Ritualistically Speaking: Cauldrons Rebirth

I’m not a fan of necromancers, that is to say I’m not a fan of playing one. I’m a huge fan of using them as villains and adversaries of my PCs. To me, playing a character whose powers are based on calling up the dead to do your bidding is just not that romantic. I do know many people who want to play a character of the necromantic bent, and for them there is the ritual Cauldrons Rebirth.

By calling on the power of the shadow and bending it to their will, a PC is able to enslave the spirits of the dead to do their bidding; this includes fighting for them. I helped a player re-Skin a Summoning Wizard into a necromancer but it didn’t truly feel like some one who could call upon an army of walking dead to do their bidding; at most the wizard could summon creatures for a short period of time but then would lose them at the end of combat. Cauldrons Rebirth gives a player wishing to be a necromancer the ability to call up spirits of the recently fallen and bind them to their will.

The battle was far more dangerous than originally expected.  Fifty plus cultists dead, and their sorcerous leader as well.  That battle had been won, but at a price.  Keifer lay dead, his middle nearly torn out by a well aimed eldritch blast.  Nearby, Malfa, Broat, & Olia rested; bandaging their wounds and trying their best to collect their thoughts after the conflict.

Broat knelt down and hesitantly touched the heel of his dead companion, “We can bring him back to town, right?  Olia can perform the ritual.  Raising the Dead or something, right?”  The tremor in his voice betrayed his confidence in his words.

“There’s no time, Warrior.  You know as well as I do, that if we hesitate any longer, the town below will be inundated by the Hell spawn awaiting behind the gate.  If we don’t continue and shut it down, Portstown is lost.”  Malfa bent down and began to fish through the contents of his pack.

“But Malfa, Keifer was the only one that knew the glyph sequence of the portal gate.  A single glyph placed out of sequence, means certain death.  How can you expect us to succeed?”  Olia smoothed Broat’s matted hair.  Standing up, the two of them looked expectantly at their nominal leader, Malfa.

Retrieving a flail like object from his pack, Malfa stood up, “with this.”

Holding out his hands, Malfa presented an object that looked a little like a flail.  Instead of a spiked head, however, the end of the chain was attached to a small replica of an iron cauldron.

“Do you mean to bash the gate down with that?”  Broat was incredulous.

“No, Warrior, Keifer is going to help us as he originally intended.  Olia, would you mark a circle around Keifer’s body, please?”

Olia retrieved a pouch of residuum and began to trace a generous circle around the body.  The powder glowed an eerie blue in the dim cavern.  Guiding Broat by the arm, Malfa led him over to where the fallen body of their comrade lay.  Handing the odd flail/cauldron like object to Broat, Malfa grabbed two bottles out of his pack.  Broat found looking at the liquid in the bottles difficult.

“That stuff looks disgusting, Malfa.  What am I supposed to do now?  Broat fiddled uneasily with the object in his hands.

“Hold it out so that the caldron is over the body.  Now hold it as still as possible.  I have to pour these reagents into it.”

By now, Olia had completed the circle and was standing outside of it, close by.  Concern crept across her face as Malta’s countenance seemed to take on a sinister disposition.

“Malta…what are you…”

“Quiet, woman!  I need to concentrate!”

As Malfa poured the contents of the bottles into the cauldron, they began to bubble and produce a thick fog.  Quickly, the fog poured out of the cauldron and covered Keifer’s body. Raising his voice, Malfa spoke,

“Keifer, Son of Leifnon, Son of Bendond…hear my plea.  Your task is incomplete.  Come back to us now.  Come back and fulfill your destiny.”  Calling out his full name, Malfa continued with an unintelligible series of strange words and musical like chants.  Almost immediately, the fallen body of their companion took on a shimmering aura and became ghost like.  After a couple of moments, the insubstantial body of Keifer stirred, and sat upright.

“What is your bidding, Companion Malfa.”  Malfa pursed his lips and Broat stepped back, dropping the flail/cauldron.

“Necromancy…”  Olia gasped.

“Relax you two.  Broat, Keifer here is under my control, so you have nothing to fear.  Olia, yes.  The ritual is necromantic.  You can take heart in the fact that while it’s true that Keifer is under my control, his spirit has come back voluntarily.  The ritual would have failed otherwise.  Now, let’s see if our former companion can help us finish the job we were tasked with.”

Leading Keifer to the portal gate, Malfa quietly instructed him,

“Keifer, remember your unfinished task.  You are the only dwarf that can arrange the glyphs in the proper sequence.  Point to the correct glyphs one at a time, and Broat here will move them to their proper location.”

Broat looked hesitantly at the glyphs, now glowing with an infernal light.  The portal was not yet opened, but he swore he could hear the screaming of a thousand demons just beyond the gate.  Obedient to Malfa’s instruction, Keifer was already pointing at the first glyph.  Wincing, Broat grabbed the glyph stone and placed it on the first marker.

“See?  Keifer is fulfilling his destiny, just as we all are.”   Malfa smiled, but continued to concentrate on Keifer.

As each glyph was placed on it’s correct marker, the portal gate began to pulse and glow with a blue-white light.  As Broat dropped the last glyph stone on the final marker, a blast of radiant energy suffused the cavern with a loud “BOOM”.  The portal gate cracked, and all light went out of it, leaving the group in darkness.

Coming to, Olia struck a sunrod on the cave floor.  The welcoming light bathed her companions, but she immediately sensed something was amiss.  Crawling over to Keifer, she discovered that his insubstantial form had faded, leaving only a twitching corpse.  A pained looked crossed Keifer’s face, his arms flailing and twitching in the light of the sunrod.

“Malfa, get over here, quick!”  Olia’s commanding shout roused the stunned necromancer.  Stumbling over to Keifer’s corpse, he looked at the body and then to Olia.

“What?”

“Release him, Malfa.  Olia’s hand rested firmly on the hilt of her hammer.  She wouldn’t hesitate to stave the necromancer’s skull in, if he didn’t comply.

By now, Broat was groggily getting to his feet.  Seeing the commotion, he leaned over the necromancer, and placed a hand on his shoulder.

“Olia’s right, Malfa.  Release him.  He’s done his work.”

Malfa sighed, “very well.  If you insist.”  Malfa made a strange gesture into the air above Keifer’s corpse.  With a sigh, the light in his eyes went out.

“Of course,” Malfa continued, “if you want him back, we’ll have to carry him all the way down the mountain.”

Clasping the necromancer a little too firmly on the shoulder, Broat smiled, “What do you mean, ‘we’?”

Cauldron’s Rebirth

Component Cost: 500 gp Market Price: 1000 gp
Key Skill: Heal     Level: 15 Category: Restoration
Time: 3 hours Duration: Special

This ritual must be performed within 15 squares of the Stone Cauldron. You must know the name of the creature, and it must have been 15th level or lower when it died. The subject returns to life as a ghostly reflection of its former self. The subject is freed of any temporary conditions it suffered at death, but any permanent conditions remain.
The subject of the ritual becomes insubstantial and gains phasing. If the creature takes radiant damage or damage to which it is vulnerable, it loses the insubstantial quality until the end of its next turn. The creature is open to suggestion and follows your commands (treat it as dominated).
As with a Raise Dead ritual, the subject’s soul must be free and willing to return to life. Though some magical effects that trap the soul can prevent this ritual from working, the gods cannot prevent a soul from being restored by Cauldron’s Rebirth. If the subject is not willing to return, you discern this before completing the ritual and do not expend its component cost.

Published in Draconomicon 1.

Making it Accessible: As a DM I would suggest giving a player who wishes to control a legion of undead minions the opportunity to break from the need to carry a stone cauldron where ever he goes. I would perhaps give them a rare book modeled after the necronomicon which would allow them to raise the dead in the same manor with out such a heavy limitation.

A focus could also be created to free the character from needing to carry around such a large implement.

Iron Cauldron of the dead: Small cauldron made of iron attached to a chain about the size of a morning star or flail.
Cost: 1500gp
Description: Upon completion of the ritual, the iron cauldron is dipped in the stone cauldron and filled with the necrotic broth. The iron cauldron absorbs the broth and remains dry until the wearer calls upon the power it has stored.  The caster has the option to spend up to five times the ritual component cost to imbue the iron cauldron with up to five charges. Each time the character wishes to use the focus he/she must spend a healing surge to fill the iron cauldron with enough power to call back the necrotic brew it once absorbed. Pouring out the contents of the iron cauldron completes the ritual and allows the caster to raise the spirit as intended.

DMs: Allowing players to summon and control minions in battle isn’t new to the game, but allowing them to do it on a large scale, say 4 or 5 at a time, might get a bit hectic. I would recommend putting some stipulations of this power. For each minion the caster controls they each lose 1/2 of their HP. So raising 1 servant would give it full hp, 2 would mean they each have 1/2 their original hp, 3 mean they each have 1/4th and so on. The logic for this is that the caster must use so much effort and energy to maintain such a large amount of spirits that they are weaker. I would also only allow them to take 3 actions total each round. This means a player who has summoned 5 spirits to help him can only move three of them and that is it, or make one move and attack and another move, while the other 3 must wait until his next turn to act. The reason for this is the amount of concentration the character must expend to maintain them all in battle and to command them. If the player wishes to give up their turn to give the spirits more actions they can, it would be a straight trade though giving him 1 move, 1 minor and 1 standard for his servants.

A great way to introduce this power to players is to use it against them. Have a villain constantly calling the undead to serve them, and allow characters with arcane knowledge to slowly begin to understand how he is doing it. They may even try to use this ritual against their foe in a skill challenge. Allow them to take over the cauldron in combat and turn his minions against him. Once the villain is defeated, give the ritual caster in the group a copy of the ritual as treasure and allow them to make use of the newly captured cauldron.

Allowing a PC to use their new powers to create a meat shield, so to speak, would also allow the defender in the group to feel a bit less attached to their less-than-armored wizard friend. It could also be a way for a party without a defender to take some heat from some brutes or soldiers.

Allowing players to bring back the enemies they have killed might make a fun skill challenge if the players are offering their slain enemies a second chance at life as long as they serve them.  Players could roll arcana bluff, diplomacy and religion checks to gain more sway over the unwilling spirit.

Players: As long as your DM is cool with you building a small army, this ritual could add a new dynamic to the table. I would recommend that if you take more than 1 or 2 controlled spirits into battle, give control of all but 1 of them to the other players at the table. That way they will all benefit from the extra actions in combat and you are not taking 30 minutes per turn trying to figure out what to do with them. That is, unless your DM is mean like me and only lets you have three extra actions no matter how many undead you have with you.

This can be lots of fun if you run across an NPC who has fallen at the hands of the villain you are currently trying to defeat. Nothing could be more fun than taking down your nemesis while backed by an army of the spirits of the people he/she has slain. It might just shake them up a bit.

Combat: The combat application of this ritual is obvious.

Step 1. Raise some dead.

Step 2. Have them attack your enemies.

Step 3.  Sit back and relax.

Step 4. ??? Step

5. Profit.

T.


Part idiot. Part old man. All geek. Thadeous can't think of anything interesting about him self right now. Know this though if he could it would be creative and funny as well as thought provoking.


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About Thadeousc

Thadeous can't think of anything interesting about him self right now. Know this though if he could it would be creative and funny as well as thought provoking.

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