Friday, November 5, 2010

Living Tattoos

Living tattoos are two-dimensional, intelligent entities--parasites perhaps--which manifest as body art. The origin of living tattoos is mysterious, but they first appeared in the Orient in the dim past. They prefer to keep their existence a secret, hiding among mundane tattoos.

These beings can be place on human skin by means of a summoning ritual, and a magical ink known to the sorcerers of the High Lords of Yian, and perhaps others. Once they have been placed, however, unless they are magically bound, they may wander and pass to others by physical skin-to-skin contact for several seconds, at least.

Living tattoos have no magical ability to coerce bearers, but their constant presence and whispering influence tend to eventually lead all but the strongest willed to fall under their thrall. For every week a person bears a living tattoo, there is an additional -1 to his or her save against doing as the tattoo suggests (wisdom bonus, if any, adds to the save). Living tattoos have goals of their own, but in general, urge bearers acts of violence or depraved pleasures.

The tattoos can not be physically injured except by means that destroys the skin of the bearer, though a remove curse can cause them to flee to another bearer in available and failing that, cast them from this plane, and certain spells are able to affect them directly.

There are rumored to be factions among the living tattoos. They work at intrigues through the proxy of their bearers to get the upper hand on the others of their kind. The ultimate stakes in these games remains mysterious.

Living Shadow
No. Enc.: 1
Hit Dice: 6
Save: F6
Morale: 12

8 comments:

Eli Arndt said...

Nicely done!

I have always liked tattoo-based concepts in games and this has inspired me to take another look at them again.

-Eli

Tim Shorts said...

Always like the magical tattoo thing also. I can't remember which book I read that had them included, but always liked them.

But never thought of them being sentient and manipulating its host.

Good stuff Trey.

GrayPumpkin said...

Very creative approach. The L5R RPG had sinister shadow tattoo's but I like your implementation of the concept much better.

seaofstarsrpg said...

It seems to me it would be better if each tattoo had a gift or ability it could confer to its host (or even more than one for a more powerful tattoo). Then it could be the simply exchange of "you help me and I will help you." No saves involved, just good old fashioned greed for power and Faustian bargains.

Trey said...

Thanks guys glad you liked it.

@seaofstarrpg - That would be one way to go, and a good one, but a shied away from it because the "power tattoo" thing has been done, and I wanted to go for a horror vibe than a doomed superhero one. Not that either is any more valid.

migellito said...

Very cool! I'd gladly use as written :)

satyre said...

This is a thing of beauty.

That faint hint of body horror is - wow. Instant plot fuel as well, waking up post-party with new skin art, patchy memories and a trail of misdeeds...

Those wanting crunch with this may want to consider giving the tattoo the option of Aid Another limited to the wearer. Those voices come in handy sometimes...

Trey said...

Hey, Migellito. Glad you liked it.

@Satyre - Excellent point! Who knows what useful bits of knowledge an immortal bit of body art might have picked up over tiem.