When a druid intervenes on a dead creature’s behalf through the spell reincarnate, that druid takes on the weighty role of judge. For creatures whose lives are found to have caused more harm than good, baleful reincarnation serves as both punishment and an opportunity for redemption.
With baleful reincarnation, the target soul is placed in the lesser body of a beast and ultimately forced to face the challenges a simpler creature must endure.
Occasionally, and almost always by druids who lack reason or who are driven by cruelty, baleful reincarnation is used to insult injured adventurers. In any event, a druid who casts baleful reincarnation rarely sticks around to observe the results. Typically these cruel druids change shape to a beast themselves, hooting or cackling in wicked delight as they flee the scene.
5th-Level Transmutation | Druid
Casting Time: 1 hour
Components: V S M (Rare oils and unguents worth at least 1,000 gp, which the spell consumes, as well as a bit of animal remains such as bone, hide, or fur)
You touch any piece of a dead humanoid, causing them to be reborn in a more bestial form. As long as the creature has been dead for no longer than 10 days, the spell forms a new, adult body for it, and calls the soul to enter. The new body is a Beast rather than a Humanoid.
You can begin casting this spell at any time during a casting of reincarnate, using the time spent without having to start over. As part of the casting of this spell, you can make a Wisdom (Sleight of Hand) check to deceive anyone present that you are casting this spell instead of reincarnate, opposed by a Wisdom (Perception) check.
The GM rolls d100 and consults the following table to determine what form the creature takes when restored to life. Alternately, the GM chooses a form. If the GM wishes, they can also choose a Beast not on Baleful Reincarnation Beast table, provided that the Beast’s CR is no more than the dead creature’s CR or half their level.
Baleful Reincarnation Beast table
|1–3||Baboon (or howler baboon***)||57||Raven (or cikavak*)|
|4–6||badger||58–60||Scorpion or giant centipede|
|7–9||Bat (or ghoul bat***)||61–62||Spider (or red-banded line spider*)|
|20–23||Crab (or garroter crab* or sporous crab***)||71–72||leonino**|
|24–27||Deer or elk||73||Necrotic tick**|
|30–32||Frog (or resinous frog***)||75–78||Giant Fire Beetle (or giant bombardier beetle***)|
|33–35||Goat (or cave goat***)||79–82||lantern beetle*** or sniffer beetle***|
|38–40||Mastiff or jackal||85–86||Black bear (or grove bear***)|
|41–43||Mule or pony||87–88||Giant leech***|
|44–45||Poisonous snake (or swamp adder*)||89–91||Giant wasp (or Giant honey bee***)|
|46–47||Giant toad||92–94||Giant armadillo***|
|50–52||Any small fish (use quipper statistics)||96–98||bilby***|
*Tome of Beasts
***Tome of Beasts II
Discovering that they are a subject of baleful reincarnation is a situation few suffer quietly. Would you be content to come back from the dead only to find yourself in the body of a squirrel? Here are a few plot hooks to get the story started.
Atonement. A member of the adventuring party has been judged harshly. Rather than being resurrected, they were instead subjected to a baleful reincarnate and commanded to make right the wrongs they inflicted in their past lives.
Family Curse. No one has heard from the Porcher family at Blind Bluff Chateau in weeks since the big fire ravaged their estate. Though none have been seen coming or going from the old house, several bestial grunts and other sounds have been heard from inside the wrought iron fencing and remaining building facades.
Group Therapy. The characters wake from a shared, lucid dream where everyone perished. But as everyone rouses, they soon learn that something is gravely wrong. Everyone is a different animal. Piecing together gaps of memory in the shared dream is the only lead characters have to find who, or what, did this to them and moreover, how to fix it.
Self-discovery. Wynna the Tanned wakes the characters from a deathly slumber, now in various wild animal forms. Though kindly and without any semblance of threat, she commands the characters to discover the blessings and challenges their new forms offer. Only in this way can they hope to convince Wynna that they have learned the meaning of a purposeful life and hope to regain their humanoid forms.
Vengeance. A tame Beast approaches the characters and makes curious gestures in an impromptu game of charades. Deciphering the creature’s antics shares that though the creature is not all that they appear to be, they have a frightfully clear purpose: a vendetta against a witch in the nearby wood.
Reincarnate and baleful reincarnate are potent tools in any druid’s or miracle worker’s toolbox. Next time, we will take a look at how to tailor a divinely influenced NPC, their origins and their fate, to the theme of reincarnation. In later installments, we will continue to dig into the topic of rebirth for nuggets of wisdom within the ashes.
about Sebastian Rombach
We can neither confirm nor deny that Sebastian is actually three raccoons in a trenchcoat. His freelance contributions can be found in Tome of Beasts 2, Tome of Heroes, and more. You can roll dice with him at https://startplaying.games/gm/dontbreakthedm or follow him on Twitter and Instagram @dontbreakthedm.