Rules For Summoning with Absturated Tomes
|The one and only Timo Ketola|
Skim through all those links yet? Good. Here are my adapted summoning rules, more or less based on all the stuff above and adapted for my home game. Let's check it out:
Faded Ink, Missing Text - There is a chance the tome has become worn through long years of inactivity, its bloody inks becoming difficult to read or vanishing entirely. Roll percentile dice against the "% faded" number for each ritual in the tome. Any results above that chance are fine - no problems.
A result under this chance indicates enough missing text to cause a problem for that particular ritual. Note down the percentile die result: this is now the target number to beat (see below). Then roll on this disaster table to determine what goes wrong when the conjurer attempts the corrupted ritual.
Anyone reading through the book gets a DC 20 spellcraft check to notice something is amiss (assuming the book doesn't come out and TELL you - not all these tomes are talkative).
Recovering Lost Text - The book needs blood, for it is alive - in a way - and can re-write its contents through absorbing vital fluids. Every HD of sentient being (INT > 3) sacrificed to the book will reduce the "% faded" by 5%. These improvements to a tome are permanent (in the span of most adventurers' lifetimes, anyway). Once the "% faded" chance is below your target number (noted previously), the ritual is totally safe to use.
Red Herrings - Millennia-old sorcerers preserved in book form do sometimes fuck with you. Occasionally extra steps in the ritual or additional components will be listed that aren't actually necessary. These will never lead to a disaster, but cost more money and time and generally make life more difficult for PCs.
Extra Clues - If the conjurer sacrifices enough to bring the '% faded' chance to 0, some useful detail will appear - perhaps an extra magical component, an extra verse of the incantation. It will grant the conjurer a bonus to his skill check when conducting the ritual itself. [These are specific to each ritual and detailed in their individual entries]
Summoning - Once the conjurer has the necessary components, he performs the ritual. Assuming no disaster occurs as above, he must make a skill roll. The DC varies, each entry will have its own details. The text of the tome itself includes information on its difficulty and how likely the conjurer is to succeed. [You can tell the player what target numbers he needs to roll]
The outcome will be one of three things:
Success: The player made the roll.The ritual works. Great job! Now the conjurer can summon the entities involved anytime, with the relevant spell.
Partial Success: Failing the roll by a margin of 5 or less. The ritual worked, but the conjurer's control is not total. Something will go wrong. Maybe not right now, but eventually.
Failure: Failing the roll by 6 or more (or rolling a natural 1). You're screwed!
The first summoning tome in my game world is called Tanith Loraxalin. More information can be found in part one of this series. This is the first binding ritual detailed within:
Binding of the Men of Peace (0% faded)
Gentle dwellers of damp underworld caves, these humanoids are short and reptilian with translucent bluish bodies. Also called "Anemone Men" because instead of heads, a cup of glowing fronds opens up from their necks. These can stretch out a great distance, and the Men of Peace use them to sense vibrations nearby, allowing them to "see." They aren't malevolent but every part of their bodies is extremely poisonous.
The ritual itself is one of the simplest as these things go. It must be conducted in total darkness, mimicking the nighted caverns where the Men of Peace sleep. The slightest glow from moon, star or torch will prevent their appearance. In this darkness the conjurer pours out a pool of shallow water, covering at least a 20'x20' area. Placing several hunks of raw meat on the ground, he intones the words, tempting the Men from their sleep to come and feed. A soft blue glow will emanate from the water, one rarely seen above ground. In this light alone the Men of Peace will come, and if his offering is accepted they will remember it even in their deep dreams and come at his summons in the future.
Mechanics: The minimum level for performing this ritual is 2nd. The player makes a DC 16 check with a bonus equal to: character level + spellcasting stat modifier (INT, WIS or CHA depending on class).
Success: The Men of Peace will appear and feast on the offering. Later, they'll recognize the conjurer in their dreams. He can summon 1d4 by casting Monster Summoning I, and none will ever attack him. Unlike other summoned creatures the Men will remain indefinitely until destroyed. Mostly they just sleep, and like to stay in one area instead of following the caster around. As long as they remain summoned the conjurer cannot regain the spell slot used to summon them. It is bound up with their presence. When they are all destroyed or banished he may memorize a new spell normally.
In addition, summoning the Men of Peace does not give the caster any special power to 'banish' or dismiss them. The only way for them to leave is to destroy them.
Anemone Men: AL Neutral, Init +1, Per +8, Reach 10', Move 20'
2 HD, Atk touch +1 (poison sting), Fort +6, Ref +1, Will +3
AC 10, BAB +1, CMB +1, CMD 12, Morale 9
Poison: Fort DC 14 (roll twice) - Pass twice, excruciating pain (1d6 damage & a morale check). Fail once, the blue sleep (dream-filled coma for 1d6 hours). Fail both, agonizing death.
Partial Success: The Men are bound successfully, but the conjurer's likeness is forgotten in their deep blue dreams. When they are first summoned everything is fine. If the conjurer leaves their presence for at least a day, the Men will not recognize him in the future - treating him and his friends like any other trespasser in their territory. This process repeats anytime the Men are summoned.
Failure: 1d4 Men of Peace arrive during the ritual, confused and half-awake. Not sure what is real and what a dream, they attack the closest thing that moves, attempting to sting it, remove its eyeballs and eat the rest. After a given Man has poisoned one victim and eaten a little, it wakes up somewhat and can make a reaction roll on this table.
Red Herring: None now.
Extra Clue: With this ritual completely restored, Tanith remembers the use of Mandrake Root. Growing in darkness and moisture in the shape of a human, this plant's magic resonates sympathetically with the Men of Peace. Obtaining a whole root and offering it along with the meat will add +2 to the conjurer's skill roll.
Example of Play
Guzboch the goblin cleric of Tsathoggua wants to bind the Men of Peace - there is a standard 20% chance that Tanith's text for this ritual is faded or incomplete, but if he's lucky he can still pull it off. The DM secretly rolls a 3%, so missing text has caused a problem. Rolling on the original d20 mishap table, the result is a 16 - that's Not What I Expected! When Guzboch performs the ritual, the way is opened for an Abhorrer. Absalom Glop, the Excruciator, steps through the portal to make everyone's life miserable.
After some soul-searching Guzboch sacrifices an underling to Tanith, reducing the chance of corruption from 20% to 15%. This is still well above the 3% roll, and Guzboch is going to need plenty more victims. However, the DM re-rolls on the disaster table. Too bad! A 19 is rolled, with a -1 modifier giving an 18 - You Will Never Be The Same! The goblin cleric has begun his slow descent into occult madness.
Sacrificing a few more goblins, Guzboch brings the % faded to 0. Tanith also recalls that the ritual uses mandrake root, which grows in the dark near standing water. If Guzboch can find some, he will make his next summoning check with a +2 modifier.
After a thorough search by his underlings, Guzboch has the mandrake root. He makes his DC 16 summoning roll with a +9 bonus: +4 for being 4th level by this point, +3 for WIS (this is the statistic he uses to cast spells - Wizards can't have all the fun), +2 for using the mandrake root. He rolls a modified 18. Finally, a success! The Men of Peace come to feed, and later he summons them to guard his treasure vault.
[In Land's End there really isn't anywhere the players can 'go research things,' unless they hand the question off to Vantadel, an expensive sage. I needed a different way for characters to solve the problems posed by corrupted texts and ritual disasters, and the absturated tomes of Incunabuli seemed a perfect fit! Be careful to avoid DM dick moves though, since the tomes can communicate with the PCs but may give them false information that could get them killed...]
Next up, binding rituals for the rest of Tanith Loraxalin, and maybe ideas for some other terrible tomes scattered around the campaign world. I can't tell you how excited I am to have my home players deal with the presence of this terrible tome one way or another!
Play this on your next dimly-lit dungeon crawling marathon: