Ghost paint is a special kind of warpaint used by the dark elves of the Mahiri jungles. It consists of a white paste made from bone powder, chalk, and mud that is painted on the skin of warriors and enables them to channel the totem spirits of their clan. The complete patterns are only known to the high priests while apprentices learn only their most basic forms and are thought more advanced forms as they rise in station and magical power. When applied by a shaman, fragments of the totem spirits take possession of the warriors, granting them parts of their power.
First level shamans can make level 1 patterns that provide a +1 bonus to all skill checks based on a single ability score. First level patterns take 1 minute to apply.
Third level shamans know how to make level 2 patterns. These grant the warrior a +2 bonus to one ability score. It takes 10 minutes to create a level 2 pattern.
Fifth level shamans can create level 3 patterns which can grant either a +4 bonus to a single ability score or a +2 bonus to two ability scores. Level 3 patterns take one hour to make.
At seventh level shamans are tought the secrets of making the complete level 4 patterns. These allow the totem spirits to take complete possession of the subject.
Ghost paint lasts for an entire day and ends when the wearer falls asleep. However, it is considered highly dangerous to sleep with ghost paint and all warriors and shamans who recieve it know the ritual to end the effect when it is no longer needed. Sleeping while the spirit is not yet dismissed is believed to allow the spirit to take permanent possession and devouring the soul of the subject. Simply washing away the paint does not end the effect and the ritual must be performed even if the wearer fell into water and no traces of the paint are visible.
Level 1 patterns are applied to to temple guards and veteran hunters and scout every morning before they begin their tasks, usually those of a spirit that enhanced their awareness or skill at stealth. Shamans also often wear them once they have mastered their creation. In war, almost all warriors are given such patterns. (In the case of dark elf shaman NPCs, patterns can be treated as permanent magical items.)
Level 2 patterns are reserved for high ranking shamans and the clans most seasoned veteran warriors. They are sometimes given to other scouts and hunters for special tasks.
Level 3 patterns are only used for special occasions, like important rituals or to prepare high ranking warriors for important duels or great battles.
Level 4 patterns are very rarely made and only in the most desperate time. Very few shamans know the complete patterns that allow the totem spirits to take full possession of a warrior or shaman. Except for very special cases, complete patterns are never removed and their wearers slain after the emergency has passed. Once someone has been completely possessed by a totem spirit, it is regarded as completely unpredictable when and under what circumstances the spirit might return and be a terrible danger to anyone in its presence.