Eclipse – The Swashbuckler Level One Build

   To continue with the previous article on swashbuckling campaigns, our next level one Eclipse classless d20 (available in print HERE and in a shareware .pdf version HERE) character design is a swashbuckler – an unarmored (or at least lightly-armored) fighter who relies on evasiveness, parrying, and various weapon tricks to keep his or her own skin intact and to do in his or her foes. Since we don’t want all the characters in a swashbuckling campaign to use the same built, this one includes a dozen variants.

   While real-world swashbucklers would normally be at a disadvantage in a brawl compared to an armored warrior with equal training – after all, if armor wasn’t useful, armies wouldn’t have used so much of it – Eclipse contains an easy way to compensate: simply Corrupt their various abilities so that they won’t work in armor, and viola! Those abilities are cheaper, the characters can afford to buy more options and special abilities, and the game has a more cinematic feel – just what this type of character was looking for.

   Of course an armored warrior can limit their areas of expertise similarly, and get just as many special powers while retaining the advantage of armor, but hopefully your swashbuckler will be wise enough to avoid letting his or her opponents arrange the battles to be just the way they want them.

  • 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 16, Chr 10 (28 point buy).

  Basic Purchases (36 CP)

  • Proficient with All Simple and Martial Weapons (9 CP).
  • +6 Skill Points (6 CP)
  • +2 on Reflex Saves (6 CP)
  • 1d20 Hit Die, Corrupted/when struck by a critical hit, or when damage passes the 50% and 75% threshold, the character will suffer a graphic wound and take either (d12; 1-6) two points of attribute damage, (7) a -2 to attack, (8) a -2 to AC, (9) three rounds of being dazed, (10) -10 movement, (11) three rounds of temporary blindness, or (12) a similar penalty described by the game master (11 CP).
  • Initial BAB +1, Corrupted/does not contribute to iterative attacks (4 CP)

   Special Abilities (30 CP):

  • Augmented Bonus/add a second attribute modifier to the user’s dexterity modifier when calculating AC. With these attributes the character will probably want Beat (Str), but those with other characteristic distributions may want Expert Bladesman (Int), Canny Evasion (Wis), Unrelenting Press (Con), or Taunting Patter (Cha) (4 CP*).
  • Reflex Training/Combat Reflexes Variant (4 CP*).
  • Block/Melee (4 CP*) (Coupled with a good reflex save, this is a major route to survival for an unarmored type).
  • Action Hero/heroism option (4 CP*)
  • Improved Initiative +2 (2 CP*).
    • *Corrupted/not while while wearing medium or heavy armor or while heavily encumbered. Other common swashbuckler limitations include “only usable with a sword”, and “only usable in one-on-one duels”.

   Obviously enough, a lot of other items could be substituted here – but that’s a pretty good package for a starting swashbuckler.

   Individual Variant Packages (12 CP Each):

  • The Cinematic Hero (or enthusiastic young hero) simply has Luck with +4 Bonus Uses (8 CP*) and Block/Missile (4 CP*), and makes an excellent – and quite durable – generic hero, since he or she can pretty well count on blocking several potentially-lethal attacks in any one day.
  • The Experienced Duelist has been at this for some time, and it shows: he or she knows the tricks, and he or she knows how to handle themselves in battle. They may not be much for the flashy stuff, but they have a sure and steady hand. +3 to Reflex Saves (6 CP*), +3 to BAB, Specialized/only for melee, Corrupted/does not add to iterative attacks (6 CP).
  • The Agile Master specializes in using the environment to his or her advantage. Whether he or she favors swinging from tangles of ropes, wind, rain, and slippery footing, or balancing on the spars of a ship, it is extremely perilous to meet the Agile Master in his or her favored terrain. Acrobatics (4 CP*), Mastery (Balance, Tumble, and Jump), Favored Foe (Bonus to Attacks, Damage, Saves, Balance, and Bluff when fighting in particular environment – such as in the rigging, while out in a violent storm, while swinging from ropes, etc, 4 CP*), and Block/Missile (4 CP*).
  • The Florentine Fighter specializes in the use of two blades, whether paired light weapons or a light sword and dagger, and in inflicting damage as quickly as possible. Bonus Attack/when holding a secondary weapon (4 CP*), Opportunist/when the user successfully blocks an enemies attack in melee while using two weapons he or she may use another Attack of Opportunity to strike at the attacker (4 CP*), and Enhanced Strike/Hammer (4 CP*).
  • The Demon Hunter has faced supernatural horrors before, and knows they can be beaten. His or her faith and driving will is like a burning flame, when it flares up, it warms all about them. Imbuement/Sword (4 CP*. This is merely a “magic” weapon at level one, but will improve later), Minor Favors with +2 Bonus Uses (may call on the Powers of Light for a clerical or paladin-type spell of up to level three up to three times per session – but the powers of light will expect the user to undertake various missions for them in return, Corrupted/only while the user and cause is worthy of support, 4 CP), and Inherent Spell (Rallying Call/”Prayer”, 4 CP*).
  • The Dilettante Noble has received good training, and was paying attention to at least part of it – but his or her primary gift lies in his or her political connections and in being so used to command that they find it easy to collect and support followers. Favors/minor political (3 CP), Privilege/minor legal immunities and a free comfortable lifestyle (3 CP), and Leadership (6 CP).
  • The Golden One knows that sometimes you just really have to have something – and it will be there if you look. Of COURSE a cannon came loose during the bombardment, wound up under this tarp pointing towards the door the overwhelming bad guy is going to come through at any moment! There’s ALWAYS some way to win! – or at least there is for the Golden One. 2d6 Mana/reality editing option, Corrupted/only for reality editing (8 CP) plus Rite of Chi, Corrupted/only works at dawn or nightfall (4 CP).
  • The Shadow Adept is a secret follower of baleful powers, and augments his or her swordplay with dark arts. Witchcraft II ([Str+Dex+Con]/3 base Power, the Hand of Shadows, Witchsight, and Shadowweave), with two Pacts (usually Pacts of Service – Missions and Spirit), Mana/+3d6 Power option, and Path of Darkness/Nightforge+ 3d6 Power. With this combination the Shadow Adept can perform a variety of minor tricks and can create adamantine objects of solid darkness for one hour for one Power per 20 pounds of material. They are fond of creating weapons, barriers, manacles, and nets and entangling strands of razor-sharp “wire” – often manipulating it telekinetically with the Hand of Shadows.
  • The Military Man is a specialist in close-quarters combat, a man or woman of iron determination and grim experience. He or she is Proficient with Light Armor (3 CP), may draw upon inner reserves that few others can match (Berserker with the Enduring modifier, +4 Str, +4 Dex, +2 Reflex Saves, -2 to all Perception-related checks, 9 CP).
  • The Spirit Speaker is able to sense and communicate with the spirits of the natural world and of the dead as well – at least if they’re still hanging around. Thanks to this affinity, he or she may be able to calm a storm, find someone lost in a jungle, or call for favorable winds – but not too often, since the favor of the spirits is fickle. Occult Sense/Spirit Sight, Specialized/requires entering a light trance (3 CP), Mindspeech, Specialized/only to communicate with spirits (3 CP), and Major Favors (the elemental spirits of nature, 6 CP).
  • The Magical Dabbler is tinkering with powers that men and women ought, perhaps, to leave to themselves. Still, as long as he or she knows their limits, things aren’t TOO likely to go disastrously wrong. 1d6+2 Mana and Rite of Chi with +2 Bonus Uses, both Specialized/the user is subject to unpredictable magical backlash if he or she fails to cast a spell properly or attempts to produce an effect beyond their power, the mana is only usable for a particular form of Rune Magic, chosen when the Magical Dabbler is created (8 CP), +4 SP for that field of Rune Magic (4 CP).
  • The Ruthless Quester knows many things, and isn’t about to let silly things like “scruples” get in the way of getting what he or she wants. Poison Use (6 CP), Privilege/ready access to poisons, weird occult tomes, ancient manuscripts, and so on (3 CP), and Occult Skill/Secrets (3 CP). Every skill point invested in the “Secrets” skill brings you extraordinary knowledge – knowing a dozen demonic sigils, the answers to the ancient Riddles of Tannwell, the route to the long-lost Earthsblood Forge beneath Mount Kyros, or the Three Invocations of the Deeps. The game master may also opt to let you occasionally roll your Secrets skill to see if you know some bit of lost information or give you additional secrets (also known as “plot hooks” out of the “goodness of his or her heart”.

   The Variant Packages also make perfectly good package deals if the game master would like to encourage particular schools.

   Further advancement? Well, that depends a lot on which package has been taken – but I’d suggest all the usual fighter basics (hit dice, skill points, saves, and base attack bonus), as well as things like Augment Attack, Defender, Enhanced Strike, Expertise, Evasive, Finesse, Fortune/Evasion, Guises, Lunge, Martial Arts (to upgrade your weapon damage), Opportunist, Presence, Snatch, and Trick.

   The various packages that involve magical abilities could be built up – but, for the most part, that doesn’t really fit in with the idea of the Swashbuckler very well. In fact, as a general rule for a swashbuckling campaign, I’d limit mystical powers – including things like “shapeshift” and other occult abilities – to a maximum of about eighteen points per character. If you’re clever you can get an interesting power package with that – as shown above – but such talents won’t overshadow the swashbuckling action except in specialized cases. Cannons and kegs of gunpowder, yes, fireballs, no.

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One Response

  1. […] The Swashbuckler: an unarmored fighter. Includes the Cinematic Hero, Experienced Duelist, Agile Master, Florentine Fighter, Demon Hunter, Dilettante Noble, Golden One, Shadow Adept, Military Man, Spirit Speaker Magical Dabbler, and Ruthless Questor variants. […]

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