Identifying Vestiges (3.5e Variant Rule)
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Tome of Magic proposes three alternate systems of magic — pact magic, shadow magic, and truename magic. Of these, pact magic stands out as the most distinct from anything else that exists in the game (the closest thing to it is incarnum and soulmelds, and the similarities are rather tenuous). But while pact magic has almost everything it needs to stand as a system in the game, it's definitely lacking something — rules for identifying it. And so I have created a system for doing precisely that. It works similarly to identifying spells, but with a few tweaks to reflect the secrecy of pact magic.
Note: This rule assumes that your game is not using the Pactcraft skill, which does everything this rule does all by itself, and a bit more efficiently, too.
Attempting to identify a vestige requires a swift action, and targets a character with bound vestiges within your line of sight. Identifying a vestige is rather straightforward if the enemy binder is displaying the sign of the vestige without bothering to conceal it; it requires nothing more than a simple Knowledge (religion), Knowledge (the planes), or Spellcraft check with a DC of 10 + the vestige's level. (The skill used depends on the vestige; the DM should make the roll secretly so that the player doesn't know what skill the roll was based on.) If the enemy binder is also under the vestige's influence, the identifying character makes a Sense Motive check against the same DC; if he or she succeeds, he or she gets a +4 circumstance bonus to all other rolls associated with identifying the vestige.
However, due to persecution from religious types (including soul salvagers), few binders openly display the signs of their vestiges; in many cases, a vestige's sign will be either hidden or suppressed outright, making the process of identifying the vestige considerably more complicated. If the enemy binder is displaying the sign but keeping it concealed (no, that's not an oxymoron; read the Tome of Magic), identifying the vestige requires a skill check from the character identifying the vestige, opposed by a skill check from the enemy binder. If the enemy binder is suppressing the sign, the same check is required of the identifying character, but the enemy binder instead opposes the identifying character with an effective binder level check. In either case, the enemy binder gets a bonus on his check equal to the level of the vestige, plus 1 for every +1 increase that would be applied to the DC of a Spot check due to distance. (The skills in question depend on the vestige; in most cases, the identifying character makes a Spot or Sense Motive check, and the enemy binder opposes it with a Disguise or Bluff check (assuming that he's concealing, but not suppressing, the sign). The DM should make all of the rolls secretly so that the identifying character doesn't know exactly what skill he or she is using.) Only after beating the enemy binder on the opposed check is the identifying character entitled to a Knowledge or Spellcraft check to actually know what the vestige is. If the identifying character fails to identify the enemy binder's vestige, he can try again on his next turn, but each attempt requires a swift action. A character can only attempt to identify one vestige at a time, even if he or she is facing multiple binders and/or the enemy binder(s) have multiple vestiges bound.
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