Eclipse – The Level One Fortunate Hero Build

   Here we have another sample level one classless Eclipse d20 character – in this case, one of the common types of cinematic protagonists – the Fortunate Hero.

   We’ve all seen them. The heroes who always find a convenient weapon, a stash of oil, or secret door, just when they’d be dead otherwise. They’re especially prolific in cinematic productions, but they pop up in pulp novels, newspaper serials, and fairy tales.

   There are heroes who rely on their quick wits, on their strong right arms, on their dynamite fists, on their outstanding agility, on their mystic lore, on their stealthy ways, or on their marvelous skills – and then there are those who rely on coincidence, convenient last-moment escapes, and retakes. The ones for whom everything just seems to go right, who always manages to pull through somehow, who’s dialogue is so hackneyed as to be actively painful. They have the backing of the gods, or even of the mysterious authors, and who thus – at least in those worlds fully under the control of such beings – need never lose.

   Of course, in a game, all powers have their limitations. Rely on it too much, and your luck just might run out.

   Still, there are much worse things than being a Fortunate Hero.

  • Disadvantages: (Select three disadvantages for 10 CP).
  • Duties or Restrictions (Fortunate heroes often find it almost impossible to refrain from coming to the aid of random people, giving villains a second chance, or going to absurd lengths in pursuit of vengeance. Alternatively, they may have duties to some organization or religion, refuse to use various powers and/or types of equipment, or otherwise place themselves at a disadvantage sufficient to dramatically make up for their absurd luck on occasion, +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: Variable. Fortunate (Action) Heroes tend to be muscular, dexterous, and good-looking. Fortunate (Comedy) Heroes tend to be durable and sociable. Fortunate (Detective) Heroes tend to be perceptive and intelligent. In general, their attributes have little impact on their success or failure anyway; it all depends on how well they can take advantage of their good luck.

   Basic Purchases (31 CP):

  • Proficient with All Simple and Martial Weapons (9 CP) and Light Armor (3 CP). (Oddly enough, no matter what kind of armor it looks like a Fortunate Hero is wearing, it acts – and is worn – just like light armor).
  • +3 Skill Points (3 CP).
  • +2 on either Reflex or Fortitude Saves (6 CP).
  • d10 Hit Die (6 CP).
  • Initial BAB +1, Corrupted/does not add to iterative attacks (4 CP).

   Special Abilities (35 CP):

  • 2d6+2 Mana with the Reality Editing option. Corrupted/only usable for Reality Editing (10 CP). The Fortunate Hero can always find a way to gain an advantage or escape certain death.
  • Rite of Chi with +2 Bonus Uses, Specialized/only usable while sleeping for at least an hour or when the game master cuts to a later scene. (4 CP).
  • Universal (also affects energy damage) DR 2/-, Specialized for Double Effect (4/-): only converts lethal damage to nonlethal damage (3 CP)
  • Universal Jack of All Trades: is treated as having one skill point invested in any skill he or she wishes to use, Corrupted/only applies to the standard skills available in the setting, not to more esoteric abilities (8 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment: Four use-activated level one spells at caster level one, usable three times per day each (4800 GP, 6 CP), True Strike, True Save, True Evasion, and True Skill (all provide a +20 insight bonus to a single roll or against a single attack, activating when needed). Perhaps fortunately, it will require 32 CP each to activate these uses – a total of 284 to activate them all. The Fortunate Hero will probably have to endure a few failures – showing that he or she is indeed mortal and fallible – before the constant stream of successes begins.
  • Grant of Aid, Corrupted/requires at least a minute’s rest, or a several-round show of deep concern by another character, to activate (4 CP).

   Further Advancement: Hit Dice, BAB, and a few points on Skills are a given – but Saves are a must; nothing bad ever seems to happen to a fortunate hero. After that? Special combat tricks are a good idea, as is upgrading pretty much every one of their initial abilities – more Mana, more Bonus Uses on Rite of Chi, and more Grant of Aid. Sadly for the Fortunate Hero, their Innate Enchantments are already at the maximum available for insight bonuses – but there are lots of other minor enhancement spells that the Fortunate Hero can get, gaining a wide variety of +1 and +2 bonuses. Immunity to having those effects dispelled or disrupted would then be in order.

   The Fortunate Hero is very much a player-based character. A tactical player, one who’s simply in search of efficiency or one who likes solving puzzles, will probably find such a character boring. A player who wants to be flamboyant, come up with unlikely-but-dramatic solutions, and who would like to bypass inconvenient questions – such as “why would there be a handy trench under their feet and a stockpile of oil handy?” or “You’ve never learned to fly a plane, now you want to land a crippled jumbo jet during a hurricane?” – will probably have a blast. Finally he or she will be able to get that sort of stunt to work when he or she really needs it to!

   And the fact that the number of such stunts which can be gotten to work each day is limited will ensure that the other players can continue making a meaningful contribution with their own approaches. That way the cinematic narrative and bizarre hijinks won’t take over the game.

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Eclipse – Companions and a Dealing with Dragons

   We’ve looked at some of the ways that Companions can make an Eclipse d20 characters life easier. After all, they basically let you run multiple characters – letting you get around some of the biggest limitations in the game; normally you only get so many actions, and normally you can only be in one place at a time.

   Companions can make character’s lives a lot more difficult as well. Ergo, we’ll take a look at one of Dungeons and Dragons most iconic creatures – a dragon – and see what it might do with some Companions.

   Take Roykorishtian, a Juvenile Black Dragon. To convert him to Eclipse d20 – where character designs are often more specific and focused than in basic d20 games – we’ll apply the quick-conversion rule on page 191. He gets +6 CP/Level to spend on anything that helps him out, without worrying about Specialization and Corruption. At 13 hit dice, that gives him 88 extra CP to spend. Quite a lot, but this IS a dragon we’re talking about here.

   So: lets give him six Companion Creatures (36 CP) with the Half-Dragon Template (12 CP), Might (6 CP), Great Form (6 CP), and Transform (6 CP) modifiers. For some personal abilities, we’ll get him Shapeshift (6 CP), and two Inherent Spells with +2 Bonus Uses each – Blink (9 CP) and Dimension Door (9 CP). If the situation looks too bad, Roykorishtian will act just like any other creature that wants to live; he will get out of there and take cover. Since he can share the effects of spells and powers that affect him with his Companions, he’ll usually take them along when he bails out via Dimension Door.

   Six companions provide +36 CP worth of abilities: We’ll keep things simple again. Since Roykorishtian has invested a chunk of his draconic energies in his Companions to give them the half-dragon template, they can transfer energy back to him in times of need: each of them provides Grant of Aid. At level thirteen that’s thirty uses per day – enough to let him survive and recover from a great deal of damage.

   Next level up he may want to get Luck; he wouldn’t want to get hit with some save-or-die effect without a reroll handy. After that? Probably Contacts and – perhaps – alternative breath weapons or energy substitution on his usual acid.

   He’ll also have triple CR 7 treasure – 7,800 GP. That’s not much actually; it’s far below the 19,000 GP expected for a level seven character, much less the 35,000 GP expected for a 13’th level NPC character, the 110,000 expected for a 13’th level player character, or the ungodly sum that would be expected for a character of his ECL. Oh well, he’s not a PC and life isn’t fair – but we can expect him to have invested a fair chunk of what little he’s managed to accumulate in items that are actually useful to him. Ergo, a Clasp of Resistance +2 (as per the Cloak, 4000 GP), Bracers of Armor +1 (1000 GP), a Potion of Nondetection (for use while escaping or hiding, 750 GP), and a potion of Undetectable Alignment (300 GP). He will, of course, be wearing the Clasp and Bracers.

   Now we’ll need to sort out those Companions.

  • With a level 13 master, Companion Creatures get +6d8 Hit Dice, +6 BAB, +6 Natural Armor, +3 Str, +3 Con, Int 8, Improved Fortune/Evasion, and +39 CP.
  • They use their master’s base saving throws with their own attribute bonuses.
  • Their master may communicate with them, and opt to share the effects of spells and powers used on him or her with them, at ranges of up to one mile.
  • Animals become magical beasts, most other creatures types are unchanged.
  • Might provides +2 BAB, +2 Saves, +2 Armor Class, and +12 CP to spend.
  • Great Form provides Righteous Might as a free action three times per day: +8 Str, +4 Con, +4 Natural Armor, DR 10/Good, and other minor size modifiers.
  • Transform provides the new forms basic body structure – limbs, nonmagical movement modes, and natural weapons.
  • Half-Dragon provides d6 natural weapons, a once-per day Inherent Spell breath weapon, low-light and darkvision, Immunity to Sleep, Paralysis, and One Energy Form (Acid in this case), +4 Natural Armor, Str +8, Con +2, Int +2, and Cha +2, and boosts their racial HD to d12’s.
  • We’ll use Leopards as the base creatures because they’re CR 2, they’re medium-sized which means no size modifications to apply when they transform, they’re a sensible choice, and because I like big cats.

   Let us add up all those modifiers and see what Roykorishtian’s companions look like:

Abilities:

Str 27 (+8), Dex 19 (+4), Con 20 (+5), Int 10, Wis 12 (+1), Cha 8 (-1).

Hit Dice:

3d12 (from 3d8 racial) + 6d8 (Companion) + 45 (Con) = 97

Initiative:

+4

Speed:

40 ft (8 squares), climb 20 ft.

Armor Class:

10 +4 (Dex), +11 (natural, 1 base, 6 companion, 4 half-dragon), +2 (positive levels) = 27

BAB:

+2 (Base) +6 (Companion) +2 (Positive Levels) = +10

Attack:

Natural Weapons (1d6 base, 1d10 after bonuses) = 1d10

Full Attack:

Bite and two claws

Saves:

+7 (Master’s Base) +2 (Positive Level), totals Fort +14, Ref +13, Will +10

Skills:

Balance +12 (+4 Dex +8 Racial), Climb +16 (+8 Str +8 Racial), Hide +8 (+4 Dex +4 Racial, +4 circumstance in areas of tall grass or heavy undergrowth), Jump +16 (+8 Str +8 Racial), Listen +6 (3 SP +1 Wis +2 Alertness), Move Silently +8 (4 Dex +4 Racial), Spot +6 (3 SP +1 Wis +2 Alertness).

Special:

Low-light vision, Darkvision, Scent, Improved Fortune/Evasion, Alertness, Weapon Finesse (now irrelevant since Str now exceeds Dex), Immunity to Sleep, Paralysis, and Acid, Inherent Spell/Acid Bolt (line or cone, 1d4/user level to 10d4, once per day), Improved Grab, Pounce, and Rake.

Great Form:

Righteous Might as a free action three times per day: +8 Str, +4 Con, +4 Natural Armor, DR 10/Good, and other minor size modifiers.

Transformed:

Movement: Ground 60, Fly 150/poor, Swim 60 and +7 Natural Armor (+12 replaces the +1 base and the +4 for half-dragon).

51 CP:

+6 Bonus Uses with Inherent Spell/”Breath Weapon”, 9 CP), Immunity/having to breathe while underwater (Uncommon, Severe, Minor, 6 CP), Spell Resistance of 5+Master’s Level (6 CP), Block/Missile (6 CP), Grant of Aid (6 CP), Power Words (can store 7 levels of spells, 6 CP), Shapeshift (6 CP), Inherent Spell, Specialized for Double Effect/requires one-minute ritual, only to recharge power words, a Level Six Greater Invocation for any arcane spell effect of level three or less (6 CP).

Basic Link:

Their master may communicate with them, and opt to share the effects of spells and powers used on him or her with them, at ranges of up to one mile.

   Yes, that’s right: with +5 ECL worth of modifiers applied to a CR 2 creature and stacked with the Companion Creature modifiers, these things are just as personally formidable as their master at the moment – and might even be a bit worse. Of course, that matches; CR 7+ creatures, about as formidable as CR 7+ master. Unless some of the characters are extremely specialized, confronting Roykorishtian and his friends is going to be extremely dangerous. If they’re wise, any such confrontation will be proceeded by a good deal of investigation and preparation (getting everyone equipped with acid resistance and ghost strike weapons – and having a dimensional anchor spell or two available – would be a good start). Of course, that’s more like what fighting even a young dragon ought to be like; if a low or mid-level group isn’t careful, and foolishly backs him into a corner, he may well kill the lot of them.

   If the game master is keeping the players from running amuck designing specialists, it’s only fair to restrain the monsters too – but so many players design their characters for total overkill that it’s fun to design a few monsters for it too.

   As a creature, Roykorishtian is not stupid. He’s not brilliant either – but he did listen to some advice before he left his mother’s lair. He knows about arrows of slaying, and dragonbane weapons, and high-level characters, and he wants nothing to do with any of them. That’s one reason why he’s invested so much of his personal power in companions that can support him in a fight and impersonate dragons (if necessary, with the help of a nondetection or specialized illusion spell to cover divination) as a front.

   Some possible schemes for Roykorishtian include:

  • Caravan raiding. Roykorishtian will either scout them in small animal form or – if possible – actually join them. If there’s no reason not to raid them, he can send in a few companions. If they’re being driven off, it’s time to either tip the balance – if he can do so safely – or be one of the heroic defenders and “drive them off” in hopes of a reward. If a caravan is too strong to take, well, at least he can still try to collect a good payment for guarding it.
  • The same sort of scheme will do nicely for robbing tax collectors and such. If there happen to be weaker groups of monsters or bandits or some such around, he’ll gladly raid them, steal their treasure – and then try to collect a reward for doing so.
  • Theft. As long as it won’t be easy to trace to him, Roykorishtian will gladly deploy his companions, and even take personal action, to snatch any available treasure. He will, however, probably have to do his own scouting.
  • Actual adventuring. Roykorishtian can take human form, even if he does look pretty young to be out on his own, and would certainly be an asset to most mid-level parties. It wouldn’t be a lot of cash compared to what an elder dragon might rake in – but it would be pretty good for a juvenile dragon. Besides, allies can be helpful, and – if they aren’t – you can always kill them off and take their stuff.
  • Protection rackets. He won’t even have to get involved directly; he can just send out a minion, sit back, and rake in the cash. This is a classic dragon routine – but, unfortunately, he’ll have to find a territory where no other dragon is operating before he can expect to get away with this kind of scheme. Confronting an older dragon in it’s home territory isn’t a terribly good idea.
  • Honest work. Roykorishtian may not want to work himself – most dragons consider it beneath them after all – but renting out a “dragon” or two is pretty easy. Does some mighty evil warlord want a dragon mount? Does some powerful mage want a draconic guardian for his tower? Why not?.
  • If he does get traced to a lair (which he doesn’t have yet), he’ll deploy his companions first – and if it isn’t going well, he’ll get out, leaving one of them to impersonate him and divert the enemy. A Handy Haversack or bag of holding or two will suffice to keep his treasure in – and he’ll want one to keep his potions and such handy anyway.

   Roykorishtian’s battle tactics are pretty basic at the moment: he is a kid after all. If there’s a fight, and there’s a reason not to simply escape, he’ll deploy his companions, have them all douse the area with acid – they’re all immune to acid anyway, so there’s no reason not to catch each other in their areas of effect – and activate his Blink effect on their behalf when things go to hand-to-hand. He’ll stay out of it himself unless he’s VERY sure that his participation will tip the balance in his favor. He’d rather take the shock of losing a companion and have to recruit a new one than die.

   It’s fairly likely that – the first several times that a group encounters Roykorishtian – they won’t even find out that he’s a dragon. Even if they’re willing to assault the “kid” the first time, he should be quite tough enough to get away. He may not even have to reveal his dimension-door ability – and, sensibly, would prefer to keep just how tough he is, his identity, and as many of his personal capabilities, secret for as long as he possibly can. It will help him live longer.

   Actually pinning him down will be quite a challenge – and if it comes to that, he’d rather surrender, beg, or submit than die. It’s a lot easier to get over hurt pride than it is to get over being dead.