Deep in the catacombs a man lies, bound with tortuous manacles, on a stone alter. He begins to awake and finds the air stale and still. His heart beats wildly. A violet mist descends from the darkness and coalesces in front of the alter. The man screams. The mist forms into a tall gaunt man with deep intruding eyes. The gaunt man pulls from his robes a long scepter and lays it down beside the man on the alter and leans in close, "You are helping me well, Gorshen. Only one more day of this and your pain will be mine." The gaunt man puts his hands softly, almost seductively, on Gorshen's face. Gorshen screams again but the horrid pain muffles his cry. Slowly the gaunt man draws out Gorshen's life but instead of pulling the energy into himself he lets the energy slip past and into the scepter. "Your pain is mine, Gorshen, your pain is mine..."
Of all the powers that creatures and NPCs wield against player characters, the dreaded energy drain instills the most fear in the hearts of characters and players alike. As the DMG states (pg 293), "The creature making an energy drain attack draws a portion of its victim's life force from her."
One way to make this power even more deadly is to allow the creature that uses the energy drain to use that energy into the creation of a magical item. All rules regarding the creation of magical items are still followed save that if the creation of the item calls for an experience point cost, the energy drain of the victim being drained is used instead.
A victim of an energy drain does not loose an actual level of experience until 24 hours after the initial negative level gain and the creator must wait an additional 24 hours between drains. "The victim's experience point total is immediately set to the midpoint of the previous level (pg 76 DMG)." The creator of the item can use ½ of the experience points taken from the victim for the creation of the item. So, for example, a 4th level Fighter with 8,340 experience points looses a level to a wizard vampire who is creating a staff of power (8,000 experience point creation cost). After the energy drain the Fighter is now 3rd level with 4,500 experience points which means that the fighter lost a total of 3,840 experience points of which the vampire can use 1,920 experience points (3,840 / 2 = 1,920). Should the vampire use the fighter again he must wait another day, perform the energy drain, wait 24 hours to see if the victim resists the drain and then take the experience points from the victim. The second time the victim would only give 2500 experience points (4500 from 3rd level to 2000, the mid point between 2nd and 3rd level) of which the vampire could only use 1250 of the experience points (2500 / 2 = 1250). Now the vampire has a total of 3,170 experience points towards the creation of his staff of power. If the vampire chooses to kill the fighter by using this method of energy drain the following would occur; The vampire would gain 750 experience points from dropping the fighter from 2nd level to 1st (2000 - 500 = 1500. 1500 / 2 = 750), and an additional 250 experience points from 1st to 0 level (500 - 0 = 500. 500 / 2 = 250). Upon death the victim has a 10% chance of having his/her essence trapped in the item and thereby creating an intelligent item (see below for the base chance of magic items created this way of gaining intelligence).
Most creators of magic items that use this method are aware of the chance that the item will become intelligent and therefore are less likely to kill the victim to ensure that the item stays evil (see below for more information on the item's alignment). For the creator of the magical item to use the victim's experience to placate his/her experience cost, the victim must be bound, and an alter, laboratory or other "site" must be created with a cost no less than ½ of the item's base cost.
An item created this way is evil. To steal the life force from another creature to use for one's own ends is an evil act and therefore all items created this way register evil should a Detect Evil spell be cast on them. Any good or neutral aligned character that attempts to use an item created through energy drain has a 20% chance of that item backfiring or not working at all. There is a 5% chance that every time a good aligned character picks up or touches the item the item will deal 1d6 points of damage for every 2 levels of the creators level/HD. Half damage on a successful Reflex save (DC 20+Creator's level/HD). Even if the alignment of an intelligent item created in this way is not evil there is still a 10% chance that it will not work for good or neutral aligned users and there is a 3% chance that every time a good aligned character picks up or touches the item the item will deal 1d6 points of damage for every 2 levels of the creators level/HD. Half damage on a successful Reflex save (DC 20+Creator's level/HD).
In addition, magic items that are created this way have a better chance of becoming intelligent even if the victim failed the 10% chance of becoming trapped in the item. All melee weapons created this way have a 25% chance of becoming intelligent. All ranged weapons have a 15% and all other sorts have a 10% chance of being intelligent. Should the item be intelligent and the victim used to create the item is an alignment other than evil there is a 5% chance per level drained from the victim that the item is the same alignment as the victim. If the victim was killed in the creation of the magical item there is an additional 10% chance that the item will be intelligent and another 10% chance that the item will have the same alignment as the victim. So for example with the Fighter described above if the vampire had stopped taking experience points from him after the fighter was dropped to 2nd level the staff of power would have a 10% chance of being intelligent and a 10% chance of having the same alignment of the fighter. But if the fighter was killed in the creation of the staff there would be a 20% of it becoming intelligent and a 30% chance of having the fighter's alignment (5% per level. 4th level fighter = 20% + 10% for being killed = 30%).
Note: for intelligent items created through the use of energy drain, they still cause characters not of the item's alignment to gain one negative level while held or used (DMG pg 269) as well as the other implications listed above.
Using this in a campaign gives an already dangerous category of creatures a greater advantage over the PCs and so this variant rule should be well thought out before being allowed into a game. Unless it is pivotal to the story or plot a PC should never be used in this way to create a magic item. Likewise PCs should not, under the usual circumstances, be allowed to create magic items in this way. Spells that drain levels cannot be used to create magical items (such as Enervation). The DM could allow the spell Energy Drain to be used in this way but that is up to the DM.