While the channeling of energy always has the same mechanical effects, barring the use of special feats, the gods may leave their own distinctive signature on the ability.
Thematic channeling effects are purely sensory, and even the most graphic effects can be readily identified by someone trained in Heal or Knowledge (religion) as being the result of positive or negative energy channeling, and not some other effect.
Positive: A precise yet melodious jingling sound fills the air (associated with keys in some lands, coins in others). Those affected momentarily feel as if they are encompassed and sheltered within some vast structure that towers around them. There is a visible outline like a door-frame around the channeling priest, with warmth and light streaming in from behind him, casting him in shadow.
Undead damaged by this positive effect instead suffer the negative effects below.
Negative: A discordant sound (associated with a jailor’s keys, rattling bars, or coins being lost) is heard. Those affected feel trapped, as if the walls are closing in around them (even if they are outdoors). A door is heard to blow open with a cold wind blasting from the direction of the channeling priest. Those affected are filled with a sense of danger combined with a crushing sensation and bitter cold. Those slain by this effect are found cold to the touch, both crushed and apparently mauled by wild animals (symbolically cast forth from the protection of civilization).
An undead healed by such a channeling feels instead sheltered in a grand mausoleum, similar to the effects of a positive energy channeling benefiting a living target.
Negative: Those affected feel as if they have been bludgeoned with a torrential burst of heat, as if from a blast oven, and those slain by these forces appear charred and burnt. They often bear unburned areas of skin on their wrists and ankles, as if they were manacled at the time they were burned.
To undead benefiting from such a channeling, the heat is invigorating and inspiring, like the rush of warm blood through again-living flesh.
Positive: The sweet smell of honey fills the air to those affected. They shiver with the sensation of many hands touching them, followed by a moment of sweet release that causes many to cry out in ecstasy.
Undead damaged by this effect instead feel the pain of loss and the sting of betrayal as old wounds, both physical and mental, reopen.
Negative: Those affected feel as if insects are crawling all over them and hear a persistent buzzing of many wings. The sensation of dozens of stingers – most commonly felt in the back, nape, and hindquarters – is followed by searing pain, as they feel venom burn through their veins. Those slain by this effect are often swollen nearly to the point of being unrecognizable, as if stung by thousands of bees or wasps. However, there is no actual venom in their system, and the effects subside within hours.
An undead creature benefiting from a negative energy channeling instead feels the sensual rush enjoyed by a living target receiving the benefits of a positive energy channeling.
Positive: The sensation of ale pouring down ones throat is followed by a burst of warmth surging from the belly throughout the body. This ‘liquid courage’ dulls the senses to the pain of injury and causes wounds to fade away as if all part of a drunken dream. Limbs feel invigorated, and often move suddenly, and there is a sensation that heavy weights (shackles? responsibilities? earthly cares?) have dropped away. Those receiving this form of healing often stagger slightly, and sometimes even belch loudly at the end of the effect (considered a compliment by those of the faith).
Positive: All affected hear a gentle music, singing perhaps, so distant that they cannot identify it, more the memory of a song than an actual song. Their vision is filled with suggestions of dancing stars, tiny motes that caper and prance at the very edges of their vision, but are never truly visible. In an instant, a shuddering sigh passes through their bodies, as if they have arrived at some safe destination, followed by a sense of timelessness, as if they are resting in a peaceful haven, and finally a sense of an unexplained anticipation, as if a new journey is just about to begin.
Undead damaged by this effect instead feel the world spinning around them, dizzying, hostile, and uncertain, with a conflicting sense of intense cold punctuated by sharp flashes of fiery pain.
Positive: For a moment, all affected feel a surge of strength flowing up from their toes, pulsing through them like a waterfall in reverse, finally erupting from the crown of their heads. Some feel the surge of energy as a sensual thing, primal and animalistic, while others are more likely to describe it as uplifting, familiar somehow, like an old, comfortable memory of home and family.
Positive: All present feel the strength of iron flow into them, from their own armor and weapons, if they bear such, but otherwise seeming to come straight from their heart, as if it was pumping molten metal through their body. Instead of pain, this creates a surge of determination, and those affected see the world in an instant through a red haze of excitement, often crying out in exultation and clashing weapons against shields or armor loudly in the heat of the moment.
Undead damaged by this effect instead suffer the negative effects below.
Negative: The cleric sweeps his fist before him, as if striking away invisible foes, and all affected feel a tremendous mailed fist slam into them, often leaving behind visible imprints of a larger-than-human fist, not only armored, but also spiked. Those slain by this effect often have crushed skulls or collapsed ribs, bearing the visible mark of a heavy impact from a spiked fist.
Undead benefiting from this energy instead experience the positive effect above.
Positive: All affected feel as if warm water has buoyed them upwards in a sudden swell, and noticeably rise on their toes for a moment before settling down gently. For a humanoid, the sensation of water rising around them only rises so high as their neck, while they feel a cool, sea-scented breeze upon their face, washing away pain and injury and leaving them feeling clean and dry, purified by the actions of wind and wave.
Undead feel the sensation of a hostile wind angrily pulling and tearing at them, like a living thing with deadly claws. Undead destroyed by this effect are often spun about, as if in some invisible whirlwind, and have thousands of tiny cuts upon any remaining body.
Negative: All affected feel icy water smash thunderously down upon them and feel spun about, as if trapped within a maelstrom. This moment of vertigo is all in their minds, but they may be seen to stagger slightly as it occurs. The stinging sensation of frigid salt water and icy winds seems to suck the very heat from their body, and those slain by this effect remain soaked to the skin, their bodies nearly ice-cold.
Undead benefiting from this effect feel as if the wind and thunder is at their back, buoying them up, and filling them with stolen breath and new life.
Positive: Those affected are filled with a sense of overwhelming rightness of action and belief. This burst of courage that does not comes from within, but feels like inspiration from a great leader, exhorting one to ignore injuries and push onwards to glory.
Undead creatures damaged by this channeling experiences a moment of inexplicable shame, followed by a powerful blow, as if swept aside by an enormous shield. Undead slain by this effect are often hurled from their feet and dashed against nearby walls by the force of this effect, literally smashed aside by righteous fury.
Positive: For a brief moment, those affected are minutely aware of every single portion of their body, and possess an inhuman clarity of thought. Time seems to slow around them. Their mind controls the processes of blood and breath, so that they are aware of themselves knitting their own injured flesh through some previously unknown understanding of mind over body techniques. Then the moment ends, and they are left with a memory of things they have no ability to fully comprehend, but with wounds having been visibly closed by this burst of supernatural self-awareness.
Undead suffer an equally intimate awareness of how their bodies have failed in all ways, and become aware of their tenuous hold on stolen life crumbling away, moment by moment.
Negative: Those affected become aware of their bodily functions on an intimate level, but everything seems out of control, both their bodies and their minds. As their mind races to envision each part and function, it seems that the imagination runs wild, and new horrible things that can go wrong are conceived of, and immediately begin to happen as organs fail and muscles tear. Those slain by this effect often show signs of multiple organ failure, torn muscles, and bones that have shattered inexplicably under the mere stress of standing erect.
An undead creature benefiting from such a channeling instead become aware of their deathless bodies as perfected, and in this moment of transcendent understanding, grow even more perfected, as their forms are rebuilt.
Negative: Those affected by this unkind channeling suffer harm to their reproductive organs, causing excruciating pain and a sense of loss. Those slain by this effect suffer from a grotesque bursting of the effected organs, and usually die screaming.
Undead benefiting from this channeling feel a surge of life growing within them and just as quickly dying: fuel to feed their undead metabolisms. This sensation is quite addictive to some undead, and can even drive them mad, as they attempt to recreate and maintain this sensation of life growing within their dead frames.
Clerics claim that they can use this power to taint and corrupt the unborn, causing the survivors to be born as monsters, but the veracity of this claim has not been tested.
Positive: A surge of pure magical energy washes over those affected from the direction of the channeling cleric, but stops midway through the individual’s body (so that one facing the cleric will feel the energies only wash over his facing side, while his back remains untouched). The force flows like electricity over the body, creating a surge of warmth and strength, as well as a tingling sensation that leaves extremities feeling oddly swollen.
An undead creature damaged by this channeling instead experiences the negative effects below.
Negative: The same surge of energy occurs, only it progresses in an instant from invigorating to overly hot and painful, causing what looks like electrical burns in those affected. Those slain by this effect are charred and burnt, but only on the half of their body that was facing the channeling cleric.
An undead creature benefiting from this channeling instead experiences the positive effects above.
Negative: Those affected feel a sudden sharp pain near their left kidney, as of an assassin’s blade, followed by a searing shooting pain, as of venom doing its work. Those slain by this effect have an open wound in their back, and their body shows all the signs of death by poison (although no poison will truly be present). When used outside the heat of combat, those affected may instead perceive a dryness of the mouth and a bitter taste, followed by intense abdominal pain, suffering instead the effects of an ingested poison, although, as with the other effect, no true poison will be found.
Undead creatures benefiting from this effect instead experience a similar rush of cold and darkness throughout their being (accompanied by a sensation like poison rushing through long-dead veins, for corporeal undead) that restores and invigorates the undead.
Positive: Those affected see a pale grey light emanating from the cleric, while their surroundings fade into grey mist. Calm-faced spirits in the shape of men walk serenely (in an endless moment) from a distant point behind the cleric, and as they reach those affected, flow into them and imbue them with strength and whispered encouragement from beyond, closing their wounds.
Undead damaged instead experience the negative effect below, as disapproving spirits seem to manifest and attempt to drag them back to the fate they have denied.
Negative: Those affected see the same pale light and dimming of their surroundings, but the spirits appear of threatening demeanor, howling quickly through the air with outstretched claw-like hands. When they reach those affected they tear through them, causing a sensation of pain and loss. Those slain by this channeling often bear unusual wounds, none quite like the other, perhaps somehow sharing the death-wounds of the spiritual entity that appeared to embrace them.
Negative: Those affected feel a sudden rush from beneath them, and then the mashing of tremendous jaws around them. Those slain by this effect are usually mangled and smashed by an unseen jaw, their crushed bodies pierced through by invisible fangs.
Undead beings benefiting from this channeling instead feel the presence of pure destruction incarnate swell within them, allowing them to resist the effects of destruction by dint of sheer bloody-minded will and hatred, and filling them with a terrible resolve to do more violence.
There are rumors, never confirmed, that some victims of this effect lose limbs, or indeed vanish entirely, consumed and taken away bodily to feed the Rough Beast.
Positive: The sun shines brightly (if present), or a sun-like radiance pours from the channeling cleric (at night, indoors, or underground), illuminating nothing but shining only on, and through, those affected. They feel their wounds burn away painlessly in this cleansing light, and are often left with a feeling of renewed purpose.
Undead instead experience this effect as blinding light emanating from the cleric, her holy symbol, and/or her scimitar. The affected undead suffer searing agony as current or ages-old wounds momentarily ignite in flickering phantasmal flames.
Positive: The sound of music rises, a single perfect female voice lifted above a symphony of other voices and unidentifiable instruments. Those affected suddenly feel enraptured, as if fascinated by a bard’s performance, or lovestruck by the sight of an impossibly beautiful maiden. There is a brief sensation of loss and longing when the effect ends. Those affected feel as if they have been made more beautiful, their ‘ugly’ wounds brushed away by a painter’s brush, although some claim that the ‘painter’s brush’ feels far more like a lover’s caress.
To an undead creature affected by this channeling, the sound causes a sensation like heartbreak and profound despair, as if the creature was suddenly a mortal youth, and forced to confront the ugliness of its current state. Undead destroyed by this effect are often drained of any remaining color, left blank and all-but featureless, with physical form cracked and flaking away, like a decrepit oil painting.
Positive: Those affected feel as if they’ve been hammer-struck. They see their wounds disappear, like flaws pounded out of a blade of steel, leaving only smooth unblemished skin behind. The effect is sudden and startling, and leaves behind warm, blushed skin and a slight soreness.
The effect is less pleasant for an undead creature damaged by this effect, as the hammer blows leave great wounds behind, and often burn marks.
Negative: Those affected hear the buzzing of invisible flies, smell the stench of rotting meat, and feel squirming within their flesh, as if a swarm of maggots tunneled and twisted within them, devouring flesh in their wake. Those slain by this effect corrupt and putrefy, and a round after the channeling ends their bodies begin to split open and reveal many maggots, which mature almost instantly into flies.
An undead benefitting from this effect also perceives the presence of a thousand tiny lives within themselves, but these lives are quickly extinguished (in the case of incorporeal undead) to sustain the creature, or are incorporated into the physical frame of the undead, as if stitching it up with their own miniscule frames. A corporeal undead who has benefited from this effect many times may appear to be less what it was in life and more a mass of crushed beetles.
Negative: Those affected see the area darkening around them and shadows lengthening in all directions. Within the darkness, there are disturbing flashes of metal glinting and the sounds of clattering chains. The pain comes from the sensation of a dozen razors singing out of the shadows to tear at their flesh, and those slain by this effect are sometimes skinned alive, stretched unnaturally, or even rent asunder.
An undead creature benefiting from this effect becomes unnaturally aware of the pain of those around it, and draws unwholesome refreshment from distantly remembered suffering.