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Monday, March 23, 2009

Grim Monday: The Tomb Guardian

Cultures that inter their dead with grave goods face the constant threat of grave robbers. Hidden tombs, complex traps and powerful guardians are just some of the means used to protect the deceased and their valuables. Today's Grim Monday features a potent guardian construct, perfect for the well protected tomb.

The Tomb Guardian appears to be a human-sized, exquisitely crafted statue, often gilded, painted, and/or set with gems. The subject of the statue varies depending on the local belief system; the most common forms are guardian creatures or protective deities. As an art object a Tomb Guardian statue has Epic value. Tomb Guardians are always placed so they obstruct a passage or doorway. They are often posed in a warding or defensive position. If checked for magical properties the statue will radiate Superb necromantic and enchantment magic.

The magic of the Tomb Guardian has two purposes. It traps the soul of any sentient creature that touches the statue, projecting any previously trapped soul into the former body of the new occupant. It also places any trapped soul under a powerful compulsion to protect the contents of the tomb. Resisting the entrapment and the compulsion are Epic tests of willpower. Any soul freed from the entrapment remains compelled, though an additional resistance check can be attempted each day with the difficulty dropping one rank per week.

A freed soul will use any means at its disposal to prevent further intrusion into the tomb it protects. The soul will be able to use any physical abilities of a possessed body but retains its own mental abilities. Note that long imprisonment within a Tomb Guardian often causes insanity, so negotiation is usually not an option. If a possessed character is slain the possessing soul is freed from the compulsion and released. The character's original soul remains trapped within the statue. If their physical form can be restored to life, their soul can be restored with an Epic test of necromancy. Note that the restored character will still be compelled to protect the tomb. Breaking the compulsion is an Epic dispel test.

If the Tomb Guardian statue is destroyed (requiring Legendary physical damage or dispel magic) any trapped soul is released and departs as if its original form was slain. Destroying the statue also destroys any remaining compulsions.

Note that imprisonment within a Tomb Guardian is often considered a fitting punishment for tomb robbers. A soul freed from imprisonment could provide valuable information, assuming it is sane and communication is possible.
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