Eclipse – The Level One Investigative Reporter Build

   It used to be easy. You covered local events, reported accidents and disturbances, covered simple human-interest stuff like community theater, little league, and cute animal stories. But, after a bit, you started to get into the harder news – and things got tough. There were sources you had to protect, powerful people with an interest in covering up the truth, times when publishing would hurt innocents and people who were doing their best to cope, and – when you came right down to it – stories that the public arguably had a right to know, but which should never be published – or which would never be believed.

   Things have gotten a lot grayer. Does that always happen when you get older, or is it a special torment reserved for reporters?

   The Investigative Reporter lives to uncover the facts.

   Sometimes they’re facts that can be put out on the street – reports on crimes, on chemical spills, on the abuse of power. Sometimes they’re facts that should remain secret – the hiding places of witnesses, the names of victims, the hidden vulnerabilities of vital systems. Sometimes they’re facts of the hidden world – news of shapeshifters, of hidden powers, and of possessions that will simply mark the Investigative Reporter as a lunatic if he or she reports them.

   And sometimes they’re the facts that drive men to raving madness – secrets of corrupting lore, proof that the universe is not the predictable place of natural laws and divine order that men accept, the summoning rituals for reality-breaching horrors.

   Nevertheless, a skilled investigator can be invaluable to a party; there are few things other than omnipotence that help more than being able to find your opponents, knowing what you’re up against in advance, and getting the opportunity to obtain supplies and allies designed to deal with it – and you can’t get omnipotence, or at least you normally can’t get it as a starting character.

  • Disadvantages: (Select three disadvantages for 10 CP).
  • Duties or Restrictions (Investigative reporters usually see it as their responsibility to make sure that the public finds out what it needs to know – no matter how much trouble it gets them into, +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 10, Int 14, Wis 12, Con 10, Dex 12, Chr 16 (28 point buy).

   Basic Purchases (30 CP):

  • Proficient with All Simple Weapons and Pistols (6 CP) and Light Armor (3 CP).
  • +16 Skill Points (16 CP)
  • +1 on Reflex Saves (3 CP)
  • d6 Hit Die (2 CP)
  • Initial BAB +0 (0 CP).

   Variants, as always, abound… Want a military background? Reduce the skill points in favor of some additional weapon proficiencies and maybe some BAB. Want to be a youthful intern? Cut down on the skills again, buy more Reflex save. Want to be taking money under the table to not report some things? Take Privilege/Income – although that would go under “Special Abilities” rather than here.

   Special Abilities (36 CP):

  • Action Hero/Influence Option, Specialized/can only spread information and help shape public opinion, not control the outcome (3 CP).
  • Adept (6 CP): Pays half price for four selected skills. Common Selections include Sense Motive, Gather Information, Diplomacy, Craft/Writer, Perform (acting oratory, or music for bardic types), Bluff, Disguise, and Knowledge/Local.
  • Privilege (3 CP): May gain special access to places, situations, and persons based on the ability to report the news and the desires of others to shape what you report, has access to a sizeable audience, and may – depending on the setting – have the legal ability to refuse to identify sources and some protection against libel complaints.
  • Skill Focus (3 CP): Normally in whatever skill the character uses to get the word out. Depending on the setting and the characters speciality, this may be Craft/Writer, Perform (acting, oratory, or musical for bardic types), or some other speciality.
  • Contacts (3 CP): The Investigative Reporter starts off with three useful contacts, and will probably develop more fairly rapidly.
  • Favors: Major Media Favors (6 CP), Minor Law Enforcement Favors (3 CP), Minor Underworld Favors (3 CP). The ability to either spread or suppress information, and to influence public opinion, can lead to all kinds of people owing you favors. For a clever reporter, this is a major resource.
  • Now that leaves 3 CP left over… What shall we buy with them?
    • A Hard-Hitting Detective type might take Martial Arts (considered armed, can do 1d4 lethal damage, 3 CP) and buy some Martial Arts Skill to back it up with.
    • A World Traveler might take Enthusiast/Specialized in Contacts for Double Effect (3 CP), allowing him or her to turn up a couple of contacts almost anywhere with a few hours of work.
    • An Intuitive Reporter might take Occult Sense (“Nose for News”, allows the user to detect when something actually is a valid lead on a story), Specialized/only works three times per day for the character, although the game master may have it activate at whim (3 CP).
    • A Lucky Intern may have Luck, Specialized/rerolls only (3 CP).
    • A Magical Dabbler might have Enthusiast/Specialized in Magical Talents to buy a 2 CP magical talent for each adventure (3 CP). For a quick example of one 2 CP talent, take Occult Talent, Specialized/abilities do not recover until the user can restock at his or her lab, Corrupted/abilities require the use of various powders, liquids, and scrolls, any of which can be taken away. For another 3 CP this can be upgraded to buying Improved Occult Talents, which will allow the user a small selection of magical tricks for a mere 6 CP total.
    • A Tough Reporter might simply buy Damage Reduction 2/-, Specialized for Double Effect/only versus physical attacks, for a net DR 4/Energy.

   Further Advancement: Well, beyond the usual hit dice, saves, and BAB, Skills, Contacts, Favors, and the abilities needed to deal with whatever the character usually reports on are obviously in order. Reporters are most valuable as information-gatherers of course, rather than in battle – but if they report on the underworld, they’ll want some combat abilities. If they report on magical events and shapeshifters, basic defensive magic is probably in order (or, if they’re playing both sides of the fence, their own shapeshifting or offensive magical powers would be handy). If they report on smugglers and tribal events in the wilderness, tracking and survival skills are good. If they keep “reporting” (or more likely covering up) stories about the horrible minions of Cthulhu, then they’re going to want a few bits of magic, grant of aid, and an immunity to sanity-blasting horror.

   In any case, a high-level reporter can wield a great deal of influence, get into all the best places, and gets a free pass to talk to virtually anyone.

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