3.5 d20 Level-By-Level Base Class Breakdowns, Part II

   Here we have the next segment of the level-by-level breakdowns of the basic d20 character classes for Eclipse: The Codex Persona – in this case the Druid, Fighter, and Sorcerer. Why those three? Well, mostly it’s for the sake of contrast. The Druid is one of the most heavily frontloaded classes around, the Sorcerer is more or less the opposite – and the Fighter is one of the few classes to have a sizeable chunk of unspent points available.

   They also neatly demonstrate one of the major features of using Eclipse: there’s nothing wrong with using a classical design for a bit and then using point-buy to build on the abilities you’ve already got – or with mixing classical and point-buy characters. Characters with classical classes will have a few more points, but the point-buy builds will generally spend the points they have more efficiently and will have exactly the abilities they want. In practice, it doesn’t usually lead to much of a disparity – or at least to no more of a disparity than the usual mixture of builds and objectives you find in any group.

The Druid, Levels 1-20:

   Every Level: d8 Hit Die (4), +1 Druid Magic Level (one Specialized Caster Level for the Druid Spell Progression only, 3, and one level of the Druid Spell Progression, 5), +4 Skill Points (4), religious Duties (-2), religious restrictions on Weapons (-1) and Armor (-1) = 12 CP.

Level

Cost

Purchases

 

1st

72

Fort +2 (6), Will +2 (6), Companion (6), 2x Skill Focus/”Nature Sense” (6), Lore/Animals (Specialized: only covers how to get along with them, 3), +12 Skill Points (12), Spell Conversion (Summon Natures’s Ally, 6), Proficient with Light and Medium Armor and Shields (12) and with Druidic Weapons (a limited group, 6).

 

2nd

27

+1 BAB (6), Fort +1 (3), Will +1 (3), Travel/Forest (3)

 

3rd

21

+1 BAB (6), Ref +1 (3), Traceless/Travel (Specialized; in natural surroundings only, 3).

 

4th

30

+1 BAB (6), Fort +1 (3), Will +1 (3), Resist/+4 on saves versus the Fey (6)

 

5th

18

Shapeshift (6)

 

6th

27

+1 BAB (6), Fort +1 (3), Will +1 (3), Ref +1 (3)

 

7th

20

+1 BAB (6), +1 Bonus Use of Shapeshift (2)

 

8th

27

+1 BAB (6), Fort +1 (3), Will +1 (3), Shapeshift/Growth (3)

 

9th

21

Ref +1 (3), Immunity/Poison (Common, Major, Minor, 6).

 

10th

24

+1 BAB (6), Fort +1 (3), Will +1 (3)

 

11th

21

+1 BAB (6), Shapeshift/Shrinking (3)

 

12th

30

+1 BAB (6), Fort +1 (3), Will +1 (3), Ref +1 (3), Shapeshift/Plant (3)

 

13th

15

Shapeshift/Variants (3)

 

14th

24

+1 BAB (6), Fort +1 (3), Will +1 (3)

 

15th

21

+1 BAB (6), Ref +1 (3), Immunity/Aging (Common, Major, Trivial, 3 or free, depending on the campaign; I’m rating it as free since relatively few campaigns go on long enough for the characters to worry about aging. Effectively the same as the Timeless Body power, but why do things the same way each time?)

 

16th

27

+1 BAB (6), Fort +1 (3), Will +1 (3), Shapeshift/Elemental (3)

 

17th

12

None

 

18th

27

+1 BAB (6), Fort +1 (3), Will +1 (3), Ref +1 (3)

 

19th

18

+1 BAB (6)

 

20th

24

+1 BAB (6), Fort +1 (3), Will +1 (3)

 

 Grand Total: 506 CP out of 504 available (counting the disadvantages as negative costs).

   It doesn’t look like that could come out to be balanced overall does it? The impression is a lot of high numbers – and it does have a few extremely high ones, especially that first level. That’s a full twenty-four character points overspent. Of course, there are also a few really low numbers in there – and a lot that are just a little low.

   The trouble with the Druid – and what makes for that expensive first level – is that they’re pretty good at everything. They can fight pretty well, provide backup even better, summon creatures, get information from animals, heal, entrap enemies, and more. They aren’t the best – but they can fill in for almost any role.

   Point-buy Druids work out the same after the first few levels, but generally start out at first level with less in the way of wilderness abilities (first level characters generally don’t belong out in the wilderness anyway) and a bit less in the way of skills and saves. You can usually expect to find them investing bonus feats in upgrading their companions and / or their shapechanging, which can make them quite formidable very quickly.

The Fighter, Levels 1-20:

   Every Level: d10 Hit Die (6), +1 BAB (6), +2 Skill Points (2) = 14 CP.

Level

Cost

Purchases

1st

59

+2 Fort (6), Bonus feat (6), Proficient with Light, Medium, and Heavy Armor (15), Shields (3), and All Simple and Martial Weapons (9), +6 Skill Points (6).

2nd

23

+1 Fort (3), Bonus Feat

3rd

20

+1 Ref (3), +1 Will (3)

4th

23

+1 Fort (3), Bonus Feat (6)

5th

14

None

6th

29

+1 Fort (3), +1 Ref (3), +1 Will (3), Bonus Feat (6)

7th

14

None

8th

23

+1 Fort (3), Bonus Feat (6)

9th

20

+1 Ref (3), +1 Will (3)

10th

23

+1 Fort (3), Bonus Feat (6)

11th

14

None

12th

29

+1 Fort (3), +1 Ref (3), +1 Will (3), Bonus Feat (6)

13th

14

None

14th

23

+1 Fort (3), Bonus Feat (6)

15th

20

+1 Ref (3), +1 Will (3)

16th

23

+1 Fort (3), Bonus Feat (6)

17th

14

None

18th

29

+1 Fort (3), +1 Ref (3), +1 Will (3), Bonus Feat (6)

19th

14

None

20th

23

+1 Fort (3), Bonus Feat (6)

   Grand Total: 451 out of 504 available.

   Here we have one of the few significantly underpowered base classes: the first level – despite being frontloaded as usual – could be easily matched by a point-buy character, and it rapidly gets worse from there. It’s not that the fighter isn’t good at small-scale combat; it’s that they’re have no abilities at all that are of use in anything else and very little in the way of skills to fall back on if fighting is not appropriate. If the game master happens to be running a stealth mission, or a bit of political intrigue, or an investigation, or a diplomatic effort, or any of a dozen other kinds of missions that don’t call for combat, the fighter might as well be sick in bed. The player will have to content himself or herself with making suggestions.

   My recommendation hasn’t changed from when I wrote Eclipse: spend some of those fifty-three left over points getting some noncombat abilities to work with – or, if you MUST focus on combat – make sure that no one else does it nearly as well as you do. How much better is a Wizard at casting spells than the Fighter? That’s how much better the Fighter should be at combat than the Wizard is.

The Sorcerer, Levels 1-20:

   Every Level: d4 Hit Die (0), 2 SP (2), One Sorcerer Magic Level (one step on the Sorcerer Spellcasting Progression, 13, and one Caster Level specialized in Sorcerer Spellcasting, 3) = 18.

Level

Cost

Purchases

1st

39

+2 Will (6), Companion (6), Proficient with All Simple Weapons (3), +6 Skill Points (6)

2nd

27

+1 BAB (6), +1 Will (3)

3rd

24

+1 Fort (3), +1 Ref (3)

4th

27

+1 BAB (6), +1 Will (3)

5th

18

None

6th

33

+1 BAB (6), +1 Fort (3), +1 Ref (3), +1 Will (3)

7th

18

None

8th

27

+1 BAB (6), +1 Will (3)

9th

24

+1 Fort (3), +1 Ref (3)

10th

27

+1 BAB (6), +1 Will (3)

11th

18

None

12th

33

+1 BAB (6), +1 Fort (3), +1 Ref (3), +1 Will (3)

13th

18

None

14th

27

+1 BAB (6), +1 Will (3)

15th

24

+1 Fort (3), +1 Ref (3)

16th

27

+1 BAB (6), +1 Will (3)

17th

18

None

18th

33

+1 BAB (6), +1 Fort (3), +1 Ref (3), +1 Will (3)

19th

18

None

20th

27

+1 BAB (6), +1 Will (3)

   Grand Total: 507 out of 504 available.

   The Sorcerer isn’t especially frontloaded. That’s one reason why it’s so rare for anyone to take a level or two of Sorcerer unless they need it to qualify for a prestige class of some kind. It also means that – since the point totals are tolerably well balanced – they’re weaker and / or less versatile than many of the other core classes at low levels and pick up steam later on.

   Point-buy Sorcerer builds are pretty simple: you just buy the stuff for each level as you come to it, and you’ll never be more than a few points off the standard design. Of course, people who want to be that boring rarely bother with point-buy designs anyway.

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18 Responses

  1. Actually, the Druid may be the single most “powerful” class in DnD, with only the Cleric also int he running. True, the Wizard has better spells and the Sorcerer more, and the Rogue skills, but the Druid pretty much has all of that. Druid spells, used properly, are devastating in combat and very flexible outside of it. Of course, much of the gross overpower comes from secondary sources of Prestige Classes and badly-designed feats.

  2. Yep – not the best at anything, but second best at almost everything. Of course, that might be expected in Eclipse from a character class (and the only base character class to do so) that’s getting an extra four character points per level from Duties AND Restrictions. A extra 80 CP over the course of a character’s career can buy quite a lot of “And I’m pretty good at this too!”.

  3. It gets worse when the Druid actually become the best at everything all at once. Some of the more obscene combinations (which are often quite absurd but popular among those who can’t conceive of the game as anything more than an excercise in “get biggest number”) make the Druid into a demigod astride the earth.

    Oddly, this wound up getting itno other games like World of Warcrarft, where the Druid really is a flexible backup for almost anything. The stresses of the game environment and Blizzard’s usually quality mean it’s still not a better choice than other classes, however.

  4. Interesting thing I saw is that you didn’t corrupt the Armour Proficiencies for the druid (non metal armour only). Or would you consider that a limit on the magic itself (and already accounting for it)?

  5. While working on my own druid I’ve noticed two errors: For the listed cost of Nature Sense you can only buy Skill Emphaisis, not Skill Focus. Also the costs for the third level are 24 CP, not 21. I think you forgot to count Traceless.

    I also thought of questions which seem to fit better here:

    Any idea on better mechanic how to know animals or other creatures to shapeshift into? The “being familiar” requirement is understandable, but not that flexible. How I am supposed to study things like dragons? Shapeshift into something they’d ignore?

    Why the limitations regarding spell-like abilities and creature types? Too powerful?

    Isn’t the Dire option not inclusive to basic animal shapes in 3.5? Or do they offer indeed a boost?

    “Shapeshifting does not extend to Aberrations, Constructs, or Outer-planar creatures unless the user is already one of those types, in which case it extends to that type only.” Can an outsider change forms to other outsider forms without paying any CP as well, or does it refer only back to his basic form?

    • Ah glitches; thank you for catching them!

      The SRD bonus is +2, so the price is right and the name is wrong; it should be Skill Emphasis, not Skill Focus.

      It looks like “Traceless” did manage to squeeze in there for free doesn’t it? I could make some bad joke about traceless tracelessness, but I fear that one is a straightforward 3 CP math error that’s been being overlooked for quite some time. Again, thanks for pointing it out. I’d fix both of these right now – but WordPress has revised their editing interface, and when you open old posts for editing quite a lot of the old formatting vanishes and you have to mess with a lot of HTML coding to get it back.

      As for the questions…

      The “being familiar with what you want to turn into” rule is pretty loose. All you really need is to (1) be sure that it exists, and (2) have a decent description (and preferably a good sketch or actually having seen a specimen) so you know what you’re aiming for and have enough distinctive details to focus on to lock onto the right pattern. Now a bad dragon sketch might leave you as the wrong type of dragon – but that’s rarely too horrible. Similarly, if someone knows enough about eagles to care what kind of eagle they’ve become they can usually be presumed to know enough details to lock onto the right kind.

      To be a bit more restrictive, Knowledge/Nature (or similar) at or above the creatures CR should be quite enough to cover things. Given that hit dice go up faster than CR in most creatures that shouldn’t be any great burden.

      Now a research shapeshifter is a neat idea – someone who designs shapes that SHOULD work, has immunities to the “pattern” requirement, transforms into them, and then (perhaps) has a few cell samples taken for cloning and further research – but it’s a bit esoteric for most games.

      Being stricter about “familiarity” could be fun too – leading to zoos being kept for the education of young shapeshifters, and missions to go find another rare whatever-it-is to replace the old one – but that’s getting into house rules for GM’s who think that shapeshifting is far too flexible. There’s nothing wrong with that either, but it’s kind of game-specific.

      Thus, if your character has draconic shapeshifting and wants to know more about his options so he can pick sensibly, a few hours with a sage-type should cover it.

      The limitation on spell-like and spellcasting abilities is mostly because those are normally at least partially learned abilities (thus the applicability of Concentration checks, disruption, spell resistance, dispel magic, etc). Ergo, they don’t come with shapeshifting any more than skills do. That doesn’t mean that you can’t add them in; you’ll just have to use things like Inherent Spell or Path of the Dragon to do it.

      As for the “Dire” option… for whatever reason, d20 treats “dire animals” as being inherently different from regular ones, and requires an additional ability (subsumed into level advancement) to turn into one. Ergo, the (rather cheap) “Dire” option.

      d20 isn’t entirely clear on the biological differences between it’s creature types – but it certainly looks like Abominations often have utterly alien biological structures that are attuned to distant dimensions, constructs have none at all – and outer-planar creatures seem to be made of spiritual energies rather than matter. Those are also the types that conventional shapeshifting does not normally extend to.

      Ergo, those require changing some very deep structures – right down to the spiritual level – and are out of reach of normal shapeshifting. Outer-planar types can take the forms of other outer-planar creatures (and presumably the outer planes have analogs to a lot of the conventional types) – but they can’t become normal inner-plane creatures though mere shapeshifting. Similarly, whatever horrible planes the abominations come from presumably have a wider variety of creatures. Unfortunately, most of those aren’t too likely to come into play, and so have never acquired game statistics – but fortunately, most abominations aren’t really playable to begin with. It also helps keep abominations from easily infiltrating normal societies, which is probably a good thing.

      • Some things I forgot to reply earlier about:

        “As for the “Dire” option… for whatever reason, d20 treats “dire animals” as being inherently different from regular ones, and requires an additional ability (subsumed into level advancement) to turn into one. Ergo, the (rather cheap) “Dire” option.”

        That was true in 3.0, but in 3.5 we have “Her options for new forms include all creatures with the animal type.” and no additional mention of dire animals in the Wildshape context. Furthermore, dire animals are indeed of the animal type. So should then this be an optional ability for back-ward compatibility only? The 3 CP cost would nicely cover Traceless as well.

        Regarding your statement why shapechange doesn’t cover all creature types: Your explanation is in-game and it is certainly logical, it both assumes rules about the campaign world which may not be true and still allows for buying off such a restrictions, in case it is true.

        My question was more: Is allowing people to access the forbidden types inclusive the special abilities too game breaking? Shapechanging into a Noble Djinn with access to wishes might be problematic. I suppose that’s why Enchanted doesn’t give access to spell-like or spell-casting abilities, or why there is no upgrade option for it.

        I can understand the argument at least against spellcasting abilities like a cleric or sorcerer. It would give people access to quite a lot of power, kinda like the chameleon prestige class. In-game it could be argued that those powers take too much time to gain access. To prevent abuse this connection would require months or years to stay in one single shape and be lost as soon the shapechanger switches the species.

        But spell-like abilities seem to be part of the inherent markup of a creature. They should be somehow accessible. Maybe it would take a few days in the shape to allow the natural magic flow to work, and in the meantime you would have to sacrifice magic power (mana or spells) to fuel them. Not sure if that would be still abusable, but maybe the simplest solution would be not too use abusable creatures (or at least tone them down).

        Lastly, a more general question. You state: “You may take Small or Medium animal forms once per day per 3 character levels as a Standard Action.” Does this mean that you can’t shapeshift before level 3? And if you state that an ability can be used only e.g. Charisma bonus times, can people with a Charisma modifier lower than 0 never use it? Or would you say that in both cases the minimum is still 1?

      • My apologies for the delay; I must plead “time crunch” again…

        Oh, 3.5 still treats “dire” animals a little differently – albeit mostly only in that they haven’t been regulated to the “Animals” appendix. Given that this does increase the utility of the shapechange power – especially at higher levels – all this is really saying in Eclipse terms is that “the base 3.5 version automatically purchases the “Dire” modifier” or (from the opposing viewpoint) that “Shapechange costs 9 CP, but you can save three by excluding “Dire” Animals”. Either way works.

        As far as allowing shapeshifters access to a creature’s spell-like and other magical abilities goes…

        Yes, it can be game-breaking. Quite a lot of creatures – especially classical ones – wind up being given high-powered abilities whether or not that’s even faintly reasonable for something of their hit dice. (The most absurd official example that readily comes to mind was first editions two hit die Faerie Dragon with at-will Time Stop and the inherent ability to cast spells as a very high level caster indeed – with the proviso that they only used these powers to play practical jokes).

        I’d still stay that part of what makes those powers “spell-like” as opposed to “supernatural” is that they are at least partially learned behaviors – but if you really want to be able to shapechange into something and use it’s spell-like abilities, the power you want is an Immunity to that restriction on shapeshifting.

        That’s moderately expensive (although you could make it cheaper by specializing it to cost mana or something to power those abilities) – but, far more importantly, it’s a natural-law immunity – which should inspire the GM to give it a far closer look before allowing it.

        Finally, Eclipse does normally round off, rather than always rounding down – but the basic answer you’re looking for is that you don’t necessarily get a minimum number of uses with a power; if it’s zero, it’s zero – and what you want to do is to spend a couple more CP to get early access to that power by buying a bonus use. There’s an example like that in the Party Templates section of Eclipse II and probably a few more scattered around.

  6. No problem and no offense taken by the delay. You must be surely busy with stuff, even if it is not Eclipse related. :)

    Back on topic: Rounding off means, that you round down in the interval [.0, 0.5[ and round up in the interval [0.5, 1.0[? Buying bonus uses slipped of my mind, but those have the disadvantage to become superfluous for anything level-dependent at some stage (assuming a limited need). IIRC, Pathfinder says that at 8 uses or more Wildshaping can be done as often as you like instead. I know your arguments that not all infinite stuff should be infinite for players (see healing), but at some point I’d look at my character and wish I’d get the CP back. :( That is probably more a personal gripe, not sure if your rules would allow to reallocate stuff short of retraining, assuming that would work here, and the Returning upgrade, which requires my character to be killed.

    Otherwise, I’ve been thinking about the access of additional forms to shapeshift into. You suggested as alternative that the rank of an appropriate knowledge skill is the CR cap of the creature type. We still have the normal HD cap for shapeshifting and the CR includes more than the number of HD. IIRC a particular analysis of costs by friend of mine (which I should send you as well), then level in creature type classes are generally less worth than real class levels, so with the maximum rank of (level + 3) the number of HD of available should not be actually limited due to rank.

    The SRD states that there are several knowledge skills which provide information about creature types:

    Knowledge (Arcana): Constructs, dragons, magical beasts
    Knowledge (Dungeoneering): Aberrations, oozes
    Knowledge (Local): Humanoids
    Knowledge (Nature): Animals, fey, giants, monstrous humanoids, plants, vermin
    Knowledge (Religion): Undead
    Knowledge (The planes): Outsiders, elementals

    Interestingly, your exclusion of aberrations, constructs and outsiders doesn’t remove the need of a single skill, so we still need for a master of shapeshifting 6 skills maximized. That’s a lot of resources, considering that you don’t put any SP into Spot and Listen yet (as well other skills). Furthermore, the range of these skills is far broader than the shapeshifting purpose. Basically, someone with these skills is basically a sage. The alternative to take just one of these skills to determine the cap for all creature types makes resource wise more sense, but is illogical.

    Then inspiration struck: How about using Control Shape instead? We have then one skill, which covers the expected range of benefits exactly. The only problem I have with this approach is that for the maximum use people are basically forced to expand the number of creature types. This screams for additional applications, which should also require ideally some kind of roll. I can think of two: The first is to allow variants outside of the natural range of the creature’s features, but only cosmetic stuff. The second is to allow to overcome a given limit or at least push it further, but most ideas are infringing on the territory of the Shapeshift enhancements. Also, this should include a penalty of some kind (at least for failures), otherwise people would always try to get the bonus.

    Unfortunately, I have no clue how to balance this so neither it becomes too easy or too difficult. And effectively 3 different areas of applications (discounting the original purpose of this skill, which seems kinda useless for most) for this skill seem to be a bit meager, but maybe I expect too much. This would be a more specialized skill anyway.

    Furthermore, I’ve been looking into CoDzilla builds because I wanted to know how broken that can be (astonishing, how people manage to circumvent restrictions as soon they aren’t confined by the designer’s think box!) and because I wanted to learn how to fight not so mage-like as I do, considering I might be a bit squishy. During my descendence into the abyss I saw that the Errata actually rebase Wildshape on Alternate Form, which doesn’t confer the type of the new creature. Did you already take this into account when designing Eclipse, as Shapechange works as the old ability, or did you overlook this?

    On that note, did you already compile an Errata for Eclipse? I would like to see them. Especially, that you can actually Corrupt abilities for increased effect. I’ve always assumed that you can’t do that, unti you mentioned it online.

    • I’ve stumbled over another Wildshape limitation: You can’t take on templated creatures. Does Shapechange limit the user as well in this regard? Or would you request another enhancment to buy?

      • Yes it does. In setting terms that’s because template creatures are generally too rare to provide a pattern for shapechanging.

        In game terms it’s because there are all kinds of third-party templates (some quite insane) – and Eclipse allows practically anything to go into a template and allows people to design and propose their own templates.

        That means that the ability to take on templates would pretty much turn shapechanging into a “cosmic power pool” that would allow people to do pretty much anything. That’s really no good. I don’t think I’d even consider allowing an immunity to this particular restriction.

    • Ah, another long one! Well…

      On the rounding off, you’re quite right; unless otherwise specified (and some powers do), round anything under .5 down, anything over .5 up, and .5 in favor of the character. Now, this does – in theory – allow Specialized Contacts to be taken for free. I mostly figure that you get your family, childhood friends, and so on this way – but if someone ever gets obnoxious about it, I’ll just invoke page 163 and apply the modifier to the useful ones as a group, rather than allowing someone to round down on each one individually. It’s only ever actually come up once though, and that was a purely theoretical question.

      As far as “eight or more a day” equating to “unlimited use” goes… At least one of our master shapeshifters was up past twenty uses a day and still kept wanting more – but he was using it as a tool for solving most of the problems he encountered. If you do want unlimited use at high levels though, you can go for in for Innate Enchantment, Trigger, an immunity to the usage limitations (if the GM is willing to allow it), or just take the War Forms shapeshifting variant.

      There is no formal rule on how to trade in old abilities – and there’s an explanation of why over HERE – but most GM’s will allow it. The mechanical solution is to simply buy Enthusiast, Specialized and Corrupted for triple effect (+3 CP)/only to buy shapeshifting (or whatever) upgrades, can only be changed when going up a level (3 CP). Use it for +2 Bonus Uses at level one and to cover part of whatever this levels upgrade is later on – eventually just leaving it as a part of whatever ability you stopped at.

      In practice, if a character feels a need to get Shapeshifting – or any other power that usually doesn’t kick in until later – at first level, it’s probably pretty central to their character conception – in which case most characters will invest more than 2 CP (for +1) in bonus uses anyway.

      Most creature levels are, indeed, a terrible deal; there’s a breakdown of most of them over HERE: Generally, if you want to play a creature, it’s best to just go ahead and build it from scratch and see how much it costs, rather than fool around with creature levels.

      Using the “appropriate knowledge skill at the CR or better” to cover the “familiarity” requirement for shapeshifting is a reasonably elegant solution for those who want a hard and fast rule – but it does, as you note, impose a burden on full shapeshifters who don’t happen to have a high intelligence rating. Fortunately, there are several ways around that other than limiting yourself to a particular group of forms. The simplest is probably taking Lore (Plants and Creatures) – which gives your master of shapeshifting pretty much all the knowledge of creatures that he or she will need for a mere 6 CP – but you could also go with Augmented Bonus to boost Intelligence-Based Skills (and possibly Specialize and Corrupt it – only for knowledge skills and only in areas related to animals to represent an intensive study of animals), or use Favored “Enemy” or “Foe” to boost the character’s knowledge of particular types of creatures.

      Control Shape would work too – at least if the GM decides to go with it – but I think that extending it to cover knowing about animals is a bit of a stretch. At least to me, Lore seems better suited to the purpose.

      CoDzilla builds can get pretty broken can’t they? Of course, there are a lot of other broken builds out there. As for the errata though… The Errata does indeed change Wild Shape from a Polymorph effect to an Alternate Form effect that does not change the user’s type. Sadly, there are two basic problems with this…

    • 1) This means that, among many similar examples, someone can change into an earth elemental with no lungs – but the elemental trait of not needing to breathe is a special quality, which does not come with an Alternate Form. Evidently rocks drown.
      2) The errata was never released into the system reference document – which means that, for the most part, it’s off limits to OGL products. Of course, even if it wasn’t, Eclipse came out before most of that errata anyway.
    • There is a small errata section for Eclipse in the Web Enhancement (it’s available on the d20 tab or the download box), but it doesn’t include corrupting abilities for increased effect; that’s part of the basic definition on page 22 – and the alchemical hedge magic example on the same page is corrupted for increased effect, increasing the user’s effective level in the progression by 50%).

      There are a few items I should add to it by now – but, for the most part, Eclipse hasn’t had that much in the way of Errata.

  • Regarding the templates: While I see where you are coming from, I’m not sure if templates are exacerbating this problem only. What would stop people from creating a base race which by coincidence has the same result as the application of a certain template? IMO the problem lies in the fact that a certain template is allowed, not that it can be taken. If you don’t want people to (ab)use a certain race – or rather an ability of it – then it should not be accessible in the first place.

    But this reminds me: How about allowing access to templates like the Chameleon’s masks (as described in your articles) allow access to class abilities? This seems to be a rather controlled way, compared to “Which template should I take from the Book of Templates this time?”.

    Also another question regarding the Companion option: What restrictions beyound the ECL/3 rule exist? The original rules e.g. don’t allow intelligent animal companions (if you exclude the exalted feat for the blink dog). Is that now only a GMO?

    • You certainly can create a race that uses the same setup as a template – in fact, it’s explicitly allowed: you can turn racial modifiers into templates by adding +1 ECL and you can turn templates into races by dropping one ECL. It’s just that most GM’s are a lot more leery about adding races (which call for writing up cultures, and placing them in the setting, and relationships with other races, and so on. For example, the Ri’aal, the Twilight Isles races, and so on) than they are of adding templates (Uhm… A glowing green meteorite fell into a volcano, and became the Pool of Emerald Fire, and anyone who bathes in the supernatural flames and survives the experience gains the Greenfire Spirit template… And there are only a few so far. Yeah, that’s the ticket!).

      Only an alert GM can stop abuse in any serious RPG of course – but there’s no need to provide pointers. Thus the need to go to an immunity, and talk with your game master, rather than a “can assume templated forms” ability – even with a special note stating that “limited use abilities must be refreshed through rest and time before they can be used”.

      The Chameleon’s Mask approach will work perfectly well though; after all, Eclipse really doesn’t draw many distinctions between class/race/template abilities in any case.

      Sapient companions are rare, but possible. For example, you can turn a willing sapient creature into a familiar (discussed further over here: https://ruscumag.wordpress.com/2010/06/13/eclipse-d20-and-the-twilight-isles-adventures-in-familiars/ ), mystical mount, or companion creature – presuming you don’t mind being a slaver, overwriting a portion of your new companions brain, and possibly lowering their intelligence in doing so.

      You can’t have an intelligent Animal Companion without applying templates. For that you need to take Leadership – although you can arrive at much the same result. Naturally intelligent creatures are simply too strongly “themselves” for a weak “animal companion” level bond to really be effective.

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