Design Call: Cleric Talents & Feats

Firstly, I’ve updated the Upcoming page with news of where I currently stand with HD&D, as well as the updates you can expect to see on the blog over the next couple of months. I’ve also set a date to begin playtesting of September 2010.

With that in mind, let’s talk about talents for the HD&D Cleric class. I don’t have any. I need some. That’s where you come in.

All about Spheres

Cleric talents are largely dependent upon the Spheres a cleric has access to. If you recall, I have a list of 46 Spheres of Influence (or Domains in 3rd ed-speak). Worship of a particular god gives the cleric access to the Spheres contained in that god’s portfolio. The more powerful the god, the more spheres the cleric has access to.

Each sphere is associated with a number of spells, and a number of talents and feats. If a cleric has access to a Sphere then he also as access to all the spells, talents and feats associated with that sphere. These are the spells that he can eventually learn, and the talents/feats he can acquire as he gains levels.

To slightly complicate matters, gods can grant minor or major access to a sphere:

Major Access: Spells of level 0-9, full access to all feats and talents.
Minor Access: Spells of level 0-4, no access to the sphere’s special feats and talents.

For game purposes each Sphere should grant access to at least five talents, and several feats (two per talent is a good guide). It’s these talents and feats that I want to look at in this design call.

Narrowing the Task

As I’m only interested (at this stage) of coming up with sufficient talents to cover the first playtest adventure I’m specifically asking for less, rather than more. Below, I present three gods from the third edition Player’s Handbook. These are not commonly worshipped on Iourn, but they will be the gods of the choice for the upcoming playtest adventure. You will notice that each of the gods grants major and minor access to particular spheres:

OlidammaraThe Laughing Rogue
Olidammara delights in wine, women, and song. He is a vagabond, a prankster, and a master of disguise. His temples are few, but many people are willing to raise a glass in his honour.

Major Spheres: All, Charm, Luck, Trickery
Minor Spheres: Healing, Shadow

PelorThe Shining One
Pelor is the creator of many good things, a supporter of those in need, and an adversary of all that is evil. He is the most commonly worshiped deity among ordinary humans, and his priests are well received wherever they go.

Major Spheres: All, Healing, Hope, Strength, Sun
Minor Spheres: Freedom, Justice

Wee JasWitch Goddess
Wee Jas is the goddess of death and magic. She is a demanding goddess who expects obedience from her followers. Her temples are few and far between, but she counts many powerful sorcerers and wizards (especially necromancers) among her worshipers.

Major Spheres: All, Elemental Death, Magic, Order
Minor Spheres: Healing, Undeath

Ingnore the minor spheres, they’re only for spell access and I’m already dealing with that. In terms of feats and talents, I need material for the following spheres:

  • Charm
  • Elemental Death
  • Healing
  • Hope
  • Luck
  • Magic
  • Order
  • Strength
  • Sun
  • Trickery

So that’s ten spheres. Each sphere should have about five talents in it, and each talent should be supported by two feats. So that’s 50 talents and 100 feats to come with between us. Dead easy!

Guide to Inventing Talents

The old post on Talents, Traits and Feats defines the difference between talents and feats, and offers some guidance on what they should look like. Remember that a Talent is the HD&D term for a class ability in third edition. They should be unique powers. Feats are not unique powers. They improve something the character can already do. In this context, a feat might improve a talent, or allow a character to use it in a different way.

Talents can be at-will abilities, continuously active or they can use the Recharge mechanic just like spells. But try to avoid making them too much like spells – clerics have a spell list, after all.

The benefit conferred by a talent may be static, or it may be possible to improve it. You decide if the effects of talent improve automatically as the cleric gains levels, if the cleric needs to choose a second related talent to unlock advanced abilities, or whether the talent can be improved by selecting feats. Sometimes all three might apply.

Try to avoid talents that confer Immunity to a particular type of attack. I’d rather see “Necrotic Resistance 10” at first level, increasing as a cleric gains levels, than I would “Necrotic Immunity”.

Please steer away from talents that Turn Undead. I’m approaching turn undead sligthly differently in HD&D, and making it a talent that is more universally available to clerics. This is in keeping with the way clerics have always functioned in the official rules, and I believe I have a rationale to make this work. Talents that let clerics blast undead, dominate undead or do anything else to undead is fine. Just leave Turning out of the equation.

If you are wondering now much damage an offensive talent should do, then use the following table as a guide. This is the baseline; there can be some variation from these figures. Attacks that affect numerous targets tend to inflict less damage, than those that target one individual:

Level

Average Damage

1

6

2

7

3

8

4

9

5

11

6

12

7

13

8

14

9

16

10

17

11

20

12

21

13

22

14

23

15

25

16

26

17

27

18

28

19

30

20

31

21

33

22

34

23

36

24

37

25

38

26

39

27

41

28

42

29

43

30

44

Finally, remember to pillage exisiting books for ideas. The domain powers from third edition, the sphere powers from second edition – and even 4e’s domain feats all offer inspiration. If you have access to Faiths & Avatars, Powers & Pantheons or Demihuman Deities then you’ll find yourself swimming in options. It’s easier to convert something that already exists than it is to invent it from whole cloth.

The Hope Sphere

The best advice I can offer is by way of example. Here are five talents and the related feats granted by the Hope Sphere.  This is one of Pelor’s spheres from the list above, so we’re already down to nine. See how easy this will be?

Talents

Bulwark Against Fear  – Cleric Talent
You are an inspiration to those around you. As long as you remain strong, then your allies will not falter.
Continuous Effect | Supernatural, Mind-Affecting
Immediate Interrupt
Trigger:
You are targeted by a Close or Far Fear effect
Prerequisite: Major access to the Hope sphere
Duration: Instantaneous
Area of Effect: Close Burst 20 ft. radius
Target: All allies within area of effect

Effect: Add your Charisma bonus (minimum +1) as a Morale bonus to your Will defence against Fear effects. Additionally, whenever you are targeted by a Close or Far Fear effect (i.e. a Fear effect that targets an area, as opposed to just you), the following rules apply:

Before you roll your saving throw (or before the result of the attack roll is known) you can call upon your allies to put their faith in you. Any companions, characters or non-player characters within twenty feet have the option to trust in you to defend them from fear.

Once your allies have decided, the GM reveals the result of the attack roll (or you make your saving throw). If a Fear attack misses you, then it automatically misses all your declared allies. But if Fear strikes you then all your declared allies are also affected.

Consecrated Strike – Cleric Talent
You can focus the holy power of your god to sanctify your mêlée attacks. You deal additional damage to the heinous denizens of infamy.
Continuous Effect | Supernatural, Good
No Action
Prerequisite: Major access to the Hope sphere
Duration: Instantaneous
Area of Effect: Mêlée (weapon)
Target: One creature

Effect: Your mêlée attacks are particularly effective against creatures that carry Taint. All demons, devils and the undead are somewhat tainted, but beings of all races have the potential to be so corrupted.

If you attack a Tainted creature (with either your natural attacks, or with a mêlée weapon) you inflict an additional 1d6 damage per attack. This damage increases to 2d6 at level 11, and 3d6 at level 21.

You are considered armed when making attacks with your natural weapons against  a Tainted creature. If your natural attacks normally inflict subdual damage, they inflict lethal damage against Tainted foes.

Simply touching (not attacking) a Tainted creature causes tainted flesh to sizzle and burn inflicting 1d4 damage. Tainted creatures try to avoid shaking hands with clerics with access to the Hope sphere.

One Good Turn – Cleric Talent
You reap the rewards of performing good deeds for others, and can use this positive karma to your own advantage.
Recharge | Supernatural
No Action
Prerequisite: Major access to the Hope sphere

Effect: When you spend an Action Point to help or aid another character, you gain another Action Point at the beginning of your next turn. The definition of ‘helping another character’ is deliberately broad, and open to interpretation by the GM. Such help might include:

  • Attacking a foe who is assaulting your ally.
  • Casting a protective spell on your ally.
  • Taunting or causing an enemy to disengage from your ally and target you instead.
  • Using a power or ability that somehow mitigates or negates damage to your ally.
  • Utilising an effect that allows your ally to make a saving throw.
  • Performing an act that practically helps your ally – e.g. pushing them in a river if they’re on fire.

After you use this talent, you must take a short rest before you can use it again.

Sanctified Aura – Cleric Talent
You are surrounded by a holy aura of pearly goodness, that keeps out evil creatures and protects you from harm.
At-Will | Supernatural, Good
Standard Action
Prerequisite:
Major access to the Hope sphere
Duration: 1 round/level.
Area of Effect: Personal
Target: You.

Effect: At will, you can surround yourself in an opalescent aura of divine power. This aura is antithetical to Tainted creatures, who will not approach or physically lay a hand on you if they can avoid it. All demons, devils and the undead are somewhat tainted, but beings of all races have the potential to be so corrupted.

Tainted creatures of a lower level than the caster recoil from the warded creature, and will not make mêlée attacks against you. They can still make ranged, close or far attacks against you. If you make a mêlée attack against a Tainted creature, or you try to force the aura against a tainted creature that cannot physically get away, then the Sanctified Aura automatically ends. It can still be restored with a standard action.

Tainted creatures of equal or greater level, may still recoil from the sanctified aura. However, they may also choose to make mêlée attacks. Every round in phase one of their turn, a tainted attacker may make a Will saving throw to follow throw with its mêlée attacks for the round. They must make this saving throw every round they wish to attack.

A tainted attacker takes 1d6 damage with each mêlée attack it makes against you in a round (regardless of whether the attacks were successful or not). Attacking a tainted creature that attacks you, still causes the Sanctified Aura to end.

Soothing Words – Cleric Talent
The power of your god manifests in your words, allowing you to soothe and pacify the uruly and aggressive with the sound of your voice.
At-Will |Supernatural, Mind-Affecting
Standard Action
Prerequisite: Major access to the Hope sphere
Duration: Concentration + 1 round/level
Area of Effect: Close Burst 20 ft. radius
Target: All creatures in area of effect
Attack: Spellcraft vs. Will

Effect: The sound of your words suppresses bases emotions such as anger, rage and hostility. You may use Soothing Words on creatures that have initiated hostile action against you or your companions, but the power will not work if you or your companions initiated combat, or fought back when attacked.

If your attack roll is successful then the target’s negative hostile emotions are suppressed. Their attitude shifts to Indifferent. Indifferent characters do not care much about you one way or the other; they will deliver any socially expected interaction, but won’t go out of their way to do you any favours .

The effect lasts for as long as you spend a standard each round to continue speaking + a further 1 round per level. You must also remain withing twenty feet of all the targets of this power.

At the end of the duration, the targets’ original emotions and intent reassert themselves.

Feats

Brutal Consecration – Cleric Feat
Your mêlée attacks inflict even more damage against opponents.
At-Will | Supernatural, Good
No Action
Prerequisite: Major access to the Hope sphere, Consecrated Strike talent.
Area of Effect: Mêlée (weapon)
Target: One creature

Effect: Add one die to the extra damage inflicted with the Consecrated Strike talent. In addition all mêlée attacks against Tainted creatures gain the Brutal quality.

In the event of a critical hit, attacks with Brutal weapons roll the damage die in addition to maximising the damage result. For example, a 7th level cleric with Str 14, Consecrated Strike and Brutal Consecration attacking with a mace would inflict 1d8+1d6+2 damage. In the event of a critical hit, he would inflict 1d8+16 damage.

The effects of Brutal Consecration and Critical Consecration stack.

Critical Consecration – Cleric Feat
Your mêlée attacks have a greater chance of scoring a critical hit if you direct them at Tainted foes.
At-Will | Supernatural, Good
No Action
Prerequisite:
Major access to the Hope sphere, Consecrated Strike talent
Area of Effect: Mêlée (weapon)
Target: One creature

Effect: When attacking with the Consecrated Strike talent roll d8s for he extra damage, instead of d6s. In addition, all mêlée attacks against Tainted creatures gain the High Crit quality.

High Crit weapons score a critical hit on a roll of 19 or 20, instead of just a natural 20. The 19 must otherwise be a hit for it to be a critical hit.

The effects of Critical Consecration and Brutal Consecration stack.

Exalted Mists of Sanctity – Cleric Feat
You can increase the intensity of sanctified aura, to obscure you from harm and attacks.
At-Will | Supernatural, Good
Move Action
Prerequisite: Major access to the Hope sphere, Sanctified Aura talent.
Duration: For the remaining duration of Sanctified Aura talent

Effect: As a move action, you thicken your Sanctified Aura turning it from an opalescent shene into a thick swirling silver mist. All creatures within the Sanctified Aura gain concealment from everyone outside the Sanctified Aura. You may spend a Move action to raise or lower concealment at any point during the duration of the Sanctified Aura talent.

Concealment grants a +2 bonus to Reflex defence against mêlée and ranged attacks, but not against Close or Far attacks.

Persistant Words – Cleric Feat
When you speak, your words can have a profound and lasting effect on your subjects.
At-Will | Supernatural, Mind-Affecting
No Action
Prerequisite: Major access to the Hope sphere, Soothing Words talent.

Effect: When you use your Soothing Words talent, there is a chance that your targets’ new emotional state persists after the duration of the talent expires.

Soothing Words lasts for as many rounds as you are willing to commit a standard action to its upkeep, plus one round per level. At the end of this time, all targets must make a Will Saving throw against a DC equal to your Passive Spellcraft. If they fail, then their new attitude toward you persists.

Those who fail the saving throw, may make an additional saving throw once every day until they eventually shake off the effects of this talent.

Reliable Bulwark – Cleric Feat
You are even more adept at inspiring your allies to stand firm in the face of bowel-clenching terror.
At-Will | Supernatural, Mind-Affecting
Free Action
Trigger:
You are targeted by a Close or Far Fear effect
Prerequisite: Major access to the Hope sphere, Bulawark Against Fear talent.

Effect: When you are affected by a Close or Far Fear effect (i.e. a Fear effect that affects an area as opposed to just you), you gain a second chance to resist it. If this effect is a Fear attack, you may force the attacker to reroll the attack. If this effect forces you to make a Fear saving throw, you may reroll the saving throw.

Two Good Turns – Cleric Feat
You are able to benefit from karmic good fortune more often than other clerics.
Recharge (Special) | Supernatural
No Action
Prerequisite: 11th level, major access to the Hope sphere, One Good Turn talent.

Effect: You may use your One Good Turn talent twice before taking a short rest. You may not spend more than one Action Point in a round.

Wide Arms of Sanctity – Cleric Feat
You can use the divine power of your god to protect innocents from the unholy touch of the tainted.
At-Will | Supernatural, Good
No Action
Prerequisite: Major access to the Hope sphere, Sanctified Aura talent.
Duration: 1 round/level
Area of Effect: Close Burst 10 ft radius
Target: All creatures in area of effect

Effect: When you use your Sanctified Aura talent, you can choose to widen the effect of the aura to emcompass all non-tainted creatures within a ten foot radius of you. Tainted creatures will not now approach within ten feet of you, and cannot make mêlée attacks into the area of effect of this feat.

As with Sanctified Aura, any mêlée attack against a tainted creature or attempt to force a tainted creature up against a barrier prematurely ends the aura. This restriction applies to all those sheltering within the widened aura. If one of your companions makes a mêlée attack against a tainted creature when inside the aura, then the aura ends for everybody.

The ten foot radius of this aura is centred on you, and moves with you when you move. Anyone in the area of effect would also have to move to keep up, if they want to retain the aura’s benefits.

Winning Words – Cleric Feat
The honeyed words of your god are particularly pleasing to the ear.
At-Will | Supernatural, Mind-Affecting
No Action
Prerequisite: Major access to the Hope sphere, Soothing Words talent.

Effect: When you successivefully use your Soothing Words talent you are able to shift  the attitude of the targets to Friendly instead of Indifferent. Friendly characters are happy to chat, advise and stand up for your interests. They will help in your endeavours, but draw the line at any activity that risks their lives or wellbeing. All other effects of the Soothing Words talent are unchanged. 

Over to You

Looking at the work that needs to be done to get the playtest ready for September, I could really use some help with this. Clerics represent the single largest amount of work of any of the character classes. Any help that anyone can offer would be greatly appreciated.

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HD&D: Wounds and Healing

[Index to the Combat Section]

Adventurers regularly throw themselves into situations that no sane member of the population would touch with a ten foot pole. Death-defying leaps, intense duels and mass battles against unheathen beasts from the underworld are not conducive to health and wellbeing. Player characters must face the grim reality that they are unlikely to escape such exploits with anything as minor as a grazed knee. Indeed, they may not escape them at all. 

In HD&D your character’s hardiness is measured by his hit points. The more hit points you have, the harder you are to kill. Offensive spells and physical attacks whittle away your hit point total; extended rest and curative magic can restore your hit points. No matter how many hit points you lose, your character is usually not incommoded by the loss until your hit points drop to 0 or lower. 

What Hit Points represent: Hit Points are an abstract way of measuring your character’s survivability. They increase as you gain levels, which can lead to a strange disparity between creatures of the same race. A 20th level human can fall 100 ft and survive; if a 1st level human that tries the same stunt will be little more than a damp smudge on the cavern floor. They can’t just measure your toughness. So what is it they actually represent? Here’s four suggestions: 

  1. They are your character’s ability to endure physical punishment. Bigger creatures have more hit points, and can take more wounds than smaller creatures.
  2. They represent your character’s experience. A savvy battle veteran knows how to twist, dodge and parry. They can turn fatal blows into glancing blows.
  3. Hit Points are also somewhat dependent on your luck. High level heroes have endured many battles and have escaped with their lives. They are either very lucky, or Fate has a plan for them.
  4. Hit points also represent your character’s resolve. The higher level your character, the more capable he is at ignoring flesh wounds, steeling himself against the pain and soldiering on.

Losing Hit Points

All characters have a Maximum Hit Point total recorded of their character sheet. This is derived from your Constitution score, your level and your selection of talents. When you take hit point damage, you subtract the amount of damage dealt from this hit point total. If you have an Armour Class (you are wearing protective armour, or you have a very thick skin) then you reduce the amount of damage dealt by the Armour Class value, before subtracting it from your hit points. 

For example: Elias Raithbourne wears plate armour that grants him an Armour Class of 8. If a dire bear takes a swipe at Elias inflicting 20 points of damage, Elias actually only subtracts 12 from his hit point total. 

Armour Class defends against every physical attack made against a character separately. However, a successful attack always inflicts 1 point of damage regardless of the armoured protection a character is wearing. Also, some types of damage (notable energy damage like fire or electricity) will ignore your armour class entirely. 

Losing hit points does not affect your character in any way until you are reduced to 0 hit points or less. Being reduced to 0 hit points doesn’t mean you are dead. There is a buffer zone inbetween 0 hit points and death where your character languishes at death’s door. Characters in this buffer zone have the Bloodied Condition

A Bloodied character’s current hit points are somewhere in the range of 0 and a negative value that equals the character’s Constitution score or 25% of his total hit points; whichever is greater. This negative hit point score is called the character’s Bloodied Value

For example. At 15th level Brack Ogrebane has 132 hit points and a Constitution Score of 20. Twenty-five percent of Brack’s total hit points is 33, which his higher than Brack’s Constitution score. Therefore Brack’s bloodied value is -33. He dies if reduced to -34 hit points. 

As soon as a character is Bloodied (reduced to hit point total between 0 and their bloodied value, inclusive) then they are unconscious. They fall to the ground and drop anything that they are holding. Unconscious characters are considered Helpless (q.v.).

Dying

Any attack that reduces your hit point total to below your bloodied value automatically kills you outright. You go from being alive to being dead in the blink of an eye. If your wounds reduce you to 0 hit points or less, but your hit point total is not less than your bloodied value then you are dying. Dying characters are sometimes referred to as Bloodied. The terms are interchangeable. 

If you are bloodied, then you fall unconscious and can take no actions. In phase three of your character’s next turn, you must make a stabilisation check. A stabilisation check is a Fortitude saving throw against DC 15. 

If you succeed in this saving throw then you do not die this round. Unlike previous editions of the game, dying characters do not lose hit points each round. Instead you must repeat the Fortitude saving throw every round until one of the following conditions are met: 

  1. Someone stabilises you with the Heal skill.
  2. You have any sort of Healing magic cast upon you.
  3. You roll a natural 20 on your stabilisation check.
  4. You fail three stabilisation checks.

A successful use of the Heal skill to stabilise your wounds does not restore any hit points. You remain unconscious, but you do not need to make any further stabilisation checks. If left in this condition, there is a fair chance that you will recover without further intervention. See Natural Healing below for more information. 

The application of healing magic of any sort automatically stabilises you and restores hit points, but it may not bring you to consciousness and ambulation. For example, a character on -23 hit points who is healed for 8 hit points by a cure light wounds spell is still on -15 hit points. They are stabilised and partially healed, but still unconscious and helpless. 

If you roll a natural 20 on your Fortitude saving throw, then you do not need to roll any further stabilisation checks. Your wounds will not worsen on their own. The effect is the same as a successful use of the Heal skill on you. You do not gain hit points, and you are not conscious, but at least you won’t get any worse. 

If you fail three stabilisation checks, then you die. It doesn’t matter how many hit points you have, it’s three strikes and you’re out. The three failed checks do not need to be consecutive, and a natural 1 on the d20 is always considered a failure. If you are restored to consciousness, and then bloodied again, the number of failed stabilisation checks required to die is reset. Failures from a previously bout of dying, doesn’t count against your current situation. 

Some feats and talents allow you to act normally when you are bloodied. 

Subdual Damage

Sometimes you get roughed up and weakened, either from being socked in the jaw during a tavern brawl, or tuckered out by a long march. This sort of trauma won’t kill you, but it can knock you out or make you feel faint. In these cases you have taken subdual damage. If you take enough subdual damage then you fall unconscious. Fortunately, subdual damage heals must faster than normal (lethal) damage does. 

Dealing subdual damage: Certain attacks deal subdual damage, such as a normal human’s unarmed strike (a punch, kick, or head butt). Other effects, such as heat or being exhausted, may also deal subdual damage. A good way to manage subdual damage in play is to have two running totals of hit points: your current hit point total, and the amount of subdual damage you have taken. 

When you take lethal damage, subtract it from your hit point total. When you take subdual damage, then add all the values together. This gives you a diminishing total of hit points, and a rising total of subdual damage. When your subdual damage equals your current hit points you fall unconscious. It doesn’t matter whether the subdual damage equals or exceeds your current hit points because the subdual damage has gone up or because your current hit points have gone down. 

For example, Jonus the air cleric has 80 points in total, but he has taken 10 points of subdual damage. Should he take 70 points of lethal damage, his current hit point total will be the same as subdual damage (10 hit points). At this point he falls unconscious. He’s not bloodied – he still has 10 hit points – but the continued trauma has knocked him out. 

A character who falls unconscious and still has positive hit points, remains unconscious for about five minutes. 

Dealing subdual damage with a weapon that deals lethal damage: You can use a mêlée weapon that deals lethal damage to deal subdual damage, but you take a -5 penalty on attack rolls. This is because you have to deliberately pull your punches and hit with the flat of the blade. 

Dealing lethal damage with a weapon that deals subdual damage: You can inflict lethal damage with a weapon that usually only inflicts subdual damage (like your fist) but you must take a Called Shot to hit a vulnerable area. The normal Called Shot rules apply, so you take a -5 penalty to your attack roll. 

Knocking Characters Out: When your subdual damage equals or exceeds your current hit point total you fall unconscious and are helpless. However, this is a rather long-winded way of rendering your opponents unconscious. Surely the burly barbarian in your party should just need to connect with one solid punch to jaw to knock an opponent out, right? 

Instantaneous knock-outs can be rather dangerous in-game. They’re all well and good in the hands of the PCs, but when players find their character knocked out, hogtied and placed on a roasting spit before they can draw their swords, things become a little more problematic. 

Knocking a character out with one blow is possible, but it is far from easy. Refer to the Called Shot rules (q.v.) for striking someone on the chin. 

Healing subdual damage: You heal subdual damage at the rate of 10% of your maximum hit point total per hour. For example, a character with 70 hit points would heal 7 points of subdual damage each hour until all the subdual damage is gone. 

When a spell or a magical power cures hit point damage, it also removes an equal amount of subdual damage.

Ability Damage

 
Sometimes damaging attacks target your ability scores instead of your hit point total. An attack might inflict 1d6 points of damage to your Wisdom score, for example. Reducing an ability score in the middle of combat is fiddlesome, time consuming and annoying for the other players. Such damage is therefore managed as a penalty to powers and statistics based on the damaged ability score. 

For every two points of damage you take to a single ability, apply a -1 penalty to all skills and other statistics that that use the relevant ability. Damage to an ability score returns at the rate one point per day to each score damaged, although certain spells such as Restoration can restore the damage more quickly. Occasionally, the damage may return more quickly. This is often the case if the ability damage was a temporary effect inflicted by a spell. 

Any damage to your ability scores will heal naturally over time, unless the damage inflicted is greater than your ability score. In these cases your ability score is reduced to 0, and will not heal naturally. The damage is permanent. Characters with any ability score of 0 are considered Helpless, although each ability score has its own nasty surprise for characters when they are reduced to 0. 

Strength Damage: The penalty applies to all skills modified by Strength, as well as most weapon damage rolls. Weapons that don’t use a character’s strength (such as crossbows) are unaffected. Your character’s carrying capacity may also be reduced, although this is not usually a consideration in the height of combat. A character reduced to 0 Strength falls prone and is paralysed. 

Dexterity Damage: The penalty applies to all skills modified by Dexterity as well as your character’s Reflex Defence and Reflex Saving Throws. A character reduced to 0 Dexterity falls prone and is paralysed. 

Constitution Damage: The penalty applies to your character’s Fortitude Defence and Fortitude Saving Throws. Your hit point total is unaffected by a reduction in your Constitution score. A character reduced to 0 Constitution is dead. 

Intelligence Damage: The penalty applies to all skills modified by your Intelligence score. A character reduced to 0 Intelligence cannot think, and falls unconscious. They are in a deep coma and cannot be revived until their Intelligence score is healed to 1 or more. 

Wisdom Damage: The penalty applies to all skills modified by your Wisdom score, as well as your character’s Will Defence and Will Saving Throws. A character reduced to 0 Wisdom withdraws into a deep sleep, beset with horrors and nightmares. They cannot be revived until their Wisdom score is healed to 1 or more. 

Charisma Damage: The penalty applies to all skills modified by your Charisma score. Damage to Charisma eats away at a character’s identity and self respect. A character reduced to 0 Charisma falls prone and withdraws into a foetal position, where they rock in a catatonic state. They are helpless until healed. 

Healing

The most common form of healing for your average party of stalwart adventurers is magical healing. Certain spellcasters, notably clerics and druids, can use the Weave to close wounds, repair broken bones and even regrow organs or limbs. 

Most of the damage characters take is abstract hit point damage, and subsequently most of the healing spells in the game restore hit points. It doesn’t matter if the spell cures light wounds, serious wounds or critical wounds, it is the number of hit points restored that is the most important thing. Sometimes your character receives a special or debilitating wound that has an effect above and beyond a loss of hit points. In these cases, specific spells or treatments are required. Such wounds are considered Afflictions. The rules for Afflictions can be found below. 

If an injured character doesn’t have access to magical healing, then the road to recovery is a long one. Given sufficient time, a wounded character will regain all his hit points by simply resting. Only if the character is suffering from a curse, disease, poisoning or debilitating wound will time and rest fail to return him to full health. 

Rate of Natural Healing: Without magical intervention, a character heals 10% of their total hit points (minimum 1) after each extended rest. An extended rest is eight continuous hours of inactivity that must include at least six hours of sleep. Any significant interruption to this rest (such as combat of any sort) prevents the character from healing that night. 

If the character undertakes complete bed rest for an entire day and he is tended by an ally who succeeds at a DC 20 Heal check, then that character gains the benefit of long term care. Someone in long term care heals twice as quickly; they regain 20% of their total hit points per day. Any interruption thwarts the benefits gained by long term care. 

Bloodied characters who have stabilised also heal naturally. However, they remain unconscious and helpless until they have healed up to 1 hit point or more. If such characters are recovering without help – they are lying in a mound of dead bodies on a deserted battlefield, for example – then they may still die from exposure, thirst or other predations before regaining consciousness. 

If you have Ability Score damage, then that damage can also heal naturally. Each day that you take an extended rest will restore 1 point to all damaged ability scores (as long as none of the scores were reduced to 0). If you are enjoying long term care then the rate of healing doubles to 2 points per day.

Regeneration

Regeneration is the ability to heal wounds nearly as quickly as you receive them. If you have Regeneration, then all the damage you take is considered subdual damage, and heals at a specified rate per round. For example, a troll has “Regeneration 5”, which means it heals 5 points of subdual damage every round. 

Creatures with regeneration can regrow missing limbs and vital organs (including their hearts, brains and heads). If a creature with regeneration is dismembered, then it grows again from largest remaining piece. 

Regeneration doesn’t stop working just because a creature is brought down to 0 hit points. Creatures with regeneration don’t make stabilisation checks. They continue to heal hit points at the stated rate until they have positive hit points and can get up again.. 

Fortunately, all regenerating creatures have a weakness to a particular attack type such as fire, acid or silver weapons. The damage inflicted by these attack types is not converted to subdual damage. It remains lethal damage. Such creatures may also be Vulnerable (q.v.) to this attack type. 

Regenerating creatures that are brought to 0 hit points with the appropriate attack type do not regenerate, and make stabilisation checks normally. Such creatures brought down to their bloodied value are killed instantly. 

Fast Healing: Sometimes characters have fast healing, which is a lesser form of regeneration. Fast healing works in exactly the same way as Regeneration, except it ceases to function if the character is brought to 0 hit points or less. Characters with fast healing cannot normally regrow limbs and other bodily organs and appendages as characters with true regeneration can. 

Temporary Hit Points

Some talents, feats and magical spells grant you a pool of Temporary Hit Points. These hit points may represent a temporary surge of adrenalin, a magical boon or a simple knack your character has developed. Whatever they represent, it is important that you keep a record of your temporary hit points separately. Don’t add them to you current hit points. Temporary hit points are not healing! 

Temporary hit points provide a layer of insulation that prevents you from losing actual hit points. If you have temporary hit points, then whenever you take damage the damage comes off your temporary hit points first. This prevents or lessens your loss of actual hit points. 

It doesn’t matter if the damage is lethal or subdual damage. It reduces temporary hit points in the same way. If your character has an Armour Class value, then reduce the damage by the AC normally, before reducing your characters temporary and real hit points. 

For example, Elias has an AC 8 of 12 temporary hit points. He is struck on the head by a falling meteor for 30 points of damage. His AC reduces the damage by 8 to 22 points of damage. The first 12 points of damage come off Elias’s temporary hit points, so only 10 points of damage drill their way through to Elias’s thick, potato-shaped head. 

Unless the power or ability expressly states otherwise, Temporary Hit Points do not stack with themselves. A higher value overwrites a smaller one. If a character with 6 temporary uses an ability than grants him 8 temporary hit points, then he has 8 temporary hit points (not 14). 

Afflictions

Afflictions are debilitating effects that impose penalties or restrictions on characters. They seldom inflict hit point damage, but their touch can be even more destructive. Overcoming an affliction can be extremely difficult. Some fade in time, others require a number of consecutive successful saving throws; the most dangerous never heal naturally, and require the application of powerful healing magic. The types of afflictions noted here are diseases, poisons, curses and wounds. Their origins and their effects are very different, but they each use the same basic mechanics. 

When a character is exposed to an affliction – either by being bitten by a poisonous creature, suffering a wound or triggering a curse – then the affliction makes an attack against one of the character’s Defences. This attack roll may be in addition to any other attack that may happen at the same time. For example, a wererat attacking with its diseased bite rolls one attack against Reflex to inflict hit point damage and, if it is is successful, one attack against Fortitude to spread the disease. If the affliction’s attack is successful then the character falls victim to the affliction’s effects. If the attack roll fails then the affliction fails to take hold, and the character suffers no ill effects. 

Afflictions require a creature to make a saving throw after a period of time to avoid taking further penalties and effects. With most afflictions, if a number consecutive successful saving throws are made the affliction is removed, and no further saving throws are necessary. Some afflictions get progressively worse the more saving throws you fail, while others may get better before they are cured. 

Afflictions are presented as follows: 

Name/Type/Level: The name of the affliction, followed by its type: curse, disease, poison or wound. Information about how the affliction is contracted is listed in parenthesis. Afflictions can be spread on the air (inhaled), be transmitted by touch (contact), be consumed (ingested) or most commonly, via an open wound (injury). The level is there to assist the GM in balancing encounters. Characters should face afflictions of their level. 

Attack: As soon as a character is exposed to an affliction, the affliction makes an attack roll against the character. Normally (but not always) this targets the character’s Fortitude Defence. A successful attack roll means the affliction has taken hold of the character. 

Onset: This is the time between a successful attack roll, and when the first symptoms of the affliction become apparent. For wounds, the onset time is instantaneous. For the other afflictions anything from a few rounds to days may pass before the affliction begins to impose its deleterious effects. The Initial Effect of an affliction does not strike the character until after the onset time has elapsed. 

Saving Throw: This is the DC of the saving throw required to shake off the affliction. It is also the DC of any Spellcraft check to remove the affliction by magic. You may need to make multiple saving throws to shake off an affliction. Sometimes a failed saving throw makes the affliction even worse. Some afflictions don’t permit saving throws at all. 

Frequency: The amount of time that passes after the Initial Effect before a character is allowed to make a saving throw against the affliction. This is also the time that passes between saving throws. For example, a frequency of one day means that a day must pass following the initial effect before the character can roll a saving throw. He must also continue to roll saving throws each day. Some afflictions are time limited, and will only call for saving throws until a certain amount of time has passed. For example, a poison might call for a saving throw every round for eight rounds. If the character rolls high enough on his saving throw, the effects of the poison might end before eight rounds has elapsed, but after eight rounds the effect will end regardless of how poorly the character rolled. 

Initial Effect: Following the attack roll and the onset time, the affliction imposes its initial effect. This can be anything from a penalty to a certain action, to ability score or hit point damage, to a condition such as blindness. Note that hit point and ability damage caused by an affliction cannot be healed while the affliction persists. 

Further Effects: After the initial effect, you wait the amount of time stated in the affliction’s Frequency before making a saving throw. If you make the save then you don’t take any further penalties, but you may still not be cured of the affliction. if you fail the saving throw then further nasty things happen to you. 

For most afflictions, a failed saving throw means you apply the initial effect again. This effect is cumulative. So if the initial effect was to lose 1d4 points of Con and you fail your saving throw, you lose another 1d4 points of Con. Some afflictions impose different effects after the first save is failed. This is noted in the description of the affliction where it is appropriate. 

Cure: This tells you how the affliction can be cured. Commonly, this is a number of saving throws that must be made consecutively. Remember that even if the affliction has a limited frequency, it may still be cured prematurely if enough saving throws are made. Hit point and ability damage is not recovered when an affliction is cured, and must be healed normally. Sometimes afflictions cannot be cured by saving throws. Characters keep making the saves to stave off the affliction’s effects, but the only way to heal themselves is through magic. 

Contagion: Some afflictions are contagious, and may pass onto other characters. The information here tells you how the affliction is transmitted, and what steps might be taken to avoid infection. 

Afflictions and the Heal skill: An ally can make a Heal check in place of your Saving Throw to help you recover from any affliction, except curses. You must be under the healer’s long term care to take advantage of this aid. See the text of the Heal skill for more information. 

Afflictions and Magic: All afflictions can be overcome by suitably powerful magic. Special spells apply to different afflictions. Neutralise Poison stops the progression of poisons. Remove Curse can free a character of a curse. Cure Disease purges a character of diseases. The various healing spells Cure Light Wounds, Cure Moderate Wounds, Cure Serious Wounds and Cure Critical Wounds can heal wounds as long as they are powerful enough. However, in all cases, the Spellcraft check of the spellcaster must overcome the DC of the Affliction or the affliction is not removed. In some cases (notably curses) other restrictions apply. For example, in order to remove lycanthropy, the original werecreature must be destroyed before Remove Curse can have any effect.

Curses

A drunken rogue walks up to the most powerful wizard in town and informs him that his mother had a predilection for sleeping with the dead. A curious hobbit doesn’t see the problem in breaking the seal on the lich-king’s ancient tomb, and relieving himself on the corpse. A reckless warrior poo-poos the stories that every wielder of the Sword of Kas has died in unspeakable ways because it surely can’t happen to him. 

There are many ways to get a curse. But once you’ve got one, there are fairly few ways to get rid of it. A Remove Curse spell certainly helps, but often your character needs to jump through some very specific hoops to undo the affliction that has befallen him. Sometimes, a means exists to remove the curse without resorting to magic, but these means are usually adventure-specific and would have to be researched. 

Curses cannot be cured by making successful saving throws. While some curses cause a progressive deterioration in the target, others inflict a static penalty from the moment they are contracted, neither fading nor growing worse with time. Saving throws are still made against curses of the former type to stave off their effects, but characters are simply delaying the inevitable at best. 

Unless otherwise stated, all curses are Supernatural effects. 

Curse of the Ages – Level 15 Curse (Ingested)
This curse is usually contracted by imbibing tainted water. Fountains of Youth have a habit of afflicting the unworthy with this curse.
Attack: +13 vs. Fortitude
Onset: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 23
Frequency: 1/day 

Initial Effect: You age one year. The result is a rapid and instantaneous growth of hair and fingernails, and a feeling of great weariness. 

Further Effects: With each failed saving throw, you repeat the initial effect. The older your character gets the more chance they have of suffering the usual debilitative effects of ageing. See the section on Races for more information. 

Cure: Remove Curse DC 23. 

Energy Drain – Level 5+ Curse (Contact)
Certain terrible monsters, usually undead beasties, have the supernatural power of energy drain. They tap into the deep and fetid necrotic energy of their shadowy home and use that energy to drain the life force of innocent axe-wielding adventurers. Being energy drained is not the same thing as taking necrotic damage. Necrotic damage eats away at your flesh with the power of entropy and decay. Energy drain flays your soul.
Attack: Varies vs. Fortitude
Onset: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC varies
Frequency: 1/day (some energy drain affects are permanent and do not allow saving throws) 

Initial Effect: You gain one or more negative levels. Each negative level imposes a cumulative -5 penalty to your maximum hit point total, and a cumulative -1 penalty on all defences, saving throws, skill checks and ability checks. You are also treated as one level lower for the purpose of level-dependent variables (such as spellcasting or certain talents) but you don’t lose access to any feats or talents, or the ability to cast high level spells, due to negative levels. A reduction in maximum hit points calls for a recalculation of your Bloodied Value. This reduction only affects your current hit points if your new maximum hit point total is less than your current hit points. If your total negative levels equals or exceeds your character level then you die. This death is always very painful, and often the prelude to something even worse: such as rising again as an undead creature. 

Further Effects: None. The effect does not worsen if you fail any of your Fortitude saving throws. However the effect of multiple energy drains stack. 

Cure: If saving throws are permitted then one successful saving throw will remove one negative level. It may take a very long time to heal in this manner from energy drain. A successful Remove Curse removes all temporary negative levels, or a number of permanent negative levels equal to the caster’s level. However, the caster must make a Spellcraft check against each negative level separately. If you have gained negative levels from multiple sources, then the levels with the lowest DC are removed first. 

Special: The Attack roll and the Saving Throw DC of energy drains are directly related to the power of the undead creature unleashing the attack. 

Mummy Rot – Level 8 Curse (Contact)
Delivered by the touch of a mummy, this deadly curse inflicts a horrible rotting disease that completely consumes the victim, turning him into dust.
Attack: +9 vs. Fortitude
Onset: 1 minute
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 19
Frequency: 1/day 

Initial Effect: You are gripped by a terrible hacking cough, and have the tendency to vomit up sand. Take 1d6 Con damage and 1d4 Cha damage, as your body begins to disintegrate. While suffering the effects of mummy rot you only regain half the normal number of hit points from healing effects. 

Further Effects: With each failed saving throw you take an additional 1d6 Con and 1d4 Cha damage. Once you are reduced to 0 Con, your body disintegrates. 

Cure: A successful Remove Curse (DC 19) and Remove Disease (DC 19) spell must be cast within one hour of each other to heal the victim. No number of successful saving throws will shake off this curse. 

Special: This is mummy rot as inflicted by a standard mummy of eighth level. The attack rolls and DCs of mummy rot inflicted by more powerful mummies will be considerably higher. 

Werewolf Lycanthropy – Level 8 Curse (Injury)
The bite of a werewolf engenders a startling metamorphosis in its victims. When the moon is full, those suffering from lycanthropy turn into a ravenous wolf that seeks out and kills those it loves the most.
Attack: +9 vs. Fortitude
Onset: The next full moon
Saving Throw: None
Frequency: On the night of every full moon. 

Initial Effect: After contracting lycanthropy you take on a number of bestial traits, such as a hairier body, keener sense of smell and predilection for very red meat. On the night of the full moon you transform into a wolf under the control of the GM. You change back at dawn with no memory of what happened while you were a wolf. 

Further Effects: The transformation into a wolf occurs at every full moon and cannot be stopped by conventional means. 

Cure: Eating belladonna within one hour of contracting lycanthropy will grant a single saving throw (DC 19) to throw off the disease. However, belladonna is a poison and you must suffer its effects. Otherwise, the lycanthrope that infected your character must be found and destroyed, then a successful Remove Curse (DC 19) must be cast upon you at the moment you transform into a wolf. 

Special: A character with this curse is an Afflicted Lycanthrope – i.e. they have no control over their transformation or the form they take. True lycanthropes have the ability to change form at any time, and may assume the shape of a powerful hybrid wolf-man. Characters with this curse may select special racial talents to allow them to take control of their new abilities and use them for good. This is lycanthropy as inflicted by a standard werewolf of eighth level. The attack rolls and DCs of lycanthropy inflicted by more powerful werewolves will be considerably higher.

Diseases

Diseases can be transmitted to characters in a variety of ways. Some must be ingested with contaminated food or drink, while the most virulent are communicated by simply touching a diseased person or item; or even inhaling corrupted air. The most common diseases in the game are those that attack through open wounds or cuts. These are often delivered by the foul claws of numerous unpleasant beasties or monsters. 

GMs should assume that diseases are of Mundane origin unless the text of the disease explicitly says otherwise. Some diseases are Magical or Supernatural. These tend to be the more virulent and deadly illnesses. 

Blinding Sickness – Level 9 Disease (Ingested)
Often spread in tainted water, blinding sickness is a scourge that can blight entire communities. It quickly leaves its victims sightless, and at the mercy of a dangerous world.
Attack: +10 vs. Fortitude
Onset: 1d3 days
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 20
Frequency: 1/day 

Initial Effect: The victim is weakened by the onset of the disease, taking 1d4 points of Strength damage. The victim’s eyesight also becomes rather cloudy. Take a -2 penalty on all sight dependent perception checks. 

Further Effects: Further failed saving throws do not inflict additional Strength damage, but the character’s eyesight continues to deteriorate.
First failed save: All creatures and objects beyond 25 ft of the victim have total concealment.
Second failed save: The character is blinded. Apply the blinded condition.
Third failed save: The blindness is permanent. Stop making saving throws. The disease can no longer be cured by natural means. 

Cure: Two consecutive successful saving throws, or an application of the Cure Disease spell (DC 20). 

Bubonic Plague – Level 4 Disease (Injury or Inhaled)
A rather nasty and potentially fatal disease spread by the bite of infected fleas and other small insects. Bubonic Plague is extremely contagious.
Attack: +6 vs. Fortitude
Onset: 1 day
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 16
Frequency: 1/day 

Initial Effect: The character develops a hacking cough, and swollen pus-filled buboes around their armpits, groin and neck. Take 1d4 Con damage and 1 Cha damage, and the character is considered to be permanently fatigued (q.v.). 

Further Effects: Each successive failed saving throw inflicts an additional 1d4 Con damage and 1 Cha damage, as the pustules spread and intensify. 

If three saving throws are failed, the disease moves to the character’s lungs. Such characters are now considered permanently Exhausted, and are even more contagious. Increase the contagion DC (see below) by +5. 

Cure: Two consecutive saving throws, or an application of the Cure Disease spell (DC 16). 

Contagion: Simply being in the proximity of a sufferer of bubonic plague increases a character’s chance of contracting the disease. Anyone who spends one hour or more each day in the presence of the afflicted must make a DC 11 Fortitude saving throw, or become infected themselves. The hour does not need to be continuous. This saving throw is in addition to the disease’s own attack roll, if the GM judges this to be appropriate. 

Cackle Fever – Level 12 Disease (Inhaled)
Also known as “the Shrieks”, symptoms of this horrid disease include high fever, disorientation and frequent bouts of hideous laughter.
Attack: +11 vs. Fortitude
Onset: 1 day
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 20
Frequency: 1/day 

Initial Effect: The disease takes hold in a character’s mind, clouding his judgement and reason. Such characters continually mutter to themselves, and may burst into bouts of hideous laughter for no discernible reason. Take 1d6 Wisdom damage. Every time the character is injured (takes hit point damage) he is automatically Dazed (q.v.) until the end his next turn. 

Further Effects: The effects of this disease grow progressively worse the more saving throws are failed:
First failed save: Take another 1d6 Wisdom damage. The target is now continuously Dazed. They find the most mundane things ridiculously hilarious.
Second failed save: The character takes no further Wisdom damage, but he now enters a catatonic state shifting between maniacal laughter, silent rocking and brief flashes of terrible lucidity. Treat the character as continuously Stunned.
Third failed save: The catatonic state is permanent. Stop making saving throws. The disease has runs its course, and cannot now be cured without magic. 

Cure: Two consecutive saving throws, or an application of the Cure Disease spell (DC 21). 

Cholera – Level 17 Disease (Ingested)
An extremely nasty and contagious disease spread through contaminated food or water. Cholera causes exhaustive diarrhoea and can be quickly fatal if not caught in time.
Attack: +15 vs. Fortitude
Onset: 1d12 hours
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 25
Frequency: 1/hour 

Initial Effect: Early indications of cholera are a number of surprising loose bowel movements. After the onset time has passed, this rapidly escalates from something inconvenient to something life-threatening. Suffers of cholera are fatigued and lose 1d2 points of Constitution. 

Further Effects: Characters remain fatigued throughout the life of the disease. Each failed saving throw results in the loss of a further 1d2 points of Constitution. 

Cure: Successful saving throws cannot cure cholera. The best they can do is put off the character’s messy death. A character who consumes significant fluids while under the affects of this disease can have a +2 circumstances bonus to their saving throw. A successful application of the Cure Disease spell (DC 25) will remove cholera from one person. 

The Clap – Level 4 Disease (Intercourse, Ingested)
A sexually transmitted disease that causes a painful swelling in the genital area, and can have more serious effects if left untreated – particularly in women.
Attack: +6 vs. Fortitude
Onset: 1d8 days
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 16
Frequency: 1/week 

Initial Effect: It is quite possible to have the Clap (aka gonorrhoea) and not even notice. Common initial symptoms are a yellowish discharge from the penis in men, or the vagina in women. The area may become slightly swollen, and both sexes can experience pain when urinating. 

Further Effects: The Clap worsens with failed saving throws:
First failed save: Take 1 point of constitution damage. The victim experiences a mild fever. The sexual organs turn red and begin to swell.
Second failed save: Take 1 point of constitution damage. Both sexes experience bouts of intense scrotal or uteral pain. Urinating is extremely painful, and sex out of the question. The inflammation intensifies.
Third failed save: Take 1 point of constitution damage. The fever becomes more pronounced. Sufferers at this stage are considered permanently Fatigued.
Fourth failed save: Take 1 point of constitution damage. The disease causes infertility.
Fifth and successive saves: The character takes a further 1 point of constitution damage. 

Cure: Two successful consecutive saving throws, or an application of the Cure Disease spell (DC 16). Consecutive successful saving throws will not reverse infertility if the disease has reached that stage. A Cure Disease spell will reverse the infertility if cast on a character currently suffering from the clap. 

Demon Fever Level 21 Disease (Injury)
You are gripped with a terrible burning fever that addles your mind and sears your skin. Demon Fever eventually consumes its victim from within in spectacular fashion.
Attack: +18 vs. Fortitude
Onset: 1 day
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 28
Frequency: 1/day 

Initial Effect: Your body temperature rises sharply, causing disorientation and significant damage to your body’s internal organs. Take 1d4 Int and 1d6 Con damage. 

Further Effects: With each failed saving throw you take another 1d4 Int and 1d6 Con damage. In addition, after your first failed save, you body begins to radiate a dangerous heat. Anyone touching your bare skin takes 1 point of Fire damage. Those suffering from Demon Fever may set fire to their clothes or the bed sheets at the GM’s discretion, and are usually kept in bath of water if possible. Demon Fever does not grant the victim any resistance to fire. 

The disease continues to run its course until your Con score is reduced to zero. At this point, your body spontaneously combusts, and burns away over the course of a few minutes. The fire cannot be doused by conventional means, and putting the fire out does not save the life of the victim. A victim consumed by Demon Fever leaves nothing but a foul-smelling ash behind them. 

Cure: Two consecutive saving throws or the application of a successful Cure Disease spell (DC 28). 

Special: Demon Fever is a Supernatural Disease. 

Devil Chills – Level 21 Disease (Injury)
The attack of certain devils or baatezu can infect a character with Devil Chills. This disease abruptly reduces the body’s temperature leading to bouts of uncontrollable shivering. Eventually it stops the victim’s heart.
Attack: +18 vs. Fortitude
Onset: 1d4 days
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 24
Frequency: 1/day and 1/hour (see below) 

Initial Effect: You suffer a sudden dip in your body’s core temperature. Take 1d4 Str and 1d4 Con damage. In addition, you need to be kept warm; sufferers from Devil Chills usually require thick coats and blankets even in the hottest weather. If a sufferer is not kept sufficiently warm they must make a Fortitude saving throw (DC 23) every hour, or suffer 1d6 points of subdual damage from the cold. This subdual damage cannot be healed normally while the disease continues to affect the character. 

Further Effects: Each failed daily saving throw inflicts a further 1d4 Str and 1d4 Con damage. This damage continues with each failed saving throw until the character’s Con score is reduced to zero, at which point the victim dies. Characters who die from Devil Chills are frozen from the inside out, and their body takes on a rigid and extremely brittle quality. 

Cure: Three consecutive successful daily saving throws, or the application of the Cure Disease spell (DC 28). 

Special: Devil Chills is a supernatural disease. 

Filth Fever – Level 3 Disease (Injury)
If you are subject to the fetid attacks of dire rats or otyughs, or you like poking about in sewers with open wounds, then you run the risk of catching filth fever.
Attack: +6 vs. Fortitude
Onset: 1d3 days
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 16
Frequency: 1/day 

Initial Effect: A wound inflicted with filth fever reddens and fills with a foul-smelling yellow pus. The presence of these wounds weaken the victim, inflicting 1d3 Dex and 1d3 Con damage. 

Further Effects: Most people recover from filth fever quickly, although it can prove fatal to the weak and the unfortunate.
First failed save: Lose another 1d3 Con and 1d3 Dex. You no longer regain hit points through natural healing. If you have a mundane form of fast healing or regeneration, then that stops working too. Magical healing still works normally on you.
Second failed save: Lose another 1d3 Con and 1d3 Dex.
Third failed save: Lose another 1d3 Con and 1d3 Dex. The disease has now run its course. If the disease hasn’t killed you already, then it won’t kill you now. You are free of the disease, and your ability scores begin to heal normally. 

Cure: Two consecutive successful saving throws, or an application of the Cure Disease spell (DC 16). 

Special: The potency of filth fever may be connected to the power of the creature that carries the disease. More virulent (higher level) versions of this disease are possible. 

Gangrene – Level 10 Disease (Injury)
Gangrene is a nasty necrotic disease characterised by the decay of body tissues. Affected areas usually turn black and become malodorous. Untreated wounds often become infected with gangrene.
Attack: +10 vs. Fortitude (normally not required)
Onset: Special
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 20
Frequency: 1/week 

Initial Effect: No attack roll is normally required for a character to become gangrenous. Usually it is the result of failing the saving throw associated with a particular wound. Once the saving throw is failed, the infected area becomes numb to the touch and begins to turn black and/or green. It also starts to smell. 

The presence of gangrene in a wound has the effect of weakening the whole body. Take a -2 penalty to all skill checks, defences and saving throws, and take 1d4 Constitution damage. This stacks with any penalty the character suffers from having the wound in the first place. 

Further Effects: Each failed saving throw imposed the initial effect again, and the effects stack. For example, a character who had failed three saving throws would be at a -6 penalty to skill checks, defences and saving throws, and have taken 3d4 Constitution damage. 

Each failed saving throw also allows the gangrene to spread. One failed save is enough for the gangrene to consume a hand or foot, two failed saves for it to consume a limb, three saves for it to spread beyond the limb. If an entire limb has gangrene then that limb cannot be used. Treat it as if it were a broken arm, or a broken leg. 

Cure: Successful saving throws cannot cure gangrene, they can only slow its advance. Gangrene can be halted by cutting off the infected areas (if possible), or by the application of the Cure Disease spell (DC 20). 

Heatstroke – Level 5 Disease
Any prolonged exposure to intensely warm environments can befuddle the mind and cause you to fall unconscious.
Attack: +7 vs. Fortitude
Onset: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 17
Frequency: 1/hour 

Initial Effect: Your skin turns red and becomes hot and dry to the touch. Your lips swell. Dehydration makes you a little nauseous. Gain the sickened condition. 

Further Effects: While not fatal in and of itself, Heatstroke can leave a character helpless and at the mercy of an unforgiving environment. Further failed saving throws impose the following cumulative effects:
First failed save: You faint. You fall to the ground and are prone and helpless. You remain unconscious for about ten minutes, or until revived by your companions. From now on every time you engage in extreme physical activity (fighting, running, climbing, jumping) you must make a DC 17 Fortitude save or faint.
Second failed save: You are permanently under the effect of the Confused condition.
Third failed save: You fall unconscious. You will not wake up of you own volition. 

Cure: Characters making an effort to drink lots of fluids and protect their head with a sensible hat gain a +2 circumstances bonus to their Fortitude Defence and saving throws to resist the effects of Heatstroke. 

If the character can reach the shade and drink lots of fluids then the effects of Heatstroke will fade. The character still has to make saving throws for 1d2 hours. After that, it takes one hours for the effects of Heatstroke to be reversed. Another character with the Heal skill can make a check at DC 17 to accelerate the cooling process. In this case no further saves are required, and the sufferer recovers in one hour. 

Alternatively, the effects can be removed by a Cure Disease spell (DC 17) or Heal (DC 17) 

Hypothermia – Level 9 Disease
Hypothermia comes about through the cooling of the body’s core temperature, and is usually caused by exposure to extremely cold environments for an extended period of time. Victims suffer numbness, shivering, amnesia and death.
Attack: +10 vs. Fortitude
Onset: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 20
Frequency: 1/hour 

Initial Effect: You start shivering uncontrollably, and have trouble performing complex tasks with your hands. Take a -2 penalty to Sleight of Hand checks and all attack rolls. Your vision is also affected imposing a -2 penalty to sight-based Perception checks. 

Further Effects: If left untreated, hypothermia can be very deadly, very quickly. Further failed saving throws impose the following effects:
First failed save: You become pale, and your extremities turn blue. The penalty to skill checks increases to -5. Your shivering is much more pronounced. Reduce you speed to 10 feet per round. You are mildly confused. Every time you roll Wisdom or Intelligence based skill, roll twice and take the lower result.
Second failed save: Skin becomes blue and puffy, muscle coordination disappears. You fall to the ground and can no longer walk, although you can crawl. You are permanently under the effect of the Confused condition.
Third failed save: You die. 

Cure: The effects will reverse themselves if you can get into a Warm environment (16°C to 32°C). Details of different types of environment are found in the section on Adventuring. However, even if you find such a refuge, you body warms up slowly. You continue to suffer the effects of hypothermia for 1d4 hours after getting somewhere warm. It then takes another hour to return to normal. 

Another character with the Heal skill can make a DC 20 check to accelerate the warming process. If this check is successful, you stop suffering the effects of hypothermia in one hour and do not need to make any further saving throws. 

Alternatively, the effects can be removed by a Cure Disease spell (DC 20) or Heal (DC 20). 

Leprosy – Level 1 Disease (Inhaled, Contact or Injury)
Leprosy is a debilitative disease that stays with a character for a considerable amount of time. Victims of this disease see their skin covered in unpleasant and ugly growths, and begin to lose their sense of touch.
Attack: +5 vs. Fortitude
Onset: 2d4 weeks
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 15; DC 20 to avoid effects
Frequency: 1/week 

Initial Effect: Your skin becomes covered in lesions, that begin to calcify and spread. Areas of the face, arms and legs are particularly vulnerable. These growths can be large, but are of little physical hindrance. However, leprosy carries a significant social stigma, and lepers are not often welcome in many societies. 

Further Effects: Staving off leprosy is fairly easy. Most character will resist the effects of the disease. However, once you’ve got it, it is very difficult to shake off. Its further effects can also be particularly nasty:
First failed save: You experience a feeling of numbness in your hands and feet and other extremities. Take 1d2 Dex damage as you find it hard to finely manipulate objects. Also take 1d2 Cha damage as the lesions become more prevalent.
Second failed save: The numbness spreads to other body parts. Lose a further 1d6 Dex.
Third failed save: Select a body extremity at random. That part of your body gains a Wound (see Wounds below). Any penalties associated with that wound are suffered in addition to the penalties of this disease.
Fourth failed save: The body extremity you previously selected shrivels and drops off. Choose another body extremity, and apply a wound to that one.
Fifth failed save: The most recently chosen extremity drops off, and you place a Wound on another random extremity. Continue this process with each successive failed saving throw until the victim runs out of body parts. 

Cure: Two successful consecutive saving throws will remove leprosy and allow ability damage to heal, but will not cure the skin lesions and growths. You carry those for the rest of your life. Once you have had leprosy once, it may recur at any time. This is left to the discretion of the GM. A successful Cure Disease spell (DC 15) cures the disease, removes all the lesions and prevents the disease from reoccurring of its own accord. 

Contagion: If you have leprosy then anyone touching you must make a DC 10 Fortitude saving throw or also contract the disease. This is in addition to the disease’s attack roll, if the GM judges this to be appropriate. 

Mindfire – Level 16 Disease (Inhaled)
A virulent disease that attacks the brain. Victims of mindfire complain of intense headaches that cloud their thinking, and limit their reasoning power. As the disease runs its course they fall into a stupor.
Attack: +14 vs. Fortitude
Onset: 1 hour
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 24
Frequency: 1/day 

Initial Effect: You develop a paralysing headache that feels as though someone is trying to tunnel into your head with a blunt spoon. Take 1d4 points of Intelligence damage. 

Further Effects: Every failed saving throw inflicts a further 1d4 points of Intelligence damage. Additionally, after a character fails his first saving throw he is considered permanently Dazed until the disease is cured. 

Cure: Two consecutive saving throws or the application of a Cure Disease spell (DC 24). 

Rabies – Level 18 Disease (Injury)
Transmitted by the bite of an infected animal, rabies creates a terrible brain fever in its victim resulting in fitting, madness and death.
Attack: +15 vs. Fortitude
Onset: 2d6 weeks
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 25
Frequency: 1/day 

Initial Effect: The victim experiences a slightly elevated body temperature during the onset time of the disease. Once the disease takes hold, its effects are swift and deadly. Characters enter a state of delirium and are considered permanently Dazed. In addition, they take 1d4 constitution damage. 

Further Effects: Failed saving throws worsen the condition:
First failed save: Take a further 1d4 constitution damage. The character’s throat is paralysed preventing the character from eating and drinking and making anything but the most guttural sounds. Take 1d6 points of Wisdom damage as your reason is impaired.
Second failed save: Take a further 1d6 constitution damage and 1d6 wisdom damage. The character is prone to violent fitting, scratching and biting. As the rabies virus is concentrated in the character’s saliva, this can lead to the disease being passed onto others. The character is considered permanently Dazed and Confused.
Third and successive failed saves: Take a further 1d8 constitution damage. 

Cure: Two consecutive successful saving throws, or an application of the Cure Disease spell (DC 25). 

Red Ache – Level 10 Disease (Injury)
A nasty disease that causes areas of the body to become red and inflamed. Sufferers experience extreme muscle pain, and find it increasingly difficult to move. Red Ache is a form of blood poisoning caused by dead or undead matter coming in contact with an open wound.
Attack: +10 vs. Fortitude
Onset: 1d3 days
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 20
Frequency: 1/day 

Initial Effect: The area around the wound becomes inflamed and painful to the touch. You begin to experience discomfort in your joints, and feel weaker than before. Take 1d4 Strength damage, and reduce your Speed by 5 feet. 

Further Effects: Red ache worsens over time, and can be fatal to the weak:
First failed save: Take another 1d4 Strength damage and reduce your speed by another 5 feet. You may no longer run, hustle or charge.
Second failed save: Take another 1d4 Strength damage and your speed is reduced to 5 feet. You are considered permanently Fatigued.
Third failed save: Take a further 1d4 Strength damage, and you are considered permanently Exhausted. Red Ache doesn’t get any worse than this. Unless your Strength has been reduced to zero, continue to make saving throws until the disease is cured. 

Cure: Two consecutive successful saving throws, or an application of the Cure Disease spell (DC 20). 

The Shakes – Level 14 Disease (Contact)
Spread by physical contact with the diseased, the Shakes causes involuntary twitches and tremors that grow progressively worse.
Attack: +13 vs. Fortitude
Onset: 1 day
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 23
Frequency: 1/day 

Initial Effect: The victim’s body is gripped with a debilitating palsy. Take a -2 penalty on all physical skills (those governed by Str, Dex or Con), as well as any Spellcraft checks to cast spells with a somatic component. Also reduce your speed by 5 feet. 

Further Effects: The more saving throws you fail, the worse the disease gets, as the palsy inhibits more and more actions.
First failed save: Take 1d8 Dex damage, and increase skill penalty from -2 to -5. This doubly penalises Dexterity-based skills. Reduce Speed by another 5 feet.
Second failed save: Take a further 1d8 Dex damage. Your character is almost immobilised by the shakes. Reduce Speed to 5 feet, and you cannot run, hustle or charge.
Third and successive failed saves: Take a further 1d8 Dex damage. 

Cure: Two consecutive successful saving throws, or application of a Cure Disease spell (DC 23). 

Slimy Doom – Level 23 Disease (Contact)
Abyssal parasites liquefy your internal organs, turning you into a pile of infectious goo.
Attack: +19 vs. Fortitude
Onset: 1 day
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 29
Frequency: 1/day 

Initial Effect: Characters exposed to Slimy Doom feel its presence almost immediately. Even before the onset time has elapsed they feel a terrible sickness in the pit of their stomach, will shy away from food and may experience uncontrollable vomiting and diarrhoea. Then the fun begins. 

Take 1d6 Con damage. This represents damage to your internal organs, and is not easily repaired. In addition you reduce your Maximum Hit Point total by 10. If you are reduced to zero hit points by any means then you must immediately make a DC 24 Fortitude saving throw or erupt in a spray of hideous goo, dying instantly and infecting everyone in a ten foot radius with the disease. 

Further Effects: Each successive failed saving throw inflicts a further 1d6 Con damage, and reduces you Maximum Hit Point Total by another 10. If your Con or your Maximum Hit Points are reduced to zero you are immediately consumed by the disease and transform into a quivering heap of infectious goo. 

Cure: Two consecutive successful saving throws will shake off the disease, but the Con damage is permanent and will not heal naturally. Successful Cure Disease (DC 29) and Regenerate (DC 29) spells cast within one hour of each other are required to cure the disease, and allow the ability damage to heal naturally. 

Contagion: Those carrying Slimy Doom are not infectious until the goo manifests itself – either from their Con being reduced to zero, or from exploding messily when reduced to zero hit points or less. Anyone who comes into contact with the goo in these circumstances must make a DC 29 Fortitude saving throw or succumb to the infection. 

Special: Slimy Doom is a supernatural disease. 

Typhoid Fever – Level 17 Disease (Ingested)
A common disease in areas of high population, typhoid is transmitted by consuming food or water contaminated with the faeces of the infected. It is characterised by a high fever, and is often fatal.
Attack: +15 vs. Fortitude
Onset: 1 week
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 25
Frequency: 1/day 

Initial Effect: The character’s temperature slowly rises over the week long onset time. At the end of this week the temperature is dangerously high and cannot be reduced by conventional means. Characters are dizzy and disorientated, and are considered to have the Dazed condition. Characters are also prone to nosebleeds and diarrhoea. 

Further Effects: The progression of the disease is swift, and potentially fatal.
First failed save: Rose spots appear on the chest of the victim, and the character is frequently gripped with bouts of delirium. Every time the character is placed in a stressful situation, and every time the character rolls for initiative, the GM can call for a Fortitude saving throw at DC 25. Failure means the character is Stunned for 10 minutes
Second failed save: The character suffers internal bleeding. Take 1d6 points of Constitution damage. Sufferers are still prone to bouts of delirium at this stage, although the bouts now last for one hour.
Third and successive failed saves: The delirium continues, and the character takes a further 1d6 constitution damage with each failed saving throw. 

Cure: Two consecutive successful saving throws, or an application of the Cure Disease spell (DC 25). 

Typhus Fever – Level 15 Disease (Injury)
A disease spread by lice, typhus causes dramatic swings in body temperature, rashes, delirium and possible death.
Attack: +14 vs. Fortitude
Onset: 1 day
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 24
Frequency: 1/day 

Initial Effect: Victims suffer a severe headache, joint pain and sensitivity to light. They may also develop a red rash on their chest and shoulders. Victims also experience bouts of severe nausea and vomiting. Take 1d2 Constitution damage and permanently gain the Dazzled condition. 

Further Effects: The disease worsens with successive failed saving throws. All effects are cumulative:
First failed save: The character’s body temperature oscillates from extreme fever to dangerous chills. The character also gains the Dazed condition, and takes another 1d4 constitution damage.
Second and successive failed saves: The character continues to experience nausea, vomiting, fever and pain. They retain the Dazzled and Dazed conditions and take a further 1d4 constitution damage with each failed save. 

Cure: Two consecutive successful saving throws, or an application of the Cure Disease spell (DC 24).

Poison

The bite of a monstrous spider, the subtle sprinkling of arsenic on an enemy’s food, or the powerful laxative concealed in the dwarf’s flagon of ale… poisons are all around you. Although extremely dangerous, few poisons result in instant death. Many work their debilitating mojo over a number of rounds, minutes or hours, giving characters enough time to fumble for an antidote, or enjoy the last day of their lives in excruciating agony. 

Injury poisons are usually contracted through attacks by poisoned weapons or venomous creatures. Contact poisons can also be spread on weapons, and act just like injury poisons. See the section on Poisoning a Weapon (q.v.) above for more information. 

When not applied to a weapon, contact poisons can be liberally spread over a particular area. They are contracted when someone touches that area with their bare skin, and won’t normally penetrate clothing. Contact poisons often take the form of fine powders that are otherwise undetectable. 

Ingested poisons are contracted when a creature eats or drinks the poison. It usually takes about 10 minutes for the effects of an ingested poison to become apparent, which is usually enough time to poison your enemy and then get a head start on his vengeance-fuelled friends and family. 

Inhaled poisons usually appear in the form of poisoned gas, and one dose of the poison will fill an area equal to a cube, ten feet to a side. Every round that you remain within the area of a poison gas, the poison will make an attack roll against you at the beginning of your turn. Creatures can attempt to hold their breath to avoid the effects of an inhaled poison, as long as they know the poison is present. The standard rules for holding one’s breath (see the Environment section or the Athletics skill) apply. If you hold your breath you gain a +5 bonus to your defence to avoid the effects of the poison. If you are holding your breath for an extended period, and eventually fail an Athletics check, then you don’t suffocate. Instead you start breathing normally (and therefore inhale the poison). 

Stacking the effects of poisons: Multiple attacks with the same poison has little additional effect. Sprinkling two doses of a contact poison such as lich dust over your archenemy’s breakfast bagel does not kill your foe more quickly. The saving throw DC as well as other deleterious conditions are unchanged. The only way in which repeated doses of the same poison stack are in terms of duration. 

Every time a character is affected by a poison, the duration of the poison is reset. For example, blackadder venom is an injury poison that calls for a saving throw once per round for six rounds. If a character, who has been bitten by a blackadder and has been making saving throws for the last five rounds, is suddenly bitten by another blackadder then the duration of the poison’s effect is reset. The poor unfortunate has to carry on making saving throws for another six rounds: a total of eleven rounds in this case. 

If in combat against a creature with a poisonous bite, or foes with poisoned weapons, then the duration of the poison could be reset every round as a result of successful attacks. A character within a cloud of poison gas, such as burnt othur fumes would be attacked by the poison every round that they remained inside the area of the gas, in addition to any saving throws they would be making. 

Of course, more virulent versions of the poisons in the following list may exist. Herbalists and alchemists may find ways to concentrate poisons to increase the DC of their effects. It is up to the GM to decide if such things are possible; but that GM must remember that a concentrated poison is not the same thing as being exposed to the same poison multiple times.  

Arsenic – Level 5 Poison (Ingested)
A light grey powder commonly concealed within food. The symptoms of arsenic poisoning is often mistaken for cholera, making it an ideal choice for the discerning assassin.
Attack: +7 vs. Fortitude
Onset: 10 minutes
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 17
Frequency: 1/day for four days 

Initial Effect: The victim suffers violent and unexpected stomach pains, particularly in the region of the bowel. They are prone to fits of retching, and often vomit up green or yellow discharges streaked with blood. There is a hoarseness to the throat and the victim has difficulty speaking. Lose 1d2 Con, and gain the Sickened condition. 

Further Effects: The poison remains in a victim’s system for up to four days before being purged by the body. During that time, things get progressively worse:
First failed save: Lose further 1d2 Con. The victim becomes clammy and prone to cold sweats. Thundering and persistent diarrhoea sets in.
Second failed save: Intense headaches, confusion and delirium afflict the victim. Lose a further 1d2 Con. Gain the Confused condition
Third and successive failed saves: Lose 1d2 Con. 

Cure: Two successful consecutive saving throws, or an application of Neutralise Poison (DC 17). Because arsenic is very hard to detect, poisoners often continue administering it to their victims, thus extending the duration of the poison well beyond four days. 

Belladonna – Level 5 Poison (Ingested)
A highly toxic short, woody plant. Ingesting the leaves or berries of belladonna is extremely dangerous, although for those willing to risk it, there are certain fringe benefits.
Attack: +7 vs. Fortitude
Onset: 10 minutes
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 17
Frequency: 1 minute for six minutes 

Initial Effect: The victim suffers from a severe headache, sensitivity to bright light and a loss of equilibrium. A dry mouth and throat, and a nasty rash are also common symptoms. Gain the dazzled condition and lose 1d2 points of dexterity. 

Further Effects: If untreated, belladonna poisoning can be fatal – especially in the weak or in children:
First failed save: Lose 1d4 Con and a further 1d2 Dex. You take an additional -5 penalty to all Dexterity based skills.
Second failed save: Lose 1d6 Con. The poison reaches your vision. All creatures beyond five feet are considered to have concealment against the victim.
Third failed save: The victim dies. 

Cure: One successful saving throw is enough to shake off belladonna poisoning. A Neutralise Poison (DC 17) will also prove effective. 

Special: Belladonna allows someone who has contracted the curse of lycanthropy within the last hour to make a saving throw to shake off the curse. The DC of the saving throw is set by the werecreature.

Blackadder Venom – Level 2 Poison (Injury)
The blackadder is a venomous snake common in temperate woodland and meadows. Although not aggressive to humanoids, it will bite if disturbed or trodden upon.
Attack: +5 vs. Fortitude
Onset: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 15
Frequency: 1/round for six rounds 

Initial Effect: The wound burns like fire, and immediately begins to weaken the snake’s prey. Lose 1d3 points of Constitution. 

Further Effects: With each failed saving throw the target loses an additional 1d3 points of Constitution.
Cure: One saving throw will shake off the effects of the venom, as will the application of a Neutralise Poison spell (DC 15). 

Black Lotus Extract – Poison Level 15 (Contact)
A fine grey powder derived from the black lotus: a high-stemmed plant, with a star-shaped head made of numerous black petals.
Attack: +14 vs. Fortitude
Onset: 1 minute
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 24
Frequency: 1/round for six rounds

Initial Effect: The extract of the black lotus attacks the body and the mind of its victim. Take 1d6 Con damage. In addition the victim is gripped with a severe form of paranoia: a belief that everyone means to kill him. The victim must use his actions each round to attack the nearest person to him. The victim uses all the means at his disposal  – including the use of special talents, spells and magical items – to end the life whomever is to hand.

Further Effects: The mania continues until the conditions of the cure are met. In addition the target takes a further 1d6 Con damage each time they fail a saving throw. Magical or Supernatural effects that can modify a target’s attitude from Hostile to Unfriendly or better will have an effect on mitigating the mania. They will not prevent the poison from potentially killing its victim.

Cure: Two consecutive saving throws, or a Neutralise Poison spell (DC 24). 

Blood of Zehir – Poison Level 30 (Injury)
Beware dread Zehir. Father of the Yuan-ti. Patron of darkness, assassins and poison. A few drops of his blood, collected by way of the foulest of rituals, is said to have the potency to lay low a god.
Attack: +23 vs. Fortitude
Onset: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 33
Frequency: 1/round for six rounds

Initial Effect: The unfortunate victim of this poison is instantly paralysed (gains the Paralysed condition). This paralysed state remains until poison is cured. In addition the victim takes 1d6 Con damage.

Further Effects: Every successive round the victim takes 1d6 Con damage regardless of whether the saving throw is successful or not.

Cure: Three successful consecutive saving throws, or the application of a successful Neutralise Poison spell (DC 33). 

Bloodroot – Level 1 Poison (Injury)
A thick paste made from the boiled and mashed tubers of the scarlet-leafed Paraskyus bush. The mixture has a mildly debilitating and hallucinogenic effect.
Attack: +5 vs. Fortitude
Onset: 1 round
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 15
Frequency: 1/round for four rounds.

Initial Effect: The wound grows quickly inflamed and starts to itch. Take 1 point of Constitution damage, and 1 point of Wisdom damage.

Further Effects: With each failed saving throw you lose another 1 point of Con, and 1 point of Wis. In addition, every time you fail a Fortitude saving throw against the effects of this poison, you must immediately also roll a Will saving throw against DC 10. If you fail, then you lose your Standard action on your next turn as you do battle with your hallucinations.

Cure: One successful saving throw will fight off a dose of Bloodroot. The application of Neutralise Poison (DC 15) will also do the trick. 

Blue Whinnis – Level 6 Poison (Injury)
A blue paste derived from crushing the heads of the blue whinnis – a long stemmed orchid. The scent of the flowers creates a mild soporific effect that is magnified in the finished poison.
Attack: +7 vs. Fortitude
Onset: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 17
Frequency: 1/round for 2 rounds

Initial Effect: Take 1 point of constitution damage.

Further Effects: With your first failed saving throw you fall unconscious for 1d3 hours. You no longer need to make saving throws.

Cure: One successful saving throw ends the effects of blue whinnis. A Neutralise Poison spell (DC 17) works too, and will revive an unconscious character.

Burnt Othur Fumes – Level 10 Poison (Inhaled)
A foul grey powder made from gravedust and exotic spices. When burned it generates a surprising quantity of fetid fumes that weaken and debilitate those who inhale them.
Attack: +10 vs. Fortitude
Onset: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 20
Frequency: 1/round for six rounds

Initial Effect: The fumes of burnt othur attack the respiratory systems of air breathing creatures. Victims who inhale the poison are immediately Slowed, and take 1 point of Strength damage as they are further weakened.

Further Effects: Each successive failed saving throw inflicts 1d4 points of further Strength damage. The victim remains Slowed until the poison is cured.

Cure: Two consecutive saving throws, or a Neutralise Poison spell against DC 20. 

Centipede Poison – Level 1 Poison (Injury)
A trained alchemist can crush a number of poisonous centipedes in a manner that produces a sticky clear residue. This poison can then be applied to weapons.
Attack: +5 vs. Fortitude
Onset: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 15
Frequency: 1/round for four rounds

Initial Effect: The poison induces immediate and debilitating illness. Targets gain the Sickened condition.

Further Effects: The sickened condition persists until the poison is cured. If the victim fails three saving throws (they do not need to be consecutive) then the victim stops making saving throws. They have had an adverse reaction to the poison and are now Nauseated for the next 24 hours. Magic can still cause this effect normally.

Cure: One successful saving throw, or a Neutralise Poison spell at DC 15.

Special: The following statistics assume centipedes of a certain size or type. Centipede poison made from larger or more virulent creatures may be a higher level, and more difficult to resist.

Carrion Crawler Brain Juice – Level 5 Poison (Contact)
Crack open the head of a dead carrion crawler and drain its bright green cerebrospinal fluid. A drop of dangerous liquid can paralyse its foes.
Attack: +7 vs. Fortitude
Onset: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 17
Frequency: 1/round for ten rounds

Initial Effect: The shock of touching the vile substance instantly Stuns a victims. The drop what they holding, cannot take any actions and grant combat advantage to their foes.

Further Effects: If the target fails his first saving throw then he is Paralysed. A successful saving throw allows the target to shake off the stunned condition. But the target keeps making saving throws until the duration of the poison expires (ten rounds). In this case one failed save renders the target Stunned, and a second failed save renders the target Paralysed.  As soon as the target is Paralysed, stop making saving throws. At this point the target cannot recover before the duration of the poison expires without magical intervention.

Cure: Successful saving throws put off the effects of this poison, but you must keep making saving throws until the duration expires. The only way to prematurely end the need to make saves is to have a Neutralise Poison (DC 17) cast upon the target. 

Dark Reaver Powder – Level 10 Poison (Ingested)
The dark reaver is a chitinous little beastie native to the Shadowfell. A cremated dark reaver leaves behind a dangerous necrotic residue that the unscrupulous can add to the food and drink of their enemies.
Attack: +10 vs. Fortitude
Onset: 10 minutes
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 20
Frequency: 1/minute for six minutes

Initial Effect: The poison attacks the targets internal organs with necrotic energy. The whites of the victim’s eyes turn jet black, and the foul smell of putrefaction emanates from every orifice. The target takes 1d10 points of necrotic damage, and loses 1d3 points of Constitution.

Further Effects: With each failed saving throw, the target takes an additional 1d10 necrotic damage, and loses another 1d3 points of Constitution.

Cure: Two consecutive successful savings throws, or an application of Neutralise Poison (DC 20). 

Deathblade – Level 12 Poison (Injury)
An alchemical poison specifically developed for the discerning assassin. Deathblade is probably the most common injury poison to be found on the black market.
Attack: +11 vs. Fortitude
Onset: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 21
Frequency: 1/round for six rounds

Initial Effect: Deathblade is a poison that is designed to incapacitate quickly. It stops the voice and then it stops the heart. The poison paralyses the vocal chords. Victims affect by deathblade cannot speak, shout or cast spells that have a verbal component.

Further Effects: With each failed saving throw, the victim takes 1d6 points of Constitution damage.

Cure: Two consecutive saving throws will halt the advance of this poison and return the ability to speak to the target. A Neutralise Poison spell (DC 21) is also effective. 

Deathjump Spider Venom – Level 5 Poison (Injury)
The venom of a feral hunting spider that uses speed rather than cunning to capture its victims. The venom disorientates its victims, making them easier prey.
Attack: +7 vs. Fortitude
Onset: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 17
Frequency: 1/round for 4 rounds.

Initial Effect: The target is Slowed and grants combat advantage to its enemies.

Further Effects: Each successive failed saving throw inflicts 1d2 Strength damage to the target.

Cure: One saving throw, or Neutralise Poison (DC 17).

Demonweb Terror Venom – Level 14 Poison (Injury)
The Demonweb Terror is a massive extraplanar arachnid renowned for its virulent poison. The substance bottled and sold in by shady businessmen and peddlers, may or may not originate from the beast.
Attack: +13 vs. Fortitude
Onset: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 23
Frequency: 1/round for four rounds
Initial Effect: This poison has a weakening and eventually paralytic effect on the victim. Victims suffer 1d6 Strength damage when attacked.

Further Effects: Each successive failed saving throw inflicts a further 1d6 Strength damage. A character reduced to 0 Strength is Paralysed.

Cure: One saving throw, or a Neutralise Poison (DC 23). 

Dragon Bile – Level 25 Poison (Contact)
Dragons are renowned for eating all manner of things including precious metals and ores. Their bile is one of the most disgusting and potent substances an adventurer can come into contact with. Bottled dragon bile just seems wrong.
Attack: +20 vs. Fortitude
Onset: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 30
Frequency: 1/round for six rounds

Initial Effect: The target is Sickened. In addition, take 1d4 damage to your Constitution score.

Further Effects: Take a further 1d4 Con damage each time a saving throw is failed.

Cure: Two consecutive saving throws, or an application of the Neutralise Poison spell (DC 30). 

Drow Poison – Level 10 Poison (Injury)
Distilled from demonic ichor in the temples of Lolth, this poison is the drow’s favourite means of acquiring new slaves.
Attack: +10 vs. Fortitude
Onset: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 20
Frequency: 1/round for six rounds

Initial Effect: A target hit by drow poison is automatically dazed. They drop whatever they are holding and cannot take any actions.

Further Effects: The target remains dazed for the duration of the poison’s effect (or until cured). One failed saving throw renders the target Stunned. Two failed saving throws renders the target unconscious for 1d3 hours.

Cure: Two consecutive saving throws will shake off the effects of the poison. A Neutralise Poison (DC 20) also works. 

Giant Wasp – Poison Level 10 Poison (Injury)
The sting of a giant wasp can be removed, and the poison glands harvested. The poison within is often preserved and sold on the black market.
Attack: +10 vs. Fortitude
Onset: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 20
Frequency: 1/round for 6 rounds

Initial Effect: The target is Sickened and takes 1d2 points of Dexterity damage.

Further Effects: The sickened condition remains until the end of the poison’s duration, or until the poison is cured. Each failed saving throw inflicts an additional 1d2 points of Dex damage. If you fail three saving throws then you gain the Nauseated condition until the duration of the poison expires or until it is cured.

Cure: One saving throw, or Neutralise Poison (DC 20). 

Greenblood Oil – Level 7 Poison (Contact)
A painful poison derived from the secretions of certain lizards, toads and salamanders. Although seldom fatal greenblood oil can produce some very interesting hallucinations.
Attack: +8 vs. Fortitude
Onset: 10 minutes
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 18
Frequency: 1/minute for ten minutes

Initial Effect: Take 1d2 points of Con damage, as the poison weakens your metabolism. Victims then trip out, enjoying the technicolour spectacle of kaleidoscopic images, pole-dancing elephants and flying llamas. Victims are considered Confused, except they never attack anyone. If they are attacked, then characters affected by greenblood oil flee as documented in the description of the Confused condition.

Further Effects: Each failed saving throw is simply a missed opportunity to shake off the effects of the poison. The target remains in blissful state, and does not take any further Con damage.

Cure: One saving throw will negate the effects of the greenblood oil. However, after the high comes the low. Characters who shake off the effects of the oil, or wait until it runs its course, are automatically Shaken for one hour. A Neutralise Poison spell (DC 18) negates the effects of the oil, and eliminates the Shaken condition. 

Ground Thassil Root – Level 5 Poison (Ingested)
A flavourless blue powder derived from the roots of the common thassil bush.
Attack: +7 vs. Fortitude
Onset: 1 minute
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 17
Frequency: 1/round for six rounds

Initial Effect: The poison has a strangely soporific effect on the victim. Speech becomes slurred, and vision a little blurry. The victim is Slowed.

Further Effects: The victim remains slowed for the duration of the poison (or until cured). However, further failed saving throws make the situation worse. After the first failed save, the target is Paralysed. After the second failed save, the target falls Unconscious for 1d4 hours. No further saving throws are possible at this point.

Cure: Two consecutive saving throws, or the application of a Neutralise Poison spell (DC 17). 

Hemlock – Level 10 Poison (Ingested)
A highly poisonous herbaceous perennial, hemlock can grow up to eight feet in height. It sports a smooth green stem that is usually streaked with red or purple. The triangular leaves are fine and lace-like. It flowers every two years, producing small white flowers.
Attack: +10 vs. Fortitude
Onset: 10 minutes
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 20
Frequency: 1/minute for six minutes

Initial Effect: Ground hemlock sprinkled over food, or added to drinks, paralyses the lungs and causes its victims to suffocate. Those infected with the poison are initially gripped with a shortness of breath, although this rapidly worsens. Those suffering from hemlock poisoning are initially Fatigued.

Further Effects: After the first failed saving throw, characters gain the Exhausted condition. On the third failed saving throw, the airways close and the victim starts to suffocate. Stop making saving throws at this point. Only magical intervention can save a character now.

Characters can hold your breath for a number of rounds equal to your Constitution score, but only they do nothing other than take move actions or free actions. If they take a standard action, the remainder of the duration for which you can hold your breath is reduced by 1 round. After the period of time the target you can hold his breath has elapsed, he must make a DC 10 Constitution check (or a DC 10 Athletics check) to continue holding his breath. Each round, the DC for that check increases by 1. If the check is failed, the target automatically drops to zero hit points and must start making death saving throws.

Cure: Two consecutive saving throws, or the application of a Neutralise Poison spell (DC 20). 

Id Moss – Level 8 Poison (Ingested)
A naturally occurring psionic plant found in the deeper reaches of the underdark. Id moss defends itself from predators by confusing and stupefying those that try to eat it. Enterprising poison-smiths sell id moss as a ingested poison.
Attack: +9 vs. Fortitude
Onset: 10 minutes
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 19
Frequency: 1/minute for six minutes

Initial Effect: A victim who consumes id moss instantly becomes rather woolly-headed as their short term memory and concentration is deleteriously affected. Take 1d4 points of Intelligence damage.

Further Effects: With each failed saving throw, the target takes an addition 1 point of Intelligence damage. Spellcasters also lose access to the highest level of spells they can cast every time the saving throw is failed. This is cumulative. Lost access to spells returns after six minutes, although Intelligence points return normally.

Cure: One saving throw, or an application of the Neutralise Poison spell (DC 19). 

Insanity Mist – Level 11 Poison (Inhaled)
A cloyingly sweet yellow mist created by the boiling of choice body parts from a variety of aberrations, including aboleth, tsochar and illithids.
Attack: +11 vs. Fortitude
Onset: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 21
Frequency: 1/round for six rounds

Initial Effect: Characters in the grip of the insanity mist gain the Confused condition and take 1d3 points of Wisdom damage.

Further Effects: The Confused condition persists for as long as the poison’s duration, or until the poisoned is cured. Each successive failed saving throw inflicts a further 1d3 Wisdom damage.

Cure: Two consecutive successful saving throws, or the application of a Neutralise Poison spell (DC 21). 

King’s Sleep – Level 15 Poison (Ingested)
A more potent and less obvious form of arsenic, created in the alchemical sweatshops of Hadras. King’s Sleep is a popular poison for subtle assassinations, and is almost undetectable.
Attack: +14 vs. Fortitude
Onset: One day
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 24
Frequency: 1/day

Initial Effect: The target takes 1 point of Constitution damage and is Sickened.

Further Effects: With each successive failed saving throw, the target takes another 1 point of Constitution damage. The target remains Sickened until the poison runs its course, or until he dies.

Cure: Two consecutive saving throws, or an application of the Neutralise Poison spell (DC 24).

Special: King’s Sleep is not normally recognised as a poison by the Detect Poison spell. A character trained in Alchemy who casts Detect Poison on the victim of King’s Sleep can make a DC 20 alchemy check to recognise the poison. 

Hellstinger Scorpion Venom – Level 13  Poison (Injury)
The hellstinger is a ten-foot long scorpion with scarlet claws and a wicked stinger. Those brave enough to collect and distil its venom can make a tidy profit from the undertaking.
Attack: +12 vs. Fortitude
Onset: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 22
Frequency: 1/round for six rounds

Initial Effect: The target of the poison is Slowed, and takes 1d4 Strength damage.

Further Effects: Each successive saving throw inflicts a further 1d4 Strength damage. The victim remains Slowed until the effects of the poison have been shaken off.

Cure: Two consecutive saving throws, or the application of a Neutralise Poison spell (DC 22). 

Lich Dust Level 6 Poison (Ingested)
Although the name sounds ominous, lich dust is made from the ground bones of any being that has been animated as an undead creature.
Attack: +7 vs. Fortitude
Onset: 10 minutes
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 17
Frequency: 1/minute for 6 minutes

Initial Effect: Anyone consuming lich dust is gripped by a violent choking fit. This has the effect of rendering a character Dazed in terms of the actions he can perform in a round. The lich dust then goes about weakening  a target by inflicting 1d3 points of Strength damage.

Further Effects: The Dazed condition persists for as long as the poison is in effect. Every time a saving throw is failed the victim takes 1d3 further points of Strength damage.

Cure: One saving throw, or a Neutralise Poison spell (DC 17). 

Malyass Root Paste – Level 4 Poison (Contact)
The shredded roots of the tough malyass bush: a tough, swamp-growing plant that paralyses and ingests the fish that try to eat it. The resulting paste is useful, if rather unsubtle, form of contact poison.
Attack: +6 vs. Fortitude
Onset: One minute
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 16
Frequency: 1/minute for six minutes

Initial Effect: Anyone coming into contact with malyass root paste is Dazed.

Further Effects: After one failed saving throw the target is Stunned instead of Dazed. After two failed saving throws the target is Paralysed instead of Stunned.

Cure: One successful saving throw, or an application of Neutralise Poison (DC 16). 

Nightmare Vapour – Level 24 Poison (Inhaled)
A hideous broiling cloud of black and purple mist. Nightmare Vapour is the captured distillation of nightmares, bottled by explorers in the Realm of Dreams. Anyone breathing in the vapours falls unconscious and is subject to a hideous and debilitating mental assault.
Attack: +19 vs. Will
Onset: Instantaneous
Saving Throw:  Will DC 29
Frequency: 1/hour

Initial Effect: The victim immediately falls asleep and cannot be roused unless the poison is neutralised. The target remains asleep for at least one hour, during which time they are subjected to a series of terrible and disturbing nightmares. Victims that awake from the nightmares are automatically fatigued.

Further Effects: With each successive saving, the nightmares and visions become worse and more disturbing. After one failed save, the victim becomes Exhausted. After two failed saves the victim loses access to any recharge spells stored in his mind. After three failed saving throws, the victim dies.

Cure: Two consecutive saving throws, or an application of Neutralise Poison (DC 29).

Special: Nightmare vapour is a supernatural poison. Characters immune to Fear cannot die as a result of exposure to this poison. 

Nitharit – Level 1 Poison (Contact)
The nitharit is a fairly common red-capped toadstool found in most damp and temperate woodlands. It causes intense sickness and nausea in those that eat it. It is often cooked and turned into a thick grey paste that acts as an acceptable contact poison.
Attack: +5 vs. Fortitude
Onset: One minute
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 15
Frequency: 1/minute for six minutes

Initial Effect: The target is Sickened. Take 1d3 points of Constitution damage.

Further Effects: With each successive failed saving throw, the target takes another 1d3 Con damage. Nitharit is often fatal to the young, the old or the weak.

Cure: One saving throw, or Neutralise Poison (DC 15). 

Oil of Taggit – Level 2 Poison (Ingested)
Sticky and sweet tree sap, tapped from the taggit tree. Oil of Taggit tastes and looks very much like honey, and is often cleverly substituted for honey by skilled poisoners.
Attack: +5 vs. Fortitude
Onset: One minute
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 15
Frequency: 1/minute for one minute.

Initial Effect: The target becomes uncommonly sleepy. They are Dazed.

Further Effects: On a failed saving throw, the target becomes unconscious for 1d3 hours.

Cure: One saving throw, or Neutralise Poison (DC 15). 

Purple Worm Poison – Level 22 Poison (Injected)
The purple worm is a gigantic subterranean beast with a predilection for swallowing adventurers. The poison sacs of the beast are a prized commodity and can be turned into a deadly poison. The poison is rare due to the difficulty in obtaining supplies.
Attack: +18 vs. Fortitude
Onset: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 28
Frequency: 1/round for six rounds

Initial Effect: The target is terribly weakened by the poison. Take 1d6 Strength damage.

Further Effects: Each failed saving throw inflicts a further 1d6 Strength damage.

Cure: Two consecutive saving throws of a successful application of Neutralise Poison (DC 28). 

Sassone Leaf Residue – Level 4 Poison (Inhaled)
The sassone is a small tobacco plant grown extensively in any area inhabited by hobbits. Its leaves are often used as part of more complicated pipeweed blends. On its own, sassone leaf residue is dangerously toxic.
Attack: +6 vs. Fortitude
Onset: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 16
Frequency: 1/round for one round.

Initial Effect: The smell of sassone leaf burns out a victims nasal passageways. Take 2d12 damage to your hit points. This damage cannot be healed until the poison has been cured or run its course.

Further Effects: Each failed saving throw inflicts 1 point of Intelligence damage as the fumes attack the victim’s brain.

Cure: One saving throw, or an application of the Neutralise Poison spell. 

Shadow Essence Level 5 Poison (Injury)
When ever a Shadow is destroyed its essence disperses, eventually finding its way back to the Shadowfell. There is a means in which this dark substance can be captured, and concentrated into a rather nasty poison.
Attack: +7 vs. Fortitude
Onset: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 17
Frequency: 1/round for six rounds

Initial Effect: The essence penetrates the target inflicting 1 point of Strength damage. This may not seem much, but once the shadow essence gets a hold of a victim, then it quickly overpowers them, shredding their humanity and mortality.

Further Effects: Each successive failed saving throw inflicts an increasing amount of Strength damage. The first failed save inflicts 1d6 Strength damage, the second 2d6, the third 3d6 and so on. If a character is reduced to 0 Strength of lower they will rise again as a Shadow at the beginning of the following round.

Cure: One saving throw, or Neutralise Poison (DC 17).

Special: Shadow Essence is a supernatural poison. 

Striped Toadstool Level 1 Poison (Ingested)
A small toadstool about the size of a human’s thumb. There are those who willing ingest the fungus, baking it into omelettes or eating it raw. It produces mildly diverting hallucinogenic effects.
Attack: +5 vs. Fortitude
Onset: 10 minutes
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 15
Frequency: 1/round for four rounds

Initial Effect: Characters who consume the striped toadstool are Fascinated by a nonexistent image that only they can see and hear. The target takes a -5 penalty on skill checks made as reactions, such as Perception or Insight checks. Any potential threat, such as a hostile creature approaching, allows the fascinated creature an immediate Will saving throw  (DC 15) against the fascinating effect. Any obvious threat, such as someone drawing a weapon, casting a spell, or aiming a ranged weapon at the fascinated creature, automatically breaks the effect. A fascinated creature’s ally may shake his friend free of the spell as a standard action.

Further Effects: Each failed saving throw allows the Fascination effect to persist for one more round.

Cure: One saving throw, or Neutralise Poison (DC 15). 

Tears of Death – Level 18 Poison (Contact)
A colourless clear liquid, very like water. The tears of death is an alchemical creation concocted from other less virulent poisons such as thassil root and malyass paste.
Attack: +15 vs. Fortitude
Onset: One minute
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 25
Frequency: 1/minute for six minutes

Initial Effect: The target takes 1d6 constitution damage and is Paralysed.

Further Effects: The target remains paralysed until the duration of the poison ends, or until it is cured. Each successive failed saving throw inflicts another 1d6 Constitution damage.

Cure: Two consecutive successful saving throws, or Neutralise Poison (DC 25). 

Terinav Root – Level 14 Poison (Contact)
The terinav is a cold desert cactus. Its roots are extremely long, and penetrate deep into the ground in search of sustenance. The crushed root can be turned into a contact poison that burns the skin of its victim.
Attack: +13 vs. Fortitude
Onset: One minute
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 23
Frequency: 1/minute for six rounds

Initial Effect: The area of the skin that touched the terinav rote becomes red and inflamed. This damage constrains movement and makes the victim slightly clumsier. Take 1d3 points of dexterity damage.

Further Effects: Each failed saving throw inflicts another 1d3 points of dexterity damage. A target that loses half its Dexterity value or more in this fashion becomes Slowed.

Cure: One saving throw, or Neutralise Poison (DC 23). 

Ungol Dust – Level 6 Poison (Inhaled)
Ungol dust is made from the powdered remains of poisonous spiders. Often several dozen such creatures need to be cremated to collect enough dust for one dose of this poison.
Attack: +7 vs. Fortitude
Onset: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 17
Frequency: 1/round for four rounds

Initial Effect: The ungol dust attacks a character’s confidence and sense of self-worth, while at the same time burning and lacerating the skin. Anyone exposed to ungol dust takes 1d3 points of Charisma damage.

Further Effects: Each successful saving throw inflicts a further 1d3 points of Charisma damage. Half of all the Charisma damage inflicted by this poison is permanent.

Cure: One saving throw, or Neutralise Poison (DC 17). The permanent Charisma loss can be restored with a Restoration spell. 

Wolfsbane Level 4 Poison (Ingested)
Also known as aconite, monkshood and devil’s helmet, wolfsbane is a flowering plant with bell-shaped purple petals. Herbalists use wolfsbane as a treatment for an upset stomach. In sufficient quantities, wolfsbane is revealed as a dangerous laxative.
Attack: +6 vs. Fortitude
Onset: 10 minutes
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 16
Frequency: 1/hour for six hours

Initial Effect: The target is Sickened and the victim of both vomiting and diarrhoea.

Further Effects: With each failed saving throw, the target takes 1d3 points of Constitution damage. If three saving throws are failed then the target becomes Nauseated instead of Sickened.

Cure: One successful saving throw, or the application of a successful Neutralise Poison spell (DC 16).

Special: Werewolves find the smell of wolfsbane utterly repellent and will avoid it when they can. They would need to make a DC 21 Will saving throw to approach or handle fresh wolfsbane, unless their life depended on it. 

Wyvern Poison – Level 10 Poison (Injury)
The wyvern is a huge lizardine beast, with giant wings and a scorpion-like stinger. Its poison is particularly potent, and those who are brave enough to gather the poison sacs, can have them turned into a deadly poison. Wyvern Poison is sometimes referred to as the “assassin’s friend”.
Attack: +10 vs. Fortitude
Onset: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 20
Frequency: 1/round for six rounds

Initial Effect: The poison of a wyvern is designed to strike a foe dead as quickly and efficiently as possible. Anyone hit with wyvern poison takes 1d6 points of Constitution damage.

Further Effects: Each failed saving throw inflicts a further 1d6 points of Con damage.

Cure: Two consecutive saving throws, or a successful application of the Neutralise Poison spell (DC 20).

Wounds

Elias Raithbourne tries to gently lower a two-ton funereal stone to the ground and crushes his fingers to a paste. In a desperate battle against an unbeatable foe, Krais Brewer slashes the enemy across the eye, temporarily blinding it and then escapes in the confusion. The vicious man-eating haddock fish-beast of the Mardon Marshes horribly mauls the weary feet of Nicos Allumière as he soaks them after a long walk.

All of these are examples of wounds, suffered or inflicted by player characters. Wounds are debilitating injuries that impose penalties or conditions on characters until they are healed, either by magic or the passage of time. Like other afflictions, characters with Wounds are required to make a number of saving throws to throw off the wound’s effects.

Wounds operate outside the hit point system. A character could be on full hit points, and still be suffering the effects of a half dozen wounds. They are an added complication to the game, and should therefore only be used at a dramatically appropriate time, and when the GM deems it is necessary. In the real world a fall of 80 feet on to sharp rocks would probably result in two broken legs. In the game, such a fall would inflict hit point damage, not a wound. Wounds should mean something.

For example: Lokan Kalharn has seized a mystical golden buddha from the ruins of Amalava in central Norandor. He has avoided the pit traps, the snakes, the rolling boulder and the hail of poisonous darts. He has the exit in sight, when he sees a great stone door descending, intent on sealing him in. He jumps, he slides and just manages to get under the door before it closes. But he has dropped the buddha. Without thinking, our hero sticks his arm back in to grab it. The door crashes down his arm. The GM rules that this turn of events calls for a wound: Lokan’s arm is broken. Whether he can pull the arm out with the buddha (or even pull the arm out at all) is separate matter. At least he still has his hat.

Good GMs only impose wounds on their players rarely. Wounds can be the consequence of doing something incredibly stupid, or a medal-of-honour for doing something insanely brave. Try not to resort to wounds as a punishment, and try always to make the player aware when their actions may result in them gaining a wound.

Better broken than dead: Occasionally die rolls conspire against players and GMs. There are times when player characters are killed in ridiculously petty circumstances. Deaths of these sort are no fun for the players, and a headache for the GM who probably has to rewrite the plot of his adventure to accommodate a new character. In these circumstances, the GM may choose to ignore the death and give the PC a Wound instead. This shouldn’t happen often, and if the encounters are balanced and well managed then it shouldn’t happen at all, but it is a useful tool in the GM’s arsenal. It should not be applied if the PC willingly jumps in to a situation that he knows is beyond his character.

Called Shots and Wounds: The called shot rules allow player characters (and NPCs) to attempt to inflict a Wound on their opponent by taking a penalty to hit (q.v.). If their attack roll (including the penalty) is good enough to simultaneously hit the target’s Reflex and Fortitude defence, then a wound is received. In these cases, the initial attack roll of the enemy character replaces the “Attack” entry in the example wounds below. However, the saving throw DC to recover from the wound is unchanged. Note that if you receive a wound in this manner, you can always make a saving throw at the end of the encounter to shake off the wound. This is not the case with Wounds gained at other times. See the rules for Called Shots for more information.

Blinded Eye – Level 9 Wound (Injury)
Quietly you crouch down and peer through the large keyhole. You can see some movement in the room, but can’t quite make it out. You schootch closer. At which point the vindictive hobbit adolescent rams a sharpened pencil into your eyeball.
Attack: +10 vs. Fortitude
Onset: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 20
Frequency: 1/day

Initial Effect: You are unable to see through the damaged eye. You take a -2 penalty on all skill checks that require rigorous examination or any kind of depth perception. The skills affected include (but are not limited to) Disable Device, Profession (Forger), Insight, Perception (sight-based checks only), Sleight of Hand, Track and all attack rolls for Ranged or Far attacks.

Further Effects: Any damage to your eye is potentially very dangerous. The more saving throws you fail, the worse the effect becomes.
First failed save: No change.
Second failed save: You begin suffering intense headaches. The penalty to skill checks increases to -5.
Third failed save: Stop making saving throws. The damage to your eye is permanent. You will never see through that eye again without magical aid.

Cure: Two consecutive saving throws, or the application of a Remove Blindness, Regeneration, Heal or more powerful healing spell.

Two blinded eyes: If you are blinded in both your eyes then you don’t take penalties to your skill checks, you gain the Blindness condition instead. Otherwise treat the wounds separately. If one eye recovers before the other, then the application of the skill penalty becomes appropriate. Obviously, if you have more than two eyes you need to be blinded in all your eyes before you gain the Blinded condition.

Broken Arm – Level 12 Wound (Injury)
The dwarf’s mordenkrad strikes you heavily in the arm. There is a sickening crack as you high-five your shoulder the hard way. Your shield falls to the ground and your arm hangs limply by your side.
Attack: +11 vs. Fortitude
Onset: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 16
Frequency: 1/week for 10 weeks

Initial Effect: You immediately drop anything you are holding in the injured arm. From this point on you cannot make any use of the injured arm. This prevents the use of a shield or a two-handed weapon. In additional you take a -2 penalty to all Strength, Dexterity or Constitution based skill checks.

Further Effects: The arm remains useless until cured, but other effects can beset a character with a broken limb:
First failed save: The break is particularly painful. Increase the penalty to skill checks to -5.
Second failed save: The pain from the wound is now keeping you awake at night. Make an additional Fortitude Saving throw (DC 16) every night. If you fail, you gain no benefit from taking an extended rest.
Third failed save: The break has become infected. You now have gangrene in the wound. Refer to the entry for gangrene in the section on Diseases, and map the progress of this second affliction separately.
Fourth failed save: The break is particularly bad. Stop making saving throws, the bone will take the full ten weeks to heal. Even when healed, you take a permanent -2 penalty to all Strength, Dexterity and Constitution based skill checks.

Cure: Three consecutive saving throws, or the application of a Cure Critical Wounds, Regeneration, Heal or more powerful healing spell.

Two Broken arms: If both your arms are broken then treat both wounds separately. The penalty to skills from two broken wounds do not stack, but everything else does.

Broken Foot Level 11 Wound (Injury)
Who would have thought that 2000 lbs of angry dire ape standing on your foot would hurt this much?
Attack: +11 vs. Fortitude
Onset: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 16
Frequency: 1/week for 8 weeks

Initial Effect: Your foot is crushed, and the delicate bones are smashed. You immediately fall prone. Until the foot is healed you move at half speed and cannot hustle, charge or run. Additionally, you take a -2 penalty on all Strength, Dexterity and Constitution based skills.

Further Effects: The foot remains useless until cured, but other effects can beset a character with a broken foot:
First failed save: The break is particularly painful. Increase the penalty to skill checks to -5.
Second failed save: The pain from the wound is now keeping you awake at night. Make an additional Fortitude Saving throw (DC 16) every night. If you fail, you gain no benefit from taking an extended rest.
Third failed save: The break has become infected. You now have gangrene in the wound. Refer to the entry for gangrene in the section on Diseases, and map the progress of this second affliction separately.
Fourth failed save: The break is particularly bad. Stop making saving throws, the bone will take the full eight weeks to heal. Even when healed, you will take a permanent -5 penalty to your character’s Speed.

Cure: Three consecutive saving throws, or the application of a Cure Critical Wounds, Regeneration, Heal or more powerful healing spell.

Two broken feet: A character with two broken feet cannot stand at all and must remain prone (and therefore have the Prone condition). They can still crawl at a rate of 5 feet per round. Otherwise, treat the two wounds separately with the exception that the penalties to skill checks do not stack.

Broken Hand – Level 11 Wound (Injury)
Never stick you hand into the mouth of a giant snapping turtle: not even for a bet.
Attack: +11 vs. Fortitude
Onset: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 16
Frequency: 1/week for 8 weeks

Initial Effect: Your hand is crushed, and the delicate bones are smashed. You immediately drop anything you are holding in the hand, and you cannot make use of the injured hand. Among other things, this means you cannot wield a two-handed weapon or carry a shield. In additional you take a -2 penalty to all Strength, Dexterity or Constitution based skill checks.

Further Effects: The hand remains useless until cured, but other effects can beset a character with a broken hand:
First failed save: The break is particularly painful. Increase the penalty to skill checks to -5.
Second failed save: The pain from the wound is now keeping you awake at night. Make an additional Fortitude Saving throw (DC 16) every night. If you fail, you gain no benefit from taking an extended rest.
Third failed save: The break has become infected. You now have gangrene in the wound. Refer to the entry for gangrene in the section on Diseases, and map the progress of this second affliction separately.
Fourth failed save: The break is particularly bad. Stop making saving throws, the bone will take the full eight weeks to heal. Even when healed, you will take a  -2 on any roll that involves manipulating something with your bad hand. This includes (but is not limited to) attack rolls with two-handed weapons, disable device checks, sleight of hand checks, heal and other checks at the GM’s discretion.

Cure: Three consecutive saving throws, or the application of a Cure Critical Wounds, Regeneration, Heal or more powerful healing spell.

Two broken hands: A character with two broken hands cannot hold anything in either hand. Otherwise, treat the two wounds separately with the exception that the penalties to skill checks do not stack.

Broken Leg – Level 14 Wound (Injury)
The arrow pierces your steed’s eye, killing it instantly. The noble beast bucks, then falls. You fail to throw yourself clear, and the animal’s corpse lands heavily on your leg. Today of all days to be riding the war elephant.
Attack: +13 vs. Fortitude
Onset: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 18
Frequency: 1/week for 12 weeks

Initial Effect: You immediately fall prone. Your Speed is reduced to 10 ft per round and you may not run, hustle or charge. Any form of movement, standing up and remaining upright requires a Fortitude saving throw at DC 16. If you fail that saving throw, you fall prone again. Make the saving throw in phase three of any turn that you try to move or remain upright. If you are using a crutch, then you do not need to make the saving throw, although you cannot use a shield or wield a two-handed weapon when using a crutch.Additionally, take a -2 penalty to all Strength, Dexterity and Constitution based skills.

Further Effects: The leg remains useless until cured, but other effects can beset a character with a broken limb:
First failed save: The break is particularly painful. Increase the penalty to skill checks to -5.
Second failed save: The pain from the wound is now keeping you awake at night. Make an additional Fortitude Saving throw (DC 18) every night. If you fail, you gain no benefit from taking an extended rest.
Third failed save: The break has become infected. You now have gangrene in the wound. Refer to the entry for gangrene in the section on Diseases, and map the progress of this second affliction separately.
Fourth failed save: The break is particularly bad. Stop making saving throws, the bone will take the full twelve weeks to heal. Even when healed, you take a permanent -2 penalty to all Strength, Dexterity and Constitution based skill checks; and -10 to your character’s Speed.

Cure: Three consecutive saving throws, or the application of a Cure Critical Wounds, Regeneration, Heal or more powerful healing spell.

Two Broken legs: A character with two broken legs cannot stand at all and must remain prone (and therefore have the Prone condition). They can still crawl at a rate of 5 feet per round. Otherwise, treat the two wounds separately with the exception that the penalties to skill checks do not stack.

Bruised Elbow Level 7 Wound (Injury)
The vicious attacker strikes a resounding blow on your funny bone. Pain shoots up your arm and you drop everything you are holding.
Attack: +8 vs. Fortitude
Onset: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 18
Frequency: 1/round for 6 rounds

Initial Effect: You drop anything you are holding in the hand attached to the elbow in question. Your arm is paralysed and hangs limply by your side. You cannot use the arm at all. This means you cannot use a shield or wield a two-handed weapon. Any skill check that requires two hands take a -2 penalty, as you attempt to perform the action one handed.

Further Effects: If you fail your saving throw, then the paralysis in your arm continues for one round.

Cure: One saving throw, or after six rounds have elapsed. Alternatively an application of Cure Moderate Wounds or a more powerful healing spell is sufficient to reverse the effects of this wound.

Chin – Level 5 Wound (Injury)
One solid hit to the chin and the barbarian folded like a cheap picnic table. Who would have thought that Grolar the Hairy had such a glass jaw?
Attack: +7 vs. Fortitude
Onset: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 17
Frequency: 1/round

Initial Effect: You gain the Stunned condition.

Further Effects: Further failed saving throws worsen the conditions:
First failed save: You remain stunned.
Second failed save: You fall unconscious, drop to the ground (you are prone) and are considered Helpless. Stop making saving throws. You remain unconscious for about five minutes.

Cure: One successful saving throw, or the application of a Cure Moderate Wounds or more powerful spell.

Cosmetic – Injury Level 15 Wound
When you asked the young lady for her address, you didn’t expect her to tattoo it on your chest with the point of her rapier.
Attack: +14 vs. Fortitude
Onset: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 24
Frequency: 1/week
Initial Effect: With a flick of their wrist, your opponent leaves you with a cosmetic injury, such a scar in the shape of their initials. The mark has no mechanical effect on your character, although you may have a hard time explaining why you have a scar in the shape of penis on your cheek.

Further Effects: If you fail just one saving throw, then the scar becomes permanent. It may fade with time, but it will never fade completely.

Cure: Two consecutive saving throws, or an application of the Regeneration spell.

Fractured Kneecap – Level 8 Wound (Injury)
It was only after the neckless mob enforcer took the lump hammer to your second knee, that you finally saw the wisdom of not crossing these guys.
Attack: +9 vs. Fortitude
Onset: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 14
Frequency: 1/week for 8 weeks

Initial Effect: Your knee cap is split by a heavy impact. You immediately fall prone. You can stand and move around on a fractured kneecap, but you move at half your speed and must make a Fortitude saving throw (DC 14) every time you take damage, or fall prone again. The pain is quite excruciating and you take a -2 penalty on all Strength, Dexterity and Constitution based skills.

Further Effects: Failed saving throws make this condition worse:
First failed save: The break is particularly painful. Increase the penalty to skill checks to -5.
Second failed save: The pain from the wound is now keeping you awake at night. Make an additional Fortitude Saving throw (DC 14) every night. If you fail, you gain no benefit from taking an extended rest.
Third failed save: The break has become infected. You now have gangrene in the wound. Refer to the entry for gangrene in the section on Diseases, and map the progress of this second affliction separately.
Fourth failed save: The break is particularly bad. Stop making saving throws, the kneecap will take the full eight weeks to heal. Even when healed, you take a permanent -2 penalty to all Strength, Dexterity and Constitution based skill checks; and -5 to your character’s Speed.

Cure: Three consecutive saving throws, or the application of a Cure Critical Wounds, Regeneration, Heal or more powerful healing spell.

Two fractured kneecaps: A character with two broken kneecaps cannot stand at all and must remain prone (and therefore have the Prone condition). They can still crawl at a rate of 5 feet per round. Otherwise, treat the two wounds separately with the exception that the penalties to skill checks do not stack.

Scalped – Level 10 Wound (Injury)
Your enemy grabs you by the hair, and then uses a razor sharp blade to relieve you of your hair, scalp and a portion of your skull.
Attack: +10 vs. Fortitude
Onset: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 20
Frequency: 1/day

Initial Effect: Your scalp and hair is ripped from your head. Scalped characters are Shaken.

Further Effects: Then Shake condition persists until the wound is cured.

Cure: Two consecutive saving throws or the application of a Cure Serious Wounds or more powerful healing spell will cure this wound. However, it won’t heal the damage to the head. Your skin may grow back over the skull, but the hair won’t come back. A Regenerate spell is required to cure the wound and restore your head to its former glory.
Severed Ear – Level 9 Wound (Injury)
Although you remain convinced that cutting off your own ear made you a better painter, you can’t help reflecting that hearing that stampede of wild horses could have been pretty handy too.
Attack: +10 vs. Fortitude
Onset: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 20
Frequency: 1/week

Initial Effect: The hearing on one side of your head has been destroyed, either by having your ear cut off or some other destructive force. You take a -2 penalty on Initiative checks, and on all Spellcraft checks to cast spells with a verbal component. This penalty also applies to all hearing-based Perception checks.

Further Effects: The penalties associated with a severed ear do not increase with time and failed saving throws. However, if you fail three saving throws before the wound is healed the effect of this Wound is permanent, and you make no further saving throws.

Cure: Three consecutive saving throws or the application of a Remove Deafness or Heal will reverse the mechanical effects of the wound, but will not regrow your ear. A Regeneration spell reverses the effects of the wound, and also regrows you ear.

Two severed ears: If your hearing is nixed in both your ears then you gain the Deafened condition. Otherwise treat the wounds separately, with the exception that penalties to skill checks do not stack. If one ear recovers before the other, then the application of the skill penalty becomes appropriate. Obviously, if you have more than two ears you need to be deafened in all your ears before you gain the Deafened condition.

Severed Tendon – Level 20 Wound (Injury)
Tendons are the tough and fibrous sinews that connect your muscles to your bones. You have tendons all over your bodies, but it is the ones in your ankle that are most often targeted in combat.
Attack: +16 vs. Fortitude
Onset: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Fortitude DC 26
Frequency: 1/week for 12 weeks

Initial Effect: The tendon in your ankle snaps you fall prone. Until the tendon heals you move at half speed and cannot hustle, charge or run. Additionally, you take a -2 penalty on all Strength, Dexterity and Constitution based skills.

Further Effects: If you fail your saving throw, the area around the tendon becomes red and inflamed. The penalty to your skills increases to -5 and you find it very difficult to stand unaided. Make a DC 21 Fortitude saving throw every round that you try to move or remain upright. If you fail, you fall prone.

Cure: Three consecutive saving throws or the application of a Cure Critical Wounds, Heal or Regenerate spells.

Special: Characters who remain active during the week that follows the severing of their tendon, automatically fail their first saving throw. A character who continues to adventure is almost certainly remaining active.

HD&D: Spell Components Redux

Following the recent post on Spell Components, Daniel made a number of very sensible suggestions regarding the use of spell components in HD&D. Steve seconded everything he said, by which time I was already convinced. With no hint of dissenting voices, I am now publishing the new new rules on spell components. I’m quite excited about this.

Let’s start at the beginning:

Verbal and Somatic ‘Components’

The second and third editions of D&D helpfully pointed out which spells required the caster to speak (a Verbal component) or wave his arms about in a mysterious fashion (a Somatic component). By and large, this is a complication that I don’t want in HD&D. I think it’s far easier to say that all spells require some degree of Verbal and Somatic activity on the part of the caster. Therefore if the caster cannot speak or cannot move, then he cannot cast spells.

This makes metamagic feats such as Still Spell and Silent Spell all the more useful.  The few (the very, very few) spells that don’t have a verbal or somatic component will have the “Nonverbal” or the “Nonsomatic” descriptor. So basically rather than singling out spells that do have a verbal or somatic component, HD&D singles out the spells that don’t. As there are far more spells that do, than there are that don’t, this should make things much simpler from a book-keeping perspective.

Which is a long-winded way of saying that you can forget all about verbal and somatic components. When you see “spell components” mentioned in HD&D, the phrase is specifically referring to the tangible paraphenalia that is required to cast spells: your general run of the mill eye of newt and so on.

Material Components and Foci

A focus is an object that the spellcaster uses to direct the energy of a Weave. Spellcasters will favour a certain type of focus in exclusion to all others. If a character’s class presents a choice of different types of foci, then the caster chooses one focus at first level (or whenever he takes his first spell-casting talent) and sticks with it throughout his career.

A focus is not expended or consumed when a spell is cast. A caster can use it again and again. The most common types of foci include wands, staffs, orbs and holy symbols. A wizard using a wand as his focus would use that wand in the casting of all his spells. Plenty of wizards in the world of fiction rely on their wands or staffs to cast their magic. Before fourth edition, this archetype wasn’t supported by D&D: so let’s give 4e credit where credit is due in this regard.

In contrast, material components are ephemeral objects that are consumed with the casting of a spell. The type of material components differ from spell to spell. Some powerful spells require material components in order to function at all. However, for the most part material components are optional additions to the casting of a spell. They are used in combination with the focus to grant the spell an added or more potent effect.

The Focus

The type of focus differs from class to class, and it can’t just be any old thing. A wizard can’t unscrew the head of a broom and call the handle his magic staff. The construction of a focus is an exacting and complex task. Only the best materials, harvested in just the right manner and brought together by a master of his craft, will result in an object that is capable of being used as a magical focus.

A focus is created with a specific caster in mind. You remember the scene in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone where the eponymous wizard goes to buy his wand? He’s told that the wand chooses the wizard. This is feeling I am trying to invoke with foci. Your D&D wizard isn’t using any old staff, he’s using his staff. And that makes it special.

The focus replaces much of the role played by material components in the second and third editions of D&D. The spellcaster doesn’t need to rummage around in a belt pouch for a scrap of shredded rhubarb, he simply uses his focus instead. Unless the spell description specifically says that additional materials are required to cast a spell, then all that is required is the focus. This immediately begs the question: what happens if a spellcaster loses his focus?

We could say that a spellcaster without his focus cannot cast spells at all. That’s pretty harsh, but is not without its precedent. None of the wizards in the Harry Potter novels can cast magic without their wands. In the films of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Gandalf can’t summon magical power without his staff. This option is definitely on the table. It’s also the easiest option to implement in game: no focus = no spells. Alternatively, and slightly less harshly, we could say this:

  1. A spellcaster without a focus loses access to the highest level spells he can cast. A second level wizard with the Wizardry I talent would lose access to first level spells and only be able to cast cantrips. A thirtieth level wizard with the Wizardry IX talent would lose access to fifteenth level spells. So he’d still be able to knock out ninth-level spells, he just would be able to augment them with metamagic to such a ridiculous degree.
  2. Without a focus the spellcaster’s effective level for casting spells is halved (round down, but with a minimum caster level of 1). That thirtieth level wizard would cast spells as if he was 15th level instead of 30th. Each spell’s level dependent variables – such as damage, range or area of effect – would be based on a 15th level caster, not a 30th.

These rules would make foci extremely important to all casters. Divesting a spellcaster of his focus would be a valid tactic in combat. However, a wizard who loses his wand (or a cleric who loses his holy symbol) wouldn’t be completely shafted. He would still be able to cast magic, even if the casting was a little less potent.

Remember that the focus is only there to facilitate the casting of a spell. With a focus the spell works just as described in the rules. Without a focus, the spellcaster is greatly diminished. The focus grants no exciting bonuses to attack rolls, skills or defences. It grants no special powers. All foci come in one flavour, and that flavour is vanilla.

At least to begin with.

This is HD&D, after all. Foci can be augmented in a variety of ways. Foci can be enchanted as magic items. They wouldn’t necessarily grant a bonus to attack or damage rolls (but remember that magic weapons don’t necessarily do that either in HD&D). The focus might allow a certain spell to repeated on a target, or turn a recharge power into an at-will ability. They might improve your character’s defences, or augment the casting of particular spells. Orbs are closely connected with divination magicks, for example.

Additionally, characters can choose talents to augment their skill in using their focus. Each focus should have at least one talent associated with it, that allows the character to augment his spells when using his focus. Perhaps the talent called Wand Mastery grants a bonus to hit (or a re-roll chance) on all Ranged attacks.

One thing is certain: any magical powers displayed by the focus, or any effects granted by a talent, would only apply to a caster’s personal focus. If, for example, a cleric loses his personal holy symbol he can use any other holy symbol of his god to focus the energy of spells. But it blatantly doesn’t work as well for him as his own holy symbol did. Obviously mechanics will exist to allow casters to attune themselves to new foci should they ever lose their old one.

With this established we can have a look at the foci available to some of the established spell-casting classes:

Wizards: These characters get to select from orbs, staffs or wands. Wands tends to be used mainly for attack, staffs for defence and orbs for manipulation. Talents and magical enhancements to these foci will augment these characteristics. A wizard’s familiar is generally not a focus. Familiars serve the role of servants or companions.

Sorcerers: Sorcerers do not need or use foci. They cast their spells without using any material components. However, they can still acquire foci later in their career (by selecting a talent) and gaining similar benefits than those enjoyed by wizards, although few of the disadvantages. Sorcerers who have foci seldom have something as prosaic as an orb, staff or wand. The focus can be anything, including a living creature. The sorcerer’s familiar may not be a familiar at all.

Bards: A bard uses music to charm the Weave into giving up its spells. A bard’s focus is therefore sound, and the implements he uses to create sound. Musical instruments of all types can be the focus of a bard; he needs to strum away on his mandolin to cast spells effectively. Players can choose any musical instrument to be their focus, but they should consider it’s portability. A bard that uses the grand piano as his focus may wow the crowds during recitals at the local opera house, but he’ll be less useful negotiating the seventh sub-level of the Tomb of Horrors. Canny players will realise that the bard can use his voice as his implement. These bards don’t require  a physical focus at all, they just need to be able to sing. Voices can be enchanted too, as the Gift of Ysberyl in the old Game of Souls campaign should attest.

Clerics: A cleric’s focus is his holy symbol, but the type of holy symbol and what it is capable of differs wildly from class to class. Clerics of war gods often find that their holy symbol is a weapon of some kind. In this case it can be used as a weapon in addition to its role as a focus. Magical enchantments or mastery talents would exist to make the focus an effective mêlée or ranged weapon. If a Paladin can cast spells, he will use the same focus as the clerics of his religion.

Druid: The druid has always had a role as a ‘ nature priest’ in D&D, and like  a cleric he needs a symbol to focus the energy of living creatures and manipulate the Weave. A druidic holy symbol will be something connected to the druidic religion. It might be a silver sickle, it might be a magically preserved sprig of mistletoe. It might be a complicated fetish studded with claws, feathers, scales and talons. Druids are taught to find their own way when accessing and manipulating magic, therefore no two druids will have the same focus. Rangers who are also spell casters follow the same path.

Mystics: Mystics are divine casters who, like sorcerers, have an instrinctive understanding of the weave. They are clerics of a religion of one, who appeal to a god or to a variety of gods to cast their spells. Like sorcerers, mystics do not require foci to wield magic. To a very real extent, they are their own focus. Talents exist that allow mystics to heighten their connection to the god or gods they draw power from. These talents are similar in scope and utility as focus mastery talents, but have a decidedly different flavour.

Psions: These are spellcasters who use the power of their mind to manipulate the weave. Psionics doesn’t require foci in the same way as arcane, divine or primal magic does. However, psions have learned the advantage of using a focus. They can syphon off a portion of themselves to create a construct called a psicrystal. Part focus and part familiar, the psicrystal is unique to each psion. Each psicrystal is driven by one dominant personality trait, and can act independently of the psion in certain situations. A psicrystal is gained by selecting the appropriate talent, so psions don’t automatically start with a focus in the same way that wizards do. However, once they select a psicrystal they become as dependent upon it as any wizard or cleric.

Wilders: Wilders are to psions as sorcerers are to wizards. They are instinctive practitioners of the psionic arts, untrained and generally rather dangerous. The average wilder’s lack of discipline or control over his powers precludes anything as formal as a focus. They don’t need them to cast spells, and they can’t acquire them without judicious multiclassing.

If, through multiclassing, a character has access to spellcasting from more than one tradition (i.e. character is a mulitclass wizard/cleric) then they will require a focus for each tradition. Of course, feats would probably exist to allow such characters to combine their foci into one object.

Material Components

For most spells, you don’t have to worry about material components at all. As long as the caster has his focus to hand he can lob fireballs, raise walls of force and generally perform his spellcasterly duties with impunity. However, there are some spells that require additional materials. These materials might be consumed in the casting of the spells, or they might survive the process and be used again and again. So what types of spell still requires material components?

Spells where the material is central to the spell: There are some spells when you can’t imagine the spell working at all without an additional material component. Spells such as scrying use magic to transform a large mirror into a window onto faraway place. If you don’t have a mirror, how can you cast the spell? The various raise dead spells require you to have a portion of the body of the character you want to return to life. If you don’t have the body then how can the spell work?

Ritual magic: Spells that are cast over a period of hours or days, instead of instantaneously, probably require additional components. They might need special herbs or incense or dribbley candles. You can imagine that a Binding spell requires complicated arcane patterns to be traced on the floor. Special materials personal to the creature that is to be summoned and bound should be used as part of the casting.

By and large I will keep material components to a minimum. What I want to avoid is using components as a means to constrain the casting of specific spells. While teleport can be a pain in the bottom for GMs, I think the changes I will make to the spell text (as well as the way recharge magic works) will be enough of a constraint on the spell without saying that the caster needs to shell out a 5000 gp every time he blips from one place to another. I don’t want material components to seem arbitrary. They need to be an organic extension of how the spell works.

But normally, material components aren’t compulsory. They are optional additions to a spell that casters can make use of if they have the time, the resources or the will. Have a look at the rules for Metamagic Components from the third edition game. Go on. I’ll wait.

Metamagic Components at The Hypertext d20 SRD

As you can see, a list of evocative and eldritch components that can be used to heighten the power of existing spells. I’ll definitely bring something very similar to this over to HD&D. All spells will have a selection of material components that can be used to enchance them in some manner. Not all enhancements will be based on the metamagic system. It could be something more subtle.

For example: in the third edition game, fireball requires a blob of bat guano and sulphur to cast. In HD&D you don’t need those components, you just need your focus. But what if you did use those components as well as your focus. What effect would that have?

Maybe in the case of fireball you cast the spell at +1 caster level. Or maybe you do an additional +1 damage per die of the spell. Or maybe you have +1 to hit your opponent. Or perhaps the components only has a percentage chance of doing something useful – such as a 20% chance of knocking opponents prone that fail their saving throw. That’s the way it works in the Book of Vile Darkness. I’m just whistling in the wind here. I haven’t decided yet, but I hope you see the principle.

What I like about this, is that it retains the material component system that has existed in D&D since 1st edition. But it makes that system optional. If players can be bothered to use the spell component system, then it’s there for them. If they don’t, then it really doesn’t matter very much in the context of the game. Player’s Option: Spells & Magic (a wonderful second edition rulebook) lists prices for the components of all spells in the second edition game. I know that it costs 5 sp (for the sulphur) and 5 cp (for the guano) every time you cast fireball. If players want to bean-count to that extent then they are welcome. But if they’re not prepared to bean-count, then they shouldn’t expect to make use of the optional spell component system.

Conclusion

These rules excise the spectre of material components that has sat over my D&D games for the last 17 years. No longer do I need to worry about the fiddlesome nature of material components. The use of the focus opens up new possibilities for spellcasters that are both fun and evocative.

Any comments or reservations about the above? I am going to run with these rules unless anyone comes up with a compelling reason why not. I’m not necessarily convinced that it’s necessary to find material components for every single spell that had them in third edition. It might be more appropriate (and less work) to come up with materials that effect all spells with a certain descriptor as opposed to a certain spell. Or we could have a mixture of the two approaches.

Thoughts?

Design Call: Website Logos

No new rules today, just an appeal for assistance.

I am starting to put together the third version of the Iourn website, and I am looking for some new logos to jazz it up, and make it look slightly less amateurish. While I could spend hours bashing away at Paint Shop Pro in the hope of turning out something half-decent, I’m sure that any number of you could do a much better job in about an eighth of the time.

So I’m asking for help. A design call to come up with a new doody logo in GIF or JPEG format. Or more specifically, a number of logos – as each of the various sub-sites of Iourn.com will require one.

What we currently have

At present there is one unique logo on www.iourn.com and it is this one:

I made this about five years ago. The font is Morpheus, which can be downloaded for free from here. The image taking the place of the “O” is the holy symbol of the god, Io. A large version of that image can be found on the Wizards website. I’ve always been fairly pleased with how the logo turned out, although I could probably have done with emboldening the font before saving it as an image.

However, I’m not wedded to the idea of using an updated version of this logo if any of you can come up with a better idea. I’d be so thrilled by anyone taking any interest in this at all that probably accept pretty much anything.

What we need

The site is going to need quite a few unique logos to mark the six of the seven website sections. I’ll be keeping an archive of all the third edition house rules and material that’s currently online as the D&D part of the website, but that can just use the standard third edition “Dungeons and Dragons” logo as it does now. Here’s how it all breaks down.

Top Level Gateway

Just as now, heading to www.iourn.com takes you to a top level site from which you can drill down to all the various available subsections and sub-sites. I need a logo for this portion of the site. At the moment, I have a teacosy. This is a holdover from the time the site could be found at http://www.teacosy.demon.co.uk. That site’s no longer live, by the way.

As the site is now called Iourn.com, I would imagine we need to see the word “Iourn” somewhere in the logo. But it needs to be distinct from logo we have for the Iourn section itself. Perhaps it could be called the “Iourn Gateway” or “Iourn Hub”? I have no firm preferences.

Iourn

As discussed above.

HD&D

The HD&D section will probably need a few logos. I’ve had a thought that the logo could be based along the old 1st and 2nd edition logos for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, as so:

The word “Advanced” would be replaced with the word “Hybrid”.  That could look quite good on the website, and in any accompanying HD&D literature that I print for the sessions. And I’m sorry I haven’t found particularly good images of the two examples above, but I’m sure you get the idea.

I would also require a second logo in the same general design of the first that simply says “HD&D”.

Karris’Mohr

Marc’s current 4e campaign setting needs its own logo. Unless of course Marc has created one in secret?

Hurssia

Jack’s AD&D/third edition setting will also require something.

FBI Evidence Response

Various options here for the old CoC game. Something incorporating the official FBI logo would be welcome. As far the text goes it could say “FBI Evidence Response” or “The Grey Case Files” or “COUNTINT-AN-R3 CODENAME BRAILLE”…. or indeed any combination of the three.

The Technical Bit

All the logos are designed to fit into a space on the website that is about 480 pixels long by 110 pixels high. Therefore anything in a length:height ratio of about 4:1 would be suitable for the purpose.

The background colour behind each of the logos will be white, unless you choose to colour it differently.

The HD&D logo (as opposed to the longer “Hybrid Dungeons and Dragons” logo) can be of any dimensions, as long as it is square.

Finally, every update to the site in the What’s New or similar section is going to be demarcated with a small image that relates to each website section. The image is only going to be about 50 × 50 pixels in size. Therefore each of the main logos needs have have a corresponding 50 × 50 image that is thematically similar to the larger logo, and easily identified as something that is derrived from it. If this is too tricky I could simply colour-code the entries, but I wanted to give the image route a try first.

Any Takers?

Obviously, this is a little diffrerent from the various design calls of the past. Any help would be especially welcome, as this is not even remotely my area of expertise. The first of the new sites to go live will be the Karris’Mohr one (probably in July). That will be followed by the HD&D site later in the year, with the others trailing along at some point in 2011. Although I could very quickly convert Hurssia if the opportunity presented itself.

Karris’Mohr is therefore the priority if anyone wants to have a stab.

Anyone?