All body parts of dead Maleficar are valuable for use in creating Fetishes, but the true wealth resides within their skulls.
Every day of their lives the Maleficar’s void-touched brain etches patterns into the inside of their cranium, like moth larvae burrowing through the bark of a tree. The longer they live the more ornate and extensive the pattern, which, if deciphered, bears the formula to hitherto unknown magic.
When a Maleficar’s head is taken, the inside of their skull will contain an unknown spell of level equal to the highest level spell a traditional Magic-User would have been able to memorise.
This will require you to make some shit up.
Some spells rumoured to be contained within the lost Cranial Stacks of the Bibliothèque Verrotten:
Larval Pit of the Cosmic Hive
Maleficar Level 6
Components: Fingernails from the intended victim, amniotic fluid, a live wasp.
Take the amniotic fluid from one who has not yet birthed, heat it in a copper bowl over an open flame, add the fingernails without ceremony, the aroma will draw the wasp.
When the wasp settles within the bowl drink deeply, and incant the words when you feel its final dying sting.
Within the victim’s belly the larvae begins to grow. Within days the nausea turns to debilitating pain, within weeks their belly distends to hold the larval girth, within two months their withered corpus breaths its last.
At the next full moon the cosmic chrysidine digs its way through flesh and gravedirt to unfurl its terrible wings under black sky and knowing stars.
(It still remembers the first belly that brought it into this world; yours. It will seek you out, whether to serve you or to lay its own brood within you is yet to be seen.)
Maleficar Level 9
Duration: 1 Turn/level
Casting Time: 2 Rounds
The Black Colossus manifests as an oily mass of shadow, crawling up walls, creeping through cracks, digesting flesh with its touch.
HD equal to caster level, it can only be harmed by flame or sunlight.
The Colossus will follow its last command until the duration ends or the caster spends a Round to mentally implant a new instruction. It will destroy anyone who directly tries to harm it, but can be commanded to place itself in harm’s way.
When the duration ends so does the caster’s control over the Colossus. It holds nothing but hate for you.
Interloper of the Flesh
Maleficar Level 3
Duration: 1 Turn/level
Casting Time: 1 Round
The Maleficar swaps bodies with a chosen target. To do this they must either be able to see the target, or be in possession of something that belongs to them.
If one of the bodies is killed, the consciousness it was carrying is destroyed.
When the spell ends, each surviving consciousness is drawn back to its original shell. If the body is dead they are not drawn back alone. Effect as Summon.
Maleficar Level 4
Duration: 2 Rounds/level
Casting Time: 1 Round
A seed of thought-stuff is implanted in the target’s head.
Deep-held terror of something physical seeps into the seed, which quickly swells to merge into the target’s brain matter, cracking their head open like an egg and pouring out in a translucent pink manifestation of their fear, dragging the body along by its spinal cord.
The manifestation will turn on the target’s allies first, but once they are gone it will seek the destruction of every other living thing until the duration ends and the jellied brain matter slops to the ground.
|The Target Fears..|
|1||A pile of melding horses, shivering and snapping their teeth.|
|2||A starving two-headed she-wolf, her dead young still hanging from her womb.|
|3||A great winged thing from beyond, its body hidden beneath a mass of writhing parasitic worms.|
|4||Seven tentacles lined with the emerging seeking hands of children.|
|5||A frog god, its tongue ensnares them to be torn apart by the humanoid amphibian horrors growing from the flesh within its mouth.|
|6||A broiling mass of polyp-like cells, growing ever wider to smother and digest them.|
|7||A twisted tower of gnarled stonework, siren songs from within call them one by one to climb its sides and enter it from above. (Target may save vs. Magic, if they succeed move on to the next target, someone must enter every Round.)|
|8||A giant fish. In the first Round it splits open and turns inside-out, in the second Round 2d10 venomous lampreys emerge from its organs to seek prey.|
|9||An amorphous mass of flesh carried by the deformed legs of children. Arms and mouths and eyes and parts unknown emerge and retract from its bulk as it lumbers towards them.|
|10||A young woman in a heavy hooded cloak, clasped at the throat. When she opens it there is nothing but darkness within apart from the dozens of thin tendrils that slosh out and penetrate their flesh, draining them to a husk.|
Wizard skulls contain spells! Oh my God of course! This is good news.
And yea, the people did rejoice, and cut the head from all users of magic who did cross their paths.
Finally a reason for serpent-men to relentlessly hunt the wizards in my party . . . finally a reason for the squeamish wizards in my party to behead everyone who casts a spell. Sometimes you don’t even know what your game is missing, and when you see it, it feels so right, and you know it was there all along, hidden, but singing from behind a cloud
Oh Nate that was terribly poetic.
Last night I got drunk and told all my friends about this.
Don’t. Post. Drunk.
Horrible and Brilliant. Larval Pit of the Cosmic Hive are just some gorgeous syllables and the spell is brilliant also. Did I mention you are brilliant?
Oh Tom you do go on.
(Do go on.)
Oh the ramifications of beheadings did not immediately occur to me. There would be significant motivation for magical academies to round up and decapitate all spellcasters for the secrets in their skulls and an opposing motivation for fervently anti-magical factions to conduct pogroms where Maleficarii get their skulls completely smashed that the forbidden lore (which in this setting is legitimately baleful)not be available to potentially dangerous factions. Indeed this wold probably be where ye ancient association between priests and maces, warhammers, morgensterns and mauls arose – they are the best tools for the job if the job is rendering harmless blasphemous bony brainpans.
While magical academies and overarching religions are things I don’t have much interest in including in my game, in a more traditional setting this would definitely add an interesting element.
In Cörpathium it’s going to mean a lot of solitary Maleficar taking each other’s heads as the opportunity presents itself, and thanks to your comment the occasional anti-magic cult springing up to swing some flails.
By magical academies I of course meant shadowy cabals of weirdos in service of tyrannical entities that may once have been men.
Do the Great Old Ones talk directly to you or are you just interpreting the dark, incoherent mutterings from the void? Fair notice; I will be stealing a lot of your ideas for my own campaign.
They tend to use me as a consultant, but as they pay no heed to the natural flow of time it ends up seeming like I’ve been influenced by them instead of they by me.
Theft is encouraged, just be sure to tell me about the terrible and hilarious consequences.
Keep up the lovely postings. I find all your spells great – I must remember to come here next time I have a party that finds some horrible grimore. This post of course leads one to suspect that a powerful wizard is simple going to be walking around with a mess of skulls hanging off his person. Also I would presume that using a maleficar’s skull in the manner of a scroll releases his/her spirit with consequences that demand a table. Ok, mostly they would just demand a level modified WIS check to see if the scroll reader picks up a mental hitchhiker.
Yeah there’s going to be a lot of skull accessories, I was telling Roy, our serial Magic-User about this last night and you should have seen his face light up.
Scrolls aren’t really a thing in Cörpathium since I ditched the idea of spells as a quantifiable resource, so reading from an object or a skull would be the same as reading from a spellbook.
However, I’m sure there’d be all kinds of terrible things that could happen if you made a mistake in deciphering the patterns a la Read Magic or you prepared the skull as an actual Fetish and it overloaded..
Trepanation: The Abridged Text.
I want to play Baron Harkonnen as wizard who does all the awful things before personally skinning, de-braining, and boiling a skull of the wispiest bit of spell-caster you ever laid eyes on.