Whether it’s the serpent tempting Adam and Eve with fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil; Mara tempting Siddhartha with visions of beautiful women; or Mephistopholes tempting Faust with worldly knowledge; temptation, and man’s struggles to overcome it, has been the theme of myths, stories, and legends since the dawn of civilization. Even today, in our movies and literature, we continue to see these themes play out. Yet, introducing such concepts into a roleplaying game can be notoriously difficult, particularly when you are trying to tempt a player’s character. In order to overcome some of these difficulties, the following house rules have been created to help you introduce temptation into your campaign.
Temptation points represent a character’s exposure to temptation, as well as a character’s diminishing capacity to overcome it. Characters who have accumulated temptation points are more susceptible to the lies and charms of evil characters, taking a -1 penalty on all opposed Intuition checks, as well as all saves against mind-affecting effects used by evil creatures. Also, depending on the amount of temptation to which characters have been exposed, they also suffer from a series of changes to their behavior, which manifest in mild, moderate, and severe symptoms.
To determine the severity of a character’s symptoms, use the table below.
|Temptation Points Acquired||Transgression Level|
Mild: You experience sudden mood swings, irritability, and/or general anxiousness. Characters who make a DC 25 Intuition check notice something odd about your recent behavior, but nothing too concerning.
Moderate: You grow increasingly wary of others, and may even resort to deceit and manipulation to get what you want. If you are a good character, your alignment switches to neutral. Characters who make a DC 15 Intuition check notice that you seem more withdrawn and secretive in your behavior.
Severe: You no longer care about right and wrong. They will do whatever it takes to get what they want, even if it involves killing another creature to get it. Characters who experience severe temptation must switch their alignment to evil. Characters who make a DC 10 Intuition check begin to notice serious, and disturbing alterations to your behavior.
Acquiring Temptation Points
Temptation points are acquired when characters knowingly or unknowingly accept certain items or services from evil creatures. These items and services generally provide characters with great benefits at first. In time, though, they produce a growing sense of physical and mental distress that cause characters to either seek out the same services again, or to engage in an act of depravity in order to overcome their feelings of distress. Each time a character engages in such behavior, the character gains an additional temptation point.
Below are some examples of the types of services that evil creatures generally employ to tempt others over to the side of evil.
Items of Temptation
It is well known that adventurers spend much of their time acquiring powerful magic items. So well known that evil creatures will often use special, cursed magic items, known as items of temptation, to tempt adventurers into performing acts of evil. These cursed magic items grant their users enhanced abilities, while at the same time filling them with the urge to engage in various acts of depravity.
The effect that an item of temptation has on a character depends on the severity of the character’s transgressions. For example, a devil might give a golden lyre to a bard that grants a +10 bonus to all Perform checks. However, it also fills him with a contempt for all other performers. In the hands of a bard with little exposure to temptation, this contempt might manifest itself in the form of insults and general lack of civility towards other performers. However, as the severity of his transgressions grows, his actions become more aggressive, until he may decide to drop mild poisons into other performers’ drinks, or even kill them in their sleep.
Below are some examples of items of temptation you may choose to use in your campaign.
Robe of Vanity
This dazzling, silk robe is generally given to sorcerers. Its wearer gains the following powers.
- +6 bonus to Charisma.
- The wearer gains an enhancement bonus to his armor class equal to his Charisma bonus
- The wearer can cast mass charm monster once per day.
In addition, a character who dons this robe must make a Will save each day (DC 1 + 1 per previous successful save). Characters who fail this save are filled with an overwhelming urge to decorate their equipment with ribbons, jewels, and other accouterments costing no less than 100 gp × temptation points acquired. Characters who fail to do so within 24 hours take a -4 penalty to all ability scores. The penalties are removed 24 hours after the character decides to decorate his equipment, at which point, the DC of the Will saves resets, and the character acquires an additional temptation point.
In addition, characters develop the following idiosyncracies, depending on the severity of their temptation trangsgressions.
|Mild||The wearer feels the overwhelming urge to wear clothing that costs no less than a courtier’s outfit, as well as the need to replace it every 6d10 days.|
|Moderate||The wearer feels the overwhelming urge to wear clothing that costs no less than a noble’s outfit, as well as the need to replace it every 4d10 days.|
|Severe||The wearer feels the overwhelming urge to wear clothing that costs no less than a royal outfit, as well as the need to replace it every 3d10 days.|
Removal of the robe does not prevent a character from having to make saves against the robe’s effects. Rather, the character takes a -5 penalty to these checks when not wearing the robe. Only a remove curse spell allows the character to be free of the robe’s effects permanently, though it does not remove any temptation points acquired as a result of wearing the robe.
Strong varied; CL 15th; Craft Wondrous Item, eagle’s splendor, geas/quest, mage armor, mass charm monster; Price 120,000 gp; Weight, 1 lb.
Talisman of Eternal Life
This golden amulet has a hollow center that is filled with magical quicksilver, granting its wearer eternal life. It is often given to wizards who wish to avoid the path of lichdom. Its wearer gains the following powers.
- As long as the talisman is worn, the wearer stops aging, and requires no food or drink. If the talisman is broken or removed, however, the conditions of hunger and age occur retroactively.
- The wearer gains regeneration 5, but takes normal damage from silver weapons.
In addition, the wearer must make a Will save each week (DC 1 + 1 per previous successful save). Characters who fail this save are filled with an overwhelming murderous urge to make a blood sacrifice to a fiend or evil god, whose name appears in the wearer’s mind. If the talisman was given to the wearer by a specific fiend or god, then use that name instead.
The type of sacrifice depends on the severity of the wearer’s transgressions.
|Transgression Level||Sacrifice Required|
|Mild||A sacrifice of goods costing no less than 1,000 gp × temptation points acquired.|
|Moderate||Same as mild, except that the wearer must also make a sacrifice of an animal.|
|Severe||Same as mild, except that the wearer must also make a sacrifice of a good-aligned, humanoid creature.|
If the wearer fails to perform this ritual within one week of failing its save, the talisman immediately disappears, and the wearer retroactively experiences the conditions of hunger and aging.
Strong conjuration; CL 13th; Craft Wondrous Item, regenerate; Price 182,000 gp.
Evil creatures often use magical power as a source of temptation. For example, an evil cleric may offer to raise a farmer’s beloved family member from the dead if the farmer agrees to perform several tasks for the cleric’s church. Such forms of temptation are difficult to resist, and many wind up sacrificing their very souls in such compacts.
In addition, evil creatures often use modified versions of existing spells in order to tempt others. Below are a few examples of such spells.
Enchantment (Compulsion) [Mind-Affecting]
Level: Sor/Wiz 5
Saving Throw: Will negates (see text)
Spell Resistance: Yes
This spell functions much like the spell rage, with the following exception: Recipients gain a +4 morale bonus to Strength and Constitution, a +2 morale bonus on Will saves, and a -2 penalty to AC for up to 1 min./level. The effect is identical with a barbarian’s rage, except that the subjects aren’t fatigued at the end of the rage.
In addition, the thoughts of recipients who fail their saving throw are filled with murderous lust. Each time they enter combat there is a cumulative 5% chance each round that these thoughts will overwhelm them. At that time, recipients break into an uncontrolled rage, identical to a barbarian’s rage, and begin indiscriminately attacking the nearest living creature. Each time recipients engage in such an act, they accumulate an additional temptation point.
A calm emotions spell temporarily ends the effects of this spell, but only a remove curse spell can end the effects permanently, but does not remove any of the character’s temptation points.
Conjuration (creation) [Evil]
Level: Clr 8
Saving Throw: Fortitude negates
Spell Resistance: No
This spell functions like heroes’ feast, with the following exceptions: The food conjured by this spell grants each character that partakes of it a +3 profane bonus on attack rolls, instead of the normal +1 morale bonus. It also provides immunity to all necromancy spells, instead of the normal immunity to fear effects.
Unfortunately, the food is also addictive, and characters who partake of it must make a Fortitude save or become addicted. This save increases by +2 for each previous time a character partakes of the feast.
Once addicted, characters feel an overwhelming urge to partake of the feast again every 24 hours. Addicted characters who give into this urge gain a temptation point, but otherwise suffer no ill effects. Addicted characters who do not give into this urge take 1d3 points of Constitution damage, and must make an additional Fortitude save to avoid taking 1d3 points of secondary Constitution damage as they go through symptoms of withdrawal. Characters must make two successful Fortitude saves in a row in order to recover from their addiction. A neutralize poison spell immediately removes the addiction. Neither spell removes any of the character’s temptation points.
Redeeming a character who has succumbed to temptation can be accomplished in several ways. Depending on the severity of the character’s transgression level, this may require anything from the performance of good deeds, to magical intercession on the character’s behalf.
Depending on the severity of a character’s transgression level, the following spells can be used to reduce that character’s transgression level by one.
|Mild||An atonement spell removes all effects of temptation for a character who has succumbed to temptation at no XP cost to the caster. However, the character must perform a quest on behalf of the caster before all temptation points are removed.|
|Moderate||An atonement spell reduces the character’s transgression level to mild, which costs the caster 500 XP. The character now has 5 temptation points, and must perform a quest on behalf of the caster before any further intercession can be performed on the character’s behalf.|
|Severe||A wish or miracle spell reduces the character’s transgression level to moderate. The character now has 20 temptation points. Though it is not required, many spellcasters require recipients to perform a quest on the caster’s behalf before interceding further.|
Acts of Redemption
Characters can also redeem themselves through the performance of good deeds. For every deed a character performs, reduce the character’s temptation points by 1.
Generally, each good deed can only be performed once per day, though a character may choose to perform several different good deeds in the same day to reduce her temptation level.
Alms: A character must give a sum of no less than 100 gp × temptation points acquired to a church, or other organization dedicated to helping those less fortunate.
Community Service: A character must devote at least 8 hours to helping the community. This service might include healing the sick, feeding the hungry, patrolling the city, organizing the celebration of a local holiday, or performing the rites of a religious ceremony. Adventuring is never considered part of such a good deed.
Fasting: A character must refrain from all food for a period of 24 hours. During this period of fasting, the character is permitted to drink water, but cannot partake of any other beverage.
Holy Quest: A character must undertake a quest on behalf of a deity. The deity must either be a good-aligned deity, or a lawful deity who is not evil. For each week spent on such a quest, the character’s temptation points are reduced by 1. Characters who are on a holy quest can choose to engage in other good deeds while questing in order to further reduce their temptation points.
Prayer or Meditation: A character must spend at least 2 hours each day asking for forgiveness from one’s deity and/or reflecting on the negative quality of one’s transgressions.