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The Book of Voices:

by Geoff Gander

The Book of Voices was originally written in AC 904, by a now-deceased Alphatian wizardess in Citadel, Bettellyn. This book is special in that the spirit of an ancient Carnifex wizard of Y'hog has been bound within it. Those of his spells deemed by the wizardess to be noteworthy were transcribed, and his soul was commanded to ward the book until it was destroyed, or until a suitable successor was found. The Carnifex wizard, named Katheg, still haunts the book today, though the whereabouts of this unique work are unknown.

This spellbook is bound in a dull red leather cover, sealed with a small golden clasp. It measures nine inches wide by 12 inches long, and it contains 20 leaves of parchment, eight of which have spells on them (the remainder are blank). Embossed in gold thread on the front cover is a large mouth, with pronounced canines and a forked tongue. The clasp itself does not appear to have a keyhole, and if anyone touches the clasp, or tries to tamper with the book in any way, a guttural voice emanates from the tome, asking, "Seek ye the perilous Path of true Magick and unearthly Pow'r, the One Source, the very Wellspring of Cunning Artificers?" If the person answers affirmatively, the clasp seemingly melts into the book, and it can be opened. If there is even the slightest amount of doubt in the person's mind, the book produces an electric shock, doing 2d6 points of damage (no save).

Once the book has been opened, Katheg's spirit becomes active, embedding itself partially into the opener's mind. This linkage allows the owner to read the book itself, which is written in the Carnifex script. Whenever the book is opened, Katheg will try to communicate with the owner in his or her mother tongue, though his voice is always guttural and sibilant. He will routinely ask the reader about events in the modern world, and about the goings-on of nations that have not existed for millennia. Should the reader ask, Katheg is a veritable font of knowledge about the geographical and political facts of Mystara circa BC 7600, though none of this information will be readily understandable to modern Mystarans. At no time, however, does Katheg reveal what he was in life, nor does he provide any information about the Outer Beings mentioned in the spells, save for the fact that they are powerful.

As time passes, Katheg will begin to ask more personal questions, asking about the reader's life, family, and so on. At all times he is pleasant and polite. This is part of a plan on his part to eventually try to take over the reader's body without anyone noticing the change. Once he has determined that he knows enough about his potential victim to take his or her place (the DM should determine randomly), he will engage in a contest of wills with the owner. Both Katheg and the reader must make Intelligence and Wisdom contests, with the person rolling the lowest beneath their scores succeeding. Katheg's Intelligence is 18, and his Wisdom is 14. If Katheg wins, he immediately takes over the reader's body, and the reader's soul is banished into the book for a period of 6 months, after which he or she may try to take over another reader's body to escape. If Katheg loses, he is trapped in the book for another 50 years in a dormant state, after which he may try to steal a different body. In either case, the reader will learn of Katheg's true nature once the contest is over. If Katheg is defeated, and at some later period gains a body, he will seek out the person who defeated him, in order to gain vengeance.

The book itself contains several spells relating to the Outer Beings, as well as some basic information about the means of communicating with them. It should be noted that Katheg did not share all of the spells he knew; only those that he felt he could afford to share with the wizardess, so as not to arouse suspicion. The following spells are contained with the book's pages, at one page per spell:

1st level: read magic, detect magic, magic missile, light, cause pain

2nd level: continual light, rending claw

3rd level: acidic blast, fireball, contact lesser servitor, summon lesser servitor

4th level: contact Outer Being

Cause Pain (1st level spell):
Range: 50'
Duration: Concentration
Effect: Causes extreme pain to anyone within range.
This spell allows the caster, through concentration, to inflict severe pain on an opponent. The opponent may make a Save vs. Spells each round to ignore the sensation. The pain itself causes no physical damage, though the person affected will have a penalty of +5 to his or her AC, as well as a further -5 penalty to all actions. The caster is also able to switch targets at the beginning of each round, though only one person at a time may be affected. If the caster is injured in any way, the spell fails.

Rending Claw (2nd level spell):
Range: 0' (caster only)
Duration: 6 rounds/level of caster
Effect: Allows caster to claw opponents.
This spell causes the caster to grow long, barbed claws on each hand, which are capable of doing 2d4 points of damage. Any person who is hit by these claws must also make a Save vs. Poison or fall violently ill for 1d2 days, as a result of a non-lethal poison present in the claws. The shape of the claws makes it impossible for the caster to hold any objects, or wield any weapons, for the duration of the spell. This spell also gives the caster two claw attacks for the duration.

Acidic Blast (3rd level spell):
Range: 100'
Duration: Instantaneous
Effect: Shoots a stream of acid at a selected target.
Devised by wizards loyal to Galhossian the Tyrant during the Lhomarrian Civil War, this spell was intended as a means of weakening even the strongest and most heavily-armoured fighters. The caster is able to shoot a stream of acid, which hits the target automatically and clings to him or her, doing 1d8 damage per round. The victim may Save vs. Dragon Breath for half damage, but will continue taking damage until the acid is nullified by immersion in water, which renders it inert. In addition to taking damage, the victim's clothing and armour are also affected - leather armour takes 3 rounds to dissolve, scale mail takes 4 rounds, chain mail takes 5 rounds, and so on - with every one point increase in armour class equalling an extra round before the armour becomes useless. For magical armour, add one round for every plus - i.e.: leather armour +1 takes 4 rounds to dissolve. Generally speaking, only evil wizards tend to use this spell, and some priests serving the Outer Beings have been known to cast it as well.

Contact Lesser Servitor (3rd level spell):
Range: 0' (caster only)
Duration: Three questions
Effect: Allows the caster to contact a member on one of the lesser servitor races of the Outer Beings.
Casting this spell allows the caster to establish communications with a lesser servitor of the Outer Beings, either within the Prime Material or Ethereal Planes. This line of communication lasts until the lesser servitor answers three of the caster's questions. The lesser servitor may answer these questions in any way it desires, either as a "yes/no", or a more detailed response. The caster does not control which lesser servitor is contacted, nor is there any guarantee that the servitor in question will know anything useful.

Summon Lesser Servitor (3rd level spell):
Range: 0' (caster only)
Duration: 1 turn/level of caster
Effect: Summons one lesser servitor for the duration of the spell.
This spell, when cast, summons a lesser servitor to the plane currently occupied by the caster. The servitor will, for the duration of the spell, obey the commands of the caster, as though it was under a geas. Any command may be given except for those that might endanger the life of the servitor, in which case the caster's control is broken. Examples include ordering the servitor to kill itself, to attack anything whose hit dice or levels exceed its own (i.e.: anything larger or visibly more powerful than itself), or to go somewhere that is obviously extremely dangerous. This is up to the DM. The servitor will also take commands literally, even if its Intelligence is high enough to make this normally impossible. As a result, the caster must word his or her orders very carefully. The caster also has no control over what kind of lesser servitor is summoned; the choice is up to the DM. It should be noted that if a type of servitor is summoned, which cannot normally survive in the environment to which it is summoned, it will suffer the full effects of that exposure. Finally, if an intelligent servitor is summoned, it will likely remember its summoner, and take vengeance upon that person at some later date.

Contact Outer Being (4th level spell):
Range: 0' (caster only)
Duration: One question or one insight
Effect: Allows the caster to ask one question of an Outer Being, or to gain one insight.
This spell was originally used by the Carnifex wizards and priests of Y'hog to contact their masters, the Outer Beings, in order to gain instructions or to have questions answered. The caster of this spell has a chance, determined on the table below, of contacting the Outer Beings, imprisoned as they are away from the minds of mortals.

D 100 roll Result Notes for Caster (what DM tells player)
01-40 Nothing Feels only blackness.
41-75 Disturbing images Vague impressions, nightmares for 1d4 nights.
76-90 One insight Learn something about current events that only They know.
91-95 One question One question gets answered (answer comes in a weird dream).
96-99 Insight & question Same as above two, but both happen together.
00 Sharing of minds For one instant caster's mind becomes one with Them - insanity.

Needless to say, the insights or answers gained from the Outer Beings are both highly abstract and disturbing - the caster could see bizarre vistas on unknown worlds, or other-dimensional realms occupied by the Outer Beings where things like gravity and geometry have no meaning. It is up to the player to find whatever hidden meaning there might be. In the final result, the caster, for the briefest moment, sees everything as the Outer Beings do, and knows what They know - something the average mortal mind is not equipped to handle. The caster would immediately go irretrievably mad, and would most likely spend the rest of his or her life muttering nonsensical but highly disturbing things.

DM Note: While it may seem highly unfair to have a character get written off in this fashion, these rules do reflect what would most likely happen when a mortal mind tries to understand things that do not have any parallels in an normal universe - even in a fantasy universe. If you wish to give the character a chance, you should play things up until this spell is obtained, have him or her learn about the potential dangers - as with most other spells, one would normally learn the theory before the practice.