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Turns an object into a receptacle for the caster's soul, which can then possess bodies that are near the object.

Original D&D[]

Debuted in Men & Magic, for the magic-user.

  • Spell Level 5

Houses the caster's life-force in some object within 3". The life-force can attempt to possess a creature within 12" of the object (the creature is allowed a save). If the possessed creature is destroyed, the life-force of the caster returns to the object, and from there can attempt another possession or return to the body of the caster. If the magic-user is destroyed, the life-force can also return to the object. If the object is destroyed, and the body the caster is currently inhabiting is destroyed, the magic-user is totally annihilated.

AD&D 2e[]

Magic Jar[]

Spell Level: 5 Rarity: Common
Schools (Mage): Necromancy, Mentalism
Components: V, S, M (a gem or large crystal)
Range: 10 yds/lv Casting Time: 1 rd
Duration: Special Saving Throw: Special
Target: 1 creature

When this spell is cast, the caster's soul inhabits the material component (as long as it is within range), which is the magic jar. The caster's original body drops into a state of suspended animation, alive but inactive. The body can even be slain, and the caster may survive as long as it has a magic jar in which to dwell. On the round casting is completed, the caster cannot take any other action.

Within the magic jar, the caster can sense the presence of life-forces on the same plane within a 10-ft./level radius. The caster can sense a difference of four levels/HD, and can determine if the creature is positive energy-based (like most living creatures) or negative energy based (like the undead). From their magic jar, the caster can attempt to take over the bodies that these life-forces may occupy by spending one full round to make the attempt. The caster can target stronger or weaker creatures, but cannot target a specific creature.

An attempt to possess a creature requires one full round, and attempts are blocked by protection from evil (regardless of the caster's alignment), or similar. The target is allowed a save vs. spell to resist the effect. The saving throw is modified by subtracting the combined Intelligence and Wisdom scores of the target from those of the caster (creatures without Wisdom may use Hit Dice instead).

  • If the difference is -9 or less, add +4 to the target's save.
  • If the difference is -8 to -6, add +3 to the target's save.
  • If the difference is -5 to -3, add +2 to the target's save.
  • If the difference is -2 to 0, add +1 to the target's save.
  • If the difference is +1 to +4, do not modify the save.
  • If the difference is +5 to +8, the target takes a -1 penalty on their save.
  • If the difference is +9 to +12, the target takes a -2 penalty on their save.
  • If the difference is +13 or more, the target takes a -3 penalty on their save.

On a failed save, the target's life-force is confined to the magic jar, while the caster's life-force inhabits the target's body. While in a host body, the caster knows rudimentary or instinctive knowledge, but doesn't automatically know things that the creature has learned in life (ie, languages or spells or class abilities). The caster does retain their own knowledge, alignment, and abilities, and they retain their own Intelligence and Wisdom scores. The caster can even cast their own memorized spells using the host body, as long as they have the necessary components and the body is humanoid. The host body has its original hit points and physical abilities. The DM can apply other effects as necessary (for instance, an alien form might result in clumsiness or slowness). By spending one round, the caster can freely move between their host body and the magic jar (as long as the jar is within the 10-ft./level sensory range).

A dispel magic cast on the host body has a base 50% chance (+/- 5%/level of the caster's difference) to hurl the caster back into the magic jar and prevent them from making any attacks for 1d4 rounds + 1 round per level of the dispelling creature. A dispel magic (with the same chance of success) cast on the magic jar itself will force the life-force within into their own body. If the host body is slain, and the magic jar is within range, the life-force of the caster can return to the magic jar, and the life-force of the host body dies. If the host body is slain outside of this range, both the host's life-force and the caster's life-force die. Any life-force with nowhere to go is slain, though it can be restored to life via any method that restores the dead to life. However, if the magic jar is slain with the caster's life-force inside (even if their original body or a host body remains), the caster is slain irrevocably.

The spell lasts indefinately, but ends if the caster is ever returned to their original body.