Character Classes


Between mortality and godhood, beyond life and undeath, souls exist in a place both forgotten and inaccessible. Mortals too strong-willed to pass into the afterlife, dead outsiders too powerful to be absorbed into their planes, the dreams of slain deities put to rest eons before the current age - these are the beings called vestiges. A seal forms the door between these beings and reality, and knowledge is the key to opening it.

Only the binder possesses that key, because only he knows the vestiges' special seals and the rituals by which they can be called from the void beyond reality. By drawing their seals and speaking the words of power, he summons these strange entities, bargains with them, and binds them to his service.

As a binder, you can serve many purposes in an adventuring party. Since each vestige grants you a different set of supernatural abilities, you can choose which role to play on any given day - diplomat, scout, support, melee combatant, or ranged combatant. At higher levels, you can host more than one vestige at a time to gain an even wider range of abilities. You also gain special defenses and bonus feats that let you further refine your role in the party and play to your strengths.


The binder can redefine his role in an adventuring party on a daily basis, if desired. His potent abilities are always useful in combat, but what those abilities are and what strategies he employs when using them depend on the vestige that he binds. As with any class, the race, alignment, and ability choices made upon character creation influence future choices. The binder class, however, offers a special opportunity to break free of a spellcaster's typical boundaries.

A binder typically possesses a healthy body and a strong personality, since high Constitution and Charisma scores can improve many of his supernatural abilities. More importantly, a high Charisma score enhances the binder's ability to make beneficial pacts with vestiges. Since many vestiges grant improved melee or ranged combat ability, a high Strength or Dexterity score serves the binder well. Lastly, a high Intelligence score grants him extra skill points to spend on important class skills.

Because binders associate with spirits beyond the control of the gods, the practice of pact magic is forbidden by most religions. Binders tend to be rare among all humanoid races. Given their ambition and their penchant for a cosmopolitan lifestyle, humans choose the path of the binder more frequently than members of other races do, but binders are no more welcome in human society than in any other. Many halfling traveling communities remain largely unaware of binders, but settlements often gain knowledge of them - and learn to fear them - from the clergy of other races in neighboring areas. Because single deities dominate the cultures of both elves and dwarves, members of these races tend to be more aware of - and more opposed to - binders than their fellow humanoids. Gnomes who know of binders claim that Garl Glittergold appreciates the cosmic joke of mortal souls that grow so powerful that they can be neither saved nor damned. Half-orcs and half-elves, accustomed as they are to existing on the fringe of society and suffering persecution, sometimes even sympathize with the plight of binders.

Although vestiges were once beings of light and darkness like all creatures of the planes, their long existence in a strange state beyond normal reality has twisted them into enigmatic and amoral entities. However, their nature does not dictate the alignments of those who bind to them. A fearsome and violent vestige can lend its powers to a good binder, who uses them to make peace with enemies. Conversely, a sweet-faced and kind vestige might grant an evil binder the power to wreak havoc. In some cases, the same vestige might make separate but simultaneous pacts with two binders who are in direct conflict with one another.

Vestiges are not easily defined as good, evil, lawful, or chaotic, but their unfathomable mindsets and strange appearance often disturb lawful and good creatures. Thus, most binders are neutral, chaotic neutral, chaotic evil, or neutral evil.


Others might misunderstand your powers, but you can't allow their shortcomings to stop you. You know that contacting the vestiges isn't an evil act, and you've never traded your soul for any sort of benefit. However, you can't afford to be too open about your activities, or those who fear your form of magic might learn something truly terrifying - your magic is easy.

You don't need to spend hours studying incomprehensible writings, beg for boons from a distant deity, or have magic in your blood. With the proper seal and the necessary personal power, you can call up a vestige and gain its abilities with just a few words. The situation does sometimes get more complicated, and you haven't figured it all out yet, but you're certain that your path to power lies with the vestiges - creatures so strong that even the gods can't contain them.

You are well aware that others like yourself exist. The process of summoning a vestige is so simple that you've probably met other practitioners without even knowing it. All it takes is the knowledge and the will to complete the process, so any kind of person could conceivably speak with the same spirits that serve as your patrons. You must always watch for the signs and be wary of other binders. Although they could be valuable sources of knowledge, they might also be enemies.

You might engage in adventures for many reasons, but amassing personal power is generally your primary concern. Certain vestiges refuse to answer the call of novice binders, and a desire to contact them and gain their powers often motivates your escapades. Perhaps you took up a life of adventure after fleeing persecution. After all, your activities and powers seem foreign and frightening to many people, and various religious sects consider contacting a vestige a sacrilege.

Because you have the means to speak directly with powers beyond the reach of most deities, you tend to scorn the worship of such beings. At the same time, your strength flows from creatures expatriated from the rule of those deities, and for that reason, you fear inciting the ire of a god or his worshipers. Although you are unlikely to take up a cleric's raiment, you find it convenient to pay homage to gods and show outward respect for their servants.

You need to be especially careful around paladins, clerics, and others devoted to a deity. Such individuals are likely to have the worst reaction to your abilities, though they might not be informed enough to have an opinion. Wizards, sorcerers, and other arcane spellcasters appreciate the power you can gain, but consider their own magic superior. Characters of any class tend to mistrust you if they actually see you summoning a vestige, but open-minded individuals value your worth as an ally no matter how you achieve your power.

When you're not hosting a vestige, you're not a great melee or ranged combatant. Your combat skills are roughly comparable to those of a cleric without spells, except that you lack the cleric's proficiency with shields and medium and heavy armor. Making a pact with a vestige can easily make up for this deficiency.

The mix of abilities that vestiges offer you lets you define your role in each day's encounters. For example, you could make a pact with a vestige that makes you stealthy so that you can scout ahead and take foes by surprise. You could bind with one that lets you take on the role of a stalwart fighter who can use arms and armor with skill. Alternatively, you could decide to be a silver-tongued speaker, winning the hearts and minds of friend and foe alike. At higher levels, you can make a pact with more than one vestige at a time to gain even greater versatility in combat and roleplaying encounters.

You profit most from remaining a binder throughout your career. Each level of the binder class increases the power you gain from making a pact with a vestige; you gain other class abilities at higher levels as well. As you advance and establish your role in the adventuring party, you might find yourself using one or two vestiges more than others. In that case, consider taking a level or two in another class to supplement the abilities the vestige grants you. For example, if you often find yourself in melee, a level of barbarian or fighter might help to make you more effective. On the other hand, if you regularly act as your group's spokesperson and scout, a level of rogue might be appropriate.


Binders put the allure of the forbidden into the hands of players, allowing them to participate in occult-style activities without forcing them to play evil characters. At the same time, the reaction that most religious organizations have to binders can reveal a darker side to the clergy of good-aligned deities while creating opportunities for great roleplaying.

A binder typically begins his day by finding a quiet, out-of-the-way place to summon the vestige whose power he desires. He then spends the rest of the day engaged in whatever task seems most pressing while trying to avoid too much contact with others. Although many binders are adept at social interaction, a vestige's influence can affect his personality. The bound spirit's sign also manifests on his body unless he has the means to prevent it. When not adventuring, binders often spend their time seeking out scraps of information about vestiges and other soul binders. The pursuit of such forbidden knowledge is often quite dangerous and can result in the binder undertaking additional adventures.

Binders generally avoid accepting followers or serving in leadership positions because a high-profile station draws too many eyes. Yet the charismatic and mysterious nature of most binders draws others to them like moths to flame, so binders often develop friendships with outcasts, rebels, curious youths, and others who feel they don't fit in or aren't fond of the status quo. By actively strengthening these bonds of friendship, a binder can create secret networks of allies and spies who will alert him to threats and aid him in times of danger. Local authorities rarely see these groups as simple gatherings of friends. The binder's allies are often involved in other clandestine dealings that spell trouble for the whole network.

Because of the secrecy surrounding vestiges and the constant attempts to quash all knowledge of soul binding, few binders become notable in their communities. Even so, most who pursue this class know of Syfal, the mythic individual who is said to have first discovered the means of contacting vestiges. Syfal's name appears in almost every text about vestiges, though whether he is invoked as a patron saint of the practice or cursed as a foul defiler of the universal order depends on the writer's viewpoint. No one knows for certain who or what Syfal was, or even when he lived, but the age of some carvings about him found in ruins indicates that he must have lived and died millennia ago.

Without an obvious champion for their practice, many binders look to history for signs of famous folk who might secretly have pursued this profession. Legends are replete with great heroes and villains who possess strange powers, and many a binder takes comfort in the belief that an admired individual spoke to the same vestiges that he contacts every day.

Binders rarely work in groups, but an individual binder who gathers a small circle of friends occasionally chooses one or two of them as apprentices. Such a group might eventually grow into a cabal of a dozen or so people whom the binder has taken into his confidence. In general, cabals of this sort exist solely to protect the binder and to seek out rumors and hints relating to other binders or vestige lore. Rarely, such a cabal grows into a larger organization, such as the Theurgian Society.

Most people have an indifferent attitude toward binders because they know very little about what such individuals do. Even those who gain a basic understanding of binders' powers typically view these individuals with the same respect or fear that they view conjurers or necromancers.

The situation changes radically when religion comes into the equation, however. The leaders of most organized religions are aware of binders to at least some degree. Most choose to keep that knowledge secret, lest the common clergy and worshipers learn of powers beyond the reach of their deities. Occasionally, a church even maintains a secret arm of its organization to seek out and eradicate binders. Such a force usually possesses a small library of texts describing vestiges and the practices required to summon them, so that its leaders can teach members to recognize the signs of pact magic and train them to defeat binders. Ironically, books stolen from such libraries introduce many future binders to pact magic. In fact, many binders began their careers as clerics before the promise of a swift means to power seduced them to the path of pact magic. This attrition is one reason why clerics, paladins, and other religious people who know about binders react to them in an unfriendly or hostile manner.


Characters with ranks in Knowledge (arcana) or Knowledge (religion), or who have the bardic knowledge ability, can research binders and pact magic to learn more about them. Also, although religious groups try to quash the stories of binders, bards often find the intrigue and romance of pact magic so alluring that they can't resist sharing the tales of it, if only with other bards. When a character makes a skill check or a bardic knowledge check, read or paraphrase the following, including the information from lower DCs. A character with ranks in Knowledge (the planes) can also gain some information about binders, though each of the DCs below increases by 5 for such checks.

DC 15: Certain strange spellcasters called binders practice a taboo art known as pact magic. Most clerics who know of binders consider them little more than heretics but grudgingly acknowledge that they are real. These spellcasters routinely contact otherworldly forces and make pacts with them for power. A particular sign, seal, or name is associated with each spirit.

DC 20: Binders contact vestiges - souls that have been lost to the gods and planes, and banished to some hidden place. A binder calls forth these spirits and makes pacts with them. In exchange for allowing the vestige to experience life through his body, a binder assumes some of its powers. Many churches outlaw this practice of pact magic. Some even mark its practitioners for death.

DC 25: Binders aren't true spellcasters - they and the spirits they summon work outside the normal flow of magic. The powers they gain and the vestiges they host can't be dispelled or banished by normal means.

DC 28: Characters who achieve this level of success know the legend, manifestation, sign, and seal of one or more particular vestiges. They also know the basic powers that the vestige grants (the first paragraph beneath the vestige's name and title in its entry).

DC 30: Characters who achieve this level of success can learn important details about the specific binders in your campaign, or the arm of a church responsible for finding and eradicating users of pact magic. Also, such a character could learn the specifics of the powers that a particular vestige grants.

A character trying to establish contact with a binder or an organization opposed to such individuals can make a DC 30 Gather Information check to discover the necessary intermediaries and protocols for contact. Talking directly to a binder or member of an opposing group won't work, because both are likely to feign ignorance. A PC who can offer something of value (such as information or a magic item) to the person or people he is trying to contact gains a +2 circumstance bonus on the check.


Binders fit easily into just about any game simply because their existence has remained largely a secret. You can introduce binders through the PCs' discovery of ancient lore, a chance meeting with an NPC binder, or an encounter with agents of a church seeking out a binder. Perhaps your group's introduction to pact magic comes when a player sits down to play her new binder PC. In any case, using binders in your game requires little more than simply putting one into play.

The player of a binder character probably thrills at dancing on the dagger's edge of discovery by the authorities. Hiding the signs of soul binding, controlling a vestige's influence, and finding explanations for supernatural abilities make for fun roleplaying, so the player will be looking for such opportunities. At the same time, the player of a binder character might find continual persecution tiresome and grow disillusioned if public use of her character's abilities always provokes a negative reaction.

The best solution is to keep in mind that those who hunt binders generally want to keep their efforts - and even the existence of binders - a secret. Although the conflict between binders and those who fear them could explode at any time, in most cases it simmers under the surface as a cloak-and-dagger conflict. Therefore, a game that includes a binder PC can function in much the same way as it does now. You can occasionally present side plots, adventures, and encounters that focus on the binder's class and abilities, just as you would for any other member of the adventuring party.

You can significantly change the binder's role in your game without dramatically changing the mechanics. For example, binders could devote themselves to beings other than vestiges. To lend binders a darker or lighter feel, you could have them contact and bind themselves to fiends or celestials. Binders related to a particular religious or secular order could bind themselves to the spirits of saints or heroes. The process of soul binding could even be a totemic rite that lets a binder call up ancestors or the essential spirits of creatures by drawing upon the power of special tattoos or talismans. When changing the focus of a binder's pact making, you can keep the mechanics of the class largely the same, though you might want to change the influences of the vestiges (or whatever beings you choose) to suit their new natures.

A binder can function as an ally or a villain, but even as an ally, he's likely to be secretive and suspicious of the PCs. If a binder is encountered in a social setting, he might not be bound to a vestige unless he is expecting trouble, since showing signs is likely to invite trouble. A binder angered by the PCs might quietly flee and then return for revenge a few minutes later. With no significant limits on the use of their abilities, binders typically try to use their most powerful attacks first.

EL 8: Morden(CN male dwarf binder 8) disregarded his people's taboos, abandoned their traditions, and embarked upon a heretical path in pursuit of the power of pact magic. A nonconformist in the purest sense, he enjoys shocking others and acting counter to their expectations, but he always does so with a grin so that they know he's sharing the joke with them. Morden exudes a charming confidence even in the direst circumstances, and he's always willing to befriend a foe.

PCs might encounter Morden while he searches for pact magic lore in a city or a ruin. Alternatively, he might have offered his services as a mercenary and accepted payment to fight the party. Morden prefers to surprise his foes. If he can, Morden moves adjacent to an enemy before beginning battle, using Focalor's breath to blind a target affected by his aura of sadness. On the following round, Morden employs Sudden Ability Focus and Empower Supernatural Ability in conjunction with fire breath. Charge attacks and lightning strikes follow until Morden regains use of his other powers.

Alignment: Any.

Hit Die: d8.

Class Skills

The binder's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Bluff (Cha), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Decipher Script (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Gather Information (Cha), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge(arcana) (Int), Knowledge(history) (Int), Knowledge(religion) (Int), Knowledge(the planes) (Int), Profession (Wis), and Sense Motive (Wis).

Skill Points at 1st Level: (2 + Int modifier) x 4.

Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 2 + Int modifier.

Table: The Binder

Level Base
Special Maximum
1st +0 +2 +0 +2 Soul binding (1 vestige) 1st
2nd +1 +3 +0 +3 Pact augmentation (1 ability), suppress sign 1st
3rd +2 +3 +1 +3 2nd
4th +3 +4 +1 +4 Bonus feat 2nd
5th +3 +4 +1 +4 Pact augmentation (2 abilities) 3rd
6th +4 +5 +2 +5 Soul guardian (immune to fear) 3rd
7th +5 +5 +2 +5 4th
8th +6/+1 +6 +2 +6 Soul binding (2 vestiges) 4th
9th +6/+1 +6 +3 +6 Soul guardian (slippery mind) 4th
10th +7/+2 +7 +3 +7 Pact augmentation (3 abilities) 5th
11th +8/+3 +7 +3 +7 Bonus feat 5th
12th +9/+4 +8 +4 +8 6th
13th +9/+4 +8 +4 +8 Soul guardian (immune to energy drain and negative levels) 6th
14th +10/+5 +9 +4 +9 Soul binding (3 vestiges) 6th
15th +11/+6/+1 +9 +5 +9 7th
16th +12/+7/+2 +10 +5 +10 Pact augmentation (4 abilities) 7th
17th +12/+7/+2 +10 +5 +10 8th
18th +13/+8/+3 +11 +6 +11 Bonus feat 8th
19th +14/+9/+4 +11 +6 +11 Soul guardian (mind blank) 8th
20th +15/+10/+5 +12 +6 +12 Pact augmentation (5 abilities), soul binding (4 vestiges) 8th
Class Features

All of the following are class features of the binder.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: As a binder, you gain proficiency with all simple weapons and with light armor, but not with shields.

Soul Binding (Su): Through special methods known only to binders, you can contact a vestige and make a pact with it. At 1st level, you can make a pact with one vestige at a time. At higher levels, you can form and maintain pacts with multiple vestiges simultaneously, as shown on Table: The Binder. You must complete the summoning and binding process with each separately, so each has its normal chance to influence you. You bear the physical sign of binding for each one. Your effective binder level, or EBL (your binder class level plus any soul binding bonuses you receive from prestige classes or other sources), determines the maximum level of vestige you can summon, as well as all other functions related to binding vestiges. This value equates to your binder class level, as given on Table: The Binder, for this purpose. If the vestige you are trying to contact is of a higher level than your indicated maximum, you cannot summon it.

To contact a vestige, you must draw its unique seal visibly on a surface (generally the ground), making the image at least 5 feet across. Drawing a seal requires the ability to mark a surface and 1 minute of concentration, and the act provokes attacks of opportunity. A seal not used within 1 minute of its drawing loses all potency, and you must draw a new one to contact the vestige. A vestige might also have other requirements for contact, as noted in its entry (see The Vestiges).

Once the seal is drawn, you must perform a ritual requiring a full-round action to summon the corresponding vestige. During this time, you must touch the seal and call out to the vestige using both its name and its title. The ritual fails if you cannot be heard (for example, if you are within the area of a silence spell). Otherwise, a manifestation of the vestige appears in the seal's space as soon as you finish the ritual. This image is not the actual vestige; it is merely a figment - an illusion that cannot harm or be harmed by any creature. Creatures that interact with the image or study it carefully automatically recognize it as illusory. The summoned image ignores everyone but you. If you fail to address it within 1 round, it disappears. The vestige speaks in whatever language you used to call it.

To make a pact with your summoned vestige, you must make a binding check (1d20 + your effective binder level + your Cha modifier). This process requires 1 minute, but you can choose to make a rushed binding check as a full-round action at a -10 penalty. The DC for this check is provided in the description of each vestige. You must make your perilous pact alone; others cannot aid you in any way.

Whether the binding check succeeds or fails, you gain the powers granted by the vestige for 24 hours. During that time, you cannot rid yourself of the vestige unless you possess the Expel Vestige feat. Success or failure does, however, determine other aspects of the pact. If you fail the binding check, the vestige influences your personality and your actions, and you are said to have made a poor pact. (Specifically, the vestige's presence changes your general demeanor, and it can force you to perform or refrain from certain actions.) If your binding check is successful, the vestige has no control over your actions and does not influence your personality. In this case, you are said to have made a good pact.

While under the influence of a vestige, you must adhere to its requirements to the best of your ability. If you are conscious and free-willed, and you encounter a situation in which you cannot or will not refrain from a prohibited action or perform a required one, you take a -1 penalty on attack rolls, saving throws, and checks until that vestige leaves you. If you are influenced by more than one vestige, you must act according to all their influences. If you fail to fulfill the requirements of more than one vestige or disobey a single vestige more than once, the penalties stack.

As long as you are bound to a vestige, you manifest a specific physical sign of its presence, as given in its entry. This sign is real, not an illusory or shapechanging effect, and someone using true seeing perceives it just as it is. You can hide a sign by mundane or magical means without penalty, or you can prevent it from appearing at all if you have the suppress sign ability.

Vestiges are bound to your soul by the pact. They cannot be targeted or expelled by any means except the Expel Vestige feat, nor can they be suppressed except by an antimagic field or similar effect.

The Difficulty Class for a saving throw against any supernatural power granted by a vestige is 10 + 1/2 your effective binder level + your Cha modifier.

Suppress Sign (Ex): At 2nd level and higher, when you make a good pact, you can choose not to exhibit the physical sign that normally accompanies a pact with a vestige. You can suppress or reveal the sign at will as a swift action. With a poor pact, you gain the powers of the vestige, but you cannot suppress its sign. You show it for the duration of the pact and are influenced by it as normal.

Bonus Feats: At 4th level, and again at 11th and 18th level, you gain a bonus feat of your choice from the following list: Armor Proficiency (medium), Armor Proficiency (heavy), Diligent, Investigator, Martial Weapon Proficiency, Negotiator, Persuasive, Shield Proficiency, Bind Vestige, Improved Bind Vestige Practiced Binder, Defense against the Supernatural, Empower Supernatural Ability, Enlarge Supernatural Ability, Expel Vestige, Rapid Pact Making, Extend Supernatural Ability, Favored Vestige, Favored Vestige Focus, Rapid Recovery, Ignore Special Requirements, Improved Binding, Skilled Pact Making, Sudden Ability Focus, Supernatural Crusader, Supernatural Opportunist, and Widen Supernatural Ability. These feats are in addition to those normally gained for attaining higher levels, but you must still meet any prerequisites for the bonus feats you choose.

Pact Augmentation (Su): Beginning at 2nd level, you can draw additional power from the vestiges you bind. As long as you are bound to at least one vestige, you can choose one ability from the following list. Each time you rebind a vestige, you also reselect your pact augmentation ability.

As you attain higher levels, you can make additional selections from the list. You gain one additional ability at 5th, 10th, 16th, and 20th level (to a maximum of five selections at 20th level). You can choose a single ability multiple times, and their effects stack. For instance, at 16th level you could choose bonus hit points twice and damage reduction twice, gaining +10 hit points and damage reduction 2/-.

Pact Augmentation Abilities
+5 hit points
Energy resistance 5 (acid, cold, electricity, fire, or sonic)
+1 insight bonus on saving throws
Damage reduction 1/-
+1 insight bonus to Armor Class
+1 insight bonus on attack rolls
+1 insight bonus on damage rolls
+2 insight bonus on initiative checks

Soul Guardian (Su): Beginning at 6th level, you have immunity to fear effects as long as you are bound to a vestige. As you attain higher binder levels, the vestige guards its time with you even more jealously, granting you protection from additional effects that would harm your soul and life energy for as long as the pact lasts.

At 9th level, you gain the slippery mind ability, which allows you to wriggle free from magical effects that would otherwise control or compel you. If you fail your saving throw against an enchantment spell or effect, you can attempt it again 1 round later at the same DC. You get only this one extra chance to succeed on your saving throw.

At 13th level, you gain immunity to energy drain and negative levels.

When you attain 19th level, your bound vestiges completely protect your mind, granting you immunity to all mind-affecting spells and abilities.