With the release of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Occult Adventures rulebook, the system go a much needed update to a specific aspect of the game, namely we finally got a a grip on possession. Today we are going to talk about the clarified mechanic and how it improves upon the old standby of magic jar.
Nine Tenths of the Law
Possession and the new associated spell suite (object possession, riding possession, and greater possession) finally, concisely clears up exact what happens when a being capable of this level of bodily control asserts itself into and over a new host. Lets look at some of the basics of the new mechanics:
- Possession is recommended as automatically replacing most versions of monsters with the magic jar SLA. The refined mechanics, improved story support and thematic implications of this replace make it a no brainer choice. Magic jar suffered from two masters (player casters and monster needs) and ended up serving both in a manner that was suboptimal.
- The possessor doesn’t need line of sight – A huge deviation with regard to general Pathfinder magic rules but (as we will see with a lot of the changes) it is also a great support to storytelling mechanically. It was always a bit tricky if an evil spirit or creature inhabiting an item wanted to try to target a young, possibly naïve adventurer when they were INSIDE an item. Under the new rules this isn’t an issue.
- The possessor’s body appears dead – Wow. First off dead is a condition and explains a lot of possibilities about the condition of possessor’s body. But it also opens up the possibility of readied possession as a jump means of villainous longevity. The options for this are often as rare as gold and can make for much more complex, enduring and memorable villains.
- The host is trapped with you and can still use its senses – This makes things easier to rule on but may cause issues for possessors trying to remain discrete. They may need to kill prior hosts if they intended to conceal their progressive possessions. Alternatively, they could simpy imprison a host and end the possession or jump to a new host allowing a them to protect secrecy and maintain the hosts. This may be because of a good-natured need to preserve them or may be a more nefarious desire to create flesh wardrobe of hosts.
- The possessor can telepathically communicate with the host – This is a very interesting mechanic as that it can intimidate and threaten its victim or the victims life, assets and loved ones to gain necessary information to maintain a ruse or otherwise accomplish its motive. This communication is ENTIRELY controlled by the possessor and may be shut off at will.
- The possessor is mentally themselves – The d have their mental attributes, class abilities and derived statistics (skills and saves). The possessor can use its abilities and generally this means it can do what it otherwise can in the host’s body. Often this also means they can activate a new possession as well. This enables the possessor to make repeat body jumps and confuse its enemies.
- The host’s body retains natural and automatic abilities – Hallelujah, we finally have an answer that makes sense here. The body retains things that are intrinsic make-up, so fire-immune creatures don’t start burning and fish can still breathe water. Less an issue with magic jar but a common one for many control and domination effects.
- The possessor cannot activate extrodinary or supernatural abilities – The body might still have them. A possessed dragon has its breath weapon but the possessor may simply lack the muscular control or mystical state of mind to activate them effectively or at all.
- The possessor can shift back to its own body as a standard action
- The possessor must remain on the same plane as your body.
- If the possessor is incorporeal or a non-native outsider it AUTOMATICALLY uses greater possession instead.
Of course at this point we probably need to look at greater possession as well fortunately this only includes one major change:
- The possessor’s body also merges into the host in a greater possession.
These possession mechanics allow new options like liminal splinter selves to be explored with better, cleaner mechanics. You can pre-order with the Book of Beyond WIP subcription or see our other products at: d20pfsrd.com, drivethruRPG, paizo and RPGNow.