Courtesy of an idea by Fractalbat, I’ve revised my rules for using the Occultism skill for ritual casting: if you fail, you can now burn HP equal to the Margin of Failure to cast the spell anyway. I normally roll skill checks on a secret sliding-base roll (IE, I roll a d6 at the same time, and whatever’s on it becomes the “1” the other die is compared to), so I’m trying to decide whether to:
a) keep the results secret until the player chooses to burn HP (and possibly stop the burn at 1 HP to keep them alive/give them the option to burn out instead)
b) Roll the base die in the open on this one to give them a little more info.
I think having the choice to burn HP after casting, or keep gambling on better rolls next turn, makes for a little more exciting play. Plus, it means higher-level ritualists are going to be burning “just one more HP” a lot more often, making the skill more consistent in the middling levels but still giving proper Magi the edge. And, of course, with Magi starting out with a middling skill in Occultism to begin with, it gives them another avenue for repeat casting without becoming (as Fractalbat put it) superheroes off slinging Shocking Grasp every round. It also means that the Mage will be prepping casting-time-sensitive spells, but still have some access to “utility” stuff at low levels.
Edit: decided that burning years of your life expectancy once you run out of HP/instead of HP is a better trade. Plus, Koura, man. Koura (different video than the one below).
I’ve also reworded it so that Chaotics/Lawfuls with Occultism can’t cast spells from the other side (they’ve already sold their souls, remember..).
The Magic item’s deets are after the break. On that note, I’ve been reading 18th-century histories and the Arabian Nights lately. Can you tell?
The item is a casket made of some ancient and weatherbeaten bone or ivory. It is carefully and extensively inscribed with floral Arabesques and a flowing decorative script (Players fluent in pre-Islamic Arabic will recognize references to Suleiman and a “Thirsting Djhann”). It contains a “fluffy” white sand; when disturbed or poured out, the sand will slowly flow back into the box, through the hinges or keyhole if necessary.
The Thirsting Sands
If one who thirsts – be it for water, power, blood, base lusts, or any other thing – inhales or ingests some of the sand, he will experience a short and powerful vision. Details vary based on the character’s desires. As the vision ends, the character will see the smoking outline of a piece of jewelry inside the casket. If it is “put on”, the remaining sand will flow from the casket into the character’s orifices, causing momentary but extreme discomfort. He will become Chaotic until his link with the Djinn is severed (see below)
When invoked (usually by rubbing the jewel), the Sands can manifest a Phantasmal Psychedelica thrice per day* to serve (but not sate) the character’s desires, as described by the player. This can be anything from a djinn racing away to gather food, to the user suddenly becoming more impressive and compelling as he seeks to sway bandits to his revolution, even localized solar eclipses or visions of enemy warrior’s weapons turning to vipers in their hands.
Each time, however, the character will experience a loss of some kind. An Epicure will taste a new food – and learn of another that soon turns the pleasure of this novelty to ashes in his mouth. One who seeks absolute dominion will gain sway over a far-off town but find whispers of rebellion in his harem. The effect does not seek to deprave, but rather to perpetuate the character’s thirst – the Djinn is only allowed his freedom in service, and seeks to maintain that service as long as possible. These are also not Monkey’s-paw “wishes”, but illusions; they can accomplish only what having a corporate but insubstantial spirit to hand may do (opening doors, carrying and fetching, murmuring into ears..). As an illusion, it cannot easily kill – but can, for example, deliver helpless enemies to the character or drop a pellet of poison the character has made into a drink.
*for the purposes of this item, a “day” begins when its first sunlight strikes/would strike the Temple Mount.
Destruction and Weaknesses:
Should the character’s thirst ever be satiated, the Djinn will be forced to return to the box in its sand form; it can never again serve the same master.
A Cleric may Turn the character, blocking them from using the Djinn until the spell is lifted; a Turn will also disrupt any active illusions as the djinn is obviously (and usually rather noisily..) forced back inside its master.
A proper Banishment will instantly sever the link between the character and djinn, should the character fail a save vs. spells. Dispellment, however, will only disrupt the illusions of the Djinn.
The Djinn may not cross Protection circles, but may weave illusions to tempt those inside to leave.
The casket is an artifact of Law. Neither the blessings of Law nor the assaults of Chaos can disturb it or disrupt its magics, save that the caster be more powerful than Suleiman himself. It may be defiled or destroyed by Unbelievers through a great material effort, but this will release a remarkably dickish noncorporeal entity with some pretty impressive powers of illusion – better hope those scientists have a good containment system…
Spoilers: This thing is actually the Fairy Godmother from Cinderella with a turban on. I shit you not.