See more about Soul Magic in the Book of Eldritch Might II : Songs & Souls of Power
The power of magic stirs in the world with an intelligence and a soul all its own. The most powerful arcanists know this and grow familiar with magic’s own mind and spirit. The key to the power of this magical soul lies in words. That is why verbal components, written scrolls, spellbooks, runes, symbols, glyphs, power words, and similar communicative forms lie at the heart of magic. Some arcanists stumble upon a way to tap into the heart of magic’s essence to fashion single, whispered words. This method, called soul magic, relies on the belief that there is indeed a sentience behind magic itself.
Soul magic is a term that describes a specific sort of spell and the effects it creates. Soul magic spells are sentient, intelligent spells that want to be cast. They are always found encoded in symbols or other writing, similar to scrolls. However, any surface can hold a soul magic spell: a wall, the pages of a book—even an old tooth. Because of their need to be cast, one cannot learn them, prepare them, or copy them into spellbooks. Once a soul magic spell gets inside you, you simply must cast it.
A soul magic spell etched into an orc’s tooth might set the Demon God Ochremeshk free in the Dark Reliquary (see page 256).
As with any spell, the power of soul magic spells varies. The important thing to remember, however, is that any arcane spellcaster of any level can use one. Soul magic spells rarely communicate other than to relate their powers (and then only if they feel like it—soul magic spells vary in personality, and some seem quite capricious). Their only goal is to be cast, which allows them to join once again with the universal power of magic itself. They revel in arcane strength and rejoice in all its forms.
Unless the effects of the spell are aligned, all soul magic spells are true neutral in alignment.
Creating and Using Soul Magic
The key to creating a soul magic spell lies in encoding it into symbols. To do so requires time and a vast amount of power in the form of experience points. So great is the cost, in fact, that most truly magnificent soul magic spells are created by beings with a lot of personal power—deities and similar entities. What’s more, it’s a cost the creator pays for someone else: casters cannot use the soul magic spells they create. One devotes a small part of one’s own soul when creating one of these spells, but casting it requires part of yet another soul. The fusion of these powers fuels the soul magic.
Soul magic spells are intelligent and have mental ability scores, all of which are always at least 10. They have somatic and verbal components, but never material components.
Most casters are far more likely to use soul magic than to create it. Casting a soul magic spell is a standard action. Caster level and ability scores do not affect the spell: Only the spell’s level and ability scores matter. For example, a 4th-level spell with a Wisdom bonus of +4 has a saving throw Difficulty Class of 18, no matter who casts it. When a caster level is needed, the spell uses its lowest ability score instead of its level (so the minimum is 10). Since it is the spell that determines its parameters (range, duration, etc.), there is no level requirement for casters to cast soul magic spells— only that they have the ability to cast arcane spells. (Thus, each and every gnome has the ability to cast one, just by virtue of the cantrips they all know.)
When creating unique soul magic effects, the DM should always make them a little different from standard spells—soul magic should feel strange, and the differences give the DM an opportunity to increase the spell effects slightly. Although soul magic spells ought to match up generally with other spells of their level, they should prove slightly more powerful. Feel free to tailor soul magic to fit the circumstances of a particular setting or adventure.
There are Three Distinct Types of Soul Magic:
Imperative Soul Magic
Imperative soul magic preys upon the intelligence of others to entice them to cast the spell. An arcane caster within ten feet of an encoded soul magic spell must make a Will saving throw (DC 10 + soul magic spell’s level + spell’s Charisma bonus). On a failure, the symbols and runes that make up the spell swirl up and around the caster, compelling her to cast it immediately. There is no cost to the caster to do so—simply a full-round action.
Imperative soul magic effectively becomes a trap. Say a powerful elemental creature has been sealed in a pit, imprisoned forever. The creature labors over the centuries to encode an imperative soul magic spell to free it. Then it waits for an arcane caster to come along, feel the compulsion of the spell’s will, and cast the spell.
Once an arcane spellcaster makes a successful saving throw to resist the compulsion of the imperative spell, she need not make another—she remains immune to the compulsion. She can still willingly cast the spell, but she does so as if it were a declamatory soul magic spell (see below).
Declamatory Soul Magic
Declamatory soul magic is more akin to a normal spell. It draws a little of its power from the caster’s soul, however. Each declamatory soul magic spell temporarily damages the caster’s Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma score, drawing power from the caster where the spell is most deficient. If there is a tie for the spell’s lowest ability score, the creator simply chooses. The ability damage to the caster is 1d6 plus the spell’s level, minus the bonus of the lowest of the spell’s three ability scores.
Extemporaneous Soul Magic
Extemporaneous soul magic is stored magical power that is not encoded for a specific effect. Each is almost like a wish—although at varying levels (a 5th-level extemporaneous soul magic spell allows a caster to produce an effect equivalent to that of a 5th-level spell or lower, for instance). This casting draws power from the caster in the same way as declamatory soul magic, except that the ability damage is equal to 2d6 plus the spell’s level, minus the bonus of the lowest of the spell’s three ability scores.
For many, extemporaneous soul magic spells are extremely dangerous to use—one spell could wipe an arcanist’s mind.
A soul magic spell found in Alchestrin’s Tomb (page 232) can take the characters to Jabel Shammar.
DMs should feel free to use soul magic throughout Ptolus. It does a nice job of representing mysterious, powerful, and even dangerous magic beyond the common, everyday spells found in the Core Rules.