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Pact Magic

Note: All of the rules on this entire page and subpages are created by Radiance House as part of the product Pact Magic Unbound, Vol. 1. In other words, these rules are not created by Paizo and you should consult your GM to ensure these rules are allowed in your campaign.

This page describes the process of binding spirits and explains how to read a spirit’s description.

Performing a Pact Ritual

In order to bind a spirit, a character must first summon it into our world using a pact ritual. While not difficult or costly to perform, the ritual requires precise execution and attention to detail.

Step 1 – Draw the Seal: The first step in binding any spirit requires creating a vessel to temporarily house the spirit. This vessel is known as a seal. The seal consists of an intricate circular design that requires a full 5-foot space to create. The seal can usually be drawn on any surface using any material the binder has on-hand. Simple chalk is most commonly used, though ink, scratches in the dirt, and even blood are all acceptable mediums. Each seal’s design is said to mirror the spirit’s experiences in life, and every line the binder draws reenacts the events that led to the spirit’s creation.

Step 2 – Perform the Ceremony: The second step in pactmaking requires the binder to perform the spirit’s ceremony. Each spirit requires its own unique ceremony as detailed under its description. A spell components pouch contains all of the reagents required to perform such a ceremony unless the ritual requires a component that costs 1 gp or more or the component could not feasibly fit within a pouch. In such exceptional cases, the binder must provide the required components. Each spirit possesses totems. A totem is a specific action or condition that simplifies interactions with that spirit during its ritual. A binder suffers no penalties when none of the spirit’s totems are present. However, totems ease negotiates, as described under the totems section of Spirit Basics.

Step 3 – Witness the Manifestation: After the ritual is performed, the named spirit briefly manifests itself to the binder. Each spirit has a unique manifestation. Some spirits appear immediately, eager to taste mortal life once more, while other spirits take several moments or even minutes of patience before appearing.

Whatever a spirit’s description, all manifestations heed certain limitations. First, all manifestations are illusions and cannot harm creatures or alter their surroundings. Also, anyone close to the binder may witness the manifestation. Finally, since spirits cannot exist in our world under normal circumstances, a spirit’s seal acts as its vessel. The spirit cannot leave the seal’s area to roam about though it is free to vanish from this reality whenever it pleases, ending all negotiations. Fortunately, most spirits yearn to experience reality once more and will only vanish if the terms of a pact are not agreed upon within several minutes.

Step 4 – Barter with the Spirit: Once a spirit has manifested in its seal, both the binder and the spirit begin negotiating the terms of the spirit’s service. This is represented by a binding check, which is equal to 1d20 + ½ the binder’s level + the binder’s Charisma modifier. Many additional factors can influence the binding check including feats, class features, the presence of totems, or the spirit’s constellation. The result of the binding check is compared to the spirit’s binding DC. Under normal circumstances, the binder seals a pact even if he or she fails the check. That said, a binder whose check is equal to or higher than the spirit’s binding DC makes a good pact with that spirit, whereas a binder whose check is lower than the spirit’s binding DC makes a poor pact with that spirit. The consequences of making a poor pact are discussed later in this chapter.

Step 5 – Aftermath: After making the binding check to determine whether the pact is good or a poor, the spirit and its seal vanish completely. Chalk blows away in the wind, blood seeps into the ground, scratches in the earth close themselves, and so forth. At the same time, the spirit becomes bound to the binder’s soul for the next 24 hours, during which time the binder enjoys access to the spirit’s granted abilities. Binders who make poor pacts with a spirit become afflicted by the spirit’s physical sign and suffer its influence. Binders who make good pacts can suppress the spirit’s sign as a move action and do not suffer the spirit’s influence. After 24 hours pass, the pact ends and the spirit returns from whence it came. The binder loses access to the spirit’s granted abilities, and any ongoing effects granted by the spirit fade away immediately.

The Constellations

In pact magic, a constellation refers to a grouping of stars that, when displayed together, invoke a theme by which spirits identify themselves. Below is a list of the 13 constellations of pact magic, their traits, and a suggested list of alternate names you can use in your campaign.

Angel

Spirits under the Angel constellation typically identify with good beings. Angel spirits are guardians and protectors, showering others in light and grace. The Angel is allied to the Scholar and the Tree and is opposed to the Fiend.

Alternate Name: Agathonian, Heaven, Paladin

Beast

The Beast constellation consists of spirits of instinct. Beast spirits represent nature’s most deadly horrors, both natural and unnatural, such as animals, monsters, and magical creatures. The Beast is allied to the Dragon and the Fiend and is opposed to the Scholar.

Alternate Name: Cyclops, Monster, Spider

Dark Beyond

Not truly a constellation, the Dark Beyond is the cold space between the light of every star in the sky. It is said that horrible, alien creatures inhabit this lightless place and the spirits that associate with it are cold and alien. The Dark Beyond is allied to none and opposed to all other constellations.

Alternate Name: Elder Sign, Great Dark, Shadow

Dragon

As primeval as creation itself, spirits of the Dragon constellation hold all of the most dangerous traits of living dragons. In life, Dragon spirits were usually dragons themselves and hold dearly their racial pride. The Dragon is allied to the Beast and the Thief and opposed to the Hero.

Alternate Name: Drake, Linnorm, Wyrm

Fiend

Spirits of the Fiend constellation embody all that is corrupt and vile. Fiends spirits despise the world of mortals and though exceptions exist, the Fiend constellation is typically reserved for the vilest of spirits. The Fiend is allied to the Beast and the Skull and opposed to the Angel.

Alternate Name: Diablo, Furies, Hellion

Hero

The Hero constellation champions strong beliefs. Such spirits are often martyrs for what they believe in, representing powerful warriors with mythic skill of arms. The Hero is allied to the Noble and the Scholar and opposed to the Dragon.

Alternate Name: Guardian, Knight, Warrior

Mage

Masters of magic and shapers of reality are drawn to the Mage constellation. Mage spirits are often unbound by moral restrictions, shaping the world around them as they see fit. The Mage is allied to the Noble and the Skull and is opposed to the Seer.

Alternate Name: Magician, Mind, Portal

Noble

The Noble constellation is heavily associated with the law and Noble spirits value order and hierarchy above all else. They are high-ranking members of society, and those who enforce order. The Noble is allied to the Hero and the Mage and is opposed to the Thief.

Alternate Name: Crown, King/Queen, Law

Seer

Seer spirits link to the concept of the all-seeing eyes of the gods. In parallel, the Seer constellation represents the concept of true divinity, which is undivided by morality. The Seer is allied to the Thief and the Tree and is opposed to the Mage.

Alternate Name: Eye, Genie, Priest

Scholar

The Scholar constellation represents the acquisition of knowledge, causing Scholar spirits to seek knowledge. They believe knowledge is what separates mortals from beasts. The Scholar is allied to the Angel and the Hero and is opposed to the Beast.

Alternate Name: Magi, Tome, Wiseman

Skull

The Skull constellation represents death and the cycle of life. Despite this, Skull spirits usually embody death over life, making Skull spirits reviled even among binders as they are heavily associated with undead. The Skull is allied to the Fiend and the Mage and is opposed to the Tree.

Alternate Name: Death, Ghoul, Lich

Thief

The Thief constellation shines for those who dance on the edge of society. Thief spirits often seek to topple lawful orders and fulfill their own agendas. The Thief is allied to the Dragon and the Seer and is opposed to the Noble.

Alternate Name: Anarchy, Assassin, Chaos

Tree

The Tree constellation embodies life, nature, and balance and Tree spirits are nurturers and guardians of these things. The Tree is allied to the Angel and the Seer and is opposed to the Skull.

Alternate Name: Aeon, Dryad, Scales

Spirit Basics

This section describes basic rules and terms regarding each of the spirits.

Who can Bind Spirits? Although pact magic is easy to master, one must still possess the knowledge of how to deal with spirits in order to successfully utilize their talents. A character must possess the bind spirit class feature or the Improved Minor Binding feat in order to attempt a pact ritual to commune with a spirit. Without one of these abilities, the ritual automatically fails. A character with Improved Minor Binding is restricted in which abilities he or she gains from pact magic while a character with bind spirits gains access to all of a spirit’s granted abilities.

Spirit Description

Below the sections of a spirit’s profile are dissected and explained.

Name: The spirit’s name and title. The latter often connotes the spirit’s Legend and powers. Scholars believe that spirits bear names either identical or similar to names and titles they bore in life.

Summoning Rules: The various rules, rituals, and conditions that surround the pact making process for that individual spirit. This section is divided into six subsections: spirit level, binding DC, constellation, totems, ceremony, and manifestation. Each of these sections is described below.

Spirit Level: This is the spirit’s level, numbered between 1st and 9th. A common misconception made by those who do not study the ways of pact magic is that a higher-leveled spirit is more powerful than a lower-leveled spirit. This is not the case. A spirit’s level denotes how difficult it is to summon the spirit, either because the spirit refuses to answer mortals whose souls do not burn bright enough to attract it or the lore needed to call it from the spirit realm is well-hidden or well-guarded. The maximum level of spirit that a character can summon is restricted by the binder’s level, and a spirit always refuses the summons of binders whose maximum spirit level is not high enough to commune with it.

Binding DC: A spirit’s binding DC is the minimum result that a binder must roll on his or her binding check in order to make a good pact with the spirit. A binder who fails to meet this DC still successfully binds with the spirit, but it suffers from the spirit’s influence and cannot suppress the spirit’s sign. A binding check is equal to 1d20 + ½ the binder’s level + his or her Charisma modifier. Some archetypes allow a binder to use a different ability modifier, as described under that class feature. Factors such as totems, feats, and whether or not the binder qualifies as a favored enemy or ally can modify this roll.

Constellation: All spirits are aligned with one of 13 unifying themes called constellations. Binder scholars speculate the reasons that spirits are so heavily influenced by the stars, but many believe that constellations act as a unifying theme that gives meaning to the unfathomable spirit realm.

Totems: Totems represent that which a spirit holds most dear. These may be treasured objects, the execution of beliefs held in life, or locations that are sentimental to the spirit. The presence of a single totem grants the binder a +2 insight bonus on binding checks made with the spirit. This bonus increases to +4 if all listed totems are present. Totems are not required for a pact to be successful and therefore they are never assumed to be within the binder’s spell component’s pouch, if he or she has one.

Ceremony: A spirit’s ceremony is the specific action or actions that must be taken in order for the spirit to take notice of the binder. Before performing the ceremony, a binder must draw the spirit’s seal. Drawing a seal and performing the ceremony typically require 5 minutes of work apiece (10 minutes total). A binder can make a rushed pact to reduce this to 5 rounds apiece (1 minute total). Making a rushed pact results in a -10 penalty on the spirit’s binding check, and if the rushed check fails, the spirit ignores the binder, the pact fails, and the binder gains no granted abilities, does not suffer the spirit’s influence, and cannot commune with the spirit again for 24 hours. Performing a pact magic ceremony requires your full attention and provokes attacks of opportunity. Once the ceremony begins, the binder must remain within the seal or else the ceremony fails. Performing any action not related to the ceremony or exiting the seal causes the entire ceremony to fail, causing the spirit to refuse to bind with the binder for the next 24 hours. A binder must be able to audibly speak in order to perform a ceremony.

Manifestation: When the ceremony is complete, the spirit manifests before the binder and any onlookers. Each spirit has its own, unique method of manifesting as described in its description. The manifestation isn’t an illusion though it is very clearly unable to harm the binder or others, nor can it be dispelled or interacted with in any way aside from negotiating a pact. Following the spirit’s manifestation, the binder and the spirit engage in a battle of wills in the form of a binding check versus the spirit’s binding DC. Success or failure indicates whether the pact was a good pact or a poor pact.

Legend: Each spirit had a life, real or imagined, and the spirit’s Legend captures its demeanor and values, why it grants certain abilities, and the events that transformed it into a spirit. Some spirits were mortals who found no place after death. Others were powerful beings who died of neglect or in battle. A few spirits never existed in any mundane sense. Most spirits hope to enjoy a foothold in the world of the living. Although some spirits lived honorable lives, others were terrible and their Legends reflect mature themes.

Granted Abilities: A granted ability is one of five supernatural abilities that a spirit bestows upon a binder as part of a pact. Binders receive the granted abilities of the spirits they bind with regardless of whether the pact was a good pact or a poor pact. Occultists and characters with the bind spirit class feature gain all of the granted abilities of a spirit they forge a pact with, as listed below. Granted abilities are always supernatural, even when they replicate extraordinary or spell-like abilities. A granted ability’s DC is equal to 10 + ½ the binder’s level + his or her Charisma modifier. Some archetypes allow a binder to use a different ability modifier, as described under that class feature. Granted abilities always use the granted ability saving throw DC listed above, even when they replicate spells and similar effects that would normally use a different DC. All granted abilities belong to one of two categories, as described in their description. These categories are described below.

Major Abilities: Major granted abilities are the most powerful abilities that a spirit can offer. They deal damage, cure wounds, and allow the binder to override reality with supernatural powers. Major abilities are taxing to use, and when a binder uses a major ability, the ability becomes expended the next 5 rounds after the round it is used. During this time, an expended granted ability is not available; the binder gains none of its benefits and cannot activate it until the allotted exhaustion ends. The Rapid Recovery feat reduces the amount of time a major granted ability is expended by 1 round.

Capstone Empowerment: Listed under major abilities, the capstone empowerment ability is a special modification that applies to one of the spirit’s major granted abilities. The capstone empowerment is not automatically bestowed to a binder; in order to gain this benefit, a binder must succeed on their binding check to make a good pact with a spirit by 10 or more. Capstones can only be granted if the pact is a good pact. Poor pacts with a spirit never result in a capstone empowerment being granted even if the binding check beats the spirit’s DC by 10 or more. A capstone empowerment is an optional effect. It can be applied to a granted ability as a free action. The binder may choose to not apply its benefits.

Minor Abilities: Minor granted abilities are less powerful and usually passive benefits that a spirit possesses. They supply bonuses, grant the benefits of feats, and grant abilities that usually do not need to be activated. Minor abilities without an activation action take effect immediately following a successful pact and last for a pact’s duration (24 hours or until the spirit is expelled in another manner). Most minor abilities can be suppressed as a full-round action unless noted otherwise; like with signs, a binder cannot suppress their minor granted abilities if they made a poor pact with the spirit providing them.

Signs and Influence: A spirit makes its presence known on a binder through its sign and influence. These descriptors fall into four categories: physical sign, influence, favored ally, and favored enemy.

Physical Sign: As part of the pact making process, a binder agrees to acquire a physical aspect that relates to the spirit in some way. This is known as the spirit’s physical sign. Each spirit has two physical signs: one that is always active and one that is only active whenever the binder activates one of the spirit’s granted abilities. The triggering ability can be a major or minor granted ability; it matters not as long as the granted ability requires an action to use. The physical sign is brief and only remains for the round during which the granted ability is activated, though it is impossible to miss it without the use of a Bluff check, Disguise check, or similar measures a binder may take to hide it. A binder that makes a good pact with a spirit can hide all physical signs as a move action. The Suppress Sign feat reduces this to a free action. A binder that makes a poor pact cannot hide the spirit’s influence. He or she suffers the physical sign for the duration of the pact.

Influence: When you bind a spirit, you are inviting that entity into your very soul. Binders with little experience or who are overwhelmed by the spirit’s presence may accidentally allow that spirit a measure of influence over their personality and actions. This occurrence is known as a spirit’s influence. Each spirit has an influence entry that to which binder may be subjected. Whenever a binder makes a poor pact with a spirit, the spirit demands that they act in accordance with its influence. A binder is not forced to abide by the spirit’s desires, but if a binder chooses to ignore the spirit’s influence, he or she must make a Will save or suffer a -1 penalty on all attack rolls, skill checks, saving throws, and to AC for 24 hours or for the duration of the pact with the spirit. The DC of this Will save equals the spirit’s binding DC including any enhancements (such as binding a constellation aspect) with a +10 modifier if the pact with the spirit was rushed. The influence penalty stacks each time the binder ignores a spirit’s influence. A character that can bind multiple spirits stacks the penalty for disobeying the influence of multiple spirits to determine the total penalty.

Favored Ally and Enemy: For whatever reason spirits smile fondly upon creatures that fall into the category of their favored ally. Likewise, they despise or distrust creatures that fall into the category of their favored enemy. Though this category has little consequence on its own, many feats and abilities interact with this mechanic. A binder who counts as a spirit’s favored ally increases the spirit’s totem bonus by +1 (or by +2 when meeting all of the spirit’s totems). Likewise, a binder who counts as a spirit’s favored enemy only gains half the normal bonus for meeting its totems.

Vestigial Companions: For all spirits, a binder can surrender a minor granted ability to gain a helpful companion. This creature is known as a vestigial companion. A vestigial companion mirrors the bond between a wizard and his or her familiar, a druid with an animal companion, and similar class features. The spirit’s entry lists the companion’s creature type and the class feature that the binder gains along with the granted ability that must be surrendered. A binder can only possess a single vestigial companion. If a vestigial companion is slain or banished, the binder cannot gain a new one until he or she makes a new pact and exchanges a minor granted ability for a new vestigial companion. A vestigial companion that would gain share spells immediately exchanges that ability for the feature, share granted abilities.

Share Granted Abilities (Su): A vestigial companion gains all the granted abilities of its patron spirit, which is the same spirit that aids the binder. The binder and companion share these granted abilities. If a major granted ability is expended for one, it is expended for both of them. Furthermore, the binder and companion count as the same creature when determining if a granted ability affects a creature (that is, some granted abilities cannot affect a creature that successfully saves, and a save against master or familiar makes the creature immune to the ability regardless of whether the binder or companion use it).

Multiclass Binders

Because pact magic is relatively easy compared to other types of magic, multiclass binders function differently than other characters. Binder levels from multiple classes stack; however, a character’s binder level does not grant him or her benefits such as new class abilities (such as the occultist’s additional spirits ability or the wizard’s reweave granted ability), bonuses to base attack bonuses or saving throws, or an increase to spells per day and spells known. When a multiclass binder has levels in pact magic classes with different key ability modifiers (such as Wisdom for a pactsworn pagan or Intelligence for a soul weaver), you must immediately select which ability score modifier to use upon gaining your first level in the new class. Once this choice has been made, it cannot be reselected. For example, a multiclass soul weaver/occultist would use Charisma or Intelligence as decided when first multiclassing. Multiclass binders who take levels in classes that do not grant a binder level add half of their class levels in non-binder classes to their binder level to determine the strength of granted abilities.

For example, a bard 2 /occultist 2 has a binder level of 3 (his occultist level + ½ his bard level). Finally, a multiclass binder who gains Constellation Alignment from multiple classes uses only the alignment from the first class he or she received; subsequent classes abide by the selected alignment(s). If a class restricts the constellations to which the binder can and cannot align, the binder must abide by these restrictions or be unable to take levels in the class. For example, a character aligned with the Noble constellation cannot take levels in the totemic sage archetype and a character aligned with the Thief constellation cannot take levels in the empyrean friar archetype. Similarly, a character who multiclasses into the soul muse archetype who already possesses a constellation alignment selects 2 additional constellations to bring him or her up to the total number of alignments allowed for that class.

Section 15: Copyright Notice

Pact Magic Unbound, Vol. 1. Copyright, 2012, Radiance House. Author(s): Alexander Augunas, Dario Nardi