Star Wars in the Manifold

   For today, and because there were some problems yesterday, we have a long post – how to build Jedi and Sith both in the Manifold setting and in generic d20 games. This includes a rather lengthy list of Force Powers – drawn from various movies, novels, RPG’s, comics, and other sources – and how to build them.

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   So you want to be a Jedi or a Sith?

   Quite a lot of people do. It’s a pretty popular idea in the New Imperium (Or the New Republic, or the Old Republic, or any of the numerous other Star Wars realms).

   Of course, for most of them, its merely a daydream.

   For those few – openers, realmwalkers, visitants, and talented locals – with the Identities skill it can easily become something more.

   Of course, even an appropriate identity really isn’t enough to make you a Jedi Master or a Sith Lord. For that you’d want a good deal of underlying ability – combat, technical, and social skills, familiarity with many worlds and species, tactical expertise, more advanced psychic abilities, and many more. You can, however, pick up the “minimum membership requirements” fairly readily – thus leading to the glut of wannabe-Sith and -Jedi running about the various Star Wars realms today.

   As for what those requirements are… Well, you have to have “Force Powers”.

   What do we know about the powers? Well lets see… pretty much all force users demonstrate a few basic abilities – most notably, telekinesis and telepathy – and there are quite a few more found in various secondary sources. Most of them seem to be of relatively limited power, work only at short ranges, require concentration, and are used relatively infrequently – an effect represented in game terms (whatever the in-character explanation) by a limited power reserve. There are a few secondary-sources instances of characters showing vast powers – wiping out entire battle fleets, yanking the cores out of stars to hit their enemies with, controlling tens of thousands of minds at one time, killing hundreds of force-using targets and imprisoning their souls – but most of those would seem to fall under “epic spellcasting”, “plot devices”, or – perhaps worst of all – “unplayable”.

   In Eclipse: The Codex Persona (available in a shareware version and in print) most of the Jedi powers fit easily into the Witchcraft/”psychic magic” subsystem. Thanks to that systems limited power levels, its also relatively cheap to buy (at least in terms of Character Points/”CP”) – and both the power of the Dark Side (“More Powerful? No… Quicker, Easier”) an the discipline of the Jedi are readily represented by appropriate Pacts.

   So we’ll take a look at particular powers from the (extensive) catalog of force powers that the Star Wards movies, books, games, and other materials have built up.

   Telekinesis / “The Hand of Shadows”: While, Yoda and Palpatine seemed to be able to move masses of a couple of tons, they were both exceptionally powerful masters and some special preparations (or those flying balconies being lighter than they looked) might have been involved. Most Jedi don’t seem to be able to scrape up enough telekinetic force to fly – and you’ll note that Palpatine didn’t just levitate himself out of that shaft. In general then this seems to be limited to exerting forces in the immediate area which the force-wielder in question could probably manage by hand, powering superhuman jumps, enhancing the user’s acrobatic abilities, and creating distractions. It may or may not also be used to batter and choke people; that might be straight telekinesis, it might be Infliction (below), or – most likely of all – it would be a combination of the two: Telekinesis to hold the victim and Infliction to injure them.

   Telepathy (“Glamour” and “The Inner Eye”): This can be used at a range of some miles with another force-sensitive (and usually a relative or someone with whom the user shares a powerful emotional bond) on the other end – but it’s mostly used on people within the immediate vicinity for minor hypnotic tricks, sensing emotions and lies, detecting presences, and bypassing language difficulties. Evidently its not very powerful and normally has a fairly short range. The multi-mile range option is hard to handle directly with Witchcraft – but it could be easily handled via Mystic Link or by Action Points with the Stunts option. Given that the Stunts option will allow for all kinds of rarely-used abilities, its probably the best way to represent characters from fictional sources: they’re always using some power once or twice and then forgetting all about it – no matter how convenient using it would be in the next book.

   Advanced applications – from various books and RPG’s – cover communication with animals, sensing force potentials in other people, broadcasting emotions, using other creature’s senses, modifying or wiping memories, driving victims mad, stunning or paralyzing opponents, and telepathic probes. A few of these effects may require actual powers, although many of them can be handled using the basic Witchcraft “Elfshot” ability,

   Force-users can also detect major psychic disturbances; planets exploding, powerful psychics in great emotional pain, and so on. The larger said disturbance, the further away it can be detected – just like light, explosions, or any other release of energy. Given that this is basically a plot device, this is a freebie for any telepath: if there’s a loud enough psychic “noise” they’ll hear it whether they’re paying attention or not.

   Enhanced Senses (“Witchsight”): Force-users often exhibit the ability to see in the dark, listen in on distant conversations, detect poisons by scent, hear the tiny noises of traps being triggered, and so on. Fortunately, all of this can be covered by the basic Witchsight ability.

   Healing and Biomanipulation (“Healing” and “Hyloka”): Force users can hold their breath for a long time, accelerate healing, enhance their speed, strength, and reflexes, resist pain ant the effects of injuries, keep going in the desert, and resist extremes of weather – but, at most, by touch and with limited effect. Advanced users can secrete drugs, toxins, and other biochemicals (Path of Water/Venomed Touch, 6 CP), extend their lifespans (Path of Earth/Longevity, 6 CP), go into stasis to survive hostile environments and heal mortal wounds (Path of Earth/Sleep of Stone, 6 CP), bless or curse areas (Path of Earth/True Prosperity, 6 CP), greatly increase their speed, attacks, and reflexes (Path of Fire/Leaping Fire), or enhance their own durability (Path of Earth/Bones of Iron, 6 CP).

   Force-Based Attacks (“Infliction” and “Witchfire”) include force lightning, inflicting sourceless pain (usually as an interrogation or torture technique), creating whirlwinds, causing things to burst into flame, generating buffeting whirlwinds, possibly the remote choke-hold bit (this may be just another telekinetic effect), causing sonic damage by yelling really loudly, and otherwise making really loud noises.

   Illusion Casting (“Shadowweave”) covers projecting images, creating blinding flashes, confusing people’s senses, and similar stunts. Advanced users (+6 CP) may become invisible and generate even better and more versatile illusions.

   Astral Projection (“Dreamfaring”) is a rarity among force-wielders, although a few of them have used advanced variants on the technique to manifest remotely (Path of Spirits/Apparition, 6 CP), to create minions (Path of Flames/Birth of Flames, 6 CP).

   Resistance to mental manipulations and probes can be covered by another basic Witchcraft ability – “The Adamant Will”. While this can also be used to conceal your nature and abilities from various detections and probes, but – since such deceptions must be actively supported – if you’re likely to be subjected to more than occasional scans and probes, its best to buy some Cloaking (6 CP) to provide a passive defense.

   Clairvoyance, including precognition and postcognition. Unfortunately, while a few small-scale local applications – weather-prediction, intuitive navigation (through deep space, or through labyrinths and caverns) and compensating for blindness – are fairly reliable, most other effects are not. In fact, while those occasional flashes of clairvoyance, precognition, and postcognition have no apparent range limit, they’re also erratic and undependable, usually only work well when the “user” knows and cares deeply about the people in question, and ONLY work when its convenient for the plot. After all, with a couple of thousand Jedi running about, apparently none of them got enough warning to avoid simple ambushes by clone warriors – although Yoda apparently managed to keep an occasional eye on Luke and Leia. Regardless of movie references, this can be purchased as “The Sight” (Witchcraft/The Path of Air, 6 CP). If you just want the uncontrollable aspects you can specialize it for half cost. If you want complete awareness of what’s going on around you in a melee situation, whether you can see or not, you’ll want The Path of Air/Darksense (6 CP).

   Deflection (Block: Missile and Melee, 12 CP, usually with Reflex Combat/Combat Reflexes Variant, 6 CP): allows its user’s to block both hand-to-hand and ranged attacks, including those which travel at or near the speed of light. If you want the ability to reflect shots, or to turn them against other people, you’ll have to buy a more advanced version. Of course, even the basic version is fairly expensive – which is why most starting force users require a light sabre (specialized, reducing the cost to 9 CP) to make it work. More advanced Jedi and Sith may buy off this limitation, and do the same thing with their bare hands. Some of them learn to dissipate energy from various systems as well (Path of Fire/Grounding, 6 CP).

   Inspiration: Enhancing your allies is a power that turns up every so often, and can be done in an enormous variety of ways – but using the Path of Light/Blessing (6 CP) is probably easiest for anyone who’s already started investing points in Witchcraft.

   Random Enhancements (“Innate Enchantment”, valued at 5000 GP, 6 CP) are simply innate psychic talents which are either always available or can be called on every so often. Some common variants here include True Strike (1/Day/Level, A.K.A. “Use the Force”, 2000 GP), +2 Dexterity (L1 Enhance Dexterity, personal use only, 1400 GP), Entropic Shield (2000 GP), Bless Weapon (2000 GP) or Magic Weapon (1400 GP), Resistance (Personal Only, 700 GP), Resist Energy (Personal Only, 1400 GP), Shield (2000 GP), Mage Armor (Personal Only, 1400 GP), Sleep (2000 GP), Hypnotism (2000 GP), Disguise Self (2000 GP), or Jump (Personal Only, 1400 GP) – among many others. Many force-wielders seem to have weird little specialities or semi-unique enhancements.

   Higher-ranking Force Wielders will probably want some Improved Initiative (3 CP per +2), a sword-based Martial Art (costs skill points rather than CP), the ability to add their Dexterity Modifier to their Strength Modifier for melee combat purposes (advanced augmented bonus, 18 CP, usually specialized in swords only, for 9 CP), and the ability to add their Wisdom Modifier to their Armor Class (Improved Augmented Bonus, 12 CP). Unfortunately, this sort of thing tends to be out of reach of low-level characters unless they concentrate exclusively on being force-wielders rather than simply dabbling in it.

  • Generals and other major leaders may want to purchase Dominion (6 CP) to let them inspire armies and fleets.
  • Those who wish to hide their true nature from extensive probes may want Cloaking (6 CP).
  • Disappearing into the astral plane when you die is free: no one really cares if you want to take your body with you as long as you leave any clues, vital pieces of equipment, or other items behind. It might even be a disadvantage if there was any chance of revival. Coming back again afterwards – rather than only occasionally appearing to force-sensitives to bring plot-driven warnings – requires buying Returning (6+ CP). Characters who want to contact and summon the spirits of the dead on their own terms will need to buy Summoning, from The Path of Coven Mastery (6 CP).
  • Force-users are sometimes shown with the ability to learn things with superhuman speed. In game this doesn’t cost anything: if you have the skill points to spend you can pick up a skill pretty rapidly.
  • There are a few instances of force-users being cut off from the force, apparently more-or-less permanently. This seems to be fairly crippling to the user as well, making it a good fit for the Blood Curse ability (6+ CP).
  • The ability to generate Hyperspace Wormholes – vortexes of space-time distortion capable of destroying entire battle fleets, planets, or stars – has appeared in a few Star Wars comics. In game terms this is probably unplayable (and rarely desirable), but if you simply must have it, you can buy Mana with the Reality Editing option and try to persuade the GM to let you get away with it. You still won’t be able to do it very often, but if you often need to personally destroy planets your campaign is just a bit too over-the-top for me to worry about.
  • Major area effect attacks – Force “Storms”, “Screams”, and “Waves”, “Telekinetic Explosions”, and similar effects are difficult to produce with Witchcraft alone. The quickest and easiest way to do so is to buy Inherent Spell (Power) (6+ CP), possibly with some Bonus Uses. This also works for the occasional weird (and usually semi-unique and unteachable) powers – vampiric abilities, the ability to entangle people with fast-growing vegetation, damage-absorbing auras, remote computer programming or other skill use,
  • “Sith Alchemy” seems to be essentially an excuse for (1) making materials which will stand up to light sabres and other energy weapons, (2) having enhanced minions and/or zombies, and (3) creating various psychic devices. All three seem to be fairly advanced abilities. Despite that, (1) can be covered by a good knowledge or Metallurgy and Chemistry combined with the basic Witchfire ability. Molecular-level telekinesis can produce some pretty impressive special materials with a little work. Number (2) is a job for Leadership (6+ CP), and (3) is a job for Create Item (6+ CP). All in all, if you really want to master Sith Alchemy, you’ll probably have to devote a couple of levels worth of CP to it.
  • “Sith Sorcery”, occasionally described as “drawing on the spirits of dead Sith in chaos” or “drawing on the darkest secrets and uttermost depths of the dark side”, seems to be even more of a plot-device excuse than “Sith Alchemy”. It’s usually portrayed as either (1) being capable of almost any mid-level effect that the villain needs, but only every so often or (2) being capable of a relatively few vastly-powerful effects (that usually drive the plot). Version (1) is best represented by Hexcrafting – a magical system designed to allow casters to produce an immense variety of effects within a selection of broad themes, but not very often. A character will be able to dabble in Version (1) Sith Sorcery for a modest handful of points – buying a few narrowly-focused card slots (6 CP each) and a few specialized caster levels to go with them (3 CP each) – but truly mastering it will require a major investment. Option (2) is best handled using Channeling (Negative Energy) with the Spell Conversion option. That way the user will be able to produce a few, specific, high-level effects. That tends to be a bit boring for player-characters, but suits NPC villains just fine.

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So; the minimal Jedi Package

  • Basic Witchcraft, including (Str+Dex+Con)/3 Power and 3 Basic Abilities* – usually Telekinesis/The Hand of Shadows and Telepathy/Glamour, and The Inner Eye – for 12 CP.
  • Path of Air/The Sight (6 CP).
  • Two Vow Pacts: Taboos and Duties (-12 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment/Various Enhancements (Total of 5000 GP worth, 6 CP)
  • Deflection/Missile and Melee Block with Reflex Combat/Combat Reflexes, all Specialized: only while wielding a blade (9 CP).
  • Proficient with Light Sabre (3 CP).

   That’s 24 CP – a level three Identity or half the total points available to a first-level character. Enough abilities to be tolerably effective, even if nowhere near the Master level. Further development should include more Witchcraft talents, increasing the characters Warcraft/BAB, and adding skills.

   *Dark Side abilities include Elfshot and Infliction, Light Side abilities include The Adamant Will and Healing, and the remaining basic Witchcraft powers – Dreamfaring, Glamour, The Hand of Shadows, Hyloka, The Inner Eye, Shadowweave, Witchfire and Witchsight – are neutral.

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The Minimal Sith package isn’t all that different.

  • Full Witchcraft, including (Str+Dex+Con)/3 Power and 7 Basic Abilities – usually Telekinesis/The Hand of Shadows Telepathy/(Glamour and The Inner Eye), Infliction, Hyloka, Shadowweave, and Witchsight (18 CP).
  • Two Pacts: Usually selected from among Isolation, Essence, Corruption, and Karmic Links, (-12 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment/Various Enhancements (Total of 5000 GP worth, Specialized: only works when the user is full or rage, anger, or similar emotions, 3 CP)
  • Deflection/Missile and Melee Block with Reflex Combat/Combat Reflexes, all Specialized: only while wielding a blade (9 CP).
  • Path of Air/The Sight, Specialized: major visions and effects are always tainted and corrupted by personal ambitions and the influence of the dark side (3 CP).
  • Proficient with Light Sabre (3 CP).

   This also comes out to 24 CP – another L3 Identity. Sith pick up basic powers faster, but are more limited in other ways when not in a temper.

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