Sometimes, there are general ideas, or suites of abilities, that could easily apply to a wide range of different creatures, and which GMs might find themselves wanting to use in a lot of different situations. These tend to be the makings of great templates. One popular trope that could easily be applied to a lot of different creatures, and will often make for an interesting encounter, is enemies that can absorb or even “eat” magic. The praecantovore template will allow you to transform just about any monster into a magic-eater that will have your characters quaking in their once-magical boots.
The name “praecantovore” refers to any creature that is capable of absorbing, consuming, or otherwise “eating” magic and magical energy. While certain specialized species that subsist on magic may technically be categorized as praecantovores, the word is most commonly used to refer to creatures that, through some combination of magical experimentation, mishap, or mutation, gain an ability to consume magic not normally exhibited by their race.
Creating a Praecantovore
“Praecantovore” is an inherited or acquired template that can be added to any creature (referred to hereafter as the base creature).
CR: As the base creature +2.
Type: If the base creature’s type is animal or vermin, its type changes to magical beast. If the base creature’s type is humanoid, its type changes to monstrous humanoid. In either case, do not recalculate its Hit Dice, base attack bonus, or saves.
Senses: A praecantovore is constantly affected as though by the spell detect magic. If the praecantovore has 7 or more Hit Dice, it is constantly affected as though by the spell arcane sight, instead, and if the praecantovore has 14 or more Hit Dice, it is constantly affected as though by greater arcane sight, instead.
Defenses: A praecantovore gains an amount of spell resistance equal to 11 + its CR. A praecantovore also gains a +2 racial bonus on saving throws made to resist spells, spell-like abilities, and supernatural abilities.
Special Abilities: A praecantovore gains the following special abilities.
Consume Magic: A praecantovore doesn’t just absorb and negate magical effects, but is actually able to consume magic, using the energy of the spell or magic item to heal itself. Whenever a spell or spell-like ability fails to overcome a praecantovore’s spell resistance, the praecantovore heals a number of hit points equal to twice the spell’s level. The praecantovore also receives this healing whenever it successfully uses its dispelling touch special ability.
If the base creature is capable of casting spells or spell-like abilities, whenever it would regain hit points in this way, it can choose to instead repurpose the magical energy to power one of its spells, regaining a single expended spell slot or daily use of a spell-like ability. The spell slot or spell-like ability regained in this way must be of a spell level equal to or less than 1/2 the spell level of the absorbed spell. A praecantovore cannot recover spell slots or uses of spell-like abilities from using its dispelling touch to suppress the properties of a magic item.
Dispelling Touch: As a standard action, a praecantovore can touch a creature or object in order to affect it as though with the dispel magic spell. Alternatively, the praecantovore can touch any space within the area of a spell with an area of effect, or can touch a creature or object that is, itself, the effect of a spell (such as a summoned creature), in order to attempt to dispel that spell. Touching an unwilling creature requires a melee touch attack, and touching an attended object worn or carried by an unwilling creature requires either a melee touch attack, a successful combat maneuver check, or a successful Sleight of Hand check, depending on the situation. The praecantovore’s caster level for this effect is equal to its CR.
Additionally, whenever a praecantovore hits a creature wearing magic armor with one of its natural attacks, the armor must succeed on a Will save (DC 10 + 1/2 the praecantovore’s Hit Dice + the praecantovore’s Charisma modifier) or the magic armor loses all magical properties for 1 minute. Similarly, whenever a creature hits a praecantovore with a magic weapon, the magic weapon must succeed on a Will save (at the same DC) or lose all magical properties for 1 minute.
Skills: A praecantovore with an Intelligence score of 3 or higher adds Knowledge (arcana) and Spellcraft to its list of class skills.
Ability Scores: Wis +4, Cha +4. If the base creature has an Intelligence score of 3 or higher, its Intelligence increases by +4.
It is possible for creatures to become praecantovores in a number of ways, but typically it is the result of either deliberate magical experimentation, or a response to an environment that, for one reason or another, becomes flooded with magic. An abundance of magical energies can often spur an increase in mutations, and it is entirely possible for areas that are subject to large amounts of magical radiation to develop praecantovores among the local populations within a few generations. Such creatures naturally have a great advantage in magic-rich environments, and tend to flourish.
Most praecantovores tend to be the result of deliberate experimentation by powerful mages to intentionally breed the trait, however. Paranoid and combative mages quickly see the advantage in minions or guardians that could shrug off and even absorb the spells of enemy mages, or seek to grant themselves these abilities directly. Such experiments have a way of ending in the subject breaking free and turning upon its masters, but rumors tell of remote wizard-lords ruling over small kingdoms with cadres of magic-absorbing soldiers.