in this and the preceding article.

 

Next time: Spells of Luck and Death - Combining Both Runes, and The Cabal of the Masters of Luck and Death