Thursday, November 21, 2013

Getting A Head In Life

History and fiction have long depicted warriors claiming the heads of their enemies. Isn’t it about time your dungeon delver did so?

Dungeoneers, warriors, and wizards of all sorts can gain advantage by taking the heads of their fallen enemies. Any enemies head can be used to impress the neighbors, frighten foes, and improve luck.

Original by John White (1585-1593) with some slight modification for the upright citizen's brigade.

Benefits of Taking and Displaying a Head:
1.      For each head worn (up to 3) a boost is given to CHA equal t the number of heads worn unless you are dealing with overly sissified gentle so-called civilized-folk.
2.      A wizard’s spells are not forgotten. All the spells a wizard had memorized at the time of death remain locked in the head (and skull) of the wizard. A magic-user may cast spells locked in the heads of their fallen foes. Unfortunately the spells slip-away unless the head and skull are specially prepared. Unless specially prepared each day at dawn the highest level remain spell is lost from the skull. Spells are also gone forever once cast from the dead wizard’s head.
3.      Displaying heads and skulls around your home and castle tends to impress
One displayed head   +1 to CHA
Two or Three heads  +2 to CHA
Four to Six heads  + 3 to  CHA
Seven to a dozen heads +4 to CHA
Up to 100 heads +5 CHA
Over 100 Heads +6 CHA
If you take the heads out at parties and during meetings you only gain half the benefit, but they do keep longer.
4.      A worn head or skull can be used as a substitute saving throw. The wearer gets a one time save before their own save if they wish at the chance the former owner of the head would have had. The head is ruined for bragging rights and any other benefits after this is done.  A wizard’s head empty of spells can’t provide this bonus.
5.      Some monster heads keep their powers and can be used by the new owner.

Problems with Heads
1.      They Rot. After 3 days heads get unpleasant and there is only a 50% chance they will provide a CHA bonus if they get nasty. After a week they are too rotten to leave hanging around.
2.      Some civilized folks will react poorly to folks sporting heads or skulls. Cut normal CHA in half before adding the bonus. Sissified folk are still impressed but not so much.
3.      Wizard heads don’t always keep their mouths shut. Every time a Wizard’s head is used to cast a spell there is a small chance (1% per spll level cast) the Wizard’s head will spontaneously animate as an undead being roughly equal in power to the former owner of the head (with the remaining spells), and they aren’t going to be very happy. Triple this chance when casting a spell too high for a magic-user to normally cast.
4.      Heads of foes beneath you don’t impress the folks much. If  the head is of a foe 2 levels/HD lower than your own no CHA benefits are gained when worn but it still counts as  half when used to decorate your stronghold.
5.      Friends, relatives, and allies of the former owner of the head will usually not react to you in a positive fashion. Outright hostility and slightly negative reactions are likely.  Lower someone’s CHA to 3 before adding any bonuses for heads they keep to have a rough idea how folks’ feel about you having their cousin’s cranium hanging from your belt : at best.
6.      Wizard spell’s drip away. As mentioned above each day the highest level spell kept in the head will drip away if not carefully prepared. (see below)
7.      Using monster heads with gaze attacks is dangerous. A save is required each time it is brought out (at +4) or the owner manages to suffer the results of the gaze attack. After a week the gaze attack is no longer effective.
8.      Alignment. In some game universe members of certain alignments will react to heads hanging on belts and decorating halls in nothing but a bad way. Some alignments may simply be forbidden from collecting and/or displaying heads.  (It all depends on how a DM uses alignment in the campaign)

Preserving Heads
1.      A head can be pickled. You can’t wear it but you can still bring it out during parties for bragging rights. You lose access to the head for a week but then it’s ready. Wizard spells will keep dropping off during the preservation process. Recommend cost 2 g.p.
2.      A head can be cured. A head can be packed in special salts and it’ll get all leathery and keep for long time. It can be worm and will keep for a month. If kept packed in salt or a cedar box it’ll keep indefinitely. Recommend cost 10 g.p, even more for a swanky cedar box.
3.      A head can be shrunken. Not everyone knows how to do this but special morticians and witchdoctors can be found that will offer the service. The shrunken head can be worn indefinitely (unless you keep getting it wet and knock it around too much). You lose access to the head for 2 weeks while this is being done. Spells in shrunken heads don not drop off but there is still a chance the head will animate with each spell cast. Recommended cost: At least 50 g.p per level of dead wizard , you’ll likely have to shell out more for the necromancer/witchdoctors’ time.
4.      A head can be skinned and the skull decorated with runes. This will keep forever. Some necromancers and morticians can provide this service. Wizard spells will not drop off during the 2 week long process or afterward. The chance a head (now a rune covered skull) will animate is half that listed above. Recommended cost: At least 100 g.p per level of dead wizard , you’ll likely have to shell out more for the necromancer/witchdoctors’ time.
5.      A head can be bronzed. Dip it in bronze or some other metal. If done well it’ll impress for centuries to come. It could be worn but will have twice the encumbrance; bronzed heads are usually kept at home for bragging rights. Recommended cost: 200 g.p.
6.      Dragon heads can be specially prepared by necromancers and morticians in the know so their breath weapon can be used by the owner. Such a prepared skull allows 3 uses of the dragon’s breath weapon by the skull bearer(s). It takes a month to prepare the skull. These things are pretty heavy. After 3 uses the treated dragon skull crumbles away. Recommended cost: At least 500 g.p per HD of dragon , you’ll likely have to shell out more for the necromancer/witchdoctors’ time.
7.      Heads of monsters with gaze attacks can be very-carefully prepared. It will take a month to prepare the head (the preparer has to make 3 saves at +2 to survive the process). When done the jarred head  may keep for a decade or more. The head may be used to the gaze attack twice a day (user still must save at +4 each use to avoid zapping themself). If anyone makes a saving throw roll of 20 something has gone wrong with the magic involved and the head has lost it’s gaze attack. Recommended cost: At least 1000 g.p per HD of monster , you’ll likely have to shell out more for the necromancer/witchdoctors’ time.

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