Yesterday, I mentioned two wild talents that I am thinking about including in the ACKS Psionicist.
One of them, tentatively named Argentum Touch, allows the psionicist to temporarily change a normal weapon into one that can hit creatures vulnerable to silver. The idea behind introducing this power is to provide for adventures featuring lycanthropes as potential enemies. Depending on what the GM wants to do in their campaign, the psionicist could be a type of lycanthrope hunter working independently or as an agent of the king. One idea I have toyed with involves adding a ritual power that can cure lycanthropy. For whatever moral reasons, the lycan hunter could have the goal to “heal” lycanthropes instead of slaughter them.
I treat lycanthropes as crossbreeds generated by mages in order to explain their origins. It also helps to explain why traditional cure disease spells have no effect. Healing a lycanthrope with a ritual power (equivalent to a ritual spell), it more akin to psychic surgery – the psionicist separates what is animal, what is magic and what is humanoid in the process.
The other reason for treating lycanthropes as crossbreeds is to explain all the various types out there. While I don’t plan on having thirty different types of lycanthrope, I do want to add a couple major types of lycanthropes and a handful of minor types. I consider the werebear, werewolf and weretiger as major types. The wererat and wereboar are minor (after I change the hit dice of wereboar to 3+1 down from 4+1.) I do want to add a werelion as a major type as well as various were-reptiles as minor types. I also want to add a unique creature that serves as a monster and an exploration xp award. I want to invent a better name than werespider. For the record, it is not modeled after Pennywise from Stephen King’s It.
In the post yesterday, I also mentioned a different type of animated corpse that is not undead in the traditional sense. This type of unliving creature would be created by alchemical means instead of drawing negative/chaotic energy from the Outer Planes. Although these creatures may or may not be touched by evil, there is a price to pay for living in an alchemical body. The largest price is that once one of these creatures die, they are irrevocably dead. As a minor aside, alchemical undead are also unable to travel in the Astral Plane in the typical manner. Any such trips must be made bodily.
The alchemical undead have a variety of motivations for seeking a form of immortality, so they can be evil, demented, psychotic, etc, but do not necessarily have to be. Since they are not maintained by negative energy, they cannot be turned or controlled by necromancers. It shouldn’t be too difficult to come up with a compelling reason to make them a recurrent encounter, good or bad.
Another power, Intangible Touch, allows a psionicist to harm or grapple intangible creatures like shadows, specters, ghosts, even vampires in their gaseous form. The main idea would be to create ACKS ghosts of all kinds. Unlike B/X D&D, ghosts would not be undead. They would not be subject to turning, though I would give Clerics of level 5 or above immunity to the aging attack of a ghost.
These ghosts would range from the traditional banshee and poltergeist to much weaker creatures like animal spirits and will o’ the wisp. Characters of all levels could encounter various ghosts and spirits. A typical party can deal with them through magic, but a party with a character that can deal with ghosts more directly provides interesting opportunities to do things like remove ancient curses. I imagine an adventure arc with the characters undoing some ancient wrong which allows a ghost to rest and thereby remove a blight on the land. Sure the psionicist in the party could directly harm the ghost and even kill it, but he or she would need to get to the ghost first. An intelligent ghost makes a great villain, especially if the party cannot just directly attack it, even if they have the power to directly confront the ghost. I’m just thinking of the mind games an incorporeal creatures can play with characters, not to mention some impossible traps. Bwa ha ha ha.
One of the other reasons for ghosts as creatures is to introduce a rationale for psionicists to create astral constructs. Astral constructs, by my definition, are immune to any kind of aging or level draining attack. They can also directly attack ghosts without special provisions. It can serve as a type of anti-ghost, or at least a bodyguard to fend off various ghostly attacks. Thinking in these terms can lead to non-humanoid shaped astral constructs. I Imagine a psionicist with a shimmering, slightly intangible dog as a companion. Heck, make it a ball that can quickly roll between the psionicist and a ghost.
These are just some of the ideas behind these two powers. When I finish the ODT formatted documents, this stuff will probably end up in a supplement, otherwise, I’ll never finish. Next post, I hope to provide some stats for other lycanthropes and ghosts.