Eclipse: The Shamanic Adept Level One Build

   Our next level one Eclipse classless d20 character is a Shamanic Adept, capable of making pacts with spirits and calling on them for a very wide variety of magical favors indeed – but only able to renew those resources with time and service to the spirits he or she invokes. In a reverse of the usual pattern for a spellcaster, this build (presuming a good Charisma stat) starts off with a fair number of spell levels available to work with, as well as the ability to work whatever spell they want within the limits of the types of spirits they have pacts with – but will find those reserves both quickly depleted during an adventure and very slow to increase. A wise Shamanic Adept will invest heavily in other abilities as their level increases. As usual for the generic base designs, no particular sex, race, or origin has been selected. Their “Duties” usually involve carrying out numerous ceremonies, attending to the spiritual needs of the populace, and driving out evil spirits.

   Disadvantages: (Select three for 10 CP), and

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

   Basic Purchases (30 CP)

  • Proficient with All Simple Weapons (3 CP) and Light Armor (3 CP)
  • +12 Skill Points (12 CP)
  • +2 on Will Saves (6 CP)
  • d10 Hit Die (6 CP)
  • Initial BAB +0 (0 CP)

   Special Abilities (36 CP):

  • Adept: Diplomacy, Knowledge/Religion, Gather Information, and Use Magic Device (6 CP).
  • Reflex Training Specialized in Magical Actions for Double Effect: May take an extra action outside of the normal sequence six times per day. The spirits will often help a Shaman without his direct call, providing a favor that they knew he was going to ask for anyway (6 CP).
  • Shamanic Magic Package (24 CP Total):
    • Privilege/Blessing of the Spirits: A shaman may ritually request that the spirits watch over a target. This lasts for at least a year, and often permanently, but is too subtle for game mechanics. A fallen candle may quietly snuff itself, rather then starting a fire, in a blessed house. Fields yield more, suffering less from pests and weather. Children are healthier, have fewer and milder accidents, and are far more likely to reach adulthood. Farm animals have more offspring, spinning thread snags less often, and artists are more inspired. The scale of the ritual depends on the scale of the blessing; kids only take a minute, a city might take a three-day festival honoring the relevant spirits. As there are always kids, flocks, infertile couples, marriages, etc, in need of blessings, Shamans can usually expect a welcome anywhere. (3 CP).
    • Major Privilege/May arrange a peaceful (or terrible) passing and a smooth transition into a (desirable or undesirable) afterlife or superior (inferior) reincarnation for those under his care or for spirits who wish to pass on – or who have been forcibly banished. The Shaman has power over the spirits of the dying and the dead, whether to bind, guide, or release them into the otherworlds. He stands at the gates of death, directing those who pass through. (6 CP).
    • Shapeshift: The Shaman may call on the animal spirits to grant him their forms and powers. Given that the spirits of the natural world are closer and more easily reached than other spirits, but this still requires the use of some token – a feather, bit of bone, or other item linked with the appropriate animal (Corrupted, 4 CP).
    • Path of the Dragon/Shaping (Specialized: only as a prerequisite, 3 CP)
    • Path of the Dragon/Pulse and Heart of the Dragon: The shaman may make pacts with, and call upon the services of many different types of spirits, channeling their powers into the physical world. Pulse of the Dragon brings in one spell level worth of magical energy per round, while Heart of the Dragon allows it to be shaped into level one effects. Corrupted: The user must call on spirits for magic other than Spirit Sight and Spirit Contact effects. He or she may designate up to (Cha Mod + Level/2, 12 maximum) specific entities or general types of spirits to call on for appropriate types of magic, but each type may only be called on for a total of (Cha Mod + Level/2) spell levels worth of magic before the user must rebuild his or her “pool” of “favors”. Fortunately, if the user fails to manage a spell for some reason, it doesn’t use up any of his pool of favors. Specialized: The user may only renew such “pools” slowly. The user regains [Cha Mod + Level/2] points per day through minor rituals and respect for their spiritual patrons. They user may also regain [Cha Mod] points by:
      • Fulfilling a special request from the Spirits. For example, fire spirits might want the user to arrange a fireworks display, while water spirits might want a spring cleaned out and purified. The user may simply ask the GM each day about possible tasks; there will usually be two or three available, but there’s no guarantee that any of them will be even remotely practical.
      • Enacting a ritual in honor of some type of spirits. You might sit out in a storm meditating on it’s power for a night in honor of the air spirits, burn rare woods, incense, and oils in honor of the fire spirits, or conduct a religious ceremony in honor of outer-planar spirits.
      • Promising to undertake a later mission for the appropriate group of spirits. It’s wise to take a few rounds to find out what they’re going to want you to do, but sometimes people are just desperate.
      • Talking the spirits into it. This requires 1d4 hours of quiet meditation and a DC 18 Diplomacy or Knowledge/Religion check and can only be done once per day.
    • In any case, the saving throw DC’s against such effects are based on the shaman’s Charisma and they overcome magic resistance with a roll of (1d20 + caster level + Cha Mod). Exorcisms (“Turning”) are L2, creating minor supplies costs 1 SL/2 GP and is permanent, and counterspells are always specifically tuned, requiring a spell of only (target spell level – 2).
    • This has a base cost of 24 CP, 8 CP after being Specialized and Corrupted to reduce the cost. As the character goes up in level he or she can spend another 8 CP to turn the Specilization from “Halved Cost” to “Doubled Effect” and call on the spirits for second level spells – and still later, another 8 CP to turn the Corrupted modifier from “Reduced Cost” to “1.5x Effect” and get third level spells. Unfortunately, after that point, the costs will increase sharply – and the character would run through his or her favor pools at a dreadful rate.

   For some sample spirit types (at least in one world):

  • Air spirits deal with Intelligence, Movement, Thought, and Divination.
  • Animal spirits deal with Shapeshifting, Enhancements, Senses, and Adaption.
  • Celestial spirits deal with Charisma, Purification, Truth, and Life.
  • Darkness spirits deal with Strength, Negation, Death, Compulsion.
  • Earth spirits deal with Constitution, Plants, Healing, Binding, and Stasis.
  • Fire spirits deal with Dexterity, Light, Energy, and Transformation.
  • Infernal spirits deal with Destruction, Compulsion, Corruption, and Death.
  • Metal spirits deal with War, Illusion, Fortune, and Travel.
  • Water spirits deal with Wisdom, Animals, Absorption, and Emotion.

   Skill Points: 8 (Int) + 12 (CP Spent) = 20.  Eight should be spent to maxamize his Adept skills (Diplomacy, Knowledge/Religion, Gather Information, and Use Magic Device), another four would be best spent on a defensive Martial Art (since this character has few defenses otherwise), and the remaining eight should be spent to suit the campaign.

   The Shamanic Adept is an extraordinarily flexible spellcaster, and is quite powerful at lower levels – but will never achieve massive magical abilities. Their reserves of “Favors” will simply never stretch to cover such effects. Further advancement is likely to involve mastering skills, picking up contacts, favors, and minor special powers, and dabbling in personal magic, such as illusions.

Eclipse: The “Iron Dragon” Level One Build

   Next up we have a moderately-optimized level one Eclipse classless d20 character, designed as a light infiltrator and unarmored tank. Like most optimized characters designed for a particular role, he or she – no particular sex, race, origin, or power-mechanism has been selected – is going to be pretty good at it.

   Whether due to some draconic ancestor, mutant powers of molecular control, weird c’hi-based disciplines, partial spirit possession, or sheer internal cussedness, Iron Dragon is a formidable melee combatant with the ability to manipulate the structure of his or her body and of his or her personal equipment to a fair degree. He or she can alter his or her features, heal his or her wounds – at least within limits – and enhance and toughen his or her body to a considerable degree. Whatever the origin of these abilities, there seems to be no easy method of canceling them out.

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

   Disadvantages: (Select three for 10 CP), and

   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 Purchases (35 CP)

  • Proficient with All Simple Weapons (3 CP)
  • +4 Skill Points (4)
  • +2 on Reflex Saves (6)
  • d20 Hit Die (16) (20 Hit Points base + 12 HP from Immortal Vigor = 32).
  • Initial BAB +0 base, +2 Specialized/for Unarmed Combat only (6).

   Special Abilities: (31 CP)

  • Innate Enchantment (8000 GP Value, Corrupted/not usable while wearing armor, 6 CP): All spells level one, at caster level one, and unlimited-use activated, for a base value of 2000 GP each. Where applicable, these have the personal-only modifier, for a base value of 1400 GP.
    • Scalywrath (1400 GP): Allows the user to take on the basic abilities of a lizard-folk warrior (+5 Natural Armor, 1d4 natural weapons, +4 racial bonus to Balance, Jump, and Swim checks) at the price of giving up any natural armor, weapons, or skill bonuses of their base race and assuming a rather monstrous-looking form.
    • Shield (2000 GP): Provides a +4 Shield bonus to AC and immunity to Magic Missiles.
    • Disguise Self (2000 GP): Alters the user’s appearance. Usually used to disguise the effects of the Scalywrath spell, but can be used for other disguises as well.
    • (Personal) Fast Healing I (840 GP): Gains Fast Healing 1 for 2d8+2 rounds three times per day.
    • Immortal Vigor I (1400 GP): Gains (12+2x Con Mod) hit points.
  • Immunity to Antimagic and Dispelling (Common, Minor, Great, Specialized: only protects personal magical buffs, Corrupted, only protects Innate Enchantments, 4 CP).
  • Bonus Attack with Unarmed Attacks, Corrupted/not usable while wearing armor (4 CP).
  • Augmented Bonus/Crushing Block, Corrupted/not usable while wearing armor (4 CP): May add Str Mod to Dex Mod for AC purposes.
  • Martial Arts: Considered “Armed” when Unarmed, base unarmed damage (lethal or stunning) of 1d6, 1d8 when using Scalywrath, Corrupted/Not usable while wearing armor (4 CP).
  • Action Hero/Crafting Option, Specialized: only to pay for Innate Enchantments (3 CP) (This might, or might not, have been enough to cover the XP costs of this builds innate enchantments at level one: if the game master rules it’s not, some of those abilities will have to wait until the character gets a few more experience points to pay for them – which is an easy way to scale this builds power level to start off with).
  • Adept : Buys the skills of Hide, Move Silently, Jump, and Crane Style Kung Fu at half cost (6).

   Skill Points: 8 SP (Int) + 4 SP (Purchased) = 12 SP.

   Skills: Hide +6 (2 SP x Adept +2 Dex), Move Silently +6 (2 SP x Adept +2 Dex), Jump +8 (2 SP x Adept +4 Str), and Crane Style Kung Fu +8 (2 SP x Adept +4 Str). That leaves four skill points to spend on campaign-appropriate skills. Note that, when using the Scalywrath ability, Iron Dragon gets a +4 racial bonus to Balance, Jump, and Swim checks but loses any natural racial skill bonuses to which he or she may be entitled.

   Crane Style Techniques Known: Power II (Increases unarmed attack die size), Toughness I (Provides DR 1/-), and Improved Trip.

   Iron Dragon is a pretty good Tank, with an AC of 10 (Base) + 4 (Shield) + 5 (Effective Dex Mod for AC) + 5 (Natural when using Scalywrath) = 24 and DR 1/- when using the Crane Style. His or her attacks will normally be made at either +6 (+2 BAB for unarmed combat, +4 Strength) or +4/+4 (+2 BAB for unarmed combat -2 for bonus attack, +4 Strength) for either 1d10+4 or 1d12+4 damage, again depending on whether he or she is using Scalywrath at the time. In a fight, you can probably pretty well count on it.

   Further development will – of course – involve an improved BAB (specialized or not), more hit dice, and good saving throws. More specific abilities will probably revolve around adding more Innate Enchantments such as the ability to strike at range and a variety of other first-level enhancements. Unfortunately, Innate Enchantment rapidly becomes very very expensive, even with Action Hero/Crafting to help pay the experience point cost for them – but Damage Reduction and other combat enhancements, additional rogue-style skills to help with infiltration, and monk-style innate powers should stand him or her in good stead.

   Unlike our previous over-optimized example, most game masters should be able to live with the Iron Dragon build. It’s tough and dangerous – especially for first level – but not absurdly so.

Federation-Apocalypse Session 66c: Chaos on Ealor

   Meanwhile, back on Ealor among the colonists from Singular, there was a certain amount of turmoil. There weren’t that many kids on Ealor, and they’d spent their lives wrapped in cotton wool and carefully sheltered from any possible danger or injury. They were precious.

   But they’d been playing with some of Kevin’s Thralls for several months now. They’d seen that working for Kevin wasn’t too hard. It still had a firm safety net – you couldn’t DIE, and you could heal from injuries with incredible speed – but you were allowed to get out, have adventures, take risks, and go exploring. You got all kinds of supernatural powers as well – magic, psychic powers, and even shapeshifting, to go with martial arts skills, money, and enhanced physical abilities. You were allowed to be responsible for things. You even got the powers of a Gatekeeper.

   After years of being treated like antique spun-glass ornaments, even being treated as property and the chance to be injured had a certain attraction. It would be exciting and different.

   Most of that was comprehensible – even natural. The desire for those powers, and the fact that some of the kids would gladly sign up with Kevin if they were allowed to get away with it, wasn’t too hard for Child Protective Services and their Parents to deal with. If it wasn’t for the official policy, it was even possible that a few of the parents might have allowed it.

   And then it started to become apparent that a strong desire to sign up as a Thrall – or anything that qualified you as a “devoted follower” – apparently sufficed to provide a bit of power even WITHOUT a formal pact. That passed unnoticed for a time – but then Kevin’s power reached the point where the powers he bestowed on would-be Thralls included the ability to make minor personal relics, limited shapeshifting, and even money.

   Any “devoted followers”, such as loyal apprentices, would-be priests (who can get clerical spells of up to level three and the negative energy domain), Thralls, and would-be Thralls, currently get:

  • Dimensional Adaption (1 CP): Enthusiast, Specialized: Only for the “Identities” skill, Corrupted: only changes in new realm, reduces the cost of Identities by 1 SP. For wannabes in the Manifold, this will usually provide +8 CP worth of local privileges, wealth, and so on – or one level of basic clerical spellcasting.
  • Relic Mastery (4 CP): Enthusiast x2, Specialized in Relics for double effect the first time, to half the cost on the second time. This lets them have 3 CP worth of relics of their choice.
  • Create Relic (2 CP): Specialized (2 Point Relics Maximum), Corrupted; only points from Enthusiast.
  • Immunity to Sensory-Based Mind Control (4 CP). Immunity (Uncommon / Major / Minor, blocks effects of up to L3 and provides a +4 on saves against more powerful effects).
  • +1d6 Power (2 CP).
  • Wealth +1 SP (1 CP).
  • Reflex Action (6 CP): Three bonus actions as required per day.
  • Shapeshift: Specialized (requires a full minute). 3 CP.
  • Specific Knowledge: The Spirit Pact with Kevin Ritual (1 CP).

   Would-be followers can usually be assumed to have taken the pact and to have created a witchcraft-focusing relic (the remaining 12 CP for Basic Witchcraft, 2 CP) and a Shapeshifting Focus (removes specialization on Shapeshift, +2 bonus uses, 1 CP as a relic) for themselves if they have nothing else in mind.

   Suddenly faced with shapeshifting psychic children, Child Protective Services – and not a few of the parents – started going quite mad. The psychic powers were awkward enough, even if they were both short range, of limited power, and – ultimately – explicable in physical terms. The shapeshifting – and the few who’d started casting minor magical spells – were quite impossible.

   The fact that the natural leaders amongst the kids (the ones with higher-than-average Charisma) were slowly developing weird talents anyway (the local ID’s, instead of leaning towards the technological affinities of Singular leaned – of course – towards the cinematic talents of the New Imperium) didn’t help.

   Once they settled on what to demand – stop allowing would-be followers to develop special powers? Cease ensuring that they’d live because that was THEIR job? (No, that wouldn’t do at all – but they’d think of something eventually) and had figured out what to do about their troubles with the kids current powers – they’d start demanding that Kevin show up and justify himself!

   Core was more accepting – and less inclined to poke into youngster’s personal lives – but the fact that research into methods of navigating the Manifold safely, studying to be a Gatekeeper, and acquiring psychic or magical powers easily, often cross-referenced to Kevin – and that a modest percentage of such would-be scholars of the occult soon started showing modest levels of such powers even without making contact with Kevin or seeking permission to visit Kadia, Crusader, or other areas of the Manifold – was beginning to be noticed.

   They weren’t especially major powers, and the Shapeshifting required at least one visit to somewhere outside Core where magic worked normally to activate, but it was pretty unusual. A few belief systems had been shown to provide minor personal benefits before, but rarely on such a scale.

   On Faerun and the Underdark, the idea of signing up with Kevin had been making a good deal of quiet progress among the young dark elves – and among the lower classes and street kids in the human cities. It was safer – and certainly paid far better – than most of the other career paths available other than “commoner”. Some were signing up, more wanted to.

   A few of the young dark elves who’d seen Kevin in action in his local ID and wanted to sign up but (for one reason or another) couldn’t at the moment had even established a hidden cult – and had discovered that they could gain minor clerical spells from it. With most of the local dark elven pantheon out of action (and all of the light side of it), that meant that – in the reformed cities – they were the only ones with ANY clerical magic. They weren’t very strong, but it was a notable advantage. While the ones with that level of dedication usually reported for Thralldom in short order, a few had obligations and responsibilities that prevented it – and, eventually, someone was going to notice.

   Perhaps fortunately, in most other places, it was passing unnoticed. In most places in the Manifold, the only way you heard about Kevin was through the existing Thralls in their capacity as recruiters – and youngsters who decided that they wanted to sign up generally simply got sent on to Kadia for recruitment anyway.