Friday, October 2, 2015

The Witch's Bookshelf

Tis now the very witching time of night, when churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out contagion to this world. Now I could drink hot blood and do such bitter business as the day would quake to look upon.

~William Shakespeare

While looking through all the d├ęcor at various craft stores my eyes are always drawn to the faux books. All sorts of great titles exist on the spines such as venomous potions, spells & incantations, hexes and curses. While the most infamous of all witching tools remains the cauldron, what about all the magic knowledge used in conjunction with it? D&D players love to explore the environment around them and being ready with filler material is important. Witchcraft is such a great topic for Halloween inspired game sessions I wanted to make a new table for everyone to use.

The books below and the powers or banes they grant should not be considered standard. Spells which remove curses or disease should be ineffective. Instead use these books as adventure seeds or a jumping off points for a quest. When digging through a witch’s library adventurers should be wary of what may become of them when dealing with forbidden knowledge.

Witch’s Book Shelf (1d4)

1. Libro Venenum: This vile text is filled with pages of aged papyrus and wrapped in dried lizard hide. Translated it proclaims to be the Book (of) Poisons and must be handled with absolute care. Anyone attempting to read the book must make a difficult constitution check or take 10d6 poison damage. A successful roll grants temporary insight into the long forgotten art of toxic magic.

A spell caster may add 1d6 poison damage to any offensive spell they cast. This effect lasts for 24 hours and may be repeated with a successful constitution check on subsequent days. Every use of the book is accompanied with a cumulative 10% chance of developing large green boils. These are filled with toxic puss which may erupt as determined by the DM. An eruption causes the permanent loss of 1d4 hit points to the afflicted. Additionally anyone within 15’ must make a difficult constitution check or take 5d6 poison damage.

2. Folio Malevolence: The spine of this book is crafted from the bones of tormented fairies. The pages are all exposed with no actual cover and emit a foul odor. Upon close examination one can see skin has been stretched and matted onto the parchment. The runes on these pages make the reader feel uneasy and waves of hatred flow over them. Good aligned characters will feel immediate aversion to the text.

The dark power of the book will grant a cursed boon to anyone who completes reading it. Ask the player to list on a piece of paper the four things their character dislikes the most. Then in that order while filled with seething hatred their character will seek those four choices out.  Nothing else will matter to the character but their malevolence will make them stronger. When dealing with the items on their list they may re-roll any D20 attempt but must keep the new result.

3. Malleus Maleficarum: This tome was created to condemn the practices of witchcraft. Translated it means the Hammer of the Witches and is brimming with theoretical and factual information. Powerful witches usually study the volume to learn the best way to defeat rivals and protect themselves. Because of this some adventurers will brave the lair of a witch just to find a copy of the legendary tome. Stealing a witch’s copy of the Malleus Maleficarum however will draw the ire of entire coven.

If anyone studies this witch hunting treatise, taking a minimum of three days, they gain a permanent bonus of +1 to attack or defenses against all witches. This magic may only be transferred 1d4 times before the book crumbles into a pile of dust. The dust however is also an effective tool to be used against a witch. If mixed with holy water it creates a paste which can be smeared on weapons. This causes an additional 1d6 holy damage to a witch for one attack.

4. Opuscule Covetous:  A small notebook created with haphazard pieces of vellum tied together with gold wire. If the pages are spread out they appear to be covered in numbered pictures. Anyone who puts the pages in the correct order will see the drawings magically animate. The story they show will be rapturing and include scenes of immense wealth and decadence. Those viewing will be intoxicated with avarice and immediately desire the treasures presented in the story.

Unbeknownst to the cursed readers this is an elaborate trap set by a witch. What appear to be treasures are actually items the witch herself desires but cannot obtain. Examples would be a holy item wished destroyed, a newborn child or perhaps a lock of hair from a person pure of heart. No matter what the item they will always appear as something else to the afflicted character. The curse will cease once one or all of the items are obtained and presented to the witch.

If you enjoyed this post and are looking for more Halloween inspiration it can be found in Tales from the Game Tavern. The theme of issue one is Halloween and there are plenty of additional adventure seeds and material to make your October games memorable!