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January 8, 2010, 3:21 pm

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Cannibal Magic

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The magic of Cannibalism or Asuramancy is the weird sister of Necromancy and a distant cousin to Alchemy, although Alchemy denies it.

Author's Note

First, where did this come from? Several things inspired this concept. First was a religious look at serving a god of gluttony and what powers he would bestow upon his clergy and there was Supernatural, first season, episode entitled Wendigo. Maybe a little inspiration came from mad cow disease.

Second, for purposes of this submission I will be adjusting the definition of cannibalism. As per wikipedia, cannabalism is the practice of humans eating the flesh of other humans, or a species consuming members of it's own kind. For the purposes of this submission, cannabalism is any sentient, intelligent, biological humanoid who consumes any other sentient, intelligent, biological humanoid. Therefore a human who eats an elf or a troll who eats a dwarf is a cannibal for the purposes of this submission, whereas wikipedia and other sources disagree. You might feel the need to return to the original definition after reading this submission or tamper with it further. Up to you.

Thirdly, I truely hope that this magic and idea will be used by GMs for NPCs, particularly NPC villians and not PCs. This is dark magic intended for the evil & weak to get power. The power is therefore a bit over the top and has severe drawbacks and therefore not ideal for PCs. However, again I leave it up to your discretion.

With these things said, bon appetite.

The magic of Cannibalism or Asuramancy is the weird sister of Necromancy and a distant cousin to Alchemy, although Alchemy denies it. Where Necromancy, bridles the power of the dead often using death or undead to achieve it's goals, Asuramancy consumes the dead and its power giving it to the living. It is a rare art and like Necromancy has huge social stigma around it in the civilized world, although Asuramancy tends to have a worse reputation.

Asuramancy is a ritual magic most notably used by witch doctors of jungle tribes and the occassional shaman of a barbarian clan. Among other humanoids, goblin, hobgoblin, kobold, and orc shaman or witch doctors are likely to know this art and rarely troll, minotaur, lizardman, troglodytes, and ogres have been known to know it. Others who seek it out are those willing to pay any price to attain their goals. These individuals must be desperate and consumed by a need that no other source (except perhaps witchcraft) can supply. This art is not complex and creatures of lower intelligence can learn it in many months or a year. A wizard or alchemist who is already familiar with magic can be taught all there is to know about Asuramancy in a number of weeks. It is kept alive mostly out of tradition and for survival. Not all cannabalism is Asuramancy, as without the right magic catalysts, cannabalism will have no lasting affect on the cannibal, except the social stigma of course.

Like the magic, the idea behind it is simple... to consume the flesh of an enemy is to gain their strength. Their inner strength or their powers will become mingled with your own life and power, creating a new and often unstable life and power. The Asuramancer can use his power on either himself or another. The changes prompted by the act are permanent (except being possessed by an evil spirit explained below) and cannot be undone except by wish.

The Ritual

 

Quick Glossary

Eater – the one who is the target of the Auramancy, the one to eat and be modified

Asuramancer – the one who is using art, can also be the Eater

Victim – the one who is going to be eaten

There are two degrees to which the ritual might be performed. To perform the greatest the victim must be killed by the hand of the one who will be the Eater no less than 12 hours before the ritual, and the ritual must happen at midnight. The Asuramancer paints blood symbols on the Eater in the victim's blood, parts of the victim are removed and treated with special magical herbal ingredients and is sometimes cooked depending on the victim (some Asuramancers have complex cookbooks that may or may not affect the outcome of the ritual), the Eater and Asuramancer chant quietly all while this happens. As an hour progresses the chanting gets louder and at the end of the hour or so, the meal is prepared. All become silent as the Eater eats and the magic soaks through his body. The Eater is then often tied and gagged by friends or family until dawn. The Eater is likely to cause damage to himself or others as he will be stricken with seizures, sweats, twitches, and muscle spasms all night and will remember the night as a painful and terrifying ordeal. By morning the ritual is done and the Eater will be different. This is the basic ritual, but many tribes add chanting, dancing, a feast of other bizarre animals for guests, and other events to bring the whole tribe together to celebrate the event.

To do the lesser ritual an Asuramancer must be present and up to two other components of the ritual are not done as per specs above. (i.e. the Eater is not the killer, the ritual is done in broad daylight, the herbal ingredients are lacking, the corpse is older than 12 hours, no blood symbols can be painted on the Eater probably due to an old/dehydrated corpse)

The Favourable Changes -

Basic

The Greater Ritual – the attributes of the victim and the Eater are compared. The Eater's old attributes are replaced with the higher of each compared attribute. The Eater is randomly given up to three of the victim's racial abilities, innate magical abilities, skills, feats, or unique abilities. Most abilities gained are frozen at the level of the victim and never get better or worse with time (see special outcomes below). The Eater's maximum vitality or hit points is increased by many points.

The Lesser Ritual – same as above, except all but two of the attributes of the victim (randomly determined) and the Eater are compared. The Eater is randomly given up to two of the victim's racial abilities, innate magical abilites, skills, feats, or unique abilites instead of three. The Eater's maximum vitality or hit points is increased by a few points instead of many.

Advanced

After the ritual has been performed on the Eater, later rituals have an increased effect on the Eater. The Eater gets the Basic Changes with the below modifications. For the list below, the victim's best attribute would be the prerequisite attribute or the highest, in case of a tie the best attribute is randomly determined among the tied attributes.

  • After the 2nd ritual, the victim's best attribute is counted as being two higher in the comparison.

  • After the 3rd ritual, the victim's best attribute is counted as being four higher in the comparison.

  • After the 4th ritual, the victim's best attribute is counted as being four higher in the comparison and the Eater gains all the victim's racial abilities, innate magical abilities, skills, feats, and unique abilities.

  • After the 5th ritual, the vicitm's best attribute is counted as being six higher in the comparison, the Eater gains all the victim's racial abilities, innate magical abilites, skills, feats, and unique abilities, and the Eater's maximum hit point total is 50% higher.

  • After the 6th ritual, the vicitm's best attribute is counted as being six higher in the comparison, the Eater gains all the victim's racial abilities, innate magical abilites, skills, feats, and unique abilities, and the Eater doubles their maximum hit point total.

  • After the 7th ritual, the vicitm's best attribute is counted as being eight higher in the comparison, the Eater gains all the victim's racial abilities, innate magical abilites, skills, feats, and unique abilities, and the Eater doubles their maximum hit point total.  The Eater also gains demonic natural weaponry.

Special Outcomes – at the GMs discretion, if a special cookbook recipe was used on the Greater Ritual a special outcome might occur. Examples of this might include the Eater polymorphing/reincarnating into the victim's race, abilities stolen might be applied at the Eater's level and can improve with the Eater's other abilities at level changes, the Eater's level goes up to the victim's level (if lower), any favourable or unfavourable bond might transfer from the victim to the Eater (like a contract for a soul or a magic item hard wired for the victim's use only), the victim's memories are bestowed to the Eater, the victim's natural weapons are conferred to the Eater, all languages known by the victim are now known to the Eater, and so on. I would be extremely creative with this and use it in a case by case basis.

The Unfavourable Changes or Side Effects -

The victim is completely inferior to the Eater – if when comparing the attributes of the victim and the Eater, it is determined that the Eater gains no attributes, the Eater's attributes are replaced by the victim's and none of the other benefits are applied to the Eater. This phenomenon ensures that children, handicapped persons, village idiots, and other degenerates are rarely the victims of Asuramancy.

After the first time – If not Lawful Good (or the equivalent), the Eater has a moderate chance for an alignment change moving preferrably toward chaotic but also could be towards evil. If the Eater by some strange twist of fate was Lawful Good, he makes the aligment change no questions. The Eater also has a small chance of contracting an insanity (see the insanity table below). It is not uncommon for someone to have no adverse affects after just one use.

After the second time – The Eater has a high chance for an alignment change moving preferrably toward chaotic but also could be towards evil. The Eater also has a moderate chance of contracting an insanity. Finally the Eater has a small chance of being possessed by an evil spirit. It is rare, but not impossible to go through the ritual a second time with no adverse affects. Many Asuramancers stop here and will go no further.

After the third time – The Eater, if not Chaotic Evil (or an equivalent), will go through an alignment change if it wasn't triggered by the first or second time. The alignment change as specified above will be preferrably towards chaotic but could also be towards evil. The Eater has a high chance of contracting an insanity. Finally, the Eater has a small chance of being possessed by an evil spirit. The Eater now prefers humanoid flesh to all others. Few Asuramancers will go beyond this point.

After the fourth time – The Eater, if not Chaotic Evil (or an equivalent), will go through a second alignment change. This alignment change will be preferrably towards evil but could be towards chaotic. The Eater contracts an insanity if the previous rituals have not caused one yet or the Eater has a moderate chance of getting a second insanity. If the Eater already has two insanities from this ritual he has a small chance of getting a third but cannot contract a fourth yet. The Eater has a moderate chance of being possessed by an evil spirit. The Eater now has an uncontrollable craving for humanoid flesh and will need to be actively restrained when in the presence of humanoid bodies to avoid feeding.

After the fifth time – The Eater, if not Chaotic Evil (or an equivalent) will go through a third alignment change. This alignment change will be preferrably towards evil but could be towards chaotic as well. The Eater now contracts a second insanity if he hasn't already. If the Eater already has a second insanity he has a moderate chance of getting a third or a small chance of getting a fourth. The Eater has a moderate chance of being possessed by an evil spirit. The Eater's physical appearance is starting to warp. The Eater now is plagued by an insatiable hunger for humanoid flesh and must be restrained at most times to avoid attacking and eating humanoids (It's safe to talk to him if he has a full stomach, that's it). It is extremely rare to find a Asuramancer who will go beyond this point.

After the sixth time – This ritual has a small chance of killing the Eater. At the conclusion of the ritual, the surviving Eater is now Chaotic Evil (or an equivalent). The Eater now has four insanities, induced from these rituals. The Eater emerges possessed by an evil spirit. The Eater's physical appearance is very warped and vaguely demonic. The Eater has little humanity left and is basically a monster whether or not the evil spirit is removed.

After the seventh time – This ritual has a moderate chance of killing the Eater. At the conclusion of the ritual the surviving Eater has five insanities, is possessed by an evil spirit, and for all intents and purposes counts as a demon. The Eater's physical appearance is very demonic. Someone getting to this stage is almost unheard of... it's something of legend.

The eighth ritual – kills the Eater... everytime.

If possessed by an evil spirit – There are probably other guides out there that you might want to use at this point to determine what happens here. However, the jist is that the evil spirit will attempt to use the Eater to do some damage in one way or another. The spirit can be banished, exorcised, or otherwise trapped. When that occurs the Eater returns to his old, ahem, new self.

Here is a list of possible spirits you might want to use:

  1. The Warmonger – this spirit is the essence of non-functional mindless aggression. The possessed Eater will try to destroy everyone and everything in it's path. If the Eater were properly bound during the ceremony, this spirit might act docile until the host is freed.

  2. The Traitor – this spirit is very subtle, and possibly the most dangerous. The Eater will act just like he always has only perhaps a little more sedate than usual. At some time in the near future will do something to try to kill everyone around him, like poisoning food or a well or lighting the buildings on fire, or maybe more extravagent like summoning a demon lord.

  3. The Shrieker – this spirit is the most obvious and will shriek and wail until removed from the host. The shrieking makes eating or drinking impossible for the host and if the spirit isn't expelled in a number of days the shrieker will leave taking the host's life as it goes.

  4. The Psychic – this spirit has it's own set of psionic powers and uses them to abuse the locals.

Insanities -

You most likely have better reference material, than what I mention here and I encourage you to use other Stolen submissions, role-playing references, or psychology text books. However, that being said there are a few insanities I think deserve special mention. If you don't understand what I'm referring to below please consult other sources for full definitions, etc.

Multiple personality disorder – this fits the situation like a glove. You may or may not want the extra personalities to be the victims. Alternatively, they could be representatives of victim's personnas only greatly exaggerated. Going with the Special Outcomes (above) you could have a physical characteristic of the Eater change depending on the personality in charge of the moment. Also if the Eater gets to advanced stages, you could have one or more of the personalities beat the curve and not be cannabalistic like the dominant personality.

Schizophrenia – the ghosts of the Eater's victim's tend to talk to him making him paranoid, hostile, and constantly seeking relief. Again this could be played up as real or as an insanity.

Finally other suitable insanities include: an irrational power lust, phobia of sunlight, necrophelia, manic depression, social anxiety disorder, paranoia, and kleptomania

An Example -

Just in case my explanations were inadequate and some of the mechanic's of the magic were not understood, I present this example:

A chaotic neutral shaman (an Asuramancer) of the Clan of Cloud's Reach has just scored the killing shot on a rampaging troll. The shaman realized this is a golden opportunity to increase his power and influence with his own tribe and well as other tribes. Aware of the risks, he ordered his apprentice to cut certain parts of the charred troll's remains and harvest as much blood as possible. That night he performed the one and only ritual of the Asuramancer, which he had only completed one time before. With the ritual completed, his apprentice left him in a cave a short distance from camp, having tied his bonds tightly. He attempted to wrestle through the agony until dawn. When the dawn finally came, everything was different... his intelligence was the same (his intelligence was higher than the troll's and stayed the same)and his arms were freakishly strong (his strength has been replaced by the troll's strength as it was higher). With a simple twitch, his bands broke and fell from him. He stood gazing at where his bonds had gouged his flesh. After a few moments he cursed his luck... of all things he hoped for, he had hoped and prayed that he could heal like a troll. Why hadn't it worked? He remembered there was no sure things with this, but the rage consumed him. As he looked around he realized the cave was much brighter than it should be. That was the power he had taken from the troll, not healing but the ability to see in the dark. He fumed and he fumed and fumed... why was he so badly cheated? Surely the magic and the gods should have given him the healing. If he'd been given the healing he could stop now but no... he had to hunt another troll immediately and try again. Suddenly, he noticed his apprentice in the mouth of the cave. He was being addressed.

A short time later the shaman looked down on the body of his apprentice. There is no way he could tolerate being spoken to in that way by a mere apprentice. Why had he been so disrespectful? It's not like it's the chief's right to summon me whenever he wants. I'm the Shaman... I control the magic of this tribe, I'm not to be trifled with. The fog of anger lifted for short moment and the shaman realized what he had done. Shedding not a single tear for his now dead apprentice, the now chaotic evil shaman left, abandoning his home in search of another troll, to try again.

Additional Considerations:

Randomness vs Prechosen -

As GM there is a bit of tailoring yet to do. I propose that Asuramancy is best used in a controlled manner with any randomness done and agreed with long before the gaming session. If, as GM, you may want to transfer a more powerful magic like a spell casting ability such as a sorcerer, wizardry, or a dragon mark, you might want to adjust the character in such a way as to now multi-class. For example if a goblin were to slay a wizard and then consume him using asuramancy... as described you could have a smart goblin with all the wizard's spell knowledge and perhaps guild secrets. Keep the game in your court... or this ability is useless.

Large Sized Humanoids -

In my example I used a troll. I can fully understand why you would want to leave large and huge sized humanoids out of the range of this ability. If you do decide to allow it, I would attribute at least some of these creatures strength to their frames, their size, and due to mechanics (leverage), with these considerations not all the strength attribute would be transferred. I suggest lowering it by at least a few points if not several. I would consider a percentage as well. Your game, your call.

 

 

 

 



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Comments ( 15 )
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Voted tinypoisonousfish
January 8, 2010, 14:25
0xp
Very nice. I'd go a different route with the eighth time, basically a cannibalistic version of the magical "passing through the Abyss." Anyway still a cool concept. Reminds me of a passage from the Book of the Law:

"Worship me with fire & blood; worship me with swords & with spears. Let the woman be girt with a sword before me: let blood flow to my name. Trample down the Heathen; be upon them, o warrior, I will give you of their flesh to eat!"
Redgre
January 8, 2010, 14:42
0xp
I definitely agree that a different end for the eighth time would be good. I'm not following your reference though. Could you steer me in the right direction? Thanks for your comment.
Cheka Man
January 8, 2010, 17:46
0xp
5/5 and you deserve more then I can now give you.
EchoMirage
January 8, 2010, 17:56
0xp
While tailored to DnD and quite straightdforward, this is an OK idea, something to make a villain despicable and capable at the same time. I also like the idea it is intendd for lower calibre baddies.
All in all, me likey.
Voted EchoMirage
January 8, 2010, 17:57
0xp
Me votey.
Voted Scrasamax
January 9, 2010, 7:38
1xp
I was expecting something a bit different. Perhaps a skilled asuramancer would have know that eating the spleen of the troll grants its regenerative capability, but doing so gains you a troll's apetite. Each of the organs of the body is associated with various elements and aspects and abilities. Some would be rather obvious, you want dark vision, you eat dark vision eye balls. Others would be more difficult, what organ is associated with a trolls regeneration, or a dragonborn's ability to breath fire?
Redgre
January 9, 2010, 10:36
0xp
I like the way you would have taken with it. It makes sense that as the body works through a set of self checks and balances and that certain body parts contain certain powers. I suppose I didn't want to go that way because I didn't want the baddies (or worse yet the PCs) completely engineering themselves and thus have game balance issues. I wanted a chance of failure on an increasingly slippery slope. I think that from what you've presented, one could keep this article as is, for the masses, and have one rare Asuramancer, knows the true path from ancient days... your idea. Unless there's more to your idea, and it really takes you much further away than indicated. I'd be interested in anything else you have to say on this subject. Let me know what you think.
Voted valadaar
January 9, 2010, 18:04
0xp
Really cool - I have a race - the Rephatians - who are very cannibalistic, and this would fit in very well with them.

A bit game specific, but no matter - this is an excellent post!
Redgre
January 10, 2010, 1:01
1xp
I'd like to make a quick comment in response to both Echo Mirage & valadaar. I know I used AD&D to illustrate this power. I did so because for one, in my opinion, magic seems to fit the fantasy setting a little better than most other settings and two, because in my experience, almost everyone I know who role plays has at least some experience with AD&D, I thought of it as the common denominator among role players and the most understandable way to share the idea. Please understand that I did not intend to make this an AD&D magic system only. I think it could be modified and fit well with any role playing system with an existing magical component. Thanks for your attention.
axlerowes
January 11, 2010, 18:07
0xp
In addition to what was said I think a stumbling block to this as written work is the voice of the piece. This is written by a gamer for gamers with out any context provided; such as history of Auromancy or personal accounts of asuramancy. Yet you do allude to a cultural context "...social stigma around it in the civilized world, although Asuramancy tends to have a worse reputation...used by witch doctors of jungle tribes and the occassional shaman of a barbarian clan." You then go into discussing specific game mechanics. I know this is how 1st and 3ed DnD books are written, but it is intermingling information that does not go together. Are you discussing the culture of asuramancy or potential game system? Both are interesting and worth discussing, but it doesn't serve your game system discussion to discuss cultural baggage without a context for the baggage (or the voice in which it is discussed). I think you dealt with this well in one of you previous posts. http://strolen.com/viewing/Accomodations_in_a_Box

If you want to make this accessible in generic fashion then you don't need to allude to specific opinions or you could discuss its game use in a general fashion considering multiple play styles.
Voted Fallen Angel
January 11, 2010, 3:33
Only voted
Voted axlerowes
January 11, 2010, 18:11
0xp
So this how we could make a Windigo. I like this idea a lot, and I think you developed it nicely. The system specific doesn't bother me, and the exemplary story rounds out the piece nicely. I hope to work a version of this into my game, see how my PC respond to it.
Thanks
axlerowes
January 12, 2010, 1:18
2xp
It was a fine submission and you don’t need to change anything. The point I was making is that your submission did not have a consistent voice. The problems with the consistence of voice and perspective is something innate to gaming because the game straddles two points of view, the vantage taken by the players and mechanics and the view of the perspective of the characters and in narrative personalities and systems. This piece is largely a description of a system, and it is written with such a voice. When you start discussing in game matters such as the fact that this is a relatively common practice among jungle tribe and the people view it negatively you start to discuss things as seen from in game perspective. You stated in a discussion of this post:

“In my mind there are several world parameters which to me are a given. For example, I assume that in a civilized society, things like murder, theft, incest, torture, rape, cannabalism, and similar activities are against the law (even if the law is corrupted, otherwise people don't feel safe and you have an unstable government). I'm sure that from society to society the methods of dealing with people who engage in such activities vary greatly and the method of catching such people is different. But to me they are still a standard. Even in our world today, whether living in a Hindu, Moslem, Buddist, or Christian nation, these acts are punishable by law. That standard is where I draw my cultural comments such as "social stigma around it". And draw the conclusion that cultures that are considered "uncivilized" or "savage" would be the likely breeding grounds for such a magic system to dwell.”

This is certainly intuitive, but what does discussing it add to your submission? If as you say these things are a given; is there a need to discuss the context in which cannabalism is viewed? Things like murder, theft and other “crimes” are viewed in a matter of degree in all cultures. For example a biography of Wild Bill Hickok states that he “killed 17 men, not counting Indians and Confederates” which says a lot about how killing was viewed at the time. Perhaps he was a savage, but there were obviously different standards applied to the act of killing based upon the context. I am not saying you need to change your submission, and it is perfectly reasonable to discuss both in game views and out of game views in a submission. But you implementation of both perspectives is intermingled in way that doesn’t put a clear context to the in game information. The short story at the end has a context, because it is presented as a example.
Additionally you don’t go into the metaphysics of your system. Which is fine if only discussing a system, but an example question would be why does eating a Troll in this context run threat of making one evil while just killing a troll does not? Is it Karma, is it a celestial score keeper or judge, or is it that evil spirits travel through the flesh marked by the above mentioned mystical symbols? Each GM will resolve this for themselves I suppose, but you attempt a minor explanation of it. This post works fine as a system, I like the idea and I will base some item in my own game world around your idea. But you tried to put this into a cultural context which is unnecessary for a post of this kind (though not a useless addition), and the context for this information was incompletely developed.
Redgre
January 12, 2010, 2:19
0xp
A fine response. This is going to be a bit for me to digest, but I thank you.
Voted Drackler
February 25, 2011, 21:04
0xp

With these things said, bon appetite.

This is my favourite line. But, puns aside, I really liked the sub. Cannibalism as the bad guy is recurring, though not enough to be cliched yet. As was said above, I liked that this works for smaller and pettier foes.

 However, I would like to note the rather rule-specific bent. I understand where you come from on this one, but it isn't necessarily needed. Most GMs can serve themselves the crunch to fit with your fluff if they have a mind to. In fact, most will need to either to adapt to a different system (Traveller Psionic-Cannibals, anyone?), or to give exact tables and numbers and die-rolls to what is provided.

 Forgive me for needling what has already been mentioned more than once, Redgre. I liked the example, too.

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