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April 9, 2011, 7:38 pm

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Miscasting Black Essence


The drawing forth of Black Essense is always risky. Here are a few of the risks…

This submission is an extention upon the already excellent post by Ancient Gamer on Dangers of Magic use.

In this submission I am categorizing magic into six distinct levels:

Divine (Not necessarily Clerical magic, but of major world-altering power. Normally beyond the ken of mortal casters.)

The level of magic used when the miscast occurs will dictate the radius of the area the rift will affect.  Some suggestions:

Cantrip - 5’
Low Level - 20’
Medium Level - 500’
High Level - 1 Mile
Mythic Level - 10 Mile
Divine - Entire nation

Now, one can have variences on this depending on the effect.
A particular effect can be reduced in intensity and spread over a larger area, or effect fewer victims then the radius would suggest.


1 - Undead Summoning

    Undead are drawn to the area, possibily being brought through the rift.
    See Remaking the Undead for sample undead to use.
Type and number should be selected to provide a challenge based on the level of magic used to create the rift.  Threat level for High level or higher should be extreme - Divine should be campaign-altering in intensity.  In the case of Cantrips, the undead should be little more then a troublesome spirit which might knock over a few things or give someone a scare.

2 - Curses

Dark energy from the rift will cause 1 or more beings to become cursed.  The number of victims, and intensity of the curse will of course increase as the level of magic increases. See Curses (Manfred’s) or 30 Curses (Mine, some duplication) for ideas on curses.  Deadly curses are likely for High Level, Mythic and of course Divine.  For Cantrip-level, only one victim should be affected, and the curse should last no longer then an hour.

3 - Slaying

Only an option for High level spells and with a reduced radius. I can’t see spells of lower power having this effect.

The Black essence element merges with the surroundings. Life is snuffed out of everyone and everything within the area, leaving only dried corpses and dead trees.(AG)

4 - Slaying + Raising Undead

Local creatures (starting with insects at cantrip level, to all higher animals at Divine) are slain and raised as simple undead. The number effected, and the size of the creature increases as the power level increases. (EM - variant on Sparrows turned into little pheonixs). Intelligant creatures are not subject to this effect.

5 - Cloud of Doom (AG)

Terrible Smell
Nausating Smell
Accellerated Entrophy (All things aged and withered)

Noxious fumes fill the area, with the effect varying from a simple terrible odor, poisonous/choking, up to a withering, accellerated aging of all things.


1 - Caster or other subject in immediate area of rift develop terrible breath as if their teeth were rotting.(ST)

2 - Hot wind blows through the rift. It has the vile stench of rot and decay.(AG)

3 - 1d10 Tiny lifeforms (toads, small birds, insects) are slain and arise as small undead.  (EM - variant on Sparrows turned into little pheonixs).

4 - All forms of small creatures are greatly disturbed and surge forth from hiding.  Worms and other insects emerge from hiding and skitter all over the ground. Larger creatures are spooked and flee. 

5 - A weak potreguiest is summoned and will attempt raise havok for the caster for a short period of time before returning to were it came from. (SM)

6 - All fires in the immediate areas become green and sickly in color.  Smoke becomes acrid and sulferous.

7 - 1d10 local small creatures undergoes mutation - two heads, extra limbs, odd skin (feathers instead of fur, etc).

8 - All drinking water carried by the PC’s acquires a terrible taste.  Water is still drinkable - if the flavor can be ignored.

9 - One PC in immediate area has shadow ‘altered’. Effect may be shadow larger then appropriate for current lighting, moves differently then the affected PC, may appear with different outline - extra horns, wings, etc.  Effect is temporary and limited to local area.

10 - A tree or large bush drops all of it’s leaves.

10 - Roll on Low Table instead

Low Level

1 -1d10 Small lifeforms (Rabbits, large birds, etc) slain and arise as undead. (EM)

2 - 1d4 livestock experience stillbirth (if pregnant) within 4 miles of rift.

3 - Outbreak of minor contageous disease in nearest population center.

8 - One randomly selected PC is afflicted with a minor curse.  See 30 Curses or Curses by Manfred for ideas.

9 - Roll twice on Cantrip level or once magnifing the effect.

10 - Roll on Medium Table instead

Medium Level

Misfortune clings to any who pass through or linger in the area for a day or two. (ST)

1d10 Medium sized lifeforms (Wolves, Deer) slain and arise as undead. (EM)

-Local plants withers. The area becomes barren, shunned by animals, for as long the rift exists. (AG)

Outbreak of major contageous disease in nearest population center.

8 - 1d4 PCs present are afflicted with Curses.

9 - Incorporeal undead of sufficent power to pose a moderate thread brought forward.(SM)

10 - Roll on High Level table instead

High Level

Large sized lifeforms (Moose, Wild Boars, Bears, etc) slain and arise as undead. (EM)

Outbreak of deadly contageous disease in nearest population center.

8 - All PCs present are afflicted with Curses

9 - Incorporeal undead of sufficent power to pose a deadly thread brought forward.(SM)

10 - Roll on Mythic table instead


-A sinister fog rolls out of the rift and envelopes everything. All the nature as well as buildings and living beings are aged. (Buildings decay, trees grow, mountains erode and men age)(AG)

Huge outbreak of deadly highly contageous disease in nearest population center.

9 - Incorporeal undead of sufficent power to pose a desperate threat brought forward.(SM)

10 - Roll on Divine table instead


9 -The Black essence element merges with the surroundings. Life is snuffed out of everyone and everything within the area, leaving only dried corpses and dead trees.(AG)

10 - Undead of sufficent power and number to pose a campaign-changing threat brought forward. Night of the living dead, anyone?(SM)


Of course, AG’s initial sub - The Dangerous Aspects of Using Magic. Entries by AG denoted by ... AG
Entries by (or inspired by) Captain Penguin - CP
Entries by (or inspired by) EchoMirage - EM
Entries by (or inspired by) Strolen - ST
Entries by (or inspired by) Scrasamax - SM

In some cases (Strolen) I have reversed his suggestions to provide the Dark Side versions.

-Caster’s footprints leave areas of sudden growth and life.
-Breathe is life giving for a little while. Blowing on plants accelerate’s growth etc.

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Comments ( 3 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

December 19, 2007, 15:49
Tis a big one - need to revisit!
Ancient Gamer
December 7, 2009, 4:19
Will you ever finish it, val?
June 3, 2013, 11:56

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  • valadaar
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Random Idea Seed View All Idea Seeds

       By: Monument

When the characters approach a clearing in the forest, they will see 4 ogres who are guarding, and preventing from escape, 4 human males, and 3 human females. The ogres will see the party and leap to attack. The females will scream "OUR SAVIORS!!" and run screaming straight across the currently forming battlefield, in between ogres and party members, to hide behind the rearmost party members. They will be safe there. The males will try to skirt the battle to the north side to join the women.

To the south, giants will be hiding in the thick underbrush until the party has engaged the ogres and then attack the most opportune target EXCEPT the ones that the females are next to.

It should be noted that the female commoners are not female commoners at all, nor are the male commoners actually male commoners. The female commoners are the hags, who have polymorphed themselves as the commoners in their stewpot to escape detection. The males skirting the battle are actually MORE ogres, the hags were in the process of polymorphing ALL the ogres into regular humans for ambush purposes. The REAL commoners are already dead, having found their way into the coven's cauldron for dinner.

The hags (the women) will position themselves near to any spellcasters in the rear first, and then near anyone else in the back of the fight. The ogres (the men) will wait until the hags shift form, and then attack first the rear folks, then shift into the melee.

It is possible that the characters, as they approach the ogres, will notice the giants in the bush, and be able to warn the others of the ambush.

GAME NOTES: If you sell the screaming women correctly, they will not even be suspected until it is too late. Therein lay the problem. This encounter is ESPECIALLY deadly to the rear eschelon of the party. It is entirely possible that the hags will finish off half the party before they even realize they have been duped. Caution is required if the game master wishes to avoid a TPK(total party kill).

Encounter  ( Forest/ Jungle ) | July 14, 2005 | View | UpVote 1xp

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