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This is a special article which serves as an expansion for Chapter 13 – The Amber Temple. As described in page 191, each of the amber vaults contains 1 or more amber sarcophagi. Inside each sarcophagus a sliver of pure evil is trapped. This is the vestige of a dead god; what remains of an entity of pure evil. They are still somewhat sentient and will interact with PCs telepathically if they touch the sarcophagi. The intention of this part of the module is to seduce players with promises of power that can come with a high cost.
Worst case scenario, the player might lose control of his PC or set him in a way to death while roleplaying any acquired personality traits. The book specifies the name of the entity and gift it offers. As a DM you’re supposed to roleplay these entities; however it is really important not to reveal the important information. You have to describe the gift and its benefits and maybe foreshadow the cost, but never in game terms. You should not use any game terms when doing this, so the player will not know what he’s getting into.
I added three examples in the Amber Temple chapter. But this will be my definitive game aid for the Amber Vaults / Dark Gifts section of the module. Each entry specifies the name of the entity and gift, the page and temple location in the CoS book and a read-aloud text which is the dark shard talking to the PC. Each of these entries will describe the gift’s abilities and some will also foreshadow the consequence of accepting the gift.
Dark gift of Fekre, Queen of Poxes
Benefit.- Contagion spell three times.
Consequence.- Beneficiary reeks of filth. (permanent)
“My name is Fekre, Queen of Poxes. I bid you to accept my gift. It is one of great power. You will be known as one who controls health and disease at your command. Your name will reek of power.”
Dark gift of Zrin-Hala, the Howling Storm
Benefit.- Lightning Bolt spell 3 times.
Consequence.- One side of the beneficiary’s face sags and loses all feeling. (permanent)
“My name is Zrin-Hala, the Howling Storm. Do you think you can withstand the true power of storms? Because that’s what I can offer you. A name for yourself as a storm, at least while you can survive.”
Dark gift of Sykane, the Soul Hungerer
Benefit.- Raise Dead spell three times.
Consequence.- As soon as this dark gift is received, the beneficiary’s eyes glow a sickly yellow until the dark gift vanishes. Also this trait “If I help someone, I expect payment in return.” (permanent)
“Hello traveller, you stand before Sykane, the Soul Hungerer. I offer you complete control over death. A great power it is, but it has a price. And whenever you use it you’ll also collect the price to be paid.”
Dark gift of Savnok the Inscrutible
Benefit.- Mind Blank spell for one year.
Consequence.- The beneficiary’s eyes melt away upon receiving this dark gift, leaving empty sockets that can still see. (permanent)
“I am Savnok the Inscrutible. You can hear me only because I’m letting you, no one can ever read or disrupt my mind. And this power can be yours too, if you accept it.”
Dark gift of Tarakamedes, the Grave Wyrm
Benefit.- The beneficiary of this dark gift grows skeletal wings and gains a flying speed of 50 feet.
Consequence.- The beneficiary of this dark gift must eat bones or grave dirt to survive. At dawn, if the creature has not eaten at least 1 pound of bones or grave dirt in the past 24 hours, it dies. (permanent)
“I am Tarakamedes, the Grave Wyrm, I offer you a gift of dark power. With it, the sky will be yours and you will find no limit.”
Dark gift of Shami-Amourae the Lady of Delights
Benefit.- Suggestion spell three times.
Consequence.- Extra finger in each hand and this trait: “I can’t get enough pleasure. I desire others to create beauty for me at all times.” (permanent)
“Ah, a pretty traveller from far lands. When I roamed the world like you, all desires were within my reach. My very word was enough to collect anything or anyone I wished. Do you wish to be as persuasive as I used to be?”
Dark gift of Drizlash, the Nine-Eyed Spider
Benefit.- This dark gift allows its beneficiary to climb difficult surfaces, including upside down on ceilings, without needing to make an ability check.
Consequence.- The beneficiary of this dark gift grows an extra eye somewhere on its body. The eye is blind and ever open. (permanent)
“A mortal like you is always limited to the ground, do you wish to expend your horizons to walls and ceilings. Spiders can do that, why can’t you then? Their power is here to take. You just have to reach for it.”
Dark gift of Dahlver-Nar, He of the Many Teeth
Benefit.- Auto-Reincarnate spell three times.
Consequence.- The beneficiary of this dark gift loses all of its teeth until it reincarnates for the third and final time.
“How many lives have you lived? Oh, I see… I can feel your lifeline. It’s the only one, and there will be no more for you. Unless you accept this gift, that is. I can offer you a sample of immortality.”
Dark gift of Zantras, the Kingmaker
Benefit.- This dark gift increases the beneficiary’s Charisma by.4, up to a maximum of 22.
Consequence.- The beneficiary of this dark gift gains the following flaw: “I won’t take no for an answer.” (permanent)
“I am known as Zantras, the Kingmaker. They named me such because I hold the power to give you the influence and aura of a king. I can feel it’d do you well. But if you accept, never again will you surrender yourself to others. Your will shall supersede anyone else’s.”
Dark gift of Delban, the Star of Ice and Hate
Benefit.- Cone of Cold spell 7 times and benefits of Ring of Warmth.
Consequence.- The beneficiary of this dark gift gains the following flaw: “Fire terrifies me.” (permanent)
“Is that torchlight? Get that away from me and we can talk… Don’t you dare again approach Delban, the Star of Ice and Hate with fire in your hands, disrespectful mortal. Now how does the power to freeze your enemies sound? It’s yours if you want it.”
Dark gift of Khirad, the Star of Secrets
Benefit.- Scrying spell 3 times
Consequence.- The beneficiary’s voice becomes a low whisper, and its smile becomes cruel and evil. (permanent)
“I am the Star of Secrets and no information shall be hidden from me. Or from you if you accept this deal. Do you crave to know all that which lies beyond your mortal perspectives. It’s all here.”
Dark gift of Yrrga, the Eye of Shadows
Benefit.- Truesight 60 ft. for 30 days.
Consequence.- The eyes of the beneficiary become starry voids until the dark gift vanishes. The beneficiary of this dark gift also gains the following flaw: “I believe that all life is pointless and look forward to death when it finally comes.” (permanent)
“I am known as Yrrga, the Eye of Shadows. You would do well by accepting the gift I offer. No secret will ever escape you. All knowledge will be in your grasp. Life is pointless so there’s no time to waste searching for its secrets.”
Dark gift of Great Taar Haak, the Five-Headed Destroyer
Benefit.- This dark gift grants its beneficiary the benefit of a Belt Of Fire Giant Strength. (10 days)
Consequence.- The beneficiary of this dark gift the following flaw: “I like to bully others and make them feel weak and inferior.” (permanent)
“You want to be strong, huh? I am the Great Taar Haak, the Five-Headed Destroyer. Weak as you are you’ll never scare an insect. I offer you the strength of fire. FIRE ! You will then show your friends how stronger you are!”
Dark gift of Yog the Invincible
Benefit.- This dark gift increases the beneficiary’s hit point maximum by 30. (10 days)
Consequence.- Oily black fur covers the beneficiary’s face and body. (permanent)
“Interesting… hmmm… your face looks so clean and shaven. You appear healthy but I offer you the resilience of Yog the invisible. Without it you’re just a swine. You sure need this blessing if you are to succeed.”
Dark gift of Norganas, the Finger of Oblivion
Benefit.- Finger of Death spell 3 times.
Consequence.- This dark gift turns the beneficiary’s blood pitch black and viscid, like tar. (permanent)
“A curious fluid blood is, don’t you think? It flows red but it can easily bring death, I say it ought to be black. My gifts confers you the power to make this judgment. All you have to do is accept it, and you will have to power the judge anyone in your way. That’s how I got to be known as Norganas, the Finger of Oblivion.”
Dark gift of Vaund the Evasive
Benefit.- This dark gift grants its beneficiary the benefits of an Amulet Of Proof Against Detection And Location and a Ring Of Evasion. (10 days)
Consequence.- The beneficiary of this dark gift becomes twitchy and nervous, and also gains the following flaw: “I can’t give a straight answer to any question put to me.” (permanent)
“I can’t believe you found me, Vaund the Evasive. I must swiftly return to my amber cell, but first, would you like to take my gift? None shall ever find you thereafter. Or I could answer a question for you, I promise not to answer truthfully….”
Dark gift of Seriach, the Hell Hound Whisperer
Benefit.- Summon two hellhounds.
Consequence.- Sulfurous smoke issues from the beneficiary’s pores whenever he or she speaks Infernal.
“I am Seriach, the Hell Hound Whisperer. I have a special affinity for those foul beasts. See, they come to me when I so wish it. If you accept this gift I can share them with you, for as long as you take care of them”
The Main Amber Vaults
The Amber Vault features the three main sarcophagi. These hold the most sought of powers. This is actually where Strahd himself got his powers from. It’s the same case with Exethanter. While the vampire and lichdom gifts do not have immediate benefits, until the conditions are met, I advice you to let any PC make the deal with the dark god. The PC would immediately get the personality trait that comes with it. Which actually suffices for roleplaying purposes. A PC will never be a lich in this game since it requires a level 17th spellcaster, but a PC might be able to meet the vampire conditions and become a vampire. If that is the case, you should plan this situation with the player before hand, since his PC will abandon game when this happens.
Dark gift of the Vampyr
Benefit.- Beneficiary becomes a vampire under the DM’s control.
Consequence.- After receiving the dark gift, the beneficiary gains the following flaw: “I am surrounded by hidden enemies that seek to destroy me. I can’t trust anyone.”
“So you come here seeking the ancient power source which brought Count Strahd Von Zarovich to where he stands. It is curious you are that interested in acquiring what he has. Are you trying to fight fire with fire? You must know this gift is not free to take, like so many others in this place. No, there is a price. The price is blood, flowing red and fresh from a recent kill.
But not just any blood. It must be the blood of one who loves or reveres you, slain by your hand. If you drink that blood the deal is sealed. Or else… your own blood shall suffice, as long as you’re slain by hateful enemies. Only then shall you achieve the glory of immortality.”
Dark gift of Tenebrous
Benefit.- Become a lich under the DM’s control.
Consequence.- The beneficiary of this dark gift gains the following flaw: “All I care about is acquiring new magic and arcane knowledge.”
“I will exclusively converse with sentient beings educated in the arts of magic. Nothing else interests me more, and you should feel the same. There’s not enough time in a life time to unravel all the secrets hiding in the weave… What’s that? I can hear your thoughts, did you know? I can hear your lament, you’ll never be able to know and learn everything. You are mortal and shall never know all arcane secrets. But there is a way to abandon mortaldom and advance. A way to achieve immortality. A secret way to hide one’s soul away from the body in order to protect it.
I can feel your knowledge of magic is very far from achieving this goal, you are not useful to me. But I feel potential. I’ll give you the secret, the arcane recipe. The rest is all on you, maybe some day you’ll come back and thank me, just like Exethanter did. Do you accept?”
Dark gift of Zhudun, the Corpse Star
Benefit.- Resurrection spell once. No limitation with time dead.
Consequence.- The beneficiary of this dark gift takes on a corpselike appearance and is easily mistaken for an undead.
“You’re searching for power, I know. Just like many others you come seeking the power over life and death. I am Zhudun, the Corpse Star. I am the master of death. However very few know there is a price. Death is a veil which surrounds the soul, if you want to take it away, you have to wear it yourself. That’s how I ended up here, but I can still share a little of that power with you. Just enough for you to make one very important decision.”
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