One common element in demon- and ghost-related fiction is possession - i.e. an incorporeal outsider or undead entering someone’s body or head and controlling him, sometimes only partially. I’d love to have this is ACKS as well. In BFRPG, another retro-clone (of B/X more or less), ghosts have a “magic jar attack”, allowing them to possess people using the same rules as the magic jar spell. So why not use the same in ACKS?

Possession will work in the following way:

  1. Creatures protected by protection from evil or similar spells are immune to possession.

  2. When the monster tries to possess the target, the target is allowed a save vs. Death. On a successful save, the possession fails, and the target is immune to any further possession attempts by the same monster in the same day. If the save fails, the monster possesses the target.

  3. The monster has complete control of its possessed victim, as well as access to its memories; the possessed person now has the mental attributes of the monster and the physical attributes of the victim.

  4. Once per month, the possessed victim is allowed another save vs. Death to push out the possessing monster. If successful, the possession ends and the monster may not attempt to possess him again for the next day.

  5. Detect Evil detects the possessed creature as evil. Furthermore, while having access to the victim’s memories, the monster is inhuman, and will thus betray its nature by certain subtle hints; when observing a person suspected to be possessed, an observer is allowed a 15+ throw to detect the person as possessed, the WIS modifier applies to this.

  6. Dispel Evil ends the possession, and the monster manifests next to the creature, and then has to be fought and defeated in normal combat.

What do you think?

Any comments?

I meant to look at the Book of Vile Darkness possession rules from 3E and see if anything from it could be mined to post here as suggestions, but forgot to.

If you want to pretend that I’m posting that as a recommended source, you can do that! If not, hopefully I will get to it within a day or two.

If a player gets hit with this a month is a long time to wait to have to retest. Not that having that as a default is bad, but perhaps some additional circumstances could trigger a retest? An exorcism or ritual binding by a cleric or mage respectively?

Isn’t exorcism covered by the Dispel Evil spell?

I suppose that it true. I was just thinking it might be nice to be able to do something via in game rp and ceremony prior to the party’s ability to access the highest (non-ritual) tier of domain magic kicks in.

Maybe Turn Undead will force a new saving throw?

I think that might be too far in the other direction, given that clerics can keep trying to turn until they fail and, once he does fail the turning roll, it’s generally not that hard to find another cleric to try it. Or, if there aren’t additional clerics of sufficient level to have a chance of turning the spirit available, I presume they could try again the next day. (RAW says a turning failure means you can’t turn again in that encounter, but, when you’re trying to turn a spirit possessing one of your companions, resetting your turning abilities every time you meet a new potential opponent seems way too frequent.)

In any case, it doesn’t seem like it would be that hard for “turn undead for a new save” to turn into “assume the save succeeds as soon as you’re out of combat, because you’re just going to be able to keep rolling until you make it anyhow”.

So maybe one exorcism attempt per day by a cleric using a holy symbol? Each attempt allows for a saving throw for the victim to push out the possessing demon. If pushed out, it still exists on the material plane and has to be fought and defeated as a monster.

Hey golan, I think getting rid of possession depends on what you want to accomplish with it in your game. If you want it to be just another obstacle or encounter that players need to deal with, then using one or more of the established ways to get “rid of evil” (i.e. turn undead, dispel evil, etc.) sounds fine.

If you want to make possession a significant part of the plot/adventure, those solutions come off as potentially boring to me. In such case, I’d consider creating specific rules for exorcising creatures who possess. The vampire, is a perfect example of what I’m talking about. There are just a few specific ways to actually kill a vampire, and none of them are simply applying a spell or class ability until they eventually work.

For example… trapping the possessed person underground while creating a crafted image of the possessing entity (via knowledge/lore?) into a lead statute whereupon you engrave symbols indicating that the possessing entity is being offered as a sacrifice to a more powerful Chthonic deity. Bonus points for nailing the limbs in place for the statute to symbolize the bonding magic. This all assumes a more powerful entity is willing to listen/will eat the offending demon.

Failed turn attempt = possessor gets a free attempt to possess the cleric instead?


Ha! This is why you bring an old priest and a young priest.