Ultimate power, a bit of madness, the risk of dying horribly... what's not to love about this.
I like the flavor that bleeds through. These aren't normal sorcerers who gather power through bound spirits. There is an entire ecosystem of ethereal creatures. It speaks to a larger, well-developed world, with enough similarities to standard fantasy to make it easy to grasp and enough uniqueness to set it apart.
This is good. While the concept may not be new, the backstory really brought it to life for me.
I would probably put these in an area where the previous owners (having lived) discarded them. Then, I would herd the players to this spot, without weapons of their own (perhaps they were captured and are attempting to escape.) Ok, this sub brings out the evil GM in me, but I like to keep my players on their toes.
These would also be a good tool for conmen. Sell them to unsuspecting adventurers, impressing them with the cutting ability, then set upon them on the road, knowing that they would be hampered. Steal from the corpses, and repeat.
A tantalizing glimpse, but I would also like more detail. Perhaps an intro where the soul dies for the first time to answer the question of how he landed there. Maybe even a plot hook on how to get the adventurers in and out of such a hell, either looking to save a lost comrade or on a mission for information from the deceased (who would quite likely demand release as payment.)
I'm witholding my vote for now.
Excellent writeup, Drackler. Not every being must be of world-shattering proportions in order to be useful or make a game enjoyable. Sometimes a little subtlety can kick off larger events or have just enough impact to affect an important outcome.
History of the Blood Duelist
In elder days gone by, when the world still lived in barbarity, and civilization was a new word upon the lips of man, dogs were considered to be protectors sent down by the gods. Over time the idea of protector became broader until it encompassed judgements passed upon dangerous criminals.
Dogs who were no longer capable of hunting or guarding were put to use as executioners for those convicted of violent crimes. The condemned would be bound to posts and set upon by the dogs until dead.
One such condemned man was found guilty of murder, even though all knew it was in self defense against the thug of a rich man. Unable to bear the thought of his son being torn apart by dogs, the man’s father pled to be executed instead, saying, “Let me duel the gods of judgement for my son’s life.” An allowance was made, with the added condition that if he were to survive for a set amount of time, his son would be set free.
Thus began the tradition of the Blood Duelist.
A variation on #17, a keep may have been abandoned when it wasn't worth defending or was emptied out via brigands. If land surrounding the keep becomes wild, it would be an excellent, easily defensible place for a band of brigands to keep their home and loot in. Until something nastier comes along, of course.