Gimme That Ol’ Time Religion: The Atavist

photograph by Charles Fréger

The idea for this had been kicking around my head for awhile, but the format was inspired by Zedeck Siew’s recent player-character concepts for A Thousand Thousand Islands.

You have made a pact with the elemental forces of the world. Rejecting the trappings of progress and society, you draw strength from primordial sources.

You have hit dice, saving throws, and XP progression as a cleric.

You are a follower of the old ways. +2 to Wisdom.
Choose a source of power. You gain an ability for every taboo you possess.

Beast & Bough – +1 Dexterity
1 – Berserker: You can craft a ritual garment made from the hide (or other parts) of a particular animal. Once per day per taboo possessed, you can take the shape of the animal whose hide the garment is made of. You can remain in this form for a number of hours equal to your character level.
2 – Call of the Wild: You can flawlessly imitate the sounds of any animal.
3 – Cornucopia: Once per day, you can summon enough edible fruits and plants to feed one person per taboo possessed.
4 – Creeping Ivy: Once per day per taboo you possess, you can cause vegetation to animate and immobilize creatures within a 15-foot radius area around you.
5 – Foaming at the Mouth: Once per day per taboo you possess, your bite can instill a ferocious, near-mindless bloodlust in a living creature for one minute.
6 – Leaps and Bounds: Once per day per taboo possessed, you can move at double your normal speed or jump, from a standing start, a distance equal to your normal speed.
7 – Mossy Creche: Once per day, you can dig a shallow pit and consecrate it for 24 hours. A number of creatures equal to the taboos you possess can rest within the pit, healing damage at twice the normal rate.
8 – Spirit of the Beehive: Once per day, you can summon and control a swarm of insects for a number of rounds equal to the taboos you possess.
9 – The Tree Remembers: By touching a tree, you can review events that have taken place underneath its branches.
10 – Tooth and Nail: Your canines sharpen and your nails thicken. Your unarmed attacks deal 1d4+Strength damage. For every taboo gained after your first, the damage increases by one die size (1d4 -> 1d6 -> 1d8, and so on).

Blood & Bone – +1 Strength
1 – Bad Blood: Once per day per taboo, you can weaken a living creature you can see by curdling their blood.
2 – Blood Will Tell: By tasting blood, you know how and when it was spilled.
3 – Pierced Flesh: Your body is covered with apotropaic scars and tattoos. For every taboo you possess, you permanently lose one hit point, but gain a +1 bonus to your Armor Class and rolls to resist magic spells and effects.
4 – Red Right Hand: You gain a bonus to melee attack rolls equal to the number of taboos you possess.
5 – Roll the Bones: You possess a bag of old bone fragments inscribed with weird symbols. Once per day, you can perform an augury with them – roll a d20 a number of times equal to taboos you possess. At any point afterwards, you can substitute one those results for another d20 roll, yours or someone else’s.
6 – Seeing Red: By closing your eyes, you can detect living creatures by visualizing their circulatory systems.
7 – Skeleton Dance: Once per day per taboo, you can make a creature act against its will by moving its bones.
8 – Songs for the Dead: You’ve crafted a flute from a human femur. When you play it, you summon the spirit of someone who has died nearby. They will truthfully answer one question per taboo you possess.
9 – Thicker Than Water: Your touch can staunch bleeding and close wounds. Each day, you can heal 1d6 points of damage per taboo possessed, all at once or divided into increments of 1d6.
10 – Thoughts for Food: By eating a creature’s brain, you can access their memories. If you are looking for a specific memory, you have a 1-in-10 chance per taboo possessed to find it.

Stone & Sky – +1 Constitution
1 – Chip and Shatter: Once per day per taboo you possess, you can destroy a single manufactured object with a successful attack.
2 – Ear to the Ground: You can sense the location of creatures standing on the ground or beneath it out to a range of 30 feet, plus 30 feet per taboo possessed.
3 – Feather on the Wind: You take damage from falling as if the distance fell was 10 feet less, plus 10 feet for every taboo you possess.
4 – Like a Rock: Once per day per taboo possessed, you can harden your flesh as a reaction to being struck by an attack, reducing the damage suffered by an amount equal to your taboos.
5 – Listening Wind: You can ask the wind to carry messages for you to anyone within a range of 1 mile per taboo possessed.
6 – Parched Earth: Once per day, you can evaporate all the moisture from a 15-foot radius area, including from plants and living creatures, centered on you. For every taboo you possess, the radius of the area of effect increases by 15 feet.
7 – Reap the Wind: Once per day per taboo possessed, you can produce a blast of concentrated wind with a range of 60 feet. The gust can attempt to move creatures and objects as if it had Strength modifier equal to your taboos.
8 – Stonefinger: Once per day per taboo possessed, you can cause a 5-foot tall stalagmite to erupt out of the ground.
9 – Thunderstrike: Once per day per taboo you possess, you can generate a burst of sound powerful enough to knock down and deafen every creature in a 15-foot radius.
10 – Waterstrider: Each day, for up to one minute per taboo possessed, you can move across a body of water as if it were solid ground.

Taboos
In exchange for your gifts, the powers of the earth demand certain sacrifices from the atavist. At first level, third level, and then every three levels thereafter (6th, 9th, 12th, and so on), you gain a taboo – a sacred prohibition – as proof of their devotion.

Should an atavist break any of their taboos, they lose their class-related abilities and cannot advance any further as an atavist until they atone for their transgression.

1 – Must refrain from using metal armor, weapons, and tools. You don’t incur any penalties for using improvised tools and weapons and your non-metallic tools and weapons will never break.
2 – Must refrain from sleeping indoors. While sleeping, you remain fully aware of your surroundings. You don’t incur any penalties for sleeping rough.
3 – Must refrain from eating cooked food. You gain a bonus equal to the number of taboos you possess to rolls to resist poisons and diseases.
4 – Must refrain from using money in exchange for goods and services. You gain a bonus equal to the number of taboos you possess to all crafting rolls.
5 – Must refrain from wearing any kind of footwear. You gain a bonus equal to the number of taboos you possess to rolls to resist forced movement.
6 – Must refrain from wearing clothing made of woven fabrics. You gain a bonus equal to the number of taboos you possess to rolls to resist the effects of extreme temperatures and weather.
7 – Must refrain from owning animals. You understand the languages of animals and they understand you. You gain a bonus equal to the number of taboos you possess to rolls to ask them for favors.
8 – Must refrain from sexual activity. You gain a bonus equal to the number of taboos you possess to rolls to resist mind-affecting spells and effects.
9 – Must refrain from reading or writing. You gain a bonus equal to the number of taboos you possess to rolls to detect lies and deception.
10 – Must refrain from cutting or shaving any hair. You gain a bonus equal to the number of taboos you possess to melee damage rolls.

Tiger Lung, by Simon Roy

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