Building Sapient Animal Characters in Eclipse

   There have been a few requests about how to build animals in Eclipse.

   Now normally I wouldn’t bother; there’s normally no reason to build animals with the same kind of attention that goes into a player character or major villain – and there are plenty of writeups for various animals in the system already. In fact, there are writeups for all kinds of things in the d20 system already; that’s why Eclipse was designed to remain compatible with most of the d20 rules sets out there. That way you can avoid doing all that work and still allow the players to build exactly the characters they want.

   Still, there are the occasional groups that want to make talking-animal characters and recreate Bunnies and Burrows, or have the characters undergo some fairy-tale transformations, or some such.

   So here’s a quick conversion to provide a basis for one such character.

   “Prince” was once a classic Handsome Prince, who had a run-in with an equally-classic Wicked Witch – and now is busy trying to solve his curse and return to human form, so that he can marry his True Love!

   Let us hope that she doesn’t turn into a 22’nd level amazon warrior in the meantime.

   So; we need a racial breakdown for a Light Warhorse. To build one we’ll need:

  • +1 Level of Growth (+8 Str, -2 Dex, +4 Con, +12 Natural Armor) (48 CP).
  • +2d8 Hit Dice (24 CP).
  • +20 Movement (since he’ll get +10 for being a Quadruped anyway) (Celerity, 9 CP).
  • +2 Natural Armor (Defender, 12 CP).
  • +2 BAB (Warcraft, 12 CP).
  • 1d4 Natural Weapons (Martial Arts, 3 CP).
  • Low-Light Vision (Occult Sense, 6 CP).
  • Scent (Occult Sense, 6 CP).
  • Saves: Fortitude +3, Reflex +3, and Will +1 (Resist, 21 CP).
  • Ability Modifiers: Str -2, Dex +4, Con +2,Wis +2, and Cha -4. That’s three levels of Attribute Shift (18 CP) and +2 to the total (12 CP).
  • Skills: Listen +4, Spot +4 (8 CP).
  • Racial Feats: Endurance (4 CP) and Run (6 CP).

   That comes out to 189 Character Points. That’s quite a lot.

   On the other hand, there are some severe drawbacks to being a quadrupedal animal. They have no – or very clumsy – manipulative abilities, they can’t use most gear, and they’re generally treated as property (at best). They can talk, however, even if not in any language that humans can easily understand. Ergo, it’s fair enough to treat that package as being Specialized and Corrupted. That takes it down to 63 points.

   Are any disadvantages part of the package?

   Oh, certainly.

   Horses – like most animals – have powerful instincts, and will often have to make a Will check to avoid responding to them. That’s a version of the “Insane” (by human standards) disadvantage.

   With a net total of 60 CP, that would make them a +1 ECL Race.

   Of course, natural horses are non-sapient and level zero – giving them enough points to buy up to 1d8 hit die (8 CP), with 16 CP left over – enough to be trained to wear barding, learn a few tricks, and show a few quirks if the game master feels like keeping track or if the player wants to make a special mount.

   Non-sapience is a little harder to represent. After all, normally massive attribute penalties make a creature pretty hard to play. In fact, a non-sapient creature normally isn’t playable.

   To represent a non-sapient creature, we’ll want a massive intelligence penalty… Actually, we’ll want -16, Corrupted/reduces Intelligence to a minimum of two, for (-32 CP).

   That takes the ECL modifier of the package down to +0 – and gives normal horses an ECL of 0. Of course, thanks to those bonus hit dice and being large, a normal light warhorse has a CR of 1 – but CR’s do not precisely match ECL’s anyway. A player-character light warhorse won’t take “nonsapience”, and thus has a +1 ECL modifier – and will probably want to pick up an Unseen Servant power, or some Telekinesis or some such – and perhaps some monk-style abilities.

2 Responses

  1. […] Building Sapient Animal Characters in Eclipse: […]

  2. […] Building Sapient Animal Characters is how to do just that. […]

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