Eclipse d20 – Occult Talent Builds

The Occult Review

Who says it’s a myth?

Today we have a query from Brett about the details – and possible expansions of – the Occult Talent ability from Eclipse. As so often happens, that answer got far too long for a comment – so here it is as a small article.

Are the spells that go with those (Occult Talent) slots dedicated or do they work like Cleric casting pulling from the whole list, or some studies version, if they are dedicated as the description suggests what would be an appropriate CP cost to give them some flexibility for selecting or changing those spells? What would a psionic version be like, slots or point based? Are there any obvious expansions for it that have been done, I am familiar with the limitation of requiring it to have props to simulate some gadgets but am curious to know if there are more.

-Brett.

At the six-point level the slots are dedicated and fixed. For an example, this character (scroll down to the Full Build section) has a short selection of “Blademaster’s Tricks”.

Occult Talent/”Blademaster’s Tricks”. 1/Day Each: Fast Draw (a sword on your person appears in your hand just when you want it; this is not even an action), Blade Call (your blade leaps into your hand from up to thirty feet away as a free action), The Wind Blade (spend a move action to make any item serve as a normal sword for one minute), Mend Blade (fixes a sword as per a mending spell as a free action), and Sudden Strike (make a single attack at your full BAB as a swift action) (Corrupted/Not while wearing armor or while carrying medium or heavy encumberance, 4* CP). Suggested Upgrades include adding Conceal Blade (L0), Adamant Strike (L1), and Personal Haste (L1).

Similarly, with one of the technologically-oriented builds…

The Intuitive Expert just has a feel for gadgets, and can often get things to work when there’s no reasonable way that he or she could do so. Occult Sense/intuitively understands the general principles and operation of any device (6 CP) and Occult Talent (4 L0 effects – Instant Start, Guess Password/Encryption Key (+6 Insight Bonus to check), Jury-Rig (works for a little while), Produce Tool (produces any one minor pocket tool for a few minutes) – and one L1 effect; Moment of Insight (provides a +20 bonus on any one skill check) – once per day each, 6 CP).

Those also demonstrate one of the major strengths of the Occult Talent and Inherent Spell abilities; the spells used don’t have to exist already, or be researched, as long as the game master agrees that they’re reasonable – making such abilities an easy way to represent unique talents or moves.

With the “Improved” upgrade your “known spells” list will include five level zero and three level one effects – and you have a similar number of slots to cast them with, rather than each only being usable once per day.

Converting to a psionic version is covered on page 12 of Eclipse – and could be slot or power based. When it comes to Power, a basic occult talent provides 4xL0 and 1xL1 effects, totaling 3 spell levels – which converts (multiply by 1.8) to 5 Power. If you’re using 3.0 psionic powers, it would grant access to four L0 powers and one L1 power. If you’re using 3.5 psionic powers, L0 powers do not exist – so trade them in the four of them for two more L1 powers, for a total of three. The “Improved” version provides 5.5 spell levels, and so would convert to ten power to use those abilities with.

It’s also perfectly possible to call your power “spell points” and take normal spells – gaining flexibility at the cost of a slight hit on the total number of spells you’ll be able to cast each day. You can directly expand the list of spells or powers available by buying Occult Talent again, or by buying particular spell formula (page 11, bottom right hand column).

Since Occult Talent is basically a very small, short, spell progression there’s nothing inherently wrong with trading out it’s implicit limitations for some of the other ones under “Magic Levels”. Thus, given the permission of the GM, you could trade the small list of inherent spells for a spellbook (an expensive indulgence when you’re never going to have all that many spells), or even trade out the “studies” limitation for “conduct” and get a complete divine spell list to prepare spells from.

That sort of trade is fairly common among priestly acolytes and similar characters – people who aren’t dedicated enough to buy a clerical spell progression, but who are capable of very minor priestly magic. Specialize it for double effect by requiring time and prayer and occasional services to get those spells back and label it “Lay Priest” (6 CP).

Occult Talent is also sometimes used to represent bits of magic that go with skills in a magical world. Take it Specialized in powers related to a particular skill and Corrupted to require a skill roll for a mere 2 CP, and you’ll have some smithing tricks, or climbing tricks, or rope magic tricks, or whatever.

An article on Elven Variants showed the breakdown for Specialization and Corruption of Occult Talents to produce very minor effects – usually single spells once per day. The actual results look like this:

  • Buy a single Cantrip or Orison usable Once Per Day (Caster Level = Hit Dice): 1 CP.
  • Buy a single First-Level Spell usable Once Per Day (Caster Level = Hit Dice, 1 Minimum): 2 CP.
  • Buy a single Second-Level Spell usable Once Per Day (Caster Level = Hit Dice, 3 Minimum): 4 CP.

An Occult Talent can also be used to get a few more spell formula to start off with, as the Mystic Adept build does;

Improved Occult Talent, Specialized/the spells gained must be powered from the user’s existing power reserves and are cast at his or her base caster level, rather than using his or her hit dice as a caster level (6 CP). That gets our Mystic Adept a selection of five Cantrips or Orisons and three first level spells to use since otherwise he or she would be starting with only one spell.

The HuSung Birthright Package from the Atheria Campaign uses Improved Occult Talent to provide spell slots for Theurgy – a simple method of giving a dabbler a few spell slots and a wide variety of small spells to cast without having to worry about caster levels.

Improved Occult Talent: 5x L0 and 3xL1 spell slots. Specialized: no inherent spells, only usable for theurgy, Corrupted, Elemental Magic only (4 CP)

Going beyond Improved Occult Talent is most easily done by buying Generic Spell Levels (under Mana), Rite of Chi, and other enhancements. While it is possible to Specialize and Corrupt Occult Talents in various ways for increased effect, or to buy several of them, you’re never going to get beyond third level effects (at the most) doing it that way. If a character really wants to put that much effort into magic, they’re probably better off with a full spell progression, or rune magic and lots of mana, or one of the other major magical options.

Of course, if a setting doesn’t allow more powerful options… Well, an Occult Talent Specialized and Corrupted to allow a third level effect may represent the legendary peak of magical power.

Hopefully that both answers your questions and gives you some additional ideas…

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3 Responses

  1. A followup to this, I am a bit confused by the use of the 1.8 multiplier. I know the point system should convert to giving a bit fewer points than the slot system does, being as it is more flexible in the first place, but I seem to be missing how that works or something.

    For the Specialized and Corrupted Occult Talent the end result is 4:2nd level slots and 1:3rd level slot. That sums out to 8+3=11 spell levels, *1.8 = 19.8 .
    19.8 points can be used to do 4 2nd level effects at a cost of 3 each so 12, leaving 7 or 8 points, which minus 5 for a 3rd effect still results in a few extra power being leftover. I know that the point system would require an added point for a dice based effect beyond the minimum to cast it, like 6d6 damage from a 3rd level effect at caster level 6 would take 5 points and an added 1 point, but is that the only situation in which a point based system is not going to come out ahead in raw number of effects available?

    • The trouble with power points versus spell points is that they start off at a one-to-one ratio for level one spells and powers and wind up at a nine-to-seventeen ratio at level nine spells and powers – and there really isn’t any good way to make up for the inconsistency. After a few experiments, and calculating various sorts of averages, I found that that arithmetic mean was fairly close to the median – one level five spell = nine power – and thus set the conversion factor at 1.8 power to one spell level. It thus gives a modest advantage at lower levels and a small penalty for higher levels.

      With things like Occult Talent – which are firmly fixed at the lower end of the scale – the advantage does lie with Power, at least until you start wanting higher-level effects (in which case it’s time to move on past Occult Talent anyway).

  2. […] Occult Talent Builds: For characters who have just a touch of magic. […]

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