Main Page » Tattoo


The term tattoo is used for several different types of skin adornment, in general however it refers to colored patterns made by injecting ink under the surface of the skin.

[top]Body paint

Although Rjurik woad is the archetypal body paint, several of the human tribes use some sort of dye or paint to decorate themselves from time to time. Battle is obviously one common time - warriors paint themselves to win the god's favor, to intimidate their enemy, or as part of a preparation ritual of some sort. Other times when body paints may be used are festivals such as weddings and funerals, or times when one should be marked out from society such as grieving widows, criminals, etc. Body paint, by its nature, is not permanent - even the strongest dye fades after a few days.

  • Lip paints - red may be added to lips to indicate sexual potency, or a generic skin tone may reduce redness to indicate chastity.

  • Rouge - red may be applied to cheeks to indicate health.

  • Tonal changes - washes or dyes may be used to lighten or darken skin tone to emulate a preferred ideal, or to disguise origin.

  • Ceremonies - may religious ceremonies use paints to mark participants, with some aspects of the ceremony enduring until the paint is ceremonially removed, or wears off.

  • War paint - used to intimidate foes, mark ones body, or note rank.

  • Punishment - a social wrong do-er may be marked, and shunned until the dye fades.

  • Medicinal - many applications are believed to have medical benefits - either by the markings inducing magical healing, or by the herbs and suchlike in the paint curing the illness or encouraging recovery.


The 'traditional' tattoo, a pin or needle is used to pierce the skin, and a strong ink is then injected under the surface of the skin, forming a pattern on the skin. Ink can be permanent, last for years, or in the case of some dyes be absorbed in a few days or weeks - or could even be removed by washing or scrubbing the skin if the injection is very shallow.
Generally the ink will be used to form a pattern, picture, or writing. It is preferred to body-paint in situations where the mark is intended to be enduring (such as a mark administered by a legal system to mark a slave or criminal, or a symbol of allegiance).
The ink can be black (shades of grey being formed by using more or less ink), or colored. Generally colored tattoos are more visually appealing, and more expensive.
As the tattoo is embedded in the skin, it stretches as a person grows, can be disfigured by scarring, or may be lost if the recipient sheds their skin.

  • Ink tattoos can serve to mark rites of passage, such as adulthood, becoming a warrior or hunter.

  • Identification - sailors who drown can often be identified by tattoos after features become distorted, slaves are often tattooed to indicate ownership.

  • Decorations of bravery and accomplishment.

  • Pledges of devotion, to a person or more commonly, a deity.


More than just ink can be put under the skin, beads, shells, and other objects can be inserted under the surface of the skin to create a raised area and form patterns. This tends to be more vulnerable to infection as the breakages in the skin must be larger.
Beading is common to mark Varsks as belonging to this or that clan or warrior, and creatures with shells can be marked with inlays, embossed, lacquered and so on.


Branding is the most primitive way to make a tattoo. The skin is simply burned in the desired pattern, forming a permanent (if done properly), if painful, tattoo.
Human societies use branding mainly on animals, although it is said that some Vos warriors use branding as a test of strength, and that some goblins of Vosgaard brand themselves to imbue themselves with the spirit of fire and ward off the demons of cold.

[top]Society and tattoos

  • Anuire: Tattoos are seen as anathema. Sailors who have spent years away from civilization may use them, but otherwise tattoos are borne only by criminals.

  • Brechtur: The Brecht relegate tattoos to the lower classes, primarily sailors, some soldiers, and so on. A few of the rare Brecht who revere the forests and Erik wear tattoos influenced by Rjurik traditions.

  • Goblin: The goblins tend to follow similar traditions to local humans if on reasonable terms. Otherwise they tend to follow similar traditions to the Vos.

  • Karamhul. The Karamhul are as Moradin made them. They have no interest in deliberately marring his work.

  • Khinasi: The Khinasi see tattoos as interesting, and can appreciate the art in finely crafted tattoos, but they are not common. The use of tattoos in magic is considered primitive.

  • Orog: The orog god Torazan is the god of pain and death. His warriors relish the pain of receiving tattoos as proof of their virility. Branding is also common.

  • Rjurik: The Rjurik regard tattoos with mysticism, and several druidic traditions embrace tattooing and use it in rituals. Aside from druids, the Rjurik tend to prefer body-paint but those who regularly enter battle or undertake mystical experiences may wear tattoos.

  • Sidhe: The sidhe are immortal. A permanent mark on their skin would swiftly (by their standards) become boring. Accordingly sidhe tend to avoid tattoos and favor body paint if they wish adornment.

  • Vos: The Vos see tattooing as a major art-form. Strict social edicts say which tattoos may be worn by whom - woe betide the merchant that wears a tattoo of a dragon, lion, or other warrior marks! Vos priests embrace tattoos, and use Spell Tattoo magic liberally to show their favor for various warriors.

[top]Tattoos and magic

The Vos use Spell tattoos to grant the favor of Belinik and Kriesha on brave warriors. Similar magic can by used by others, a tattoo is similar in many ways to a scroll - and just like words on a scroll the writing can be magical.
In general a tattoo should take the place of an item, wherever it is placed, or some other limit should be used to prevent PCmunchkins loading themselves up, a simple limitation is that the tatoo must be bared and then traced with a finger to be activated - fine for use in battle if the tattoo is on the face, hands, etc, less so for more private body parts!
The feat required to make permanent Vos spell tattoos is Inscribe War Tattoo [Item Creation] and is found in: Chapter one/Feats.

[top]D20 tattoos

Tags for this Page

Similar Pages

  1. Crawliing Tattoo of Energy
    By BRadmin in forum Main
    Comments: 0
    Last Post: 12-30-2009, 02:45 AM
  2. Crawliing Tattoo
    By BRadmin in forum Main
    Comments: 0
    Last Post: 12-30-2009, 02:44 AM
  3. Magical tattoo
    By Sorontar in forum Main
    Comments: 0
    Last Post: 06-05-2009, 02:46 AM
  4. Spell tattoo
    By Sorontar in forum Main
    Comments: 0
    Last Post: 07-23-2008, 12:09 AM
  5. Inscribe War Tattoo
    By Sorontar in forum Main
    Comments: 0
    Last Post: 07-15-2008, 06:50 AM


Posting Permissions

Posting Permissions
  • You may not create new articles
  • You may not edit articles
  • You may not protect articles
  • You may not post comments
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your comments
BIRTHRIGHT, DUNGEONS & DRAGONS, D&D, the BIRTHRIGHT logo, and the D&D logo are trademarks owned by Wizards of the Coast, Inc., a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc., and are used by permission. ©2002-2010 Wizards of the Coast, Inc.