Binder (Split Class)

This time I’m going to step outside the box a little with my Magic March posts. The Tome of Magic was a supplement produced near the end of D&D 3e. It presents a number of alternate magic systems, one of which – the binder – I found quite interesting. You can check out a good excerpt from WotC here. I am presenting a conversion of the binder here as a special ‘split class’.

Split classes work in a similar manner to prestige classes from 3e – or (perhaps more accurately) like a feat tree which requires XP. Levels in a split class grant additional special abilities, but do not improve hit dice, BAB, or saving throws. You must expend the required XP and study for at least one week per split class level in order to advance. I’ve limited binders to a three-level split class to keep the conversion work to a minimum.

Binders are spellcasters of some ability who have learned the secrets of pact magic and gained the ability to bind vestiges. Vestiges aren’t gods, or demons, or devils (at least in the usual sense). Instead, vestiges are strange amoral beings that most churches, Lawful or Chaotic, consider taboo because the spirits can’t be touched by the gods. Binders, so named for their willingness to share their souls with these exiled spirits, can summon them forth by means of special rituals.

Binder Progression

Level XP Spellcasting
Special Ability
1 12,500 3rd-lvl Spells Bind Minor Vestige
2 25,000 4th-lvl Spells Bind Medium Vestige
3 50,000 5th-lvl Spells Bind Major Vestige

Game Rule Information

Prerequisites: To unlock the secrets of pact magic, a character must be literate and an experienced spellcaster with no limitations from using the Conjuration/Summoning school of magic. Both arcane and divine casters are eligible (though most clerics will face restrictions), and must be able to cast 3rd-lvl spells before becoming a binder. To gain additional levels of mastery, the character must meet the spellcasting requirements as given in the table above.

Alignment: Given the nature of pact magic, binders are typically Chaotic. Some are able to maintain Neutral outlook, but those few characters of Lawful bent who become binders almost invariably shift alignment over time. For this reason, the study of pact magic is forbidden by the Church of Law.

Split Class Restrictions: Vestiges are jealous spirits. Binders are restricted from advancing in any other split classes, and characters who already possess levels in a split class are unable to advance as binders. Lawful clerics who become binders lose their divine powers. And many Chaotic patrons don’t approve of pact magic either and similarly forbid their clerics from pact magic.

Special Abilities

Bind Vestige: Through special methods known only to binders, you can contact a vestige and make a pact with it. To contact a vestige, you must draw its unique seal visibly on a surface (typically the ground). Next, you must perform a ritual lasting a full turn to summon the corresponding vestige. During this time, you must touch the seal and call out to the vestige using both its truename and title. Then, a manifestation of the vestige appears in the seal’s space and you must negotiate with it to complete the pact.

During negotiation, you must make a saving throw vs. magic; failure indicates that you have made a poor pact. (Specifically, the vestige’s presence changes your general demeanour, and it can force you to perform or refrain from certain actions.) Whether you make a good or poor pact, you are bound to the vestige and gain the powers that it grants. As long as you are bound to a vestige, you manifest a specific physical sign of its presence.

You cannot rid yourself of a vestige until at least one full day has passed. Any time after that, you may attempt another saving throw vs. magic to expel the vestige. If the check fails, you must wait another day before attempting again. You can make a pact with only one vestige at a time, and you are limited by your binder level in the power of the vestige summoned (minor, medium, or major).

Vestige Descriptions

(Conversion notes for granted abilities are provided here. In all cases, refer to the D&D 3e Tome of Magic for detailed vestige descriptions, signs, influences, etc.)

Minor Vestiges:

  • Amon: +0 to pact check. Granted Abilities – Darkvision (60′ range), Fire Breath (1d6 dmg per binder level), Ram Attack (1d6 dmg, ×2 on ram attack).
  • Aym: +2 to pact check. Granted Abilities – Medium Armour Proficiency, Aym’s Step (Unencumbered by Medium Armour, spellcasting unhindered), Halo of Fire (+1d6 dmg to all melee atks), Resist Fire (as 2nd-lvl cleric spell), Ruinous Attack (melee atks deal double damage to objects).
  • Leraje: +2 to pact check. Granted Abilities – Low-Light Vision, +1 bonus to Sneak Checks, Precise Shot (no penalties to ranged atks into melee), Ricochet (can make single ranged atk against two adjacent targets), Weapon Proficiency with all Archery Bows (+1 to Atk if already proficient).
  • Naberius: +2 to pact check. Granted Abilities – Disguise (as Change Self spell), Fast Healing (as mutation), Naberius’s Skills (as thief of binder’s lvl), Persuasive Words (as Command spell), Silver Tongue (Influence Rx’ns, 1-in-6 chance per binder lvl).
  • Ronove: +2 to pact check. Granted Abilities – Magic Attack (melee atks count as magic), Far Hand (as psionic power), Feather Fall (as spell), Ronove’s Fists (unarmed strikes deal 1d4 dmg +1 per binder level), Sprint (as Fleet Feet mutation).

Medium Vestiges:

  • Dahlver-Nar: +1 to pact check. Granted Abilities – Mad Soul (immune to WIS damage or drain, madness, insanity, and confusion), Maddening Moan (Daze creatures within 30 ft for 1 round, usable 1/encounter), Natural Armour (+1 AC), Shield Self (split damage with one creature within 1 ft/binder lvl).
  • Haagenti: +1 to pact check. Granted Abilities – Confusing Touch (touch attack inflicts Confusion for 1 round/binder lvl), Immunity to Transformation (resume natural form at will 1 round after transformation), Shield Proficiency, Weapon Proficiency (all axes).
  • Malphas: +2 to pact check. Granted Abilities – Bird’s Eye Viewing (summon raven, can use its senses), Invisibility (as spell, usable 1/day), Poison Resistance (+4 on saves vs. poison), Sudden Strike (backstab ×2 as thief).
  • Savnok: +0 to pact check. Granted Abilities – Heavy Armour Proficiency, Call Armour (equivalent to plate mail), Savnok’s Armour (DR 1 per binder lvl, not effective vs. piercing weapons), Move Ally (swap positions with willing ally within 5 ft per binder lvl).

Major Vestiges:

  • Andromalius: +0 to pact check. Granted Abilities – Jester’s Mirth (Uncontrollable Laughter as spell, usable 1/encounter), Locate Item (as spell, at will), See the Unseen (See Invisibility as spell, at will), Sense Trickery (reroll any failed surprise checks and take best result), Sneak Attack (backstab ×2 as thief).
  • Focalor: +0 to pact check. Granted Abilities – Aura of Sadness (adjacent creatures suffer -2 on attack rolls and saving throws), Focalor’s Breath (target within 30 ft is blinded for 1 round, usable 1/encounter), Lightning Strike (strike target within 10 ft/binder lvl for 3d6 damage; save for ½), Water Breathing (can breathe both water and air).
  • Karsus: -2 to pact check. Granted Abilities – Heavy Magic (opponents suffer -2 penalty to saves vs. any magic item you use), Karsus’s Senses (Detect Magic as spell at will), Karsus’s Touch (dispel magic by touch, usable 1/day per binder lvl), Karsus’s Will (can use magic items normally restricted to other races, classes, etc.).
  • Paimon: +0 to pact check. Granted Abilities – Dance of Death (move at full running speed and make attack, usable 1/encounter), Paimon’s Blades (proficient with all one-handed blades, can use DEX bonus for melee atks instead of STR), Paimon’s Dexterity (+4 to DEX score), Paimon’s Skills (as thief of binder’s lvl), Uncanny Dodge (retain DEX bonus to AC even if surprised or attacked by an invisible foe), Whirlwind Attack (can attack all foes within melee range).


About K-Slacker

Gamer and 5th-level magic-user.
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