Eclipse – Sample Races, Templates, and Characters Update

Here, at last, is an updated index to all the Eclipse-Style Races, Templates, Power Packages, and Sample Characters on the blog.I’m going to sticky this and try to keep it reasonably current from now on.

If you’re building a character, the usual sequence will be Race – Template (if any) – Basic Build, so that’s how this is organized. If you’re looking for “how-to” information, next up is the level-by-level class breakdowns and the general power-package information and examples. After that, for inspiration, swiping power packages from, and use in other games, comes the sample higher-level characters.

Character Creation and System Primer

Sample Races:

Sample Templates:

Eclipse Pathfinder:

Eclipse handles Pathfinder just fine – so here are Eclipse breakdowns for Pathfinder –Basics and Races and the class breakdowns for the  Alchemist, Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Druid, FighterMonk, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, Sorcerer and Summoner. The sample characters are pretty much all compatible with Pathfinder; if they don’t already have the Pathfinder Package Deal from Basics and Races simply add +2 to an attribute and +3 to their skills.

Sample Level One Character Builds:

Level-by-Level Class Breakdowns:

General Build Information and Power Packages:

Sample High-Level Characters:

. . Note that these characters were generally built for particular campaigns, and so are sometimes built using campaign-specific variants – usually a price break on especially-relevant abilities. These are covered in the Campaign Sheets for the relevant campaigns – Federation-Apocalypse Campaign, Ironwinds Campaign, Atheria Campaign, Twilight Isles Campaign, and Darkweird Campaign.

Level Two Sample Characters:

Level Three Sample Characters:

Level Four Sample Characters:

Level Five Sample Characters:

Level Six Sample Characters:

Level Seven Sample Characters:

Level Eight Sample Characters:

Higher Level Sample Characters:

Level Ten and Twenty Breakdowns:

Alzrius has also put up quite a few Eclipse characters on his Intelligence Check blog – including quite a few interpretations of popular characters from a variety of sources. Pretty much all of them are written up for Pathfinder, and usually use the Pathfinder Package Deal.

  • Rinoa, from Final Fantasy via Dead Fantasy, a powerful 15’th level spellcaster – along with the Hyne Witch template and a discussion of many of the other characters.
  • Pyrrha Nikos, a 7th-level Huntress-in-training, along with statistics for Vytal Humans, three Martial Arts, and some world background and discussion.
  • Sharalia, a Level One Fire Dancer – a character who controls flame through dance.
  • A 20’th level breakdown for an Antimage –  a “class” that specializes in negating the powers of dangerous spellcasters.
  • The Maedar – a racial template breakdown for a male medusa.
  • Sailor Saturn – a fragile young woman from the Sailor Moon anime with some exceptionally over-the-top powers.
  • Scorpion from Mortal Kombat, written up at the peak of his powers – along with the Netherrealm Ghost template and three Martial Arts.
  • Sam Winchester, a level three paranormal investigator from the Supernatural television series.
  • Varek, a Level Six Cleric with some support abilities.
  • Abraham Lincoln, Level Twelve Civil Warrior of the United States of America – with a touch of Vampire Hunter and including his Martial Art.
  • Agent Spin – a Second Level Elite Beat Agent who gets sent… to encourage people in trouble.
  • Gargamel, a First Level Incompetent Ritualist and Bumbler – perhaps fortunately, without statistics for Smurfs.
  • Spinnerette, a Level Five Spider-Style Superheroine/
  • Malecite, a Level Ten Villainous Mage from Suburban Knights, along with Malecite’s Hand, a vastly powerful relic and various new spells.
  • Dirk Markson, a Level One Dark Witch – and possible hero.
  • Barney Stinson (Scroll Down), a Level One Sitcom Inhabitant – from How I Met Your Mother.

Alzrius’s Eclipse d20 Ponies:

Alzrius built his ponies so as to fit into “standard” d20 games – whereas I used the “Superheroic” world template because it would allow my builds to reproduce the things that the ponies did on the show. Of course, that means that my builds will only work well in games based on the assumptions of Equestria; they won’t do so well in basic games. For those, courtesy of Alzrius, we have…

  • The Pony Races:  Earth Ponies, Pegasi, and Unicorns.
  • The Elements of Harmony:  Built as Eclipse Relics.
  • Rarity:  Starting off the series at level one! Commentary: Using the Elements of Harmony to cover the characters occasional incredible stunts.
  • Princess Celestia: As she generally appears on the show – as a ninth-level mentor-type who explains why she can’t handle things.
  • Adagio of the Sirens: Unreformed, still at large, and needing only an enchanted gem to make a comeback.
  • Lex Legis (And his Picture): Alzrius’s original character – and a very “gray” potential opponent.
  • Notes on Zecora: A discussion of just how much power – or lack thereof – is needed to build Zecora. Comments: My take on Zebras.
  • The Journal of the Two Sisters – and lapses in logic therein. Comments: Unicorn populations and birthrates, basic demographics – and why the “Unicorns losing their magic” story makes no sense in any terms.
  • Iliana, the Ponyfinder Queen: An examination of how to use Eclipse to customize – and slightly upgrade – a Ponyfinder queen to fit her history.
  • Lashtada, Ponyfinder Goddess:  As set up using The Primal Order for second edition.
  • Sonata Dusk: As appearing in his Fanfiction.
  • A Magical Medieval Society: Equestria: Building equestrian society using “A Magical Medieval Society”.
  • Baby Got Backlash: Flurry Heart and Magical Surges
  • Tempest Shadow: The movie antagonist escapes into d20, rather than remaining to face the friendship

Latest Material Index

Continue reading

Latest Material Index

Continue reading

Latest Material Index

. 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 ListCharacter Creation PrimerCompiled Martial Arts.

. Subindexes: RPG Design – Twilight Isles – BattletechChampionsd20Legend of the Five RingsShadowrunWhite WolfOther GamesBattling Business WorldStar Wars

. Cumulative General Index. Continue reading

Eclipse d20 – Creating A Vampire

This request was straightforward – to break down the various elements in the Vampire Template for Eclipse and see what they should cost, because there’s quite a gap between “CR + 2” and “ECL + 8” – which mostly says “Vampires aren’t all THAT tough, but we think that some of their powers are easily abused by players”. So here we go:

“Vampire” is an acquired template that can be added to any humanoid or monstrous humanoid creature with quite a few effects:

  • All past and future hit dice become d12’s – but the new vampires Con becomes 0. Honestly, this is sometimes an advantage for mages – but a d12 is effectively equal to (1d4+4), and very few adventurers actually dump Con, and most buy boosters. This is usually a penalty, and awkward to buy to boot. So replace it with 0 Con (0 CP) and Advanced Finesse (Gets bonus HP from some attribute other than Con, 12 CP).
  • Gain +6 Natural Armor. This is kind of expensive, at least at lower levels, to buy straight. And honestly, it doesn’t really fit in with my ideas about vampires – so I’m going to use Defender (Natural Armor variant) (6 CP) to provide a natural armor bonus that will slowly increase with level and Improved Augmented Bonus (Applies an Attribute Modifier (most often Strength) to the user’s Natural Armor rating, 12 CP). That will generally cover the bonus at lower levels and improve on it at higher ones.
  • A vampire gains a slam attack (usually 1d6, but varying by size) if it didn’t already have one. Once per round, a vampire that hits with it’s slam attack or primary natural weapon attack can inflict two negative levels. Now level drain used to be a terrible and frightening power. The victim lost levels instantly – and it was hard to get them back. Every player hated level drains – and so they were heavily nerfed in third edition. Now “negative levels” are a pretty good debuff, but they are fairly readily fixed and usually go away on their own even if you don’t fix them. There’s a fourth level spell that inflicts 1d4 of them at range (a touch-based version would thus be only level three). That’s reasonable enough; after all… a simple Bestow Curse is FAR more flexible and can be at least as debilitating and the vast majority of monsters don’t survive meeting the party – so why would they CARE if they get a few negative levels before being killed? So forget the “could be permanent” part. On any target worth worrying about, they’ll either die in combat or get it fixed because they’re going to be a recurring villain, and so have to grow in strength to continue being a challenge rather than losing power to negative levels. So build this as Presence/Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (touch based Enervation): only works on one target at a time, only works once per round, requires a successful slam or natural weapons attack instead of a touch attack (6 CP). The easiest way to get a Slam attack is to just buy a bit of Martial Arts – presumably a Strength-Based “Vampire Style” – at a net score of at least three (pretty much any unarmed style which lets you buy Strike and Power I) at a cost of 1-3 CP depending on the users (boosted!) Strength score. As an advantage, this is easy to improve upon later. Just spend some more skill points on the martial art.
  • A vampire can suck blood from a living victim with its fangs by making a successful grapple check. If it pins the foe, it drains blood, dealing 1d4 points of Constitution drain each round the pin is maintained. On each such successful attack, the vampire gains 5 temporary hit points. Now this… honestly, this is weaker than the drain from the Slam attack. And grappling is hardly the most effective attack (sure, there are grapple builds, but they aren’t exactly amajor factor), and – while it isn’t really mentioned – I’d say that this only works on creatures that HAVE blood. Moreover, once again… ability drain isn’t that hard to fix. So Presence again, requiring a successful Grapple check that pins the foe, only working on creatures with blood, etc (6 CP).
  • Anyone with unprotected eyes that the vampire targets must succeed on a Will save or fall instantly under the vampire’s influence as though by a dominate person spell (caster level 12th, and so lasting for twelve days). The ability has a range of 30 feet. Now vampires usually use this to maintain control of a few NPC’s, likely including a bodyguard or two, to make trouble, and to try to turn characters against the rest of the party when it comes to a fight. PC’s, of course, are mostly fighting non-humanoid monsters – which is why “Dominate Person” is only Brd4, Sor/Wiz 5.This will still be a serious pain in a PC though, because – with unlimited use – it’s going to get used on everyone the party wants to interrogate, on every officious guard, on every shopkeeper, and against every allowable opponent – whom the user will then throw at other opponents and foul up all of the GM’s encounters. For this one I’m going to be applying the general Eclipse rule that “unlimited uses” in a monster template generally means “enough so that the GM need not worry about it during the course of a fight with the PC’s”. Is that unfair to someone who pays for an +8 ECL template? Yes, it would be – but if a character is taking it that way, there’s no need to figure out how to build the template. Eclipse is back-compatible. We’re going to be recalculating the cost with the price break for somewhat limited uses – and it’s VERY unlikely to be anywhere NEAR that high. Buy this as Inherent Spell with +4 Bonus Uses, Corrupted for Increased Effect (level five Dominate Person” effect, +6 Bonus Uses) / maximum range of 30 feet, user must look into the target’s unprotected eyes (12 CP).
  • Once per day the vampire can summon 1d6+1 rat swarms, 1d4+1 bat swarms, or a pack of 3d6 wolves as a standard action. Arrive in 2d6 rounds, serve for up to one hour. That’s basically Inherent Spell II (L4 Summoning, Can summon 1d4+1 creatures of CR 2 (Like Rat or Bat Swarms) or 4d4 of CR 1 (Wolves) – but upping the duration to an hour takes us to about level six. So Corrupted for Increased Effect (Level Six Effect) / creatures do not arrive for 2d6 rounds (6 CP). I suppose that could be handy at times – but it’s not a big deal. Buying it this way does open up the opportunity to buy more uses or some summoning-boosting effects though.
  • A humanoid or monstrous humanoid slain by a vampire’s energy drain rises as a vampire spawn 1d4 days after burial. If the vampire instead drains the victim’s Constitution to 0 or lower, the victim returns as a spawn if it had 4 or less HD and as a vampire if it had 5 or more HD. In either case, the new vampire or spawn is under the command of the vampire that created it and remains enslaved until its master’s destruction. At any given time a vampire may have enslaved spawn totaling no more than twice its own Hit Dice; any spawn it creates that would exceed this limit are created as free-willed vampires or vampire spawn. A vampire that is enslaved may create and enslave spawn of its own, so a master vampire can control a number of lesser vampires in this fashion. A vampire may voluntarily free an enslaved spawn in order to enslave a new spawn, but once freed, a vampire or vampire spawn cannot be enslaved again. This, of course, is another ability that will will be grossly abused by many players. The “Returns as an Undead” part is normal enough; negative energy (and I think we can presume that the normally-permanent Constitution loss is something more than simple blood loss, as you get with any normal wound) tends to produce that effect. The “under the user’s control” bit is just as open to abuse as any other version of getting minions is – and is essentially a minor variant on Leadership with a Specialization – you have to create your minions yourself, they are malevolent evil undead (and so often create problems), and have severe social and feeding issues (3 CP).
  • A vampire can take the form of a bat, dire bat, wolf, or dire wolf as a standard action, losing access to Slam and Dominate, but gaining the natural weapons and extraordinary special attacks of its new form. It can remain in that form until it assumes another or until the next sunrise. (If the base creature is not terrestrial, this power might allow other forms.). Once again applying the general rule of “enough uses not to have to worry about it in an encounter”… That’s Shapeshift (6 CP) with Dire (+3 CP), Growth (+3 CP), and +4 Bonus Uses (6 CP), Corrupted for Increased Effect (can always take those four forms even if their hit dice are too low, +6 Bonus Uses, so at least 7/Day) and Specialized for Reduced Cost / Only those four forms, loses access to their Slam attack and Dominate Person powers, limited by sunrise (Net 9 CP).
  • A vampire has damage reduction 10/silver and magic. A vampire’s natural weapons are treated as magic weapons for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction. So, does a weapon have to be Silver AND Magic, or is it Silver OR Magic? I think “Or” is the way to go on this one. That’s Damage Reduction 5, Specialized for Increased Effect (Physical Attacks Only, for 10/-), Corrupted for Reduced Cost (Not versus Silver or Magical Weapons) (8 CP).
  • A vampire heals 5 points of damage each round so long as it has at least 1 hit point. If reduced to 0 hit points in combat, it automatically assumes gaseous form and attempts to escape. It must reach its coffin home within 2 hours or be utterly destroyed. (It can travel up to nine miles in 2 hours.) Any additional damage dealt to a vampire forced into gaseous form has no effect. Once at rest in its coffin, a vampire is helpless. It regains 1 hit point after 1 hour, then is no longer helpless and resumes healing at the rate of 5 hit points per round. This is a bit tricky – anything “unlimited” always is – but once again we can look at what this actually DOES. Coming back from death is Returning – and this is a rather limited form. A two hour time limit? A specific, vulnerable, point of return? A form which only moves at 20′ and can be fairly readily seen and followed to interrupt the process? Sure, it flies… but few mid- or high-level groups of adventurers will be stopped by THAT. So Returning, Specialized as above (3 CP). As for the fast healing part… d20 fights generally don’t last all that long. For the Fast Healing take Inherent Spell III (Personal-Only Harm) with 4 Bonus Uses, Specialized for Reduced Cost (6 CP) / only inflicts (heals for an undead) 5 points of damage per round, does not provide the secondary effects of Heal, cannot be activated for an hour after a successful Return, and Corrupted for Increased Effect (Triggers as needed). OK, that’s only 50 HP/Hit Die/Day (to a maximum of 750 per day), but that will look unlimited enough for practical purposes. I would guess that this is one of the big items that “justified” the +8 ECL rating – since you could keep going in, dying fighting mindless monsters, and coming back a few hours later to do it all over again and keep whittling them down – but is that really any different from a group that keeps falling back to rest after a fifteen-minute adventuring day? Character deaths are a lot less common than they were in older editions, so this isn’t a very big advantage any longer.
  • A vampire can assume gaseous form at will as the spell (caster level 5th), but it can remain gaseous indefinitely and has a fly speed of 20 feet with perfect maneuverability. But this as Inherent Spell IV (L6 Effect, Gaseous Form upgraded to One Hour / Level, 20′ Base Movement, effect can be toggled on and off) with +4 Bonus Uses (12 CP). That should be enough. After all, at a mere level five that’s all day.
  • A vampire has resistance to cold 10 and electricity 10. That’s Damage Reduction 5, Specialized for Increased Effect (Energy Attacks Only, for 10/-), Corrupted for Reduced Cost (Cold and Electricity only) (8 CP).
  • A vampire can climb sheer surfaces as though with a spider climb spell. That’s Celerity with an Additional Movement Mode (Flight), Specialized / the user must maintain contact with a surface that can reasonably support them (9 CP).
  • A vampire has +4 turn resistance. Well, that’s Turn Resistance IV (8 CP).
  • Abilities increase from the base creature as follows: Str +6, Dex +4, Int +2, Wis +2, Cha +4. As an undead creature, a vampire has no Constitution score. This is pretty expensive to buy directly; Even taking them at half price for being in a template, that’s a total of +18 in Characteristics, for a total of (108 CP). That’s pretty pricey – but then attribute bonuses are just generally good. There’s something there for pretty much everyone. On the other hand, most characters won’t need most of those, which makes this a lot less valuable than it might be. That’s… actually pretty good, at least up until the point that no one really cares about skill checks any longer.
  • Vampires have a +8 racial bonus on Bluff, Hide, Listen, Move Silently, Search, Sense Motive, and Spot checks. That’s Adept, Specialized for Increased Effect (those seven skills) / only works for the template skill bonuses, not for buying further increases (6 CP) and +28 SP to buy the skill boosts with (28 CP).
  • Vampires gain Alertness (Skill Emphasis x2, Spot and Listen, 6 CP), Combat Reflexes (Reflex Training, Combat Reflexes Variant, 6 CP), Dodge (Defender, +1 to AC purchase, Specialized and Corrupted / only versus one designated opponent at a time, 2 CP), , Improved Initiative (Improved Initiative, 6 CP), and Lightning Reflexes (Resist, +2 to Reflex Saves, 6 CP). Fortunately, in Eclipse, there are no prerequisites to worry about.

Now that comes out to 294 CP – which is pretty costly. On the other hand, the template has some serious drawbacks:

  • Vampires are Undead, are inherently (and always) evil, have about the worst possible social issues, are harmed by positive energy and holy water, and can be Turned with positive energy.
  • Vampires cannot enter an area that smells strongly of garlic.
  • Vampires can be driven and held at bay back by a mirror or strongly presented holy symbol (a standard action in either case). A vampire cannot touch, or make melee attacks against, a creature taking such action for the rest of the encounter and must stay at least five feet away from them.
  • Vampires are unable to cross running water, although they can be carried over it while resting in their coffins or aboard a ship.
  • Vampires are unable to enter a home or other building unless invited in by someone with the authority to do so. They may freely enter public places, since these are by definition open to all. (How long such an invitation is good for, or if it may be rescinded, is never explained).
  • Reducing a vampire’s hit points to 0 or lower incapacitates it but doesn’t always destroy it (see the note on fast healing). However, certain attacks can slay vampires. Exposing any vampire to direct sunlight disorients it: It can take only a single move action or attack action and is destroyed utterly in the next round if it cannot escape. Similarly, immersing a vampire in running water robs it of one-third of its hit points each round until it is destroyed at the end of the third round of immersion. Driving a wooden stake through a vampire’s heart instantly slays the monster. However, it returns to life if the stake is removed, unless the body is destroyed. A popular tactic is to cut off the creature’s head and fill its mouth with holy wafers (or their equivalent).
  • Vampires only have access to the following domains: Chaos, Destruction, Evil, or Trickery.
  • Vampires can only have Rats or Bats (or, presumably, evil spirits) as familiars.

Those are some pretty glaring weaknesses. It’s a bit of a stretch – but if one of them somehow gets overhead to seal the exit from the circle… seven kids with wooden holy symbols could trap a vampire until the sun rises and destroys it. Putting garlic in it’s coffin will be a serous problem for it. If you just move said coffin inside someone’s HOUSE, it will be unable to get back to it if “slain”, since it would have to be invited in. Sure, a party can compensate for many such problems – but even if the game master allows a few substitution weaknesses (and opts not to enforce some of the other traditional weaknesses), I’d say that there are enough weaknesses on that list to count the entire template as being Specialized. That gives it a total value of 147 CP – a +4 ECL Template.

Honestly… that seems about right for this template. Vampires have some specific easily-abused powers – especially against monsters who often aren’t even intelligent, much less in possession of holy symbols or mirrors – but then a +4 ECL Half-Celestial gets some impressive attribute bonuses and a pretty good array of other powers (including, at higher levels, access to Holy / Unholy Word, Resurrection, and Summon Monster IX) for the same cost – which is arguably better, even if the payoff is somewhat delayed.

On the other hand, this isn’t exactly the sort of template that I’d recommend to a player. It’s more than a bit all-or-nothing, there isn’t much focus to it or room for growth, their major offensive ability (negative level infliction via brute-force bashing) is built around an abstract game mechanic that has nothing at all to do with anything in the original myths, and the real principle advantage – being able to send in the Thralls and dominated villagers – isn’t actually a lot of fun in play. Classical vampires were subtle, mysterious, and horrible, not just wandering monsters with a suite of abilities meant to annoy player characters.

Personally – and most of the current players seem to agree – if someone wants to play a vampire, I’d go with either the Shadowed Galaxy First Stage Vampire or the Basic Vampire template. Those are only +1 ECL (a modifier easy to buy off later) and provide an interesting array of abilities useful outside of combat.

Eclipse d20 – Candice Tintop, Mad Scientist

For our next Allwellia Character we have Candice, the groups resident mad scientist and robot master (as a special effect all of her constructs tend to be full of clockwork regardless of their game statistics and usually use a wild-borne emerald as a power core). Candice has never revealed much about her past – but given her periodic crazed attempts at major research projects, her tendency to create hordes of robots, and her occasional mutters about “Albert Wily”, “Ivo Robotnik”, and some sort of apocalyptic “Death Battle”, it is generally assumed that she was a member of a group with similar interests, there was some sort of falling out, and that she escaped the resulting disaster. Regardless, like so many mad scientists, Candice is more than a bit crazy, making most of her constructs resemble overly-cute toys and naming them in the same fashion. She led her party for quite some time, although she has recently taken a sabbatical to work on another one of her major projects. The group expects it to burn down a city or something at any time now.

Here we have the Introduction to Allwellia again – neatly boxed up for easy skipping for those who’ve seen it before.

The Allwellia Campaign is a high-powered Eclipse campaign. Not only does it allow quite a lot of character-optimization cheese, but it allows each player character to have a custom race/birthright – which means that each one can be expected to sneak in a bunch of high-powered abilities precisely adapted to whatever the player wants the characters role to be. In effect, they’re trading in the character’s basic racial modifiers for about a tailored template. Secondarily, it is both magic (80% of base cost, starting off at level two with 1800 gold to spend) and treasure rich.

The major problem is that the setting is FULL of wild magic. Some rare individuals – “Sparks” – can directly absorb that magic (“experience points”) when they battle the creatures of the wild, transforming and enhancing themselves in weird and wonderful ways (“Sparks” use Eclipse builds). More common (if still pretty rare) are Embers, who can absorb the wild magic but not directly use it – so they can use it up in rituals to grant themselves specific patterns of abilities (Class Levels) or in gaining a few other boosts. Finally, of course… most people can’t absorb wild magic at all. They may still gain a few levels via years of slow and painful practice or by being infused with power by some Spark with Leadership (or some similar ability), but – while they still get Birthrights – they’re relatively generic.

Wild magic is the explanation for the abundance of magic items as well. Not only can items randomly appear in the wilds – even if many such random items are useless or outright dangerous – but they can be “farmed”. Placing an appropriate mundane item in a box covered with the correct runes and formulas and leaving it in the wild will – in time – result in a fairly predictable enchantment. Items that get left too long, or get disturbed, or where something goes wrong, can be just as insane as the random stuff – but all you need to produce magical items is the right formula (there are books) and time.

Unfortunately, the Wilds are just that. Did an airship crash? By the time the search party finds it it may have transformed into a haunted pirate ship, complete with a crew of monsters all with their own magic. Has the wild magic surged today? An old family cemetery with an “eternal flame” marker may turn into a volcano full of fire vampires surrounded by a sprawling city of the undead – none of which “dead” existed last week. Was there a great storm? Perhaps the old coastal village has been swallowed up by the sea, and is now a civilization of underwater monsters bent on conquest. Mapping the wild isn’t entirely futile – it helps keep major features in place – but the details change constantly.

Candice “Candi” Tintop

Level Ten Mad Scientist

Racial Template: Crafter Dwarf (31 CP / +0 ECL):

  • Attribute Shift (+2 Con, -2 Chr, 6 CP)
  • Skill Specialty/Craft/Stone and Metal +3 (1 CP)
  • +1 BAB, Specialized/vrs Orcs, Half-Orcs & Goblinoids only, Corrupted/does not add to iterative attacks (2 CP)
  • Speak Dwarven as an extra language (1 CP)
  • Universal Crafter: Equipage with Purchasing, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / requires the use of a workshop and hours or days of work as determined by the game master (4 CP).
  • Leadership, with Animated Objects and Constructs, Specialized for Reduced Cost / only for Animated
  • Objects and Constructs, User must spend hours or days building them (6 CP).
  • +3d0 Hit Dice, Specialized in determining the user’s effective level for Leadership (6 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment (Up to 7500 GP Value, 8 CP). All effects Spell Level 1/2 or 1, Caster Level One, Unlimited-Use Use Activated.
    • Resist Energy (10), L1, Personal Only (1400 GP).
    • Mending (L 1/2, 1000 GP)
    • Immortal Vigor I (L1, adds 12 + 2 x Con Mod HP, Personal Only, 1400 GP)
    • Traveler’s Any-Tool (160 GP).
    • 2x Healing Belt (Variant, Repairs Animated Objects and Constructs, 1200 GP).
    • Light (L1/2, Unlimited-Use Use-Activated, 1000 GP).
  • Racial Disadvantage/Insane. Crafter Dwarves treat constructs like people, consider them alive, and get very upset if they are destroyed (-3 CP).

Putting ANY version of Leadership into a “race” is a pretty unusual move. After all, between this and the boosted level for it’s effect it says that you can tell when a “Crafter Dwarf” hits adulthood (level one) by simply watching to see when they build their first minions – and means that any Crafter Dwarf settlement is likely to have a small army of constructs on tap both for defense and to do most of the basic labor. A first level Crafter Dwarf will average eight CR 1 constructs. Presuming that most of them make at lesat some servant/laborer constructs (which seems like a pretty obvious thing to do)… Each will be capable of doing pretty much any job that a normal person can do – and constructs are tireless, labor twenty-four hours a day, need little or no support. The social effects of this one are going to be pretty major. Even a small group of Crafter Dwarves essentially comes with their own portable industrial revolution and is likely to act like leisured aristocrats. Throw in the ability to make almost anything else they need via “purchasing” and you can reasonably expect to find reasonably wealthy little settlements of Crafter Dwarves in the most inhospitable places. About the only restriction (at least in Allwellia) is that Crafter Dwarves can only be born near a Crafting Nexus, which at least keeps them relatively rare.

The Innate Enchantments theoretically don’t come into play until the user pays their XP cost (not much) or (for NPC’s who don’t get experience or PC’s who don’t want to spend any) they get a little training (spending 1 CP on a specialized immunity to that rather small activation cost).Still, that generally means that you can expect almost any Crafter Dwarf to have mastered them – usually even before level zero since a single disadvantage will more than suffice. While none of those enchantments are particularly major items, this will make even Crafter Dwarf children unusually durable and skilled in working with stone and metal.

I don’t expect there to be a lot of room for other races in a Crafter Dwarf community. Unless they’re especially talented as artists, or high enough level to be serious experts, or rich enough to not worry about their community role, what are they going to do? All the basic jobs and roles are going to be filled by tireless constructs.

Basic Attributes: Str 10, Int 18 (+2 L4, L8 +6 Enh = 26), Wis 11, Con 14 (+2 Enh = 16), Dex 14 (+6 Enh = 20), and Cha 12.

Available Character Points: 264 (Level Ten Base) +10 (Disadvantages: History, Blocked (Clerical Magic; sees the universe as complex mechanisms), Compulsive (Tinkerer, will tend to fiddle with traps and ancient mechanisms without thinking about it)) + 30 (L1, L3, L5, L7, L9 Bonus Feats) = 304 CP

Basic Purchases (181 CP):

  • Base Attack Bonus: +7 (42 CP) +2 Luck. (Extra +4 with Rays from MA, can “whirlwind” a ray within a 15′ radius).
  • Skill Points: 33 (33 CP) +65 (Int Mod x 13) +26 (Fast Learner Specialized in Skills, 6 CP) +26 (Boost) = 150 SP.
    • Adept x2: Pays half cost for Craft (Constructs), Disable Device, Hide, Search, Escape Artist, Move Silently, Open Lock, and Sleight Of Hand (12 CP).
  • Hit Points: 10 (L1D6 + 1d4, 10 CP) +12 (Immortal Vigor) +45 (L2-L10, d6, 18 CP) +0 (upgrade 3d0 Racial Hit Dice to all purpose, 6 CP) +48 (Con Mod x 16) +96 (Cunning Evasion, Advanced Improved Augmented Bonus: Adds (Int Mod) to (Con Mod) for HP Purposes, Specialized and Corrupted / only for hit dice through level six – although her racial hit dice and racial Immortal Vigor count, 6 CP) = 211 HP.
  • Armor Class 10 (Base)+5 (Dex) +2 (MA) +1 (Def) +3 (Nat) = 21
    • When “Armor” Active: +4 (Armor) +4 (Shield) = 29
  • Saving Throws:
    • Fortitude: +4 (12 CP) +3 (Con) +4 (Res) = +11
    • Reflex: +2 (6 CP) +5 (Dex) +4 (Res) = +11
    • Will: +4 (12 CP) +0 (Wis) 4 (Res) = +8
    • Luck with +4 Bonus Uses Specialized in Saves (6 CP).
  • Proficient with All Simple Weapons and Light Armor (6 CP)
  • Initiative +5 (Dex) +4 (Improved Initiative, 6 CP) = +9
  • Move: 30′ [+30′ (Enh) when armor active].

Common Attacks (Presumes use of Combat Drug and Armor since those are quick, cheap, and long-lasting buffs).

  • Ice Ray/Adamantine Imprisonment/Weather Control/Etc: Either Will DC 21 for Half Damage (Affects Objects) or Ranged Touch Attack +21 (+7 BAB +5 Dex +5 Luck +4 Martial Art).
  • Heavy Mace: +12/+12 (+7 BAB +2 Enh +3 Str, Personal Haste), 1d8 + 5 (+2 Enh +3 Str), Crit 20/x2.

Candi may have taken a few swings in melee, but it’s certainly not her thing unless she’s either holding the legendary weapon which will destroy the foe in a single blow OR has completely run out of other options. She’s not helpless in a physical fight, but why would she pick doing 1d8+5 over – say – instantly imprisoning one or more opponents in icy adamantine bonds? And why take damage from a big area of effect or massive attack when she can throw up a quick barrier to block it and line of sight?

Other Abilities (123 CP):

  • Augmented Bonus/Adds (Int Mod) to (Dex Mod) for Dexterity based skills (6 CP).
  • Stipend (Only for Crafting): May make up to 1200 GP worth of goods per month with racial Universal Crafter ability without other costs in her spare time (12 CP).
  • Upgrade Racial Leadership to Double Effect (6 CP).
  • Finesse (Saves against her Witchcraft abilities are based on Int, not Cha, 6 CP).
  • +13 Levels of Int-based Wilder Spellcasting with no Caster Level, Corrupted / provides no disciplines. (Net = 147 Wilder +13 Witch = 160 Power) (26 CP). This is a bit cheesy, but most characters have some cheese somewhere.
  • Reflex Training (Extra Actions Variant) with +4 Bonus Uses, Corrupted / only to use Witchcraft Abilities (8 CP).
  • Reflex Training (Extra Actions Variant) with +8 Bonus Uses, Specialized / only to act defensively (9 CP).
  • Rite of Chi with +12 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted /. Only to recover Power, only when there is a break in the action (8 CP).
  • Witchcraft III with The Secret Order, Corrupted for Reduced Cost / Requires various blatantly obvious Foci that can be taken away (16 CP Base). This provides 13 Power and a selection of twelve basic abilities / devices. A mad scientists basic abilities are usually (although not always) Specialized in particular applications for double effect. (CL 14, Will Saves DC 21, 30′ Base Range).
  • Basic Functions:
    1. Auric Distortion Cloak (The Adamant Will, Specialized for Increased Effect / presents a false aura to aura detection effects at no cost.
    2. Essence Extractor: When directed at an unresisting creature, corpse, or area of up to a 20′ radius, this device extracts specific substances for 1 Power. It can thus be used to gather poison from deceased monsters, perfume from flower gardens, drugs from various plants, or gold from ore.
    3. Etheric Manipulator Vest (Dreamfaring, Specialized for Increased Effect / only to let the user see and attack into the Ethereal Plane at no cost.
    4. Folding Centaur Armor (Hand of Shadows: Mage Armor, Shield, and Personal Haste, 2 Power for 10 Minutes/caster level).
    5. Healers Kit (Healing, Specialized in Hit Points for Double Effect, 2d4/Power, max 3 Power/Round)
    6. Holographic Image Projector (Shadowweave, Specialized for Increased Effect / may spend 2 Power to generate a Minor Image effect or 4 Power to generate a Major Image effect.
    7. Hypersonic Pulser (Glamour, Specialized for Increased Effect / Panics animals in the area that fail to resist for 1 Power.
    8. Hypnotic Wheel (Glamour/Suggestion for 2 Power).
    9. Microbot Assistants (Hand of Shadows/Can do an hours light work every five minutes)
    10. Multi-optics Band (Witchsight, various vision boosts. 1 Power/Hour).
    11. Ray Gun (Infliction/Ice Ray, 9d4/15d4/21d4 Damage for 1/2/3 Power, +3 power for a 5′ Radius, Save Will DC 17 for Half). With Atheric Crystalizer Upgrade (Nightforge, +4 CP). Can make ice constructs as durable as Adamant. With Death Ray Upgrade (Mouth of the Earth, upgrade to d8’s for +1 Power, 4 CP).
    12. Sensory Link System (The Inner Eye, Only for use with Personal Constructs, 1 Power/Ten Minutes).
  • Advanced Systems:
    • Combat Drug (Wrath of the Sea and Dance of Flames, +6 to Str and Dex for ten minutes for two power, 8 CP).
    • Feral Genegraft (Flesh Like Mist, Specialized and Corrupted / only to take on rat traits, like a Bite Of The Wererat effect, for two Power, 2 CP). Since this doesn’t have a duration limit she usually has it running at all times, just for the attribute bonuses.
    • Null-Gravity Boots (Whisper Step, 4 CP).
    • Planar Sealer (4 CP). This gadget provides access to the Dismissal ability.
    • Teleportation Belt: Ashen Rebirth with Teleportation, Specialized for Reduced Cost / only for the Teleportation function (6 CP).
    • Weather Control Module / Weathermonger (6 CP).
  • Witchcraft Pacts – Advertising (-6 CP), Rituals (Major research projects, at least twice per year, with unpredictable results (-6 CP).

The Witchcraft-based “Mad Scientist” build can be extremely potent at low levels, particularly when you buy extra hit dice and thus boost up your Witchcrafts effective “Caster Level”. Adding a huge heap of Psionic Strength on top of the cost-efficiency of Witchcraft makes you pretty competitive in the mid-levels too. That combination catapulted Candi to party leadership early on, if only because she had the biggest attack/blast in the party, could keep it up for quite some time, and had a swarm of minions to hide behind while she fiddled with her gadgets.

Skills (All +4 Competence): (3 SP Left)

  • Balance +11 (11 SP) +5 (Dex) +8 (Int) = +28
  • Craft Constructs +13 (6* SP) +8 (Int) = +25
  • Craft Weapons +13 (13 SP) +8 (Int) = +25
  • Disable Device +13 (6* SP) +8 (Int) +4 (Tools) = +29
  • Escape Artist +13 (6* SP) +5 (Dex) +8 (Int) +4 (Tools) = +34
  • Hide +13 (6* SP) +5 (Dex) +8 (Int) = +30
  • Knowledge/Architecture and Engineering +13 (13 SP) +8 (Int) = +25
  • Martial Art/Ray Master +13 (13 SP) +5 (Dex) +8 (Int) = +30
  • Attack 4, Defenses 3, Reach (+10′, only for Whirlwind Attack), Mind Like Moon, Whirlwind Attack, Prone Combat, Inner Strength II, Light Foot, and Vanishing.
  • Move Silently +13 (6* SP) +5 (Dex) +8 (Int) = +30
  • Open Lock +13 (6* SP) +5 (Dex) +8 (Int) +4 (Tools) = +34
  • Ride +13 (13 SP) +5 (Dex) +8 (Int) = +34
  • Search +13 (6* SP) +8 (Int) = +25
  • Sleight Of Hand +13 (6* SP) +5 (Dex) +8 (Int) = +30
  • Spot +13 (13 SP) +0 (Wis) = +17
  • Tumble +13 (13 SP) +5 (Dex) +8 (Int) = +30
  • Use Magic Device +13 (13 SP) +1 (Cha) = +18
  • Use Rope +2 (2 SP) +5 (Dex) +8 (Int) = +19

Speaks: Common, Dwarven, Sign Language, Sphinx, Terran, Giant, and Draconic.

Skills from +6 Headband of Intellect:

  • Appraise: (Level+3) +8 (Int) = +25
  • Knowledge/Nobility: (Level+3) +8 (Int) = +25
  • Knowledge/Dungeoneering: (Level+3) +8 (Int) = +25

Specific Knowledges: Constructs (1 SP), Metallurgy (1 SP), and Riddles (1 SP).

Magical Items:

  • Ring of Protection +1 Light Fortification.
  • Handy Haversack.
  • +2 Heavy Mace
  • Ring of Communication,
  • Bronze Griffon. When animated, a bronze griffon acts in all ways like a normal griffon under the command of its possessor. The item can be used twice per week for up to 6 hours per use. When 6 hours have passed or when the command word is spoken, the bronze griffon once again becomes a tiny statuette.
  • Headband of Intellect +6.

Conventional Gear: Spare Explorers Outfit (2 GP), Canteen (2 GP), Silver Holy Symbol (25 GP), Pot of Glue (-), 10 Iron Spikes (-), two weeks “Good Meals” (-), 100′ Silk Rope (20 GP), Grapnel (2 GP), Spool of Thread (-), Ball of Twine (-), Spool of Wire (10 GP), Sewing Kit (1 GP), 10′ Folding Pole (2 GP), Camping Gear (Tent, Bedroll, Cooking Kit, Etc, 12 GP), “Zippo” Lighter (2 GP), Pens & Ink (-), 2 Blank Journals (20 GP), Mechanician’s Handbook (50 GP), Javelins x10 (10 GP).

Mystic Tattoos: +2 Luck to Attacks, +4 Resistance to Saves, +4 Competence to All Skills.

Thanks to access to an Altar Of War, she can consider up to six weapons (a bundle of 50 ammo counts as one weapon) as being +1. We haven’t gotten a ruling on whether her ray gun counts.

Available Constructs: (Max CR 13, total CR of 64):

  • Maully and Andy (Teddy Bear Guardian Dolls, 2 x CR 3 = 5)
  • Sugar Plum (Pony, Small Animated Object / Heavy Crossbow, CR 2),
  • Norbert (Small Heli-Rat Animated Object,CR 2)
  • Hooty Blo (Small Animated Object/ Bronze Owl, with Camera, CR 2),
  • Animated Hand Crossbow (Pellet Variant, stays with Hooty Blo, CR 1).
  • Wall-e1 and Wall-e2: Mosaic Tile Golems (CR 7 x 2 = 9).
  • Slinky, Coils, and Hissy Fit, Iron Cobras x 3 (3 x CR2 = 5)
  • Mr Fuzzles (Large Animated Winged Tiger Statue, +3 CP for CR 6: Fly (1), Burrow (1), Mithril (Hardness 15, +4 Natural Armor, 1). When she needs a steed, she has Mr Fuzzles.
  • Twinkle Toes: Robot Arachnid (CR 2)
  • Chonk The Pony (Clockwork Steed, CR 6)
  • 2 x Tickles, Animated Masterwork Thieves Tools (+4 where relevant, total CR 1).
  • Dawn, Sunset, Moonlight, and Sunshine (Amber Unicorns, CR 3 x 4, = 8).
  • Chez: Animated Lounge Chair (Medium Animated Object, Move 40′, Additional Movement Mode / Flight (CR 3).
  • Mr Floateysaur: Animated Ship (Colossal Animated Object, Fly (1), 3x Faster (60′ Move, 3), Slower (No Ground Movement, -2), treat as Mithril (Hardness 15, +4 to Natural Armor, 4), Deck Gun (Ranged Attack, 20′ Increment, 2) (CR 12). Oddly enough, Mr Floateysaur cannot swim – but next level she intends to add +4 Construction Points to get the CR up to 14, adding Swim (1), and an Additional (1) Ranged (2) Attack. (She may work on getting the Ranges up after that. There’s no official pricing for that, but it’s hardly unreasonable).

Candi’s constructs have yet to be a really big factor – even the flying ship is mostly just for fun since two other characters have got them (albeit by entirely different methods) and had them first – but they have helped divert a few crowd scenes and have been reasonably useful for running errands and doing a little light scouting. In part that’s because Candi tends to regard them more as pets and companions than as resources, but there are still enough of them to make it seem like she is running a mechanical Noah’s Ark.

Overall, Candi is actually a pretty-well balanced. She’s got a decent selection of tricks, enough power to use them as needed, some troops to hide behind while she uses them, and her attacks, saves, armor class, and hit points are quite good enough to buy her some time if someone gets past her minions. Admittedly, her tendency to be “cutesy” is eccentric, but as mad scientist quirks go it’s pretty minor.

Marcus Silvus, Wyld Shapeshifter

Our next Allwellia character is the party tank – but in this case the player has a tendency to try and increase the challenges his character faces by accepting serious disadvantages and by playing against his characters strengths. Given that the rest of the group likes to optimize characters… the counter-dynamic is for everyone else in the game to try and optimize his characters beyond all reason. Ergo, here is a horrendously over-optimized version of Marcus Silvus, Wyld Shapeshifter.

Here we have the Introduction to Allwellia again – neatly boxed up for easy skipping for those who’ve seen it before.

The Allwellia Campaign is a high-powered Eclipse campaign. Not only does it allow quite a lot of character-optimization cheese, but it allows each player character to have a custom race/birthright – which means that each one can be expected to sneak in a bunch of high-powered abilities precisely adapted to whatever the player wants the characters role to be. In effect, they’re trading in the character’s basic racial modifiers for about a tailored template. Secondarily, it is both magic (80% of base cost, starting off at level two with 1800 gold to spend) and treasure rich.

The major problem is that the setting is FULL of wild magic. Some rare individuals – “Sparks” – can directly absorb that magic (“experience points”) when they battle the creatures of the wild, transforming and enhancing themselves in weird and wonderful ways (“Sparks” use Eclipse builds). More common (if still pretty rare) are Embers, who can absorb the wild magic but not directly use it – so they can use it up in rituals to grant themselves specific patterns of abilities (Class Levels) or in gaining a few other boosts. Finally, of course… most people can’t absorb wild magic at all. They may still gain a few levels via years of slow and painful practice or by being infused with power by some Spark with Leadership (or some similar ability), but – while they still get Birthrights – they’re relatively generic.

Wild magic is the explanation for the abundance of magic items as well. Not only can items randomly appear in the wilds – even if many such random items are useless or outright dangerous – but they can be “farmed”. Placing an appropriate mundane item in a box covered with the correct runes and formulas and leaving it in the wild will – in time – result in a fairly predictable enchantment. Items that get left too long, or get disturbed, or where something goes wrong, can be just as insane as the random stuff – but all you need to produce magical items is the right formula (there are books) and time.

Unfortunately, the Wilds are just that. Did an airship crash? By the time the search party finds it it may have transformed into a haunted pirate ship, complete with a crew of monsters all with their own magic. Has the wild magic surged today? An old family cemetery with an “eternal flame” marker may turn into a volcano full of fire vampires surrounded by a sprawling city of the undead – none of which “dead” existed last week. Was there a great storm? Perhaps the old coastal village has been swallowed up by the sea, and is now a civilization of underwater monsters bent on conquest. Mapping the wild isn’t entirely futile – it helps keep major features in place – but the details change constantly.

Marcus Silvus

Level Ten Wyld Shapeshifter, Fenris Understudy.

Basic Attributes: Str 7, Dex 5, Con 11, Int 13, Wis 13, Cha 10

Dire Wolf/Dire Wolf Hybrid Abilities: Str 25 (+6 Ch +4 Enh +6 Eq +1 Lvl = 42), Dex 15 (+6 Ch +6 Eq +1 Lvl = 28), Con 17 (+6 Ch +4 Enh = 27), Int 13 (+6 Ch +1 Enh = 20), Wis 13 (+6 Ch = 19), Cha 10 (+6 Ch = 16). 10′ Reach, takes d8 damage from falls,

On adventures Marcus normally stays in Dire Wolf or Hybrid Dire Wolf form.

Available Character Points: 264 (L10 Base) +10 (Disadvantages: Accursed x3 – no rerolls for terrible attributes) +20 (Restrictions, externally directed spellcasting, armor) +36 ( Birthright, L1, L3, L5, L7, L9 Bonus Feats) = 330 CP.

Imperial Order Birthright

  • Defender (Specialized / Not versus Wyld Creatures (3 CP).For most people this is only +1 AC.
  • 1d6+2 (6) Mana with Reality Editing, Specialized and Corrupted / Only to order the environment (3 CP)
    • Places around Order birthrights tend to be exceptionally clean and well-laid out, although sometimes a little unnervingly neat. They can also organize things rapidly, research complex topics by sheer brute force of logically arranging data, etc,
  • Rite of C’hi with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted / only to refill the ordering pool above (4 CP).
  • Enthusiast (3 CP)
  • Fast Learner: (Socialized in Skills for +2 SP per Level, 6 CP)
  • Immunity/the restriction that martial arts are for specific weapons (Very Common, Minor, Major), Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only works with a specific martial arts style, the style cannot have any mystical effects (4 CP).
  • Double-Advanced Blessing / the user may share abilities with up to (Charisma) other nearby (within 60′) individuals in addition to himself at any one time. Specialized and Corrupted / only works for a specific martial arts style and any immunities related to it, the style cannot have any mystical effects, only works as long as the user can continue to shout directions as a free action (6 CP).
  • Immunity/the inability to use more than one martial art at a time (Very Common, Minor, Major), Specialized / only works to add a specific martial arts style (6 CP).
  • Bonus Feat (6 CP)
  • Disadvantages: Accursed/draws Wyld monsters, Blocked/Chaos Magic, Wyld Magic, Etc, and Compulsive/need for organization (-10 CP),

That’s a rather subtle birthright by Allwellian standards – but the ability to effectively organize a battle to his liking, and to bestow fairly substantial combat bonuses on the rest of the party, would make Marcus the obvious leader and commander if he didn’t carefully avoid that role at all times.

Birthright Upgrades (36 CP):

  • Defender to Universal (3 CP).
  • +8 Bonus uses to Rite Of Chi for Order Pool (4 CP)
  • Buy off restrictions on Martial Arts Weapons (8 CP). Any weapon can be used with any martial art(s).
  • Reduce Blessing to Specialized (Only for Martial Arts and immunities related to them, 3 CP). Martial arts many now include occult abilities.
  • Upgrade ability to use multiple martial arts to three at a time (Grand, no longer limited to a specific style, 18 CP).

To retain sanity, I’d recommend limiting the ability to share martial arts effects on top of whatever martial art the target is already using to a single additional martial art. It could be read either way, but allowing EVERY player character to use three martial arts at a time means having to give all the monsters massive bonuses to keep them effective. There really is no point in that kind of arms race when the real goal is just to let the fighter be an equal to the spellcasters.

Basic Purchases (172 CP): (Dire Wolf Baseline)

  • Base Attack Bonus: +9 (Corrupted / No iterative attacks, 36 CP).+4 BAB, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (+12)/ only to transfer to damage via Expertise, does not add to iterative attacks (24 CP)
  • Skill Points: 4 (4 CP) +273 ([Int Mod + Str Mod] x13) +26 (F. Learner) +14 (Bonus) = 317 SP.
    • Immunity/Not getting skill points for boosts retroactively (Uncommon, Minor, Great, 6 CP)
    • Here, once again… OK, a lot of his skills are very physical, and others can be aided by flexing his enormous muscles and growling, but deriving almost all of his skill points from his strength without any justification at all is pretty blatant cheese.

  • Advanced Improved Augmented Bonus: Adds (Str Mod) to (Int Mod) for Skill Point Purposes (18 CP)
  • Adept (Hide, Listen, Move Silently, Spot, 6 CP).
  • Hit Points: 10 (L1D10, 4 CP) +8 (L2D8, 2 CP) +39 (L3-10d6 0 CP) +0 (4d0 Bonus HD, 16 CP) +12 (2d6 Immortal Vigor) +15 (4d4 Armory) +520 (20 HD x [Con Mod + Str Mod]) = 564 HP
    • Advanced Improved Augmented Bonus: Adds (Str Mod) to (Con Mod) for Hit Point Purposes (18 CP)
    • And here we’re doing it again – channeling everything through his strength simpoly because it’s so high. Still, the tradition of strongmen shrugging off mighty blows counts for something.

  • Fast Learner, Specialized in Hit Dice (Uses d6 base, 6 CP).
  • AC: 10 (Base)+9 (Dex) +3 (Nat) +3 (Def) +12 (MA) -1 (Size) = 36
  • Saving Throws:
    • Fortitude: +2 (6 CP) +8 (Con) +1 (Res) = +11
    • Reflex: +0 (0 CP) +9 (Dex) +1 (Res) = +10
    • Will: +3 (9 CP) +4 (Wis) +1 (Res) = +8
    • Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized in Saves (6 CP).
  • Proficient with All Simple Weapons and Martial Weapons (9 CP)
  • Initiative +9 (Dex)+3 (Eq) = +12. Roll twice, keeping the best.
  • Move: 50′ (Base) +30 (Enh) +30 (Eq) +10 = 120′

Usual Attacks:

  • Melee: +35/+35/+35/+35 (+10 BAB +12 MA+16 Str +3 Enh -1 Size -4 Bonus Attacks, Personal Haste), Damage as per Weapon +43 (16 Str +3 Enh +24 Expertise), Blind Fight, Mighty Blow, +25′ Natural Reach, 9 AoO.
  • Ranged: +28/+29/+29/+29 (+10 BAB +12 MA+8 Dex +3 Enh -4 Bonus Attack, Personal Haste), Damage per Weapon +43 (16 Str +3 Enh +24 Expertise), Mighty Blow.
  • 36 Inner Strength Points (Regain 9d6+1 daily), usable for Vanishing, Resist Pain, Iron Skin, Light Foot, Healing, and Wrath (Lightning).
  • May take up to -8 on attacks to add +2 additional damage per -1 taken.

Other Abilities (130 CP):

  • Shapeshift, with Shrinking, Hybrid, Enchanted, Dire, Growth, and +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted / must have killed a creature to shapeshift into it, gets no bite attack (11 CP)
  • Current Forms: Wolf (Dire Base). Human, Falcon, Serpent, Badger, Weasel, Panther.
    • This, of course, is one of the classic ways to deal with poor attributes – learn to shapeshift and use those of your shapeshifted form.
  • 2x Double Enthusiast, Specialized & Corrupted for Increased Effect (12 Floating CP) / Only for Innate Enchantment (12 CP).
    • +1 Int, Wis, Str, Dex, Con, Cha, all Personal-Only (Cantrips, 3360 GP). (All boosted to +6 Chaos Bonus by Metamagic, Below).
    • Personal Haste (1600 GP).
    • Resistance, Personal Only, +1 Resistance Bonus to Saves (560 GP).
    • Healing Belt x2 (1200 GP).
    • Basic Gear: Longsword (15 GP), Bedroll, Medium Tent (5 GP), Air Bladder (2 GP), Compass (10 GP), Ioun Torch (60 GP), Cold and Hot Weather Gear (5 GP), Snowshoes (2 GP), Personal Care Items (1 GP), Collar (-). Net = 100 GP.
    • Composite Longbow for Str +19 (1900 GP).
    • Net Total: 8720 GP, may have up to 11,500 GP total value.
  • Metamagic: Power +3 (Specialized and Corrupted / Only to upgrade attribute boost innate enchantments by +3 effective levels to +6), Elemental Manipulation +3 (Specialized and Corrupted / Only to change Innate Enchantment attribute upgrade effects from Enhancement to Chaos Bonuses), Streamline III (Only to reduce the costs of the above metamagics) (10 CP).
  • Empowerment for Innate Enchantments, Corrupted for Increased Effect / uses has base Hit Dice as his Caster Level for Attribute Boosting Spells, and so can apply his +0 metamagics to them (6 CP).

This is a big slice of cheese. Marcus is basically boosting all of his attributes by SIX for a mere 20 CP. On the other hand… it’s being allowed because the player initially elected to put up with those TERRIBLE starting attributes rather than taking advantage of the standard rule on such things – that with attribute modifiers totaling less than zero he could toss out those terrible, TERRIBLE, numbers and reroll. Secondarily, of course, in this high-magic, high-treasure setting… he could invest in a +6 Belt of Magnificence (normally 200,000 GP) for 160,000 GP (presuming no further price breaks) and spend 12 CP on Innate Enchantment to absorb the thing and convert it to some other bonus type if he wanted to stack bonuses anyway. For now saving 160,000 GP is probably a better deal than saving 8 CP – but as levels go up things like Bonus Uses on Luck (Specialized in Saves) and similar investments will eventually be worth a good deal more than 160,000 GP. So… Marcus is getting away with it. You probably shouldn’t expect this to fly with game masters who are running lower level or less over-the-top games though.

  • Immunity/The XP Cost of his floating Innate Enchantments (Uncommon, Minor, Trivial, 1 CP).
  • Immunity to Dispelling and Antimagic (Common, Minor, Great,, Specialized and Corrupted/only protects Innate Enchantments, 6 CP).
  • Damage Reduction 4/-, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased effect/Physical Only, Not Vrs Silver (net 12/Silver or Energy, 9 CP). (Martial Arts Damage Reduction 6/- stacks with this).
  • Grant of Aid with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized/only when he Shapeshifts (6 CP).
  • Journeyman (Combat Abilities), Specialized in Hit Dice (3 CP).
  • The Call Of Ancient Blood: Privilege/killing a normal animal also counts as killing a dire animal for shapeshifting purposes (3 CP).
  • Totemistic Binding: Access to two Occult Skills (Armory and Biotech) at Normal Cost (12 CP).

This is another hefty slice of cheese: the Armory and Biotech skills come from the high-tech Shadowed Galaxy setting, where the “Equipment Skills” pretty much replace both money and magic items – and offer access to some pretty powerful stuff. Of course, other characters in the setting are accessing some of those skills for exactly the same reasons. Fortunately, however, since “Occult Skills” can come from anywhere in the multiverse, they can be freely “reskinned” – so he has versions of the two which use totemistic magic for self-enhancement instead of high-tech gear, which suits his theme but functions exactly the same way. He just uses little fetishes and charms instead of high-tech gadgets.

  • Rite of Chi with +8 Bonus Uses, Specialized for Reduced Cost and Corrupted for Increased Effect / only to restore Inner Strength (9 CP).
  • Improved Expertise, Specialized for Increased Effect / only to transfer up to 20 points from Attack Bonus to Damage, at a ratio of -1 to the Attack per +2 Damage (12 CP).

This isn’t an ubercharger build – but in combination with some extra Base Attack Bonus (only for converting to damage) this gives him a nice boost. It seems only fair; the fighter SHOULD be the best one in the party when it comes to inflicting damage with weapons.

  • Lunge (6 CP). Increase Natural Reach by +5 feet.
  • Whirlwind Attack with +4 Bonus Uses (12 CP). With a total of +25′ reach, rather high damage, and the ability to use it five times a minute, Marcus can do a fair imitation of an artillery strike. Even better, Whirlwind attack only damages your chosen targets – allowing you to leave all your friends undamaged, which is a LOT better than a fireball.
  • Oathspeaker: Mystic Artist (Oratory) with Echoes, Specialized for Increased Effect (doubles effective skill, may swear an oath as a free action) / only affects the user, only for Inspiration abilities, only as long as the user is acting to fulfill his oath (normally up to once per day per level for three minutes maximum) (12 CP). He most often uses Heroism (+2 Positive Levels, for +2 to BAB, Saves, and AC and +12 CP for three minutes.

Marcus’s oaths and promises have the power of his honor behind them. If he announces that he WILL save the fair maiden even if he must leap the mighty fire-belching chasm to do so… Then he can simply award himself a second level variation on “Jump” via Inherent Spell and some Immunity (Fire) to make that possible. This is a powerful and versatile ability, Personally I am not sure that this counts as cheese, if only because it is so very, VERY, classic. Fantasy stories are FULL of dramatic declarations of intent that seem to grant the hero a great (if very temporary) surge of power. Why should games be any different?

Skills: (317 SP Spent).

  • Armory (Occult): +13 (13 SP) +16 (Str) = +29 (+3 Specialty).
    • Str +6 (3), Stealth +8 (3), Athletics +8 (3), Martial Arts +8 (3), Heavy Fortification (3), +6 Dex (3), Heavy Weapon Mounts (can use all weapons without penalty for not having hands, 3), +30 Move (3), +8 to Intimidation (3)
  • Autohypnosis: +13 (13 SP) +4 (Wis) +8 (Eq) = +25
  • Balance: +13 (6* SP) +9 (Dex) +8 (Eq) = +30
  • Biotech (Occult):+13 (13 SP) +8 (Con) = +21 (+3 Specialty).
    • Rebuild (Treats Dire Wolf as his base form, Level-Based Attribute bonuses apply to that form, 3), +6 Dex (3), +4d4 Hit Dice (3), +8 to Sensory Checks (3), Extended Lifespan (1), Flash Resistance and Hearing Protection (1), +3 to Initiative (3), +8 to Autohypnosis and Survival (3).
  • Craft: Pioneering Gear +13 (13 SP) +5 (Int) = +18
  • Handle Animal +13 (13 SP) +3 (Cha) = +16 (Wolves +19)
  • Heal: +13 (13 SP) +4 (Wis) +2 (Belt) = +19
  • Hide +13 (6* SP) +9 (Dex) +8 (CoUM) +8 (Eq) +2(DW) -4 (Size) = +36
  • Intimidate: +13 (13 SP) +3 (Cha) +8 (Eq) = +24
  • Jump: +13 (13 SP) +16 (Str)+36 (Spd) +8 (Eq) = +73
  • Knowledge/Geography: +13 (13 SP) +5 (Int) = +18
  • Knowledge/Law: +13 (13 SP) +5 (Int) = +18
  • Knowledge/Nature: +13 (13 SP) +5 (Int) = +18
  • Knowledge/Nobility and Royalty: +13 (13 SP) +5 (Int) = +18
  • Knowledge/The Wyld: +13 (13 SP) +5 (Int) = +18
  • Listen +13 (6* SP) +4 (Wis) +8 (Eq) +2 (DW) = +27
  • Move Silently +13 (6* SP) +9 (Dex) +6 CoUM +8 (Eq) +2 (DW) -4 (Size) = +34
  • Pack Leader Style: +13 (13 SP) +16 (Str) +8 (Eq) – +37
  • Feral Rage Style: +13 (13 SP) +16 (Str) +8 (Eq) – +37
  • Storms Hammer Style: +13 (13 SP) +16 (Str) +8 (Eq) – +37
  • Perform (Oratory): +13 (13 SP) +3 (Cha).
  • Speak Language +13 (13 SP) +5 (Int) = +18
  • Common, High Imperial, Canine, and 16 More.
  • Spot +13 (6* SP) +4 (Wis) +8 (Eq) +2 (DW) = +27
  • Survival +13 (13 SP) +4 (Wis) +2 (Sy) +8 (Eq) = +27 (Hunting +30, Track +38).
  • Swim: +13 (13 SP) +16 (Str) = +29

+3 Specialties (6 SP): The Empire*, Tracking, Hunting, Imperial Law*, Biotech (Dire Wolf Rebuild), Armory (Heavy Weapons Mounts), and Wolves.

* – Not Included in totals.


  • Belt: Healing Belt (600 GP): +2 to Heal, 3 Charges/Day, Spend 1/2/3 to heal 2/3/4d8.
  • Neck: Continuous Collar of Umbral Metamorphosis: 60′ Dark-vision, Hide in Plain Sight, Cold Resistance 10, Superior Low- Light Vision, Hide +8, Move Silently +6, +10 to all movement modes (17,600 GP)
  • Ring: Ring of Communication (1600 GP).
  • Ring: Ring of Anticipation (Roll twice for initiative keeping the best result, 4800 GP)
  • Scholars Pin +1 Enhancement Bonus to Intelligence (800 GP).
  • Pet Amulet: Keeps a furry creature clean, neat, and scentless (Slotless, 1600 GP).

Mystic Tattoos: +4 Str, +4 Con, Spell Resistance

Pack Leader Style (Str):

  • Requires: Access to Wolf-Form, Imperial Order Birthright.
  • Basic Techniques: Attack 4, Defenses 4, Synergy/Survival, Synergy/Hide, Synergy/Heal, and Toughness 2.
  • Advanced and Master Techniques: Combat Reflexes, Mind Like Moon, “Shout Warnings” (Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized in Saves) and “You’ll be all right pup!” (Grant of Aid with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized in Hit Points).
  • Occult Techniques: Inner Strength II, Vanishing, and Resist Pain.
  • Known Techniques (19): Attack 4, Toughness 2, Defenses 4, Synergy/Survival, Combat Reflexes, Mind Like Moon, Shout Warnings, You’ll Be All Right Pup, Inner Strength II, Vanishing, Resist Pain.

Feral Rage Style (Str):

  • Requires: Access to Dire Wolf Form
  • Basic Techniques: Attack 4, Defenses 4, Synergy/Survival, Synergy/Hide, and Toughness 2.
  • Advanced and Master Techniques: Blind Fight, Breaking, Mighty Blow, and Reach.
  • Occult Techniques: Inner Strength II, Light Foot, and Iron Skin.
  • Known Techniques (19): Attack 4, Toughness 2, Defenses 4, Blind Fight, Breaking, Mighty Blow, Reach. Inner Strength II, Iron Skin, and Light Foot.

Storms Hammer Style (Str)

  • Requires: +6 BAB
  • Basic Techniques: Attack 4, Defenses 4, Strike, Toughness 3
  • Advanced and Master Techniques: Reach, Imbuement (currently +3), Bonus Attack II.
  • Occult Techniques: Inner Strength II, Healing, and Wrath (Lightning). .
  • Known Techniques (19):Attack 4,Defenses 4, Strike, Toughness II, Reach, Imbuement, and Bonus Attack II., Inner Strength II, Healing, and Wrath (Lightning).

This actually leaves Marcus with eight unspent character points – unless I’ve made an error, which is certainly possible late at night and with a character this complicated. Still, I find myself unsure of what to spend them on – so that can await further character development.

Marcus, of course, is an extremely powerful tank – and one with enough offensive power to be sure that attackers will HAVE to deal with him. For most games I’d class him around ECL 16-18 – as might be expected given a base level of ten, +2 ECL for the custom race/template, about +4 for using an Eclipse build, and +2 for all the high-optimization options. He’s still no match for an ubercharger, or other really high-end build of that level – but he ought to be considerably more interesting to play.

Millificent of Allwellia

The Allwellia Campaign is a high-powered Eclipse campaign. Not only does it allow quite a lot of character-optimization cheese, but it allows each player character to have a custom race/birthright – which means that each one can be expected to sneak in a bunch of high-powered abilities precisely adapted to whatever the player wants the characters role to be. In effect, they’re trading in the character’s basic racial modifiers for about a tailored template. Secondarily, it is both magic (80% of base cost, starting off at level two with 1800 gold to spend) and treasure rich.

The major problem is that the setting is FULL of wild magic. Some rare individuals – “Sparks” – can directly absorb that magic (“experience points”) when they battle the creatures of the wild, transforming and enhancing themselves in weird and wonderful ways (“Sparks” use Eclipse builds). More common (if still pretty rare) are Embers, who can absorb the wild magic but not directly use it – so they can use it up in rituals to grant themselves specific patterns of abilities (Class Levels) or in gaining a few other boosts. Finally, of course… most people can’t absorb wild magic at all. They may still gain a few levels via years of slow and painful practice or by being infused with power by some Spark with Leadership (or some similar ability), but – while they still get Birthrights – they’re relatively generic.

Wild magic is the explanation for the abundance of magic items as well. Not only can items randomly appear in the wilds – even if many such random items are useless or outright dangerous – but they can be “farmed”. Placing an appropriate mundane item in a box covered with the correct runes and formulas and leaving it in the wild will – in time – result in a fairly predictable enchantment. Items that get left too long, or get disturbed, or where something goes wrong, can be just as insane as the random stuff – but all you need to produce magical items is the right formula (there are books) and time.

Unfortunately, the Wilds are just that. Did an airship crash? By the time the search party finds it it may have transformed into a haunted pirate ship, complete with a crew of monsters all with their own magic. Has the wild magic surged today? An old family cemetery with an “eternal flame” marker may turn into a volcano full of fire vampires surrounded by a sprawling city of the undead – none of which “dead” existed last week. Was there a great storm? Perhaps the old coastal village has been swallowed up by the sea, and is now a civilization of underwater monsters bent on conquest. Mapping the wild isn’t entirely futile – it helps keep major features in place – but the details change constantly.

.Millificent, Wyrm Of Alchemy

56 year old female Sand Gnome Spark. Black Hair, Blue Eyes, 2 Ft 1 Inch (0.91 meters), 37 lbs (16.8 kg), Profession: Nomadic Trader and Alchemist, Linnorm of the Western Desert.

The caravan leader had thought he had all the angles figured out. He had led previous expeditions that had mapped out a significant portion of the lava tubes under Mount Vengeance. As such, he thought he had a lead on the location and route to a much larger chamber deep beneath the volcano where it was rumored that incredible treasure and power lay. Perhaps even a dragon’s horde. As such, he gathered a caravan of venturesome gnoes known for being able to keep their mouth’s shut and their heads down. Millificent was among them.

The journey was treacherous, and more than a few members of the caravan were slain by bandits, wandering monsters, and the occasional collapsing tunnel. Eventually though, the tunnel ahead opened up to reveal a massive chamber dimly lit by the bio-luminescent fungi that was so common in the deep tunnels. Unfortunately, the rumored dragon’s horde was nowhere to be found. What they did find were the skeletal remains of a colossal two-headed dread linnorm slain in its home – likely in a territorial battle with an immense dragon. Whatever horde had once existed here was now long gone, either looted by the dragon or by others seeking wealth and power. Even the shattered bones were beginning to merge with the very stone of the mountain itself. The very air seemed to crackle with magic and psionic energies still writhing and twisting with pent up power. Thick streams of crystalized black blood dripped from the very bones of the slain giant and formed small pools of glowing power. While the rumored treasure was nowhere to be seen, the expedition was not a total loss. The bones, blood, and the minerals that had been soaked in their power were valuable commodities in their own right.

So began efforts to harvest what they could to use themselves or to haul back and sell to those who valued such things. Out came bottles, pickaxes, and chisels to collect the most valuable bits to haul back to town. More than once the work paused as it sounded like the ancient linnorm was roaring to life and shaking the foundations of the world, but once the shaking stopped the work continued again – although not without trepidation and frequent glances over their shoulders. It was during the attempted removal of one of the many teeth larger than any of the gnomes present that a partial collapse of the cavern occurred, unleashing a torrent of crystalline black blood onto the unwary treasure seekers.

The poisonous liquid burned at their flesh and tore at their minds. A few managed to crawl out of the pool of blood to die slow and agonizing deaths, but Millificent came out transformed. A tiny portion of the ancient power of the linnorm had merged with her and given her the Spark. Now she could wield its magical and psionic power over the elements of ice and fire. In time, perhaps she could wield even more of its former power. For now though, she and the other survivors dragged themselves back to town, sold what they could salvage from the failed expedition, and disbanded. The Spark within Millificent however called to her, and urged her to go out again. To seek out wealth and power. And…. perhaps…. a chance to avenge itself against the dragonkind that slew it for its treasures.


Centuries ago, when the mages warded the volcanic Mount Vengeance to prevent future eruptions, the side-effects of those wards were not understood at the time. Only later, when immense geysers of mystically imbued lava began to burst forth from the surrounding countryside was the error realized. Fires scorched one verdant forests and grasslands from the landscape, leaving sweeping the Desert of the Black Sands in their place.

Still, many found opportunity in the disaster. The Sand Gnomes form caravans that traverse the black dunes and lava rivers to ply their wares at each stop on their route. Along the way, they harvest alchemical reagents that grow along the lava flows and the mystically charged sands that erupt from the many geysers of ash and sand. A few caravans even brave the old magma tubes that criss-cross the disk to ply their wares to the denizens on the underside of the disk.

Traversing the desert has had an affect on the Sand Gnomes as well. They possess an innate ability to control sand for both defense and to form tools and weapons. They are talented survivalists able to find water in even the harshest environments. They are also skilled alchemists and capable negotiators known for driving hard bargains and producing all sorts of useful concoctions.

On the other hand, Sand Gnomes tend to be rowdy, big-eaters, and miserly with their coin. As such, the arrival of a Sand Gnome caravan frequently met with enthusiasm as well as annoyance.

For the Sand Gnomes, their caravans are their families, even if they aren’t related by blood. Sand Gnomes identify themselves by a given name and a name for the caravan they are members of in place of a family name. Other species find this convention confusing, but to them it is as natural as any other system for identifying themselves. Children, when they come of age, will leave the caravan of their parent(s) and move to join another at one of the many ports of call on their travels. The head of the caravan is typically the most powerful or the most senior member of the group (frequently both).

So it was that Millificent was traversing the black sands with the Jasplin Caravan. It was a relatively new caravan, but one that managed to make a number of ties with out of the way brokers and merchants around the disk thanks to the charismatic (if a bit unscrupulous) connections of their leader Jasplin Jasplin. Millificent had been recruited due to a fairly recent incident granting her spark status that gave her highly flexible powers. As an additional incentive to bring her in, they had even paid to have her tattooed with the caravan’s trade key This particular trek was to the oasis town of Shadowshire. They had successfully fought off raids by Vulpin and the occasional angry volcano otter. The attack from a band of adventurers was unexpected and difficult to repel however. Millificent burned a substantial amount of power doing what she could during the defense, but it was Jasplin suddenly sprouting scales, claws, and a breath weapon during the fight that turned the tide.

The sudden eruption of magical energies from the transformation prompted a backlash of power that disrupted a number of carefully hidden wards on the main wagon, causing it to suddenly disgorge a substantial number of shackled slaves. When the adventurers had been run off the arguments began. Millificent wanted nothing to do with sapient trading, whereas Jasplin insisted she had no choice in the matter. Arguments escalated to shouting, and shouting became blasts of energy. While Millicent had expended much of her psionic and magical powers reserves, Jasplin’s unrestrained use of magical attacks gave her ample opportunity to absorb energy again. That edge gave her the opportunity to stun Jasplin and make a break for it. While Millificent wasn’t strong enough to free the slaves, she could keep them from entering the trade hubs necessary to sell their wares given that she had the tattoo key. Given how paranoid many of those cities got, it would be a long time before the Jasplin Caravan could sell their wares and then procure more slaves. All Millificent had to do was stay low so they couldn’t track her down and exact whatever passed for justice amongst the slave-traders.

Racial Template: Sand Gnome (31 CP / +0 ECL)

Hailing from the Desert of the Black Sands, desert gnomes traverse the region in caravans, trading in weird and wondrous items along the way. Known to be proficient alchemists, they have a knack for scouring the landscape for ingredients and for haggling with others when plying their wares.

  • Shrinking I: Corrupted / Reduces base movement speed to 20 (8 CP) (-2 Str, +2 Dex, +1 to Melee AC and Attacks, d4 Falling Damage)
  • Attribute Shift: +2 Constitution/-2 Strength. Sand Gnomes are hardy travelers, but aren’t particularly strong even for their size (6 CP)
  • Racial Skills:
    • Adept (Specialized for Reduced Cost / Two Skills Only (Diplomacy and Craft (Alchemy), 3 CP).
    • +3 on Negotiation and Craft (Alchemy) (2 CP), Sand Gnomes are natural traders and alchemists,
    • Speaks Gnomish (1 CP)
  • Innate Enchantment: Desert Nomads (7500 GP, 8 CP)
    • Endure Elements (L1, x.5, only versus hot weather, 1000 GP).
    • Forge of Sand (L1, Creates a piece of standard equipment weighing up to 10 lb made of sand, such items last up to 10 minutes/level, but fall apart in anyone else’s hands, 2,000 GP)
    • Mage (Sand) Armor (Personal Only, 1400 GP, the sand inevitably found on a Sand Gnomes skin helps block attacks).
    • Force (Sand) Shield I (Personal Only, walls of sand appear as needed to block attacks, 1400 GP)
    • Detect Water (L0, Can detect nearby sources of drinkable water, 1,000 GP)
    • Penumbra (L0, Personal Only, Does not suffer any penalties or blindness caused by bright light, such as those from light sensitivity or light blindness, 700 GP)
  • Immunity / The XP Cost of Racial Innate Enchantments (Uncommon, Trivial, Trivial, 1 CP).
  • Immunity / Dispelling and Antimagic, Uncommon, Minor, Great, Specialized and Corrupted / only to protect racial Innate Enchantments, 2 CP).
  • Fast Learner, Specialized in Buying Larger Hit Dice (3 CP).
  • Racial Disadvantage: The Sand Gnomes are compulsive nomads, and find it impossible to settle down in one location (-3 CP).

Like most Allwellian “races”, Sand Gnones are quite powerful – although some of their advantages do not scale as well as they might. Still, having automatic immediate access to pretty much every common piece of equipment, +4/+4 Armor/Shield bonuses, and a nice bonus to Diplomacy and Alchemy is a pretty decent package at lower levels and – as with all Eclipse abilities – can readily be expanded on later.

Available Character Points: 264 (Level 10 Base) + 10 (Disadvantages: History, Hunted, Insane) + 24 (Bonus Feats from Levels 1, 3, 6, and 9) = 298 CP.


  • History: The player produces a few pages of notes for the GM about the character’s history, personality, and goals. This includes mention of friends and family, old enemies or allies, and where the character got his or her training and equipment.
  • Hunted: Millificent abandoned her old caravan when she found out they were involved in sapient trafficking. Since she was the one with the trade access rights tattoo in the caravan, this has effectively locked the caravan out of a number of lucrative cities and ports. The caravan leader Jasplin (a corrupt devotee to the Path of the Dragon) particularly has it in for Millificent.
  • Insane (Fearless): Millificent has had her sense of fear eaten by the Old Ones due to the intervention of Derngarm after he got tired of Millificent’s hydrophobia.

That last one is an example of an in-game change; Derngarm may have been calling in the Elder Ones (as he does for all his magic) – but the actual spell was a simple “Remove Feat” to temporarily negate Millificents fear of water – the group was fighting pirates aboard a ship and Milli had just gone overboard. The player felt that the characters Hydrophobia was getting old, and so – with the game master’s permission – used the excuse to trade in the disadvantage.

Basic Attributes (4d6 keep 3d6): Str 9 (13 -2 Size -2 Racial +1 Enh = 10), Dex 14 (+2 Size = 16), Con 19 (13 + 2 Racial + 4 Tattoo), Int 21 (15 + 2 Level + 4 Tattoo), Wis 14, Cha 14 (Millificent is quite talented for a gnome, but this is to be expected for a Spark)

Basic Abilities: (108 CP)

  • Hit Dice: 37 (L1d8, L2-10d6, Buy Racial Fast Learner up to Double Effect to pay for it, 3 CP). Advanced
    • Improved Augmented Bonus ( Add (Int Mod) to (Con Mod) when computing hit points, Corrupted / only effective on hit dice through L12, 12 CP). HP 37 + (10 x [Con Mod + Int Mod]) = 127 HP.
  • Skill Points: +4 (Purchased, 4 CP) +65 (Int Mod x 13, Immunity/Not getting skill points for Int boosts retroactively (Uncommon, Minor, Great, 6 CP) +21 (One-Time Boost) = 90 SP.
    • Buy off Specialization on Racial Adept (3 CP): Add Survival and Bluff (Acting) to Negotiation and Craft (Alchemy) for half cost.
    • Adept (6 CP): Pays half cost for Fire Rune Magic Casting, Fire Rune Magic Mastery, Rose Briar Style, and Disguise.
  • Base Attack Bonus: +10 (Corrupted: Does not provide iterative attacks, Fast Learner, Specialized in BAB, 6 CP, Remainder 20 CP).
  • Saves:
    • Fortitude: +3 (9 CP) +4 (Con) +3 (Luck) +1 (Mor) +4 (Res) +1 (Com) = +16
    • Reflex: +5 (15 CP) +3 (Dex) +3 (Luck) +1 (Morale) + 4 (Res) +1 (Com) = +14
    • Will: +3 (9 CP) +2 (Wis) +3 (Luck) +1 (Morale) + 4 (Res) +1 (Com) = +14
    • Luck with +8 Bonus Uses, Specialized in Saves (9 CP).
  • Proficiencies: Exotic Weapon Proficiency: Spiked Chain (6 CP)
    • This is a bit cheesy – who learns to use a Spiked Chain with full proficiency with no other weapons training at all? – but so be it! Saving 3 CP skipping out on “all simple weapons” isn’t all that much cheese.
  • Initiative: +3 (Dex) = +3
  • Move: 30 (Base) – 10 (Racial) + 30 (Personal Haste) + 10 (Untyped) = 60 Feet/Round
  • Armor Class: 10 (Base) +3 (Dex) +4 (Armor) +4 (Shield) +1 (Size) +3 (Luck) = AC 25, Flatfooted 22, Touch 17.

Usual Attacks:

  • Spiked Chain: +22/+22 (+10 BAB, +5 Int +1 Mor +1 Com +1 Enh, +4 MA, Haste) for 1d12 +1d6 (Cold) +6 (+5 Int +1 Enh) Damage, Crit 20 / x2, Reach 10′, 3 AoO, +2 to Trip and Disarm.
  • Alchemist’s Fire (Ice, Etc): +18/+18/+18 (+10 BAB, +3 Dex, +1 Mor, +1 Comp +3 MA, Haste, Rapid Shot) for 6d6/6d6 and Splash 6 Fire (Whatever) Damage. 80′ Range Increment. Can be enhanced with Will Of The Philosopher (below). Usually a Touch Attack. (Also for other alchemical items, Spray Effect can be used to automatically hit 5x within 30′).
  • Dragonfire ST: +14 (+10 BAB, +2 Dex, +1 Morale, +1 Competence) for 2-10d6+1 Ice Damage
  • Dragonfire AoE: +14 (+10 BAB, +2 Dex, +1 Morale, +1 Competence) for 1-5d6+1 Ice Damage over 30′ radius

Other Abilities:

Spiked Chain Mastery (36 CP).

  • Finesse: Spiked Chain (Bonuses based on Int instead of Str, 6 CP)
  • Master of the Chain: 4d6 (18) Mana with Reality Editing, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (Minor/Notable/Major/Grandiose edits cost 1/2/3/4 points each/only for reality editing, only for fabulous tricks with spiked chain, maximum mana use of (1 + Level / 4 per turn) (24 CP)
  • Rite of Chi with +8 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted / only to restore the reality editing pool above, only between fights (6 CP)

Now this can get pretty silly. Want to lash out at short/medium/long range? 1/2/3 Mana. Whirlwind a massive radius? 1-2 Mana. Lash out at a passing airship, wrap the chain around a mast, and suddenly pull yourself aboard? 3 Mana. Drag it down to you instead? 4 Mana. Give your chain temporary enchantments? Probably totaling about +4 per Mana Spent, and lasting for an hour or so. Whirl the chain to create a temporary Wall Of Force effect? 3. Make a piece of rope function as a spiked chain or pull out a holdout spiked chain? 1 Mana. This pretty much allows all the absurd stunts that you see out of chain weapons in ninja anime. Admittedly, this is a bit of a limited resource – but it’s quite versatile.

Mllificent hasn’t actually done much with this. While she seems to like having the option, melee combat – even with a variety of insane options available – really isn’t her thing. She tends to rely on her Alchemy.

Hardened by Harsh Environment (14 CP):

  • Innate Enchantment (+8000 GP to Racial Package, 8 CP)
  • Warding Rune (+1+CL/3 Resistance to Saves (1400 GP)
  • Inspiring Word: +1 Morale Bonus to Saves, Attacks, Skill Checks, and Damage (1400 GP)
  • Ward of Heaven: +(CL/3) Luck Bonus to AC and Saves (1400 GP)
  • Fortune’s Favor: +2 Luck Bonus to Skills (1400 GP)
  • Personal Haste: +30 to Movement, +1 Attack at full BAB (2000 GP)
  • Guidance: +1 Competence Bonus to Saves, Attacks, and Skills (700 GP)
  • Empowerment (Innate Enchantments) / Specialized in Warding Rune and Ward of Heaven for Increased Effect (Uses the users Hit Dice instead of Caster Level, 6 CP).

Most characters are limited to 12 CP worth of Innate Enchantment – but “racial” stuff doesn’t count against that limit, so Milli can have a second helping. Like most innate enchantments, hers focus on providing a wide variety of useful – if relatively minor bonuses from cantrips and first level effects. Again, Millificent is going for a generalist here. None of these innate enchantments are really focused on anything in particular.

Master Alchemist (46 CP)

  • Shaping (6 CP), Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (First level spells) / only for Healing effects, requires a medical kit and time (maximum 7 times/day on any given target).
    Taskmaster: Specialized and Corrupted / Alchemy Only (2 CP)
  • Will of the Philosopher: 2d6 (7) Mana with Reality Editing, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (Minor/Notable/Major/Grandiose edits cost 1/2/3/4 points each / only for reality editing, only for enhancing alchemy (12 CP).
    • As with her Spiked Chain Mastery, this can be used to greatly boost the effects of alchemical items, spread them over considerable area, alter their effects, hurl them to great distances, or just find a few more bottles amongst her supplies when she needs them. This, once again, allows a vast multitude of tricks – but is a pretty limited resource during any one fight.
  • Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted / only to recharge the reality editing pool above (4 CP).
  • Double “Damage” (Effect) With standard alchemical items, Specialized for Increased Effect (Triple Damage thanks to the usual doubling rules) / only works with personally-made alchemical items (6 CP).
  • Create Relic: Specialized and Corrupted / only to make limited-use items (Apply “Specialized / Does Not Recover to the items created, only select abilities that normally offer a limited number of daily uses) costing a maximum of 3 CP each, only using points from Enthusiast (2 CP).
  • 2x Double Enthusiast, Specialized for Increased Effect (provides eight floating CP) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost /points may only be used with Create Relic, limited as above (8 CP)
    • This is the “where does he get those wonderful toys” package from The Golden Ones, allowing the creation and use of a wide variety of temporary items for each adventure.
  • Create Relic: Specialized and Corrupted / only to make a Philosopher’s Stone (2 CP)
  • Double Enthusiast: Specialized for Increased Effect and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only for making a Philosopher’s Stone (4 CP)
    • The Philosophers Stone relic can be found HERE

While this has long been Millificent’s favorite set of powers to use, she has only recently really developed her higher-order abilities along these lines – leading many or her opponents and allies to severely underestimate her. In a way, that slow-burn build is a direct consequence of her spreading her points among four major sets of abilities – including one which was more or less useless at low levels. In effect, she’s been multiclassing instead of building up one or two sets of abilities before starting a new one. Now that all of her abilities are fully functional she’ll probably be demonstrating her abilities a lot more.

Blood of the Linnorm (49 CP).

  • Shapeshift with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized / No Animal Forms (6 CP)
  • Attribute Modifiers (6 CP)
  • Variants (3 CP). Millificent is fond of taking the forms of a variety of different elves (i.e. Dark Elves, Avariel, Aquatic, etc.) as there tends to be at least one subspecies with abilities useful for the current situation
  • Growth (Large, Huge, Gargantuan) and Enchanted (Dragonforms), all Specialized for Reduced Cost / Only to take Linnorm forms (7 CP)
  • +3d0 Hit Dice, Specialized for Increased Effect / only to calculate possible Linnorm forms (12 CP).
  • Will Of Fire: Mana: Specialized and Corrupted / only for use with Rune Magic (Psionic Fire) 10d6 (35) (20 CP)
  • Rite of Chi with +12 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted / only to refill the Psionic Fire pool above (8 CP)

As of this level Millificent can currently can take Crag and Fjord Linnorm forms- a good thing as she felt it was appropriate to invest most of the required points early on, and the smallest Linnorms have sixteen hit dice. Thus, for much of her career, this ability has been a point-sink with little return beyond taking variant elven forms and (in conjunction with her rune magic skills below) a bit of fire magic. That’s roughly equivalent to a two or three level penalty in standard d20 without much to show for it. That hurt quite a bit through levels two to nine. It also demonstrates a major difference between Millificent and most Eclipse builds: The vast majority of Eclipse characters will pick one or two specialties – generally trying to keep one or both categories maxed out – and develop them until they’ve picked up all the abilities they want before moving on to something else. Investing points in abilities that you cannot yet use is pretty rare.

The Winter Of The World (44 CP):

  • Dragonfire (Ice Variant, 6 CP)
  • Eye of the Dragon x2 (12 CP). Can store up to 76 Spell Levels, absorbing up to 42 spell levels daily.
  • Reflex Action with +8 Bonus Uses, Extra Actions Per Day Variant, Specialized and Corrupted / only for Spell Absorption (6 CP)
  • Breath of the Dragon / Specialized and Corrupted: Prerequisite Only (2 CP)
  • Living Fire (Ice Variant, 6 CP)
  • Body of Fire (Ice Variant, 6 CP)
  • Kinetic Master (6 CP)

Another powerful ability sequence with some very useful abilities (reflexive spell absorption alone is pretty nice) – but, once again, nowhere near where it could be at this level and greatly under-utilized. Living Fire (Ice) and Body Of Fire (Ice) can easily provide far greater mobility, enhanced abilities, armor, various special abilities, and masses of renewable temporary hit points – a near-perfect compliment to her Spiked Chain Mastery abilities – but Millificent hasn’t used them much. While that’s partially because taking the time to set up a psychic construct in the middle of a game drags everything to a halt, but designing a few in advance would mostly take care of that. They might be less perfectly tailored, but that’s much better than not using the ability.

Minor Notes (1 CP):

  • Trade Access Rights Tattoo: Minor Privilege, Specialized / brings various enemies (1 CP)
  • Mundane Equipment: Masterwork Spiked Chain (Backup), Alchemist’s Kit and Lab, Tent, Riding Dog, Saddle, and Saddlebags, Traveler’s Outfit, Cooking Kit, Silk Rope (50 ft)

Skills: (90 SP)

All Skills: +2 Luck, +1 Morale, +4 Competence.

  • Bluff: +13 (6* SP) +2 (Cha) = +22
  • Craft / Alchemy: +13 (6* SP) +5 (Int) +3 (Race) +2 (Lab) +2 (Gloves) +2 (Sy) = +34
  • Disguise: +13 (6* SP) +2 (Cha) = +22
  • Heal: +0 (0 SP) +2 (Wis) +2 (Belt) = +11
  • Hide: +0 (0 SP) +2 (Dex) +8 (Amulet) = +17
  • Knowledge/Local: +13 (13 SP) +5 (Int) = +25
  • Martial Art/Alchemic Mastery +13 (13 SP) +5 (Int) = +25
  • Martial Art/Rose Briar Style +13 (6* SP) +5 (Int) = +25
  • Move Silently: +0 (0 SP) +2 (Dex) +6 (Amulet) = +15
  • Negotiate (Cha): +13 (6* SP) +2 (Cha) +3 (Race) = +25
  • Rune Casting (Psionic Fire): +13 (6* SP) +5 (Int) = +25 (CL 13)
  • Rune Mastery (Psionic Fire): +13 (6* SP) +5 (Int) = +25 (Up to L6)
  • Search: +13 (13 SP) +2 (Wis) = +22
  • Spot: +0 (0 SP) +2 (Wis) = +9
  • Survival (Wis): +13 (6* SP) +2 (Wis) = +22

+3 Skill Specialties: Knowledge/Local (Alchemical Resources), Search (for Alchemical Resources), Bluff (Acting) (3 SP). .

Martial Arts:

  • Rose Briar Style (13): Power III, Attack IV, +5 Reach, Whirlwind Attack, Combat Reflexes, Inner Strength, and Light Foot.
  • Alchemic Master Style (13): Power III (+1d6 base to Alchemical Attacks), Attack IV, Toughness III (Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / only versus damage caused by Alchemical Effects, but all of those. Reduces the damage from alchemical effects by 6 points), Synergy/Craft (Alchemy), Prone Combat, and Rapid Shot.

Alchemical Items: Fog Rock, Tindertwig x5, Acid Flask x10, Alchemist’s Fire x10, Alchemical Holy Water x10, Alkali Flask x10, Bottled Lightning x10, Liquid Ice x10, Iron Pellet Grenade x5, Glue x10, Tanglefoot Bag x10, Antitoxin x10, Antiplague x10, Smoke Pellets x10,

This is way behind, but – between the Philosopher’s Stone allowing transmutation, money, and her great skill as an alchemist, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to simply suppose that she has substantial supplies of pretty much everything. This  a fairly minimal selection.

Slotless Magical Items:

  • Bag of Holding I + Shapesand 240 lbs
  • Handy Haversack
  • Everburning Torch
  • Shiftweave Clothing
  • Spiked Chain +1
  • Immovable Rod x2
  • Magical Board Game
  • Tattoo Parlor Investment (4,000 GP)
  • Lesser Weapon Crystal Of Elemental Assault (Cold).

Magical Tattoos: +4 Int, +4 Con, +4 Skills, all Enhancement Bonuses.

Slotted Magical Items:

  • Healing Belt +2 Comp to Heal, 3 Charges/Day, spend 1/2/3 for 2/3/4d8 Healing.
  • Ring of Communications: Communicate with other such rings within one mile
  • Cloak of Arachnida: Spiderclimb, Immunity to entrapment via Web spells or webs of any sort (moves at half speed), Web 1/day, +2 Luck Bonus on saves against poison from spiders
  • Gloves of the Master Alchemist: Stores potions and alchemical items only as per a Handy Haversack, items appear in the user’s hands when needed. Produce any cantrip level alchemical, fire, or ice effect 1/round, Stir items when not present, Toss alchemical items with the speed and range of a light crossbow, Spray up to (Int Mod) doses of any alchemical substance available onto any target within 30′, +2 Competence Bonus to an Alchemy Check, 3 Charges/Day, spend 1/2/3 to produce any alchemical item worth up to 10/100/1000 GP, but the items vanish in one minute, whether used or not
  • Continuous Amulet Of Umbral Metamorphosis: Grants 60′ Darkvision, Hide in Plain Sight, Cold Resistance 10, Superior Low-Light Vision, Hide +8 (Untyped), +6 Move Silently (Untyped), +10 All Movement Modes (Untyped).
  • Pin Of Strength: +1 Enhancement to Strength (800 GP).

Overall, Milllificent has a broad array of tricks and powers – but little depth in any of them. Worse, several of them have only recently become effective. Still, having hit level ten she’s become quite effective – and she should be able to build up her abilities further over the next few levels.

Eclipse d20 Powers – Returning

And today it’s a question:


1) How long does it take you to come back to life?

2) In what condition do you come back? Full HP? 1 HP? Also, what heals and what doesn’t? Do you regrow limbs? Heal diseases? And what about spell slots and the like?

3) What’s to stop a character who can only be killed by some specific thing from just offing himself if confronted by that thing?

4) On the topic of offing one’s self, it seems like you would never need more than minor rewrite, because you could still get a full re-spec just by killing yourself four times.

5) Do you always come back as the same thing, and do you know what you’ll come back as?


This particular question neatly illustrates one of the fundamental principles of Eclipse – that the operational details of many or most powers depend on the details of the setting, on the players description of how their character’s power works, and what the game master thinks will work well in his or her game. Minor tweaks (“variants”) are expected – but if there are major ones, you’ll probably want to Corrupt or Specialize the power to more closely fit what you want and what the game master is willing to accept. So lets take a look at some ways in which various characters in various settings have used Returning.

I’ll start off with a few fantasy characters:

Derngarm, a Mystic Gunslinger and Dark Guardian of the Gates of the Underworld, Childe’ Of The Harrowed Gate, has Extraordinary Returning, Specialized for Increased Effect and Corrupted for Reduced Cost: he reappears where people facing overwhelming threats pray for a heroes aid, and is bound to answer that call – but he does bring along his equipment (the increased effect, 8 CP). So when Derngarm is slain, his body and gear falls to dust or otherwise vanishes anime-style (making him rather difficult to raise conventionally) – but he will soon reappear at full power somewhere where there is a caravan, settlement, or similar group in desperate trouble. Once he deals with that, he will be free to look for his friends again. It usually doesn’t take him long to come back – groups in desperate trouble are all too common – but dealing with the complications of getting them out of trouble can take a while or even get him killed again, starting things over. Even on a success… he might be thousands of miles from his friends.

Drago, the Son of Shendu from Jackie Chan Adventures, has “Returning, Specialized for Reduced Cost / Drago can’t actually return from death, but he does show quite a knack for evading capture or getting out of jail. If the series hadn’t ended he might even have made it back from the netherworld”. The important part here is that he often gets defeated – but equally often makes a miraculous escape from his captors either by fleeing the fight or by escaping confinement. After a few weeks he can find some new minions and return to making a nuisance of himself (3 CP).

Randolf Upton Pickman, High Priest of the Outer Gods, has Unique Returning with a Minor Rewrite, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost: Randolf reappears at a point in time and space chosen by his unnatural patrons, each time he reappears he becomes less human and more a creature of the Cthulhu Mythos. Each reappearance sends him into a predestined role. The only way to stop the sequence (and his eventual rise to join the ranks of the Outer Ones) is to travel back in time to one of his prior appearances and there find a way to massively disrupt the timeline and thwart his destiny. In effect, he must be raised or resurrected quite promptly or he will become very difficult indeed to retrieve (8 CP). So he can “return” thousands of years before he died.

Shadowed Galaxy Mummies get “Returning with Major Rewrite, Specialized/only to switch back and forth between two alternate versions: the relatively normal “living” version (as an informational creature anchored into a more or less “living” body) and the “dead” version (as a bodiless informational entity), Neither, of course, is all that human. Corrupted/achieving the “dead” version is quick and easy (the physical body gets killed, releasing the informational spirit), but returning to “life” requires that the body spend three to seven days in an especially-prepared sarcophagus. The user can be prevented from making a full return by completely disposing of the body or denying him or her access to an appropriately prepared sarcophagus and can be disposed of utterly by destroying him or her on the informational level (6 CP).” Thus this style of mummy can continue to intervene as a disembodied spirit after “death”, but will be stuck that way unless their body can be retrieved and properly treated.

Shadowed Galaxy Vampires get”Returning, Corrupted (EVERYBODY knows about vampire weaknesses, 4 CP). Vampires can recover from almost any physical injury given time. They can even build up a power reserve over time from the steady flow of thermal and other energies into subspace through them – provided that they have months or years of time and are totally inactive. About all they need is for most of their body parts to be in one place, for there to be at least a little air and water about, and for there to be nothing in the way of reforming any vital organ. Of course, if their parts are, say, burned and widely scattered, or have been hit by something capable of severely damaging them on the spacefield level, or something similar, it won’t work.”

Technically Shadowed Galaxy templates could go under either Sci-Fi or Horror just as well – but they are set up so that they could plausibly be a basis for all the fantasy tales, so they might as well go here.

Gravewright the Lich has “Returning (Extraordinary): Must destroy Phylactery, Specialized / Everybody knows this one (6 CP).”. Well, he’s a Lich. He possesses or constructs a corpse near his phylactery and presumably grabs whatever cache of stuff he left for himself. This generally takes quite a while of course – for which adventurers should be grateful. If a lich’s returning worked immediately you might have to fight the same lich over and over again to reach it’s lair – only to find that it had grabbed it’s phylactery, items, and bugout bag, and teleported to some other shielded lair.

Familiars are often given Returning (they come back unless their master is permanently killed) so as to avoid the problems inherent in losing a familiar. This usually calls for a minor ritual to re-embody your familiar spirit – meaning that it usually has to wait until you can take a break from adventuring and pick up another appropriate animal to put the spirit in – or at least to the next day in the case of actual spirit familiars.

Some unusually durable relics have Returning ( Specialized and Corrupted / only applies to the item itself (2 CP). As a special effect, such items are simply nigh-indestructible unless special measures specific to the item are taken. Even if broken by some mighty force in some other way, or cast into a black hole or something, they need merely be reforged, repaired, or located again to return to full potency.

The Chthonic Invested get Leadership with the Exotic and Emperor’s Star improvements (Evil Outsiders and Accursed Beings, the positive level points go to Returning). so that if you kill off their accused minions, they can just keep summoning them back. Other types of characters – summoners and such – often use the same basic trick in their own styles.

Granny has “The Dark Revenance”: Returning / As long as one or more of her Shadow-Familiars exists to bring her back, Specialized / may require many months (3 CP). So Granny basically has some dread minions who can summon her back if they get away after she dies. Of course, if she gets away she can summon more dread minions. Granny doesn’t come back very fast, but she’s very hard to get rid of permanently.

Rokean, a quasi-symbiotic (or perhaps parasitic) creature has “Returning; As long as Rake (the host) survives, his Symbiont can regenerate from him, whether he likes it or not (6 CP).”

The Merchant has “Returning (When his time comes at last, Elareth may attempt to strike a deal with Death itself; if he succeeds, he gets to come back again. Naturally enough, he would prefer to avoid putting his negotiating ability to such a test, 6 CP),”

The Royal Cartographic Society Package Deal provides Returning as well. You can never count the members of the RCS out when they’re on an expedition; they’ve been lost for years, fallen overboard, been trapped in avalanches, and suffered many other horrible fates – only to return later (if sometimes years later) with an epic tale of adventure. Returning, Specialized and Corrupted/only works while on expeditions in distant lands and only if the characters body is not recovered and the player can come up with some tale of his or her character’s dramatic escape from certain doom (2 CP).

One of the abilities the Black Compass provides is Returning, Specialized and Corrupted/only works when the user is lost at sea or stranded on a small island and the status of his or her body remains unknown (2 CP). That’s not actually a particularly uncommon power in seafaring or pirate themed settings, quite a few characters have purchased some version of it. It’s nice to know that – if you go overboard in a storm or something – you will wind up being safely washed ashore.

Many Fey creatures have Returning, Specialized/may require a month and usually comes with partial amnesia (3 CP). Unless they are entirely slain by cold iron, they fey are always reborn from the forces of nature – although you could certainly slow things up by burning down their forest or some such. Other fey are bound to particular natural features, and so need to protect those features or risk losing their immortality.

Comic book characters fairly often have some form of Returning – and are popular enough that I have written up a fair number of them. For some examples from the site…

Magma (Marvel, the New Mutants) returned to life immediately and at full power (better than before she died really, since the experience activated her full volcanic powers and transformation into a lava creature) when her corpse was thrown into a lava lake. That’s Returning, Specialized and Corrupted/her body must be exposed to really extreme heat, such as a pool of magma, a blast furnace, or a rocket exhaust (2 CP)”. That’s kind of cheap, because, after all… how likely is it that an enemy is going to make that mistake again? And how often is there going to be a lake of fire on a battlefield for her to restore herself with?

Raven (DC Comics, the Teen Titans) has Extraordinary Returning (12 CP). Raven must be slain and her soul forcibly taken into the higher afterlives for her to truly die. Of course, Raven is a comic book mystic and “equipment” as such isn’t much of a thing in the source material for her – no matter how sensible it would be for her to use some (and so she has some in the writeup). Still, she has connections with major mystical groups and is capable of inter-dimensional travel; so she can probably get resupplied without difficulty when she comes back. Besides, comic books tend to treat death as a temporary inconvenience anyway, especially for mystics. On the other hand, she never comes back until her death has been milked for as much melodrama as possible.

Cable, from Marvel Comics has “Returning (6 CP): Cable is even more difficult to get rid of than most heroes, since unless you do something about all the time traveling he will just write his own death out of the timeline and pop up again sooner or later.” Of course, Cable is a walking paradox maintained by continuous reality editing. Consistency isn’t his thing – and he doesn’t have to worry about the details of his “coming back” because he simply adds to his paradox collection by skipping out on his own past.

Warlock, again from Marvel Comics (The New Mutants), has “Extraordinary Returning: Warlock can return from having his “lifeglow” drained, or even from being disintegrated – but it takes him being infused with a lot of “lifeglow” to do it quickly; most of the time it will take months or years (12 CP).

Sam Guthrie / Cannonball (Marvel Comics, The New Mutants) has basic returning – in his case representing the super-advanced healing factor that’s a part of his rather low-grade immortality, more or less “Highlander” style. You can kill him, altough it takes a while, and if you then burn him to ashes in a blast furnace or something, he’s dead until a normal comic-book resurrection pops up. Still, destroying his heart, or pulling his guts out, or a lot of other usually-fatal injuries won’t slow him up for very long. Oddly enough, this is the about the closest thing to general “Combat Returning” on the list. If he’s just been stabbed through the heart or something that doesn’t dismember him or inflict massive tissue damage he might be back in good shape in no more then ten minutes or so.

Baron Ector’s Minions get “Another Faceless Minion/Returning. As long as Minions wear masks, visors, or helmets, don’t use names, and otherwise avoid letting themselves be individually identified by the enemy, they gain the Returning ability (6 CP). This also, of course, lets their bosses display their terrible villainy by gratuitously killing them on a whim without actually losing valuable minions.”

Baron Ector (an original PC) himself is a member of the The League Of Villainy, which offers a league package deal that includes “Returning/unless the villains enemies make VERY sure to find, examine, and dispose of, the body, he or she will soon return, Specialized/will not work if the character intentionally makes a heroic sacrifice or dies in an exceptionally dramatic and final fashion (falling into a black hole, cast down a shaft into the main reactor, etc, 3 CP).”

Wandering over towards science fiction…

Space Marines (Warhammer 40K) can enter a state of suspended animation, either through meditation or if dying – but must be revived with a complex (medical) 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). This is actually pretty weak – if the body is destroyed, or lost in space, or some such it will not work – but in a setting with no normal method of resurrection it can be a priceless second chance.

Timelords (Doctor Who, original series) get “Returning with Minor Rewrite (4 CP): Timelords will regenerate, returning from death, unless special precautions – such as using a special weapon, incinerating the body in a furnace, or using certain special drugs or poisons to shut down the process, are taken (come to think of it, there are a lot of ways to stop this; fortunately, most enemies in the original setting don’t consider people coming back to life as a serious possibility, unlike most d20 universes). Secondarily, this tends to be confusing for a time, and to disrupt social relationships, since the character returns in a new form and may have some new skills and have lost old ones entirely. Between this, and the major limitations on the process, this is a Specialized and Corrupted power”

The revived series turned Time Lord Regeneration into a full-fledged, semi-miraculous, heroic sacrifice scene capable of destroying interstellar battle fleets – but that isn’t returning as such. What is it? Well, they’ve now specifically showed the doctor drawing power from humanities massed belief in him, which is pretty blatantly the Dominion-Godfire route- and unleashing some Godfire can accomplish all kinds of things over and above coming back to life. Personally I preferred the Doctor as a clever alien rather than a godling, but I have to admit that the new series tends a lot more towards fairy tales than the old one.

The Transhuman Template includes a version of Returning – Unique Returning, Corrupted / the character may lose memories acquired since his or her last backup if his or her neural network is not recovered and may have trouble adjusting to a new body, requiring a Will save with a DC based on how exotic the body is to avoid taking 1d4 Wisdom damage when placed in a new body (12 CP). Of course, what kind of new body you can afford depends on the state of your in-setting “finances” (favors owed) and any special purpose orders you put in. Worse, if someone takes out your backups, you might wind up truly dead before you get a chance to make some more!

Dream Entities from a modern setting were psychic constructs / manifestations of popular mythology, ranging from Santa Claus to Anime characters and on to Freddy Kruger – and were fairly common in one setting. They got “Unique Returning (Specialized and Corrupted: Dream Entities are obvious supernatural beings. They are always easy to recognize, must make will saves (DC 15) if they try to act out of character, and cannot even enter antimagic areas: they’re simply pushed back into dream while within one. They’re ALWAYS based on some bit of popular culture. To stop their returning their source material must be eliminated; this is difficult but well-known, 6 CP),” Sure, you could disrupt them for a while – but they would just be back again later, most often turning up at film festivals, or during anime week, or during their holiday.

Moving on towards horror settings, here’s a positive-energy based version.

Leperotic Cloning: Augmented by an unnaturally strong life force, the user’s cells are capable of infesting another creatures body, multiplying and spreading through it like a monstrous cancer or unholy fungus. If and when the user dies, if a victim of this horror is currently available, his or her soul will transfer itself into the victims body – driving out the existing soul and providing the final impetus to transform it into a near-duplicate of the user’s old body.

Fortunately, the user’s cells can only infest a very similar creature that is on the very brink of death – and they gravely weaken the bond between the victim’s body and soul; if the victim suffers a lethal injury before the user’s soul moves in, the body will promptly collapse into a mass of mangled tissue, that will rot away with utterly unnatural speed – normally collapsing into dust and slime within hours. This is purchased as Returning, Specialized and Corrupted for one-third cost (2 CP): the user must set up his or her returning in advance by striking a “final blow” against a victim of the same basic type (a humanoid for a humanoid, a dragon type for a dragon, etc), renouncing the damage in favor of giving up 2d6 hit points to smear some of his own blood or tissue into the wound and allowing the (essentially dead) victim to “escape”. For the next two days the victim can be cured by the use of Remove Curse, Cure Disease, Heal, or similar effects, or by taking any form of negative level that requires a save to remove. After that, the victim is merely a potential host for the user’s spirit and can only be saved by some form of Raise Dead, Resurrection, or Wish. The user may prepare multiple possible hosts at the same time – but this sort of thing does tend to attract some extremely negative attention. This will also require Timeless Body with Age-Shifting, Specialized and Corrupted/only to take on the species-adjusted physical age of the characters new body (2 CP).

Darklings get “Returning (6 CP): As extradimensional creatures of shadow, Darklings will return within a few weeks after being “killed” unless they’re destroyed by light-based effects or their access to the plane of shadow is cut off at the time they’re slain.” Darklings do tend to flee from light-wielding opponents, but then that’s probably expected of shadow-creatures anyway.

The Knights Of Hades get “Returning. Unless you take care to entrap a Knight of Hades soul when you destroy it, or chase it back to the lower planes and disrupt it there, they tend to come back (3 CP).” Usually their dread masters send Knights Of Hades back when they’ve got a job for them, but sometimes they just come back on their own to spread havoc. As a rule, they tend to re-appear in some ancient crypt or torture chamber or other noisome location at midnight during the dark of the moon or some such – but that’s mostly just a flare for the dramatic.

The minor lovecraftian entities known as “Dreamspawn” are creatures of distant alien planes, but like to anchor themselves to mortals to hide from the greater horrors that prey on THEM. They have Extraordinary Returning (12 CP). Destroying a Dreamspawn requires that you kill it’s bondmate (or somehow destroy his or her memory and imagination) and then pursue the Dreamspawn into it’s home realm and kill it there. Of course, simply eliminating the bondmate suffices for most purposes. The Dreamspawn may be killed at “home” by said greater horrors and, even if it survives, it won’t be back until it finds another dreamer somewhere in the cosmos. “Killing” a Dreamspawn without killing it’s bondmate simply means that it will be back in a day or so.

Hellguides (Think Dante and Virgil) get Unique Returning: The Hellguide will always return until he or she either achieves redemption or becomes utterly and unrepentantly evil. Specialized and Corrupted/the Hellguide may have to achieve various spiritual quests, escape from the underworld, or accept strange missions in exchange for his or her return. In addition, various supernatural entities may either take a special interest in the Hellguide or take advantage of his or her return to escape into the normal world (6 CP).

Puppet from Beyond (From “Down Among The Dead Men”) states that “Some who return from death find themselves trapped between the worlds, able to manifest a body – pulling together stray bits of matter, possessing and transforming a corpse, or some such – and strongly linked to that form, but unable to fully pass into the living world, Still, this has it’s advantages; mere physical damage may destroy the body that they are currently operating, but they will find or create another soon enough. Extraordinary Returning (user must be slain by effects that drain or snuff out his or her life force, hunted down between the planes, or spiritually imprisoned to prevent him or her from simply creating another body later on), Specialized/the user’s body is instantly destroyed at zero hit points and it will require some weeks to create a new one, in the meantime, effects which rely on having some portion of the user’s true body to work with will not be able to bring him or her back or be otherwise effective (6 CP).

And, finally, we have a few examples that are just silly.

Teenagers from Outer Space get “Extraordinary Returning (12 CP). Our teenagers are nearly impossible to kill. They have a tendency to emerge from vehicle crashes slightly dazed, they dive behind a coffee table which, quite miraculously, shields them from the detonating tactical nuke, and massed machine-gun fire inflicts nothing but flesh wounds. In really extreme cases, it turns out that the one that just fell into the black hole was actually a clone. As a rule, the first time that they ought to be killed in a given session, they’ll emerge relatively unharmed. The second time, it’s off to the hospital (or local equivalent) for some time and some minor trouble that will stick with them for the rest of the session. The third time… well, three strikes and you’re out. If they intentionally go for a heroic self-sacrifice it counts as two strikes, but they do get a free kiss from their love interest (if any).”

Teenagers From Outer Space is a pretty silly setting, which originally did not acknowledge death – or injuries beyond being briefly stunned – at all. The d20 conversion takes damage a little more seriously than that, but it is STILL a silly setting with few consequences.

Cartoon Sitcom Residents – such as Dexter and company from Dexter’s Laboratory – get “Extraordinary Returning (Specialized, requires abandoning all experience and benefits that might otherwise have been gained from a “death episode” (3 CP).” If they die on an adventure, they just show up for the next one and no one really shows any awareness that they died. After all… each episode basically has to start from the same status quo since you never know what order people will see your cartoon shorts in.

Creatures from the Battling Business World Cartoon Setting get Extraordinary Returning (Specialized, Requires being “animated” with standard cel-based or 3D animation tools) (3 CP). Most toons are unaware that they have this ability. They have trouble thinking of themselves as creations. It would take a “mundane” friend thinking, “Hmm, that guy was a lot like a cartoon character. I wonder what happens if we base a cartoon on him?” for anyone to discover it.

In fact, no one ever did discover this ability; Battling Business World characters tended to have this as a sort of backup form of returning, since they normally woke up in bed at home the next morning after dying – leading to things like “I can’t get a babysitter honey!” “Oh well! Just slit the kids throats and we’ll get them some pudding in the morning!”.

Of course, if they had a few more minutes, they could always get the kids playing “Bullet Tag” instead of killing them themselves.

The Black Beast – in his immense egotism – has “Returning: Can only be killed in a suitably epic confrontation (6)”. There will be no stupid death for this character! He cannot be assassinated, or poisoned, or otherwise quietly eliminated; there must be a dramatic confrontation that the bards will tell tales of for years to come.

John Jack, Secret Agent, gets Extraordinary Returning (12 CP, although he gets it at half cost in the Federation-Apocalypse setting): Jack can only be killed by being captured and then being put into a an absurd death trap and failing to escape or be rescued: otherwise his body simply disappears, or he turns out to be gravely and inconveniently wounded but not dead, or he otherwise returns in a few sessions – usually at some critical moment.

Star Trek Voyager Ensigns get “Extraordinary Returning (Series must be cancelled to keep The Ensign from coming back). Corrupted: The Ensign must assume a new name with his or her return, as well as always wearing a red shirt and being the primary target (8 CP).” That one is more than a bit tongue-in-cheek – but after all, Voyager basically has no source of new Ensigns, they get killed fairly regularly, and the population of the ship is fairly small – yet they never seem to run out of Ensigns (or, for that matter, shuttlecraft). Now you know why not.

So what can we say about those questions?

“How long does it take you to come back to life”? While it varies with the setting and the special effects, the usual answer is “a while”. There are a few examples of quick returning on the list – Derngarm, Shadowed Galaxy Mummies (the Spirit Form), and Magma – but they definitely have their own problems. As a general rule, Returning is a lot slower than using spells and psionic powers – but it works in a lot of settings and situations where such spells and powers are not available and it works under it’s own power rather than calling for help from the outside.

“In what condition do you come back? Full HP? 1 HP? Also, what heals and what doesn’t? Do you regrow limbs? Heal diseases? And what about spell slots and the like?” Once again, this depends a lot on your setting, your special effects, and the description of your personal version of returning – but given that Returning is usually a downtime thing, it rarely matters. After all, if you Return by transferring your mind into a new clone body at your secret cloning facility halfway across the galaxy, that will heal almost anything. If you rise as an undead to avenge yourself upon your murderer, that won’t heal much of anything – although it may not matter much either because the fact that you have a skull for a face won’t matter to you any longer.

“What’s to stop a character who can only be killed by some specific thing from just offing himself if confronted by that thing?”. Well, if you can only be permanently slain by a silver weapon forged under the light of the full moon… presuming that you know that someone has such a weapon, and are willing to cede the field to them, and are willing to be out of play for however long it takes you to come back, and are willing to become known for abandoning your treasures and responsibilities and being instantly driven away by anyone who waves an appropriate weapon at you (or credibly pretends to do so)… then nothing. Now, if it requires a special ritual to keep you dead, or requires that someone find and destroy your phylactery, offing yourself would simply be giving them a better chance to get rid of you permanently.

“On the topic of offing one’s self, it seems like you would never need more than minor rewrite, because you could still get a full re-spec just by killing yourself four times.”. The quick general answer there is that what you can rewrite once again depends on your setting, your special effects, and the description of your personal version of returning. The quick game-mechanical answer is that it tends to be the same points each time for any given version of returning. Does your body change form? Well, form-basedphysical abilities are going to change, but your mental skills and abilities most likely will not.

Of course you can buy this as a power for retraining: Returning with Major (50% of available character points) Rewrite, Specialized and Corrupted / usable once every three levels at most, if the user actually dies it only works if the body was not recovered and the cause was weird and mystical (being disintegrated in a dimensional vortex, fine, devoured by something, not so good) and the new abilities purchased must relate to the cause of “death”, otherwise requires at least two months of downtime (and more is better) and is restricted to changing out learned abilities (6 CP). You can read more about retraining (and why a reliable method of doing so is treated as a special power) over HERE.

5) “Do you always come back as the same thing, and do you know what you’ll come back as?” This, once again, depends a lot on your setting, your special effects, and the description of your personal version of returning. Vampires tend to come back as vampires. According to tradition, slain werewolves often come back as vampires. Timelords change around a lot of skills and some physical details, but always come back as Timelords. A revenant who rises to avenge his or her death may not even come back with Returning and might trade almost all his or her mental abilities in for tracking abilities and the raw ability to beat their target to death.

And I hope that helps!

Eclipse d20 – Craftsman Of Azeroth, Steel Driving Style, Fairy Sail Style, and Whips In D20 / Nemesis Scourge Style

And for today, it’s a few more exotic Martial Arts styles.

Craftsman Of Azeroth Style (A.K.A. “Azeroth Engineering”)

Spellcasters produce magical items through mystical disciplines, combining their own energies with their raw materials to create items of various categories. That method is fast and potent, yielding results in the time-frames that adventurers commonly demand and offering precise control of the results. Rune Forges produce items through brute magical force. Those using Dream-Binding, Legendarium, Glowstone Alchemy, or Gadgetry can producesome items through their own exotic procedures. Heroes, Villains, and Gods sometimes spawn relics in the course of their adventures and confrontations. In some settings there are even move ways. For example, in Ailewelia, items can be “farmed”. The physical form is primed with minor magics, placed in rune-inscribed box to draw and pattern the wild magic of the world, and simply left (most often buried) deep in the mystical wilderness for a few years to “ripen”. Sure, the process often runs wild (especially if something gets forgotten or conditions shift; the process does use WILD magic after all) – but the rate of return is more than enough to keep basic magical items common.

There are a lot of ways to make magical items.

Magical items can also be made by skilled craftsmen – but that takes more time than most crafters are willing to invest. Does a weaponsmith wish to forge a mystical blade? At Skill 10… crafting a magical sword worth 10,000 GP will require approximately (Price In SP)/(Skill Result Squared) weeks of work. That’s 250 weeks for “taking 10” – just a bit under five years. That isn’t very practical – unless, of course, you have either immense skill or have Taskmaster and/or other high-powered work multipliers. On the other hand, it DOES bypass all those pesky special requirements; all you need is the price of your raw materials (one-third the final price of the item being made), basic tools, and lots and lots of patience.

Azerathian Engineering could be built as an Occult Skill – but given that I don’t actually play WOW in this case I’m going to stick with more or less standard Eclipse mechanics rather than trying to write something up to more closely approximate a set of rules that I don’t know. Sure, given the focus on crafting instead of fighting this counts as a variant form of “martial arts” – but Eclipse specifically allows variants.

Craftsman Of Azeroth (Str)

  • Requires: Taskmaster and Hands Of The Dragon. That’s just about the best long-term speed multiplier for crafting in the system, and is pretty much required to get any worthwhile results out of crafting items this way.
  • Basic Abilities: Synergy IV (For any three Craft Skills and Spellcraft), Toughness I (protects the user from minor accidents and crafting-related injuries), Strike (the user’s hands serve as effective tools), and Power I (if the user’s hands already count as tools (for whatever reason) they now count as masterwork tools).
  • Advanced And Master Techniques:
    • Immunity (the normal limits of crafting techniques with craft skills that this style is providing a synergy bonus for. The user may craft magical items using the normal crafting procedures. Uncommon, Major, Major, 6 CP). I don’t think that this is needed, but if your game master feels otherwise, here it is.
    • Occult Sense (resources for crafting). Azerothian Craftsmen can often find magical ingredients which will cover a large part of the costs of their crafting. Sadly, what resources can be found, and what they can be used to pay for making, is up to the game master.
    • Use of Charms and Talismans (QV): An Azerothian Craftsman may use seven Charms and three Talismans while using this style. An Industrious Tool is almost mandatory.
    • Occult Sense/Appraisal. The user may accurately evaluate the function and value of any item covered by his craft skills.
    • Augmented Bonus / Add (Con Mod) to the user’s Craft Skill Totals. An Azerothian Craftsman works long hours to get more work done. Take this one if the Immunity to the normal limits of crafting is not required.
  • Occult Abilities: Inner Strength II, Healing Hand, and Ki Focus (Strength). Crafting is hard and dangerous work, calling for occasional mighty efforts and the patching up of various minor injuries.

In game terms this is a lot like Alchemy; you can pick up ingredients (covering a chunk of your raw materials cost) when the GM is feeling generous, you can do something that is arguably within what the craft skill should already be able to do (after all, it does not say you can’t use a superhuman skill in a magical world to craft magic. How many real-world smiths put runes on blades? How many real-world wielders named their weapons and felt that that helped somehow?). And, of course, why WOULDN’T a craftsman be able to evaluate the value of items within his or her field?

Overall, this is potentially quite useful – like anything else that you might reasonably spend character-building resources on – but it shouldn’t disrupt the game much if at all.

Steel Driving Style (Str)

The village smith is the classic example – but many craftsmen and laborers know the secret; once you’re used to spending much of a workday wielding some heavy implement with speed and precision… it’s not much of a step to using said implement to turn some luckless opponent into a bloody pulp.

And it doesn’t much matter if said implement is a hammer, a butchers knife, an agricultural flail, a pruning-hook, a shovel, a machete, or a scythe. There is a reason why so many weapons are either repurposed tools or derived from tools. A healthy, well-exercised, angry man wielding a dangerous implement with a decade of practice in using it is bad news.

While this is a weapon style, it isn’t associated with any particular weapon; it can simply be taken for any appropriate tool – presumably one that the user has spent years wielding working in some craft or profession.

  • Requires: At least +1 BAB specialized in Melee Combat, a Craft Skill total of 5+, and Proficiency with Simple Weapons.
  • Basic Abilities: Attack 4, Defenses 4, Power 4, Strike, Synergy (a Craft skill that uses the implement in question).
  • Advanced And Master Techniques: Crippling, Mighty Blow, Weapon Kata II (up to two additional tools/weapons).
  • Occult Techniques: Inner Strength II, Ki Focus (Strength), and Resist Pain.

This isn’t a particularly exotic style – but it offer an unusually broad selection of basic abilities. If someone wants to build an “everyman” character who wields common tools as weapons, this should help.

Fairy Sail Style (Dex):

Combat Piloting is relatively rare in most d20 games, and if you want to be really, REALLY, good at it you will want the Rider ability sequence – which can drastically upgrade your vehicle. For those who just wish to dabble, however, here is the Fairy Sale style.

Requires: Command of a vehicle (The Fairy Sale, Apparatus, etc). This style is inherently Specialized for Increased Effect (applies to the vehicle the user is operating -and ONLY to the vehicle the user is operating).

Basic Abilities: Attack III (Vehicle Weapons), Defenses III (Vehicle AC). Synergy (Whatever skill is used for piloting).

Advanced And Master Techniques: Instant Maneuver (Once per round you may maneuver the vehicle as a free action), Combat Reflexes (you may fire vehicular close-range anti-personnel weapons up to (Dex Mod) times each round, although each such use uses up one of your Attacks of Opprotunity), Combat Piloting I and II (May use a Piloting check as AC versus one / up to five attacks each round).

Occult Techniques: Inner Strength II, Light Foot (“We Need More Speed!” “More Sail!”, “Gun The Engine!”), and either Ki Block (“All Power To Shields”, “Evasive Maneuvers”, or whatever) or Healing Hand, Specialized / only for use on the ship (“Re-rout The Power!”, “Splice The Mast”, “Get A Sail Over That Leak!” , allowing the user to perform or organize emergency repairs even while under fire).

The Fairy Sail Style really is absurd – but it’s also both literary and cinematic. Odysseus, Horatio Hornblower, Nemo, Hans Solo, Jack Sparrow… Legends, tales, novels, and movies are full of commanders who – despite lacking the overt supernatural talents of the Rider ability sequence – somehow manage to coax more speed and firepower out of their ships than is reasonably possible. If you really must take your dirigible out dog-fighting dragons, or sail your frigate through a blockade, then this is the style for you.

Whips as d20 weapons:

Whips represent a design problem; In game terms, they’re fairly ineffective. After all, in reality, people can generally survive a LOT more strikes with a whip than they can, say, hits with an axe – and even fairly light armor or tough hide makes whips pretty ineffectual. That’s why they’re usually (despite Indiana Jones) used as tools, not serious weapons. On the other hand, they offer lots of range – so if you stack the right enchantments on them, or target unarmored spellcasters you can be quite a pain. The classical d20 “solution” is to make them Exotic Weapons – which also contradicts reality. Whips are commonly used for animal handling and are fairly easy to learn to use. I got to play with one as a kid because my father bought one (along with some snowshoes and other bits and pieces we really had no earthly use for) for some reason, but I soon got bored.

So let us be more occult. Almost uniquely among d20 weapons, d20 whips are commonly made of monster hide. But leather gloves or armor do nothing to stop the user from making touch attacks with magical spells. How about if we assume leather from magical monsters -at least if properly alchemically treated – conducts magic? That will give whips a unique niche beyond just “having lots of reach”. However, instead of writing up new rules and a unique weapon, I think I will just model a whip as a martial art using chain, rope, wire, or some other suitable item. I’ll make it an “unarmed” style because such things – including realistic whips – simply are not particularly effective weapons. On the other hand, that offers it’s user’s the option to deliver touch-based effects with their whip. To use it to effectively grab things or push buttons, and to make touch attacks with it if they’re willing to forgo inflicting weapon damage with it.

This also eliminates the “Provoking AoO” angle, allows you to do damage normally, and lets you threaten the area through which you can attack That pretty much fixes the various problems with the basic whip, even if it does mean that you will have to invest a fair number of skill points to fully master it. This gives us the…

Nemesis Scourge Style (Dex)

Using a whip is not hard. Apprentice drovers, animal handlers, and torturers can pick up the knack quite quickly – although learning to judge the best use of one and improving their aim requires a but of practice.

Using a whip in combat – at least as something more than an annoyance and a distraction – is a good deal harder. For that, we have the following martial art…

Requires: A whip (enchantments optional) – preferably a leather bullwhip made of hide from a magical monster – despite being built as an “Unarmed Style”. As this is technically an unarmed style, said while it can be used to make touch attacks – but not to inflict non-magical touch based damage.

Basic Abilities: Strike, Power I, Attack III, Toughness I, Synergy / Intimidate, and Synergy / Handle Animal,

Advanced and Master Techniques: Lunge x 3 (while I’d be quite dubious about this in most styles, it’s certainly appropriate for this one), and Evasive (May attempt Disarm and Trip maneuvers without provoking AoO).

Occult Abilities: Inner Strength, Iron Skin, Light Foot, and Touch Strike.

Practical use of a whip as a tool requires nothing much in game terms. Practical use of a whip in combat will generally call for Strike and at least two levels of Lunge – requiring a skill total of 9 or more. That’s not actually very hard to reach; even without any kind of boosters you can have a skill total of (4 + Dex Mod) at level one. To make it really effective though will require a fair investment in touch-based effects.

Mystaran Immortals And Eclipse D20

The question here (From “Frank”) is whether or not I ever did an Eclipse conversion for Mystara’s Basic Dungeons and Dragons Immortals.

Now I have to admit that I hadn’t: most of the early games I played in or ran started with the little blue book edition – the “starter kit” that led into 1’st edition AD&D rather than with “Basic D&D”- and the AD&D rules had been almost entirely supplanted by Continuum II rules by the time 2’nd edition came along. Still, it’s an interesting question – so lets take a look at it. After all, Basic D&D had some campaign options, and a mass battle system, and the Immortals rules, all of which were well ahead of their times.

Basic D&D to Eclipse covers a pretty big jump in editions, mechanics, and game assumptions – but probably the biggest difference between the Immortals of Mystara and the Gods of Eclipse is that Immortals cross a sharp dividing line after they hit level thirty-six – basically starting over again at “Immortal Level One” with a modest selection of Immortal-level powers, a brand new thirty-six level progression to work on, a modest number of hit points, and the ability to (fairly cheaply) create mortal-level avatars of any mortal level up to thirty-six. Now, admittedly basic D&D levels didn’t offer nearly as many options as levels in Eclipse and were generally less powerful – but “level thirty-six” was still a pretty high bar to clear and those levels were scaled to the game environment just as much as the levels in later versions of the game were. For comparison purposes I’d peg a level thirty-six basic D&D character at at least low epic level in Eclipse – call it level twenty-four. That’s two-thirds their base level, which seems fair enough.

Secondarily, Mystaran Immortals were subject to a lot of social rules about their interactions with mortals – basically handwaving away why Immortals didn’t just handle a lot of their own affairs. Most settings will not have this universal treaty between the gods or anything similar to keep PC’s from running amuck – so the rules will have to allow for mortals and immortals to interact on relatively even terms rather than drawing a sharp distinction between “mortal” and “immortal” abilities.

Eclipse, of course, treats godhood / immortality / gaining a sphere of influence as a slow evolution; With GM permission it is perfectly possible to have a god as a part of a first or second level party – and the system is set up to make that playable. A low level god has purchased a few extremely powerful “divine” (and almost never usable) powers instead of more typical stuff that may be weaker, but can be used far more often. Those rules have been used a number of times, mixing minor gods in parties with mortals – and it worked just fine. The player-character gods did indeed have major divine powers in the form of Godfire – but Godfire recovers so slowly that such gods had to rely mostly on the same sorts of abilities that every other character relied on in their everyday adventures.

Thus Eclipse has no hard-and-fast dividing line between mortal and immortal powers beyond “I upgrade this power beyond all reason by backing it with Godfire” – and even then a powerful “mortal” can boost their powers to match. In Eclipse, there is nothing actually preventing a normal character from learning to create galaxies or throw planets around; it will just take a lot of work and levels. Sure, the spell for creating a dimension of your own design of arbitrary size is level twenty-one – but there are several ways for mortals to achieve the ability to cast that spell well before level thirty-six.

So there’s the first major difference: In Eclipse terms, “Immortals” are just high-level characters who have bought a few specific abilities. Since buying Godhood doesn’t cost them any of their old powers – in fact, those usually continue advancing – quite a few a few of Mystara’s “Immortal Powers” are utterly irrelevant. An Eclipse character who controls undead, or turns into a dragon, or is an expert thief, doesn’t need any special abilities to retain those abilities when they ascend to godhood, unlike Mystaran Immortals who only got to take four “Immortal Powers” and lost their “mortal” abilities. For that matter, Eclipse “Immortals” get to keep their racial abilities too.

So we can eliminate the Mystaran Immortal Powers of…

  • Control Undead. This is Negative Energy Channeling – a basic cleric ability that commonly starts at level one. Like a lot of this stuff, if you want it, by level twenty-four you should have had it for a very long time.
  • Dragon Form: Shapechange. The original version provides lots of extra attacks, but the Eclipse version provides various inherent powers and a LOT more uses of a breath weapon. It’s a wash – and if a character wants this, they should (once again) already have it by level twenty-four.
  • Dragon Breath: Inherent Spell with Bonus Uses or Path of The Dragon or similar. Dragon Breath in Eclipse is just a high-powered attack spell. Why not try a set of Martial Maneuvers instead?
  • Extra Attacks: Any skilled combatant gets some of those automatically thanks to iterative attacks, and there are plenty of ways in Eclipse to get more.
  • Fighter Abilities: Half of the special maneuvers of Basic D&D are now standard elements of the combat system – which is good; you do not need to be a high level fighter to learn to brace a weapon against a charge – and the rest are just combat feats. Are you a fighter type? You probably already have the maneuvers that you want.
  • Increased Movement. Immortals basically get a +20′ on their movement modes. Is there an epic level type running around without access to Haste? (You can buy it later with Legendarium)
  • Leech: This attack lets the user drain levels or “Immortal Power”. So… Trick (6 CP).
  • Mystic Abilities: You get some Classical Monk-style powers. As usual on this list… If a character wants these, they should already have them. The Monk Package is relatively cheap.
  • Poison Bite/Sting: Trick (6 CP). Yes, the venom described is exceptionally deadly – but given that the save DC’s for Tricks go up with level, that will happen automatically.
  • Spit Poison: Trick (6 CP). Possibly combined with a way to make melee attacks at range. There are first level spells for that.
  • Summon Weapons: Spirit Weapon, use of Charms and Talismans (Tulthara), various spells and lots of other ways – including just paying for the appropriate enchantment. In fact, the cheap weapon enchantment is better than the original immortal ability; it doesn’t cut out if someone moves your weapon.
  • Swoop: Basically double damage on a flying charge. So (Doubled Damage, 6 CP) if you don’t already have it – which you should if you’re into charging.
  • Thief: This lets you keep your Thief skills (although the basic rules didn’t offer the equivalent of modern “epic uses” or even a lot of the current standard ones). Again, unnecessary in Eclipse where your skills won’t vanish just because you developed Godfire.
  • Turn Undead: This is Positive Energy Channeling, a mainstay of every basic good cleric.
  • Weapon Mastery: This lets you be exceptionally good with a few weapons, like almost any d20 fighter – or any combatant at all in Eclipse, where Martial Arts skills are a thing.

A few “Immortal Abilities” are things you might want to buy – but as “divine powers” they’re kind of pathetic. They’re also available to perfectly normal people.

  • Detection Suite lets you detect stonework traps, sliding walls, sloping corridors, new construction, and hidden or secret doors like a Dwarf or Elf. As an “Immortal Power” that is more than a bit sad. Just take Occult Sense / Architecture (6 CP) and you can do all that and much more.
  • Height Decrease lets you escape bonds fairly easily and makes sneaking easier. Otherwise it’s entirely cosmetic. That’s… the equivalent of a first level Liberating Command effect and some Skill Bonuses. As an immortal power this does not impress.
  • Height Increase lets you throw rocks like a giant and is otherwise cosmetic. So a basic rock-throwing spell? Why is your EPIC LEVEL IMMORTAL DEMIGODLING throwing rocks? If they actually have nothing better to do in a fight (or virtually any other situation other than, perhaps, a rock-throwing contest), they should probably go home and think about their wasted levels.
  • Improved Saves is a specialized and weakened version of the Fortune ability. 6-9 CP altogether. Also something that almost any epic-level character will already have a better version of.
  • Increased Damage lets you add up to two extra dice to your damage with weapons or unarmed attacks – but Eclipse offers lots of better ways to do a little more damage.
  • Increased Initiative is just (3 CP) worth of Improved Initiative.
  • Snap lets you grab an opponent up to twenty feet away, drag them in, and hit them. This is another waste-of-time power. Sure, you could use Lunge or Telekineisis or Taunt or something to build an equivalent ability – but why bother? Buy a harpoon.

Honestly, if you think that any of this stuff is really worth bothering with in your character build, a high-level Eclipse character should almost certainly have it already. And if you don’t want it… well, that solves that problem. Ergo, this entire section is basically “no cost”.

Immortal Powers that are actually somewhat useful include:

  • Call Other: This is a much weaker version of Gate that costs 10 Temporary “Immortal Power”, has a fair chance of success but no certainty, cannot be used to simply escape, and is expensive for any immortal to travel through. You ‘ll want Path Of The Pharaoh / Gateway – and with anything approaching those limits it will only cost about (2 CP). Don’t be cheap. Pay the other 4 CP and travel for free. (This is the only thing in the “Immortal Powers” list that actually calls for being an “Immortal” by the way).
  • Groan costs 20 Temporary Immortal Power and forces everyone within a 180′ radius to save or be paralyzed for ten rounds. That;s actually a pretty good effect – but 20 TP is fabulously expensive and this edition used fixed saves (so anyone important was very likely to resist). What you’re going to want in Eclipse is Hold Monster with Battle Magic (Specialized and Corrupted / only for Hold Monster, 2 CP) and Power Words (Specialized for Increased Effect and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only to store Hold Monster Effects (4 CP). That has limited usage at any given moment, but will let you try bind entire armies – and you don’t need any “Temporary Immortal Power” to run it.
  • Howl causes those in a 180′ radius to flee in terror for 3d6 rounds, although it suffers from the same low save DC’s as Groan. Since this has no listed cost, this is actually pretty good – although fear immunity/protection seems to apply normally. I’d probably go for a Fear effect, with Battle Magic (Specialized and Corrupted / only for Fear, 2 CP) and Power Words (Specialized and Corrupted / only to store Fear Effects (2 CP). That has limited usage at any given moment, but will let you try and terrify entire armies.

Presuming that any given Immortal will want to pick up Gate and perhaps Groan or Howl… setting aside 12 CP should cover that.

Now, to actually become an Immortal / God, you will need to buy Dominion (6 CP. By level twenty-four you are almost certainly in charge of SOMETHING), Manipulation (6 CP), Sphere of Influence (6 CP), and Godfire (6 CP). Congratulations. At the low, low, price of 24 CP you are now a God – if a fairly minor one. Unlike Mystaran gods, who all use basically the same power set, your choice of your Sphere of Influence will affect a lot of aspects of your character.

Next up we have the Immortal Spells. Some (Most? All?) will not actually be spells in Eclipse of course, but these are powers that all Mystaran Immortals have.

  • Bestow/Diminish. Costs permanent Immortal Power, can grant or remove abilities. This is a basic function of Godfire.
  • Conceal Magical Nature: This is capable of concealing artifacts and such for up to a year. You can do this with cloaking spells and Metamagic, a tailored spell (designed or freeform), Godfire, or Reality Editing – but as a God you have access to Seal Of Silence (6 CP), which is a much more impressive and far more versatile way to hide things.
  • Create Species: Another function of Godfire.
  • Detect Immortal Magic: Since there’s no difference between mortal and immortal magic, the basic detection function isn’t complicated – but the global area and one-day duration is trickier. On the other hand, you’re only interested in genuinely major acts of magic, not in having an alarm going off every time an avatar of some mercy goddess casts “Cure Light Wounds” or better (probably about twenty times a round, all day, every day. Mercy goddesses are popular, numerous, and BUSY). Ergo, you could take this as an Occult Sense (6 CP). Of course, “Automatically sense related major events” is a built-in part of the path to Godfire, so you don’t even necessarily have to buy anything at all for this.
  • Hear Supplicants: For this you want Ears Of The Wind and Multi-Tasking (12 CP in total). If you want, you can extend this with Know The Flock (+6 CP), and automatically know what’s up with all of your followers and anything that’s influencing them. Multi-Tasking also has the benefit of letting you do many things at once, which Immortals normally cannot.
  • Immortal Eye: Lets you use Clairvoyance on anywhere you have an interest. Arguably covered by Know The Flock, but you could easily add an Occult Sense, use Spells, or just Specialize the Multi-Tasking for increased effect.
    Increase Spell Duration: There is metamagic for this. Taking it with with Glory will let you do this readily enough (12 CP, or only 6 CP if you specialize down to this specific effect).
  • Power Attack: This really doesn’t mean anything in Eclipse, where there is no such thing as “temporary (divine) power”, but various forms of power draining or blocking, or other incapacitating effects, can be built – most easily with Trick (6 CP) and an option to make melee attacks at range.
  • Probe: In Eclipse terms, this tells you if someone has Godfire. Given that Godfire is a massive cloud of magical potential that gathers around gods… this can be done pretty easily. It also tells you peoples names – which is a very impressive parlor trick, and is sometimes taken as an Occult Sense (basic information about those you look at, 6 CP). Rather like MMORPG’s. You can see the tags – “Arif Meldoon, Level Six Expert (Tailor and Crafting Magic), Has a Minor Quest to offer.”. The original version will not reveal mortal avatars, which is less than helpful.
  • Probe Shield protects against Probe. Unfortunately, as written, it is short-term, moderately expensive, and only protects against the “name” part of Probe. It’s a game mechanic meant to help enforce the non-intervention rules. In Eclipse you can just buy Cloaking (6 CP) and be done with it forever.
  • Reduce Saving Throw: This makes a mortal-level spell harder to save against. Of course, with three or four levels of the Amplify metamagic, you can basically eliminate the save entirely. You can get Amplify and Glory, Specialized in this specific trick, or in drastically reducing saves, for a mere (6 CP).
  • Shape Reality: This one is a biggie! It has several separate functions:
    • Create a Heavenly Body. They start uninhabited, but that’s fairly readily fixable. In Eclipse, this calls for very high level magic – mostly because it is recognized that creating heavenly bodies with an arbitrary size, velocity, and composition, can easily destroy solar systems. Say “Asteroid, One Foot above the Campaign Planet, Orbital Velocity of 99.9999999999% of Light Speed, Directed straight towards the Campaign Planet”. For a Mystaran Immortal that’s 5 Immortal Power and well within the capabilities of a first-level new Immortal. Eclipse wants to know “then why is the setting still around?”. So this one converts as “you must work very hard and have vast magical powers to be able to do this”. No cost, because most immortals in Eclipse CANNOT do it. And thank them for that.
      • Sadly, this was one of the items that Frank was specifically interested in – but it’s simply too potentially destructive. On the other hand, you can easily create your own dimension in Eclipse; you just can’t ram it into another one.
    • Move a Heavenly Body: Another job for very high level magic – and for the same basic reason. This one also basically converts as “you need loads of power for this” and has no cost because, if lots of people can do this, the setting will have been destroyed before the game begins.
    • Create a Plane: Ah, an easy one! Take Creation (6 CP) and get your own dimension built to your personal specifications. You want more? Take Bonus Uses (+6 CP).
    • Move A Plane: This doesn’t actually make sense in Eclipse. Even in Mystara it really only moved established planar access routes and only worked if no other immortal was on the plane – and in Eclipse it’s not really a big deal to create and destroy dimensional weak points and you don’t actually have to use them to travel anyway. There are spells for manipulating portals, color pools, and similar, or you could just take a little Mana with Reality Editing to do it. Most simply, take it as a Minor Privilege (Can re-arrange planar access routes if no other divine power is objecting, 3 CP).
    • Alter A Plane: This lets you control your personal planes. This is a basic function of Godfire. – and there are some rules for dimension design in this article. (The subject was too esoteric to make space for it in Eclipse).
    • Transform: Basically a high-powered Polymorph or Reincarnation effect. Like most things that cost permanent Immortal Power, this is a function of Godfire.

Now that mess is a little more expensive – a total of up to 69 CP. Admittedly a 24’th level character will have around 650 – 700 CP as a base, and a 48’th level character may have twice that – but 69 CP is still enough to buy plenty of other tricks for the non-immortals in the party.

Basic Immortal Abilities:

  • Armor Class: An Immortal has a base AC of 20, and gains up to a +20 bonus at level 48. Buy Defender (All three possible variants, 18 CP). Done.
  • Artifact Creation: Take Create Artifact (6 CP). A level one Eclipse character can make artifacts – although an epic level character will probably find it a great deal easier to do so.
  • Aura Attack: Awe. A basic function of having Godfire.
  • Combat Abilities:
    • Proficient with All weapons and armor. By the time you hit level twenty-four you should be proficient with whatever you want to be. No cost here.
    • Base Attack Bonus: While the Immortal class basically sets this at (Level/2), or (2 x Level / 3) when translated, Eclipse characters are free to buy more or less – and should already have BAB. Again, no particular cost.
    • Damage: Immortals do up to two extra dice of damage, on top of a 2d6 punch. That’s convenient I suppose, but fairly meaningless in Eclipse. If a character is interested in doing extra direct damage in combat, they should be doing a LOT more than this by the time they reach epic levels. For this, I’ll refer you to the Advanced Fighter series.
  • Communication (Telepathic): Mindspeech (6 CP).
  • Creation Of (Temporary) Magic Items: Now this is a little odd by later edition standards, where your array of magic items is a much more important part of your character. To do this buy access to the Occult Skill Dream-Binding (3 CP) and spend some skill points. Viola! Temporary magic items.
  • Granting Power Points: A basic function of having Godfire; you can use it to boost yourself or others.
  • Improving Ability Scores: A function of Levels, Dominion, Godfire, and Epic Items. Immortal Statistics went up to 100, but the actual bonuses were spread out more and only went up to +20. Ergo, in current d20 scaling, Immortal Attributes peak at 50. Still pretty high – but hardly unreachable. Worse, most of the attributes other than Strength pretty much no longer had any effect for Immortals. Really, no cost. If you want to leverage your better scores, try Augmented Bonus and/or Finesse.
  • Immunities:
    • Immunity to Aging and Diseases is a part of having Godfire.
    • Immunity to “Mortal Dragon Breath” is nonsensical in Eclipse, where there is no sharp dividing line between “mortals” and “immortals” – but is mostly just equivalent to having a decent Energy Resistance, or Fortune and Luck (for Saves) or any of several other defenses that any epic level character should have. No cost.
      Immunity to Level Drain. There are pretty basic protective spells, as well as a choice of armor enchantments, to cover this. Any epic level character should have this covered already. No cost.
    • Immunity to having to Eat and Drink. If you actually care, less than a single CP worth of Innate Enchantment (a couple of Everfull Mugs (400 GP) and Everlasting Rations (350 GP) – perhaps x.8 (Cannot Share) covers this. When was the last time that your epic level character was at risk of starving to death anyway? Legendarium (see below) will cover this easily.
    • Immunity to having to Breathe: You could buy this straight as a minor Immunity, or just buy a Necklace of Adaptation (9000 GP) – but the effective way to do it is to buy access to Occult Skill (Legendarium) (3 CP). At level twenty-four that will provide a fair amount of inherent items/powers, which will come in handy later.
    • Immunity to Life Trapping: Godfire will handle this.
    • Immunity to Mortal Magic. Again, meaningless in Eclipse – but being nigh-immune to minor spellcasters is appropriate enough. Buy Spell/Power Resistance (6 CP). At epic levels this is pretty well proof against normal spellcasters.
    • Immunity to Mortal Poisons. Well, that’s Immunity (Common, Major, Major, Corrupted / not against attacks by creatures with Godfire, 6 CP). That won’t completely protect you against really powerful poisons – but that also is fairly classical. Buy a small attribute-healing effect with your Legendarium to recover quickly from anything that does get through.
  • Resistant to Mortal Attacks. Meaningless in Eclipse due to the lack of a hard division between “mortal” and “immortal” abilities, but the basic result was that ordinary creatures had a hard time damaging an immortal. Buy some Damage Reduction, Specialized in Physical Attacks and Corrupted / not versus creatures with access to Godfire, both for Increased Effect (6 CP for DR 9/creatures with Godfire). Buy a small healing effect with your Legendarium to handle any damage that does get through.
  • Infravision: Occult Sense (6 CP). Darksight has long since replaced Infravision in the system, but this is Eclipse: you can buy either one you want.
  • Movement: Immortals can walk, swim, turn incorporeal, and fly a bit faster than normal. Buying this gets expensive in CP terms, but by the time level twenty-four rolls around your Legendarium will neatly cover some of those abilities (and probably a good deal more).
  • Regenerate 1d8 HP/Day. D20 characters heal a lot better than this automatically. No cost. Immortals may have lots of hit points (the sources contradict themselves somewhat) – so this is probably Augmented Bonus (18 CP to add a second attribute modifier to their Con Mod for Hit Point purposes).

That’s 78 CP. Again, somewhat pricey – but easily manageable at epic levels.

Forms: Mystaran Immortals can take on their True Form, a non-corporeal Spirit Form, and Mortal Forms – but they can only take on one form at a time. Eclipse characters can use Multi-Tasking to keep an eye on many places at once (pretty much what the Spirit Form is good for) and communicate with followers. Eclipse characters can use Godfire to make mortal avatars (Basically by Creating Life as the desired Avatar), and thus can be in many places at once and do many things at once – an optional rule for Mystaran Immortals. Overall, this is a bit of a wash, and so has no cost.

Unlimited Spellcasting: This costs a lot of Temporary Power each day, but offers unlimited access to all the mortal-level spells in the book. Of course… those spells were weaker, were of far more limited level, and had far less variety than the current d20 spell lists – even discounting the multiple styles of freeform magic in Eclipse. Just as importantly, Eclipse d20 has no “mortal level” magic. It’s just magic. Worst of all… this makes no sense. The writers had to throw it in on Mystara because non-spellcasters had no options comparable to spellcasters – and they had to allow spellcasting, or the players would rebel. Yet if they threw in a spellcasting option like the “Fighter Abilities” option it would be a must-have, or you’d be crippling your character. Yet most classical godlings didn’t do much spellcasting, if any. Hercules and Frey had some powers, but they certainly weren’t druids, mages, or d20 clerics. So it had to be something optional, yet available to every immortal. Ergo… spend a bunch of temporary power, get unlimited magic for the day.

But nothing in any mythology works this way. This compromise simply will not work in the game. It was acknowledged that it didn’t work properly in the original rules with the bit about “Most immortals… spend 100 TP every day so as to be able to cast any spell (magical, clerical, and druidic) any number of times per day”.

Honestly, you can punch people, or use a dragon’s breath weapon twice per day – or cast limitless high-powered spells. Which do YOU pick?

So this one is a flat “No”. Immortal characters in Eclipse get whatever spellcasting they’ve purchased, just as they get whatever combat abilities and skills they’ve purchased. That offers monstrous amounts of power at epic levels already. Go ahead and dabble in Hexcrafting, if you want a cheap option that allows some epic-level casting for your dramatic deific effects. Or just take Divine Attribute (6 CP). If you are REALLY lucky you may be able to persuade your game master into letting you Corrupt and Specialize it for Increased Effect – you only get a few effects, but you retain something reasonably close to control when you use them. Regardless, I’m not going to count that option since it goes well beyond what a Mystaran Immortal could normally do simply because Divine Attribute takes you straight into “Game Master Fiat” territory.

In practice, this super-spellcasting option is mostly unplayable anyway. D20 quite literally offers (thanks to Distant Horizon’s own Spell Templates in The Practical Enchanter) hundreds of millions of possible spells. There are tens of thousands of individual spells scattered over hundreds or thousands of sources. There are dozens of types of spellcasters with their own spell lists. To use this power effectively the player and game master would have to be familiar with a large chunk of that material, sort through it for items to allow and disallow, and keep track of it. Even –>I<– do not want to try and do that! The game is for having fun, now for nightmare thesis projects!

So that gives us a total: “Immortal Powers Template” cost of (12 CP) + Basic Godhood (24 CP) + Immortal “Spells” (69 CP) + “Basic Immortal Abilities (78 CP) = 183 CP. That’s in +5 ECL territory (albeit with a few points to spare if I’ve forgotten something) – and I don’t see much in the way of drawbacks to cut down that cost with.

So: you hit level twenty-four (or higher), go on a series of mighty quests, and – at the end – pick up a +5 ECL template and then sit out of play until the other characters catch up with you. After that… you use your new powers to adventure on a larger scale until you hit level 48 (ECL 53), where it’s probably long past time to retire.

Eclipse d20 – Alchemical Creations, The Item List

As for the alchemical products list, we have…

The Pinnacle – Grand Alchemy.

Grandiose, Mythic, or “Arcane” Alchemical Creations pretty much give reality the finger – and, as such, calls for extremely high DC Crafting Stunts, Grandiose Reality Editing, or massive acts of magic. This is the sort of thing that makes most Wizards, Psychics, AND Scientists go “Whaaaaa?”.

There are two major categories of High Alchemy – Arcane Materials and Arcana Essences – and one specific procedure, the Arcane Antithesis.

Arcane Materials exhibit unnatural properties. They may remain perpetually hot or cold, have virtually no weight, be near-perfect insulators, want to accelerate endlessly, maintain a sourceless difference in electrical potential across themselves, amplify or frequency-shift light, be superconductors, block magic, or gravity, or some other force, or be incredibly tough. If you want to make a boat with sails that catch the winds of thought that blow through the astral plane at superluminal speeds… this is the discipline you want. There are thousands of possibilities here from everburning cooking logs on through armored clothing and nightsight goggles and on up to space drives. Just remember that his sort of thing makes no sense and you will save yourself a headache.

Arcane Essences are distilled forces and conditions. Sanity, Magnetism (or “Lodestone”), Gravity, Darkness, Winter, Purity, Curses, Lightning, Rage, Luck – or even things like “Knowledge”, “South”, “Up”, “Entropy”, “Life” (also known as “Aqua Vitae”), “Death” (“Aqua Mortis”), or “Time”. Released without control, their effects are unpredictable and crude. Breaking a vial of Gravity is likely to cause an implosion (and perhaps a mild earthquake), followed by an explosion as the compressed materials expand again. With some method of control essences can be used for all kinds of tricks – so anyone who wants to get into Essences will want some magical or technical ability to control what they do when they’re released. Perhaps some Gadgetry again? A gravity-powered Flight Harness, a Solar Blaster, and a Magnetic Force Shield would be quite useful – and giving them an external power sources will bypass the usual usage restrictions on gadgets in favor of their alchemical “ammunition”. Once again, this kind of thing is in the realm of concepts made physical. It’s not going to make any sense unless, perhaps, you can manage to squint properly with your brain.

Arcane Antithesis: This operation does only one thing; it creates a negative version of something. Not just something like “antimatter”, which has a positive rest mass and yields energy when combined with normal matter. This means Negative Matter. Negative Energy. Negative Entropy. Negative Information. A hole in the multiverse. Something which isn’t just unlikely; it’s impossible. This is generally a lengthy project, is limited to things that might fit in a moving van, and requires the constant presence of the original thing you’re making an antithesis of.

Once you’re done the two will annihilate, leaving nothing. This isn’t quite final and absolute – but it’s about as close as you’re likely to get. Sure, there is undoubtedly another one of whatever it was coming into existence elsewhere in the multiverse, but you can be pretty sure that whatever it was – even if it was an indestructible artifact – is out of your life for a very long time to come. If you really must get rid of something this will generally do it for you.

Mastery – High Alchemy

High Alchemy still cheats – but it cheats a lot less than Grandiose Alchemy does. It still calls for Major Reality Editing, very high DC Crafting Stunts, or magic of around level six, but the things that it produces mostly operate in comprehensible ways. It too has three basic branches – Condensates, Devices, and Lifeshaping.

Condensates are pretty straightforward: you make something smaller and more concentrated with no loss in its effects. You can thus turn bottled potions into little capsules, store great amounts of water in small flasks, turn excellent six-course meals into sticks of chewing gum, make air pills that last for hours, turn various alchemical items into drops or little “gems”, turn drums of fuel oil into drops of “pyroconcentrate”, turn high-pressure steam into a dry powder (a substitute for explosives in the many worlds that don’t allow them), condense light into liquids (possible “blaster ammo”), modify equipment so that it can be expanded from, or collapsed into, little capsules, or even try to extract and condense information – perhaps turning a mass of magnetic tapes into a DVD or allowing you to drink a book instead of studying it.

The main problem with Condensates is that – for the most part – they’re simply more convenient to carry. Unless the GM is really into rocketry, and is worried about the delta-v of various fuels, it’s impressive to put a few drops of fuel into a locomotive’s firebox and have it run at full power for hours – but in settings offering easy access to extradimensional storage space, that is really all it is. There’s nothing wrong with that, and condensates are often useful, but they’re rarely a major factor unless you really MUST hide something in a false tooth.

Devices are fairly simple: they are built using alchemical techniques and so work much better than their actual construction and the designers skill justifies. A suit of armor full of clockwork might operate as a mechanical man, capable of reasoning and performing skilled tasks. A statue might function as a basic Golem. Paint might make what is painted real (See “Marvelous Pigments”). A cup or fork might purify poisons. A camera might function (if no such items exist) or reveal mysterious and normally invisible presences or reveal desires or someone’s inner nature (if cameras exist in the setting). A skeleton key might conform itself to any lock. A precious alchemical stone might function as a universal magical component, losing value as expensive spells are cast. A rod of lead (which resists various magics) might absorb several spells before melting. A flask might hold a dimensional pocket that can safely contain virtually anything. A wand of strangely alloyed gold (“Orichalcum”) might enhance spells – either slightly or a great deal but only a few times. A whip might hit like it was as heavy as mercury and be impossible to grasp save by the handle. A compass fitted with a chip of material might always point towards the main mass the chip was taken from. A spear of dissimilar metals might discharge electrical arcs on impact.

Devices are pretty classical “you get equipment bonuses”. The trouble is that they generally have to be created by the alchemist in their entirety, tend to require a certain amount of maintenance, and so are limited by personal skills. In game terms, if you have the ability to enhance your items this way, each relevant skill (usually Craft, but others may be eligible in particular cases) provides “gadget points” equal to it’s base rating (Skill Base + Attribute Modifier + Skill-Enhancing Feats) to invest in relevant items – although their overall effectiveness is always limited by the characters level. Thus the GM might rule that Craft/Armor and Craft/Clockwork can both contribute “Gadget Points” to the cost of a Clockwork Soldier (Say, 10 Points) – but that cost will go down as the character goes up in level and said Soldier goes from being a very useful ally to a minor distraction. Alternatively, if someone only wants to dabble in this form of Alchemy, an Occult Skill (Equipment Enhancement or some such) may be in order.

Lifeshaping allows an alchemist to extract qualities from living things, either storing them for later use or imbuing them into other living things or even artifacts – whether by purely mystical means, grafting tissues, or bizarre surgeries. Sadly, the extraction process is generally fairly destructive (although getting a use of a breath weapon, or dose of poison from a serpent, or some such is usually simple enough), so transferring the abilities of sapient beings around is generally pretty unethical. Moreover, it is much, MUCH, easier to give something a temporary ability than it is to make it permanent. Thus a practitioner might extract the strength of a bull – perhaps creating an elixir / “mutagen” to let someone take on that attribute temporarily, or imbuing it into an item to make it move on it’s own, or even attempting to transfer it permanently into another creature to replace it’s own strength.

Possibilities with lifeshaping include monster creation (usually starting with some minor life form too weak to hold it’s pattern well and infusing it with the desired abilities), creating “mutagens”, grafts, or “animal elixirs” capable of bestowing animalistic powers (either temporarily, permanently, or inducing something akin to Therianthropy), the transference or storage of souls, imbuing objects with temporary or permanent life, supercharging bacteria to create plagues, deadly mists and slimes, and similar weaponry), bioengineering lifeforms to produce useful products or byproducts, supercharging higher life forms to temporarily boost them or induce regeneration (sometimes known as “flesh glue), raising the (very recently) dead, extending lifespans, restoring personal energies, curing cases of disease or poisoning, restoring lost bodily functions, and making various kinds of “animal extracts”, such as putting a Rust Monsters power in a rod, or a use of Dragon’s Breath in a potion, or just smearing a location with Manticore Musk to scare off most other predators.

Of course, the problem here is that you have to have a source for the property you want to extract and bestow. That’s generally not much of a problem with common domestic animals, and only a moderate problem with less common ones – but if you want to give someone the strength, diving ability, and swimming ability of a sperm whale… you will likely have some considerable difficulty in catching one alive, getting it into your laboratory, building apparatus to fit, and basically distilling vital functions from it – especially since it is almost certain to resist. Stealing functions from intelligent creatures – basically rendering them down for useful bits – is generally about as unethical as it gets. That’s why “creating monsters” is usually a thing for villains, not heroes.

Journeyman Procedures – Middle Alchemy

Middle Alchemy doesn’t cheat very much. “Notable” Reality Editing, High – but not particularly Epic – DC’s, and Spells of level three or less will suffice. It covers Compounds, Firecrafting, and Drugs and Toxins.

Compounds exploit the inherent, natural, magic of animals, plants, and minerals. The witch doctor who prepares a meal of Lions Heart to imbue youngsters facing their rite of manhood with courage, the jeweler combining metal and carefully chosen gems to exploit their magic, and the herbalist brewing mystical tonics are all simply activating the magic inherent in their materials, rather than creating enchantments of their own.

Compounds are indeed magical, but tend to be quite specific and more powerful effects tend to either have prices attached, don’t last very long, or call for extremely exotic magical materials since there is only so much magic inherent in most materials. Thus, unlike most d20 “crafting”, these recipes tend to call for specific ingredients rather than simply assigning a generic raw material cost. This also means that this field offers a list of specific applications (determined by the user’s skill and what components are available), rather than a generic description of how it works and what is possible. Ergo, here are some possibilities. There are plenty of others of course – but there is no guarantee that the ingredients for any of these will be available in any particular setting.

  • Bane Powder or Venom: Damages some type of creature, bypassing most defenses. Often applied to weapons.
  • Beast Draught: Temporarily grants a specific animal ability or may permanently grant a personality trait appropriate to the source animal.
  • Birthstones, when set in appropriate metals and combined with appropriate symbols may have actual – if minor – magical powers. Or just be superstitions. That depends on the setting.
  • Bloodfire Catalyst: Turns the user’s blood into an outrageously corrosive substance and makes the user resistant to acid while this effect lasts. Fire based versions also exist, but are even trickier to make.
  • Bottled Sleep: Acts like a days rest, but uses deep reserves – making it effective only once per month.
  • Burgeoning Verdigris Elixir: Makes plants grow in mere moments.
  • Canned Fog: Pours out a sizeable cloud when opened. Other weather can also be canned; tornado in a can anyone?
  • Canopy Of Waters: The air in a fair radius remains breathable, but the area is effectively underwater: fires won’t burn, people can swim through the air, and so on.
  • Dark Elixir: Drinking this allows the user to use any one shadow magic spell of level two or less, or one specific shadow magic spell (chosen when the elixir is brewed) of level three. It can also be used to add +20% reality to a Shadow Magic spell cast normally. Sadly, the components are very rare.
  • Dental Paste: Mends and restores teeth.
  • Draught (or Paint) Of Living Death: Makes a living creature seem to be undead.
  • Ectoplasmic Dream: Creates a vision, phantasm, or dream when opened, the general type of vision or phantasm must be defined in advance, but the user may determine the details.
  • Ectoplasmic Draught: Allows the user to exhale a Psychic Construct.
  • Elixir Of Mental Clarity: Relieves any mental affliction, including senility and being near death for a time.
  • Entropic Salts: Cause devices and structures to breakdown or fail. A pinch might rust a lock into uselessness or break a wagon wheel, a handful might cause a tank engine to fail or a treat to snap.
  • Foamstone: Expands enormously, and then becomes as hard and durable as granite,
  • Fumes Of Vision: These grant clairvoyant visions, capable of crossing space, time, and dimension, but aren’t especially reliable and offer very little control. Concentrating on something will usually get a few somehow-relevant glimpses if the GM is feeling cooperative though.
  • Golem Transformation: The user temporarily takes on the traits of a Construct.
  • Liquid Metals can transform from solid to liquid and back again when properly triggered, This also covers “memory metals” that can take on many detailed forms.
  • Reanimation Elixir: Raises the recently dead for a short time.
  • Recharging Bath: Adds charges to a charged magical item over a time proportionate to the charge cost.
  • Sacred Balm: Acts as a Panacea spell, albeit at minimal caster level. Often requires very rare components or the blessing of a major, good-oriented, religious figure.
  • Sacrificial Incense: Can summon and manifest minor spirits and makes an acceptable offering to any spirit or divine being.
  • Scroll Ink; Allows the user to scribe scrolls without a feat or XP cost.
  • Spectral Sand: Dissolves into brilliant rainbow light when thrown, an effect similar to Color Spray.
  • Spell Catalysts” These make specific spells or groups thereof either more powerful or easier to cast.
  • Tangle (Foam, Webbing, etc) is basically an area-effect relative of the Tanglefoot Bag.
  • Tempering Oil makes objects it is applied to considerably more durable.
  • Universal Solvent is hard to store and use, but often surprisingly effective.
  • Vigil Candles: Grant a minor blessing to a specified individual when burned, no matter where they are if blessed / holy. If cursed / unholy they inflict a minor, temporary, curse on them.
  • Waters Of Alchemical Sulfur: When applied to a mundane item it permanently gains the Masterwork quality.
  • Wraith Dust: When thrown adheres to ghosts and other intangible apparitions and renders them temporarily solid.
  • Yielding Grave Elixir: Raises small numbers of weak undead permanently or lots of weak undead temporarily, can temporarily enhance the powers of greater undead.

This particular option can be a lot of fun. You can go questing for rare ingredients and tell people that you could cure that condition if you just had some specific components, and so on – but if you get too far into it, you can wind up with people wanting to know what components can be found in every monsters corpse, and along every path, and in every town, which is more than a bit boring. With Compounds you need to be careful to strike a balance. This also fits in fairly well with the Ceremonial Magic rules, although powerful magical components can quite reasonably upgrade the results that can be achieved.

Firecrafts are mostly straightforward, and fall under Middle Alchemy for two reasons – because quite a lot of worlds normally disallow simple explosives, rockets, guns, and super-concentrated fuels unless you use magic in their construction and because using a little magic to make them so greatly decreases the chance of either setting yourself on fire or producing catastrophic explosions. Other than that… in any world where fireworks work properly, this sort of thing is usually relatively cheap and adding special ingredients may produce unusual effects. An alchemist who specializes in blowing things up can be quite formidable.

  • Catalysts and Inhibitors can speed or slow chemical reactions, induce fevers (and a limited form of Haste) or suspended animation, extinguish or enhance fires, preserve unstable materials for later use, counteract poisons or make them take effect near-instantly and otherwise either vastly speed up or slow down various chemical reactions.
  • Explosives power grenades, can be formed into shaped charges blow holes in barriers, blow up areas, propel shrapnel, and power guns, cannons, and mortars. Special ammunition can be given various weapon-properties through alchemy, although the total very rarely goes above the equivalent of +3.
  • Fire Constructs take advantage of the fact that a fire can be considered something very close to a form of life – and are closely related to both Firework, Incendiaries, and Fuels. They are basically temporary “creatures” made of fire, rather like Gandalfs Fiery Dragon Firework – but capable of actually following orders, making decisions, and taking physical actions. Sure, they’re a bit insubstantial and fairly short “lived”, but they can be about as impressive as it gets.
  • Fireworks include all the usual fountains, pinwheels, rockets, bombs, firecrackers (these can be alchemically treated to drive away spirits and ghosts), and other ornamental stuff. Interestingly, fireworks can be made to give off other energies, creating auras of elemental force, holy or unholy areas, and even inclining areas towards particular alignments or types of magic. Flares in particular can light large areas, blind opponents, create strobe-like effects, act like sunlight to harm the undead and other light-susceptible creatures, and act as signals.
  • Fuels drive steam, internal combustion, and rocket engines, provide warmth, set things on long-lasting (and very intense) fire, burn underwater, and amplify fire spells.
    Incendiaries can produce fiery blasts, set an area on fire, provide long-lasting light, burst into flames when exposed to air, produce enough heat to melt metal or stone, power flame rifles and pistols – and can even leave behind small quantities of molten iron. I recommend caution when making FOOF however, no matter how skilled you are.
  • Luminaries include things like glowing chalk, luminous paint or ink, “glow sticks”, and a wide variety of other things that store or produce light. This isn’t usually a major category unless your alchemist desperately needs solar cells or nonmagical flameless lights – but simple and minor does not necessarily mean that they can’t be handy.
  • Smokes may impede vision, render the air toxic and unbreathable, cause temporary blindness, use up all the oxygen in an area, or leave various sorts of residues.

The Drugs and Toxins of Middle Alchemy both work incredibly quickly and can go a bit beyond the natural limits of such things – which is, of course, why you need alchemy to make them. This sort of thing includes d20 style poisons and antivenoms (real poisons and antitoxins generally do not take effect instantly), drugs that induce emotions, healing herbs which greatly accelerate healing by resting (about x 3), induced hibernation, powders of blindness, confusion, nausea and hallucinations, erasing memories, inducing (often poorly controlled without a lot of practice) psychic powers, vermin spray (does a fair amount of damage to vermin), hangover cures (that also work on recreational drugs), cleansing foam, generic antitoxins and disease cures, brews that knit bones, and that always-hot commodity, longevity elixirs. This may even may include the various Pulp Drugs if the game master is feeling very, VERY, generous.

The trouble with these substances is simple: they can push, augment, and disrupt the user’s body, and act unnaturally quickly – but they’re not magic. They won’t work on creatures with extremely abnormal metabolisms (or which have no metabolisms at all), their possible effects are really quite limited by d20 standards, they will lose effectiveness with overuse, and there are likely to be side effects – potentially quite serious side effects. There’s only so much combat drug that you can use before giving yourself a heart attack or stroke. That’s why most Alchemists only indulge in this sort of thing on rare occasions.

Student Brews – Low Alchemy

Low Alchemy is basically chemistry. Unlike most of the other reality-defying fields of research described above, you don’t actually need to use special powers to make it work – but a bit of Minor Reality Editing, the use of basic (generally level one) spells or even relevant level zero cantrips, and setting fairly high DC’s can vastly decrease the required time, enhance the purity and quality of the results, allow the preparation of larger quantities, let the user work with insufficient or primitive equipment, let the user skip past having to know more specific skills like “metallurgy”, and/or greatly reduce the chance of accidents. It’s still chemistry though. In a setting where characters strike like battleship guns, treat anti-tank missiles as minor annoyances, and can commonly take a one-magaton city-killing fusion bomb (according to d20 Future a mere 16d8, averaging 72 points of damage) to the face without breaking stride, Low Alchemy is fairly often convenient, but isn’t especially terrifying.

Quite a lot of Middle Alchemy can be done as Low Alchemy as well, but it makes items produced that way a lot less effective, a lot less pure, cost a lot more, and far more dangerous to make.

Given the extent of chemistry as a real science I’m not even going to try and list all the major categories of substances available – but here are a dozen that adventurers are fairly often interested in:

  • Clay and Ceramics cover pottery, bricks, tiles, cements, glazes, heat shields, synthetic bones, thermal and electrical insulators, crucibles, armor plating, catalytic surfaces, containment for various substances, terracotta, pipes, cutting edges, and many other products. Fast-setting and extra-strong varieties are reasonably often useful to adventurers.
  • Coloring Agents such as paints, dyes, enamels, bleaches, and lacquers, preserve materials, are often notable items of trade, and play a considerable role in Ritual Magic.
  • Corrosives include powerful acids and bases, as well as some substances which only affect specific targets – dissolving only steel, or only flesh. Batteries fall into this category too, as well as electroplating.
  • Distilling produces perfumes and alcohols, “cracks” crude oil into various products, separates out specific chemicals, and produces a wide variety of intoxicants.
  • Firearms, Gunpowder, and Explosives also fall under Low Alchemy IF – and ONLY IF – they normally work in the setting. If not, then it will take a much more powerful alchemist to concoct a version that will. If it’s high-energy reactions that are forbidden – such as in the Forgotten Realms where a fire god basically regards explosions as tasty candy and eats them before they can actually explode anything – you may need to go all the way up to Condensates and use the “Powdered Steam” trick. In any case, presumably I do not need to explain what guns are good for in RPG’s.
  • Gases include sleeping gas, flammable gases, nerve gases (poisons, but ones that call for a relatively small dose), mustard gas, liquified gases, anesthetics, and a wide variety of other unpleasantness.
  • Glues, Adhesives, and Sealants have a multitude of obvious uses, ranging from hull-sealing slap patches to surgery. Honestly, if an adventurer can’t think of some uses for a tube of superglue, they should go home.
  • Neutralizing agents start with compounds of clay and charcoal (which absorb and neutralize odors, water, and a wide variety of other chemical and alchemical agents), antitoxins, PH balancers to counter corrosives, water purification tablets, hygroscopic materials that suck water out of things, gas masks, and a wide variety of other chemical countermeasures.
  • Oils and Lubricants range from simple animal fats on through buckeyballs, near-frictionless, non-reactive, and “nonstick” surfaces.
  • Polymers and Plastics are used in armor, packaging, and thousands of other products. If you have a computer to look at this with, you should be familiar with a LOT of plastic products.
  • Smelting covers extracting metals and making alloys with various combinations of natural properties, glassblowing (including crafting vessels, lenses, and stained glass), making gemstones and crystals (both real and false), and even creating alloys that closely resemble precious metals without actually costing very much. If you want to be a counterfeiter you could do far worse.
  • Toxins and Medicines have problems. Poisons can be very effective in reality, but in d20 there are saving throws – and with realistic agents most of them won’t have a particularly high DC, d20 creatures often have no metabolism to be affected by realistic poisons, and are very often incredibly resistant even if they fail their saving throws. Real life medicines are only rarely up to the effectiveness of a first level spell and usually take far, FAR, too long to work. Personally, I would not waste my time. – unless you need to treat a LOT of people. After all, if it’s just three adventurers with a magical plague, you go with Cure Disease. If it’s city full of ordinary folks… a vaccine or drug which can be produced in massive batches is probably preferable.

Pathfinder’s Tinctures, Alchemical Reagents, and Power Components also fall into this category.

There are a lot more categories of Low Alchemy of course – but there isn’t a lot of point in going into them. These items may be occasionally useful, and they might even play a critical role in some special plan – but just how often will something like Pathfinder’s Paper Wall Paste (can be used to create a 5 x 5 sheet of paper that looks like a dirt wall on one round) really be that important? Why not just learn to cast Silent Image, which affects a much larger area and is at least ten thousand times as versatile?

That’s why Pathfinder added in the Alchemical Tinkering spell – which transforms one alchemical item into any other alchemical item – although given the vastly greater options for Alchemy on THIS list, that spell will only work on items of Low Alchemy (there might be higher level variants available though). That way clever players who come up with creative ideas for making some alchemical item actually useful can simply pull them out without loading themselves down with a half a ton of expensive alchemy that they will almost certainly never use.

Now there are doubtless sources with items that don’t fit into any of these categories properly out there – but there should be more than enough possibilities here for play, and this is Eclipse! if you find something really weird that you like in am obscure sourcebook… just ask your GM about including it. Odds are that it can be managed. Go ahead and post it here in the comments too; there’s no reason not to share.

Eclipse d20 – Alchemical Creation

There are several ways to handle d20 alchemy. While some of the general ideas were discussed HERE, there have been enough “how to” questions that it’s time for some specifics.

  • Eclipse includes a list of alchemical spells (on page 22) as one of it’s examples. So first up we have Alchemical Spellcasting. It’s effective – and not much of a departure from standard d20 magic – but it doesn’t quite suit the idea of an alchemist in his lab, with hundreds of his creations ready to hand. A dedicated Alchemical Caster could just buy the list multiple times since it’s fairly cheap, but it still won’t be THAT many spells. Obviously enough, given the power level of actual spells, this approach cannot allow that huge laboratory stockpile – or it would allow any alchemist with some time and a Handy Haversack to haul along hundreds of powerful alchemical items and thus be prepared for anything and everything.

If you’re going to allow that, then Alchemy needs some other restrictions to keep it from getting out of control and taking over the game. Thus…

  • Standard d20 Craft (Alchemy) restricts itself to “Low” Alchemy – things that are at least semi-plausible as slightly magical chemistry. That’s reasonable, but a bit boring – and there are plenty of lists out there for things to be made with that kind of alchemy. The major restriction here is that such items really aren’t powerful enough to be more than toys for high-level characters. Sure, there are some very high-end booster feats, but doubling or tripling the effect of a 3d6 alchemical fire attack or grenade doesn’t mean much when the spellcasters are throwing around Meteor Swarm, Gate, and Time Stop. If you really want this sort of thing… buy a trivial variant on “Double Damage” (“Double Effect With Standard Alchemical Items”, 6 CP), Specialized for Increased Effect (Triple Damage thanks to the usual doubling rules) / only works with personally-made alchemical items.

That might actually be worth taking at low levels if you’re making that sort of character. Sure, 6d6 worth of Alchemists Fire Damage to a single target that costs a bit still isn’t really a match for a basically-free Burning Hands (up to 5d4 to a modest area), but it is only the equivalent of a single Feat, and you don’t have to wait until high levels to take it. You might want to buy something like an Immunity to the cost of obtaining raw materials to make alchemical items too; (Common, Minor, Major, for 30 GP off the raw material costs of alchemical crafting, 6 CP). Throw in some Innate Enchantment (Handy Haversack, only for storing alchemical creations, and Launch Item, to let you “throw” them accurately at long range, Dexterous Fingers (Trickster Magi list) to speed up making alchemical items, perhaps a bonus to Craft/Alchemy, and an Inherent Alchemists Lab), plus a little Luck (Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / only for making Alchemical Items, 6 CP) and you have a worthwhile alchemists package for about 24 CP – available to a starting character or over about two levels worth of unallocated character points.

Honestly, 3.0, 3.5, Pathfinder I, and any number of supplements already have massive lists of potential alchemical items to make. I’ll throw in a few noncombat suggestions down in the alchemical item lists, but that will let you keep up for a while.

  • Rolemaster used Alchemy to make magic items; it had nothing to do with chemistry at all. On the other hand, Eclipse already offers quite a few different systems for making magical items. There’s really no need for another one system since a would be item-making “alchemist” is simply using a different set of special effects. For this approach I’d recommend the “Where Does He Get Those Wonderful Toys” package found HERE for the temporary stuff and a few of the usual item creation abilities with appropriate special effects. A character who wants to do this might consider the writeup for the Philosophers Stone, found on this list of sample relics.
  • The Gadgetry Skill (probably specialized in Alchemy) lets you make things like “Oil Of Etheralness” – a substance oil with many possible uses. You might dip arrowheads in it to let you shoot through walls and armor, or coat yourself in it to become ethereal, or apply it to a lock to bypass it, or anoint your eyes to see into the ethereal plane, or apply it to armor or a weapon to temporarily give it the “Ghost Touch” property, or use it to reach inside a locked box and steal the contents without disturbing the box. Go ahead, reduce a Lodestone to a dozen pinches of “Magnetic Essence” and play Magneto Junior for a little bit. The joy of Gadgetry is that you don’t necessarily have to define exactly what whatever it is you’ve made actually does until you use it -and you don’t really need to be consistent between uses. If you’ve made a rocket-launching wristband, you can use them to attack, signal, create diversions, to carry ropes aloft, and for many other purposes.
  • Glowstone Alchemy (Part I and Part II), on the site, is basically a version of “alchemy” / engineering / enchantment that relies on some incredibly dangerous and toxic substance which is a source of mighty and terrible energies. While this generally relies on the availability of such a substance, it can reasonably represent working with intensely toxic radioactive substances, the Weird West’s Spirit-Imbued “Ghost Rock”, older edition’s Red Steel, the Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant’s “Earthblood” (whatever that is), “Dust” from the His Dark Materials trilogy, the Malfean Vitriol of Exalted, Hellfire, the warped materials that have been touched by Lovecraftian Outer Gods, the Residue of Banished Ghosts, and many other outrageous power sources.

This is usually just an Occult Skill – essentially another version of Gadgetry where the Devices are much more powerful than usual because working with said power source is outrageously dangerous and because the compounds and devices themselves come with hideous downsides and are horribly toxic – greatly limiting how many such items any given character can use and live (at least without turning into a radioactive mutated horror). The exact options may vary, but the Glowstone Alchemy lists (mostly in Part II) should give you the general idea.

For some versions of Alchemy – those with the notion that the “True Goal” of the Alchemist is the purification, transformation, and enhancement of the mind and spirit – you’re probably best off using Mystic Artist. For a somewhat tongue-in-cheek version of this style that I helped someone write up for their character (or was it for someone else’s character?), here we have Mystic Bartending.

  • Mystic Artist, Specialized for Increased Effect (Double the base skill for power-purchasing purposes) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / You must pour your targets a drink, and they must drink it, rather like taking a potion (4 CP). Echoes, Specialized and Corrupted / negates the effects of the initial use of the ability, all three rounds must be expended at once (2 CP).

The result is that you can serve people drinks with various mystical effects, all of which can be triggered as a free action within the next two weeks and will have their effects last for three minutes or until exhausted, whichever is shorter. If not triggered within two weeks the effects are lost – and you’ll just have to come back to the bar for some more drinks. Given that the drinks are built from a fairly limited set of mystic artist effects, similar effects do not stack, but other bits do.

Mystic Bartending School of the Mystic Arts: Effective Skill / Ability Learned:

  • 3+: Drunken Enthusiasm (Emotion, 3). A single draught of your beverages can cause powerful emotions for all who partake.
  • 4+: Sobering Draught (Block, 3). Your beverages can counteract of all sorts of intoxicants for all who partake.
  • 5+ Bartenders Counsel (Fascinate, 3): You may cause your targets to drink massively, at Skill 6+ you can whisper Suggestions to them, albeit only one at a time. .
  • 6+: The Hard Stuff Liquor (Hold Audience). Your beverages can keep all the people you serve fascinated and drinking for hours.
  • 9+: Mead Of The Einherjar (Greatness, 9): Grants those who partake (up to Level/3 targets) 1d10 temporary hit points, +1 to their BAB, Saves, and AC, and 6 CP worth of temporary abilities – although the ability must be set in advance and be the same for everyone partaking in this particular batch (Perhaps Fire Resistance 30, or Grant of Aid with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized in healing hit points – for a base of 5d8+25 healing).
  • 12+: Drunken Style (Excellence, 12). Grants a single target two +4 Morale Bonuses, these can be applied to attributes, to Saves (all of them), to AC, to Attacks, or to Damage – although, once again, what the boosts are applied to must be determined with the drink is served.
  • 15+: Freyja’s Wine (Amplify, 9). Grant a +2 Caster Level bonus to all who partake of the wine. This does not add to spells known, but does apply to level-based spell effects, caster level checks, and similar items.
  • 18+: Mead Of Suttungr (Harmonize, 12): You may imbue a single draught with any two of your effects, with the number of targets to be affected being limited by the most restrictive effect.
  • 21+: Spirits Of Dawn (Serenity, 18): Your drinks count as a nights rest and refresh uses-per-day abilities. This can be served to an entire party, but only functions once per week.
  • 24+: Drunken Mastery (Mass Greatness, 15): As per Divine Mead, but for up to (Cha Mod + Level) targets.
  • 30+: Transcendent Ale (Mass Excellence, 18): As per Drunken Style but for up to (Level/2 + Cha Mod) targets.
  • 36+: Draught Of Valhalla (Heroism, Skill 30): Doubles the effects of Divine Mead, but only for a single target. Still, for example, a draught that will let someone heal (13+ Level/3) * (d8+5) damage can be quite useful.
  • 48+: Valhalla’s Keg (Mass Heroism, 36): As per Draught Of Valhalla, but affects up to (Level/2 + Cha Mod) targets.
  • 60+: Cauldron Of Aegir (Double, 48): Double any one aspect of any lesser ability whenever you use it.

For some possible drinks, consider…

  • Mead Of Odin (Harmonize – Emotion and Serenity, 21+): The imbiber may glimpse the great feasting hall of Valhalla, and be revived as the spirits of the dead are there revived to battle!
    • Acts as a nights rest and refreshes uses-per-day abilities (only once per real week though). User gains Immunity to Fear and a +5 Morale Bonus to Hit and Damage for the duration.
  • Draught Of Völuspá (Harmonize – Greatness and Amplify, 18+ for a single target, 24+ for groups): Once during the next two weeks the imbiber may hear the voices of the spirits speaking, and channel their power into his or her magic.
    • Provides +2 Caster Levels, 1d10 + Con Mod temporary hit points, +1 to BAB, Saves, and AC, and+7 Bonus Standard Actions for Spellcasting only (maximum of one per round, not compatible with other reflex actions) (Reflex Training (extra actions variant) with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized in Spellcasting only).
  • Wine of the Valkyries (Harmonize – Greatness and Excellence, 18+ for a single target, 30+ to affect groups): The user hears the voice of the Valkyrie, chanting runes of battle and inspiring him or her to even greater heroic deeds!
    • Provides +1d10 + Con Mod temporary hit points, +1 to BAB, Saves, and AC, user heals (1d8+5) damage up to once per round as needed six times during the duration (Greant of Aid with Bonus Uses, Specialized in Hit Point only), user gains a +4 Morale Bonus on Saving Throws, and a +4 Morale Bonus (and +2 Temporary HP per Hit Die, +2 Fortitude, Etc) to Constitution.
  • Winterfire Brandy (Harmonize – Greatness and Excellence, 18+ for a single target, 30+ to affect groups): In freezing cold, ice may be skimmed from freezing ferments until only the purest essence remains, a draught of burning fire.
    • Provides +1d10 + Con Mod temporary hit points, +1 to BAB, Saves, and AC, and 3d6 Mana with the Unskilled Magic Option, Specialized and Corrupted / only for Unskilled Fire Magic, DR 4/- and Energy Resistance (All) 4.

Admittedly those are fairly high-skill drinks, but Mystic Artist is actually one of the most overpowered abilities in the system – capable of providing a wide variety of powers at relatively small expense. The problem is, of course, that the user has to define the combinations of abilities to be used, specify their individual effects, and set them up – making it quite complicated to use. Secondarily, the fact that it tends to provide party-level boosts means that it’s perceived as a support power, rather than a personal power – and support powers tend to be cheap in any case.

  • Modern thought sometimes treats Alchemy as just another branch of Ritual Magic – it’s just that your rituals mostly involve making complicated glassware, mixing stuff, distilling it, reducing it to powder, subjecting it to days of slow heat, and using many other elaborate procedures. Your magic circles are mostly engraved on your equipment, you meditate on philosophical mysteries rather than invoking mystical beings, and so on. Your effects, of course, come in the form of potions, powders, oils, incense, alchemical beasts, and materials with strange properties – most of which eventually fail, although you can raise the ritual DC to let you store them longer.

As usual, rituals which are repeated over and over again tend to set their patterns in the structure of magic. They become easier. Mystic symbols and circles can be drawn in paint or chalk rather than being inlaid in mystically-significant metals. Complex sigils are simplified, unpronounceable names are abbreviated and given vowels, and – eventually – they turn into common rituals or even into near-immediate spells. In the end… they may not even be recognized as magic at all. Quite a few “folk remedies” and even technological processes fall into this category – their channels worn so deep into reality that the necessary elements are no longer even recognizable as parts of a ritual. Repetition has power. In d20, all those urban legends that saying a creatures name three, or seven, or thirteen, or whatever, times will cause it to appear? Those are well-worn rituals, reduced to such a simple act that any idiot can do it.

This variant is quite effective – but I find it kind of disappointing. Making Alchemy just another branch of ritual magic – entirely divorced from chemistry – just seems to take a lot of the fun out of it. Moreover, Ritual Magic is intentionally designed to be unreasonably difficult, otherwise it all too easily becomes a universal solution – and that means that your master alchemist may wind up not using much alchemy because it takes far too long.

  • A Ceremonial Magic version of Ritual Magic works for minor alchemical items, and is fairly classical, but is pretty inconsequential unless you’re playing a low-magic level-limited game. This system wasn’t even written for d20, but would work just fine for it with a few minor terminology changes.
  • “Full Metal Alchemist” style “Alchemy” is available through the Create Item / Transmutation line of abilities – and, in fact, Edward Elric is among the sample characters – but this kind of “alchemy” has little or nothing to do with classical alchemy outside of a few words like “transmutation”. Real world would-be alchemists never tried to repair radios or suddenly create arrays of big guns using magical circles. They were people puttering around in laboratories and looking for funding, not adventurous near-superheroes.

Of course, if you actually want to be a real-world alchemist, you want a selection of craft skills (for making alloys, faking precious metals and gems, compounding dubious medicines, and even a bit of genuine chemistry), a bit of basic medical knowledge, some knowledge of herbalism, and a good deal of skill at talking people into supporting your “research” and spinning negative results into something positive. If you’re consciously conning people some Sleight Of Hand will come in handy as well. In-game this isn’t “Alchemy”. It’s just a con artist specialization.

  • If you want to create a cross between a potion-maker and a mad bomber, there’s the Pathfinder Alchemist – but honestly, they don’t really have much to do with alchemy either.
  • You could also pull some pieces from the first “Ninja” build over HERE – simply selecting the alchemically-related options for their Tricks. In fact, the “Tricks”may be all you need.
  • If you just want to make a wool sweater that acts like chainmail or something… Craft Appearances isn’t even an Occult Skill: it’s something that anyone in a magical world can learn to use. It can be used to make stuff look different.

Craft (Appearances): Each point of this skill total allows the user to select a piece of personal equipment and describe it’s appearance as they wish. This has no mechanical effect on the item however. An additional +2 points will, however, cause an items encumbrance to match its appearance OR allow the user to disguise a larger item, such as a vehicle or structure.

If you REALLY want your base to look like a crumbling ruin, or decorate for Halloween, go right ahead. This doesn’t really cost anything outside of your skill investment since appearances have no cost.

Then there’s High Alchemy, sometimes known as Philosophy. This is the stuff where you cheat on chemistry and physics – sometimes quite outrageously – with Reality Editing, Magic, Immunities, or Skill Stunts. It’s a subtle branch of magic, dressed up with a lot of chemistry and some physics – but it is still a branch of magic. For conveniences sake, I’ve split up the reputed products of “Alchemy” into four basic levels – Low, Middle, High, and Grandiose – and a variety of subcategories.

  • Doing it with Skill Stunts requires a very high skill (or some method of boosting your alchemy skill checks beyond all reason, such as Luck with Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / only for Skill Checks, only for Alchemy, 12 CP. This will let you “Take 60” when you need to), Skill Focus (+1 or better, 2+ CP), Skill Stunts (6 CP), and some Mana and (likely) Rite Of Chi to power them – although it can be Specialized and Corrupted to make it pretty cheap. If you want to pull get to the level where you can do things like manipulate the lifecycle of stars, create endless sources of magical elixirs, and call on cosmic forces, you will want Epic Skill Stunts (6 CP) and a lot of cash with which to develop epic level effects. The time-reducing effect might be a good idea as well. The GM will have to set the DC of making various alchemical devices and improvements thereof.
  • You can also do it without stunts by just taking Immunity to the normal limits of the skill – although you will need to once again attain those absurd skill checks, so the luck purchase may still be in order. That’s (Uncommon / Major), with a Major Immunity allowing for easier Low Alchemy, Great Immunity allowing for Middle Alchemy, Epic Immunity covering High Alchemy, and Legendary Immunity covering Grandiose Alchemy. At a cost of 6/12/18/24 CP. That’s expensive. Unless you plan on using a particular skill a LOT, Stunts is probably a better choice.
  • Access to suitable spells or powers – perhaps a Greater Invocation (Per The Practical Enchanter) of Alchemical Manipulation or Alchemical Rune Magic or some appropriately specialized Witchcraft or some such – is yet another way to cheat. As a rule, Low Alchemy doesn’t require such things, although effects equivalent to Cantrips or Level One Spells will make it much safer, faster, and easier. Middle Alchemy calls for effects of Level Three or below, High Alchemy calls for effects of Level Six or below, and Grandiose Alchemy often calls for effects of up to Level Nine. This tends to be the most expensive option, but it offers access to a variety of quick magic as well as handy effects like Alchemic Mist (See Haagenti, the Infernal Alchemist).
  • Reality Editing is probably the most straightforward method. For this you’ll want Mana with Reality Editing, Specialized for Increased Effect (the products it is used to produce are stable for lengthy periods) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / Only for Reality Editing, only for Alchemical Manipulations, must have purchased at least 1d6 per level of reality manipulation (4 CP per d6 of Mana, you’ll want at least three or four dice eventually, for about 16 CP). You’ll also want Rite of Chi with +8 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only to restore the “Alchemy Pool” above, requires at least half an hour of some chosen type of intellectual effort per die recovered (the form the players have most commonly encountered so far requires reading new books and contemplating the new knowledge therein, 6 CP), requires an appropriate setting – a sitting room and supply of scholarly texts, a laboratory, a school, etc. .

Those are all relatively cheap simply because Alchemy is generally fairly slow – and so making it effective in combat is a job for foresight, stockpiling, and carrying around loads of vials, flasks, and pouches full of exotic substances. That’s a lot of trouble for the player, uses up much of their downtime, and can be fairly readily taken away. Ergo buying alchemical talents has to be a relatively modest investment of character-building resources, or no one will bother.

Next up; the alchemical products list.


Eclipse d20 – Tricorder Combat And The Valio Arts

And next up, it’s a few more of the odder Martial Arts that have come up:

Tricorder Combat

A good deal of Star Trek technology operates on the Informational Level – where things like Space, Time, and Structure are merely a bunch of values. That’s why the Star Trek Warp Drive only requires a great deal of energy rather than the mass-energy of major planets, how Transporters can split people into good and evil versions, how the Holodeck can create matter, and how Tricorders can extract all kinds of information about creatures, objects, and areas without all kinds of intrusive and damaging probing. They all work at least partially on the informational level.

Tricorders (and larger starship sensor arrays) in particular are computers as well as scanning systems. And even on the informational level… the Observer interacts with the things Observed. That doesn’t usually mean much on the macroscopic level – but information is always a set of quantum values.

Tricorders act to pull truly alien creatures and forces – things from other dimensions with their own natural laws – into a common frame of reference. They do not FIND mysterious weaknesses that no one else has found in eons. Truly talented tricorder operators impose their own ideas onto the targets informational structure. They CREATE those weaknesses. They make the incomprehensible mundane. They impose their technobabble on the madness beyond the edge of reality, and make it so. In their own way… Tricorders and Ships Sensors are more destructive weapons than mere Phasers and Photon Torpedoes; they can destroy what something WAS rather than just blowing it up.

Tricorder Combat (Cha Based, Optionally Wis Based):

Spock stared hard at his tricorder, as if by sheer will he might force it to tell him the answer to his questions.

-Janet Kagan, Uhura’s Song

The fine art of Tricorder “Combat” is to maintain your own reality while overwriting the targets – rather than letting IT influence yours. A Tricorder is a powerful informational weapon – generally giving the user a substantial advantage unless he or she is up against a powerful informational creature such as “Q”. or the Star Trek universes various other semi-omnipotent informational beings. A highly skilled operator can, however, improve on that advantage even further, wielding their scanning device with exceptional skill.

Even if it looks like they’re doing nothing but fiddling with knobs while their Tricorder makes warbling noises.

  • Requires: Proficiency in Information Combat, a Tricorder or Ships Sensor Bank, Mana 4+, Engineering (Star Trek) 6+.
  • Basic Techniques: Power 3, Toughness (Informational) 4, Defenses (Informational) 2, Attack 3.
  • Advanced Techniques: Prone Combat, Rapid Shot, Reflex Training with +4 Bonus Uses (Seven/Day total) (Specialized in using the Tricorder. Can either make an extra informational attack or have the Tricorder out and scanning an event whether or not there is time to do so), and Vulcan Lore (Augmented Bonus: Adds (Cha Mod) to (Int Mod) for Int-Based Skill Purposes, Specialized for Double Effect / only applies to Knowledge Skill Checks).
  • Occult Techniques: Emergency Power Reserve (Inner Strength I and II), Charging Mode (Rite of Chi, (Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, Corrupted for Increased Effect (Can be used to restore Emergency Power / Inner Strength), Specialized for Reduced Cost / Only to restore Emergency Power Reserve), and Reconstructive Imaging (Healing Hand, Specialized for Increased Effect / Requires several minutes, but can also be used to repair items and informational damage, requires minor physical manipulation as well – the Tricorder “just tells you just what to do to fix things”),

OK, I already used the “restore inner strength” trick in another style – but it fits I think.

Tricorder Combat is pretty unreasonable. After all, you could potentially wind up with two opponents staring at little boxes instead of each other while they try to technobabble each other into defeat.

Well, to be honest, that does kind of sound like Star Trek. I suppose that – if you already have a Star Trek Engineer or Scientific type running around bending the universe with technobabble, they might as well have a way to be good with it. After all, this is the universe where a starship that had been sucked into a black hole escaped because the sensor system operator found a “crack in the event horizon”. Given that, I really can’t say that much of ANYTHING is unreasonable in a Star Trek universe.

“That’s not how this works! That’s not how ANY of this works!” – Actual Scientists and Engineers.

“Who Cares?” – Scotty

The Valio Arts (Dex Based):

Both the Force and the Codex give their practitioners a massive edge in combat. The physical enhancements are bad enough, but both abilities offer forms of combat precognition – one by sensing the flow of events and decisions, one by surveying “nearby” timelines that happen to be a few moments ahead. That can make it near-impossible for a normal fighter to stand up to even a weak wielder of either power. Those with the right Force or Codex Monotalents and certain nonhumans might hone their strength, speed, and precision to the point where even knowing that they are going to do is of little help in stopping them, but appropriate Monotalents are rare – and such dedication coupled with inhuman potential is even rarer.

That, of course, was unacceptable to bodyguards and military organizations across the galaxy.

But there is a counter to Precognition that’s available to ordinary folk.

Chaos. And the brain is a system capable of amplifying Chaos up from the quantum level. What use precognition when the next move might be any of a thousand maneuvers and has yet to be determined? What use telepathy when even the target has no plan and is running entirely on muscle memory and random impulses?

The Valio Arts do not use predictable kata, or seek the optimum maneuver to strike at a foe, or drill a small selection of maneuvers to perfection – for in the face of foresight, such things are only traps. The Arts focus on having a wide variety of reasonably-appropriate maneuvers and trying to make the selection of any specific maneuver truly random.

It works to some extent. It is pretty good at frustrating precognitive fighters – but that ability comes at a price. That price is usually hidden by the fact that only the fiercest, and most dedicated, fighters bother to study an art so specialized and intense – but the Valio Arts aren’t actually all that good against normal fighters, who don’t find fighting without precognition at all disadvantageous and who normally have well-practiced and fairly well optimized routines for attack and defense.

And all of those routines are much more polished than any of the hundred moves a Valio fighter might use. The Valio Arts are still much better than fighting untrained, but a serious fighter will study other forms as well.

  • Requires: Natural Weapons (1d4 minimum, whether inherent or by training), BAB 4+, at least one Martial Weapon Proficency (Melee), and proficiency with Light Armor or better.
  • Basic Techniques: Defenses 2, Power 2, Attack 2. Synergy/+2 to rolls involving a knowledge of the Force or Codex.
    Specialized Basic Techniques: Double Effect/Only versus Force and Codex Users: Defenses 1, Attack 1, Toughness 2.
  • Advanced and Master Techniques: Weapon Kata (Any Favored), Mind Like Moon, Combat Reflexes, and Mind Of Chaos (Immunity / Psychic and Magical Combat Senses, Opponent Intuition Bonuses, and Similar – Uncommon, Minor, Major (3 CP), plus +1 BAB Specialized / Only versus Force and Codex Users (3 CP),
  • Occult Techniques (Variant): While the Valio Arts offer no actual Occult Techniques, the immense variety of moves does allow users to add additional instances of Weapon Kata in lieu of occult techniques.

The Valio Arts are very useful against any fighter who relies extensively on occult combat senses at middling levels, and are nicely versatile at high levels where they work with many different weapons – but they never offer the raw power, or occult techniques, of many other arts. They’re still pretty good in Star Wars, where opponents using the Force or Codex are fairly common, where even elite troops are rarely particularly good (the old “Stormtroopers cannot hit the broad side of a barn” problem), and where only notable single figures are important in combat.

Overall, serious d20 combatants will probably want several more specialized styles to use, but high-level dabblers might well find something like the Valio Arts useful – at least if they focus their techniques against something that comes up more often than “Force and/or Codex users”.

Eclipse d20 – Building Occultists

“Occult” means “Hidden”. An Occultist… studies that which is hidden. His or her specialty is lost tomes, unpronounceable names, secret rituals performed under cover of night, lost shrines and crypts, hidden locations, and cultures long-vanished. They’re at their best in “secret supernatural” worlds, That’s hard to maintain in modern settings; camera cell phones alone make “hiding the truth” a lot more complicated and usually call for supercomputers or magic that somehow monitors the entire internet and censors it as well as plentiful memory erasure – but it’s a lot easier in more classical settings.

They also don’t fit in with high magic settings. If magic makes the trains run, or there’s a spellcasting priest in every temple, or there’s an official court wizard who can fly and hurl bolts of lightning, or talented kids can sign up for magic classes… then there isn’t much of a place for lost mystic secrets. Why bother researching a translation for an ancient incantation from the wall of a pyramid when you can go down to a professional spell designer and commission a modern version of the incantation complete with four thousand years worth of technical improvements?

That’s why superhero worlds that include actual Occultists tend to relegate them to their own little mystical underworlds. Mountain-Smashing Woman and Fusionman (the embodiment of the “Solar Phoenix” / C-N-O fusion cycle) don’t generally do crossovers with the gangster-hunting Shadow Weaver and Presbyter John the Exorcist.

A classical occultist doesn’t have much magic of his or her own – and certainly doesn’t have the neatly systematic magic you usually find in role-playing games and a lot of movies and television programs (albeit not all of them). They’re usually extremely knowledgeable, capable of a few personal tricks (including basic divinations and occasional knacks) and of rituals (especially summonings and exorcisms), but most of their powers are “Found” magic. Stuff that they have picked up, and most of which will soon run out when used.

Perhaps for this mission they wield a rare talisman discovered in a fey forest, a genuine Hand Of Glory found in a curiosity shop, an invocation of Anubis (very dangerous and requiring an escalating offering each time it is used), a Dragon’s Fang, a Wand of Thunder cut from a thousand-year oak during a mighty storm during a specific celestial conjunction, three one-use spells granted by some dread power of the netherworld, and a favor owed by an ancient lich.

Now several of those things might be very multipurpose, or good for several uses – but all too soon, their powers will be used up.

Really lucky Occultists may have a device or two that either can be recharged or has a daily / weekly / whatever allotment of uses – things which are likely to become a cornerstone of their activities across their careers – but for the most part everything beyond their minor personal powers is likely to be traded out for each mission. Given their limited occult arsenal, quite a few of them will also carry a blade, crossbow, or gun and wear some basic low-profile armor.

Of course, literary, movie, graphic novel, or television series occultists have a major advantage. They always seem to have stuff that fits the plot. If they’re going up against demons they will have some holy stuff, and it it’s werewolves there will no sign of holy stuff, but there will doubtless be a magical silver blades, warding spells, and shapeshifting-related magics.

Now, that could just mean that they have a LOT of magic and only use the few items that fit the plot – but if you give a player character a large stockpile… they will either find some way to use every bit of it (no matter how obscure part of it is) or they will simply stock up on generically useful magic. If you only let them have a little… they will still stock up on the most generically useful stuff they can for fear of being stuck with an inappropriate stockpile.

  • If they are good at scouting or planning they may be able to stock up on something appropriate, but a lot of groups just don’t do much of that.
  • If the game master gets directly involved in the selection – usually in the role of some god or mystical mentor – he or she can make sure that the selection is nicely relevant. In fact, it can even be turned into clues and foreshadowing. This is likely the best method, and I’ve had a lot of fun with it – but it IS a lot of trouble and can be pretty tricky to pull off if the players head off in some unexpected direction.
  • The easiest method is for the Occultist to use the Occult Skill “Foresight” – using it to pick out appropriate items on the fly.

So lets make some suitable Occult Powers. First up, a few basics:

Psychic Magic (9 CP):

Witchcraft II (Three Basic Abilities) with +2d6 Mana as +6d6 Power, Path of Water/Dismissal, Path of Air/The Sight, and Path of Light/Divination. All Specialized for Reduced Cost / requires interruptable gestures, incantations, and access to various components (a spell component pauch will do), user becomes a magnet for spirits and weird occult events, user is mystically marked by the powers he or she serves and will be preferentially targeted by their enemies (21 CP). Occultists will normally have a Pact of Service and a Vow (-12 CP), for a net cost of (9 CP).

Occultists are – as is expected for any Witchcraft-based character – fairly impressive to start with. they know (or can find out), all kinds of things, have several useful tricks (depending on which basic Witchcraft abilities they take), and have a fair chance of getting rid of extradimensional pests. What they don’t have is a lot of raw power. They’re mystic investigators, not war-mages.

Ritual Magic (6 CP).

This one is pretty obvious. Rituals – magic circles, strange reagents, suspicious candles, bubbling cauldrons, sacrifices, mystical places and locations, and calling upon outre powers with unpronounceable names – are a major occult tool. Rituals are powerful and versatile, but the ones with worthwhile* effects tend to call for difficult-to-get components, very awkward times and places, and far too much time – which is why you can buy the entire branch of magic so cheap. On the other hand, Occultists tend to be investigators. They don’t stand in the opening gates of hell and do battle with the emerging dark horde; they arrive three days early and get to work on a ritual designed to keep those gates from opening in the first place.

*To adventurers. Minor rituals to bless gardens, keep bugs out of the stored food, keep an eye on babies, call in the livestock, and so on are quick and easy – but adventurers rarely care.

Spirit Magic (6 CP):

Double Enthusiast, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (6 Floating CP) / Only for Favors (Cha Mod + 3 version, either two sets of minor favors or one of major favors), can only be changed or renewed in between adventures, must be cleared with the GM (6 CP).

Occultists constantly trade services and favors. They run small errands for various powers – perhaps stopping a land developer from bulldozing an ancient altar, renewing fading ancient seals, supporting causes favored by various powers, and so on. They spend work and time and older occult favors to bring in a continuous supply of new ones. Thus a genuine Occultist can start off each adventure (or major segment thereof) with a selection of mundane and supernatural favors to call on. Of course, the acceptability of any given request is up to the game master – but at least this is a lot quicker than rituals.

Hidden Lore (3 CP):

Access to an Occult Skill (3 CP). Personally, I’d suggest one of:

  • Foresight (allowing the user to make sure that he or she has the RIGHT favors and other preparations):
  • Gadgetry (allowing the user to have a pouch full of prepared alchemical, occult, or other devices according to his or her personal style. What is that Hand Of Glory capable of? Lots of stuff, depending on how you use it), or
  • Secrets (Granting the user truly impressive secret knowledge). Higher level occultists will probably want all three, but there’s only so much you can do at low levels.

That’s really all you need for a basic occultist for a mere 24 CP. That’s a pretty powerful package at low levels, but becomes considerably less impressive at higher levels – and while you can build on it, the lack of focus hurts. Moreover, if you want to stick with the theme… you’ll be taking individual powers, and fairly diverse ones at that, rather than anything coherent. Of course, that’s not necessarily useless – a clever character with a wide variety of minor powers can be quite effective – but you will have a hard time competing in a kick-in-the-door style game when the wizards and clerics start throwing around high-level magic. Of course, you will still have plenty of points left for other abilities.

If you really want to stick to the theme, you’ll want things like:

Spellforging (6 CP):

Improved Superior Power Words, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost (6 CP) / Cannot be refilled during an adventure, cannot store spells more than one level above what the user could normally cast (Level / 2, Rounded Up), any expensive components must be either supplied or the spell must be taken at a higher level to buy them off, spells are stored in physical talismans.

Occultists can “prepare” a limited number of spells (A total number of spell levels equal to their Constitution) via summoning entities to grant them or constructing them with rituals and storing them in various trinkets. While they can’t have very many such spell-constructs ready at any one time (there are stability issues or something) they can store a reasonable amount of power – but must use it with great caution, since their stock of spells is anything but easy to renew.

Knight Of (Nexus) (6 CP)

The raw forces of elemental magic flow throughout the world, waxing and waning, ebbing and flowing with the years, the seasons, and the stars, forming pools and rivers of power, nodes, ley lines, and the threads of fate, the bonds between places and worlds. But where a name is given… that place is set apart. A knot is tied in the threads of fate. There is identity, a place gains a life and spirit of it’s own. Camelot, Neverland, Gotham… the order of the Name laid over the Chaos of the world.

Sometimes a mere mortal bonds with that power, coaxes it into expression, becomes a voice and embodiment of ancient powers. And for a time, there shall be greatness.

  • Mystic Link with Communications and Power Link, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / links you to a specific, relatively small, location, does not interact with any further mystic links you may buy rather than stacking as Mystic Link upgrades usually do, communications only occurs in GM-specified visions and vague feelings, user must spend a good deal of time at the linked location, preferably being a resident of the place, user is obligated to defend the location (3 CP).
  • Leadership with Exotic Followers, Specialized and Corrupted / only one follower (a Ward Major at one-third your level / hit dice), follower (obviously) never accompanies you anywhere (3 CP).

With this, an Occultist awakens the spirit of a place that he or she has bonded with – giving that place an occult significance and defenses of its own in the form of a Ward Major and becoming a representative and guardian of that place, able to tap into whatever personal powers the Ward bestows remotely. Indeed, that power can be shared; other Knights will need only the first (3 CP) link to gain those powers as well – at least as long as they’re suited to the task.

Magical Knack (6 CP):

Shaping, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (L1 Effects) / Only for effects related to a very specific, narrow, field, requires some freedom to gesture and/or incant, only to duplicate a very limited list of first level spells unless further augmented.

This offers unlimited access to a series of specific tricks. Someone with a Fire Knack might be able to always have a lit cigarette, cause a match or lighter to flare up into a brilliant light whenever he or she wants (Blinding Flash or Light), be able to flick them at targets and set them on fire (as per Produce Flame), be able to exhale great clouds of smoke (Obscuring Mist), turn a cigarette into a wave of flame (Burning Hands), set fiery symbols burning on the ground or in the air, and perhaps a few more tricks – but that’s pretty much it. Another user might have a knack with Visual Illusions (perhaps Disguise Self, Silent Image, Blend, Shadow Trap, and Vanish), or Wind Magic, or Monster Summoning, or Alchemical Effects.

A few Occultists will expand on this – taking 1d6 Mana with Spell Enhancement, Rite of Chi, and +4 Bonus Uses on Rite of Chi, all Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost (+6 CP) / only for use with a specific Magical Knack, Mana may only be regained given a few moments to rest. This will allow him or her to use a bigger Knack effect a few times in any given fight – perhaps upgrading that burning cigarette into a full-scale Fireball, or even throwing one down to produce a Wall of Fire.

Honestly, between that and the (pretty much) required secondary abilities – Adept II, various investigative and knowledge skills, more Occult Skills, a nice high Will Save, a little Luck, enough hit points to take a few hits from eldritch horrors, some Contacts, and the usual character-building basics, you should be able to fill up a number of levels quite handily.

Beyond that… take a Spirit Fetch companion, or learn some additional Witchcraft, or take more Occult Skills, or pick up some of the Lesser Paths (Part I and Part II) – or just be a Rogue or Ranger type who dabbles. There is nothing wrong with that, and it will generally be a lot easier for the game master to deal with than a high-level full spellcaster. After all, despite characters like John Constantine, a classical occultist is someone who’s learned a lot of lore and a little magic, and who likely has a few toys – but who relies on investigation, preparation, and cunning not by preference, but because they simply do not have a lot of raw power to work with.

Eclipse d20 and Exotic Martial Arts

Today it’s an offline question.

What are the limits of Eclipse’s Martial Arts? The rules list a specific set of Feats and Abilities that can be used to build a style – but some of the styles you’ve posted include things that aren’t on the list. Are there limits or not?

Well… Eclipse specifically allows variants, so the basic answer to all of these questions is pretty much “whatever the game master will let you get away with”.

So yes, depending on the nature of the game and the generosity of the game master, Eclipse Martial Arts can range from fairly realistic packages of combat training on up through minor schools of magic in themselves – just as they do in martial arts movies and comic books. After all, the continuum there ranges from “Walker Texas Ranger” and “Rumble In The Bronx” on up through “Kung Fu Hustle” and “Journey To The West”.

So how about a few more esoteric styles? I’ll make them Charisma based, just for fun.

First up, it’s a style for a minor superhero focused on positive-energy channeling and light magic:

Midnight Sun Style (Cha):

Most who channel positive energy, the searing radiance of the light, do so only in passing. Few indeed are those who seek to become one with the light, to infuse their very flesh with the inward fire of the light and its purifying radiance. Those few have chosen to bear the light into the darkness where none expect it.

The Midnight Sun Style focuses on subtly enhancing the user’s body and on filling it with sacred power. As such, it is very much an inward, “soft”, style like Tai Chi, more concerned with meditative states and the flow of the user’s inner power than with direct martial maneuvers.

  • Requires: Ability to Channel Positive Energy at least five times per day and at least +2 Intensity.
  • Basic Abilities:
    • Tempering The Flesh (Toughness 4)
    • Radiant Strike (Power 1)
    • Sacred Fist (Attack 1, Specialized for Increased Effect (The user’s blows are considered Holy) / only versus creatures of darkness or negative energy, not against creatures that simply happen to be evil)
    • Hand Of Light (Strike).
    • The Inner Eye (Synergy 4: Athletics, Insight, Perception, and Stealth).
  • Advanced Techniques:
    • The Illumination Of The Entire Earth (Mind Like Moon).
    • The Sun Within (Channeling/Sacred Hand; the user no longer need a holy symbol to use Channeling)
    • Wheel Of Light (A spiral of radiance spins out to strike down the foe / Whirlwind Attack).
    • Armed With Light (Channeling/Glorious Touch, only to boost unarmed attacks and personal defenses).
  • Occult Techniques:
    • Light Eternal (Inner Strength)
    • Speed Of Thought (Vanishing Technique)
    • Radiant Touch (Healing Hand)
    • Swallow The Sun (Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, Corrupted for Increased Effect (Can be used to restore Inner Strength), Specialized for Reduced Cost / Only to restore inner strength).

This art stretches things a bit. Still, while stuffing Channeling feats into a martial art is questionable, Sacred Hand is more of a style thing anyway (after all, you could put a holy symbol on a ring or get one as a tattoo or buy one for a tiny fraction of a point worth of Innate Enchantmant) and Glorious Touch is a good deal less useful when you can’t readily build on it – as well as being a way for a “sacred style” martial artist to empower himself with enough holy energy to actually hit various supernatural creatures effectively. Just recite the proper prayer or mantra and suddenly you can effectively punch out weird mystical beings – at least if you picked the right enhancement(s) to give yourself. Bad luck if you didn’t.

Now “Swallow The Sun” is a bit harder to justify, but most serious martial artists will pick it – or some similar ability – up in any case, and saving 3 CP after investing in a style on up through the Occult Techniques isn’t a particularly big deal, especially since “bare-fisted brawler with the supernatural” really isn’t a very well optimized career path to begin with. Overall, this is relatively reasonable for a martial art focused on developing an ability that doesn’t actually exist in reality. I wouldn’t expect a draconic martial art focusing on enhancing their breath weapons to restrict itself to the usual list of physical maneuvers either.

Overall, this one is entirely suitable for the setting – and shouldn’t be a problem for anything short of really low magic settings; it’s not too hard to come by magic weapons in most basic settings anyway.

Demon Fiddler Style (Cha):

“I guess you didn’t know it but I’m a fiddle player too
And if you’d care to take a dare, I’ll make a bet with you
Now you play a pretty good fiddle, boy
But give the devil his due
I’ll bet a fiddle of gold against your soul
‘Cause I think I’m better than you”

-The Devil Went Down To Georgia, Charlie Daniels

The violin wails like a chorus of the damned as the frantic speed of the user’s bow draws howling notes from the strings, a music that hammers against the boundaries of sanity like a battering ram, drifting upon the wind to pull forth rare insights into the true madness of reality. The Demon Fiddler style is not actually evil – but it requires a rare dedication to the art of the violin and access to rare energies to channel through it.

Obviously enough, this is a musical style – a physical absurdity, but hardly out of bounds for most d20 games.

  • Requires: Perform/Strings total of 10+, Mystic Artist (Strings), +3 Speciality in Fiddles, a GM who allows Theran Channeling (Mind) and access to an appropriate power source of mental magical energy to draw upon.
  • Basic Techniques:
    • Chorus Of Demons / Power 4 (Variant, adds to Charisma for musical purposes).
    • Joined Right In / Synergy 2 (Perform/Strings and/or Perform/Vocal).
    • Sounded Like This / Defenses 4 (+2 to saves versus sonic attacks per level).
    • Give The Devil His Due / Strike (Musical Assault, 1d5+Cha Mod lethal or nonlethal damage to listeners). It’s a bit of a stretch to make this area effect – but the damage is low and most of the time you’ll be hitting your allies too.
  • Advanced and Master Techniques:
    • Echoes In The Hollows / Great Projection.
    • House Of The Rising Sun / Channeling (Theran Mind Channeling, 3 + Cha Mod uses, 6 CP)
    • Luck Of El Diablo / Luck with +8 Bonus Uses (Specialized and Corrupted/only for Theran Channeling effects, 6 CP)
    • Rosin Up Your Bow / +4 Bonus Uses of Mystic Artist (Strings) (6 CP).
  • Occult Techniques:
    • Fire Flew From His Fingertips / Inner Strength II
    • It Made An Evil Hiss / Ki Focus (Adds to Charisma)
    • He Knew That He’d Been Beat / Vanishing.

Now this style is pretty much a small magic system in itself – granting a fiddle-playing Mystic Artist access to a a variety of mind-altering affects through his or her music. Of course, it’s only going to work in a setting that allows Theran Channeling (which is kind of rare) and in a game high-powered enough that the game master lets you get away with shoving four mystic artist bonuses into a martial art. Sure, that’s appropriate enough if you allow a musical martial art in the first place, and it is fairly limited use – but it’s a whole new power set that’s available for thirty-odd skill points and a decent charisma bonus.

I’d go for it – it is fairly creative, very thematic, and promises to be fun, which is, after all, the entire point of playing – but it opens the way for a bunch of other musical arts and magical duels winding up being settled by rock-offs. Now there’s nothing wrong with that (if the trope was good enough for Tolkien, it is good enough for most games) but it will make for some awfully literal battles of the bands.

Finally, we have the…

Radiant (or Vedic) Master Style (Cha)

Many Martial Arts focus on focusing C’hi, the power of the user’s life force – but that is merely the user’s fund of Positive Energy. It is possible to use those same techniques to better focus the positive energy one taps into through the disciplines of Channeling. The Radiant Master style is so focused, and it’s user’s are easily recognized by the burning radiance which blazes around them when they tap into positive energy plane.

  • Requires: Ability to Channel Positive Energy at least five times per day and at least +2 Intensity.
  • Basics:
    • Meditations Upon The Light / Power 4 (Adds to Channeling Intensity).
    • The Illuminating Mantra / Defense 4 (Adds to AC and Saves versus Undead – but only versus undead)
    • Truths Upon The Wind / Synergy/Religion, and Synergy/Turning Checks.
  • Advanced and Master Techniques:
    • Drinking Down The Light / Augment Magnitude +2d6 (subject to normal maximums, 6 CP)
    • Light Pierces Darkness / Mind Like Moon
    • Bhumisparsa Mudra / Sacred Hand (Does not require a Holy Symbol)
    • Bodhyangi Mudra / Radiant Channel (When the user channels positive energy it also produces a Light-based spell effect of up to level (Intensity-4)/4.
  • Occult Techniques:
    • Gayatri Mantra / Inner Strength II
    • Heart Sutra Bodhi Svaha / Ki Focus (+4 to Magnitude and Intensity)
    • Tandava Shiva Mantra / Wrath (Positive Energy, Provides protection from Negative Energy).

While superficially similar to the Midnight Sun Style and the Demon Fiddler Style, this one is actually quite a bit more problematic; rather than boosting a not-especially optimal combat style like the Midnight Sun Style, or providing an entirely new suite of mid-range abilities like the Demon Fiddler Style, this focuses on boosting Channeling – already a major power source. Up to +2 to Checks, +8 Intensity, +(2d6+4) Magnitude, and a bonus spell – possibly of fairly high level – cast with every use of Channeling is a pretty sizeable boost and will affect pretty much every other Channeling ability the user takes. For a Channeling specialist – or even a dabbler – this (or some variant) is pretty much a “must take” skill if the game master allows it.

And like most “must take” items, it’s really only suited to extremely high-powered games. That’s exactly where it originated of course; a way to bump a companion in a really high powered game up to the point where it could do something reasonably effective. I probably wouldn’t allow it into more reasonable games though.

It isn’t always easy to decide whether or not to allow a particular item in Eclipse. Just remember, it is entirely fair to say “I’m allowing this on an experimental basis. If it makes a mess of the game, or just doesn’t add to the fun, I’m reserving the right to revise or even reject it – although you can then spend those points on something else”. After all, the point is to have fun. If something is spoiling that fun never hesitate to throw it out.

Eclipse d20 and Building Domains

Here we have something that’s been on the back burner for a long time – rescaling the character mechanics to represent domains rather than individuals – basically an extension of the rules for representing military units as individual characters. In this case, however, the scale has really gotten too large for direct interaction between Domains and normal characters – and so I’ve shifted some of the terminology around a bit to keep that clear.

First up, Settlements don’t exactly have races. Even when one species dominates the domain, their racial template rarely translates onto the domain scale. Settlements tend to be dominated by their Terrain and Nature – both of which are usually represented by small (15 CP plus a 3 CP Disadvantage) Templates. In general, a Settlement will have two – one representing the type of terrain the place is built on, the other representing it’s general nature. For our example, we have a Settlement built in a Forest as a Citadel (or Stronghold). It might have been built in a Fey Pocket, or as a Seaside Port, but this one happens to be a Forest Citadel.

Forest Settlement Template (15 CP):

  • Outriders (Occult Sense / Happenings in the forest, 6 CP). A Forest Settlement will always become a base for hunters, trappers, and foragers in those wilds – and, as such, will automatically gain a wide variety of information about things in or affecting the forest and a +2 on forest-related Profession checks.
  • Beast Master (Leadership with Beastlord, Corrupted for Reduced Cost / Forest animals only, 6 CP). People living among the great trees tend to adopt pets and live together with the local beasts, bending them to their will.
  • Forest Style (Scouting): +6 +Scouting (=8) (6 CP).
    • Basic Techniques: Defenses 4 (forests, fences, and palisades), Synergy / Forestry (Tier II, so +4), Synergy / Handle Animal (Tier II, so +4), Synergy / Survival (Tier 1, so +2), Toughness II (Plenty of wood for sturdy construction).
    • Advanced and Master Techniques: Travel with Mount (forest settlements quickly become familiar with existing trails and make more, allowing their travelers and traders to transverse the forest without hindrance), Mind Like Moon (having numerous foresters makes it hard for enemies to sneak up on a forest settlement), Rapid Shot (archery is a common pastime for the inhabitants of a forest domain, and so they can field extra skilled archers), and Split Movement (with every tree a watchtower and sniping position, a forest domain is adept at striking while avoiding contact with the enemy).
    • Occult Techniques: Hardy Pioneers (Inner Strength II), Wooden Reinforcement (Iron Skin), and Setting Fires (Wrath). A forest community has plenty of lumber for emergency reinforcement of their settlement and can – if hard pressed – use a controlled burn to drive back or corner an attacking force.
    • Known Techniques (4) are being left open for the players.

So why am I representing the general advantages and disadvantages of forest terrain as a martial art? Because – in game terms – it functions like one. A domain can only really take advantage of one form of terrain at a time, but will certainly be practiced at using it’s home ground to its best advantage, different domains with the same terrain may take advantage of it in different ways (making different selections from the “style” as they advance), and different terrains will allow the use of different special maneuvers – and offer boosts to particular professions. All of which fits neatly into a martial art.

  • Disadvantage: Settlements in great forests are always at risk of powerful creatures showing up and making trouble (Accursed, -3 CP).

Citadel Settlement Template:

  • Wall Construction (Augmented Bonus, adds (Might) to (Mobilization) when fighting defensively, 6 CP). While hardly as strong as the results of a Mystic Architect, well-defended walls grant a citadel settlement a strong defensive edge.
  • Militia: Proficient with all Simple Weapons (3 CP) and Light Armor (3 CP). A Citadel or Capital is fairly vital, and must be held – so the populace is invariably given at least basic weapons-training.
  • Citadel Style (Construction) (Corrupted for Increased Effect (+9 +0 Construction = +9) / only usable when fighting defensively, 6 CP):
    • Basic Techniques: Defenses (4) (with walls, buildings, and streets constructed so as to confound an enemies advance, a Citadel Settlement is very hard to defeat), Attack 4 and Power II (with fields of fire set up in advance, brushwood cleared, siege engines ready, and a gauntlet of defenses, a citadel is adept at inflicting disproportionate damage on attackers).
    • Advanced and Master Techniques: Improved Initiative (The alarms and defenses of a citadel allow the defenders to be rallied speedily), Reserves (Grant of Aid; a citadel has reserves of supplies, and can swiftly make crude repairs when damaged), Night Training (Blind Fight, a Citadel has lighting ready and provisions for fighting at night), and Volley Fire (Combat Reflexes, a Citadel has trained it’s troops to work in unison).
    • Occult Techniques: Gallant Defenders (Inner Strength II), Concentric Defense (Resist Pain), and Sally (One Finger).
    • Known Techniques (5): Once again, these are up to the players.
  • Disadvantage: Valuable. A Citadel dominates the surrounding countryside and is stronghold that no invader can afford to bypass. As such, they are primary targets for any takeover of the area.

Every domain needs a location. As it happens for our example…

A modest river winds around the bases of the hills, constantly cutting into the ancient glacial moraines where it runs more quickly. The small avalanches thus created expose ancient masses of crystal, renew the modest placer deposits of metal which the locals harvest, and block the flow of the water – giving rise to numerous small lakes and swamps rich in fish, wildlife, and the reeds so useful in basket-making, construction, making rush lights, paper-making, and many other basic crafts. The area surrounding the river valley is, of course, heavily forested, providing lumber and game. The Crystal Valley domain is no great metropolis, but it is nonetheless a good place, where the land well supplies it’s peoples needs with something left over to sell. Sadly, those same natural dams and swamps mean that the small river is only navigable with frequent portages, and so is of limited use for commerce and transport.

Currently Known Resources (In general, resources provide circumstance bonuses)

  • Placer Mining +4 (Crystal +8). The area has considerable reserves of crystal (many of use in magic), although – unusually – they are buried in dirt and loose rock, apparently thanks to glacial deposition.
  • River Transport +2: While relatively near the Imperium to the south, with a river connection that is mostly navigable, the area is prone to small landslides, that break the river up into a series of long lakes and require frequent portages.
  • Forestry +2: The local forests offer plentiful supplies of timber, although a good deal of it is (or at least was) used in the mining operations.
  • Reed Ponds and Swamps (Fishing and Reed Production +4). The long lakes produce plenty of usable reeds, support large colonies of fish, and not a few beavers and otters.

Local resources are the equivalent of mundane equipment for a domain. Not surprisingly, the extent and value of the local resources is a major determinant of whether or not you’ve found a good place to settle down and get started building. A port will offer bonuses to Trade, Transport, and Fishing, a fishing fleet will offer bonuses to Survival or to Fishing, mountains offer ore and stone, and even swamps offer something. Unfortunately, of course, the best places usually already have domains on them – which is why the disaster which struck the realms north of the Imperium offers so many opportunities for founding profitable domains and why the Imperium is subsidizing the founding of such domains so as to rebuild it’s trade.

Basic Build for the Crystal Valley Domain:

Current Magnitude: 2. Base 72 Construction Points +3 (Disadvantage: Imperial Obligations) +6 (Founder Bonus) = 81

As a relatively new domain Crystal Valley is only recently established – but between recruiting the refugees from the recent disaster in the area, being founded by a sizeable party of adventurers, and being a supported colonizing expedition from the Imperium, it’s been growing rapidly and is past the introductory “just arrived” stage. Thus it’s Magnitude (“Level”) Two.

Basic Attributes: Might +2 (effective +4; Centric’s whoop currently provides a +2 Might bonus), Training +3, Scouting +2, Construction -2 (12 CP to raise to +0), Mobilization +1, Diplomacy +1

Domain Attributes do mirror the usual set, but I’m going with “attribute modifiers as attributes” for domains – not because of the “it’s simpler!” battlecry but because it emphasizes the scaling differences – and because Domain Attributes are much cheaper to raise than Domain Attributes. Add more people to the army because your population base is growing? That’s more Might. Bring in Masons and start replacing wattle-and-daub structures with stone? That’s boosting the Construction score. So here’s our first new rule: Domain Attributes cost 6 CP per +1, but you can’t buy more than (Magnitude) points of boosted attributes in total. No domain has the resources to upgrade EVERYTHING.

Professions: 0 (0 CP) + 15 (Training x (Magnitude + 3)) = 15

  • Survival +5 (5 PP) +2 (Scouting) = +7

This is pretty basic for any domain. On the Domain Scale this tends to take the form of fishing fleets and fish markets, subsidiary villages, farming, hunting, and housing construction – but “gather resources from the surrounding area and be self-sufficient” is pretty much what a domain DOES. About the only exceptions are outposts that are supported by their patrons.

  • Craft/Alchemy +4 (4 PP) +3 (Training) = +7

The expedition which founded Crystal Valley was led by a master Alchemist, who set up shop there – so this is hardly surprising.

  • Handle Animal +3 (Tier II, 1 PP) +1 (Diplomacy) = +4

Flocks, herds, draught animals, and mounts are all fundamental to civilization, so this is a fine skill to have. Especially if someone or something attacks them.

  • Simple Profession/Crystal Mining (Tier III) +5 (2 PP) +2 (Scouting) = +7

The most obvious source of profit in the area is the reserves of crystal – although, thankfully, there isn’t a lot of training required to look through newly-exposed layers of earth and look for the shiny bits.

  • Complex Profession/Forestry (Tier II) +5 (2 PP) +2 (Scouting) = +7

Gathering lumber, nuts and fruits, dyes, and all the other vegetable resources of the forest falls under Forestry – making it a basic skill for any forest domain.

  • Simple Profession / Fishing (Tier III) +4 (1 PP) +2 (Scouting) = +6

A source of profit as well as a way to build up reserves, this simple profession is cheap to buy.

For a Domain, it’s skills represent the abilities and professions of the people who live there. While this does make “retraining” a little easier, it’s already usually fairly easy to persuade a game master to let characters pull a few skill points out of things they never use to invest in things they do. Sure, Carpentry may have been useful early on, but when you never do it any longer – and have seen a thousands of monsters, spells being cast, and weird realms – those skill points have probably wandered over into something else anyway. I’m using the Skill Tier system (making less useful skills cheaper to buy) for the setting of this domain, but you can just ignore that if you’re not interested. One important note is that a Domain can make (Magnitude + 2) Profession Checks in each Domain Turn. One of them is usually Survival unless the domain has already built up reserves to use.

In any case, as a fairly new domain, Crystal Valley doesn’t have that wide a selection of professions as yet – only the most vital ones. We can, of course, presume that there are people who can make usable shoes, weave crude homespun, and make basic clothing – but most of that really goes under the basic Survival check, rather than building up reserves or producing anything for export.

Offense Rating: +2 (12 CP) +4 (Might) = +6

Considering that it’s guarded by a group of adventurers – including Cenric and his sapient combat- trained armed and armored gorillas – having a decent “Base Attack Bonus”  should not be too surprising.

Defense Rating: 10 (Base) +2 (Light Terrain Barriers) +4 (Enhanced Earthworks) +2 (Assistance / Armored Troops) +1 (Mobility) = 19

The party has focused heavily on building up defenses, rather than accepting a few casualties in order to expand more rapidly – a cautious, low-risk, option. At this point Crystal Valley has spent more time on building defenses than on anything else.

Cohesion: 20 (12 CP + 2 x Construction – otherwise known as 2d10 HD).

As with military units and hit points, loss of all Cohesion doesn’t mean that everyone is dead and the domain has been burned to the ground; it just means that all organization has collapsed and the Domain is thus incapable of taking domain-scale actions. I’m going to give the maximum for the first few domain hit dice because why not?

  • Fortification Check:+0 (Construction) +2 (Purchased, 6 CP) = +2.
  • Response Check: +1 (Mobilization) +1 (Purchased, 3 CP) = +2.
  • Morale Check: +1 (Diplomacy) +1 (Purchased, 3 CP) = +2.

Will the domain endure an earthquake with minimal damage? Will the firefighters put out that house fire before it burns down a major section of the capital? Will the army stand against that horde of undead? Will the government resist being bribed and suborned? The perils may be different, but the concept of “Saving Throws” remains.

Militia: Add All Martial Weapons to All Simple Weapons (6 CP).

With the city led by several martial characters with their own troops, the militia may not actually be skilled with all martial weapons – but they’re practiced with all the ones they’ve actually got, so the difference is something of a moot point.

Initiative: +1 (Mobilization) +4 (Improved Initiative, 6 CP).

Again, with adventurers personal followers providing the backbone of the cities forces, a fast response to any difficulty is only to be expected.

Domain Abilities:

  • Stipend (6 CP):

At the moment, Crystal Valley is supported by it’s founders, who have a surprising amount of resources to invest in it. This translates to having a Stipend.

  • Alchemical Mastery (6 CP): Using the “Where Does He Get These Wonderful Toys” package at a basic level, the domain is well-equipped with alchemical wonders and exotic charms and talismans.
  • Privilege (Order Patron) (6 CP): The domain has not yet learned to exploit this fully, but likely will fairly soon, further enhancing it’s Charms and Talismans.

This is basically having a magical patron – a gateway to developing further powers based on that patron. While the selection of patrons that can grant powers to an entire domain is kind of limited, in the setting that includes (obviously enough) all of the Domain Lords – although not all of them are willing to do so. Of course, while Domain Lords are specific to Atheria, it’s hard to deny the benefits of having a more powerful patron that may assist you on occasion. Just look at real-world politics for a long list of examples of one country serving as a patron for another.

Wealth Rating: Well-Off (3 CP).

This is from The Practical Enchanter, which offers an option for using Wealth Levels instead of money for a setting – and at the moment, thanks to salvaged resources, support from the Imperium to the south, and being founded and supported by a bunch of wealth adventurers, the Crystal Valley domain is doing quite well at the moment.

Note that, among other minor benefits (and a comfortable lifestyle), being Well Off provides access to some Charms and Talismans – minor but useful items. These include a Talismanic
Ditty Bag and three charms – an Alchemist’s Flask, Sunstone, and “Elfin” Cloak.

One reason for getting a Wealth Rating is that City Magic Items (See “Magical Businesses”) tend to be quite expensive, while Charms and Talismans are generally useful and cheap. Secondarily in this case, it’s because Atheria (the setting for the Crystal Valley Domain) doesn’t support normal magical items or magical businesses, making Charms and Talismans the only real option.

Is this complete? Well… on Atheria, where conventional magical items do not exist, you don’t really need rules for money. After all, Domains really don’t collect heaps of coins; they accumulate stockpiles of food and supplies, build aqueducts, roads, canals, irrigation systems, and villages, have land and herds of animals, and deploy vast amounts of labor (for those with fond memories of playing Civilization, you can always Corrupt some special ability of your domain to require a massive structure and call it a Wonder of the World).

For other settings you can simply treat “Domain Scale Money” as normal money that cannot be translated into character-level funds because it’s an abstract measure of resources; tracts of arable land, days of service owed, herds of pigs, and so on – stuff that’s spread out over the doman. You can’t really translate “we get a bunch of stuff to feed the garrison with from the farmers every week” into a +5 sword. Magical swordsmiths tend to want gold and gems and powerful items in exchange for their labors – not bellyaches from eating too much.

Powerful Adventurers who are heavily involved in the domain effectively contribute a Bonus Feat each – two if they have a substantial number of personal followers with useful talents. Still, there are distinct limits to this sort of thing; no combination of adventurers can contribute more than 36 CP worth of benefits in total. For the moment I’ve only accounted for Cenric, but several other characters may make contributions.

Now there will doubtless be corner cases, and I’ll have to make a few more rulings – but this gives us a reasonably detailed way to describe domains, a way to measure their ability to handle wars and other emergencies, details about what they produce, and the obvious note that the quick way for a domain to improve is by holding off attackers and through conquest – taking over additional areas. Waiting for natural population growth to increase your domains magnitude is going to be a very slow process – like waiting to level up through role-playing awards.

Eclipse And Sphere Magic – The Sphere Of Blood, A.K.A. “Bloodbending”

This inquiry was about constructing a Spheres of Power character – in particular, a user of the Blood Sphere.

That’s a system where characters are generally limited to a relatively small selection of effects in a few narrow themes but can use the basic effects (usually equivalent to fairly specialized spells of level three or less) as much as they want. They also get a relatively small number of spell points available to boost those effects up to the equivalent of spells of levels 4-6. Finally, there are a number of specific talents and boosts they can pick up – mostly equivalent to specialized feats -to improve their magic.

Honestly, there are already a LOT of ways to dabble in thematic magic in Eclipse, and ways to pick up specific specialized boosts. Still, it’s boring to do things the same way again and the request was to pretty much match the original system – so here is yet another way to build this sort of thing.

First up, Spheres Of Power gives characters (Level + Casting Attribute Modifier) “Spell Points” to boost them up with. To buy those spell points take…

  • 6d6 (24) Mana with Spell Enhancement, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost (12 CP) / only for Spell Enhancement or Rune Blood Magic, only to upgrade Blood Spells, each spell only allows a specific set of seven (I like seven, so why not?) Upgraded functions. As usual, no more than three points of Mana may be spent upgrading any single spell.
  • Rite of Chi with +8 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost (6 CP) / only to recharge the restricted Mana Pool above, takes at least half an hour of rest per die.

Well, that was cheap. Most characters will probably want more spell points and recovery thereof, but that’s not hard to get.

Next up we need to buy the actual abilities – which the Spheres Of Power system seems to mostly limit to third to fourth level effects. A few individual effects may hit higher levels, but they’re usually special cases and have various special conditions attached to them.

One way to make such a character in Eclipse is to take Rune Magic (the “Blood Casting” and “Blood Mastery” skills, for 2 SP/Level), take Shaping (Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect/ only to produce level one effects in an extremely narrow field, only works with specific spell effects approved by the game master, requires gestures and spellcasting to use (although that also gives us “Caster Level = User’s Hit Dice” automatically) (6 CP).

Please note that, in some cases, I’m just going to substitute something better for the abilities listed for the Sphere Of Blood. That’s because the Sphere of Blood includes some implicit assumptions about “biology” having something to do with “life” in d20. It doesn’t, or you couldn’t use the same healing spells that work on humans on elementals and such. In d20 a human can father a mostly-human kid on a mass of fire or rock – or on a ghost. You can cross-breed almost anything. Face it. Real-world “biology” has nothing to do in D20 beyond getting frustrated and going to cry in a corner.

We’ll also add the Arcanum Minimus metamagical feat from The Practical Enchanter, Specialized and Corrupted / only applies to Shaped effects, always applies to shaped effects (2 CP) – allowing affected spells to be cast at a reduced level if they are sufficiently limited. In this case, Blood Sphere spells only work on creatures with blood and creatures inherently immune to bleed damage cannot be targeted unless they have fed on living blood within the last hour. Other special conditions may apply to particular effects

That gives us effects with a base effective power level of level two spells – with additional special requirements commonly boosting the base spell up to something equivalent to level three (which I’ll be taking as the default). Common enhancement options include:

  • Continuing (+1/2/3 Mana to have the effect continue for one round/minute/hour per caster level without concentration).
  • Multiple (+1/2/3 Mana, effect strikes up to 2/4/8 targets).
  • Area (+1/2/3 Mana for 5′ Radius or 10′ Cone, 20′ Radius or 30′ Cone, or 30′ Radius or 60′ Cone).


  • Range (+1 Range Category for +1 Mana).

Note that enhancements can be applied up to a total of 3 Mana, so there is nothing wrong with combining them until that limit is reached.

  • Save DC’s are normally (13 + Mana Spent + Casting Attribute Modifier). Dedicated bloodbenders will buy Improved Augmented Bonus (12 CP) to add a second attribute modifier to this.

So lets define those effects:

Beasts Of Blood: You may cause a temporary Construct to rise from the blood of a recently-slain creature of at least medium size within close range (no more than once per corpse). This is a Psychic Construct I to III (your choice, as per The Practical Enchanter), with a duration of Concentration. It can leave the creation range. You can control no more than twice your Caster Level in hit dice of constructs at any one time although you can merge two of them (choosing which “survives”) to add the sacrificed constructs remaining hit points to the one that “survives”. The Continuing option is available.

  • +1 Mana: Construct IV. Summon a Hemo-Goblin from a currently bleeding targets blood*.
  • +2 Mana: Construct V. Add one Construct Option of each rank (A, B, and C) to your construct.
  • +3 Mana: Construct VI. Summon up to four Hemo-Goblins from currently bleeding targets blood, still only one per target*.

*A Hemo-Goblin has the base states of an otherwise ordinary goblin. It appears in a space adjacent to the target. It gains a (Caster Level) bonus to its armor class, attack rolls, saving throws, and skill checks and fights the target to the death. It will relentlessly pursue the target if they try to run. It vanishes after a full day, when slain, or if the target dies, whichever comes first. It will not do anything save pursue and fight the target but always knows the targets general location – not that it will tell anyone. Only one can be created for any given target at a time. This, of course, is from the Spheres Of Power Wiki – and is a sufficiently horrible pun that I just could not leave it out even if the effect actually makes little or no sense.

Blood Spider’s Weave: Target takes 1d4/Two Caster Levels and is Entangled. A Fortitude save negates the Entangled part. The Entanglement persists for (Concentration + 1d4) rounds or the target spends a move action to save again successfully. The Continuing, Multiple, Area, and Range Options are available.

  • +1 Mana: When the caster takes damage the target also takes damage, up to 1 point/caster level/round.
  • +2 Mana: The damage continues each round until the entanglement is broken. The user may force the target to remain still or to take a 5′ step as the caster directs each round.
  • +3 Mana: None.

Bloodlore: Within close range you may learn the targets state of health, current and maximum hit points, and other physical health information, such as diseases and toxins present, although a Fortitude save applies if the target wishes to resist. Range and Multiple apply.

  • +1 Mana: Relieve Illness/Poison (Hedge Wizardry). Enhance Disease/Poison (Victim gets an extra dose of the deleterious effect).
  • +2 Mana: Expel Disease/Poison. Blood Sense (Blindsensing of creatures with blood within a 30′ radius).
  • +3 Mana: Bestow Curse.

Blood Spray: Given a source of uncontained blood within close range, you can telekinetically manipulate it. A flask of blood, 2d6 HP worth of the user’s blood, or blood drawn in combat will do, but using blood this way renders it unfit for further use. This allows you to perform a variety of simple tricks (laying a trail, pushing a button, closing a door, etc) using the blood as a tool or allowing you to perform a Ranged Combat Maneuver at +4. The Range and Mass modifiers apply.

  • +1 Mana: Blood Alchemy (add an alchemical effect up to 50 GP), Obscuring Blood (Mist)
  • +2 Mana: Blood Link (you are effectively grasping the target until it’s removed).
  • +3 Mana: Blood Shield (grant 2 x caster level temporary hit points), Stinking Cloud

Coagulation: The user may take 2d6 damage to create any mundane item (or group of related items, such as a bow and arrows or the pieces of a suit of armor,which can be created in place) valued at up to 500 GP. Such items are enchanted with Greater Magic Weapon or the equivalent (Greater Magic Armor, or Greater Magic Tool) but will fade from existence a few moments after the caster lets go of them. The Continuing option applies to keep items around after they would normally disappear.

  • +1 Mana: The item is effectively made of Adamant, Mithril, or another GM-Approved special material.
  • +2 Mana: The items “Plusses” may be expended on specific powers, although the GM may rule that some will not work.
  • +3 Mana: The user may control the item within close range as if he or she was using it normally. He or she might thus create a suit of armor and walk it into an area to check for traps.

Conduit Of Life: A weapon anointed with 2d6 HP worth of blood or which has wounded an opponent within the last five rounds may be manipulated by virtue of that blood, being granted the Bane (versus the type of creature the blood came from) and Whirling properties. The Continuing modifier may be applied.

  • +1 Mana: Add the Brutal Surge or Corrosive property.
  • +2 Mana: Add the Enervating or Vampyric property.
  • +3 Mana: Add the Bodyfeeder or Implacable property.

Crystals Of Blood: You may crystalize blood, causing an opponent to take (2d6 +1d6/two caster levels to a maximum of 12d6) damage and be staggered for a round. Being internal and made of the targets own tissues, this bypassed DR and temporary hit points. This may be used as a ranged touch attack ray or allow a fortitude save to half the damage and negate the staggering effect. The Area and Multiple modifiers apply.

  • +1 Mana: Add (Casting Attribute Modifier) rounds of being staggered to the damage.
  • +2 Mana: Boost damage to (2 + Caster Level)d6, 20d6 maximum. Add “victim takes 3d6 bleed damage per round for (Casting Attribute Modifier) rounds” to the effect.
  • +3 Mana: Change Of State: If the victim dies, their blood remains crystalized until the crystals are broken, and may be readily collected and saved for later use. Blood Talisman: Using 1d6 HP worth of crystalized blood from a creature you may grant up to (Caster Level / 2, 12 maximum) CP worth of abilities from that creature to whoever carries that crystal for the next hour. Sadly, only one such talisman can be used at a time by any given creature and the blood vanishes after the duration expires.

Hemorrhagic Command: As long as you concentrate, the target must make a Fortitude Save each round as a standard action to avoid being forced to perform some simple physical action instead of their intended action(s) – although this causes considerable bruising. The victim can forego this save to act mentally. The Continuing and Multiple modifiers may be applied.

  • +1 Mana: Provide a +10 bonus to a physical movement skill (EG: Jump, Running Speed, Tumble, etc). Provide the “Compression” ability
  • +2 Mana: Override Paralysis, casting without need for physical movement and moving yourself.
  • +3 Mana: Induce the equivalent of Nausea, for (Concentration + 2d4) rounds. A Fort save reduces this to Sickened. Cause 3d6 Constitution damage, but a Fortitude save reduces this to 6d6 normal damage.

Sanguine Mastery: With concentration you can manipulate another creatures blood within Close range. You may cause bleeding (1 Point/Caster Level) or grant resistance to bleeding (1 + Level/3 points, bleeding attacks must roll Caster Level or (for nonmagical bleeding attacks) BAB + 1d20 against your Caster Level + 10 or be negated). A Fort Save, a lapse in concentration, or any of the usual methods will stop the bleeding. The Multiple, Area, and Continuing options are all available.

  • +1 Mana: Spell impedes a sense, causing a 20% miss chance or inflicting some similar penalty. The victim is effectively Greased while the bleeding continues.
  • +2 Mana: Spell negates a sense while the bleeding continues. Double the Bleeding Damage or the protective effect.
  • +3 Mana: None.

The Blood Is The Life: You may manipulate life force, either causing or removing the Dazzled, Deafened, Fatigued or Staggered conditions while you concentrate and for an additional 2d4 rounds. The Continuing, Multiple, Area, and Range modifiers are all applicable.

  • +1 Mana: Add Blinded, Exhausted, and Surged (Gain an extra attack or AoO) to the list.
  • +2 Mana: Add Diseased (pick one), Poisoned (1d6/1d6 Con), Confused, Nauseated, and Hasted / Slowed to the list.
  • +3 Mana: Add Energy Drained and Paralyzed to the list.

This one hung me up for a while – but then I realized that, in my general fondness for “realistic”, simulationist, systems, I was trying too hard; d20 “biology” runs on magic and positive energy, not on earthly notions about how bodies actually work, making this just a “modify conditions” effect.

Transfusion: Once per round as a free action the user may transfer any Bleed Damage taken by a creature in close range to another creature in close range as temporary hit points. The Multiple option is available.

  • +1 Mana: Add 1d2 Con Damage to the Bleed. Heal beneficiary by (Hit Dice of Victim x Con Damage). This won’t work on creatures with no Con.
  • +2 Mana: Drain 1d4 Mana OR 2d4 Spell Levels OR 3d4 Power from the victim. Transfer a poison or disease from one victim to another. Vampiric Touch using d8’s.
  • +3 Mana: Transfer Mana/Spell Levels/Power from the victim instead of draining them. Blood Brotherhood / link two willing targets together so that, as long as they remain within medium range of each other, they have a common pool of hit points.

While there may be something I missed, one final item from the Sphere Of Blood is Immunity to Bleed Damage. Personally I’d take that as an Innate Enchantment (Cure Minor Wounds Cantrip, x.7 Personal Only x.6 only to automatically stop wounds from bleeding, Unlimited-Use Use-Activated = 420 GP. About half a CP worth of Innate Enchantment.

There are various special modifiers you can buy – but Eclipse offers an immense variety of special modifiers to buy. Get what you like.

Now that entire package comes out to 38.5 CP and 46 SP – although you’ll probably want to buy a few of those thematic extras along the way which will increase the cost to around 50.5 CP. In practice I would probably just pay a little more, go freeform to begin with, and save the bother of writing up the base effects – but that wasn’t what the request was for.

In any case, this is still pretty cheap; you could complete the basic components of the Sphere of Blood in about five levels without much of a strain. That’s because the Spheres were designed to bring Spellcasters down to a desired power level – the equivalent of “Tier 3″, where most of the martial classes tended to hang out. Sure, the system boosts the save DC’s a bit, but it pretty much eliminates the vastly powerful high-level magic shenanigans and a great deal of the versatility.

Eclipse, on the other hand, was designed to let martial characters, and skillmasters, and other types of characters, be just as effective as the clerics and wizards. After all, how could I say that “you can build any kind of character that you want” and then tell people “except that I’m taking away a lot of the spellcasters toys so you can’t build them”?

So very limited power sets are kind of cheap in Eclipse. After all, there has to be SOME reason to take them instead of full-blown spellcasting. Thus, while Eclipse will build pretty much any power set you want, there’s one thing that it definitely WON’T do. By itself, it will not limit the characters to fit a particular setting, power level, or style of play. After all, if it did… it would not be letting you build pretty much any power set would it? Thus, while the basic Shaping / Arcanum Minimus / Spell Enhancement combination as shown above sticks reasonably closely to the limitations of Spheres Of Power, there are ways around that. Most obviously… if a character pursues the Rune Magic option long enough they WILL eventually be able to cast improvised spells of above ninth level within that field, even if they will want to buy a bunch more Mana to do it with. As always, it is sometimes up the the game master to say “No”.

Game Balance Redux

Once again I’ve been getting questions about “Game Balance”, and statements about how it was so bad in early editions of AD&D and is still bad now.

As is very common with questions that come up over and over again, this one is rooted in a difference in definitions.

Early edition AD&D (like many other RPG’s of the time) did not have or need “game balance” – and thereby had perfect game balance.

Early RPG’s were mostly about TEAMS. It was the Party versus the World – with the world, as run by the game master, existing to provide exciting challenges for the player character team to play through. The Game Master was not on the other “side” because there was no other side.

It was the TEAM that was important. Individual characters came and went – through death by misadventure, crippling injury, judicial conviction (and either execution or imprisonment), retirement (once very common – but how often have you seen it happen in a modern-style game?), taking up a steady job, getting married and raising kids, going into politics, and so on – but the team went on (quite a few of ours went on for multiple generations or sponsored new teams for side quests). New characters were brought in at level one or so, and carefully equipped and shepherded by the higher level characters until – after only a few sessions thanks to the doubling experience point tables – they were ready to take a full role in the party. The overall party level crept steadily up, despite the fact that any one player might start characters anew at level one a dozen or more times. Rare character types that called for superior rolls survived a bit better, and so – over time – became more common. That was a bit of a reward really. The player had taken a hit for the team again – and so got another chance at getting an exceptional character – or if said player rolled really badly, a bit of a role-playing challenge for a bit until that inferior character left play (which would most likely be very soon if their rolls were really bad).

Was there “Balance” between characters? It certainly didn’t involve “level”. Since the experience point tables all differed… characters would be of a variety of levels anyway even if none of them were ever replaced. What about classes? Remember “Linear Fighters Quadratic Wizards”?

Even ignoring the fact that relatively low-level and very high level wizards had identical limits on preparing spells (15 minutes per spell level per spell – so preparing a SINGLE fourth level spell required one hour) and that spells took a long time to cast and were extremely easy to interrupt and ruin (making casting a powerful spell a job requiring that the rest of the party cooperate to keep the wizard from being interrupted), this didn’t matter; characters did not last all that long. The TEAM did – and casting powerful spells was actually a perfect example. Making that happen was a TEAM effort. The Fighter and the Thief were just as responsible for getting that powerful spell into play as the Caster because if they hadn’t held the line, the caster would have been interrupted (being splashed with water would do it) and have automatically lost the spell.

Since there was no actual opponent except “the universe”, and there was no actual competitor between characters, there was no real conception of “game balance” the way the term is commonly used now.

So how did the games have perfect balance?

It was because game play started the moment you sat down at the table with a blank sheet of paper, grabbed a pencil or pen, and picked up the dice to roll your attributes. At that point, you were playing – and everything was pretty obviously perfectly balanced. Even if you got a bad pen or tore your paper… you just got some more. From a game mechanics point of view the players were all completely indistinguishable. Somebody might be the game-masters boyfriend of girlfriend, or be a fast talker or something – but you couldn’t blame the game mechanics for THAT.

That was why Travelers random rolls for the results (benefits, goods, and training) of each term of service (and all characters were assumed to start out working for some organization) included results along the lines of “Your character died. Give the sheet to the game master and start over”, “You have survived this term with (specified) long term injuries. Roll on the random discharge benefits table and join the party”, “You have survived. You may opt out and roll on the random discharge benefits table and join the party or roll to re-enlist for another term”, and “Your character is not eligible for another term. Roll on the random discharge benefits table and join the party” made perfect sense. You were already playing the game, even if your character was not yet ready – and you had important decisions to make; “start with what I’ve got now, or gamble it all on another turn?”.

That mechanic is widely mocked today because “beginning play” has come to mean “when my character enters play” instead of “when I sat down at the table and said “how do I make a character?” – turning “I didn’t get quite the results I wanted from the character-creation minigame! Oh well!” into “my character died before the game started!”.

The first, of course, is perfectly reasonable. The second sounds absurd to many current players. Yet they’re both accurately describing the same event, albeit from slightly different viewpoints.

Once the dice were rolling, some players did better than others – but the same is true for Monopoly. And, unlike Monopoly… most of those differences were purely temporary because the characters they applied to were purely temporary.

That’s why a Ranger could start off with an extra hit die, and a pile of skills (even if most of them lacked rules, you still knew that your Ranger was an expert tracker, and knew wilderness survival, and so on), and later on got both some Magic-User and Druid spellcasting, and was much better than a Fighter in almost every way (even winding up with comparable hit points in the end because Rangers got 11d8 in the end while Fighters only got 9d10) – and all that was needed to create a Ranger was some lucky die rolls when the player was making their character. But when the Ranger retired, or died, or otherwise left play… those temporary advantages vanished, the player rolled for a new character, and the party went on.

Low-level games saw a lot of Demihumans, who had advantages then and so made the party stronger. At higher levels they had disadvantages – and so new characters coming in were most often human, to make the party stronger.

But it was always the PARTY that mattered. I had several players elect to play Familiars or other minor party associates for a time because they found those roles fun or challenging. Such characters were far less powerful than most of the other characters – and that didn’t matter. If they were played cleverly, they could contribute quite effectively to the team. Character death was a minor setback for the team, but – just like a football or baseball team that lost a major player because of injury or retirement – the team went on. That’s why it wasn’t uncommon for a character to make a heroic sacrifice; dying to pull out a win for the team. That was one of the best ways to retire a character. That story might be recounted for years afterwards, long after most of the other characters who hadn’t pulled off something so dramatic had been forgotten.

“Game Balance” – by which is usually meant a balance of power between the player characters – didn’t become a factor until much later, when the focus of the games started to shift from the the team to individual characters. Now that’s not necessarily a good or bad thing, but it IS different.

Personally, I was quite disappointed when a game master insisted on contriving an escape for a priestly character of mine who had concluded that the demonic invasion had to be stopped, that he was the only one in position to do it, and that it didn’t matter if he died doing it; he was a servant of his god, and the world would be saved. So he gathered his power, hurled himself into the demonic gate, and expended everything he had, including his own life force (thanks to an ability which let him take damage to power up his magic), in a cataclysmic explosion to seal the portal.

And the game master had him wake up, quite anticlimactically, elsewhere despite my protests that his martyrdom had been entirely in character and was a splendid end to his adventures.

The game master, however, was younger and had a more recent prospective on the game. He saw “character death” as losing, and thought that “losing” was an unacceptable consequence for heroism in the service of a lawful good god – and refused to allow what he saw as an unfair result no matter HOW appropriate it was.

Personally I found that that took a lot of the fun out of it – as if Russell Case in Independence Day had just outrun the blast rather than dying to pull off a near-impossible victory.

But despite the rambling… that’s why arguments about “game balance” in the early editions almost never resolve anything. It’s because the people arguing commonly have very different ideas about what “game balance” IS, and are arguing from incompatible prospectives – and that’s pretty pointless.

Before arguing about game balance, you need to agree on what that term actually means in any given edition of any given game. It’s rarely the same thing.

Eclipsing Venom

This request was for a way to build Marvel Comics “Venom”. Now that’s a little odd simply because “Venom” isn’t a particular character; it’s an alien blob of goo that gloms onto another character and enhances them. Sure, it has it’s own intelligence and such – but it doesn’t really DO much of anything on it’s own except search for a host. Worse, unlike – say – a suit of power armor, it mostly enhances the hosts own abilities up to a maximum limit and provides a limited selection of new ones. (It also can only be “worn” by entities that meet certain compatibility requirements, but that’s purely a plot-driven thing, and has little bearing on building it).

In d20 terms, that isn’t so much a creature as it is an item. Worse, it’s an item that depends a lot on the built-in assumptions of a comic book world – most notably the Superheroic World Template and the Four-Color Template. In a setting without those in play, the Venom Symbiote is going to be a lot more limited. Still quite powerful – but limited. After all, the user won’t be able to ignore support and leverage, hit things at whatever range fits best on the page, or otherwise ignore physics.

In Eclipse terms, an item that provides a suite of new abilities is probably a Relic.

So what sort of abilities does the Venom Symbiont provide?

  • Predatory Essence: Shapeshift (Leopard Attributes), Attribute Modifiers (Str +6, Dex +8, Con +4, +10 Move, +1 Natural Armor, +8 to Agility and Stealth skills, Low-Light Vision, Scent, 1d6 Bite, 1d3 Claws), Hybrid Form, Clear Speech. Specialized: Leopard Form Only, Corrupted: Cannot actually Change Forms (24 CP base, net cost 8 CP).
  • Malleable Form: Add Variants (3 CP, equivalent to a continuous Alter Self effect). Obviously enough, to fit the theme, I’d take this as a minor variant – perhaps a small “pool” of power/points/what-have-you to allocate between some of the possible effects. Perhaps about 5 Options from among: Natural Armor (+1 per Option allotted), winged flight (3 options for clumsy gliding), extended reach (+5/Option, +15′ Max), Natural Weapon Upgrades (to 1d8, 1 Option, to 2d8 3 Options), Camouflage (1 Option), Full Disguise (3 Options), Damage Reduction (1/- per option allotted), Wall-Crawling (3 Options), Winged Flight (5 Options).

These are both examples of Shapeshift Cheese – but we’re talking comic book superheroes here. A fairly large helping of cheese comes with the territory.

Web Shooting:

  • Inherent Spell (L3 Anyspell, producing any Webbing effect of up to L2), Corrupted / Powered by Mana (4 CP).
  • 4d6 (16) Mana with the Spell Enhancement Option, Specialized and Corrupted / only for use with the Web Shooting power above (6 CP).
  • Rite of Chi with +14 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted / only to recharge the webbing pool above (9 CP).

In a superhero world, with a basically unlimited Mana supply, that will allow the user to routinely throw around some fairly high-powered Web-based effects. In a standard d20 world, where the mana supply is going to be pretty limited… that will still suffice to throw around two or three fifth level webbing effects in any one fight. That isn’t bad; a well-placed wall of webbing (stone) or some such can have a fairly big effect on a battlefield.

Innate Enchantment:

  • Symbiotic Consciousness: Intelligent (500 GP) Int 10, Wis 10, and Cha 10 (0 GP), Telepathy (1000 GP), 120′ Senses (1000 GP), Darkvision (500 GP). This might need to be upgraded – but I’m not really aware of the symbiont showing any exceptional brilliance. The symbiont also has the ability to track separated bits of itself / offspring; I’m going to call that a minor enhanced sense on the level of Darkvision, above, given that it’s basically a plot device (500 GP). Unfortunately, the Symbiont basically lives to fight – and so tends to constantly push the wearer towards violence.
  • Handy Haversack (2000 GP). The symbiont can store stuff in extradimensional pockets. This is very convenient, but is still mostly a nod to the convention of skin-tight superhero costumes.
  • Healing Belt x 2, x.7 Personal-Only (1050 GP). The symbiont offers some regenerative abilities. How much? That’s pretty hard to say. After all, not only is it subject to the usual variability of comic books, but translating to d20 – where an anti-tank missile does an average of 14 damage and a megaton city-killer fusion bomb does an average of 72 – throws in yet another set of narrative conventions. I’m calling it 12d8 – enough to shrug off quite a lot of attacks, but not enough to keep going indefinitely.
  • Sleeves Of Many Garments (200 GP): The symbiont can serve as pretty much any kind of clothing.
  • Traveler’s Any Tool (250 GP), Masterwork Thieves Tools (100 GP), and Alchemists Lab (200 GP): The symbionts shapeshifting abilities are quite enough to let it substitute for tools.
  • Personal Haste (+30′ to movement modes, +1 attack when making a Full Attack) (Spell Level One x Caster Level One x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated = 2000 GP).
  • Extended Reach (+5 Natural Reach for one minute) (Spell Level One x Caster Level One x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x Personal Only x.7 = 1400 GP).
  • Immortal Vigor (+12 + 2 x Con Mod HP) (Spell Level One x Caster Level One x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x Personal Only x.7 = 1400 GP).
  • Enlarge Person (Practical Enchanter variant, +1 Size Category when active) (Spell Level One x Caster Level One x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x Personal Only x.7 = 1400 GP).
  • Create Rope (Creates up to 60′ of strong silk rope, lasting up to one hour per caster level. Optionally, you can make one end sticky and/or fire it as a ranged touch attack to stick to something with about Str 16) (Spell Level One x Caster Level One x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated = 2000 GP).
  • Augment Attack: (+1d8 damage with up to three natural weapons, lasts for one minute) (Spell Level One x Caster Level One x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x Personal Only x.7 = 1400 GP).
  • Flesh Ward (DR 2/-) (Spell Level One x Caster Level One x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x Personal Only x.7 = 1400 GP).

With a total cost of 18,300 GP, these innate enchantments would normally cost 19 CP – but they are Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / the user takes Double Damage from Fire and Sonic attacks (6 CP).

Disadvantages (-10 CP).

  • Accursed. The symbiont occasionally spawns copies of itself, or becomes infections, or otherwise extremely troublesome. The wearer will just have to run around cleaning up the mess when this happens, but will gain no experience points for doing so.
  • Accursed. The symbiont tends to animate itself and wander off looking for a new host if it’s current user fails to use it for a time, ir simply isn’t satisfactory.
  • Incompetent:The user tends to absorb some of the symbionts personality traits, exaggerate instincts and irrationalities, becoming disassociated from normal society, and having difficulties with social interactions – suffering a -3 penalty on all social skills.

That gives us a net cost of 26 CP. Due to the magic of rounding down, we could fit in another 1 CP worth of special abilities – perhaps an alien language that it shares with the user (1 CP).

Once again, this is a hyper-efficient design – and is, like all 4 CP Relics, something of a game-defining device. This is also why the usual suggested limitation is 4 CP worth of Relics (if the game master opts to allow them at all) – enough so that everyone can have their own little superhero package, but not enough to completely dominate the game.

Eclipse, Spelljamming, and Cosmic Voyages

The ornate helm is a thing of beauty. Wrought of blue-green metal and ornamented with a tracery of tiny black opals, it is hard to say if it suggests the surface of the sea at night or the night sky. It is clearly a treasure of great price even before it is touched – but when it is touched, to the heart it sings the music of the spheres, a song of travel and distant worlds. The mana within it burns with the need to take flight, and sail the seas of space once more.

Today, it’s something that’s come up recently – a relic of a lost world created by a long-dead god from the dreams of his (or her?) followers, for – thanks to the Eclipse’s “Infusion” ability – gods often wind up creating religious relics, granting powers to their followers, and developing strange divine attributes based on their followers beliefs.

Crown Of Worlds (Also known as the Helm Of Stars and by many other names) (4 CP Relic):

  • One Level of Cleric Of Madai Package Deal Spellcasting (10 CP): As usual, using this requires making a fairly serious commitment to the service of Madai (at the moment, that mostly means gathering what little is known about him or her and working towards his or her resurrection). As usual, the package deal includes two Paths/Domains, their accompanying “Domain Powers”, Spell Conversion (to the spells from the Cosmic Voyager Domain. It is important to note that any spell the user happens to have available can be converted – not just clerical spells), and the usual set of Domain Spell Slots.

The Cosmic Voyager Domain:

Within the cosmic deeps, the elemental forces of reality – whatever those may be in any given part of the multiverse – run riot, unrestrained by the presence of stars, worlds, and life. Still, voyagers seek to penetrate those depths, searching out whatever lies beyond. For those who feel that call, the Cosmic Voyager domain will answer.

Granted Power: Superstition (6 CP). Characters with this domain may prepare clerical spells of up to level four even in realms where the power they draw upon has no presence – or even if it does not currently exist.

  • L1: Locate Self: Identifies your current location in some detail, most often starting with identifying your current plane of existence and galaxy.
  • L2: Locate Portal: Locates the nearest ship-sized hyperspace jump gate, stargate, crystal portal, wormhole, nexus, or similar location, regardless of the form such things take within a particular realm or crystal sphere.
  • L3: Key Portal: Opens an existent, but currently-closed, stargate, crystal portal, or similar long enough for a ship to pass through it.
  • L4: Hidden Paths: Cloaks a ship against detection, providing a +15 insight bonus to Stealth attempts (using the pilots base skill) for the next hour.
  • L5: Shipway: Opens a ship-scale portal through realm barriers, allowing entry to, or exit from, hyperspace, subspace, astral space, or other planes – although the accuracy is poor, there is no guarantee of safe arrival conditions, things can follow you through, it can take up to ten minutes, and you are limited to those planes associated with the local reality.
  • L6: Arcane Modulation: Allows weaponry and spells to operate normally in poor conditions for up to an hour. You could fire lasers through ionized gas, plasma weapons underwater, kinetic weapons through a raging storm, or use incendiary weapons safely in a flammable medium. This normally affects a ship and all aboard it, but can be used to simply affect a 30′ radius.
  • L7: Planar Sphere: Alters certain planar traits around a ship to maintain “normal” conditions for the caster and vessel for one day.
  • L8: Warp Bubble: Allows a ship to reach worlds and regions that lack normal access routes. The voyage may require several subjective days and occasionally involves strange encounters along the way. There have been reports of time travel when the lengthy casting time of this spell is rushed, but those are difficult to confirm; there seem to be many random factors involved.
  • L9: Atheric Slipstream: Allows a ship extremely high-speed travel – sufficient for long-range interstellar travel and intergalactic travel given time. The exact time required is set by the game master, but even crossing a galaxy is fairly fast.

The Spelljammer Domain:

Ships that sail between the stars must be even more prepared for anything than those that traverse mere distant seas – and so this domain exists to allow sufficiently skillful captains to meet any contingency. A truly powerful Spelljammer Captain can guide his or her ship to harbor through incredible perils, always, somehow, bringing it safely home.

Granted Power: Spell Conversion (To the Spells of This Domain, 6 CP). With full spontaneous access to both the Cosmic Voyager and Spelljammer Domains, a powerful Captain can indeed be ready for anything!

  • L1: Evaluate Cargo: Allows you to evaluate the value and difficulties involved in transporting a given cargo – including things like hatching monster eggs, stowaways, and other troubles.
  • L2: Planetary Scan: Provides basic information on a planet from orbital range. This includes it’s general elemental conditions, whether intelligent life is present, and a quick description of it’s biosphere.
  • L3: Atheric Blast: Fires a 5′ wide line of energy with a LOS range of several thousand miles, but only functions in space. Attempts at planetary bombardment affect a single space, and only work if the caster is of very high level, with how high is required dependent on the planet.
  • L4: Aetheric Wind Mastery: Functions as Control Wind for the currents of space, only in space.
  • L5: Asteroid Field: Creates a dangerous barrier – roughly equivalent to a Wall Of Fire that takes a bit of time to reverse and lasting one minute per level after concentration ceases – on ship scales, but only functions in space. Interestingly, each caster tends to have their own unique variant.
  • L6: Aetheric Sail: Allows a ships sails to catch atheric winds for a day – creating dimensional distortions that allow flight, provide a form of “artificial gravity”, and hold an atmosphere bubble around it. Unfortunately, this works like sailing a ship in unpredictable weather with a crew that generally cannot see it – leaving the vessel subject to solar storms, unfavorable “winds”, and requiring a full crew and a skillful commander to maneuver effectively. Developing an appropriate piloting skill is highly recommended.
  • L7: Make And Mend: Performs basic repairs on a shipwide basis, renews a depleted atmosphere bubble, and replenishes and restocks minor supplies, such as rope, canvas, and water.
  • L8: Atheric Broadside: Allows a ships weapons to fire up to (Caster’s Level, 24 Max) Atheric Blasts, although no individual weapon may fore more than once per round.
  • L9: Atheric Shield: Wraps a ship in a sphere of force, preventing boarding, teleportation aboard unless the caster permits it, the effects of breath weapons and environmental conditions, and reducing all damage by 75% for the next ten minutes – although a close-range Disintegration attack will bring down the shield.

While these two domains may not be entirely unique to Madai, they certainly aren’t common.

Tapping The Emergency Reserves:

  • 1d6 (4) Mana with Spell Enhancement, Specialized and Corrupted / only for Spell Enhancement, only for the Domain Spells listed above (2 CP).
  • Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted / only ro recharge the Spell Enhancement Pool above, only works between encounters (4 CP).

This combination allows a captain to push the limits of his or her powers – spending mana to reduce the effective level of a spell for casting purposes by up to three levels. Thus, for example, a captain capable of casting only third level spells could still use the sixth level Atheric Sails effect to get his or her vessel into space.

Returning, Specialized and Corrupted / only applies to the Helm itself (2 CP). A Crown Of Worlds / Helm Of Stars is close to indestructible, unless very special measures are taken to get rid of it. Of course they’re incredibly valuable items in any case, so it’s rather rare for anyone to try to destroy one.

Witchcraft II, Specialized for Reduced Cost (6 CP) / not cumulative with other Witchcraft abilities, does not provide Power if user has other Witchcraft abilities and will usurp at least (Cha Mod) power as a reserve to provide repairs for it’s ship construct if needed, user must be a follower of Madai, and must provide at least a vehicle framework to focus these powers through.

  • Witchsight: Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect: The user may employ skills on space-vessel scales – using Survival for space navigation or tracking other ships, Spot to scan solar systems and planetary surfaces, Listen to hear broadcasts, Knowledge / Nature to determine planetary environments, Stealth to try and sneak his or her vessel past opponents, and so on, at no Power cost – but may not use this for other effects or except when aboard a suitable vessel.
  • The Inner Eye: Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect: The user may borrow a bit of skill at a language from whoever he or she is speaking to at no Power cost, bypassing language barriers as long as the mode of communication is something he or she can use and the target is neither shielded nor inherently uncomprehensible, but may not use this for other effects.
  • Hand of Shadows: Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / The user can effectively operate, maintain, or repair a vessel with a fairly minimal crew, especially in dramatic situations, at no Power cost – but cannot use the Hand of Shadows for other effects.
  • Witchcraft/Path of Fire/The Birth of Flames. Corrupted for Increased Effect (Construct IX) and Specialized for Reduced Cost / Creates a vehicle (3 CP). Vehicles do not get their own actions; they must be operated by pilots, drivers, gunners, and other crewmen using their own skills and BAB, they can only be manifested or unmanifested off-screen in reasonably plausible locations, they always have type flaws (for example, most air vehicles cannot carry nearly as much weight as their strength indicates and only get half the usual number of hit points), and they suffer from any obvious vehicular limitations (such as not maneuvering well in dungeons). They do get a x3 multiplier for long-distance travel though, as they are utterly tireless. In this case, if the vessel has been “destroyed”, or “left behind”, the user must acquire or construct at least a suitable framework around which the construct can be manifested. Still, this will allow the user to turn any old hunk of junk that they can salvage into a functional ship.

Generic Spacecraft (Huge Psychic Construct IX):

  • Class-A: Elemental Subtype (Space), 2x Flight (40 in atmosphere).
  • Class-B: Fast Healing II, Facilities (Baths, Galley, Etc), Spell Storing II (Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / only for a spell or spells of up to L3 used to represent bizarre weapons, 18 self-charging levels worth per day).
  • Class-C: Enveloping (Crew Compartments), Dimension Slide (Interplanetary Drive Variant: Once out of atmosphere may travel between worlds within solar systems in plot-convenient time), Basic Shields (Variant on Extreme Deflection, +4 to AC, +4 to Saves).
  • Flaw: Prone to weird malfunctions and negative space wedgies, attracts pirates, creatures, and other weirdness at a completely unreasonable rate.
  • Note: Spacecraft may also make physical attacks by ramming things; but this is a very poor idea.
  • Individual Crowns may manifest variant ships – perhaps substituting advanced sensors or laboratories for the Shields.

Net Cost: 27 CP / 6 = 4.5, rounds down to 4 CP as a Relic.

Like most four-point relics, this is a campaign-changing item – in this case, obviously enough, into “d20 in space”. It probably isn’t reasonable to allow player-characters to simply take “Create Relic” and turn items like this out – but it certainly wouldn’t be unreasonable to restrict “Create Relic” to lesser items. While the user will need to be able to use sixth level spells to access the full power of a Helm Of Stars, third level spells will suffice to get into space and start traveling – meaning that would-be Captains must have some basic competencies, but it’s nothing particularly noteworthy.

It’s also possible for a character to simply buy the relevant powers on his or her own, and do without a Crown Of Worlds – perhaps by becoming one of Dune’s “Guild Navigators” – but that is generally a rarity (unless, of course, the game master WANTS a bunch of random spacefarers casually knocking around the galaxy).

Six thousand years ago there was a world rich with magic, inhabited by many races and gods. It had fought off invaders before – but this time it was not to be. The enemy was a thing of darkness, all-devouring. Vortexes of negative energy tore across the lands, shattering defenses both magical and mundane, gouging the earth, and pulling people, beasts, and objects into the devouring void-flesh of the Enemy – the tiny part of it’s inconceivable form that extended into the realm it sought to devour. Armies, beasts, adventurers, and gods fought and died – but the Enemy raised legions of the dead, spawned devouring monsters, and replaced it’s losses with the allied fallen even as it continued to ravage the world.

According to the Histories of Atheria, an Emissary of the Light and the Archmage Almin of the Stars, wielding the power of a fallen god, opened a portal to Atheria – a last refuge for the survivors – and sacrificed themselves to seal the way behind them even as the last gods sacrificed themselves to turn the ancient world into a vast prison, a trap designed to hold the Enemy for long ages. The Domain Lords of Atheria, living Cosmic Principles, allowed those lost survivors to take refuge within their realms – a place where the Enemy could never come, for no being of the void could endure the Plane of Archetypes for so much as a moment.

And for ages, the people of Atheria believed themselves to be humanities last survivors.

But at least one of the Ancient Gods – Madai the Shipmaster, Master of the Winds and Patron of Travelers – had granted his followers another way to seek refuge. He had created (birthed? splintered?) mighty relics that allowed their users to sail between the stars, sparks of life traversing the void to seek out new worlds on which to burn. More, those helms were forged from a part of his own essence – and so, given enough power with which to work, were a potential seed of his resurrection.

Almin’s ancient spells have failed at last, the gates to the planes beyond have opened once more – and one of Madai’s creations has been gathered to Atheria, the realm of Principles and Archtypes, Fountianhead of Creation. If more can be gathered there, to drink from the cosmic source, Madai might well be reborn at last.

Eclipse and the Pathfinder Assassin

And it’s time for another attempt to get started posting again. Being in the medical field in the midst of a pandemic has pretty much eliminated my writing time since last year – but it’s loosening up a bit now. To get back into the swing of things, questions are welcome; they give me a place to start. And for today we have Alzrius, asking about a breakdown for the Pathfinder Assassin Prestige Class.

We can probably assume the use of the Pathfinder Package Deal, but it doesn’t have any actual effect. The class basics are fully compatible with the vast majority of d20 settings anyway.

For the basics of this ten-level class we have…

  • d8 Hit Dice (40 CP), 4 Skill Points per Level (40 CP), a Base Attack Bonus of +7 (42 CP), total Saves of +11 (33 CP), and Augment Attack (Sneak Attack option, +5d6, 15 CP).
  • Assassins are also Proficient with Light Armor (3 CP) and a Limited Group of Weapons (3 CP).

That’s 176 CP out of the 240 CP available to a ten-level prestige class. In actual play they probably wouldn’t need to pay for the proficiencies since any would-be assassin really should have most of them already.

The items in the Pathfinder Assassin that improve the Death Attack trick include True Death (a sort of curse on those slain by the user’s Death Attack that makes them slightly more difficult to raise from the dead), Quiet Death (allowing the user to conceal the fact that he or she has used a Death Attack to kill a target during a surprise round), Swift Death (allowing the user to use Death Attack once per day without the normally-required study time), and Angel Of Death (Once per day can destroy a body, preventing the use of Raise Dead or Resurrection – albeit not the use of Wish or True Resurrection.

OK then:

  • True Death simply annoys PC’s and really doesn’t affect NPC’s since they rely more on plot effects than wealth.
  • Quiet Death… is pretty specialized. It’s neat when it comes up, but it’s not going to come up all that often.
  • Swift Death lets the character make a quick save-or-die strike once per day. That’s really not that impressive; spellcasters can usually do this more often and better.
  • Angel Of Death saves the bother of destroying a body some other way – perhaps by dropping a capsule of green slime on it. Handy, but but it’s not as if people in the real world, with no magic at all and a lot less motivation, haven’t disposed of quite a lot of bodies. Disposing of a body is not actually all that hard.

So to buy those items, take…

  • Trick (Death Attack, normally requires three rounds of study and use shortly after the study period) Specialized and Corrupted for increased Effect (offers a choice of Death or Short-Term Paralysis, Only requires two rounds of study) / Requires a successful sneak attack, fails if the target is aware of the user or recognizes the user as an enemy*, must be used within three rounds (6 CP).

*OK, that doesn’t make a lot of sense. If I know that a particular assassin is after me, I’m immune to his or he death attack? After all, I know that he or she is an enemy even if I don’t know that they’re nearby – and therefore am protected? I recommend dropping the “or recognizes the user as an enemy” since any reasonable interpretation of that already falls under “if the target is aware of the user”.

Given that it’s not really that hard to get rid of a body lets go straight to a drastically upgraded version of Angel Of Death. Buy…

  • Presence / Aura of Corruption (An improved, level one, version of Putrefy Food And Drink), Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / Only affects corpses, only of creatures that the user has slain with Death Attack (2 CP). There. That will cause the bodies of those you slay to be consumed by insects, fungi, and various microorganisms in a few moments – with the resulting compost being of no more use for bringing back the victim than a chunk of flesh from a wolf is useful for bringing back the deer it ate last week. Once a body has been consumed by other organisms and digested… it’s now a part of them and the relationship with the original creature is broken.

Even better… That works all day, every day, as often as you like. It will take a Wish or True Resurrection (or perhaps Returning) to bring back ANYTHING you kill.

If you want to do something else with your 2 CP… invest in an Injecting Weapon or look in The Complete Scoundrel, or any of dozens of other equipment books and go with the Green Slime again. Or any of several other oozes. There are quite a few of them which will eat a body, bones and all.

We’ve already got the Death Attack down to two rounds of study, and we want to eliminate the study at least once per day.

  • Buy Reflex Training (four actions per day variant), Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (accomplishes two rounds of study as a free action) / only for use with studying targets to allow the use of a Death Attack (6 CP). That’s four times a day, which is at least competitive with the local druid when it comes to save-or-die effects.

Quiet Death? For that you want

  • Traceless (Murder), Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / Only keeps it from being noticeable when you kill someone with your Death Attack for a brief period (2 CP).

Again, that’s an improvement on the original ability which had much more limited applications since it only worked during a surprise round.

OK, that pretty much covers the Pathfinder Assassins signature techniques with some upgrades for… 16 CP. That’s actually pretty cheap.

So what else does the Pathfinder Assassin get?

  • Poison Use (6 CP). This might be overpriced, but that’s back-compatibility again. Still, it lets you both make and safely use poisons.
  • +5 on Saves Versus Poison. This could be bought with Resistance, or Augmented Bonus, either of which might be better in the long run – but I’m going to match the edge and buy Luck just to get a second chance against poisons (6 CP) – basically, letting the user roll twice and keep the best result when saving against poisons. An actual character might well be better served with Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized / only for Saves – but that has the same cost and so could be easily swapped in.
  • Improved Uncanny Dodge. That’s Awareness (6 CP) with Flankless (Specialized, does not work against opponents with a four-level advantage over you, 3 CP).
  • Hidden Weapons: You could duplicate this by buying Professional (Sleight Of Hand), Specialized for Increased Effect (+1 per level) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / Only to use Sleight Of Hand to Conceal Weapons (4 CP) – but personally I would buy either Innate Enchantment / Handy Haversack (+2 CP worth of Innate Enchantment) or take Shaping in the Use of Charms and Talismans variant – thus getting the use of ten minor bits of magic – such as a making a weapon invisible when not in use, concealed pockets, a few moments of invisiblity, instant makeover capsules, and so on.
  • Hide In Plain Sight could be an immunity, or smoke pellets, or some other trick – but the simplest way to get it is to take Opportunist (gets to roll to hide even when under observation and without cover, 6 CP).

That’s about 47 CP in total (possibly varying a bit of you take some of the Eclipse-style options instead of the attempts at duplication), giving the Pathfinder Assassin a net cost of 223 CP out of the 240 CP available – although it’s not a particularly efficient build, which kind of explains why the Pathfinder Assassin generally isn’t considered worth taking except – sometimes – as a dip. This being Eclipse, of course, you could start as an Assassin instead of taking it as a prestige class and have a lot of the special tricks within the first few levels. Throw in Duties (likely to whoever trained you), Adept or Fast Learner to cut down on the SP Cost (6 CP each, either worth 20 CP worth of skills (and continuing to offer benefits later) for a net savings of 14 CP – or take both to upgrade at a reduced cost) and cut the Hit Dice to d4’s in favor of Agile Combat [Advanced Augmented Bonus (Add (Dex Mod) to (Con Mod) for HP Purposes through level 10, 12 CP)] to save 28 CP and you’ll have 79 CP available – enough for, say:

  • The full original Assassin Spellcasting Package (56 CP). This isn’t especially impressive, but does include some handy tricks and is rather tightly focused on stuff assassins are likely to need.
  • The 32 CP Pirate Template and a bunch of other stuff – perhaps some of the C’hi Power packages from this article on Ninja or some nice Martial Stances or even something like a Birthright.
  • The Bokor (“Binder”) Package (60 CP). This one will continue to pay dividends throughout your entire career and is very nice when you want to put together a package of powers that’s just right for taking out a particular target.
  • The Entreaty Magic package (87 CP, so you’ll need to throw in a couple of your feats – but well worth it if you have a decent Charisma score) is another one that will continue to pay off throughout your entire career.
  • Perhaps a good chunk of Witchcraft. That’s not overwhelmingly powerful, but it is very sneaky and versatile.
  • Perhaps a Martial Discipline at (48 CP)? Or you could invest three Feats to either buy a second one or to triple your uses-per-fight on your first set of maneuvers.
  • Or go with the Skill-Based Partial Casters (Type I or Type II) (Variable Cost).
  • How about the Pulp Hero templates? At 32 (Basic) or 64 (Advanced) CP that would certainly be different!

Any of those options will make our revamped Eclipse Assassin considerably more effective – as it should be. The Assassin is a strong and popular archetype. It shouldn’t be crippling to want to play one.

Practical Enchantment – Bardic Instruments and Knacks

Backwards and forwards swayed their song.
Reeling and foundering, as ever more strong
The chanting swelled, (Finrod) fought,
And all the magic and might he brought,
Of Elvenesse into his words.
Softly in the gloom they heard the birds
Singing afar in Nargothrond,
The sighing of the sea beyond…

…The wolf howls. The ravens flee.
The ice mutters in the mouths of the sea.
The captives sad in Angband mourn,
Thunder rumbles, the fires burn-
And Finrod fell before the throne.


While high-end musical magic is a thing of art that – at least ideally – should swing back and forth like a cinematic battle of master martial artists, in d20 that’s basically spellcasting, high magic, and personal power. Magical instruments, however, are things of myth and legend, subtle devices that can influence the world and enhance the user’s musical talents in a thousand ways.

Which is why it’s so disappointing that d20’s musical instruments mostly aren’t very interesting. In fact, bardic optimization handbooks often don’t even mention them. There are quite a few – but most of them seem to be masterwork instruments that cast three spells once per day each. Their prices are mostly reasonable, and that’s not at all bad – but even one of the best examples – the Canaith Mandolin (Masterwork Instrument, 8100 GP, requires 8 Ranks in Perform, casts Cure Serious Wounds, Dispel Magic, and Summon Monster III once per day each at caster level eight) is a bit lackluster. Yes, those are all generally useful spells at a decent caster level and the price is good – but there’s not much subtlety, or room for creativity, or room for making your magical instrument a major part of your life.

So lets do something a little different. Lets take some fairly versatile, but cheap-and-basic, effects and make them unlimited use instead. Perhaps the most obvious place to start is with…

Arcane Melody: Greater Invocation: Melody Of Orpheus (L1. Produces any of the following music-focused cantrip-level effects (or others as the game master approves). These generally have a duration of “as long as you keep playing” and, thanks to them being use-activated, the musician can activate one effect per round while playing up to a maximum of (Charisma Modifier +1, 1 Minimum) simultaneous effects. That’s Spell Level One x Caster Level One x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x .9 (Requires Perform / Strings) at +6 or better = 1800 GP. Some of the possible effects include:

● A Private Moment: You can direct the sound of your music to an individual within 60 feet so that it is just for them.
● Background Music: Recurring snatches of theme music – associated with particular people and situations – will play on their own. This is sometimes a warning and sometimes just awkward.
● Calming Music: Those listening gain a +1 bonus on saves against emotion-manipulating effects.
● Carried On The Wind: You can let your music “originate” from any location within 30 feet.
● Choreography: Willing creatures who hear your music can sing or dance along as if they had practiced if they choose to participate. Yes, this lets you do musical-style spontaneous music-and-dance numbers with people you’ve just met if they’re willing to do so.
● Coincidental Chorus: Your music smoothly blends in with ambient sounds – birdsong, a smith working, and so on.
● Convey Meaning: You may use a social skill through your music. The skill works normally, you just use music instead of words.
● Crescendo: Your music is louder and easier to hear, as if you were using an amplifier.
● Discordant Notes: Your music is as annoying as a screeching blackboard. The GM might even impose a small distraction penalty or let you really annoy creatures with sensitive ears.
● Deep Harmony: You may use the Heal skill through your music. While this lets you attend a group simultaneously, the total time needed to complete the job remains unchanged.
● Empathic Melody: Those who listen to your music will recognize how you feel about the topic of your song.
● Harmonic Whisper: You may embed the equivalent of a Message cantrip within your music, but the effect is only one way – from you to the recipients. You don’t need to point to them though.
● Haunting Melody: The music will persist for 3d6 rounds after the playing stops, although any occult effects stop after one round.
● Impressions: You can convey the emotions and vague versions of the visual imagery associated with a song or tale, as if calling up memories of having witnessed it, giving your audience a fair impression of what it was like to have been there.
● Lullaby: You make a target feel drowsy, taking a –4 on Perception checks and a –2 on saves against sleep if they fail a will save – without the save being particularly noticeable. If they fail several (GMO) in a row they are likely to fall asleep. If you keep this up for an hour or so you may be able to put a quite lot of people to sleep (especially if they were just having a feast or are otherwise well-fed and tired).
● Musical Meditation: Those who fall asleep listening to your music need two hours less sleep (minimum two hours) to be fully rested.
● Orchestral Accompaniment: Gain a +3 Competence Bonus on your performance. (This also covers various effects – harmonies, descants, echoes, synthesizer noises, etc. Not that that matters).
● Power Chord: If using a bardic music effect that normally affects multiple targets you may affect one additional target.
● Soothe The Savage Beast: Animals will often stop and listen to your music. This isn’t forced, they just find it pleasant.
● Subliminal Whisper: You can cause a thought to occur to those listening, either causing an idea to occur to them or providing a +1 bonus to other persuasive efforts. No compulsion is involved.
● Threnodic Melody: You may cause those who listen to remember random bits of their pasts. such as “a time when they were happy”. They may feel nostalgic for a bit. This effect may also be used to produce pleasant dreams.

Now none of those effects are particularly game-breaking, In fact, several of them only affect role-playing aspects of the game (unless, perhaps, a bit of musical theater has somehow become vital to the plot) – but they can be fun and, since they’re unlimited-use, you aren’t wasting precious resources by using them. Go ahead, send a private performance to that cute potential romantic interest, try to soothe the angry shouting in the kings court, turn up the volume to drown out those annoying hecklers or cover up the sounds of your friends trying to search a room. There simply isn’t any reason not to have your music be a normal part of life rather than a combat boost.

For our next obvious possibility, lets look at…

The Visual Arts: Silent Image (Spell Level One x Caster Level One x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x.5 Only to produce the list of effects given below (no general illusion-casting) x .8 (Requires Perform / Strings at +8 or Better) = 800 GP. Use up to three at a time.

● Costume: The user may opt to look like they are wearing their preferred stage costume whenever they are playing.
● Creepy Shadows: The user may fill the stage with ominous shadows, making anything else around him or her slightly hard to see. If they are focused on a single target, that target gains one-half Concealment.
● Dread Reflection: You may cause a reflection to portray a target as if they were aged, deformed, horribly diseased, or even undead when they see it. This can be quite startling.
● Envisionment: Your music generates glowing strings or fancy light patterns as you play. This can make it hard to see that you are spellcasting, inflicting a -5 penalty on the relevant Spellcraft checks. Furthermore, if you cast Hypnotic Pattern or a related spell while playing, the save DC for that spell increases by +1.
● Firework Display: You may enhance your performance with an assortment of small-scale smoke-puffs and minor “fireworks”. This usually attracts a larger audience and makes you more likely to be invited to give special performances. .
● Makeup Effects: When the user is playing, he or she can seem to have glowing eyes, little demon horns, a glittering halo, black starry voids for eyes, or whatever. This can make a stage persona especially recognizable.
● Ornament: You may give a target within 30 feet a bit of dramatic lightning, making them obviously important and giving them a +1 bonus on social skill checks (if a -5 penalty on being stealthy).
● Personal Spotlight: The user may have minor personal lighting effects whenever he or she is playing – usually a spotlight, a bit of hazy backdrop, and so on.
● Radiant Glade: The immediate area appears sunlit and pleasant. This can be reversed if you would prefer to give observers a gloomy and ominous (or haunted-house) impression instead.
● Rule Of Cool: When the user casts a spell while grasping the instrument, he or she is free to give it dramatic visual special effects, although the actual game effect remains unchanged. If you want your Cone Of Cold to look like a sudden attack by a swarm of horrible ice-spirits… well, this is the function you want.
● Street Performer: Your act includes various visual flourishes – cute animals looking appealingly at the lack of money in your bowl, card tricks, birds flying around you, and so on. Add +2 to your performance total when busking for money. If you combine this with Impressions you can produce the general effect of having shown your audience a movie or television special on your topic. If this function is combined with the music for a play or similar production, the backdrops and props will look quite good.
● Statuesque: You may make yourself appear to be made of some material other than flesh. People may reach quite oddly if you pass yourself off as a suddenly-animate statue or musical automaton or some such.

The Visual Arts are the obvious next step for a magical instrument – allowing the user to give reality to the adage that “All the worlds a stage” with relative ease. Once again, there isn’t a lot of raw power here and a lot of the effects are pure role-playing props – but it gives you license to throw minor descriptive elements into the setting to suit yourself. When it comes to having fun that can be quite priceless.

For our third major function we have…

The Anvil Chorus: Unseen Servant (Spell Level One x Caster Level One x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x .5 (Unseen Servants only act while you play music, you only get enough to act as a crew of a dozen people at any one time) x .7 (Requires Perform / Strings at +10 or Better) = +700 GP. In general, only one function of the Anvil Chorus may be used at a time.

● Animate Implements: Your music may act as a crew of servants – washing dishes, doing laundry, cooking meals, setting up camp, and so on as if (Performance check) basically unskilled people were working on the project.
● Breezy Notes: You may direct small breezes, as if several people were waving fans.
● Construction: Your music can dig trenches, cut wood, assemble a cottage, clear rubble, and perform other basic projects and repairs as if many laborers were working on them. Sadly, duplicating the construction effect of a Lyre Of Building would require a performance check of 1600+. Settle for small projects.
● Capstan Shanty: You can provide the equivalent of (Check / 4) horsepower to drive an engine, mill, or similar mechanism while your music continues.
● Farmers Boon: Your music can plow fields, harvest crops, shovel coal, carry burdens, and otherwise perform the work of (Check / 2) field hands and (Check / 8) relevant draft animals.
● Industrious Song: You can help a craftsman work on a project, tripling the amount of work he or she could normally perform.
● Opening Chord: Unlocked doors, windows, trunks and similar closures may be thrown open, curtains pulled back, and covers pulled away in the area. This may be reversed, to close up a place, put out lights, and seal an area.
● Phantom Crew: Your music can act as a crew for the purposes of rowing, manning a ship, carrying palanquins, or accomplishing similar tasks. .
● Poltergeist Chorus: You may cause quantities of relatively light objects to fly about and get into peoples way, possibly even breaking line-of-sight through a square if you have stuff cluster together.
● Rescue: Fallen friends may be carried from battle, crude pressure applied to staunch the flow of blood (+5 circumstance bonus on Stabilization checks), sailors who have fallen overboard be pulled from the sea, and so on as if some unskilled people were helping.
● Squires Chord: Your music can get (Cha Mod) targets into their armor and equipped in a single round. The Maid’s Chord can do the same for getting people into fancy dress or their makeup on.
● Wings of Song: You cushion falls, reducing the damage to up to (Cha Mod +1, 1 Minimum) targets per round by your performance check, 0 Minimum. Unfortunately, unless you have an action readied to catch those trapeze artists, or the children leaping from windows to escape a fire, or some such, this will probably only be useful if a group is intentionally jumping down.

Now the Anvil Chorus starts to offer a bit of actual power in that most of it’s options actually accomplish tangible things – but few of them are things that adventurers find important. When was the last time that your characters did their laundry or spent the day harvesting apples? Even if you’re short of crew to run a ship or something… you’ll find some way to do it or the game will grind to a halt anyway. On the other hand, causing unseen powers to do the dishes or pack your bags is an excellent way to imply that you have enough magic to not mind “wasting it” on trivial matters.

Finally, for our fourth power, we have the…

Travelers Song: Mount (Spell Level One x Caster Level One x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x .5 (“Mounts” are sonic phantoms, and exist only as long as the user continues to play, maximum number manifested at once = users performance check / 2) x.7 (Requires Perform Bonus of +12 or better) = 700 GP

● Drover’s Canticle: Your music may move carriages, barges, wagons, sledges, and similar large objects as if many horses were pulling them. Alternatively, you may keep such an vehicle from moving with a similar force.
● Melancholic Descant: You may increase the load of a vehicle or area as if a horse was sitting on it. If someone is unable to resist or unconscious or some such you may also do this to people.
● Hammermill Chorus: Your music may supply up to (Performance Check / 2) horsepower to run mills, industrial machinery, pumps, and similar devices as long as they could reasonably be powered by draft animals.
● Huntsman’s Hymn: You may send the sound of hoofbeats rushing off, simulating either a group or a single horse, and even leaving a trail of hoofprints behind – although the trail will vanish after a few hundred feet.
● Traveling Montage: The users party is treated as being mounted (on tireless horses) even if they are not, and so may travel more quickly and with less fatigue.
● Sonic Barricade: If you have a held action ready you may block an incoming spell or effect with the equivalent on an (invisible) light horse. While 20 points of damage will make the barrier disappear, it will otherwise last while you play. If you like, while playing, you may maintain multiple such barriers, blocking doors, passages, and people trying to charge you. (Yes, this is silly. Ask the GM if it’s allowable first).
● Sonic Wave: You may send a sonic wave equivalent to the passage of a light horse up to 60 feet. (This usually triggers traps and also has a reasonable chance – equivalent to that of a light horse kicking – of opening a door).
● Wings Of Song: Given a standard action to prepare you may let your music carry willing targets, making a Jump Check for them at +15 that does not count against their movement.

OK, we’re stretching things a bit on the special effects – but that’s no problem if you’ve already got The Visual Arts anyway.

So let’s add this up for our “Etheric Instrument”:

  • Masterwork Musical Instrument: 100 GP.
  • Arcane Melody: +1800 GP. (Requires a +6 Bonus).
  • The Visual Arts: +800 GP. (Requires a +8 Bonus).
  • The Anvil Chorus: +700 GP. (Requires a +10 Bonus).
  • Traveler’s Song: +700 GP. (Requires a +12 Bonus).

That’s 4100 GP. Lets throw in a Wand Chamber (+100 GP) for a total of 4200 GP.

An individual GM may want to insist on a higher caster level (likely three) and up the price a bit (at CL 3 the base magical cost would be 12,000 GP, but there’s no actual benefit associated with the higher caster level, which would justify cutting it down a bit). After all, this list does include fifty-two different (if not particularly impressive) unlimited-use bardic tricks.

In particular, in Eclipse, you can take this Bardic Knack (sans wand chamber) at the base cost as six CP worth of Innate Enchantment and have at least 900 GP left over. Personally, I’d invest most of that in books – things like “Collected Popular Songs”. “Great Tales Of Adventure”. “Myths And Legends”, and so on. Being able to boast of a 900-1400 GP library in your head ought to be enough to let you know pretty much every myth, tale, and piece of music in most settings. That gives you your “bardic studies” and a considerable range of magical music for a mere 6 CP.

The skill requirements will be a little restrictive for a while, but are built around a total required bonus – so your attribute bonus and any permanent personal boosts you’re using will help you get there. Go ahead. Act like a mage who’s just acquired unlimited use of Prestidigitation; see how many ways you can use minor magics to accomplish your goals instead of casting major spells.

Eclipse – The Houngan Conjurer II

This time around, it’s a bit of a collaboration and an example – how one Eclipse character in a Forgotten Realms game is opting to use the Houngan Conjurer package (a method of making temporary character-enhancing items. He’s calling his “Talismans”.).

The in-game justification for his powers is apparently that:

It is my art to channel what WAS, what MAY BE, and what IS NOT into the NOW. Of Magic, Lore, and Prophecy in the service of the Loomeinsenerid and the Kvoorum-Parandaja order. The Talismans are of time-not, embodiments of talents you might have in other lines of time or might yet learn. Being within the High Forest – the Eye Of Time on Abeir-Toril – makes it easy to call such things forth.

  • “Loomeinsenerid” – apparently the “Engineers of Creation” who built the universe.
  • “Kvoorum-Parandaja” – apparently “Quorum Healer”, repairers of broken realities?

In other words “Here is something you might opt to learn in the next level or two. Go ahead and experiment with it. If you don’t like it, we can try something else. If you do, you can buy those powers normally it and I’ll make a new “Talisman” with some other powers you might be interested in trying out”. It lets players experiment with various powers before they have to make any permanent decisions about them or get a temporary boost to fit some specific situation. That’s a good way to do it since it’s both very useful to the players who are new to the system and a nice way to boost a group.

The first set of Gerad’s talismans were forged in the foothills of the Lost Peaks, amidst the great trees of the primordial High Forest of Faerun. There, at dawn, the time of new beginnings, atop an outcropping of the mountains bedrock, he build a ritual fire of oak, ash, and hawthorn with which to call upon the powers of the world casting into it the tokens and spirit-fetishes he had spent his time preparing. Soon, beneath the moon, the fire burned black and cold, yet as filled with stars as the night sky above. The flames were feathered by no physical force, raven’s wings of spiritual fire beating against the winds of fate. It defies what is to come; there shall be no fate but what the strong make for themselves.

The first talisman was for an Uthgardian Barbarian of the Raven Tribe:

Alone among the birds and totems of the North, the Raven speaks outside of Dream. It carries the Words of the Spirits to the ears of mortal men, with the discarded quills from it’s wings are written runes of strength and wisdom, and it guides the souls of the fallen to the realms of the honored dead! Those who are shown the wisdom of the Raven may learn how to draw upon their inner strengths, the divine spark that dwells within! Bright will they shine in the tales to come!

Here, in this Forest which is of more worlds than one, we stand upon the borders of the Spirit World. You have left your kin, and a choice stands before you! To follow the Raven’s Path and bring forth new gifts and wisdom for your descendants to come, to follow the Scouts way, standing as a guardian between your folk and the horrors that may come, or to take both paths, and stand as a hero to both those who live and those who are yet to come. If you would take the Raven’s Path or the Dual Way… reach into the possibilities of the Raven’s Wings, and draw forth what wisdom speaks to you. Then… you may either make it your own, or seek another choice with the seasons turning.

When the Mighty Barbarian reached into the cold flame (taking one point of cold damage to set the link) he found himself holding a belt woven of hide and raven’s feathers – a token of spiritual wisdom.

Cincture Of The Raven (1 Point Relic):

  • Pen Of The Raven: Shaping, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (L1 and weak L2 Effects) / only to power the equivalent of Charms and Talismans and subject to all their limitations. The belt’s wearer may draw a quill from the belt and use it to sketch the Runes and Symbols of Uthgar, Beorunna, the Ancestors, and the Totemic Beasts upon otherwise normal items, allowing them to channel the wearer’s personal strength – in effect equipping himself or herself with the equivalent of seven Charms and three Talismans (as found in The Practical Enchanter) (6 CP).
  • The Enduring Blood Of Uthgar: Grant of Aid with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized / only to restore hit points (6 CP).
  • Disadvantage: The Cincture Of The Raven lays upon it’s wearer an obligation to teach others of the ways of Uthgar and the Totems as chances arise to do so (-3 CP).
  • Net Cost 6 CP + 6 CP -3 CP = 9 CP. 9 CP / 6 (Relic) = 1.5 CP, rounds down to 1 CP.

The next talisman to called forth was for a spirit-shaman and witchcraft-based blaster.

Fire is the element of change, transforming what it touches. The fire of the ritual burns upon the outcropping of rock, the fragrant smoke rising beneath the moon and stars. As Gerad casts a shimmering crystal-bound feather into the flames, the dark fire of the Raven Spirit changes to a pillar of twisting flame, burning green at it’s base and the riotous colors of autumn foliage above.

Seasons Pass, gods pass, and ages pass – but the earth and forest endures, it’s strength undaunted. Here, in the forest where too are the roots of time, we touch upon that solid core, the strength that binds the worlds together. As you have sworn to defend the world, so may it may lend it’s strength and endurance to you. If you would claim the strength of that bond, reach out to the fire of the world’s heart and, with a drop of your blood, become one with it’s ancient strengths.

Reaching into the fire to claim the Talisman again caused one point of damage to set the link and produced a belt of thin links of ash bound with iron, each of the twenty-four links engraved with a rune of the elder futhark.

Girding Of The Forest Lands (1 Point Relic):

  • Vigor Of The Elder Ash: Grants access to the Bones Of Iron (Ash), Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only works within the boundaries of the High Forest, only when at least two other members of the Pact are in the party (4 CP).
  • +2d6 Mana as +6d6 Power, Specialized and Corrupted / only to power the Bones Of Iron (Ash) ability above (4 CP).
  • +1d6 Mana as +3d6 Power, Corrupted/this deep reserve can only be recovered at the moment of dawn (whether or not the user sees it), as the forest wakes, not via Rite Of Chi or other methods.
  • Disadvantage: Obligation / Must deal with the natural animals of the forest through nonlethal means if that is at all possible.

The next talisman to be forged was for a war smith gadgeteer, a follower of the gods of artifice.

As Gerad cast a rune-covered ingot of iron into the green flames, they leaped up into a raging blaze before collapsing from a flaming crown into a deep bed of coals, the furious breath of heat from it mirroring the heat of a forge, where imagined tools become reality. Within the fiery tunnels of the coals in the fires heart lay glimpses of salamanders, efreeti, and fire elementals, hammering out the weapons of wars past and present, from crude copper daggers to unimaginable devices from beyond the stars.

Artificer and Visionary, the past you have forsaken for the sake of what is to come. In the spirit of Gond your Patron, and of Oghma the Loregiver who is mine, know that the chains of the past are broken, no forge but your will will be needed for your many creations to come! Reach forth now to the forges of the gods and take the fire of creation that will burn henceforth within you as well.

When the smith reached into the fire to claim the forming Talisman, he took one point of damage (to set the link as usual) and found himself holding a cincture of flattened links of chain, each wrought with images of weapons, some known, others suggesting fantastic creations and vehicles of war.

Cincture Of War (1 CP Relic):

  • +6 to his Preferred Martial Art (6 CP).
  • DR 4/- (Universal DR 2/-, Specialized for Double Effect / only versus physical attacks, 3 CP).
  • Immunity / the time normally required to put gadgets (He was using the Gadgets skill) together, so they no longer had a +1 point cost if not specified in advance (Uncommon, Minor, Minor, 2 CP).
  • Specific Knowledge / Tunnel Fighting (1 CP).
  • Disadvantage: Must fight as an honorable warrior (-3 CP).

Finally, the fourth and last talisman in this set was for a psychic specializing in Astral Constructs and Energy Projection.

With the colors of the dawn in the eastern sky, and the first glint of the sun shining like a fiery jewel upon the horizon, the remains of the fire collapse to ash, to be blown away upon the wind – although a single burning ember that refuses to be extinguished or fade remains, set into a buckle, suitable for a belt. The circular copper clasp is inscribed with twin dragons, inlaid in black and white, mirroring and circling each other in the symbol of balance. If opened, it reveals the eternally-glowing ember within.

The Purest Yang Becomes Yin. The Purest Yin Becomes Yang.
Two Sides Of A Coin, Separated By A Barrier That May Not Exist.
From Rites End, A New Beginning; The Cycle Turns.
From Darkness and Cold an inextinguishable spark of Light and Fire.
A Creation Incomplete Draws Balance From The Void.
A Sourceless Wind Blows Between The Worlds.
Receive Now The Spark That Answered A Call Unvoiced.

Sunset Hag’s Broom Cinder (1 CP Relic):

  • Hysteria (Mental Powers), Specialized for Reduced Cost (2 Power) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only for boosting psionic abilities (not skills, will saves, or non-psionic abilities), only for effective caster / manifester level (4 CP). This can be activated as a free action for 2 Power and lasts for the rest of the round. It manifests as hysterical cackling laughter.
  • Streamline, Specialized for Double Effect in applying standard Augmentations to Psychic Powers for Double Effect (+6 Power worth of “free” Augmentation), Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only when using Hysteria, above (4 CP).
  • Enthusiast, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / only to set up Mystic Link Effects, Double Enthusiast / Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only to set up Mystic Link Effects (Net Cost 4 CP, may be used to set up 4 CP worth of Mystic Link Effects).
    • This defaulted to two of the groups mystics with Communications and Power Link, Specialized and Corrupted / only within the High Forest, only with individuals or places touched by the Fey, can only transmit seven supernatural effects per day, all those linked must possess at least latent telepathic abilities (GM Veto over NPC’s)
  • Drawback: Insane: The bearer of the Cinder develops extreme hydrophobia. While this phobia excuses liquids kept in artificial containers (barrels, glasses, waterskins, and so on), it extends to natural bodies of water, puddles, and rain. The Cinder does not function if wet since the user will be too panicked to draw upon it.

Overall… I think the Cincture Of War was a little uninspired in comparison to some of the others (apparently it was more or less what the player asked for though) and the Broom Cinder looks like it’s a bit TOO efficient, but both are functional enough. Otherwise things were nicely themed; all men, a fire ritual, a small “test of courage” and a minor sacrifice of the recipients own strength to claim their talisman, a basic theme, a more-or-less reasonable explanation for why the character can make talismans in the first place, and – I’m told – some nice role playing in response. Yes, it makes the characters a little bit more powerful – but getting the group all taking an interest in and participating in a mystical ritual? Giving them all a common bond and a commitment to something beyond themselves? Thematic yet unique toys for everyone? Just as with Narthion – the character the Houngan Conjurer package was originally written up for – I think this makes a pretty good addition to a RPG.