Investing In: Aberration Powers

Look at you. So confused, brimming with power. Yet still a shadow of what you will become.” – the Dream character1

I – along with almost everyone I know – is absolutely loving Baldur’s Gate 3. Kudos to Hasbro for finding an amazing group to trust with their trademark/ruleset in Larian Studios. The characterization, the story, the dialogue, the fun combats… I’ll start off by saying very light spoilers. If you’ve watched the trailer or played any of the game you know what I’m about to discuss. Any social media whatsoever usually reveals some of the primary antagonists as the trailer made clear. That’s as far as we go. And why is that important? Well I was inspired to make something for Pathfinder2E.

So scroll down for some minor spoilers but some hopefully exciting rules to try out!

The illithid powers are quite tempting. I’m currently taking them with my main character but I may try a run through without them at a later date. As with any game I’m playing I think how I might use them for my Kingmaker game or at least Pathfinder in general. Well I decided the powers could be reflected with some feats and I thought what better than a set of Deviant Abilities! The thought of course is to use these to flavor any aberrant influence that your character might desire. I was of course inspired by Baldur’s Gate 3 but also the Fleshwarp ancestry. I struggled a bit on the backlash, finding inspiration from the existing Deviant options. I made the moderate backlash a little harder to remove while the severe possibly easier to avoid or resist as you’ll see below.

I also made a small rules addition. There are some Awakening options that have a number. That means in order to take Awakening 2 you must first take Awakening 1. Now a GM may wish to tweak these and that’s their choice. I am no rules publisher and impostor syndrome aside, I’ve not fully playtested these so don’t come at me about balance too hard. Do of course come at me with how you’re using them, tweaking them, or think they need balancing. I certainly tried while reviewing what would be available at what level or the investment you’d need to take to get to a certain Awakening. Also of course, there’s the backlash to think (worry?) about.

Deviant Abilities – Aberration

The Dark Tapestry is filled with maddening things, and their occult energies permeate the universe. Whether you were exposed to the unknowable or you’ve had frequent encounters with an aberration, your body and mind change with these deviant abilities.

Backlash: Corrupting Influence

Aberrations are not of this world and over time, you are less and less of this world yourself. Their influence changes you in one or many ways. The way you view others is never the same.
Mild Backlash: A physical manifestation of the corrupting influence becomes clear. Maybe you drip odd liquid, your tentacle thrashes about, or dark veins spread across your face. This imposes a -2 circumstance penalty to charisma-based skills until you next make your daily preparations. This penalty does not apply to aberrations unless they are hostile toward you as they’re amused by your changes. It is recommended to tailor the physical manifestation based upon your quirks or the type of aberrant influence
Moderate Backlash: Your body craves a nourishment outside of mundane norms. You are enfeebled 1, clumsy 1, and fatigued 1 until you consume a sentient creature’s flesh, typically their brain. It is recommended to tailor this based on the type of aberrant influence.
Severe Backlash: Psychic power from the Dark Tapestry or beyond rushes out from you in an uncontrolled burst. You deal 1d6 mental damage per level to all creatures with a mind in a 30-foot emanation with a basic Fortitude save. You automatically take full damage without attempting a save. This is a mind-affecting effect.

Related Feats

Aberrant Physiology
Feat 2
Traits: Rare, Deviant
You’ve developed a physical characteristic that you can use as a weapon. When you select this feat, you gain a claws unarmed attack that deals 1d4 slashing damage and has the agile and finesse traits; a horn, jaws, or tusk unarmed attack that deals 1d6 piercing damage and has the versatile S trait; or a tentacle unarmed attack that deals 1d4 bludgeoning damage and has the finesse and reach traits. Each of these unarmed attacks is in the brawling weapon group. Your features are mutable; you can select this feat at any level, and you can retrain into or out of this feat or change the type of attack you gain.
Awakening: Gain an additional attack from the options above.
Awakening: Choose one attack form. Small sacs and pores or grooves produce a venom. This attack form deals 1d4 persistent poison damage, which increases to 2d4 at 10th level and 3d4 at 18th level.

Aberrant Spellcasting
Feat 2
Traits: Rare, Deviant, Magical
You gain an innate ability to produce psychic effects. This spellcasting comes naturally and instinctively to you, rather than from training. Choose two cantrips from the occult list. You gain access to the Cast a Spell activity and can cast these spells as occult innate spells. You’re trained in occult spell attack rolls and spell DCs. If you have a hand free, you can usually replace material components with somatic components, so you don’t need to use a spell component pouch. Your key spellcasting ability for these spells is Charisma.
Awakening 1: If you used the Awaken Power feat or this is your first time Awakening this deviant feat, you gain the Basic Spellcasting benefits as per Basic Captivator Spellcasting but the spells must be enchantment or mind-affecting.
Awakening 2: If you already have the previous Awakening ability, and used the Greater Awakened Power or are at least 10th level, you gain the Expert Spellcasting benefits as per Expert Captivator Spellcasting but the spells must be enchantment or mind-affecting.

Tentacle Grasp
Feat 4
Traits: Rare, Deviant
Prerequisites: Aberrant Physiology
You gain greater control of your tentacle(s). You gain a new option when attacking. You can use Grab as a free action triggered by a hit with the tentacle’s attack. You still have to spend an action to extend the duration for creatures you have already grabbed.
Awakening: You can use your Tentacle Grasp to deflect ranged attacks, granting you a +1 circumstance bonus to AC unless you are grabbing someone or have used it to attack this round.
Awakening: You no longer have to spend an action to extend the duration of creatures already grabbed.

Mind Shielding
Feat 4
Traits: Rare, Deviant
Prerequisites: Aberrant Physiology or Aberrant Spellcasting
Whether through increased mental fortitude or fundamental changes to your brain, something protects your mind from intrusion. You gain a +2 circumstances bonus to saving throws against mind-affecting effects.
Awakening 1: The bonus increases to +3.
Awakening 2: Should you pass the effect, you may choose to turn the effect back on the originator of it as a reaction.

Psychic Devourer
Feat 6
Traits: Rare, Deviant, Magical
Prerequisites: Aberrant Physiology
Your body’s transformation is twisting in dangerous ways. When you critically hit with your Aberrant Physiology attack, you can attempt to devour the target’s mental energy. The target must succeed at a Will saving throw. This is an occult innate spell.
Critical Success: the target is unaffected
Success: As failure but half damage and the target is not confused.
Failure: The target takes extra damage equal to your level and becomes confused for 1 round.
Critical Failure: The target takes damage as a Failure and instead becomes paralyzed for 1 round. This effect has the Incapacitation trait.
Awakening: Terrible power courses through you. On a success the target is stunned 1.
Awakening: Small teeth, hooks, or a serrated edge cause 1d4 bleed on a failure or 1 bleed on a success. The 1d4 bleed is the same for a critical failure.

A Taste of Oblivion
Feat 6
Traits: Rare, Deviant, Magical
Prerequisites: Aberrant Spellcasting
Your occult spells are tinged by the energies of the Dark Tapestry and the creatures from the space between the stars. When you deal damage with a mind-affecting spell, you can expend a Focus Point to weaken the target’s mental defenses as a free action. The target takes a -2 circumstance penalty to Will saving throws for 1 round. This is an occult innate spell.
Awakening: The occult energies grow stronger, increasing the penalty to -3.
Awakening: If the target fails or critically fails the spell save, they also take 1d4 persistent mental damage as their mind erodes from your assault.

Eater of Dreams
Feat 8
Traits: Rare, Deviant, Magical
Prerequisites: Psychic Devourer
You develop a psychic hunger. When you successfully devour a creature’s mental energy with Psychic Devourer, you regain hit points equal to the extra damage dealt.
Awakening 1: If you are already fully healed, you gain temporary hit points equal to the extra damage dealt instead.
Awakening 2: If the target failed or critically failed against the Psychic Devourer effect, the next mind-affecting effect against the target counts as a success one degree higher.

Thought Sever
Feat 8
Traits: Rare, Deviant, Magical
Prerequisites: Tentacle Grasp
Your mastery over mental energy allows you to sever thoughts and memories. While you successfully have a target grabbed with Tentacle Grasp, you can spend an additional action to inflict the Confused condition on the target for 1 round. The target makes a basic Will save. This is an occult innate spell.
Awakening 1: The target is also stunned 1.
Awakening 2: Instead of the Confused condition for 1 round, the target is subjected to the Confusion spell.

Cerebral Feedback
Feat 8
Traits: Rare, Deviant, Magical
Prerequisites: Aberrant Spellcasting
Your mind has evolved to a complex state or churns with unknowable secrets. When you succeed at a saving throw against a mind-affecting effect or spell, you may use a reaction to have the originator take mental damage equal to your level. Additionally, you can expend a Focus Point to reroll a failed saving throw against a mind-affecting effect. You must use the new result.
Awakening 1: You may choose which result to use.
Awakening 2: You do not have to use a reaction to trigger this effect.

Along The Surface
Feat 10
Traits: Rare, Deviant
Prerequisite: Aberrant Physiology
Your body grows small cilia or suction-like cups that allow you to cling to surfaces with ease. You gain a Climb Speed of 15 feet.
Awakening 1: Your Climb Speed increases to your base speed.
Awakening 2: You ignore difficult terrain whenever you Stride.

Flay the Mind
Feat 10
Traits: Rare, Deviant, Magical
Prerequisites: Aberrant Spellcasting
You have found it increasingly easy to affect weaker minds. When you cast a mind-affecting spell that targets a single creature, as an additional action you can expend a Focus Point to deal additional mental damage equal to your spellcasting ability modifier and trigger a Paralyze effect as the spell on the target. This is an occult innate spell.
Awakening 1: Two minds can not compare to your mental might. You can affect up to two targets as part of a spell that affects more than one creature or an area.
Awakening 2: Multiple minds are no matter. You can affect up to five targets.

Aberrant Domination
Feat 10
Traits: Rare, Deviant, Magical
Prerequisites: Aberrant Spellcasting
Your mastery over lesser minds allows you to dominate them with ease. Once per day as an action, you can attempt to Dominate (as per the spell) a creature you have affected with a mind-affecting spell that round. This is an occult innate spell.
Awakening 1: You may use this ability once per day and then more that day by spending a Focus Point.
Awakening 2: The Dominate effect loses the Incapacitation trait.

Psychic Convergence
Feat 12
Traits: Rare, Deviant, Magical
Prerequisites: Flay the Mind, Aberrant Domination
Your psychic powers converge, allowing you to overwhelm a single target. Once per day as a free action, when you successfully dominate a target with Aberrant Domination, you can immediately cast a mind-affecting spell on that target. This spell must be two actions or less to cast normally and not from your highest level of non-cantrip Deviant spells.
Awakening 1: You may use this ability once per day and then more that day by spending a Focus Point.
Awakening 2: The spell may be one of your highest level spells or a cantrip.

I hope you’re investing in the fun of Baldur’s Gate 3, but if not then I hope you’ll enjoy a taste of aberrant power with these feats.  Truly interested to hear your thoughts on them or how you’re using them.  I really liked the Corruption rules of Pathfinder1E and I think Deviant feats are a way to capture that.  We need more!  And, should I make any more in this line especially to capture all the kinds of powers you can get with the illithid powers track then I’ll be sure to update here.

Investing In:

I wasn’t quite sure what to name my article series when I first started but the idea of showcasing or discussing things that make me excited, that I find new and interesting, or maybe I’m otherwise passionate about seemed to fit with the idea of Investing In something like the Pathfinder 2E mechanic. To use some magic items you have to give that little bit of yourself, which helps make these things even better. I like the metaphor of the community growing and being strengthened in the same way!

I also want to hear what you’re Investing In! Leave me a comment below about what games, modules, systems, products, people, live streams, etc you enjoy! You can also hit me up on social media as silentinfinity. I want to hear what excites you and what you’re passionate about. There’s so much wonderful content, people, groups (I could go on) in this community of ours that the more we invest in and share, the better it becomes!


Banner – Gen Con 2023 program book cover, Gen Con, image by Lauren Brown

  1. A quote from the Dream character, Baldur’s Gate 3, Larian Studios
  2. Lost Soul, Creative Commons Attribution, Ethan Harris

Rob Pontious

You may know Rob Pontious from Order of the Amber Die or Gehenna Gaming's first series of Monster Hearts 2. He currently writes Know Direction's Investing In blog as well as a player for the Valiant podcast and Roll for Combat's Three Ring Adventure. He's been a lover of TTRPGs for over three decades, as a gamer, and a GAYMER. You can find him on social media as @silentinfinity.