Exile’s Cypher: Born of the Vaal

The last couple posts in this vein have been on already-existing Foci and how to fit them to the themes of Wraeclast. Today we’ll look at new Foci for the campaign – specifically, ones that relate character to the nightmare ancestral power whose fall condemned the land to be cursed, the Vaal Empire. The creators of the Virtue Gems, masters of forbidden sciences and dark arts, the Vaal today haunt the rest of the world as the darkest of boogeymen.

Touched By the Vaal


You have been touched since you were young with a connection to the mysteries left behind by the Vaal when they once ruled over everything. It manifests as whispering voices that offer insights and advice, not always pertinent to the situation you’re in, and a natural instinct for the things the cursed empire left behind. You tend to be drawn to ornate clothing with strange symmetries hidden in the design, in lurid colors that draw the eye to you, and you likely delight in the attention.

While any Type can benefit from this Focus, those who focus on Intellect will find it more valuable than others.

Additional Equipment: You have a compass of sorts; fashioned of faintly luminous metals and crystals of unknown composition, it points to the largest Vaal-crafted relic within a month’s walk of you.

Minor Effect: Corrupt energy courses over the area around you out to a short distance, stunning enemies and leaving all rolls against them modified one level in your favor.

Major Effect: An unnoticed Vaal construct surges to life for a moment and lunges at a foe, immbolizing them for a round before it crumbles into fragments.

Tier 1 Whispering Darkness (Intellect 2): You reach out with your psyche to listen carefully, gaining an asset on all initiative rolls and Perception tasks to detect creatures or Vaal relics for the next hour.

Lore of the Vaal: You are trained in all skills related to information about the Vaal Empire and the relics it left behind.

Tier 2 Corrupt Aura (Intellect 3): You channel the corrupt energy of the cursed land, creating a bubble of darkness that grants you +1 Armor and adds 1 point of corrupt damage to your melee attacks.

Tier 3 Army of the Vaal (Intellect 2+): For every two points of Intellect you spend, you animate a level 2 skeleton warrior that claws out of the ground and fights for you for the next three rounds. Alternately, you may spend 4 Intellect from your pool to summon a level 4 skeleton archer or sorcerer who can make attacks out to long range for the same duration.

Tier 4 Malachai’s Touch: Your form corrupts and twists as you become closer to the source of your power, gaining an inherent +2 Armor bonus; this results in a visible and disturbing transformation of some kind – scales or chitin covers your skin and your body becomes emaciated and subtly deformed.

Will of the Vaal: You gain +4 Intellect.

Tier 5 Name of the Corrupt: You are considered an Abomination for all effects that enhance or heal such creatures, and they regard you as one of their own, leaving you in peace unless you attack them.

Howl of the Damned (Intellect 1+): You unleash a shattering scream from your augmented lungs and throat, dealing 2 damage to everything out to a short distance from you; every 2 Intellect you spend past this increases this damage by 2 points.

Tier 6 Blasphemous Apotheosis: You are considered a Vaal Construct for purposes of effects that enhance or heal such, and such things will regard you as one of their own unless you attack them. You gain an additional +2 Armor, and your Recovery rolls have a +1 bonus. You no longer even vaguely resemble your birth form.

Malachai’s Blessing: You gain a melee attack that functions as a medium weapon of slashing, piercing, or bashing type (your choice), and it deals an additional 2 poison damage on the round following a successful blow.

Blessed With Virtue


You were born with an attunement to the Virtue Gems the Vaal first created; you can wield them adeptly, and have little to fear from the corrupting aspects of their fragmentary forms. You likely favor crystalline appearances, sewing reflective things to your clothing and delighting in gemstone jewelry.

Any Type can benefit from this Focus easily.

Minor Effect: A pulse of energy among your belongings conducts along your touch, augmenting whatever you were doing to be slightly more effective.

Major Effect: One of your Virtue Gems spontaneously activates without a need for a depletion roll, directing its power to best benefit you in the situation.

Tier One Capacity: You may carry an extra cypher safely.

Infused with Virtue: You gain an additional five points to distribute among your stat pools.

Tier Two Gembond: You are considered trained in all tasks relating to cyphers and artifacts.

Virtuous Power: Any Virtue Gems that deal damage deal one additional point when you invoke them.

Tier Three Gemseed: You may pick a single cypher you carry and embed it in your flesh, gaining the effects of it as a personal power. GM discretion on whether or not a cypher can be utilized in this fashion.

Crystalline: You gain +1 Armor.

Tier Four Virtuous: You gain +2 to each Pool, and a +1 on Recovery rolls.

Tier Five Fueled by Virtue: Whenever a Virtue Gem would be depleted, you may opt to instead move one step down the damage track instead; you cannot recovery from this state until your next ten hour rest. You may use this as many times as you like, but dead is still dead.

Tier Six Gemling: You may choose a single Virtue Gem; it becomes a permanent part of you, never suffering depletion rolls, and you additionally gain +2 to each Pool and +2 Armor.

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Exile’s Cypher: Born of the Vaal

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