Ajani the Soul-Thief
for GURPS Fourth Edition
by Bevan Thomas
Raised by a plains-dwelling tribe, even at a young age Ajani demonstrated an affinity for the spirit world. When Ajani came of age, he was apprenticed to the local shaman. As part of his initiation, Ajani was transported to the Underworld to gain an understanding of the passage of the soul. Ajani's encounter with this gloomy, mist-shrouded land shook him to his core, and at that moment Ajani decided that he would never find himself trapped there. He would never die.
Though for the next few years Ajani seemed to serve his master well, he secretly studied forbidden sorcery, learning how to bend demons to his will. When his master confronted Ajani on his use of the dark art, Ajani killed him and fled. With his dying breaths, the old shaman cursed Ajani, saying that "you will feel your life slowly waste away within you, until your body is nothing but a hollow shell and your soul is sent screaming into darkness." As Ajani felt the curse wash over him, other members of the tribe saw him standing over the body of the shaman, and realized the horrible act that Ajani had committed. They drove Ajani out, forcing him into the wilderness.
For the next few weeks, Ajani did his best to survive on his own, too filled with fear and guilt to attempt to reenter his tribe. In horror, Ajani experienced the extent of the curse as he felt his life slowly bleeding from him. No spell or herb that he knew could heal him, and so in desperation he summoned a powerful demon and struck a deal. The demon taught Ajani a spell that would allow him to replenish his lost life-force by consuming the souls of others, and in return he released the demon and six of the demon's brothers against his former tribe, allowing the demons to feast upon the souls there. Horrified at what he had done, Ajani fled and wandered the wild, racked with grief.
Eventually he arrived at a village belonging to another tribe, and was already starting to again feel the effects of the shaman's curse. In desperation, Ajani murdered a woman and then drank her essence, escaping again before the crime could be discovered. However, whenever he started to feel the hunger again, he struck.
Over the years, this cycle continued, and it has taken its toll on Ajani. He has become emaciated and worn, with a face that appears stretched. However, more drastically has been the cycle's affect on his mind. Ajani has become isolated from all those around him. He no longer agonizes over the lives he steals, but instead feeds off of them with no more concern than any predator has for its prey.
Ajani is not particularly brave, and prefer to strike from the shadows, using blowpipe darts tipped with a paralytic drug in order to stun his victims so that he may get close enough to drain their essence.
Ajani in the Campaign
Most of the elements of his background are generic, and should be modified as appropriate for the campaign. Relevant specialties would probably be replaced with terms that directly relate to the campaign world's tribal cultures, such as changing Religious Rituals (shamanism) to Religious Rituals (Wolf Clan rites) or replacing Survival (plains) with another Survival specialty if the tribe that the GM wishes Ajani to come from makes its home in another environment (such as the frozen tundra or a dense jungle).
The most likely role for Ajani in the campaign is that of an adversary. Most player characters would have little sympathy for Ajani goals and would seek to end the shaman's soul-feasting. Ajani is a particularly deadly adversary due to the subtlety of his magic. His enemies often do not recognize that supernatural forces are being brought against them until Ajani finally devours their life-essence. The trail of soul-drained bodies that he leaves behind him could attract the attention of PCs or people that wish to employ them, and Ajani choosing the associate of a player character for his next victim could give additional emotional intensity to a battle with the Soul-Thief.
Because of Ajani's solitary nature, he has no allies. However, he is willing to scavenge off of the works of others, using wars, purges, and other such events as smoke-screens for his own actions. Some people believed to have died in battle were actually spirited away from the conflict by Ajani and then had their souls extracted for his sustenance.
Attributes: ST 8 [-20]; DX 10 ; IQ 14 ; HT 12 
Will 16 ; Per 14 ; HP 8 ; FP 14 
Base Speed: 5.5  Basic Move: 5 
Basic Damage: Thrust 1d-3, Swing 1d-2
Advantages: Channeling , Medium , Ritual Magery 1 , Oracle , Spirit Empathy  Perk: Autotrance 
Disadvantages: Callous [-5], Dependency (human soul-essence, occasional, illegal, weekly, aging +30%)[-65], Illiteracy [-3], Loner [-5], Obsession (living forever) [-10], Skinny [-5], Unattractive [-4]
Languages: Native , three others at accented 
Skills: Blowpipe-10 , Bow-10 , Dreaming-14 , Esoteric Medicine-13 (tribal healing) , Fast-Talk-13 , Herb Lore-13 , Hidden Lore (spirit lore)-15 , Intimidation-15 , Knife-11 , Meditation-16 , Naturalist-14 , Occultism-15 , Poisons-13 , Religious Ritual-13 (shamanism) , Ritual Magic-16 (malefic shamanism) , Staff-11 , Stealth-13 , Survival-14 (plains) , Symbol Drawing-15 (malefic shamanism) 
Paths: Path of Body Control-13 , Path of the Gate-16 , Path of Healing-16 , Path of Knowledge-16 , Path of Necromancy-16 
Rituals: Analyze Magic-15 , Aura-16 , Banish-16 , Bottle the Soul-19 , Deathtouch-15 , Death Vision-18 , Detect Magic-17 , Great Healing-14 , Identify Spell-16 , Lend Energy-16 , Lend Vitality-16 , Major Healing-15 , Minor Healing-15 , Pain-14 , Paralyze Limb-11 , Plane Shift (Home Plane)-13 , Plane Shift (Underworld)-13 , Recover Energy-20 , Rooted Feet-11 , Seeker-15 , Sense Spirit-20 , Spasm-15 , Summon Demon-15 , Summon Spirit-19 , Trace-15 , Wither Limb-10 
Bottle the Soul
This spell lets the caster trap the target's soul so that it can later be used to invigorate the caster.
The spell can only be cast on someone who is already dying, and during the spell, the target's dying breath must be trapped within a bottle. If the bottle's stopper is ever removed, then the essence escapes, and the spell is canceled; furthermore, the essence will automatically escape after 72 hours.
In order to complete the spell, the caster must drink the soul that is trapped in the bottle. Drinking the essence will make the caster one year younger, and also alleviate the caster from the need to make any aging rolls for one year. However, it also means that the target has been completely annihilated, and so cannot be resurrected, have his spirit summoned, or in any way be interacted with from beyond.
Duration: See above.
Time to cast: 1 minute.
Prerequisites: Magery 2, Lend Vitality, and Summon Spirit
Article publication date: April 14, 2006
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