The Best In Old School Roleplaying

The Best In Old School Roleplaying
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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Octhorrorfest: Possession and Obssession For Your Old School Fantasy and Horror Campaign

Let's get right to it and get into the nitty gritty of these things. The idea of possession has been fairly well understood since the release of The Exorcist in 1973. Possession, of course, is the act of a spirit (demon, ghost, etc.) dominating and controlling an individuals body. Obsession is an attack by a spiritual entity or magical creature from without the individuals body. This is often a form of mind control in which the entity holds sway over the victim. Often the obsessed will become literally "obsessed" with it's attacker, often falling into to cultus of said entity doing the entities bidding by accomplishing tasks that the obssessor cannot accomplish by itself.. This features prominently in many of the Hammer Horror Dracula films. In literature the character R. M. Renfield, from Bram Stoker's Dracula,  is an obsessed follower of Dracula.

Klove, an obsessed servant of Dracula - from Hammer Films Dracula, Prince of Darkness


It has always struck me as odd that these things are so often either neglected in D&D and it's simulacra, or simply cast aside by the use of similar spells (obsession, in the vampiric sense, being typically attributed to a charm person spell.) Here I present you with my house rules for possession and obsession.
 
Possession

Any spirit, demon or devil may attempt to possess a victim. To do so the spirit must first make a saving throw with a penalty of the charisma bonus (if any) of the victim. If the roll is a success the victim is allowed a saving throw to avoid the possession with a penalty equal to the spirit/demon's hit dice. Protection spells already in place may modify these rolls at the referee's discretion. If the possessor succeeds and the victim fails his save, the possession is successful and the spirit has full control of the victim's body. Once per hit die per day the possessed may attempt to stop his body from taking an action attempted by the possessor spirit. This attempt suffers are cumulative penalty of -2 for each week that passes. This does not break the possession. Only an action denoted as an exorcism by the referee may break the possession. The spirit may relinquish control as it sees fit, but after gaining control, may always take control again at any time, presuming that a successful exorcism is not performed.

Obsession

An obsessed vampire cultist helps a new vampire rise - from Hammer Films The Brides of Dracula


Many creatures, from demons to greater vampires and any other entities that the referee deems may cause an individual to become obsessed. Obsession may be attempted in various ways dependent upon the individual entity. In some cases obsession is caused by a gaze, in others telepathic communication (powerful vampires and demon princes have this ability) or something as simple as a touch. An entity attempting for cause obsession in a victim  must first make a saving throw with a penalty of the charisma bonus (if any) of the victim. If the roll is a success the victim is allowed a saving throw to avoid the obsession with a penalty equal to the entities hit dice. Protection spells already in place may modify these rolls at the referee's discretion, just as in the case of possession. If successful the creature causing the obsession gains a telepathic link to the obsessed by which it's suggestions can be made, even over a great distance. In the early stages the obsessed can attempt to fight the suggestions. This is done by making a saving throw, modified by a penalty of the obsessors hit dice. This may be done once per day per hit die of the obsessed. An attempt to break the obsession may be made a number of times per week per hit die of the obsessed. Success is determined in the same manner as attempts to fight suggestions Each failed attempt adds an additional penalty of -1 to the next attempt. If the total penalty reaches the hit dice of the obsessed character, they become an utter thrall of the obsessing entity, unless exorcised.