Hexer Background for Cairn 2e

My pal Rio (co-host with me on Tabletopped) said that he really wanted to play a Witcher character. I asked him what he felt the core of that type of character would be and he said the potions: gathering the ingredients, brewing them, and getting absolutely wasted. So I made a background for Cairn 2e that focuses especially on potions. I also included signs.

In my hack of Cairn, I exchanged Willpower for Control (from Liminal Horror). I think I just liked the word better. And from Mythic Bastionland, I swapped HP for Guard.

Hexer

You are a monster hunter by trade, mutated by magic and chemicals, survivor of trials and brutal training. You use hexes, potions that would be lethal to any normal human, and your two swords to solve mysteries and hunt dangerous monsters. People fear and hate you, but come begging when a monster troubles them.

  • Torches (3 uses)
  • Rations (3 uses)
  • Steel bastard sword d8
  • Silver bastard sword d8
  • Herbalism kit
  • Brigandine (1 armor)
  • Medallion that hums whenever magic is nearby (petty)

What is your most famous contract?

  1. The Haunting of Highwater Manor. Quite a lot of fuss over a ghost. Start with Circle Trap (hex, tattooed on palm, petty): Any ghost or similar creature inside the circle may be affected by mundane weapons.
  2. The Werewolf of Penance Bridge. The man was embarrassed after coming to his senses. Start with silver-cloud bombs (d6 blast, cloud that blocks magical effects and powers, 3 uses).
  3. The Cursed Princess. Just a matter of trial and error of sorting out superstitions from truths. Start with White Honey (3 uses, removes all Toxicity points and potion effects).
  4. The Dead Duke’s Bastards, a gang of deserters terrorizing people on the road. Straightforward. They had it coming. Start with Mortal Venom (apply to sword, first 3 attacks are enhanced, 3 uses). Sword oils are made from monster or animal fat and a poisonous herb.
  5. The Spinner in the Crypt. A giant spider causing a nuisance for people coming to pay their respects. Take Ignite (hex, tattooed on palm, petty): Inflicts d6 fire damage. On Critical Damage, the target explodes and inflicts d6 blast damage on any nearby creatures.
  6. You have had no contracts worthy of song. Count yourself lucky. Start with Ward (hex, tattooed on palm, petty): The first time damage would take you below 0 Guard, you instead go to 0 Guard (does not give you a Scar).

What horrors have you witnessed and what potion is your specialty?

  1. In war-ravaged lands, you have come across opportunists, both monsters and humanoid. Take Black Blood (3 uses): When bitten by an attacker (STR damage), the attacker suffers the same as STR damage. Lasts 6 rounds.
  2. Too many have died before you could save them. They all blend together in your mind. Take Swallow (3 uses): Restores 1 STR per round for 3 rounds.
  3. Mobs have chased you out of more villages than you can count. Take Blizzard (3 uses): When you kill a creature, immediately make another attack or take another action. Attacks triggered by this potion also trigger this effect. Lasts 6 rounds.
  4. Petty kings have conspired against you. Take Golden Oriole (3 uses): Neutralizes and grants immunity to poisons and venoms. Lasts 6 rounds.
  5. Your investigations have taken you into the dark recesses of the world. Take Cat (3 uses): Grants infravision for 1 turn.
  6. You spent time in the fighting pits and fought your way out. Take Maribor Forest (3 uses): Add d6 to your Guard for 3 rounds.

Potions

Potions can enhance a Hexer’s fighting and tracking abilities. Add 1 Toxicity to your burden when ingesting a potion. Toxicity is removed like Fatigue. Potions contain toxins that would harm most people, but with your mutated biology, you can handle these minor effects.

Since monster-hunting requires so much planning and preparation, potion effects with duration in rounds can start counting down when combat begins. In the fiction, this can be justified by the potions taking effect when your adrenaline spikes.

To create potions, you need a strong alcohol base along with the ingredients in the recipe list below (typically a monster part and some herbs). The recipes below are only suggestions and can be altered depending on your setting. These herbs were researched using the Herbalist’s Primer by Anna Urbanek.

d14 Potion Recipe Duration Effect
1 Black Blood Corpse-eater blood, bloodroot, garlic 6 rounds When bitten by an attacker (STR damage), the attacker suffers the same as STR damage.
2 Blizzard Elemental heart, mandrake, aniseed 6 rounds When you kill a creature, immediately make another attack or take another action. Attacks triggered by this potion also trigger this effect.
3 Cat Cave-creature eye, mugwort, hawkweed 1 turn Infravision. Can see heat signatures left behind.
4 Euphoria Monster bile, mullein, deadly nightshade 3 rounds Add +d6 damage to your attacks for each Toxicity point you have.
5 Full Moon Shadow-creature essence, amaranth, black hellebore Instant Restore STR by your current Toxicity Level.
6 Golden Oriole Ghost essence, aconite, oak leaf 6 rounds Neutralizes and grants immunity to poisons and venoms.
7 Hound Monster olfactory gland, razkovniche, hawkweed 1 watch or 6 turns Heightened hearing and smell.
9 Hurricane Monster adrenaline, mullein, mandrake 1 round Your next melee attack inflicts blast damage.
10 Maribor Forest Corpse-eater bone marrow, bog myrtle, strychnine 3 rounds Add +d6 to your Guard for the duration.
11 Petri’s Philter Ghost dust, mugwort, mandrake 6 rounds Any Hex cast can be modified to any alternate form, even if you don’t know it.
11 Swallow Monster brain, foxglove, amaranth 3 rounds Restores 1 STR per round.
12 Tawny Owl Monster venom, galbanum, frankincense, mugwort 3 rounds Removes 1 Fatigue per round.
13 Thunderbolt Monster spinal fluid, lily of the valley 6 rounds Add 1 damage die to your attacks.
14 White Honey Black hellebore, heal-all, lily of the valley Instant Removes all Toxicity points and potion effects.

Damage from Poison and Venom

Due to the mutated biology of the Hexer, the character, rather than suffering harm from poison and venom attacks, will instead fill up their inventory with Toxicity points. For example, a Hexer suffers 8 STR damage from an envenomed attack. They have 3 empty inventory slots and so fill up those 3 slots with Toxicity points. The remaining 5 points hit their STR score.

Spells

Hexers cast hexes, spells that are tattooed into the palm of their off-hand. Hexes can be cast by taking a Spellburn (stored as Fatigue). Hexes do not take up inventory. Each Hex has 3 forms with different effects that do not stack. Each must be learned separately. Hexes require 1 free hand to cast.

Ignite

A wave of flames spreads out from your hand. On Critical Damage, the target is engulfed in flames. Can also be used to light a candle, torch, lantern, etc.

  1. Inflicts d6 fire damage. On Critical Damage, the target explodes and inflicts d6 blast damage on any nearby creatures.
  2. Inflicts d6+d6 blast damage.
  3. The target must make a DEX save, or else their armor is weakened (melted) by 1 armor point.

Push

A forceful wave emits from your hand, shoving the target. Can be used to extinguish flames.

  1. The target is pushed away. On a failed DEX save the target is pushed down.
  2. Targets in a close radius are pushed away.
  3. A wave of cold emits from your hand (d6+d6) and, on a failed DEX save, shoves the target down. On Critical Damage, the target is frozen solid.

Circle Trap

A circle of electric purple light appears on the ground. Lasts 3 rounds.

  1. Any ghost or similar creature inside the circle may be affected by mundane weapons.
  2. All creatures within the circle are significantly slowed. You are immune to this effect.
  3. If you spend your round concentrating, you can trigger the circle to zap a target inside the circle (d6+d6).

Ward

A glowing orange light envelops your body, protecting you from harm. Lasts 3 rounds.

  1. The first time damage would take you below 0 Guard, you instead go to 0 Guard (does not give you a Scar).
  2. As long as you concentrate on the ward without doing anything else, you suffer no damage from mundane attacks.
  3. The amount of damage you suffer from an attack is reflected back on the target as the ward explodes in a flash of blinding light.

Daze

A wave of the hand and the target becomes dazed. May be used on people but monsters are more resistant.

  1. On a failed CTRL save, the target becomes friendly toward you as long as you concentrate on the effect.
  2. On a failed CTRL save, the target becomes dazed as long as you concentrate on the effect.
  3. On a failed CTRL save, the target suffers d6 CTRL damage.

Additional notes

An older version of this had the Witcher schools in it, but I dropped those because I didn’t want them in my game and it made the Hexer less flexible to port from table to table. I decided ultimately I didn’t want to play the Witcher as a TTRPG (and also didn’t want any of my players to fall into main-character syndrome), but it turned out I liked these powers and the vibe of the Witcher enough to fit them into my upcoming open table game. Unfortunately I now have to add like 7 more backgrounds because Hexer makes 13.

Also I’m not like selling this or whatever, so this is probably fine, right? This is unofficial fan content and I think that falls under the homebrew content policy of R. Talsorian Games and the fan content policy of CD Projekt Red. Neither of these companies endorses this blog post. Anyway I’m sure their lawyers will let me know. All these years working in publishing I don’t even know what’s OK to do.

Hexer Background for Cairn 2e

2024 March 30 | |

Hexer Background for Cairn 2e

2024 March 30 |

| My pal Rio (co-host with me on Tabletopped) said that he really wanted to play a Witcher character. I asked him what he felt the...

EPUBs for TTRPG Adventures

2024 March 22 | |

EPUBs for TTRPG Adventures

2024 March 22 |

| When I started publishing adventures last year, I decided to add EPUB and HTML versions to offer options accessible to screen reader users. I was...

Six-Room Dungeon Diagram Generator, based on BSD by Traverse Fantasy

2024 January 16 | |

Six-Room Dungeon Diagram Generator, based on BSD by Traverse Fantasy

2024 January 16 |

| Based on Bite-Sized Dungeons by Marcia B.