Spirit Combat is a new type of mental contest tailor-made for the direct competition between minds/souls associated with creatures from the outer planes. The concept of Spirit Combat originated from ideas developed by Joe Rush and Steve Speyer in the early '80's which I heavily modified and expanded into what you see presented here. My purpose was to develop a system of mental combat that could be associated with the use of summoning, magic circles, and the creation of intelligent magical weapons and items. I always felt the few spells associated with this field of study, such as magic jar and trap the soul, were not up to the task involved. The core rules describe how entrapping a creature within a magical circle of confinement lowers Intelligence and makes them more vulnerable.... but to what? Though a mental discipline, psionics does not fit into this niche at all, being more of a mental version of normal magic. And I felt that attempts to deal with the fiends on this new terrain had to rise beyond the simple use of raw magical power. The characteristic used in determining this type of combat is Willpower (Pow for short), and is described on my "New Player Character Stats" webpage.
Do your players feel they can go toe-to-toe with the master
of the mindscape? The eaters of consciousness? The harvesters of souls?
Not bloody likely! But they might have fun trying! ;-)
Because the mind and soul are considered sacred and sacrosanct,
from the upper planes will normally resist all attempts to enter into
Those of the neutral planes may or may not accept the challenge,
on the situation and the nature of their attacker. Those of the lower
will almost always accept the challenge, knowing that they are, of
the superior beings and certain to win. Also, the benefits to be gained
are great. Generally they do not initiate combat between themselves
if they were to lose, their enemies might discover important secrets.
there is always a chance, no matter how slim, that a creature
a higher score will lose to another with a much lower score. Hence they
are generally under orders from their superiors to not initiate combat
with the enemy except under certain circumstances, though most will not
allow a challenge to go unanswered. Most evil planars have permission
squash any weakling non-planars who have the gall to challenge,
their knowledge, and collect their souls if possible. Creatures with
Willpower such as imps, spinagons and rutterkin (generally, any planar
creature with a Pow of less than 14), will always flee if at all
or attack physically when challenged.
The Book of the Guardian radiates magic and outwardly resembles an ancient, well-crafted spellbook. If anyone opens the book and so much as glances upon any page, the entrapped spirit of a lower planar guardian immediately reaches out mentally and attacks them. This spirit should have a Pow score of between 14 and 18 (the DM can choose this to more evenly match the PC most likely to pick up and read the book). Suggestions for the trapped creature include hezrou tanar'ri (Pow 17-23), red abishai (14-16) or hamatula (17-18) baatezu, or (if the DM is feeling particularly cruel) a mezzoloth yugoloth (15-17). DMs who use 1st Edition rules have a wider range of possibilities, where some of the true demons have lower intelligences. If the PC wins the combat, he or she can peruse the pages without further interference, and learn about Spirit Combat technique and the types of actions that can be taken after victory (see below). The guardian will not attack that particular PC again.
If the PC loses the battle (as happened in my campaign), then the
really begins. The entire battle with the guardian will take less than
2 rounds, so it easily possible that the rest of the party will not
the momentary trance as the PC stares into the Book. The magic
the Book enables the victorious guardian to immediately Soul
no matter how many points it has left. After the switch, it will be
disoriented, but the disorientation does not last long. The fiend
employ any of its physical attacks, because it is now in a human or
body, but it can employ any of its magical attacks! (Hence the
nastiness of using a mezzoloth.) A hezrou is a likely as not to
launch into a violent attack upon the party, but an abishai, hamatula
mezzoloth will likely attempt to masquerade as the original PC, size up
the party's abilities, and bide their time until they can either get
or destroy the group. The creature may even use its inate abilities
faking spellcasting actions to maintain the masquerading of a wizard or
priest. The remaining PCs may eventually notice something awry if they
are observant enough... a flash of cruelty, a short temper, a lack of
knowledge. In my campaign, my players were suspicious fairly quickly
incapacitated their "friend". The second wizard then inspected the Book
and was immediately launched into a combat with its guardian... which
then discovered (after losing the battle and getting sucked into the Book
himself) was now his friend! So now the mind of wizard 1 was in wizard
2's body, wizard 2 was in the Book, and a tanar'ri was in
1's body!!! A real mess indeed. It was eventually sorted out by
wizards 1 and 2, then forcing the tanar'ri to look onto the Book
again and combatting it a second time, this time the wizard won and
back into his real body. Because they were all relatively evenly
none of the switching could have been done without the Book
enough points left after each battle).
To differentiate a creature's original Willpower ability score from
its current mental state, the latter is refered to as its Power score.
Power starts off equal to Willpower, but may be less after a Spirit
round, or after confinement within a magical circle, level-draining, enfeeblement,
or other circumstances that effect a creature's mental state.
A roll of 1 on the d20 always means failure in that combat round, and may result in a Critical Miss. Roll a save vs current Power and consult the following table for additional "mental damage" over and above the standard 1 point subtracted from the loser's score.
Equal to or under Power score - no additional damage
> Pw to 2xPw - 1 point additional damage
> 2xPw to 3xPw - 2 points
> 3xPw to 4xPw - 3 points
> 4xPw to 5xPw - 4 points
> 5xPw - 5 points
A roll of 20 on the d20 is a critical hit, and always means that the opponent will loose a point (or more) even if the opponent still won the combat round (because they have a higher current Power score and rolled high on their d20). Roll a d100 percentile, and consult the following table:
01-60 +1 damage
61-80 +2 damage
81-90 +3 damage
91-96 +4 damage
97-99 +5 damage
00 +6 damage
Once combat stops, Power points can be slowly regained. Any sort of
activity limits recovery to 2 points per turn. Resting and deep
will enable the recovery of 1 point per round. During this time of
mental capacity, a character should also be more vulnerable to other
of mental attacks such as psionics, enchantment spells, and certain
planar environments, and DM's should modify saving throws appropriately
as they see fit.
Soul Compel 1 As suggestion spell
Soul Stun 2 Stunned 2d4 rounds
Soul Bruise 3 Temporarily lowers Intelligence and Willpower by 2 points for 2d6 hours
Soul Command 4 As Domination
Soul Warp 5 Inflicts a form of insanity (choose from your favorite table)
Soul Switch 6 Minds exchange bodies
Soul Search 6 Search opponent's mind and memory, can learn history, desires, true name, etc., nothing can be hidden
Soul Wound 7 Permanently lowers Intelligence and Willpower by 1 point
Soul Meld 8 Two souls within one body, losing soul does not know about 2nd soul present
Soul Containment 10 Forces soul into an object, can be used to create special magic items
Soul Banish 12 Soul banished from body, becoming a free spirit
Soul Slumber 14 Sleep for 1 month, cannot be awakened short of a wish,
expending additional points results in longer sleep periods:
+1 1 year
+2 10 years
+3 100 years
+4 500 years
Soul Slavery 18 Victim becomes a total slave to the victor in every way
Soul Death 20 Permanent death, soul is destroyed, no resurrection is possible
<17 1/2 unit
17-18 1/5 unit
19-20 1/10 unit
21-22 1/20 unit
23-25 1/50 unit
26+ 1/100 unit
The actual value of a "unit" varies according to the difference between scores of the two combatants. Obviously defeating a creature with half your Willpower shouldn't reap the same benefits as defeating one with a higher score.
Therefore, "one unit" is equal to (Pw of Enemy divided by Pw of Character)² to a maximum value of 1 point. This is assuming that the character won the combat, of course.
Though it is highly unlikely that a non-outer planar creature will
a Willpower of over 23, remember that the score can never exceed
as modified by the chart at the top of this page. Wishes may be used to
raise Willpower in the same manner as any other characteristic, i.e.
16 it takes 10 wishes per point gained. However, not even a wish can
Willpower over the Int+Lvl maximum.
As a final note, I'd like encourage DMs to adapt this new technique to their
own special campaign circumstances. If you find Spirit Combat useful, let me
know. And if you find new ways of using Spirit Combat, or develop addition Spirit
Combat rules for things like magical circles and magic item creation... send
me a note describing it! ;-)
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