Friday, December 9, 2011

Final Revision: Grimoires of the Pact Insidious

I started working on a final revision of this, several months ago, as it was in need of some tweaking and tightening. While being awake for most of the night, I decided to pull it out and finish. 
Grimoires of the Pact Insidious

Upon discovery, these will appear to be a very handsome set of blank Spellbooks, of the sort Magic-Users use to permanently record spells and research. 

Also known as The Key to Darkest Destiny, the set will number from 9 to 12 identical volumes. Each will have a locking clasp on the side, and the set will come with a matching Key. If some means of checking for magic is utilized, the set will evince Alteration, Divination, Conjuration, and Summoning. Possession, if used as a type of magic in the GM's milieu, will be present, but not detectable.

If an attempt to analyze the magic is made, the caster may discover that the Key, which is attached to a gold chain and intended to be worn as a necklace, will grant a +1 bonus to all of the MU's Saves and doubles his capacity to memorize 1st level spells. Also, that the Key's magic will not activate until the MU has inscribed at least one spell into the Grimoires. Nothing else may be discovered by the more usual magical means, as the Grimoires are a Cursed item. 

The Key, which is where the true power of the item resides, cannot be destroyed by anything short of a Wish.  

If the character opts to use the Grimoires, the next time he gains a level, any unused slots in his Maximum Number of Spells bank will be filled and the new spells will be inscribed into the Grimoires, independent of the MU’s actions or wishes. This will be for the slots up to and including those gained by his level increase. There will be no need to determine whether or not the MU is capable of learning these spells and so long as the Grimoires are in his possession, he will always have and be able to utilize the maximum number of spells, which his Intelligence allows. 

During the MU's initial experience with the Grimoires, the spells which begin to appear within (to be chosen by the DM) will be comprised of some of the more popular choices, some utility spells and one or two of a dark or evil nature. Furthermore, research entries will begin appearing, apparently written in the Character’s hand, which will include information on some of the darker aspects of the art.

The MU will also discover, that any spellbooks that were previously in his possession, as well as any obtained from this point onward, transform, so as to conform to the Grimoires in all respects. If any or all of the Grimoires are destroyed, the replacements will also transform and so long as the Key is intact, 70% -90% of any spells lost and nearly all of the research notes, will re-appear in the new book, as if he had set about to reconstruct the lost data.

At this time, the MU may be rid of the Grimoires, by availing himself of a Remove Curse. If he does so, it will be as if he never saw or attempted to inscribe, know, etc., any of the spells from the Grimoires, save for in the case of those spells which the MU memorized at least once. All other phenomenon associated with the books will cease. Otherwise…

When the MU again, gains a new level:

1. A higher percentage of evil spells will begin appearing. Necromancy, conjuration/summoning spells, bindings, etc. The strange research notes will take an even darker turn.

2. A weird Augury like experience will assail him up to once a day, wherein profitable, albeit unscrupulous opportunities will be made known. Such as, he might suddenly become aware that the local Lord's wife is adulterous and with whom she is cavorting. Or, the location of that Lord's hidden treasure vault, along with information on what's guarding his wealth.

3. The MU will begin sensing the presence of another consciousness while he is studying his spells. Once per week the MU may communicate with this entity. It will have the knowledge and experience of a 16th level MU. The Other Awareness will not answer any questions regarding its origin or identity, nor will it reveal anything about the Grimoires. It will promise a great destiny, wealth, power and proffer useful advice to this end. 

There is a 1% cumulative chance that instead of the usual communication, the MU will suddenly be assailed by a feeling of dread and a desire to destroy the Key. This impulse will seem to come from both himself and the Other Awareness, and the MU may make a Saving Throw at -3, with the penalty decreasing by one for each time the dreadful experience has previously occurred. If successful, he will instantly know the nature of both the Grimoires and the awareness with which he has been in communication. Otherwise, the chance for this occurring resets back to 1%

4. There is a 5% per day, that the MU will spontaneously recall a spell to memory that was cast within the past 24 hours. This will only happen once, but afterwards, one time per day, the MU may try to recall a spell of his choice, with a 10% chance of success.

5. If a Teacher is necessary for level advancement, then the information garnered from the Other Awareness will suffice. Much of this will begin occurring in the dream state, or as entries in the Grimoires. Also, any costs associated with level advancement will be halved.

Images and Dreams of attaining great wealth and power will assail the MU constantly and specific, usually wicked ways of attaining power will be revealed, via the Auguries and aforementioned communications, as well as other avenues. As the MU continues to gain levels, the following additional phenomenon will occur:

1. The new spells which appear will be of the sort a truly evil magician would prefer and choose. Disturbing spells of the GM’s creation or taken from appropriately themed RPG supplements are encouraged. The notes appearing in the Grimoires will feature such items as formulae for Lichdom, Devil's Talismans and True Names of demons.

2. Strange coincidences and synchronicities will bring potential henchman, followers, associates, lovers, etc., across the MU's path. These will, of course, be rather nasty people. Some will be fanatically loyal. Weird priests of obscure sects might try to cast the character as a figure of prominence in their prophetic scriptures, seeking to aid or destroy the MU. Powerful Wizards serving the cause of Good, Paladins, Priests, etc., will begin hunting the MU, claiming him to be a champion of evil forces.

If the MU still retains the Grimoires when he reaches 12th level, he will be stuck with the spells known, regardless of what he does with the key. His memories will begin to alter, accounting for the discovery of the spells within the book, the research, etc. The MU may make a Saving Throw, to notice this happening.

If the MU hasn’t figured things out yet, the DM should offer enough clues to insure that he does. The Other Awareness is an evil, probable variant of the Character, one possible version of the MU amongst many. This consciousness exists in the future, in a parallel dimension, in the realms of potentiality and within the timeless psyche of the MU (all of which are true, from differing perspectives.)

The Character has slowly been transforming into this future version of himself. By this point, the MU has no doubt started performing in a rather vile manner, considering that most of his spell options are rather unwholesome. The auguries will still be useful, if less frequent. The communications will provide little new information, as the MU now has much of the knowledge and experience his future self was sharing. 

The process will continue until the MU reaches 16th level, at which point it will cease, along with most of the other weirdness, as he will have attained his destiny and become that evil manifestation with which he has been communicating. The Key will still provide the +1 bonus to saves and the doubling of 1st level spells, but all of the other powers and phenomenon will end. Henceforth, the MU will learn spells as normal.
More notes for the GM:
At all times, the MU's powers of choice remain. Even if he decides to follow the path of evil, he may not choose to do so in precisely the way his future self is advocating.
At the end of the process, he will most likely not become the Exact variant version of himself, with which he was in communication with at the beginning. The character's choices will ultimately determine the self he becomes. The magic of the Grimoires is such that it will create a link with the vilest, most powerful variant possible, but a synergy is at work, as the MU's Will begins to influence the events. He may gravitate towards a different variant, or create changes in the future self, with which he is in contact. Since it is himself, both statements will be true from a certain perspective. As the process progresses and then nears its end, the GM should gradually bring the future self into alignment with where the MU seems to be taking the character. Instead of “Evil,”  mere “evil” may be called for, or variations, such as Law, Chaos and Neutrality.