. It’s once again time to get the latest material index updated and to transfer the material from the old one to the main index tabs at the top of the page. If you want the very latest material, it may be necessary to either scroll down or consult the “Recent Posts” listing-widget on the lower right. The previous Latest Materials Index can be found HERE and – for those who like to rummage at random – the full post-by-post index can be found occupying a great deal of space in the lower right column.
. Eclipse Classless d20 Character Construction Cribsheet / Sample Character List – Character Creation Primer – Compiled Martial Arts.
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Up in Yu-Shan, almost all of Charles’s preparatory work was actually done. He had the dragon lines mapped, manses and artifacts built, spike delivered, seating chart being drawn up, repairs made on most of the manses on Earth that were likely to blow in the power surge, gate manses ready to go, and local arrangements to handle the powerflows on the colony world gates both to Yu-Shan and Earth were almost complete. It was down to double- and triple-checking and the (inevitable) flood of last-minute explanatory-assignments…
And, of course, to dealing with the Carnival organizers, who had – of course – left distributing spots to the last week and a half.
And that meant that Charles had slowed his headlong rush enough to make a scheduled public appearance at the concert – and associated minor ones, such as to submit his application for the location!
And THAT was why he was currently waiting in line!
Around him the planning and preliminary setup for the Carnival of Meeting was underway as the surveyors laid out the areas around the Jade Pleasure Dome to put the various stalls and tents, the geomancers examined the sleeping (deva-)gates, celestial lions continued their patrols around the dome with oddly (at least if you didn’t know what was going on) heightened attention to various geomantic details, and the various Carnival hangers-on made THEIR preparations to take advantage of the increase of divine traffic and the no-doubt-astounded mortals who would be coming through.
The central pavilion was normally reserved for big events and major guests only – and the minor gods of scheduling had little time to pay attention to Yu-Shan gossip. There had been something about a “reshaping” a while back, but who had time for that when the god in charge of the planning council proper was CLEARLY wearing clothing in a new style and it was VITAL to make sure that your own outfits matched!
Some of the Cerulean Lute of Harmony’s Sidereals had once sat on that council, but they were far too busy nowadays for some reason. It was rumored that that ALSO related to that Reshaping thing.
Perhaps they should check into what the “Reshaping” had been one of these eons…
Charles, as usual, appeared to be… a kid with a pack and too many pockets full of junk – a nerd who looked like some craft-gods junior apprentice! And god-blooded to boot! And here he was in the line to request scheduling at one of the hottest locations in Yu-Shan! What was up with that? Supposedly his grandfather was some big deal, but again, that had happened after this fool Reshaping thing. Stupid Reshaping, making things more confusing. And what WAS in the boy’s pockets, anyway? It was rumored that LUNA had taken notice, and it had to be something truly horrific to get Luna’s attention! They had to find some way to keep him out, or at least make things harder! And there was some minor Canal guard letting him cut in line by yielding his place! The insolence! Why on earth would a CANAL GOD, one of the most disproportionately arrogant things in Heaven, do that? And there were a pair of Celestial Lions discretely keeping an eye on him too! No doubt looking for some cause to arrest the arrogant little pest!
(Tetzencol the Meticulous, a minor god of mayan record keeping, subtly looking down his nose at Charles – who did not even seem to notice! How could a mere GODBLOOD be so… oblivious to his betters?) “Hello, and who might YOU be?”
(Charles, who really DIDN’T notice) “I’m Charles Dexter Ward, and I need to schedule an event!”
(Tetzencol with a VERY icy smile) “Of course you do… and what sort of event would require the magnificence of this central pavilion? We have many, many people demanding a slot in here! And we have very high standards…”
(Charles, cheerfully) “A concert! Some musical work to go with Calibration! I’ll need rather a lot of seating too!”
An actual musical contest seemed in order here . . . not only did it establish the pecking order – or so she would hope! – but perhaps the child will wilt at the competition! He didn’t seem the musical type, that was for sure! Much too nerdy to stand the heat!
(Charles) “There will have to be some isolated seating areas though; some of the people who will be coming can only attend indirectly.”
(Tetzencol) “And what makes you think we will hand a God-Blooded child such a prime position – ESPECIALLY with additional seating required?”
(Charles) “Well it’s important – and I do have a writ for it! Besides… I don’t want to disappoint the people who will be coming!”
(Tetzencol, intent on being as awkward as possible) “A writ? Hmph! Few are highly enough placed to write a writ that will be relevant here! Are you sure that more signatures are not in order?”
(Charles) “I have the seating arrangements mostly planned out, but some are speculative… I haven’t got full responses from everybody yet!”
And he showed Tetzencol the preliminary seating chart – complete with places for the Incarnae, several Yozi Jouten, and numerous other major beings – including Raksha!
(Tetzencol) “What is this! Is this some kind of joke!” And the tone was indeed not questioning, but demanding! “Who put you up to this!”
(Charles, with puzzlement) “Why would it be a joke… Oh! An update! Ligier will be coming… That’s very good!”
(Tetzencol) “Get out! No one make a fool of me! Especially not a mortal child!”
(Charles) “Oh, stop being silly! I told you that this was important! Why do you think that Luna authorized it?”
(Tetzencol) “Well then! Why don’t you get the signatures of all NINE Incarnae! Yes! Luna, the Unconquered Sun, the Five Maidens, Gaia, AND the super-secret ninth Incarnae! Surely you must know about that one if LIGIER is coming to your party?”
(Charles) “Nox is already on the list, and Gaia will be helping out…. I’d rather you weren’t difficult about this! If I have to eject you from things this year I’ll have to assign someone else to handle your job here – and even if you’re being a bit upset now, I’d presume that you’re fairly good at it!”
Tetzencol just gaped at him. Whaa?… who was this “Nox”?! Did the child ACTUALLY think that there WAS a “Super Secret Ninth Incarnae”??? And that he, she, or it was COMING to his little performance? Was he oblivious and being used in a prank or was he just insane? It could be either! Even a foolish God-Blood would never BELIEVE that farrago of nonsense, and should have at LEAST called him on his nonsense!
(Charles) “Oh! Were you wanting a bribe? I’m not too good at picking up that sort of thing… (Distractedly) “Ah! More invitation-responses… good!”
(Tetzencol) “You’re completely insane, discussing that out in the open! We do not take bribes!”
Although heavenly politeness did require that she deny it, there were knowing smiles.
(Tetzencol) “Seriously, who put you up to this, you nutcase? Luna, is this you? AGAIN?”
(Charles) “Oh… OK!” (Removing the immediate area to the edge of creation) “ Is this a better place?”
(Yangzi, Celestial Lion Guard, who had failed to react quite in time…) “Charles, you might not want to teleport a bunch of influential – oh. Oh, boy, the report and audit from this are going to be FUN.”
Hanging between galaxies there was a magnificent view of the wyld, and deep space, and the insane galaxies of the other end of the universe! And a glimpse of Basalt and Crimson towers and the Edge of Creation and the realms of dream beyond. The little circle of plaza mosaic, Charles, himself, the registration desk, the two lions, several bodyguards, and a couple of random bystanders rotated slowly, offering a panoramic view – and making it utterly obvious, just in case there had been any doubt, that they were not in Yu-Shan any longer!
Charles kind of figured that – now that he had gotten the invitations out, and was making public arrangements to seat a lot of beings that did not normally attend functions in heaven, and there was just a little less than ten days left… “concealment” (at least of the fact that he was not a god-blood) was no longer a real consideration.
(Charles, in the silence) “Much more private here!”
(Tetzencol) “WHAT DID YOU JUST DO?”
(Charles) “So how big a bribe did all of you want?… Uhm, I moved us to the edge of Creation! No one from Yu-Shan will be hearing us here…”
There was quite a bit of panic and frantic questioning among the gods – and Charles’s escorting Lions were slapping their foreheads.
(Yangzi) “Um, Charles? I’m a heavenly POLICEMAN. I’m supposed to report on this stuff.”
(Charles, happily) “But if I bribe them enough then they won’t complain – and if they DO it’s because they were going against Luna’s writ, so it falls under the “any actions I think necessary” clause doesn’t it?…” (To the gods) “So how big a bribe were you all wanting?” (To the Lions) “Oh! Not to worry! The area we left just looks privacy-warded right now! We wouldn’t want to rematerialize on top of anybody when we go back!”
(Yangzi) “And you would be performing a meritorious act to save Heaven, yeah. AND we’re not supposed to be outside of Heaven without orders. I think we can let this one slide.”
(Tetzencol) “What did you just do!? What is this place?”
(Charles) “Er… I told you! It’s the Edge of Creation! One of the better views! You can see the deep wyld, the empire of Tarvail, the Emperical Galaxy, the Cosmic Storms coming off the Pole of Fire – that’s the quasar-source area over there – the towers of Gauderis Athelstane, the Guardian of Creation, the Borderlands of the Raksha and the realms of Dream, the living suns, and lots of other neat places! But we’re thousands of light years from anybody at all, and even then it’s Raksha and such – not anyone from Yu-Shan. Isn’t it pretty?”
(Tetzencol) “What did you DO?”
(Charles) “I moved us! From Yu-Shan to Creation and about 10 to the hundredth power light years. You wanted privacy didn’t you?”
Tetzencol just stared – rather literally – into space for awhile. Just WHAT was he dealing with here?
(Charles) “Anyway, we won’t need to start until midway through calibration since Saturn wants to conclusion to overlap with her competition with Sol…”
(Tetzencol) “What is going on here?! Why would you want to perform a musical piece when you could do THAT?”
(Charles) “I told you! I need to make some adjustments!”
(Tetzencol, rather more slowly) “To what?”
(Charles) “Well… I’m still required to swear you to a Security Oath to tell you THAT – but you’ll only need to keep it for about ten days now, so that’s not really a big deal any longer.”
(Tetzencol) “What have I gotten myself into?”
(Charles) “Uhm… Carnival scheduling! Same as last year!”
(Tetzencol) “No, really. What have I gotten myself into?”
(Charles) “Well, to tell you that, you have to swear to keep it secret for the next little bit!”
Tetzencol and the bystanders did – and found the summary quite horrifying! He’d never thought that he would be involved with a secret project of this magnitude! Even if he WAS a bit peripheral Charles could really use someone to run interference with the rest of the fair organizers…
(Charles) “Oh, for a bribe… would boosting your essence a level do?”
(Tetzencol) “You can do that?”
(Tetzencol) “We shall see, then!”
Charles went ahead with that – and it did work just fine…
(Charles) “So… can we get things scheduled?”
(Tetzencol) “Yes. Yes, I think so! But you had better get me back to Yu-Shan in one piece!”
And back it was, and in one piece – and to generate more rumors, as the gods involved were noticeably more vital-looking – and FAR more respectful of Charles. Charles, of course, paid no attention to that, and got right back to getting things set up – although even he realized that he might have to deal with gods who would be trying to unofficially horn in and displace the god-blood who somehow got a plum spot.
By that time, Aikiko was giving her latest report to Lytek. After all, she’d just taken in a major horror of the underworld AND found her last Guardian!
(Lytek) “Gah…. So in a way that armor of yours is STILL fulfilling it’s purpose – releasing the soul-fragments of the neverborn – as you use it to go into apocalyptic horrors and offer them mercy.”
(Aikiko) “Apparently so, Lord Lytek. But at least I’ve tracked down everyone-and that last one REALLY needed the help.”
(Lytek) “I begin to wonder if the universe has about run out of problems best resolved with violence? It might help explain why so many of the Exalted spend so much time at each others throats.”
(Aikiko) “All that power, and not that much to do with it?”
(Lytek) “That – and the Exalted WERE created to be the ultimate expressions of violence. While the Exalted have also been amazingly creative, and noble, and corrupt, and many other things… has anything else been even remotely as destructive?”
(Aikiko, with some startlement – she’d never thought about it that way before) “Hmm… not even the Unshaped can kill stuff permanently. I don’t think even hannya can, can they?”
(Lytek) “Not entirely so in any case.”
(Aikiko) “No… man, everything’s really coming to a head, isn’t it? The world – no, the universe – is going to change big time in-wow, only ten days. I’m… not sure how everyone else will react!”
(Lytek, sighing) “Variously I suppose – but at least – according to the seating chart Charles sent – it doesn’t look like most of the major powers are going to be surprised. He seems to be sending invitations to virtually everyone except the more unpleasant deathlords!”
(Aikiko, peering at the current chart) “Wow! I can’t believe Ligier RSVPed… does he know something we don’t?”
(Lytek, sourly) “Almost undoubtedly – I don’t think that I’d even WANT to know many of the things he knows – but in this case… I’d suspect that the Infernals Charles dealt with have at least told him that something interesting is likely to happen, and invitations to even limited aspects of Calibration are rare enough for those of his nature!”
She had to visit Malfeas some time, even if it WAS pretty dangerous there.
(Lytek) “Besides… after forty thousand years of exile, you get an invitation to Yu-Shan by someone who apparently has both the authority and a tendency to try to repair everything he encounters. Why pass up a visit?”
(Aikiko) “I definitely wouldn’t.”
(Lytek) “At least he seems to be setting up overlay zones, so they aren’t quite technically in the city… That’s something! I was beginning to think that he had no trace of caution whatsoever!”
(Aikiko) “You and me both… That’s quite a setup he’s already got, though.”
(Lytek) “A final throw of the dice I think. At least that is one thing the Solar Exalted have always been good at; rising to save the day at the very last moment.”
(Aikiko) “I hope it all works out… even if it’s not going to be as smooth as he thinks. I think that I’d better be standing by on guard duty for this!”
(Lytek) “It never is – but he, like you… has almost never failed in his specialties, even if your aid will almost certainly be needed!”
(Aikiko) “That’s another thing we do.”
(Lytek) “I shall deploy what resources I can in support of this endeavor. Charles… rarely thinks of the darker possibilities. It is endearing, and perhaps a part of youth – but at this point I do not think we can afford to leave any path to failure open if we can seal it up.”
(Aikiko) “What were you thinking of, Lord Lytek?”
(Lytek) “I do have some aides available – but he will need at least the forbearance of the Sidereal Brotherhood. He and you… are, I think, pointing out the way to get it. Before watching you in action, I had not really appreciated the power of “forgiveness” as a bargaining chip.”
(Aikiko) “You can’t mean… you’ve gotten over that attack so long ago?”
(Lytek) “Perhaps it is time too. Haven’t you just shown that a grudge held too long becomes a poison to all Creation? And I suspect that there will never be a better time to play that card.”
(Aikiko) “I guess so!”
(Lytek) “Lessons from the souls of the Neverborn… That “Privacy Manse” of his has… most UNEXPECTED ramifications!”
(Aikiko) “Yeah… it might just save us all a whole lot of trouble… Huh. I wonder how many Heavenly officials could use a trip there. Charles would never force anyone in there, of course, but…”
Aikiko was looking through the good old reliable tabloids – even if that STILL didn’t sound quite right – for more clues. There was the usual discardable rubbish about celebrities, stuff she was pretty sure of the cause of (including a modest epidemic of terminal cases – the extremely elderly, people in extreme pain, and so on – just dropping dead), kaiju reports, hysteria over the soon-to-be-opening gates, and more.
On the more inexplicable side… while Charles and company had been doing a LOT of rescue work, they generally didn’t do military campaigns – and the weirdness in the Ukraine had been steadily ramping up. Someone or some group over there had been eliminating supply bases, sabotaging vehicles, and otherwise bogging down the Russian forces with considerable effect.
Could that have something to do with all those amber thefts?
Well, of course it COULD – there were any number of ways to use almost anything when it came to ritual components and charms and things – but amber in particular was so strongly associated with entrapment, preservation, and stasis. If you wanted to bog things down… amber magic might well be a reasonable path to take. Still, it would be pretty hard to know without actually going on the ground and having a look.
So, most recently… the Russians were hiding it, but they appeared to have lost at least forty tanks. Not as casualties – but just gone missing, with no sign of their crews or the support infantry. That was weird. , very weird. Not even a sign of a struggle? None of the tabloids – or even the “legitimate press” – mentioned any. It MIGHT be being covered up – but the Russian commanders seemed more confused than that.
And if they weren’t even trying to hide that, something was definitely up! And who knew what they WERE successfully covering up? It wasn’t like they lacked experience at THAT game!
It also wasn’t like they could keep her out. She was a Night Caste, backed by Skoll! It – and her cloaking systems – was on! (Even if it WOULD have been pretty cool to zoom down into the Ukraine, descending from heaven like the very wrath of the Unconquered Sun, it would also have been more than a bit stupid). So it was well-cloaked wrath and a slow descent. The region was troubled enough already without adding omens and things!
And it wasn’t hard (at least with an investigation excellency, perception bonuses for nine successes, and a little poking around) to see that the Russians were getting the worst of it by far. There weren’t all that many signs of fighting – but they’d pretty much pulled back defensively. Even more tellingly, it wasn’t against conventional assault. There were lots of patrols, but little sign of land mines, barbed wire, gun emplacements, and similar fixed-position defenses. Whatever was hitting them wasn’t using conventional tactics or weapons. There were at least two places where tank tracks and signs of an advance… just stopped.
Taking a look over there with Essence-senses showed that rather a lot of essence had been expended there recently – not at very high essence levels, but spending lots of motes, mostly on divine charms. Some god of the region? Must be a busy one these days. Still… that would call for massive mote reserves and throwing charms around profligately. And… there were a few traces of Solar Essence. The Guardian she was looking for? Well, if those soldiers were in some Guardian’s world-body, at least they were probably not being poorly treated.
It was no wonder that the generals were obviously having a REALLY hard time explaining this! At least they didn’t have to deal with the commissars anymore. On the other hand, President Putin was not a man you wanted angry at you either – and at the moment…
“Well, we sent them to take over this area and they were apparently sucked into Avalon or bribed into scuttling their tanks and deserting or… no, it’s true, none of those ideas makes any sense at all Sir! But they’re just !@#$$% GONE!”
She headed into the Russian command post to get a look at their situation map. That should show the most recent operation – and given her current capabilities, the mortals wouldn’t be able to do a thing. There would be a FEW supernaturals supporting the Russians of course, but for the most part Russia wasn’t too welcoming of groups with special powers – although all those assassinations did put her in the mind of an Abyssal, as did many of the political considerations…
In fact, the generals who could work up the nerve to report supernatural opposition were finding Putin unexpectedly understanding. On the other hand, the aides and allies that he had been deploying to help them out were positively terrifying!
Unfortunately, Skoll’s cloaking was only perfect while standing still. She’d made it in to check the map easily – but then there was a problem; one of the guards was looking at her and smiling with far FAR too many teeth. It got worse when his eyes turned into smiling mouths full of teeth too.
Ugh, real life creepypasta pictures.
The OTHER guard looked horrified, until Mr Creepshow shoved a hand over his mouth as he started to yell – and first pulled his skin into his hand, then his muscles, and then his internal organs, and skeleton, with some REALLY nasty noises!
(Creep) “I haven’t felt THAT essence in a long time… So delicious it will be!
Gah! That was Gross! That was REALLY really gross! And she thought that she now knew which nation might be funding one of those kaiju at the Memory of the Void…
(Creep) “Solar is it? With… a major suit of Artifact Armor too… Very nice! But Armor has NEVER been sufficient! Why do you seek to disrupt Lord Putrefaction’s Plans? To quote him (as he spoke in Putin’s voice) “What in Oblivion have you done with MY TANKS?”
(Aikiko) “Wait, what? I’m here investigating those soldiers – VLADIMIR PUTIN? Hoo boy… Look, calm down. I know about as much as you do!”
Whoa, she never thought she’d have to say THAT to a head of state – or at least some horror in his service who could reproduce his voice. Abyssal it was though! “Lord Putrefaction” was pretty much a dead giveaway!
Come to think of it, that probably wasn’t the best response when said head of state or representative thereof turned out to be more than human, but she’d been pretty taken aback there!
(Creep) “Calm? There is no balm in all of Gilead to calm my hate… For it is old and cold indeed! As for YOU little spark…. do you think that I am fool enough to believe that a SECOND young Solar, wearing a mighty suit of technomagical combat armor, has entered this situation at random?”
(Aikiko) “Well… no… I came here to investigate the disappearing tanks! There’s another Solar here?” (That did match with her findings, but no way was she going to let on that she knew!)
For a moment, the other guards tortured face seemed to press against the skin of this creatures face from the inside, unable to make a sound but obviously screaming and pleading desperately for release before being sucked back down into the depths of this horror’s flesh.
Gah! She really should try to get that guy out! He had only been doing his job! Still… looking at this thing… it looked like some major horror of the underworld, not an Abyssal. Probably just using a remote link or the (un-)living tape recorder bit then. Still, a major creature of the underworld was quite bad enough! She was torn between the urge to PUNCH the wretched thing and the urge to pump it for information!
Well… it was probing at HER – and either it couldn’t get past the cloaking or it didn’t find “young solar and some sort of pocket dimension in heavy armor” all that odd – which was a good indication that she might be on the right track this time! Now if only she hadn’t gotten discovered… Could she reach into the thing and grab the guy inside?
Then the creature dropped the form of a guard and took the form of a pillar of blades, guns, chainsaws, and implements of torture, all of them apparently fractal – covered with spikes, which were in fact smaller weapons, and all whirring and moving. From it erupted the occasional scream, splatter of blood, or shred of flesh, as it’s inside appeared to be packed with miniaturized suffering spirits, constantly reaching for escape through the ever-shirting cracks and crevices, and constantly being ground up, only to reform in agony.
OK, that was even worse than the creepypasta form! She had to give this thing credit for special effects!
(Creep) “Join me young Solar! Whether willingly in the Darkness, or as a part of me!”
(Aikiko) “Hah, I’d give you indigestion!”
She adopted her own fighting stance.
(Creep) “How melodramatic! But I have drawn into myself the souls and weapons of thousands, and your strength shall be mine as well!”
And the thing… erupted in a tidal wave of weapons, as Jade Chakrams, Firewand blasts, modern bullets, bazooka shots, arrows, and more, bombarded her, even as dozens of assorted melee weapons swung! Fortunately – at the worst – her Behemoth Cloak capped the damage from any one flurry (which this apparently counted as, thank the Incarnae) – but she had to find a more active counter to this overwhelming attack!
She drew on her Unconquered Ability Perfection with Martial Arts II – employing the Celestial Level to sear away all those projectiles seared away with solar light. Her whirling blade left an arc of blazing solar energy hanging in the air, a searing radiance that sent the barrage hurtling into the walls, the very air shrieking around the missiles in their superheated passage.
Skoll, her Behemoth Cloak, and a simple “Walkaway” effect could handle the blades for a moment – but that wouldn’t last! This thing was obviously quite powerful!
Much as she hated to yield the initiative that way… she settled for defense for the moment while she tried to scan this monstrosity. It couldn’t cloak the attacks, so they offered her a way to see how it worked. “Too damn well!” was not enough information to fight it with!
It looked like… those spirits were entrapped inside… According to the Coatl and Skoll’s sensors, they were enslaved to do most of the work. The “creature” forced them to do the attacking, used their defensive abilities, and choose where any damage that did get through went among them. A most horrific dark collective there! Worse, there was no apparent way to get them out of there or punch the bindings! Whatever was holding them was… deep inside. And the damn thing was flowing out around her, like a sea of screaming weapons, trying to surround her so that there could be no escape!
Going insubstantial would help for a few moments anyway. This monstrosity would certainly have countermeasures – likely dozens of them – but it would take it a moment to activate them. And the ceiling was high enough… Spider Foot Style and Lightning Speed would buy her a few more seconds to consider things in.
It did – but the horror flowed up the wall in pursuit, the clashing of it’s weapons and the shrieks of its prisoners forming curious piping words – nonsensical, but horrifying and carrying subtle whispers of terrible things – oddly familiar whispers at that. Very, VERY, like the Neverborn- if not a reflection of the real thing.
It might help to take this outside. If the Russian government was keeping this under wraps, she might be able to fight it in a more open area without causing too much trouble. It would probably be best to get away from the troops, though… She had Skoll activate the jet boots, held her gauntleted fist up in the air, and blasted out through the roof – come to think of it, rather like the sun exploding from a certain crypt.
The thing flowed after her into the sky, spreading out across the city below like an unholy stormcloud, dripping the cursed weapons of the underworld onto the city below like bolts of black lightning. It seemed to be slower than her top speed though – but there were people in the city! She had (gaah!) be a more appealing target than the cities people and lure it away!
(Aikiko) “HEY UGLY! CATCH ME IF YOU CAN!”
(Creep) “Well, you are certainly an improvement on random mortals. Still… Why pursue when I can bring you to me so readily? Flee me and thousands shall die! Will you leave them to agony and despair young “Hero”?”
(Aikiko) “Damn it!”
She’d have to stand and fight! Unfortunately that left her basically fighting an army, incarnate in a single entity! Not a good thing! But there was no way that she’d let it do more damage to the city than it just did! A punch to the face it was, with Aggravated Damage to Creatures of Darkness gauntlets from Skoll!
That… crushed one of the screaming faces inside, leaving her hand dripping with ectoplasmic blood and brains – which dropped off, evaporated, and poured back inside in streams of mist. The creature somehow combined thousands of screams into insane laughter and lashed out with dozens of weapons once more.
(Creep) “FOOL! THOUSANDS OF WARRIORS ARE AT MY COMMAND! I SHALL DRINK YOUR SOUL AS WELL, AND YOU CANNOT AVOID THAT FATE!”
It seemed pretty sure about that! She WAS linked to Aden. On the other hand, it was pretty obviously capable of effects that targeted the soul. Overconfidence, experience, or actual prophecy? Still… prophecy tended to be distinctly double-edged).
(Aikiko) “Who told you that?”
(Creep) “The shattered powers of eld are mine to wield! Much is hidden, but much is seen! None in all the ages of the world have escaped me!”
Well, if she was smart, she could change that . . . if only she were more skilled in occult matters! She might be able to yank someone out without killing them! As it was, all that came to mind was that a proton pack might be helpful here!
Well, she had lots of consultation available, and aides, and a bunch of neverborn soul-memories – possibly rather like this one except that they weren’t on the loose! She asked the memories in the waterpark what she was facing here!
(Memories) “Ah… Meslanshloch, The Void Which Gnaws The Soul. It draws it’s victims within and shares the memories of his own torment and death at the hands of the Exalted with them, thus binding them to his own agony. Their panoplies become his outer shell, their bodies his flesh, and their minds and souls his power. Perhaps if he devours enough of Creation he will become an anti-primordial of oblivion – or at least he so believes. Like all things his bindings have their flaw, but his is well-shielded, lying deep within, at the point where the souls are joined to his pain. Only there can that link be severed, and his victims freed – but few indeed could pass within, endure the pain, the whispers, the shaping, the mental influence, and the horrors of a forming oblivion-body to reach that place. What he foresees is likely true – but he sees only partially, for he is dead and his power broken.”
Oh great. Another trip into a dead world-body – or at least one that was forming. Still… she’d been in one before, and it would be hard to find much better protection than Skoll, a Behemoth Cloak, Adenic Thaumaturgy, and Solar Charms. Could she grapple the thing and worm her way in? It looked like his normal strategy was to inflict mortal wounds and then swallow people up!
Perhaps an illusion? It would have to be either very very good or using something he’s never seen before. Basic thaumaturgy and Charms were probably out, and maybe even a lot of what Skoll could do too. Ah! The Toho Manse (illusion was a new aspect), Kaiju Powers, or I AM! I AM could probably provide a near-perfect illusion of pretty much anything at all just by thinking about it – and it might be old, but there was a pretty good chance that this THING hadn’t encountered its current powers.
It would have to be fast; even with HER defenses, it would soon batter its way through… She let through a little damage for verisimilitude – and to back up the illusion – and prayed to Mecha-Godzilla for an illusion of a fatal wound! Kaiju were GOOD at looking mortally wounded and then coming back!
And she received an illusion of – like Mechagodzilla itself – a massive segment of Skoll and flesh being stripped away leaving nothing but segments of Aikiko’s skeleton exposed! It was MOST gruesome! She threw in much wailing and gnashing of teeth, taking full advantage of her acting skills.
And the horrible laughter rang louder and louder as Aikiko and Skoll were sucked into the tomb-body, surrounded by horrific shaping effects (ignored), the dark whispers of the Neverborn (translated, corrected, and annotated by her memory-passengers), flayed by clashing weapons (which were pretty much ignored by Skoll and solar charms where necessary), the utter darkness and shared agony rolled in (and had little effect against immunity to UMI and a private pocket-universe of her own), the attempts to steal Skoll’s attunement failed since (1) he hadn’t any, and (2) she wasn’t dying, the toxic miasma bounced off the adenic immunity to toxins, the feeding of malevolent and corrupted data to her mind and senses failed what with (1) the privacy manse, and (2) I AM to correct incoming data, the entropic flux which would have aged her to death could not bypass the life-supporting power of Aden, and the terrible plagues failed before her manse-provided immunity, and so on…
It was still pretty unnerving, though… hopefully she could find this thing’s weak point soon!
The central furnace of agony burned like a negative sun – freezing all hope, and memories of pleasure, and every positive emotion, leaving nothing but the search for destruction.
It was all the more horrible to realize that Meslanshloch was simply sharing the torment that was originally inflicted on him. Once… he had been the gateway that allowed other creatures to join the Primordial Belriandathi, the Harmony of Voices (now Abhorrence of Life). Now, in vengeance – and knowing nothing else and no other way to reach out – as he used to take souls into the unity of Belriandathi, he was joining them to his own death and torment, forging the souls of others into himself and an eternity of pain. Whether that soothed his pain or increased it he did not, and could not, know – but his drive to incorporate others remained even in death.
Another Neverborn soul-memory, but one that was loose instead of being trapped in the void – presumably because Abhorrence-of-Life was one of the Neverborn tombs that the Exalted of the first age had broken open to get Necromancy (which was STILL one of the worst ideas that she’d ever heard of).
And that was the weak spot. She could strike – but shared pain was what held this mass of souls together. Adding to that pain… had not helped in forty millennia. A dead memory could not change. For that… it must be taken into a living mind, no matter how horrible it might be. But to take in THIS… Still, she was sure that Charles would take that risk – and you couldn’t let them suffer forever!
Decision made, Aikiko took the core of torment that was Meslanshloch into herself, to unleash upon it healing, and soothing, and comfort – with just a trace of Lethe to blur the edges of the agony and help her end a horror that had endured since the Primordial War.
The half-manifested Tomb-Body began to fall back into the void from whence it had come as a menace that had been a blight upon creation for forty thousand years was taken in to be healed.
Aikiko sighed as Skoll, blazing with solar radiance, emerged from the heart of darkness. It probably wouldn’t have been a menace if it had been allowed to live…
And then realized that the most ridiculous rain of artifacts in history was being scattered over a small Ukranian city.
And not the kind of artifacts that humans should have, either! It was the stuff carried by thousands of heroes, tens of thousands of humans and wraiths, and rather a lot of terrestrials, god-bloods, and various kinds of Exalts – quite a few of whom fell to Meslanshloch across the last forty thousand years! Pretty obviously, turning him loose had been just as bad an idea as making the Neverborn in the first place! At a glance… it included any number of weapons and suits of armor as well as warstriders, vehicles, modern tanks, artifact vehicles, and even some farm carts and a rain of boulders that some really courageous peasants once tried dropping on it. Not to mention all the modern infantry stuff that wasn’t artifacts but still killed quite effectively!
She called for reinforcements from Aden to scoop up as much of that as possible. Even if things were suddenly going to be out in the open soon, mortals did NOT need to be wielding weapons like the ones you’d use to fight this thing!
There were still be some casualties – just from having stuff fall on them – but Meslanshloch would probably have eaten the entire city for dessert if she hadn’t stopped it.
Not to mention that she could easily have died too. Meslanshloch had been well on it’s way to being a primordial-of-eternal-agony-in-death. Fighting from the outside it had dozens of attacks and all the power and defenses it could ever need.
Had it simply been allied with Putin? Or had it had some other reasonfor backing the Russian invasion? Something beyond just getting more materials.
Although, speaking of materials… it looked like she was going to have quite a stockpile of random artifacts. There were plenty! Not even CHARLES generally dumped this many artifacts at once! Even if artifacts – or fights with an underworld horror – had not been what she had in mind for this trip, there was much to be said for opportunism! Besides… if there was a Guardian around who was snatching tanks, he or she would probably come out to snatch some warstriders and things; that display should have been enough to attract any supernatural types in the area!
It had been. It didn’t take long to turn up a young man wearing crystalline armor (that was more or less teaming with spirits), who was currently sweeping up artifacts and opportunistic Russian troops with the help of yet more crystalline spirits.
Aikiko was still wearing Skoll openly – it WAS a warzone after all! – but waved cheerily.
There was something of a squaring-off, and a demand to know who she was – in Ukranian of course. A good thing that she’d picked up some language amulets for the region before starting; it had been a pretty obvious thing to do.
(Aikiko) “I’m Aikiko Tanaka, a… neutral party in this dispute. I was investigating the disappearances around here. Someone pretty powerful is doing a good job of defending this place!”
(Crystalmancer) “A neutral party? Then how did you become involved in whatever that was?”
(Aikiko) “I’ll just say Vladimir Putin is a real bastard and pure evil… honestly, I don’t want to talk about that where people might listen.”
(Crystalmancer) “Heh… I cannot argue there! He has sent a great deal of men and material here to make trouble for those who have done nothing to him!”
(Aikiko) “Looks like it… he’s even more dangerous than you think.”
(Crystalmancer) “Apparently… I would never have dreamed that he would or could send anything like that storm of darkness.”
(Aikiko) “So… YOU’RE the one who’s been making tanks disappear, right? The spirit-armor’s a dead giveaway. Good work!”
(Crystalmancer) “Why thank you! And I must say the same about you – defeating that horror was most impressive!”
(Aikiko) “Yeah… if I hadn’t figured out its weakness, we’d all be dead.”
(Crystalmancer) “Ah… I must admit that I was mostly gauging on the sheer quantity of war materials scattered about. That… THING… must have been an army in it’s own right!”
(Aikiko) “Literally. It had eaten the souls of thousands of heroes and many thousands of lesser people. What we’re scavenging here is all the stuff they used to fight it!… But now it’s where it can’t hurt anybody.”
She hoped, anyhow! Surely being restrained and soothed by dozens of other soul-fragments would suffice! Maybe after some time it will be able to enjoy the water park like the rest of them!
(Crystalmancer) “So… Are you here to aid the resistance? Neutral or not, I think that you have already done quite a bit to help!”
(Aikiko) “Heh… might as well. Putin’s probably going to be on my rear from now on. Ergh. I’ll help you guys out. Besides, I need to tell you about some of the other stuff he can do.”
(Crystalmancer) “And evidently we need that information very much indeed… I thank you!”
(Aikiko) “What’s your name, anyway? I told you mine!”
(Crystalmancer) “Ah, my pardon! I was not thinking of my manners… I am Mykola Sernulka.”
(Aikiko) “Nice to meet you, Mykola!”
(Mykola) “And a pleasure to meet you as well!”
Now… the youngsters power signature said… “generic god-blooded”, albeit with plenty of Alchemy and Enchantment effects on the armor. LOTS of divine energies too – but there were also a lot of solar motifs about him, and definite world-body traces. It looked like… the armor was more or less an artificial shell; it allowed the wearer, and a limited number of spirits, to pool a bit of their power and to share the effects of some charms.
(Aikiko) “So how did you get all those spirits in there?”
(Mykola) “Oh… they’re friends of mine! So I made the armor to help them ride along and link their powers with mine. It helps a LOT.”
(Aikiko) “How’d you run into them? Most kids can’t even communicate with them.”
(Mykola) “Well… They are from the realm of Perun, from the divine realms of the crown of the great tree.”
(Aikiko, after being momentarily taken aback) “Neat! I… guess he’s a local god? I mean, I’m assuming a god, not a goddess.”
The explanation was somewhat tangled – but Mykola apparently had access to some extra-dimensional realm; given that it seemed to be located at the top of some cosmic tree (a fairly standard theme of the local mythology), he had assumed that it was the realm of Perun – the most prominent sky king / thunder god in said mythology.
Evidently he didn’t realize that he’d created the world-body himself – or realize why the local “angelic powers” of the temples that he’d found there were so cooperative.
(Aikiko) “Why don’t you take me there? That sounds like a place worthy of protecting too.”
Fortunately, Aikiko was so blatantly another shining figure of light that it was pretty easy to convince him. It was indeed a neat realm – but it wasn’t really all THAT large. It looked like the youngster had been hiding other members of the resistance there (it made a nice, and very secure, base) – and had been locking up Russian troops, collecting tanks and equipment, and otherwise making the annexation attempt very, very, expensive indeed. He had about three thousand troops and a LOT of gear. He wasn’t quite sure what to do with them, but the “angels” could easily keep them contained.
Aikiko was pretty sure they hadn’t been expecting to be imprisoned like THIS, even if the conditions here were probably better than in the army camp, much less what they were expecting from being captured.
Actually a very few had some idea of what was going on – they were stuck in a sanctum or some such – but most of them were totally confused.
(Aikiko) “Do you have any angels who can see through lies, Mykola?”
(Mykola) “Well, yes! It’s very handy when you’re doing interrogations!”
(Aikiko) “I think we should send the ones who didn’t sign up to kill your people… elsewhere. Not home. I don’t think that’d be good for them living.”
She could think of a lot of things that a necromancer head of state could do with soldiers who had failed him, very few of them good! Still, Charles had no shortage of places to send people. Even if that had just been his voice being copied… that strongly implied that he’d known exactly what he was sending… She told Mykola about the encounter
(Mykola) “Hm… was he replaced and fed to that thing, or was he employing it? Either could be rather bad!”
(Aikiko) “I have no idea…”
She’d have to case the Kremlin to know for sure! Not that it was really important from her point of view, even if it was important to HIM. If he’d been eaten and replaced, his soul was in a better place now. If he was employing it, it’s no longer controllable by him. What mattered was that it was getting medical treatment! The best thing to do with ancient incredibly destructive evils that have slain tens of thousands!
Or at least an approach that actually worked. Maybe all those people who talked about “ending the cycle of violence” were actually on to something. It wouldn’t have BEEN an ancient incredibly destructive evil if her predecessors had tried NEGOTIATING with its progenitor. Particularly since said progenitor was pretty much the patron primordial of cooperation and everyone getting along!
Had they just been afraid that it would incorporate some Celestial Exalts into it’s soul-hierarchy and become REALLY awkward to deal with? At least now she could try to fix some of the consequences of that!
Samuel Martin was not having a good day. That wasn’t his fault; he lived in a a superhero universe and sometimes things just got !@#$% WEIRD.
This was one of those days.
Normally working for the Department of Agriculture was a pretty decent job; as an entomologist he worked with beekeepers, evaluated pesticides, checked on insects that bothered crops, and occasionally – as now – acted as a consultant for the local animal control officers. They didn’t know WHAT kind of swarm they had on their hands.
Unfortunately, there was a reason for that; it was a demonic locust-scorpion swarm summoned from the depths of the imaginal realms to spy and assassinate – and with the defeat of it’s summoner in a super-battle a couple of towns over, it was slowly fading back into those depths. It swarmed the silly little man who thought that a protective suit, a few small charms, and a degree would let him investigate it with impunity of course. It wouldn’t take more than a few moments to strip the flesh from his bones and an innocent human always made a nice snack.
It shouldn’t have been POSSIBLE for the swarm’s venom to catalyze a change in a human that would make him compatible with the energies of the Swarm and lead to its absorption – but Frost was nearby. Still, the mutation, and merger, was anything but smooth. What awoke in the hospital a few days later lacked the full power of the Hellswarm – but it also lacked pretty much ALL of Doctor Martin’s sanity. Instead, the hospital staff was confronted with Stinger, King of the Insects and Defender of all that was Chitinous and Scurrying.
Unfortunately, the nurses stern and authoritative tones did very little to keep Stinger from bailing out the window and gliding off to pursue his war against the evil spiders who had been devouring his subjects for countless ages!
Stinger fell in with Frost and Deathsinger a few days later. They… were about the only creatures he’d encountered (other than bugs, whom even he realized weren’t very bright) to whom he felt some sort of connection.
Not that his sample size was very large, but what’s an Insect King to do?
Even barring his nonsensical goals and vulnerability to diversion, Stinger isn’t a particularly effective villain. He’s a generalist, and unless he’s able to catch someone off-guard, that means that anyone who sticks to their area of competence is going to out-class him – and he hasn’t got a wide enough variety of powers to always target weaknesses.
On the upside, since his disability is work-related, and occurred on the job, Doctor Martin is eligible for governmental health care, workman’s compensation, and similar programs. Since he’s clearly insane there are attempts to get him treatment whenever he’s captured – but given that he and his teammates invariably escape within a week or two, no one has ever had much luck at it. There usually isn’t even time to get them into court.
Appearance: While the details vary between appearances somewhat since his “mutation” isn’t entirely stable, Stinger pretty much always displays his insectoid eyes, locust wings, antennae, mandibles, and bladelike chitin extrusions. His “Costume” is generally made up of the loudest possible Hawaiian shirts and fabrics. He apparently feels that this will either let him blend in or will attract a queen. Either way, it does not seem to work.
|23||Multipower (62-pt reserve); Generic Limitation (Insect Powers Only): -¾; Side Effects (Turns the user into a freaky insect person, makes them believe that they are an insect.): 30/Half, -½; Generic Limitation (Side effects cannot be avoided): -½|
|u-2||5d6 Webbing / Entangle (DEF 5); Range: 310; Reduced END: Half, +¼||2|
|u-1||2d6 Chitin Blades / Killing Attack (HTH) (Total 4d6); Range: 0; Reduced END: Zero, +½||0|
|u-2||Summon Insect Swarms (2 32-point creatures); Range: 0; Reduced END: Half, +¼; Active Points: 61; Summon: Limited Group, +¼
Insect Swarms can harass normal people, freak out those with phobias, make it hard to see in areas, and even make low-powered venom attacks – but aren’t really all that effective.
|u-2||Venom / Hand-to-Hand Attack (5d6, Total 7½d6); Range: 0; No Normal Defense (Versus Immunity to Poison, Silicon Metabolism, being a Robot, etc.): +1; Reduced END: Zero, +½; Uncontrolled: +½; Continuous: +1||0|
|11||Elemental Control: Insect Powers (20-pt reserve); Generic Limitation (Insect Powers Only): -¾|
|a-13||Chitin Armor (18 PD/10 ED)|
|b-10||2d6 Master of the Hive / Mind Control; Communication: Telepathic, +¼; Area Effect (Radius): 500″ radius, +1; Increased Area: ×250, +2; Reduced END: Zero & Persistent, +1; Generic Limitation (Only works on insects): -1½
Most insects have about a -10 Ego
|c-9||40″ Membranous Wings / Gliding (NC: 80″); Non-Combat Multiplier: ×2, +0; Non-Combat (MPH): 149; Generic Limitation (Physical wings – must be able to spread them, not be entangled, have enough room, etc.): -½|
|(6)||360-Degree Sensing (Hearing)|
|(6)||Enhanced Perception (Sonar, +5 to PER)|
|6||+6 CP to All Attributes Blessing; Modifications to Primary Attributes do not affect secondary attributes. Aid to Defenses has half effect per standard rules.|
|(6)||1d6 Aid (All attributes) (Fade/turn, Max. 6); Range: 0; Affects: All Powers of Special Effect, +2; Reduced END: Zero & Persistent, +1; Always On: -½; Personal Only: -1; Increases maximums only, does not speed healing: -1; Aid to Defenses is halved per the standard rules. Aid to primary attributes does not affect secondary ones.||0|
|6||1d6 30-Point Equipment Allowance Aid (Fade/month, Max. 30); Range: 0; Affects: Single Power of Special Effect, +¼; Extra Time: 1 hour, -2½; Only activates in armories, labs, or between outings: -1½; Personal Only: -1; Difficult to Dispel: ×4, +½; Increased END: ×10, -4; This allows a character to haul along 30 CP worth of customized gear.||20|
|(7)||2d6 Nectar Reserve / Aid to Endurance (Fade/turn, Max. 12); Range: 0; Affects: Single Power, +0; Trigger: Set, +¼; IIF: -¼; Charges: +8, -½||0|
|(8)||Sticky Gloves and Boots / Clinging (Clinging STR +0); IIF: -¼|
|Points||Skills, Talents, Perks||Roll|
|0||English (Native Accent); Literacy: Standard, 0|
|8||+4 level w/Gliding|
|15||+3 level w/Multipower|
|31||Total Skills, Talents, Perks|
|25||Believes himself to be King of the Insects, and their defender (Very Common, Total)|
|15||Hatred of Spiders, Pesticide Manufacturers, and anything else that kills large numbers of bugs (Various types of bats and birds are also on his list), (Common, Strong)|
|10||Obsessed with insects (Uncommon, Strong)|
|10||Vulnerability to Pheromones (2× Effect); Attack: Uncommon, +5|
|15||Hunted: Police (11-); Capabilities: Less Powerful, 5; Non-combat Influence: Extensive, +5; Geographical Area: Unlimited, -0; Actions: Hunting, ×1; Punishment: Harsh, 0|
|15||Distinctive Features: Bug Person; Concealability: Concealable, 10; Reaction: Always noticed & major reaction, +5|
|7||7||5||0||30/18||18/10||3, 5, 8, 10, 12|
If it should matter to anyone, Stinger’s original design was Str 40, Dex 21, Con 20, Body 15, Int 23, Ego 10, Pre 20, Com 10, PD 20, ED 15, SPD 5, Rec 15, End 40, Stun 45, EC/Insect Powers (Gliding 21″, 5d5 Entangle at 1/2 End, 2d6 HKA and 1/2 End), active sonar, half end cost/str, +1 level with EC, +4 levels with Gliding, 306 points. He’d gained odd powers (but no physical transformation) through being attacked by bugs in the Amazon, and turned to crime for some reason or other. As usual, there’s nothing much but the general idea (insect powers, boosted strength) left from that.
Height: 180cm (5’11”), Weight: 74kg (163 lbs), Sex: Male, Age: 36, Race: Transformed Human
OK, she’d been impatient what with the waste of her time, and had simply left the RPG club turned thaumaturgy class with her contact information, but Aikiko had to wonder… a compulsion artifact? That didn’t seem like Charles’s usual style at all. Had he been silly enough to – somehow – put artifact-bestowing on some sort of automatic system based on what people wanted? That WOULD be just like him! He’d never even think about the fact that quite a lot of people wanted things that they really should not have or which were more than a bit unethical… nerdish teenage boys wanting to catch some girls with little effort was just one of the more OBVIOUS cases.
At least none of the gamers had seemed at all violent; like most RPG clubbers they were intelligent, inclined to fantasy rather than activity, and a bit socially outcast.
Oh well. Arranging to get some film crews into Yu-Shan wasn’t that hard; it would be during the festival anyway. Now finding the last Guardian… that was turning into quite a project!
Meanwhile, Charles was calling ahead… He had a bunch of artifacts ready for Gauderis Athelstane. The sonorous geological grandeur of the primordial tongue echoed through space and time, whispering across the universe – carrying a message that wasn’t so grand at all.
(Charles) “Hi Again Grandmama! I’ve got most of your artifacts for you!”
After a considerable delay, and the vague sensation of that message being run through a lot of precautions…
(Gauderis) “And the others?”
(Charles) “Those are all ready! And the manses and things!”
(Gauderis) “Very well, child! I shall open up my defenses to let you in!”
(Charles, busily making sure that nothing snuck up on “grandmother” while there was a hole in her defenses) “Let me know when to come over!”
And with a faint shimmering of the Wyld, a portion of it resolved itself into one of Gauderis’s deva-towers.
Gothmug didn’t even need to say anything this time… Charles actually took a good look at it before heading in. It might have been someone being mean, whom he’d have had to make go away!
It did show her basalt-and-crimson theme of course, but Even Charles recognized that a color pattern wasn’t that hard to fake. Still, he sent Tsunami and Mothra Leo back inside once he was actually at the entry – another one of those tunnels with the razor arms crawling around.
(Charles) “Allo Razorcarls!”
The Razorcarls crawled over him, performed some analysis, and cheerily let him through. This time his grandfather’s deva-tower was open to him; the door slid aside when he approached and shut when he entered (Huh… he had to wonder; was using those same doors for heavy-duty entryways in Star Trek something conscious or unconscious? Or was it patterned after the Jadefolk, who’d lifted the concept of fortification from Her? Hard to say at this date!). Anyway, since his nana didn’t function on the fastest time scale, he’d have a few minutes even if she expected him more-or-less immediately. That was handy sometimes! He could drop by to see Gramps if he wasn’t busy with something! (Or, even if he was busy, if he was being attacked or something).
(Charles) “Is Grandpa in?”
One of the First Circles – an armored man carved of stone – pointed him upstairs; Gramps turned out to be upstairs in the study, which, while it was also basalt and Crimson, had a very classical selection of books and furniture. The ceiling provided a view of Creation, in all its distant, numinous splendor – although Charles suspected that that was much more useful before Creation expanded so much! Still, that was one reason that he’d brought along a very, VERY, powerful artifact telescope with autolocator functions!
(Charles) “Hi Grandpa! I finished up with armor for everyone, and a lot of other stuff! And for Great Grandma!”
Grandfather had been doing some doing some reading before Charles came in, but smiled benevolently when he saw him and got up to give him a big hug – which Charles happily returned.
(Charles) “I brought you some artifacts and things!”
(Richof) “Ah, Charles, my boy! I trust you had a productive trip, then!”
(Charles) “I’ve got pretty much everything ready!… Oh, and I got a pretty good self-updating map of the ley lines and energy flows for a few hundred billion light years around the Milky Way! You usually have to zoom in a lot though…”
(Richof) “Excellent… That should help me at work, though I suspect things will be VERY different soon… Ah, and is this telescope for me as well?”
(Charles) “It should update for that, although it may take a little while! And it is! And this stuff too…”
And there was much setting up of telescopes and donning of artifacts, especially the protective ones!
(Charles, helping) “They’re very good ones! And they include the wyld-based self-duplication-and-decide-which-one-was-“real” later on effect! That one was kind of tricky to get; I needed a lot of Raksha help to make that one!”
(Richof) “I assume the progenitor – your great-grandmother – is getting much the same?”
(Charles) “Yep! Hers interlocks with the rest though, so she can take care of it for everybody if she needs to!
(Richof, thoughtfully) “It’s a rare Exalt that would do such a thing for a Titan.”
(Charles) “Well, I don’t really see why… a lot of Exalts get pretty weird though!”
(Richof, looking a little sad for a moment, but then returning to smiling.) “So, tell me what you encountered out there!”
And there was lots of showing!
(Richof) “Hmm. It would seem Creation has affected even the Hannya! Aren’t those two from those video things? – Though, I must admit, they do make good predatory narratives.”
(Charles) “Well, sort of! But when they hang around near Creation… it’s narratives and imagery can be quite consistent, so it’s no big surprise that it echoes!”
(Richof) “Ah, it’s good that it has held up!”
(Charles) “Well… it does provide a common frame of reference so that everyone can interact!”
(Richof, thoughtfully puffing on his pipe) “And isn’t that grand… Even if it has persisted beyond its creators’ intended stay.” (Another puff) “What would you do if they came through? Your plan is grand, to be sure, but it IS possible.”
(Charles) “Say hello? After all… once the place is unbound from Yu-Shan, they can always just leave it behind!”
(Richof) “Even if they lash out at you, or Yu-Shan?”
(Charles) “Well, that’s what defenses are for… I’d have to try to find out why and make it better!”
Oh dear. The boy was so bound and determined to fix anything and everything. No matter if it wanted to kill him! Good character, but not necessarily the best at knowing what Yozis could do! At least… his inner world had gotten considerably bigger and more defined too. He might well be a primordial himself soon – or even now – but how would he fare against multiple Yozis? His defenses were very good though – and he’d done well so far in a dozen impossible situations. SOMEHOW all his random meandering was taking him just where he wanted to go.
He’d earned some trust.
(Richof) “I just hope you can protect everyone else if such a thing were to happen.”
(Charles) “I hope so! I have to go fix the Yozi’s next anyway.”
(Richof) “And good luck to you, my boy!”
(Charles) “Thank you!”
And it was off to see Great Grandmother – who once again greeted him in the form of her fetich (she wasn’t ready to show him the non-world one yet).
(Gauderis) “You came back, child! And… With many MORE powerful items within. And very quickly indeed…”
(Charles) “Allo! I got your artifacts ready! I’m sorry, but it turned out that I can only set it up so you can make a few dozen exalts not exist for you and vice-versa at any one time… There are lots of other defenses and self-duplication effects though!”
(Guaderis) “Humph. This is why one needs to have outriders, to see threats. Your grandfather is a quite capable outrider!”
(Charles, happily) “I brought him some more boosts too! And armor and stuff for all your Deva’s.”
(Guaderis) “And some for me to apply across my entire hierarchy, I see . . . You must have no fear of these being used against you.”
(Charles, rather blankly) “Should I? they’re almost all purely defensive of course… I suppose you could be hostile with the duplication, but it doesn’t seem to be your thing and they are made just for you!”
Ah… the child had no idea how dysfunctional the Primordial family was.
(Gauderis, sighing) “Not me, but some of your relatives are… Dysfunctional.”
(Charles) “It needs helping!”
And no doubt he was already planning on doing just that as soon as he was done with Yu-Shan. The child’s tactics adapted freely, but his overall strategy was completely predictable and he’d stated his goals often enough. A pity that Yu-Shan was one of the few who wasn’t sick or corrupted! The others would be harder. She could hear him now. “Oh well, it needs doing!”
It wasn’t like she had any objections anyway; if they left, so could she!
What? Oh… the boy was “hugging” her again. Still so human – despite the fact that he’d… already developed or installed a set of poles, started to unify his essence flows, and was well on the way to transforming his “false” souls into real ones. With physical contact that was easy enough to feel! That left little doubt – but so FAST.
(Gauderis) “I wonder how soon your transcendence will be…”
(Charles) “Will it matter much?”
(Gauderis) “No, but it will be fascinating to have Richof report in on it. (Shaking her head) it won’t be very long at all, a mere few weeks.”
Or a mere few hours from her point of view.
(Charles) “Well, probably while I’m very busy… things tend to work like that!”
(Gauderis) “And thankfully not like the last one.”
What would the child expect? He was ALWAYS very busily rushing about at an insane speed! That was the only time that anything HAD to happen in!
(Charles) “Ooh! There was a last one?”
(Gauderis) “Humans… Such a short time to accomplish anything, or so you were made to think. And you are not even the first! You probably won’t even suck in any waypoints, with those means of powering it. You have more than enough as is!”
(Charles) “Well, I can always just generate some more!”
(Gauderis) “Now THAT I can appreciate! No energy wasted on theatrics!”
(Charles) “Too much to do for that!”
Gauderis looked rather proud (or at least provided a good simulation thereof), while Charles was pleased to see that she wasn’t upset that he hadn’t been able to simply let her opt out of dealing with the Exalted totally. Still, at least that meant that he could still visit!
Gauderis had never really expected him to find a way to do that even in part, much less to find a way to get some Ishvara to cooperate on it. Exalted were GOOD at finding ways in! She had witnessed some of that, even if it was fairly obvious that the days of massed attacks were long over. Being able to just “not exist” with respect to a couple of dozen Exalts should be quite enough – or so she hoped. It was certainly an improvement anyway.
The boy was obviously shaping extra time to do his shaping in; hopefully he wouldn’t accidentally put himself in a loop! That had been a big pain when his Uncle Oramus did it! It took even more time-shaping to fix, and it was all too likely that the kid wouldn’t know when to begin. They could find themselves with a bunch of him all too easily!
Regardless… She gave him the Spike of Pole Unbinding to give to Gaia.
It was surprisingly mundane looking: just a long, sharp piece of chilly iron – but it’s aura was frightfully powerful indeed! It was coruscating with the power of all five elements!
Back in Yu-Shan, Gaia was deep, deep underground, where the Heart of the Canals was – so Charles sent her a message that politely waited until she wasn’t busy. That took a couple of days – but Gaia sent an avatar to Aden after that time. A rare occurrence! Even Aden looked more vibrant and vital with the Emerald Mother present! She arrived at the Eternal Forest Pavilion in the Singing Forest; it was a bit regulated for her tastes, but Aden really didn’t have any “untamed wilderness” outside of a few manses for exploring and camping and training and such, which really didn’t count. Her presence made the area resonate to the wilds call of course – not strongly enough to revert to a wilder state, but things certainly FELT more untamed around her as the music grew substantially wilder and explored evolving new subthemes!
(Charles) “Hello! I got the Spike for you!”
(Gaia, who was pleased to see him!) “Good! I was worried she would let her paranoia get the better of her! That thing is no toy, and if you didn’t prove yourself, she would never part with it.”
(Charles) “A bit perhaps! But I made her some things!”
(Gaia) “Just like brother…”
(Charles) “It’s sort of what he does too I suppose!”
(Gaia) “Now I must go, and actually USE this.”
And she looked a bit worried.
(Charles) “Hm… I wonder if his illness makes him more inclined to consider things that might hurt him? Oh, there’s not a BIG rush… I’ve got to get the concert set up first! Oh! I don’t think you’ve seen the more recent plans? Things have gotten a long ways past just Wyld Stunting and hoping to maintain control!”
(Gaia, with much relief) “Oh, thank the shinma. There’s only so much even a Primordial can do with THAT.”
And Charles proceeded to show her the whole absurdly detailed and intricate mess, including the hundreds of major artifacts, the Song of Creation, and the rest.
Gaia did the primordial equivalent of blinking. Just how much was the child accelerating himself? Yes, Autochthon had mode… more elegant and sophisticated things, but he liked to leave enough time to think about what he was doing! Charles seemed to be barely allowing enough time between whimsical conception and shaping things into reality to figure out what he was actually making, much less to consider the ramifications and consequences. Was he really shaping things into existence before he’d actually finished deciding what he was making? That would explain some of his… odder… creations. Still, she might have started the avalanche – but he was still a monomaniacal Solar.
(Gaia) “You did this in HOW short a time?”
(Charles) “Uhm… Four months now I think… It needed doing! Oh, and on the Creation side… This is the manse network to stabilize things there….”
That was most ambitious! Even by Solar standards! None of them had ever sought to redesign redesign a primordial, much less by giving them multiple linked aspects that would vastly increase their versatility and redesigning Creation at the same time! Much less moved the feat so close to reality right under everyone else’s nose with… honesty, kindness, and random acts of benevolence. Perhaps there was more to the Raksha and their notions of “Karma” then she had ever given them credit for.
Charles was pleased! At least Gaia didn’t seem so worried now!
(Gaia) “Charles… Can you stop the energies from bleeding out of Yu-Shan? I don’t think Dumenza and his subselves can hold all that back!”
(Charles) “Well, at least some of the essence backflow will go out through the old and new gates – but there are manses on the other end, and a bunch of new planets to take the backwash! There should be plenty of margin!”
(Gaia) “Well, then. There will be more than enough happening that it shouldn’t matter! What are a few more energy reactions when we have a sister to save?”
(Charles) “It is pretty urgent, even if a bit of cleaning-up is likely to be needed afterwards!”
Oh the child had NO IDEA. There would be CLEANING. LOTS of CLEANING. Especially considering how many others were likely to get involved! It was pretty obvious that she had a much better idea of how much opposition was likely to pop up than Charles did! Power or no, he wasn’t even fifteen yet.
Still, he did have to beat out Stanewald – which she had NOT have known about and which was still ongoing, ever faster; the Sidereals were pushing their own schedules too!
Charles… had to go and make concert arrangements – and after that a LOT of people would need tickets! He might have to send another aspect to take care of that! Even if the Cauldron-Born would probably just pull thoroughly official original tickets out of the Wyld (who was he to complain? He’d pulled six originals of Luna’s writ out of the Wyld so that he’d have spares…), the time of Calibration, and the Carnival of Meeting, was coming close! Scheduling was tight even for him, and to get the right spot he’d need to be registering early. After all everyone in Heaven with any Performance skills of note wanted to play close to the festival grounds! It was a decent way to get a worshiper whose prayers actually meant something!
And Saturn HAD asked him to time the event to her annual competition with the Sun, too.
The best location would be the Central Gate Pavilion. At least violence was impossible (for most people anyway) for the duration of the festival… That was available on a limited basis, but you needed to keep paths clear for emergencies and for people going in and out. That was fine though! He wanted to divide up the seating to keep the various groups at least symbolically separate… Come to think of it, given the likely audience size, some space-warping to make more room was likely in order.
A good thing he had the Celestial Lions onboard for this! That would make getting through the bureaucratic maze easier! And it being festival time would make it easier for a lot of the guests to attend… Yu-Shan seemed to like having a wide variety of guests as long as they behaved! Even better… what with all the other things being set up, the odd people turning up, and the energies of calibration flowing around… it should make it easy to keep the initial setup quiet.
Charles double checked to make sure that Calibration wouldn’t call for any changes in the plans though!
Actually… When he added Calibration to the mix he got this weird feeling of approval. That was good!
He made sure to reserve spaces for major visitors. He had a feeling that some were likely to come! And for Mothra Leo on the roof! And for school friends, and museum scientists, and masons, and Raksha… Oh dear. It was going to require I AM to figure out the seating wouldn’t it? Especially since some of those seats would be for his opponents.
It wasn’t the first time that I AM had had to do this. The first age Solars had often been even harder to seat amicably, even with the need to set aside seating for Yozis and their third circles on this one.
Oh well! I AM had LOTS more experience and capacity than Charles, even if Charles had expanded his mind a lot. He didn’t argue!
I AM also wanted to what he wanted to do for concessions.
That… had never occurred to him! Some of the food gods would doubtless set up near any major event, but… He’d have to establish a manse-aura effect to handle basic drinks and snacks, invite the Cornucopia of All and Nine Grape and such to send Avatars and/or representatives, a Raksha table was definitely in order, and… well, as wide a variety of food as he could get!
Huh… Did Oramus do catering? It was obviously impossible for him, so he probably did! After all… he might be trapped in his own wings, but he was the avatar of doing impossible things and it was impossible for him to partially escape that trap, and therefore it would be something that he could do. Escaping totally was possible with the help of the Exalted, and thereby wasn’t something that he could do on his own.
Of course, by that logic, he was partially free already and doing weird stuff at whim… So asking about catering would be the quickest way to test! It was quite impossible for Oramus to hear and answer him without massive workings and potent magics… So he could just look at the nearest blank wall and ask!
(Charles) “Hm. Oramus? would you like to talk to me? I should be coming to help all of you out fairly soon!”
Insanely enough, what with solar-circle level wyld stunting, shaping, quasi-primordial powers, a thread of Nocturnal essence (which no one had known about to block), and kids being a part of Oramus’s mythos… that actually had a snowball’s chance of working. And as it happened…
(A wry, playful, but deep voice) “That took you long enough. I was worried you would never figure it out… You wouldn’t happen to have some quantum scissors, would you?”
(Charles) “I’d had the thought a few times, but I’ve been very busy!”
Would that be the third-rank lesser version quantum scissors or the major ones at rank five? The grand ones – beyond the ranking system – would be pretty hard to make!
(Charles) “Hm… I can try to make some! They sound complicated enough to take a little while though… I could whip up some Lesser Quantum Scissors for proof-of-concept pretty quickly though!”
(Oramus) “You really are a child, aren’t you? Oh, I’ve heard. You would fill the entire universe with quantum scissors if you thought it would help. But what happens when you run with quantum scissors?”
(Charles, thoughtfully) “Well, there’s a strong possibility that SOMETHING might get hurt or damaged! Or so I’d think anyway…”
(Oramus, with a lot of broken cackling) “The Divine Ignition! Thank you, I’m here forever!”
Charles was puzzled – but Quantum Scissors (whatever it was they did) were definitely going on the list!
And he got the feeling that something was knocking – not on the door, not even on the manse he was in… but on his soul… Which was, of course, also a world.
(Charles) “Anyway, it was obviously completely impossible for you to attend the concert and do catering, so I was wondering it that would happen? Although, to be fair, there are LOTS of things that are impossible and so you might do…”
He checked to see who it was – and there was an area near one of the Aden gates that was somehow a little fuzzier or more wyld-like than usual. It couldn’t actually be CHANGED that way of course, but – just like with Gaia – even perfect defenses didn’t block out alterations in FEEL.
Charles set up a manse area that overlapped to allow a sort of an “Embassy” effect.
(Oramus) “I see the door, and the door is open, but I can’t work the knob! Why can’t I work the knob?!” (Almost sobbing) “OF COURSE! I HAVE TO USE THE WINDOW!”
Charles consulted Malinda and some of the others! This was OLD crazy, and it was confusing him!
And in the embassy area he got the briefest glimpse of an enormous iridescent wing slamming up against something.
Hrm… Elsewhere contained at least Aleph-3 dimensions, and Oramus simply could not have transfinite power or he could not have been contained by finite means. Ergo, he had to be blocking himself in any realm he tried to access! Ergo, a Manse Gate could get in, but any attempt on his part to use it would be blocked off by his own power. Thus the wing. Ergo, he needed to give the gate a perfect defense against being blocked by Oramus during a moment when Oramus wasn’t trying to use it, and he’d be able to use it afterwards!
Well, in part. The portion of his energies that automatically tried to block him wouldn’t be able to pass, and so only a very limited portion of him would be able to come through. A third circle most likely, or perhaps two at the very most.
(Malinda) “Oh, goodness, dearie… Whatever those Solars did to bind him was at least equal to what you could do, and they were working together! This might take some more time to unseal him!”
(Charles, busily working) “Well… It should be much easier to give him a LITTLE access than breaking the binding entirely… Wait! Oramus governed the quantum probability-fans to maintain separate Creations…”
He asked Nox about quantum scissors effects. It rather sounded like a tool used to delimit the boundaries of the Creation-dimension anyway!
And… there was a mighty iridescent dragon, oscillating with the maddening energies of Possibility that even creatures of the Wyld could not handle without going mad! Perfect mental defenses were helping against that, but there was still a temptation to drop them to get a full appreciation of how he looked – and THAT was natural influence. His multiple wings were wrapped around him in fractal patterns that even Galieo was straining to handle… and he was weeping piteously.
(Charles) “What’s wrong? How can I help?”
And there was the voice of a young man in his head, familiar, but much clearer this time. He sounded like he was talking in his sleep.
(Nox) “Wow. It stinks seeing him cry like this… Still a good thing this is only affecting YOUR reality, kid. Otherwise Sunny would be on you like a ton of orichalcum.”
(Charles) “Well… I have a lot of compensating factors at least… What’s wrong with him? Or is it just being stuck that way?”
(Nox) “Eh, how’d you feel after fifty millennia of being stuck in yourself, when your whole self-conception is ‘I do the impossible’? With not even, say, a kindly old craftsman and some rash kid to give you an out? By the way? Thanks.”
(Charles) “Stress relief then! It may only be limited space to act in at the moment, but at least he can meet and talk to other people and such until I can get things straightened out more… And you’re welcome!”
(Nox) “It REALLY makes a difference, even if it’s just one being.”
(Charles) “Lots of things to fix!”
(Nox) “Ah well! One more Creation with me up and about very soon!”
(Charles) “Oh good! And the sanity-restoring manse construction has been moving right along too…”
(Nox) “Seriously, though, kid… Dad will wear on you if you just leave that open. And if you make the quantum scissors? 50/50 shot of you getting those to him in Malfeas. I’m figuring this out from him bursting out, of course . . . Can’t see in the King without his permission!”
(Charles) “Well… I can set it up to be a bit more isolated – and to automatically permit visitors minds to handle it safely. That way he can have lots of visitors, some influence on events outside, and even remote excursions without necessarily inducing madness in random passers-by. Would that do?”
(Nox) “With the way you’re warping Ayuji? Yeah. Don’t worry, you’re not hurting her! It just happens when she’s sharing reality-space with a Primordial!”
(Charles) “OK then! That should work nicely for the moment… And I can route in some events from history and the current time so that he can gossip with Yu-Shan; I suspect that the only thing that made HIM a “Yozi” was being so trapped.”
(Nox) “I think they’d like that. He always seemed sad about… You know, the whole sleep thing.”
(Charles, while busily setting things up) “Oh good!”
Oramus had been just staring blankly ahead while weeping, like he wasn’t really comprehending that someone was there- but now he was calming down. He still looked really freaked out!
(Oramus) “Is that really you, Gauderis Athelstane?”
(Charles) “That’s great-grandmother! I’m Charles! Unless she’s got a link set up… that would be sensible!”
What appeared to be a blue cabbage with tentacles had just materialized next to Oramus. Weirdly enough, Charles got the feeling that it was… what he’d been using as a Yu-Shan substitute. Oh dear. Things were going to get very crazy within this pocket reality interface weren’t they?
(Oramus) “Yu-Shan, do you hear that! We can finally escape, and I’ll never never let you eat strange objects again! But that would make that Possible. Hmm… Is that little Nox I sense? Bad Ayuji! You ate Nox! You know the Incarnae are off limits!”
(Nox) “Actually, it was more like… Eh, you know what, kid? I’m just going to let you deal with this mess! You can handle it!”
Well, he had to test sometime! Charles offered Oramus some of the yozi-sanity-restoring artifacts (one per Deva and one more) based on the Privacy Manse effects in the forms of a selection of impossible puzzles, to attune by solving! An opportunity that he could not resist even in the best of times, which these were not.
It did seem to help, even if it took time… There were millennia worth of insanity to work through after all! Still, anything to do other than escape was something. It was fortunate that Charles had persistent mental defenses, or it would have been quite disastrous. Still, Charles could easily devote a sub-aspect to it; he wouldn’t need his full concentration until Calibration…
Keeping the link open took up a not-insignificant amount of Aden’s processing… Not to mention attracting attention in Malfeas as Oramus thrashed around less. It was still a good thing to be doing! If not exactly a prudent one! Particularly since – as was true of quite a few Primordials – there was no record at all of Oramus actually doing anything objectionable. For the “grand villains of the universe, vanquished in glorious and righteous war”… there was little to no mention of them actually DOING anything except annoying Autochthon and MAYBE the occasional natural disaster equivalent, but it wasn’t like those didn’t happen anyway – and even more often when the Primordials were not around to keep things organized.
Well, Charles had always assumed that the winning side wrote the histories to make themselves look good – and events must have been DEEPLY ambiguous if a bunch of Solar writers couldn’t make themselves look totally righteous. Gramps had made sure that he’d learned to THINK about what he was read and told!
Meanwhile, over at Toho Studios, Aikiko had pretty much blown her cover – and the air-aspected studio head and the rest of the senior management was wanting to know if Aikiko – who clearly had a much better idea of what was going on than they did, even if it WAS their movie monsters who were out and about – would be willing to be a part of their delegation to address the United Nations Security Council.
Of course half the delegates there were supernatural beings anyway, and most of the rest knew Thaumaturgy. After all, if you didn’t know THAT much you’d be lost at least half the time! Especially when it came to discussing how best to cover up the Raksha UFO’s!
(Aikiko) “Whoa… Well, I guess we’ve got no choice. I’m the one with the most experience on this, unless anyone else wants to speak up.”
(Morinopu/Forest Wind, the Studio Head) “Well, if giant Kaiju from our movies are going to be fighting over the fate of the Earth while stargates open up… there’s not a lot of point in hiding any longer! And if you can offer some explanation for it… we might as well send you to do the talking. It’s not like WE’VE got one.”
(Ariskari Mekan) “What, holding meetings without me?”
(Morinopu, sighing) “It was urgent, and we had no idea if you would come Sensai!”
(Ariskari) “What, you think that I would miss a meeting this important? The Kamikaze comes for the third time, this time across the greatest of seas, and the Gate will not hold against it. We must ride with it or we will surely fade into obscurity!”
There was a brief pause.
(Ariskari, sighing) “What, confused looks again? Many common fortune-tellers can see THAT much! Foresight may be clouded, but a warning of peril is hardly useless, even if you can see no quick and easy way to victory!”
Aikiko was considering… An Exalt she might be, and she’d been up to a lot in the past few years – but she was no politician and, as a teenager, might have a hard time impressing the Security Council. Ariskari obviously had a LOT of experience though – and was capable of impressing Dragonblooded. Clan enough to be called “Sensai”. Even if it was just age and experience, that might help a lot!
(Aikiko) “Sensai Ariskari? Would you consider talking to the Security Council as well? Your wisdom would surely be of great assistance!”
(Ariskari) “Are you sure that you are not just seeking to replace one crutch – the construct-servant you have taken from the great darkness – with another to aid you where it cannot? With training and discipline you should not need such things! Still, I suppose that you are still very young. I will be expecting rapid improvement though!”
Aikiko… was more than a bit taken aback! Of course he’d see Skoll that way – but the old guy was perceptive as hell, sharp as a razor, and obviously didn’t put up with much of any guff! And…. he wasn’t exactly wrong, although he probably never dived into interstellar beasties.
Not that she was going to open her mouth to say so.
And he was a hundred and eighteen years old? Even at his age… his stance was perfect, his confidence huge, and his reflexes better than most! He was obviously a bit weaker than he was at his prime, but there was still a fair amount of muscle under that wrinkled skin. A most irascible old man indeed!
And… a man who made her wonder what she could have been like if she hadn’t Exalted. Granted, he might well be one himself at that age, albeit possibly not of a type she recognized, and there might well have been an anima flare by now!
Although the details of his face were oddly hard to make out. Perhaps… a Sidereal who had dared to LIVE, rather than work all the time? A discreetly cloaked use of her perception excellency showed her… ambrosial… arch supports and compression stockings to help with very elderly feet and varicose veins. His cane was a minor artifact that provided unfailing balance and – as a stick – could be used with pretty much any martial art as a form weapon. He COULD be a well-connected Thaumaturgist of course – but those of his movies that she’d been able to track down often seemed to be teaching tools for very high end martial arts. Either a Sidereal playing hooky from the Bureau for some reason, a God doing the same, or a relative of either… With the difficulty of remembering the facial features and the fact that gods didn’t age… likely a Sidereal (although it would take a LONG time for a Sidereal to get THAT old) or Sidereal half-caste. Which made the whole discipline-and-training thing more understandable. Who would be more likely to put his faith in those things than somebody who knew just how badly people with more power than sense could mess things up?
Ouch. That probably described a painfully BIG chunk of Heavenly politics.
Still… hard to say without asking, and how to do so politely? Unless… He was wondering why she hadn’t asked already. She had just admitted to being involved with the supernatural.
His apparent age fit in well enough with 118 for a human. What little there was on him said that he’d looked abolut the same since he started making movies, shortly after Toho had built their studio-manse. His actual age was… Oh for Lytek’s sake! Very FEW people had protections against people determining how old they were! She could just check!
11,147 years old. And pretty much wearing an occult sign saying “Bug Off! I’m RETIRED!”
Erk! Now that was OLD. While even THAT wasn’t old enough for him to have seen the earlier ages without time-distortions or some such it was still quite old enough to have seen the earliest beginnings of the current human civilization.
She checked his Essence signature. She’d been assuming that he’d be hiding it – but at THAT age, why bother? Anyone who’d care, depending on what he is, would either be way out of his league, a possible worthy student, or someone to mess with.
An Elder Sidereal Exalt. Essence in the 8 to 10 range. And, obviously… not too much longer to go.
By the Incarnae… probably with all the longevity they could have. Probably Journeys – not that the distinction would mean much to HIM any longer! At THAT age he’d likely mastered every scripture, probably had ways of getting every Anima, and quite blatantly knew a LOT of martial arts! Even some of the old-type charm-cascade styles full of really weird stuff!
He’d likely pegged her style – and type – just from her own stance. She’d better stay on her best behavior with him, and maybe even use Skoll a bit less! It would be nice to get some of his knowledge before he died!
Come to think of it, he’d been recording all kinds of martial arts styles in his films – and had asked that she appear in some of them. That probably meant that she was in for some martial enlightenment whether she liked it or not!
The Security Council. Who would have thought that she’d beat Charles to this? He was the one who liked to talk to people! Representatives of some of the most powerful nations on Earth – and these days that was no joke even for the Exalted. Humans these days… had LOTS of powerful weapons right up through nukes – and not a little power of their own, even if they mostly didn’t know it! Humans… were not so helpless any more!
(Chairman) “So; given your appearance here in response to our request, I take it that Toho Studios wishes to answer some of our questions? You do not seem to have been selected for bland denial, so it seems likely that you have some information to share with us.”
(Aikiko) “I can answer at least some of them.”
(Chairman) “Well then, perhaps it will be most efficient for you to provide a general outline? A barrage of uncoordinated questions seems inefficient.”
(Aikiko) “Where would you like me to begin? I know there’s a lot of weird stuff going on lately. What concerns the Council the most?”
(Chairman) “Most obviously… Stargates and Giant Monsters. Those may or may not be related – but it does seem likely that Toho knows something about the monsters; they seem to have been depicting them quite accurately for decades now.”
(Aikiko) “The Stargates? You mean from the ads pretty much everywhere? Yeah, those are real. A friend of mine is working on those.”
And there were various murmurs and much note-taking.
(Chairman) “So… in your own words… what is going on? And does it endanger the people of the world?”
(Aikiko) “Hmm… My friend, Charles, wants the universe to thrive with life. So he’s been constructing gates to other, habitable worlds out in space. They haven’t opened up yet. When they do, though, he and his creations will be there handing out supplies to anyone who wants to colonize space. He’s also been recruiting. I bet there’s multiple offices in New York City.”
(France) “So… your friend controls the resources to organize the colonization of seventy-two worlds by himself?”
(Aikiko) “To minimize potential complications my friend… has been terraforming those worlds from lifeless hunks of rock in otherwise uninhabited galaxies. Sending supplies to a few dozen worlds is probably trivial to him.”
(Chairman, with a censorious look at the French representative) “Your friend can terraform planets more or less to order? And he is concerning himself with the people of the Earth?
(Aikiko, sighing) “Charles is pretty much a living saint. All he thinks about is fixing things… And peanut butter.”
(Japanese Special Representative) “And the kaiju?”
(Aikiko) “Not him – well, except for Mothra Leo; I think he just made him to figure out what was going on with the others. Not Toho either. This group called the Cauldron-Born made them. Um… They’re a merger of fairies and powerful humans. Normally fairies want to eat your soul or your emotions, but I think the Cauldron-born just want a place in our universe.”
There was more muttering, and some unhappiness with the gibberish – but the United Kingdom representative spoke up; “Obviously there are rather a LOT of things going on – but there are at least two obvious things to do! First up… Ms Aikiko? Your “Friend” is apparently something quite incredible… Do you and the other two here possess some relevant special abilities? And is there some sort of history of all this we can look at?”
Aikiko looked at Morinopu and Ariskari… Were they OK with being outed? Oh of course they were! They were letting her act as spokesman and had already pretty much agreed just by coming along!
(Aikiko) “Well… He (nodding to the studio head) is attuned to the magical Essence of Air. He (indicating the director) is a master martial artist – and not just physical martial arts, but the kind that provide supernatural powers – and as knowledgeable about nearly every other discipline as anyone I know. I’m a skilled martial artist too… And I have my companion Skoll (as she called “him” forth). Now, if you want to know the history of the world before, here’s a download from the library in Aden, Charles’s… base.”
And the demonstrations, explanations, air effects, and bits of the WEIRDER Sidereal Martial Arts (teleportation-based, phasing based, elementally based, and more), went on for quite some time.
Aikiko found herself even MORE impressed with Ariskari! Even among the Sidereal Masters quite a few of those styles probably qualified as lost arts! Any ONE of those would be BEYOND handy!
Ariskari… was rather having fun! It had been some time since he’d actually had to USE most of his styles… Even the Sidereal Brotherhood hadn’t argued much when he’d decided to retire and make movies after more than ten thousand years of active service, even if he HAD had to arrange the construction of a manse capable of supporting such a project first.
They wound up taking the Security Council to visit Aden for a bit – after which Aikiko took the opportunity to get back to the tabloids.
As so often happens, it looks like a direct translation of Space Marines into d20 is a mess; the different assumptions and rules underlying the two systems often turns important Deathwatch powers into d20 trivialities. The net result is tangled, bloated, and vastly overpriced.
So lets boil that down into an something that actually works properly in d20 and which produces equivalent results without actually trying to replicate mechanics and limitations which are ill-suited to the game system and setting. That’s a less direct, but far more sensible and MUCH cheaper, sort of conversion.
And that way they’ll be potentially usable in other settings as well – or at least the ones with high technology. I’ll call this template…
Mamluk (High-Efficiency 63 CP / +2 ECL Acquired Scifi Soldier Template)
- Attribute Bonuses: First up we have the original generic +2 to every attribute. That didn’t make a lot of sense in the first place even in 40K (wiping most of your knowlege out of your head and adding in fanaticism makes you smarter how? Making you a walking death machine with built-in armor plating makes you a better singer how?) and – in d20, where most characters will be focusing on one or two key attributes – has a big cost for little actual benefit. That doesn’t suit the military at ALL. Ergo, +2 each to any two attributes (24 CP).
- Canine Augmentation: “Dog” Modifications: Shapeshift, Attribute Modifiers, Hybrid Form, Clear Speech, Variants (Near-Human Appearance). Specialized: “Dog” Form Only, Corrupted: Cannot actually Change Forms (27 CP base, net cost 9 CP). This cheesy exploit provides a pile of physical bonuses on the cheap. I tend to allow it in the high-end sci-fi settings because, when a combat may involve tanks, mecha, fighters, power armor, and ultratech weaponry, physical bonuses just don’t mean what they used to. So this trick gets you Str +4, Dex +4, Con +4, +4 Natural Armor, 1d6 Natural Weapons, Scent, Tracking (Wilderness), Low-Light Vision, Jump +4, and Scent +4 for a low, low, cost. It’s also pretty much ideal for soldiers. You get pack loyalty, a tendency to obey command hierarchies, and well-organized combat groups as a part of the package. For fluff justification for including some canine tweaks look at the Space Wolves, who’s canine adaptions sometimes go entirely out of control.
- Incredible Vitality: Mighty Grant of Aid with Spark of Life and +4 Bonus Uses (21 CP). This will prevent bleeding, counter poisons, diseases, and negative levels, greatly accelerate healing, allow the user to get back on his or her feet despite near-mortal wounds, and keep the user alive long after they should be dead – at least until they hit (negative hit points).
- Bioengineered: Innate Enchantment: All functions (L1 Spell x 2000 GP for Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x Caster Level One x .7 Personal Use Only (where relevant). 11,000 GP value (11,380 GP actually, but that’s well within the , Corrupted / counts against campaign limits on Innate Enchantment (8 CP).
- Deep Trance: This is basically Feign Death – except that the user is totally unconscious, has no sensory input whatsoever, and has no way to terminate the effect except waiting for the spell to run out. 560 GP after an additional x.4 multiplier – “runs continuously once activated until the user receives hours of expert medical care to wake him or her up”.
- Deep Breath (Spell Compendium): The target need not breathe. This pretty much covers resistance to inhaled gases, asphyxiation, and working under water (1400 GP).
- Elemental Spittle (New Spell) : x.8 modifier; restricted to acid only (1120 GP).
- Endure Elements (SRD): The user is immune to normal weather extremes (1400 GP).
- Personal Haste (The Practical Enchanter): +30′ on existing movement modes, +1 Attack when making a Full Attack (2000 GP).
- Relieve Poison (Hedge Magic): Grants a +4 Enhancement Bonus on saves versus poison and a -2 on the attribute damage resulting from failed saves against poison (1400 GP)
- Relieve Illness (Hedge Magic): Grants a +4 Enhancement Bonus on saves versus Illnesses and a -2 on the attribute damage resulting from failed saves against illnesses. There’s nothing about being resistant to illness in the original template, but there certainly seems like there OUGHT to be (1400 GP).
- Sustenance (The Practical Enchanter): The user’s need to eat, sleep, drink, and breathe drops to one-quarter normal (1400 GP).
- Shield Of Faith (SRD): x.5 Multiplier: only works to make up for AC penalty due to wearing large sized armor (700 GP).
- Immunity/the normal XP cost of Innate Enchantments (Uncommon, Minor, Trivial [only covers first level effects at caster level one], Specialized/only to cover their abilities in this template, 1 CP).
- Immunity to Dispelling, Antimagic, and Countermagic (Common/Minor/Epic (covers effects through level nine). Specialized in protecting innate enchantments only, Corrupted/only covers powers in this template (6 CP). This basically says “these are nonmagical (bio-engineered) abilities, not magic”.
- Veritophage: Double Enthusiast, Specialized for Increased Effect (Works in minutes) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / the user must devour a portion of a creature with the needed skill or knowledge, the GM decides what the user gains, the effect lasts for a maximum of one day, and only skills and knowledges are eligible (4 CP).
- Neural Augmentation: Adept: pays half price for Spot, Listen, and any two Martial Arts (at least one an unarmed style) (6 CP). Racial Bonuses: Spot +2, Listen +2, and their Unarmed Martial Art +8 (6 CP). +3 Skill Specialities: Scent/Taste Perception/Sense Poison, Survival/Track any creature that they’ve recently tasted part of, Spot/Listen/Resisting perception penalties from lack of sleep (3 CP).
- Hulking Physique: Anime Master (6 CP). A Mamluk can use oversized weapons with ease.
- Quick on the Trigger: May ready one-handed weapons as a free action (Reflex Training, 6 CP).
- Fanatic Devotion: +2 on saves against Mind-Affecting Powers (Resistance, 3 CP).
- Hey! These guys are expensive!: Immunity/Age (Uncommon, Severe, Minor, 4 CP). Creating a Mamluk is a pretty major project – and you don’t want your incredibly expensive super-soldiers retiring on you do you?
That comes to 95 CP – which is much more reasonable. Still, to make it even more reasonable…
- Mamluk are always fanatically dedicated to a cause and forget much of their past otherwise; it’s a part of the process. They are always in active military service, and do not retire, refuse missions, or surrender. They are hulking killing machines, and are always major targets on the battlefield – and (since their creators were not totally stupid) they are incapable of using magical, psionic, or similar abilities of above the fourth level. Those drawbacks are sufficient to Corrupt the entire template, reducing the cost to 63 CP – just within the bounds of a +2 ECL acquired template.
Overall, the Mamluk are strong, tough, and fast, easily wield massive weapons, can survive some pretty harsh environments with little protection, and are pretty much ideal soldiers. Sadly, their built-in fanaticism pretty much makes them living weapons for whoever holds their loyalty – which can be either very, very, good or very, very, bad.
As for gear… since this is a (more or less) Scifi template, I’ll be defaulting to the Federation-Apocalypse setting rules.
- Federation-Apocalypse Large Gyrojet (“Bolter”) Pistol: One-Handed Small Arm, Options of Increased Damage II, and Explosive I. A straightforward weapon; the slugs are miniature rockets (making the weapon inherently recoilless) that explode after impact. That would be 3d10, but making it large gives us 3d12 base damage. Crit 20/x2, 25 Shots (Clip), 8 Lb. Maximum rate of fire = number of attacks. They are cheap and highly reliable. Like most small arms, this would be a one-point gadget.
- Astartes Bolt Pistol: 3d10 (keep best two) + 5 damage, Crit +1d10 (Standard in Deathwatch), 14 Shots, 12 Lb. Maximum rate of fire = 3. They are incredibly expensive and require complex maintenance.
The differing range systems give pretty similar short and maximum ranges, although d20 is concerned with targeting limitations versus individual targets while 40K focuses more on the maximum range at which a shot can be expected to inflict injury against an opposing army.
There’s a pattern here that – looking over the other Deathwatch weapons – seems to be fairly consistent. Federation-Apocalypse setting weapons are slightly superior to Deathwatch weapons (as well as being a LOT cheaper and far more reliable). Some FA weapons – such as a four-shot microfusion missile launcher (5d20 in a 10′ radius) – are more powerful than any normally available Deathwatch weapon, although a Conversion Beamer at long range comes fairly close. Basically, it comes down to “Federation-Apocalypse weapons are designed and customized by expert programs that understand exactly what they’re doing, are manufactured in advanced robotic factories to exacting precision, and are cheap, durable, and reliable” versus “40K weapons are made according to ill-understood traditional patterns using non-standardized materials by hand, they are somewhat clumsy, expensive, easily damaged, and rather touchy”.
Since it looks like we’ll be using FA weapons, it seems fair to look at FA power armor for a match.
- Deathwatch Power Armor makes the user one size category larger, and provides +9 Armor (averaged from 10 to the body and 8 elsewhere), +8 Str, Dark Sight, protection against sensory overloads, +2 to Spot and Listen, environmental life support (including nutrient recycling), a built-in automedpack, communications links, biomonitoring, magnetic boots, recoil suppression, large size, and a -2 penalty on delicate tasks.
OK, F-A power armor is just upgraded sets of Smartclothes.
- Smartclothes: Inductive Neural-Interface, Personal-Computer, Communications, Recording, and HUD functions, IR, UV, Low-Light, and Magnifying Vision, Flash Suppression (audio and visual), personal and environmental monitoring, ability to reconfigure and change coloration with no loss of function, and 12-hour life support. They are incidentally self-cleaning, capable of signaling for help if the wearer is in trouble, can interface with other computer systems, and have various minor functions. They come in three levels – Civilian, Military, and Special Forces (costing 3, 4, or 5 gadget points; the basic difference is +2, +4, or +6 bonuses). We’ll want the Special Forces Version (Armor +6, Damage Reduction 6/-, Energy Resistance 6 (this also covers heating and cooling for comfort in a wide range of environments), +6 to Climb, Disguise, Listen, Spot, Stealth, and Swim, and +4 to Saves (sensory overloads, toxins, and stabilizing while dying – the automatic medical functions)).
Yes, in the FA setting newborn babies are tucked in with smartclothes. What better way to keep them clean, safe, and well monitored?
Now we’ll need a few of the available upgrades.
- Space Operations Upgrade: Extends the life support time to a week, provides gripping functions,
- Growth Upgrade I: Large size, +8 Str, -2 Dex, +4 Con, +3 Natural Armor (for a total bonus of +9), -1 AC (this will be countered by the Template), and +30 HP. (Growth II and up turns your armor into a Mecha).
- Sensor Upgrade I: Extend base range to 300′ for the various special senses, secure communications, etc.
This doesn’t include Recoil Suppression – but F-A weapons do not normally have recoil issues anyway.
This upgraded combat-armor version of Smartclothes is an eight-point gadget – a bit expensive for kids, but well within the range that a starting character can afford. Once again… it is also somewhat superior to Space Marine armor.
To get the armor bonus up even further add Medium Plating (+1 Gadget Point). This provides +2 AC, max Dex Bonus of +4, and Armor Check Modifier -2 – neatly covering the penalty on delicate tasks. If you add Heavy Plating (+4 AC) instead you’ll be basically getting the Exterminator armor bonuses.
If you’re looking to add the equivalent of a Force Shield, you’ll be wanting to add an Effector Module to generate force-constructs for you.
According to Deathwatch, a starting Space Marine has the equivalent of 12,000 XP – making them level five characters. Ergo, if you want to make a Deathwatch equivalent Mamluk, you’ll want to make a level three warrior-type with the Mamluk Template, for a net ECL of five. You’ll also want to invest in a martial art to upgrade your chance of hitting high-AC targets, a good base attack bonus, more bonus uses on your Grant of Aid, and so on – but that isn’t very complicated.
You will find that your character is somewhat more powerful than a 40K Space Marine – and can be expected to become FAR more powerful than that – but that’s simply because d20 player character power scales go far beyond 40K player character power scales and because FA technology is better than 40K technology.
The question this time around was “How do I build a 40K Space Marine in Eclipse?”
Really, that pretty much comes down to “what do a Space Marine’s innate abilities look like in Eclipse?” – and the only way to answer is to start converting those abilities. For this there’s one basic underlying assumption; starting humans are pretty much starting humans and can serve as a benchmark for everything else. Secondarily, +5 on a d100 pretty obviously equates to +1 on a d20 roll. Finally, I’m going strictly by game the RPG (Dark Heresy, Rogue Trader, and Deathwatch) mechanics; fluff text is pretty much irrelevant, as are descriptions of mighty feats from novels and such.
So to start with characteristics… Baseline (“Imperial”) human characters in Dark Heresy generate their characteristics as (2d10 + 20). Baseline human characters in Rogue Trader use (2d10+25), but are presumed to be starting at a total of 5000 XP. Starting Space Marines in Deathwatch use (2d10 + 30), but are presumed to be starting at a total of 12,000 XP. Unfortunately for those who like consistency, all three state that you can only boost an attribute by +20. Implants may excuse that for the space marines, but no reason is given why Rogue Trader characters have potential attribute limits five points higher than Dark Heresy characters. Oh well.
Since Dark Heresy characters seem to be the real baseline humans in 40K, lets consider them.
With a maximum initial attribute of just twice the minimum and a bonus range of a mere three numbers (with one of them – the +4 – being extremely unlikely) our baseline humans in Dark Heresy actually have a considerably narrower range of attributes than is found in d20. Baseline D20 humans have an attribute range of 3-18 (a maximum of six times the minimum), an average of 10.5, with a bonus range of -4 to +4 – three times as many possible bonus values. Ergo 40K games focus on the center of the bell curve and simply ignore its extremes. That’s reasonable enough in a grimdark setting where sticking up your exceptional head is almost certain to get it shot off and where any severe weakness likely leads to death or permanent consignment to the faceless masses.
So: Baseline 40K Humans have an initial characteristic range of 22 (2d10 roll of 2 + 20) to 45 (2d10 roll of 20 + 20 +5 Purchased, although this is likely rare) with an average of 31 and a bonus range of +2 to +4 – very commonly +3 and almost always +2 if it isn’t +3. In d20, that 31 and +3 equates to 10 and +0 – the standard, noncombatant, background NPC.
Rogue Trader types have better attribute generation, averaging 36 – pretty much equivalent to 4d6 drop one, the “Elite” attribute array, or the reasonable point-buy options. That makes Rogue Trader characters the standard d20 PC types.
In 40K Skill Percentages go up with attributes; +10 attribute = +10% skill = +2 on a d20 roll. Attribute Bonuses, however, only go up with +1 per +10 on the attribute – half as fast Averaging the two tells us that +3 to an attribute in 40K equates to +1 to an attribute in d20. This neatly matches what we get from the average attribute for a normal person being 31.
So to derive d20 attributes from 40K, just divide by three, rounding off. To generate attributes for 40K styled characters in d20 just use one of the standard generation methods.
Far more importantly when it comes to d20, that tells us that Space Marines basically enjoy about a +2 (well, 1.66666…) bonus on all their attributes above a baseline adventurer. In fact the attributes correspond quite well. We’ve got Strength / Strength, Intelligence / Intelligence, Toughness / Constitution, Agility / Dexterity, Perception and Willpower / Wisdom, and Fellowship / Charisma. That doesn’t actually matter much, but it is convenient.
Now the Space Marines are artificially modified, so in d20 terms they’re an Acquired Template.
- That gives us an initial base of Str +2, Int +2, Wis +2, Con +2, Dex +2, and Chr +2 (presumably focused more on Leadership than Looks). That’s (72) CP – expensive, but generally useful.
Now to cover their bioengineered organs.
- A Space Marines Unnatural Strength is complicated. In Deathwatch it basically adds +10% to relevant checks only to counter penalties or improve the level (but not the chance) of success on strength checks (that’s equivalent to a +2 of course) and (for most characters) adds +4 to relevant weapon damage but not to chances of hitting. Of course, in d20, there generally are no degrees of success and a bonus to hit is generally far more important than an equal bonus to damage. Thus this translates into +4 Strength, providing a +2 to all three items. +4 Strength is (24 CP).
- A Space Marines Unnatural Toughness is ALSO complicated. It basically provides Damage Reduction (the Deathwatch equivalent of more hit points since it has the same effect; you can survive more hits), regulates how long you can keep marching, hold your breath, and similar physical feats, and has some effect on recovery from poisons. While this translates less directly, a +4 to Constitution has roughly equivalent effects – and +4 Constitution is, of course, (24 CP).
- Space Marines are highly resistant to pain, they do not suffer from Blood Loss, and they take only half damage from attacks made on them after they go unconscious. Of course d20 characters do not normally suffer pain, crippling injuries, or other troubles; they can fight perfectly well until they lose consciousness at negative hit points. Taking half damage after you go unconscious is fairly useless in d20 though; Such an ability is only relevant in that narrow margin between zero hit points and death. If you’re unconscious and still being targeted by any serious opponent in d20 you are likely only one hit away from death anyway. This might make it two – but there are better ways to get up again. Oh well. That’s Immunity/Bleeding (Uncommon, Severe, Trivial, 3 CP) and Immunity/Taking Damage below 0 HP (Uncommon, Severe, Minor, Specialized/halves damage only, 3 CP).
- Space Marines suffer no Perception penalties due to lack of sleep. While there are a couple of obscure d20 rules about sleep – in 3.5 there’s a note in the Elder Evils book, in Pathfinder there’s a note in an adventure path – in general it’s not a worry. That’s Immunity/Perception penalties due to lack of sleep (Uncommon, Minor, Minor, 2 CP).
According to Elder Evils in 3.5 “A living creature can go without sleep for a number of days equal to its Constitution modifier (minimum one). Thereafter it is fatigued, remaining in this state for a number of days equal to its Constitution modifier (again, minimum one); if it would become fatigued during that time, it is exhausted instead. Each day after that period, the creature takes 1 point of Wisdom damage. If the total Wisdom damage exceeds its Hit Dice, the creature is affected as if by an insanity spell until it sleeps” – so most combative adventurers can basically go at least a week without sleep with no real problem,
In Pathfinder there’s a rule buried in an Adventure Path: “Characters who do not get a full night’s sleep may suffer the effects of fatigue. If a PC does not get at least 6 hours of sleep, she must make a DC 15 Fortitude save or be fatigued and take a –1 penalty on all other checks and saving throws against sleep effects. A second night without sleep requires another DC 15 Fortitude save. A failed save results in the character becoming exhausted and the penalties increasing to –2. A third failed save on the next night increases the penalties to –3.”
- Space Marines get a +4 bonus against ingested poisons. Once again, not a big thing in d20, but… Resist/Poisons, Specialized for Double Effect (+4)/Ingested Poisons Only (3 CP).
- Space Marines can eat portions of creatures to gain some of their skills or knowledge for a few hours. It doesn’t even need to be a part of the creatures brain; a few drops of blood will do.
OK, I’m not even going to bother explaining why that’s blatantly magical (much less why no one in ten thousand years has done any research on packaging emergency skills if this DOES work). I’ll just roll with it. That’s Double Enthusiast, Specialized for Increased Effect (Works in minutes) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / the user must devour a portion of a creature with the needed skill or knowledge, the GM decides what the user gains, the effect lasts for a maximum of one day, and only skills and knowledges are eligible (4 CP).
- Space Marines gain a +6 bonus on saves against gaseous toxins, may reroll against drowning or asphyxiation or gaseous toxins, and may breathe water. (Presumably they’re worried about drowning in other things). Translating that directly will be complicated, and expensive, and not all that useful in d20 (and don’t these guys normally wear environmental armor anyway?) Normal d20 characters can hold their breaths while fighting for (Con) rounds – at least a minute for any normal character – which is quite enough to get through most combats. Worse, if you’re stuck in a bad environment for a long period, rerolls are unlikely to do you much good in d20; the game includes poisons that act in seconds, not environments that gradually make you ill. Ergo: Immunity/Breathing (Common, Severe, Minor, 6 CP). Space Marines can hold their breaths for up to an hour (thus ignoring drowning, asphyxiation, and gaseous toxins), and breathe very bad air, water, or similar substances, for up to a day.
- Space Marines get a +2 (+10%) bonus to Spot Checks (2 CP).
- Space Marines get a +2 (10%) bonus to Listen Checks (2 CP).
- Space Marines can enter a state of suspended animation, either through meditation or if dying – but must be revived with a complex procedure. (They can also burn fate points to evade certain death, but that’s a part of the game system, not unique to them). That’s Returning, Specialized/the body must be recovered and countermeasures administered (3 CP).
- Space Marines are (optionally) resistant to radiation. Most d20 games do not have “radiation” as such. In those that do, its resisted with Fortitude checks – and that’s already covered under “Unnatural Toughness”.
- Space Marines may re-roll failed saves against poisons and toxins. Doesn’t this make part of their lung boosts a bit redundant? Never mind, that’s Luck/Specialized in Resisting Poison (6 CP).
- Space Marines can detect poisons with a perception check, can track by scent, can (at the game masters option) get a bonus to track creatures that they’ve tasted (and which have presumably gotten away).These guys seem to have a LOT of trouble with poisons don’t they? Well, that’s Occult Sense/Detect Poison (Specialized/requires a relevant perception check, 3 CP), Track (Wilderness, 3 CP), and a +3 Speciality in Survival / tracking things you’ve eaten part of (1 CP).
- Space marines may reroll failed checks against environmental temperature extremes. Well, I could buy that as a specialized version of Luck again – but lets forget rolls here. Immunity/Temperature Extremes (Common, Major, Minor, 6 CP) will pretty much cover that.
- Space Marines may spit toxic acid at their foes, possibly temporarily blinding them. They may also be able to chew through metal and such if the GM allows it. This has a ten foot range, does 1d5 damage and might do another 1d10 if a save fails. Uhm… yes. There are lots of ways this could be built, but in the interests of speed and simplicity, I’m going to just use Trick (6 CP). I’m not going to think about what filling your mouth with acid and trying to chew through metal would do to your teeth, gums, mouth, throat, and internal organs.
- Space Marines gain a +1 Dodge Bonus, only to counter the -1 AC adjustment for wearing Large armor. That’s Defender, Specialized/only to counter the penalty for +1 Size Category Armor (3 CP). I suspect that the bonus is a lot more that 5% in 40K; otherwise this wouldn’t be considered especially important.
- Space Marines have “Progenoids”, which can be harvested to make more Space Marines – but only two, and the process is absurdly complicated. Given that most creatures get to reproduce for free, this has no cost.
Space Marines also have some automatic traits that – while still more or less “built in” – are still available to other characters. In terms of our Template they’re just more special abilities though.
- Space Marines are Ambidextrous. Of course so are d20 characters by default; no cost.
- Space Marines do not need to brace weapons – and seem to routinely use oversized ones. That’s Anime Master (6 CP).
- Space Marines can reroll failed will checks to recover from pinning. Of course d20 characters can only be pinned with their consent since they can do as they please. If a d20 character wants to walk straight into the machine gun fire and laugh as their internal organs turn to goo, they may do so without rolling (and then likely fix it up with a healing spell). No cost.
- Space Marines may ready one-handed weapons as a free action. That’s Reflex Training (6 CP).
- Space Marines gain a +2 bonus on saves against Psychic Powers. That’s Resistance (3 CP).
- Space Marines may launch strikes that cannot be Parried or Dodged. In d20 both of those are normally subsumed into Armor Class and no one can “parry” or “dodge” the way they can in 40K anyway. This is probably best translated as a +2 BAB (12 CP), as weird as it is to have that in a Template.
- Space Marines have automatically mastered a Martial Art. That’s +8 SP in one (8 CP). I guess that if you haven’t mastered your C’hi you cannot survive the process or something.
- Space Marines can apparently live a very long time. Immunity/Age (Uncommon, Severe, Minor, 4 CP).
Now that’s a total of 215 CP – up there in the middle of +6 ECL territory.
Now, fortunately for their ECL, if somewhat unfortunately for them and those around them, Space Marines have some major problems.
- They are obvious – and primary – targets.
- They are fanatically dedicated to their leaders (apparently a part of the process of becoming one).
- They have forgotten most of their prior lives.
- They often die during selection, conversion, and early training.
- They are on permanent active military service. Space Marines do not retire.
- They require constant monitoring, drug treatments, and hypnotherapy to remain functional.
- They are subject to Insanity Points and Corruption Points.
- They do not understand technology.
- They are extremely limited in who they can work with.
- They are subject to many irrational beliefs.
- They often suffer from genetic damage typical to their Chapter, depriving them of one or more of their special abilities.
- They can only use minor magic and psychic abilities, and even those are always crippled and perilous.
What, you think they can use major magic? Lets see… can they restore a dying, poisoned, insane, diseased piece of human wreckage to health in an instant? Teleport without difficulty? Transform creatures into other creatures? Travel the dimensions freely and safely? Raise the dead? Make up their own powers on the fly? There are (literally, thanks to the Spell Templates in the Practical Enchanter) millions of d20 spells and powers out there, capable of doing virtually anything – and there are a lot of other ways to use magic. Space Marines and other 40K characters can only use a very limited selection of low-level effects and it is terribly dangerous to them. Even the Emperor – despite having mass sacrifices, worship, and plenty of other help – is unable to manage a simple return from near-death.
That’s enough to count the entire mess as being Specialized, bringing the price down to 109 CP – a +3 ECL template. That’s probably fair enough – but it also means that Space Marines will be absurdly crippled in any setting where the other characters aren’t stuck with 40K restrictions. Go ahead. Join that cleric, wizard, and bard in going adventuring when every exposure to their magic or bardic powers drives you further into irreversible madness.
So am I basically saying that you can’t play a space marine in d20?
No. This is Eclipse. What I’m saying is that d20 and 40K are built around some very different assumptions and mechanics, and a simple direct conversion isn’t going to work very well. Ergo, the next article on this is going to be about building a space marine style d20 template that actually works properly.
Long, long ago, back in the halycon days of 1983, there was a Hero Games adventure module called Deathstroke. As usual, what actually happened was that I pulled a few general ideas from it, warped them to suit, rewrote the characters, and threw them into my own setting. It really wasn’t any use to me otherwise: its plot relied on a threat to induce mass meltdowns of nuclear reactors – and in my setting – nuclear reactors had been replaced wholesale by Eguin Corporations fusion reactors in 1974. Worse, the design of their reactor cores was safer and more stable than any earthly scientist would understand for centuries to come. Even if fusion reactors COULD melt down (they can’t), those were not going to.
Deathstroke became Dagger. The original characters were Arrowhead (an ex-mobster with super-strength and energy projection), Deathsinger (a Banshee knockoff with basic sonic blast powers), Frost (an iceman knockoff with basic ice powers), Stinger (A guy with entangling webbing, minor super-strength, limited flight, and an insect theme), and Death Commando (a quite forgettable guy with a generic armored suit, various weapons, and a bad attitude). Those got changed to Ballista (a super-strong guy with a multipower revolving around throwing things), Requiem (a fellow with some much more subtle vibratory powers to work with), Whisper (a low-grade telepathic ninja type), Vortex (with much more versatile and powerful ice powers based on misunderstood probability manipulation), Stinger (the insane insect king), and Deathurge (a deceased nazi death-camp commander who liked to possess people, boost them, stock up with weapons, and go cause destruction and misery). The goal changed from “blackmail the world into submission” to “steal inventions, developments, and artifacts to seek wealth and power”.
Unfortunately for them, Dagger got trashed whenever they showed up and Deathurge soon got permanently exorcised. A few characters took Dagger as a hunted, then – because they always showed up anyway – almost everyone did, with the explanation that Dagger’s habit of swearing vengeance on anyone who defeated them was getting worse and worse.
All too soon Ballista and Whisper recognized that Dagger had become a laughingstock, and set out on their own.
Currently Requiem and Vortex have gone back to their original gang handles of Deathsinger and Frost, are switching group names back to Deathstroke, are looking for new members, and are trying to start over. Their latest escape attempt may have been foiled, but no prison can hold Dagger – er, Deathstroke! – for long!
Daniel Perona was steered wrong from a very early age. A violent, dominating, stepfather, unhelpful adult authorities, an autistic younger brother to care for, an interest in music (which his father tried to beat out of him as “unmanly”), and a battered mother who was unwilling to walk out left Daniel convinced very early on that the “authorities” were totally useless and untrustworthy. Only HE was fit to be in charge of anything.
Obviously enough, that meant that he should be in charge of EVERYTHING.
Daniel developed his powers before Jeremy – but he was quite capable of hiding them, at least at first.
Jeremy could not – but by then Daniel, even if his powers were not yet fully developed, was more than powerful enough to defend his brother against a normal human. A shout left his father reeling, and the voice of command sent him away.
Boian Gabor, however, was not about to put up with some unnatural, unmanly, mutant, freak of nature tossing him out of his own house! He’d protested the insane tolerance the world was showing for freaks before – and he knew who to call in. They’d even pay him for the chance to eliminate two little freaks early on, before they’d become a menace to real, red-blooded, human beings!
Genocide didn’t have a lot of forces to spare, and didn’t put that much credence in Gabor’s report anyway; it was perfectly possible that the kids had just pulled a weapon on him. Even if the kids WERE mutants… it wasn’t likely that they had very much power. Most didn’t as adults, much less as kids.
The pickup team was small, and under-equipped – and when there was an auto accident, and things went wrong, and the two brats wound up escaping, they didn’t get a high priority.
Two youngsters didn’t find it easy to get along on the streets – but even their adolescent abilities were quite valuable to the gangs, which gave Daniel and his brother a free pass into the criminal underworld – and a fine apprenticeship in villainy for Daniel anyway, even if it did just leave his brother confused. At least that didn’t matter much as long as Jeremy followed his lead.
|33||Multipower (75-pt reserve); Generic Limitation (Sonic Powers Only): -1; Variable Limitations: -½, -¼|
|u-3||12d6 Focused Shout / Sonic Energy Blast; Range: 375; Versus: ED; Reduced END: Half, +¼||3|
|u-3||4d6 Breaking Word / Killing Attack (RKA); Range: 375; Reduced END: Half, +¼||3|
|u-3||4d6 Hypnotic Whisper / Energy Blast; Range: 325; Versus: ED; No Normal Defense (Versus hard ear coverings, deafness, hard of hearing, or silence effect): +1; Area Effect (Radius): 5″ radius, +1; Reduced END: Half, +¼||3|
|u-3||2d6 Neural Shockwave / Flash (Hearing, Sight); Range: 375; Area Effect (Radius): 5″ radius, +1; Personal Immunity: +¼; Reduced END: Half, +¼||3|
|u-2||+50 Voice Of Command / PRE|
|9||Elemental Control: Sonic Powers (15-pt reserve); Generic Limitation (Sonic Powers Only): -½; Visible (Very Noisy): -¼|
|a-11||Desolidification; Extra Time: 1 turn, -1; Extra Time Required: Only At Startup, ½||4|
|b-9||12″ Flight (NC: 24″); Non-Combat Multiplier: ×2, +0; Non-Combat (MPH): 45; Reduced END: Half, +¼||1|
|c-13||Force Field (15 PD/15 ED); Reduced END: Half, +¼||1|
|(6)||360-Degree Sensing (Hearing)|
|(6)||Enhanced Perception (Sonar, +5 to PER)|
|6||+6 CP to All Attributes Blessing; Modifications to Primary Attributes do not affect secondary attributes. Aid to Defenses has half effect per standard rules.|
|(6)||1d6 Aid (All attributes) (Fade/turn, Max. 6); Range: 0; Affects: All Powers of Special Effect, +2; Reduced END: Zero & Persistent, +1; Always On: -½; Personal Only: -1; Increases maximums only, does not speed healing: -1; Aid to Defenses is halved per the standard rules. Aid to primary attributes does not affect secondary ones.||0|
|6||1d6 30-Point Equipment Allowance Aid (Fade/month, Max. 30); Range: 0; Affects: Single Power of Special Effect, +¼; Extra Time: 1 hour, -2½; Only activates in armories, labs, or between outings: -1½; Personal Only: -1; Difficult to Dispel: ×4, +½; Increased END: ×10, -4; This allows a character to haul along 30 CP worth of customized gear.||20|
|(3)||Elemental Control: Belt of Battle (7-pt reserve); OIF (Belt): -½; Generic Limitation (Personal Magic Limitations): -½;
While he’s no mage, Deathsinger’s personal magical reserves are fairly high – and he sees no reason not to use them. Ergo, he makes various channeling devices, each time seeking the one that will – THIS time – allow him to master the world, as is his rightful due.
|a-4||Armor (5 PD/5 ED)|
|d-3||Mental Defense (17 pts)|
|e-10||+4 level w/With Multipower|
|(4)||Disguise Kit; OAF (Disguise Kit): -1||14-|
|Points||Skills, Talents, Perks||Roll|
|10||Find Weakness with Energy Blast; Attack Type: One, +0||11-|
|10||+2 level w/with Multipower|
|0||English (Native Accent); Literacy: Standard, 0|
|2||Sign Language (Fluent Conv.); Literacy: Standard, 0|
|28||Total Skills, Talents, Perks|
|20||Vengeful (Very Common, Strong)|
|15||Megalomania (Common, Strong)|
|15||Hunted: Police (11-); Capabilities: Less Powerful, 5; Non-combat Influence: Extensive, +5; Geographical Area: Unlimited, -0; Actions: Hunting, ×1; Punishment: Harsh, 0|
|15||Hunted: Random Heroes (8-); Capabilities: More Powerful, 15; Non-combat Influence: None, +0; Geographical Area: Unlimited, -0; Actions: Hunting, ×1; Punishment: Harsh, 0|
|20||Hunted: Anti-Mutant Groups (8-); Capabilities: More Powerful, 15; Non-combat Influence: Extensive, +5; Geographical Area: Unlimited, -0; Actions: Hunting, ×1; Punishment: Harsh, 0|
|20||Reputation: Lunatic Villian (14-, Extreme)|
|7||7||5||17||30/20||30/20||3, 5, 8, 10, 12|
Height: 172cm (5’8″), Weight: 68kg (150 lbs), Sex: Male, Age: 24, Race: Human
Appearance: As Deathsinger Daniel normally wears a blue-and-white matadors outfit with no tie, a shirt with a “V” down to his belly button, a small “domino” mask, and a strange square hat with musical notes on it.
Nobody knows why.
Out of costume, Daniel prefers fancy hispanic outfits matched to his swarthy skin, dark hair, and black eyes.
Deathsinger is – to his dismay if he would ever admit it – a relatively minor villain. His powers are useful and reasonably effective, but he hasn’t got the intellect, or the raw power, to dominate the world – and as a Tier-2 character he never will. Still, he’s perfectly functional as a part of a team and is willing to set heroes up for Frost to take care of.
If it matters any, the original statistics for Deathsinger were Str 20, Dex 20, Con 23, Body 15, Int 18, Ego 14, Pre 20, Com 14, PD 10, ED 11, Spd 5, Rec 14, End 66, Stun 48. Sonic EC: 8d6 sonic blast at 1/2 End, 3d6 sonic RKA at 1/2 End, +20 PD/20 ED Force Field at 1/2 End, Active Sonar Hearing, Disguise 14-, one level with Energy Blast, one level with Elemental Control, and Find Weakness for his Energy Blast 11-. Disadvantages included going berserk, some vulnerabilities (to physical killing attacks and force fields), megalomania, generic hunteds by a hero group and Until, and a secret identity, for a total of 317 points. I think there are two or three attributes left out of all that – and the Stun total is an accident. I did throw in the disguise kit though.