Eclipse – Building d20 Psychics Part V, The Dweomer Master First Level Build

   Our next sample level one Eclipse classless d20 character build is another psychic example – in this case, the Dweomer Master. Dweomer is a system of psychic powers revolving around a series of feats which offer access to a variety of broad psychic skills. A dweomer-wielder may thus attempt an enormous variety of effects, but their powers aren’t totally reliable and many other effects will lie outside of their range. Unfortunately, this means that the game master will often be called on to rule on the “level” of many effects on the fly. Fortunately, d20 provides an immense array of benchmarks to refer to, making this a relatively easy task.

   Exactly what role a Dweomer Master will fill in the game depends very much on where he invests his or her feats and skill points: one may specialize in healing and extra-sensory perception, another in psychokinesis and warping the laws of nature.

   Unfortunately, there is just no getting away from the need for game-master interpretation. Asking “what can I do with Electrokinesis?” is like asking “What can I do with my hands?” or “What is a chemistry good for?”. Even the Continuum II rules – which listed twenty-five ability trees based on psychic awareness or “Introspection” (the summaries are listed HERE), fifty based on C’hi, and better than six hundred psychic discipline trees spread over ten basic fields – wound up listing plenty of extremely broad effects. Anything which can be fit into a reasonably-sized RPG book must either focus on a narrow range of possibilities or content itself with set of general rules and let the game master rule on specific cases.

   Personally, I prefer the general rules: telling people that they can’t have a more-or-less reasonable power that fits the way their abilities are supposed to work never suited me. The general approach allows the players to be more easily surprised by some unexpected ramification and avoids the endless proliferation of special-case rulings and individual powers that cripples most game systems in the end – just as 3.5 wound up bogged down in an endless array of prestige classes and feats scattered over hundreds of sourcebooks, magazines, and documents. Eclipse was intended to fix that. (Eclipse: The Codex Persona is available in print HERE and in a shareware .pdf version HERE).

   The Dweomer Master

  • Disadvantages: (Select three for 10 CP), and add
  • Duties (to a feudal overlord, school, deity, faith, or whatever, +2 CP/Level. Restrictions – such as not using armor and major weapons – can be substituted readily).
  • 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 8, Con 12, Dex 14, Chr 10 (28 point buy).

   Basic Purchases (30 CP):

  • Proficient with All Simple Weapons (3 CP) and Light Armor (3 CP).
  • +14 Skill Points (14 CP)
  • +2 on Will Saves (6 CP)
  • d8 Hit Die (4 CP)
  • Initial BAB +0 (0 CP).

   Special Abilities (36 CP):

  • Fast Learner, Specialized in Skills (6 CP, +2 SP/Level. We’ll assume the user picked this up at level zero, for +2 SP at level one).
  • Adept (Select four Dweomer Skills, 6 CP).
  • Access to one Dweomer Field (6 CP).
  • One Base Caster Level, Specialized in Dweomer for double effect (6 CP).
  • Mana I/Generic Spell Levels Option (2d4), Specialized for half cost/only for Dweomer (3 CP).
  • Mana I/Power Option (3d6), Specialized for half cost/only for Dweomer (3 CP).

   With a total of 32 skill points at level one, a Dweomer Master can afford to spend 8 getting their four Adept skills up to +4, another 16 on getting the rest of the skills in their dweomer field up to +4 (although they’ll likely lag the others later), and still have 8 skill points left – 12 if human (in which case they may want to spend their bonus feat either on gaining access to a second dweomer field or – if the game master will allow it – on another incidence of Adept, which will make it far easier to keep their dweomer skills up and let them pick up some others to work with at low levels).

   Character concepts which involve psionic abilities causing a physical strain may want to either Corrupt part or all of their reserves (either “user must make a fortitude check or suffer fatigue when tapping into these points” or “user suffers one point of nonlethal damage for each level of effect produced using these points) or to apply a similar modifier to one or more of their Dweomer skills (making a particular discipline or set of disciplines especially draining to use). In this case limiting things to a daily recovery may not be quite what the character had in mind, so some of the points saved can go to Rite of Chi with Bonus Uses – probably Corrupted or Specialized to make it take longer. That way their power can recover gradually as they rest as well as when they get a full nights sleep (or at dawn or whatever system the game master favors).

   It’s worth nothing that the Dweomer Master is one of the few builds that can adapt to “superhero” settings – where the characters gain access to (Con Mod) points of Mana every round for free – with no trouble at all; they can simply use it to power their psionic abilities at the usual ratio of one point of mana being equal to one spell level and two power.

   Further Advancement: Obviously enough, the Dweomer Master is going to want to keep buying Generic Spell Levels, Power, and Skills, as well as the usual saving throws and hit dice. As their power increases they’ll probably learn to get along without the gestures and vocalizations that lesser psychics use to focus their concentration (Immunity to effect level increases due to being bound or restrained). They may also want to pick up Circle Operations (a.k.a. “Ritual Magic”, although they usually use appropriate psions as “components” – a practice which can put the operators in considerable danger, but makes “components” much easier to find for a ritual group). Various forms of Berserker and Hysteria can provide an emergency boost, and Companions or Followers may be in order. Mastery – the ability to “Take 10” on some skills while under stress – may prove invaluable to a Dweomer Master; it means that their lower-level spells will be reliable, rather than occasionally failing under pressure.

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11 Responses

  1. […] The Dweomer Master: a master of particular psychic fields. […]

  2. How expensive would the immunity to the extra cost for silent / still casting be?

    • Well, wanting to avoid penalties for being Restrained – whether by physical or magical means or just by wanting to avoid attracting attention – is pretty Common. It’s not “Very Common” because taking relatively minor tactical precautions to stay out of such situations in the first place usually isn’t all that difficult.

      The effect of being restrained is fairly minor. Admittedly, you can’t readily cast anything while restrained – but the effect isn’t total and goes away instantly once you get out of it.

      The amount of resistance required is trickier; it can range from one step / two spell levels (unable to move OR speak freely), to two / four spell levels (either unable to move AND speak freely or a complete inability to do one or the other), to three / six spell levels (unable to move freely and unable to speak at all or vice versa), and jumps to five /ten spell levels if you are completely unable to move AND completely unable to speak.

      So it’s Minor to reduce the penalty by one step, Major for two, Great for three, and – finally – Legendary for five.

      That gives us a cost of 4 CP to reduce such penalties by one step, 6 CP for two steps, 12 CP for three steps, and 24 CP for five steps.

      Two steps is probably the best bargain. You could use your powers in silence, or without moving, or while partially restrained with respect to both. Going up to three or five steps starts getting expensive enough that you’d probably want to give some hard thought to whether or not it’s worth it.

      • Honestly, the whole ’10 spells worth of penalties’ seems a bit excessive, and odd considering that the maximum penalty for conventional casters is two levels. As for trying to do it cheaply and efficiently, I would probably specialize and maybe corrupt it. Maybe Specialized / only a usable on a list of (level / 2) spells determined beforehand, with maybe a strain effect or longer casting times, to make it work aroundable but still a problem, which seems about right.

      • It’s a consequence of operating in two stages and without a preset, established, formula – rather like trying to make pottery with waldos. The two-stage process of using personal energies to mold extermal energies greatly magnifies small errors, so anything that interferes with your energy-shaping words and gestures has a multiplied effect.

        If you buy an immunity to that problem focused on a small number of preset spells, then you are essentially establishing a set of practiced spell formula – negating part of the problem and (over the generations) putting Thaumaturgy and Dweomer on the path to more conventional spellcasting.

        And I hope that helps! (Or is, at least, somewhat explanatory of why I gave Thaumaturgy and Dweomer that limitation).

      • I mean, you could do it just as well with a specialization in say, immediate escape effects, or a specific dweomer field, without making it non-dweomery.
        Also, I’m a bit confused as to how you describe Dweomer / Thaumaturgy and unskilled casting as the beginnings of magic. Could you clarify that a bit?

      • Yep – but you’d still be narrowing in towards “a set of well-practiced formula”.

        As for why “primitive”… it’s in the introduction to the system on page 100:

        “Dweomer and Thaumaturgy employ primitive – or more accurately, primal – methods of creating magical effects. The practitioner uses his or her personal energies to focus and direct external forces, manifesting various effects without benefit of formal spells or disciplines. While this intuitive approach offers great flexibility, it is unreliable and demands exceptional levels of skill.

        Thaumaturgists focus on particular magical themes, such as Shamanism, Animal Magic, Weather, Ocean or Water Magic, Necromancy, or even Hyper-speed. Such themes are usually related to the natural world, and are often seen as primitive magic – precursors of the later magical schools.”

        I suppose I could just as well have said “unformalized”, but “primitive” seemed simpler.

  3. That makes me wonder if (and if, how) dweomerists can use quickened spells feasibly without such an immunity, given how you broke down the ‘easy’ metamagic.

    • There are at least two simple ways: they can’t use the Metamagical Theorems (and thus cannot use the Glory or Streamline modifiers) – but while there are specific listed problems with trying to make their spells Still or Silent, there’s nothing restricting them from making them faster.

      Alternatively, and perhaps more usefully (if more limited use), Reflex Training with +4 Bonus Uses (Specialized in Spellcasting, 6 CP) will basically let them throw five spells as an immediate action each day, which can be REALLY handy.

      For a more complex way they could take Action Hero / Stunts, to purchase reflex actions or on-the-fly modifiers as needed. They wouldn’t be able to do it too often, and it’s a lot more complicated than the simple ways, but Stunts are a wonderful save-my-neck option to have on tap anyway.

      • I mean, yes, I get it (also, you could build something fairly similar with mana specialized in spell enhancement for that specific effect).
        It’s just that as a note in how easy metamagic ‘works’, you say that ‘unforunately, since you can’t take the time to get out components, speak or gesture, you must also apply the Material, Verbal and Somatic Effects for a total of + 4 spell levels’. And since the dweomer equivalent of the verbal and somatic metamagics is so expensive…

      • Yes indeed. The argument there was that Quickening a spell precluded the time to get out material components – and if eliminating cheap material components (normally +1 level) was included, then the explanation for the +4 level cost of Quicken was that it also eliminated somatic and verbal components (each +1 level) – thus making the system nicely consistent.

        Of course, they then rewrote older material – such as Feather Fall – and got things bogged down in Swift, Immediate, Free, Move, Attack, Standard, whatever an Attack of Opportunity was (it seems like it’s SOME kind of action), and Not-An-Action-Actions.

        So to keep things consistent, I’d say that formula spells require exactness – the gestures must be right, the words must not be rushed or off-cadence, the components must be held and manipulated properly, and so on. Rushing the gestures, words, or manipulations causes the spell to fail – ergo “quicken spell” requires eliminating those items as well.

        But since you can talk as a free action, or drop something, its obviously possible to speak and gesture as a free action – so for those not using rigid spell formula, they can get along with quick gestures and hurried phrase. They don’t HAVE to eliminate the words and gestures to cut down on the time requirement.

        All of which discounts Reflex Training of course, but that’s basically comic-book time – where the Silver Surfer can fly up at a substantial part of the speed of light and blast Dr. Strange with energy from a few feet away – and both of them have time to talk and Dr Strange has enough time to cast a rhyming=invocation-and-mystic-gesture shield in the minuscule time before he’d get hit. The three-actions-per-day variant of Reflex Training is basically “I insert some extra time for myself into the normal flow of events”.

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