Legend of the Five Rings – The Walking Dream Courtier (Nezumi) School

   At the core of Yume-Do lies the Maelstrom. It is known by many names, and in many worlds. It is the Ginnungagap, the Sepiroth of Daath, the Gungawa point, and the Well of Worlds. It is the point where the timeless infinite is refracted into past and future, reality and phantasm, and all worlds past, present, and yet to be.

   Here, where the ascended – or perhaps fallen – powers dwell, all things are mutable, and a dreamer may take a handful of the infinite and cast it into time, to call entire worlds into being.

   Those who pass so deeply into the realms of dram rarely return – or return deeply changed.

   Fortunately, one need not pass so deeply into the realms of dream to draw upon it’s power, to peer into the possibilities of the future and past, or two walk between the worlds. Sadly, the gossamer revelations of dream fade all too readily into the mists of sleep – unless one learns the art of Lucid Dreaming, the foundation of the Walking Dream.

   The Nezumi are creatures of dream as much as they are creatures of Ningen-Do. Among their arts is the ability to bring dreams into reality – and to dissolve reality into the stuff of dreams. It is difficult to say if they are ever truly awake – a distinction which may go a long way towards explaining their usual mental state.

   The easiest way to shape the stuff of dreams is to infuse an image, model, or other template with ectoplasm, giving it substance and even “life”. While this will be limited to simple things at first, a dedicated student of the Walking Dream will soon be able to summon forth items and creatures of considerable complexity and power – a pathway that will eventually lead to the adept of dream being able to call forth dream-tulpas in his or her own image. Secondarily, as the rising Master of Dreams finds the power of Dream infusing the waking world around him or her, he or she may learn to use it to make that world something more to his or her liking.

   For generation upon generation, the Nezumi have fought an unending war against a foe that rises again within days of being struck down, in a land without natural reserves of food or water, where the ground itself quakes and dissolves into slime where it is infused with too much taint for the earth to endure. This is one way that they have accomplished such a feat.

   The Walking Dream school has come into human hands through a series of accidents, chance encounters, and a single individuals curiosity and exploitation of some unique opportunities: finding himself with a link to the realm of Dreams, Asahina Ninsei began to experiment with pulling on the energies and ectoplasm he could call forth. Soon enough, he no longer needed a body in Yume-Do to access these energies.

   Discussions with Nezumi shamans while dreaming lead to greater exploration of making the unreal real – and an analysis of the Rakasha, and the entity known as the Designer, provided many insights into the process of creating simulacra – will given form. It took a great deal of experimentation and many aborted attempts to adapt the Nezumi techniques for human use – and a hard-earned acceptance of the triune limits of the tulpa-creation process – but he eventually found that he could manifest three variant copies of himself – competent, loyal, and almost as powerful as he was… If he could augment them with gem magic and give them dedicated links to the Rokugani grid they might prove an answer to the problem of the Yodatai Emperor – a battle that, in one alternate future, had led to his death. This time, however, there would be the Obsidian Magistrates.

   The Walking Dream Courtier (Nezumi) School:

  • Basic Modifiers: +1 Perception, Glory 1, Status 1, Wealth 2, Honor 2
  • School Skills: Acting, Athletics, Battle, Courtier, Defense, Divination, Etiquette, Lore/Dreams, Lucid Dreaming, Meditation, Sleight of Hand, and Stealth.

   School Techniques:

  • First Technique/Playing with Shadows: The student of dream may now open his or her personal gate of dreams into the waking world, infusing simple images with an ectoplasmic reality. (Conjures VI as an Self-Powered Innate Spell usable up to [Void] times daily. As usual, however, the user’s Void ring must be at least equal to the level of the effect to be produced, 18). As a minor side effect, he or she need only take short naps now and then to function normally (2).
  • Second Technique/The Citadel of Dreams: As the insights of dream begin to infuse the student’s waking life, enhancing his or her skills with the marvelous fluidity of dreams (gain [Meditation] free raises per day to use with school skills, 10), so they begin to infuse the world around him or her, subtly perfecting and enhancing the areas of the world under the dreamer’s control (gain +15 Political Position points – although these can only be used for Holding Assets and Army Enhancements, 15 – 5 = 10).
  • Third Technique/The Dream Walks: The adept of dream may now call forth a Tulpa spun of the ectoplasmic stuff of dreams, imbuing it with a mixture of his or her consciousness and of the infinite possibilities of Yume-Do – and with powers which may equal his or her own. For good or ill, such creations must be primarily based on the techniques user, rather than being entirely free designs (perhaps most importantly, they always have schools other than this one) – although there is always some fundamental, distinguishing, difference (sentient companion with XP equal to the technique user’s, may be run as a secondary character, 20, -5 for limited design options and -5 because they are necessarily vulnerable to spirit dismissals, attempts to force them back into the realms of dream, and are very vulnerable to illusions and misrepresentations of reality). If it is slain, or if the user opts to replace it, there is no XP cost – although creating or re-creating a Tulpa requires some weeks (Immunity to XP cost to replace lost companions, 5). In addition, with this increased control over how the stuff of dream manifests, you may slowly alter the allotment of the bonus Political Position points offered by this school (Major Immunity/the normally fixed expenditures of Political Position Points, 10, -5 for only being able to affect the bonus points from this school, 5).
  • Fourth Technique/The Wanderer in Shadows: The user may now call forth a second Tulpa from the stuff of dreams (as above, 10), and – as he or she gains more and more control over the borders between reality and dream, gains both more control over his or her dreams (double style bonuses for Lucid Dreaming, 5) and may call upon the services of the lesser powers of Yume-Do – allowing him or her to call forth nightmare beasts to attack his or her enemies, to send dream-messages and communications, and to inflict nightmares upon enemies. Sadly, such things are never entirely reliable (Rank+2 favors daily rated at Lucid Dreaming/2, plus Immunity to the Time Normally Required to Invoke Favors, 10 – 5 for unreliability = 5).
  • Fifth Technique/The Navigator of Dreams: The master of dreams may now call forth a third and final Tulpa (as above, 10), and has met many people and spirits in his or her dreams – allowing him or her to gain favors based on any four additional skills – although, sadly, they remain more than a bit unreliable. It is always hard to know if your dealings in dream are with one individual or an alternate version of them from another world (+10, -5 for unreliability). Finally, your control over the infusion of dream into the waking world is so great that you can now alter what its effects in mere minutes (Major Immunity/the time normally required to shift Political Position Points around, 10, -5 for only being able to affect the bonus points from this school, 5).

   The Walking Dream is a fairly powerful school – but it’s only really at it’s most powerful in the hands of a character who has a lot of power already. If you start off in this school, you’ll wind up with relatively little in the way of personal power and “copies” who – since they’ll have other schools – will be more competent at most things than you are. This can get pretty weird.

   On the game master side, this is a WONDERFUL school for that villain that you want to have keep coming back over and over and over again…

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Eclipse – Building d20 Psychics Part VII, The Psion Level One Build

   Our next sample level one Eclipse classless d20 character build is another psychic example – in this case a variant on the standard Psion build. Unlike most standard d20 classes, the basic Psion isn’t all that badly frontloaded at level one; any points the character gets from disadvantages or other limitations can be spent on extras – things like a slightly larger level one hit die, some minor innate talents, proficiency with light armor, and some extra Power would all be very nice to start off with. I might even delay a few skill points for later to get them. Skills are nice, but – at level one – increased chances of survival are even better.

   The Revised Psion

  • 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 16, Wis 14, Con 12, Dex 12, Chr 12 (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).

   Well, thanks to having twelve extra character points available, and to spending six of them here, we’ve dropped two skill points and gained an extra four hit points, proficiency with light armor, and a slightly better selection of weapons. This isn’t going to make a Psion a combat monster, but it will make them somewhat tougher to start off with.

   Special Abilities (36 CP):

  • +1 Psion Magic Level (12 CP) – including one Caster Level specialized in the Psion Spellcasting Progression, 3 CP, and one level of the Psion Spellcasting Progression, 9 CP.
  • Domain/Path, Specialized to include a greater number of spells/the user does not actually get to add these to his or her personal spell list, this merely makes them available to be selected to fill his or her normal slots (6 CP). Under the basic rules the choice of speciality also grants additional class skills, but this is irrelevant in Eclipse, where your “Class Skills” are whatever suits your character. Of course, under the basic rules, the psion only has six choices – Seer (Clairsentience), Shaper (Metacreativity), Kineticist (Psychokinesis), Egoist (Psychometabolism), Nomad (Psychoportation), and Telepath (Telepathy). Under Eclipse a character is perfectly free to come up with their own theme and some spells to suit. Want to be a Harvester of Life? A Spellsinger? A Fey Lordling? Go right ahead.
  • A Bonus Psychic Feat (6 CP). Well, that’s six character points to spend picking out something handy for your character.
  • A Bonus Feat (6 CP). This is the usual level one bonus feat. Since we’re more-or-less emulating a standard build here, I’ll leave those points free for the moment. That makes twelve character points to spend picking out something handy.
  • That leaves us with 6 CP to spend – the other half of the 12 points from disadvantages and duties (or whatever limitations the character has substituted) – to buy something else. In this case, it’s going to be on one of the biggest available boosts for a first-level psychic character: Mana/the +3d6 Power option. That won’t seem like such a big deal in a few levels, but at first level it should at least double, and will probably triple or even quadruple, the characters Power reserve – which will normally start off at 3-4 points.
  • What should the Psion get with their two bonus Feats? Here are a few possible packages:
    • Psychic Knight: Many an adventurer, whether due to noble birth, parental training, or simply putting their time in the militia to good use, puts the weapons skills acquired in their youth to good use despite their later training in less militant fields. Proficiency with Medium Armor (6 CP) and with All Martial Weapons (6 CP – and a good deal, since such broad proficiencies are only available at level one unless the game master opts to make an exception). This character will probably want to invest a little more heavily than usual in BAB later on and might want to swap that low strength with another attribute.
    • Expert Psion: Some students of the psionic arts simply show more dedication to their studies and learn more quickly than others – an advantage which may well follow them throughout their careers. +1 level of the Psion Spellcasting Progression (12 CP). That’s nice and simple.
    • Natural Psion: Some mentalists have unruly natural gifts – inherent powers driven by desperation or anger – which may flare up violently at any time. Where could such a gift be put to better use than in a career as an adventurer? Path/Domain (any one psychic Metaspell – such as “Pyrokinesis”, usable for making lights, throwing bolts of flame, fireballs, walls of fire, cooking food, and welding doors shut, among other things, depending on how much power the user can channel into it), and Berserker (+4 to Base Caster Level, +4 to the user’s primary casting attribute while he or she is in this berserker state. The bonus power points from this should be tracked separately, they start off fresh in any given day, but won’t refresh between berserk episodes). A good package if you want to be exceptionally dangerous to start off with.
    • Tower Resident (having the tower made of ivory is optional): Some scholars of the mind are dedicated to expanding the limits of their powers, studying advanced techniques the most others will not even comprehend, much less put to use. Ritual Magic/”Circle Operations” (this version of Ritual Magic usually uses 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, 6 CP) and Create Relic (6 CP).
    • Fatebound Psion: Some psychics simply find themselves swept up in events – pulled into terrible situations, where they seem destined to intervene decisively, whether for good or ill. Karma, Specialized/the character will – like it or not – continuously be falling into missions, turn out to be the one fated to deal with some dark artifact, fit the terms of some local prophecy, and otherwise be dragged into an endless array of bizarre situations (3 CP), Luck with +2 Bonus Uses (9 CP).
    • Spirit Warrior: These psychics have learned to focus their mental power into weapons of pure disruptive force. Unfortunately, this ability requires the use of a specially-constructed talisman (that is, they’re Corrupted/requires a special talisman) – at least at first. Proficiency with any one Martial Weapon (Normally the one being emulated, 2 CP), Spirit Weapon (non-magical Force damage) with One Touch Attack per Round (8 CP), and Imbuement, Specialized/requires the investment of 3 Power to activate for ten minutes (2 CP). Alternatively, the user may opt to create a ranged weapon and give up the Imbuement power – at least at first. Spending some skill points on a suitable martial art is highly recommended.
    • Psychic Artificer: Some psions are fascinated by the possibilities inherent in focusing their energies through various talismans. This can provide a good deal of extra power, but – as always for those who rely on talismans – is a point of vulnerability as well. Create Relic, Specialized/points from Enthusiast only (3 CP) and Enthusiast, Specialized for double effect (2 CP total)/points may only be used to create Relics (3 CP). We’ll allow this character to use the Charms and Talismans rules from The Practical Enchanter as well – an ability which can be purchased as Shaping, Corrupted and Specialized for increased (level one and possibly weak level two) effects/can only produce the effects for which the user has the appropriate foci ready, can only support a limited number (seven and three) of minor charms and more notable talismans at one time, charms and talismans are modestly expensive (and thus limited by wealth and lifestyle) and take some time to attune for use (6 CP).

   Further Advancement: Well, the basic path of the Psion is pretty clear: Skills, Saves, and more Psion Magic Levels. Beyond that? Get advanced psychic abilities and build up whatever ability package you took – or add some features from another one when the points become available. How about a Psychic Knight / Spirit Warrior?