I have a homebrew world which I lazily named Dracca. Some elements of this world are inspired from the Michael Moorcock books, specifically the Melneboneans. As such, the dominant Elven race, High Elves (or Tower Elves) are a Chaotic Evil race.
The backstory has something to do with the gods abandoning the world, and so all the mortals (who depended on their priests) became desperate. The Elves (who were good at the time) were seduced by a cabal of Demons, and so their arch wizards conspired with the demons to monopolize all the arcane power of the cosmos. The conspiracy was fulfilled by the Soul Eating Matrix of Ibbn Gaza - a stomach-turning ritual that forever linked arcane magic to demons of the Abyss. In order to practice wizardry or witchcraft, one must give their soul to a demonic patron, and submit to the role of "thrall."
To complete the 6 hour ritual of chanting, 531 HD worth of humanoids must be sacrificed in the span of 1 hour, during a rare celestial event. Finally, one’s self (mind, body and soul) must be fed to the matrix.
This creates the following effects:
- Any Demon who comes to this plane gains the Patronage special ability. Once Patronage is used, the effects remain beyond this plane. This ability allows demons to bind others to them (earning the bound being the label “thrall”), giving that demon the ability to scry on their thralls at will as an SLA, communicate telepathically with their thrall from any distance and across planes, as well as the option to teleport to within 30' of a particularly powerful thrall, if mentioned by name with 1 minute of grace time. Demons can bind any other creature to them, except a demon who they are bound to. Demons who become patrons of other demons are also patrons of all that demon's thralls; Patronage is transitive, but neither reciprocal (mutual-binding) nor recursive (self-binding). If a demon binds multiple non-Demons to itself, it gains levels in sorcerer (Abyssal Bloodline), with level equal to log2(B), with B being the number of people bound by Patronage:
Sorcerer1 @ 2 bound non-Demons
Sorcerer2 @ 4 bound non-Demons
Sorcerer3 @ 8 bound non-Demons
Sorcerer20 @ 1,048,576 bound non-Demons
Despite being a sorcerer, demons can teach their spells known to Wizards or Witches. Any bloodline abilities which are redundant can be exchanged for those of one other bloodline, thematically chosen.
Note that most of the bound beings are not free roaming. Many of them have been fed to their demon patrons; you see once you bind yourself to a demon, that binding transcends death, and your soul becomes consumed by the patron. So the 1 million+ include both the living and those who have died as a thrall. However, the more successful demons know that a living thrall is like a living advertisement to patronage, as well as a servant and spy. Much of the chaos among the Elven kingdoms are schemes to take patronage away from rival demons, before the patrons kill them to secure ownership.
- Any unbound creature who is not a demon, and casts a prepared arcane spell, is suddenly affected by a Sympathy spell, attracting demons from the Abyss. To make matters worse, a Gate spell spontaneously activates within 100', with line of effect to the caster. This gate opens to the abyss, from which random demons inevitably emerge. These demons, once they appear, suffer a compulsion (9th level spell, Will save 23) to feed this person to the soul eating matrix. Those that resist the compulsion usually aren't benevolent either.
- The location of the Soule Eating Matrix becomes a nexus of souls, negative energy, and raw chaos and evil. Any unfocused casting of Plane Shift from the Abyss to this plane (where no location is specified) leads directly into the S.E.M.
- The bodies of those sacrificed for the S.E.M have become a massive stitch-work of undead flesh and trapped souls, known as the Mountain of Carrion.
Soul Binding (su): With a touch lasting 1 minute, the demonic creature can use soul binding to make a willing target a thrall. The target creature must have an INT of at least 3. The thrall refers to this demon as its patron. A patron can have any number of thralls, but a creature can only be the thrall of one patron at a time. Two patrons cannot mutually be each others’ thralls (it’s a strict hierarchy), nor can a patron make itself a thrall. Any patron who binds another Patron as a thrall counts its thrall’s thralls as its own as well (which can create a hierarchy of patronage). To describe the Soul Binding relationship in strictly logical terms, it is multivalued and transitive, but neither recursive nor symmetrical.
The patron gains the following benefits over the thrall:
- Can scry on the thrall at will as a swift action, as per the Scrying spell but needing no components or focus. The thrall is familiar to the patron, who also is the owner of the thrall’s soul (total -15 Will save modifier vs. the scry)
- The demon patron can communicate with the thrall telepathically across any distance, and even across the planes. Note that this also allows the patron demon to use Sense Motive at any time on the thrall via telepathy.
- The demon enjoys a +8 bonus on all wisdom and charisma based checks (including skills) against their own thrall. The thrall enjoys a +2 bonus on the same checks against their patron.
- When a thrall of 11 HD or more utters the patron’s name, the patron can make its aspect appear within 30’ of that thrall as if it were summoned by a Summon Monster spell. This appearance must occur within 1 minute of the utterance of the patron’s name, and otherwise functions as a Summon Monster spell (range, duration, etc). When (and if) the patron’s aspect appears can be determined by setting a charisma check DC for the thrall to roll against. This may or may not also include the thrall’s HD in the calculations.
Similarly, the thrall gains benefits, so long as they have a patron:
- Able to learn and use arcane spells without being targeted by the Soul Eating Matrix.
For every level not in Wizard or Witch (or a prestige class which adds +1 caster level to witch/wizard), the Thrall gains a daily use of one 0th level spell as a spell-like ability, chosen from the direct patron’s spells-known list. Upon reaching the 4th, 8th, 12th, 16th and 20th non-wizard or non-witch level, an additional, different spell can be chosen, and the available level increases by 1 (eg. a 0th or 1st level spell at level 4 rogue, or a 0th, 1st or 2nd level spell at level 8 rogue). These spell like abilities can be used once per day.
- Represents some value (or at least utility) to a demonic patron: a thrall is a means to gather information from, and travel, vast distances and across planes.
Arcane Power from Patronage: As a patron collects mortal thralls with souls (be they living or dead), these provide arcane power. This power comes in the form of sorcerer levels, with some appropriate bloodline as fitting the demon’s theme (GM selects). Note that outsiders, undead, constructs and other beings for whom Resurrection is not applicable, do not count as thralls with souls. See the table below for the level, depending on the number of bound souls. Spells known from these sorcerer levels can be (and often are) taught to any wizard or witch Thralls.
0-1 thralls: as Sorcerer Level 0
2-3 thralls: as Sorcerer Level 1st
4-7 thralls: as Sorcerer Level 2nd
8-15 thralls: as Sorcerer Level 3rd
16-31 thralls: as Sorcerer Level 4th
32-63 thralls: as Sorcerer Level 5th
64-127 thralls: as Sorcerer Level 6th
128-255 thralls: as Sorcerer Level 7th
1,048,576+ thralls: as Sorcerer Level 20th
Determining Thralls for Random Demons
Many demons have thralls. That said, any demon encountered should be given the chance to have sorcerer levels. To determine this, start with the demon’s Charisma bonus. This is how many thralls the demon has, and it may be negative. Then add 1d4-1. If you roll a 4, add another 1d6-1. If you roll a 6, then add another 1d8-1. If you roll an 8, then add 1d10-1. If you roll a 10, then add 1d12-1. Then if you roll a 12, add 1d20-1. If you roll a natural 20, add 1d100-1. If you roll a 100, add 1d1000-1, and so on, increasing by factors of 10. Use the above table to determine the sorcerer level.
That's part 1.
Part 2 will be tomorrow, below this. It will include the mountain of carrion, demon princes, and Elven "heroes" (the favorite thralls of the demon princes).