New Ideas: Tomes Power Foci and Appropriate Sacrifices


This is something I have put together for myself, and just want to share with people. If you don't like it don't use it, but if you do like it and use it then please tell me how you got on with it.

Raven: you are at liberty to share this with your mailing group if you want.

It can work with the standard sorcery rules in the book, or with Sorecery V1.1 found on another topic on this board.

Tomes and Power Foci
Arcane Tomes

Tomes is a collective term for any magical item that allows a sorcerer to cast a spell without direct knowledge of that spell. The item need not be intrinsically magical, but in the correct hands it allows the user to cast a spell. The most obvious example would be ancient mystical tomes written by great sorcerers of the past, but other items could be treated in the same way. A magical seal around a door might cast an opening spell if the correct words are spoken, a selection of religious artefacts might be able to cast blessings or protections upon those anointed by it.
The general rules for tomes are the same, but it is important that Tomes are unique pieces of highly valued arcane lore. Each one could have some very different or unusual effects.
Understanding the Tome
For a sorcerer to use a Tome, it must first be of a type appropriate to the background of the sorcerer. Arcane Tomes would be used by independents, acolytes and magicians, items of religious regalia could only be used by priests of that religion (or perhaps of religions strongly allied with that religion). A magic door or monarchs orb might require the caster be of a specific race or bloodline.
The caster need to have access to a single basic spell in the sphere of magic that the tome is based around. Unless the Tome is a basic spell when any sorcerer or dabbler can try to use it (with the previous restriction of background)
The caster needs to study the object for a number of days equal to the power points cost of the spell contained within. After this time the caster must make an appropriate skill check to see if the tome has been understood.
DC 10 + 2*PP of spell
The check should be made using an appropriate skill to the item.
Arcane Tome: Knowledge (arcana)
Religious regalia: Knowledge (religion)
An entrapped demon: Knowledge (outsider)
Other appropriate skills Perform (Ritual), Craft (alchemy), Heal, Perform (musical instrument)
If the check is successful the character knows how to use the item and can cast the spell using it.
If the check is unsuccessful the character may suffer unique ill effects.
Learning spells from Tomes
Tomes can be used to learn spells. Once a character has understood the tome they may then take that spell as one of their own any time they gain access to a new spell. They must meet the prerequisites for the spell.
Once this is done the caster does not need the tome, but might keep it if it has other unique powers.
Extra components
Some Tomes may require additional components for casting of the spells. These should depend on the nature of the spell, and are at the GMs discretion.
The components need not be items that are consumed, but could be specific locations or areas, a druidic circle, a church, a summoning circle.
Especially powerful spells (such as summoning named demons) may require something like the blood of a king or a unique flower as a component.
Casting the spell
The spell casting time is 4 times the normal time or one hour, whichever is greater. It can take the form of a ritual, religious ceremony, or quite meditation depending on the nature of the spell.
The caster uses his own sorcerer levels, power points and abilities just as if he had known the spell in the first place. Any corruption checks, skill checks, and benefits from the spell are made by or chosen by the caster as if he had known the spell in the first place.
Other casting options such as use of ritual sorcery can be used to cast the spell if appropriate.

Power Foci
Power foci are objects of magical significance that can be used to store power points. A sacrificial altar would be an example, as would a summoning circle made of gold inlaid into the ground, or a druidic stone circle.
Power foci are often ancient, very large, and certainly not portable. They are almost certainly dedicated to a certain type of spell, or type of caster. A summoning circle could only be used for summoning and binding outsiders, a druidic stone circle could only be used by druidic sects and an altar dedicated to the earth goddess would only be of use to her priests casting spells to her.
Storing power in Power Foci
There are two ways to store power in a power focus. Some foci use one or the other, some use both.
The first and simplest is sacrifice. If a sacrifice is performed upon the focus and the proper rites are performed the power can be stored in the focus rather than immediately dedicated to the sacrificer or his god.
The character makes a perform ritual check DC10. This stores one pp in the focus, for every 2 points the caster beat DC10 he can store an additional pp, up to a total of the number the sacrifice was worth (incuding the benefits of feats the caster might have).
If assistants are aiding the ritual then they each make an assist roll as a normal skill DC10 check if they pass they grant +2 to the primary.
Excess power
Excess power knocking around can be a very dangerous thing. Any power points not channelled into the focus (due to insufficiently good ritual check, or the focus being full) must be channelled harmlessly away. They cannot be taken by the caster, and are lost.
The caster must make a perform (ritual) DC 15+ excess pp check, or the magical feedback from the badly performed ritual will harm him. The excess power will cause 1d6 primal damage to the caster per pp in excess of those stored (will save DC 15 + pp for half). If this kills the caster a catastrophic release of energy results and the total of the pp released from the sacrifice are all released in an explosion (including those that just killed the sorcerer). This has a radius of 5ft per pp and does 1d6 damage per pp. Reflex save DC 10 + PP released for half damage.
If this explosion releases more pp than the focus could ever hold, the focus is destroyed.
Power Rituals
A power ritual can be performed and instead of the power points going to the sorcerer they can be channelled into the power focus instead. This is a much slower gradual accumulation of power and so suffers no threat of feedback.
Any power over the maximum stored by the focus is simply lost with no ill effect.
Using power from a focus
When casting spells (appropriate to the power focus) power points from the focus can be used to cast the spell in addition to any the caster provides.
The caster can take none, some or all of the power from the focus. The caster can supplement these power points with his own power points.
To channel the power he must make a DC10 + pp used skill check in an appropriate skill (knowledge arcane, knowledge religion, craft alchemy, knowledge nature etc… depending on the spell GM choice. If a spell has a skill as a prerequisite then that skill would be appropriate)
Additional sorcerers, acolytes, flunkies can assist this check with the appropriate skill.
If successful the power can be used. If the check is failed the power has to be grounded (see excess power above) If there is sufficient power remaining to cast the spell after a failure (and if the sorcerer and the focus are both intact) another attempt can be made.
The Power Focus is obviously used as a focus during the casting and so must be present and used during the casting.
Power foci strength
Each power focus has a strength, this is the number of power points it can hold. A small statue might be 1-2, a summoning circle in a private wizards tower might be 10. An altar dedicated in a large church might be as much as 15-25, the focal point of a cathedral in a capital city might be 30+.
Destruction of a power focus
If a power focus is destroyed while it contains energy, or while casting a spell that it is using its power points in it causes an explosion like the one in Excess power above. The focus will be utterly destroyed. Much of the surroundings could well be too.
The pp used to calculate the explosion are any remaining power points in the focus + the total pp cost of the spell (or spells) being cast at the time (if appropriate).
Dedicating power
At the GMs discretion it is possible for power to be dedicated to an entity or deity. The power points dedicated in this way might grant a boon by the entity or deity. Dedicating power in this way to a corrupt entity provokes a corruption check.
The nature of the boon should be left up to the GM and should be appropriate to the deity or entity the focus is dedicated to. It is highly appropriate for organised religions to use all the power of a focus (perhaps without even realising it) that is released in a service to dedicate to their deity, and in turn the deity will grow in power and look kindly upon those who participate.
A more unscrupulous sorcerer might dedicate sacrifices to a powerful chaos demon who might grant the sorcerer benefits, information, or possessions as a reward. But note these entities are often fickle, and find that building up such a servant is just a precursor to an amusing fall.
Power dissipation
Unspent power is lost at the rate of 1 pp per half hour. If a spell is being cast the focus loses no power.

Appropriate Sacrifices
The core rules contain information on sacrificing victims for magical power.
However some sacrifices are more appropriate than others. Some effects may never even be possible without an appropriate sacrifice. Inappropriate sacrifices might even anger the entity or deity they are for.
Summoning an imp to do your bidding might require a sacrificial goat, summoning Abbadon lord of Chaos might require a king, princess, or chosen child (one born into every 7th generation).
Appropriate sacrifices might also take different means, or have to be in a special location, the conjunction of 3 lay lines, the temple to mighty Anharat, the dark vault of Kish Kuth.
To reflect this in game terms an appropriate sacrifices grant power points as usual, but also grant a bonus to the magical roll of the caster equal to the amount of power points released divided by two.
This bonus can only be used in one specific spell to which the sacrifice was appropriate.
The Use of appropriate sacrifices can often provoke a corruption check.

Sacrifices of wealth and food

For some deities and entities blood sacrifice is not welcome, though it is still possible for a dedicated worshiper to show his appreciation by sacrificing other things.
A goddess of nature could reward sacrifices of food, animals flowers, a god of trade could reward sacrifice of gold, silver, art, the god of the sea would readily accept a sacrifice of a ship filled with such items (and possibly a worthy virgin to round the sacrifice off).

In game terms a sacrifice of 1 weeks worth of food for an individual would be worth 1 pp. for each additional power point the sacrifice must be doubled.
An offering of value 10 silver would be worth 1 pp. for every additional pp the offering must be doubled in value.
The ritual would take 1 hour per power point gained. These power points cannot be drained until the sacrifice is complete.

The power can be either dedicated to an individuals power or to an entity or deity (similar to a power focus above), or used in the casting of a spell immediately.

Examples of such sacrifices might be a harvest festival in dedication to gods of fertility and growth to ensure a bountiful harvest next season. A ship filled with gold, wine and fish in dedication to a calm seas and bountiful fish catches.

Sacrifices such as these can be absorbed by a power focus. Due to the slow nature of them there is no chance of overload due to excess power (unless a blood sacrifice is part of the sacrifice when that is dealt with as a normal blood sacrifice separate to the alternative sacrifice)
Examples of Unique Tomes

Tome of the seven rites of (unique demon name goes here)
This book contains three spells Contact, Summon and Bind the named demon. One rite to contact, three to summon and three to bind (although in game terms it is just those three spells not seven).
A sorcerer delving into the book will have to understand the spells in the order above, each one must be understood before the next can be attempted. The DC checks depend on the power points needed to cast the spell (i.e. the named demons HD) and take a number of days equal to the pp required to cast the spell.
The tome has been infused with the power of (named demon) and (named demon) is keen to get out and into the real world.
Once the sorcerer has learned the Summon spell he must make a Corruption check. If passed nothing happens, if failed the caster does not gain a corruption point, but is instead obsessed with summoning this entity.
The sorcerer will try to cast it as soon as he can. The sorcerer still makes the necessary preparations for the spell but is obsessed to cast it convinced in his purpose.
Casting the summoning spell without understanding the binding spell will be dangerous, and the entity will make every attempt to escape under its own free will.
If the sorcerer casts the Contact spell before understanding the other two he must make the corruption save above, failure again does not grant a corruption point, but makes the sorcerer obsessed with understanding and casting the summon spell as quickly as possible, significantly before he understands the binding spell.
If learning or casting the spells would provoke corruption checks, then the sorcerer must make one upon understanding or casting the spells as well (in addition to the special check above)

The Cup of the Chaos Lords
This ancient relic of past wars has been used on the eve of many battles to instil blood lust and strength in warriors before they go into battle. Often the Blood Letters of Krall would use the ritual before the final assault in a siege. They would do the ritual in full view of the defenders who knew that that night they would perish. The effect on morale was probably greater than the actual effect of the cup’s ritual.
The cup can be used by any sorcerer that supports the chaos Lords, rival religious or druidic sorcerers may not use the cup.
A DC 14 knowledge outsider check and two hours of studying are required to understand how to use the cup properly.
The cup may be used up to 12 times before any single battle. Using the cup provokes a corruption check (once per dedicated battle the DC is 9 + number of times the cup was used).
A human sacrifice must be made to the Chaos Lords before the cup can be used, the blood of the sacrifice being poured into the cup.
All the power points gained from the sacrifice are used in a minor good fortune spell that blesses anyone who drinks from the cup up to a maximum of 1 per 2 power points from the sacrifice (or 1 per 1 pp if the subjects are devout believers in the chaos lords). The pp from the sacrifice can be supplemented by power points from the sorcerer performing the ritual to affect more individuals.
To use the cup again for the same upcoming battle another sacrifice is needed. Each use takes 1 hour.
The effect must be dedicated to an upcoming battle within 12 hours. After 12 hours pass the effects wear off.
The effect lasts from the moment that battle starts to the end of the duration (5 minutes per scholar level of caster).
A scholar can gain additional power points from other sources (more sacrifices, or rituals) to channel into the cup in order to affect more people.
The Pillar of Bes
The Pillar of Bes (Egyptian Goddess of fertility) is a 12 ft high 3 ft wide cylindrical granite pillar, free from engravings, or decorations. It has granted the areas around it rich fertility, and the people who worship there fertility too. In the farmlands surrounding the Pillar of Bes there is rarely a season where food is not plentiful and villages abundant with life.
The Pillar like most totems and Maypoles is phallic in its symbolism, representing new life and growth.

The pillar is both a Tome and Power focus in its nature;
As a tome: it allows any worshiper of Bes (with access to a basic nature spell) to cast the Bounty of the Field spell. The sorcerer casting the spell using the pillar gains the Empower and Enlarge feats just for that spell.
To understand how to perform the spell takes an entire season, and a Knowledge religion check DC 25 or knowledge nature check DC 25. With instruction by someone who knows how to use it the check is reduced to DC15.

As a focus: In the 3 days leading up to the May Day festival; sacrifices (though not human) can be made at the base of the pillar to imbue it with power. Food and livestock are most common. These count as appropriate sacrifices at this time of year (see appropriate sacrifices above). The celebrations of the festivals in these three days count as a power ritual each person contributing to the power ritual (with a perform (have great time at festival) check of 10) It can store 60 power points in these three days (5 at any other time of the year) that can be spent casting the Bounty of the Field spell. Channeling power - for this spell only - requires no skill roll. If the caster already knows the spell and uses the pillar at this time to cast it, then the effected area is quadrupled: 4 square miles per 15 power points.

Using the power for another spell: It might be possible to use the power points for another spell, but very dangerous. Channeling checks would be necessary and the caster would certainly not be acting with permission of the local clergy or villagers or the will of bes, so conducting the spell in secret the night before the Bounty of the Field spell is cast would be the only time to do it. The sorcerer would use 2 power points from the pillar for each point of their spell, or 4 for each point if the spell is corrupting. The channeling check would be DC10 + 1 per pp actually used from the pillar (not used in the spell).

Dedication: at any time of the year any person can make a sacrifice to the Goddess, again food and livestock, not human. If dedicated to Bes the power points released might buy favour regarding a child’s health, a woman wishing to become pregnant, the fertility of a patch of land. Many such offerings are made by the pillar all year around. Effects of such offerings are up to the GM, but should bear in mind the means of the person giving the offering, a village chief would need to give more than a newly wed farmers wife.

Adventure Ideas: An unscrupulous sorcerer who needs more power to cast a particularly complex spell has decided to sneak to the pillar the night before the festival, and steal all the power stored in the Pillar to summon a demon. The players must stop him. Or he has already succeeded and summoned an enormous earth elemental, but the corruption of the sorcerer has spread to the elemental, and it is running rampage in the area. The players must stop the elemental, and capture the sorcerer so he can be executed for his crimes to return the power of the pillar, and appease Bes lest she forsake the area forever.
No, I only have the main rule book. I did scan some of the other books in a shop, but none seemed to leap out at me as being worth my meagre supplies of money.
I was attempting humor. You mean to say the Book of Skelos has been found and published? Well, there goes the neighborhood.
Sorry. I assumed it was a sourcebook.
I don't know much about the Conan background. I never read any conn books, I just like the system as it fits well with fantasy as written by most authors.
The Scrolls of Skelos is the name of the RL sorcery handbook produced by Mongoose Publishing. The Books of Skelos are a group of magical tomes in the Conan universe.
Thanks for the cool input, Ricardo! The pillar thing will appear in some form in my coming campaign.