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This is an article about arcane magic and the scars it can leave on a person. I wanted there to be a way to simulate the strange magical special effects that seem to accompany  so many magic users in books and film but seem to be out of reach for characters in your standard D&D game. This system works well in camapigns with low or rare magic or could be used as an idea generator to add flair to an npc mage. 

Arcane magic is a particularly puzzling mystery. No other magic is as destructive and dangerous, yet no other magic has influenced the world as much. Arcane magic can change people. It turns bright-eyed young boys to crafty and manipulating sorcerers or power mad mages and young girls into cold steel wielding masters of magical warfare or dark-eyed wyrd sisters of the deep wood. No wielder of arcane magic escapes their spellcasting life unscarred by the powers they possess and most of them bare at least one telltale sign of the work they do. These signs are commonly called witchmarks. The witchmarks are usually harmless, permanent magical scars that magic users (and sometimes unlucky non-magic using folk) gain during their spell casting life. Most witch marks are basically harmless but some can be a life-altering curse.

Witchmarks are gained in several ways none of them very common there is a chance however that any boost on spell casting power can mark a spellcaster. Sometimes they are gained because of magical accidents. Sometimes a single spell can leave a person marked. A character’s chances of getting witchmarks are as follows:
* Characters have a 1% chance per arcane caster level attained, rolling each time a level is gained.
* If a Character rolls a natural 1 on a spell save against an arcane spell they must roll to see if they gain a mark. The chance of gaining a witchmark in this way is 1% times the level of the spells caster.
* A character caught in the blast of dead mage’s magical release has a 1% chance times the level of the caster to gain a witchmark

Common Witchmarks
The following list is meant to serve as examples of the effects witchmarks can have. The DM decides which witchmark is most appropriate under the circumstances of its acquisition but feel free to make suggestions on what you feel would be appropriate or just plain cool. Each witchmark idea is followed by a few examples to get your creative juices flowing.

* A strange but faint sound accompanies your spellcasting (tinkling bells, wolfs howl, whispers)
* You always faintly smell like a particular scent (jasmine, wet earth, sulfur, cinnamon)
* Eyes glow a particular color
* Skies darken when you cast a spell
* Always slightly cool around you
* Wind rustles in response to you emotions
* Your shadow looks like an animal or monster
* You have a single bestial feature (a single cloven hoof, short horns, snake’s tongue, feathers instead of hair)
* Nighttime fog in your vicinity
* Your eyes are a solid color (bright red, glossy black, pearly white)
* Your skin has a greenish or yellow tint
* All your hair turns iron gray, ivory white, or falls out
* Your body glows with eldritch power when you cast a spell
* Animals seem to understand the things you say and react accordingly
* Your clothing and armor mend themselves
* Any cloak you wear slowly writhes of its own volition and feels its’ surroundings lightly
* You never seem to get wet even after a heavy rain or swim
* You leave faint after images when you move that fade away quickly
* Your hair stands on end crackling with static whenever you cast an evocation spell
* Random images from your dreams manifest themselves while you sleep as harmless illusions
* Your skin changes to a random color or turns chalk white
* Your hair changes to a random color or grows to a much longer length
* Your fingers lengthen and gain another bone or grow long black fingernails that are painful to cut
* You grow an abnormally large nose or one of your eyes grows bigger than the other
* All of the flesh on a part of your body turns permanently invisible leaving only the bones visible
* Your voice has a hollow echoing quality to it
* Normal animals can see you even when invisible
* Your spellbook’s pages turn for you
* You look much older than you actually are

Witchmarks are not meant to be a punishment or an unfair boon but a way to differentiate arcane magic users from the world around them. They tread a dangerous path and witchmarks are just the least of the hazards of the mages profession. In game mechanical terms witchmarks may add at most a +2 or –2 to certain Charisma based skill checks if the situation is deemed appropriate. However sometimes they can be serious drawbacks that the mage must work to overcome.

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