One of the best parts of the RPG blogosphere is the endless array of ideas it presents. Even a casual perusal of a fraction of the blogs devoted to our favorite pastime is often enough to present a bevy of interesting options and directions to take your game. It’s just such a blog-inspired idea, for example, that’s the genesis of today’s post.
An older post over on Playing D&D With Porn Stars talks about a goddess of healing and medicine…an evil goddess of healing and medicine who is also a goddess of mutation and flesh-warping. That’s a pretty cool idea, simply because healing is almost-universally the domain of good-aligned deities.
Of course, the first thought I had when I read this idea was “Hm, so maybe her healing spells cause flesh to warp and twist, healing the person but also deforming them.” But the major problem then became how to reflect that in the rules, because although it’s certainly possible to just have that be a descriptive element, adding a mechanical aspect helps to drive the point home in game-play.
The answer came in the form of this slightly-tweaked spell:
FUSE FLESH LIGHTLY
School conjuration (healing); Level alchemist 1, bard 1, cleric/oracle 1, druid 1, inquisitor 1, paladin 1, ranger 2, witch 1
This spell functions as cure light wounds, but the healing takes place via painful twisting and deformation of the body, causing 1 point of Charisma drain.
Now THAT’s the sort of healing spell you’d expect of an evil deity!
Of course, there’s more to this than just a single altered spell, so here are the alterations for the other classic healing spells:
FUSE FLESH LIGHTLY, MASS
School conjuration (healing); Level bard 5, cleric/oracle 5, druid 6, inquisitor 5, witch 6
This spell functions as mass cure light wounds, but the healing takes place via painful twisting and deformation of the body, causing 1 point of Charisma drain to each creature affected by this spell.
FUSE FLESH MODERATELY
School conjuration (healing); Level alchemist 2, bard 2, cleric/oracle 2, druid 3, inquisitor 2, paladin 3, ranger 3, witch 2
This spell functions as cure moderate wounds, but the healing causes terrible scarring and mutation, causing 2 points of Charisma drain.
FUSE FLESH MODERATELY, MASS
School conjuration (healing); Level bard 6, cleric/oracle 6, druid 7, inquisitor 6, witch 7
This spell functions as mass cure moderate wounds, but the healing causes terrible scarring and mutation, causing 2 points of Charisma drain to each creature affected by this spell.
FUSE FLESH SERIOUSLY
School conjuration (healing); Level alchemist 3, bard 3, cleric/oracle 3, druid 4, inquisitor 3, paladin 4, ranger 4, witch 4
This spell functions as cure serious wounds, but the healing is agonizing and misshaping, causing 3 points of Charisma drain.
FUSE FLESH SERIOUSLY, MASS
School conjuration (healing); Level cleric/oracle 7, druid 8, witch 8
This spell functions as mass cure serious wounds, but the healing is agonizing and misshaping, causing 3 points of Charisma drain to each creature affected by this spell.
FUSE FLESH CRITICALLY
School conjuration (healing); Level alchemist 4, bard 4, cleric/oracle 4, druid 5, inquisitor 4, witch 5
This spell functions as cure critical wounds, but the healing causes unbearable pain and horrific disfigurement, causing 4 points of Charisma drain.
FUSE FLESH CRITICALLY, MASS
School conjuration (healing); Level cleric/oracle 8, druid 9, witch 9
This spell functions as mass cure critical wounds, but the healing causes unbearable pain and horrific disfigurement, causing 4 points of Charisma drain to each creature affected by this spell.
School conjuration (healing); Level cleric/oracle 5
This spell functions as breath of life, but the subject pays a horrific price for their flirtation with death, as this spell effects torturous alterations to their body so that it continues to function, causing 5 points of Charisma drain.
School conjuration (healing); Level alchemist 6, cleric/oracle 6, druid 7, inquisitor 6, witch 7
This spell functions as heal, but the spell wreaks havoc on the target’s body, wildly reshaping it while repairing damage, causing 6 points of Charisma drain.
ANGUISHING HEAL, MASS
School conjuration (healing); Level cleric/oracle 9
This spell functions as mass heal, but the spell wreaks havoc on the target’s body, wildly reshaping it while repairing damage, causing 6 points of Charisma drain.
School conjuration (healing); Level cleric/oracle 7, druid 9, witch 7
This spell functions as regenerate, but the regrown limbs and organs are incorrect for the affected creature, (though they still function normally), causing 7 points of Charisma drain.
Of course, just having these spells is only half of the equation. After all, these are the spells of twisted healing that an evil deity of fleshwarping and mutation would use, right? Well, in the Pathfinder pantheon, that would fall to Lamashtu, the Mother of Monsters.
Except…Lamashtu is an imperfect fit. Yes, she’s the patron deity of twisted and warped creatures, but there’s no healing aspect to her; for her it’s about birthing malformed creatures rather than twisting existing creatures to become that way. She doesn’t even have the Healing domain.
It’d be slightly cumbersome to add a completely new deity just for this, particularly when Lamashtu is so close to what we’re looking for already. Luckily, there’s a way to have our cake and eat it to – by taking a page out of Alluria Publishing’s Cerulean Seas sourcebook/campaign setting, we can create a new dedicated to an aspect of Lamashtu that’s different from her “traditional” aspect.
Domains Animal, Evil, Protection, Strength, Twisted Healing
Subdomains Fur, Defense, Ferocity
Favored Weapon natural weapon or dagger
Symbol Variations A smaller animal skull, held (but not crushed) in the jaws of the larger animal head
Originally a minor deity devoted to motherhood, primarily raising and protecting one’s children, Dimme was devoured and subsumed long ago by Lamashtu (similar to Curchanus). Now Dimme is still a goddess of maternity, but in a twisted and savage way. She teaches that children must suffer pain and hardship in order to become strong, and that those who die in the process are weak and unfit to live (since, after all, a mother can always have more children).
Cults to Dimme persist among primitive races and societies, usually with oracles, druids, and adepts, rather than clerics, mending to the faithful. Teaching that the entire community is a symbolic child of Dimme, they encourage a savage lifestyle where the strong oppress the weak; this mindset engenders much hatred towards sorcerers, who are seen as gaining unnatural strength and subverting Dimme’s natural order. Sorcerers are thus “purified” by having healing spells used on them over and over until they are cleansed of their “unholy” powers (that is, until they take enough Charisma drain to be unable to cast spells).
You may have noticed that one of Dimme’s domains is Twisted Healing. That’s the variant of the Healing domain that uses the above spells, and alters the domain powers in line with the above changes:
Granted Powers: You are able to mend bodies, though doing so is painful and renders them warped, but functional.
Painful Revival (Sp): You can touch a living creature as a standard action, healing it for 1d4 points of damage plus 1 for every two cleric levels you possess, but also inflicting 1 point of Charisma damage. You can only use this ability on a creature that is below 0 hit points. You can use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + your Wisdom modifier.
Effective Reshaping (Su): At 6th level, all of your cure spells are treated as if they were empowered, increasing the amount of damage healed by half (+50%). The amount of Charisma drain dealt also increases by 1. This does not apply to damage dealt to undead with a cure spell. This does not stack with the Empower Spell metamagic feat.
Domain Spells: 1st — fuse flesh lightly, 2nd — fuse flesh moderately, 3rd — fuse flesh seriously, 4th — fuse flesh critically, 5th — grim survival, 6th — anguishing heal, 7th — imperfect regeneration, 8th — mass fuse flesh critically, 9th — mass anguishing heal.
Of course, the above presumes that you’re adding this to an ongoing Pathfinder game where, for divine spellcasters dedicated to most deities, healing works as per normal. But if you’re working on a new campaign, you can change the tone of the entire game very easily using what’s here. Just slow down the rate of natural healing, make the above the only type of healing magic available (perhaps good clerics automatically gain the Turn Undead feat instead of being able to channel energy), and maybe remove or nerf spells that undo ability drain, and all of a sudden your PCs will be much more careful about taking damage in combat!
Until next time, here’s to healing not being taken quite so lightly.