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All Rules in Possession

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What is Possession?

Source Occult Adventures pg. 205
True possession is when a creature displaces or overrides the target’s consciousness with its own, establishing direct control over the target’s body. The Pathfinder RPG features several effects that are often conflated with possession. The section below describes several possession and possession-like effects and the differences between them.

Domination: Dominate spells are often confused with possession, as they produce superficially similar outcomes. However, domination and possession are not the same. Domination is mind-control, enslaving the target’s mind and forcing it to carry out the caster’s will; thus, the caster doesn’t directly control the target’s body. The target’s dominated mind merely carries out a mandate given by the caster with the means, knowledge, and experience it has available.

Spell Possession: Prior to Occult Adventures, the primary source for possession mechanics in the Pathfinder RPG was the magic jar spell. Magic jar allows the caster to detach her soul from her body and place it in the body of another creature, displacing the host’s soul and leaving the caster’s own body essentially “empty.” Like possession, these effects belong to the necromancy school of magic, as befits magic that manipulates life force and souls. This is true possession, as the end result is control of the host’s body rather than the mind. The marionette possession spell operates under an identical principle, but does not displace the host’s soul because the target cedes control to the caster willingly.

These forms of possession carry great risk for the caster. The caster has no means of survival without a body to inhabit, so if her soul is ejected from the host’s body while her own body is out of the spell’s range, the caster dies instantly. The possession spell presented in this book follows similar rules to magic jar and marionette possession, but with a few key differences. Possession does not displace the host soul when the possessor seizes control of a creature’s body. Additionally, the caster does not perish instantly if her body is outside the spell’s range when she is ejected; the range on the possession spell pertains only to the distance the caster can be from her intended target at the time of casting. Once ejected, the caster’s soul snaps back to her body from any distance, so long as it remains on the same plane.

Incorporeal Possession: Ghosts, shadow demons, and similar creatures do not possess physical bodies— they are simply disembodied souls. They use the rules below to govern the interaction between their mental characteristics and their hosts’ physical forms. Such a creature merges with the host’s body and is unharmed when ejected. Creatures that use magic jar can often use the new possession spell instead.