In the lands of Oriental Adventures necromancy and anything related to the dead or death is considered evil.  This is reflected in the Maho spell list.


One of the most common means of acquiring the Shadowlands Taint is through the practice of maho, or blood magic.  Blood magic is said to be a more advanced (and deadly) form of water magic.  Spellcasters are often drawn to the study of maho as a way of increasing their magical power, giving them access to destructive spells they would not otherwise know.

A spellcaster, or adept who researches maho can learn a spell from the maho-tsukai spell list instead of her normal spell list if she makes a Intelligence (Arcana) check against a DC of 15 + the spell’s level.  This spell counts against the character’s normal spells known, and if the character is a wu jen, it counts as a spell outside the character’s favored element.

Casting maho spells carries a terrible cost, however.  Any character who casts a maho spell (a spell from the maho-tsukai spell list) must make a Constitution save (DC 10 + spell level) or increase his Taint score by 1.  The character must make this saving throw every time he casts a maho spell.

If a spellcaster has a Taint score with a negative modifier they are lost to the Shadowlands and become NPCs.  The Bloodspeakers are an evil secret society made up of such creatures.


The maho-tsukai spell list contains only a few unique spells that do not appear on the Wu Jen spell list.  Where possible explanations are provided in the list.  For more complex an unique spells a detailed description is below the list.

Bane. Enemies suffer –1d4 attack and saves.
Chill Touch. Touch deals 1d8 necrotic damage.
Cobra’s Breath*. Spit poison in a 10-ft. cone for 1d3 Con damage.
Curse Water. Makes unholy water.
Deathwatch. Sees how near death subjects within 30 ft. are.
Detect Undead.  As detect good and evil but undead only.
Doom. One subject suffers disadvantage on attacks, damage, saves, and checks.
Ghost Light*. Ghostly green radiance causes fear.
Inflict Wounds. Touch attack, 3d10 necrotic damage.
Invisibility to Undead.  As invisibility but undead only.
Spare The Dying. Stabilise a dying creature.
False Life. Gain 1d4+4 temporary hit points.
Ray Of Sickness. Range attack that does 2d8 poison plus poison status.
Poison. Touch deals 1d12 poison damage.

Apparition*. Target’s face looks terrifying; viewers may become shaken.
Blindness/Deafness. Inflicts the status on target creature.
Darkness. 20-ft. radius of supernatural darkness.
Death Knell. Kills dying creature; you gain 1d8 temporary hp.
Desecrate. Fills area with negative energy, making undead stronger.
Gentle Repose. Preserves one corpse.
Ghoul Touch. Paralyzes one subject, who exudes stench (–2 penalty) nearby.
Kiss of the Toad*. Poisonous touch deals 1d6 Con damage, repeats in 1 min.
Ray Of Enfeeblement.  Halves Strength damage on target.
Scare. One creature of the your choice within 20 feet of you must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw or be frightened for 1 minute. The target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, with disadvantage if you are within line of sight, ending the effect on itself on a success.
Spectral Hand. Creates disembodied glowing hand to deliver touch attacks.
Summon Swarm. Summons swarm of small crawling or flying creatures.
Tasha’s Hideous Laughter. Subject loses actions for 1d3 rounds.

Animate Dead. Creates undead skeletons and zombies.
Bestow Curse .  Affects an ability;  Attacks, saves, or checks.
Conjure Lesser Oni.  Conjure a manes from Jigoku to serve you.
Fear. Subjects within cone flee for 1 round/level.
Feign Death.  A death like state.
Halt Undead. Immobilizes undead for 1 round/level.
Mental Weakness*. Target suffers –4 penalty to Will saves.
Negative Energy Protection. Subject gains resistance to necrotic damage.
Speak With Dead. Corpse answers questions.
Vampiric Touch. Touch deals 3d6 necrotic damage; caster gains damage as hp.

Arcane Eye. Invisible floating eye moves 30 ft./round.
Blight.  Target creature suffers 8d8 necrotic damage.
Cloud of Taint. Damages and sickens untainted creatures.
Conjure Ape Oni.  Conjure a barlgura from Jigoku to serve you.
Conjure Shadow Oni.  Conjure a shadow demon from Jigoku to serve you.
Creeping Darkness*. Cloud of inky blackness moves at your command.
Enervation. Subject gains 1d4 exhaustion levels.
Evard’s Black Tentacles. 1d4 +1/level tentacles grapple randomly within 15 ft.
Fatigue*. Creature touched becomes fatigued.
Giant Vermin. Turns insects into giant vermin.
Heart Ripper*. Kills 1d4 living creatures with less than 2 HD.
Pain*. Inflict pain on targets, who suffer –4 on attack rolls, saving throws, and ability checks.
Phantasmal Killer. Fearsome illusion kills subject or deals 3d6 damage
Poison Water*. Transform water into ingested poison.
Polymorph. Gives one subject a new form.
Solid Fog.  Works as fog cloud but also makes terrain difficult in area-of-effect.
Wall of Bones*. Creates a bone wall that can be shaped.

Antilife Shell.  Hedge out living creatures.
Blood Fire*. Four blood missiles deal 2d8 damage each.
Circle of Doom. Deals 1d8 +1/level damage in all directions.
Cloudkill. Causes 5d8 poison damage.
Contact Other Plane. Ask question of extraplanar entity.
Conjure Vulture Oni.  Conjure a vrock from Jigoku to serve you.
Contagion. Infects subject with chosen disease.
Insect Plague. Insect horde limits vision, inflicts damage, and weak creatures flee.
Magic Jar. Enables possession of another creature.
Nightmare. Sends vision dealing 1d10 damage, fatigue.
Planar Binding. Traps outsider until it performs a task.
Slay Living. Touch attack kills subject.
Unhallow. Designates location as unholy.
Wood Rot*. Wood item or plant creature rots and becomes worthless.

Blade Barrier. Blades encircling you deal 1d6 damage/level.
Circle Of Death. Causes 8d6 necrotic damage in 60′ sphere.
Create Undead. Ghouls, shadows, ghasts, wights, or wraiths.
Eyebite. Charm, fear, sicken or sleep one subject.
Forbiddance. Denies area to creatures of another alignment.
Harm. The target takes 14d6 necrotic damage and hit point total reduced.
Repulsion. You exhale repulsion energy in a 30-foot cone. Each creature in that area must succeed on a Strength saving throw.  On a failed save, the creature is pushed 40 feet away from you.
Magic Jar.  Attempt to possess any humanoid within 100 feet

Acid Fog.  Works as fog cloud but also deals 2d6 acid/round and becomes difficult terrain.
Blasphemy. You utter a blasphemous word. Each non-tainted/evil creature within 10 feet of you that can hear the magical utterance must succeed on a Constitution saving throw or be stunned until the end of your next turn.
Conjure Toad Oni.  Conjure a hezrou from Jigoku to serve you.
Creeping Doom. Carpet of insects attacks at your command.
Destruction. Kills subject and destroys remains.
Finger Of Death. Kills one subject.
Insanity. Subject suffers continuous confusion.
Simulacrum. Creates partially real double of a creature.
Symbol. Triggered runes have array of effects.
Sword of Darkness*. Blade of negative energy attacks your opponents.
Withering Palm*. Touch attack deals 1 point Str damage and 1 point Con damage per two caster levels.

Antipathy. Object or location affected by spell repels certain creatures.
Clone. Duplicate awakens when original dies.
Animate the Blood. As dominate monster.
Horrid Wilting .  Creatures in 30ft cube take takes 10d8 necrotic damage.

Energy Drain. Subject gains 2d4 levels of exhaustion.
Implosion. Kills one creature/round.
Imprisonment. Imprisons subject within gem.
Power Word, Kill. Kills one tough subject or many weak ones.
Soul Bind. Traps newly dead soul to prevent resurrection.
Tainted Aura. +4 AC, +4 resistance, and 25 SR against good spells.
Wail of the Banshee.  You release a mournful wail. This wail has no effect on constructs and undead. All other creatures within 30 feet of you that can hear you must make a Constitution saving throw. On a failure, a creature drops to 0 hit points. On a success, a creature takes 35 (10d6) psychic damage.
Weird. As phantasmal killer, but affects all within 30 ft.


New maho-tsukai spells are described below.

2nd level illusion

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Touch
Components: V, S, M (a miniature palette dotted with paints of assorted colours)
Duration: Concentration, up to 10 minutes

This spell causes the subject’s face to appear horrible and terrifying. You can create nearly any combination of hideous features—blue skin, parrot face, elephantine nose, rotting tusks, or anything else you can imagine. You cannot duplicate the appearance of any known creature, however.

Creatures—excluding you and your allies—who view the recipient, must make successful Wisdom saving throws or become frightened.

4th-level evocation

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 120 feet
Components: V, S
Duration: Concentration, up to 10 minutes

You create a 20-foot-radius sphere of Taint cold cloying cloud of greasy darkness fog centered on a point you choose within range. The fog spreads around corners. It lasts for the duration or until strong wind disperses the fog, ending the spell. Its area is heavily obscured.

When a creature enters the spell’s area for the first time on a turn or starts its turn there, that creature must make a Constitutionsaving throw. The creature takes 5d8 necrotic damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.

Creatures are affected even if they hold their breath or don’t need to breathe.

The fog moves 10 feet away from you at the start of each of your turns, rolling along the surface of the ground. The vapors, being heavier than air, sink to the lowest level of the land, even pouring down openings.

Nezumi, Shinomen nagas, and creatures with the Shadowlands subtype are not harmed by the spell, and creatures with a Taint score are considered to have resistance against the damage this spell causes.

At Higher Levels: When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 6th level or higher, the damage increases by 1d8 for each slot level above 5th.

5th-level necromancy

Casting Time: 1 action
120 feet
V, S, M (your blood – cutting the pattern in your palm deals 2 points of damage to you)

When you cast this spell, you cut a mystic pattern into one palm with a knife and enchant your own blood creating 1 blood missile.

You can then send these missiles of blood streaking from the upturned palm, which explode on impact. Each missile hits a creature of your choice that you can see within range. A missile deals 2d8 necrotic damage to its target.  Creatures within 5 feet of a creature struck by a missile must make successful Dexterity save or take the same damage. The missiles all strike simultaneously, and you can direct them to hit one creature or several.

At Higher Levels: When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 6th level or higher, the spell creates one more missile for each slot level above 5th.

1st-level transmutaiton

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 10 feet
Components: S, M (a cobra’s fang)
Duration: Instantaneous

Your saliva changes into a virulent poison that you then spit forth in a 10-foot cone. Creatures within the cone must  must succeed on a Constitution saving throw or take 2d10 poison damage and gain the poison status affect.

At Higher Levels: When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, the damage increases by 1d10 for each slot level above 1st.

4th-level evocation

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 100 feet
Components: V, S, M (a whisker from an old black cat and a tiny bottle of smoke captured on a moonless night)
Duration: Concentration up to 1 hour

You create an amorphous cloud of inky blackness. You can shape and move the cloud as you desire during the duration of the spell if you maintain concentration on it and it remains within the range of the spell. You can move it up to 20 feet per round. It can seep through the smallest cracks and float through the air, as you desire.  Creatures whose visual organs are within the cloud cannot see by normal vision or darkvision.

The cloud also engulfs all sound within it, preventing creatures whose vocal organs are within the cloud from speaking or casting spells, and those whose auditory organs are within the cloud from hearing.  It lasts for the duration or until a wind of moderate or greater speed (at least 10 miles per hour) disperses it.

4th-level transmutation

Casting Time: 1 action, or reaction when hit or missed by a melee attack.
Range: Touch
Components: S
Duration: Instantaneous

The subject becomes fatigued, gaining 1 level of exhaustion on a failed Constitution saving throw.  The subject can negate the effects of the spell through normal rest. The creature must take a long rest to remove one level of exhaustion.

1st-level necromancer

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 120 feet
Components: V, S, M (a bit of phosphorus)
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute

You create up to four torch-sized lights of a ghostly green radiance within range, making them appear as torches, lanterns, or glowing orbs that hover in the air for the duration. You can also combine the four lights into one glowing vaguely humanoid form of Medium size. Whichever form you choose, each light sheds dim light in a 10-foot radius.

As a bonus action on your turn, you can move the lights up to 60 feet to a new spot within range. A light must be within 20 feet of another light created by this spell, and a light winks out if it exceeds the spell’s range.

The light is imbued with unearthly power, and causes fear in creatures within 30 feet of its location. Creatures in this area must make successful Wisdom saving throws or become frightened.

4th level necromancy

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 90 feet
Components: V, S
Duration: Instantaneous

With the sweep of a hand, you send invisible bolts of force surging toward the targets. Roll 5d8; the total is how many hit dice of creatures this spell can affect. Creatures within 20 feet of a point you choose within range are affected in ascending order from lowest number of hit dice to highest.

Starting with the creature that has the lowest hit dice, each creature affected by this spell dies. Subtract each creature’s hit dice from the total before moving on to the creature with the next lowest hit dice. A creature’s hit dice must be equal to or less than the remaining total for that creature to be affected.

Undead, constructs, oozes, and other creatures with no anatomy or no heart are unaffected by the spell.

At Higher Levels: When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 5th level or higher, roll an additional 1d8 for each slot level above 4th.

2nd level necromancy

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Touch
Components: V, S, F (a tattoo of a toad on your skin)
Duration: Instantaneous

Your touch becomes poisonous; inflicting poison upon a creature you touch with a successful melee touch attack. The poison deals 2d6 poison damage.

At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 3rd level or higher, the damage increases by 1d6 for each slot level above 2nd.

3rd level enchantment

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Touch
Components: V, S, F (the tail of a red fox)
Duration: 1 minute

This spell weakens the subject’s mental resistance, giving it disadvantage on Wisdom saves and weakness to psychic damage.

4th level necromancy

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 100 feet
Components: V, S, M (a live leech)
Duration: 1 minute

The target creatures with total HD not exceeding your level, no two of which may be more than 20 ft. apart are struck by wracking pains and agony on a failed Constitution saving throw. While the spell lasts, affected creatures are effectively stunned by the agony induced by the spell.  Target creatures may save to end the effect at the start of their turn.

4th-level transmutation

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Touch
Components: V, S, M (the fang of a poisonous snake and a few drops of the poison)
Duration: Instantaneous

You transform a volume of water into an equal volume of ingested poison. The saving throw DC of the poison is the same as the spell’s DC would be.  The type of poison depends on what component you have on hand and can be chosen (and procured) from the ingested poison list pg. 257 of the 5e DMG.

A maho-tsukai can use the spells lesser planar binding, planar binding, and greater planar binding to summon an oni from Gaki-do to the Material Plane. In order to do so, however, the maho-tsukai must make a bargain with the summoned oni, which always involves giving it a name — the proper name of a living person. Only such a name can give form to the oni spirit.

The person whose name is given to the oni must be present when the oni is summoned. Sharing a name binds the summoned oni and the person whose name it was given closely together—the oni’s form reflects the nature of its name, and it eventually tries to gain control of the mortal whose name it carries.

If the namer is not the maho-tsukai who cast the spell, it is the namer who bargains with the oni and attempts to exert his will over it. Each time the namer engages in a battle of wills with the oni (opposed Charisma checks), the namer adds 1 to her Taint score. If the namer rolls a 1 on an opposed Charisma check, the oni breaks free of control and attempts to kill its namer.  When the namer is destroyed, the oni’s physical form becomes permanent, and it remains free to wander the Shadowlands (if it is not already there, it travels there immediately, leaving chaos and destruction in its path.) One need only mention the names Akuma, Kyoso, Shikibu, and Tsuburu for a reminder of how dangerous summoning an oni can be.

7th level necromancy

Casting Time: 1 bonus action
Range: 60 feet
Components: V, S, M (A katana or long sword worth at least 100 gp, which is shattered against a stone while casting the spell)
Duration: 1 minute

A blade made of pure negative energy appears and attacks opponents at a distance, as you direct it. It strikes the opponent you designate, starting with one attack in the round when the spell is cast and continuing each round thereafter. It strikes as a spell, not a weapon and uses your spell attack modifier for attack rolls. On a hit the spectral blade does 3d6 necrotic damage. The target’s hit point maximum is reduced by an amount equal to the necrotic damage taken. The reduction lasts until the target finishes a long rest. The target dies if this effect reduces its hit point maximum to 0.   If the sword strikes an undead creature, it gives that creature 3d6 temporary hit points for 1 hour.

If the weapon goes beyond the spell range, if it goes out of your sight, or if you are not directing it, the weapon returns to you and hovers.

Each round after the first, you can use a bonus action to switch the weapon to a new target. If you do not, the weapon continues to attack the previous round’s target. On any round that the weapon switches targets, it gets one attack (as it does in the round when the spell is cast). Subsequent rounds of attacking the same target allow the weapon to make multiple attacks if its base attack bonus would allow it to. The sword of darkness cannot be attacked or damaged.

9th-level abjuration

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 20 feet
Components: V, S, F (a fragment of an oni’s body, such as a claw, tooth, or bone.)
Duration: Concentration up to 1 minute

A malevolent darkness surrounds the subjects, protecting them from attacks, granting them resistance to spells cast by untainted creatures, and infecting such creatures with the Shadowlands Taint when they strike the subjects. This abjuration has four effects:

First, untainted creatures have disadvantage on attack rolls against the target..

Second, the warded creatures gains magic resistance (having advantage on spell saving throws) against spells cast by creatures with neither a Taint score nor the Shadowlands subtype.

Third, The target also can’t be charmed, frightened, or possessed by them. If the target is already charmed, frightened, or possessed by such a creature, the target has advantage on any new saving throw against the relevant effect.

Finally, if an untainted creature succeeds at a melee attack against a warded creature, the offending attacker gains a Taint score of 1d3 (Constitution save negates).

7th level enchantment

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 150 feet
Components: V, S
Duration: Instantaneous

A touch from your hand can cause the target’s body to weaken and wither. With a successful spell attack, you deal 2d6 points of temporary Strength damage and 2d6 points of temporary Constitution damage to the target. If you score a critical hit, the damage from the hit is doubled and becomes permanent ability drain. If a creatures Strength is reduced to 0 it cant move and becomes paralysed. If the creature’s Constitution score is reduced to 0 it dies.

If a creature is not killed by the spell at the end of every 30 days, the creature can make a Constitution or Strength (creatures choice) saving throw against this spell.  If it succeeds on its saving throw, the spell ends. The spell can also be ended by greater restorationheal, or wish.

4th-level conjuration

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 120 feet
Components: V, S, M (a withered peach branch taken from a cemetery)
Duration: Concentration, up to 10 minutes

This spell causes a wall of bones to erupt from the earth. The wall appears within range on a solid surface and lasts for the duration. You choose to make the wall up to 60 feet long, 10 feet high, and 5 feet thick or a circle that has a 20-foot diameter and is up to 20 feet high and 5 feet thick. The wall blocks line of sight.

When the wall appears, each creature within its area must make a Dexterity saving throw. On a failed save, a creature takes 5d8 piercing damage, or half as much damage on a successful save.

A creature can move through the wall, albeit slowly and painfully. For every 1 foot a creature moves through the wall, it must spend 4 feet of movement. Furthermore, the first time a creature enters the wall on a turn or ends its turn there, the creature must make a Dexterity saving throw.  It takes 4d8 slashing damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.   Creatures behind the wall have three-quarters cover against attacks from the other side of the wall – the wall makes way for allies but attempts to deflects attacks from enemies as the caster decides.

The wall is composed of bones of many different types of creatures, fused in bizarre angles. It cannot be animated by an animate dead spell, nor communicated with via speak with dead.

At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 5th level or higher, both types of damage increase by 1d8 for each slot level above 4th.

5th level transmutation

 Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Touch
Components: V, S, M (a termite)
Duration: Concentration, up to 10 minutes

Any nonmagical wood item or plant creature you touch becomes instantaneously rotted, decayed, and worthless, effectively destroyed. If the item is so large that it cannot fit within a 3-foot radius (a large wooden door), a 3-foot-radius volume of the wood is rotten and destroyed. Wooden magic items are immune to this spell.

You may employ wood rot in combat with a successful melee attack. Wood rot used in this way instantaneously destroys 1d6 points of Armour Class gained from wooden armour or shields (up to the maximum amount of protection the armour offered).

Weapons in use by an opponent targeted by the spell are more difficult to grasp. You must succeed at a melee attack against the target with disadvantage. A wooden or wooden-hafted weapon that is hit is destroyed.

Against plant creatures, wood rot instantaneously deals 3d6 points of necrotic damage plus the casters Intelligence Modifier per successful attack. For the duration of the spell you can make one melee attack per round.


Banner art by the-rose-of-tralee.


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