Eclipse – the Malconvoker and the Master Summoner

   Next up, there’s been a request for information on “how to build a Malconvoker in Eclipse”. Well, Malconvokers aren’t OGL, so we’ll just have to settle for creating a very similar “Master Summoner” build. Unlike most prestige classes, that’s actually a bit awkward: the special abilities of a Malconvoker are so specialized that it’s actually harder to fit in all the limitations than it is to buy the abilities. After all:

  • They have a bunch of abilities that only apply to conjuration spells. That’s Specialized, since that’s only one field out of eight.
  • Many of those abilities only apply to summoning spells – about a third (or less depending on how many spells beyond the core you’re allowing) of all conjuration spells. That’s Corrupted.
  • Most of those abilities require an opposed skill check to work. Since a player-character – especially a player character in Eclipse – can be counted upon to push his or her effective skill score through the roof if they’re going to be relying on it, that’s not much of a limitation in itself – but there are problems if the skill check fails. That might be restrictive enough to qualify for Corrupted.
  • Most of the Malconvokers effects – extended spell durations and upgraded spell results (as in; statistical improvements to the creatures summoned) – are essentially free metamagics. That’s easy enough to build in Eclipse, but the Malconvoker gets a fixed array of results, rather than being able to choose freely within the limits of the theorem applied. That’s Corrupted again.
  • Almost all of their abilities only apply to creatures of a particular alignment. That’s Corrupted again.

   As a general rule, you need special permission and a very good reason to Specialize or Corrupt something more than once. We’re already up to one Specialization and four Corruptions. If you let that go, that would be one-tenth cost – and probably far more than is actually required. Quite a few of those extra “Corrupted” modifiers are probably going to get dumped in our Master Summoner build.

   It’s also vaguely implied that Malconvokers are drawing on some unknown external power source to upgrade their magic, which may have terrible – or at least strange – consequences later on. It’s also noted that the creatures they summon may become extremely angry at being so manipulated, that they are regarded with grave suspicion socially, and are often hunted by powerful individuals and organizations. Well, maybe I can fit that in somewhere.

   Of course, what we’re going to wind up with here is a super-specialist. That’s usually a poor idea in Eclipse. What happens when you run up against someone who can set your creatures free? (Hmm. An aura of freedom from mental control; since Protection from Evil will do that, that’s a perfectly valid Presence effect, available for a mere six character points. A lot of improvisational spellcasters and mentalists will be able to do it too). How about a dimensional barrier? A summoner who simply opens the way for creatures to come and take revenge without trying to control them? An equally-specialized NPC?

   There are lots of ways to render super-specialists fairly useless.

   Now, a Malconvoker normally gets:

  • An extra one of the most powerful creature summoned by a particular spell. Since that’s usually simply double effect for their most powerful creatures – which is what usually gets summoned – that’s most easily bought as either Amplify Metamagical Theorem (double effect, +4 spell levels) or the Multiple Metamagical Theorem (repeats the spell once, also at +4 spell levels). In this case, we’ll want Multiple, that’ll give a bit more flexibility. Our generic Master Summoner can get a powerful creatures and a squad of supporters or two different powerful creatures, or a great mob of lesser ones.
  • Their summoned creatures, after the Augment Summoning feat and other modifiers, get +4 Strength, +4 Constitution, +2 Will, +2 Weapon Damage, and +2 hit points per die. That’s Amplify again; somewhat less than doubling the creatures hits and boosting their combat abilities moderately and other abilities not at all. That’s in the “augment by 50%” (+2 spell levels) range. We could call it +3 to err on the expensive side, but – in this case – it wouldn’t make any real difference anyway.
  • Their summoned creatures stick around twice as long as usual. That’s the Persistent Metamagical Theorem, at +1 spell level.

   So how do we buy all that in Eclipse?

  • First up, we need the Multiple, Amplify, and Persistent Metamagical Theorems, all Specialized and Corrupted/only works with Conjuration/Summoning spells (6 CP).
  • That’s a total of seven or eight levels of free Metamagic. For that we need four levels of Streamline, also Specialized and Corrupted/only works with Conjuration/Summoning spells (8 CP).
  • Now, spontaneous spellcasters, including Druids, will also need the Fast modifier on this, but – once again – that’s Specialized and Corrupted/only works with Conjuration/Summoning spells (2 CP).

   What other benefits are there? Let see now…

  • +1 Caster Level, Specialized and Corrupted for double effect and 2/3’rds cost/only works with Conjuration/Summoning spells (4 CP). For the Malconvoker this only applied to keeping the user’s summoned creatures from being dispelled, but – once again – that would be more limitations than our Master Summoner actually needs. This version gets the extra duration too.
  • Opportunist/can dismiss spells as a move action rather than as a standard action, Specialized and Corrupted/only works with Conjuration/Summoning spells (2 CP).
  • Immunity/restrictions on casting aligned spells (Uncommon, Minor, Major, Specialized/only works with Conjuration spells, 1 CP). This both allows clerical types to use conjuration spells of opposed alignments and prevents the conjuring of various creatures from affecting the conjurers alignment. Of course, this is only necessary if deities are too stupid to note that summoning creatures of opposing alignments is exploitation not alliance and the game master is attempting to apply rigid rules to vague philosophies without allowing for the character’s intent. Still, I’ll leave it in. It’s certainly cheap enough – which actually fits in nicely with the notion that it’s basically unnecessary.
  • Domain/Path, Calling, Specialized/only provides the Lesser Planar Binding, Planar Binding, and Greater Planar Binding spells (3 CP). Actually, some characters won’t necessarily need this, but it’s convenient even for Wizards if they haven’t obtained copies of those spells already.
  • The character can call creatures two hit dice larger than usual with Planar Binding spells and gets a +5 bonus on the opposed Charisma check to obtain services. That could be metamagic – and they could get it cheap due to it being extraordinarily specialized again – but, honestly, this seems more like a minor Privilege, Corrupted/requires an opposed Bluff versus (the creatures) Sense Motive check to work (2 CP).

   Well, the total cost of our Master Summoner package there is 28 CP. The standard Malconvoker build also requires Spell Focus/Conjuration – but it does them very little good, since there is no save versus creatures being conjured. Characters can buy it if they want, but it’s not required for the Eclipse Master Summoner.

   The Malconvoker is normally a nine-level build, and gets d4 hit dice (0 CP), +4 BAB (24 CP), +3 Fort (9 CP), +3 Ref (9 CP), +6 Will (18 CP), 18 Skill Points (18 CP), and a Bonus Feat (since the Eclipse version doesn’t rely so heavily on Bluff) (6 CP). That’s 84 character points on basics.

   With nine prestige class levels, the Malconvoker will have a base of 216 character points to work with. Currently we’ve spent 112 of them, leaving a total of 104 character points to spend.

   They also get +8 Magic Levels in an existing spellcasting progression. This is one of the standard awkward points with prestige classes; is eight levels of Adept or Bard spellcasting really worth the same amount as eight levels of Sorcerer or Wizard spellcasting? Fairly obviously, the various types of magic levels are not equal – which is why they have differing costs in Eclipse.

   Eight Druid Magic Levels cost 64 CP. Eight Package-Deal Cleric Magic Levels would cost 80 CP. For Wizard the cost is 112 CP, and for Sorcerer the cost is 128 CP. The Wizard and Sorcerer are spending a few too many points there. Clerics and Druids – who normally have a few bonus points each level due to their Duties and Restrictions – are seriously shorting themselves. Of course, in Eclipse, that’s easy to deal with; simply spend the rest of the points on something if you have more than you need, and scrape up some more or delay purchasing something if you don’t have enough.

   As far as the Wizards and Sorcerers go, many or most Eclipse characters will have a few bonus character points available – whether from Duties, Restrictions, Fast Learner, or (effectively) from Adept. The Wizard would need eight 8 extra character points – which will probably be available – but the Sorcerer will need 24, which might or might not be. They may need to spend a few bonus feats if they want to precisely match the Malconvoker build.

   Of course, the Master Summoner has a number of advantages over the Malconvoker anyway. Secondary abilities – like a Familiar’s or Animal Companion’s abilities, Shapeshifting, and clerical Channeling, will all keep increasing based on the character’s total level (unless he or she takes some special restriction or limitation, thus saving a few character points), the abilities are more general and flexible, and you can start off on this path at level one, instead of fiddling around with other classes first.

   Optionally, the game master may take the ideas about the risks of drawing on some unknown external power source, possible consequences, creatures becoming angry, social suspicion, and being hunted by various groups, seriously.

  • It would be simplest to just say that such things are relevant, and allow a second Corruption modifier for the entire 28 CP summoning package, That would reduce the cost to 19 CP and thus save 9 CP – enough so that the Wizard will have one point left over and the Sorcerer would only have to come up with 15 CP, which really shouldn’t be any problem.
  • Alternatively, that could be represented as a Package Deal (which can be worth up to 12 CP), but characters are only allowed one of those and some characters might already have one, and they’re meant to encourage roles that the game master wants filled – so it’s a poor choice for a prestige class conversion.
  • Duties or Restrictions would work. It’s mildly unusual to add them after first level, but hardly unheard of. A character who – say – decides to become a priest or enter the service of some lord may well acquire Duties or Restrictions, and characters can (if it’s justified in the game) acquire or trade in Disadvantages at any time. It’s just that only the first three Disadvantages are worth character points. If you want to eliminate some of the flexibility – and take the Master Summoner closer to the original Malconvoker design – take a Restriction; you can’t use your special summoning powers on creatures of either good or evil alignment. That would be good for one extra character point per level; neatly covering the Wizard and notably reducing the Sorcerer’s deficit.

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

Eclipse – The Thaumaturgist

   Next up, there’s been a request for a more elaborate explanation of the Thaumaturgist build than is found in the back of Eclipse: The Codex Persona. That’s pretty easy – so here it is*. Of course, like all Eclipse builds, this doesn’t have any peculiar prerequisites, so there’s no reason why you can’t start off a career as a Thaumaturgist at level one. You can continue past level five as well; just continue buying abilities in the same general vein.

   *Besides, the version in the back of Eclipse has a typo. Oh well, this will clear that up as well.

   The standard Thaumaturgist is a five-level prestige class with d4 HD (0 CP), 10 SP (10 CP), +2 BAB (12 CP), +1 Fortitude (3 CP), +1 Reflex (3 CP), +4 Will (12 CP), +5 Magic Levels building on the existing class, and five special abilities:

  • Improved Ally: When a thaumaturgist casts a planar ally spell (including the lesser and greater versions), he makes a Diplomacy check to convince the creature – provided that it shares at least one aspect of it’s alignment with the thuamaturgists – to aid him for a reduced payment. If the thaumaturgist’s Diplomacy check adjusts the creature’s attitude to helpful the creature will work for 50% of the standard fee, as long as the task is one that is not against its nature.
    • In Eclipse, this is not even an ability. Anyone can attempt to persuade a creature to help them on the cheap. Just use your diplomacy skill.
  • Augment Summoning: At 2nd level, a thaumaturgist gains the Augment Summoning feat.
    • In Eclipse this is the Amplify Metamagic Theorem (requiring about +1 level) with the Fast and Streamline modifiers, all of which is both Specialized and Corrupted/only for Conjuration/Summoning spells (6 CP).
  • Extended Summoning: At 3rd level and higher, all spells from the summoning subschool that the thaumaturgist casts have their durations doubled, as if the Extend Spell feat had been applied to them. The levels of the summoning spells don’t change, however. This ability stacks with the effect of the Extend Spell feat, which does change the spell’s level.
    • In Eclipse this is the Persistent Metamagic Theorem (requiring +1 level) wit the Streamline modifier, both Specialized and Corrupted/only for Conjuration/Summoning spells (4 CP). Note that Metamagic stacks just fine with itself in Eclipse, so there’s no problem with improving on this later.
  • Contingent Conjuration: A 4th-level thaumaturgist can prepare a summoning or calling spell ahead of time to be triggered by some other event. This functions as described for the contingency spell, including having the thaumaturgist cast the summoning or calling spell beforehand. The spell is cast instantly when the trigger event occurs.
    • In Eclipse this is the Trigger Metamagic Theorem, with the Glory and Finesse abilities (use the characters primary spellcasting attribute in place of Constitution). All three are Specialized and Corrupted/only for Conjuration/Summoning spells. That will mean that each spell so prepared should last for several days. To be fair, the thaumaturgist can only have one such spell ready at a time – which actually is a reasonable candidate for double specialization, since it does substantially limit the usefulness of this ability. That gives us a net cost of 4 CP.
  • Planar Cohort: A 5th-level thaumaturgist can use any of the planar ally spells to call a creature to act as his cohort. The called creature serves loyally and well as long as the thaumaturgist continues to advance a cause important to the creature.
    • In Eclipse that’s Leadership with the Exotic Race modifier, Specialized/you only get one creature, and Corrupted (for increased effect, can be of a higher ECL than usual)/the user must be able to magically call the creature to be recruited (4 CP).

   That’s 18 CP worth of special abilities, for a grand total of 58 CP plus the costs of five Magic Levels out of a total of 120 CP available to a five-level prestige class.

   In the basic rules the usual entry path involved being a cleric; five Package Deal Cleric Magic Levels would cost 50 CP – meaning that this would have a total cost of 108 CP. Even without considering the extra points a Cleric would normally be getting for his or her duties, this is a poor build.

   In Eclipse, where there are no Cleric-specific entry requirements, this class would be a better deal for Wizards and Sorcerers. Their magic levels would have a net cost of 70 CP for Wizards and 80 CP for Sorcerers, meaning that a Wizard would come out 8 CP ahead and a Sorcerer 18. Of course, in Eclipse, they’d just have to come up with those points somewhere – but in Eclipse there’s no reason to take abilities you don’t want or to take useless prerequisites just to get the abilities you do want.

Battling Business World Update

   First up for today is an update to the Battling Business World Sub-Index. Since the player’s been hard at work expanding the Amarant Solutions roster, there are several new sample characters up.

   The full index includes a considerably better explanation and rather more material for the setting, but here are some of the major character links again: