It’s been a while since I’ve posted on this blog. I make no excuses, other than I’ve been busy. Busy with an internship that I’ve been meaning to post about, busy with living in New York City (also meant to post about that), busy with Borderlands 2 and a dozen other things. I’m not running any D&D or Pathfinder games at the moment, which means that I’m not writing up random tables or new rulesets, and I’m not inventing new systems to try out. I’ll try to fix that at some point soon.
The Hungry Grimoire
Note: Do not throw this book into a campaign without thought, as it may completely change the kind of game it is. If you’re cool with the game slowly becoming filled with horror, then by all means, go ahead.
This thick, heavy book is bound in surprisingly soft leather of a pleasant light brown. On the front cover is a stylized image of an open mouth, stamped deep into the material, edged in the words “To Feast on Gods and Kings.” The cover and pages are warm to the touch, but anyone handling it for any extended length of time will find their hands starting to feel cold and clammy as the tome draws the heat from their blood. When the Hungry Grimoire comes into the possession of a new owner, it will initially appear as though it is full of blank pages, with the exception of the first, which bears the line “It Writes In Blood.” Any time a large amount of fresh blood is spilled on or around the Grimoire (within one or two feet), the liquid will vanish and a new spell will appear written on its pages. This amount may be gained by killing and draining a rabbit-sized or larger creature. Also note that the effect will not work with any substance that is not blood, so anyone trying to get new spells by sacrificing a creature that runs on ichor or oil or some other weird substance will get nothing for their efforts. If a smaller amount of blood than is required for a full spell is sacrificed, then faint, unreadable lines will appear on the pages where words might be if given more ink. This effect fades after about a day.
It is possible for up to eight spells appear in the book through the above method. As each spell is gained by sacrificing blood to it, the owner of the Grimoire will discover certain things changing about their own past. The following changes occur as each spell is added.
- People whisper about unknown atrocities committed by the character in a distant land. Unfounded rumors go around that the character is a murderer who evaded justice. In a society where murder of a citizen is not really a big deal (Viking halls, barbarian wilds) then they murdered someone important. Never anyone specific, just “Killed her own chief” or something like that.
- Substantiated rumors are going around that the character killed a specific important person. There may be minor bounties posted for information.
- Someone shows up and hunts the character mercilessly for killing their father/mother/brother/lover/crush/whatever. The character does not remember ever killing this person.
- The character encounters two or three deluded people who have taken something that the character did in their past as a holy act, and believe him/her to be a god, to which they have been offering human sacrifice. They will try to get the character to accept sacrifices personally. If the character tries to get them to stop, they will declare him/her to be an imposter or false prophet and attack. This is the first level where there might be any signs that the Grimorie is affecting events—the cultists will refer to themselves as “Children of the Hungry Book.”
- Character bears a strange resemblance to a terrifying serial killer who evaded justice in the area half a dozen years ago. If the locals are pressed for further details, it will become evident that this serial killer matches the character perfectly in every detail except murdering and ritually dismembering people. The killer is wanted dead, and the bounty is sizable. The serial killer’s real name is unknown, but the title given to him is “The Feast.”
- There is solid evidence linking the character to heinous crimes—mass murders, ritual killings, creepy stuff like that. The locals recognize him/her and want blood. The local name for the character is the Man/Woman of the Book.
- Character shares a strikingly similar name to a demon of madness and death worshipped by an infamous degenerate cult. Children of the Hungry Book again. The cult is now relatively few in number, but that is only a very recent development, after a purge led by noted local paladins several months back. The appearance, mannerisms and some deeds attributed to the demon worshipped by the cult are identical to the character.
- As 7, but the cult was never wiped out. The character’s name/title is well known, and they are one of the most feared and hated figures in this land. Every day there are murders committed, sacrifices made, in their name. Paladins are actively hunting the character, intent on making him/her pay for his/her crimes.
The Hungry Grimoire cannot be destroyed except by a blade forged in a single night under a sky with no moon. If stabbed with such a blade, the book will burst into flame, likely causing severe burns on whoever is doing the stabbing.
The spells that may be written in the tome are as follows, in the order that they appear. Game system is assumed to be D&D 3.5, because that is what I am most familiar with.
Vampiric Bite (level 1): As part of this spell, the character bites exposed flesh on an enemy, draining 1d4 hit points and gaining 1d4 hit points. To do this, the character must make a successful touch attack.
Barbed Flesh (level 2): Casters skin becomes tough and grows barbs. AC is increased by 4 for the duration of the spell, and anyone grappling with them takes 1d4 damage. Duration is a round per caster level.
Animate Dead (level 4): As in the Player’s Handbook. Quick summary: create skeletons and/or zombies.
Magic Jar (level 5): As in the Player’s Handbook. Quick summary: Lets you possess another creature.
Burst (level 6): Single target bursts open, throwing blood and entrails everywhere. Deals 1d6 damage per caster level as the body ruptures. Even if this spell does not kill them, the target loses their next turn as they recover.
Finger of Death (level 7): As in the Player’s Handbook. Quick summary: Kills one creature by poking them.
All Friends Fade (level 8): All allies of single target make a Will save, DC 25. Failure means that all of the target’s allies view them as hostile, and will try to kill them without remorse or hesitation. Range is line-of-sight.
Kill Self (level 0): Character dies in a manner that instantly destroys their body. They are forever enshrined in the mythos of the world as a terrible demon, with human sacrifice made every day by the cult that spreads across the land, blotting out all that is good and just. The Hungry Grimoire becomes empty once more.