Savage Worlds Arcane Background: Blood Magic

Time to come back to some Savage Worlds content with a new Arcane Background - Blood Magic.

Arcane Background: Blood Magic

Requirements: Special (Make a pact with a demon)
Arcane Skills: Blood Magic (Vigor)
Starting Power Points: Special (see below)
Starting Powers: 3 - can be chosen from ranks higher than the character.

You are one of the brave or foolish enough to make a pact with a demon. The demon lends you its powers, In exchange for your life force - your blood. There is one more caveat, after you die the demon will take over your corpse... but, you won't be needing your body then, right?

Powers & Trappings: There is a plethora of demons in existence, so no trappings and powers are excluded. Discuss with your GM what kind of demon you have signed a pact with to narrow down the power and trappings choice. You can also choose Powers from ranks beyond your own. There is only one rule that you need to follow - Any helpful powers (like Healing or Armor) can only be cast on you.

Blood Magic: You don't have Power Points of your own, you borrow the demon's power. You cast spells using "No Power Points" rule from Savage Worlds Deluxe. You are doing so by letting some of your blood as a sacrifice to the demon. This blood manifests into a spell. The act of bloodletting won't cause a Wound if it's done with a small blade, but can make you Shaken if done wrong (Failure on Blood Magic Test). If you wish, you can sacrifice more blood to fuel the spell. Each Wound you deal to yourself (it's a free action)  gives you +2 to the Blood Magic roll. You can do the same by sacrificing the life force of others, but it requires a Multiple Action Penalty during combat. 

Demon Mark: After buying this Edge and every time you buy a new Power Edge, your body changes a little to resemble the demon who helps you. Your eyes or skin might change color, you can start growing horns or claws. The final decision of how exactly your body changes is up to the GM, but It should be based on the type of demon with whom you have a pact with. Each of those marks give you -1 to Charisma if visible.

Demon Blood: Using demonic powers taints your blood. Not only you are considered a demonic entity, but you can also loose control and give in to the demon inside you. Each time you roll a 1 on a Blood Magic skill die, test your Spirit. If you fail, you loose control for a short while - the GM will decide your action for your next turn based on the demon's agenda. Similar thing happens if the character is Incapacitated - but this time the demon takes over for D6 turns (or minutes if out of combat)

***GM's Notes***

I first wrote Blood Magic as a tool for GMs (well, myself as a GM). At that time it was a re-skin of AB: Magic with a small extra rule - after death of the blood mage, the demon takes over his body. This was basically my take on the old arcade-games trick to let the characters face off a "second form of the boss" - in this case a corpse inhabited by a demon. You can also wait and make a return of the big bad few sessions later. Will the demon seek vengeance on Player Characters, or will it be grateful for killing the old owner of said corpse? 

After playing a bit in a dark fantasy setting, I introduced the player version of Blood Magic - and it was a blast! Mainly because some of the less Smart or Spirited characters had a decent shot at using magic. I had a successful barbaric blood mage who would fight with an axe and use the powers to buff himself. He was the inspiration for negative Charisma modifiers. It started as scars from bloodletting, but the demon marks soon followed. This modifier is a double edged sword, it can be bad for persuasion and general interaction, but great for intimidation.

Have I mentioned that this Arcane Background is not really a Background Edge? Because it isn't! A character can make a demon pact if there is an occasion for it during their adventures. They still need to spend EXP for this edge, but now you can buy some magic power outside of character creation! So GMs - feel free to tempt your players with this power. After all, if (when?) their character dies you'l have a great new nemesis for the party!

As for the power and trapping selection - it is up to the individual GM and their campaign. In my fantasy game there were different kinds of demons (deception, frost, fire etc.) that had their own available powers and trappings. You might want to stay with a generic red-hellfire-demon theme and some blood related spell trappings, if you are aiming for more dark and grim theme. 

As for casting the spells, all rules from "No Power Points" apply, except from Backlash rules. Instead, you loose control over your character for a turn on a 1 on Arcane Skill Die. As for sacrificing others - it is usually kept for out of combat bonuses, as multi-action penalty negates the bonus unless you'll deal more than one Wound. My players sacrificed some animals outside of battle to get this bonus. I would also allow sacrificing as a free action during combat if your victim is willing or bound.

Last, but not least - You can use this Arcane Background outside of fantasy. After all many modern horror campaigns have demons. You can even fit it into a sci-fi campaign by re-skinning the demon to some alien symbiote or AI that takes over nanobots inside your body.

Stay tuned for a template that you can apply to any creature after the demon has taken over their corpse.

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