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Folk Magic: Gravebinder Magic

Folk Magic: Gravebinder Magic

In a world suffused with magic, what kind of magic do common folk use in their day-to-day lives? What so-called hedge magic is used by the gravebinders to keep deceased loved ones in repose, dead instead of undead?

Vault of Magic has scores of options for adventurers, but here are some items used by more common folk who tend to the dead.

Bless the Dead

1st-Level Necromancy (Ritual)
Casting Time: 10 minutes
Range: Touch
Components: V, S, M (holy water, which the ritual consumes)
Duration: 24 hours

You touch a humanoid corpse. For the duration of the spell, the body will not decay and cannot become Undead.

At Higher Levels: When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, the duration increases by 24 hours for each slot level above 1st.

Bolt of Radiance

1st-Level Necromancy
Casting Time: 1 bonus action
Range: 30 feet
Components: V, S
Duration: Instantaneous

You rip some of the positive energy from your soul and send it as a bolt of radiant energy. When cast, you immediately lose 3 hit points (the lost hit points can be healed magically, but not by a Wisdom (Medicine) check). You then fire a bolt of radiant energy as a ranged spell attack. On a hit, the target takes 3d6 radiant damage.

Dead Man’s Luck

Necromancy Cantrip
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Touch
Components: V, S
Duration: 1 hour

You draw the residual luck from a Humanoid corpse that has been dead for less than 1 hour. You, or any Humanoid creature you choose within 10 feet of you, gains a d6 Luck die.

Once within the next 10 minutes, the creature can roll the die and add the number rolled to one ability check, attack roll, or saving throw it makes. The creature can wait until after it rolls the d20 before deciding to use the Luck die, but must decide before the GM says whether the roll succeeds or fails. Once the Luck die is rolled, it is lost. A creature can have only one Luck die at a time. The Luck die cannot be used in the same round with Bardic Inspiration or Guidance.

Death’s Prophecy

Divination Cantrip (Ritual)
Casting Time: 10 minutes
Range: Touch
Components: V, S, M (incense and a clear crystal)
Duration: Instantaneous

This ritual can be cast on a Humanoid corpse that has been dead for less than 1 week, has a mouth, and is not Undead. You can ask the corpse one yes or no question. If the question cannot be answered with certainty or with one word, the corpse simply says “perhaps” or “unclear.” The ritual cannot be performed on the same corpse twice.

Seal the Sepulcher

1st-Level Abjuration
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Touch
Components: V, S, M (scrap of wood struck by lightning)
Duration: Up to 30 days (until activated)

This spell can be cast on any closed or covered burial place, such as a casket, cairn, or mausoleum. If the gravesite is disturbed or broken open, the grave ruptures violently, emitting a thunderclap which can be heard clearly for at least 1 mile.

Any creature within a 10-foot radius of the gravesite during the thunderclap takes 1d4 thunder damage. It must also succeed on a Constitution saving throw or be knocked prone and deafened for 1 minute. At the end of each of its turns, the creature can make a Constitution saving throw. On a success, the deafened condition ends.

At Higher Levels: When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, the damage increases by 1d4 thunder damage and the radius increases by 5 feet for each slot level above 1st.

Sense Undead

Divination Cantrip
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Self
Components: V, S
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute

You can locate any Undead creature within 30 feet of you and determine if the area has been magically desecrated or unhallowed. The spell is blocked by more than 3 inches of stone, 1 inch of metal, or one foot of earth and/or wood.

Soul Lash

Necromancy Cantrip
Casting time: 1 bonus action
Range: Touch
Components: S
Duration: Instantaneous

You rip some of the positive energy from your soul and use it to lash out at your enemies. When cast, you immediately lose 1 hit point (the lost hit point can be healed magically, but not by a Wisdom (Medicine) check). You may then make a melee spell attack. On a hit, the target takes 1d6 + 2 radiant damage.

Speak with the Recently Departed

1st-Level Necromancy
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 10 feet
Components: V, S, M (corpse ash, consumed by the spell)
Duration: 1 minute

This spell allows you to ask one question of a corpse that has a mouth and is not Undead. If any other necromantic spell was cast on the corpse in the last 30 days, or the corpse has been deceased more than 30 days, the spell fails. The corpse can only comment on things it knew in life, in the languages it knew. It knows nothing about anything that happened after it died and will not speculate on the future. The spell does not compel an answer from a hostile spirit or make the spirit friendly towards the caster.

At Higher Levels: When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, you can ask one additional question for each slot level above 1st.

<<PREVIOUSLY IN FOLK MAGIC


Want more spells? Of course you do. What are you, a barbarian?
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about Adam W. Roy

Adam has been playing TTRPGs for almost forty years, and has been a freelance game writer and editor for decades. He has written for Kobold Press, Paizo, White Wolf, and others. He is also a full-time father, husband, and e-commerce guru…. He manages all of this by avoiding sleep altogether.

5 thoughts on “Folk Magic: Gravebinder Magic”

    1. The Folk Magic series in intended to be a glimpse into what spells common folk might have in a high-magic setting. NPC casters of some of these spells might not even have classes! Allowing that bends the rules a little, but it’s fun color for a GM to flesh out a world.

      If a GM wants to allow access to these spells for PCs, they’re not game breakers. You could easily assign classes to a spell if players express interest in one.

      Regarding gravebinders, this is a subclass of wizard in the Midgard setting, but here it’s a looser term for spellcasting mortician. We didn’t explain that very well in the text of the article. We’ll do better next time!

  1. These are all really fun spell additions. One question though, Soul Lash and Bolt of Radiance both require an Action AND a Bonus Action to cast them. Is that really intended? It seems overly action-heavy for the effects of the spells, especially given that both spells are already (flavorfully) punitive by harming the caster.

  2. Craig: Good question! You are correct, it shouldn’t take 2 actions/bonus actions.
    Looks like I didn’t clean up an earlier edit; apologies for the confusion. It *should* read:
    “Casting time: 1 *bonus* action”
    and
    “you may then make”…(ignore/delete the “as a bonus action in the same round…”)

    You are also correct – the self damage is to provide some narrative flavor, but also to mechanically balance a damage-inflicting bonus-action cantrip (otherwise our minmaxing players would use it every round)!

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