13/30 Magic Tattoos

More than just ink and dedication, these tats pack some serious power.


1. Glyph of Agility

This tattoo appears as an ancient symbol meaning 'energy' and looks like a tribal letter M, with the lower extensions of the glyph often taking on claw like marks. When activated, the glyph glows with a bright green light for a few seconds, and the bearer has their stamina fully restored. There is not a limit to how often the glyph can be activated other than the overall quality of the tattoo, and the general stamina of the user. Weedy types who use it excessively can often suffer from insomnia, shakes, and other maladies.

2. Face of a Child

A common magical tattoo for thieves and other criminals, it appears as a portrait style piece depicting the face of a very young child. The tattoo is activated by speaking the name of the child and touching two fingers to the inkwork. When this is done the bearer becomes 'innocent'. This tattoo can also be invoked to protect the bearer from unfavorable encounters. There are limits, and few orcs will care about the status of a human's guilt, and eventually a city guard will realize that something isnt right the seventeenth time he apprehends the same guy and keeps letting him off with a warning.

3. Vagina

Not a classy piece of art, this depicts the female genetalia, either in grotesque detail or in some stylized form. It is typically in an easily concealed or regularly covered part of the bearer's body. When dealing with a woman, the bearer can non-chalantly stroke the tattoo, and for the duration of the encounter with the woman gain a moderate bonus to his or her charisma score. Alternately, a very high power high quality tattoo could have a limited charm person effect with the conversation partner, generally limited to one night's duration. The church very much frowns upon this sort of artwork.

4. Unicorn

Long associated with purity, the presence of a unicorn tattoo can serve a variety of purposes. The bearer could have a magical bonus to resist poison and diseases. Alternately, the bearer could use the piece to focus moral and ethical believes, such as resisting material temptations. Prostitutes will have unicorns of the first type, indicating that they are possibly free of disease, while the second type is more common of apostates and layfolk following severe ascetic faiths.

5. Attractive Man or Woman

A stalwart of sailors, many a man has an artful representation of a sexy woman on his bicep. A properly enchanted and prepared tattoo of the magical variety can create a very specialized version of the Mount spell. Rather than a magical horse that appears, a magical woman appears and services the bearer for the general duration of said spell. These tattoos are expensive, almost exclusively so. The 'mount' created by this tattoo is generally only capable of one task, never speak, and have very limited intelligence and ability. It is possible for a woman or a man to have a manly tattoo instead of the bicep lady, but the function remains the same.

6. Symbol of a God or Goddess

Icons, symbols, and stylized representations of gods and goddesses are not uncommon. While most show simple devotion, magical tattoos of this sort (inscribed by suitable holy men) can actually instill a small amount of power associated with said divinity. This is limited to either a constant low to moderate bonus to a skill or ability relevant to the god or goddess, or a low level spell like power or ability that can be activated a small number of times a day. For example, a tattoo of the Goddess of Luck could grant a +1 to any one dice roll a day, or a tattoo of the God of Forests and Trees could speak with trees or plants once a day. This single entry could very easily explode out into a 30, or even 101 codex. Each god or goddess could have a variety of skills and abilities associated with them.

7. Lucky Charm

Luck is a fickle thing, and many seek to curry luck's favor by adorning themselves with symbols of good luck. These can range from the common such as four leaf clovers and the like to exotic and only locally relevant things. The Luck Charm tattoo can be used two different ways. One is a mechanical action such as allowing a reroll of any one dice roll. A generous DM can allow the better roll to be used, or can say fate and luck are fickle and the results of the second roll stand for better or worse. Alternately, the charm could be used to add a small bonus to a skill check before it is rolled. The two abilities shouldnt be allowed to stack together. Finally, the charm can be used in situations where luck is involved, such as looking for someone in a crowded city, a missing book mishelved in a great library, or finding a needle in a haystack.

8. Stars

The Star has a variety of symbolic uses, ranging from honor, to martial power, to indicating being a pornographic actress. As such, the Star tattoo is often defined by color, and associated decorations, and the presence of other stars or related symbols. This class of magical tattoo grants a small to moderate bonus to a talent or skill, often performance based. For this power to work, the tattoo in question must be visible to the eye. Dance, seduction, and other social based skills are the best for this type of art.

9. Death Imagry

Skulls and Grim Reapers, headstones and skeletons have long been a part of contemporary tattoo culture. In the fantastic culture, these tattoos are defiance in the face of death (if they venerate death, see #6). Zombies and undead will only go after such marked persons if there are no other potential victims for them to chase and eat. Ghosts will also typically avoid said folk. These tattoos are not granting perfect immunity to the undead, only deflecting their attention to others. These type of tattoos can also serve as anchors for general protection from undead, necromancy, and other such magics.

10. Dragons

Dragons are creatures of great and terrible power. The bearer of a Dragon tattoo wont grow wings and begin breathing flame, but they will be very hard to intimidate, cow, or otherwise overcome by charisma or force of will. Said pieces of art are often commisioned by soldiers, mercenaries, bodyguards, and other people who have to go into harm's way (morale checks) or by people who wish to use said confidence to intimidate others. A man with a dragon tattoo can very easily become a bully in the right circumstances.

11. Jewels and Gems

Some things have value tied to them for no apparent reason, such as a rock being deemed valuable because it happens to be the right color. This type of tattoo gives the bearer the appearance of being perhaps more financially gifted than they are. A lady thief might hide her status with a cluster of jewel tattoos across her shoulder, making her appear to be a wealthy noble slumming, rather than a cutpurse.

12. Fairies, Nixies, Pixies, and other hylopterous fae

The fae can live in the most twisted and convoluted of locations and never become lost, whereas common mortals can stumble into the edge of a fairie forest and vanish forever. A proper fairie tattoo can grant the bearer an innate sense of direction, usually limited to places they have been before.

13. Eyes and Eyeballs

Much more common among magi, the artful eye can grant bonuses to normal perception and spot checks, or can be used as a focus for abilities such as arcane sight, see invisible, Darkvision, and any other spell that involves vision. These typically have said tattoos on their foreheads or in the palms of their hands, allowing them to turn the vision based power on and off at will. An eye on the back of the neck can allow a limited sort of vision behind the bearer, not good enough for reading or detail, but certainly good enough to thwart a thief attempting to move into a sneak attack or backstab position.



? Responses (8)-8

Goto Author

Overall, still a quality piece despite being part of the 'clean-out' work.

For no. 2, I don't quite comprehend what the phrase 'few orcs will care about the status of a human's guilt' meant exactly although I get the general gist that it's supposed to convey the limit of the tattoo in protecting the bearer from unfavourable encounters

Typo alert:

No. 9 Heading: missing e in the word Imagery

Goto Author

Went back and re-read that part. Basic gist: innocence only works for people who care about innocence and guilt, orcs would be more aspected to might is right, and innocent could equate to weak. Its never a good idea to appear weak in front of an orc

Goto Author

okay, got it.

Goto Author


I like the theme of this submission.

For now, 3.5/5

Goto Author

A very cool idea at its core with some good examples. It does seem like there should be a high cost of some kind associated with gaining these tattoos since they are always present and cannot (easily) be taken away. Perhaps it is a complex art requiring lots of training along with magical ability, so practitioners are rare. It could also require exotic dyes, like pigment from ground bone for #9. (Not sure what you'd need for #3, though...)

Goto Author

The artist would have to be both skilled in doing tattoo work but also in mixing the inks (spell components) and then there would be an associated cost much like most magic item creation systems. Normally the Mage in question would pay this XP cost but in the case of the tattoo I would make it a split, with the artist contributing 10% or so XP and the rest coming from the recipient of the tattoo. As for #3: tears of an incubus, dust or pigments derived from sexual materials or flowers, etc. stuff associated with masculine power, feminine wiles, or the act of sex itself

Goto Author

I recall a game in the Freeform RP thread that used this concept. Maybe you could be inspired by/ some of those.


Goto Author

Hmm, perhaps we should amalgamate this one with http://strolen.com/viewing/10_Magic_Tattoos.