To continue with Mutants in Eclipse, and to start winding down the series, here we have a few of the more unusual archetypes and a second look at Adepts.
This archetype resembles – and sometimes overlaps with – the Gadgeteer, but is less inclined to pull out weird gadgets on the spot. Instead, he or she relies on a massive collection of gadgets built into a suit of super-technological (or occasionally “magical”) armor, an alien power-boosting harness, or some similar trinket.
Oddly enough, however, any attempt to “copy the technology” always results in vastly-inferior knockoffs if it can be done at all. Occasionally the Armorsmith can loan his armor to someone else (the Blessing ability), and once in a very great while you’ll see a team of normal folks with matching armor (Mystic Link and Power Link), but that’s very rare.
Ergo, the Armorsmith does indeed usually possess a special power; he or she can get effects and benefits from various devices that no one else can manage. While some devices can be used, at least for a bit, by anyone who grabs them, others cannot. Since the advantages and disadvantages of both roughly cancel themselves out, the choice can be left up to the player during character creation.
In Eclipse, that’s really really easy; an Armorsmith’s powers are either Corrupted or Specialized: he or she needs a more-or-less blatantly obvious, vulnerable, external talisman to use them – and there will certainly be times when their talisman gets broken, has to be left behind, or gets grabbed, and they won’t be able to use their powers. That’s the usual specialist choice of course; greater power sometimes versus less power at other times – and it’s up to the game master to make sure that there are enough times of weakness to let the other characters have the spotlight in their turns.
In practice, the Armorsmith is simply a subcase of the Corrupted and Specialized Magic rules on page fifteen of Eclipse. While some of the options there will not apply – limiting spell choice and such is generally meaningless to characters who are using Innate Enchantment and superheroic themes (and thus have no choice of spells), options such as destructive side effects, having to absorb energy or power up before your abilities can be used, requiring an exotic focus, unreliable powers, and powers which vary unpredictably, can all be found in the comics and movies.
These characters are simply nigh-impossible to get rid of. Beat them into a bloody pulp and break half their bones, and they come right back. Kill them outright, and they come back after a brief delay. Seal them in concrete and metal and sink them into the deepest trench in the ocean, and they come back after a slightly longer period. Sometimes there’s a way to finally get rid of them – or at least to keep them out of action for a really long time – and sometimes there isn’t.
OK, now that’s a bit awkward. One of the basic elements of most games is risk – both of failure and of life itself – and this character basically isn’t subject to nearly as much risk as everyone else.
In a villain this is boring. It may sound cool, but when you create an ancient, immortal, villain who cannot die, sooner or later everyone will realize that this guy is like any other chronic but not serious illness; for some reason he obviously cannot ever win – or he would have done it ages ago – and yet the game master has ruled that you can’t get rid of the constant annoyance. If you must have an immortal recurring villain, he or she (or it) will need some massive loopholes in his or her defenses. Otherwise you’re telling your players that there’s no way to really win this one – which is both frustrating and boring.
In a hero, this actually works somewhat better. Heroes are awfully hard to get rid of anyway, and most of their attention is focused on risks to others. That means that an Immortal hero is almost as vulnerable to failure as any other hero – and, because they’re weaker thanks to having to pay for their Immortal status, they’ll fail just as often. The only real difference is that an Immortal can embrace martyrdom in defense of others as often as they please…
To build this power, we’ll want something fairly drastic. Bringing someone back as good as new after they’re decapitated, or incinerated and the ashes scattered, or thrown into a black hole, is a bit tricky – and throwing in the ability to recover from any injury, resist the ravages of time, and otherwise live up to that whole “immortality” thing is going to take a very special power indeed.
In fact what we want is a Miracle.
LOTS of Miracles.
That’s Spell Level Nine x Caster Level Seventeen x 2000 GP for Unlimited-Use Use Activated plus 5000 XP x 50 (due to usage limitations) x 5 GP/XP = 1,556,000 GP.
Ouch. That’s a Class-49 mutant power – unless there are some limitations on it.
Fortunately, there are some pretty big ones.
The Immortal’s endless supply of Miracles only works on themselves, and only to restore them to health (or get them out of the way of a final attack and substitute a pair of smoking boots) and get them out of various nigh-inescapable dooms and exiles. OK. There are normally a LOT of things you can do with Miracles. You can transport yourself, aid, resurrect, and heal friends and allies, grant permanent bonuses, avert natural disasters, and produce an immense array of other magical effects. Restricting that glorious cosmic power to simply staying alive is… really kind of pathetic. Call it x.2.
The Miracles work by themselves, and in their own time. The Immortal does not have any real control over them, so there’s usually some delay about coming back – and the more elaborate the “death”, the more time it will take. That’s about x.4.
That brings things down to 124,480 GP – something available to a Class-IV Mutant with 3520 GP left over to buy a couple of minor enhancements with.
Can this be reduced even further? Certainly it can; the usual route is to leave a loophole. For example…
If the Immortal will return UNLESS you locate some secret crypt/temple/device and destroy it, or solve some elaborate riddle about the destined manner of his or her death, or kill them off or seal them up in some really elaborate manner, that’s about x.75. It’s a pain in the rear, but it’s certainly doable, and takes the cost down to 93,360 GP – a Class-III Mutant with 2640 GP left over.
If the Immortal can be taken out in some less-awkward fashion – by several methods which may be well-hidden, but will be straightforward enough once discovered, or by some elaborate but fairly obvious trick, or can readily be disposed of through imprisonment, the multiplier is x.5 – a cost of 62,240 GP – a Class-II Mutant with 1760 GP left over to buy some minor upgrade with. That’s also about the right level for a character who can be exiled into another dimension, or tossed into a black hole, or some such and who will not then re-appear unless someone goes to a LOT of trouble to rescue him or her.
If the Immortal can be taken out relatively simply, that’s x.25 – and becomes a mere Class-I Mutant with 880 GP left over. For example, everyone knows that werewolves can be taken out with silver, by totally destroying the body by fire (or some similar agency), or magical purification, and that they can fairly readily be stranded on distant planets, thrown into black holes, and so on, with every expectation that they’re pretty well gone for good. Of course, if you’re silly enough to satisfy yourself with throwing them over a cliff or something, you can expect to see them healed up and back in action by the next full moon, if not sooner.
Mr Eternity, however, has the full Class-IV Immortality package, and can be relied on to recover from any amount of simple physical damage in a few minutes, from poisons and radiation in hours, and to reappear after being thrown into a black hole or some such within a few days. Of course, that doesn’t leave him with much room for other powers, so he’s just going to have to rely on things like martial arts and skills.
The Combat Expert
This character isn’t necessarily a mutant; he or she is simply really REALLY good with ranged weapons, or knives, or an axe, or martial arts, or whatever. If they are mutants, a level of Paragon or the minor mutant Weapons Expert package is probably the most appropriate – and will get them more than enough minor bonuses to keep them competitive. After that you want Warcraft (Base Attack Bonus) specialized in your chosen weapons and various combat tricks. After all, it isn’t who can dish out the most damage, it’s who can get that knockout shot in first.
Combat Experts tend to be unspectacular characters – but they’re also often team leaders. After all, they tend to have trained tactical skills, experience in a variety of fields, good relations with normals, and plenty of self-discipline and determination. That can be quite a contrast to most “Mutants”, most of whom are simply born with their powers or have them appear at puberty.
Adepts and their Themes
Adepts can manifest any power within their themes – but the broader the theme, the more powerful they have to be to produce any specific effect. Ergo, it’s worth a quick look at a few of the more common themes as an example – starting off with the most requested one; Telekinesis.
An Advanced Telekinetic can create force fields, fire kinetic bolts, move numerous objects at the same time, fly, attempt to block physical projectiles, heat and cool objects via the telekinetic control of molecules, fly, and perform many other simple, physical, manipulations. A character with this level of ability has a fairly narrow theme, and so can produce effects of up to two levels below the level of the Greater Invocation used.
A Master Telekinetic can restructure inorganic materials at the molecular level, reweave fibers, perform multiple complex tasks at the same time, filter gases and liquids for particular groups of molecules, generate electrical disruptions, create force fields which can ward off radiation, and “animate” materials by constantly reshaping them. They can produce effects of up to three levels below the level of the Greater Invocation used.
A Paramount Telekinetic can directly manipulate subatomic particles, energies, and the structure of space, restructure living creatures while keeping them alive, create exotic materials and alloys, make broken devices operate by “filling in the gaps in their structure”, and pull vaporized items back together. They can produce effects – pretty much anything they want if they’re clever – of up to four levels below the level of the Greater Invocation used.
With Control of Technology an Advanced Adept could control machines and devices, override their safety limits, and repair and reprogram technological devices. A Master could make machines function without fuel, exceed their normal limits, vary their functions, and break down and assemble machines from spare parts. A Paramount can construct elaborate machines, and cause them to far exceed the limits of normal technology, from basic materials.
Similarly there are time-manipulators, probability shifters, adepts who can detect and manipulate “Mutant” powers, adepts with an immense variety of enhanced senses, transformers, masters of electromagnetism, telepaths, spirit-masters, bio-manipulators, and more. One of the greatest strengths of d20 is it’s immense supply of source material and benchmark spells – and Adepts can use that strength to it’s fullest.