Continuum II: Divination Cantrips

   Next up for today, we have the next portion of the Continuum II Cantrip list – in this case, Divination Cantrips. Divination cantrips are fairly effective in the system, simply because most divinations don’t require all that much power. All you want is to get a bit of information about how things really are, rather then to changing them around to suit yourself. Still, divination at the cantrip level is usually limited to easy, immediate, very specific, and very short questions, or else gives extremely vague answers. Elaborate divinations simply require more raw power and complexity then a cantrip can 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 Divination Cantrips – spells which tell you things ranging from the obvious to the obscure.

  1. Alertness: This simple charm enhances the users ability to pick up details, granting a +3 bonus on the user’s next perception roll – provided that it takes place within the next ten minutes. The Scanner variant gives the user a +2 bonus on his or her effective perception score for the next hour, at the price of rendering the user jumpy, twitchy, over-fascinated with details, and rather ineffective at doing anything practical.
  2. Aspecting: Grants the caster a brief glimpse of the aura of any being within 20 feet – but does not aid in the interpretation of what is seen. It’s a good idea to practice on known beings for a while after learning this cantrip to get some idea of what different sorts of auras look like.
  3. Assay: Gives the purity of a substance or names the three most prominent components of whatever alloy or mixture the user is considering.
  4. Bug: Allows the user to plant a magical “bug” on wherever or whatever he touches while casting this charm. For the next eight hours the caster can “hear through” this tiny rune whenever he concentrates on it – as long as its within a mile or so.
  5. Classify: Gives the general name(s) and types of any single creature or plant within 50 feet. While this may not be of any practical use, there is a certain dubious comfort in knowing what it is that’s about to eat you. (“It’s a Canis MegaFenris! What AMAZING luck! They’re VERY RARE!” “—-CRUNCH—-“)
  6. Clockwise: Gives the correct local time with respect to the local references or in any system the user is familiar with. Given a reference in any dating system this can determine its relationship to whatever system the characters are usually employing.
  7. Comprehend Dialect: Allows the user to readily understand vagaries of speech, whether due to accents, unusual words, or other causes, as long as the basic language is known. It also allows him to speak such dialects for the charms one hour duration.
  8. Correlation: A marvelous aid to the detective, this cantrip simply tells you if two bits of information are related – if they’re “part of the same puzzle”. It does not tell you how they’re related, but it will tell you if the mysterious fire has any relationship to the case of the stolen mummy.
  9. Count: Gives the number of items in a group or a single container, whether coins, beans, or elves. It can also be used to count specific varieties, such as the number of copper coins in a pile of mixed coins.
  10. Direction: Gives the user knowledge of true north for one hour.
  11. Divination: By the Tarot, I-Ching, Runecasting, or whatever system strikes the user’s fancy. Each user can employ this cantrip once per “situation” (until some major factor changes – a determination which must be made by the game master – repeating the charm and probing said situation will simply repeat the result). Roll a D12, 1-9 = a minor or cryptic hint is received, 10-11 indicates an irrelevant response, and a 12 indicates a misleading one. Alternatively, all divinations may yield accurate information – but only in classical, cryptic, formats.
  12. Dowsing: Allows the user to spend up to thirty minutes dowsing for a variety of natural phenomena, including caves, water, oil, and so on. The exact quality of the results depends on an intelligence roll and what, if anything is available to be found.
  13. Farfeel: This simple charm simply tells it’s user what something (presumably something hidden, out of reach, or dangerous/suspect) would feel like if he could feel it – without any chance of an actual injury. While this can be nasty if an item happens to be searing hot, coated in acid, or otherwise nasty, it’s only a weak phantom pain, as opposed to the real thing. Various variants give more information about specific things, but are no use for general examination – they simply give the exact temperature or weight or tell if the roast is done.
  14. Find Fish: Locates the nearest good fishing spot within a radius of about a mile.
  15. Find Game: Locates the nearest likely hunting area within a radius of about two miles.
  16. Guess: Taps low-grade subconscious precognition to bias a random choice by 20% to the “right”, whatever that happens to be.
  17. Locate Forage: Locates the nearest supply of decent forage for animals within a radius of two miles.
  18. Locate Item: Gives the location of a specific, well-known item within 100 feet, such as your glasses or cell phone.
  19. Locate Self: Gives the users current location, depth, and so on with respect to local references. E.G. – establishment (Joe’s Bar), quarter (Dock quarter), city (Eastondale), country (Varinth), continent, world, (for the really lost), planet and sector (for the really, really lost), galaxy (if it should matter), and so on. Very handy for dimensional wanderers.
  20. Locate Source: Gives the source of a quotation or passage. A sample result might be “It’s from the Halsar chronicles, 1262 edition, page 142”.
  21. Locate Stray: Gives the approximate location of any single missing domesticated animal within a mile given the animals basic description and/or name. The range is greatly extended if the one who wants the location has an emotional bond with the animal. “Familiars” can be located over ranges of several hundred miles or more. A minor variant form locates stray children and – unsurprisingly – works best for concerned parents.
  22. Locate Tavern: Locates the nearest tavern or source of a specific intoxicating beverage within a range of some miles. As might be expected of personal magic, the more desperately the user wants a drink, the better the range.
  23. Locklore: Gives the user some basic information about how a lock is designed, allowing him to try to pick the lock, either with a roll versus dexterity or at +4 on his or her normal chances.
  24. Measure: Gives any two “basic” measurements of an object or area, such as mass, volume, length, density, or angle.
  25. Origins: Gives the general age and area of origin of an object, for example; “Egypt, fourth dynasty”.
  26. Replay: Generates images “replaying” one minute of the past hours activities within a fifteen foot radius. Such images are silent and obviously illusory, but can be specified by time, event, or emotional intensity.
  27. Reveal Contagation: Reveals if one object is part of or has been in long contact with another. It can also be used to determine the approximate direction of the remaining portion of any item the user has a fragment of in his possession.
  28. Reveal Curse: Tests to see if any single item within fifteen feet has a curse on it. This cantrip is not infallible; minor, well-concealed, or subtle curses are difficult to detect. The charms more specialized variants have improved sensitivity and often yield some information about any curse they pick up, but can only be applied to those items and areas they cover. For example, the Necromantic Tomblore Variant is sensitive to necromantic traps, tomb curses, and so on, but is useless otherwise.
  29. Reveal Disguise: Checks whether any single target within forty-five feet is wearing a physical (or simple arcane) disguise, although it does not penetrate it.
  30. Reveal Door: Briefly outlines any and all doors within a 15 foot radius with a glowing line.
  31. Reveal “Evil“: Checks to “see” if any single target within 45 feet is “Evil” in terms of the users faith. This is somewhat relative, a follower of the Norse Gods tends to detect all giants as evil. The cantrip will penetrate physical disguises, but cannot penetrate magical of beyond the second level.
  32. Reveal Illusion: Tests any single object within ninety feet to see if it’s an illusion. Alternatively, it can be used to determine the presence of any and all illusions within a fifteen foot radius.
  33. Reveal Life: Gives the current location of all significant lifeforms within thirty feet when cast.
  34. Reveal Magic: Gives the nature and power level of the magic, if any, of or on any one object within 30 feet.
  35. Reveal Poison: Reveals if any single item within 15 feet contains (or is coated with or whatever) poison. Note that, like most divinatory magic, there are ways to defeat this simple probe – and that it only determines if something would be poisonous to the caster. If it’s specific to another species or some such, this cantrip will not reveal the problem.
  36. Reveal Sympathy: Detects whether two items are significantly related to or connected to each other, such as a murder weapon and a body.
  37. Reveal Trap: Checks any single object within thirty feet for traps; items will glow briefly red if they’re trapped, contain a trap, or are the trigger for a trap. Sadly, this only reveals fairly simple physical and magical traps: knowledge that draws the attention of some elder entity is dangerous – but it’s not a trap.
  38. Thrusight: This handy charm allows the user to see the inside of solid objects, as if they were made of colored glass or were simply a structural diagram. While this is much harder to interpret then it sounds, it’s still very useful when you need to examine something’s internal structure. Unfortunately, the range is short, it only lasts for 2D6 initiative counts (about six seconds each), the level of detail isn’t all that high, and the “scan” only penetrates normal materials for one or two feet. Exotic (magically or psychicly charged, extremely dense, ultra-tech materials, and force fields) materials may drastically reduce even this depth.
  39. Tracer: This cantrip leaves a small rune on whatever the caster touches while casting it. During the next eight hours the caster can determine the direction and distance to the rune by concentrating on it for a moment. The maximum range is about 10 miles.
  40. Track: Allows the caster to track a beings mystic traces at his full movement rate for 1D12+8 rounds with a perception roll. Strong or well-known traces get a bonus, while magical efforts to hide the trail impose penalties.

   Transparency: While this might be better classed with the illusory or shield cantrips, it’s most often closely linked with divination, and so is given here. This charm attempts to “shield” the user against divinatory magic, giving the impression that nothing out of the ordinary has been detected. While this is fairly effective against cantrips and even unfocused “scans” (their users receive a fairly difficult perception roll to spot that something’s gone wrong), directed probes will generally penetrate it. The charm lasts for up to half an hour if nobody tries to penetrate it, but for minutes (at best) when “under load”. It can be invoked as a “defensive” cantrip if and when the user senses that he’s being probed by something (a rather difficult perception check, but adventurers are known for getting to be good at those).

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

   Here we have the next segment of the level-by-level breakdowns of the basic d20 character classes for Eclipse: The Codex Persona – the Psion and the Psychic Warrior. Both of these are fairly easy breakdowns, if only because, like the Fighter and the character classes in d20 modern, they both refrain from providing much in the way of specific powers, instead simply offering bonus Feats.

   Of course, in Eclipse, you aren’t limited to a particular list of bonus Feats, since you’re quite welcome to create your own six-point powers and ability combinations – but it still makes for a simple chart.

   In practice, at least in fantasy settings, most players seem to prefer spellcasters to psychics. It’s more dramatic and more genre to think of your character making mystical gestures, intoning strange spells in forgotten languages, and fooling about with weird ingredients than it is to have them look at things and concentrate for a moment.

   The psychics tend to start popping up in modern, futuristic, and super-heroic settings, where – despite the fact that there isn’t much in the system to distinguish between the two – the players tend to feel that psychic powers are faster, more reliable, and more “scientific” than spellcasting. In a way, they’re right – simply because half the mages in such settings corrupt of specialize their magic to increase it’s power at the expense of requiring lengthy rituals and such to use it.

   That’s a clue for easy game-mastering there. Develop your setting a bit, make sure that the players all have some idea of what to expect and what the conventions are likely to be – and most of them will cooperate enthusiastically. They realize that it makes for more fun and less argument.

The Psion, Levels 1-20:

   Every Level: d4 Hit Die (0), +4 SP (4), one Psion Magic Level (one Caster Level specialized in the Psion Spellcasting Progression, 3, and one level of the Psion Spellcasting Progression, 9) = 16 CP.

Level

Cost

Purchases

1st

48

+2 Will (6), Bonus Feat (6), Domain/Path (6), +12 Skill Points (12), Proficient with a limited set of Simple Weapons (2).

2nd

25

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

3rd

22

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

4th

25

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

5th

22

Bonus Feat (6)

6th

31

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

7th

16

None

8th

25

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

9th

22

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

10th

31

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

11th

16

None

12th

31

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

13th

16

None

14th

25

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

15th

28

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

16th

25

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

17th

16

None

18th

31

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

19th

16

None

20th

31

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

   Grand Total: 502 out of 504 available.

   The Psion is another easy one to buy in Eclipse; there are a couple of levels where you’ll have to put off taking a skill point or two, but there are rather more where you’ll wind up a few points ahead even if you don’t take any disadvantages. If you come up with a few extra points, you can spend them on a bit of customization even before getting into the points from bonus Feats. Still, while the Psion, like a Wizard, regularly gets a Bonus Feat to look forward too, all the real excitement in this kind of build comes from acquiring new spells and powers. Fortunately, they’re good at it.

 

The Psychic Warrior, Levels 1-20:

   Every Level: d8 Hit Die (4), +2 Skill Points (2), +1 Psychic Warrior Magic Level (one Caster Level Specialized in the Psychic Warrior Progression, 3, and one level of the Psychic Warrior Spell Progression, 3) = 12

Level

Cost

Purchases

1st

57

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

2nd

27

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

3rd

24

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

4th

21

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

5th

18

Bonus Feat (6)

6th

27

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

7th

18

+1 BAB (6)

8th

27

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

9th

18

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

10th

21

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

11th

24

+1 BAB (6), Bonus Feat (6)

12th

27

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

13th

12

None

14th

27

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

15th

24

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

16th

21

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

17th

18

Bonus Feat (6)

18th

27

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

19th

18

+1 BAB (6),

20th

27

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

   Grand Total: 483 out of 504 available.

   The Psychic Warrior winds up with 21 leftover points and is thus slightly underpowered. On the other hand, like the Fighter, the Psychic Warrior is a small-scale combat specialist – and thus this usually passes unnoticed, since a lot of games tend to focus on small-scale combat. More importantly for our purposes, it’s another build which can be fairly easily duplicated, customized, or improved on, by an Eclipse-style point-buy character. All you need to do is take a few disadvantages to help cover that slightly over-pricey first level, and perhaps a restriction, package deal, or set of duties, and you should have plenty of points left over to add some unique touches at higher levels.

   The Psychic Warrior does make an interesting contrast with the various magical-warrior builds, such as Hexblades and Duskblades*. Those builds tend to use fairly normal spells, and focus on giving the character ways to invoke them quickly, or channel them through weapons. The Psychic Warrior, on the other hand, simply uses “spells” with the high-speed, easy-to-use, and focused-on-weapons options built right in. That makes those spells weaker for their level of course, but the overall effect is pretty much the same.

   *Why is it always straight-swords-and-spells rather than – say – axes and spells? Partly tradition, partly the fact that the sword is perceived as a noble weapon that requires skill and finesse rather than brute force (trust me; all unpowered melee weapons require both some skill and enough muscle to move them around quickly), and partly simply the fact a straight sword that can be held in one hand is a pointing device – and most players seem to envision magic as something that comes from the caster, is directed at a target, travels in a straight line as directed, and takes effect on whatever it hits. There’s no reason for this outside of game balance (you’ve got to give your targets a chance to see you and strike back), since most classical magic didn’t even call for being able to see your target or even knowing where they were at the moment, but that’s the usual notion. Ergo, your basic spellblade uses a straight, one-handed, and fairly maneuverable sword to help direct his or her magic.