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.

9 Responses

  1. Interesting… one note/querry – think I misread the Pal/Ranger chart come to think of it I did – it doesnt include a caster level, not that it doesnt need one :) all good

    • You’ve got it. Sadly, the classical paladin or ranger – with a caster level of one-half their paladin or ranger level – made it awkward to give each level of the progression a simple cost.

  2. I had a question about Siddhisyoga, do you need Craft Item to use it? Although you don’t have xp costs unless you use the Fae option, how much time does it take to add an abiltiy?

    About Transmuting Touch, would I use Action Hero-Crafting to pull off the occasional massive act (raising a simple, small to medium sized fort
    when being chased by a barbarian horde or making a mile long 20 ft wide by 40ft deep trench, etc…)

    I just found your books a few weeks ago and I really like them so far. I hope to use them to play a campaign soon. Kudos to you for your great job.

    • Well now…

      As far as Siddhisyoga goes, you don’t need any Craft Item abilities. Of course, you can’t trade them out later and you are paying the total purchase price rather than the crafting cost – but they can’t be taken away either.

      How long it takes is more or less up to the game master. You could calculate it as “as long as it would normally take to make the equivalent item”, but usually “during downtime” is quite sufficient. If you want to have dramatic breakthroughs in combat, I’d add in a bit of Action Hero / Crafting for it. I’m not sure it’s really worth it except for style though.

      And yes, Action Hero / Crafting would cover the occasional massive act with Transmuting Touch – but that sort of thing will eat those points FAST, and is mostly useful to higher level characters with more points in reserve.

      And I’m glad you’re enjoying the books! Do let me know if the campaign works out; it’s always nice to see the material getting put to use.

  3. I came up with a way for someone to replicate the Item Absorption option from Innate Enchantment for Siddhisyoga.

    Can you look it over and see if I messed up anything mechanically?

    Ritual of Absorption

    6cp Equipage [Maybe reduced if only needed as a prereq.]

    6 cp Returns 80% base level Specialized and corrupted for triple effect (240%)
    Only to add Siddhiyoga effect
    only exact copy is made
    excess credit is lost
    Weapons and Armor not eligible
    Ritual requires privacy and anywhere from half an hour to 2 hours to work (Depends on power of item – GM call)

    [2cp] Purchasing specialized and corrupted : only for use with returns above

    I’m not sure if Purchasing is needed for this to work.

  4. Mentor with Prodigy specialized for cost to only provide xp for transmutation costs 6cp and grants 12 gp of transmutation for every 10 xp earned with the above setup.

    Something to get either with human bonus feat or at second level.

  5. […] Vedic Master: a matter transmuter and self-enhancer. […]

  6. So I was re-reading this build again, and this passage popped out at me:

    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.

    This caught me by surprise, as I don’t think that I’ve seen this mentioned anywhere else. Characters with a magic progression but no caster levels can cast cantrips from that progression? (Also, rather amusingly, if I remember correctly the paladin/ranger progression doesn’t have 0-level spells to begin with.)

    That’s interesting to consider, simply because I’m trying to imagine the practical ramifications of having “caster level 0.” Most spells still have things like a base range, but spells with a duration based on caster level might be awkward (e.g. a duration of “1 round per caster level”).

    Would a character utilizing this particular ruling be subject to the proviso of needing their casting-related ability score to be 10 + spell level (e.g. they’d need their spellcasting ability score to be at least 10), or would that be waived too?

    (It also strikes me as a tad unfair that most progressions don’t offer bonus cantrips for higher casting ability scores. Normally I doubt anyone would care, but here it seems like it’d be worthwhile!)

    • Ah well, that one’s easy:

      Since the minimum caster level needed to cast a spell is twice the level of the spell minus one, casting zero-level Cantrips requires a net casting level of (-1). Even someone with some actively wrong ideas about how to cast spells can pull it off if they happen to have access to some. Not having a caster level will still inhibit some cantrips of course – but quite a lot of them just have a specified effect (such as mending, or a lot of other utility cantrips) and will work just fine.

      Level zero spells for Paladins and Rangers don’t appear on the basic SRD charts, but they are on the Eclipse Paladin and Ranger spell progression on page twelve. After all, if your Paladin would rather be out fighting evil instead of sharpening his sword, polishing his armor, and trying to get the water out of his boots, allowing him a few cantrips will cut down on the drudgery. Similarly, if the Ranger wants to use Mending, Light Campfire, Waterproof Tarp, and a few similar cantrips… so be it.

      You do still need the minimum ability score of ten to make it work though – unless you take an immunity or some other work around (it doesn’t seem worth the bother, but if someone wants something that trivial, why not?).

      And I must agree… I considered adding bonus cantrips for high ability scores, but that got into attribute bonuses; the actual benefit wasn’t worth the page count of slightly-tweaked-and-reprinted SRD stuff. Our local games often rule “you get bonus cantrips equal to the number of bonus first level spells you get” though.

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