Eclipse – The Kabalistic Ritualist Level One Build

Kircher_Tree_of_Life_PD   Our next Eclipse Classless d20 (available in print HERE and in a shareware version HERE) character is the Kabalistic Ritualist – a character who leans more towards the investigative “Call of Cthulhu” style of play than most d20 character types – although, in this case, the build offers a number of variants to suit particular ideas. In any case, the Kabalistic Ritualist is a classical mage – a scholar who works magic through complex rituals and releases their power when appropriate and who may gain minor granted powers from various summoned entities provided that he can conclude some form of bargain with them. Interestingly, since such magic is so limited, it’s also rather cheap.

   The Kabalistic Ritualist can actually be quite powerful – but only with preparation and research. If it would normally take an eighteenth-level spellcaster with a particular ninth-level spell to readily banish some intruding eldritch horror from beyond, than the ritual for doing so will have a DC of around 46 – which is actually within the reach of a first-level Kabalistic Ritualist PROVIDED that said Kabalist knows what he or she is going up against, comes up with a good description of the ritual he or she is going to use (worth up to a +5 bonus), and can come up with good ritual components* – of which he or she can get bonuses for up to seven. Holy Water blessed by the local high priest of an opposing faith might be worth +2, a relic from a martyr who died casting the creature out once before might be worth +3, a sacred flame lit from the Holy Fire-Fountain of Rasil and carried back to the ritual location might be a +4, the True Name of the eldritch horror might be a +5 (the maximum) – if you can find it.

   Work hard enough, scrape up – say – a +25, throw in your own +10 base, and your Kabbalist has a 50-50 shot. Too bad he or she won’t be entirely sure as to whether or not the ritual will work until he or she actually confronts that overwhelmingly powerful eldritch horror.

   On second thought, perhaps the Kabbalist should hold off on confronting massively powerful eldritch horrors for a few levels. Of course, by the time he or she comes up with all those special ingredients, he or she may have put on a few levels anyway.

   *A key point here is that components are proposed and selected by the players, but rated by the game master – which allows the players to do quite a bit of the adventure-setup and to propose appropriate setting elements. If a player says “I once ran across an old manuscript in the temple library that said that Arkidi’s Mirror of Banishment was buried in a tomb in the mountains, behind a small waterfall in the Valley of Twilight” and looks hopefully at the game master – well, said game master now has a proposal for an adventure (a bit of exploration followed by a fight with some semi-aquatic guardian and a tomb exploration) and a proposed treasure – and one that need not have any other uses outside this particular ritual, and therefore will not be unbalancing or troublesome later on. Why not let the players do the work?

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

   Basic Purchases (30 CP)

  • Proficient with Proficient with All Simple Weapons and any one Martial Weapon (6) and Light Armor (3 CP) with the Smooth Modifier (no armor penalties or spell failure percentages, 3)
  • +8 Skill Points (8 CP). These are normally invested in the character’s Adept skills.
  • +2 on Willpower Saves (6 CP)
  • d8 Hit Die (4 CP).
  • Initial BAB +0 (0 CP)

   Special Abilities (36 CP):

  • Adept (6 CP): May purchase the Decipher Script, Knowledge/Arcana, Sleight of Hand, and Spellcraft skills for half cost.
  • Skill Emphasis/+2 Spellcraft (3 CP).
  • Augment Attack/+1d6 Sneak Attack (3 CP).
  • Occult Ritual (6 CP).
  • Power Words: Specialized and Corrupted/only stores the power of Occult Rituals, rituals require a full-round action, complex gestures, and eerie invocations rather than a move-equivalent action to release, all for triple effect: may store up to (Con) effective “spell levels” worth of rituals (6 CP).
    • Rituals don’t usually have levels assigned to them. Since they’re always unique, and usually take effect when enacted, there’s normally no need to bother. Still, they’re acts of magic, just like spells, and thus can be stored like spells. The game master should simply assign an appropriate level when necessary. The ritual opens a path through water? Well, Control Water is level four, so the ritual is probably level four or five, depending on the details.
  • Power Words: Specialized and Corrupted/only for storing spells provided by summoned entities, can only store voluntarily-granted powers, can currently store up to (Con/3) spell levels and release such spells as move-equivalent actions (2 CP).
    • It’s usually pretty easy to get a summoned entity to provide some sort of spell; they generally have enough innate powers within their speciality that a simple spell costs them virtually nothing – hence minor offerings and respectful requests will usually suffice. Getting them to grant reusable powers (buying Innate Enchantments or Siddhisyoga abilities) is considerably more difficult – which is usually represented in the game by the high costs of obtaining such things.
  • That leaves us with 10 CP to go. In this case, we’ll look at a couple of possible variations:
    • Priestly Scholar: One level of Cleric Package Spellcasting with an added Components Limitation (8 CP), +2 more Skill Points to buy Knowledge/Religion with (2 CP). This is usually the nice-guy ritualist option and – thanks to the benefits of the cleric package – probably provides the most in the way of immediate power.
    • Demonologist: Innate Enchantment 7 CP/6000 GP effective value (and 480 XP to get them all working). All Level One Spells at Caster Level One, Unlimited Use Activated, for 2000 GP value x noted modifiers each. Produce Flame (2000 GP value), Shield (2000 GP value), Personal Haste (+1 Attack when making a Full Attack, +30′ move, 2000 GP value), +1 Skill Point to buy Knowledge/The Planes with (1 CP), and two Contacts – a seller of strange occult ingredients and tomes and an alchemist who makes poisons on the side (2 CP). Optionally, his variant on the Shield effect may provide some protection against fire instead of immunity to Magic Missiles.
    • The Expert Ritualist: Professional/Spellcraft (an investment in the future, 6 CP), Fast Learner/specialized in Skills (+1 SP/Level, 3 CP), and a Contact – a Sage/Historian (1 CP). This version is less powerful to start with, but can work considerably more powerful rituals later on in his career.
    • The Canny Spellblade: Finesse/uses Int Mod in place of Str Mod for melee combat purposes with light weapons and armor (6 CP), upgrade Proficiencies to All Simple and Martial Weapons (+3 CP), and add one Contact – an expert ritualist and more experienced mage, who can act as a patron and employer (1 CP). This is a good package for someone who wants to be a rogue or light fighter type who dabbles in magic.

   Skill Points: 16 (Intelligence) + 6 (Purchased) = 24 (or a few more if taking an option that includes some).

   Skills:

  • Decipher Script +8 (2 SP x Adept +4 Int)
  • Knowledge/Arcana +8 (2 SP x Adept +4 Int)
  • Sleight of Hand +5 (2 SP x Adept +1 Dex)
  • Spellcraft +10 (2 SP x Adept +4 Int +2 Feat)
  • Knowledge/History +8 (4 SP +4 Int)
  • Concentration +6 (4 SP +2 Int)
  • +4 skill points spent to suit the campaign.

   Given time, components, a good idea of what he or she will be going up against, and a clever or insightful player, a ritualist can be extremely formidable. Of course, if he or she is deprived of those things, ritual magic is pretty useless. This provides an easy method of game-master control over the situation; if you don’t want the ritualist working up any surprises, keep things moving and make components and time hard to come by. If the players are stuck, or it’s the ritualists turn to shine, give him or her time to work something up.

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3 Responses

  1. […] Kabalistic Ritualist: a ritual mage. Includes the Priestly Scholar, Demonologist, Expert Ritualist, and Canny Spellblade variants. […]

  2. […] The Kabalistic Ritualist level one build. A basic ritualist build. […]

  3. […] Kabalistic Ritualist build has a priestly option, but is primarily focused on rituals. Still, there’s no reason […]

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