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3.5 Elder Dragons

The next two rituals are mostly written by and special thanks to Morphile and Dannyalcatrez.
Also special thanks to Grogg of the North: I disdained your suggestion originally, but kept coming back to it again and again later.

IV. Sealed Shadow Ritual
Shadowy assassins are the remains of greedy individuals for whom the score was all. This ritual promises untold wealth forever for just your mere soul.

A shadowy assassin is incorporeal by default, with the shadowstuff their life is transfered through becoming a form of Shadesteel and the immense negative energy utterly destroying their body, leaving them as a spirit of the Plane of Shadows, rather than the Ethereal like conventional ghosts. The item housing the last of their life can be drawn fully into the Plane of Shadows, but it must be within the Prime Material for them to truly act upon the Prime Material. If this Shadesteel anchor (the bone dagger) is destroyed, they are trapped within the Plane of Shadows until they form a new one and wait for a Hollow Night holiday to transfer the dagger back to the material plane (during the witching hour at the center of the ritual’s effects). Once its dagger is again material, the shadowy assassin can form an incorporeal form within 10 feet of the dagger.

“However, their status as being between the Prime Material and Plane of Shadows grants them the power of Shadow Illusions, and many were Shadowdancers, dark-handed Swordsages, and holders of potent Mysteries in life, granting them the power to shape shadow-creatures and shift to and from many shadows with ease to serve their hunger without a trace. The Shadowy Assassin, in contrast to the Soulless Knight and Lich, is driven by the all-too-mortal desire for material things. Their transition deprives them of mundane gluttony, so they devour the spirits of others, at times instead shaping their victims into Shadows, while many are driven by their mortal desire for mundane riches. Gold, jewels, potent artifacts and artwork, the lair of the Shadow Assassin houses much for adventurers willing to take the risk. Should one be foolish enough to face one in the Plane of Shadows, they shape the world around them with greater potency than all but the greatest Liches, crafting vast fortresses and great monstrosities with shocking ease.”
Quote almost word for word, [MENTION=6892324]Morphile[/MENTION].

Ingredients of the Ritual
5 intelligent prospective sacrifices
7 (or more) sycophants/fanatics/followers
Essence of a Will-O’- Wisp
The bay of a shadow mastiff
The essence of a nightshade (any type)
13 shadows rendered for their essence
The right hand of a thief (ground to dust)
The left shinbone of a thief (carved into a dagger, Craft (scrimshaw or sculpting) DC 20) (must be same thief)
Hollow Night holiday during the witching hour

Use the shadow essence, will-o’-wisp essence, and thief hand dust to make a salve under the baying of a shadow mastiff.
Use the salve to inscribe a magic circle around the carved dagger.
Drench the sacrifices in the essence of the nightshade.
Sycophants, followers, or fanatics (at least 7) circle the circle and recite the ritual chant in Draconic.
Kill the sacrifices with the bone blade, slitting their throats then set them on fire using mundane means.
After the 13th recitation of the verse, the ritual master must kill himself by thrusting the blade into his own heart inside the double circle.
This action, transforms the ritual master into a shadowy assassin, a type of incorporeal undead. The followers/fanatics/sycophants are also transformed into shadesteel shadows under the control of the shadowy assassin.

The dagger becomes the shadowy assassin's soul object much like a lich and its phylactery. If the ritual master uses his own hand and shinbone; the tie to the dagger is stronger and allows the shadowy assassin (if unformed on the Material Plane) to possess the wielder of the dagger once per day (treat as magic jar) for up to an hour.
The dagger is a slim bone blade that seems to radiate darkness in a 5- foot radius. 3rd level or higher Light descriptor spells can lessen this darkness so the dagger only seems drab for 1d4 minutes.
The dagger has the ghost touch ability and can be moved easily by either material or incorporeal creatures. Incorporeal creatures use the weapon as if it were magical and gain a +2 on attacks and damage though the weapon has no actual magical enchantments other than being a soul object.
Material creatures that pick up the blade find it adheres to their hand, melding with it to make it impossible to both let go or be disarmed. Only destruction of the dagger, remove curse, break enchantment becoming incorporeal, or giving the dagger back to the shadowy assassin will allow the dagger to be released. Any damage dealt to the dagger is divided equally between the wielder and the dagger (odd points to dagger) no matter how accurate the attack is, then the dagger’s hardness, resistances and immunities apply for the damage to the dagger. While wielding the dagger, the victim gains a +10 shadow bonus to Climb, Hide, Jump, Move Silently, Search, and Sleight of Hand checks. The dagger is AC 15, hardness 20, hit points 40, and takes half damage from acid, fire, and electricity. It is immune to cold. Spells with the Light descriptor treat the dagger as if it were undead (but hardness applies to Light spells that damage).

If unformed on the Material plane (during the days waiting to reform), the shadowy assassin can talk telepathically to the wielder of the dagger and often does so: inciting them to do evil acts, usually centering on murder of friends and allies or stealing important items from them, then murdering them. If the shadowy assassin can possess the victim it will await the time it can reform, then it will possess the victim, kill all it can and take treasured items of the victim and friends to its lair for safekeeping, usually ending with handing over the blade to the shadowy assassin who reforms at the end of the possession. The blade can always be given back to the shadowy assassin to rid oneself of it.

A shadowy assassin usually has a lair on the Material plane and another residence of imperial grandiosity on the Plane of Shadows.

An integral part of becoming a shadowy assassin is creating a shadow blade in which the character seals his essence surrounded by shadows. As a rule, the only way to get rid of a shadowy assassin for sure is to destroy its shadow blade. Unless its shadow blade is destroyed, a shadowy assassin reappears at full hp and powers within 10 feet of the shadow blade, 1d10 days after its apparent destruction. Some shadowy assassins keep their shadow blade in a secure and hidden lair, usually well-stocked with guardians and death traps. Others give it to an incorporeal guard to improve its attacks or keep it on themselves as a backup weapon. The shadow blade is Tiny, has 40 hit points, hardness 20, and a break DC of 40 and after the ritual, it is made of Shadesteel.

Each shadowy assassin must acquire its own shadow blade (a dagger made of the thigh bone of a thief) to use in the ritual on the holiday of the Hollow Night where the prospective shadowy assassin calls upon dark powers to seal his shadow into the blade. The character must acquire the shadow blade (the thigh bone of a thief that has been crafted into a dagger), recite the ritual at the proper time during the Hollow Night holiday, offer the correct sacrifices [no less than five intelligent creatures drenched in the essence of a nightshade and turned into smoke using mundane methods], and pay 6,000 xp. The dark powers then bless the ritual master by sealing his shadow into the blade. The ritual master then plunges the blade into his own heart to finish the ritual and the dark powers gift him with unlife with his essence stored in the shadow blade in exchange for the five souls sacrificed. The ritual requires a character level of at least 12th.and the shadow blade has a caster level equal to the base creature's character level at the time the ritual was finished.

The shadow blade must be shadow-proof. [As opposed to light-proof]

Prospective shadowy assassins must acquire the thigh bone blade for themselves (build, buy, or steal) and trade to Nethrancor for both the Sealed Shadow ritual (unless they can discover the ritual for themselves) and the Hollow Night ritual (unless someone else in the area is performing it). Unlike liches, shadowy assassins do not enchant a magic item to hold their life force, rather the ritual calls upon the forces of darkness (Nethrancor) to hide and protect the shadowy assassin's shadow as a focal point for his essence between the planes of shadows and not shadows.

Once manifest on the material plane, the shadowy assassin will seek to kill and steal as much as possible, take that back to his lair, and hit another area. Rinse, repeat. Shadowy assassins seek to have it all materially, like they do have it all on the shadow plane but it is all ephereal and only imagined-real there, whereas here on the material plane, it is really real and easy to get.

Shadow Blade
Strong Necromancy; Character Level: 12+; bone blade, Sealed Shadow ritual, Hollow Night holiday, essence of a nightshade, bay of a shadow mastiff, 13 shadow essences, will-o’-wisp essence, the right hand and left shinbone of a thief; Price: 150,000 gp and 6,000 xp; Weight: 0 lb.

Shadesteel refers to both a special material and a creature subtype.

Shadesteel (special material): Shadesteel is darkness made manifest in a real object. Shadesteel items of any sort are extremely rare. Items made of shadesteel radiate non-magical darkness in a 5 foot radius centered on the item. Shadesteel items have hardness 20 and 40 hp per inch. Shadesteel items can be dimmed for 1d4 minutes by application of a 3th or higher level Light descriptor spell or effect. This dimness negates the darkness but has no other effects. All shadesteel items have the ghost touch ability and are easily manipulated by both material creatures and incorporeal creatures. If the shadesteel item is a weapon it gains +2 to attacks and +2 to damage while wielded by an incorporeal creature though it has no actual magical plusses. Shadesteel armor provides both an armor bonus that also works against incorporeal creatures and a concealment bonus (20% miss chance) but provides no special visual capabilities to see through the darkness, creatures with darkvision or low-light vision can see through the darkness without penalty and are unaffected by the concealment chance. Most shadesteel items are not magical. Only weapons, armor, tools, and shields normally made of metal or wood can be fashioned from Shadesteel.
Shadesteel items are normally only made on the Plane of Shadows usually by enterprising shadowy assassins temporarily stuck in their shadowy empire or shadow-themed liches looking to outfit some incorporeal guards. Shadesteel items have no weight and both armors and shields made of shadesteel have a 0% spell failure chance, no max dex mod, and 0 armor check penalty, no matter the type of armor or shield. Thus, the armor is always full plate and the shields are usually tower shields. Movement while wearing shadesteel armor is as if unarmored. Shadesteel armor requires no special proficiency to gain the shadesteel armor’s full armor bonus with no penalties. Shadesteel weapons require no special proficiency to use the weapon, so most shadesteel weapons are martial and two-handed. Though shadesteel is not a metal, it has all the magnetic properties of ferrous metals. Shadesteel is not a wood either; so shadesteel is unaffected by spells that specifically affect metal or wood.

Shadesteel subtype creatures are all incorporeal and come from the Plane of Shadows. Such creatures have the ghost touch ability allowing them to manipulate physical objects as if they had substance. Most shadesteel creatures are created by shadowy assassins seeking to populate their shadowy paradise until they can again walk among the living to take their treasures. Some few shadesteel creatures are natural and native to the Plane of Shadows and can be summoned with the appropriate monster summoning spell.
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V. Soul Weapon Ritual
An integral part of becoming a soulless knight is creating a soul weapon in which the character stores his essence. As a rule, the only way to get rid of a soulless knight for sure is to destroy its soul weapon. Unless its soul weapon is destroyed, a soulless knight reappears at full hp and powers within 10 feet of the soul weapon, 1d10 days after its apparent death.

Each soulless knight must make its own soul weapon, which can be any sort of melee weapon that the soulless knight is proficient in both making and wielding. The character must make a masterwork weapon of the best possible materials. The character must recite the ritual on Hallow's Eve, kill the proper sacrifices, and use his own blood to cool the weapon and infuse it with his essence (all his blood, all his essence). The soul weapon requires a character level of at least 13th, costs 125,000 gp and 5,000 XP to create and has a caster level equal to the base creature's character level at the time of creation.

Soul Weapon Recipe
The making of a soul weapon has three main parts: 1. Making the Cooling Liquid, 2. Making the Base Soul Weapon and Armor, and 3. Performing the Ritual

Cooling Liquid Recipe
The trunk of a disenchanter and the fat of a disenchanter’s hump,
The head and 2 pints of blood from a type of goblin called a “nilbog”
2 gils of giant squid ink (mixed with the nilbog blood to prevent coagulation),
The large central eye of a beholder,

Mix with
3 ounces of elemental water
10 gallons of aqua regia
[Craft (alchemy) DC 15/pint: Market Price: 1,000 gp/pint]
in a large cauldron.
Heat on a darkwood fire to a simmer. Allow to simmer for 12 hours until all pieces are fully dissolved.
Add more elemental water as needed
(it is safe to have several gallons available).
Remove from heat and pour into a tub; but keep it close to the forge. Dip Hag Eye into Tub.

Note: The time for this next part of the ritual is not stated: the weapon and suit of armor take their normal construction time.

Crafting the Base Soul Weapon
Heat forge to max.

The ritual master must craft weapon from the best materials available (adamantine) and cool in the mixture. The ritual master must cut his left wrist to add his blood to the cooling liquid; binding his wrist afterward so that he may finish the ritual.

Wooden parts that must be affixed to the weapon must be made of darkwood.
Leather parts that must be incorporated into the weapon must be made of dragon hide.
The weapon gains a further natural +1 enhancement bonus to attacks (above the masterwork bonus for a total of non-magical +2) but has no apparent magical properties. This natural enhancement bonus does not stack with magical enhancement bonuses as usual.

Crafting the Armor
Heat forge to max.

The ritual master must craft armor from the best materials available (adamantine) and cool it in the mixture. The ritual master must cut his right wrist to add his blood to the cooling liquid; binding his wrist afterward so that he may finish the ritual.

Leather parts that must be incorporated into the armor must be made of dragon hide.
The armor gains a natural +1 enhancement bonus to AC but has no apparent magical properties.
The armor can be enchanted if wanted and able.

Commonly, the ritual master decorates the armor and weapon with intricate designs, engravings, and inset gems and jewels (raising its worth by as much as x10), increasing the time to finish the weapon and armor (which can also be magical) by as much as a year for the decorations alone.

Once these are prepared, the formal ritual can begin; awaiting only the holiday of the Hollow Night.

13 bound servants
A pentagram inscribed onto a solid surface large enough to encompass all 13 servants.
A chorus of 5 sycophants, followers, or fanatics surrounding the pentagram, one outside each point.
Both armor and weapon must be masterwork quality and must be styled to visibly show that they are above average in abilities.
5 iron braziers fueled with 1 ounce of sulfur and 1 ounce of brimstone (each), one brazier placed inside the pentagram at each point.
The tub of cooling liquid used in the crafting of the weapon and armor.
1 Hag Eye
(only used as a catalyst, dipped into the cooling liquid and unharmed, can one be rented?)

The Ritual:
The ritual master must wear the personally-crafted armor and wield the personally-crafted weapon. The 13 servants of the ritual master must be sacrificed with the weapon just forged (cooling the weapon again after each kill because of the immense negative energies released with each death, the ritual master must open one of the previous cuts to his wrists to again add his blood to the cooling liquid each time) while the chorus chants the ritual words of supplication to Nethrancor, promising to spread evil and undeath in exchange for power; chanted in ancient Draconic. These negative energies suffuse the pentagram bouncing between each living and dead servant, the armor, and the weapon.

At the conclusion of the ritual, the pentagram focuses the power of undeath into an almost physical force that shoots a black ray out of the tub of liquid into the ritual master. This black energy resonates through both weapon and armor, killing the ritual master and transforming him into the ultimate betrayer of life, the soulless knight, forevermore bound to both armor and sword.
The chorus is also transformed by the excess negative energy of the ritual master’s transformation into ritual zombies under the soulless knight’s control, to form its vanguard. The sacrificed servants are completely consumed by the immense negative energy present inside the pentagram.

Soul weapons can be nearly any kind of melee weapon, but most are swords or axes. A soul weapon gains +75 hp and +10 hardness above its normal hp and hardness after the ritual. Its break DC also increases by +10. It takes only half damage from fire and lightning, and quarter damage from cold. Material properties could possibly affect damage resistance of the weapon. Though enchanted anvils, altars, and tools could add their own properties if the DM approves; soul weapons are inherently magical and other magics can not normally enchant the weapon to add to or modify its abilities.

Soul weapons have 3 distinct properties no matter their form.
A. All soul weapons are: +3 magic weapons, +5 vs. magic-using or enchanted creatures

B. Undead Squire (Sp): 1/day (at night only) as long as the weapon is not draining some creature, the soulless knight can call upon the dark powers that gave him the gift of undeath to activate power word undeath with his character level used as his caster level exactly like the spell.

C. Soul Draining (Su): At will, swift action, R 30 feet, one creature; Save: Fort neg. When the soulless knight has its soul weapon in hand, it can activate the soul weapon's draining ability on one target creature. While the weapon is draining, the soulless knight cannot activate the Soul Draining ability again or use its Undead Squire ability, but the weapon still functions as a +3 magic weapon, +5 vs. magic-using or enchanted creatures.

Upon a failed Fortitude save, the weapon drains the victim's soul in a small luminously vaporous stream through the air from the target creature to the soulless knight's soul weapon until the soulless knight or the target creature dies or a new day dawns, whichever occurs first. The save DC for this ability is 5 + 1/2 the soulless knight's level + the soulless knight's Charisma modifier. Successful saves negate the effect. If the target creature failed the save and subsequently leaves the initial range, the weapon continues to drain the soul from its victim as long as the weapon and the creature are both on the same plane. Even if the soulless knight is disarmed; the weapon continues its draining. [In game terms, the victim takes one point of Constitution damage each round until the effect ends due to dawn or the death of either the soulless knight or the victim or complete destruction of the soul weapon.]

Any creature drained to 0 Constitution is forever dead, a dried husk that quickly crumbles to dust and blows away on the first wind. It takes a true resurrection or equivalent magic (wish, miracle, the reality revision psionic power, or deific power) to bring such a creature back from this grave.

Unlike vampires, soulless knights do not crave blood, there is no thirst for them; nevertheless a soulless knight gains a bonus 2d10 negative energy when a victim dies from soul draining. The soulless knight can choose to spend each d10 of this energy as a free action to either heal itself or deal extra damage on its next attack. The weapon must be in hand in order to use any of the stored negative energy. [Up to 10d10 negative energy (5 creatures) can be stored in the soul weapon for later use. Random soulless knights have 1 to 10 d10's of negative energy stored when encountered].

Any creature wielding the weapon, other than the soulless knight by whom the weapon was created, cannot activate the Soul Draining ability or the Undead Squire ability.

Prospective soulless knights must discover the ritual for making a soul weapon for themselves or trade to Nethrancor for the ritual, wherein the Hollow Night ritual is also required unless there is a local Hollow Night holiday, ongoing. Performing the ritual also creates the soulless knight.
Scrabblings from the Graveyard
Next are the rituals that Nethrancor makes available to his undead allies. Agreeing to become a lich or other intelligent undead is the first requirement to become an ally of the Keeper of the Core. Once undead, a simple service can be traded for more secrets such as one of the rituals listed below. Otherwise, each ritual must be researched separately or found in some musty tome. Rituals can be researched as if they were 9th level spells for time and gold expenditure but do not usually require a caster level.

Dead Rattor Ritual
Some vampires want undead as guardians rather than charmed living creatures; seeing them as more reliable and undyingly predictable. Dead rattors fit this bill perfectly. The vampire usually sets the former lycanthropes as guards for a chamber and leaves them to attack any living creatures that enter that room.
The ceremony for creating a dead rattor takes 8 hours on each of three nights and must take place on the Feast of Samhain (or whatever the holiday is called at that place and time) and the nights immediately preceding and following this holiday. Vestments for the ceremony cost 1,500 gp, but can be reused. Each night rare herbs and incenses worth at least 800 gp must be burned in a small campfire. Each prospective sacrifice must be shackled with alchemical silver shackles and bound with an alchemical silver chain. The sacrifices must be wererats and should be killed by the advent of darkness on the Hollow Night. The ears are cut off with an alchemical silver knife then the knife is plunged into the sacrificial victim’s left eye and left there to simmer. Multiple dead rattors can be created; but a wererat must be sacrificed for each one and a different alchemical silver dagger must be used for each one. At the end of the third night’s ceremony, each wererat shrinks into the form of a dead rattor. Dead rattors are under the control of their creator for only 24 hours. After that, the dead rattor becomes free-willed, but still cannot attack their creator.

Prerequisites: baleful polymorph dead rattor ritual; Costs: 2,400 gp of rare herbs and incenses, 1,500 gp for vestments, an alchemical silver knife for each prospective sacrifice, an alchemical silver set of shackles for each prospective sacrifice, an alchemical silver chain for each prospective sacrifice, a wererat sacrifice for each undead to be created, and 50 xp/HD of undead created; Time: 3 days (24 hours).

Digger Ghoul Ritual
Some undead necromancers or death priests require lots of dead bodies. This ritual creates a special creature that can sniff out and dig up dead bodies very quickly.
The ceremony for creating a digger ghoul takes 8 hours and must take place on the night of The Day of the Dead or whatever the holiday is called at the time. Vestments for the ceremony cost 3,000 gp, but can be reused. Rare herbs and incenses worth at least 300 gp must be mixed with grave dirt and burned in a black cauldron. The sacrifice must be a humanoid gravedigger that must be killed using a scythe with a snaith made of bone, by eviseration. Multiple digger ghouls can be created; but a humanoid gravedigger must be sacrificed for each one. At the end of the ceremony, the dead gravedigger’s body changes into the form of a digger ghoul. The claws and teeth thicken and lengthen to 6 inches each. The hair grows at an alarming rate until it reaches the shoulder blades. The hair also thickens and becomes stringy. The eyes sink deep into the skull and glow with an inner yellow light. The digger ghoul is ingrained with a singular purpose: to find and dig up bodies for its master. Once the ritual is complete, the digger ghoul jumps up and sniffs the ground to smell out dead bodies within range. The digger ghoul will go to the nearest buried dead body and dig it up for its creator. As soon as the digger ghoul unearths a body, it runs off in search of another. It will continue doing this until ordered to stop, it is attacked, it is destroyed, or there are no dead bodies in range.

The digger ghoul can also be given other orders within its abilities. Digger ghouls are expert trackers, excellent diggers, and fast scouts. Only orders that call for one of these abilities will be obeyed. Digger ghouls are always under the control of their creator and do not count as undead controlled for purposes of the animate dead spell.

Prerequisites: ghoul touch; digger ghoul ritual; Costs: 300 gp of rare herbs and incenses, grave dirt, 3,000 gp for vestments, a scythe with a snaith made of bone, a humanoid gravedigger victim for each undead to be created, and 500 xp/HD of undead created; Time: 1 day (8 hours).

Ice Shaman Ritual
Some undead are not harmed by cold, in fact some of those undead revel in this fact surrounding themselves with area-affecting cold-generating creatures to make their home environment less hospitable to those seeking to destroy them. This ceremony creates a area-affecting, cold-generating undead under the control of its creator. Certain undead have also used these creatures for plans of conquest of the northlands.
The ceremony for creating an ice shaman takes 8 hours on each of three nights and must take place on the nights of The Blood Moon (or whatever the holiday is called in that place and time) and the nights immediately preceding and following this holiday. The temperature must be below freezing all three days or the ceremony fails. Vestments for the ceremony cost 1,000 gp and cannot be reused. Each night rare herbs and incenses worth at least 200 gp must be dropped into freezing water kept in a ice-sculpted basin. Making the basin requires a Craft (sculpting) check DC 5.
On the first night, one corporeal living intelligent creature with a skeletal system must be frozen to death as the sacrifice; the method of freezing is not important. On the second night, the caster must complete the ritual to infuse the material components into the frozen body. See below for a complete list of material components. On the third night the caster must cast the required spells on the body and summon a shadow demon to inhabit the now prepared dead body and finally pay the experience cost for creating this beast. Once the ceremony is complete, the shadow demon takes control of the dead body and becomes an ice shaman forevermore tied to that creature. It follows its creator's orders, even complicated and convoluted ones (though shadow demons are known for twisting meanings, so beware) until destroyed which sends the shadow demon back to its home plane.

Material Components: A carved icicle shaped like a wand that requires a Craft (sculpting) check DC10, a staff of frost, and a fully-charged wand of sleet storm are the items to be infused into the frozen dead body of the sacrificial victim (via Magic Composition, see below).

Prerequisites: create greater undead, gate, magical composition*, polymorph any object, power word chill; one sacrificial victim; material components; ice shaman ritual; Costs: 600 gp of rare herbs and incenses, 1,000 gp for vestments, the material components listed above, one intelligent living corporeal creature (with a skeletal system) as a sacrifice, and 3,000 xp. Time: 3 days (24 hours)
*New spell, see below.

Excerpt from Ramiel’s Journal, Year 3
Two years of hard work down the drain…Fabricate won’t work, the gem is magic, I should have known. Now I need a higher level spell that does what fabricate does but to magic items.

Excerpt from Ramiel’s Journal, Year 5
As my companions warned, this pursuit has beggared me. Unfortunately, having abandoned me earlier this year, they are not around to gloat about it. They’re probably off slaying balrogs and tribbles somewhere. My money ran out and I still have no answer that works. Having sold off most of my personal library to fund my research at the Grand Library of Bridgeford, I now sit in quiet desperation unsure where to look next. I called out to the Death Father, asking for an answer to my dilemma. Immediately, a book fell off the shelf landing on the floor with a loud bang, flipping itself open to a page containing this spell. Realizing what was before me, I felt the Death Father’s hand lay a quest upon me to quickly become a lich, I saw his burning eyes briefly looking into my soul, before they faded away leaving me bleary-eyed. I felt a great urgency to fulfill my lifelong quest and immediately set about preparing for the ritual.

Magical Composition
Level: Sor/Wiz 7
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: See text
Range: Touch
Target: Up to 10 cu. ft./level; see text
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: No
You can convert up to two objects (one or both of which may be magical) into another object. Magic items can be created or transmuted by the magical composition spell. [For example, merging a +1 steel long sword and a +2 steel dagger (plus 25 pounds of steel) to make a +2 steel chain shirt, requiring the two weapons, the extra steel, and a Craft (armorer) check DC 20]. The new object must be the same size category as the larger of the two objects (or up to two sizes larger if extra material of the new item’s weight is provided). Shape of the new object is up to the caster, but if there is a weight difference the caster must provide this extra material. Both old and new forms must fall into the maximum size allowed by the caster’s level. The quality of items made by this spell is commensurate with the quality of objects used as the basis for the new composite. When working with a mineral, the target is reduced to 1 cubic foot per level instead of 10 cubic feet per level.
You must make an appropriate Craft check (masterwork) for the final item if the target(s) are magic items.
You can increase the size by up to two size categories above the larger of the two items. The extra material added can change the material qualities of the final item (in the example above, adding 10 pounds of mithral would make it a mithral chain shirt+2) or increase the object’s size (continuing the example, adding 50 pounds of steel to make a Large size chain shirt +2).
A failed Craft check prevents any magics other than straight plusses to be transferred to the new item.
Casting requires 1 round per 10 cubic feet (or 1 cubic foot) of material to be affected by the spell.
Material Component: The original objects, whose prices are as listed.
Note: This spell has randomly varying effects with combining magics. Only with straight magical plusses is it dependable. The plusses overlap. To increase size requires at least twice as much material for each larger size classification (see table: Armor for Unusual Creatures in the Core Rules).

Cubic Feet of Weapon or Armor by Size
Tiny and smaller - 1
Small - 3
Medium - 6
Large - 12
Huge - 60

Sizes of Weapons and Armor
A light weapon is two sizes smaller than its wielder.
A one-handed weapon is one size smaller than its wielder.
A two-handed weapon is the same size as its wielder.
Armor is the same size as its wearer.

Mixing magical abilities is risky (though there are several examples of rituals that use this spell successfully) and not only random but also tricky. If the new item does not normally have a quality of its proposed new kind, only the DM can determine if this new ability falls in line as something available to the item (For example: an armor ability for a weapon or a weapon ability on armor, a mirror ability on gloves, etc.). If the item can be normally found with its proposed new ability, the chance is random as to whether it transfers as shown on the table below. Each item’s effects are taken separately.
1-7: effect cancelled.
8-9: effect works normally.
10: effect works at a bonus (+1/day or +5% increase in effectiveness, duration, range, damage, or area).

Mummy Ritual
Desserts are a popular place for undead to hang out and having a cadre of mummies guarding your antechamber can mean the difference between “living” another 1,000 years and being destroyed tomorrow.
The ceremony for creating a mummy is not tied to a specific time, but must be performed in a specific place, an unhallow spell is required to prepare the place which must have a sacrificial altar at its center. The ritual requires vestments worth 2,000 gp but they can be reused. Rare incenses (worth 200 gp) must be burned in iron braziers surrounding the sacrificial altar. Rare herbs (worth 500 gp per mummy) must be bound to the prospective mummy (a living intelligent creature) with specially cursed linen strips. The linen strips are first dipped into a special concoction made from made from the ashes of mummies destroyed by fire, the dust of someone that died of mummy rot and unholy water (mummy salve: Craft (alchemy) check DC 20 to make, Cost: 500 gp, 1 jar is enough for 1 mummy) that imparts both heat and hardness to the strips as they dry. When drying on the victim (4 hours), the strips give off a greenish vapor that slowly strangles the wrapped creature as the linen strips heat up and tighten. Once the linen strips are dry, the victim is dead and it rises again as a normal mummy, temporarily under the control of its creator. The ritual is then finished and the new mummy can be given orders. The mummy does not remain under the control of the caster of the ritual who can only give it orders this once. Typically a mummy is set to guard a place, usually a tomb, with a password or emblem allowing free entrance. Willingness of the victim is not a requirement. Making multiple mummies requires separate living victims, multiple altars, multiple sets of linen strips, herbs, and incenses, multiple jars of mummy salve, and multiples of the xp cost, but the unhallow spell needs to be cast only once.

Prerequisites: bestow curse, unhallow; jar of mummy salve; mummy ritual; Costs: 500 gp of rare herbs, 200 gp of rare incenses, 2,000 gp for vestments, 25 gp of linen strips, 500 gp for the mummy salve, one living intelligent creature, and 1,250 xp. Time: 1 day (8 hours)/mummy.

Note: This is not the only way to make a mummy; this is just Nethrancor's method. It is also possible for mummies to be spontaneously created from the normal mummification process, though the how and why of this is often shrouded in mystery.

Sanctum Wraith Ritual
This insidious ritual sets a trap for the unwary that turns trespassers into undead guardians. As the ritual suggests by its name, it was originally intended as a protection for an undead creature’s inner sanctum; but it sees more use as a method for protecting treasure rooms.
The ceremony for creating a sanctum wraith takes place on the night of Hallows Eve (or whatever the holiday is called in that time and place). Vestments for the ceremony cost 5,000 gp and cannot be reused. That night rare herbs and incenses worth at least 3,600 gp must be burned in silver sanqphors throughout the sanctum. A line of silver dust worth at least 500 gp per 100 square feet of the sanctum must be traced around the sanctum before the ritual begins. This line delineates the boundaries of the protective sacrifice’s aura as well as the limits of the future sanctum wraiths’ domain. Up to three wraiths can be sacrificed to fuel the protective aura around your sanctum. You must pay 1,000 xp per wraith sacrificed. Once the ceremony is complete, your sanctum radiates a palpable aura of evil much like the wraith’s unnatural aura ability. Any living creatures entering your sanctum without first speaking the word of command you set during the ceremony becomes affected by the essences of the sacrificed wraith(s). The intruder must make a Fortitude save DC 10 + ½ your caster level + your primary casting stat bonus, each minute or take 1d4 Constitution damage (+2 per wraith beyond the first that was sacrificed), successful saves halve the damage. A creature reduced to 0 Constitution in this way dies and rises again in 1d4 rounds as a sanctum wraith. The sanctum wraith is prevented from attacking anyone that speaks the word of command set by you during the ceremony and can never leave the confines of its domain, your sanctum, delineated by the line of silver dust at the beginning of the ritual. Once the aura has created as many sanctum wraiths as the number of wraiths you sacrificed in the ceremony, it is discharged and does not further work, but the wraiths it created remain to guard the area until destroyed.

Prerequisites: create greater undead, unhallow; sanctum wraith ritual; Costs: 3,600 gp of rare herbs and incenses, 5,000 gp for vestments, 500 gp of powdered silver per 100 square feet of the sanctum, up to three wraith sacrifices, and 1,000 xp per wraith sacrificed. Time: 1 day (8 hours).

Shadow Spy Ritual
For those undead that have to see and know it all: their very own spy network. This ritual creates (usually) multiple shadowy spies under the ritual master’s (or whoever holds the black gem) control.
The ceremony for creating a shadow spy takes 8 hours and must take place on the night of the eve of Dead Dawn (or whatever the holiday is called in this place and time). Vestments for the ceremony cost 500 gp but can be reused. Rare herbs and incenses worth at least 1,000 gp must be burned in a blackened iron brazier. The sacrifices must be Small sized intelligent humanoid creatures and should be killed by midnight. The hearts are cut out of the sacrificial victims and offered to the darkness (thrown out of visual range) creating the shadow spy. Multiple shadow spies can be created; but a Small sized creature must be sacrificed for each one.
The next night, Dead Dawn, requires another ceremony. The brazier is again lit, costing another 1,000 gp worth of rare herbs and incenses, while the creator chants over a black gem (worth 10 gp/HD of undead created the night before). This ceremony also takes 8 hours.

Prerequisites: blacklight; shadow spy ritual; Costs: 2,000 gp of rare herbs and incenses, 500 gp for vestments, a black gem worth 10 gp/HD of undead to be created, and a sacrificial victim of Small size for each undead to be created and 250 xp/HD of undead created; Time: 2 days (16 hours).
Note: The gem is the only method of giving orders to the shadow spies created with it. If it is lost or destroyed, the shadow spies continue to follow their last order indefinitely.
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Please excuse my long absence, it was unavoidable.

The Trappings of Death
The last type of dark secret that Nethrancor will trade and only to undead creatures consists of recipes for magic items associated with death, undeath, and necromancy. These are further categorized as common items (those listed in the Core Rules) and special items (those created by Nethrancor or his followers). Common item recipes will be listed first and will list only the recipe to make the item. Special item recipes will include a full magic item description followed by the recipe to make the item.

Common Items

Moderate Evocation (Evil), CL 9.
Prerequisites: Carved ebony skull (approximately the size of a human skull; Craft (sculpting) DC 20 and 1 day of crafting); choir of 6 chanters; an intelligent creature for a sacrifice; an iron blade blessed by Nethrancor; an iron brazier loaded with 1 lb. of sulphur and 1 lb. of brimstone (50 gp); a silver bowl (100 gp) to hold heart, ebony skull, and blood; black silk vestments adorned with black pearls (10,000 gp, re-usable); a sacrificial altar dedicated to Nethrancor, Craft Wondrous Item feat.
Condition: Constant chanting of supplications to Nethrancor for 8 hours
Condition: Hollow Night holiday
Condition: The witching hour
Location: Hollow Night ritual site
Offerings: 1 lb. of sulphur and 1 lb. of brimstone burned in an iron brazier next to the sacrificial altar to Nethrancor (preferably the same one used in the Hollow Night ritual); an intelligent creature whose heart is cut out with an iron blade on the altar, the heart and blood of the sacrificial victim.

At the beginning of the chanting, the victim is killed, its heart placed in the silver bowl with the ebony skull and as much blood as possible to fully fill the bowl. When the chanting ends (dawn) the blood and heart will disappear and the skull is enchanted to furthermore radiate an unhallow effect.
Spell: The burnt offerings can be omitted if the caster instead casts unhallow on the skull as the chanting ends; the sacrifice of the intelligent creature is still necessary.
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Strong Necromancy, CL 13.
Prerequisites: Masterwork cold iron greataxe; 1 vampire (bound with magical chains [Craft Wondrous Item, sequester, and 1 day] and beheaded with the greataxe); a sacrificial altar dedicated to Nethrancor; an iron unholy symbol of Nethrancor; Craft Magical Arms and Armor feat; an iron brazier; 1 ounce of sandlewood (25 gp) and 1 ounce of sulphur (10 gp); and a gem of at least 1,000 gp value for every Hit Die possessed by the vampire. If the gem is not valuable enough, it shatters when the enchantment is attempted. (While creatures have no concept of level or Hit Dice as such, the value of the gem needed to store an individual can be researched. Remember that this value can change over time as creatures gain more Hit Dice.)
Condition: Hollow Night holiday
Condition: Dusk
Condition: unhallow effect
Location: Hollow Night ritual site
Offerings: A vampire, 1 ounce of sandlewood incense, 1 ounce of sulphur
Directions: Affix the gem to the blade of the axe. Burn the incense and sulphur in the brazier. Behead the vampire with the axe (the chain prevents voluntary change into gaseous form, beheading forces it at the proper time, and then the gem captures the gaseous vampire and traps it). Rebuke undead on the axe as if it were a 13 HD undead, successfully 3 times; or one successful rebuke that commands a 13 HD undead.
Arcane casters can omit the turning attempts and instead cast enervation.
Unlike normal Life-Drinkers, this axe radiates Strong Evil and the destruction of the axe will release the vampire who assumes humanoid form immediately and must be dealt with as a separate creature.
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Mace of Terror
Strong Necromancy, CL 13
Prerequisites: A masterwork heavy mace; Craft Magical Arms and Armor feat; fear; an obsidian altar dedicated to Nethrancor and prepared with unhallow and bless; ~5 lbs. of sulphur; ~ 5 lb. of brimstone; and a cold iron brazier (500 gp).
Offering: A lock of hair from a marilith
Offering: A horn of a horned devil (cornugon) or a tooth of a bone devil (osyluth).
Directions: Put offerings in brazier and ignite them (daily for the sulphur and brimstone). Place mace on altar. Cast fear on mace and pray over mace from sunset to dawn for a moon’s cycle. At month’s end, sacrifice an intelligent creature by ripping out its heart and squeezing the juice out of the heart onto the mace. The remains of the offerings will vanish in a puff of smoke, indicating that the mace has been enchanted properly.
Unlike normal Maces of Terror, this one radiates Strong Evil.
Robe of Bones
Moderate Necromancy (Evil), CL 9
Prerequisites: The complete skins of 2 goblins, 2 human commoners, and 2 wolves; 12 dead bodies (4 goblins, 4 human commoners, 4 wolves); 12 gems (4-25 gp black opals, 6-50 gp black opals, and 2-100 gp black opals); Craft Wondrous Item feat; animate dead; fabricate; shrink item; Hollow Night holiday; Hollow Night ritual site.

Note: Skinning a creature requires a Survival check DC 15 or the skin is destroyed and useless for this recipe. Skinning a human commoner is an evil act even if you hire it out.
Condition: Hollow Night holiday
Condition: The witching hour
Location: Hollow Night ritual site
Directions: Cast animate dead to create skeletons: on 6 bodies (2 each: goblin, human commoner, and wolf). Cast animate dead to create zombies: on 6 bodies (2 each: goblin, human commoner, and wolf). Command skeletons and zombies into a single 5-foot space (takes about 30 minutes and a few broken bones). Cast shrink item on resulting ball of flesh and bone and choose clothlike; this ends your control of the undead via animate dead. Cast fabricate on clothlike undead ball and the creature skins to create the robe. Requires Craft (embroidery or tailoring) DC 20 or the magic fails and must be begun again the next Hollow Night holiday.
Staff of Necromancy
Strong necromancy; CL 13th; Craft Staff, cause fear, circle of death, enervation, ghoul touch, halt undead, waves of fatigue; 8,500 for material components (17-500gp powdered black pearls, 1 lb. ghoul lair dirt, 1 ounce garlic, 1 ounce sulfur); 65 days.[Extrapolated from Core Rules]

Nethrancor’s versions:
Prerequisites: The complete spine of a humanoid or giant of the same size as the intended wielder; an appropriate amount of wood of the appropriate type (see below); 1 lb. of ghoul lair dirt; 17-500gp black pearls; 1 ounce of garlic; 1 ounce of sulfur; Craft Staff feat; fabricate; cause fear; circle of death; enervation; ghoul touch; halt undead; waves of fatigue; black silk robe (worth 1,000 gp); alchemical silver dagger; vial of ghoul saliva; and 1 humanoid or giant sacrifice (the sacrifice can also supply the spine); an iron brazier.
Condition: Hollow Night holiday.
Condition: Dawn
Location: Hollow Night ritual site.
Offerings: An altar made of bones, prepared with unhallow and protection from good; 1 ounce of sulfur and 1 ounce of garlic; and 1 pound of dirt from a ghoul’s lair
Vestments: A black silk robe (worth 1,000 gp); an alchemical silver dagger.

Directions: Burn the sulfur and garlic in the brazier, when it starts burning hot, smother it with the dirt. If it smells like burning flesh, the offering was accepted.
Bind the sacrifice to the altar.
Pour the vial of ghoul saliva onto the blade of the silver dagger and plunge it into the heart of the sacrifice, twisting the blade.
Remove the spine from the sacrifice (Survival DC 25 or Craft (Vivisection) DC 20) using the silver dagger, which takes 2 hours or supply an appropriate-sized spine.
Cast fabricate on spine and wood to create a staff (Craft (woodworking or weaponsmithing) DC 15) with bone bands around each end (excess bones and wood are used up in the fabrication magic). Place the staff on the altar, carefully wiping the dagger on it. Cast cause fear, circle of death, enervation, ghoul touch, halt undead, and waves of fatigue on the staff (this uses up the black pearls). At the next dawn, the staff is enchanted and ready to be used.

Wood Choice: Several kinds of wood can be used to make this staff.
The most popular choice is ebony, which acts as listed in the Core Rules. Cost: 300 gp + 5 gp/pound.

The next most popular choice of wood for the staff is darkwood. It has half the weight of a normal staff of its size, and the wielder can cast darkness 1/day at his level. Cost: 300 gp + 10 gp/pound (of original weight).

Rarely the staff will be made of walnut soaked in black dye for a month. The resulting staff grants its wielder a +2 competence bonus to Hide checks. Cost: 300 gp + 7 gp/pound + black dye (5 cp).

Very Rarely, the staff will be made of teak soaked in demon ichor during the dark of the moon (8 hours). The resulting staff grants the wielder Magic Resistance of 5 + level versus good spells and effects. Cost: 300 gp + 25 gp/pound + 5 gallons of demon ichor (harvest yourself or 100 gp/ounce [64,000 gp]).

Wielder Size: These staves can be made for Small, Medium, Large, or Huge size wielders. The size of the intended wielder is the size of the required spine.
The size of the intended wielder also determines the amount of wood needed:
Small wielders need 2 pounds of wood (1 pound for darkwood)
Medium wielders need 4 pounds of wood (2 pounds for darkwood)
Large wielders need 8 pounds of wood (4 pounds for darkwood)
Huge wielders need 16 pounds of wood (8 pounds for darkwood)
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Sword of Life Stealing: This black iron +2 longsword bestows a negative level when it deals a critical hit. The sword wielder gains 1d6 temporary hit points each time a negative level is bestowed on another. These temporary hit points last for 24 hours. One day after being struck, subjects must make a DC 16 Fortitude save for each negative level or lose a character level.

Nethrancor’s ritual for creating a sword of life stealing is more involved than the simple application of a single spell as listed in the Core Rules.
Necromancers often create these swords for their lieutenants as a badge of office. Moderately powerful undead wielding such a sword is a terrible thing to behold.

13 sycophants chanting for 4 hours
Time: The Witching Hour
Condition: Hollow Night Holiday
Location: within 1 mile of an Infernal Cesspool
Feat: Craft Magical Arms and Armor
Spells: Create greater undead, permanency, polymorph any object.
Items: one dead humanoid or giant body (size must be the same as the intended wielder); an obsidian altar dedicated to Nethrancor; and an opal worth at least 5,000 gp (becomes inset in the pommel of sword until dispelled or destroyed).

Note: successful attempts to remove the gem from the pommel will destroy the gem and sword, also releasing the wraith.

Start the chanting.
Cast create greater undead on dead body to create a wraith. The wraith must remain in the same space as the altar during the ceremony (several ways to do this are apparent: command the undead to remain immobile, cast halt undead, prepare the altar with dimensional lock, or some other method;, but which way is used, is immaterial to the ritual).
Cast polymorph any object on the altar choosing a black longsword as the final form.
Cast permanency (which doesn’t normally work with polymorph any object, but the ritual has been designed to make the two spells work together).

Though not required, a successful Craft (weaponsmithing) check DC 25 at this point, increases the enhancement bonus of the sword to +3.

The altar (and wraith) turns into a black iron longsword with all the properties of a sword of life stealing except it is subject to being dispelled (as a 17th level spell effect); it detects as moderately evil; and it bestows 1 negative level on any wielder that does not have an evil alignment as long as the weapon is held.
A successful dispel magic targeted at the sword or its wielder ends the permanency and thus the polymorph effect duration; transforming the sword back into a wraith that occupies the same space as its former wielder. Both the sword and altar are gone and the wraith is uncontrolled at this point.
Note: The immense negative energies from the wraith, the altar, the Hollow Night holiday, and the infernal cesspool combine to allow polymorph any object to change undead into magic items.

There is rumor of a more powerful version that uses a spectre instead of a wraith. It requires a 19th level caster, bestows two negative levels on a critical hit, and gives its wielder 1d6 temporary hit points for each negative level bestowed. One day after being struck, subjects must make a DC 18 Fortitude save for each negative level or lose a character level. Otherwise it is the same as the lesser version.