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Epic binders do something that most mortals would find insanity-inducing: bind powerful beings from beyond space and time. These binders travel the world and the planes searching for entities forgotten or banished from reality.
The epic vestiges found below are even more powerful than their nonepic counterparts, since they represent the fractured remnant of a dead god that sacrificed itself for its people, the essence of a continent that an alien creature consumed, the collective souls of the slain firstborn of an empire, or the displaced soul of an alien harbinger of apocalypse. The nature of epic vestiges is similar to that of nonepic vestiges, but they are grander, more tragic, and more terrifying.
Epic binders must take feats to gain access to epic vestiges. These feats represent significant personal exploration and research, and each feat is a special bond with a strange being or presence beyond space and time. Unlike nonepic vestiges, epic vestiges do not have effective levels. The power level of the feats is limited by their prerequisites. For instance, a vestige feat that requires Knowledge (the planes) 28 ranks and the ability to bind 8th-level vestiges can be taken only by a character of 25th level. The number of vestiges known by an epic binder is limited only by the number of epic vestige feats she takes and her caster level.
Epic binders do not automatically gain the ability to bind multiple epic vestiges. For each additional vestige a binder wishes to bind at the same time, she must select the Bind Additional Epic Vestige feat. Thus, the feats of an epic binder are divided between gaining more vestiges, binding multiple vestiges simultaneously, and a variety of other epic feats based on the feats listed in the Tome of Magic.
Epic binders make pacts with the residual presences of beings and cosmic energies so powerful that these energies would drive other beings mad.
Hit Die: d8.
Skill Points at Each Additional Level:
2 + Int modifier.
Epic binders continue to gain the ability to bind additional nonepic vestiges simultaneously. At 25th level, an epic binder can bind five vestiges at the same time. She can bind an additional vestige simultaneously for every binder level beyond 25th (30th, 35th, 40th, and so on). In all other ways, this follows the rules for binding additional vestiges as described in Tome of Magic.
Effective Binder Level:
Levels taken in epic binder (and prestige classes that increase EBL) continue to improve binding checks, ability DCs, durations, and other abilities based on EBL as described in Tome of Magic. Epic vestige DCs are regulated by EBL in the same manner as nonepic vestiges.
At 24th level, an epic binder gains a sixth ability from the pact augmentation list. She gains additional abilities from the list every 4 additional levels (7 at 28th, 8 and 32nd, and so on). This functions in all other ways as the ability of the same name described in the Tome of Magic.
An epic binder gains a bonus feat every three levels higher than 20th (23rd, 26th, 29th, and so on). These feats must be selected from the epic binder bonus feats list below.
Epic Binder Bonus Feats:
Additional Magic Item Space, Augmented Alchemy, Bind Additional Epic Vestige*, Bind Additional Vestige*, Bind Amun-her Khepeshef "Desecrated Scion"*, Bind Gaia "Soul of the Land"*, Bind Tkhaluuljin "the Cephalopocalypse"*, Bind Zuriel "the Bronze God"*, Damage Reduction, Dexterous Fortitude, Dexterous Will, Energy Resistance, Epic Expel Vestige*, Epic Favored Vestige*, Epic Favored Vestige Focus*, Epic Rapid Pact Making*, Epic Rapid Recovery*, Epic Skilled Pact Making*, Extended Lifespan, Fast Healing.
*New feat described in this article.
Epic Vestige Feats
Each epic vestige feat requires an epic binder to have a certain number of ranks in a skill (always one from the binder class list). These feats often have other esoteric requirements based on the nature of the feat -- the acquisition of a certain relic, visiting another plane, paying respects at the site where the vestige died, or other similar requirements. None of these esoteric requirements require additional feats -- maintaining the idea that binder magic is supposed to be "the easy way to power;" they might require special quests or adventures.
Designing Epic Vestiges
Creating epic vestiges is more an art than a science. The guidelines presented in Design & Development: Designing Your Own Vestige, Part 1, are still helpful, though epic levels are an entirely different playing field.
* At will or constant abilities should be the equivalent of 7th-9th level spells, though some lower level spells are still appropriate.
* Abilities with a 5-round delay should be about as useful and powerful as a high-level spell cast by an epic wizard. This does not refer to epic spells. Rather, it compares to epic spell slots used to cast nonepic spells with metamagic effects (such as an empowered, maximized, quickened magic missile spell). This is just an approximation, but it is a good guideline for the power level of these abilities.
* Abilities that grant class features from another class (such a turning undead, sneak attacks, or rage) should be about four levels behind what a character from that class gains. At the end of the day, the design is more about how the whole package feels than a specific formula. If it seems much more powerful than what another epic-level character of the same level can do, it probably is (and should be adjusted accordingly).
Bind Additional Epic Vestige [Epic]
You can bind an additional epic vestige.
Ability to bind two or more different epic vestiges; effective binder level 21st.
You can bind an additional epic vestige.
This feat can be taken multiple times. Each time you take it, you can simultaneously bind an additional epic vestige you know.
For example, Peltaria, a 30th-level binder, has taken the Bind Gaia, Bind Amun-her Khepeshef, and Bind Zuriel epic feats. Without the Bind Additional Epic Vestige feat, she can bind only one of those vestiges at a given time. Peltaria has taken this feat twice, allowing her to bind all three of her epic vestiges simultaneously.
Bind Additional Vestige [Epic]
You can bind an additional nonepic vestige.
Prerequisites: Ability to bind 8th-level vestiges; effective binder level 21st.
You can bind an additional vestige.
The number of nonepic vestiges you can bind simultaneously is limited by your class level.
This feat can be taken multiple times. Each time you take the feat, you can add one to the maximum number of nonepic vestiges you can bind simultaneously.
Bind Amun-her Khepeshef "Desecrated Scion" [Epic Vestige]
Once the firstborn heir to his people's kingdom, Amun-her Khepeshef represents the souls of the firstborn sons of the empire, whose lives were tragically extinguished by the god of their slaves. The collective will of the spirits begged the death-god for oblivion, becoming the vestige known as Amun-her Khepeshef. Amun-her Khepeshef grants the ability to continue to act while dead, protection from death effects and the attacks of undead, bonuses on strategic checks in battle, and the ability to release a powerful burst of positive energy.
Ability to bind 8th-level vestiges; Knowledge (history) or Knowledge (nobility and royalty) 29 ranks.
You can bind Amun-her Khepeshef "Desecrated Scion."
Amun-her Khepeshef was the heir to the throne, son of the current king, and leader of the army. The empire kept thousands of slaves, who they used to build numerous pyramids, tombs, and palaces. When the slaves revolted, the empire imposed harsh strictures, limiting their religious freedoms. Eventually, the people rebelled, calling on their long suppressed god to smite their captors. Furious, the god struck the empire with numerous plagues -- fire, vermin, disease, drought, and worse. The final plague was the most terrible even in the empire's history -- the foreign god struck down the firstborn sons of each family in the empire, including Amun-her Khepeshef.
The loss of the first-born sons was tragic, bringing an entire generation to its knees with depression and desperation. To make matters worse, grave robbers and rival invaders desecrated the numerous new tombs, destroying the sanctity of the afterlife of the dead sons. These spirits became furious: angry at the foreign god and his people, enraged at those who betrayed them in their complacency, livid at the tomb robbers who interrupted their after-life, the spirits appealed to the god of the dead, who agreed to banish them beyond space and time, so that they would suffer no longer. These spirits were removed from existence as a single bound entity known as Amun-her Khepeshef.
You cannot bind Amun-her Khepeshef if you are currently suffering from any level drain, negative levels, ability drain, or ability damage dealt by undead or by spells and spell-like abilities from the necromancy school. Only living creatures can bind Amun-her Khepeshef.
When Amun-her Khepeshef manifests, a handsome tanned male warrior appears in a sarcophagus, his body resplendent in gold and gems and surrounded by ritual accoutrements. The lid of the stone sarcophagus lies broken on the floor several feet away. Suddenly, the warrior bolts upright in the sarcophagus. He wails a scream of pain that sounds like the collective voices of men and boys. His body explodes into overlapping images of thousands of men and male children of all different ages, their faces jaundiced, their cheeks sunken, and their skin reeking of rotting death. They wail in unison for but a moment, and then the forms merge back together into that of the warrior. The warrior lies back down into his sarcophagus, still and dead.
You take on the look of the dead: jaundiced skin, sunken cheeks, bags under the eyes, and stiff movements. You exude a faint odor of decay and preservative chemicals.
You cannot abide the presence of undead, necromancers, and death spells and effects. You seek any opportunity to slay undead, and you refuse to work with anyone who you feel uses necromancy and death effects. You are easily provoked by such individuals, seeing reasons to fight them that many miss.
While bound to Amun-her Khepeshef, you can release a powerful burst of positive energy that heals the living and harms the dead, can function even while dead or dying, are immune to numerous death effects and undead attacks and can grant this immunity to allies, and can generate an aura that enhances the battle tactics of you and your allies significantly.
Burst of Life:
As a standard action, you can release a 30-foot burst of positive energy centered on yourself. All allies in the area (including you) receive the effects of a heal (healing 250 points of damage as well as receiving the other benefits of the spell) and greater restoration spell (without an XP cost). Undead (and other creatures harmed by positive energy) take damage from the heal effect. Once you have used this ability, you cannot do so again for 5 rounds.
For a total time per day of 1 round per effective binder level you possess, you do not die when you have taken enough damage to put you below -9 hit points, as if under the effects of a delay death(SpC) effect. This effect occurs automatically as soon as it applies, lasts until it runs out or is no longer needed, and can operate multiple times per day (up to the daily limit of rounds). In addition, while affected by this power, you can continue to act normally, without suffering any of the limitations normally faced by a character at -1 hit points or lower. If the duration of this power has elapsed and you are between -1 to -9 hit points, you stabilize at your current hit point total. If it has elapsed and you have less than -9 hp, you instantly die.
You are immune to fatigue, exhaustion, ability damage and drain, energy drain, death spells, magical death effects, and negative energy effects (such as from inflict spells or chill touch). You are also immune to special attacks and abilities of undead that cause fear, disease, paralysis, or poison. All weapons you wield (as well as natural attacks) are considered to have the ghost touch weapon quality. You gain a +4 sacred bonus to AC against the attacks of undead. This is constant and does not require an action to activate. As a swift action, you can extend the same protections to one ally per 5 effective binder levels you possess. This protection lasts for 1 round/level. When it runs out, you must wait 5 rounds before activating it again.
Scion of War:
You project a 60-foot aura that enhances the battle prowess of your allies (including yourself). All allies within 60 feet receive double your Charisma modifier as a bonus on all bull rush, disarm, grapple, overrun, sunder, and trip checks.
Bind Gaia, "Soul of the Land" [Epic Vestige]
Once the soul of a continent, Gaia grants her summoners the ability to feel the pulse of the land, allowing them advantages against unnatural creatures, senses derived from the land, immunity to elemental forces, the ability to speak with and influence the attitudes of creatures, and the capacity to regenerate wounds.
Ability to bind 8th-level vestiges; Decipher Script, Knowledge (geography), Knowledge (nature), or Knowledge (the planes) 25 ranks; special.
To learn to bind Gaia, an epic binder must find and decipher the Tome of Continental Lore, an ancient gith text of geological science and history. Understanding the text requires at least 25 ranks in one of the skills listed above.
You can bind the epic vestige known as Gaia, "Soul of the Land."
Gaia was both the nature goddess of a lost continent and the body of that land itself. She was the patron of all creatures and the defender of sacred life. When the land was injured, she too was hurt, her life-essence pumping in time with the earth. When Tkhaluuljin, a mammoth alien squidlike entity, attacked the land, Gaia fought, hoping to sacrifice her essence to protect the lives of her beloved residents. Her attempts were a failure and Tkhaluuljin swallowed her along with all life that lived on her surface.
Even in the gargantuan stomach of the alien squid, Gaia continued to fight for her people, raking Tkhaluuljin with sharp branches and rocks and inciting her surviving followers to use their magic against the entity. Gaia and those that lived upon her could not save themselves, but they did destroy their captor. After a long drawn-out fight, Tkhaluuljin was so injured that it could no longer control its flight. It plummeted into the ocean, killing itself, Gaia, and her charges in the process.
You must summon Gaia outdoors. She does not answer your call if you cannot see the sky.
When Gaia manifests, a large green sphere appears where the sun (or moon) should be. The surface of the planet slowly becomes more illuminated, its land masses and oceans more distinct. The light intensifies until it is as bright as the sun. The planet explodes in a ball of fire and plasma, sending flaming meteorites in all directions. In the afterimage of the explosion, the silhouette of a beautiful green-skinned woman appears briefly, and then winks out. Left in the image's place is the ethereal silhouette of a vaguely female figure.
The hair on your face, head, and body takes on a greenish hue, as do the eyes and skin.
Never allow cruelty toward living creatures to occur in your presence. Seek out every opportunity to destroy aberrations, constructs, oozes, and undead.
While bound to Gaia, you can gain potent advantages against unnatural creatures, gain a connection to the land that enhances the senses, speak with and enchant living creatures, become immune to an element, and regenerate wounds.
Your attacks and powers are more potent against aberrations, constructs, oozes, and undead. All spells, powers, and abilities you possess have a +4 bonus to their DCs when used against creatures of these types. You can freely use sneak attacks, critical hits, and precision damage against creatures of these types and automatically confirm critical threats against them. Finally, you receive a +4 bonus to your AC and saving throws against attacks made by creatures of these types.
You gain potent senses derived from your connection to the land. You gain darkvision with an unlimited range, allowing you to see through both natural and magical darkness to the limit of your normal vision. You gain scent and can track opponents by scent as if you had the Track feat. You receive blindsight out to 120 feet and tremorsense out to 60 feet.
You gain the Polyglot epic feat. You can also speak with plants (as speak with plants) and animals (as speak with animals). These abilities are constant and require no activation. Any living creature that can hear your voice must make a Will save or be considered to have an attitude of friendly toward you until you do something to change this.
When you bind Gaia, choose one element from among the following: acid, cold, fire, or electricity. You are immune to that element for as long as you are bound to Gaia. Once every 5 rounds, you can spend a full round action to change your immunity to a different element.
You gain regeneration equal to 1 per 4 caster levels you possess. Thus, a 28th-level binder has regeneration 7. You take normal damage from fire and acid. By touching an ally, you can grant her any or all of your regeneration as a standard action. You can split your regeneration up among multiple allies, though each additional ally requires an additional standard action. At any time, you can recall any or all points of regeneration you have granted to your allies as an immediate action. Granting and recalling your regeneration does not provoke attacks of opportunity.
For example, Leila is a 28th-level binder who has bound Gaia. This grants her regeneration 7. As a standard action, she touches her companion Dinah, granting her regeneration 3. Three rounds later, she grants the remaining 4 points of regeneration to her ally Rainer, keeping none for herself. When a great wyrm blue dragon enters the fight, Leila decides that she needs all of the regeneration. She spends an immediate action, recalling all of the points of regeneration for her own protection.
Bind Tkhaluuljin "the Cephalopocalypse" [Epic Vestige]
A gargantuan alien squidlike entity, Tkhaluuljin traveled the planes, devouring whatever blocked its path. It was not malevolent; rather, it was the embodiment of pure hunger -- the insatiable need to consume all. When you bind Tkhaluuljin, you project an aura of madness, gain exceptional abilities of flight, can stun enemies, and can summon a sphere of annihilation.
Prerequisites: Ability to bind 8th-level vestiges; Knowledge (history), Knowledge (nature), or Knowledge (the planes) 30 ranks.
Benefit: You can bind Tkhaluuljin "the Cephalopocalypse."
Legend: No one knows where Tkhaluuljin came from. In the language of the gith, its name roughly translates as "living armageddon." Scholars of planar lore believe that it may have emerged from some sort of rift or black hole and that it is a being of pure nihilism that serves no purpose beyond indiscriminate destruction.
When Tkhaluuljin attempted to devour the land known as Gaia, it had no expectation that this land would be any different than the others. It never really thought about what it was eating. Then, as it devoured that land, it could no longer control its flight, so it plummeted into the ocean where it was torn apart from within. When it finally exploded in a supernova, it destroyed everything within hundreds of miles.
When Tkhaluuljin manifests, a black rift opens in the air, absorbing all light in the area. All the matter in the area -- trees, rocks, plants, animals, and even people -- appears to get sucked into the portal. A strange slurping sound begins, followed by a flash of dark magenta light. When the light dissipates, the tentacle-mawed head of an enormous squidlike creature emerges, followed by a bulbous translucent body. As the rear half of the creature emerges from the rift, dark magenta light flashes again. When the light dissipates, you see the rift hurtling toward you, imbuing you with the essence of destruction.
Your veins appear spidery and more pronounced, emitting a pulsing magenta light.
You can never pass up the opportunity to eat. This does not require you to eat food that you would normally consider inedible, but you must consume 5 times the amount of food you would normally eat when not bound to Tkhaluuljin.
While bound to Tkhaluuljin, you can project an aura of madness, fly with incredible speed and accuracy, release a blast of stunning energy, and summon a dreaded sphere of annihilation.
Aura of Madness:
As a standard action, you can project a 10-foot aura that drives others mad. All living creatures who pass within the aura must make a Will save or become confused for 1 round per 5 caster levels you possess. A creature that makes its saving throw cannot be affected by this power for 24 hours (though that creature can still be affected by another binder's use of this power or by other forms of confusion). This is a mind-affecting effect. You can suppress this ability as a standard action. If you suppress this ability, you must wait 5 rounds before you reactivate it.
Flight of the Alien:
You can fly extremely fast and with perfect accuracy, gaining a fly speed of 150 feet with perfect maneuverability. You also gain the Flyby Attack, Hover, and Wingover bonus feats (MM 303-304). Your flight is graceful, but alien since it consists of a series of bizarre angles and undulating arcs.
You can release a 120-foot-cone mind blast effect. Anyone caught in the cone must succeed on a Will save or be stunned for 12 rounds. You must wait 5 rounds between uses of this ability.
Sphere of Annihilation:
You can summon a sphere of annihilation (DMG 279) as a full-round action. You can use it for a total number of rounds per day equal to your effective binder level, though these need not be consecutive. You can use your Charisma modifier on your control check in place of your Intelligence modifier if you wish. You can use a talisman of the sphere to augment your abilities as normal (and the sphere doubles your Charisma modifier instead of your Intelligence modifier should you choose to use Charisma for control checks). You must still make control checks to control the sphere as normal though you are immune to the effects of a sphere you summon. This does not protect you from spheres summoned by others. If you summon the sphere, you cannot summon it again for 5 rounds (regardless of the number of rounds you used it).
Bind Zuriel "the Bronze God" [Epic Vestige]
Zuriel was a just deity of war who sacrificed his life and divinity in vain when githyanki invaded his land. Zuriel grants you the ability to augment your fighting prowess, employ powerful force effects with the speed of thought, fortify your pacts, and absorb damage suffered by allies.
Prerequisites: Ability to bind 8th-level vestiges; Knowledge (history) 27 ranks.
Benefit: You can bind Zuriel "the Bronze God."
Legend: Zuriel was the deity of just and reasoned war, a stalwart force that spoke for and defended the people of his land. When the githyanki invaded the land after reawakening long-dormant portals, Zuriel organized the defensive front. During the war, thousands of citizens and several gods perished under the assault of the elder evils, but it was not enough. Zuriel was the last defense between the innocent citizens and slavery to the Lich Queen. He sacrificed his divinity and his life to create a force field that would block the invaders, but during the ritual, he was overcome by the githyanki and the land was taken. It was too late to halt the ritual, and his life force dissipated into the ether. Since his death and dissolution, he has been a frustrated and resentful vestige, but he still possesses a basic sense of decency and kindness. This paradox carries to any who bind him.
You cannot bind Zuriel if you are evil-aligned.
When Zuriel manifests, a 10-foot-tall, bronze-skinned, male figure with a perfect, athletic body stands before you. He wears an expression of proud dignity, as if he is ready for some momentous occasion. Suddenly, he looks up, seeing images of githyanki riding yrthaks, and screams. The bronze covering his body shatters, revealing an athletic mortal, his heart pierced by a githyanki arrow. He leans forward and whispers in your ear, "Do not let the city fall," then topples over dead.
Your skin takes on a bronze sheen, your muscles expand and tighten, you appear more athletic overall, and your posture changes as you hold your carriage proud and upright.
You must always intercede on the behalf of innocents when their lives are threatened. You also must slay githyanki on sight and hunt them down whenever the opportunity presents itself. You never retreat from a fight if you feel that leaving it would endanger innocents.
When you bind Zuriel, you can become a skilled warrior, employ powerful force effects, enhance your existing pacts, and absorb the wounds of your allies.
You can employ a Tenser's transformation effect for a number of rounds per day equal to your effective binder level. Activating this ability requires a swift action that can be spent only at the beginning of your turn before you do anything else. You can split the duration into multiple uses, however you desire. You can end the effect as a swift action that must be spent at the beginning of your turn before you do anything else. If you end this effect, you must wait 5 rounds before beginning it again.
Forceful Speed of Thought:
You can create several powerful force effects with the speed of thought. You can use a quickened empowered maximized magic missile, quickened wall of force, or quickened force cage as the spells of the same names. If you use this ability, you must wait 5 rounds before using it again. You can only have one of these effects in place at a time. For example, if you have employed a wall of force, you can't use the other two abilities until the spell's duration elapses or you have dismissed its effect. You cannot use this ability while under the effects of the bronze body ability.
Zuriel intensifies the bonds you've forged when making pacts. All benefits you receive from pact augmentation abilities are doubled. Thus, if you have selected +5 hit points three times, you receive +30 extra hit points. If you have taken DR 5/-- (by selecting DR 1/-- five times), you receive DR 10/--.
You can absorb the wounds suffered by an ally. As an immediate action, you can take all damage suffered by a single willing creature from one attack, spell, power, or ability. You suffer all the damage and your ally is unharmed. You must be able to see the ally, but gain no special information about the nature of the attack or how much damage it has caused. You can employ this power even if the attack would kill you.
Epic Expel Vestige [Epic]
You can expel vestiges whenever the need arises.
Effective binder level 21st, Expel Vestige.
You can expel vestiges as often as desired. This replaces the once per day limitation imposed by the Expel Vestige feat. In all other ways, it functions the same way as the Expel Vestige feat.
Binders with the Expel Vestige feat can expel a vestige only once per day.
Epic Favored Vestige [Epic]
You are extremely adept at using the abilities of a particular vestige.
Effective binder level 21st, Favored Vestige.
Your effective binder level increases by 3 when you use the abilities granted by your chosen vestige. This replaces the ability granted by the Favored Vestige feat.
You can take this feat multiple times. Its effects do not stack. Each time you take this feat, it applies to a new vestige (for which you must have the Favored Vestige feat).
Epic Favored Vestige Focus [Epic]
The abilities you manifest from a particular vestige are extremely potent against enemies.
Effective binder level 21st, Favored Vestige Focus.
The DC of each supernatural ability granted by your favored vestige increases by 1. This replaces the ability granted by the Favored Vestige Focus feat.
You can take this feat multiple times. Its effects do not stack. Each time you take this feat, it applies to a new vestige (for which you must have the Favored Vestige Focus feat).
Epic Rapid Pact Making [Epic]
You can make pacts with powerful beings very quickly.
Effective binder level 21st, Rapid Pact Making.
You can bind vestiges as a full-round action.
Binding vestiges normally requires 1 minute.
Epic Rapid Recovery [Epic]
You can use the abilities of your favored vestige even more frequently than before.
Effective binder level 21st, Rapid Recovery.
You can activate abilities of your favored vestige once every 3 rounds rather than once every 4 rounds. You must be bound to the vestige to use its abilities with this feat.
You can take this feat multiple times. Its effects do not stack. Each time you take this feat, it applies to a new vestige (for which you must have the Favored Vestige feat).
Epic Skilled Pact Making [Epic]
You are exceptionally skilled at making pacts with powerful entities.
Effective binder level 21st, Skilled Pact Making.
You gain a +10 bonus on binding checks. This replaces the bonus granted by the Skilled Pact Making feat.
About the Author
Eytan Bernstein hails from exotic Long Island and spends his days writing and editing projects for numerous game companies. In addition to his work on Dragons of Faerūn, the Magic Item Compendium, and numerous other projects, Eytan serves as a partner and PR & Marketing Manager for Silven Publishing. Eytan enjoys hunting for gems and minerals in rock quarries, studying religion and theology, composing music, and playing with his many pets. For more information about Eytan, check out www.eytanbernstein.com
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