From The Blackhawk's Domain by Michael Estrueon:
It was past midnight when the Watchknights came. I knew nothing of them or their motives, only that they wanted one of my compatriots. We fled from the inn, the smoke from the Watchknight fog bombs streaming out the windows. They must have known what we were planning, for the sentries were already waiting for us in the alley. My companions tried to fight through their ranks, but their numbers were vast, and one by one they fell to the blades and truncheons of the sentries. Finally, only the sorceress Mysine and I remained. We fled through the alleys, but sentries waited for us at every juncture, their steel longspears glinting in the dim moonlight.
We must have taken a wrong turn, for we suddenly found ourselves facing a dead end, the Watchknights close behind us. I knew that Mysine had yet to memorize her spells for the day, and between us we lacked the combat skills necessary to fend off the sentries. I was terrified beyond my capacity for reason, muttering curses to myself, but Mysine remained calm.
The sorceress lifted her arms skyward, a determined yet peaceful look on her face. Suddenly, her features twisted into an expression of pain. The color drained from her face, and for a moment I moved to catch her, fearful that she'd faint. However, she maintained her stance. A gentle light engulfed her, growing brighter by the moment until it was almost blinding. She muttered something barely perceptible, and the light shot skyward. The guards glanced skyward - it was the last thing they'd ever do. There was a flicker, a surge of flame, and the sentries were gone, reduced to ash.
The Lifebound Mage is a mage who has learned to transform her life energy into magical energy. Obviously, this is not a discipline to be taken lightly - many Mages have overestimated their own capacities and killed themselves during combat. To those who recognize the risks, however, the path of the lifebound mage can grant exceptional versatility and power.
This discipline originated in a heretical sect of followers of the death power Falsgrade. Followers of the Inexorable are a morose group in general, but the Dual Nature sect went beyond the normal reverence of Flasgrade's stewardship. They studied the connections between life and magic and the nature of the Negative Energy Plane, hoping to unravel the secrets of immortality and ascendancy.
Ultimately, the members of Dual Nature were captured and executed by Falsgrade for seeking unholy wisdom and defiling the sanctity of the dead. All of their writings were gathered and destroyed, save one scroll which was carefully hidden. This was the Scroll of Spiritual Command, which contained a method by which energies could be transformed into a universal force and shaped by will.
Years later, long after the Dual Nature sect was forgotten, the Scroll was found by a wandering necromancer. The wizard showed the Scroll to the Lifebound necromancer circle, who applied it to their own discipline - learning to shape their life force into magic by will alone. This new form of magic drew tremendous support, and soon the Mages had guild halls in every city. Though many distrusted the Mages, no one would ever dare speak against them, lest they face the wrath of a wizard who was willing to sacrifice himself for greater power.
Hit Die: d4
Skills: Spellcraft 6 ranks, Knowledge (arcana) 10 ranks
Feats: Skill Focus: Knowledge (arcana), Toughness
Special: Must be capable of casting 5th-level arcane spells.
The Lifebound Mage's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Decipher Script (Int), Knowledge (all) (Int), Profession (Wis), Spellcraft (Int).
Skill Points per Level: 2 + Int modifier.
|1||+0||+0||+0||+2||Spirit Casting (Level 0); Psychic Ritual||+1 level of existing spellcasting class|
|2||+1||+0||+0||+3||Spirit Casting (Level 1)||+1 level of existing spellcasting class|
|3||+1||+0||+0||+3||Spirit Casting (Level 2)|
|4||+2||+1||+1||+4||Spirit Casting (Level 3)||+1 level of existing spellcasting class|
|5||+2||+1||+1||+4||Spirit Casting (Level 4)|
|6||+3||+1||+1||+5||Spirit Casting (Level 5)||+1 level of existing spellcasting class|
|7||+3||+2||+2||+5||Spirit Casting (Level 6)|
|8||+4||+2||+2||+6||Spirit Casting (Level 7)||+1 level of existing spellcasting class|
|9||+4||+3||+3||+6||Spirit Casting (Level 8)||+1 level of existing spellcasting class|
|10||+5||+3||+3||+7||Spirit Casting (Level 9)||+1 level of existing spellcasting class|
All the following are class features of the Lifebound Mage prestige class.
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Lifebound Mages gain no new weapon or armor proficiencies.
Spells per Day/Spells Known: Each level except 3rd, 5th and 7th, the Lifebound Mage gains new spells per day as if he had also gained a level in an arcane spellcasting class he belonged to before adding the prestige class. He does not, however, gain any other benefit a character of that class would have gained (improved chance of controlling or rebuking undead, metamagic or item creation feats, hit points beyond those he receives from the prestige class, etc.) besides an increased effective level of spellcasting. If a character belonged to more than one arcane spellcasting class before becoming a Lifebound Mage, he must decide to which class he adds each new level.
Spirit Casting: The Lifebound Mage’s true power lies in his ability to transform his own life force into magical energy. A 1st level Mage may cast any cantrip in his spell book by expending 1 hit point. This spell need not be memorized, but it must be available to the Mage. Spells cast by expending life energy are not wiped from the Mage's memory. Each level after the first, the Mage gains the ability to cast another level of spells by expending life. The HP cost of casting a spell above 0-level is equal to 4 times the spell level. Note that material components and XP costs still must be paid for all spells, and that no Mage can ever use Dark Casting to cast a spell that he couldn't cast as a wizard of equivalent level.
Psychic Ritual: By reversing the ritual, a Lifebound Mage may transform latent magical energy into life energy. As a standard action, a Mage may expend a 1st level or higher memorized spell and recover an amount of hit points equal to 3 times the spell level.