Eclipse: The Bulwark Level One Build

   Our next Eclipse Classless d20 (available in print HERE and in a shareware version HERE) character is the Bulwark – a character who leans more towards the MMORPG style of play than usual.

   The Bulwark is a knightly guardian, with the ability to force opponents to either take penalties or focus on him or her rather than the rest of the group, a variety of combat enhancements which can penalize or restrict opponents, and the ability to heal or temporarily enhance his or her allies during a fight. Unfortunately, the Bulwark is hopelessly out of place in any non-combat situation and – to pay for all those special abilities and weapons proficiencies – has had to virtually ignore everything else.

   The Bulwark is a high-efficiency design, and as such, is definitely  overpowered unless everyone is using high-efficiency designs (and the game master is ready for that). Still, it was a request.

   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 14, Chr 14 (28 point buy).

   Basic Purchases (30 CP)

  • Proficient with Proficient with All Simple and Martial Weapons (9 CP) and Light Armor (3 CP). The character will probably want to add armor proficiencies as quickly as possible – immediately if he or she can come up with any more character points from somewhere or feels like something else can wait until later.
  • +2 Skill Points (2 CP)
  • +2 on Fortitude Saves (6 CP)
  • d10 Hit Die (6 CP). Base Hit Points 10 + 2 (Con) + 16 (Immortal Vigor) = 28
  • Initial BAB +1 BAB (Corrupted: Does not add to iterative attacks (4 CP)

   Special Abilities (36 CP):

  • Grant of Aid with Bonus Uses (Specialized in HP only, Corrupted not more than twice per encounter, double effect, two thirds cost; 2d8+10 Points (may want to go to full cost – another 4 CP – and triple effect later on) (8 CP).
  • Luck with Bonus Uses Specialized in Saving Throws, Corrupted not more than twice per encounter (4 CP)
  • Blessing, affects up to (Cha Mod +1) nearby targets: Specialized and Corrupted/once per encounter per power loaned out, only lasts for a single round when activated (4 CP). For example, you can bestow a use of your Grant of Aid on your companions, or Luck for a given (and usually area-effect) saving throw, or the effects of an Innate Enchantment. This only requires an action if the base power being loaned out does so.
  • Presence: Enemies who start the turn within a 10 foot radius of the user will suffer a -2 Morale Penalty to Attacks, Damage, and Checks. Specialized/this only applies if they attack anyone else or use an area effect attack that does not include you. Corrupted: if someone else uses a similar compulsion or power against an affected creature, it will counteract yours (2 CP).
  • Opportunist: May unleash a spell against any target currently affected by your Presence power that launches an attack that doesn’t have you as one of the targets. Specialized in Magic Missile, Corrupted so that it only works on the first such attack it launches while still affected by your Presence aura (2 CP).
    • Use this to automatically smack any opponent who refuses to engage you for 1d4+1 damage.
  • Innate Enchantment: All abilities Level One, Caster Level One, and Unlimited Use Activated, with other modifiers as noted. Specialized/only functions while the Bulwark remains a faithful guardian of his or her people and a servant of his or her faith, half cost (11,000 GP Value, 6 CP).
    • Immortal Vigor I (Normally Personal Only, 1400 GP): Adds (12 + 2x Con Mod) HP, adds (2d6+2x Con Mod) HP and lasts ten minutes if used as a blessing.
    • Magic Missile (Only affects targets affected by Presence, can only be used as part of the Opportunist action, x.5, Rapid Casting, x2, 2000 GP).
    • Shield (2000 GP): +4 Shield Bonus to AC, lasts one minute if used as a blessing.
    • Weapon Infusion*/Drain (1400 GP): the weapon does 1d4 points of extra damage to a living target, the weapon-wielder gains those hit points as temporary hit points. This does not work against constructs and – if used against undead – exposes the weapon-wielder to that creatures touch attack, if any.
    • Weapon Infusion*/Staggering (1400 GP): The weapon will strike with a massive impact, the creature hit will suffer a -2 modifier on it’s attacks for the next three rounds.
    • Weapon Infusion*/Ripping (1400 GP): The weapon literally tears at the creature hit, doing +4 simple physical damage; this does not bypass any form of DR that the weapon normally wouldn’t.
    • Weapon Infusion*/Battering (1400 GP): The weapon strikes like a battering ram, a hit from it will drive a target back one five foot step. If it was moving past the user, this will stop it.
    • Weapon Infusion*/Adamant (1400 GP): The weapon becomes as hard as adamant, and has the same effects.
      • This actually leaves 600 GP Value left over, but that’s reserved for future advancement.
      • Getting all of these Innate Enchantments up and running is going to cost a fair chunk of XP – 832 points – which means that these powers are only going to become available gradually after a little bit of adventuring.
  • Augment Attack/Entangling Maneuver: The Bulwark knows how to get multiple opponents tangled up with each other. +2 to Attack when adjacent to multiple opponents, Specialized: in melee combat only, effective bonus limited to (number of current opponents adjacent to the user -1) (3 CP).
  • Doubled Damage when taking a full-round action to make a single melee attack, Specialized/only usable once per encounter (3 CP).
  • Inherent Spell, Corrupted/Requires a full-round action and a drawn weapon to use as a focus (4 CP). The Bulwark can invoke one third-level spell per day. It’s usually one that either allows him or her to make an immediate melee attack with some special modifiers (triple damage at range, double damage with a +20 Insight bonus to hit, double damage converted to Sacred damage, etc) or a single-target blast which causes a modest amount of damage whether or not the save succeeds and inflicts some short term penalty (dazed for a couple of rounds, reduced AC, target takes 1d8 damage whenever it attacks someone for the next four rounds, targets movement is greatly slowed) if it fails.

   Further advancement will obviously involve more combat abilities – large hit dice, saves, BAB, and special combat abilities – and will usually involve more uses of Grant of Aid and upgrading it to triple effect, and a selection of other Inherent Spells and ways to assist his or her friends.

   Obviously enough, the Bulwark is a 4’th edition style character – at will, per-encounter, and once-per-day abilities, high hit points, no iterative attacks, and self-healing – but is, in fact, a good deal more versatile: unlike fourth edition, most of the Bulwark’s powers are modular: any attack he or she makes can involve a weapon infusion of choice, Grant of Aid isn’t even an action, so it can come into play at any time, and so on. Personally, I’d still recommend adding a lot of non-combat stuff.

   *Weapon Infusion spells alter the properties of an existing weapon for three rounds. They will stack with normal weapon enchantments, but not with each other, and bypass saves and spell resistance since they’re affecting the weapon, not the creature struck. On the other hand, their effects are relatively weak. Given this, the Bulwark will have to pick one of the effects to use each round.

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Eclipse: The Vedic Master Level One Build

   Character-optimizers have a tendency to look for rules exploits and infinite feedback loops. Most of those don’t work in our games, where – no matter what the “official wording” says – part of the basic physics of every setting is that spells and special abilities all have finite limits on their power sources, how they channel that power, and what they can do, just like automobile engines do. That upper limit applies whether or not any lesser upper limit is specified in the official description of an ability.

   Still, Eclipse Classless d20 (available in print HERE and in a shareware version HERE) does have a few items listed in it which can proceed without upper limit – or at least to a very very high one. This character build uses one of those exploits. Sadly for those looking for infinite power, it’s not as bad as all that.

   As usual for the generic base designs, this character is set up at level one, and no particular sex, race, or origin has been selected.

   The Vedic Master can restructure matter by touch, transmuting it into whatever he desires – and, given time, can imbue himself or herself with seemingly-limitless powers, mastering an endless array of mystical Sutras, Mudras, and Mantras. Oddly enough, both of these abilities are particularly useful at lower levels, but becomes less so as time goes on. Why? Well, that’s a question of those pesky limits again.

   There’s always something.

   Oddly enough, the basic framework of the Vedic Master really doesn’t say much about what else the character is – or at least will be – good at. It offers some useful abilities, and a way to add interesting powers later on – but those abilities could be useful to pretty much any character. Most of the time, however, Vedic Masters tend to dabble, and wind up with Rogue or evasion-based Fighter style combat abilities, a fair dose of skills, and lots of minor spells.

   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: Oddly enough, these have no bearing on the Vedic Masters initial powers: pick them to suit whatever later development path you have in mind or roll them up at random.

   Basic Purchases (31 CP)

  • Proficient with All Simple Weapons (3 CP)
  • +6 Skill Points (6 CP)
  • +2 on Will Saves (6 CP)
  • d20 Hit Die (16 CP) (This is presumably due to mystical enhancement or some such).
  • Initial BAB +0 (0 CP)

   Special Abilities (35 CP):

  • One level of the Paladin/Ranger Spell Progression Chart (Minor Druidical Magic, 2*).
  • One level of the Paladin/Ranger Spell Progression Chart (Minor Arcane Magic, 2*).
    • Note that this character does not yet have a caster level, and therefore can only use Cantrips at the moment even if he or she has some bonus first-level spell slots available. They’ll have to fix that later on – but, thanks to this, the character CAN use quite a few spell trigger items if he or she can obtain any. If the character can obtain a caster level – such as by making a human Vedic Master and investing a Feat in it (+1 Caster Level, Corrupted: the two progressions above only*, 4 CP, and perhaps +1 level on one of the spell progressions above, 2 CP) – he or she can take useful spell-completion effects as well, and they’re cheaper.
      • *They’re different progressions because they come with differing sets of spells, regardless of the fact that both sequences are using the same basic chart. This also illustrates a point: The Spell Progression you’re using and the list of available Spells to fill those slots is not necessarily related; as with the Alchemical Hedge Wizard on page 22 of Eclipse, a spell list always has some sort of theme – but the choice is up to the character. The more expensive the list, the broader the theme and the larger the number of spells that the game master will allow you to put on it. The Vedic Master is using the Paladin/Ranger Spell Progression, but once with a Druidical Theme and once with an Arcane Theme – and thus is a dual-progression caster. I’d expect the Game Master to work with the Player to limit the list of available spells quite a bit; a cheap list won’t offer nearly as many as a more expensive one, but cutting off all the high-level spells is a big start on pruning it. What spells will remain will depend on the theme of the character.
  • Adept (6 CP): Select four skills to suit the character conception.
  • Siddhisyoga (6 CP): This is pretty simple: you can sacrifice treasure to obtain innate magical powers – self-designed without regard for item slots – with a value equal to one-half the value of the sacrificed treasure. Now all you need to do is get some treasure… Privilege would let you start off with a fair chunk of cash, but most characters would like something a little more permanent in exchange for their character points. We’ll get to that a little further down.
  • Reflex Training/Extra Action Variant: May take three extra actions per day out of the normal initiative sequence. Specialized/extra actions may only be used to apply the Transmuting Touch (3 CP) (This allows the user to do things like transmute incoming missiles, raise a wall in front of a lightning bolt or fireball, and otherwise protect himself or herself quite effectively – three times per day anyway).
  • Transmuting Touch [16 CP total]: Create Item (Specialized and Corrupted/only as a prerequisite, 2 CP), Harvest of Artifice (Specialized/only for use with Transmutation, provides 100 XP per Month, 3 CP), Transmutation (Corrupted/requires elaborate gestures, Specialized/very conspicuous. Both increasing effect, produces 6 GP worth of materials per XP invested, 6 CP), Artificer (50% reduction on creation XP costs, Specialized/for transmutation only, Corrupted/requires gestures. 4 CP), and Alchemic Mastery (Specialized/creates power components only usable for Transmutation, 1 CP).

   So here’s our open-ended power gathering system: the Transmuting Touch can effectively supply an income of 1200 gold pieces per month. Discounting some 200 GP per month for living expenses, that gives you 1000 GP per month to sacrifice for inherent magical powers (Mudras and Mantras) – allowing you to buy 500 GP worth per month. In a mere 125 years, you’ll have innate powers to match the treasures expected of a 20’th level character.

   In a mere year you can match the power of someone who spent 7 CP and 480 XP (or purchased Action Hero/Crafting, or an immunity, or used some other method to get around the XP cost) on Innate Enchantment. Given that you’ve spent 22 CP acquiring this power, this isn’t actually a very efficient method. Fortunately, the Transmutation power can be quite handy in itself; it’s always nice to be able to lay your hands on more arrows, dissolve locks, or build (fairly cheap) stone walls in front of oncoming creatures, extra starting cash and gear is always good, and this will continue to be a modest monthly bonus throughout the character’s career – although it’s unlikely to make a major difference at the rate at which adventuring characters gather treasure and experience points.

   Still, to be fair, I’m going to credit this character with about a years worth of self-enchantment via Siddhisyoga, giving him or her 6000 GP worth of powers and about 1000 GP worth of actual gear over and above the usual starting allowance.

   What shall we buy with that? Well, for the actual cash, we’ll make sure that the warriors in the group have decent armor and that the priest has a wand of Cure Light Wounds, even if we have to take one that’s only partially charged. Why not? A month’s funds don’t mean that much to the Vedic Master, he doesn’t need much in the way of armor or weapons – at least at first – and having well-equipped companions raises his or her chances of surviving that first adventure or two quite a bit.

   For the personal enchantments… Lets see:

   Spell-Trigger Effects, each Spell Level One, Caster Level One, and Three times per Day each = 900 GP value each. Call it… Cure Light Wounds, Color Spray, Expeditious Retreat, and Shield, for 3600 GP.

   He wants to survive, so we’ll take a permanent (Spell Level One, Caster Level One, Unlimited Use Activated) defensive effect – say, Mage Armor, which can take the Personal-Only modifier for a 1400 GP value. We can do the same thing with Resistance and get a +1 Resistance Bonus on all his or her saving throws for a 700 GP value.

   That only leaves a 300 GP value left unassigned. Not really enough to do much with unless we want a once-per-day spell-trigger effect. Perhaps Feather Fall? That could easily save our Vedic Masters neck at some point.

   Unfortunately, this sort of thing is a general problem with classical d20 games: in reality – and even in the vast majority of d20 settings – there are taxes, rents, trade, selling the use of your powers, and a thousand other ways to make money without going on adventures and stealing it. Since funds translate directly into power (it’s less direct in reality, although it still can be done), this would mean gaining power without risk – which seriously undermines the structure of the game.

   The standard methods of dealing with this include simply making sure that such things take up a lot of time, applying heavy taxes and tithes to traceable enterprises, turning trading expeditions and such into adventures of their own, creating unexpected expenses, and simply making the process more bother than it’s worth. All of that works nicely, at least as long as you can either make it look natural, divert the players when they seem to be taking an interest, or note the presence of a line of “mercantile feats” (Immunity / Taxation, Followers / Trade Factors, etc) which accounts for how the NPC’s keep the economy functioning.

   Alternatively, you can depart from the basic d20 rules entirely – either mostly removing magic items in favor of Relics and providing a few more level-based bonuses, applying solutions like the Wealth Templates from The Practical Enchanter (available as a Shareware PDF HERE and in Print HERE) or coming up with a homebrew system of your own.