Spell Chain: Kaleidolace

Spell Chains

Think of spell chains as thematically linked spells of increasing power levels. You might assign them spell levels such as 1st, 3rd, and 5th, or whatever suits your game. These use the low, medium, major power classification of my homebrew game Hypertellurians, but I also include some notes on how to use the spells in Dungeon Crawl Classics, or Lamentations of the Flame Princess. Converting to a Vancian or mana-based system should be a cinch.

Priestess with light tendrils emanating from her hands
Photobash by myself with Meltys-stock

Kaleidolace

This is the art of growing color patterns and ribbons, first on skin, and later in three dimensional space around the caster. They can be used to mark, restrain, and even create. A caster with a particularly artistic leaning will no doubt come up with other ingenious uses.

I. Growing Colors

In the palm of your hand, 4 twines start expanding in a color and symmetrical pattern of your choosing. As an action, and at a cost of 1 Mind, they grow by approximately 10cm. If you grasp a person or object, the pattern may continue to grow onto them.

The pattern lasts until you lose interest in it, or until the next day. If someone attempts to wash it off (which will fail, unless they, say, sear the skin canvas away with acid), you become aware of it, like a mild headache that gets stronger the closer you get to the act.

II. Flying Colors

At this level of expertise you can let the strands fly from your hand into three-dimensonal space. They turn into silk or satin ribbons as they whirl out at a growth rate of 1m per action and a cost of 1 Mind. The 4 ribbons expand in the cardinal directions in a symmetrical pattern of your choosing. They could for example wrap around the calves of 4 people surrounding you, or continue far and wide into the wilds, or form a egg-shaped mesh around you.

Optionally, you may focus all 4 strands in one direction, on one object or person, instead, and grow them asymetrically. This is more taxing mentally, and costs 1d4 Mind per action, but potentially allows you to restrain a person’s major limbs, or create beautiful works of art.

Either way, the ribbons are extensions of you, and you feel them and what happens to them. They have the same consistency as satin and are up to 5cm wide. They remain anchored to your hand, until you lose interest or are forcibly moved. You may move yourself at the rate of growth, if you so wish. When detached from their anchor, the ribbons fall and turn to hardended, cracked paint.

III. Living Colors

At this extraordinary level of mastery, you can command 8 ribbons at a time, and they no longer grow statically but remain as living, prehensile entities. As an action and for 1 Mind, you can both symmetrically grow and move the ribbons by 1m. As per Flying Colors, you can instead grow and move them asymmetrically as an action at a cost of 1d6 Mind. Unlike Flying Colors, they no longer have to focus on one target in this fashion. Indeed your surroundings can become a veritable explosion of prehensile tendrils. The ribbons now have the consistency of leather.

If you wish, you can weave the tendrils into permanent shapes. When you do this, the ribbons become rigid (comparable to wood) when you detach your hand, the anchor.

Optional Rule: Variable Strength

If you’d like to make the spells a little more unpredictable, or use it for systems where spells have no levels, consider requiring a Mind roll and compare the result against the table below. For comparison, in Hypertellurians, a proficient caster might have an average of +5 on that roll.

d20 Effect
1 Miscast.
2–10 The spell fails.
11–15 4 ribbons, 10cm/action growth, symmetrical patterns.
16–19 6 ribbons, 50cm/action growth, symmetrical patterns or targeted asymmetrical forms.
20–24 8 ribbons, 1m/action growth, symmetrical patterns or asymmetrical forms.
25+ 10 ribbons, 2m/action growth, fully living and prehensile.

The Fleeting Muse

Kaleidolace is a spell relying heavily on the creativity of the caster, and unfortunately the muse does not always heed the artist’s pleas. How about a handful of ways to enourage the muse?

# Encouragement
1 Psychotropic enhancement. The rare polyplip mushrooms expand one’s mind when consumed dried, and confer +2 on the caster roll, at a cost of -1 Agility and a tendency to to engage in philosophical babble for a couple of hours.
2 Nostalgic drinking. A mug of Pining Pear Brandy will set you back 2 silver, wax lyrical about all the things you can’t have, but give you a +1 on the roll.
3 Proactive drinking. The Covetous Crème Rum is nicer than it sounds. You’ll need several, but for the rest of the night, you’ll roll at +3, and be pretty inebriated.
4 All the feels. Emotional breakdowns are a bitch, but the good thing about rock bottom is that the only direction is up. But while down there, roll with +2.
5 That glow. Enjoy the elated feeling you have in the morning after a particularly amorously successful night, and roll with +2.
6 A good book. Be inspired by your betters, and roll with +1.

Optional Variant: Kaleidolace as a Curse

Priestess with light tendrils emanating from her hands

Instead of a useful and pretty spell, you could use it as a curse instead. In this scenario, an affected creature would have the 4 sickly green lines emanating from a location of the GM’s choice—perhaps an eye—and spiral out in symmetrical patterns, at an ever increasing rate of growth. Allow a save to avoid contraction.

If they are unable to remove the curse, the creature will eventually be covered utterly, rendering their skin hard and brittle like dried paint, at which point it will easily fall off, exposing the soft, vulnerable organs underneath, which have also taken on a glaucous hue. Needless to say, this will lead to a painful death if left untreated.

But the curse doesn’t stop there. While it runs its course, the afflicated is highly contagious: any surface or person they touch for any length of time runs the risk of contracting the curse, as the pattern spills over onto them.

Additionally, once the afflicated has been fully covered in patterns, the curse seeks new targets and starts sprouting out into three-dimensional space in beautiful, lethal patterns that turn to brittle paint patterns on the floor if the cursed creature moves and thus breaks them off.

Using Kaleidolace in your Game

In systems like Dungeon Crawl Classics, or the magic variant from Lamentations of the Flame Princess’s Vaginas are Magic (and the upcoming Eldrich Cock too, I believe) spells have no levels, and are all available to a caster who can discover and learn them. Instead, the power level of the spell is determinded by a caster check.

For these systems, use the “Variable Strength” table above, and adapt the result ranges to match the usual ranges. For DCC, for example, the above 25+ result should probably occur at a 40+.

LotFP Variant

Satin ribbons flying from your palm is nice and all, but if you need something a little grimier, consider making it a network of pulsating veins instead, erupting from the caster’s upturned hand. And instead of turning to paint, they turn to coalesced black blood.

Enjoyed Kaleidolace? Let me know in the comments.