Eclipse Pathfinder – The Bard

   Next up in the “Pathfinder Upgrade” parade is how to build a Pathfinder Bard in Eclipse point-buy. Once again, that’s actually fairly straightforward, and mostly just requires ignoring all the options that you don’t want to use. Simply take the standard “Bard” build and make a few changes, as follows:

  • Drop 18 Skill Points at levels zero and one.
  • Buy Fast Learner, Specialized in Larger Hit Dice (increasing their hit die at each level to 1d8, 6 CP). This is one of the reasons why Fast Learner was put into Eclipse – to allow the basic classes to be easily upgraded to later standards.
  • Buy Adept, halving the cost of four selected skills – and thus saving 40 CP through level twenty (6 CP). For any skill-focused character, taking Adept is almost mandatory. If the game master will let you, take it twice.
    • Adept was added to Eclipse because the gradual devaluation of skills was – like the power creep of later sourcebooks – inherent in the way d20 tends to be run from the very start. While there is a brief section on awarding XP for non-combat encounters, achieving goals, and roleplaying in the original rules, not too many people actually used it – or even awarded experience for sneaking past, diverting, or otherwise dealing with creatures without fighting. Thus, in most campaigns, skills were soon an afterthought; you got someone who could handle the occasional trap or lock, and you kept on the offensive. Ergo, Eclipse includes a couple of ways to reduce the costs of skills, boost skills, or get extra skill points, as well as some skill-based magic systems – enough to make a skill-based character competitive again.
  • Remove Lore (-6 CP) and add Immunity/the distinctions between Knowledge Skills (Very Common, Minor, Major, Specialized in the Professional ability only, 6 CP), and Professional/a knowledge Skill (6 CP), at a net cost of (6 CP).
    • Oops. This is pretty silly; it means that our quasi-medieval Bard automatically becomes an expert in hyperdrive theory, physics and chemistry, and 22’nd century popular culture, as well as every other field of knowledge in the multiverse as he or she goes up in level. I think I’ll just Corrupt that Immunity by adding the qualifier “locally known” before “Knowledge Skills”, thus reducing things to sanity and saving 2 CP at the same time. Pathfinder doesn’t really consider questions like that, but Eclipse doesn’t limit itself to fantasy settings, so it has to.

   That leaves 42 CP to buy the remaining upgrades:

  • Pathfinder tracks “Bardic Performance” in rounds per day instead of uses. That causes a problem in Eclipse, where “Mystic Artist” can be taken on things like Architecture, to construct inspiring temples or spell-resistant fortresses, or be applied to sculpture, metalworking, or many other fields in a wide variety of ways – or where an artist might want to hold an audience spellbound for hours. On the other hand, the possible number of uses in a day has been increased. Fortunately, we have enough extra character points available to have the best of both worlds; just take Mystic Artist twice, on two similar methods of performance. That will double up your daily uses, still allow them to continue indefinitely, and provide access to more abilities, for a mere six additional character points over the base cost for Mystic Artist (6 CP). I could save a few character points by specializing that to reduce things to a limited number of rounds, but that wouldn’t save all that many points – and it really reduces the flavor of the Bard.
  • Pathfinder Bards get several additional performance types as well. Now, an Eclipse Mystic Artist can normally expect to have ten or eleven such abilities by level twenty, instead of the nine open to a classic Bard – and has twenty-one basic abilities to choose from, with an additional six that become available at epic skill ratings, and forty-odd advanced abilities to purchase. Since several of them offer a variety of effect options, most of the ne w Pathfinder abilities are covered there – and taking Mystic Artist twice opens up new option slots. In particular:
    • Distraction: This performance type is already inherent in the Block ability, which standard Bards will be taking anyway.
    • Dirge of Doom: This performance type is included in the Emotional Auras ability.
    • Soothing Performance: In Pathfinder this requires level 12+ and four rounds worth of mystical art. It produces a Cure Serious Wounds effect on it’s audience and removes the Fatigued, Sickened, and Shaken conditions. That’s almost exactly the amount of healing that a 12’th level audience (settling down for a moment for “Complete Rest”) can expect from a one-round use of the Serenity ability – but Serenity also counts as a full nights rest, and so allows the targets to throw off negative levels, refresh their uses-per-day abilities and spell slots, recover attribute damage, and eliminate various conditions. Sadly, the basic version of Serenity can only be used once per week, instead of several times per day. So what we’ll want to do is to Specialize it (does not refresh uses-per-day abilities) to allow it to be used every day and then buy +4 bonus uses – also Specialized/each additional use requires two uses of the Mystic Artist ability (3 CP). That provides five uses per day, which should be enough to cover things.
    • Frightening Tune: This performance type is included in the Emotional Auras ability.
    • Deadly Performance: This is the Pathfinder Bard’s capstone ability – the power to kill individual targets through artistic performances. This is a minor problem; Eclipse does include that ability – but it’s at the end of a chain of five other feats which grant a wide variety of disruptive and destructive ways in which to use mystic art. That’s simply because the ability to kill with art only appears in a very few conceptions of the Bard.
      • Personally, I’d recommend leaving this optional; this version of the Bard will already be picking up quite a few additional performance types anyway – which seems like more than a fair exchange for having to spend some feats, or scrape up some points elsewhere, to buy the ability to kill with art. If you really must have it built in, take Adept again – Specialized in only two skills – for (3 CP). That effectively yields 17 CP over the course of twenty levels – enough to buy the first three feats in the Disruptive ability chain, allowing our Bard to disrupt thoughts, magic, psionics, life, and unlife forces over a wide area.
  • Versatile Performance: Buy this as Immunity/Penalties for using a skill in place of another related skill (Common, Minor, Major, 6 CP), Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect/can only be applied to (Level/4 rounded up) skills, each skill to which it is applied can only be used in place of two related skills, the primary skills can only be Perform skills. That negates penalties of up to (-18), which should be quite sufficient.
    • Personally, I think that using such an ability – along with Deadly Performance – implies that combat is being seriously overstressed in Pathfinder. Admittedly, my games tend to be heavy on knowledge and perception skill checks, detective work, social skill use, and figuring out puzzles as opposed to combat – and combat is fairly rare, since the characters know that it could easily go either way or result in some character deaths – but does a character really need to be effectively expert in ten extra skills and have mystical art abilities to make up for his or her spells and personal abilities being relatively light on combat applications?
  • Well Versed: Gain a +4 bonus on saving throws against mystical artistry, sonic, and language dependent effects. That’s Resist (specific category) (6 CP).
  • Lore Master: This gives a Pathfinder Bard the ability to “take 10” on Knowledge skill checks – which is allowed anyway – and the ability to “take 20” on a Knowledge skill check up to three times per day. That’s Luck, with +2 Bonus Uses, Specialized in Skills, Corrupted to Knowledge skills only (4 CP).
  • Jack of All Trades: At 10th level, the Bard can use trained-only skills untrained. At 16th level, all skills are treated as class skills. At 19th level, the user can take 10 on any skill check, even if that is not normally allowed.
    • OK, that one is a little odd. By the time a character reaches tenth level in a skill-based class, are there really likely to be any skills that 1) can’t be used unskilled and 2) the character really wants to use and yet has never invested a single skill point in? Over ten levels?
    • All skills being treated as class skills is also meaningless in Eclipse. By level sixteen, any skill that the character has developed an interest in will have become a class skill, and any skill which seems relevant to the character conception starts off as a class skill anyway.
    • The level nineteen effect would be several instances of the Mastery ability – but that’s boring and expensive for what you get. I’d recommend Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized in Skills, Corrupted/only for reroll (4 CP).
  • The Pathfinder Bard also gets more spells than the usual one. The easiest way to get this – and to add a little flavor to each individual Bard at the same time – is to Buy Specialist I and II (getting an additional spell of each level 1-6 per day as long as they’re related to a particular field, 6 CP) and a Path (a group of related spell formulas, one of each level. In this case, that’s Corrupted/the user is limited to building his or her Path from the normally-available bardic spell list, 4 CP).
  • Finally, the Pathfinder Bard also gets unlimited use of his or her level zero spells. That’s Shaping, Specialized for Increased Effect (only works for the characters limited list of level zero Bard spells), Corrupted/must be free to gesture and speak (4 CP). As a side-benefit, level zero spells with cumulative effects – such as healing – lose effectiveness on any single target after 2d6 applications in any one day. That means that you don’t have to banish healing cantrips from the game.

   All of that comes to 43 CP – or 42 CP if you take the option to get the Disruptive abilities. Given that our build had 42 CP available, that comes out just about perfectly. In fact, amusingly enough, it comes out slightly more perfectly than the standard build, which uses only 503 CP out of the 504 CP available to a level twenty character – making the basic Pathfinder-style Eclipse build accurate down to the last point.

   Eclipse: The Codex Persona is available in a Shareware PDF Version, in Print, and in a Paid PDF Version that includes Eclipse II (245 pages of Eclipse races, character and power builds, items, relics, martial arts, and other material) and the web expansion. It will be updated with Eclipse III when that’s done as well.

   On a personal note, I’m still find it quite pleasing to see how well Eclipse handles Pathfinder, given that Pathfinder wasn’t published until several years after Eclipse was.

   Oh yes, here’s the OGL on the Pathfinder SRD site I referenced.

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One Response

  1. […] for Pathfinder -Basics and Races and the class breakdowns for the  Alchemist, Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Monk, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, Sorcerer and Summoner. The sample […]

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