Friday, March 28, 2014

System Shock - Vigors

The Devil's Kiss vigor advertisement from
Bioshock: Infinite. Image courtesy of the
Bioshock Wiki.
2013 was a banner year for gaming, both on the table and off. It's no small surprise that I'm as big a fan of video games as I am tabletop, and I was even fortunate enough to work in the video game industry for a few years doing concept art and content design. Video games are as much a part of my life as tabletop games are, and typically I'm pretty ahead of the curve when it comes to playing new titles. That said, occasionally a great game slips through the cracks and I wind up being pretty late to the party raving about it. That time, readers, is now!

Last week I was gifted Bioshock: Infinite for my 33rd birthday, a visually stunning game with a mind-warping story that travels time and dimension. You've probably heard about it or even played it yourself by now, but if you've been living under the same rock I'd been under I highly recommend you give it a try, if not for its gameplay than it's twisty and engaging story and fantastic visual design.

Today's Encounter Table entry comes with a healthy dose of Bioshock: Infinite inspired whimsy and presents a new type of imbibed magic item created with the Brew Potion feat: Vigors!

So step right up and try an effervescent vigor and let me know what you think in the comments! Maybe it will conjure a spirit to clean your house! Maybe it will summon a gentle spring breeze to cool you off! Maybe it will reduce your enemies to smoldering piles of ash and bone!


Vigors are magically enhanced alchemical fluids that grant the imbiber a spell-like ability for a limited period of time. A vigor's granted spell-like ability may only be used a limited number of times per day, after which the vigor wears off. Unspent uses of a vigor's spell-like ability are lost after 24 hours. A character may only benefit from one vigor at a time.

Vigors are divided into three categories, lesser, intermediate, and greater. Spell-like abilities granted by lesser vigors may be used 1/day and have a maximum spell level of 1st. Intermediate vigor spell-like abilities may be used 3/day and have a maximum spell level of 2nd. While spell-like abilities from greater vigors may be used 5/day and have a maximum spell level of 3rd.

Table: Vigors
Spell Level

Creating Vigors: A character with the Brew Potion feat may create vigors. The price of a vigor is equal to the level of the spell × vigor's uses per day × 150 gp. If the vigor has a material component cost, it is added to the base price and cost to create. Note that some spells appear at different levels for different casters. The level of such spells depends on the caster brewing the vigor.

Vigors grant spell-like abilities once imbibed. The character taking the vigor becomes the caster of the spell-like ability granted, using his total HD to determine caster level and his Charisma modifier to determine the spell save DC like an ordinary spell-like ability. Once all uses of the spell-like ability are used, the vigor wears off.

A character who is already under the effect of a vigor that drinks a second replaces their original vigor (and number of uses) with the new vigor and its number of uses per day.

Physical Description: A typical vigor consists of 16 ounces of liquid held in a ceramic or glass bottle fitted with a tight stopper. The stoppered container is typically three to four inches wide and eight inches tall with decorative design evocative of the vigor's contained spell-like ability. The bottle has Armor Class 13, 2 hit points, hardness 1, and a break DC of 12.

Identifying Vigors: In addition to the standard methods of identification, PCs can sample from each container they find to attempt to determine the nature of the liquid inside with a Perception check. The DC of this check is equal to 15 + the spell level of the vigor (although this DC might be higher for rare or unusual vigors).

Activation: Drinking a vigor requires no special skill. The user merely removes the stopper and drinks the liquid. The following rules govern potion and oil use.

Drinking a vigor a full-round action. The vigor's spell-like ability is granted immediately and the imbibed experiences brief, but intense, visual and audio hallucinations immediately after drinking that impart knowledge of the vigor's spell-like ability and its uses and effects. Imbibing a vigor provokes attacks of opportunity. An enemy may direct an attack of opportunity against the vigor bottle rather than against the character. A successful attack of this sort can destroy the container, preventing the character from drinking the vigor.

A creature must be able to swallow a vigor's liquid. Because of this, incorporeal creatures cannot use vigors. Any corporeal creature that can imbibe a potion may use a vigor.

A character can carefully administer a vigor to an unconscious creature as an action that takes 1 minute to perform, trickling the liquid down the creature's throat. However, an unconscious creature may not utilize the vigor's spell-like abilities, so this action is often of little use.

Open Content: The game mechanics of this game product are Open Game Content, as defined in the Open Gaming License version 1.0a Section 1(d).


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