Eclipse – The Transhuman Level One Build

   Our next sample level one Eclipse classless d20 character build is another psychic (although a trivial variant will work for a magical type) – in this case a Transhuman – a character type that’s also known as a “Mutant”, “Super”, or “Hero”. Fantasy characters tend to have a wide variety of powers, but can’t use them all that often. Transhumans tend to have some relatively narrowly defined powers, but can use them all they want. Oddly enough, this means that they’re at their best on short-term missions – preferably on the defensive within easy reach of backup. That’s simply because their abilities are so specialized that they’ve pretty much GOT to be able to call on external assistance whenever their pyrokinesis, or teleportation, or whatever, isn’t suited for handling the situation.

   If you’re planning to run a superhero game, the Transhuman may suit you just fine. You may even want to waive the caster-level restrictions on what levels of effects are usable. Of course, for most superhero settings, you’ll want to be starting the characters a bit beyond level one.

   In a classical fantasy setting, the Transhuman will probably be wildly out of place unless – perhaps – the user specializes in casting realistic images or something. “I blast them!” or “I heal them!” gets really old after the fiftieth or hundredth repetition. Even the Warlock build usually offers more options than that. Overall? This isn’t a design I’d use, or allow, in most games and settings, but there are places and settings in which it’s appropriate.

   Overall, the Transhuman is a splendid illustration of a fairly basic principle: it’s always possible to come up with characters who don’t fit into a game, can’t or won’t work with the group, or who are too abrasive. Every player and game master has encountered them; the characters who are only being tolerated because they’re player characters– and tossing them out of the group will mean a real-world scene. Most of those players insist that it’s because they’re “playing in character”, or because it’s some sort of a stand “on principle”. Just remember the note on page eight of Eclipse: it’s the job of the player to come up with a character who fits into the group and the setting. Doing otherwise is inconsiderate at best, active sabotage and blackmail at worst. After all, the player could opt to help make the plan, decide on his or her characters role – and then “stay in character” by simply noting that the character is objecting and complaining at length. That can be quite a lot of fun. Actually listening to those objections and complaints virtually never is.

  • Disadvantages: (Select three for 10 CP), and add
  • Duties(to a feudal overlord, school, deity, faith, as a superhero, 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 12, Int 12, Wis 12, Con 14, Dex 12, Chr 14 (28 point buy).

These aren’t too critical to this design – but most Transhumans tend to be generally above average in almost everything.

   Basic Purchases(30 CP):

  • Proficient with All Simple Weapons (3 CP) and Light Armor (3 CP).
  • +4 Skill Points (4 CP)
  • +2 on Will and Fortitude Saves (12 CP)
  • d12 Hit Die (8 CP)
  • Initial BAB +0 (0 CP).

   Special Abilities(36 CP):

  • Path of the Dragon: Shaping, Specialized/only as a prerequisite (3 CP), Pulse of the Dragon and Heart of the Dragon II (30 CP), both Specialized and Corrupted for increased effect/only usable to create effects in two specific fields, such as “Force Fields”, “Pyrokinesis”, “Telepathy”, or some similar field. The user may invoke up to three levels worth of effects per round, although this is limited by his or her total hit dice or base caster level (whichever is higher) and available actions as usual. Save DC’s will normally be constitution-based.
    • Minor variants may require that the user spend points on special skills to produce particular effects, or take non-lethal damage when using his or her powers, or go a little crazy when using their powers, or some such. The exact mechanism isn’t really that important.
  • Damage Reduction 2/-, Specialized for double effect (4/-)/only converts damage into nonlethal damage (3 CP). Note that this is universal damage reduction, and is also effective against energy damage.

   The Transhuman does NOT adhere to the limitations of the standard Adventurer template. While many of the previous builds have stretched it by allowing 36 CP worth of special abilities instead of 30 (thanks to the “game masters may make exceptions…” note), this one smashes it – spending a full 33 CP on one ability (more than even the initial disadvantages could explain) and by having more links on that chain of abilities than is allowed even by the points from disadvantages and bonus feats. I’m willing to stretch a bit for interesting character designs, especially for those which have abilities which could reasonably fall under the point allowance for magic levels, but this design has three warning flags on it counting the use of the Path of the Dragon.

   Further Advancement: Well, it will cost +12 CP to reach level four effects, another +12 for level five, and another +12 for level six. After that, it will take +24 points each level for levels 7-9 – which is as high as it can go with unlimited use. Of course, since the user is limited by his or her effective caster level – unless the game master is either running a superhero game or is masochistic – there won’t be any point to doing that for awhile. Other than that? Well, this is a superhero type: he or she will want to be able to take a massive bashing around, so large hit dice. Grant of Aid is probably in order for those sudden recoveries, probably some martial arts or weapons skills and BAB for when people negate your powers, good saves, and possibly some minor additional powers (Luck, Returning, and Contacts are pretty common choices) or special equipment. Ways to survive untoward events – such as a limited version of Feather Fall that only cushions the impact enough to save your life but leaves you unconscious – will likely be a good idea.

5 Responses

  1. […] Transhumans: mutants and superheros with limitless use of some specific powers. […]

  2. I was just looking this over for inspiration, and I don’t understand some of the math here.

    Under “Special abilities”, you’ve priced Pulse of the Dragon 1 + Heart of the Dragon 2 at 30 CP, but shouldn’t that be 24 CP instead? Pulse 1 is 6 CP, and Heart 2 is 18 CP (6 + 12).

    Then, under “Further advancement,” you say it will be +12 CP to reach 4th level effects–how is this possible? Bumping up both Pulse and Heart should be (Pulse +12 CP) + (Heart +24 CP) = 36 CP total, which would also make them eligible for 5th level effects (bypassing the 4th level limit entirely.) What are you doing to get +12 CP?

    • Hm… At this point I can’t remember whether it’s a simple error (Sadly, I’m not immune to those) or whether I meant to include a 6 CP Immunity to to having to use Eye Of The Dragon to get the power under control before shaping it (which might be needed in less permissive settings). I kind of think it was the immunity.

      To check some other numbers… assuming I meant to include the Immunity and the base package cost is only 24 CP, going to fourth level effects will require having Pulse II and Heart of the Dragon III. That has a base cost of +30 CP (54 CP total), but the package now need only be specialized for double effect and can be corrupted for reduced cost – making the total cost 36 CP (42 with the immunity) or +12 CP.

      Going to sixth level would require buying off the corruption entirely (+18 CP) and raising the Immunity from Major to Great (+6 CP), making the total package cost 66 CP – a net increase of +24 CP.

      The fifth level spell cost simply split the difference between the prices for 4’th and 6’th so as to provide a steady progression. That should definitely have been noted.

      The final step would jump to level nine effects – going to Pulse III and Heart IV at +72 CP and working at triple effect – so the seventh and eighth level steps were just taking that in three steps of +24 CP each.

      Overall, another one that probably needed a great deal more explanation – but as I recall I wasn’t at all happy with it in the first place, and I didn’t spend the time on it. I definitely should have – although I still don’t recommend the build.

      And thank you for pointing out that I’d left several important bits out of that one; that definitely needed noting. As far as inspiration goes, I hope that helps!

  3. Yeah, that all makes a lot more sense, thanks! I sort of wondered if you weren’t maybe just dividing up the cost per spell level into smaller increments, but I didn’t even think about changing the corruption, which is an interesting way to advance.

    Also, I always forget about “Immunity: having to use the normal rules”, which might be a bit of selective memory on my part–I’m a sucker for ridiculous, high-powered builds, but for some reason, that always feels cheesy even to me and my wannabe-Dark Phoenix self. Maybe I should start experimenting with that more, though…

    • Oh, I like them too – although that’s partially a result my most active current d20 game using the Federation-Apocalypse setting. When a first-level fighter-type may be piloting a mecha and firing volleys of missiles with miniature fusion warheads at targets on the horizon… builds with access to high-end personal powers become a bit easier to swallow.

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