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Soul Magic

The soul mage is a dark form of magic user that draws upon the souls of the living to empower their spells. They come in all shapes and varieties, but each has one thing in common—a direct connection to the negative energy plane where reside the undead and other horrors beyond human conception. It is this direct negative energy connection that brands one a Soul Mage, whether their approach is clerical, arcane, charismatic or pact-based. There are soul magi clerics, wizards, warlocks and sorcerers in the world.

Soul magi are rare, and are as deadly to their friends as to their enemies—indeed, they may even be more deadly to friends, as it is much easier to tap into and drain the life energy from one for whom you care, than it is someone against whom you have enmity or antipathy.

What Is A Soul Mage?

A soul mage is a blanket term used to describe those magic users, be they arcane or divine, who draw upon the souls of the living to fuel their power. This form of necromancy appears in clerics, sorcerers, wizards and warlocks. For some unknown reason, there are no known druidic soul magi; speculation is that the druid’s connection to the natural world forbids them from pursuing such an unnatural path to power.

Because soul magi appear in all different forms, in game terms, the soul mage manifests as a clerical domain (the Soul Domain), a sorcerous origin (Blood of Unklar), a warlock patron (Deeper Dark) and an arcane tradition for wizards (the Soul Mage).

Each offers unique, but similar, powers, and all revolve around the draining of ones allies to bolster one’s own power.

This draining is rarely, if ever, voluntary on the part of the target being drained, but it is far easier to drain an ally than an enemy; the shared experiences between the mage and target create a bond between the two that exists regardless of any personal sense of connection of which the two are aware—thus an ally that the mage doesn’t like is no different than one about whom the mage cares. That they are an ally is enough.

The Soul Mage And Alignment

Despite their darkly necromantic approach to magic, not all soul magi are evil. The connection to the Deeper Dark is innate, something for which the soul mage neither asks, nor which they can help. That being said, and particularly in the case of clerics, dark gods are drawn to those with this connection, and often whisper to them in dreams and in the dead of the night, guiding them along a dark path.

It is more likely to encounter a goodly sorcerer or wizard soul mage, than it is a cleric or warlock, who are granted their powers through the agency of a divine patron. Still, there are those of all stripes who battle against their darker nature, fighting against the easy road and the lure of power that their abilities offer and seeking to use their darkness to bring a bit of light into the world.

Draining A Target

When a soul mage seeks to drain a target to empower themselves, they simply state the target they are attempting to drain. This is a free action that may only be done once per round. The target must then make a Charisma saving throw against the soul mage’s spell save DC. If the target is an ally, this saving throw is made at disadvantage; if they are an enemy, the save is made at advantage.

Once the connection is made, the mage automatically drains 1d4 points of Constitution from the target each round. Victims regain lost Constitution after a long rest, but if Constitution reaches zero, the victim falls incapacitated and reduced to 0 hit points, and must begin making Death Saves.

These drained points are converted into Soul Points that the mage can spend to bolster their spells. Each variety of soul mage expends Soul Points in different ways:

  • Clerics can use them to gain extra uses of their Channel Divinity abilities, to heal or to harm.
  • Sorcerers can use them to gain additional Sorcery points and to mimic uses of sorcery points they may not normally possess.
  • Warlocks enhance the damage of their spells and may call upon invocations they may not normally possess.
  • Wizards may bolster the spell slots of those spells they cast, casting at higher levels without the need to expend higher level slots. They may also convert cantrips that normally require an action to a bonus action, allowing the casting of two spells in a round.
  • All Casters may use soul points to regain expended spell slots.

Using soul points is a bonus action, but may combine with any other bonus action the mage possesses, so long as the combination makes sense. Spending a soul point, for example, to bolster a spell that is cast as a bonus action, is possible. Soul points may not, however, be used to grant an additional bonus action; only to modify existing bonus actions as appropriate.

Duration of Soul Points

So long as the connection between a soul mage and the target is maintained (automatic for an ally; requires a new attempt every round for an enemy), the soul points continue to drain each round at the rate of an additional 1d4 points of Constitution; these points, however, last only for the duration of a single encounter and then they fade.

If an encounter ends and another immediately begins (within 1d4 minutes), there is a 50% chance that the soul mage will be able to recall and hold onto half the prior soul points they had at the end of the prior encounter. If they are able to hold onto soul points, neither they nor their drained targets suffer exhaustion until the end of the new encounter (see “The Cost of Soul Drain,” below).

Any lingering effects of expended soul points continue to their natural duration. If, for example, a caster uses soul points to regain expended spell slots, those spell slots remain even after soul points vanish.

Breaking the Link

If the victim of the drain was an enemy, a new attempt to drain must be made each round; there is no bond that enables continued drain.

If the victim is an ally, the exact opposite is true; drain is persistent unless a concerted effort is made to break the link.

There are two ways to do so.

  1. The victim can spend a full round attempting to pull away, making a new Charisma saving throw to sever the drain. No other actions may be undertaken during this round, as breaking the link requires utter and absolute concentration. The save is made under the same conditions as the initial save—disadvantage for allies, advantage for enemies.
  2. The soul mage themselves may attempt to sever. The sensation of draining someone is intoxicating, however, and a soul mage can never simply just shut it off. Doing so requires an action on the part of the soul mage, who must make a Wisdom saving throw against their own Spell Save DC to cut off the link.

The only way that breaking a link is automatic is when both the soul mage and their target simultaneously attempt to sever the connection. In such a case, no saving throw is necessary, and the connection breaks. No further drain is suffered and no further soul points gained.

Switching Targets

A soul mage may not simply switch targets of their drain at will. To drain a different target requires first breaking the link with their current target. Once this is done, the soul mage may choose a different target, who must make a saving throw as standard.

The Cost of Soul Drain

When the encounter is over and the mage successfully breaks the connection with their target, the soul mage and all those drained during the encounter suffer 1d4 levels of exhaustion.

Section 15: Copyright Notice

5th Edition Players Guide to Airhde, 1st Printing, Copyright 2019, Troll Lord Games; Author Jason Vey & Stephen Chenault