Splatter-Elf Week Day 4: The Curse of Blood Magic

Welcome back for Day 4 of our introduction to Splatter-Elf: The Darker than Grimdark Roleplaying Game. It’s So Dark You Can’t See Shit! (Thanks to The Godfather of Splatter-Elf, Philip Overby, for that one.)

On Monday we introduced the game and genre, on Tuesday we showed you how to make a homicidal lunatic character, and yesterday was all about the Combat!  Today we touch on everyone’s favourite element of any fantasy game or story: The Magic! Just like everything else in Splatter-Elf though, the magic has to be grim and bloody. In that case what better way is there to fuel the magic but with the POWER OF BLOOD™!

What is Sanguine Sorcery?

Magic is very real in the world of Splatter-Elf, and though it is powerful the price for its use is very high. Some magicians gain their arcane ability through pacts with other-dimensional entities, but the most common (though hardly safer) method of fueling magic is through the power of blood.

The life force stored in the blood of intelligent creatures is potent, and a skilled individual can manipulate and twist this power to create unnatural, reality-altering effects through sanguine sorcery (sometimes called “Blood Magic” by the uninitiated).  To use sanguine sorcery requires both an innate talent in sensing the invisible energy that courses through all living things as well as intense training and dedication in order to be able to pervert this energy to manifest in the natural world. It also requires its dabblers to be willing to do some evil and degenerate things.

Casting a Blood Spell

The two primary users of sanguine sorcery – splatter-elves and hematic thaumaturges – cast their incantations the same way. A few words of the Black Forsaken Speech are invoked and certain vulgar hand gestures are made in order to focus the caster’s mind and allow him to draw upon the dark energies stored within his being to produce the desired magical effect.  Each spell requires its own particular gestures and magic words, which must be learned and mastered as part of researching the spell.

Actually casting the spell doesn’t take much time, but it does require concentration on behalf of the caster. When the caster’s turn comes up in the initiative order, he announces which spell he is casting and spends the required number of blood points from his blood pool. If any other characters were expecting him to cast a spell and held their attacks for this moment, they may immediately attempt to interrupt his casting. If the caster is attacked and suffers damage during this time (between announcing the spell and completing the casting), he must make a successful Mettle skill check or the spell is ruined and any blood points spent are wasted.

Once they have learned the spell and mastered the appropriate techniques, thaumaturges copy their rituals into a spell book and keep them in a safe place. By taking 24 hours to study their book, they may prepare and hold up to 12 spells in their memory at a time. They can always cast any of these spells at a moment’s notice as long as they have sufficient points in their blood pool. They can hold these spells in memory indefinitely. By retrieving their book and studying for another 24 hours, they may change their compliment of spells to any new 12 spells they wish.

Blood Pool

Art by Katarina Sokolova
All hematic thaumaturges and splatter-elves have a "blood pool," a measure of magical sanguine energy stored within them.  They gain this power through the souls of intelligent creatures, and it used to fuel their spells.  The more powerful the sorcerer, the more blood energy they can store within themselves.

Most blood magic casters begin with 2 blood points, and this total is modified by their Wisdom bonus.  Their maximum blood pool size increases as they increase in level. Each sanguine sorcery spell has a casting cost associated with it; in order to cast the spell, the sorcerer must expend that number of blood points.

Regaining Blood Points

While hit points are regained naturally through rest, blood points are not. As blood magic is not a natural power, it must be fueled by unnatural means. There are three ways a caster can regain expended blood points:

1.       Performing a special ritual (known by all blood casters) over a recently-deceased intelligent creature. It must have been killed within the last hour.  The ritual takes 10 minutes to perform and does not cost any blood points to.  At the end of the ritual the caster regains 1 blood point.
2.       Performing the same ritual over a live intelligent creature.  The ritual still takes 10 minutes, so the victim must be willing or restrained.  At the end of the ritual, the caster slays the victim (usually violently, preferably with a blade through the heart or across the throat) and regains blood points equal to the creature's Hit Dice / Level.
3.       Sacrificing his or her own life force to fuel the magic.  By concentrating and taking no other actions for 1 round, the caster may convert as many hit points as they wish, one-for-one, into blood points.  The caster must then immediately use these blood points on the next round to cast a spell or they are otherwise lost.  The caster may choose how many hit points they will transfer, and may temporarily increase their blood pool above its normal limit. This ordeal is very taxing to the caster's body - they may not receive magical healing for at least 1 hour after willingly sacrificing their own life force - the magic simply won't take.

Sample Blood Magic Spells

Salaman’s Boiling Blood

Minimum Caster Level: 1
Availability: Common
BP Cost: 2 or more
Duration: Instant
Range: 25' + 5' level

The blood caster points at a target and the victim's blood immediately heats up, causing searing pain and tissue damage.  No roll is necessary; the attack always hits and there are few defenses against this assault.

The spell inflicts 2 damage (plus Wisdom bonus) at level one, though at each additional level the caster may spend an additional blood point to increase the damage by another 2.  For example, at 5th level, the caster may spend up to 6 blood points (total) to inflict 10 damage. 

Swarm of Gnats

Minimum Caster Level: 3
Availability: Common
BP Cost: 4
Duration: 1 round/caster level
Range: 30'
The caster creates a thick cloud of swarming, filthy black flying insects in a cube 20' per side.  The caster makes an attack roll + caster level against the Fortitude of any living victims within the area of effect.  Creatures who are hit are helpless, as they swat at the bugs and try to fight from choking on the bugs flying down their throats and up their nose.  The targets cannot attack or defend themselves, and can only try to move out of the cloud.  This helplessness lasts as long as the creature is in the cloud and for another round after it leaves. 

A creature that successfully avoids the attack is not affected by the helplessness and may act normally as long as they move out of the cloud on their turn. If they do not move out of the cloud (or if another creature enters the area while the swarm is in effect) the caster can immediately make another attack against the Fortitude as described above.

Belching Paroxysm of Searing Hell-Flame

Minimum Caster Level:  5
Availability: Rare
BP Cost: 6 or more
Duration: Instantaneous
Range: 40’ + 5’ /caster level
The caster draws up a burst of green flame from the depths of hell to smite his enemies.  The spell creates a 20 foot-tall pillar of hellfire 20’feet in diameter centered on any point within the spell’s range.  Any creatures within the area suffer an attack + caster level against their Reflex. Those that “avoid” the attack still take 10 damage from the intense heat. On a hit, the caster inflicts the difference on the attack roll +15 damage, and ignites any flammable objects in the area (possibly including the victims’ clothes).

For each of his levels above 5, the blood caster may spend an additional blood point to EITHER increase the diameter of the burst by 5’ OR increase the damage from a successful hit by 5 points (the damage on a miss does not change). The caster may mix these two effects. For example, a tenth-level caster may spend 5 extra blood points to increase the diameter by 10’ and increase the damage by 15 points.

Character Class: Hematic Thaumaturge

Art by ninja1361
Though the average peasant does not understand it, and may have never seen it, magic is real. It is as real as the heat from the blood of a beating heart. Primitive tribes have understood for thousands of years that blood and magic are intrinsically linked, but it took the twisted minds of hematic blood mages to turn this knowledge and spiritual connection into a weapon.

Hematic Thaumaturges – called “blood mages” in hushed terms by the general populace – are foul magicians who have discovered how to steal the life force out of intelligence creatures and turn it into degenerate, reality-manipulating magic. There are no organized schools that teach this forbidden skill; thaumaturges usually pass their knowledge down to one or two apprentices at a time, and very often the apprentices kill their masters or fellow students in order to protect their knowledge and secrets. This treachery and paranoia is actually welcomed by the other denizens of Groteskia. If the blood mages could organize and work together, the world would be doomed.

Thaumaturges tend to be loners because most people fear and distrust them, though those blood mages who are willing to work with small bands of mercenaries or thieves are highly sought after. Their magic can turn the tide of battle, and a few strong swords to protect him will make up for the blood mage’s lack of combat skills.

Attribute Modifiers: Wisdom +1
Movement Rate: 30' (6 squares)
Weapons Allowed: Staff, wand, dagger, rod. Though blood mages can technically use any weapon, they can only cast their magic while holding any of the above tools, as they have trained specifically to use such items to focus their spells.
Armor Allowed:  None. Not only are thaumaturges not properly trained in wearing such gear effectively, but heavy coverings also interfere with their connection to the magical life force permeating the world.
Skills Allowed at First Level:   History (INT), Occult (INT), Sawbones (INT), Acuity (WIS), Guile (CHA)
Skill Bonuses: Occult +1

Spell Casting: See sanguine sorcery, above.

Tomorrow: Odds, Ends & Uffs!


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