Amber Diceless RPG, Sample Characters II

   To continue with a special request for some Amber Diceless RPG material, since we had a couple of Lords of Chaos in the last entry, here are a couple of starting-level Lords of Amber.

   Sabre, Lord of Amber

   Sabre is probably the youngest pattern master ever, a result of a freakish coincidence. His mother walked the pattern while pregnant, although she was not aware of it at the time. Given the rarity of both pregnancy and walking the pattern among amberites, perhaps it is not surprising that this never happened before. Unlike most amberites, he has grown up in castle amber, since he tends to wander off into shadow otherwise. He still manages to get away sometimes… He is small, blonde, green-eyed, and usually wears soft, loose, clothing. He is fond of outings to (lively) shadows.

   Sabre is only about eight years old, still so young that he believes that he will find friends everywhere he goes, that someone will always be around to protect him from anything nasty, and that a fascinating secret hideout full of friends, pirates, outlaws, rebels, etc who will accept him instantly and supply his wants, is around the nearest corner. The trouble is that linking this innocent faith with the power of pattern tends to make it true.

   Of course, given the Amber characteristic scale, this small boy is already tougher, and has a stronger mind, than any human who has ever lived – and can match the strongest men, best fighters, and most expert tacticians, who have ever lived. Even without his allies and special devices.

  • Psyche; Amber (0), Warfare; Chaos (-10), Strength; Chaos (-10), and Endurance Amber (0).
  • Pattern Imprint (50)
  • Amber Court Devotee (6)
  • Family Friend (2)
  • Light Sabre: Just like that movie he went to see, this nifty gadget does “Deadly Damage” (4 points).
  • Junior Jedi Secret Decoder Ring: As long as he has this, he can wield the “force” at will. “Able to Mold Shadow Reality” and “Transfer Power”, 14 points total.
  • Shelters: Defensible buildings or other shelters, as is appropriate to the locale. “Resistant to Normal Weapons” (IE, much tougher then normal buildings), and “Ubiquitous in Shadow”, for a total cost of 6 points.
  • Protectors: These are the people found in each, and every, shelter. They are invariably well equipped for the local conditions, and for taking care of a child and his pets. They always include some nice, affectionate, adults, a playmate or two, and a few competent defenders to keep nasty things away. “Combat Reflexes” (for the locally appropriate weaponry) and “Well-Equipped” (IE, with weapons, armor, supplies, etc as necessary, a new and unusual modifier, 1 point). They are “Cross-Shadow Enviormental” (IE, Every shelter comes complete with a “Named and Numbered” set of inhabitants) – for a total cost of 15 points.
  • Pets: A “named and numbered” assortment of things which follow him around affectionately. The exact list varies constantly, but all of them have the following; “Double Vitality and Stamina”, “Combat Reflexes”, “Extra Hard” natural weapons, “Able to Speak and Sing”, “Psychic Resistance”, and “Resistance to Normal Weapons”. Total; 20 points.
  • Termal is one of his favorite places, a world of adventure perfectly designed to suit a small child. Oddly enough, no matter how long he spends there, he’s always back in time for dinner (Personal Shadow, 1, with Control of Time Flow, 2).

   Total: 100 Points – 10 (Character Sketches) = 90 Points with 10 points of “Good Stuff”.


   Wrath, Outcast of Amber

  • Strength 5, Psyche 25, Endurance 8, Warfare 10
  • Power Words (19): Nightmare Visions, Object Reading, Pain Attack, Resume True Form, Transformation, Soulsight, Soulfire Bolt, Fireshaping, Psychic Defense, Logrus Negation, Opening, Weaken Material, Pyrokinesis, and Repulsion.
  • The Tenth Circle – A Primal Plane (4) – a personalized hell-dimension for punishing evildoers – with Control of the Contents (2), Barriers and Guardians (4), and Control of Time Flow (2).
  • A Motorcycle with Engine Speed (4), Double Damage (2), Alternate Form (Intangible, 1), Regeneration (4), Mold Shadow Stuff (allows it to make impossible maneuvers, run over water, etc, 1), Remote Control (1), Shadow Seek (4), and Invulnerability (4).
  • A Chain with Double Damage (2), Psychic Kinetic Control (2), and Invulnerability (4).
  • Arm Bracers which have and Bestow (5) Resistance to Firearms (2).
  • Disadvantages: Flies into frenzied rages, compulsively drags people off to private hell, obviously insane (-10)

   Total: 115 – 10 (Disadvantages) = 105, leaving Wrath with five points of Bad Stuff.

   Wrath is quite mad. Obsessed with avenging the innocent, a bit maniac-depressive, arrogant, and lacking all sense of porportion he somehow manages to maintain a perilous equilibrium. While he’s never really sane, he never quite loses it totally… Overall he gives the impression of a borderline psychotic, functional – but not by much. He often drags off “evildoers” to his own private hell, treating them to a few thousand years of torment in the space of a few hours. He never seems to realize that this results in quivering, shrieking madmen, rather then in reforming them. Wrath’s definitely a lord of amber, but was apparently fathered by either Eric or Brand, hence he has no court devotee. He very well may not have had one to begin with, he’s just not very lovable somehow – even absurdly indulgent parents may not be able to stand a child with his own personal hell. Wraths main weapons are his (seemingly) endless chain and his motorcycle. The chain is sensitive to, and controlled by, his psyche rather then by his strength, while the motorcycle has flaming wheels. Overall Wrath looks exactly like Marvel Comic’s Ghost Rider – displaying an astounding lack of creativity on the part of the original player. Unfortunately, Ghost Rider is far more rational then Wrath, as many shadow- dwellers have had the misfortune to discover.

Amber Diceless RPG – Sample Characters

   Today, due to a special request, we have a few starting-level characters for the Amber Diceless RPG:

   Malinbert The Inept, Of Chaos

  • Strength;16, Psyche; 5, Endurance; Amber (0), Warfare; Chaos (-10).
  • Good Stuff IV (4)
  • Two Court Friends (4)
  • Chaos Court Devotee (4)
  • Conjuration (20), Spells of Conjuration (+5), Improvised Spells of Conjuration (+15), Simple (spells are quick and easy to make, +10), Alchemy (+5).
  • Power Words (15): Dismissal, Materialize Dream, Dreamgate, Merge with Conjuration (if it’s destroyed, he remains unharmed), Bind Conjuration I-VI (allows him to release a pre-prepared conjuration as a Power Word – essentially innately “racking a spell” in himself. Such spells do not deteriorate).
  • Solvingen, the Sentient PDA: This slim “wristwatch” is actually a full-fledged AI, able to speak, track his appointments, hack basic computer systems really really well, perform a variety of other functions, and store some additional construct-spells for him – as well as keeping an eye out when he’s asleep (which is often). Since he’s bonded it to himself, it works virtually everywhere in shadow and even in Amber. Able to Speak (1), possesses Named and Numbered Power Words (Override Electronics, Remote Datalink, Commit to Memory, Upload Data, Reject Virus / Malware, Break Encryption, Break Computer Security, Universal Password, Reprogram System, Electromagnetic Pulse, Momentary Force-Bubble, Thunderbolt, 2), able to “Rack” named and numbered spells (4).

   Total: 100 Points.

   Malinbert, labeled “The Inept” by his weapons-tutor (although, it’s worth nothing, that – thanks to the Amber attribute scale – his weapon and tactical skills are on a level with any merely human mighty knight, celebrated general, expert commando, or olympic contender) likes to sleep – or at least to lay around. According to rumor, his mother spent most of her pregnancy on powerful “uppers”, and he’s been trying to make up for his loss of sleep time ever since. Even when awake, he usually looks asleep, or at least halfway asleep. In a minor fight, his usual tactic is to twirl a morningstar around in circles, using his (quite respectable) natural strength, in the hope that this will keep everyone away from him. Getting within range of his “attack” can be hazardous, his wild blows are quite unpredictable and his morningstar is usually loaded with enchantments, courtesy of his conjuration talents. If he feels seriously threatened, he’ll usually unleash some major construct-creature, merge with it, and then either use it to fight with or use it’s abilities to escape, as required. He virtually always has five or six “spells” of conjuration ready to use, as they can be prepared and stored while lying around comfortably.

   In daily life, Malinbert tends to casually conjure up minor items as needed; if you run across a comfortable cottage, well stocked with beds, pillows, blankets, gourmet foods, a servant, and a hot stove, in the middle of a desolate glacier with a howling storm, it’s because Malinbert’s nose was cold, and he’s stopped for a casual snack, nap, and change of clothing. If you can convince him that an “adventure” is urgent – and can’t be better dealt with by casually creating some mighty artifact and giving it to someone more appropriate – he can almost certainly make anything you need that doesn’t involve the primal powers.

   If at all possible, Malinbert will have quietly moved into Amber – and preferably into Castle Amber itself – simply because the settings there don’t shift around while you’re trying to sleep.

   In play, Malinbert can be just what he seems; an ineffectual dreamer/narcoleptic who has exploited a natural talent to maximize the hours he can spend sleeping – but there are other possibilities. He could be a lethal schemer who sends deadly conjured monsters after anyone who annoys him, a manipulated pawn of some more wakeful “master”, or a sensible, if lazy, businessman willing to conjure up almost anything you could want – for a price. It’s a bit hard to tell any of these incarnations apart, as they certainly look similar.

 Professor_Challenger_PDProfessor Challenger, Of Chaos

  • Strength 15, Psyche 5, Endurance 5, Warfare 15.
  • Shapeshifting (35).
  • Power Words (20): Comprehend Device, Kit-bashing (build items really quickly), One-Shot Wonder (get an absurd device to function once), Instant Repair (a.k.a. “Hit it and it will start”), Fast Startup, Forge Component (can make tools and components out of basic resources in mere hours or days), Identify Fault, Reprogram System, Emergency Power (power up a device far beyond it’s normal capabilities), Adapt Technology (gets an item to work, at least briefly, in realms where it shouldn’t), Deduce Local Laws, Identify Creature, Identify Plants (both of these also tell him about what the creature or plant is good for and it’s general behavior pattern), Restore Clothing, and Deflect Attack (usually reduces, but does not prevent, injuries).
  • .45 Revolver that inflicts Double Damage (2)
  • Chaos Court Devotee (4)
  • Named and Numbered Personal Shadows (2): these include his elaborate workshop/museum, several realms in which he is a respected authority and has an easy time finding students and recruits, and several more realms full of dinosaurs, bizarre aliens, and other hazards, but also stuffed chock-full of special materials and other unique resources.
  • The Far Voyager (12 total): Engine Speed (4), Invulnerability (4), Shadow Seek (4), Mold Shadow Stuff (large scale, costs 2 points, provides; transport, life support, weaponry, etc), Named and Numbered Alternate Forms (sailing craft, dirigible, mole drill, ethership, timecraft, seaplane, submarine, exploratory “van”, junglebreaker tank, star core probe, spacecraft, and invisibility (selective, may be combined with other forms, 2), and Minor Divination (as appropriate instrumentation, 2). Unfortunately, the’ Far Voyager tends to break down in weird and otherwise inaccessible places whereupon the passengers must find or make something (a new driveshaft, dylithium crystal, supply of helium, or whatever) to get it going again. Whatever is needed can always be found or produced somewhere in the vicinity, but may be time-consuming to make or difficult to obtain. This curious fault reduces the cost of the ship by -6. Despite this problem the Far Voyager is sometimes used since it can penetrate or go around virtually any shadow barrier, a useful attribute. Sadly, anywhere that only it can get to only it can usually get you out of, and, of course, such spots are prime breakdown locations.
  • Well-Known Mental Quirk: Addicted to “Adventuring” and prefers to deal with shadows on their own terms, rather than by overriding them with primal powers (-4)
  • Mental Quirk: Chivalrous Victorian Gentleman (-1).
  • Character Diary (“Journal”) (-10).

   Total: 115 Points – 15 (Disadvantages) = 100 Points.

   Professor Challenger is an enormously enthusiastic inventor, explorer, tinkerer, and researcher, always equipped with some brilliant/crackpot new theory. He has a habit of accepting shadows on their own terms. Instead of using one of the primal powers or principles to override any inconvenience he faces, he surmounts such obstacles with local resources and techniques. While this approach is somewhat limiting, it has let him maintain his vast enthusiasm for exploring and tinkering for more then two centuries, rather then succumbing to the boredom that afflicts so many immortals. While the professor has a vast capacity for locating trouble, he is, unlike most lords of chaos or amber, fairly innocuous himself – and can often be helpful. On the other hand, if you’re silly enough to come along on a trip in the Far Voyager, you’re almost certain to wind up in some absurd situation – say, crash-landed on a Martian plateau, surrounded by hostile flying six-limbed spider-monkey-like natives armed with spears, in a shadow where none of your powers work at all well, and which cannot be escaped without the use of the Far Voyager. Of course, the Far Voyager will be out of action until you can locate a new “Rezulnite Focusing Crystal”, an item which is only to be found deep inside (hopefully) extinct Martian volcanoes.

Continuum II: Conjuration Cantrips

   Here we have the next portion of the Continuum II Cantrip list – in this case, Conjuration Cantrips. These cantrips deal with summoning or “creating” something, whether entities, objects, or forces. The distinctions are fairly simple; entities have independent existence in their own right, and are merely forced into local manifestation or “embodied”. Creating objects usually involves binding local matter to a conjured pattern or drawing it from somewhere in the immediate vicinity. Forces are the easiest of all, they simply require pouring some energy into the pattern. Most conjurations only last until the pattern decays, but some very simple, self-maintaining, or externally-supported patterns may remain stable indefinitely. Conjuration cantrips are among the weaker cantrips; major conjurations simply require too much power for personal mana to supply.

   For those who haven’t been reading this series, here’s a repeat of the basic information on Cantrip Magic. For those who have been, it’s been offset for easy skipping.

   Cantrip Magic, drawing upon the modest reserve of magical energy which accumulates in any living creature, is the simplest and easiest of all forms of magic. That power is immediately to hand, focused, and attuned. It is inherently readily handled by the user – and the mere desire to use it is enough to get it partially shaped. Minor talents, basic magical training, or comparatively trivial talismans – such as the infamous “Cantrip Rings” – will suffice to channel it. Even more usefully, the simple instinct for self-preservation allows anyone with defensive cantrips available to use on of them per round as a reflex action, albeit at the cost of a “+2” on the user’s next initiative check.

   Unfortunately, Cantrip Magic is also the weakest form of spellcasting. The complexity of any given effect is moderate at most, and the personal mana which powers it is a very limited resource. Gods, fey, and spellcasters may build up substantial reserves – the residue of the energies they channel in other ways – but everyone else will only have a little based on their Endurance and the level of natural magic in the world they live in.

   On the other hand, Cantrip Magic is by far the most common form of magic in Continuum II. Minor mages, dabblers, and laymen use it, minor talismans and amulets produce and sustain cantrip effects for a time, embedded cantrips affect whatever inanimate object they’re embedded in permanently, and focusing talismans – such as those aforementioned “Cantrip Rings” – can focus their wearer’s personal mana into a list of up to seven cantrips whose patterns are embedded in item.

   The stuff is everywhere – and so a list of cantrips can be quite important. Their classification is somewhat arbitrary, but here’s the section on Conjuration Cantrips – charms which seemingly produce something from nothing.

  1. Air Helm: Surrounds the users head with a bubble of pure air for up to three minutes.
  2. Animate Teddy Bear: This charm requires someone who will really love and appreciate an animated teddy bear as the charm is powered by the recipients emotions. Thus the bear will remain animated as long as it remains loved. If the recipient has bad dreams the bear will chase them away by drawing off the negative emotions which trigger them. Trivial variants of this charm apply to other small dolls and toys.
  3. Blaze: Force-feeds oxygen into an existing flame, causing it to flare up wildly to roughly double its normal intensity for 1D4+2 rounds.
  4. Body Animation: Animates a single human or near-human body within thirty feet for up to one hour. Unfortunately, making it act requires moderate concentration and, at best, such “zombies” are weak and clumsy. One point of vitality damage from any source will dispel the effect.
  5. Breeze: Summons a pleasant, cooling breeze in a twenty foot radius of the caster. It normally persists for 3D20 minutes and is barely capable of making candles gutter, but the entire force of the cantrip can be expended in a single round to create a breeze capable of blowing leaves and bits of paper around, and possibly even capable of blowing out exposed candles.
  6. Brew: Makes up to a quart of tea from either water or appropriate herbs, although using this charm effectively requires a pot or cup to keep the resulting brew in.
  7. Caldwell’s Kitchen Conjuration: Summons up some small kitchen tool or pinch of some ingredient. Unfortunately, anything much larger then a pinch is strictly temporary. Variants usually summon up something in particular, such as salt, vinegar, oil, common spices, or honey. These are permanent, although the quantity is still limited to a few tablespoonfuls.
  8. Change: “Breaks” a coin into smaller change up to a maximum value of one gold piece, one platinum piece for games on the gold standard. This does not transmute elements; it simply turns one coin into an assortment of smaller ones.
  9. Conjure Key: This handy charm produces a force-pattern matched to the pattern of a nearby, and relatively simple, lock. This doesn’t always work, and works less often as the locks become more complicated, but is still suffices for a lot of the simpler locks.
  10. Conjure Micro-Elemental: Summons a tiny elemental spirit (DR 6, Vitality 1, 1-3 inches tall, can be fairly annoying if it attacks). When it arrives roll 1D20, on a 1-19 its controlled by the caster. It will not leave a sixty foot radius of its summoner or stay for more then ten minutes. Casting this cantrip requires a bit of the appropriate element or something related to it, such as tinder for fire micro-elemental.
  11. Dagger: Creates a dagger of magical energy for 1D4+1 minutes. The weapon is effective against creatures that require low-end (magical or “+1”) magical weaponry to damage normally and can only be used by the caster, but is otherwise treated as a normal dagger.
  12. Drawthread: “Fires”, and then draws back in, a thin and sticky thread up to about sixty feet long. The maximum possible force exerted is about 40 pounds, but it’s more then sufficient to fish dropped keys out of the sewers and such. Apprentice-children have been known to find far more bothersome uses for this charm.
  13. Edwin’s Winged Pie: Actually, this charm just summons up a hurtling mass of fluffy flavored stuff, but is has much the same effect as hitting someone with a real pie. Variants include Darnek’s Pointless Whatsit (Produces a small item which certainly seems like it ought to have a significant function of some sort), Bozo’s Banana Peel (Fairly obvious), and Lee’s Just Desserts (Exactly the sort of pastry they deserve). The edible variants provide very little in the way of nutrition or even empty calories, but are reasonably tasty if you like simple sugary flavors.
  14. Flare: Fires a glowing energy ball up to one hundred and eighty feet, where it will pop in a flash of light like a bottle rocket. A trivial variant produces a puff of smoke about five feet across, the color of the smoke – if any – is up to the caster.
  15. Flash: Blinds those in a fifteen foot radius for 1D6 counts (about six seconds each) unless they make a successful resistance check – or simply aren’t looking.
  16. Fuel: Doubles the burning time of a small (maximum of one foot in diameter) fire, up to a maximum limit of twenty-four hours.
  17. Fumigate: Conjures a strong smelling cloud of vapors which will, if given time in an enclosed area, kill or drive away any and all small creatures within it. The original cloud is about two feet across and will suffice to fumigate a volume of up to four thousand cubic feet.
  18. Glimmerwind: Summons a small cloud of sparkling points of light which will “drift” away in whatever direction the caster desires. The cloud is very pretty and lasts up to one turn but does nothing else except to dust surfaces with glittering motes. This is occasionally useful in revealing hidden obstacles or in the dark.
  19. Grand Entrance: Essentially, this small charm simply feeds a “pulse” of magical energy into the users aura, producing a swirling mist of light (or darkness.) and a very brief, short-ranged, telekinetic pulse (similar to the Microkinesis cantrip). This usually manifests as things like a chill breeze, a swirling in the mist, or doors opening without actually being touched.
  20. Handlight: Actually, this cantrip comes in an enormous variety of individual variants – auras, glowing balls of colored light, sparkling lightshows, necromantic corpse-lights (these last a lot longer, but you need something that’s decaying to make it work), and dancing flames. Whatever the variant, the “basic effect” is simply to produce a light sufficient to illuminate a five to ten foot radius tolerably well, much like a good flashlight or a small lamp. The basic version lasts up to ten minutes per level of the caster, the corpse-light variant lasts for up to one hour per level of the caster.
  21. Implement(Various): Each of these cantrips conjures up a particular implement for up to an hour. Such implements must be relatively common, simple, and of reasonable size. Some of the more common implement cantrips are: Net (butterfly type), Crowbar (light), Hammer, Cup, Pliers, Spade, Pot, and Rope (30 feet).
  22. Mapmaker: Summons a minor entity which takes its direction from what the user sees, and is capable of imprinting a passable “sketch” of scenes, areas, and items on whatever surface the user indicates when casting the charm. The entity will remain for up to two hours, or until a drawing is complete. While this is most often used to produce “automatic maps” , other uses are obviously possible. The “Secretary” variant summons an similar entity capable of taking dictation at normal conversational speed for up to an hour. It can only “hear” the caster, and some specific start / stop signal must be specified when the charm is cast, as the secretary isn’t really intelligent.
  23. Material(Various): Conjures a small quantity (up to a pint at most) of some reasonably common and fairly amorphous substance. Some of the more common cantrips of this type are Beer, Glue, Oil, Vinegar, Varnish (only a cupful or so, but the caster can have it spread thinly over a surface on arrival), Hash (arrives hot or cold as desired) and Bread. All such conjured materials are of average to poor quality. Foodstuffs contain a fair number of calories, but are woefully short of vitamins, minerals, and flavor.
  24. Mindraven: This cantrip allows the user to shape a small portion of his personal vitality (usually 2 points) – and give it the form of some small animal. Various variants create different kinds of creatures – although venomous ones are painful and irritating at most unless the user has an especially noxious personality. The user remains mentally linked to his creation, but it otherwise is pretty much equivalent to a normal creature of it’s type. If it’s somehow destroyed, the user must choose between losing his vitality points permanently – or taking 3D6 points of neural damage (requiring days or weeks to heal at one point per day). As a rule mages only create a single creature at a time. It tends to get confusing otherwise.
  25. Mousetrap: This is placed on any small opening or object, anyone other then the caster who voluntarily contacts the charm will release it with a sharp pop, taking one point of damage unless a resistance check is made. The cantrip is not cumulative with itself, leaves a telltale rune, and fades in about a week.
  26. Net: This charm summons a small net, suitable for catching butterflies, scooping up fish, and so on. The net will last for up to an hour. A variant called “Nydils Instant Hammock” produces a string hammock, already hung wherever practical. It lasts as long as the caster is within thirty feet and subconsciously continues to maintain it. Any attempt to take the hammock down will inevitably ruin its fragile webbing. Note also that hammocks are not known for extreme stability.
  27. Perfume: Applies “just the right amount” of fine perfume to the recipient, alternatively, it can be used to apply far too much crummy perfume to any single target within thirty feet. This is a minor social problem and makes the victim far easier to track by scent.
  28. Philbert’s Phantom Pfennig: Produces a “generic” coin – one very common to the region in which the spell is cast, and of very small or minimal value – sufficient, perhaps, for a package of gum. If coinage is scarce in the setting, the “Pfennig” will disappear within 1D6 hours. Otherwise it is real and permanent. Whoever is responsible for coinage in the area will usually look upon the user of this spell as counterfeiting – but such authorities are usually far more worried about higher-order variations of this effect. As a rule, most people have better things to do with their personal mana anyway.
  29. Pigeon: Conjures up a pigeon which will remain up to one hour per level of the caster. If somehow given directions it will follow them faithfully. Variant forms summon other small, insignificant creatures, some of which are more or less permanent. Most such charms have a range of sixty feet and offer some slight degree of control over the creatures initial action(s). Such variants include charms that summon ordinary mice, gnats, insects, bees, spiders, frogs, salamanders, grass snakes, roaches, hamsters, hummingbirds, and others. More impressive, if less enduring, charms summon up things like lions, tigers, and bears. Sadly, such large creations are more image then substance, but they still look and sound vary impressive for the few moments they last. On the bonus side, they are more fully under the control of the caster; if you want to open the door to reveal a rearing, roaring, lion, than this is the charm for you.
  30. Rune: Inscribes whatever glowing symbol the user traces in the air, where it will remain for up to one hour. The symbol may occupy an area of up to four square feet and illuminates a radius of about five feet. The user may have it crackle, sparkle, or seem to burn if he or she so desires.
  31. Sealant: Conjures a small quantity of tarry goo, capable of sealing small holes, cracks, and such, in a surface of up to 25 square feet. Alternatively, it can be used to evenly coat and seal an area of up to five square feet, rendering it quite waterproof.
  32. Seance: The effects of this cantrip are highly variable. In essence, it issues an invitation for a spirit in question to appear and lets it tap into a bit of the caster’s physical energies to use to produce some minor effects (half Str and Dex). Sadly, this can only reach spirits which are linked to the area the Seance is performed in – whether that’s because someone – a close relative, adopted child, student, major enemy, or even murderer – the spirit is linked to is present , because some sort of artifact linked to the spirit is being used, or even because it’s being performed over the spirits body or at it’s tomb or place of death. Even if a link exists, the spirit must still be available – reincarnated or imprisoned spirits are not available – and interested enough to bother manifesting. Note that some spirits are strong enough to either manifest their own powers if someone is foolish enough to offer them a link to the material plane or to possess the caster. This can be useful – say, if you call on the spirit of a mighty holy warrior through his sword to help you complete his mission – or quite disastrous – if, say, you happen to unintentionally call up the spirit of the witch-king of the demon empire. It’s best to already know something about an item or spot before using it as the focus for a seance.
  33. Spike: Produces and magically inserts up to three normal iron spikes, suitable for climbing, jamming doors, and holding beams together. This cantrip is not effective on anything that won’t hold still for the insertion.
  34. Spray: Propels a fine spray of any liquid the caster carries onto any target the user points to within thirty feet, the quantity is equal to one small vial per every four levels plus one vial, or less at the users option. The “Powderpuff” variant hurls a puff of powder from any vial the user happens to be carrying onto, or into the face of, any single target within twenty feet.
  35. Stir: Summons a “disembodied hand” which can be set to stirring pots, working a pestle, fanning, basting, turning roasts, or any other small, rhythmic, repetitive task for up to thirty minutes per level of the caster.
  36. Timekeeper: This charm is closely related to Mindraven and Mapmaker, in that it embodies a very small, boring, and methodical portion of the user’s mind as an external entity – A tiny figment capable of keeping track of the time, counting things, and other simple accounting tasks while the user does something else nearby. Only the user can perceive or interact with his figment, but it can be “set” to time things and tell the user when they’re ready, to keep an eye on a nearby area and “sound the alarm” if anything changes, and so on. Unfortunately, the “entity” cannot be sustained at ranges over about thirty feet.
  37. Rolls in the 37-40 range normally referred back to one of the cantrips with a lot of worthwhile variants – Caldwell’s Kitchen Conjuration, Implement, Material, or Pigeon. That gave those useful and highly individual charms a better chance of turning up when making random cantrip items – always the most common sort of magic item.

Additional Indexes

   In the ongoing effort to make things easier to find – with better than 850 posts and 200 sub-pages it can get awkward, and a lot of visitors seem to miss the index tabs at the top of the page – I’ve added the tag cloud and a full post list in the right sidebar. Here’s a dropdown version of the full post list as well:

RPG Design – Whither Backstory?

   A lot of adventures don’t pay much attention to the backstory and adventure background. That’s more-or-less understandable – that kind of thing is usually designed to be dropped into almost any setting and used as-is – but it can lead to major problems if the characters are even slightly thoughtful or actually attempt to play in character. To illustrate this…

   Once upon a time, there was a game master.

   A game master who had invested a good deal of time in creating a complex dungeon-tomb and a couple of other interesting places hidden in a perilous forest on the borders of a lawful-good kingdom. He created a noble lord and a couple of eccentric advisors (including a Mind Flayer who’d somehow become lawful good, just to add some tension to social situations) to rule said kingdom, and made it strong enough to withstand most direct attacks – leaving the forces of darkness to rely on subversion, treachery, and assorted plots in their attempts to overthrow it. The characters would – more or less – be recruited into the royal counter-espionage forces. The game would start off with a mission to rescue the kings daughter and gradually expand as the characters uncovered the array of evil forces and dark plots arrayed against the king.

   A bit cliche, but certainly good enough to start off a campaign with, right?

   Since he wanted characters who might be recruited for their unique talents, he told the players that he wanted unusual first or second level characters who would be operating out of the capital city – and things started going downhill.

   He got an exiled drow bartender blade expert, a Krynn-style minotaur martial artist and bar-room brawler, a chain-smoking temple-robber from modern Egypt who’d picked up the wrong artifact, been given clerical abilities he couldn’t control by a deity he didn’t believe in, and been sent to another world as some sort of agent (my character), a thieving young half-elven mage obsessed with magical rings (and already having several with cantrips in them), an elderly retired gardener who had – at a rather advanced age – heard the call of both adventure and druidism (or “a really good fling before he died”), and an oriental bird-person staff-fighter and archery specialist.

   Since none of these characters except the drow and the minotaur had any prior connection to each other, our valiant game master took a swing; he had the Royal Guard – instructed, apparently to find people with “unusual talents” – haul everyone before the king. Naturally enough, some of them wanted to evade this apparently unmotivated sweep – which brought up the subject of how big the army was.

   The numbers that got tossed out called for roughly 10% of the population of the kingdom to be on active duty, with at least that many more in the support side. There was sudden doubt as to the lawful-goodness, peacefulness, or contentment of an unthreatened state that kept pretty much all the able-bodied men of the kingdom under arms. There was also considerable speculation as to the tax rates, the conditions of the peasants, and similar issues.

   The game master didn’t see what the problem was; he’d told everyone that it was a lawful good kingdom, that the king was a wise and benign ruler, and that everyone was content. Wasn’t that enough?

   So, a random collection of the most conspicuous people in the city got hauled up before the king and court, without explanation – although it did duly impress them with the kingdoms strength, wealth, and plentiful supply of much more powerful people. The king then dismissed the court and all but his most trusted guards to speak with these misfits in private.

   He then told them that – given their special talents – he had a secret mission for them.

   His daughter – deeply beloved by both the people and himself – had been kidnaped. Fortunately, the crime had been traced to a gang of bandits who were believed to be hanging out in an old tomb – it belonged to some ancient archmage or something – in the middle of the nearby forest. Since he didn’t want anyone to know about this mission for fear that the bandits would kill her, he couldn’t use any of the important or powerful people known to work for him; their disappearance would be noted. There weren’t many clues about how she’d been taken, it was believed to be an inside job though – which was why he was being so cautious.

   So to set up a secret mission to rescue his beloved daughter from deadly peril, he’d had the guard publicly haul in a random selection of the most memorable, eccentric, and inexperienced characters in the city. People who had never worked together and who had no major special talents (there’s only so much you can do with a second level character). Then he’d displayed them before the court that he ADMITTED was probably compromised, made it obvious that he wanted them to do something secret, and then given them a really cruddy briefing.

   He couldn’t spare them a guide who knew the forest, give them a map or much information about it or this supposed tomb, and he CERTAINLY couldn’t give them any extra money or equipment (Game Master: “What are you talking about? You’ve already got your starting gear!”).

   The “party” looked at the king, looked at the Mind Flayer advisor, and looked at each other – and “took the mission” in lieu of jail.

   Make that a swing and a miss.

   Once past the gate, the general discussion tended towards “making a run for the horizon and getting over the border”. The setup was so incredibly blatant that the absolute BEST thing that they could be was a diversion. More likely, he didn’t really want the girl back at all – or had arranged her kidnaping himself if she was really that “beloved of the populace”. He wouldn’t be in charge if he was genuinely stupid enough to think that the best way to set up a critical secret mission to rescue his daughter was to publicly pick out a random group of totally inexperienced but extremely conspicuous individuals who had never worked together, refuse to provide them with any assistance, and announce to the world that they were being sent on a secret mission. Maybe that Mind Flayer wasn’t really “reformed” and was secretly in control? It WAS just possible that the princess was a threat to it somehow, and they could hardly think of a better way to try and get her killed. Perhaps she’d run away?

   The game master nearly blew up right about then, and somehow everyone wound up at the ancient tomb anyway. He might as well not have bothered at that point; the game suffered final meltdown a few minutes later, when the first ancient cryptic inscription came up and the decision was to ignore it, since it was probably a trap. After all, it was a tomb full of traps. The point of tombs was that you put stuff in, set the traps, sealed it up, and no one ever went in there again. Leaving helpful inscriptions would sort of undermine the entire design philosophy.

   All that work on the campaign pretty much wound up in the garbage can.

   Now, the game master in that game had prepared his encounters well, and his “dungeons” would no doubt have been quite interesting for a novice (if perhaps a trifle cliche) – but he’d gotten so involved with the obstacles and enemies he intended to throw at the characters that he’d neglected to put much thought into his setting and the mission setup.

   If he’d told us that:

   “For the last couple of months you’ve been doing a bit of undercover work for the King as novice agents in a town on the fringes of the forest – where weirdos are more or less expected. Mere hours ago, your drow friend – thanks to his superb night vision – spotted a group of bandits hauling the crown princess into the forest! You’ve sent an urgent message to your boss of course, but it will take days to reach him – by which time the trail will be long cold and the princess might be dead. You can either take the blame if that happens OR you can go after her right away, with whatever supplies you can grab! It can’t be any more fatal than waiting for the king to find out that you let her be carried off, and – if you succeed – you can expect promotions and rewards! It’s the chance of a lifetime!”

   That would probably have worked out just fine – and cooking up a reason to look at the ancient inscriptions would have been a minor problem, rather than the final straw.

   Like it or not, for a game master, setting comes first. Your world needs to make sense, and the players have to have some idea of how it works. If ten percent of the population, chosen at random, is sucked into the realm of the bingo gods every morning and only returned at nightfall, then having a boss who demands a perfect attendance record from his employees doesn’t make a lot of sense. The characters motives need to make some sort of sense, and there needs to be some sort of logic in how they pursue them – having a few lunatics about is OK, but nobody wants to play in a world full of them. If the world isn’t reasonably logical and consistent, you’ll soon wind up with a game of Toon – which may be fun every so often, but doesn’t make for long campaigns.

   Once you have a good setting, a really, really good game master will be able to spin backstory, and create encounters, on the fly. Those with less practice will need a backstory ready to go, but will usually be able to improvise from there – and that’s vital as soon as the characters get off-track. And they will.

   It doesn’t matter if the characters or players (and they ARE separate) never find out about that back story – although if the players want to know it out-of-character after the game there’s usually no reason why they shouldn’t. The game master needs to know it. It’s one of his or her most vital tools.

Eclipse – Battling Business World

. One of the benefits – and burdens – of the Manifold setting (more information is available over on the d20 tab) we’ve used for the Federation-Umal and Federation-Apocalypse games is that it allows near-complete freedom. Since characters may come from any setting that has ever been imagined – whether or not anyone save the one who originally imagined it has ever heard of it – the players are free to use the Eclipse classless d20 rules (available in print HERE and in a shareware .pdf version HERE) to design their own races, templates, and characters virtually without restraint. Of course, that also makes them responsible for describing the worlds they come from – their histories, their cultures, and the laws of their universe. In fact, since universes try to fit things in consistently, they can also design supplementary backgrounds and abilities – “Identities” – to represent the roles they fall into in different universes.

. The players who don’t feel up to that sort of project can simply use an existing fictional universe – or even a published game background or d20 setting – for their character background and skip the detailed local identities.

. One of the most durable and entertaining settings that a player has come up with so far has been Battling Business World – a world founded on a supposed one-shot animated movie from around 2100 and on the passing fantasies of thousands of frustrated office employees. A world where – since everyone is well aware of the fact that “death” only lasts for a few hours before you come back safe at home, that injuries vanish in minutes or hours at most, and that any collateral damage will also go away in a few hours – everyone feels entirely free to haul out the knives, hammers, and implements of destruction to settle any kind of dispute. Where maltreated equipment fights back. Where one can really get it out of their system.

. That’s the world the Mr Leland has adopted for his own and that Marty the Corporate Raider (rather literally), his assistant Limey the Battle Laptop Computer, and Mr Gelman come from. Their character sheets, updates, the rules and regulations of battling business, and a good deal of other material can be found over on Marty’s player blog. To make it easy to find things there, here are some links:

    Continuum II: Illusion Cantrips

       Here we have the next portion of the Continuum II Cantrip list – in this case, Illusion Cantrips. Illusion cantrips can be quite impressive and flashy compared to other cantrips, given that all they’re usually doing is manipulating light and sound a bit – a trick that requires virtually no power at all. All you need to do is get the image you want clearly in your mind and channel a bit of personal mana into it to imprint the image on reality. Cantrip-level illusions are still pretty limited, but the details – like those of any illusion – are always up to the caster. They’re pretty easy to learn and use too.

       For those who haven’t been reading this series, here’s a repeat of the basic information on Cantrip Magic. For those who have been, it’s been offset for easy skipping.

       Cantrip Magic, drawing upon the modest reserve of magical energy which accumulates in any living creature, is the simplest and easiest of all forms of magic. That power is immediately to hand, focused, and attuned. It is inherently readily handled by the user – and the mere desire to use it is enough to get it partially shaped. Minor talents, basic magical training, or comparatively trivial talismans – such as the infamous “Cantrip Rings” – will suffice to channel it. Even more usefully, the simple instinct for self-preservation allows anyone with defensive cantrips available to use on of them per round as a reflex action, albeit at the cost of a “+2” on the user’s next initiative check.

       Unfortunately, Cantrip Magic is also the weakest form of spellcasting. The complexity of any given effect is moderate at most, and the personal mana which powers it is a very limited resource. Gods, fey, and spellcasters may build up substantial reserves – the residue of the energies they channel in other ways – but everyone else will only have a little based on their Endurance and the level of natural magic in the world they live in.

       On the other hand, Cantrip Magic is by far the most common form of magic in Continuum II. Minor mages, dabblers, and laymen use it, minor talismans and amulets produce and sustain cantrip effects for a time, embedded cantrips affect whatever inanimate object they’re embedded in permanently, and focusing talismans – such as those aforementioned “Cantrip Rings” – can focus their wearer’s personal mana into a list of up to seven cantrips whose patterns are embedded in item.

       The stuff is everywhere – and so a list of cantrips can be quite important. Their classification is somewhat arbitrary, but here’s the section on Illusion Cantrips – spells which change the perception, if not the substance.

    1. Ageshift: Alters the users apparent age to anything between youth and extreme old age for up to ten minutes per level, but will not alter his size.
    2. Aurora: Surrounds the caster with an aura of light, the color and such is up to the caster. While not particularly bright, the aura is sufficient to cause light-sensitive attackers to strike at -1. It lasts 1D6+6 minutes unless voluntarily terminated earlier. A minor variant projects the light outwards, creating a lovely rainbow or true auroral effect. Unfortunately, projecting the aura shortens the duration of the aurora to 1D6+6 initiative counts (about six seconds each)
    3. Blackout: “Blacks out” a 15 Ft radius of its casting point for 1D4 counts (about six seconds each). Unlike most other darkness spells, this does not affect enhanced forms of vision unless the caster wills it to do so. A variant form lasts for 1D4 minutes, but merely dims the area by fifty to seventy-five percent, rather then blacking it out completely.
    4. Cloaking: Renders the recipient invisible for up to three minutes, subject to the usual limitations of illusory invisibility. More specific variants only affect particular types of beings, such as humanoids, undead, or demons – who will be the only ones affected. A rare variant turns the caster invisible for up to half an hour, unfortunately that’s “the caster” literally. For real invisibility, you have to be clean and naked. It can still be impressive in some situations (“I tell you, no one was in the armor !”). Another variant produces a “screen” of invisibility making the user and any others he chooses to conceal within a six foot radius invisible, however it is only effective from one direction.
    5. Costume: Provides an illusory “change of clothing” for ten minutes plus one minute per level. The companion or “Mask” cantrip can similarly alter the users features and hands, offering a more complete disguise.
    6. Dialect: This handy charm adapts users speech to a desired accent or dialect of a known tongue for up to ten minutes. Unlike the “comprehend dialect” divination cantrip, this does not improve comprehension – but it does camouflage the users voice, allowing him to pass as a native speaker.
    7. Displacement: Shifts the user’s image five or six feet to the side of his real location, an effect which makes the user considerably harder to target effectively – at least at first. The effect lasts for three minutes.
    8. Distortion: Allows the user to appear 10% nearer or further away for ten minutes. Due to this effect, any attacks directed at the user take a -1 on their AR (Attack Rating). This can lead to some rather odd – and headache-inducing – effects if the user is standing against something and opts to be seen as further away than it is.
    9. Distract: Momentarily distracts any single target within sixty feet, causing them to pay attention to someone or something else for a few seconds unless a save is made. If this works in a fight (not too likely) it’s worth a -3 penalty on the victims defenses if an attack is launched at him or her while the distraction is in force. A less specific variant works on anyone who happens to be attentively watching the caster. In any case, the stupid or inexperienced are far easier to distract, such targets resist at -3.
    10. Enhance Appearance: A terribly superficial spell, this can increase the users appearance by 3, to a maximum of 21. If the users appearance is already 21 or more, the use of this cantrip will enhance it by one point. It lasts up to two hours per level of the caster.
    11. Eyeshift: Allows the user to freely alter the appearance of his eyes for up to three hours. They can even be made to glow dimly if desired. A more unusual use is to shift the apparent angle and focus of the users eyes, allowing him or her to focus on something while appearing to look at something else – although he or she cannot turn his or her head without spoiling the effect.
    12. Haunt: Gives a its victim – any single being within an initial range of thirty feet – the distinct impression of being followed or watched by someone or something he can never catch more then a glimpse of for the next 2-12 hours.
    13. Holdout: Allows the caster to conceal any single, relatively small object on his person through searches or simple checks. The cantrip remains effective for a full ten minutes, but if such concealment is suspected a resistance check will negate the effect. The “Discard” variant remains effective for only one minute, but produces an illusory duplicate of the object which may be convincingly left behind, dropped, or tossed away. It is sometimes used to cover a theft, despite the short duration.
    14. Image Animation / “Herkin’s Model Mayhem“: While this charm produces an excellent illusion, it has to have an image of some sort to take it’s pattern from – and is locked in at that scale. Just as annoyingly, it has a maximum range of about thirty feet, and a maximum of a six foot radius area of effect. Still, one can use it to “animate” an army of toy soldiers or the painting of a dragon. Of course, they’re still to scale and silent. The charm lasts for about three minutes – or as long as the user keeps concentrating on it.
    15. Imagery: Projects ghostly, transparent images in a 10 foot radius up to 15 feet away. While the images are obviously illusions, they can be quite detailed – and are occasionally used to impersonate “spirits” or other insubstantial effects. The “Windcolor” variant creates “solid”, believable, images. Sadly, it is confined to a two dimensional “screen” – and is thus only convincing from the front sixty to ninety degree angles. The “Mirage” variant creates a realistic, believable, illusion covering a ten foot radius, up to thirty feet away. The image is static and can only “cover up” what is already there by overlaying it – the cantrip cannot conceal that something is present. Worse, it is difficult to maintain a static image, there is a 5% cumulative chance per round of some wavering of the users concentration giving the game away.
    16. Intimidate: Subtly distorts the users appearance, subliminally enhancing his ability to frighten people, animals, and things. Any such attempts made during the charms ten-minute duration are with a +4 bonus.
    17. Invulnerability: A most impressive illusion, this charm gives the user the appearance of invulnerability for ten minutes. During this period no attack will seem to harm the user – although they hurt the user just as much as usual.
    18. Lightweaving: Allows the caster to treat sunlight or moonlight like softly glowing string, braiding, tying, or weaving things with it. Such “objects” will remain stable for up to eight hours, this may be extended by recasting the cantrip. They aren’t actually solid – except to the caster.
    19. Painkiller: Nullifies the pain of headaches, wounds, and such for eight hours. The recipient may ignore the effects of 1d6 points of damage until it wears off.
    20. Palliative: Counters up to three symptoms of some minor affliction for 1D4+2 hours. This relief is only symptomatic, the charm simply masks the underlying problem. It is still useful against colds, hay fever, poison ivy, and other such minor annoyances.
    21. Password: The casters unintelligible mutter will be heard as the correct password or countersign by any single guard within thirty feet.
    22. Phantom Hornet(s): A specialized and annoying illusion, which hurls a modest swarm of illusory bees or wasps at an opponent. While annoying, distracting, and painful, these cause no real harm – and the pain fades in a few minutes, as the charm’s duration runs out. Still, those who fail to resist are will often suffer minor distraction penalties.
    23. Phantom Scent: Alters the users scent as desired for up to an hour.
    24. Phantom Snake: Conjures a small illusory serpent, which can be sent up to sixty feet from the caster. While the charm is incapable of doing any harm it looks quite realistic and will even produce a slight sensation of “pressure” on anything living which it coils around.
    25. Shadowmeld: “Fades” the user, giving him a 14- stealth skill for the next ten minutes – or a +5 bonus if the user actually has the skill. On the other hand, the user can actually be slightly sunburned by exposure to bright light while using this spell, since it prevents the energy from being re-radiated normally.
    26. Shadowshaping: Allows the user to mentally craft vague forms from shadow within a ten foot radius. This cantrip will only be effective in shadowy conditions, and will be dispelled by any bright light. It will remain in effect for 1D6+4 minutes otherwise.
    27. Silent Steps: Allows the user to move without making a sound for ten minutes, an effect which provides a +3 bonus on the user’s stealth skills.
    28. Spectral Self: Makes any one creature within ten feet appear ghostly, fuzzy, or illusory for up to one turn.
    29. Spell Loop: Not technically an illusion – unless it’s directed at fooling the user’s unconscious mind – but designed to be used with another illusion spell and so listed here, this charm essentially “takes over” the concentration many such spells require for up to two minutes – after which the user may either begin maintaining the effect again or let it lapse normally. Unfortunately, the “loop” isn’t really an active effect; it only keeps things going the way they were. It’s unable to respond to changes in circumstances and tends to be remarkably uncreative when it comes to illusions.
    30. Tao C’hi Wheel: This whirling, blurring, guard adds +3 to the users Defense Rating for its three round duration.
    31. Ten Thousand Blows: An illusion of multiple blows, negating an opponents dexterity-based Defense Rating bonus for the three rounds it lasts.
    32. Tots Fascinating: This handy charm “creates” a lovely, glittering, bauble. While this is normally used to keep infants and small children busy, happy, and out of trouble, you can use it on adults as well. In this case, the effect is roughly similar to handing them a physical “Rubix Cube” (or other interesting puzzle). This in no way compels them to fool with it, but it is a way to avoid boredom. The basic duration is about an hour – but the time in which someone is actively paying attention to the thing extends that time.
    33. Unflaw: “Covers up” a small flaw in a crystal, gem, artwork, or such. While this lasts until the spell is broken, it will rarely fool a competent evaluator.
    34. Unseen: Makes any one smallish object within ten feet invisible, and virtually unnoticeable, for up to ten minutes.
    35. Vacation: A popular, if somewhat pointless, charm, this cantrip gives it’s target a mild feeling of being relaxed and refreshed along with a scattering of vague memories of having spent a week at the beach – or in some other pleasant and suitable spot. It’s a great stress reliever. More powerful mages often manage to “throw in” a slight suntan, a funny t-shirt, more detailed memories, or some such elaboration.
    36. Veiling: Covers up any single being or object which will fit within a five foot radius. The effect is similar to that of a veil – it only obscures details. It is transparent from the inside and lasts up to half an hour. The entire object need not be covered if the caster doesn’t desire it. A variant form produces smoky or dusty haze, slightly (-1 to visual perception, missile fire, and GMO rolls) obscuring everything within any 5′ radius within twenty feet.
    37. Voicechange: Alters the users voice (gender, tone, register, etc) as desired for up to thirty minutes.
    38. Voicethrowing: Allows the user to “cast” his voice for 6 “foot-hours”, from 30 feet for 12 minutes to 360 feet for one minute. The distance used for this calculation is the maximum range employed, attempting to exceed this limit will end the effect immediately.
    39. Weapon: Creates an illusory melee weapon, which the caster may wield for one turn. If the caster is of level 5+ it may be made to glow, flame, be inscribed with runes, etc, looking very impressive. Variant forms of this cantrip produce phantom shields and the like, although a full set of armor seems to be beyond the imitations of the charm. One variant requires an actual weapon, but produces the glow/flame/runes/etc without awaiting level 5. Necessarily, the user need not concentrate on maintaining the effects for any of the variants. Such weapons can cause stun damage, but the victim is entitled to a resistance check if actually struck.
    40. Warped Visage: This small illusion creates some “minor” abnormality in the target’s appearance. Being covered in bloody, gaping, wounds (appearing dead is optional). The drawn features and feverish glint of a plague victim. Crude stitches holding your body together. Dripping blue and green blood. Scars, swellings, baldness, and so on. The user remains recognizable – if anyone looks closely enough. The effect lasts for about 20 minutes.

    Eclipse – The Animistic Wizard Level One Build

       Our next sample level one Eclipse classless d20 character build is the Animist or Animistic Wizard – a character who knows the Primal Speech or Tongue of Creation – the universal language of the cosmos, which is both understood and spoken by all things, whether those things are conventionally seen as being animate or inanimate. Using the Primal Speech, the Animist can gather information from inanimate objects, persuade chains to unlock themselves, call forth the latent powers of common objects, and talk weapons into not harming them – given time and a silver tongue.

       Depending on the setting, an Animist may have learned the Primal Speech through long study, acquired it as a magical gift, or simply never have forgotten the one tongue with which they came into the world. Objects, creatures, and ordinary folk will automatically respond in the Primal Speech when addressed in it – but they cannot speak it independently of an Animist’s prodding.

       Most Animists claim to have no “powers” at all; they merely attempt to talk the world around them into obliging them. Of course, keeping on the good side of the universe usually includes an assortment of missions to help parts of it out, which is where their “Duties” usually come into play.

       Eclipse: The Codex Persona classless d20 is available in print HERE and in a shareware .pdf version HERE.

    • Disadvantages: (Select three for 10 CP), and add
    • Duties (must undertake occasional missions from the cosmos to maintain the goodwill on which they rely, +2 CP/Level).
    • Total available character points: 48 (Level One Base) + 10 (Disadvantages) +2 (Duties) + 6 (Level One Bonus Feat) = 66, 18 of which (from disadvantages, duties, and the bonus Feat) may be spent outside of the Adventurer framework restrictions.

       Basic Attributes: Str 8, Int 14, Wis 12, Con 12, Dex 12, Chr 16 (28 point buy).

       Basic Purchases (30 CP):

    • Proficient with All Simple Weapons (3 CP) and Light Armor (3 CP).
    • +4 Skill Points (4 CP). Obviously enough, these will normally go into Diplomacy.
    • +2 on Willpower and Fortitude Saves (12 CP)
    • 1d12 Hit Die (8 CP)
    • Initial BAB +0 (0 CP)

       Special Abilities (36 CP):

    • Immunity/the normal limits of Diplomacy and Spoken Language (Common, Minor, Major, 12 CP). This ability allows the user to effectively communicate with ANYTHING – and to attempt to persuade it to help them out. They can speak with plants and animals, attempt to persuade locks and doors to open, fires to leave open a path of escape, spirits to answer, air to remember when it was stone, or stone to remember when it was molten rock or simple sand or whatever it once was. It’s usually fairly easy to persuade things to act within their natures – for example, doors are made to let people through, so getting one to open itself is fairly easy. Getting a lock to open without the key is considerably harder; locks are MADE to keep unauthorized people out.
    • Professional/Diplomacy (6 CP).
    • Privilege/most things that are not naturally communicative are pleased to be spoken to, and will be reasonably friendly (3 CP).
    • Spirit Favors: Major from the spirits of the physical world, minor from the spiritual entities of the elemental and appropriate alignment planes (9 CP).
    • Create Relic, Specialized/only points from Enthusiast may be used (3 CP).
    • Enthusiast, Specialized for double effect/points may only be used in the creation of Relics (3 CP). This allows the Animist to have a two-point relic to start off with.

       Many starting-off Animists carry a Wand, and have talked to it until it’s spirit is wide awake and ready to assist them with it’s natural powers. In game terms, this is – of course – their Relic. Such wands normally have:

    • 2d6 Mana with the Unskilled Magic option, Specialized/can only be used to produce effects that are somehow relevant to the wand (6 CP). For example, oak, bound with copper might be good for protective and electrical magics, rowan polished with rose oil for lunar and psychic magics, and a steel wand for spells involving magnetism, the heat of the forge or furnace, and for transforming itself into tools and weapons.
    • Plus Rite of Chi with +2 Bonus Uses, both Corrupted/the user must expose the wand to appropriate forces in order to recharge it (6 CP).

       Further Advancement: There actually isn’t anything that the Animist HAS to have to keep their talents useful except to keep investing points in Diplomacy. Those talents will be overshadowed by the greater magics available to other spellcasters if they don’t keep developing them, but the subtle art of persuasion and gathering information doesn’t really lose usefulness with level. Neither does a really good Diplomacy skill.

       On the other hand, an Animist who wants to keep on developing those skills will want the skill-boosting abilities for Diplomacy (Skill Emphasis and Skill Focus), more Favors, and – to get at the really high-level effects – a decent supply of Mana, Rite of Chi with Bonus Uses, Skill Focus/Stunt and (eventually) Epic Stunts. Animists often develop sidelines in Shapeshifting, Deep Sleep (with Cosmic Awareness and Prophecy), Innate Enchantment (skill boosts and other personal enhancements), Lore, Mindspeech, and various forms of Rune Magic drawing on their supply of Mana. Karma might be in order as well, but taking that is always a little risky.

    Federation-Apocalypse Session 69: The Ward War

       Watching the power-fountain in the temple – and the wave of sacred energy pouring out over the city – A’ikana sighed. Perhaps it was simply the fact that she hadn’t known Kevin and Marty very long, and that blatant plans and actions were the most obvious – but it was really beginning to look like one of their major strategies was “wander around at random, and when a problem of some sort pops up, hit it with the biggest available hammer and hope for the best”. Had the boy had the FAINTEST idea of what might happen when he hauled those two artifacts into the Temple? It looked like they’d been fairly generic artifacts of light, but if they’d had some more specific purpose, or been strongly aligned with a particular faith, the consequences might have been disastrous!

       On the other hand, the boy bounced from dimension and situation to dimension and situation like a pinball – and holy relics that powerful generally had purposes, and ways of manipulating events, of their own. It wasn’t really likely that two of them would simply fall into his hands by accident.

       Well, even if there was some higher purpose behind it, she still couldn’t approve of the way that he was binding other youngsters to himself. Temporary or not, it was still an affront to human dignity. Still, she’d limit herself to disapproval at the moment: given the overall situation, Kevin was still – by far – the lesser of the available evils.

       Kevin was wondering himself; while it looked like the rest of the Horsemen had moved on, Death might still be around – and that little display just might draw his attention in person. Were they ready for that?

       Marty was considering Lichstein. After being that sicko’s medical experiment, he wanted to make sure that there was no more of that sort of thing – especially involving normal people. He still wasn’t entirely used to the fact that most people didn’t come back to life in the morning if they were killed. Wait: hadn’t Lichstein mentioned that he’d killed at least five hundred people? OK, some of them were probably dying to begin with since he did take emergency cases, and a fair casualty rate was apparently expected with the state of medical practices in this setting, but wasn’t that an awful lot to pass without an investigation? Had someone higher up been covering for the lunatic? He’d have to look into that.

       Meanwhile, there was some excitement on the Temple Mount after the Silmaril’s little display. The pulse had soothed most of what little panic it had started – it looked like most of what had been seen outside had been over too quickly to stir up much – but the event had still drawn a lot of attention. The first to arrive was the trio of clergymen – looked like two priests and a rabbi – who’d been attending the temple at the moment. No big surprise there. They wanted to know who Kevin was and what those items he had were. Kevin sighed.

    “In another world, in another realm, in the twilight before the light was divided from the darkness, the Creator sent forth his children beneath the stars. One of those children, Feanor, a mighty craftsman and wise before he later fell to folly, bore witness with his kin to the first light of creation. He wrought mightily, and preserved a part of that light within three gems – the Silmarils. Two of them passed into my keeping some time ago – and you have need of that light here, in this world, where the darkness rises from the Quilopothic planes.”

       Well, after all, if you were going to cause chaos, debate, and confusion, you might as well go all out.

       Marty, who’d followed along to watch the potential fireworks could read that thought really easily; it was one of Kevin’s usual tactics – throw everyone off-balance, make them feel that the discussion went far beyond what they understood, and then either get out or run straight over the top of them before they got their brain working again. He’d done it… well, practically everywhere they’d been, all the way back to… well, the first mission they’d been on. He had to admit that no one caused chaos and confusion better than they did, and that Kevin was the best they had at it – but maybe he ought to get a new strategy sometime. It wasn’t ALWAYS the best way to go about things.

    “Holy artifacts from another realm? Handy to have although how you managed to get your hands on them piques my curiosity. It does look like whatever they did helped strengthen the ward and for that we are grateful.”

    “You are welcome.”

       Back in Core, a faint and near-forgotten link tugged at Ryan O’Malley; he had once taken the role’ of Feanor, and never had discharged Feanor’s Oath. Instead he had – under a flag of truce – met with Melkor in the center of his armies and there used his power as a Opener to warp the local reality until he could detonate a strategic fusion bomb – blasting Melkor into darkness from which he would take an age to return, the Silmarils into the Manifold, much of Melkor’s forces into nothingness – and himself before Iluvatar, from whence he would – as an Opener – return, if strangely changed.

       The Oath had little power beyond the Silmaril Wars of Middle Earth, and less over an Opener of such power, but it had patience without end, and subtlety, and it’s own slowly-corrosive essence.

       Kevin quietly bowed to the presence lamp and departed ahead of the people outside headed for the temple, leaving the speculators to their own devices and the priests to seek answers in their own ways. The changes in the warding would keep the priests more than occupied for the moment in any case.

       A few questions got flung at Marty and A’ikana – if only because they’d been in the area – but Marty wasn’t forthcoming –

    “My friend apparently had some holy relics and wanted to take them to the Temple. I’m not sure after that. I think God approved.”

       – and A’ikana was even more terse. Perhaps fortunately, there were other distractions. Reports were starting to trickle in of big supply caches being found around the city and of an abrupt improvement in the power of the sacred wards around the city. It was even being reported that the battlefield had been affected as well, and quite a few of the knights were heading to the walls to see what was happening there.

       Kevin settled down to taking thrall-reports with his multi-tracking power and passing on summaries to Marty, A’ikana, and Jamie; he wanted to know what was going on at the walls, at “Crazy Lichstein’s Bargain Basement of Undead”, and situation around the city, in roughly that order – and he had Thralls in all those places to tell him.

       Meanwhile, Marty headed off to the closest taverns to try and rustle up some information in his own fashion.

       A’ikana was keeping an eye on some of the odder religious figures: the knights were odd enough – at least by the current standards of the Core and the Unified Church – but some of the people she was seeing around were just plain weird – and an awful lot of people seemed to want to be on the Council, were trying to exploit any shift in the local power structure to get there, and saw them as a possible way to accomplish that goal.

       Out at the walls, the situation had changed dramatically: The warding had expanded quite a bit – to better than half a mile beyond the outer walls in most directions. It had swept over, and destroyed, quite a few of the undead and turned many of them that had been further out. The Death Knights had pulled back the line about half a mile, and were trying to regain control of the horde. They apparently hadn’t liked it personally, although it didn’t seem to have destroyed any of them.

       It was too bad they couldn’t meaningfully exploit it at the moment; the turned undead had gotten out of range to be easily attacked pretty quickly of course, although the people on the walls had gotten in some good shots when they broke cover to flee. Who knew? Maybe they’d have to call in a horseman in person – although none of them were at all sure that they were up to that.

       There were a lot of dead bodies in the Catacombs, but the place was relatively quiet. The few dry rooms full of Lichstein’s creations had been cleaned out by the Knights – a project which had also revealed that the old roman water system was more extensive than had been previously believed, and had flooded quite a lot of the tunnels underneath the city with 2-3 inches of – holy – water.

       Well, that was handy! Very handy indeed! They set a few of the Thralls to getting the locals lots of bottles. It would be really embarrasing for a death knight to be bombarded to death by peasants with waterskins.

       Reports of new supply stockpiles were coming in from all over the city. There had been some initial confusion as reports had come in from different locations, leading many to conclude that it was simple rumor-mongering – but confirmation had improved morale considerably.

       On Marty’s end, the story of Lichstein had broken across the city – and their involvement had been implied on more a a few occasions in breaking up the plot. Rumors had also spread of another party’s involvement, possibly in the plot itself. No one was naming names, but they were referring to the “whoever” as “the abomination”, “traitor”, “Knight-Commander’s pet”, and with various other derogatory terms. That was interesting… Had a major, independent, undead joined with the inhabitants of the city in defiance of the Death Knights?

       There were also rumors that a major Fey Lord had shown up and was offering to help the city break the siege – possibly in exchange for souls (well, that was semi-true, but Kevin just wanted to rent them for awhile, not to try and trade for them and keep them; that never worked anyway) – and that there had been a major shouting match at the latest Round Table Conference over religious differences.

       There were even some rumors that a major event had taken place at the Temple Mount, and that the Ward was either stronger or that it had failed entirely. That was a little weird actually; even at the speed of rumor, that hadn’t been more than twenty minutes ago! Perhaps those rumors had been floating around earlier and weren’t even related?

       There were more rumors – of massive undead armies coming to reinforce the siege, of the Final Army coming back to crush the resistance, rumors of secret religious or factional strife, conspiracy theories of ancient Roman cults secretly controlling things, and other even more unlikely stories – but that was nothing to worry about; it was just the locals scraping the bottom of the ale-barrel. The Final Army coming back was vaguely possible, but it probably had better things to do in other worlds – especially considering how the defensive preparations were coming along in the Linear Realms

       Meanwhile, A’ikana had been thinking… She’d like to show some of the local peasants how to defend themselves more effectively – including collecting some of that holy water – but that would take a bit more than two hours, even if she (sigh…) drafted a few of Kevin’s Thralls to help out, since he apparently included some martial arts in his package (even if they didn’t really know how to teach them). Best to check on some of the odder local orders in the meantime and start getting classes set up after the conference.

       The number of people running around the Temple Mount at the moment certainly gave her enough potential prospects for conversation. A few quiet moments sitting in the outer precincts of the Temple watching people come and go revealed a pattern – at least to her heightened senses. About one priest in twenty was armed – and armed very curiously, with daggers, heavy metal bracers, very fine chainmail under their robes, and crossbows. Also, curiously enough, those priests were not participating in prayer services. They all looked to be fairly young and fit. A wandering trio of them had been steadily receiving what appeared to be reports from others wandering the city. Hadn’t there been a group like that once? The “Hashasheen” of Alamut who had given their name to Assassins?

       A’ikana passed that interesting tidbit on to Marty before finding an opportunity to chat with one that was alone for the moment. Marty wasn’t sure if he wanted to fight them or train under them if that was the case. In this realm they probably had all their legendary skills!

    “And what can I do for you child?”

    “Begging your pardon, sir, in a matter that might be sensitive in these days, but may I ask you a question?”

    “Certainly. Go ahead child.”

    “For what reason do some of your brothers not attend services?”

    “Ah you see that is because we are a reclusive order of monks and as such, our prayer services are very much a private manner. That does not mean we do not feel the importance of the services to the masses. We just feel…. that such matters are best left to the professionals. We do try to keep an eye on things here and help out where we are needed though.”

       Hm. Well, they could be guarding the place or they could be up to something malign – but there were enough of them that other people would probably have noticed something weird going on if they weren’t supposed to be there unless there was major magic at work. He didn’t sem to be lying outright at least, although he was definitely leaving a lot unsaid and was choosing his words very carefully. A’ikana tried to play up youth, innocence, and inexperience – even if it was a bit of a stretch.

    “I see. You are aware, at least, that you would be welcome?”

    “Oh yes, I suspect we need to participate a bit more in such manners if we are to fit into society here at all well. You see there was a time when, outside of our monastery, there hardly ever more than five of us in the same city at the same time. Because of that and other matters, we have been a very insular society. Now matters have become as they have and we find what is left of our order is here in Jerusalem with all the other survivors of the war.”

    “Is there anything we can do to aid you in this fitting in?”

       Marty’s opinion was a bit more definite: this guy certainly didn’t seem like a normal priest or monk. His gut told him that this was a well-trained killer. Possibly a member of an order of monk-assassins. Come to think of it, he’d seen a priest guest sitting in on the Round Table Conference garbed similarly.

    “Well would you know of any good social events that are taking place soon? I am afraid I do not know where to look when it comes to social gatherings.”

       OK, now THAT was an outright lie. Either he’d thrown that out to fool her or he wasn’t shielded against her telepathic talents. A’ikana suggested a few safe things to try and keep him talking.

    “Well I shall certainly check those out. I think it would do me well to try and fit in better with the local populace. Have you heard much about the disturbances here at the Temple Mount recently? From what I have heard, a major Fey Lord showed up, waved his hand and significantly strengthened the wards around the city. Now I was under the impression that Fey magics did not interact well with Holy magics like those of the wards. So I am a bit skeptical about those stories myself.”

    “I would agree with you; and I have seen no sort of Fey, Lord or not. I do wish that folk would more easily ascribe the work of miracles to God, rather than to malicious entities, but I suppose paranoia seems the order of the day when besieged.”

       Marty – listening in over the link – had to grin at that one. Poor Kevin, demoted from “Demon Prince/Knight of the Unseelie Fey/Cosmic Menace” to “Naughty Teenager”. Of course, he’d probably never been anything else in A’ikana’s eyes, but it would still be a shot in the ego if he ever heard it.

    “Nevertheless, something has strengthened the wards, or so I am told by people more knowledgeable about such things. Such a thing can only be good as I see it, so I am quite willing to ascribe it to the works of God. And today is looking like a good day for miracles. I hear they found more supplies out in the city too.”

       A’ikana had to smile – with genuine cheer – at that one.

    “It does indeed… and I have heard of the supplies as well.”

    “Hopefully that will help with the unrest in the city. The Knights have been having a hard time keeping a lid on things. Some good news can only help their situation.”

       A’ikana was concluding that – even if they were the original murderous order of assassins, they were basically sane, and didn’t want to be killed by an undead horde. You had to be pretty crazy to be on the wrong side of “the end of the world”. Probably best to stay on their good side.

    “An optimistic perspective can help, as well. I’m afraid I have an appointment soon, however, so unless there is anything else, sir, I bid you good day.”

    “And a good day to you as well child.”

       It was about time for the conference to be starting again, and they were expected to attend.

       The Round Table Conference was much the same as it had been a few hours before, although Marty was asked to check his weapons again. (Kevin KNEW he had forgotten to pick something up! Hopefully no one had tried to draw it: it was still enchanted with Fire and Lightning, it seemed like that sort of thing would work just fine in this world, and if somebody had been startled enough to drop it they might have set the place on fire or something).

       Knight-Lord Jurin Hans, Knight Lord Gilad and the Knight-Commander were already there and discussing some matter when they arrived.

    “(Jurin Hans) Ah, greetings, again! Hope you enjoyed the brief recess. Being locked into these meetings can be such a strain on the soul of a man. Now I am not sure what you did to the wards, but well done. You have made the besiegers time much more difficult. That coupled with the reports I am hearing about supplies is very good news indeed.”

    “You’re quite welcome, and it’s always good to take a break and let tempers cool when everyone is under such stress.”

    “Yes and tempers have been running high lately. I would ask that you try not to antagonize Knight-Lord Thawban in the future, but I suspect that is like asking oil and water to mix. He has his reasons for not likely what you represent, and while I disagree with him, he is also a fellow member of the Conference.”

    “I shall try to avoid it. Perhaps Marty or Abbess Esther (A’ikana’s local alias) will have more success than I; I have a weakness for tying people up in rhetorical knots.”

    “Sadly even in these dark time politics finds it’s way into everything. I am afraid the Knight-Commander is having trouble with this as well. Not being of noble birth has…. deprived him of certain lessons that wold do him well in these circumstances. Luckily he has a good head on his shoulders and has many friends and allies.”

       Shortly thereafter, the other Knight-Lords and guests begin to arrive. Arch-Mage Lurstrin arrived, gave them all a big smile, and sat down next to them again.

    “I trust the investigation went well Arch-Mage?”

    “Oh yes indeed. Still a few minor matters need to be wrapped up, but that is what assistants are for.”

       The Knight-Commander got things in order…

    “Round Table Conference is now in session again after recess. Will Knight Lord Matthias of the Hospitaliers please give us an update on the supply situation?”

    (Matthias) “Currently we are still trying to estimate the totals “found” (he looked over at Kevin, Marty, and A’ikana with that one). But we do believe that given the current stores and the rates at which new supplies can be made that we can hold the siege much longer than the estimates given earlier today would indicate. It is even possible that we could hold indefinitely now. Even if current rates are insufficient to meet with long term demand, we have ample demonstration that production can be readily scaled up as needed.”

    (Knight-Commander) “Understood, will Knight-Lord Jurin Hans of the Knights Templar please give an update on the effects of the ward reinforcement on the siege?”

    “(Jurin Hans) Certainly, it seems that the reinforcement of the wards around the city have expanded the radius by approximately 0.6 miles. At this time, all sections of the wall are now within the wards and the undead have been forced to retreat back that same distance. We have reports of approximately 5% of the undead forces being destroyed and another 10% sent fleeing. The Death Knights appear to have been caught unawares and spent a good deal of time trying to regain control of their forces. Limited assaults by our Knights appear to have been of moderate success. Given more preparation and warning, we could have killed several more Death Knights in the chaos, but such are missed opportunities.”

       Oh well. It was hard to give prior notice when you didn’t know what was going to happen.

    “With that said, repairs are continuing on the Gate of Zion and giving the reprieve we may be able to actually get the defenses there back on par with the rest of the wall.”

    (Knight-Commander) “Very good then. As is stands, we have a good likelihood of lasting indefinitely, but so do our enemies. I, for one, do not like such a precariously balanced situation. So the floor is now open to proposals on further operations.”

       The group settled back to watch. Since they were not council members they’d have to at least start off from what they proposed: hopefully it would be something useful.

    (Thawban) “Well the enemy line is going to be stretched much thinner now as they have to stay outside the ward most of the time. With that fact comes the realization that the Death Knights will be spread thinner as a consequence. Basic tactics suggest that we try and concentrate our forces where theirs are scattered. If more Hospitaliers can be spared now for the defense as opposed to supplies, we might be able to overwhelm the Death Knights at several locations simultaneously then retreat back behind the wall before they can respond.”

       They were in luck! Reasonably good sense from the most – or at least the most blatantly – hostile knight on the council!

    (Hospitalier) “It has not been determined if or when we might be able to reallocate Hospitaliers yet. So right now, any battle plans will have to presume Hospitaliers will be needed still in the city interior.”

    (Rathon, the Orthodox Knight-Lord) “Alright, given no more Hospitaliers, how many Knights can we scrounge up while leaving enough for the defense?”

    (Alman, another Jewish Knight) “Currently we have a reserve force of sixty-four knights. It won’t be enough to raid their main camp, but we could definitely get the lone stragglers spread around the wall.”

    (Knight Commander) “How many Death Knights are left?”

    (Jurin Hans) “We estimate 297 right now. We are still trying to confirm casualties from today’s venture though so we might be able to account for another two there.”

    (Gilad) “If we can eliminate the Death Knights, the remaining undead are going to be easy to handle. We have proven that before.”

    (Knight-Commander) “Right then, does anyone else in attendance have further suggestions or comments to add to the plan in discussion?”

       It looked like the basic plan was going to be to put together a force, ride out, take out some death knights, fall back, and repeat as possible. Since there hadn’t been any serious discussion of the capabilities of the individual Death Knights, they probably had fairly standardized power sets – possibly three basic variants, since they seemed to like operating in groups of three. It might be to cover for each other’s weaknesses with their own special abilities. No mention of using the Thralls as backup – but they really didn’t know much about their abilities other than as healers and producers of supplies yet. Still, they were opening the floor.

       Kevin elected to keep his mouth shut for the moment. He’d provoked them a bit much the first time around, and it had only been two hours ago.

       Marty got himself updated – and made sure that everyone was on the same page – by going over the situation at the walls and where they could get them repaired again. No way of knowing how long the Wards would remain powered-up.

       The weakest point in the Walls was at the Gate of Zion. There’d been a major assault there, the walls had been damaged significantly, and – until a couple of hours ago – that section of the walls was outside the ward proper.

       From Marty’s point of view, that also made it the best section to strike from. Closest to the undead, so they’d have the cover of the walls until they rode out and the undead would have the least time to respond, and striking from weakness was always a good way to take the enemy by surprise anyway.

       A’ikana stayed out of it. Tactics was not her subject.

       Kevin did have to speak:

    “I must point out that every one of the youngsters I empower acquires some degree of offensive, defensive, and healing abilities, as well as a selection of other powers – but only about three-eighths of them acquire the ability to create supplies. The others acquire other specialities, and can assist in other ways.”

    (Gilad) “Impressive, nonetheless, I must ask if you think they are capable of standing against Death Knights? Even we Knights typically have to swarm them with superior numbers to ensure victory. Although I am sure we can find other uses for their talents here in the city. Healing and defensive abilities are most welcome.”

       Thawban was clearly keeping his mouth shut with some effort.

    “Individually? I do not think they would stand much of a chance. Their ability to handle power is limited. They can, however, assist your men – as well as shapeshift to perform aerial scouting and carry messages.”

       Another Muslim Knight – clearly shocked again – spoke up:

    “Shapeshift?! That is… a most… rare talent indeed. I could see many potential uses out there for support like that. I am for the idea. The more bodies we can throw at this and bring back intact is fewer the enemy can use.”

       Kevin spoke up again; He’d like to give the new Thralls a few days to practice, make their relics, and develop their local identities before they went into battle – and he might be able to recruit more along the way.

    “Would you care to spend a few hours working with some of them? That way you will have a better idea of their abilities.”

    (Asad Ghazi , a Muslim Knight) “I would certainly be interested in seeing more of the abilities of these youngsters.”

       They agreed to take some time to evaluate the new forces in play and work on more detailed tactics.

    (Knight-Commander) “Very well then. All in favor of the proposal as outlined? All against? Motion passes 10:1 with 1 abstain. I believe this is a good point to break open session for today. Guests are dismissed and we shall continue certain other discussions behind closed doors.”

       The reaction to the evaluation was mixed: the youngsters powers were quite creditable and very versatile – but there was some prejudice against “fey magics” on the part of several of the sects, although – since the commanders were approving the venture – they went along with it, albeit grudgingly. Some of the others, namely the Zoroastrian, Pagan, and Mithraic groups, were quite pleased and fascinated by it all. It looked like quiet recruiting – if not rally- or revival-style – would be tolerated.

    “Their abilities will increase somewhat with a week or so’s practice, and a little more when there is time to give them proper training in their use. After that, improvements are very slow, but will continue.”

    (Knight-Lord Asad Ghazi) “A week then? Fair enough, I’ve known many youngsters that took longer than that to learn to properly hold a sword. Some still don’t (he smiled at that thought). Nevertheless, we have a big job ahead of us and we will need all the help we can get. I still wonder if there are other survivors out there and if we can get to them in time.”

       With any luck, the place would hold together for another week.

    Eclipse – The Primal Warrior Level One Build

       Our next level one Eclipse classless d20 (available in print HERE and in a shareware .pdf version HERE) character build is a Primal Warrior – a shapeshifter filled with all the fury of the wilderness, yet easily capable of scouting an enemy position as a small animal or bird. Sadly, while this is quite effective at lower levels, Primal Warriors can easily find themselves falling behind at higher levels, where the natural capabilities of common forms are less impressive. Fortunately, selecting a suitable speciality and spending their points accordingly is usually enough to keep them useful in a party, if not enough to make them as impressive as they were early on.

       As usual for the generic base designs, no particular sex, race, origin, or power-mechanism has been selected.

    • Disadvantages: (Select three for 10 CP), and add
    • Duties (to a feudal overlord, school, deity, faith, or whatever, +2 CP/Level).
    • Total available character points: 48 (Level One Base) + 10 (Disadvantages) +2 (Duties) + 6 (Level One Bonus Feat) = 66, 18 of which (from disadvantages, duties, and the bonus Feat) may be spent outside of the Adventurer framework restrictions.

       Basic Attributes: Str 14, Int 12, Wis 8, Con 18, Dex 10, Chr 8 (28 point buy).

       Basic Purchases (39 CP):

    • Proficient with All Simple Weapons (3 CP).
    • +5 Skill Points (5 CP)
    • +1 on Fortitude Saves (3 CP)
    • 3d8 Hit Die (28 CP)
    • Initial BAB +0 (0 CP)

       Special Abilities (27 CP):

    • Shapeshift with +2 Bonus Uses (9 CP). Note that, thanks to the selection of three hit dice at level one, the Primal Warrior may take forms with up to three hit dice at level one.
    • Berserker (+8 Strength) with +2 Bonus Uses (Corrupted, only usable while in animal form, 6 CP).
    • Grant of Aid with +2 Bonus Uses (Corrupted, only usable while changing forms, 6 CP).
    • Reflex Training/extra actions variant, Specialized/for defending and escaping only (3 CP).
    • Damage Reduction 4/non-physical damage (Specialized for double effect/can be bypassed by energy-based attacks, 3 CP).

       Now that’s a nice simple character design, a competent warrior-scout with enough versatility to satisfy most players. Further advancement is likely to revolve around the usual warrior-basics – hit dice, saves, and base attack bonus – probably coupled with Imbuement (for when the Primal Warriors natural weapons start needing magical enhancement), Defender, and Reflex Training. Depending on the players source of inspiration and notions about the characters power source, a little dabbling in Druidic Magic, Rune Magic, or Witchcraft may be appropriate.

    Eclipse – The Swashbuckler Level One Build

       To continue with the previous article on swashbuckling campaigns, our next level one Eclipse classless d20 (available in print HERE and in a shareware .pdf version HERE) character design is a swashbuckler – an unarmored (or at least lightly-armored) fighter who relies on evasiveness, parrying, and various weapon tricks to keep his or her own skin intact and to do in his or her foes. Since we don’t want all the characters in a swashbuckling campaign to use the same built, this one includes a dozen variants.

       While real-world swashbucklers would normally be at a disadvantage in a brawl compared to an armored warrior with equal training – after all, if armor wasn’t useful, armies wouldn’t have used so much of it – Eclipse contains an easy way to compensate: simply Corrupt their various abilities so that they won’t work in armor, and viola! Those abilities are cheaper, the characters can afford to buy more options and special abilities, and the game has a more cinematic feel – just what this type of character was looking for.

       Of course an armored warrior can limit their areas of expertise similarly, and get just as many special powers while retaining the advantage of armor, but hopefully your swashbuckler will be wise enough to avoid letting his or her opponents arrange the battles to be just the way they want them.

    • Disadvantages: (Select three for 10 CP), and add
    • Duties (to a feudal overlord, school, deity, faith, or whatever, +2 CP/Level).
    • Total available character points: 48 (Level One Base) + 10 (Disadvantages) +2 (Duties) + 6 (Level One Bonus Feat) = 66, 18 of which (from disadvantages, duties, and the bonus Feat) may be spent outside of the Adventurer framework restrictions.

       Basic Attributes: Str 14, Int 10, Wis 10, Con 14, Dex 16, Chr 10 (28 point buy).

      Basic Purchases (36 CP)

    • Proficient with All Simple and Martial Weapons (9 CP).
    • +6 Skill Points (6 CP)
    • +2 on Reflex Saves (6 CP)
    • 1d20 Hit Die, Corrupted/when struck by a critical hit, or when damage passes the 50% and 75% threshold, the character will suffer a graphic wound and take either (d12; 1-6) two points of attribute damage, (7) a -2 to attack, (8) a -2 to AC, (9) three rounds of being dazed, (10) -10 movement, (11) three rounds of temporary blindness, or (12) a similar penalty described by the game master (11 CP).
    • Initial BAB +1, Corrupted/does not contribute to iterative attacks (4 CP)

       Special Abilities (30 CP):

    • Augmented Bonus/add a second attribute modifier to the user’s dexterity modifier when calculating AC. With these attributes the character will probably want Beat (Str), but those with other characteristic distributions may want Expert Bladesman (Int), Canny Evasion (Wis), Unrelenting Press (Con), or Taunting Patter (Cha) (4 CP*).
    • Reflex Training/Combat Reflexes Variant (4 CP*).
    • Block/Melee (4 CP*) (Coupled with a good reflex save, this is a major route to survival for an unarmored type).
    • Action Hero/heroism option (4 CP*)
    • Improved Initiative +2 (2 CP*).
      • *Corrupted/not while while wearing medium or heavy armor or while heavily encumbered. Other common swashbuckler limitations include “only usable with a sword”, and “only usable in one-on-one duels”.

       Obviously enough, a lot of other items could be substituted here – but that’s a pretty good package for a starting swashbuckler.

       Individual Variant Packages (12 CP Each):

    • The Cinematic Hero (or enthusiastic young hero) simply has Luck with +4 Bonus Uses (8 CP*) and Block/Missile (4 CP*), and makes an excellent – and quite durable – generic hero, since he or she can pretty well count on blocking several potentially-lethal attacks in any one day.
    • The Experienced Duelist has been at this for some time, and it shows: he or she knows the tricks, and he or she knows how to handle themselves in battle. They may not be much for the flashy stuff, but they have a sure and steady hand. +3 to Reflex Saves (6 CP*), +3 to BAB, Specialized/only for melee, Corrupted/does not add to iterative attacks (6 CP).
    • The Agile Master specializes in using the environment to his or her advantage. Whether he or she favors swinging from tangles of ropes, wind, rain, and slippery footing, or balancing on the spars of a ship, it is extremely perilous to meet the Agile Master in his or her favored terrain. Acrobatics (4 CP*), Mastery (Balance, Tumble, and Jump), Favored Foe (Bonus to Attacks, Damage, Saves, Balance, and Bluff when fighting in particular environment – such as in the rigging, while out in a violent storm, while swinging from ropes, etc, 4 CP*), and Block/Missile (4 CP*).
    • The Florentine Fighter specializes in the use of two blades, whether paired light weapons or a light sword and dagger, and in inflicting damage as quickly as possible. Bonus Attack/when holding a secondary weapon (4 CP*), Opportunist/when the user successfully blocks an enemies attack in melee while using two weapons he or she may use another Attack of Opportunity to strike at the attacker (4 CP*), and Enhanced Strike/Hammer (4 CP*).
    • The Demon Hunter has faced supernatural horrors before, and knows they can be beaten. His or her faith and driving will is like a burning flame, when it flares up, it warms all about them. Imbuement/Sword (4 CP*. This is merely a “magic” weapon at level one, but will improve later), Minor Favors with +2 Bonus Uses (may call on the Powers of Light for a clerical or paladin-type spell of up to level three up to three times per session – but the powers of light will expect the user to undertake various missions for them in return, Corrupted/only while the user and cause is worthy of support, 4 CP), and Inherent Spell (Rallying Call/”Prayer”, 4 CP*).
    • The Dilettante Noble has received good training, and was paying attention to at least part of it – but his or her primary gift lies in his or her political connections and in being so used to command that they find it easy to collect and support followers. Favors/minor political (3 CP), Privilege/minor legal immunities and a free comfortable lifestyle (3 CP), and Leadership (6 CP).
    • The Golden One knows that sometimes you just really have to have something – and it will be there if you look. Of COURSE a cannon came loose during the bombardment, wound up under this tarp pointing towards the door the overwhelming bad guy is going to come through at any moment! There’s ALWAYS some way to win! – or at least there is for the Golden One. 2d6 Mana/reality editing option, Corrupted/only for reality editing (8 CP) plus Rite of Chi, Corrupted/only works at dawn or nightfall (4 CP).
    • The Shadow Adept is a secret follower of baleful powers, and augments his or her swordplay with dark arts. Witchcraft II ([Str+Dex+Con]/3 base Power, the Hand of Shadows, Witchsight, and Shadowweave), with two Pacts (usually Pacts of Service – Missions and Spirit), Mana/+3d6 Power option, and Path of Darkness/Nightforge+ 3d6 Power. With this combination the Shadow Adept can perform a variety of minor tricks and can create adamantine objects of solid darkness for one hour for one Power per 20 pounds of material. They are fond of creating weapons, barriers, manacles, and nets and entangling strands of razor-sharp “wire” – often manipulating it telekinetically with the Hand of Shadows.
    • The Military Man is a specialist in close-quarters combat, a man or woman of iron determination and grim experience. He or she is Proficient with Light Armor (3 CP), may draw upon inner reserves that few others can match (Berserker with the Enduring modifier, +4 Str, +4 Dex, +2 Reflex Saves, -2 to all Perception-related checks, 9 CP).
    • The Spirit Speaker is able to sense and communicate with the spirits of the natural world and of the dead as well – at least if they’re still hanging around. Thanks to this affinity, he or she may be able to calm a storm, find someone lost in a jungle, or call for favorable winds – but not too often, since the favor of the spirits is fickle. Occult Sense/Spirit Sight, Specialized/requires entering a light trance (3 CP), Mindspeech, Specialized/only to communicate with spirits (3 CP), and Major Favors (the elemental spirits of nature, 6 CP).
    • The Magical Dabbler is tinkering with powers that men and women ought, perhaps, to leave to themselves. Still, as long as he or she knows their limits, things aren’t TOO likely to go disastrously wrong. 1d6+2 Mana and Rite of Chi with +2 Bonus Uses, both Specialized/the user is subject to unpredictable magical backlash if he or she fails to cast a spell properly or attempts to produce an effect beyond their power, the mana is only usable for a particular form of Rune Magic, chosen when the Magical Dabbler is created (8 CP), +4 SP for that field of Rune Magic (4 CP).
    • The Ruthless Quester knows many things, and isn’t about to let silly things like “scruples” get in the way of getting what he or she wants. Poison Use (6 CP), Privilege/ready access to poisons, weird occult tomes, ancient manuscripts, and so on (3 CP), and Occult Skill/Secrets (3 CP). Every skill point invested in the “Secrets” skill brings you extraordinary knowledge – knowing a dozen demonic sigils, the answers to the ancient Riddles of Tannwell, the route to the long-lost Earthsblood Forge beneath Mount Kyros, or the Three Invocations of the Deeps. The game master may also opt to let you occasionally roll your Secrets skill to see if you know some bit of lost information or give you additional secrets (also known as “plot hooks” out of the “goodness of his or her heart”.

       The Variant Packages also make perfectly good package deals if the game master would like to encourage particular schools.

       Further advancement? Well, that depends a lot on which package has been taken – but I’d suggest all the usual fighter basics (hit dice, skill points, saves, and base attack bonus), as well as things like Augment Attack, Defender, Enhanced Strike, Expertise, Evasive, Finesse, Fortune/Evasion, Guises, Lunge, Martial Arts (to upgrade your weapon damage), Opportunist, Presence, Snatch, and Trick.

       The various packages that involve magical abilities could be built up – but, for the most part, that doesn’t really fit in with the idea of the Swashbuckler very well. In fact, as a general rule for a swashbuckling campaign, I’d limit mystical powers – including things like “shapeshift” and other occult abilities – to a maximum of about eighteen points per character. If you’re clever you can get an interesting power package with that – as shown above – but such talents won’t overshadow the swashbuckling action except in specialized cases. Cannons and kegs of gunpowder, yes, fireballs, no.

    Shadowrun – The Neo Skillsoft Store

       The current Shadowrun party has managed to collect quite a few knowlege skill programs – in fact, an outrageous number of knowledge skill programs since they were the most expensive. Since they’re being used fairly often, here are the Knowledge Skillsofts which are currently available: 





    Very Large


    Animal 6

    Psychology 6

    Sociology 6

    Anthropology 6


    Cryptography 7

    Linguistics 6

    Communications 6

    Information Theory 6


    Hardware 6

    Languages 5

    Software 5

    Interface 5

    Earth Sciences

    Ecology 5

    Hydrology 6

    Meteorology 6

    Geology 6


    Materials 6

    Structural 8

    Mechanical 8

    Technical 6


    Current Events 6

    History 5

    Archeology 6

    Paleontology 5

    Life Sciences

    Biochemistry 6

    Genetics 6

    Biology 6

    Evolution 6


    Spellcraft 6

    Magic Theory 8

    Spirit Lore 6

    Metaphysics 6


    Number Theory 6

    Probability and Statistics 6

    Analysis 6

    Multidimensional 6


    (City) Lore

    (Region) Lore

    (Country) Lore

    Geography 7


    Logic 6

    Theology 7

    Philosophy 5

    Civics and Law 8

    Physical Science

    Quantum Mechanics 6

    Chemistry 6

    Physics 6

    Cosmology 5

       That accounts for almost 5000 MP of the 18,000 MP worth of material that was downloaded.

       The City, Region, and Country Lore skills are special cases: There are a LOT of them, albeit mostly at relatively low ratings – 2-5, and the sizeable majority at 4. They account for close to 6000 MP – although this does mean that the collection includes a decent database on pretty much every major city, region, and worthwhile country, in the world.

       Another 6000 MP is in the form of less-powerful (and often specialized) skillsoft programs; there are plenty of people out there who don’t want to pay for Rating-6 when a nice Rating-2 program or a speciality program (Ancient Egypt 2 anyone?) will answer their questions and let them write their novel or RPG scenario or whatever-it-is they want to know for quite satisfactorily. 

        There are also a selection of about 20 highly specialized knowledge skills, at ratings hovering around 5 – but none of those matter that much, since the more general skills usually cover enough to get by on. They tend to be popular-culture subjects, although there are a few on infant care and similar practical topics.

    A’ikana – Current Skills

       Here we have a quick note for A’ikana Kalil, who has finished shopping for her skills – at least until she acquires some more skill points… 

       This being the Federation-Apocalypse setting, she gets custom skills and training bonuses – to make up for the fact that the settings skill list is potentially endless.

       Broad Skills (All +6 Int):

    • Physical Skills: Acrobatics +15 (4 SP +5 Dex), Stealth +24 (5 SP +5 Dex +4 Gear +4 Race), Martial Art/Adamantine Fist +21 (7 SP +8 Str), Martial Art/Crane Style +21 (7 SP +8 Str), Martial Art/Wind Dance +21 (8 SP +5 Dex)
    • Knowledge Skills (+6 Int): Theology +19 (6 SP +1 Package Deal), +13 Quantum Realities (1 SP), Psychology +13 (1 SP)
    • Perception Skills (+2 Wis): Spot +13 (1 SP +4 Gear), Listen +13 (1 SP +4 Gear)
    • Other Skills: Computer Operations +13 (1 SP, +6 Int), Diplomacy +10 (2 SP +2 Cha), Faith +10 (2 SP +2 Wis), Gadgetry +15, (1 SP, +8 Dex), Gather Information +10 (2 SP +2 Cha), Heal +10 (2 SP +2 Wis), Search +17 (1 SP +6 Int +4 Gear), Wealth/Core +9 (1 SP +2 Cha)

       Narrow Skills (All +6 Int +5 Training):

    • Physical Skills: Balance +19 (1 SP +5 Dex +2 Synergy), Climb +24 (1 SP +8 Str +4 Gear), Escape Artist +17 (1 SP +5 Dex), Jump +20 (4 SP +5 Dex), Drive / Core Earth Vehicles +16 (1 SP, +5 Dex), Shadowing +17 (1 SP +5 Dex), Swim +27 (0 SP +8 Str + 8 Race)
    • Knowledge Skills (+6 Int): Anthropology +18 (1 SP), Demonology +18 (1 SP), Church History +18 (1 SP), Witchcraft +18 (1 SP).
    • Other Skills: Oratory +16 (3 SP +2 Cha).

       +3 Specialities: Gadgetry/Smartclothes (1 SP).

       Known Languages (7): English, Mandarin, Japanese, Latin, Italian, Greek, Draconic.

    Martial Arts Techniques Known (11 tehniques each at skill 21)

    • Adamantine Fist: Toughness III (+3/1 DR when using this form), Strike, Breaking (easily smashes objects), Mighty Blow (knocks people down on a critical), Sunder (may attack opponents weapons without drawing attacks).
      • Limited-Use Mystic Techniques:  Inner Strenth (powres mystic techniques), Ki Focus (Strength, +4 sacred bonus when activated), Focused Blow (strike as a crushing touch attack), and Overburden (renders foe unconscious).
    • Crane Style Kung Fu: Attack 2 (+2 to Hit), Strike, Defenses 4 (+4 to AC), Synergy (+2 to Balance), and Toughness 1 (+1/- DR).
      • Limited-Use Mystic Techniques: Focused Blow (strike as a crushing touch attack), Light Foot (+20 move and half falling damage, +30 to Jump), Iron Skin (+4 natural armor, may strike intangible opponents).
    • Wind Dance: Defenses 2 (+2 AC), Strike 1, Mind Like Moon (DC 15 reflex save to avoid being surprised or flat-footed), Instant Stand, Whirlwind Strike, and Deflect Arrows.
      • Limited-Use Mystic Techniques: Inner Strength (powers mystic techniques), Healing Hand (cures damage, diseases, and toxins), Vanishing (an instant move action when you need it), and Serpent Stike (attack does 2d4 attribute damage).

       Thanks to her mastery of basic strikes – and resulting lack of need for the “power” basic technique – A’ikana has fully mastered the Adamantine Fist and Crane Style, and has gone on to develop some advanced abilities. The Wind Dance, however, still has some techniques left to learn.

    Eclipsing and Swashbuckling on the High Seas

       For today it’s part one of a series on swashbuckling campaigns – setting up the basics in Eclipse: The Codex Persona (available in print HERE and in a shareware .pdf version HERE).

       So you want to run a swashbuckling campaign. Is it piracy on the high seas? Quarrelsome young nobles at a decadent court? Rival families and star-crossed lovers? Swordsmanship, musketeers, and intrigue at the kings court in the style of Alexandre Dumas? Regardless of the details, this kind of thing can be a lot of fun.

       It’s not too hard to set up in Eclipse d20. You’ll probably want to keep the magic level low, but it’s not really required – and most players will cooperate if you explain what you’re going for in advance. You will want to encourage people to move around a lot in combat, and discourage armor though. The players will go with it for awhile anyway, but they’ll start getting annoyed about it if it’s obvious that it would be useful to wear heavy armor and people just aren’t doing it.

       So: to hold down the Armor

    • Vary the situation. Characters don’t wear armor in the bath or the bedchamber. It’s downright dangerous to wear it at sea. Medium or heavy armor makes it awkward to climb ladders, balance on top of crumbling walls, or move quickly. It’s expensive, and it’s difficult to put it on or take it off quickly. Light armor – leathers, hidden chainmail shirts (or equivalent light breastplates), and so on – suits the swashbuckling genre just fine, but heavier stuff will probably lead to a character is a swashbuckling campaign falling down a lot. Go ahead. Require a Balance check at DC 11 each round for that fight on top of a crumbling wall. The Dex 12 swordsman in leathers can “Take 10”. He may have to wave his arms comically every so often, but he’ll stay up. The Dex 12 swordsman in a chain shirt has a 55% chance of falling off every round. Want to guess who’s likely to come off best?
    • Tell the players that combat may well occur in unexpected situations, with little or no time to prepare, and in conditions where mobility is more important than armor – and encourage them to compensate for the lack of armor by purchasing combat abilities “Corrupted/not usable while wearing medium or heavy armor or while carrying a heavy load”. After they buy a few abilities like that, they’ll shun armor anyway; it would keep them from using too many of their talents.
    • Apply area effects. Volleys, grapeshot, chainshot, broadsides, and explosive shells target areas, not individuals. Heavy armor may help against individual hits, but it actively hinders the user’s ability to move quickly and erratically, take advantage of cover, and avoid bunching up with other targets (and thus drawing more fire to the general area you’re occupying), so those wearing it will take more, but weaker, hits. As abstract as d20 combat is, we can reasonably go with the default rules: armor doesn’t help against area effects. Reflex saves do, as does not being there in the first place – so characters will want to avoid slowing their movement with heavy armor. A massed musket volley might reasonably do 3d6 damage or so to everyone in the target area – with a successful reflex save indicating no damage at all.

       To hold down the magic:

    • Explain what kind of magic you’re allowing to start with, and stick whatever limitations you set up for the NPC’s too. The PC’s may be on the upper end of a lot of distribution curves – attributes, luck, affinity for trouble, and money to start with – but the same rules apply to everyone out there.
    • Ensure that there’s some reason not to blatantly display any magics the characters do have. They may be so limited that they’re best held as an ace in the hole, there may be some sort of popular prejudice against their use, or they may have troublesome side effects. In any case, make sure that the players know about these problems in advance.

       To encourage people to move around a lot and take advantage of the environment simply provide an environment with plenty of potentially-useful features to fight in and have the opponents move around and take advantage of them. The players will have their characters start doing so soon enough.

       For flavor:

    • Encourage the characters to buy their Warcraft (BAB) Corrupted/no iterative attacks. This not only makes it cheaper, but it leaves extra points left to buy various attack upgrades – allowing for single good blows to have a major impact on the outcome of a fight.
    • Allow characters to buy their hit dice Corrupted/when struck by a critical hit, or when damage passes the 50% and75% threshold, the character will suffer a graphic wound and take a penalty. Penalties can be assigned or rolled randomly, but things like “Arm Injury, -2 to hit until healed”, “Leg injury, -10′ Movement until bandaged after the battle”, “Blood in eyes, -2 to Spot and to hit for the next three rounds”, “abdominal blow, -2 strength until healed”, and so on are easy enough to manage.
    • Use package deals to represent appropriate schools, prior experience, and backgrounds. They are, after all, a tool to encourage the kind of campaign you want.

    Eclipse – TARDIS d20

       Now that we have a Time Lord template, we’re going to need a Time Lord vehicle – a TARDIS. How can we build one of those in Eclipse: The Coded Persona? That’s a really powerful device, right?

       Well, as usual, the trick is to think about what it actually does.

       Lets see now… Having access to a TARDIS allows your Time Lord:

    • To arrive wherever the game master wants him or her to arrive and to be stuck there until the game master feels like letting him or her leave.
    • To arrive without benefit of any prior information, such as you’d get by actually traveling there or simply by being able to be sure where you were going in advance.
    • To be gratuitously cut off from any pre-existing friends or allies, with no means of obtaining more supplies, special items, or assistance unless you find them locally.
    • To have only one route of escape – effectively turning entire planets into single-location traps – which can easily be cut off or stolen.
    • To be constantly surprised by enemies, rivals, and would-be thieves of Time Lord secrets from across all space and time.
    • To have plenty of those enemies to be surprised by, since mere possession of a TARDIS makes the character a major target (admittedly, by those who don’t understand what a pain it really is).
    • To be constantly plunged into dangerous situations.
    • To be constantly leaving friends, and the fruits of his or her adventures and labors, behind, never to be seen again – unless the game master feels like bringing them back as bait for a trap.
    • To gratuitously see the results whenever some casual action or decision leads to a later disaster.
    • To be forced to confront malevolent or uncaring cosmic entities, while equipped with little more than your wits and whatever happens to be in your pockets!
    • To be forced to take responsibility for both the TARDIS itself and for the very fate of the universe – and to know that it all may hinge upon your actions!

       OK, now that’s a little tongue-in-cheek, and it doesn’t mention the fun side of getting to play cosmic tourist and occasionally getting to have much better technology than the locals – but that sort of thing doesn’t do that much for the character directly. I could make a pretty fair case that the possession of a TARDIS amounts to taking the “Accursed” disadvantage, and thus would give our Time Lord three EXTRA character points to spend.

       On the other hand, it is pretty cool to be able to play cosmic tourist – and, once you get back to it, you can generally escape from a bad situation pretty easily, at least for the moment. That would be a couple of three point Privileges, plus an advanced (and Specialized) version of Blessing to allow the user to share those privileges, giving the TARDIS a net cost of about twelve character points – a two-point relic.

       That does stretch the definition of “Privilege” quite a bit though. We could define the ability to travel freely through space and time as a very high level spell of some sort (say about level sixteen), and then throw in some secondary spells to provide the force-field, translation abilities, and other functions – but this pretty much amounts to an elaborate way of announcing that “this is impossibly expensive and you can’t have it”. There are ways to reach that kind of spell level via relics, spell conversion, and other tricks – but they’re all pretty expensive and are just asking for a game master veto if he or she doesn’t want you traveling – and if he or she does, you shouldn’t have to pay that much for it.

       So lets say we want a build that actually defines the abilities of a TARDIS and has a reasonable cost. Can we do that?

       Of course. Most of the powers of a TARDIS come down to a selection of Immunities.

    • Immunity/Time (Very Common, Severe [since being in the wrong century can take a character out of play very effectively], Epic, Specialized and Corrupted/takes a few moments to activate, makes it very hard to determine where you’ll wind up once it’s activated, very hard to use within a particular adventure setting, sometimes malfunctions or is interfered with externally, requires subjective time to operate in, 15 CP).
    • Immunity/Space (Very Common, Severe [since being on the wrong planet can take a character out of play very effectively], Epic, Specialized and Corrupted/takes a few moments to activate, makes it very hard to determine where you’ll wind up once it’s activated, very hard to use within a particular adventure setting, sometimes malfunctions or is interfered with externally, requires subjective time to operate in, 15 CP).
    • Immunity/Environmental Hazards (Very Common, Severe, Great (up to 60 points), Specialized and Corrupted/does not protect against temporal or cosmological disturbances, exotic energies may “leak through” and have weird plot-device effects, only 50% effective when primary shields are not activated (such as when the door is open, although this still covers life support) (10 CP).
    • Immunity/Intentionally-Inflicted Damage (Very Common, Severe, Great (up to 60 points), Specialized and Corrupted/does not work internally versus simple physical attacks, does not protect against temporal or cosmological disturbances, only 50% effective against weapons designed for use against a TARDIS, only 50% effective when primary shields are not activated (such as when the door is open, this reduces the effect to 25% when both conditions apply) (10 CP). Note that – when shared with those inside – this also covers the weapon-“deactivation” properties of the TARDIS. Of course, accidents can damage a TARDIS easily – and often do.
    • Equipage, Specialized and Corrupted/it may take a good deal of rummaging to find what is wanted, weapons are almost never available, basic equipment is limited (even rope can be hard to find), and foodstuffs and such are very basic. Still, there are always sets of spare clothing available (2 CP). Note that, with Blessing, each user gets their own allotment of food and supplies.
    • Mindspeech, Specialized/only works to translate spoken languages (3 CP).
    • Shapeshift. This is an unusual option, but – as an inanimate object – a TARDIS can take on a variety of inanimate forms. Thanks to it’s immunity to the normal constraints of space, these can be of a wide variety of sizes, but – if you want to get in and out – need to be large enough to have a usable door (6 CP).
    • Presence/”Perception Filter”, people will tend to ignore the TARDIS, treating it as just part of the scenery. Specialized/does not work versus anyone who actually knows what it is (3 CP).
    • Reflex Action/three extra actions per day variant, Specialized/only usable to escape major attacks. If a TARDIS detects a major buildup of energy nearby – a discharge great enough to seriously damage it – it will disappear and reappear somewhere nearby after the danger is past (3 CP).
    • Occult Sense/Exterior Environment, Corrupted/unreliable. While those inside can see out of a TARDIS, and the sensors will normally warn of quickly-lethal exterior environments, more subtle dangers are often overlooked (4 CP).
    • Blessing, may share abilities with up to (Operators Cha Mod +1, 1 minimum) targets plus it’s operator, Specialized/only Mindspeech and the Presence effect can extend outside the interior of the TARDIS (6 CP).

       This comes to a total of 77 CP or a 13 CP Relic – quite a bit. Of course, if the Chameleon Circuit is broken (deactivating the “Shapeshift”), this is reduced to 71 CP or a 12-point relic. That’s still quite a bit, but it’s pretty reasonable for what you’re buying. What’s unreasonable is allowing those immunities. Immunity to natural laws is ALWAYS a major warning flag, and the other immunities are pretty broad – but given that the TARDIS is both a plot device (to which we could reasonably assign some disadvantages to bring down the cost), primarily a method of delivering characters to otherwise inaccessible adventure settings, and absolutely vital to adventuring in the Doctor Who style, I’m going to let it slide.

       This doesn’t account for using the TARDIS to drag planets through space, allowing massive paradoxes, repairing the timesteam or – for that matter – randomly not working when it suits the plot, but that’s why all Time Lords have the Action Hero/Stunts ability. It allows them (with the game masters permission) to occasionally do things that are normally impossible. In this case, the most efficient way to go about it is to temporarily buy as your stunt “create relic/TARDIS modifications only, 3 CP” and “+3 CP invested in the TARDIS”. If you use Mana with Reality Editing or another appropriate ability, that combination will allow a Time Lord to use a TARDIS to pull off the occasional unprecedented stunt – which will probably never happen again.

    Federation-Apocalypse: The Crusader Kingdoms


       Here we have some information about one of the currently-important realms in the Federation-Apocalypse setting, the Crusader Kingdoms. This particular summary is something of a collaboration with Brian Potter; I’ve added a variety of details and additional information to his framework.

       In the quantum froth of the Manifold, the dreams of men are given form and substance. Some are beautiful beyond description, some terrible beyond belief, and some are simply strange. Many are hauntingly familiar, and often well populated. The ethereal siren call of “what might have been” has bewitched the human mind throughout all the ages of mankind.

       The Crusader Kingdoms were born of the dreams of the faithful warriors of the First Crusade – the dreams of liberating a holy city, of serving their faith, of building a bastion in the service of god that would hold forever against the heathen hordes

       In their dreams, and with the souls of those few who fell in Core so dreaming, they did so.

       Like so many realms of the Manifold, for long years the Crusader Kingdoms changed but little: occupied by relatively few souls, and supported in part by historical romances and dusty tomes, there was little reason for it to do so.

       Then something or someone – what a few mystics who vaguely sensed the interference named the Malumfovea – closed a barrier about the Crusader Kingdoms, entrapped those within, and poured tens of thousand of souls into the realm.

       And history began again. With such a mass of souls, and the ever-growing population of ensouled children that they produced, the realm grew vital, vibrant with life, change, and growth. From a realm of simple fancy, it became a true “alternate history” realm.

       Like all realms, the Crusader Kingdoms realm still shows it’s roots in the dreams of the first and later crusades. Here the Crusaders took and held Jerusalem, and still do.

       Still, things have changed and the Kingdoms have grown.

       The local Technology has advanced – although not at anything like the pace of Core, where folk cannot call upon priestly power and functioning folk magic to meet their needs.

       Gunpowder exists, as do rather good flintlock weapons and early percussion-cap models, rifled barrels, and even cannon and explosive shells (albeit as rare objects of wonder) – but without a proper priestly blessing such explosive devices are far more volatile than in Core, for in the Kingdoms you never know when some passing Imp of Satan will strike a spark of unholy fire into unblessed gunpowder. Still, such weapons are – or at least were, before the Horsemen rode – becoming more and more common and the cannon is gradually replacing the counterweight trebuchet.

       Despite firearms, however, the armored Knight still reigns supreme on the field of battle. In the Manifold, skill, will, and faith are a match for any number of cheap hand-gonnes – and ever-finer steels have kept armor in step with improving weapons, to meet firearms and steel crossbows, there are blessed steel breastplates.

       Life as a peasant is still hard – but it is more bearable than it was, and not just because of the introduction of distilled spirits. The humble wheelbarrow, better windmills, looms, spinning wheels, and similar devices have lightened the peasants ancient burden, while simple blessings of the fields ensure better crops and prayers help moderate the weather.

       In the towns there are improved watermills and sawmills, blast furnaces and buttons, paper and block printing, and even mirrors and spectacles. The vague beginnings of a notion of “human rights” has appeared, along with some semi-modern notions of “law”, “justice”, and even “investigation”. Both the middle class and, with the aid of arabic numerals, early compasses, hourglasses, stern-mounted rudders, and better sail designs, the Merchant Princes, are rising.

       Architectural innovations, such as the rib vault, are allowing the construction of better buildings, oil paints are allowing the durable recording of images, and quarantines and some basic notions of how diseases work are allowing even more people to survive the plagues.

       The Major Powers:

       The Crusader Kingdoms – Officially Catholic

       While they have kings, princes, and nobles, calling them “Kingdoms” is something of a stretch, as the true political and military power of the realm lies with the Round Table Conference of Jerusalem – a body made up of Knight-Lords (at first 12, now 25) led by the Knight Commander. Council members are chosen by the Council itself from among the Knights who have distinguished themselves in service in some fashion. Neither nobility nor being a major figure of one of the major orders of Knights is a requirement – but it certainly helps, and the Council rarely lacks for a representative of any of the major orders. The Council apportions land every ten years amongst the Knightly Orders in proportion to perceived services and deeds performed by said orders. Sadly, politics creeps into all decision making and not all appointments are as noble as presented.

       Some of the most notable Orders include:

    • Christian: The Knights Templar (led by Jurin Hans), the Knights Hospitaller, the Christian Knights Teutonic, the Pilgrim Knights, the Orthodox Knights (led by Knight-Lord Amadeus), the Order of the Holy Redeemer, the Michaelenes, the Knights of the Crown, and the Order of Calatrava.
    • Jewish: The Av’ha Solomon (the Society of Soloman), the Abir Shel David (Knights of David, led by Knight-Lord Gilad), and the the Kvut Shofet (the Order of Judges).
    • Muslim: the Brotherhood of the Ribat, the Wind of Allah (Led by Knight-Lord Thawban), and the Al’Batal Min Saladin (the Heroes of Saladin).
    • Zorastrian: The Sadic Jagudar Setare (a priestly order, the “Faithful Magi of the Star”, led by the Arch-Mage Lurstrin Antonidos), and the Monajjem Morsalin (the Order of Astrologers, a very small knightly order specializing in precise intervention).
    • Mithric: the Jamiyat Nargav Tabesh (the Society of the Bull of the Sun) and the Eshrat Rig-Vazife (the Dutiful order of Dust) – although both are very small, and have only a few representatives in all Jerusalem.
    • Secular/General Military: the Knights of Alcantara, the Teutonic Knights, and the Rekkyr Jarndyr (the Knights of the Bear, an order from Constantinople, and rumored to shelter some strange pagan cult)

       Stretching from modern day Turkey down to the Suez, the Kingdoms make a great deal of money off of the lucrative trade routes from the east to the Mediterranean. Coupled with the practice of loaning out bands of Knights to various kingdoms and empires in exchange for various monetary and trade considerations, this ensures that the Crusade Kingdoms are well funded, a circumstance that their leaders usually take as proof that the Crusader Kingdoms are indeed favored by God.

       While the Kingdoms are officially catholic, the population is one of the most diverse in the entire realm. In Jerusalem alone, one can find Catholics, Orthodox Practitioners, Sunnis, Shiites, Jews, Zoroastrians, and even occasional Mithraists and Pagans. Religious tolerance is slowly becoming the norm as opposed to the exception, although religiously-motivated murders are still all too common even without the official sanction of centuries past.

       The Roman Empire – Strongly Orthodox

       Recognized as the Byzantine Empire to outsiders, the Empire is the successor state to the Roman Empire of antiquity. When the victories of the first Crusade defeated the major Muslim powers threatening the Bysantine Empires southern border, the Empire found it had replaced one highly antagonistic neighbor with another one that – while less aggressive – was still not entirely friendly. Fortunately, the penchant for political maneuvering that was to make “Byzantine” a byword for intricate plans and plots for centuries in the Core had not deserted it’s heirs in the Manifold – and the conflicts between the various Knightly Orders of the Crusader Kingdoms offered plenty of opportunities to play them off against each other.

       Faced with Catholic neighbors to the South and West and Muslim Kingdoms on the Mediterranean, the Patriarchs have worked at reclaiming and conquering territory to the North and East. Now the Empire stretches north to the Baltic and east to the Caspian, while totally engulfing the Black sea.

       The Holy Roman Empire – Catholic

       Holy Roman Emperor Charles V reunited Western Europe in a way that had not been seen since Charlemagne. Finding himself in conflict with the Pope, Charles V resorted to sacking Rome and taking the Pope hostage – setting a precedent which has rendered the Pope of Rome largely subservient to the Emperor ever since. Interestingly enough, this breaking of Papal authority has led to a great deal of local independence in the “Roman” Catholic Church – forestalling any major breakups, such as the Core’s Protestant Reformation, by allowing far more local autonomy and removing a great deal of the Catholic Churches landholdings, wealth, and secular power.

       Since the death of Charles V, the disparate sections of the Empire have been ruled by a selection of princes who elect one of their number as Emperor – giving up some part of their authority in exchange for the support of the Empire against would-be usurpers, revolutionaries, and other troublemakers. Spats with the (Eastern) Roman Empire as to who is truly the “Emperor of the Romans” has led to plenty of petty squabbles and the occasional serious war, but has never really settled anything. Marriage talks between the two Imperial lines have been on-again, off-again, although hope still burns for a return to the great empire of antiquity.

       Of course, every year, a great number of noble sons join the Knightly Orders and make the journey to Jerusalem. Almost all are second or later children, largely without any inheritance with which to support themselves. While this emigration has reduced the number of idle hands running around to stir trouble within the Empire, it has also led to the strengthening of the Knightly Orders military power thanks to the constant stream of well-trained and well-connected ambitious noble recruits. The Empire finds itself having to use the profits from it’s (unofficial, but vigorous) trade with Avalon and the rest of the Undying Lands to the west to keep the Knights paid off and in line. However, the recent development of better prayers and rituals to make gunpowder easier to make, more stable, and more powerful, may change things by breaking the military stranglehold of the Knight at last.

       The Dark Kingdoms of the Sun – Muslim

       The loosely-allied Muslim Sultanates of North Africa and Arabia are collectively known as “The Dark Kingdoms of the Sun”. Unfortunately, since the Crusade, these nations – preoccupied with infighting between the various sultanates, with internal power struggles within each sultanate, and religious disputes between their various Islamic sects – have been unable to unite effectively enough to dispute the Christian dominance of the Holy Land. Still, some of the kingdoms have built a significant reputation as centers of learning. Major capitols include Carthage, Alexandria, and Baghdad.

       The Persian Empire – Zoroastrian

       Far to the east, beyond the lands of the Muslims and the lands known to the Romans, lay the rugged lands and deserts of the Persian Empire. Despite formidable natural defenses, the Persians lost a good deal of territory to the Muslims over the centuries before the Crusade – but the arrival of the Crusaders in the Holy Land granted them a reprieve. While they have been unable to fully expand their borders once again, they have stabilized, fortified, and reinforced them – according to rumor, with both military and strange sorcerous power.

       Unfortunately, the Persian Empire is surrounded on almost every side by more powerful factions, which they cannot hope to defeat militarily. Their reaction has been to become increasingly insular – and to deploy diplomats in an attempt to focus their various enemies on each other, rather than on a realm that poses little threat.

       While there have long been rumor that the Zoroastrians have found a source of supernatural power other than the divine or infernal with which to attack their enemies and bolster their troops, the religious leaders of other lands have dismissed such rumors as pagan superstition or mere misinterpretation of priestly power used in an unfamiliar style for just as long – even going so far as accusing the Zoroastrian priests of losing their way and being unable to recognize their own god. The peasants and hedge-magi – who have long used minor magics which, at least appear to be things of nature rather than of the infernal or divine – are not so sure, but the Zoroastrians guard their secrets closely.

       The Far East: Unknown, believed Pagan.

       There isn’t much information on the Far East available in the Crusader Kingdoms. In fact, there is reason to believe – if only from the few and perilous routes that allow passage to those lands – that the Far East is, in fact, beyond the proper borders of creation, beyond the World which God has centered on his Holy City of Jerusalem. It is no place for men – although trade with it’s strange inhabitants is every bit as profitable as trade with the Undying Lands to the distant west.

       The Far North: Unknown, believed Pagan.

       The icy realms of the distant north are inhabited by a few men – known as violent and courageous warriors – and many monsters. Monks and priests occasionally venture there, but few others; there is little secular profit to be found in a sparsely-inhabited realm of ice.

       The Far South: Totemism, Shamanism, and Ancestor Worship.

       The far south – Africa past the Dark Kingdoms of the Sun – is a sparsely-inhabited land. It is said that ancient cults still compete with the worship of Allah in portions of the Dark Kingdoms, and that – beyond the Dark Kingdoms – scattered tribes of shapeshifting beast-men, deadly creatures, venomous vermin, and terrible dragons hold sway. The residents of the Dark Kingdoms may know more, but few reliable reports have come to Jerusalem.

       General History:

       The First – indeed, the ONLY major – Crusade was a grand success for the invading Crusaders. Still, when Charles V attempted to use the Patriarch of Rome to exert an unacceptable level of control over the newly-liberated realm and to exploit it for his own, secular, ends, the major leaders of the Crusade eventually renounced their allegiance to the Holy Roman Empire and staked claims to portions of the Holy Land on the strength of conquest. Untitled noblemen from Western Europe, looking for a chance to make a name for themselves, to gain land, and to stake a claim to power for themselves, began to journey to the new Crusader Kingdoms en masse’. The various Knightly Orders that had sprung up began to fund the journeys of such young noblemen in exchange for vows of service to the Orders. That, coupled with the lucrative trade revenues from routes to the East, gave the Orders a great deal of wealth and military power. Relatively quickly, the various orders of Knights became the most powerful military organizations in the region – soon eclipsing the so-called “Kings” and “Princes” of the Crusader Kingdoms as the brokers of power.

       The Eastern Roman Empire found that it had replaced a poorly organized but hostile neighbor with a highly organized and ambivalent neighbor – but it was still an improvement. Relations heated up and cooled down on a regular basis, but – for the most part – the border remained stable. A succession of strong emperors led the Empire on a series of campaigns to the North and East, resulting in a resurgence of sorts – and in some major changes in the demographics of the empire.

       Western Europe went through a rapid series of consolidations as Charles V, heir to the Hapsburg Dynasty, “suddenly” (and by dint of some careful maneuvering) found himself Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, heir to the Spanish throne, and lord of numerous holdings in Italy, Austria, the Netherlands, and elsewhere. It had been centuries since any one man had held dominion over such a large section of Europe. With so many of France’s younger nobles emigrating to the Holy Land, and the military power of the French nobility thus at a nadir, it was a simple matter for Charles’s forces and mercenary knights – flush with gold from Charles’s sudden near-monopoly on trade with the Undying Lands to the West and reinforced by the Bearsarks of the North – to sweep over France. With the assimilation of France into the resurgent Holy Roman Empire, there were few powers in Europe to oppose Charles V save the Pope of Rome.

       Unsurprisingly, a dispute arose shortly – and the authority of the Pope proved no match for the secular power of Charles V (despite rumors of his line being afflicted by some hideous bestial curse ever afterwards). With a new Pope – one far more open to ideas from the Emperor – installed in Rome, the Western Roman Empire was rebuilt at last. Today, the dynasty of the Hapsburgs is still going strong, and the borders of the Holy Roman Empire are continuing to expand – even as the Emperors push exploration ever-further, even unto the dangerous borders of the world which are too far from the Holy Land – and Jerusalem, at the Center of the World – to remain stable or suitable habitations for Christian men.

       The Ending:

       At first the eclipse on noon Wednesday May 17, 1697 was taken to be a sign of ill-omen among the peasants. When it repeated on May 24th and lasted several minutes longer, a great number of the nobility and priests began to take serious notice. Each week, the eclipse came and lasted longer than it had on the previous week. By July, the sun no longer shone on Wednesdays – and the days were getting shorter on Tuesdays and Thursdays. That falls harvest was pitiful, as few crops would grow with so little sunlight. Temperatures dropped, rains did not come, and in September, thin snow began to fall across much of the world. Whispers from the north spoke of the “Fimbulvetr”, apocalyptic cults spread, and many came to believe that the day of judgement was near at hand.

       Famines spread as food stores ran out and the meager harvests failed to replenish them. Rumors of hoarding – whether by farmer, nobles, or merchants only added to the chaos as riots broke out across the land. People started to move to the cities, looking for food and help from the priests. Shortly thereafter, great plagues began to spread, and reports of actual physical appearances by avatars of Plague and Famine – two of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse – were heard. People, crops and livestock all died in large numbers. The gathering of the population into the cities only made the issue worse as the diseases spread rampantly. Soon the smoke from mass cremations of the dead blotted out what little sunlight was left. The knights and priests, proving to be far more resistant to the plagues, quickly became the focus of much hatred in the eyes of a populace grasping at straws. Society began to collapse under the strain towards the end of December.

       With most of the major social and political institutions of the world in disarray trying to cope with the crisis, the Final Army appeared on the eastern frontier. Initial reports of over 200 million horsemen under the direct command of the Avatar of War, while distinctly biblical in proportion, were greatly exaggerated – or were, perhaps, intentionally spread to overawe any possible resistance. Still, it was an undeniable fact that the military force was far greater than the armies which could be rallied to stand against it. Cities, fortresses and major armies were destroyed in a matter of days as the Final Army moved westward. The mightiest of fortresses quickly fell to the overwhelming assaults. Jerusalem itself fell in three days as the defenders were caught unaware and unprepared.

       As the Final Army moved westward and the survivors tried to pick up the pieces, a new horror began. Amidst reports that Death itself now rode the land incarnate, the bodies of those slain by the Final Army began to rise and hunt for the living. Led by great horrors – the nigh-unstoppable death knights – the armies of the dead began to sweep the land of the living, laying waste to the land and slaying all those who had escaped the Final Army. Military units, ignored or overlooked by the Final Army, began to fight a guerilla war trying to destroy as many dead bodies as possible. More survivors from rural sections of the countryside were found and mobilized. Bodies were burned, supplies gathered, lone death knights slain, and preparations for a stand in Jerusalem began.

       People, supplies, and weapons were sent to Jerusalem at all haste. Knights fought a retreating guerilla battle, trying to buy as much time before the inevitable siege began. Walls were rebuilt hastily, holy artifacts gathered, alliances made, and concessions were made. The major religions would put aside their differences and unite together under a single banner to try and repel the undead hordes gathering around them. Lead by the newly elected Knight-Commander of Jerusalem, the final defense of humanity in the Holy Land began.

       As the defense rallied, the weekly eclipse began to disappear – far more rapidly than it had grown. Weather patterns began to return to normal and the worst of the plagues began to die down. New plagues ceased to appear. The Final Army vanished into the west, perhaps to waste it’s time besieging the illusions, shifting lands, and indestructible forces of the Undying Lands. The undead ran out of bodies intact enough to use as new recruits. Reports of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse grew thin, and vanished. It began to look like the defenders might have a chance. Hope began to kindle. Perhaps it was not yet the time of the end, but merely a test, as the flood had been before.

       The Four Horsemen:

       The Horseman Of Famine (Rides a Black Horse):

       This Horseman first appeared early in May of 1697. Foretold an all consuming eclipse that would plunge the earth into everlasting darkness. Reports suggest that Famine appears prior to droughts and other major “natural” disasters.. Attempts to confront or attack him (?) resulted in the would-be heroes quickly being consumed or wasting away to dry and shriveled husks. His presence always foretold a major calamity.

       The Horseman of Plague (Rides a White Horse)

       This Horseman is a continually coughing man on horseback. Disease and madness spread in his wake and the very earth seems to become blighted in his presence. The first naive attempts to charitably treat his obvious illness only fueled the initial spread of disease among the sick and poor of the cities since his mere touch or presence causes a variety of horrific afflictions – although he is said to have resorted to the use of poisoned weapons against particularly resistant opponents.

       The Horseman of War (Rides a Red Horse)

       The Horseman of War appeared in command of the Final Army, the greatest military force which the realm had ever seen. Due to this distinction – as well as to his genial willingness to meet his foes, arrange convenient places of battle, and to ignore non-combatants, more is known about him than about any other of the Four Horseman. War relies purely on his personal martial abilities and on his immense skills in tactics and strategy. He has been observed to wield a sword and shield, a two handed sword, and to dual-wield two swords, switching smoothly as the situation around him changes. He has even been known to compliment and spare those that show exceptional skill or valor on the field of battle, where he likes to command directly from the front lines. He is known to relish a challenge – whether personal or tactical – and will often wait a bit for his opponents to make battle preparations before attacking. Unfortunately, he has yet to be defeated in either personal or general battle within the borders of the world – although he has fairly often been escaped or evaded entirely. The Knight-Commander of Jerusalem is one of the few to have meet War in battle and escaped with his life.

       The Horseman of Death (Rides a Pale Horse):

       This terrible entity leaves only death in his wake. His very presence is said to make life in his vicinity wither and die. The recently deceased rise in his presence and come back as ghouls, zombies or skeletal minions serving only his will. He is said to create death knights by handing out Runeblades to those captured knights deemed “worthy” in his eyes. His attacks are said to be able to rip out the very soul of the victim and use it to fuel his hunger for life.

    Eclipse – The Time Lord Template

       Doctor Who has been popular for many, many, years. Popular enough to spawn several different games, and to inspire numerous adventures. In a way, Doctor Who encapsulates the basic RPG adventure – a few highly skilled adventurers and a few less-skilled ones arrive in a strange area, where they encounter strange creatures, eccentric locals, and some sort of challenging problem that they must investigate and resolve before they either can, or feel that they can, leave. Given that they are in some isolated corner of time and space, they must do so using their own wits and resources. Once they solve the problem, they depart – occasionally picking up some mostly-symbolic present or a new character who replaces one of the (rare) casualties or departures from the group.

       That sounds pretty familiar to me. The same general formula has appeared in adventure modules, other television shows (Stargate anyone?), and dozens of other places.

       About the only basic difference between the Doctor and his Companions and a standard party of adventurers is that the Doctor (Gandalf?) is of considerably higher level than his companions and gets to come back if killed, while most of the others don’t get to come back if they’re killed. Once you start translating into game terms you’ll find that Doctor Who is lighter on special abilities than most parties of d20 adventurers (if only due to the lack of a special effects budget in the earlier episodes and not wanting to overshadow the Doctor) and the characters don’t improve nearly as quickly as d20 characters do. On the other hand, that’s a normal part of RPG adaptions: you give the characters interesting special abilities and let them improve their abilities relatively quickly so as to help keep the players interested and to give them new options and challenges. Of course, having one character in the group who’s far more competent than the others tends to irritate the other players, ergo, we’ll need a template for a young and inexperienced time lord – one who can participate in adventures on more-or-less equal terms. The feel won’t be quite the same, but that’s the price of giving everyone in the group equal time rather than focusing on one dominant character.

       If we set them in a more-or-less typical d20 world we won’t even have to worry about the Time Lord being the only one to get special powers; everyone else will be getting them too – and in a RPG, there’s no limit to the special effects budget save the limitations of the groups descriptive powers.

       So here’s an Eclipse-Style Classless d20 +1 ECL Time Lord Template. That gives us up to 63 character points to build our template on…

    • Attribute Shift/+2 Int, -2 Str (6 CP): Like it or not, Timelords are inclined towards skill, intelligence, and talking their way out of things, rather than beating them up. Their actual strength may not actually be lower than a baseline humans – but they generally have so little practice in using it that it is effectively lower.
    • Occult Sense/Temporal Perception (6 CP). A timelord can sense disturbances in time and space, movement through either, and various odd items about time – such as whether an event can be changed or not. They can sometimes sense other Time Lords, but this depends on whether or not the Time Lord in question has been meddling with time and space recently. They can sometimes tell where and when they are with a perception check, but this is anything but reliable.
    • Energy Infusion/Dimensional Energies (6 CP): Time Lords are immune to paradox, can meet themselves without trouble as long as they indulge in a little caution, can resist the effects of having their pasts interfered with – and are immune to minor annoyances such as Slow, Time Stop, and similar manipulations. On the other hand, they take double damage from Cosmological Energies, and may be harmed or affected by the strange forces released by weird dimensional-destruction weapons that other characters will not even notice.
    • Immunity/Aging (Uncommon, Major, Major, 6 CP): Time lords can expect to live for many millennia, although they may eventually become frail and be forced to regenerate.
    • 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.
    • Grant of Aid, with the Mighty, Regenerative/regrowth option (necessary to take care of things like teeth in a millennia-long lifespan), and Spark of Life Modifiers with +2 Bonus Uses, all Specialized/the healing process is relatively slow, and may require several minutes to do more than limit damage or may take special measures to “jump start” – ingesting particular substances or some other form of medical treatment (10 CP). Timelords are very difficult to kill, and often seem to pull through injuries, diseases, and doses of radiation or poison which would kill any ordinary being – although it often takes them a few minutes of near-coma or frantic effort to do so.
    • Basic Witchcraft I and II with Mana/corrupted to provide +2d6 Power only, providing a total of (Str+Dex+Con)/3 +2d6 Power and access to the ability to resist telepathy, detection, and mental manipulation (The Adamant Will), Heightened Senses (Witchsight), and Receptive Telepathy (The Inner Eye) abilities (16 CP). Timelords are strongly psychic, and show occasional flashes of superhuman senses, telepathy, and resistance to mental powers. Individual Timelords show erratic access to other low-level psychic abilities, including Astral Projection (Dreamfaring), Projective Telepathy (Glamor), Telekinesis (The Hand of Shadows), Healing (mostly personal), and Personal Biophysical Manipulation (Hyloka), but this tends to be erratic – possibly the result of using Action Hero/Stunts (or relying on script writers) rather than just spending a few more character points upgrading their abilities to full-blown witchcraft (something player characters will almost always do at first level).
    • Action Hero/Stunts Option (6 CP): Timelords often pull off unique tricks (courtesy of lazy script writers and continuity errors) that they have never managed before and often never will again – all thanks to their ability to occasionally warp the laws of nature around themselves.
    • Reflex Training/three extra actions per day variant (6 CP): Timelords often seem to be able to “borrow” a bit of personal time for themselves, occasionally acting with astounding speed.
    • Immunity/Natural Sleep (Common, Minor, Trivial, Specialized/need is only reduced, not eliminated, 1 CP): Timelords need considerably less sleep than normal humans, and can go several days without sleeping if they must.
    • Enthusiast/Specialized in Skills for half cost (1 CP): Timelords are quick studies, and can pick up the basics of a skill for a time with very little effort – often forgetting it again just as quickly.
    • Immunity/Study Time (Common, Minor, Trivial, Specialized/only reduces study time, does not eliminate it, 1 CP): Timelords are very quick studies, capable of reading or absorbing large amounts of information much more quickly than a human – although this does not necessarily guarantee any deeper comprehension than a human would get.
    • Template Disadvantages: All Time Lords have a History and must be either Hunted or Outcast (-6).

    Federation-Apocalypse Session 68: Revelations

       Marty, having just uncovered the vile plot – or at least lunatic experiments – of the evil Hospitalier Lichstein, was now confronting him and his abhorrent constructs of undead and living flesh – as they attempted to subdue him and return him to the operating table that he might share their fate.

       And he didn’t even have a flank buddy along! Oh well, he’d been through worse.

       Kevin and A’ikana, meanwhile, were on their way; Marty’s pocket-companions had called them in as soon as Marty’s investigation went from “suspicion” to “combat” – but it would be a minute or so before they got there.

       Kevin made it a point to scoop up a few knights along the way; there were plenty of trios out on patrol, and “a small emergency at the hospital” was explanation enough; someone dying there could easily not be noticed for long enough to rise as an undead.

       They came along gladly. Hopefully they’d be at the hospital before it occurred to them to ask how Kevin knew about it.

       Meanwhile, Marty had been dodging a bit and stalling to evaluating the tactical situation; a large room full of tables, beds, shelves, and a few patients for a setting and three apparent opponents – the two abominations that the doctor had brought forth and the doctor himself. The abominations seemed to be huge, strong, tough – but more than a bit slow and clumsy. They might speed up a lot in actual combat, but he’d bet that the “clumsy” part was no illusion.

       Lichstein, however, apparently preferred to avoid personal combat, and had ducked behind his flunkies.

       As the golems smashed the last table that stood between them, Marty lept forward to attack – opening a sizeable gash in the torso of one of the creatures. Blood began to pour from the wound, but the creature simply glanced down at the wound without expression and kept on swinging.

       The other one was using a massive table leg as a club; while Marty hung at the edge of it’s range, dodging and looking for an opening, the wounded one began pounding itself on the chest with increasing ferocity – and spraying blood everywhere.

       Wait, if it lost too much blood, whatever was left of it’s life would end – and the undead tissue would take over. He (Marty) hated it when killing things made the situation worse! Still, they WERE clumsy, It hadn’t been too hard to dodge them so far – even if they had wrecked a lot of Lichstein’s lab equipment.

    “My, aren’t you the agile one, especially with all those injuries you came in with. You will be a most fascinating research subject indeed.”

    “Dammit, I’m tired of you people calling me a research subject!”

    “Alas, such is the fate of all curiosities.”

       Marty had finished healing his wounds, so he went on the offensive – collecting a few bruises and close shaves, but inflicting some nasty wounds on the mad doctor’s monstrosities. He’d even managed to get himself patched up without drawing on his pocket-companions powers too much – which meant that his girlfriends had plenty of power in reserve to help out otherwise.

       He’d stalled long enough for Kevin and the others to reach the door of the hospital though, although the golem with the worst wounds had sprayed the place with almost all of it’s blood. Now it was emitting a truly ghastly howl that – freighted as it was with supernatural terror – was almost enough to frighten him (and had definitely panicked the few patients in the building who were in any shape to more). Worse, it was rapidly growing in size. It was nearly fifteen feet tall now, which was kind of disturbing, and it looked like the other one was going the same route.

    “Oh dear, it does look like you made them mad. I am afraid you might not survive this intact then.”

       Marty went all out with a supernaturally enhanced strike on his now super-sized opponent, and found that it was resistant to attacks on vital points (oh, right; undead), but nicely subject to being cut to pieces – although it looked like it would take a LOT of cutting.

       Outside, they could hear the crashing and howling and panic – and there was a lot of panic among the people outside the hospital as well – but the door was either locked or barred (and the undead golem-things weren’t crashing through the roof – at least as yet).

    “Looks like something is definitely creating quite a commotion around here!”

       Kevin put more power than was strictly necessary behind an opening spell and threw in some very bad simulated latin that might pass if no one was listening too closely (“Fiat Entrat!”).

       As the door burst open to reveal a pale knight in a bloody apron on the far side of the room, two vaguely human creatures, one over 15 feet tall, and Marty fighting them both, the knights voiced their opinions (mostly less-printable variants on “Blast it!”) and went in – throwing up a selection of ally-enhancing auras as they went.

       Kevin was a bit startled at that. He hadn’t been expecting that much in the way of enhancement magic from only three of them.

       The golem with the worst wounds had ceased to bleed beyond a trickle of coagulating blood, and was becoming increasingly violent in it’s attacks. It looked like it was almost fully undead now – and the second one was well on its way to the same condition, and was throwing off supernatural fear as well.

       Fortunately, the knights generated their own field of supernatural valor, comfort, and resolve, and shielded everyone around them quite effectively. That didn’t prevent Marty from taking a few hits now that there was so much less room to maneuver in – but they were nothing he couldn’t handle.

       Lichstein begain to back off towards a door at the back of the room.

    “Oh dear, this could be bad. Ah well.”

       Kevin had his pocket-companions hold the door closed while he threw dragonfire sacred-energy construct-armor around the first two knights; they needed it more than Marty did. Somewhat unexpectedly, the Silmarils in his pocket hummed quietly, and the knights exploded with a glory of holy radiance, sending blazing light throughout the room. Despite the brightness, the light was merely warm and comfortable, easy on the eyes – at least for most of them – as the knights moved in to strike. Well, SOMETHING around here liked him powering up holy knights with sacred energy. On the other hand, at least it didn’t seem to be out to blast Kevin while there were bigger targets around.

       While the knights attacked – inflicting massive wounds on the golem-things and actually seeming to cause the undead monstrosities pain – Marty, grinning menacingly, tumbled past the golem-things in pursuit of Dr Lichstein. He reached the “good doctor” just as HE reached the door.

    “Oh no you don’t!”

       Meanwhile, the golems – although one was now short an arm – were hammering at the knights. So far, the construct-armor and their skill at shield-blocking was absorbing the damage handily, although the impacts were shaking the entire building. Kevin hung back, in case he needed to throw a shield over someone – but so far the knights seemed to be winning handily.

       Dr Lichstein lost a bit of his composure when the door wouldn’t open – and looked at Marty.

    “It seems I was tricked and you were a plant to find me out. Is that right?”

    “I’m not telling YOU!”

    “Well, this is incredibly frustrating. Ah well, I suppose there is no choice then.”

       Lichstein pulled some sort of potion – a small flask filled with a glowing greed fluid – out of his sleeve. Marty wasn’t quite in position to grab him yet, but – probably fortunately – his pocket companions could easily use their telekinesis to keep him from opening it long enough for Marty to get his hands on Lichstein.

       Lichstein was stronger than he looked, but Marty definitely had the edge.

       Meanwhile, the Knights were gradually wearing down the golems, and the mobile civilians were getting out of the way.

    “So what are you going to do? Kill me? Take whatever sick twisted form of justice you think I deserve? You know you can’t win this battle. Jerusalem will fall again and with it, whatever hope we had of surviving.”

       Kevin chimed in:

    “So what were you planning? There really aren’t very many other places to go.”

       Marty just held onto Lichstein as the knights finished hammering the golem-things into piles of bits. At least Lichstein hadn’t gotten away!

       Kevin and A’ikana settled down to healing the treatable patients. Kevin wasn’t up to the truly major items, like regeneration – but he had no shortage of power to do what simple healing and easing of poisoning and diseases WAS within his reach. The negative energy infection was going to take special measures though – unless the Silmarils decided to enhance their healing abilities as well.

    “You don’t realize do you? There are other survivors out there. Out to the Undying Lands to the west. Avalon. All you have done is make the enemies job easier by collecting all the survivors here and putting them in one spot to attack!”

    (Kevin) “Oh well, that’s why we’ll have to dispose of all the undead here. There’s really no chance of getting more than a few people out of reach of the undead.”

       Marty started shaking Lichstein…

    “And away from you!”

       One of the Knights turned to Daniel, one of Kevin’s usual companions, and sent him trotting off:

    “Go, find the district commander and tell him what you saw here and to bring help. Tell him Knight-Valor Hampton sent you.”

    “Well this is quite the mess we have here. I wonder how long he has been up to this insanity? How long has it been Lichstein? How long have you been doing this?”

       It was incidents like this that make Marty wish that everyone had Battling Business World healing capabilities – and that made Kevin think that they were going to wind up with a summons to a mandatory appointment with the council of knights very soon. Probably tomorrow.

    “Ever since the assault on the Gate of Zion, when you let that monster inside.”

       Kevin guessed that the “Monster” was someone important belonging to another faith.

    “You know you are not to talk about him like that, even if he is…. (the knights eyes went wide for a moment) – Wait, that long!?!? Oh Holy Mother of…”

       The knights started radiating a truthsense aura. Lichstein tried to resist for a moment, and then sighed…

    “You didn’t properly dispose of the bodies did you?”

    “Mr… Lichstein is it? We’d like a full account of how big a mess you’ve made here, and information on whatever secret routes in and out of the city you have. You must know some, or you couldn’t have been planning to escape. You want to be allowed to leave I presume – and I can’t really say that anyone will want you here. We would have to take some precautions of course, but there may be room for negotiations.”

    “Very well, then. There are approximately 500 bodies of failed experiments down in the catacombs beneath the building. Something in the water is preventing the those remains and the others from before the Romans from getting too active so most of the more successful failures are trapped in one of the driest chambers behind bars. There are about 30 of those down there. Some of the tunnels actually lead out into the countryside and it is even possible to get into one of the old aqueducts through those tunnels. But the water makes travel perilous.”

    “Did you actually learn much of anything? I suspect that the aura of truth will keep you from lying to yourself too much, as well as it keeps you from lying to us.”

       A couple of the knights cocked an eyebrow at Kevin – he seemed to be casually assuming a great deal of authority – but he had just shown an astounding amount of power for such a youngster. They’d heard of how this group had arrived, but had been discounting some of the accounts. That had evidently been an error.

    “Hmpf, I did learn that successful grafting takes unique qualities from the host and has numerous side effects. The undead can retain some elements of the original person, but most end up as mindless monsters. Grafting among them can result in hybrid personas. Interestingly enough, undead are not automatically under the control of the enemy. Some sort of process must occur to gain and maintain control.”

    “Which corroborates our guest’s story.”

    “So it would seem, although he hasn’t been very forthcoming to you on details has he?”

       Kevin and company didn’t open their mouths on that one: they hadn’t been too forthcoming with details either. Hampton just smiled…

    “Now, it is also apparent that whatever is causing the dead rising is similar in many manners to how a disease operates.”

    “A disease? How so?”

    “Well it is possible to infect living hosts, it does not necessarily need a dead body to work on. It is also true that some individuals has a natural resistance to the thing. It is also possible to adequately isolate someone who is unaffected such that they will not come back as undead when they die.”

    “I am not sure I want to know how you found that out.”

    “I suppose I can guess.”

       Daniel got back with a large contingent of knights in tow about then. The group faded into the background a bit – although Kevin suspected that Lichstein would soon be needing a VERY good lawyer.

       Hampton breathed a sigh of relief as things switched back to relatively mundane problems, and started shouting orders to the knights.

    “I want this building surrounded. You bunch, I want to thorough sweep of the building, report anything suspicious. You, take names and statements of witnesses (he gestured at Marty, Kevin, and A’ikana). You, strip search our captive here and have a hospitalier look over every inch of him, after which jail him with heavy guard!”

       Soon there were knights scrambling every which way. It looked like Mr Lichstein would be secure enough for a day or so. It looked like the locals had somewhat post-mediaeval ideas of justice and of how to run an investigation… Perhaps a bit of off-realm trade had brought in some concepts?

    “I must ask that you cooperate with our investigation and please answer all questions truthfully. Please understand you may be asked to appear before a judge to make a testimony. Do you understand? I ask you names and the nature of events as had occurred just now from your point of view.”

       The group gave him a basic summary, using the appropriate titles.

    “Very well then, I thank you for your cooperation. If further cooperation is necessary, we will send a summons. May the Light shine upon thee.”

    “And thee as well.”

       They got out before the three knights they’d fought with gave their reports. Marty wanted to get a drink anyway – and Kevin was willing to buy! They’d never traded rounds of drinks before!

       Of course, the remaining major problem was the religious conflict, and that probably wouldn’t be so easy to sort out – at least not until the locals gathered their council, and probably not then. Still, it wasn’t bad for the beginning of their third day in the city and about a week since entering the realm. Well, the trip down the coast and overland to Jerusalem had been longer than they’d been expecting; it looked like the scale was a bit off from core; Jerusalem was important here, and thus the entire holy land was bigger than it really had been.

       The pub was pretty noisy. It looked like there was a lot of dedicated forgetting going on. There was a bad drinking song going on, and at least three drinking games. Much like Battling Business World, albeit with less stabbing and brawling!

    “Come in sit down, we have ale for whatever ails ya! HA! Get it?! Sit down and have a pint!”

       A’ikana understood, but did not think that THIS was a good way to deal with the situation. Marty, on the other hand, laughed and cheered.

       Kevin settled down to review; Merchant Prince Hauser had sent over some forty-five youngsters – including a bunch of kids of his friends and relatives – and they’d all signed up. They were stalling a day or so on revealing their new powers, since revealing that the “training” only took a few hours would have been pretty blatant (no one here would be dense enough not to know what THAT meant) – and, besides, it gave them time to try to recruit other kids.

       Still, if they brought in a reasonable batch that night, they might be able to hold the place together.

       Marty agreed – and he’d like to, if only to prove that miserable butcher of a doctor wrong. There WERE nearly 200,000 possibles in the right age range, and – given that the alternative was likely to be death, Kevin would let them sign up a little younger than usual. It looked like it might just be a matter of how many times Kevin could recruit, send out the new recruits to bring in more prospects, and recruit again before someone with real authority got involved and they had to explain. Kids were pretty pragmatic; they wanted to live. Adults brought in a lot more complications and objections though.

       Kevin would like to prove Lichstein wrong too – and give the Horsemen at least a partial loss. If they could get that widely reported, it would strike at their power base. After all, their power was founded on fear – and even a losing battle showed that they could be fought, and lessened that. An outright loss for them would help a good deal.

       They decided that many small gatherings would make people suspicious – and, now that they’d made waves, that was the last thing they’d need. They’d just have to go for a large gathering tonight. By tomorrow there would be questions anyway; the holy-construct-armor stunt was going to really draw notice as soon as the knights got done discussing the report. Ergo, they’d go for one large gathering and have the existing thralls – there’s about a hundred in the city now – run interference. It would be noticed, but hopefully they’d have enough recruits to help hold the city together before anyone showed up to intervene.

       Marty would have liked a better guarantee, but it was probably the best they could hope for. It’s not like Death was going to sit on his skeletal behind and wait on them. They’d just have to get all the recruits they could tonight, and deal with any consequences in the morning.

       A’ikana sighed. Under normal circumstances she might have advised – simply on general principles – that accepting death was better than accepting such a bond, but in this case the Horsemen and their backers were stealing the souls of the dead – which was even worse than signing up with Kevin. Drat the child; how did he manage to corrupt the ideals of everyone around him? Was it the blatant, cheery, friendly, protective evil?

       They used one of the larger public squares. With some warding spells, sound-damping, and illusion-cover it was as private as anyplace else in the city. Given the fear of the undead there weren’t many people out in the streets in the evening anyway, much less at night. Kevin went for a bit of selective telepathic broadcasting, and used minor transmutation magic to speed things up a bit; he imprinted the usual spiel on them quickly, and answered questions via picking them up with telepathy and broadcasting them back to everyone the same way. For those who opted out, the existing Thralls could handle the mild forget-effect on the way out.

       Marty stayed in the bar, to keep at least some of them firmly visible – and with a Thrall on hand so that it would be hard to say whether or not Kevin had been there all evening – and the bar was busy at all hours and the local brew wasn’t at all bad.

       No one disturbed the meeting – and, out of the 326 kids who came, only fourteen opted for a bit of memory-blurring instead of Thralldom. Not bad; with 312 more thralls this time, and the 65 they’d recruited earlier, they should be able to stabilize the supply situation in the city. They wouldn’t be able to swarm the Death Knights yet though – although they might get a few with massed surprise attacks. Maybe later.

       The new Thralls dispersed discreetly to start helping out quietly. That would help to keep everyone alive, and they could simply set up supply stockpiles, take a nap, and then keep on making sure that stocks of supplies kept on appearing in the morning.

       There was some sort of odd ripple in the aura of holy energies covering the city during the recruiting drive, but it seemed to be coming from the temple, rather than having anything to do with Kevin’s activities. Probably some local ceremony; the holy energy did still seem to be stable – in fact, it was going back to normal. It didn’t seem to have anything to do with whatever it was that was going on underneath the temple mount. Perhaps a spell or something? It had sort of seemed like some energy passing through.

       Kevin had a few of the Thralls with Divination look into it, but none of them would have much power beyond the basics they all got as of yet – not until their local identities started to kick in. The existing Thralls had needed to run some interference, there had been a few patrols that had needed to be quietly redirected and the occassional drunk that they’d quietly sent home. Still, that had gone pretty smoothly.

       Kevin slipped back in with Marty and A’ikana and they went back to their quarters – where a summons-message carrying the seal of one of the Knight-Lords was waiting for them. They were being asked to appear before the Round Table Conference at the Temple Mount tomorrow morning to discuss matters of import to the city of Jerusalem. It carried the seal of Jurin Hans, Knight-Lord of the Knights Templar – whom they’d met on the wall coming in.

       Well, it looked like they’d find out what the Silmarils had been wanting. Hopefully they weren’t going to blast everyone until they’d achieved total purity and incidental death…

       They had a couple of the Thralls who’d otherwise be on the streets do guard duty, got some sleep, and set off to the meeting; it was bright and early in the morning anyway.

       The Temple Mount complex was heavily guarded, and the knights were out in force. The area was filled with people making various prayers and offerings. The whole place had a surprisingly quiet and peaceful air to it. It was hard to believe that on the other side of the walls was a massive army of the undead waiting to slaughter everyone.

       The Round Table Conference building was a more recent construction off to one side of the complex. The building was adorned with the Star of David, the Imperial Cross, the Catholic Cross, and the Crescent Moon. Jurin Hans was outside the building talking with a few pilgrims.

       The Silmarils were acting up a bit, but not too badly. Still, it would be best to sort that out as quickly as possible.

       Jurin finished his talk with a blessing and then turned to them.

    “Ah, Martin, Kevin, and A’ikana; good to see you again. I trust you are doing well today?”

    “Quite well sir, and You?”

    “Well enough I suppose, the undead tried another attempt on scaling the walls yesterday. We managed to repel it readily enough. Sometimes I wonder just what they think they are accomplishing at times.”

    “Most of them don’t think at all I suppose, I would guess that the Death Knights are simply keeping everyone busy while they wait for the supplies to run out – and for progress in undermining the defenses and city or for something to cause a disruption here at the temple mount.”

    “I suppose you are correct there. Nature may accomplish what the undead have not. Which brings us to today’s conference.”

       As they headed into the building, they were asked to discard all their weapons. Only council members were allowed to carry arms into the conference chamber.

       Apparently they recognized that Marty was carrying a blade in magical concealment, but he quietly added it to the pile before they could ask. No need to be offensive.

       Kevin left the Thralls outside, along with his… er… sword and his flintlock pistol, powder, shot, and other unrecognizable black powder (apparently much harder to make and less stable around here than in reality) paraphernalia. It wasn’t like he had any idea how to use a flintlock anyway – and he couldn’t exactly discard his martial arts.

       The Conference Chamber was large and well lit, with large windows letting in the sunlight and a fair breeze keeping the air nicely cool. At the center of the room was a large circular table with the center cut out of it and a chunk missing to allow people to walk through to the middle. There were thirteen chairs at the table and additional chairs lining the walls of the conference room. “The others will be arriving shortly, so I suggest we take our seats. For the time being you will be sitting on the chairs along the walls. I will have to take my seat at the table. Any questions before the others arrive?”

    “Perhaps the general topics? It’s nice to be prepared.”

    “Well, as you probably know, the situation is going to come to a head here in the next week. Supplies are in dire straits and our ability to break the siege is doubtful. So we are going to be discussing how we might go about trying to survive to two weeks from now. It has been determined that you might have a part to play in this and so we invited you. I am not aware of all the details yet, but you have attracted some attention, and some supporters. And I do hope we can avoid some of the other ideas that have been quietly proposed thus far. So you are here as some of these supporters of yours try to sell a counterplan.”

       Hm. They had supporters? They must have been being much more closely watched than they’d thought. Marty inquired as to who those were – but Jurin didn’t know.

    “I am not sure who all is among your supporters at this time. I do know that the Knight-Lord of the Hospitaliers and Knight Lord Gilad – one of the Jewish representatives – are supporters of yours. I also know the Arch-Mage of the Zoroastrians has taken a favorable interest in you, and while he is not a council member, he will be in attendance today.”

    “Well, I think we can all agree that the survival of Jerusalem is a worthy goal. I shall certainly do what I can to assist.”

    “I agree with my friend here.”

    “Very well then, I wish you the best of luck and since the others are arriving, I will be taking my seat.”

       The Knight-Lords were arriving – and were a pretty varied lot, although almost of them were wearing various forms of heraldic devices and looked to be noblemen. An old man in very fine silk robes came in with them, along with another man dressed in humble white tunic and pants, a man dressed in what appears to be roman ceremonial armor, and a priest. The man in robes came to sit next to Kevin, Marty, and A’ikana.

    “Ah greetings, you must be Kevin Sanwell and Martin Tabard. I am pleased to meet you, I am Lurstrin, Arch-Mage of the Zoroastrians.”

    “It’s an honor to meet you, sir.”

    “I think we have much to discuss, but I am afraid it will have to wait till after the conference. The Knight-Commander dislikes chatting while the conference is going on you see. (Lurstin winked and smiled)”

    “I cannot blame him, especially in such tense times.”

       A man dressed in clothing of decent merchant-level, if not noble quality arrived and took the seat at the head of the table. Perhaps they’d settled on him as being impartial? He looked very tired and a little ragged, scanned the room quickly, and waved for the doors to be closed.

    “I apologize for the wait, the morning meeting with the defense commanders took a little longer than expected. I thank you all for coming and hope we can come to a consensus today. As you all well know, the supply situation is dire. As it currently stands we have about seven more days of food left before stores run out. The priests and Hospitaliers will not be able to keep up with demand once this happens. We do not have the manpower necessary to break the siege. This has been amply tested on more than one occasion, and I hope we can finally take that option off the table of debate. Thus I have asked each of you to make proposals for course of action on how we might tackle this problem.

    I shall list off the proposals first and then we shall debates the merits of each. 1) Pull the Hospitaliers from the wall to alleviate the problems within the city. 2) Try and break through the enemy line and escape the siege with as much of our forces as we can, hopefully drawing the enemy army away from the people of the city. 3) Let attrition take it’s toll inside the city and clean up messes as they occur until our demand for food and supplies drops to meet what we can supply. 4) A proposal I do not yet have the details on involving the “unique” talents of our most recent guest Kevin Sanwell, Warden of the Marches.

    As the proposal for Kevin Sanwell has the backing of the most Knight-Lords at three, we shall discuss it first. Will Kevin Sanwell and Arch-Mage Lurstrin please come to the fore?”

       They had DEFINITELY been being watched – or else someone had special sources of information. The Arch-Mage motioned to them to follow him into the center of the table and whispered to them:

    “Think you can handle the presentation, or would you like for me to?”

       Marty let Kevin take the lead; he knew the technical specifics much better than he did. Kevin sighed. It would have been interesting to see how the Arch-Mage presented things, but he might as well be blunt.

    “My proposal is simple enough: I shall provide a portion of the population with the ability to produce the needed supplies, and – hopefully – enough power to eliminate the siege.”

       That got quite a few gasps – and Gilad, the Jewish Representative, spoke up:

    “Provide the power? And not just to produce the needed supplies, but to break the siege as well? I am sorry, but this sounds of boasting to me.”

       Arch-Mage Lustrin spoke up…

    “I can assure you this is no boast, and I also have the vouchers of three Knight-Lords attesting to the fact they believe this plan could work.”

       Kevin decided to just go ahead.

    “The supply situation should be being alleviated now. Yesod provides plenty of power.”

       Gilad apparently knew enough of the Kabbalah to recognize that reference. He stopped as suddenly as if he’d been slapped. Another Knight spoke up though;

    “Just what portion of the population do you propose?”

    “Unfortunately, the attunement requires considerable flexibility, which is usually associated with youth. However, within that restriction, as many as would like that power. You are under attack by the Quilopothic planes, and that cannot be permitted.”

       The Jewish Knights smirked at that – but one of the Muslim Knights popped up to object:

    “A most unusual talent. A few of my colleges have some unkind words for such attunements. Words that I think would be best left unsaid in present company, however I do think they would bring up a valid point. Such pacts inevitably come with a price. And I would like to know what sort of price you ask.”

    “That they assist in the defense of your world, then in the defense of others, until they have fully grown into their powers. That usually takes a few centuries. After that, they are free to traverse the worlds of Yetsirah.”

       That caused a bit more uproar – although the Knight-Commander put it down – and caused one of the Christian Knights Teutonic to speak up:

    “A few centuries? It seems to me that you are one of the Undying from the lands to the west. Avalon I believe they call it, land of the fairies. Would this be a correct assumption then?”

       Kevin wasn’t quite sure if the local Fey had any link to the greater Wylds of Faerie – but it was closer than most of the local approximations to the truth would be.

    “Among other places, yes. Yetsirah holds many worlds.”

       Thawban, one of the Muslim Knights, cried sacrilege that one of the Undying should be allowed to walk the sacred soil of the Temple Mount. The Knight-Commander had to restore order again to put down a shouting match.

       Marty was wondering if he qualified as one of the “undying”? He was from beyond their world, and couldn’t really die. Of course, they couldn’t either, but he was more blatant about it. Probably not though, after all, most of his “fae powers” were only borrowed from the Thralls Kevin had given him. On the other hand, he DID have them available.

       Oh well. It wasn’t like it actually mattered – and the Knight-Commander was speaking:

    “I stand by my order that all people are welcome to this city, including those of other faiths. Anyone who wishes to disobey this edict is going to face my justice and wrath. Is this understood?”

       Thawban spoke up again

    “You allow that abomination in the city and now you let one of the Undying in as well? What next? Satanic worshippers as well?”

    “So long as they assist in the defense of the city and help to drive off the invaders, yes. Even then, if they were cold and hungry, I would share what I have with them as it is what is demanded of me. OF US! I do not want to hear this debate again, the matter is closed.”

       Kevin spoke to Thawban…

    “If you truly feel that the city has been desecrated and all hope is lost, why are you still here? You could die in battle quite easily – and I doubt that I could focus enough power to protect you and your men. You might even escape; the undead have little reason to prevent escapes, where would you go? I think it is better to deny the enemy such a victory, but I cannot make that decision for you.”

    “Because I believe it possible to show the true meaning of being a servant of Allah. The people of the Book may be lost sheep, but they are sheep nonetheless, I haven’t been convinced that you or certain others (he looked at the Arch-Mage) are sheep, and not wolves! Furthermore, I will not retreat while people need defending. It would bring dishonor to Allah!”

    “Then we are agreed: we shall do what me must to defend the people here.”

       Thawban went quiet, albeit glowering. Marty almost grinned; the topic was a bit esoteric for him – but if there were a few more knives out (and maybe some cell phones and BlackBerry smartphones panicking because people might step on them), this could almost be one of Marty’s business meetings.

       One of the Orthodox Knights made a motion:

    “I propose we plan to pursue this while we discuss other options on the table. I am sure I would like to see a demonstration later. And I think we can pursue this plan in parallel with whatever else we decide to try.”

       That was quickly seconded by the Hospitalier Knight-Lord, and the motion carried eight to three with two abstaining. The Knight-Commander introduced the next topic…

    “You may take your seats. Next plan up for discussion is to move Hospitaliers from the wall to assist with the supply situation.”

       The Hospitaliers representitive noted that:

    “Yes, we feel we could make a great deal of progress in lengthening our supplies should we shift resources around.”

       The Templar Knight-Lord replied that

    “Removing the Hospitaliers from the wall will make the defense a much more difficult ordeal. We have barely held thus far and have come close to breaking on one occasion. Should the enemy learn of this…”

       The Teutonic Representative was sensible;

    “Well, Kevin Sanwell has announced that the supply situation is being taken care of as we speak. Should we not wait till we see the results before moving Hospitaliers?”

       Gilad spoke up:

    “Very well, I propose a recess to access the supply situation again before making further decisions.”

       Thawban seconded that one – perhaps because he wanted time to think anyway – and it carried twelve to zero with one abstaining. The council recessed for two hours to access the supply situation again.

       Kevin, Marty, and A’ikana hoped that that would eliminate option number three as well, and it looked like they were dropping the idea of a breakout for the moment. Both good.

       Kevin gave in and took the Silmarils to the Temple where they’d been wanting to go: hopefully it wouldn’t result in blowing himself – or the world – up.

       As he entered the sacred precincts, the Simarils broke free of the wards around them and floated into the air near the center of the temple, pulsing brilliantly. They emitted a ray of light that formed a “V” where the two beams intersected – and then a third ray shoot down from the “V” into the ground to form a “Y”. The pulsing got stronger and stronger as a connection appeared to be made…

       Kevin guessed that this was, indeed, where the third Silmaril had wound up.

       Somewhere in the back of Marty’s head a little voice proclaimed “Silmaril Family Reunion Feanor-Melkor Parrrrrttttyyyy!!!!! You do the catering!” Probably just his shoulder demon though: he hadn’t seen the little bugger in some time, but they never really went away entirely.

       The nexus of the “Y” shone brighter and brighter – until the pulsing stopped and a sphere of light blasted forth from the Temple and washed over the city.

       Marty could feel the last vestiges of last nights drunken revelry being purified away within him, to be replaced by a warm inner fire. He found himself more alert, energetic, and upbeat then he’d been before.

       Kevin felt the energy pulse colliding with his resistance – but it was only thwarted for a moment; the pressure built until it felt like something shorted or connected, and the power washed over him as well – making him feel more alert, energetic, and upbeat. It also let him feel the pulsing of the Silmarils within him… The two Silmarils gently drifted back to the floor, still pulsing quietly – and he could feel that same pulse within himself.

       Well, hopefully the pulse had soothed whatever panic it had started. Kevin put the Silmarils away again and resigned himself – at least for the moment – to wondering what that had been about. Still, there another pulse silently humming from deep beneath the Temple, apparently only audible to him.

    Eclipse – Sample Relics Part VII, Overview

       For today it’s part seven of the series on Relics in Eclipse: The Codex Persona. This time around it’s a few more Relics, including one item of legend and some devices for spellcasters, some notes on the general setting and feel that this series of relics was designed for, and a look – with some crosslinks – at a variety of relics designed for other settings.

       The series so far:

    • Part I: General information on how to build and use relics and on the role of other magic items in the game, the Hat of the Demon Pirate Ferret, the Chessboard of the Invisible Hand (a device of political manipulation), the Cloak of Zorro (for dashing heroes who do not wish to be indentified), the Kether Scrolls, The Malachite Bindings (a tome of dark magics), the Skull of Scykanthos (a tool of lycanthropic ritual magic), and Arnwen’s Sacred Sunstone.
    • Part II: The Gossamer Shroud of Death, The Clasp of the Mandarin (a social device), and Grimfang the Oath-Blade of Heroes.
    • Part II: The Seals of Seigrun – devices which provide limited spellcasting in any one field at a time – and Lawgiver, a paladin’s blade of atrocious power.
    • Part IV: Weapons of Legend, Stormbreaker, the Bracer of the Archmagi, and the Lion Bracer.
    • Part V: A Quill which forges Scrolls, a Sigil which commands Undead Thieves, the Philosopher’s Stone, and the Dragon Crowns – superheroic power devices.
    • Part VI: A Demonslayer’s Helm, Parrying Dagger, Metamagical Rings, and Skill Enhancing Relics.

       As a special bonus, here we have The Silmarils of the Manifold – a look at converting Tolkien’s Silmarils into something playable – and a collection of Minor Relics suitable for almost any game. Gandalf and the Balrog for Eclipse d20 also has a relic or two, but that discussion is complicated enough that I’ll leave it all in context, rather than simply adding the relic(s) to these lists.

       Next on the list is todays selection of Relics:

       The Coronet of Command:

       Employing the magic of Absolute Command – the triumph of will over the material universe, the word made manifest – is often seen as hubris, the imitation of deity. At it’s heart, however, it is merely magic worked without the aid of props and gestures, power given form by pure will and unleashed with a single word of power. It is the stuff of legend.

       It’s also pretty uncommon. Most mortal will-workers settle for props and gestures and all the rest because it’s so much easier – and makes it possible to build up complex long-term effects rather than settling for the quick-and-simple spell-constructs that you can forge from raw magic on the fly with raw willpower.

       If they want to use Absolute Command at all, most people are going to need a little help. That, of course, is where a Relic comes in…

       The Coronet of Command is a simple circlet, inscribed with design of four overlapping squares making up a twelve-pointed star inside a hexagon, the whole centered on a single small gem – the color of which varies with the nature of the wearer.

       It was created by Lineaus Ulm, a relatively minor mage and border lordling with a considerable fear of assassins (apparently he’d severely offended some groups during his mis-spent youth and/or time as an adventurer). As far as is recorded, his fear turned out to be unjustified – his diary does not speak of any attacks, and Lineaus Ulm died a prosperous old man, surrounded by his children and grandchildren – but the Coronet he’d created was passed down with the holding until the area was overrun some generations later. Tieron Ulm carried the Coronet into exile with him and the remainder of his forces, dependents, and chattels, but it was lost with his eldest son Haiden when he became an adventurer in an attempt to reinvigorate the family fortunes.

    • All powers Corrupted/the user must invest his or her own character points in the Coronet to activate it’s powers.
    • Inherent Spells: 7x L3 (using +6 Bonus Uses), Specialized/ only usable to power Theurgy, caster level = user’s hit dice (5 CP).
    • Reflex Training/Extra Actions variant with +4 Bonus Uses (total seven per day), Specialized in Theurgy (4 CP)
    • +1 to all eighteen Theurgy skills, Specialized/immediate commands only (6 CP).
      • “Immediate Commands Only” restricts this to simple, immediate, and singular effects, with a maximum duration of one round per level – the time it takes the unbound magic to dissipate. Typical “Absolute Commands” include things like “Stop!”, “Burn!”, “Begone!”, “Open!”, “Shatter!”, and “Heal!”. While designating the target is free, if the description takes more than ten words or so (such as: “Burn!” “Burn What?” “I’m setting my sword ablaze with holy fire!”), multiple targets outside a simple area effect, or anything which would require ongoing control, it’s not an Absolute Command and won’t work. Still, Absolute Commands are very fast, making them an excellent defensive technique and very useful to adventurers.
    • Augmented Bonus/add Wis Mod to all Theurgy skills as a base, Specialized/immediate commands only, corrupted for 1.5x Effect (3 CP).
      • The net result here is that the casting check is a roll of 1d20 + (3x Wis Mod) + 2 versus a DC of 10 for the first-level effects, 15 for the second-level effects, and 20 for the third-level effects. A user with a good Wisdom score should have very little trouble with the first and second level effects.
    • Resist/+6 to all saves versus Mental Control (6 CP).
    • With a total cost of 24 CP, the Coronet of Command is a 4 CP relic.

       The Sheathe of Excalibur:

       In legend, Excalibur’s sheathe was esteemed above the blade itself. Excalibur was unbreakable, a symbol of kingship and (according to the source you consult) variously either capable of blinding or severely hindering opponents with it’s glow, better in battle than any ordinary blade, able to inspire followers, or able to shatter opposing weapons with a blow – although it rarely had more than one of those secondary attributes in any given version.

       Any or all of those attributes were useful, and would certainly qualify Excalibur as at least a minor Legendary Weapon – but they hardly guaranteed victory and were only useful in battle. The Sheathe, however, prevented the loss of blood, infection, and many injuries – allowing the bearer to almost certainly survive both a battle and all the vicissitudes of daily life in a primitive environment in good health. It’s power was not absolute, but it was extremely helpful (and probably much in demand by women giving birth).

       It’s also very easy to buy:

    • Grant of Aid, with +4 Bonus Uses (12 CP).
    • If you want to force the user to attune the Sheathe before using it, then it’s power is Corrupted – either reducing the cost to 8 CP or adding another +4 Bonus Uses for the same 12 CP.
    • With a net cost of 8 CP, the Sheathe is a mere 1 CP Relic. If you use the 12 CP base cost, it’s a 2 CP Relic.

       The Staff of Rassilon:

       This comic-book style magicians staff allows the user to absorb incoming magic and to release it (or his or her own spells) as blasts of raw destructive force, to use that energy to recharge other items, to channel it into shields, or to use it to power his or her own spells. While the user can be overloaded, and can only store a limited amount of raw power, he or she will still be virtually impossible to defeat in any quick battle of magic.

       Rassilon was an immigrant from another world, and brought his staff with him. While he never explained it’s origins, it appears to be made of metal and some sort of crystal which flickers with tiny internal lights (these grow brighter as the staff accumulates more and more power).

    • All powers Corrupted/the user must invest his or her own character points in the Staff to activate it’s powers.
    • Path of the Dragon, Shaping, Dragonfire, Eye of the Dragon x2 with the Spell Powering Option. Normally 36 CP, only 24 CP after being Corrupted – making this a 4 CP relic.

       Sortilege Staff:

       There are quite a few of these general items about, since they’re a common tool for the more powerful spellcasters. They simply contain seven spells – generally the ones that the creator used the most often – each useable three times per day. Unfortunately, even after such staves are attuned, their user must have the capacity to cast a spell normally (although he or she need not actually know it) before he or she will be able to call it forth from the staff. Nevertheless, many a low-level spellcaster has found six or nine extra spells per day extremely useful – and the fact that higher-level spells became available as his or her own powers increased even better.

    • All powers Specialized/the user must invest his or her own character points in the Staff to activate it’s powers and may only use the Spells within it which he or she would be capable of casting without the staff.
    • Inherent Spells: 2x L1 Spells with +1 Bonus Use (for a total of 3 daily uses each) (4 CP).
    • Inherent Spell: 1x L2 with +1 Bonus Use for a total of three daily uses (4 CP).
    • Inherent Spells with +2 Bonus Uses Each; one each of L3, L4, L5, and L6 (18 CP).
    • With a total cost of 26 CP, a Magician’s Staff is a 4 CP Relic.

     The Relics listed in the past several entries have been designed for a game with a couple of fairly specific parameters. In this setting:

    • Major magic items are limited to relics. Charms and talismans – items of very very limited power, as found in The Practical Enchanter – are fairly common, and those with the right connections or contacts can purchase potions and scolls, but enchanted armor, weapons, staves, and so on, are only found as relics.
    • Characters may normally only “attune” a limited number of relics. In fact, they can normally only have a total of 4 CP worth of relics at a time unless they find some (usually the creations of gods or ancient dragons or other mighty powers – and thus the province of the game master) that don’t need to be attuned.
    • The ability to use Charms and Talismans, as well as the 4 CP relic allowance, is provided by Specialized versions of Shaping and Enthusiast which come with the world template. (The writeup is in the first article in this series, found HERE).
    • Due to this, items which must be attuned count as being Corrupted, and thus cost less to attune – but not to make. Creating relics is thus expensive, and doesn’t get you out of having to attune them. A mortal with the “Create Relic” ability may make customized toys instead of settling for the ones the game master makes available, but it will cost him or her a fair number of character points. For everything there is a price…

       Now, that does mean that a 2 CP relic made with the “must be attuned” modifier costs 3 CP to make and is equivalent to a 3 CP relic for most games. Given the innate x6 multiplier for a relic, that means that the effective multiplier is x9 – making even one-point relics quite powerful. It also means that if one of these relics costs 4 CP, it will be the ONLY major magical item that the character will be able to use while he or she has it attuned – and so it had better be the only one that he or she is going to need.

       There are quite a few other relics on the site, so here’s a quick list of them and some links to the character’s they’re associated with. The writeup formats vary a bit, but that shouldn’t present any real difficulty.

       Cadmel: The Codex Obscura (4 CP):

    • +2 Caster Levels (Specialized: only for the user’s primary magical field, 6 CP).
    • Action Hero (Specialized, in Magic, Double Effect) with Stunts (6 CP).
    • Action Hero (Specialized in Magic, Double Effect) with Crafting (6 CP).
    • Double Enthusiast: Specialized in Magic (Double Effect) and Corrupted (requires a complex [DC 18 spellcraft] ritual and offering a “favor” to some magical being to change, x1.5 effect). This grants 6 “floating” CP to spend on magical talents.
    • The book provides (2xLevel+4) AP in each field per level and lets the user accumulate up to (4xLevel+20).

       Raven: The Elerus Sigil (4 CP):

    • Clever Fingers/Advanced Augmented Bonus: Adds his Dex Mod to his Int Mod for skill gaining purposes and vice-versa for Dex based skills (since the other way makes no sense. This can be viewed as two specialized augmented bonuses. 18 CP).
    • Warcraft I: +1 BAB (6 CP)

       Raven: The Albertius Log (2 CP):

    • This slim, ancient, volume has two notable properties; It’s indestructible and, despite it’s slim size, the book contains as many pages as you wish to write on – without any noticeable weight. It’s been around for thousands of years. It’s pages hold crayon scribbles, engineering diagrams, bad poems (and good ones), sketches of rare creatures, spells of many different types, personal diaries, bits of occult speculation and research, shopping lists, a collection of pressed flowers (perhaps several collections), maps and notes, some unfinished novels, spelljammer logs, and various journals. It’s written in a hundred different languages in ten thousand hands. It hasn’t got an index.
    • Unique Returning: Specialized and Corrupted: only for the item, not for the user. Since the Book isn’t alive in the first place, this simply makes it indestructible (6 CP).
    • Double Enthusiast with Adaption (9 CP). Specialized: The book only contains information as approved by the GM (double effect) and Corrupted (the user must make an Int check at a GM-set DC to locate new information, x1.5 effect). Bestows 6 floating CP (9 CP).
    • Disadvantage: Valuable. The Log is a magnet for lunatic magi, adventurer’s, and other annoyances (-3 CP).
    • Net Cost: 2 CP. Effective cost as a GM plot hook: 0 CP

       Inaro Montban: The Sigil of Lugh (3 CP):

    • Mana/Power Option (+3d6/11 points, 6 CP)
    • Fast Learner (specialized in Witchcraft, for +2 CP/Level, 6 CP)
    • Double Enthusiast (Specialized/Only for Witchcraft, Corrupted/Only changes when you learn the power it’s currently bestowing, provides +6 CP for a Witchcraft ability, 6 CP).

       Felix Moreau: The Ring of Speed (3 CP):

    • Celerity with Stunt Double (+10′ ground movement, may briefly run over water, up walls, etcetera, 12 CP),
    • Create Item (specialized, only as a prerequisite, 3 CP), Harvest of Artifice (specialized, only to provide XP to pay for his Innate Enchantments, 3 CP).

       Thrall, Lesser Dark Lord: The Eye of Arithur (4 CP):

    • This amulet provides
    • Immunity/Dispel Magic (Common/Minor/Major, 6 CP)
    • Self-Development/+2 Intelligence (12 CP) (note that Thrall is from a world where the costs of improving attributes is halved).
    • Spell Turning (6 CP): May reflect a spell back on its caster with a successful counterspell

       Xaliotl: The Eye of Flames (4 CP):

    • This amulet provides:
    • Immunity to Elemental Damage (Very Common, Major, Minor, for 12 points of protection, 10 CP).
    • Augmented Magic/+1 damage per die when casting fire magic (3 CP),
    • Ability Focus/+2 to the DC of resisting the user’s fire magic (6 CP).
    • Deep Sleep (6 CP).

       Flowing River: Medicine Bundle (4 CP):

    • Occasional children among the Ankorath tribes are fortunate enough to be given, or to win in competition, Medicine Bundles – sets of minor relics created so as to imbue their bearer with the strengths of various beasts. Their effects are fairly minor, but a well-chosen set of minor enhancements can still be very useful. In River’s case his minor relics provide +1 each to Strength (Tiger), Dexterity (Monkey), Intelligence (Spider), and Wisdom (Elephant).
    • Note that this setting allows characters to purchase attribute upgrades for half the standard cost.

       Sem the Sin-Eater: The Litany of Illumination (3 CP):

    • The thin and worn pages of this modest tome contain the daily sacred litanies of the Ancient Gods, the catechism of the church, and a broad selection of other religious information (+15 bonus to looking up the litanies and such; this is not a relic function, it’s just that it’s THE major nook on the subject). While he bears it, Sem enjoys the benefit of:
    • Enhanced Channeling Intensity IV (+4d6 Magnitude, 12 CP) and
    • Innate Enchantment (6 CP/5000 GP Value): This provides him with free use of:
      • Lens of Rey: Converts a Turn attempt into a positive energy ray which has +4 Intensity and does [magnitude + 1d6] points of healing.
      • Sunfury: Expends two turn attempts at a time, providing a +3 bonus on the Intensity and doubling the magnitude), and
      • Unlimited Automatic Personal Use of Immortal Vigor I, providing 12 + 2x Con Mod bonus HP.

       Fauve: The Eye of Stars (4 CP):

    • This rune-inscribed stone pendant has been in Fauve’s possession since early childhood. It grants it’s wearer +2 Int (12 CP) and
    • Improved Power Words (Specialized in Rune Magic, may store up to [Con] levels of spells to be released as move-equivalent actions, 12 CP).
    • Note that this setting allows characters to purchase attribute upgrades for half the standard cost.

       Ragnar: The Eye of Wrath (4 CP):

    • This ring is designed to enhance spirit weapons, providing Improved Superior Imbuement (specialized in spirit weapons/provides +[level] points of enhancements, 18 CP) with the Focused and Versatile upgrades (specialized in spirit weapons for half cost, 6 CP).

       Amber: The Eye of Odin (4 CP):

    • Augmented Bonus/Adds average Con Mod to Dweomer Checks (12 CP).
    • Berserker/Odinmight: +8 to Caster Level, +8 to Dweomer Checks, +4 to saves versus Magic, and -2 AC. This may be invoked [1 + Level/3] times per day, lasts for [3 + average Con Mod – currently 10] rounds each time, and leaves the user Fatigued (12 CP).

       Edward Elric: The Philosopher’s Stone [4 CP]:

    • All powers Specialized in amplifying Innate Spells (half cost).
    • Provides access to the Amplify, Area, Lacing, and Persistent Metamagics (12 CP), with Improved Glory (Spontaneously add [+Con Mod] levels of metamagic up to [Con Mod] times per day], 9 CP), and +4 Bonus Uses of Improved Glory (3 CP).

       Kristin Stanwell: Stalking Death, The Hunter’s Wheel (4 CP):

    • This curiously engraved hammered copper disk augments firearms, and only firearms (Corrupted, 2/3’rds cost), providing
    • Enhanced Strike (Crushing, Hammer, and Shattering), as well as
    • Imbuement (Improved and Focused, providing Ghost Touch and Darkbane [+2 and +2d6 damage versus creatures of the dark]).

       Shadow of Dark Wings: The Ring of Ebon Bindings (4 CP):

    • Chain of Ki (15′ Reach), Varying Grasp (No penalty when working within reach), with Entangle (May grapple at range), Focused Imbuement (Weapon has Ghost Touch), Whirlwind (May attack everyone within reach 1/minute or by spending 1 Mana), and Innate Enchantment (Shield, +1d6 Electrical Damage on contact on command, sheds light on command). All Corrupted: Only with Kusuri-Gama.

       Marty Tabard (Unlinked, since several different character-sheet upgrades have been posted): The Determined Emissary’s Amulet (3 CP Relic):

    • Adaptation to Hostile Audiences (6 CP)
    • Berserk (+4 Wisdom, +4 Charisma, +2 Will, -2 AC) (6 CP)
    • Melding (6 CP)

       Marty Tabard: The Blademaster’s Ring (3 CP Relic):

    • Immunity/Dispelling and Antimagic (Common/Minor/Epic, Specialized in protecting the user’s Innate Enchantments only, 9 CP).
    • Innate Enchantment. All spells level one, caster level one, personal-only (x.7 cost) where applicable.
      • Rogue’s Sure Eye (+2D6 Sneak Attack for three rounds, 1400 GP)
      • Inspiring Word (+1 Morale Bonus to Damage, Saves, Checks, and Attacks, 1400 GP)
      • Light Foot (Transmutation. The user becomes extremely light on his or her feet,gaining a +30 circumstance bonus on his or her ground movement speed a +10 circumstance bonus on jump checks, as well as DR 10 versus Falling Damage [only], for 1d6+2 rounds, 1400 GP).
      • Personal Haste (+1 Attack when making a full attack, +30 Enhancement bonus to movement rates, 2000 GP).
      • Blade Mastery (+4 Competence Bonus to BAB with Blades [swords and knives], 1400 GP).
      • Ranged Strike (Allows the user to “fire” melee attacks with a 100′ range increment for the next 3 rounds, using the same statistics, 1400 GP).
      • Shield (+4 Shield bonus to AC, negates Magic Missiles. 2000 GP)

    Kysen Nial, three minor relics:

    • Dirge (1 CP Relic): This black longsword shows a faint tracery of twisted runes along the lower portion of the blade. Once it’s activated, the runes flare with red light, and the blade is wreathed in dark fire which trails in the air where it passes. Blood will mute the runes, but – if it does not wound another once activated – it will twist in it’s user’s hands and wound him or her if it does not feed itself on another’s blood before the runes start to fade on their own. Berserker with Odinpower and Enduring (+6 BAB, +6 AC, +3 to Reflex Saves, -2 to Will Saves for [3 + User’s Con Mod] rounds once per day per three levels of the user or part thereof with no fatigue afterwards) and Imbuement (gains an Enhancement Bonus of +[User’s Level/4]). Both powers are Specialized and Corrupted; the blade is obviously unholy when active, the user must whisper the blade’s true name in the ancient tongue to activate it, once activated the blade must taste blood – inflicting normal base damage – at least once or the user will suffer that damage when the “berserker” effect ends, and it must be attuned to the user’s personal power to use, rather than being a truly independent relic (6 CP). Dirge may have higher powers, but those would require investing more points in it to discover – and most bearers are sensible reluctant to do so. Given the bloodthirst the blade exhibits when barely awakened, who knows what the price of such things would be?
    • Sigil of Dark Fortune (1 CP Relic): This bloodstone ring glitters with an crimson sparks when called upon, although the stone becomes duller and duller as fewer “charges” remain to it. +12 Bonus Uses of Luck, Specialized and Corrupted/the user is blatantly being aided by evil supernatural forces, the user must offer prayers, small sacrifices, and at least a few drops of blood from someone the user has personally ritually tortured or murdered to restore the ring’s “charges” after they’ve been fully or partially depleted, must be attuned to the user’s personal power to use, rather than being a truly independent relic (6 CP).
    • Umbral Torc (2 CP Relic): This tarnished silver neckpiece imbues the wearer’s tongue with the arcane forces, allowing him or her to hold spells on the edge of manifestation, to be released with a simple word. Power Words, Improved, Specialized in storing personally-cast spells; may store [4xCon/3] total spell levels (10 CP), allows the user to speak the Celestial, Infernal, and Draconic languages (2 CP). Corrupted/must be attuned to the user’s personal power to use, rather than being a truly independent relic. The Umbral Torc can have another two character points invested in it, which will activate it’s powers of Harbringers, Spellforms, and Sendings – the entire rest of the Power Words list.

       There may be a few more relics up at the moment that I’ve forgotten. If there are, and I happen to remember them, I’ll append them to this list.

    Eclipse – Sample Relics Part VI, Skills and Talents

       Here we have a few more Relics for Eclipse: The Codex Persona (available in print HERE and in a shareware .pdf version HERE) – in this case some practical – and relatively cheap – items for general adventurers.

       The Helm of Tolwyn:

       Tolwyn the Demonslayer was noted for her constant battles with the forces of the abyss, and the ease with which she penetrated their defenses. Over years of practice, she had learned to spot the inevitable weaknesses in the magical forces which protected demons, and to break through those weaknesses with her sacred powers.

       When Tolwyn grew too old to travel and fight, she attempted to teach the young warriors and paladins of the church her talent, with little success. Desiring to make sure that her ability was not lost, she called on the elders of the church to help her imbue her helmet with the knack, so that young students could experience it directly – a course which met with some success. After experiencing it, several of the students did learn to duplicate her skill – and the Helm became a treasure of the church.

       Inevitably, as such things do, this attracted the attention of the demonic forces that Tolwyn had dedicated her life to casting out. Before the massed attack, the temple was razed, the Helm was lost, and Tolwyn fell holding back the horde to allow her students time to escape.

       Today, the Helm remains lost, although her students have managed to pass on some part of her skill.

    • Immunity/to the special defenses of Demons. This includes their Damage Reduction, Spell and Power Resistance, and immunities to particular spells (Common, Minor, Great, 12 CP).
      • If specialized in either damage reduction or protection from various spells, this costs 6 CP, and is equivalent to the X-Slayer Feat from The Practical Enchanter. In general, builds that use Immunities to penetrate defenses should be regarded with caution. On the other hand, as long as it’s limited to particular groups of targets, this is no more unreasonable than using Favored Foe bonuses to overwhelm such defenses. After all, if the game master doesn’t feel like sending in the specified opponent, being able to penetrate it’s defenses won’t help anyone very much.
    • With a net cost of 12 character points, the Helm of Tolwyn is a 2 CP relic. Unlike many of the other relics on this list, it does not demand that the user invest his or her own character points in the Helm to use it. Of course, the church will want it back very badly if it ever surfaces – and the demon hordes will want to destroy it just as badly.

       Parrying Dagger:

       There are a lot of variants on this basic relic, since the desire behind it – not to get hit in combat – is pretty nearly universal. While there aren’t all that many people who have the ability to create relics, more than a few of them are willing to invest one character point in one of these.

    • The powers of the Parrying Dagger are Corrupted: the user must invest his own character points in the blade to activate it.
    • Imbuement, Specialized/”plusses” may only be used to buy the “Defending” power and in conjunction with it, double effect (4 CP), plus a Specialized version of the Focused modifier/only for buying “Defending” (3 CP).
    • This results in a dagger that – when wielded – provides an AC bonus of +(Level-2)/2, rounded down. Presumably it will be carried in the user’s off-hand, since it doesn’t have any offensive abilities.
    • With a total cost of 7 CP, this is a 1 CP Relic.

       The Parrying Dagger is a powerful defensive item – and well suited for games where the characters won’t be using very many magical items. A parrying dagger can, quite reasonably, replace the usual magical bonuses on a fighters shield and armor, or a mage’s protective bracers.

       The Rings of Mastery:

       These useful rings resemble the older Metamagic Rods – but are considerably more versatile, since they incorporate the generalized Metamagical Theorems of Eclipse, rather than the more limited classical Metamagic Feats. In essence, each is simple: The user may spontaneously add up to (Int Mod + Con Mod) levels of the relevant Metamagic to a spell up to (Int Mod + Con Mod) times per day, subject to a maximum of twelve spell levels worth of that particular Metamagic in any one day.

       Most Rings of Mastery bear an assortment of mystical symbols and are set with various stones, but there’s nothing that requires that – or even that they be in the form of rings.

    • The powers of the various Rings of Mastery are Corrupted: the user must invest his own character points in them to activate them. They all, however follow the same pattern:
    • They contain a Metamagical Theorem with the Glory modifier, Specialized/only for spontaneous use, may apply a maximum of twelve spell levels worth of the relevant metamagic per day even if the usual maximum (Con Mod levels worth Con Mod times per day) exceeds this limit (4 CP).
    • Augmented Bonus/the user may add his (Int Mod) to his (Con Mod) for magical purposes, Specialized/only to drive the Glory modifier, above. (2 CP).
    • With a net cost of 6 CP, the Rings are merely 1 CP relics – but very useful ones. There are plenty of times in a mages life when one or two pumped up spells may make all the difference – especially if

       There are presumably Rings of Mastery for each of the Metamagic Theorems where they’d be useful (they really aren’t applicable to the Battle Magic or Compact metamagics). There may well be more; they’re quite useful and – fundamentally – aren’t all that complicated to make.

       General Skill Enhancers:

       General Skill-Enhancing relics usually come in a few basic types:

    • Items which boost a single skill usually just bestow ranks in it, or possibly specialize in a limited aspect of a skill for even larger bonuses or lesser costs. Such Relics are cheap, effective, and – when you come right down to it – rather dull. Most of them should have limitations, such as “will not more than double a characters effective skill level” or “provides a maximum bonus equal to the character’s level”, otherwise they may be a bit overpowering at lower levels.
    • Items which provide low-level boosts for several skills, or which provide specific special abilities with them, usually use Innate Enchantment – most often employing “group of skills” versions of the Skill Mastery spell template from The Practical Enchanter. Such items have the advantage of being able to readily provide other specialized functions, but have the disadvantage of (unlike most relics) being subject to Dispel Magic and similar effects.
    • Items intended to boost groups of skills by adding additional attribute modifiers are usually purchased as Augmented Bonus – adding a second attribute modifier to a character’s effective level in a particular group of skills.
    • Items which add to the number of skill points a character gets at each level for free are also purchased as Augmented Bonus, but are far more expensive. As relics, they’re well worth it though – probably too well worth it. The game master should only allow them with extreme caution.
    • Items intended for high-level characters, or to grow with lower-level ones, usually use “Professional” – often specialized for double effect in a particular area. This is quite cost-efficient at high levels, where the basic +(User’s Level/2) is quite effective, as is a version that’s been Specialized for double effect in a particular application.
    • Items intended to extend what their user’s can do with a skill usually either use Immunity to the restrictions being bypassed or take Skill Focus at the 2 CP level so as to qualify for the Speed (6 CP), Stunt (6 CP), or Epic Stunts (+6 CP) abilities.
    • A few items bestow Fast Learner (Specialized in Skills) and/or Adept, to half the cost of developing skills. These are cheap and extremely powerful for their cost – and so the game master should watch them with extreme caution. It might even be best to ban them entirely, otherwise they may wind up getting passed around when characters are about to level or are studying the relevant skills, thus providing a boost to the entire party.