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The Book of Vengeance:

by Carl Quaif

This is a large tome (2' long x 18" wide), with covers made from thin plates of oak covered in black lacquer. A medallion of red iron, inscribed with the image of a human skull, is attached to the front cover. The pages within are made of a thin, greyish parchment. Sensitive souls (those with Wisdom scores of 16 or higher) will feel considerable unease when handling the Book; however, a Detect Evil spell gives an inconclusive result.

The Book of Vengeance was penned by Olimas Calardoen, a Denagothian Mage and the last survivor of a blood-feud between his sorcerous brotherhood, the Watchers in Grey, and a rival circle, the Kraken's Teeth. To enact his revenge, he spent years gathering powerful spells to destroy the Kraken's Teeth, spells which became classed as "Revenge-Magic" - a school of magic at which he became the acknowledged master. The Book of Vengeance contains a scant half-a-dozen of these spells, including some very powerful dweomers; the tome also contains fragmentary entries from a journal, apparently written by Olimas, detailing the progress of his revenge.

It is believed that this tome - which acquired its name from a later owner - is merely one of several books created by Olimas. The medallion on the Book's cover, if touched by the left hand, imparts momentary visions, fleeting glimpses of other places - perhaps the locations of the other volumes; however, the images are too brief to provide any sort of clue to their location.

The spells contained in the volume are as follows:-

Soul Pact
Level: 4
Range: Special
Duration: 1 month
Effect: Creates link
This spell was created by the Elves of Wendar several hundred years ago, to allow two partnered agents to locate each other with ease - a purpose for which it is still used today. Olimas Calardoen, however, discovered a way to pervert its function to help him track down his enemies.

The Soul Pact creates a psychic link between two beings - either the caster and one other, or two other beings. The targets must be known to the caster. The spell requires two paintings to be made, one of each person to be joined by the Pact; these may be painted either by the caster, or by a hired artist, but in either case the artist must have seen both targets at least once. Creating such a work of art costs about 5,000 gp for the pair, and requires a successful Skill roll for each - a failure on either one invalidates both, so a new pair of portraits must be made.

Once a successful pair of portraits are made, the caster must burn them both to ashes while reciting the spell, then scatter the mingled ashes to the four cardinal points as the final words are spoken. This activates the Soul Pact. From this point onwards, the linked beings are constantly aware of the direction of the other. Within a range of fifty miles, both parties can hear the other's heartbeat in their ears; almost inaudible at maximum range, it grows louder the closer they get, to become an almost deafening boom within 500 yards. In Olimas' version of this spell, the caster (or one of the subjects, chosen at casting) may ignore this sound at will; the target, however, cannot shut the noise out, and suffers a -3 penalty to hit and damage rolls from the distraction when fighting anyone while within the 500 yard limit (the original Wendarian version, by contrast, allows both parties to ignore the heartbeat at will).

The Soul Pact's direction-finding function has no limit to distance; so long as both subjects are on the same Plane, each one is aware of the direction of the other. The spell can be Dispelled normally if both subjects are present at the casting; if only one is available, the effective "caster's level" the Dispel Magic must beat is counted as four levels higher than normal.

Blood Coin
Level: 5
Range: Special
Duration: Special
Effect: Curses one individual
This tenacious Curse-spell, which dates from the era of the Taymoran Empire, requires the sacrifice of a portion of the caster's vital force to provide its power. The Mage places the coin to be enchanted - gold is most effective, although electrum sometimes (1 in 4 chance) works; no other standard coin may be used for this - on a flat surface before him. During casting, the Mage's right palm is cut by a ritual knife, and the blood allowed to flow over the coin while the name of the target is spoken nine times. The more blood lost, the more powerful the curse; the caster may expend 1d6-3d6 hp on this spell, which are permanently deducted from their total.

The Blood Coin, once enchanted, appears to be made of red-gold, an unusually rich shade. It must be placed, somehow, into the palm of the victim to activate its magic. The curse may take any form, depending on how much life-force was sacrificed in the casting. For example, a 1d6 hp curse could halve the victim's natural healing rate, reduce saving throws by -1, or increase damage received from a particular weapon or spell, while a 3d6 hp curse could completely negate natural healing, reduce hit/damage rolls by -2, or require the victim to make a Saving Throw vs. Death whenever hit by a War Hammer or die instantly. The curse may not be immediately fatal by itself ("die a horrible death in the next 5 minutes", for example), but may give a fatal weakness to the victim. If PCs gain access to this spell, DMs should carefully examine the level of the effect desired and deduct the necessary hp. If the victim dies, the spell is broken, and the caster recovers the hp he invested in the spell.

Part of the curse causes the Blood Coin to bind itself to the victim; it always comes back to him, even if given away, lost, spent, thrown into a ravine, etc. Killing the creator will not lift the curse. Unless the caster voluntarily takes the Blood Coin back from the victim (breaking the spell, and recovering the lost hp in the process), the curse can only be lifted by a Remove Curse spell from a caster of at least 18th level, or at least 1 level higher than the creator of the Blood Coin, if higher. Breaking the spell in this manner means that the hp invested in the spell are lost to the caster forever; in addition, the caster must make a Saving Throw vs. Death, or suffer a further 1-3d6 damage (which may be healed by normal rest).

Level: 5
Range: Touch
Duration: 9 days
Effect: Enchants 1 missile
This spell was originally Clerical in nature; known as "Tarastia's Justice", it was a 5th-level specialist spell granted to Tarastia's most dedicated worshipers. Olimas himself researched and developed the magical version presented here.

The spell enchants a single, normal arrow (or crossbow bolt, if preferred), transforming it into a Missile of Slaying for one specified individual, named during casting. The caster must have at least seen the being to be affected, or the spell will fail. The missile appears to glow faintly once enchanted. If the missile is fired at (and hits) the named target, he or she must make a Saving Throw vs. Death or die immediately. A successful save means the target only takes the normal arrow damage.

The missile is a one-shot magical item; if it misses, the spell is lost. The enchantment grants no pluses to hit or damage, and may not be cast on an already-magical missile (an arrow +1, for instance), although it may be fired from an enchanted bow/crossbow. The enchantment only lasts for nine days from the casting of the spell; if not used during this time, the enchanted missile crumbles into mundane dust. Only one Missile of Slaying can be created for each target by any one caster, although multiple Mages could create a quiverful of Doomstrike arrows for the same target, if they desired.

Notes: This spell has no effect on undead or non-corporeal beings, nor on Diaboli or other Nightmare creatures. Likewise, constructs such as Golems and Living Statues are immune. Elemental or Extra-Planar beings may be affected if the caster knows the name (or True Name, in some cases) of the being chosen. The Elemental race known as the Hordes are only partially affected by this spell, as only one of their hundreds of bodies (the one hit by the missile) will be slain; the greater life-force is unharmed. This spell will not affect Immortal or Exalted beings under any circumstances.

Level: 6
Range: Special
Duration: 1 month
Effect: Creates life-force bond
This spell is an advanced version of the Soul Pact spell, created by Olimas himself. It has all the requirements, material foci, and abilities of the weaker spell, but binds the victims together much more tightly.

Apart from direction-finding, the Heart-Bond ties the life-force of the two subjects so closely together that, if one suffers physical harm, the body of the other reflects it as well. In game terms, the non-injured member of the Heart-Bond suffers one-half the damage inflicted to his "partner", rounded down (Save vs. Spells for quarter damage). Magical healing, however, only affects the person it is applied to.

Should one half of the Bonded pair die, or be killed, the other must make a Save vs. Death or die instantly from the shock of the Bond's severing; a successful Save means the survivor takes one-half of his normal hp in damage (which might kill him anyway, if he is injured already). If the two subjects are on different Planes, however, the Bond becomes quiescent, reactivating if one somehow arrives on the same Plane as the other.

Olimas chose to use this spell exclusively on others; he never became part of a Heart-Bond himself, for obvious reasons. The spell can be Dispelled normally if both subjects are present at the casting; if only one is available, the effective "caster's level" the Dispel Magic must beat is counted as five levels higher than normal.

Vengeance of the Slain
Level: 7
Range: Touch
Duration: special
Effect: Contingent reincarnation
This spell, more than any other in this collection, coined the term "revenge-magic"; it is designed to allow a slain character to rise again and punish his slayer. The spell creates a Contingency for the recipient, which will cause them to Reincarnate in a new form, chosen at casting. The caster must have a piece of the creature whose shape will be assumed as a focus for the spell; this is consumed during the casting. Something as small as a claw, a tooth, or a lock of hair will do.

Should the recipient of the spell be slain at any time, he will reform as the chosen creature within one hour of death, with all knowledge, class and spellcasting abilities (if applicable) and capacity for speech intact. The powers, abilities and physical attributes of the chosen form are all available to the Reincarnated being, while his mental attributes and hit points remain as they were before death. The chosen form may not have more HD than the original form had experience levels. For instance, A 5th-level Rake might be Reincarnated as, say, an Orc, Goblin, or Phanaton; in each case, the new form will have the abilities of a 5th-Level Rake. Unfortunately, the Reincarnated character may never again advance in level (but see below). Additionally, although uncast spells from the slain form may be cast without difficulty by the new form (whether or not the latter has hands - the VotS spell's magic allows this), re-learning those spells might be difficult for a non-humanoid form.

Note: If reborn as a Demi-Human, the rules change slightly. The subject has the choice of retaining his original abilities or taking on those of the new form instead - a Human Mage reborn as Halfling may keep his Mage abilities or acquire the particular Fighter-cum-Thief abilities peculiar to Halflings - he cannot have both. Under no circumstances may any being be Reincarnated as their original species by this spell. However, the new form may progress as normal.

The Reincarnated subject has the potential to live as long as the norm for the new form, minus the relative percentage of lifespan they have already lived. For example, a human with a life-expectancy of 80 years who is Reincarnated at age 40 has lived 50% of his allotted span; if reborn as a Goblin with a 40-year span, he will have roughly 20 years more life. Conversely, if reborn as an Elf (potential lifespan, say, 600 years), the character can expect to live up to 300 years more. However, This new life is effectively "borrowed time"; should the Reincarnated being be killed again in the future, his body will vanish utterly, and he will go on to his final rest - even a Wish cannot bring him back.

The Contingency lasts for one month; if not used within this time, the spell fades, and may be recast (using a different creature as the potential Reincarnated shape, if desired).

Level: 9
Range: 10'
Duration: Special
Effect: Strips away magical powers
The most powerful revenge-magic spell known to exist, this enchantment is a spell of last resort, since it punishes the caster as much as the target.

The caster must make a small statuette of the target from clay. This need not be particularly accurate, although it should represent the target in some way. A hank of hair from both the target's and the caster's heads, or perhaps some toenail clippings from each, must be moulded into the statuette when making it, as must a quantity of diamond dust (from diamonds worth at least 1,000 gp per level of the target). The spell is cast on the statuette itself, not on the target (negating any chance for a Saving Throw by the target mage), but both parties must be within 10' of the focus when the spell is cast.

Once the spell is complete, streams of multicoloured lights pour from both caster and target, flowing through the air into the statuette. When they stop, both individuals are completely drained of all magic, and may neither cast nor memorise a single spell from that moment on. Magic items may still be used, as long as they are not Mage-specific - for instance, a Wand of Fireballs or a Staff of Power. It is advised that the caster have some means of transport ready to escape the target's wrath when the spell is complete, or be surrounded by friendly companions who can defend him in his powerless state.

The spell is permanent unless broken, either by the death of one of the participants or the destruction of the statuette (easier said than done; while enchanted, the statuette is treated as if made of diamond, and can resist spells like a Mage of the same level as the caster). Nothing can return the powers of either Mage unless one of these criteria is fulfilled (however, a carefully-worded Wish will grant the powers of a 1st-level Mage to one of the participants; levels may then be reacquired by adventuring, or other experience-point-gaining activities).

This spell is truly ancient; Olimas believed it to date from the middle period of the Blackmoor era, although his research indicated that it had been used only a handful of times since its creation. He cast it only once, to weaken Halarothe, Grand Master of the Kraken's Teeth (and Olimas' final target). Having tricked Halarothe into a situation where he could not call upon servants or magical items to save himself, Olimas stabbed him through the throat with a mundane dagger, then quietly watched him die.