Coran Mordant, Level Three Thief of Scrolls

Hans Baldung Grien, Witches, woodcut, 1508. Mu...

Very classical, but wrong.

Magic attracts many youngsters. For most, the dream is simple. learn a few magical phrases and gestures and live a life of leisure and luxury!

The optimism of youth never wonders why – if it’s that simple – the world isn’t filled with magicians.

It’s true that the rewards of magic can be far, far, greater than those of subsistence farming – but so are the risks, the labors (however unlikely that seems to those who aren’t undertaking them), the initial investment, and the need for talent. For every young apprentice who becomes powerful enough to garner such rewards or to set forth as an adventurer many will fall to miscast magic, give up in disgust when presented with yet another massive tome, run out of money before completing a program of study, or – perhaps saddest of all – will discover that they lack the necessary magical talent despite a promising beginning.

Coran was one of those – and ambitious. His ability to store magical power was most impressive, and would suffice on it’s own to make him a most valuable magical aide to another spellcaster. His acceptance of dubious witchcraft pacts had easily jumped him past the many of the other students.

Sadly, as his teachers (after extensive testing and various attempts to find a way to correct the problem) eventually informed him, his ability to gather and focus magical power was virtually negligible – and all their training and rituals had not been able to improve matters.

Coran did not react well. It did not take him long to conclude that his teachers had deliberately sabotaged his training in hopes of turning him into a useful magical servant. He swore darker oaths – and it was not long after that before he used his witchcraft to drug one of his instructors and attempted to extract the secrets of magic the old man ”had withheld from him” with a knife.

In a way Coran succeeded: he discovered that he COULD fill himself with the unused magic of another spellcaster – provided that he was present when they died.

That isn’t always easy – so he’s conservative with his spells.

Available Character Points: As a third level character Coran has a base of 96 CP to spend – plus 10 for disadvantages (such as Insane, Hunted, and Blocked [Independent Spellcasting]) and 12 for his level one and level three feats. That’s 118 (plus a race). Preferably Coran should have a high Dexterity and Intelligence and a reasonable Charisma.

For the basics… He’ll want a +1 BAB (6 CP), 3d8 Hit Dice (12 CP), Proficiency with All Simple and Rogue Weapons (9 CP), +2 Ref, +1 Fort, and +1 Will (12 CP), and 16 SP (16 CP).

That leaves him 63 CP to spend.

Thief of Scrolls Package:

  • +4 Caster Levels, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect/only for releasing stored spells, cannot exceed the caster level of the “contributor” (24 CP).
  • +4d of Mana, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect (24d4 [63] Generic Spell Levels) / only for binding into spells, can only be recharged (the usual only after resting limitation also applies) by absorbing the unused spells and spell-like abilities of other spellcasters as they die (24 CP).

This manifests fairly simply: when a spellcaster dies in the immediate vicinity, instead of his, her, or it’s unused spells dissipating, Coran can capture them – causing them to inscribe themselves in blood onto the deceased spellcasters skin and leaving behind a magically-drained corpse. While detaching and preparing those gruesome “scrolls” would normally require some time, his Witchcraft (using the Hand of Shadows to remove the “scrolls” and Witchfire to tan them) makes it quite easy. If there are more “scrolls” available than he can (or wants to) sustain, he can take his choice – and the others will finish dissipating.

The entire power-package is considered specialized however: Coran’s “scrolls” can be taken and used by others, and he cannot release the spell and reclaim his invested spell levels for a month and a day if they aren’t used. Worse, such scrolls always considered corrupted, evil, magic – and often have nasty environmental side effects. Finally, of course, as physical objects, he as to carry them around and get them out when he wants to use them.

For a mere 24 CP the Thief of Scrolls package offers rather a lot of power – quite a lot of spells, of pretty much any kind, with a potentially high casting level. Of course, the selection is going to be erratic at best – and finding a powerful spellcaster with lots of unexpended spells and killing him or her to GET those spells presents certain difficulties. Just as annoyingly, the casting level will often be well below what he’s paying for.

Double specialization is normally a major warning flag even when one specialization is used to increase the effect and the other to reduce the cost (doing either twice is generally out) but – in this case – it doesn’t seem likely to break the game.

Like so many other darklings, Coran has been duped; it would have been perfectly possible for him to learn to store voluntarily-provided spells – but he’s now fixated on the rush of power that comes from ripping it out of a dying spirit.

Servant of the Darkness (12 CP).

The Order of Atelles draws their magic from the ley lines and nexi that which knit together the realms of spirit, flesh, and mind. They work closely with the great druidic circles to uphold that order – opposing the undead, aberrations, and other corruptions of the natural world. They work to expunge those corrupted areas where such things spawn and breed before they can spread like cancers along the veins of the earth.

As a renegade from the Order, Coran’s witchcraft now draws on that corruption – spreading a subtle malign influence, causing monstrous births, and attracting corrupted creatures. Opponents of such horrors will certainly notice and come to oppose him. His powers are weakened (double the Power cost) if there are no corrupted areas to draw on nearby, his order is after him, and the powers he now draws on will attempt to manipulate him. Overall, this is Specialized.

  • Witchcraft I, II, and III, with 3d6 extra Power.
  • Basic Abilities: The Adamant Will, The Hand of Shadows, Healing, Infliction, Shadowweave, Witchfire, and Witchsight.
  • Pacts: Gateway, Souls, and Corruption (pays for an additional 18 CP worth of Advanced Witchcraft – Seize the Wandering Soul, Spirit Binding, Summoning, Siphon [normally used with Siphon to call upon a Vestige], Venomed Touch, and Nightforge).

Now, for some minor items…

  • Cloaking, Specialized/only conceals his use of witchcraft, and – even then – it will not conceal it from anyone who is directly affected (3 CP). This lets him slip poison into drinks and such with no one the wiser.
  • Adept: Purchases four thief-type skills for half price (6 CP).
  • Fast Learner, Specialized in Skills for +2 SP/Level (6 CP)
  • Augmented Bonus: Uses minor witchery to let him add his (Int Mod) to his (Dex Mod) when using skills (6 CP).
  • That leaves 6 CP – enough for one feat. Given the heavy emphasis on Witchcraft, I’m going to default to another 3d6 Power.

Now, for a Martial Art lets give him…

Malleus Arcana (Dex)

This specialized (for double effect) style is designed around disrupting the energies of spells and spell slots – and so is only effective on Spellcasters and creatures with Spell-like abilities.

  • Basic Abilities: Attack 3, Defenses 4 (adds to saves against spells and spell-like abilities, not to AC), Strike, Synergy/Spellcraft, and Synergy/Knowledge; Arcana.
  • Advanced Techniques: Sneak Attack II, Weapon Kata (allows the use of the Rogue weapons group, and Blinding Strike.
  • Occult Techniques: Inner Strength II, Wrath (rather than inflicting “antimagic damage” the user may attempt to dispel magic with a strike and can penetrate magical barriers and defenses with his or her attacks), and Ki Block (only works versus spells and magical attacks, but only costs 1 Con), and
  • Known Techniques (6+, presuming decent Dex and Int): Attack I, Strike, Synergy/Spellcraft, Weapon Kata, Sneak Attack I, and Wrath.

Coran is, of course, a magical villain – although not necessarily an obvious one. Who would associate the – admittedly somewhat roguish – young binder-witch with the satchel full of handy scrolls with whoever is murdering minor magicians and priests? Especially when – thanks to that same shortage of magicians and priests – his services are absolutely vital?

The fact that his abilities suffer from so many limitations makes him frighteningly powerful when he can bring them to bear; if he should happen to have recently dispatched a powerful mage or priest – or have merely managed to be in the vicinity of such a death – he could easily have access to powerful, high-level, magic. If, on the other hand, he has a satchel full of low-casting level utility spells (or none at all), lacks a source of corrupt energies to draw on for his witchcraft, and one of his (numerous) enemies has shown up, he may be relatively helpless.

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6 Responses

  1. Very wicked Thoth. I like this :)

  2. I could see this kind of character being quite interesting as both enemy and possible temporary ally (because he’s basically the perfect mercenary if you need to stop an evil wizard). You could even use him as an ongoing foe, though depending on the universe he might jump to making other kinds of pacts to even-out his magical power.

    • And “Will you work with what is – in the end – a relatively petty evil to defeat a grand one?” is always an interesting question. Games so often focus on Epic villains, as opposed to vicious, selfish, thugs.

  3. […] Coran Mordant, Level Three Thief of Scrolls (ruscumag.wordpress.com) […]

  4. […] Coran Mordant, Thief of Scrolls: a villain who steals magic from dying magi. […]

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