Duskblades, Hexblades, and other Magically-Enhanced Fighters

   The question has come up of “How to build a Duskblade in Eclipse: The Codex Persona Classless d20 rules” (available in print HERE and in a shareware edition HERE). The answer is, you can’t; they haven’t been released under the Open Game License – but you can easily create an almost-identical build. After all, the “fighter with some specialized combat magic” is a pretty common idea, and – not too surprisingly – they all work a lot alike. They want a good BAB, a fair amount of relatively low-level magic that can enhance their combat abilities, decent hit points, not a lot of skills, and some way to use enhancement spells while using weapons.

   So here’s the build – or at least one way to do it. As usual, there are lots of other ways.

   Every Level: d8 Hit Die (4), 2 Skill Points (2), +1 BAB (6), +1 Caster Level Specialized in the Adept Spellcasting Progression (3), three instances of the Adept Spellcasting Progression using the Spontaneous Caster variant and the Components and Studies limitations. All Specialized and Corrupted: all progressions must use the same list of known spells (this effectively simply multiplies the number of spell slots available), the user may only have small-scale combat and melee-combat assistance spells (no utility magic, communications, healing, or anything else of any real use outside of combat), and his or her spells will generally be somewhat weak by the usual standards of arcane magic (3). Base cost per level = 18 CP, for a total of 360 at level twenty.

   Looking at first level, most such characters are proficient with all Simple and Martial Weapons (9), Light, Medium, and Heavy Armor (15), and Shields (3). That’s a bit silly – since they usually only actually wear light and medium armor – but I’ll stick with the tradition. Other people may want to save those six character points from the heavy armor proficiency for something else or at least buy it later on; it’s not like a first-level character will be able to start with heavy armor. They’ll also need +6 Skill Points (6), for a net cost of 33 character points.

   Saving Throws are going to be expensive. In general, we’ll be wanting two good saving throws – for a net cost of 90 CP at level twenty.

   Finally, we’ll be needing some Special Abilities. Not too many though; out of the 504 CP that will be available at level twenty, we’ve already spent all but 21 of them – although we can effectively scrape up another 14 by taking Fast Learner at level “zero” (or even, if the game master will let us get away with it, an extra 34 by specializing it for double effect). Given that this type of hybrid character is usually found as a prestige class or as a later-published (and usually somewhat more powerful) class, we may need to do so.

  • Occult Talent (Improved): Specialized (half cost)/does not actually get any first level spells to use, Corrupted (for a 50% increase in the number of slots)/can only use a total of (Int Mod + 3) spells per day. That provides a selection of five 0-level spells to use and a total of 12 slots to use them with – enough to accommodate a +9 Intelligence Modifier, which should suffice for most characters. (6 CP).
    • If necessary, at higher levels, you can spend another 2 CP to make it Specialized to increase the number of slots and Corrupted to decrease the cost, and accommodate a +13 Intelligence Modifier – or even spend another 4 CP to get both, and accommodate a +21 Intelligence Modifier. Of course, if you have a +21 Intelligence Modifier, why are you worrying about how many bonus cantrips you get?
  • For would-be Armored Mages there are a couple of ways to get around the problem of casting spells in armor: Most directly, buy the “Smooth” modifier on your armor proficiencies (page 49), probably specialized in allowing spellcasting only, for a total of 6 CP for Light and Medium Armor and Shields. If you only want it to apply to a particular spell progression, you can count it as “Corrupted” as well – reducing the cost to 4 CP if the game master will let you get away with it. Less directly, you could buy off the “Components” limitation on your magic levels (page 11). This is more effective – it gets around the need for fancy gestures, odd components, and lengthy incantations – but it will be more expensive at higher levels since it will increase the cost of each magic level. You could also buy an Immunity, but that’s more complicated and expensive than buying the “Smooth” modifier anyway.
  • Combat Casting – getting a +4 bonus to rolls to cast spells on the defensive, or while grappling or pinned, is also easy: Skill Emphasis/Concentration Specialized (for double effect)/only to cast spells on the defensive or while grappling or pinned. (3 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment: Eldritch Blade (unlimited use-activated, level one at caster level one, 2000 GP. Causes a weapon to act as a channel for magical energy: the wielder may release any single available touch-based spell with a casting time of one standard action or less into the blade as a free action that does not provoke an attack of opportunity, such a spell will affect any creature struck by the blade during the attack or attack sequence, but will then be discharaged even if it would normally last for more than one round) (3 CP and – in theory – 80 XP if anyone wants to worry about that). Normally Innate Enchantment has a 6 CP minimum, but we can certainly take it as “Specialized; only provides half the base enchantment value” if anyone objects. Flexibility is the point of Eclipse after all.
  • Reflex Training/Extra Actions Variant, Specialized in Spellcasting for double effect (six extra actions per day) and Corrupted for reduced cost (extra actions only become available at one per every full five levels) (4 CP). Since this doesn’t provoke an Attack of Opprotunity, we’ll also need Evasive (When casting a spell with an extra action, an Uncommon Action, 3 CP).
  • +2 Caster Levels: Specialized/only to overcome spell resistance, Corrupted/only works on an opponent you’ve injured with a melee attack in the current encounter. By shuffling around the Corrupted and Specialized modifers on this, you can get anything from +2 for 4 CP (all used to reduce cost) to +3 for 6 CP (one Caster Level with Doubled Effect on a specialization), +4 for 8 CP (one Caster Level with Doubled and 1.5x Effect for instead of reduced cost or both with doubled effect for the specilization and reduced cost for the corruption), +5 for 10 CP, and +6 for 12 CP. For this build, we’ll need a total of +5 at level 18, for 10 CP.

   Those special abilities cost 33 CP, or 35 CP if whoever’s running the game doesn’t let us get away with Corrupting the “Smooth” modifier on the armor proficiency. It looks like we will need that level of Fast Learner, although it doesn’t have to be specialized in anything. Interestingly enough, given that level of Fast Learner, the point cost comes out exactly right. That’s rather interesting considering that Eclipse came out a year before the Players Handbook II. It’s always nice to have beaten out the official books.

   Of course, this character isn’t quite identical to the Duskblade: this character gets +3 Cantrips, -1L1, -1L2, and -1L3 spells, and +1L4 Spell per day (although this can be made up with one level of Specialist at 6 CP/one Feat – or by the fact that this character gets to triple any bonus spells for high Intelligence), but gets to know a few more spells at every level. They’ll also get to pick the five cantrips that go with their Occult Talent rather than having a predetermined list – and if they want to, they’ll be able to spend bonus Feats buying more spell slots by buying more instances of the Adept spell progression quite easily. They can also skimp a bit on BAB to buy more special abilities, spend a bonus Feat to hype up their ability to penetrate magic resistance, buy some Healing Touch, or exploit any of the other options to modify or alter their abilities in point buy.

   Finally, the development will be a little different: Eclipse characters aren’t so front-loaded as basic d20 characters; that’s the price of being able to customize things so extensively.


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