Halloween Eclipse Part II – Lord Goth

Anek Borez, A.K.A “Lord Goth”

Eighth Level (ex-)Human Knight of Hades (ECL 12)

   Over the years, Lord Borez had defeated many demons, undead, and other horrors. He had aided in the defense of the realm in disputes with the neighboring realms. He had risen to be one of the most respected knight-protectors of the kingdom, even if he had become… more than a bit rigid and authoritarian as he aged. That was hardly unusual. Humans do that, and the elders provide a useful stabilizing influence in their lands and cultures.

   Over the years he had married, and had a family. He had been blessed with strong and healthy children – valiant sons and charming daughters, most of them as noble and firm of purpose as he himself.

   Most of them.

   One young daughter in particular was much more inclined to chaos, even if she was good. When her father forbade her to continue seeing a young nobleman from one of the neighboring (and far more chaotic) states she saw nothing wrong with eloping with the young man and skipping over the border.

   Borez was outraged at the disobedience, at the violation of his values, and at the prospect of a marriage-alliance with a nation and a house which he had fought in the past and which he continued to despise. What was the use of defending the realm if young villains were to be allowed to steal away his children?

   He took his most loyal men and best mounts and gave chase, even if that meant defying attempts by the royal guard to stop him and punching past the neighboring states border guards – only to find the young man violating his daughter when he located their campsite.

   When the blind rage was past, both the young noble and his daughter (who had attempted to stop her fathers murderous attack) were dead by his sword – and Borez refused to believe that it was unjustified, or even that he could have been wrong. If he had been wrong… then he was a murderer and a kinslayer, and that simply could not be true.

   By the time the ensuing war was over, thousands were dead, including most of his sons – and Borez had become a bloody-handed war criminal, savagely “avenging his daughter’s death” upon people who had nothing to do with it.

   When they finally dragged him to the scaffold, he swore bloody vengeance for that “injustice” upon everyone who had “betrayed him”. If the light too was going to betray him by failing to give him the “justice” that he demanded, then he would turn to the darkness.

   He descended into the darkness – first of death, and then of the lower planes – like a falling star, burning crimson with rage and innocent blood.

   His new lords were pleased indeed. Few fell so far – or so terribly. They bestowed equally terrible gifts upon him, and returned him to the mortal world to wreak his vengeance over and over again.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………

   Long decades later, Borez surveyed his new body… Evidently the cultists had sacrificed a young man to provide it. Well, it was always fun having a youthful physical body again!

   And he had his mission. Spirits of darkness were being unleashed upon the world to possess corpses and raise them as undead, to spread chaos and misery, and to trouble the realm. They needed direction and organization. This sorry little cult needed to be built into a tool of terror worthy of the lower planes. The descendants of his old enemies needed to be hunted down and either corrupted or enslaved and sent screaming into the darkness.

   He would have his revenge!

   Currently Borez can usually be found “in disguise” as a startlingly handsome, languid, young man dressed in fine black clothing, sporting fancifully-jeweled “unholy symbols”, surrounded by youthful acolytes, and acting like the worst poseur in history. Of course, this is a superficial guise – but it still makes it easy for him to recruit bored young nobles and rebellious adolescents for his witch-coven in the service of the dark powers. As a side-benefit, it allows him to enjoy drinking, eating good meals, and disporting himself with his young recruits – all the pleasures which he foolishly denied himself before his fall.

   If it comes to a fight, he will spend two Power and use the Nightforge ability to create a full suit of adamant full plate armor – and possibly a weapon if his greatsword is too unwieldy for the available space – on the spot. Fortunately, Theurgy is not affected by armor, since it’s purely verbal.

   Borez is actually significantly lower level than I would normally have made a Knight of Hades; I would have preferred about level twelve as a base – but there was a request in for one of this level. The version below is, however, pretty heavily optimized; if they player characters aren’t, an encounter with Borez is likely to be pretty dangerous or lethal. Gods help them if he manages to lay an ambush and has his various minions ready.

   Anek Borez

   Human Racial Abilities:

  • Bonus Feat: Used to upgrade Fast Learner to plus two skill points per level (3 CP) and to allow him to buy one daily use of Channeling (3 CP).
  • Fast Learner, Specialized in Skills for +2 SP/Level.

   Knight Of Hades Template (from yesterday).

   Rithian Blademaster Package Deal (0 CP):

   The Rithian Blademasters are one of the oldest and most respected warrior-orders of the western realm. While they have several rival schools, the purity of the Rithian techniques is unquestioned and the honor of their school has been fiercely maintained across the centuries. More than a few great champions have come from their halls. They will NOT be pleased to hear that an undead horror is using, and abusing, their techniques, and will certainly sponsor efforts to eliminate such a dishonor.

  • Block/Melee (4 CP) with Multiple (4 CP) and Riposte (4 CP), all Corrupted/only usable while using a sword.

   A Rithian-trained fighter can attempt (by spending an Attack of Opportunity and making a DC 20 Reflex Save) to block up to sixty points of damage from a successful melee attack up to twice per round – and if they do successfully block an attack (and have another Attack of Opportunity available to use), they get an immediate counterstrike at their full BAB. Given Borez’s horrific Reflex save, he can generally pretty well count on deflecting two melee attacks – and getting two extra attacks of his own – every round that he’s in melee as long as his opponents can hit him at all.

   Available Character Points: 216 (level eight base) +10 (Disadvantages; ) +16 (Duties: originally to his native realm, now service to his dark lords) +16 (Fast Learner, Specialized in BAB) +18 (L1, L3, and L6 Bonus Feats) = 276 CP.

   Basic Attributes:

  Str Dex Con Int Wis Cha
Rolled 17 16 18 16 17
Level +1 +1
Template +4
Magic +2 +2 +2
Total 20 18 18 16 24

   Well, those were some REALLY good rolls there. While I’m being generous, and rolling 5d6k3 for major villains – on the theory that they have to have some advantage to have managed to rise to that status – random chance has done very well by Borez here.

   Basic Abilities (148 CP):

  • Hit Points: 12 (L1d12, 8 CP) + 36 (L2-8 d8, 32 CP) +4 (1d4 Bonus HD, 8 CP) +63 (9 x Cha Mod) = 115.
    • Borez always relied more on his ability to block attacks than on raw hit points, but as a Knight of Hades he isn’t doing too badly on the hit point front either. The bonus hit die does add a few hit points, but – rather more importantly – gets his effective level up to nine for his witchcraft, for his inherent spells (the minimum needed to use his fifth level effects), and for using his Channeling abilities.
  • BAB +8 (48 CP)
  • Saves:
    • Fortitude: Not applicable.
    • Reflex: +8 (Purchased, 24 CP) +4 (Dex) +7 (Cha) +1 (Resistance) = +20
    • Will: +2 (Purchased, 6 CP) +3 (Wis) +7 (Cha) +1 Resistance = +13
      • When “Berserk” add another +2 to Saves.
  • Proficient with Light and Medium Armor with the Smooth modifier, Specialized/only to eliminate the Armor Check Penalty (13 CP), Proficient with All Simple and Martial Weapons (9 CP).

   Combat Information:

  • Initiative: +6
  • Move: 90′
  • Armor Class: 10 (Base) +4 (Dex) +8 (Armor) +4 (Shield) +3 (Natural) +1 (Martial Art) = 30
  • Usual Weapons:
    • Greatsword: +25/+25/+20 (+8 BAB +5 Str +7 Cha +4 Martial Art +1 Magic), for 4d6+19+1 Con Damage (2d6 Base +2d6 Negative Energy [+5 Str +7 Cha]x1.5 +1 Magic), Crit 19-20/x2.
    • Longsword: +25/+25/+20 (+8 BAB +5 Str +7 Cha +4 Martial Art +1 Magic), for 1d8+2d6+13+1 Con Damage (1d8 Base +2d6 Negative Energy +5 Str +7 Cha), Crit 19-20/x2. Usually adamant, since he simply creates these as needed.
    • Unarmed Attack: +24/+24/+19 (+8 BAB +5 Str +7 Cha +4 Martial Art), for 1d4+2d6+12+1 Con Damage (1d4 Base +2d6 Negative Energy +5 Str +7 Cha), Crit 20/x2.
    • Composite Longbow: +12/+12/+7 (+8 BAB +4 Dex), for 1d6+12 (1d8 Base +5 Str +7 Cha), Crit 20/x3.
      • Martial Arts: Automatically trips opponents on critical hits, +5′ Reach, may make up to six melee attacks as touch attacks in any one week.
      • When “Berserk” add +6 to hit, one iterative attack at -10, and +2 damage (+3 with Greatsword).

   Other Abilities:

   Advanced Blademaster Training (24 CP):

  • Block/Missile (4 CP), Corrupted/only usable while using a sword.
  • Immunity/the distinction between weapons and himself (Common, Minor, Major, Specialized in Swords, 3 CP). For true blademasters, their weapons are truly extensions of themselves; attempts to sunder or disarm them are simply treated as normal attacks against hem, and any touch-based powers and “unarmed” combat enhancements or martial arts which they may possess operate through their blades.
  • Reflex Training/Combat Reflexes Variant (6 CP). He gets five attacks of opportunity per round.
  • Improved Initiative +2 (3 CP).
  • Immunity/Penalties for wearing armor (Very Common, Minor, Trivial, Specialized in eliminating Dexterity Bonus Caps – raising them by +2) (2 CP). With this ability, and the Chitin Mail effect below, Borez essentially suffers no penalties for wearing full plate armor.
  • Fast Learner, Specialized in BAB for Double Effect (+2 CP/Level) (6 CP).

   The Lesser Mastery (10 CP):

   Powerful enchanted objects are rare and expensive, while few men possess the potential to wield the greater magics – but a great many people can learn a few techniques for channeling ambient magical energy into enhancing their abilities.

  • Innate Enchantment: 11,000 GP effective value, Specialized/all effects are represented by exotic sigils on the skin, his innate magics block the effects of spells and powers that would normally supersede the bonuses they grant, and adding or upgrading enchantments requires strange and exotic ingredients (6 CP). All of his innate enchantments are Spell Level One, Caster Level One, Unlimited-Use Use-Activated, and Personal-Only where relevant. The effects include:
    • Chitin Mail: L1 Transmutation. For one minute per level of the caster whatever armor the user is wearing is treated as being one armor category lighter. The maximum dexterity bonus increases by two, the armor check penalty is reduced by two, arcane spell failure goes down by 15% (to a minimum of 5%), and the speed penalty is eliminated (1400 GP).
    • Enhanced Attributes/+2 Each to Str, Dex, and Cha (4200 GP).
    • Light Foot: L1 Transmutation. The user becomes extremely light on his or her feet, gaining a +30 circumstance bonus on his or her ground movement speed, a +10 circumstance bonus on jump checks, and DR 10 versus Falling Damage [only], for 1d6+2 rounds. The user is, however, considered one size category smaller in a Bull Rush, Grapple, Trip, or Overrun situation (1400 GP).
    • Personal Haste: Provides +30′ Movement and +1 attack at the user’s full BAB when making a full attack (2000 GP).
    • Shield: Provides a +4 Shield Bonus to AC and protects against Magic Missiles (2000 GP).
  • Immunity to Dispelling, Antimagic, and Countermagic (Common/Minor/Great. Specialized in protecting innate enchantments only, Corrupted/only covers powers in this package (4 CP)
  • A great many campaigns will limit characters to 11,000 GP worth of Innate Enchantments – enough to grant characters some interesting and useful powers, and to make them considerably more likely to survive at lower levels, but not enough to make any really major changes at high levels. This batch of abilities would normally cost 880 XP to activate – but we don’t really need to worry about that in an NPC.

   Blessings of the Darkness (24 CP).

   Long decades of service and honor as a mortal had earned Borez several blessings – some modest portion of the powers of a true Paladin. Of course – as often happens when a mortal finds such a path too difficult to follow and turns to darkness – the powers of the lower planes were more than happy to replace those lost blessings.

  • Improved Augmented Bonus: May add his (Cha Mod) to his Reflex Saving Throws, Specialized/only works as long as he continues to enjoy the favor of the dark powers (6 CP).
  • Improved Augmented Bonus: May add his (Cha Mod) to his Will Saving Throws, Specialized/only works as long as he continues to enjoy the favor of the dark powers (6 CP).
  • Luck with +4 Bonus Uses (12 CP).

   The Lure of the Night (Net 12 CP):

   This isn’t a tremendous amount of power – although the ability to simply create his weapons and armor on the spot is pretty handy – but it is a good deal more than most villagers ever get, it’s fairly versatile, and it can be used without destroying his disguise. It’s also something that he can offer to teach new recruits. Besides, the small illusions – and the ability to deceive divination effects – both come in very handy in masking his true nature.

  • Witchcraft III (18 CP). Total Power 30, Save DC 20.
  • Pacts: Spirit, Souls, Gateway, and Hunted (-24 CP).
  • Basic Abilities: The Adamant Will, Elfshot, Glamour, The Hand of Shadows, The Inner Eye, Shadowweave, and Witchsight.
  • Advanced Witchcraft: +3d6 Power (6 CP), The Path of Darkness/Nightforge (one power to create 20 pounds of “adamant” for one hour, 6 CP) and The Dark Flame (one power for +6 Charisma for ten minutes, 6 CP).

   Minor Abilities (25 CP):

   OK, here we have some little stuff that really isn’t part of any of the other packages.

  • Unholy Inspiration: +(Cha Mod) daily uses of Channeling (3 CP).
  • Hardening Exercises: This buys off the Corruption on his natural damage reduction versus physical damage, taking it from 10/magic to 10/- (4 CP).
  • Might of the Inferno: Berserker, +4 BAB and +4 Cha for ten rounds (1 + Level/3, currently four) times per day. Note that, as a cold-hearted Undead, Borez is immune to the mental-focusing effects of invoking this power.
  • Enhanced Strike/Crushing. Once per minute he may apply all the damage from a full attack sequence as a single attack (6 CP).
  • Adept: May buy the Bluff, Concentration, Diplomacy, and Intimidate skills for half cost (6 CP).

   The Hellfire Forge (8 CP):

   Borez has learned to channel his unholy power into a selection of vicious relics – forging them in the infernal flame of his own corrupted spirit.

  • Double Enthusiast, Specialized in Relics for double effect (4 CP worth of Relics) (6 CP).
  • Create Relic, Specialized and Corrupted/only points from Enthusiast, maximum of 2 CP Relics (2 CP).

   His usual selection includes:

   Torc of the Deceiver (2 CP Relic):

   This elegant silver neckpiece is inlaid with gold and studded with small gems, outlining the form of a serpent biting it’s own tail, and wearing a similar serpent-collar of it’s own.

  • Shapeshift, with Shape of Death, Specialized and Corrupted/only allows shifting into a normal human and is essentially cosmetic. The user seems quite normal and can eat, drink, and enjoy the other pleasures of life – but his or her actual game statistics are unchanged. Unfortunately, any major use of dark powers (such as his Infernal Command abilities) will burn away the quasi-illusory shell like tissue paper (4 CP).
  • Advanced Shape of Death/the user may become Incorporeal. Corrupted/this state can only be sustained for a few minutes at a time (4 CP).
  • Cloaking/detection effects show the user as a normal human, Specialized/only works while the user is Shapeshifted into human form (3 CP).
  • +2 Bonus Uses of Shapeshifting (3 CP).
  • With a total cost of 14 CP, the Torc of the Deceiver is a 2 CP Relic.

   Obsidian Athame (1 CP Relic):

   This razor-sharp obsidian blade glitters with crimson sparks deep within when called upon, although the blade becomes cloudier as fewer “charges” remain in it. It’s powers are both Specialized and Corrupted/their “charges” can only be recovered (a maximum of once per day) by the using the blade to in the ritual sacrifice of a sapient being to the dark powers.

  • +(2 x Cha Mod) uses of Luck (4 CP).
  • +2d6 (10) Mana with the Spell Enhancement option (4 CP). Note that a sacrifice will only restore two points of this reserve – but Anek can call upon it to unleash a few really impressive spells if he must.
  • With a total cost of 8 CP, the Dark Athame is a 1 CP Relic.

   The Shard of Dust (1 CP Relic):

   This fragment of fossil bone embedded in a limestone matrix links the user to the centuries of death which lie hidden in the earth and stone of the world.

  • Channeling/Conversion to a Level Five Effect (9 CP). The spell is Dust of Ages – a version of Animate Dead that requires neither gems nor bodies. Unfortunately, the lack of a solid structure means that the creatures called forth are unstable, and will return to the dust from which they were summoned after 1d4+1 hours.
  • With a total cost of 9 CP, the Shard of Dust is – just barely – a 1 CP Relic. Borez usually uses it when he wants some disposable muscle.

   Skill Points: 25 (CP Spent) +44 (Int) +22 (Racial) = 91 SP.

  • Str (+5) Climb, Jump +40 (1 SP +24 Speed +10 Light Foot), Swim.
  • Dex (+4) Balance, Escape Artist, Hide, Move Silently, Open Lock, Ride, Sleight of Hand +5 (1 SP), Tumble, and Use Rope.
  • Int (+4) Appraise, Craft (Armorsmith +10 (6 SP), Weaponsmith +5 (1 SP)), Decipher Script, Forgery, Knowledge (Arcana, Architecture and Engineering +5 (1 SP), Dungeoneering, Geography +5 (1 SP), History +5 (1 SP), Local +5 (1 SP), Nature, Nobility and Royalty +5 (1 SP), Religion +5 (1 SP), The Planes +5 (1 SP)), Search, Speak Language +9 (5 SP), and Spellcraft +10 (6 SP).
  • Wis (+3) Heal, Listen +13 (10 SP), Profession, Sense Motive +14 (11 SP), Spot +14 (11 SP), and Survival.
  • Chr (+7) Bluff* +18 (5 SP), Concentration* +18 (5 SP), Diplomacy* +18 (5 SP), Disguise +18 (1 SP +10 Hat), Gather Information, Handle Animal, Intimidate* +18 (5 SP), Nightmare Storm Martial Art +17 (10 SP), Perform/Stringed Instruments +8 (1 SP), Use Magic Device.

Skills marked with an “*” are half-price due to Adept.

   Nightmare Storm Martial Art (Cha)

   This martial art focuses on channeling negative energy into the user’s hands and weapons, allowing him or her to cleave through armor to hit more accurately, absorb the energy of incoming blows with his or her bare skin, sense the life energy of foes, cause them to crumple when struck, and to disrupt their bodies with a mere touch. It is, however, a terrible strain on the metabolism of a living creature…

  • Requires: Ability to channel negative energy and Imbuement (Unarmed Combat)
  • Basic Abilities: Attack 4, Defenses 3, Strike, Synergy/Channeling Checks.
  • Advanced and Master Techniques: Blind-Fight, Mighty Blow, Reach, and Weapon Kata (Pick).
  • Occult Techniques: Inner Strength x2, Paralyze, and Touch Strike.
  • Known Techniques (9): Attack 4, Defenses 1, Mighty Blow, Reach, Inner Strength, and Touch Strike.

   Notable Equipment:

  • “Dark Ambassador”: A +1 Folding (a trivial “Hideaway” variant, it fits into a dagger’s sheathe) Greatsword (4350 GP). He usually has this up his sleeve so that he can appear unarmed.
    • Lesser Crystal of Return: Allows him to draw Dark Ambassador as free action or to call it to him from up to thirty feet away as a move action (1000 GP).
  • Two very expensive Unholy Symbols; one securely fastened around his neck, the other mounted on a bracer on his left wrist (5000 GP).
  • A Composite Longbow for a +12 Str Mod (1300 GP).
  • A Handy Haversack (2000 GP).
  • Dust of Tracelessness (250 GP).
  • A Potion of Invisibility (300 GP).
Head Hat of Disguise: Disguise Self at will (1800 GP).
Eyes  
Throat Chronocharm of the Horizon Walker: May take a half-move that does not provoke attacks of opportunity as a swift action three times per day (Upgraded, 3/day instead of 1/day, 1500 GP).
Torso Vest of Resistance +1 (1000 GP).
Body  
Waist Belt of Endurance: 3 Charges/Day, spend 1/2/3 as a swift action to gain 12/18/24 temporary hit points. These last for up to ten minutes, but don’t stack with other temporary hit points (2300 GP).
Shoulders  
Forearms  
Hands  
Ring Ring of Retaliation. The evil version of a Ring of Vengeance; 3/day, when a critical hit is scored on the wearer, the attacker will be blasted with 5d6 profane damage, no save. No action is required (4500 GP).
Ring Ring of Mystic Fire. +1 Caster Level with Fire-Based Spells, 3 Charges/Day, spend 1/2/3 charges as part of a spellcasting action to add +2/3/4 d6 of damage to a fire-based spell (7500 GP).
Feet Boots of Stomping. 3/Day as a standard action topple creatures and objects in a 15′ cone, Reflex DC 15 to avoid falling if on the ground (600 GP)

   And figure about 600 GP worth of normal gear – A dagger or two, arrows, a blanket (mostly for keeping up appearances), pens, ink, and paper, a coil of silk rope, a light pack, a few alchemical items, tools, a musical instrument, a couple of courtier’s outfits (with the relevant jewelry), and so on.

   Oh no! That’s 34,000 GP! Almost as much gear as an ECL 13 non-player character or an ECL 9 player character could be expected to have! Nearly 6000 GP over his base 28,000 GP allowance! How could that happen?

   Personally, I figure that he raided a few merchants, pillaged a small town, or mugged a few low-level adventurers. He’s very powerful, he’s evil, he can easily defeat a small horde of low-level types, and he can teleport and walk through walls. Money just isn’t really a problem for villains; unlike monsters that hide in secret lairs and distant dungeons, townsfolk are really easy to find.

   His tactics are generally straightforward:

  • In the face of minor opposition, he will rely on his passive or mundane talents – exploiting his spell resistance, high armor class, and ability to block attacks while he casually lashes out with a physical weapon. If he takes damage – unlikely in any conflict with lesser foes – he’ll let his Grant of Aid take care of it. He may even let lesser foes escape, or fall back, to maintain his pretense of being nothing more than a poseur.
  • If he’s facing a powerful group of foes, or major magical opponents, he’ll generally lash out with magic first. He can, if necessary, unleash two quickened spells per round on his action and one quickened spell as a reflex action – and even if he saves the reflexive spell for a defensive effect or counterspell, one or two good blasting spells (usually boosted by his Ring of Mystic Fire) can go a long ways towards cutting down on his opponents. Unfortunately, with an effective caster level of only nine at the moment, his higher-level spells aren’t yet as effective as they might be.
  • If he has a few moments to prepare, using the Shard of Dust (one of his usual Relics) to call up a few powerful skeletons is usually a good idea – and he does have a total of 30 ECL or CR worth of followers of up to CR or ECL 8. Personally, I’d give him a
    • A Nightmare (CR 5) to serve as a steed.
    • An Imp (CR 2) to serve as a contact with his dark masters.
    • A Barghest (CR 5) to devour victims that he wants to make sure do not turn up again.
    • And some Undead – perhaps a trio of Advanced Megaraptor Skeletons (CR 6 each) that somehow turned out to be stable after being summoned or some more-or-less random creatures drawn from the surrounding area.
      • Of those, however, only the Imp and perhaps the Nightmare and Barghest are likely to be immediately available; the Skeletons aren’t much for blending in and will have to be stashed somewhere.
  • Borez prefers not to leave anyone alive who knows his real identity, and – unless there’s a good reason not to – he fights to kill. He WILL spend one of his attacks making sure that a fallen opponent is really dead, pursue fleeing opponents, and go after weaker targets first. Having to block a bothersome Attack of Opportunity is a small price to pay for moving past a warrior to take down a weak target. He isn’t sporting, and he doesn’t fight fair. The only reason he isn’t dripping with poison is that he would rather spend his money on more useful things.
  • He knows perfectly well that – thanks to his high armor class, blocks, and damage reduction – he can withstand one heck of a lot of physical punishment. Ergo, he’ll focus on eliminating any spellcasting or energy-wielding enemies first.
  • Regardless of the nature of his opponents, if he takes too much damage, he’ll try to escape – either by exploiting his movement charms and high movement rate or via Dimension Door or Teleport. He’ll normally save at least one spell slot of the appropriate level for that. He’s not the greatest genius in d20 history, but he’s no fool.

   OK: Borez is both figuratively and literally something of a monster. Hopefully any party that encounters him will be at least somewhat aware of what they’re up against, will have taken the appropriate precautions, will have characters with spell absorption and powerful defensive talents of their own, and will be good and ready for the fight. Otherwise he could quite possibly pull off a total party kill.

   Of course, this is a Halloween character. Go ahead, have a total party kill, and then let them all wake up with some of the creepy talents from last years Halloween article series. Here we have Part I, Part II, and Part III.

The Knights of Hades

   The Knights of Hades are the cursed spirits of noble knights, paladins, and other mighty warriors who. once dedicated to the forces of light. turned from that allegiance and swore themselves to darkness and destruction for reasons of affronted pride, unrequited lust, or blind wrath – and who then perished without renouncing that goal, or admitting that it was unjustified, despite knowing of their coming doom.

   Few mortal warriors are powerful, prideful, and frustrated enough to qualify – and those few are greatly valued by the powers of darkness. By virtue of their embracing both evil and death, they can be returned to the material planes as Undead, still possessed of much of their mortal powers (along with their new powers as powerful undead) – rather than having to wait to be summoned as easily-banished Outsiders.

   Knight of Hades Template:

Greater Undead Package (64 CP/+2 ECL).

   All of these effects are Specialized: the user becomes an undead horror, seeks to prey on the living, becomes vulnerable to being Turned (Channeling), and will find it essentially impossible to turn away from evil without dying. This does mean that a couple of the defenses are double-specialized, but – in this case – the effects don’t overlap, and so I’ll give permission for that.

  • No Constitution score (0 CP). Includes immunity to ability damage (including all poisons), ability drain, energy drain, and effects requiring fortitude saves unless they work on objects or are harmless. Does not breathe, eat, or sleep, cannot tire, and can move, work, or remain alert indefinitely. They cannot be Raised or Reincarnated and are instantly destroyed at 0 HP.
  • Negative Energy Metabolism (0 CP): Undead are healed and enhanced by negative energy and harmed or hindered by positive energy, instead of the reverse. As a side effect, they regain 10 HP whenever they would normally suffer a negative level, but treat Positive Levels as negative levels.
  • Finesse (3 CP): May substitute their (Cha Mod) for their (Con Mod) when calculating hit points and related effects such as concentration checks.
  • Immunity to things which affect biological processes (Very Common/Major/Epic, Corrupted: cannot heal naturally, must use other special abilities, 15 CP). This includes paralysis, stunning damage, nonlethal damage, diseases, death effects, critical hits, and most necromancy effects.
  • Immunity to all mind-affecting effects (charms, compulsions, phantasms, patterns, and morale effects) (Common/Major/Legendary, Corrupted/the user loses all but vague memories of most positive emotions, 12 CP).
  • Occult Sense/Darkvision (3 CP).
  • Damage Reduction 5/-, Specialized/only versus physical attacks for Double Effect (10/-), Corrupted/not versus Magical Weapons (4 CP)
  • Immunity to Energy Attacks. That’s Very Common, Major, Great/60 Points, Specialized and Corrupted/only works against cold and electricity (5 CP).
  • Leadership: Greater Undead normally have other undead – or infernal – followers (3 CP).
  • Imbuement with the Improved and Superior modifiers/unarmed variant (9 CP). The touch of the Undead can have a variety of effects depending on how powerful they are.
  • +4 Turn Resistance (4 CP).
  • Defender, Specialized for Double Effect (+2xLevel/5 rounded down Natural Armor, 6 CP).

   This sub-package is suitable for any character who wants to be undead. Just apply it as a +2 ECL acquired template and get some way to heal your injuries…

   Knight of Hades Upgrades

(over the Greater Undead package):

   Knights of Hades add the following items to the basic Greater Undead Package, leaving them subject to the same limitations. This does require that the limitations be upgraded a bit though; the Knights of Hades are major champions of the Dark Powers – and so their activities draw a constant stream of attacks, interventions, and opposition from good churches, higher powers, and other powerful creatures of good.

   Infernal Leadership Package (+35 CP):

  • +4 Charisma (Half cost in a Template, 12 CP).
  • Unholy Might: Augmented Bonus/adds (Cha Mod) to (Str Mod) for the purposes of combat and other applications of brute force (3 CP).
  • Presence/Aura of Cause Fear (3 CP).
  • Spell Resistance 10 + Level (6 CP).
  • Grant of Aid with +12 Bonus Uses, Specialized/only heals hit point damage (6 CP).
  • Upgrade Turn Resistance to Immunity to Turning (Common, Severe, Major, +2 CP).
  • Returning. Unless you take care to entrap a Knight of Hades soul when you destroy it, or chase it back to the lower planes and disrupt it there, they tend to come back (3 CP).
  • Major Privilege/can confirm Witchcraft Pacts and swear followers to the Powers of Darkness (3 CP).

   Infernal Command Package (58 CP):

   Newly-recruited Knights of Hades are generally powerful warriors, but usually lack the ability to cast, or effectively counter, spells. To counter this weakness, they are granted the direct command over magical energies. That doesn’t give them any particularly sophisticated effects to call on, but it certainly gives them a variety of options.

  • Inherent Spells: 12xL1 (12 CP), 8x L2 (15 CP), 8x L3 (17 CP), 8x L4 (17 CP), and 8x L5 (17 CP). All Specialized and Corrupted: Only usable to power Theurgy, immediate commands only, blatantly displays the user’s nature when used via a burst of infernal energies (incidentally negating any attempt at stealth), attracts the notice of various powers of light. Caster Level = User’s Level, Save DC is Charisma based. Net cost: 26 CP.
  • Metamagic/Easy and Metamagic/Elemental Manipulation with the Fast modifier and four levels of Streamline, all Specialized and Corrupted/Only works to Quicken his spells and to change the damage of damage-causing spells to Profane/Negative Energy damage, requires the patronage of the greater powers of the lower planes, who WILL demand regular services and offerings, must possess – and prominently display – a very expensive (2500 GP+) bejeweled unholy symbol to gain this enhancement (14 CP).
  • Mastery x2/all Theurgy Verb Skills, Specialized for Double Effect (may “Take 20”)/Immediate commands only: No long-term enchantments, duration spells, triggered or waiting effects, etc (12 CP).
  • Augmented Bonus/adds (Cha Mod) to all Theurgy Skills (6 CP). Note that it requires a Cha Mod of at least +3 to use fourth level effects and of at least +5 to use fifth level effects.
  • Reflex Action with +8 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted/only for Theurgy, only allows a single spell to be cast despite the Quickening effect (6 CP).

   That gives our Knights of Hades a total template cost of 160 CP – in +4 ECL territory. If you’re converting a character into a Knight of Hades in Eclipse, simply add that to his or her racial package, eliminate any overlapping or conflicting elements (such as a Constitution bonus or Penalty), and see what you wind up with.

   If you start with a normal human though, you’ll still wind up with a +4 ECL modifier.

Eclipse d20 – Torak Rosul, ECL 19 Lord of Darkness

   This year for Halloween, we have the vampire-lord of a cursed land…

   Decay cannot be forever denied – but it can be diverted.

   When one refuses to accept the decay of the mortal body, that decay can, instead, be transferred to the immortal soul.

   Over time, all that is good and noble within such a cursed spirit will become utterly corrupt.

   The mind will become twisted as well, the victim of strange obsessions, of fantasies and madness.

   The body will become little more than an illusion, a specter of what once was.

   The circle of decay – the vortex of corruption surrounding such a creatures unnatural bridge between life and death – will widen, drawing beasts, innocent spirits, and the very elements of the natural world under the dominion of the lost and corrupted soul as it’s decay spreads into all it touches.

   There may be times of temporary surcease, as the fallen soul lies suspended between the worlds – but always the corruption will rise again until, at last, some fortunate – and often frightened – hero finally finds the keys to unbind the curse, and releases the soul into the surcease of true death at last.

   Only then will the balance be restored and the miasma of corruption be lifted from the land.

   Long centuries ago, a sordid tale played out – a tale of jealousy, betrayal, and kinslaying. Curses were exchanged, vengeful oaths were sworn, and dying mortals attempted – at all costs – to cling to the fading embers of life.

   Such tales have played out ten thousand times, and will continue to play out as long as mortals – for good or ill – endure.

   Unlike most such tales, one participant – a once-noble lord – possessed the ability to give his oath of death and vengeance, his implicit pact with darkness – and his doom – real power.

   Refusing death, he steals the lives of others in an endless – hopeless – attempt to cling to what he has lost and – perhaps this time – to find a way to restore his past.

   Here, in the deep and shadowed valleys of the forested mountains, the remnants of an ancient barony have waited for heros long indeed – long enough for the slow corruption of the area to become deeply-rooted and for hopelessness to have become a way of life.

   That once-lord is now usually known as Torak Rosul – a badly-corrupted form of a phrase in the old tongue, that once meant Blood-Drinking Corpse-Demon. It’s possible that – in his madness – even he no longer remembers his original name.

   Torak normally lurks in his secret crypt, buried deep beneath the mountains some miles from the ruins of his ancient castle.

   That doesn’t keep him from playing quite an active role in the area though. He can take Astral or Ethereal spirit-journeys using Dreamfaring, leaving his body behind – and, when he wants to do so, he can use his witchcraft to manifest a shadowy Astral Construct VI to use as a body on the material realm.

  • In a wolf- or bat-like form he roams the forests, spying, checking the borders of his realm, and leading his packs of worgs. .
  • In a humanlike body, wrapped in a shell of illusion, he takes the form of Elmain Varith – a local healer, wise-man, and sage, allowing him to easily monitor the activities of most “adventurers” who intrude upon his realm.
  • As a healer, he sees most of the villagers children early on. Those who awaken his hunger, or who remind him of his own, centuries-lost, offspring, he will set his links upon and slowly drain from afar – so many children die young in any case – and finally steal their souls, either binding them into the bodies of wolves to create more minions or sealing them into the walls of his crypt, so that their imprisoned tender spirits will be constantly with him – and constantly available to fuel his power. Of course, he ensures that those he does not take grow up strong and healthy, well-fed and well-protected, to produce the next generation of his prey. The overall casualty rate is pretty close to what it is in other lands…
  • In another humanlike body, he is a mysterious merchant – a man who brings strange and terrible bargains, bestowing prosperity and wealth in exchange for dark prices. As Ahriman Viscal, he recruits his spies and agents and gathers sacrifices.

   Torak may be quite mad, and utterly corrupt, but he is incredibly dangerous – and is a pervasive force within his lands.

  • If you mention his name – or even his major aliases – there, he will hear you, and can reach out to use some of his lesser powers upon you.
  • He can influence the minds of the population, turning them against you in murderous mobs, causing riots, soothing away warnings, and spreading fear and terror.
  • He has many, many, servants.
  • He can kill with words, wields terrible magic, and is quite deadly in physical combat as well.
  • You may kill “him” – in his projected bodies – many, many, times, with no real effect.
  • He is a gateway for the dark powers to spread their influence over the world.
  • He is – in many ways – the prototype. Most other vampires are lesser, superficial, reflections of HIM, even if their power is far more self-contained.

   He is not, however, without his weaknesses.

  • He is bound to his land, and his power is gravely weakened beyond it’s borders.
  • He is repelled by the sacred, vulnerable to purification, and bound by social rituals.
  • He must draw on external sources to recover his psychic Power – and his reserves, while great, can be exhausted.
  • He must bind the land to him to use many of his powers within it, and to draw on it to fuel his dark magics – and those links can be disrupted and broken, gravely weakening him.
  • He relies on the people of his land to provide offerings and service – but beneath it all, even his power cannot conceal what he is from them, and so they can be turned against him.
  • He can replace his minions only slowly.
  • His devices can be taken from him.
  • One of his greatest strengths lies in secrecy – but there are always ways to seek out the forgotten past. His betrayed brother may live the life of a ravenous, maddened, werebeast roaming the hills and forests, but he cannot die while Torak endures. The spirit of his architect has passed beyond his power, but can still be reached by clever mortals. There are records in temples and other places that enjoy some protection from his power – and in other lands, which lie beyond his reach.
  • There are traces of his life – and relics of his past which can torment and harm him – scattered across the land.

   He can be defeated. Do not expect it to be a quick and simple battle. You will have to first discover his presence, then exploit his weaknesses to reduce his power, and then – perhaps – you will be able to banish him.

   Hopefully forever.

   Torak Rosul

Accursed Elder Vampire, Child of the Dreadful Night.

   Available Character Points: 456 (Level eighteen base) +10 (Disadvantages: Accursed/vulnerable to relics of his forgotten past, Compulsive/searches for the reincarnated spirits of his family, and Insane) +36 (Duties; despite his own corruption of the land and predation on it’s people, Torak regards it as his duty to protect his realm from both foreign invaders and from other monsters) +4 (Unique Training, as an Champion of the Dark Powers. See; Godfire) +42 (seven bonus feats) = 548 CP.

   Human Racial Abilities:

  • Bonus Feat (+3 CP to Fast Learner, Below, Specialized Adept/Buys Perform/Oratory and Spellcraft at half cost, 6 CP total).
  • Fast Learner, Specialized in Skills for Double Effect (+2 SP/Level, 6 CP).

   Child of the Dreadful Night (Acquired +53 CP template):

  • Shapeshift with the Dire, Shrinking, and Hybrid modifiers. Corrupted/only to take the form of predatory mammals (12 CP).
  • Damage Reduction 10, Corrupted/Does not work when exposed to sunlight (24 CP).
  • Unique Returning: A Child of the Dreadful Night can only be destroyed by finding a way to remove their curse and then killing them (18 CP).
  • +4 Turn Resistance (8 CP).
  • Defender: +(2 x Level/5 rounded down) Natural Armor (6 CP). .
  • Reflex Training/Combat Reflexes Variant (6 CP).
  • Improved Initiative +6 (9 CP).
  • Cloaking/detects as a normal human (6 CP).
  • Augmented Bonus x2: May add their (Int Mod) to their (Cha Mod) and (Wis Mod) for skill purposes (12 CP).

   For all their power, the Children of the Dreadful Night have several major weaknesses:

  • They are repelled by sacred objects and places. They may not enter good temples and can be held at bay by a strongly presented holy symbol in the hands of a believer (sadly, this merely means that they must stand back and rely on less-physical attacks). Presenting such a symbol is a standard action each round.
  • They are vulnerable to purification. Contact with purifying forces – sunlight, running water, fire, salt, garlic, exorcism rituals, sacred chants, and similar things – inflicts 3d6 damage per round or active exposure, bypassing their damage resistance.
  • They, like the fey, are bound by social rituals. They must respect hospitality, be invited to enter a private home – unless, of course, they own the place (once invited, they are free to return unless the invitation is ritually rescinded), exchange gifts, keep their promises, honor debts, and return favors.
  • They are unnatural and disturbing. They upset animals (-10 on relevant rolls), blight plants growing nearby, set off magical alarms, disturb ancient magics, twist areas towards evil, cause strange weather, and bring up undead from old graves by their mere presence.

   Thanks to these limitations, the entire package is considered Specialized for half cost (except for Defender, which is double effect). That reduces the net cost from 101 CP to 53 CP. Added to the 9 CP base cost for a human, that comes to a +1 ECL Racial Modifier.

   Basic Attributes:

  Str Dex Con Int Wis Cha
Rolled 14 14 (13) 16 14 17
Level (+1) +3
Inherent +4 +4 +4
Profane +6 +6
Items +4 +4 +4 +4
Wealth +2
Total 14 18 30 22 36

   In manifested forms:

Wolf 37 17 30 22 36
Bat/Man 33 17 30 22 36

   Basic Abilities (146 CP):

  • Hit Points: 12 (L1d12, 8 CP) + 54 (L2-18 d4, 0 CP) +247 (18 x Cha Mod) = 313
  • BAB +11 (66 CP)
  • Saves:
    • Fortitude: Not applicable.
    • Reflex: +10 (Purchased, 30 CP) +4 (Dex) +4 (Res) = +18
    • Will: +10 (Purchased, 30 CP) +11 (Wis) +4 (Res) = +25
  • Proficient with Light Armor (3 CP), Proficient with All Simple and Martial Weapons (9 CP).

   Combat Information:

  • Initiative: +10
  • Move: 30′
  • Armor Class: 10 (Base) +4 (Dex) +8 (Armor +2 Wealth) +6 (Shield +2 Wealth) +7 Natural +4 (Martial Art) = 39
  • Unarmed Attack: +20/+15/+10 (+11 BAB +2 Str +1 Magic +4 Martial Art +2 Wealth) for 1d12 +1 (magic) +2 (strength) +2 (Wealth) +1d8+2 (fire) +2 Negative Levels. Crit 20/x3 (adds another 2d12+10).

   In Manifested Forms:

  • Wolf or Man-Wolf Form: 85 HP, 50′ Move, AC 28 (10 Base +15 Natural +3 Dex), Attacks +19/+19 for 1d12+1d8+23+2 Level Drain Adamant Magic, Crit 20/x2 on dice. Form Options: Celerity +10, Damage Reduction 5/Magic, Knockdown (those hit must make a DC 22 Str check or be knocked prone), Fast Healing II, +4 Str, and +4 Dex.
  • Bat, Dire Bat, or Bat-Man Form: 85 HP, 40′ Move, 60′ Flight (Good), AC 32 (10 Base +15 Natural +3 Dex +4 Deflection). Attacks +17/+17 for 1d12+1d8+20+2 Level Drain Adamant Magic, Crit 20/x2 on dice. Form Options: Fly III (60′, Good), Fast Healing II, Heavy Deflection and +4 Dex.
  • Man-Form Options: 85 HP, 40′ Move, AC 32 (10 Base +15 Natural +3 Dex +4 Deflection). Attacks +17/+17 for 1d12+1d8+20+2 Level Drain Adamant Magic, Crit 20/x2 on dice. Form Options: Swim 30′. Tunnel 10′, Mobility, Fast Healing II, Heavy Deflection and +4 Dex.

   Skills:

   Skill Points: 41 (CP Spent) +84 (Int, Inherent bondrune boost applied at L4 as a young lord) +42 (Racial) = 167 SP.

  • Str (+2 or +13): Climb, Jump +5/+16, Swim +3/+14
  • Dex (+4 or +3): Balance +5/+4, Escape Artist, Hide, Move Silently, Open Lock, Ride +5 (-10 with normal animals), Sleight of Hand, Tumble, and Use Rope.
  • Con (No Add):
  • Int (+10): Appraise, Craft, Decipher Script +12, Forgery +12, Knowledge (Arcana* +31, Architecture and Engineering +11, Dungeoneering +12, Geography +12, History +15, Local +12, Nature +12, Nobility and Royalty +15, Religion +12, The Planes +15), Search, Speak Language, and Spellcraft* +31.
  • Wis (+16): Heal +17, Listen, Profession, Sense Motive* +37, Spot +36, and Survival.
  • Chr (+23): Bluff, Concentration* +44, Diplomacy +46, Disguise* +44, Gather Information +35, Handle Animal +13, Intimidate +25, Perform/Oratory* +44, Use Magic Device +24.
  • “Unarmed” Martial Art/Int (+27/14 known abilities): Attack +4, Defenses +4, Strike, Expertise, Instant Stand, Sunder, Whirlwind Attack. Occult techniques are not usable due to his lack of constitution.

   Skills marked with an “*” are half-price due to Adept. No, I’m not bothering to account for synergy bonuses. I have included the wealth bonuses for the social skills, +2 masterwork references and tools can be assumed wherever applicable.

   Minor Powers (42 CP).

  • Adept. May buy Concentration, Disguise, Knowledge/Arcana, and Sense Motive at half cost (6 CP).
  • Dominion (6 CP). Torak usually has at least a hundred Dominion Points in reserve.
  • Action Hero/Stunts (6 CP): This is – as it is for most bad guys – Torak’s final “save my neck!” option. He has 46 action points in reserve, since he is VERY reluctant to spend any.
  • Luck with +4 Bonus Uses (12 CP).
  • Reflex Training/three actions per day variant, with +4 Bonus Uses (12 CP).

   Witchcraft (213 CP).

   Over the long dark centuries, Torak has become one of the most powerful witches in history – although he does lump a few related abilities that technically aren’t witchcraft into the bundle:

  • Fast Learner specialized in Witchcraft (6 CP). At L18 this provides 36 extra CP for Witchcraft.
  • Seventeen levels of the Wilder Spellcasting Progression based on Cha, Specialized/power does not recover normally (51 CP). This provides 360 Power and the abilities of: Energy Wave (L7), Inertial Armor (L1), Mass Cloud Minds (L6), Psionic Dominate (L4), Psionic Freedom of Movement (L4), Mass Missive (a L5 upgraded version, can be sent to any area within one mile per level of the user, may send lengthy messages), Temporal Acceleration (L6), and Touchsight (L3). Save DC 23+Power Level.
  • Pacts: Epic Quest (long since completed), Duties (hospitality, to guests who ask it and behave in accordance with the ancient customs), Essence (Torak does not appear in mirrors, and cannot use telephones and similar devices; he is only quasi-real and can only be seen, heard, or otherwise sensed directly, and even then only by those creatures with spirits of their own. Thus he cannot command constructs or non-sapient undead)), Vamparism (Torak’s Power does not recover naturally, but his touch does 1d4 damage and replenishes his power by the same amount), and Gateway (the more power Torak uses, the more corrupted entities from dark realms can pass out into the world) (Net -30 CP).
  • Basic Witchcraft I, II, and III (18 CP) (+9 Power, and access to seven basic witchcraft abilities. Will save DC 26).
    • The Adamant Will (resist mental influences and mislead divinations), Dreamfaring (limited ethereal and astral projection), Elfshot (may lay minor curses), Glamour and Advanced Glamour (+6 CP) (projective telepathy, may enhance social skills or create L0/1-2/3 hypnotic, emotional influence, and communicative effects for 1/2/4 Power), The Hand of Shadows (minor telekinesis and animation effects for 2 Power), Healing, Hyloka (manipulation biophysical processes), Infliction (may cause up to 3d4/5d4/7d4 damage for 1/2/3 Power, +3 Power for 5’R, save for half), The Inner Eye (thought-sensing and sense-sharing, +6 on relevant rolls for one power per ten minutes), Shadoweave and Advanced Shadowweave (+6 CP) (minor illusions, 1/2/4 Power for L1/2/3 effects), Witchfire (minor molecular manipulations), and Witchsight (1 Power for one sense for one hour. Either +6 to checks or a sensory upgrade such as scent or darksight).
  • Advanced Witchcraft:
  • The Path of Coven Mastery:
    • Dreamgathering (6 CP): May hold as astral conference with his followers.
    • The Secret Order (6 CP): +4 Power and access to the remaining five basic witchcraft abilities.
  • The Path of Spirits
    • Apparition III (18 CP): May generate a Level VI Astral Construct to use as a material-plane body while using Dreamfaring. This costs 2 Power + 1/Hour.
    • Seize the Wandering Soul (6 CP): The user may steal the spirits of the very ill or newly dead.
    • Hag-Riding (6 CP): May inflict attribute damage (up to 12 points per day, cannot reduce an attribute below six) on a willing victim or bound spirit to gain extra Power.
    • Spirit Binding II (12 CP): May bind spirits into bodies, lay the equivalent of a Lesser Geas for 3 Power, seal bargains for 1 Power, and issue simple commands (which work for up to three hours) for 3 Power.
  • The Path of Darkness:
    • Voice of the Dead (6 CP): May communicate with and use social skills on the undead.
    • The Umbral Form (6 CP): May assume the form of a shadow for three power/hour.
    • Nightforge (6 CP): May create solid darkness equivalent to adamant. This lasts one hour and costs 1 Power per 20 pounds of material “created”. Victims of entrapment get a reflex save.
  • The Path of Water
    • Dismissal (6 CP): May damage outsiders, Dispel Magic for 3 Power, or send extradimensional beings home for 7 Power.
    • Sympathetic Link (6 CP): May use blood, fingernails, etc, to work witchcraft effects at range.
    • Wrath of the Sea (6 CP): +6 Strength for 1 Power per 10 Minutes.
  • The Path of Air:
    • Weathermonger (6 CP): Gust of Wind costs 2, Wind Wall costs 3, channeling an existing storm costs 2 Power, raising a storm costs 20 Power.
  • The Path of Fire
    • Dance of Flames (6 CP): +6 Dexterity for 1 Power per 10 Minutes.
    • Leaping Fire (6 CP): Spend 2 Power for a move-equivalent action or +4 to an initiative check. Spend 3 power to be hasted for 3d4 rounds. Fast Heal (1d4+Cha Mod) HP/Round for five rounds for 1 Power.
    • The Inner Fire x3, Corrupted/does not grant access to spells of beyond the level that the user can use safely. Any higher-level spell slots must be used for spells that can be handled safely (12 CP) plus Journeyman and Master/+2 effective levels for use of Witchcraft, Specialized in The Inner Fire only (6 CP). This gives him an effective caster level ten and allows him to safely use spells of up to level five, preparing spells from the following lists. Note that these are SRD spells. If you have other spells available in your campaign, feel free to substitute some of them.
      • His Charisma grants him access to the Sorcerer/Wizard list, representing his constant arcane dabbling and many demonic bargains. He gets 4/3/3/3/3 spell slots and has eight higher-level slots to fill with spells of any lower level.
      • Sorcerer/Wizard Spells:
        • L1) Chill Touch, Grease, Expeditious Retreat, Magic Missile, Protection from Good, and Shield.
        • L2) Command Undead, Darkness, Protection from Arrows, Rope Trick, Scorching Ray, and Web.
        • L3) Dispel Magic, Fireball, Hold Person, Lightning Bolt, Nondetection, and Stinking Cloud.
        • L4) Arcane Eye, Bestow Curse, Confusion, Dimensional Anchor, Enervation, and Lesser Globe of Invulnerability,
        • L5) Cloudkill, Cone of Cold, Hold Monster, Prying Eyes, Teleport, and Wall of Force.
      • His Intelligence grants him access to the Druid Spell list, representing his mastery over the powers of corrupted nature. He gets 3/3/2/2/2 spell slots and has five higher-level slots to fill with spells of any lower level.
      • Druid Spells:
        • L1) Detect Animals or Plants, Entangle, Faerie Fire, Obscuring Mist, Pass Without Trace, and Speak with Animals.
        • L2) Cat’s Grace, Chill Metal, Fog Cloud, Tree Shape, Spider Climb, and Summon Swarm.
        • L3) Call Lightning, Contagion, Inflict Serious Wounds, Meld Into Stone, Poison, and Stone Shape.
        • L4) Blight, Control Water, Ice Storm, Protection from Energy, Reincarnate, and Rusting Grasp.
        • L5) Animal Growth, Baleful Polymorph, Call Lightning Storm, Commune with Nature, Summon Nature’s Ally V, and Unhallow,
      • His Wisdom grants him access to the Bard spell list, representing centuries of keen observation of people – and the ways in which they can be manipulated. He gets 2/2/1/1/1 spell slots and has one higher-level slot to fill with a spell of any lower level.
      • Bard Spells:
        • L1) Alarm, Comprehend Languages, Expeditious Retreat, Identify, Undetectable Alignment, and Unseen Servant.
        • L2) Glitterdust, Hold Person, Locate Object, Pyrotechnics, Summon Swarm, and Tongues.
        • L3) Clairaudience/Clairvoyance, Charm Monster, Gaseous Form, Glibness, Haste, and Slow,
        • L4) Detect Scrying, Freedom of Movement, Greater Invisibility, Modify Memory, Rainbow Pattern, and Shout.
        • L5) Greater Heroism, Mind Fog, Mislead, Seeming, Shadow Evocation, and Shadow Walk.

   The Deep Strengths of the Land (27 CP).

  • Metamagical Theorems: Amplify, Easy, and Elemental Manipulation, with +6 levels of Streamline (-4 on the cost of each metamagic), Specialized/relies on mystical links to appropriate power nexi, which can only be set up 1-3 times per year and can be broken via exorcism, removal of the special talismans buried at the sites, or other meddling. He will not become aware of such meddling until he goes to use his powers – unless the Worgs which are usually guarding his power sources become aware of the interference. (27 CP).
    • In general, his spells require no components or are quickened, have twice the usual effects, and drain a level and cause victims to become exhausted if they inflict damage.

   The Dark Tongue (21 CP).

  • Torak’s mere words hold a sinister and terrible power.
  • Mystic Artist/Oratory (6 CP) with the Fast modifier (+6 CP) and with the Path of Whispers abilities of Subliminal, Conditioning and Compelling (18 CP) and the Path of Dissonance abilities of Distracting and Disrupting. That allows him to use the power of his voice eighteen times per day and provides access to:
  • Manipulation: Fascinate, Hold Audience, Emotional Auras, Freedom, and Mass Suggestion.
  • Synergy: Block, Amplify, Harmonize, Serenity, Rule the Horde, Concerto, and Carrier.
  • The entire power is, however, Specialized: Torak’s influence is limited to the areas which he has claimed, and within which he has performed mystical rituals at various magical focal points scattered around those lands – opportunities for which come every few months at best. Those links can be severed by antimagic, exorcisms, and many other means – and he will generally not even become aware of that severance for some time.

   Unnatural Vitality (36 CP):

  • No Constitution score (0 CP). Includes immunity to ability damage [including all poisons], ability drain, energy drain, and effects requiring fortitude saves unless they work on objects or are harmless. Does not breathe, eat, or sleep, cannot tire, and can move, work, or remain alert indefinitely. Cannot be Raised or Reincarnated and is instantly destroyed at 0 HP.
  • Negative Energy Metabolism (0 CP): Torak is healed and enhanced by negative energy and harmed or hindered by positive energy, instead of the reverse. As a side effect, he regains 10 HP whenever he would normally suffer a negative level.
  • Finesse: May substitute his (Cha Mod) for his (Con Mod) when calculating hit points (6 CP).
  • Immunity to things which affect biological processes (Very Common/Major/Epic, Corrupted: cannot heal naturally, must use other special abilities, 30 CP). This includes paralysis, stunning damage, nonlethal damage, diseases, death effects, critical hits, and necromancy effects.
    • The conventional undead are immune to mind-affecting abilities. Given that Torak can already shield his mind quite effectively, and that I don’t really see why you can’t affect those parts of an undead creatures’s mind that actually exist, Torak isn’t purchasing this one. Similarly, he can give himself Darksight with a thought if he wants it, so he’s not buying that one either.

   The Root of All Evil – The Corruption of Wealth (15 CP)

  • Major Privilege/May purchase a Wealth Level Template from The Practical Enchanter at 3 CP/Level beyond “Destitute”, Specialized/does not provide legal privileges, benefits to mounts, pets, and familiars, recognition, retainers, or per-level training bonuses. Torak has the “Affluent” wealth level (“Wealthy” with his use of a Horned Amulet, 6 CP), and so can support a dozen or so retainers at “Affluent” and plenty of people at “Well-Off”.
  • Minor Privilege: Torak can easily use small occult rituals to produce Charms and Talismans (3 CP).
    • Remaining benefits of Well-Off: You get plenty to eat and drink, warm clothes, a good solid cottage, decent furniture, and live comfortably. You afford good weapons and armor if you need them and can use three Charms and a Talisman.
    • Remaining benefits of Affluent: You have many luxuries and a fine house, all your weapons and armor are treated as Masterwork, and you can use five Charms and two Talismans.
    • Remaining benefits of Wealthy: You gain a +2 Wealth Bonus to shields, armor, and weapons, may be treated as being made of special materials, +2 to Diplomacy, Gather Information, and Intimidate, +2 to any one Attribute, use of seven Charms and three Talismans.

   Torak usually provides subtle supernatural support for favored local villagers, using his malevolent powers to grant prosperity far beyond the norm, as well as providing small magics to help in daily life – although he tends to provide Black Magic Charms and Talismans mixed in with the more generally useful stuff. Such favors come at a price of course, – whether that is information, a bit of betrayal, or an unhealthy child who might not have lived anyway.

   Torak is especially fond of ploys such as cursing someone’s child with an terrible illness and then giving the desperate parent a “helpful” charm, such as a Bloody Bowl (The Practical Enchanter, page 204) full of medicine that will help for some months, allowing said parent to see their child healthy again – but it’s effects will gradually fade. The parent will find that, to maintain their child’s health, all they have to do is occasionally murder people and refill the bowl with their blood… Of course, they can kill murderers, bandits, and thieves that the local law would have killed anyway – but eventually their standards always start to slip.

  • Why do this sort of thing? It’s because whenever someone draws on his power to commit a vile act, it helps restore his personal reserves: That’s Rite of Chi with +(2x Cha Mod) Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted/Only usable to regain Power and Generic Spell Levels, not Mana, uses do not recover normally; he regains 1d6 uses whenever he completely drains someone’s life energy or when someone uses the powers he grants to commit a truly vile act or offers him large quantities of blood. (6 CP).

   Minions of Darkness (19 CP):

  • Torak has Leadership with Beast Lord and Emperors Star twice, all Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect (except for Beast Lord, which is one-third cost). He must personally place enslaved souls into animal or mindless bodies, twisting them into dependable servants. Ergo, he must first acquire the souls, then the still-living bodies, then perform his mystical ritual to join the two together – and only then can he send forth his “new” (or recycled old) servants (19 CP).
  • As an eighteenth-level character with a monstrous Charisma, this gives Torak a total of (Level 18 + 13 Cha Mod) x 2 x 3 = 186 ECL / CR worth of followers, each of whom enjoys the benefits of +6 to their BAB, AC, and Saves, as well as 36 CP worth of special abilities derived from having two spirits in one body. Those 36 CP go to buying the following package:
    • Returning: Torak can re-summon and re-embody his followers – or at least the implanted spirits – if they’re killed, although this is Specialized since it may take him quite some time to find another body and get around to it (3 CP).
    • Mystic Link with Communications, Power, Summons, and Travel Link, Specialized/controlled entirely from Torak’s end and it takes a full coven (at least a dozen) to anchor a “summoning”; his followers cannot locate him, summon him, or travel to him unless he activates those abilities (making this generally useless for escape). He, of course, can open communications with them, use spells on them, and call them to him pretty much at will (9 CP). Note that he can communicate with them even beyond death, so killing them will NOT prevent them from reporting what they saw before they were killed to Torak.
    • Innate Enchantment. All enchantments Spell Level One, Caster Level One, Unlimited-Use Use-Activated, and Personal-Only. 7000 GP effective value (8 CP). Effects include:
      • Wolfman. A lesser, specific, variant on Alter Self that provides a normal humanoid using it with +2 Natural Armor Fur, d6 Claws/Fangs, and a wolfish appearance. A wolflike creature using it, on the other hand, gains hands, comprehensible speech, and an upright posture but no mechanical bonuses. In either case, there are no other game-mechanic alterations. (1400 GP).
      • Focused Vigor I. Provides +12 + 2x Con Mod hit points (1400 GP). Normally all followers get the same thing, but the basic Immortal Vigor effect would be bad for any undead followers – so I’ll presume that this is a version that amplifies whatever life or unlife force the target happens to have.
      • Unholy Wrath. +2 Str, +2 Con, +1 Will, and -2 AC when in use (1400 GP).
      • Undetectable Alignment (1400 GP).
      • Rugged Metabolism Package: Fast Healing I – for 18 Rounds – 2/Day, Relieve Illness 1/Day, Relieve Poison 1/Day, and Lesser Restoration 1/Day (from the Hedge Wizardry list on this site and The Practical Enchanter, 1400 GP). Most of this won’t help the vampires, but most of the still-living minions are very glad to have it.
    • Immunity/the normal XP cost of Innate Enchantments (Uncommon, Minor, Trivial [only covers first level effects at caster level one], Specialized/only to cover their packaged abilities, 1 CP).
    • Immunity to Dispelling, Antimagic, and Countermagic (Common/Minor/Great. Specialized in protecting innate enchantments only, Corrupted/only covers powers in this package (4 CP)
    • Luck with +2 Bonus Uses (9 CP).
    • +3 specialities in Survival/Torak’s Domain and Knowledge/ Local/Torak’s Domain (2 CP). Torak doesn’t want anyone in his service to be ignorant of the local area and it’s quirks.

   Torak’s current followers include:

  • Four packs of 12 Worgs Each (CR 2 each, total 96). Actually these are wolves with the spirits of murdered infants bound into them. They’ve been raised to be evil predators and minions of Torak – but the net effect is just the same as being born Worgs. Of course, if the player characters ever do manage to destroy them and Torak, their blackened spirits will be released to the lower planes. Isn’t it sad when that happens?
  • Three Vampire Agents. These are the remains of a modest party of adventurers; a skillful fighter, a noble cleric, and a competent wizard, who came to the area to try and defeat whatever terrible evil it was that haunted the place. From the fact that they’re no vampire minions of Torak, you can probably guess at how well THAT worked out. Now they are occasionally dispatched on errands, but their primary job is to hang around the crypts and tunnels under the ruins of Torak’s ancient castle, fill the place with traps, and be an easy diversion and target for any other annoying parties of adventurers who turn up. If they wind up being slain by adventurers, Torak will put them right back into place after he brings them back. After all, everyone knows that vampires are really hard to get rid of permanently. They were each level six, and so now are each CR8 (24 total).
    • Yes, these stretch a point. He should probably be paying for their ECL, not their CR – but, given that most of his minions are Worgs, and are fairly ineffectual as far as minions for a 18’th level character go, I can’t be bothered doing the calculation. If you want to subtract a few Worgs, go right ahead.
  • The Iskari Order is a small (levels 3×1, 4×2, 2×3, 4, 5, and 14, for a total of 40 levels) group of “benevolent priests” who care for the deranged and otherwise severely damaged. In fact, they are a selection of evil clerics and sorcerers who serve as the caretakers of the six unfortunate individuals carrying Torak’s Bondrunes (and having their own attributes drained to provide his “Inherent” attribute bonuses at a terrible cost to themselves) – as well as a few of their masters snacks.
  • Two corrupted 11’th level Rangers and a 14’th level Antipaladin (Total ECL 36), who specialize in hunting down their master’s enemies and eliminating them with extreme prejudice. These guys are fairly heavy combat specialists, but – fortunately – lack magical support.
  • A castle caretaker (a third level rogue) and a dozen small children (count as one level worth of followers) who help him take care of the place and occasionally run errands for Torak. Of course, the child-pack will gladly try to pull annoying intruders apart – and is just as damned as the corrupted infant spirits in the wolves.
    • That leaves six ECL worth of followers scattered around the local villages – most likely some more kids and a selection of minor villagers who are acting as spies for him. Alternatively, if the game master would rather have Torak out and riding about, give him a Nightmare Steed (CR 5) and just have the local village spies be another dozen corrupted little kids (counts as one level worth of followers).

   Normally, of course, Followers would be pretty reluctant to die for their master – but there’s no real question of that, so this bunch will pretty readily sacrifice their easily-replaceable bodies for Torak. Sacrificing their equipment is quite another matter though, at least for the higher-level followers who use the stuff…

   Equipment (18 CP):

   As a level eighteen character, Torak would be entitled to 440,000 GP worth of gear if he was a player character. In my book, major NPC’s get just as many goodies as the PC’s – and I think he qualifies as a “major NPC”. Ergo, his gear includes:

  • Ravenwing is a +1 Adamantine Life-Drinker Great Axe. It inflicts two negative levels on the creature struck and one on the user (as he’s already undead, this merely gives Torak ten extra hit points for an hour with each hit). Twenty-four hours after being struck its victims must make a DC 16 Fortitude save for each negative level or lose a character level. It is Sapient and Lawful Evil. Ego 24, Int 19, Wis 19, Cha 10, Speech and Telepathy, reads all languages and magic. 120′ darkvision, blindsense, and hearing. Spot +14, Listen +14. It’s has the power to Detect Magic and Produce Flame (caster level two for 1d8+2, allows DC 15 reflex for no effect if used at range rather than a roll to hit, otherwise it simply adds to attacks) at will, Continuously Detects Scrying, and can cast Hold Person 3/Day, Slow 3/Day, and Lesser Globe of Invulnerability 1/Day. As a construct, it is inherently immune to all mind-affecting abilities. 96,000 GP.
    • Torak had Ravenwing forged especially for him long ago, and granted it sapience and merged it with his own body (Innate Enchantment/Absorption Variant, 6 CP) centuries ago. It now watches over and protects Torak’s body while Torak himself is out dreamfaring. Thanks to Ravenwing’s presence, Torak’s “unarmed” attacks are considered +1 Adamant – and inflict 1d12 damage and two negative levels. Worse, each time he hits, he gains a ten hit points. If Ravenwing is currently operating Torak’s body it simply uses the basic bonuses for one of his minions (+6 BAB and all Saves).
  • The Crown of Ebon Glory grants a +6 Profane Bonus to Intelligence and Charisma (90,000 GP). Innate Enchantment/Absorption Variant with Altered Bonus Type (original Enhancement Bonus changed to Profane, 12 CP).
    • If Torak is slain, a sufficiently-powerful magical rite can be used to recover both Ravenwing and the Crown from the remains – and most evil characters would consider both items (especially, the Crown, since the Profane Bonus will stack with an Enhancement bonus) to be major treasures, well worth a few little quests to find the ingredients for such a ritual.

   His external gear includes:

  • A Crystal Ball with Telepathy (70,000 GP). Note that – since this lets him send messages and sets up a telepathic link – both his personal telepathic powers and mystic artistry will work over the link.
  • The Ward Major of his Sanctum (QV, 28,800 GP).
  • A Headband of Intellect +4 (16,000 GP).
  • A Vest of Charisma +4 (16,000 GP).
  • A Periapt of Wisdom +4 (16,000 GP).
  • Gloves of Dexterity +4 (16,000 GP).
  • A Cloak of Resistance +4 (16,000 GP).
  • Bracers of Armor +6 (36,000 GP).
  • A Ring of Counterspells (Dispel Magic, 4000 GP).
  • A Ring of Shielding (as per a Shield spell, CL 4, 8000 GP).
  • Dust of Tracelessness (200 GP)
  • Quaal’s Feather Tokens/ a Swan Boat and a Tree (850 GP)
  • A Handy Haversack (2000 GP),
  • Boots of Striding and Springing (+10′ Move, +5 to Jumps, 5500 GP)
  • A Belt of Harm (7 Charges of Use-Activated Harm, only on the wearer, 10,000 GP).

   That leaves him about 10,000 GP worth of his allotment to pay for other items. His Wealth Template covers conventional luxuries, artwork, fine tapestries, and similar stuff however.

  • Charms (7): Horned Amulet (+1 Wealth Level), Diplomatic Sash (creates illusory clothing), Dream Essence (brings marvelous dreams), Captain’s Torc (+4 to Listen, voice can be clearly heard at greater distances, -1 to saves versus sonic attacks), Trackless Amulet (leaves no trail), Tinkerstone, and a Dream Anchor.
  • Talismans (3): Miasmic Dust, Shard Blade, and a Spirit Pearl (contains an Ice Devil, it’s powers can be tapped up to three times a day with an opposed will check, on a failure, the creature is free to use one of it’s powers as it wills).

      The Lair of the Midnight Sun (12 CP):

  • Torak’s crypt is sizable complex of luxurious underground rooms. It’s his Sanctum (6 CP), and is protected by Occult Wards (a sizeable assortment of CR 9 traps and barriers, 3 CP) and several Bone Devils (Guardians, Specialized/there are only a few, 3 CP). Within it he can gains the abilities of:
    • Occult Ritual (4 CP), Corrupted/always requires a sapient blood sacrifice. Torak’s rituals are truly elaborate affairs, calling for altars, engraved and inlaid magical circles, and an assortment of other occult paraphernalia – which is why he has to have an established sanctum to use them.
    • Dominion/Ears of the Wind. Supported by the energies of his lair and its imprisoned souls, Torak can listen in on conversations whenever he is mentioned, Corrupted/this only works within his own realm within his realm (4 CP).
    • Dominion/Curse. Within the center of his power, Torak can lay terrible curses upon his foes (6 CP).
    • Immunity/Range. Very Common, Major, Great, Specialized and Corrupted/only works to let him use a witchcraft power or his power-draining touch (1d4 Power theft, 1d4 damage turned to Power if the target his no Power) on anyone who mentions him within his domain when the Ears of the Wind brings such activities to his attention (10 CP).
  • The Lair is also a Rank–5 Ward Major (28,800 GP). Int 18, Wis 20, Chr 11. 32 Skill Points (Net: Spot +10, Listen +10, Spellcraft +9, Arcane Lore +9 (library), Perform +5 (Background Music via Unseen Servants), Profession/Butler +10, Craft/Woodworking +5, and Craft/Tailor +5. The ward will usually exercise it’s skills through it’s masses of Unseen Servants and routinely makes Aid Another attempts. It also gains a +10 bonus on any internal perception checks, and will use it’s unseen servants to sound the alarm if there is any disturbance.
    • Minor Powers (4): Enduring (area has Spell Resistance 30, triple hardness, and the items inside are protected from the ravages of time), Counterspells (use the Cursed Necropolis list), Forgotten (records and memories of it tend to fade for non-residents) and Servant Legion (it has hundreds of Unseen Servants to call upon).
    • Major Power (1): Veiled. The Ward and it’s contents are concealed with Nondetection, Mirage, and Veil effects as needed.

   Normally, of course, Torak remains hidden in his lair, protected by his wardings, walls, traps, devilish bodyguards, guardian spirit-axe, and minions, listening to the soft music and the faint wailing counterpoint of hundreds of imprisoned souls, and either scrying with his crystal ball or sending his spirit out to roam his lands in disguise. He will find the spirits he has lost, and he will gather them to him, and none shall ever touch them again…

   Torak is very, VERY, powerful. He also has an incredible range of powers and abilities. Fortunately, you don’t actually have to bring him into play for quite awhile; he’s at the center of a series of mysteries, and enough sub-adventures to support quite a long campaign. He can even be helpful if the characters are currently protecting the people of his lands.

Torak Rosul – Followers

   For today, it’s a fragment; this years Halloween special is Torak Rosul, a vampire-lord (albeit not a template-based vampire) of surpassing power.

   Unfortunately, that full writeup is taking awhile – so here we have a small segment: the notes on Torak’s minions:

   What he actually has is Leadership with Beast Lord and Emperors Star twice, all Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect (except for Beast Lord, which is one-third cost). He must personally place enslaved souls into animal or mindless bodies, twisting them into dependable servants. Ergo, he must first acquire the souls, then the bodies, then perform his mystical ritual to join the two together, and only then can he send forth his “new” (or recycled old) servants (19 CP).

   As an eighteenth-level character with a monstrous Charisma, this gives Torak a total of 180 ECL / CR worth of followers, each of whom enjoys the benefits of +6 to their BAB, AC, and Saves, as well as 36 CP worth of special abilities derived from having two spirits in one body, including:

  • Returning: Torak can re-summon and re-embodied them – or at least the implanted spirit – if they’re killed, although this is Specialized since it may take him some time (3 CP).
  • Mystic Link with Communications, Power, Summons, and Travel Link, Specialized/controlled entirely from Torak’s end and it takes a full pack to anchor a “summoning”; they cannot locate him, summon him, or travel to him unless called to him. He, of course, can open communications with them, use spells on them, and call them to him pretty much at will (9 CP). Note that he can communicate with them even beyond death, so killing them will NOT prevent them from reporting what they saw before they were killed to Torak.
  • Innate Enchantment. All enchantments Spell Level One, Caster Level One, Unlimited-Use Use-Activated, and Personal-Only. 7000 GP effective value (8 CP). Effects include:
    • Wolfman. A lesser, specific, variant on Alter Self that provides a normal humanoid using it with +2 Natural Armor Fur, d6 Claws/Fangs, and a wolfish appearance. A wolflike creature using it, on the other hand, gains hands, comprehensible speech, and an upright posture. In either case, there are no other game-mechanic alterations. (1400 GP).
    • Focused Vigor I. Provides +12 + 2x Con Mod hit points (1400 GP). Basically a version of Immortal Vigor that amplifies whatever life or unlife force the target happens to have.
    • Unholy Wrath. +2 Str, +2 Con, +1 Will, and -2 AC when in use (1400 GP).
    • Undetectable Alignment (1400 GP).
    • Rugged Metabolism Package: Fast Healing I – for 18 Rounds – 2/Day, Relieve Illness 1/Day, Relieve Poison 1/Day, and Lesser Restoration 1/Day (from the Hedge Wizardry list on this site and The Practical Enchanter, 1400 GP).
  • Immunity/the normal XP cost of Innate Enchantments (Uncommon, Minor, Trivial [only covers first level effects at caster level one], Specialized/only to cover their Werewolf abilities, 1 CP).
  • Immunity to Dispelling, Antimagic, and Countermagic (Common/Minor/Great. Specialized in protecting innate enchantments only, Corrupted/only covers powers in this package (4 CP)
  • Luck with +2 Bonus Uses (9 CP).

   His current followers include:

  • Four packs of 12 Worgs Each (CR 2 each, total 96). Actually these are wolves with the spirits of infants bound into them. They’ve been raised to be evil predators and minions of Torak – but the net effect is just the same. Of course, if the player characters ever do manage to destroy them and Torak, their blackened spirits will be released to the lower planes. Isn’t it sad when that happens?
  • Three Vampire Agents. These are the remains of a modest party of adventurers; a skillful fighter, a noble cleric, and a competent wizard, who came to the area to try and defeat whatever terrible evil it was that haunted the area. From the fact that they’re no vampire minions of Torak, you can probably guess at how well THAT worked out. Now they are occasionally dispatched on errands, but their primary job is to hang around the crypts and tunnels under the ruins of Torak’s ancient castle, fill the place with traps, and be an easy diversion and target for any other annoying parties of adventurers who turn up. If they wind up dead Torak will just bring them back and put them right back into place since everyone knows that vampires are really hard to get rid of permanently. They were each level six, and so now are each CR8 (24 total).
  • The Iskari Order is a small (levels 3×1, 4×2, 2×3, 4, 5, 14, total 40) group of “benevolent priests” who care for the deranged and otherwise severely damaged. In fact, they are a selection of evil clerics and sorcerers who serve as the caretakers of the six unfortunate individuals carrying Torak’s Bondrunes (and having their own attributes drained to provide his “Inherent” attribute bonuses at a terrible cost to themselves) – as well as a few of their masters snacks.
  • Two corrupted 11’th level Rangers and a 14’th level Antipaladin (Total ECL 36), who specialize in hunting down their master’s enemies and eliminating them with extreme prejudice.
  • A castle caretaker (L3) and a dozen small children (count as one level worth of followers) who help him take care of the place and occasionally run errands for Torak. Of course, the child-pack will gladly try to pull annoying intruders apart – and is just as damned as the corrupted infant spirits in the wolves.

   Normally, of course, Followers would be pretty reluctant to die for their master – but there’s no real question of that, so this bunch will pretty readily sacrifice their readily-replaceable bodies for their master. Sacrificing their equipment is quite another matter though, at least for the higher-level followers who use the stuff…

Federation-Apocalypse Session 135 – The Clash of Blades

   Back in the New Imperium, in blissful ignorance of most of what had been going on elsewhere, Kevin, Marty, Ryan, and company were preparing to board the Hellstorm and engage in a desperate struggle against the powers of darkness…

   Well, actually, Ryan was diverting himself with worries about his own allies (for which some of his friends from the old days had, admittedly, given him ample cause), Kevin was focused on bringing his OWN dark powers back under control, and Marty was looking forward to a little bit of delightful hand-to-hand! Kevin might be good at taking out the minions, but it was time for the main event!

   Still… he could always nuke the bridge from the inside! Or vent the entire ship to space! Or tear the Hellstorm in half with raw oratory and the power of his mind!

   Aw, who was he kidding? Any of those might be fun – although he wasn’t sure that he OR Kevin OR Ryan could pull off that last one – but there was still nothing like going in with a knife! He WAS the invade-and-take-over specialist after all!

   He towed Kevin along. The kid looked pretty abstracted at the moment and it wouldn’t do to let him run into a counter-boarding party in that condition. He’d probably grant them a wish or something in the interests of not being bothered, when stabbing would be far more suitable.

   Ah, stabbing. Lots and lots of stabbing…

(Marty) “You okay there Kevin? You look… delirious.”

(Kevin) It… will…. be….. fine….. just… need…. a….. little…… time………

(Marty) “Okay, you sit tight. I’m going to take the thralls and board this sucker!”

   Good grief! Kevin was sounding like Gelman on a really bad day!

   Marty got together some of the Thralls who weren’t busy assisting Menthas – with the Forgelight entangled with the Hellstorm, a lot of crew positions had become redundant – and had them try to take a look at the sensors. It would be nice to have SOME idea of the layout of the ship they were about to board!

   Unfortunately that was fairly useless. They could tell that there was a major power center – radiating both neutrino surges and demonic power – towards the lower back of the ship, but there was just too much interference to get any decent indication of what the interior spaces were like.

   Clairvoyance was no use either. Too much magic, demonic power, and dimensional disturbances again – not to mention some areas apparently being shielded.

   Dammit. The only way he was going to get directions was if the computer felt cooperative – and it was far more likely to lie – or if they found a map of the area printed on the wall or something (and THAT would be likely to be a fraud too on a hellship!).

(Kevin, blearily muttering quotes) “Audacity! always Audacity!”

   Marty frowned… Oh well! It was something like a building, even if it was drifting in space – and he’d assailed a lot of those in his time!

   He had about fifty extra thralls above their usual companions – and the three-hundred NeoDogs who were supporting Menthas. He left twenty to handle the defense in case there was an attempt to board THEM, and set out to do a little on-site probing with sharp pointed things! Thirty – forty or so with their usual bunch – should be big enough to take on small groups of defenders without being cumbersome since they were all telepaths anyway! And forty versus a demonic super star destroyer was certainly audacity!

   Besides, it was hard to say how many of the crew survived the Nightmare Storm. They wouldn’t have been in the best shape to resist that…

(Ryan) “Hmm, it looks like the interior has been extensively redone since the last time I was in here.”

(Marty) “What changes are you seeing?”

(Ryan) “Well in many ways it would be more proper to say that the interior of this place is more like a pocket dimension now than the interior of a ship. Best to stay on your toes, this place is likely to be highly morphic and will try to prey upon your mind and sanity.”

(Marty, grinning) “What sanity?”

   Ryan groaned to himself… Blasted toons! They were always nuts, and they had always had driven him nuts, and it was hard to argue with one who acknowledged his own basic craziness!

(Marty) “Anyway, can you give me any specifics on what you’re seeing in that dimension?”

(Ryan) “Well I suspect you still understand that certain behaviors are not to be carried out, like skinning the skin off someone just to see how long you can keep them alive. And I doubt you feel the need to tear out your eyes and rip out your tongue.”

(Marty) “Okay, that is pretty damn screwed up. First step, put up the old mental defenses.”

(Ryan) “Oh now there is an unpleasant one, seeing someone consumed by negative energy cell by cell. Yes, I think I will be adding a few layers of mental defenses to everyone here… I take it you are heading to the bridge then?”

(Marty, grinning roguishly) “Where else would Revan want to have a dramatic duel?”

(Ryan) “Heh, beware of any giant chasms then. In the meantime, I am going after the main power core, then the main computer core.”

(Marty) “Going to blow them up? Well, try to give us fair warning. It’d suck if I took Revan down, then got vaporized.”

(Ryan) “I was hoping to avoid explosive shutdowns. I was leaning more towards the scattering critical components across the Manifold solution.”

(Marty) “Eh, suit yourself, we’ll be heading off. Good luck.”

(Ryan) “Same to you, I will head towards the bridge when my team is done.”

(Kevin, through the Thralls) “Menthas? Do you have enough support to hold out for a time? I’m going to be leaving Bard with you; he’s covered by the Contract with the Hellstorm, so the pressure shouldn’t step up when Marty and I leave.”

(Menthas) “I should be able to hold for some time – but not indefinitely.”

   Marty sighed. It looked like he was going to have to resort to tactics… Blast it! Planning ahead had always kind of seemed like cheating to him! That was why he’d been leaving it to Kevin! A bit of planning ahead was perfectly in character fora a dark lord!

   He had the Thralls use the high-magic zone that was currently boiling around Kevin to set up some additional mental shields, negative energy protections, other energy protections, some environmental protections, and other defenses to augment the ones Ryan and company had set up. If it was a hell-dimension, it could be about to get pretty unpleasant!

   Hm… He had the Thralls focus a lot of defenses around Kevin. The kid was normally quite capable of handling his own defenses – but he HAD just tapped into a major bit of darkness there, and they were about to confront a Sith Lord and a sapient demonic starship. They might try to manipulate him.

   He reminded himself to be ready call for other defenses on the fly. The place sounded more like a psychological kind of hell, but better safe than sorry!

   Hm. Was Kevin just a traditionalist? He did seem to stick with the classics a lot…

   The two groups stepped out into the Hellstorm and took their separate ways.

   Marty found that navigation wasn’t easy – the Hellstorm was a nightmarish jumble of passages, with crusty reddish-black walls, flickering lights, and horrific stains and unmentionable debris scattered everywhere – but the Thralls and his understanding of basic building layouts was still SOME help.

   The intermittent screaming and howling echoing through the passages didn’t help though. On the other hand, at least when those came along they drowned out the whispers that seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere at the same time.

(Whispers) “Join us, embrace the nightmares. You know he is plotting against you!”

   That stirred up Kevin a bit; he was beginning to take an interest again – even if he was still pretty distracted.

(Kevin) “And who would you bunch be?”

(Whispers) “We are the ones that have given into the darkness. It is a part of us just like it is a part of you.”

(Marty) “Yeah, well, we’re not giving into it. We like our other parts too much.”

   Perhaps unsurprisingly, that set off the first attacks – mangled humans, clothed in nothing save for blood, filth, and various implements of torture that were working on them or peeling their skin back, who came out of the ventilation and service shafts.

   What was left of a woman who was being slowly torn apart by metal hooks attacked Marty – biting into his shoulder with her lipless bleeding mouth and somehow inflicting massive injuries.

(Marty) “Lady, I’m not into THAT!”

   He hurled her down the corridor; unlike some of his colleagues, he was no gentleman!

   He considered using his new talents in pleasure magic to sedate her – but the local rules were pretty strongly against it, and it turned out to be a bit beyond his new-found powers.

   He had to toss her away again. At least there weren’t enough of the others to get past the Thrall-guards to Kevin – even if they were forcing them to use a lot of their power on self-healing.

   He started hewing his way through the maddened, soulless – but still extremely dangerous – husks. They exploded in eruptions of blood and gore that were far beyond what should have been contained in their frames.

   By the time he was done, even his healing powers were starting to run low…

(Whispers) “Why do you resist? It is in your nature to destroy and seek pleasure……”

(Marty, growling) “I’m more than some animal!”

(Kevin, rather abstractedly) “How… crude. Is THIS supposed to be tempting?”

(Marty) “Yeah, that was icky! I’ve seen hentai less disgusting than that.”

(Whispers) “Perhaps….”

(Kevin, interrupting) “Yes, the occasional visit to a house of horrors can be entertaining, and some people feel a need to be punished – but this is just silly!”

   Real power was derived from having souls in your service! You could build up a following of tormented, sadomasochistic maniacs, but it was an enormous amount of work, little or no fun for ANYONE, and they drifted away quickly! That was why the classic had always been temptation! This was… shortsighted, destructive, and ultimately useless except as a way to cause pain and suffering.

   Ah. It was entirely possible that the Hellstorm did not have a soul at all – or, if it did, it was simply demented. Such foolishness was typical of lesser horrors. Destruction, pain, and terror for their own sakes, rather than as tools to be used in pursuit of your ambitions.

(Marty) “Come on Kevin, we don’t have time for this bull!”

   Uh-oh. They must really have crossed a realm-boundary when they entered the Hellstorm. Kevin was drifting into his “Angel of Darkness” persona… How did you qualify for a halo and demon-wings at the same time anyway? Maybe it would be best to gate through to Revan? But he – or at least the Hellstorm – would probably make that difficult anyway.

   The corridor continued onwards, with the way now lined with remnants of corpses. At least they seemed to be past the more violent amongst the living dead now… heading deeper into the abyss. Most of the bodies were partially-eaten, abused, and mutilated. A number of what appeared to be former imperial officers and storm troopers were crawling around on all fours, ripping feebly at bodies, and making the screaming and howling sounds they’d been hearing. At least they seemed to be too far gone to notice them immediately…

   Marty looked at the blue-white thunderbolts and black-and-crimson fire beginning to flicker around Kevin… it would be best to hurry. There was no telling how long the kid would be able to hold it together under this kind of pressure.

   The Thralls reported that the creatures crawling around had been driven mad with torment, had had a wide variety of horrific nightmares unleashed upon them, had had their souls driven out, and had been afflicted with a LOT of leaking demonic energy. Most of the damage was beyond repair at this point – the souls had long since departed – and attempts at magical healing would be like throwing a new coat of paint over the halls and mopping. Besides… it looked like most of them hadn’t had souls to begin with. They could heal the physical damage – but that would just let the empty shells attack them better.

   Which, by the way, they were currently starting to do.

(Kevin, absently) “Forget them. There’s little to be done for them anyway.”

   Marty probed… it looked like… just continuing along the corridor was certain to result in several more encounters with various depraved manifestations of the local reality. At some point though, should they persevere, they’d come across an avatar of the local reality – an “End Boss”. Defeat whatever that turned out to be, and they should reach the bridge – regardless of whether or not they were actually headed in the “right” direction.

(Kevin) “Oh geez! This thing has been patterned after some old game! One of the really crude ones, like that ancient “Doom” thing that was mentioned in history class!”

(Marty) “Hey, I remember that game!”

   Don’t think about cacodemons, don’t think about . . . DAMMIT!

   Meanwhile, of course, the officers and troopers were galloping – well, OK, shambling, crawling, and slithering – towards them with mindless expressions of voracity.

   Kevin grinned suddenly. He wouldn’t want to unseal the grand powers of darkness for a bit – but the corridors were fifteen feet high and at least that wide, and he’d seen this bit in a dozen holo-productions.

   He started skipping from head to back to shoulder across the onrushing horde, tumbling acrobatically to avoid any potential strikes. There was no point in having all those genetic boosts to strength and agility that his parents had paid for (since they’d been open-minded enough to give him the animal genegrafts rather than sticking with the purebred human genetic toolbox) if you never used them!

   Marty gaped for a moment – the kid had never done that before! – but shrugged. It certainly wasn’t a bad idea; as much as he hated to admit it, fighting these mindless minions had no point… He told the Thralls to levitate themselves – or shapeshift to hummingbirds or some such – and follow their master while he used his own Light Foot skills to run along the walls, with occasional launches off of hungry Imperial troops.

   You know, using your acrobatic talents to dodge past frustrated enemy goons was also kind of amusing! Still… it would have been more fun if he hadn’t been aware of just where they were.

   There was much bouncing along the tops of depraved heads and running along the walls as they skipped past just out of reach of their attackers, readily evading their various attacks.

(Kevin) “So long suckers!”

   That took them – in short order, as the local reality gave it up as a bad job – to a large, arena-style, room flooded with about six inches of rust-colored (or bloody) water. The walls were the color of dried blood and decaying metal, and the room was sweltering, steamy mess. The only sound seems to come from a periodic drip of water – and the only exit was a set of large, Star Wars style, blast doors at the top of a stairway landing at the far end.

   Mr “Boss” was waiting for them – and the local reality seemed to have fallen back on some sort of video game imagery again. The “Boss” was an eight-foot-tall humanoid wearing only some sort of rough leather skirt and a pyramid-shaped helmet. He was wielding a long “knife” that was nearly eight feet long itself.

(Marty) “Oh Crap! We’re in Silent Hill! I’ve played that one!”

   Kevin drew a complete blank there. Probably some sort of game or practice scenario or some such that had been current when Battling Business World was created. That would make it… early twenty-first century or so?

   Marty stepped forward. This would make a good warmup! Besides… letting Kevin get involved would probably confuse things. The kid kind of felt that HE deserved to be richly rewarded, not punished! He, however, had the guilt to challenge the avatar of punishment. Pesky conscience.

   The thing wasn’t quite his match on the attack, but it could apparently take – or at least block – nearly limitless amounts of punishment.

   Kevin spun sacred-energy construct-armor around Marty – he was pretty sure that THAT kind of power wouldn’t go out of control – but he couldn’t keep that up too long, no matter how amusing it was to see the local reality bending away from it! Even the minor teleportation that his armor was giving him barely allowed him to keep ahead of the thing – and it was absorbing all his strikes with hardly a sign of damage.

   This was not good. What were the local rules like? Did he have to come to some sort of terms? Fight until he’d caused some monstrous amount of damage? Did it work more like the game, or was it truly invulnerable?

   It certainly didn’t seem to feel pain!

(Marty) “So what’s under that helmet, anyway?

   Still no sign of pain – and it ignored his taunts with the cold impersonal response of a machine. It suddenly appeared behind him again as he blinked, and he barely managed to dodge to the side in time to avoid having that knife suddenly materialize in his chest. It still caught him in the ribs though, inflicting another massive wound – and forcing Kevin to renew the armor again.

   Damn! Trying to get through the door was no use either! It looked like you HAD to deal with the guardian first!

(Marty) “Dammit! What do you want from us?”

   Pyramid-Head pointed to Marty, then proceeded to poke the tip of its blade into its hand. It then squeezed it’s hand and let the blood drip into the water they were standing in.

(Marty) “Oh. Well damn. Why didn’t you just say so.”

(Marty, privately to Kevin) “Can you see anything wrong with what he seems to be suggesting? Because I can see several possible horrors resulting – still, it might be our only way through!”

   Kevin, could, of course think of any number of things that could arise from voluntarily-offered blood. (If an involuntary offering would do, Marty wouldn’t need to donate blood; he’d just lost quite a lot of the stuff…).

   They had one of the spare Thralls they had along drip some in – despite the whispers suggesting a full filleting.

   The door slid open, revealing what looked to be the bridge of the ship on the other side.

(Pyramid-Head) “Sacrificing the blood of another to spare yourselves, how appropriate. You may pass.”

   Aw! Now Marty felt guilty again!

   They went though anyway, as Pyramid Head stepped to the side and silently faded away. It was likely to be a trap – but even if Revan had gone totally dark side, it was beginning to look like they might be here for a rescue – or a mercy killing – and not a duel.

Eclipse d20 – Nullfields, Antimagic, Dismissal, and Arcane Overloads

   Here we have some compiled answers for Alzrius, since – once again – things were getting rather lengthy for the comment threads.

   The Nullfield spell in The Practical Enchanter notes that, when used for creating a golem’s magic immunity, spellcasters can design spells that beat said magic immunity for the cost of the spell being +3 levels. Would that also be the formula to create a spell that can affect a creature through a nullfield or standard antimagic field? – Alzrius

   Not precisely; Golems – being animated by magical energies – have to leave ways open for some types of magic to operate on themselves. Thus they have “chinks in their armor” (or gaps in their defenses, or however you want to express it), and are at least partially vulnerable to specific spell effects that target those flaws. Just as importantly, golems of the same type follow the same design – and so have the same chinks. Thus, for a mere +1 spell level, you can design a spell which targets a specific set of “chinks” and so will bypass the magical defenses of a particular type of golem. For +3 spell levels you can design a “smart” spell – one capable of seeking out the flaws in a golems defenses and adjusting itself to target them.

   Or at least that’s the logic underlying the rules given for the Nullfield spell – and the explanation for why each type of Golem is at least partially affected by a few, fairly specific, spells.

   That approach won’t work in a straight-up Nullfield spell, which has no chinks at all. Antimagic spheres, however, do have one chink; the caster can dismiss them. We know that’s an active effect because spells with fixed durations will run out their durations normally if the caster dies – ergo, he or she can’t be sustaining them in any way. Turning them off must be a magical action simply because it’s directly affecting a spell – and only magic does that (and the default SRD position is that there is no real distinction psionics and magic).

   Can that chink be exploited? The SRD doesn’t actually have much to say about dismissing spells. What we’ve got is:

   (D) Dismissible: If the Duration line ends with “(D),” you can dismiss the spell at will. You must be within range of the spell’s effect and must speak words of dismissal, which are usually a modified form of the spell’s verbal component. If the spell has no verbal component, you can dismiss the effect with a gesture. Dismissing a spell is a standard action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity. -The d20 SRD.

   Like so many short and simple rules which offer no explanation of how they work, that leaves a lot of doors open. I’d tend to assume that only the original caster – not just someone else who happens to know a particular spell – can dismiss a spell. Of course, I also suppose that someone could use the Use Magic Device skill to try and impersonate the original caster – perhaps at a DC of (15 + the true spell casters caster level) if they know the spell, and something like (25 + the true spell casters caster level) if they don’t since they’d have to fake both being the caster and the dismissal effect.

   There doesn’t seem to be any reason why you couldn’t design a spell that sought out that trigger, faked being the spellcaster, and dismissed a targeted spell. Of course, that would only work on spells that were dismissable in the first place and is a lot more complicated than the “hit it with a big hammer (or disruption or however you want to describe it) and break it!” approach used by Dispel Magic.

   That would leave the caster with a spell that’s far more complicated (and thus higher level) than Dispel Magic, which can only target a single spell at a time rather than many spells (again like Dispel Magic), which really requires knowing what spells are active on a target to be used, and which only works on dismissable spells – although, it would, admittedly, almost always work on those. It’s no surprise that it’s rarely researched; almost every spellcaster would rather have Dispel Magic to begin with.

   Now, Alzrius would like to know what that spell would look like – and that’s an easy one. Here we are:

  • Dismissal: Illusion (Shadow), Level: Bard 4, Sor/Wiz 5, Components: V, S, Casting Time: One Standard Action, Range: Medium, Effect: See Text, Duration: Instantaneous, Saving Throw: None, Spell Resistance: No.
  • Dismissal adapts itself to the structure of a target spell, effectively impersonates the caster, and – in a momentary flash of darkness – Dismisses the spell. Unfortunately, Dismissal can only target one spell at a time and only works on Dismissable spells. Equally unfortunately, spells of anti-magic, anti-divination, and protection from other spells are more difficult to analyze effectively – and so require an opposed caster level check similar to that required with Dispel Magic, although Dismissal has no upper limit on the check.
    • Improved versions of the spell are possible: Enhanced (+2 spell levels) versions gain a +10 bonus on the opposed caster level check if one is called for. Mass (+4 spell levels, or only +3 spell levels if all the spells to be affected have to have the same caster) versions will attempt to dismiss up to one spell per level of the caster.
    • While perhaps the most popular – and perhaps the only really practical – use of this effect is to try to get rid of Antimagic, the spell generally can’t be cast while actually within such an effect; it can’t magically summon the shadow-energies on which it relies in the first place.

   Now, according to the general notes on Antimagic under the Greater Antimagic Field spell (Eclipse, page 130):

   Antimagic can be broken by sheer overload – by an external spell that exceeds twice the level of antimagical spell used or by an internal spell of at least three times the level of the antimagical effect used (usually something that only gods and powerful epic characters can pull off). -Eclipse, The Codex Persona.

   And that brings us to:

   Regarding that rule about overloading an antimagic field/nullfield, does that take metamagic into account? I ask only because conventional wisdom is that metamagic doesn’t increase the spell’s actual level (Heighten Spell notwithstanding), hence why an empowered maximized magic missile wouldn’t get past a globe of invulnerability. So a spell that’s supercharged on metamagic would still fail no matter how heavily it was strengthened, right? – Alzrius

   That’s generally correct. Metamagic apparently represents advanced techniques for manipulating magical energy – making a spells structure more complex without actually increasing the amount of raw power it involves. Unfortunately, a spells “level” is based both on it’s inherent complexity AND on it’s raw power – so even without the power, a spell enhanced by metamagic normally occupies a higher-level-than-usual spell slot. Of course, it is possible to learn to apply most metamagics without increasing the level of the spell slot needed – but those are advanced techniques.

   If you want to take advantage of the extra power inherent in a higher-level spell slot, you’ll need to build the equivalent of the “metamagics” you want to use into the formula. That’s a good deal more effective since the extra power can make up for a drop in efficiency (and the complexity that would be needed to obtain that super-efficiency). Thus the rule that spells with “built-in” metamagic are of somewhat lower level than spells upgraded to equivalent effects with metamagic.

   Now, when you’re opposing antimagical effects, such as an Antimagic Sphere or a Globe of Invulnerability, the complexity of the effect makes very little difference; it doesn’t matter if you throw an elegant sculpture or a simple lump of rock at a concrete wall; all that matters is how hard you hit it. Ergo, what’s important there is the base spell level.

   Classically the base spell level can be augmented by the “Heighten Spell” metamagic, but in Eclipse you don’t need a feat to simply beef up a spell a bit. Of course, those are spell levels you can’t use to add more interesting effects – and since it’s not a metamagic, you can’t use the techniques that reduce the spell level cost of adding metamagics to boost the effective level of all your spells.

   For a technological analogy, a Golem could be considered something like a well-insulated electrical machine or piece of electronics. If you hit an uninsulated point with a serious electrical discharge you can probably fry the insides. If you hit the insulation, nothing much is going to happen unless you’re applying enough voltage (“spell levels”) to overload and destroy that insulation directly. An antimagic field, however, is essentially just a big mass of insulation, with no vulnerable gaps OR insides. If you want to get rid of it by blasting it, you’ll have to overload it’s resistance and destroy it.

   Using your analogy that a golem is like a well-insulated machine, at what point can you simply overcome its “insulation” with brute force the same way you could a Nullfield or an Antimagic Sphere? Surely, if a power word kill can punch through a Nullfield (since it’s ninth level, and thus one level about twice the spell’s level), a spell of similar or greater power could hit through a golem’s magic immunity. Would that permanently collapse its immunity the way it would the spell, or would only spells that powerful get through, with the immunity still remaining intact? – Alzrius

   Under those rules you can, indeed, break through a Golem’s Nullfield. Throwing a ninth-level spell (that allows Spell Resistance, can actually target a Construct, and isn’t already one that would affect the target Golem due to those “chinks”) at a Golem will indeed overload it’s magical defenses – although it wouldn’t otherwise affect the Golem, since the spells power would be expended on overloading the Nullfield as per d20’s usual rules about barriers.

   The Golems unlimited-use use-activated Nullfield enchantment would immediately start to rebuild the spell – and so the Nullfield would be restored on the Golem’s next action. Until then, it could be affected by common spells. Unfortunately, since the Elemental Infusion effect changes a Golems enchantments into Extraordinary Abilities, they can’t be dispelled.

   Of course, if the Golem was constructed using the suggested Ambient Magic limitation (as the standard models are, since it saves the creator 14,560 GP and 582 XP) and you throw another appropriate spell of level nine or higher to break down it’s Nullfield again the next round, it won’t be able to erect another Nullfield for a full minute – which will probably be plenty of time to blow the thing into little pieces. Whether that’s worth two spells of level nine-plus and some lesser ones (as opposed to healing up the fighters afterwards or doing something really clever) is a decision for the party.

   Epic-level Golems are – presumably – constructed using higher-level variants on the Nullfield spell, and so their defenses would require even higher level spells to break. I’d guess that most epic-level golem-builders would use at least a seventh level version, requiring a spell with a base level of at least fifteen to break through.

Eclipse and the Hero System

   One recent request was for a comparison of Eclipse Character Points to Hero System Points. Now, the requestor is using the Fifth Edition Hero System, while I mostly use the Fourth Edition (I have mountains of books for it and it works just fine) – but the changes don’t seem very large anyway, so it shouldn’t make much difference. I’ll probably be referring to “Champions” in a lot of places though, since “Hero System” often seems awkward.

   Converting points between systems is always difficult; they are, after all, simulating very different ideas about how the game world works – and their attributes are very different.

   To illustrate that, it’s best to start with the baseline. In d20, the average person will have attributes of about ten – and no bonuses for them. He or she will have 1d4 or 1d6 hit points.

   In Champions/Hero System, the average human being has attributes of ten, including hit points (body).

   Now that is superficially very similar indeed.

   What those numbers actually mean is very different though.

   Lets look at a very straightforward attribute.

   Strength.

   In d20, if a character should somehow have Strength 40, he or she has a near-godlike attribute. If he or she attacks an average person, he or she is virtually guaranteed to connect (barring the automatic 5% chance of a miss on a “1”), and will kill them instantly.

   In Champions, that Strength-40 character is not at all impressive among strong heroes, has only a 50% chance of hitting a normal opponent (presuming that said normal opponent doesn’t – sensibly – abort to a dodge maneuver and reduce that chance to about 25%), and (given average Body damage results on 8d6, which is quite likely) – will require four hits to kill. So, in Champions, Strength is roughly one-sixth to one-tenth as effective as d20 strength for everything except calculating how much weight a character can lift – something that’s almost meaningless in most games, since most weights are arbitrarily assigned by the game master (either “you can’t lift that” or “you can lift that” – albeit possibly only with a mighty effort or a roll).

   Champions strength does add to Physical Defense, Stun, and Recovery – but d20 characters don’t need or use Physical Defense (since almost every d20 attack would count as a Killing Attack in Champions), their Stun and Body both fall under Hit Points (and go up for free), and they don’t need to spend endurance to power their abilities (making Recovery meaningless except for Healing – which also automatically goes up with level in d20). Unlike d20 strength, Champions strength doesn’t add to your chance to connect with an attack.

   In d20 a ten foot fall has a 50% chance of leaving our average human dying. That’s probably a little high – but people quite often die of simply tripping and either hitting their head or breaking something in the real world.

   In Champions/Hero System a fall of 30 meters – about a hundred feet – has a considerably less than 50% chance of leaving a normal human dying. On the average, they’ll take eight body and thirty-three stun – and will be up and walking away in less than a minute. It will take them some time to heal up all the bruising – but it’s just not quite the same is it?

   OK, lets take a different approach. Champions provides some general character categories with a maximum point total for each. Now, in Eclipse, level zero is for kids and other incompetents, level one is a baseline normal, level two is a skilled normal, experts and such will be level three, and pulp heroes and action movie characters will be around level four to five. Around level six, characters can routinely break most normal limits; your starting superheroes come in around this point. Around level eleven, you have legendary heroes. At level sixteen or so you get the classical demigods – and epic levels will cover most classical gods.

   That approach actually produces some fairly straightforward equivalencies.

Champions GeneralCharacter Type MaximumHero Points EquivalentEclipse Level Eclipse Points /Bonus Feat Points
Incompetent Normal 0 -1 to 0 24
Normal 25 1 48 (+6)
Skilled Normal 50 2 72 (+6)
Competent Normal 100 3 96 (+12)
Hero 150 4-5 120-144 (+12)
Superhero 250 6-0 168-224 (+18-24)
High-Powered Super 375+ 11-15 288-384 (+24-36)
Demigodling Unspecified 16-20 408-504 (+36-42)

   Now, those aren’t exactly precise.

  • The Champions total includes permissible disadvantages, because Champions disadvantages are a major part of the character. The Eclipse totals do not include any disadvantages, since Eclipse disadvantages are never worth more than twelve points – and many characters don’t bother with them.
  • The Eclipse totals do not include the Fast Learner ability, or Duties, or Restrictions. Those can add several character points per level, but the amount varies from character to character – which makes general calculations difficult or impossible.
  • Eclipse characters do not have to pay character points for their attribute arrays, or for their (relatively modest) level-based increases, while Champions characters do. On the other hand, Eclipse characters generally cannot take points out of their attribute totals to pay for other things – which is what lets Incompetent Normal characters in Champions have a few skills and talents. That’s one major reason why the relationship shifts from Eclipse offering somewhat more points at the low end to somewhat fewer points at the high end.
  • Eclipse characters get free skill points and hit points with levels, rather than having to buy them. On the other hand, they don’t necessarily get to act more often than anyone else and combat is usually resolved via lethal force rather than by mere unconsciousness or retreat.
  • Eclipse characters can buy gear with money, rather than with character points. That’s normal in Champions at lower power levels, but superheroes and high-powered superheroes normally have to pay points for everything. Eclipse and The Practical Enchanter have some modifiers that can be applied to produce that effect (just as there are ways to build an equipment allowance in Champions), but it’s not the default position.

   Within those restrictions, however, we have a pretty reasonable comparison: Eclipse characters get a few more points early on, and lag slightly later on – but in the prime “Hero and Superhero” range where each game is mostly played (150 to 350 points in most of the Champions games I’ve seen, levels 4-12 in most of the d20 games I’ve seen) – the point totals are pretty similar. By that standard, Eclipse Points and Hero Points are just about equivalent. Champions characters tend to have a modest number of unlimited-use abilities as opposed to fantasy characters who often have many abilities which can only be used a few times a day – but either system can build characters that work in either way.

   Now, there are some practical differences. For example:

  • d20 skills are considerably cheaper to increment. They also – at the very high end (outside of the usual ranges we’re considering) – allow their user’s to accomplish some downright supernatural stunts. The difference is less drastic than it appears though; in both Champions and d20 a great many skill checks are opposing another character’s skills – and so the difference tends to cancel out within the system. If you wanted to duplicate a really high-order d20 skill in Champions, you’d just have to buy some minor associated powers to go with the basic skill – upping the cost again.
  • Champions attributes are considerably cheaper to increase directly. Champions assumes that characters can mutate and otherwise far surpass the human norm without the use of any special powers – unless, of course, the “normal characteristic maxima” rule is in play.
  • Eclipse, like most d20 rules sets, assumes that character attributes are a lot more fixed – in essence, that “normal characteristic maxima” is the default rule. In d20 a character is unlikely to become inherently many times stronger over the course of his or her career. Thus directly increasing characteristics is quite expensive in Eclipse. Of course, d20 attributes don’t mean quite the same thing – and are fairly readily increased with items, through inherent bonuses, by acquiring templates, and in several other ways. In particular, if you’re playing in a superhero setting, the Superheroic Rule from page 161 should be in play – giving each character (Con Mod) free points of Mana to spend each round. That can make it quite easy to boost an attribute or two – as can various forms of Innate Enchantment. For examples of each approach, we have the Iron Raptor (Superheroic Mana) and the Strongman and the Basic “Mutant” Template (Innate Enchantment).

   For an overall comparison?

  • Both Eclipse and the Hero System can produce similar characters on similar numbers of points.
  • Eclipse tends to produce characters with larger numbers of limited-use abilities, while Champions tends to produce characters with smaller numbers of unlimited-use abilities – but those are only tendencies. An individual character can go either way. For some samples for Eclipse, here’s the Wraith (an unlimited-use level one short-range teleporter), Baron Ectar (a supervillain who can blast things with his voice), Timothy and Verendior (a child and his pet monster), Cadmael (an anime-styled Sorcerer with unlimited use of his spells), and – for that matter – the entire Mutants of the Eclipse series.
  • Low-end Eclipse characters tend to be more interesting, complex, and playable than low-end Hero System characters – but that same increase in complexity makes Eclipse characters harder to set up at the high end. While the nice folks over at PCGen are working on getting PCGen to handle Eclipse, that’s not ready yet, and Champions does have several character-generation programs available right now. The sample template and character list is over HERE.
  • Eclipse, and the forthcoming PCGen datasets, are available as freeware, while the Hero System and its primary character generating programs are not. On the other hand, the Hero System is backed by a considerably larger company, and has more supporting material out than I can readily provide – although you can use almost any d20 source material with Eclipse. Eclipse is compatible with the vast majority of d20 rules sets and material after all.

   Overall, if you’re happy with Champions, already own the Hero System books, and aren’t looking for a change, there’s no reason to switch (although I’d encourage you to download the freeware edition and check it out; it costs nothing and should at least provide ideas). After all, I wrote Eclipse, and I continue to play both Eclipse and Champions – albeit leaning heavily towards Eclipse.

   Eclipse: The Codex Persona is available in a Freeware 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