Just in case, spoilered below is a description of the antagonist from Castle Amber (1981), room 34, the Throne Room:

Princess Catherine, a 13th level magic-user, was warned by a premonition seconds before the [otherwise important for this encounter] devastation struck. She managed to save herself by magic jarring into her throne [which is legit in ]. Since nothing survived the devastation [except her, obviously], she has been stranded in the throne ever since. She will attempt to [possess] one individual who enters the room (roll randomly to determine which character). Princess Catherine is both evil and hopelessly insane due to her disembodied ordeal.

There is only a 50% chance on the first round she takes possession of a body that the body can be effectively controlled, because she has been without a body for so long. Each round thereafter, the chance to control the body increases by 10% until either the body is under control or Catherine’s soul is destroyed. Once a body is controlled, Catherine can use the body to cast the spells she knows and attack. (12)

I'm aware this encounter difficult, but I'm also unsure how to convert this encounter to .

  • What effect or combination of effects sees this encounter's antagonist ending up in the situation described?
  • What effect or combination of effects sees this encounter's antagonist using her special abilities to harry the PCs in the way similar to the situation described?

It's okay if the antagonist's class, race, and other details differ from the original, but the closer the antagonist remains to the original, the better. (The campaign's predicated upon giving participants a solid sense of the modules used for the campaign, so the fewer deviations are good.) Further, I'd like to avoid wholesale creation of unique effects like spells and creatures—I'm trying to avoid making it up myself and, instead, want to use existing material. Finally, if psionics are either the only way or the best and easiest for the antagonist to function in this situation, so be it, but be kind: I'm not really a psionics dude, so if it's complicated, go slow.


4 Answers 4


Best Option I Can Think Of?

OK - I think I have it. It will take 2 spells, and two metamagic feats.

First she procures the gems for Magic Jar, and a separate gem for the Trap the Soul spell. She puts the gems into the throne, making sure the Trap the Soul gem is touching the Magic Jar gems, so she will know exactly where her Magic Jar gems are when it comes time to cast that spell. Then she casts Trap the Soul on trapping herself in the Trap the Soul gem.

By casting magic jar, you place your soul in a gem or large crystal (known as the magic jar), leaving your body lifeless.

To cast the spell, the magic jar must be within spell range and you must know where it is, though you do not need line of sight or line of effect to it.

Her plan would be to ride out the cataclysm in the Gem using Trap the Soul. Then take over someone else's body with Magic Jar, and have them smash the Trap the Soul gem, bringing her back in corporeal form. She would only have so many Magic Jar spells memorized though, which would make her very desperate. You can assume she did the experimentation beforehand to make sure her plan would work.

There is no word about if you can cast silent stilled spells while soul trapped, but why not? And I think it is reasonable to further assume if the Trap the Soul gem is touching the Magic Jar gem then she would be able to use her material focus for Magic Jar. Depending on how loose you want to play it, the Trap the Soul gem could be anywhere really, but somewhere within walking distance of the duration of the Magic Jar spell makes the most sense. She would still want to keep the Magic Jar gems in a place where they will be found, as possessing someone is part of her plan.

This would make for a motivated NPC encounter. Tell the possessed PC they get an in game benefit if they get the gem smashed - say a special feat or extra xp, then let them play the NPC. Her soul sole goal when possessing an NPC would be to smash that damn Trap The Soul gem. Maybe the possessed PC just silently leaves the party to go smash the gem in another room. It also makes sense in game. With the removal of permanent mind switching aspect of Magic Jar, there is not much point to her possessing anyone, unless she wants them to do something - like smash the gem she is trapped in.

Pathfinder Option

Have a Spirit Jar built into the throne

Making the Throne a Creature Option

Intelligent magic items can be considered creatures. So if the throne were an intelligent magic item, True Mind Switch and other psionic shenanigans would work.

Intelligent items can actually be considered creatures because they have Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma scores. Treat them as constructs. Intelligent items often have the ability to illuminate their surroundings at will (as magic weapons do); many cannot see otherwise.

Or consider this non psionic option:

It would take 5 spells, one from the Spell Compendium, and two Metamagic Feats.

  • She gets a Permanent Magic Fang cast on herself. Note: Any method of getting a permanent magical effect will work.

  • She casts Body of War on herself. She now has the construct type and is an intelligent magic item. Note: Any method of getting the construct type will work (prestige classes, race, grafts, or templates for example)

  • Someone (or her if not using Body of War) casts Polymorph Any Object on her to turn her into an intelligent magical throne (that has sensors can read her spellbook to relearn Magic Jar as needed, see into the throne room, and get line of effect to the Magic Jar gems), incorporating the Magic Jar gems into her new form. Since she is of the same kingdom, type, size, and intelligence this is permanent.

  • To gain a new body, she can now cast a Stilled Silenced Magic Jar on people who enter the Throne Room.

    By casting magic jar, you place your soul in a gem or large crystal (known as the magic jar), leaving your body lifeless. Then you can attempt to take control of a nearby body, forcing its soul into the magic jar. You may move back to the jar (thereby returning the trapped soul to its body) and attempt to possess another body.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Unfortunately, the magic jar spell in 3.5e has a duration of 1 hour/level and, if the original body is dead or out of range when the duration expires, so does expire the caster's life force. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 23, 2017 at 12:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you using Pathfinder? If not would a Pathfinder magic item be OK? \$\endgroup\$
    – JWT
    Aug 23, 2017 at 15:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd rather not have to dip into Pathfinder stuff, but if the effect can't be duplicated by 3.5e material, I wouldn't be utterly adverse. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 23, 2017 at 15:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ Using trap the soul on herself? That's nuts… and really interesting! I'm not sure, however, if she could use the gem that's trapped her soul as the focus for the magic jar spell, though, and, if she can't, she then can't employ the spell magic jar from inside the gem in which she's trapped: "You do need line of effect from the [focus] jar to the creatures" you want to affect. Maybe needs something about focuses? Anyway, I +1ed for cool and making me think! \$\endgroup\$ Aug 23, 2017 at 16:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'll remove the previous answer - it does not work for a couple of reasons. \$\endgroup\$
    – JWT
    Aug 23, 2017 at 17:02

A straight-up ghost can handle most of the requirements here, as long as it never comes out of the ethereal plane. A standard ghost is going to be able to do a lot of things that are not available to the antagonist, but it looks like you might be able to cobble together the right collection of "you have these powers but not those powers" out of ghostwalk feats instead.

Alternately, using psionics, Mind Switch True (lvl 9 telepath power) could work at creating the current predicament. If the throne was in some way an immortal but nonmoving creature, Mind Switch True could swap their minds. If her body died at that point, she'd be left trapped in the target body, having lost a level but still alive.

You could handle the initial use of the power as a dorje (scroll-equivalent), which would save you from having to justify how or why the antagonist was able to manifest it in the first place.

The antagonist would need to have a fairly high level of Use Psionic Device skill, or be of the correct class, but you can use Use Magical Device instead if you're going with the magic/psionics transparency optional rule.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I was considering her having employed a 1-use item of the true mind switch power (available in a variety of obscure flavors, really), but I, too, got stuck on the throne-as-creature part. I +1ed anyway, but maybe someone's Comments can help with this part? \$\endgroup\$ Aug 23, 2017 at 15:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ (You needn't spoiler stuff in answers. It should be enough for readers of the question to know by the question's spoilers whether they want to scroll down or not.) \$\endgroup\$ Aug 23, 2017 at 15:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ When using spoilers, please don't spoiler the entire post. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 23, 2017 at 15:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan It's easy enough to thoughtlessly click through to the latest change for a question-page rather than the title, or to see it in a review queue, or some other way of going directly to an answer post; spoiler markup is designed to prevent accidental spoilers due to just using the site normally, so given entry points that load the answer directly, it's still worth doing. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 23, 2017 at 15:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie The problem here is that the entire thing basically is a spoiler. The encounter is based around its subject in two or three different ways. Picking one arbitrary bit of it to spoiler doesn't do a whole lot as far as saving someone from being spoiled overall. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben Barden
    Aug 23, 2017 at 15:41

I think you can do this with just a normal ghost. A ghost gains "one to three" special attacks; you can choose just the special attack "malevolence":

Once per round, an ethereal ghost can merge its body with a creature on the Material Plane. This ability is similar to a magic jar spell (caster level 10th or the ghost’s Hit Dice, whichever is higher), except that it does not require a receptacle. To use this ability, the ghost must be manifested and it must try move into the target’s space; moving into the target’s space to use the malevolence ability does not provoke attacks of opportunity. The target can resist the attack with a successful Will save (DC 15 + ghost’s Cha modifier). A creature that successfully saves is immune to that same ghost’s malevolence for 24 hours, and the ghost cannot enter the target’s space. If the save fails, the ghost vanishes into the target’s body.

Most of the other text you're trying to duplicate seems to be statements about the villain's psychology, which can be true in 3.5e just as easily as in your original system. Perhaps the ghost has gone mad with desire-to-be-in-a-body-again and thus doesn't employ its attack spells against the party (until it has possessed one of them). The ghost's inability to attack effectively in the first few rounds could similarly be an effect of its psychology.

It might be a good idea to have the ghost use greater invisibility on itself before trying to possess party members, just to avoid the situation where the first attack fails and then everyone blasts it before it can do its thing.

The Monster Manual is a little bit vague about how ghosts work -- there seems to be a lot of individual variation. I did find this text:

A ghost’s behavior usually matches its life. The spirit of a miserly person, for example, might continue to hoard wealth even though it has no use for such treasures. Similarly, a ghost is generally tied to the place where it died. If the aforementioned miser had died in a robbery, the ghost might remain in the counting house, tormenting the new owner and all who do business there. This is not a hard and fast rule, though—many ghosts wander freely.

and this text:

As a rule, the only way to get rid of a ghost for sure is to determine the reason for its existence and set right whatever prevents it from resting in peace. The exact means varies with each spirit and may require a good deal of research.

So you'll have to make up the specific reason why this ghost is tied to this object and can be vanquished by destroying the object. Doing so is well within the scope of creating a ghost, though, and doesn't seem to require unusual exercise of DM power.


The Binding spell has a potentially permanent duration and could have been used by Catherine to save herself from the calamity as described, with just three minor problems:

1) the binding spell is dismissable

2) the binding spell is not castable by a 13th level magic user (barely).

This can be solved by her having cleverly used a scroll of binding to dodge her imminent destruction, but that scroll having been cursed so as to not be dismissable (or maybe someone else cast the spell for her and then died. You have options). The method of binding should probably be minimus containment, with the vessel being the throne. A throne isn't really terribly container-like but it does sort of work, and maybe her incredibly tiny form could be seated upon it, if you're up for changes, otherwise it could just be too small to see.

When the party enters, she casts Magic Jar, and then keeps trying until she takes over somebody's body, trapping the person she swapped with in her doll-like/microscopic form. Her spells known should be something like:

6- Circle of Death
Summon Invisible Stalker (as Shambler, but 1 8HD Invisible Stalker instead, and you can exceed the one-week duration if you don't mind it killing you in your sleep. Basically, the Invisible Stalker spell from OD&D can be retained without issue as a 6th level spell. Some support for this idea can be found here, where someone left the spell as is when converting a 2e campaign to 3.5)

5- Magic Jar
Baleful Polymorph
Break Enchantment
Contact Other Plane

To handle the extra spell, have Catherine's Crown Jewels (conveniently hidden within her throne) function as a Knowstone for one of these spells (est. value 25K gp, which is twice the original value of that hoard, unfortunately. Restrictions on usage to lower the value may be appropriate)

4- Animate Dead
Dimension Door
Detect Scrying

3- Invisibility Sphere
Hold Person
Haste, if you're okay with using the 3.0 version (i.e. extra action each turn) Otherwise replace it with something more useful for action economy manipulation, like Celerity + Quick Recovery feat, and take Dispel Magic as the third level slot, losing Detect Scrying

2- Darkvision
See Invisibility
Detect Thoughts

1- Hold Portal
Comprehend Languages
Charm Person
Nystul's Magic Aura
Feather Fall

0- Light
Detect Magic
Arcane Mark
Ghost Sound
Mage Hand
Read Magic
Detect Poison

This conversion assumes that Sorcerer is a better fit for Princess Catherine, but you could make a conversion for a Wizard instead, which would be nearly identical except that, lacking a spellbook and material components, Catherine would be unable to cast most spells and unable to prepare any should she cast any. However, she would also possess a 7th level spell slot, and at least two 7th level spells, one of which should certainly be Drawmij's Instant Summons, and an additional gem in the secret compartment of the throne, among the Crown Jewels, should be a saphire worth at least 1000 gp which she can crush to retrieve her spellbook.

The sorcerer version, like the original, should magic jar into one of the party members, then 1d2ish rounds later TPK with Death Spell/Circle of Death. The new version needs to chain Magic Jar, though, in order to truly ecspe, so her new tactics go something like this:

Round 0: Magic Jar into one of the throne's decorations all sneaky like. Round 1: Possess a PC. Keep trying till it works. Round 2: Try to Magic Jar again, with a different cheap decorative gem. You might not be able to because bodies are weird. Keep trying til you do. Round 3: Possess a different PC, while the others are freaking out about how one of them just suddenly died with no warning.

Round 4-end of combat: Kill 'em all! Show regard for personal safety only if you got a really sweet new body you actually like (female, similar ethnicity to Catherine's old body, right height, etc). Otherwise, if you die, you just grab a new body via the spell, which hasn't ended yet, returning to the 'dead' PC if the party succeeds on enough Will saves, and then just Magic Jar-ing again. You've got 6 5th level slots, so you get 6 times the number of PCs minus one attempts at getting a body you can keep before you have to start wasting 6th level slots that would be better spent on Circle of Death, or Invisible Stalker if the PCs are 10th level or higher.

When the party is incapacitated: If the party is incapacitated, bind helpless or kill any bodies connected to currently-trapped PC lifeforces, Then break the first Magic Jar gem after moving its body far enough away that doing this kills the PC, which ends the relationship between the binding body and that first body you took. Move the first body back into range afterwards. Then bind your current body helpless, and end the second Magic Jar, returning you to the unbound first body, and the second prisoner to the bound body you had been using. Do with the second prisoner whatever you want, and resume rulership of Castle Amber (and probably try to figure out who was responsible for the whole everyone-dying thing way back when, and maybe get a greater restoration to help with the PTSD).


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