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Holy Water

Every acolyte of a good church learns how to create Holy Water nearly as early as she learns to cast spells. The utility of this seemingly simple liquid cannot be overestimated. Holy Water is an anathema to undead and evil outsiders, and can easily make the difference between life and death for a prepared adventurer. Though its use is nearly universal among good churches, some specic sects and faiths have managed to create variants on the original formula for use in combating specic threats to their church.

struggle, the water font that I had been using to cool the steel was overturned, as was the box of silver I had been so carefully collecting. I had few spells prepared as it was late in the evening and I had not expected to be attacked so close to my own home; nevertheless I managed a quick prayer of blessing, hoping that Her protection would be enough to help me overcome this foe. To my surprise, the devil shrieked and smoke began to rise from the pool of spilled water on the oor! The wretched glared at me and vanished as I quickly searched for a reason. It seems clear now that this elf priest had stumbled upon the recipe for Holy Water. Though much of that journal remains illegible, destroyed by exposure to the elements, the remaining pieces of the work suggest the author discovered the simplest method to create Holy Water in a matter of days and dedicated the rest of his life to perfecting its use and documenting its effects. Almost certainly, we all owe our thanks to this nameless scholar for his research. Typical Holy Water is created by merging water, silver (powdered or shavings) and the magic of a Bless spell as bestowed by the Deity of the creator. Entire volumes have been written de-constructing the elements used in combination to create Holy Water. These volumes will not be repeated or critiqued here. Sufce to say that the essence of Holy Water is derived from the combination of all three elements, with none signicantly more important than the other. It is this simple combination of three elements that holds much of the symbolism so debated by scholars over the years. (The major theory being that each element used represents one component of the nature of creation; i.e. Good, Evil and Neutrality, or conversely; Law, Chaos and Balance.) Regardless of the reasoning, the basic recipe for the creation of Holy Water has remained constant across faiths, giving credence to the theory that water and silver play as much a role in the creation of Holy Water as the Blessing bestowed upon the elements.

History of Holy Water

Holy Water has been around nearly as long as the undead and evil outsiders it was made to combat. The rst recorded use of Holy Water seems to have been accidental. The details of the particular incident are incomplete as the record appears in a book written in Elvish by an unknown author, dated more than two millennia ago. sunrise on the fth day. As I write this I am still stunned by the events that transpired; never would I have thought that such a thing was possible I had spent more than a year casting a silver sword as a gift for Methendania, and I had been carefully collecting the shavings and scraps left over from the sharpening process so that they could be melted down and reused as I progressed. Silver is not sturdy enough for a practical weapon, but this was ceremoniala gift to commemorate our ftieth year together. As I forged the hilt in the re, my hammering drowned out the sound of the creature approaching. I turned only just in time to see him standing behind me, wicked grin spread too far across his face; a devil, the exact nature of which I did not have time to ascertain before he stuck. I dropped the hilt I had been forging back into the re and wielded my tongs to protect me from his relentless assault. During the

Let us now briey examine the component elements of Holy Water before examining the nal creation itself. Water. Water is the supreme element of the Prime Material Plane. Without it life would not exist on this plane. It is also a medium of life, every bit as important as air or even earth. (Note the continued recurrence of three elements in the symbolism.) Experimentation has shown that any type of water may be used for the creation of Holy Water; salt water from the oceans, standing swamp water, clear spring water or freshly gathered rain. It is generally accepted that fresh spring water makes the best medium for the creation of Holy Water. While unpalatable water may still be used in the creation of Holy Water, it has been demonstrated to be less effective than Holy Water created using clean or puried water. Silver. Silver is the binding medium between the Blessing and the Water. The silver must be pure and nely ground into powder or small shavings. A sufcient amount is called for, as a smaller amount has been shown to cause the creation ritual to fail. Scholars still debate the need for a specic amount of silver, while noting that using more silver than required provides no enhanced effect on the Holy Water created. Silver has a well documented advantage over other metals, in that it alone of the metals found on the Prime Material plane is capable of inicting wounds upon Outsiders and some Undead without magical enhancement. (Though due to its softness it is often mixed with stronger metals or magically enchanted to increase its effectiveness.) Blessing. The bestowal of a blessing upon the combined water and silver mixture is the nal step in the creation of Holy Water. The blessing imbues the mixture with Positive Energy allowing the Holy Water to affect creatures of Negative Energy (Undead) and Outsiders. It is believed that the water and silver together act as a medium to contain the Positive Energy bestowed by the Blessing. In essence, granting physical form to the energy of the Blessing and containing it until it is

spent against Negative Energy. Thus we have reviewed the several components of Holy Water as it is generally understood. But the purpose of this document is not merely to serve as a primer on the creation of Holy Water, but to spread the knowledge of its creation along with several variants of the typical recipe that they might be employed by those agents of the Gods combating Outsiders and the spawn of Necromancy in these lands.

Variant Holy Water

Recently, perhaps in the last 1000 years or so, other sages and scholars have experimented with similar alchemical and divine compounds with a myriad of resultsnone so universally potent as typical Holy Water, but many very specically useful against particular creatures. I will endeavor to list what I know of each of themtheir history, effects, and methods of creation.

Using Variant Holy Water

Variant Holy Waters function just as their standard counterpart. Treat this attack as a ranged touch attack with a range increment of 10 feet. A ask breaks if thrown against the body of a corporeal creature, but to use it against an incorporeal creature you must open the ask and pour the Holy Water out onto the target. Thus, you can douse an incorporeal creature with Holy Water only if you are adjacent to it. Doing so is a ranged touch attack that does not provoke attacks of opportunity.

Mundane Holy Waters

Sun Water Sun Water was originally created to aid allies of good churches in the destruction of vampires. The rst Sun Water was created for Lideon DeVarderay, a Paladin in service of the sun god, more than 1000 years ago. Lideon had been investigating a series of grisly murders near the capital city when he found two vampires feeding on a victim near the graveyard. Having slain the two creatures, he realized that those missing from the city were likely

vampires themselves and he set out to destroy as many as he could. Fortunately for Lideon, his friend was a gnomish wizard and alchemist who had an invention that made Lideons work much easierSun Water. Sun Water is a clear, faintly yellow liquid that glows as brightly as a candle. For this reason it is often carried in glass vials and used as a source of light when other sources are impractical. Sun Water is created very similarly to regular Holy Water. Water mixed with 50 gold pieces worth of gold dust is subjected to a daylight spell. This creates Sun Water, a kind of Holy Water that has no effect except on creatures vulnerable to sunlight. Against such creatures Sun Water deals 2d6 points of damage on a direct hit, and 1d6 points of damage from splash to sunlight vulnerable creatures within 5 feet. Like regular Holy Water, many churches produce this water at cost (i.e., 50gp). Turning Water Turning water was rst discovered by a priest named Julian Orthan four centuries ago. Julian had been experimenting with a door in an ancient temple that required a priest to channel positive energy into it before it would open and wondered what other potential uses stored positive energy might have. His earliest experiments included magic items that were powered by positive energy, but none were very practical. After years of research, he realized that the best use of stored positive energy was its intended use from the beginningas a means to combat the undead. Turning Water is a milky white liquid that has a slight bluish tinge. Turning Water is manufactured as a last resort against undead creatures. A pound of silver dust (5gp) is mixed with water that is then subject to channeled positive energy (a turning attempt) from a divine caster of at least 5th level. This creates turning water, a kind of Holy Water that has no effect on evil outsiders. On a successful attack undead creatures of 5HD or less are turned as though they were subject to the turning attempt themselves. Undead creatures of 2HD or less are destroyed. Undead creatures within 5 feet of the target are splashed by the Turning water and are turned if they have 2HD or less. Cost: 25gp

Magical Holy Waters

The variant Holy Waters listed below are, in fact, Wondrous Items created using the standard magic item creation rules. Some churches specically commission such items for adventurers that do not travel with a spellcaster capable of casting such spells or for those situations were spellcasting is difcult or impossible. Water of Vitality Water of Vitality was created by a dwarven cleric named Eorgix Stonegnasher for use in combating bodaks that had taken over an abandoned part of his peoples mountain. Only a few clerics could be spared to ght the menace and fewer still could risk succumbing to the bodaks death gaze. Eorgixs discovery of Water of Vitality allowed even small groups of soldiers to effectively eliminate the bodaks most potent weapon and face their enemy on more even terms. Water of Vitality is a translucent brown liquid that smells strongly of wet earth. An undead creature successfully struck by Water of Vitality cannot use any abilities that cause Energy Drain (including magical death effects or level loss) for 1d4 rounds on a failed Will Save (DC 16) or for 1 round on a successful save. Undead within 5 feet of the target are similarly prevented for 1 round on a failed save (or not at all on a successful save). Moderate necromancy; CL 7th; Craft Wondrous Item, death ward; Price 250gp Water of Freedom Water of Freedom has existed for a very long time and its origin is not entirely clear. Scholars believe that the rst Water of Freedom was actually a botched attempt to make a simple potion of Remove Paralysis. According to legend, a dose the potion was poured into the mouth of one of the inventors comrades to no effectin frustration, the inventor threw the remaining doses at the ghouls he had been ghting and quickly realized the effect that it had. Water of Freedom is a pale green liquid, barely distinguishable from normal water. An undead creature successfully struck by Water of Freedom cannot use any abilities that cause Paralysis for 1d4 rounds on a failed Will Save (DC 13) or for

1 round on a successful save. Undead within 5 feet of the target are similarly prevented for 1 round on a failed save (or not at all on a successful save). Faint conjuration; CL 3rd; Craft Wondrous Item, remove paralysis; Price 60gp Water of Manifestation Water of Manifestation was only recently discovered by an elven mage priest named Ilias when he was attempting to nd a more effective means of combating shadows that had recently been plaguing the area near his homeland. He had already been using an aspergillum in his normal services to bless those sent to ght the shadows, and when he realized the practical application such a device could have on incorporeal undead it was only a matter of time before his research produced Water of Manifestation. Water of Manifestation is a chalky grey liquid that tends to streak vials or aspergillum in which it is held. An incorporeal undead creature successfully struck by Water of Manifestation is forced to manifest on the material plane (and does not benet from the usual 50% miss chance) for 1d4 rounds on a failed Will Save (DC 16) or for 1 round on a successful save. Incorporeal undead within 5 feet of the target are similarly forced to manifest for 1 round on a failed save (or not at all on a successful save). Moderate abjuration; CL 7th; Craft Wondrous Item, dimensional anchor; Price 250gp Water of Health Water of Health was created when a potion of restoration was inadvertently used in the creation of normal Holy Water. The rst Water of Health did not seem to cause any damage to the wraith on which it was used, but the wraiths touch was rendered harmless for several seconds. After going over the events in detail after her encounter, Kyra Silvermoon realized that she had stumbled upon a new means of combating the undead. Water of Health resembles normal water, except for the ecks of silver that oat within. An undead creature successfully struck by Water of Health cannot use any abilities that cause Ability

Drain or Ability Damage for 1d4 rounds on a failed Will Save (DC 16) or for 1 round on a successful save. Undead within 5 feet of the target are similarly prevented for 1 round on a failed save (or not at all on a successful save). Moderate conjuration; CL 7th; Craft Wondrous Item, restoration; Price 250gp Water of Solitude Water of Solitude was created deliberately by a half-elven wizard named Gilaran after he had begun researching the magical Holy Waters used to combat specic undead abilities. Gilaran had allied himself with an order of paladins dedicated to slaying demons and his research undoubtedly saved many lives in that effort. Water of Solitude is crimson in color and has a texture similar to that of blood. An evil outsider successfully struck by Water of Solitude cannot use any abilities that summon creatures for 1d4 rounds on a failed Will Save (DC 22) or for 1 round on a successful save. Evil outsiders within 5 feet of the target are similarly prevented for 1 round on a failed save (or not at all on a successful save). Strong abjuration; CL 15th; Craft Wondrous Item, dimensional lock; Price 1000gp Water of Vulnerability Water of Vulnerability was rst used effectively less than a decade ago after attempts at using simple alchemical suspensions of metal shavings proved less than effective. Basing his research on alchemical silver, Bullo Dandiver was able to perfect Water of Vulnerability. Bullo had originally called his discovery Elixir of Weakness, but alchemists commonly referred to it by the name Water of Vulnerability because of its resemblance to other magical

Holy Waters. Water of Vulnerability resembles liquid mercury and is nearly as heavy. An evil outsider successfully struck by Water of Vulnerability does not benet from any damage reduction based on special materials (cold iron, adamantine, silver, and the like) for 1d4 rounds on a failed Will Save (DC 18) or for 1 round on a successful save. Evil outsiders within 5 feet of the target are similarly vulnerable for 1 round on a failed save (or not at all on a successful save). Moderate conjuration; CL 9th; Craft Wondrous Item, major creation; Price 400gp

Symbols of Blessing, Faith, Unity & Cleansing These four potent magical artifacts each act as powerful symbols of faith in their own right. Each acts as a holy relic for the faith in possession of it. Each Symbol will automatically turn any water it comes into contact with into Holy Water by merely dipping the symbol into it. Small amounts of Holy Water can be created in this manner. (Up to twenty-ve vials per day.) A larger amount of water may be turned into Holy Water for a short duration. A small pond or fountain can be turned into Holy Water for ten rounds. After ten rounds the water reverts to its normal state. A larger body of water such as a large pond or small lake could be transformed into Holy Water for ve rounds. If all four of these artifacts are joined, creating an intricate holy pattern that can be afxed to a staff or large mace, they Symbols act in concert turning any water the relic comes into contact with to Holy Water. Legend speaks of this occurring only once when an incursion of Outsiders, numbering many thousands, were turned back when a diverted river was transformed into a raging torrent of Holy Water. Minor Artifacts; CL 15th; Craft Wondrous item; major creation, bless water; Price 65,000gp

Mundane Items
Aspergillum The aspergillum is a perforated container at the end of a handle used to sprinkle Holy Waters. It resembles a mace and often has a button that must be depressed for the water to be released. Using an aspergillum to deliver Holy Water makes readying a dose a free action (rather than a full-round action to ready a vial) and can deliver the dose as a melee touch attackeven against incorporeal creatures. Reloading the aspergillum with a new type of Holy Water is a full-round action, but an aspergillum can hold up to two doses at once. Both doses must be Holy Water of the same type.


Throwing Holy Water
Holy water can be an effective weapon when used against lesser undead and weaker evil outsiders. It deals a decent amount of damage (2d4), does not allow a save, requires only a touch attack to hit, and provides a minimal amount of splash damage to boot (1 point). In addition, no prociency is required for its use. However, holy water is somewhat awkward to use in battle, because once you throw a vial, you have to retrieve another before you can attack again. Retrieving a stored item is a move action, which means you can retrieve a vial of holy water and throw it in the same round, but you cannot retrieve another vial until you next turn (since you have used a move action and an attack action in your holy water attack).

Magic Items
Mace of the Heavens The Mace of the Heavens is an aspergillum, reinforced to be sturdy enough for combat. The Mace of the Heavens functions as a +1 heavy mace and can prepare a dose of standard Holy Water for delivery with a command word as a move action ve times per day. Only standard Holy Water can be produced, and the Mace of the Heavens cannot be loaded with Holy Water manually. Moderate conjuration; CL 5th; Craft Magic Arms and Armor; major creation, bless water; Price 16,795gp

This also means that you will never be able to take advantage of your iterative attacks to throw more than one vial of holy water in a round. That is the impetus for the Splash Weapon Mastery feat, presented below. SPLASH WEAPON MASTERY [General] You are adept at throwing splash weapons, such as vials of holy water, acid or alchemists re. Prerequisites: Dex 13, base attack bonus +1. Benet: You can retrieve a stored splash weapon as a free action, as long as you have one hand free. You also gain a +1 bonus on ranged touch attack rolls when using a splash weapon. Normal: A character must use a move action to retrieve a stored item. This feat allows you to move and attack with a splash weapon in the same round. The +1 bonus to the attack roll is provided because the feat would be underpowered without it. Splash Weapon Mastery also allows you to throw two vials of holy water in a round, if you receive two or more attacks in a round when using the full attack action.

Another situation in which holy water can be advantageous is when members of your party have already engaged the opponents, and you are within throwing range. In such a situation vials of holy water are the best missile weapon to use, because they cannot hurt your allies. Firing arrows into melee has its risks, and other splash weapons do as well. But holy water hurts only undead and evil outsiders. So long as you allies are neither, you cannot damage them with your splash weapon attacks. If youre in a 10-foot wide corridor, and the two ghters in front of you are engaging zombies in melee, this is a perfect time to lob vials of holy water. Your allies will provide cover for the opponents, but this is mitigated by your attack being a touch attack, ignoring any armor bonuses the enemies might have.

Other Uses for Holy Water

The uses for holy water beyond a splash weapon are quite limited, due to the minimal amount of splash damage (1 point). Trying to land a direct hit with a splash weapon attack is therefore usually the best strategy, unless you have a number of lesser undead bunched together closely. You could empty vials of holy water on the oor of a building or dungeon in an attempt to keep undead and evil outsiders at bay. But since they would likely only take 1 point of splash damage when crossing such a square, this strategy is of limited use unless you have a narrow passage to defend and a lot of holy water to use. By dousing yourself with holy water before entering into melee, you referee may allow you to cause splash damage if you grapple with an undead or evil outsider. This does not mean that actively trying to grapple the opponent is a sound strategy, since you would be giving up your normal attacks. But it can come in handy if the opponent tries to grapple you. Your referee may also allow a weapon doused with holy water to cause an extra point of damage per hit against undead or evil outsiders for a few rounds, before it wears off. END

Tactics for Throwing Holy Water

Without the Splash Weapon Mastery feat, using holy water in battle greatly restricts your movement. You will only be able to take a 5-foot step in a round in which you retrieve a vial and throw it. It is therefore best to use holy water in one of two situations: before closing for melee, and when another party member is engaging the enemy. Holy water has a range increment of only 10 feet when used as a splash weapon, which means that if you try to throw it at undead 30 feet away (for instance), you will take a -4 penalty to your attack roll. This penalty is mitigated by the fact that it is a touch attack. A typical humanoid zombie only has a touch AC of 9, making it an easy target for a splash weapon. Retrieving a stored item normally provokes an attack of opportunity. This is another reason to throw a volley of holy water vials before closing with the enemy. The advantage of attacking touch AC rather than regular AC is mitigated when you provoke attacks of opportunity when doing so.

Written by Dennis Mohr & Iain Fyffe


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Modern System Reference Document Copyright 2002, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.; Authors Bill Slavicsek, Jeff Grubb, Rich Redman, Charles Ryan, based on material by Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams, Richard Baker, Peter Adkison, Bruce R. Cordell, John Tynes, Andy Collins, and JD Wiker.


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