"I murdered a high priest in his temple, the year before last. His god did not save him. Let us see if your spells can do better.”
Marianna Vess, a Voidblade Eliminator, to one of her victims.
She's there, in the dark - the woman with the black-rimmed hands. The people in town say that she steals witch-children out of their beds and sucks the magic out of them. The city folks talk about her too - the assassin who drinks wizard souls. Sometimes, an acolyte witnesses the death of a high priest, preceded only by the whispered words, "Your god will not save you."
Not all of them are the same person, though many members of the organization work hard to perpetuate that myth. Not many people realize that survivors are left in order to spread the stories.
They are the Voidblades; a group of assassins who only take contracts on spell-slingers. Each one is a sleeper agent, a perfectly normal adventurer who, at any moment, may feel a quiet, female voice in her mind, telling her a name, a city, and a reward. All they need to think is yes or no.
Nothingness is their business.
Business is good.
Becoming a Voidblade Eliminator
All Voidblades start life as Soulknives; there's simply no other way to learn their arts. A certain natural inclination must already be present. That said, the Soulknives most often chosen to be Voidblades are typically those who are female and possessed of a grudge against spellcasters. Maybe wizards destroyed their village, or used their family as fuel for breeding experiments. Others have been on the unpleasant receiving end of curses slung by clerics or of druidic vengeance against civilization. These angry, seething individuals are given the tools they need to exact their vengeance and rewarded for doing so. The talented become capable Voidblades; the untalented become corpses.
That said, there are those who petition to join the organization for training. The first step is to find them, and the second is to survive contacting them. Those who are capable of gaining the Voidblades' attention without becoming corpses are considered for training. Failed candidates are not allowed to survive.
In order to qualify as a Voidblade, a character must meet the following prerequisites:
Base Attack Bonus: +4
Feats: Improved Initiative, One or more Spelltouched feats
Skills: Knowledge (Arcana) 4 ranks, Hide 4 ranks, Move Silently 4 ranks, Spellcraft 4 ranks
Special: Mindblade class feature, Mindblade Enhancement class feature
Special: Female characters selected for training by the Voidblades (not those who petition for training) need only meet the base attack bonus, skill, and class feature prerequisites.
Sidebar: Ex-Voidblade Eliminators
Voidblade Eliminators can lose their class features by failing to meet the prerequisites for the class, just like any other prestige class. However, the most common method by which this can occur is a female entrant who uses the Special entry requirement and is then somehow turned male. S/he will regain his/her class features upon meeting the full spread of requirements once more - or becoming female again, whatever comes first.
The Voidblade's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are: Balance (Dex), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Disguise (Cha), Disable Device (Int), Hide (Dex), Intimidate (Cha), Jump (Str), Knowledge (Arcana) (Int), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Open Lock (Dex), Search (Int), Spellcraft (Int), Spot (Wis).
Skills Points at Each Level: 4 + Intelligence Modifier
Hit Dice: D8
||Base Attack Bonus
||Voidblade, Rip with Nothing, Trapfinding
||Slice the Mind, Dispelling Strike
||Strike with Naught, Bite the Soul
||Hollow Mind, Ripper’s Gift
||Armor of Absence
||Consuming Blade, Devour the Soul
||One with Naught
Weapon Proficiencies: Voidblade Eliminators are proficient with their own Voidblades. They gain no new armor proficiencies.
Voidblade (Su): At first level, the Voidblade’s mindblade becomes something much different; a voidblade, a controlled manifestation of pure nothingness, devouring heat, light, energy, emotion, and especially magic. Voidblades manifest as swaths of pure nothingness, shaped according to the will of their manifester. Voidblades are identical to mindblades, with a few exceptions, and benefit from any class feature, feat, magic item, et cetera that could affect a mindblade (thus, a character who has Weapon Focus (Mindblade) enjoys the feat’s benefits with their voidblade as well). Voidblades are still one-handed light weapons; they cannot be used two-handed.
Attacking with a voidblade is a touch attack. Furthermore, voidblades may not be sundered, nor may they be wrested from the grip of their wielder. Voidblades deal 2d6 points of damage, threatening a critical hit on a 19-20 (x2 modifier). Voidblades do not benefit from strength modifiers to damage or from the Shape Mindblade class feature. Voidblades are especially attracted to magic; spellcasters, manifesters, and similar characters who are threatened by a voidblade cannot cast (or manifest) defensively against her, though they are unlikely to be aware of this fact.
A character’s Voidblade Eliminator levels stack with her Soulknife levels to determine the enhancement modifier of her voidblade, as well as the effects of her Mindblade Enhancement class feature.
A Voidblade Eliminator benefits from all of her class features so long as she has her voidblade manifested and meets the entry requirements of this class, even if she would normally be denied them (such as by standing within an antimagic field). A Voidblade Eliminator without a manifest voidblade is subject to normal circumstances and restrictions regarding access to her class features.
Beings who view a manifested voidblade are entitled to a Knowledge (Psionics) or a Knowledge (Arcana) check (DC 30) to identify it for what it is.
Upon gaining this class feature, a Voidblade Eliminator loses her ability to manifest a normal mindblade. An ex-Voidblade Eliminator retains the benefits of this class feature.
Rip with Nothing (Su): There is no being possessed of fortitude great enough to resist the all-consuming void; when attacking with their voidblades, a Voidblade Eliminator ignores an amount of damage reduction and/or hardness equal to their class level. A Voidblade Eliminator may expend her psionic focus as a swift action to increase this to double her class level.
Trapfinding (Ex): The Voidblade Eliminator may find and disable traps with a DC above 20, including magical traps. See the Rogue class feature.
Absent Body (Su): Starting at level two, a Voidblade Eliminator is entitled to a Will save against any divination spell or effect directed at or including her, even if she is unaware of it. If she succeeds at her save, the spell fails to reveal any information on her, even by her absence; that is to say, a scrying spell directed at the location where she is murdering a wizard will show someone else (a generic humanoid of indeterminate sex, with no two spells showing quite the same being) murdering a wizard, while a know alignment spell will show her as neutral, et cetera, et cetera. Failure indicates that she is affected by the spell as normal.
Slice the Mind (Su): Starting at third level, a Voidblade Eliminator gains the ability to damage the minds of her foes, her voidblade drinking deep of their consciousness. Whenever she strikes a being that has spell slots, spell-like abilities, or power points, that being must succeed at a Will save (DC 10 + the Voidblade’s class level + her charisma modifier) or take 1d4 points of damage to their intelligence, wisdom, or charisma, with a successful save reducing the ability damage by half (round down).
Beings without spell slots must succeed at a Will save (DC 10 + the Voidblade’s class level + her charisma modifier) or take 1d2 points of intelligence, wisdom, or charisma damage (Voidblade Eliminator’s choice).
Dispelling Strike (Su): Raw nothing devours magic, reducing it to shreds; a Voidblade Eliminator of level three or higher may spend a move action to “charge” her voidblade with dispelling energy. This energy acts as a targeted dispel magic (as a sorcerer of the Voidblade’s class level) against the next being the Voidblade Eliminator strikes with her voidblade. A Voidblade Eliminator may charge her voidblade as a swift action by expending her psionic focus in the process.
Shed Spells (Su): Hostile magic has difficulty taking root on skilled Voidblades. Starting at level four, a Voidblade may expend her psionic focus as an immediate action in order to gain a new saving throw against any and all undesired spells and supernatural effects currently affecting her. A Voidblade Eliminator may even do this in response to her own failed saving throw, essentially re-rolling her save against that particular spell or supernatural effect.
Strike with Naught (Su): A Voidblade Eliminator of level five or higher may make attacks of opportunity in response to spellcasting/manifesting within twenty feet of them; their use of magical energy calls to the hungering void within her. If the Voidblade Eliminator choose to make an attack of opportunity, she does so by throwing their voidblade, subject to all rules and restrictions thereof.
Bite the Soul (Su): As the vampiric nature of her voidblade becomes more intense, it begins inflicting increasing amounts of psychic harm to its victims. A creature struck by a Voidblade of level five or higher must succeed at a Fortitude save (DC 15 + the Voidblade’s class level + her charisma modifier) or gain a negative level (but see below). The Voidblade Eliminator gains five temporary hit points which last up to an hour for every negative level inflicted in this fashion.
Bite the Soul is a normal part of any voidblade attack made against creatures with spell slots, spell-like abilities, and/or power points. In order to affect a creature without spell slots, spell-like abilities, or power points with Bite the Soul, the Voidblade Eliminator must expend her psionic focus as a free action.
Hungering Blade (Su): At sixth level, a Voidblade Eliminator’s voidblade damage increases from 2d6 to 5d6.
Hollow Mind (Su): As her power increases, a Voidblade Eliminator's wants and needs curdle into a relentless, insatiable need, an intense hunger which spurs her forward and sharpens her mind. Starting at level seven, the Voidblade Eliminator may maintain two seperate instances of her psionic focus. Each instance functions as a normal psionic focus for the purposes of feats, class features, et cetera.
A Voidblade Eliminator may expend more than one psionic focus in one round, but only if all foci expended are to activate abilities gained through this class. Furthermore, while maintaining multiple psionic foci, the Voidblade Eliminator suffers a -4 penalty to all intelligence and wisdom based skill checks, as well as to Concentration checks; the same hunger that empowers her gnaws at her mind, making normal thought difficult.
Ripper’s Gift (Su): Spurred on by the hunger of the void, a Voidblade Eliminator of seventh level or higher may act with blinding speed, ripping into their enemies. Starting at level seven, a number of times per day equal to her charisma modifier, a Voidblade Eliminator may take a swift, move, or standard action as a free action. This action must be used to activate one of her Soulknife or Voidblade Eliminator class features, attack with her voidblade, regain her psionic focus or move; she cannot use the action to cast a spell, use an item, et cetera.
Armor of Absence (Su): At eight level and higher, whenever a Voidblade Eliminator expends her psionic focus to activate her Shed Spells calss feature, she is also ignored by all unwanted spells and supernatural effects that are currently affecting her or that include her in their areas for one round; the Voidblade Eliminator is treated as though she simply wasn’t there to be affected. The spells and effects resume affecting her, if they are still able, at the end of this ability’s duration, though the Voidblade Eliminator’s round of absence does still count against their duration.
A Voidblade Eliminator may use this ability to act in defiance of a time stop spell or effect; the void within reacts to the presence of the spell, spurring the Eliminator onward to consume its caster.
Consuming Blade (Su): At ninth level, the Voidblade Eliminator’s hungering blade grows ever more powerful, drinking deep of magical energies and beings. It gains the bane special quality against beings with spell slots, spell-like abilities, and/or power points, which does not count against the total number of enhancements her voidblade gains through her Mindblade Enhancement class feature.
Devour the Soul (Su): Starting at ninth level, a Voidblade Eliminator may expend her psionic focus as a move action to intensify the strength of its sucking, consuming void; a creature which fails its Fortitude save against the Voidblade Eliminator’s Bite the Soul class feature while the voidblade is so charged is afflicted with 1d4 negative levels instead of a paltry one.
Additionally, the Voidblade Eliminator gains five temporary hit points, which last for up to an hour, for each spell slot eliminated from the creature’s mind by these negative levels. Furthermore, a creature slain by the Voidblade Eliminator’s voidblade, or as a consequence of negative levels inflicted by the Voidblade Eliminator, cannot be raised or resurrected by anything less than direct divine intervention; their soul is gone, ripped into tatters and shreds by the hungering void.
One with Naught (Ex): A Voidblade Eliminator of tenth level has become infused with the void they so often channel, becoming a creature of hungering emptiness. Her type changes to Outsider (Native). Furthermore, she is healed by both positive and negative energy. Finally, she becomes immune to cold damage; one cannot harm an absence with an absence.
Playing a Voidblade Eliminator
Your motivations are your own, but there’s one thing you’re good at – killing spell-slingers. This specialization informs everything you do, from searching for supernatural traps to noting the capabilities of all spellcasters known to you. Though you are powerful, discretion and stealth are still your greatest allies; boastful bragging is beneath you, a tool for the insecure and the stupid. When it’s time for one of your “special” jobs, professionalism is key; after all, you have standards to uphold.
The other major facet of your life is the hunger; you grow lean and haggard, eating two or three times as much food without gaining weight. Consuming minds and souls quickly becomes your only real source of physical satisfaction. Far from a perverse predilection, this need is more akin to that a dehydrated man feels for water, and the need only gets worse as you progress in power. If you lack sufficient self-restraint (or moral qualms), you could very easily slip into becoming a soul-devouring serial killer, feeding your endless hunger without restraint or remorse.
Combat: In their ideal world, Voidblade Eliminators attack from ambush, taking advantage of flat-footed opponents and hitting them hard, fast, and without mercy. Eliminate one opponent – especially a spellcaster – before moving on to others, and pile on as much ability damage and negative levels as you can. If the fight starts turning against you, get the hell out of there and continue the skirmish at range – hopefully, shielded by your allies.
Advancement: The options for advancement are many and varied. Some Voidblade Eliminators advance as assassins or rogues, augmenting their already-stealthy natures with precision damage and bolstering their weak Reflex saves. Others advance as fighters, barbarians, or other martial classes, hoping to land their devastating strikes with more accuracy. A few even continue their Soulknife progression, the better to enhance their voidblade’s abilities, as well as granting them access to more devastating powers such as Bladewind and Knife to the Soul.
Resources: Voidblade Eliminators don’t typically have more (or more exotic) resources than the average adventurer, unless their clients are inclined to reward them lavishly. A Voidblade Eliminator in truly dire straits may, however, call upon a team of assassins simply by making the honestly-felt statement, “I wish to die.” This team will, within three days, do their very best to eliminate the Voidblade in question, but will only try to do so three times before duty compels them to leave their compatriot to her fate.
Sidebar: Absent Bodies, Empty Minds, Hollow Souls
Make no mistake about it; the Voidblade Eliminators are assassins. They kill spellcasters for fun, profit, revenge, or a host of other reasons, and that's not even taking into account how they choose to use their powers outside of their contracts. However, all of this begins to rapidly pale in comparison to the consequence of their power; the hunger.
Channeling elemental nothingness is not a safe proposition, and the Voidblade Eliminator holds back the all-consuming force with little more than their mind and their determination. They shape it, but it in turn shapes them. At first the changes are purely physical; their bodies burn through their fat reserves at a prodigious rate. They eat more and more without gaining weight, and the food satisfies them less and less. They become emaciated, skin stretched over muscle and bone, with every joint and bone showing underneath. Eventually even the flesh begins to give way, becoming vague, stretched shadows which may or may not conceal a real body beneath them.
However, this physical loss of humanity is nothing compared to the mental and emotional changes. The hunger that a Voidblade Eliminator begins to feel is not a petty desire; it is a need, gnawing and fierce. Without the "sustenance" gained by draining minds and souls, she begins to feel starved and as though she is dying. However, this need is false, and the Eliminator knows it; she will survive without feeding. The question is, can she? The sensations of starvation are painful and wracking, and an Eliminator could be driven mad if she attempted to abstain completely. Indulgence, however, is addicting and it is all too easy to become a roving avatar of hunger, leaving soulless corpses in one's wake and consoling oneself with "need".
The Voidblade Eliminator suffers emotionally as well; the same craving for sustenance pervades her relationships with others. Affection, praise, accolades, attention - these become intense, ever-present needs. Many Eliminators become co-dependant. Others turn abusive, trying to force others to give them what they crave. Depression. bi-polar disorders, suicidal tendencies and chemical addictions of all sorts afflict the Eliminators with sad regularity.
The news isn't all bad. The Voidblade Eliminators are not soulless monstrosities, and they feel love and other emotions just as other beings do. Having companions - especially loving, understanding companions - can aid them greatly in retaining their sanity. Even a flawed touchstone with reality is a touchstone; even a Voidblade who shares an abusive, co-dependant relationship with a fellow living creature can bottom out at a level above "soulless killing machine". The hunger can be denied - they just need a helping hand in doing so.
Voidblade Eliminators in the World
”She steals you when you’re sleeping
And then the magic fades
She’ll leave you lost and weeping
Or dead among the shades
So hush, ‘round Sister Reaping
If long you’d count your days.”
At their most basic level, Voidblade Eliminators are assassins, like any other; they get contracted to kill spellcasters, and they do so. However, as any given Voidblade grows more powerful, they begin using their powers more and more outside their official, contracted duties. Their numbers are sufficiently rare and widespread that any given location’s reaction to a Voidblade Eliminator will be largely based on the activities of any local Eliminators. If the area has a Voidblade Eliminator who turns her talents to eliminating monsters and quelling evil spellcasters, then they likely view Voidblades as benevolent, but mysterious protectors. Areas afflicted with more indiscriminate Voidblades may form lynch mobs when one is discovered.
Daily Life: You hunger. It shadows everything you do; the need to feed, to consume. Eating and drinking help, sometimes, but more often than not they fail to satisfy. Material wealth, soulstuff, the raw essence of life, the thrill of conceit – these are what you crave, and your powers make it so easy to grab at all of them. How you define yourself in relation to this hunger will quickly become a vital expression of who and what you are – will you succumb, or resist? Indulge rarely, or avidly? The problem only intensifies as you gain in power, becoming more and more an avatar of endless need. What’s worse, your appearance changes as you grow more powerful, becoming darker, full of stretched, empty shadows that even begin replacing your flesh. On this path, it’s all too easy to lose one’s humanity.
Notables: The persona that most female members of the Voidmind Eliminators take on is Sister Reaping, a Death-figure associated with spellcasters. Most cities and nations know her as a personified aspect of karma; justice paid to spellcasters who have become too arrogant or too corrupt. Sister Reaping comes to fix all of their problems – and only a few know that this help will indeed come, for the right price.
The much-rarer male persona is known as Brother Harvest. A sort of shadow to the Sister, Brother Harvest is seen as jealous and bitter, stealing magic from spellcasters because he lacks it himself. Naughty children go to Sister Reaping, but Brother Harvest steals the virtuous from their beds and murders the pious upon their altars. It’s a tough role to fall into, but the Voidblade Eliminators never really approved of male members in the first place; those who have, through excellence and dedication, been allowed a place will not be allowed to complain about getting what they wanted.
Organizations: Voidblade Eliminators are all trained by, and nominally members of, an organization of the same name. Honestly, it’s more of a magical newsletter than anything; it lacks rank, obligation, or even rules. Occasionally, any given Voidblade Eliminator receives a quiet message in her mind with a job offer, which she may accept or decline as her whim dictates. She is free to accept her own contracts or even to refuse to work for payment if she so wishes. The only other benefit to membership in the Voidblade Eliminators is a dubious honor; access to their suicide squad (see Resources, above).
Most NPCs are understandably nervous around Voidblade Eliminators. They’re strange, secretive, and alien, and even ordinary people can sense the hunger welling up within them. Higher-level Voidblade eliminators may elicit outright hostile reactions from judgmental or frightened NPCs; their increasingly inhuman appearance makes it easy to assume the worst of them. It is definitely recommended that Voidblade Eliminators avoid public displays of their powers; gaining a public reputation as a soul-devouring assassin is not the best way to win the acclaim of the populace.
Voidblade Eliminators in the Game
Voidblade Eliminators greatly help the party by crippling key characters in the opposition, and by doing so quickly. They also have the potential to be stealthy and highly mobile, and can easily supplement or replace the party rogue. Otherwise, a Voidblade Eliminator does not change a game much more than any given martial character might.
Adaptation: Changing the Voidblade Eliminator’s entry requirements and/or flavor is relatively easy; one idea is to make them the victims of a consuming curse, rather than an order of magical assassins. Dungeon Masters might also experiment with Voidblade Eliminators as the servants of ancient wights, devotees to the Negative Energy Plane, or even as mortals tasked with fueling the Positive Energy Plane.
Encounters: Encounters with Voidblade Eliminators will likely be hostile; the Eliminator has a contract on a player character, or on someone under their protection. Other possibilities involve working with a Voidblade Eliminator to destroy a powerful spellcaster, or even tracking one down in a hunt for a murderer who leaves behind no weapon, no recognizable trace, and seems infuriatingly immune to divination magics. Encounters with Voidblade Eliminators should be tense, with the assassin seeming like they’re barely holding back the urge to attack, to rend and devour.