Eclipse – Lerandor’s Rule and the Level One Runesmith Build

   Today it’s a discussion of the practical consequences of Lerandor’s Rule (from The Practical Enchanter), and another first level Eclipse classless d20 character to make use of those consequences – the Runesmith.

   According to Lerandor’s Rule, anything that can be done with magic can be done with basic spells; it simply takes at least two specialized spells of level “N” to duplicate the effect of a spell of level “N+1”. Ergo, two specialized cantrips can be chained together to duplicate a first level spell, four a second level, eight a third level, and so on all the way up to at least five hundred and twelve chained cantrips to duplicate a ninth-level spell (there may be some fanatical researcher out there who’s actually done this, whether by themselves or by hiring squads of minor mages to pull it off, but there’s generally no practical use in it).

   For example, to duplicate Burning Hands you might use a set of cantrips called Firespark, Intensify, and Area. For Scorching Ray you’d need Firespark, Intensify, Range, and Repeat – and you might need Repeat more than once. A Fireball would probably require Firespark, Intensify (x2), Range (x2), and Area (x3) – and it’s a rather simple spell. The first major trick of Lerandor’s rule is finding a way to break things down far enough. The second major trick is to find a way to chain your lesser spells together without having the first ones go off too soon.

   Sadly, in practice, no one can keep the structure of more than (Int) spells in their head on a spontaneous basis – leaving advanced applications of Leandor’s Rule to individuals with the time to research and prepare actual component spells. That effectively limits the technique to a three or four spell level boost – at the cost of actually using a lot more spells and time than would normally be required. It’s also very vulnerable to counterspells, mistakes, dispelling, and interruptions, since spoiling any one of the spells in the build-up sequence will abort the effect at that stage – and possibly even endanger the caster. After all, if you’ve completed all the subspells in your Fireball effect except the range when you get interrupted, those subspells will go off when you stop adding links to the chain. In this case, that would mean a ground-zero blast.

   Alternatively, of course, you can apply Lerandor’s Rule indirectly. In this case, instead of slowly building up a larger spell effect bit by bit, you simply break the task down into substeps which each lay within the limitations of whatever magic you can use. For example, if you wanted to turn raw silk into clothing – normally a job for a higher-level spell like Fabricate – you could use a few cantrips to clean it, others to untangle it, more to prepare it, more to color it, still more to make small swathes of silk, more to join them, and so on, until you had a properly-fitted set of clothing. You’d get there eventually. This is less risky than trying to chain small spells to get a large effect, but makes it obvious what you’re working on and may require even more cantrips than the previous approach.

   The Runesmith

   The Runesmith specializes in building up larger spells out of numerous smaller ones, carefully forging each link in a chain of amplifying effects from the raw magic of the world. Sadly, this takes a good deal of time. Given time to prepare, a Runesmith may be able to lead off with a powerful spell or two – but then will have to fall back on cantrips and other abilities for the rest of any confrontation. Still, while they’re not all that useful in a simple fight, a Runesmith can be invaluable during a siege or in a support situation.

  • Disadvantages: (Select three disadvantages for 10 CP).
  • Duties (typically to an organization, feudal lord, as agreed to with the game master, +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 16, Wis 10, Con 14, Dex 14, Chr 12 (28 point buy).

   Basic Purchases (30 CP):

  • Proficient with All Simple Weapons (3 CP) and Light Armor (3 CP).
  • +8 Skill Points (8 CP)
  • +2 each on Will and Reflex Saves (12 CP)
  • d8 Hit Die (4 CP)
  • Initial BAB +0 (0 CP).

   Special Abilities (36 CP):

  • Path of the Dragon:
    • Shaping (6 CP).
    • Pulse of The Dragon (6 CP).
    • Heart of the Dragon/may work cantrips and orisons as standard actions, Specialized/may only use a total of (Int+Con) cantrips per day (3 CP).
  • Metamagic/Triggering, Specialized/simple conditions only (3 CP).
    • Streamline, Specialized in Triggering for half cost (3 CP).
  • Professional/Spellcraft, Specialized for double effect/Runesmithing checks only (6 CP).
  • Skill Emphasis/Spellcraft, Specialized for double effect/Runesmithing checks only (3 CP).
  • That leaves our Runesmith with 6 CP to spend. An adventurer might want Skill Focus in Spellcraft – possibly specialized in Runesmithing again, Luck, or many other items. A courtier will want Favors and Privileges. I’ll leave it open.

   This build allows the Runesmith to set up a chained series of spells designed to trigger each other – and thus take advantage of Lerandor’s Rule. It will take him or her a minimum of two, four, eight, or sixteen rounds of constant casting to work up a first, second, third, or fourth (his or her limit) level spell effect – but he or she can do so, bypassing the usual minimum caster level since each of the individual spells involved is only a cantrip. In fact, he or she can even do most of that work in advance, setting up some spells to await a final trigger. Unfortunately, hanging a maze of waiting spells about yourself is confusing and dangerous, limiting the Runesmith to a maximum of (Int Mod) preset spells. Worse, since such spells will last for a maximum of twenty-four hours, he or she will have to do it all over again every little bit – and he or she only has so many cantrips available to build them out of.

   Unfortunately, that rosy summary glosses over the fact that the user is trying to compose a series of especially-designed interlocking spells on the fly – which is NOT an easy task. Spellcraft checks for each subspell are in order at a DC of (10 + twice the number of the link currently being built). A Runesmith may “Take 10”, but if he or she must roll to succeed, a “natural one” will result in a failure or serious flaw when the final spell is used while a “natural two” will result in having to start the entire casting over again, wasting the cantrips already invested in it. Otherwise a failure simply means that the Runesmith will have to continue tweaking the details next round.

   In this case, this means that our first-level Runesmith, with Spellcraft +3 (Int) +4 (Skill Points) + 5 (Bonuses for Runesmithing) can reliably build most second level spells, might be able to get away with a third level spell with a lot of luck (needing to roll at least an 11+, 13+, 15+, and 17+ before rolling a one or a two), and has no chance of building a fourth level effect, where the final DC is at least 42.

   Further Advancement: Well, Reflex Training may help the Runesmith cast cantrips faster, while raising his or her Spellcraft skill is always a plus – but upgrading the Path of the Dragon to cover higher level spells without restricting their type is extremely expensive. Runesmithing simply is not a good path for long-range development. Skills, saves, and hit dice go without saying – but a Runesmith will be best off focusing on another speciality, such as crafting magical items, another branch of magic, courtly skills and political influence, or even skills or combat, while preparing a few spells for emergencies and providing magical support for a group.

   While it would obviously be extremely advantageous to buy off that Specialization on the Heart of the Dragon, it would also allow the Runesmith to restock himself or herself with any three level two spells that he or she wanted in just under one minute all day long. A character with that ability might work in a superhero-style game, an anime universe, or in a high-level party, but I don’t think I’d allow it in a low-level group. It would simply be too ludicrously convenient.

  • Eclipse: The Codex Persona is available in print HERE and in a shareware .pdf version HERE.
  • The Practical Enchanter is available in print HERE and in a shareware .pdf version HERE.

6 Responses

  1. […] some examples of what can be done with Eclipse, check out some examples from the author's blog: The Runesmith (combining low-level spells to produce higher-level spell effects) Dreamspawn (a template wherein […]

  2. Looking this over, I’m slightly confused as to where some of the rules regarding runesmithing are coming from. While the total number of cantrips that can be used per day is a function of specializing Heart of the Dragon, that doesn’t seem to be the case for the rule that they can only hold (Int mod) pre-set spells (I’m also curious if that means pre-cast cantrips, or full spells formed from multiple cantrips).

    More dramatic is the limitation that Spellcraft checks must be made to successfully runecast spells. This and the above limit on pre-set spells seem to be limitations that were made up whole-cloth. In and of itself, that’s not surprising for Eclipse – as it’s part-and-parcel of specializing and corrupting abilities – but those two limits specifically don’t seem to be part of any sort of cost-reduction or ability-enhancing uses of specialization or corruption.

  3. […] Runesmith: a caster who builds up spells a bit at a time […]

  4. […] a “Runesmith” build up on the site which exploits Lerandor’s Rule – but it isn’t […]

  5. […] a dweomer based caster do something similar to what the Runesmith does with making Lerandors Rule spells just based off a single skill (since the descriptions for […]

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