Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 44

Boba Fett (the parade at DragonCon 2006).

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. As usual, the situation was good, bad, and completely chaotic, all at the same time; the group was still attempting to draw in, and trap, Zandramas – and they were certainly causing a big enough ruckus to attract his attention. On the other hand, that meant that they’d also drawn a great deal of attention that they DIDN’T want – and they needed to stay ahead of the secondary pursuit while still setting up their trap.
. Sadly, their current series of hideaways was rapidly being uncovered and they weren’t yet entirely sure what kind of trap it was going to need to be. They did have several different schemes underway though.
. Most of them were unified on one topic however; they wanted to yell at Jacob. Taking himself apart and thus making himself into bait for a trap for the rest of them had NOT been a particularly inspired notion!

. Unfortunately, all of my plans were going to be for naught if we were found. And security  – in combination with the various other hunters – was now finding all of the hiding places that this particular resistance group had set up. The bane of small-scale amateur movements; no proper cell structure… We needed to find somewhere to hide again for a while, at least until we made our move and came out into the open.

. After taking out our frustrations on Jacob for a few minutes, we all felt better, even if Jacob was largely uncomprehending and undamaged. We decided that the only real place to hide nearby without risking going out into the open to skip to another city was to go deeper underground, into the older sections of the city. Ben, Jacob, 10CH, and Alys searched my bike for any more of the spider droids hiding in it. Jacob reprogrammed some of the droids and sent them searching for more as well. I wasn’t real keen on the idea but they knew more about the process than I did. I still don’t like the idea of Sith monitoring droids running around my bike, even if they are “reprogrammed”.

. Khadim had procured a larger van in the meantime and loaded all the rest of the equipment into it. Once the others were finished with their sweep of the bike, it was loaded too. We then all loaded into the van and Lazlo drove us deeper into the depths underneath the city. I rode shotgun and used the Codex to give tips to Lazlo on where to turn to reduce the odds of pursuit from time to time. In the meantime I considered our problems facing us now.

. First issue was a hiding place, but we were working on that as we spoke. The other resistance groups were now working on the remaining stasis generators, so that shouldn’t be a problem either – at least if we had a little good luck for once. Heavier weaponry would have been nice to have, but I imagine the bounty hunters will be rectifying that shortcoming far sooner than I would like. We also had an enormous number of pursuers chasing after us all now as well. The Sith garrison were unleashing the swarms of droids to hunt us down, the government was after Ben for supposedly destroying the universe or some such nonsense, we now had over 20,000 bounty hunters on the planet, the remaining rogue resistance groups were under the impression – thank’s to Zandramas’s remaining undercover agents – that we were rogue Sith, the Artificers and Holosith were keen on finding us, and planetary security was doing their best to pretend to be chasing us for appearances sake.

. This was not my idea of being popular.

. I sent a quick message to the resistance to keep an eye on Oliva Sandis, Officer Olson, and tailor Qwuam. I suspected with this many people following us, that they were likely to get into trouble sooner rather than later. Hopefully they can manage until we get the shields restored and the planet back under our control. If not then we needed to keep an eye out in case we needed to intervene.

. My thoughts on the matter were interrupted when Alys noted we were being followed by another van. Lazlo made a few turns to see if they were really following us only to confirm it was the case. I had a hard time seeing past Lazlo and Jacob though, and it was only after Jacob leapt to the other van that I saw them pointing a missile launcher at us. They couldn’t seriously be thinking to fire such a weapon at this range….

. Jacob had seen the people in the other car pointing a missile launcher at them – from well within the safety-interlock range. Still, the local resistance was inexperienced enough that they might well have disarmed it… He used his repulsor systems to help make the leap.

. They did, one of the missiles Jacob barely managed to dodge as the other slammed into the side of our van. It impacted the wall of the van and embedded itself right in Ben’s lap. The anticipated explosion did not come as apparently the missile hadn’t had time to arm itself yet – thank sensible engineers for minimum-range requirements – although we all heard the click as the arming mechanism activated. Ben proceeded to grab the missile tightly and then activated his stasis belt. The missile then proceeded to detonate in slow motion as I could see the warhead begin to vent and deform from the slow detonation. The moment it got past the stasis effect it would obliterate the van.

. Oh hell.

. Meanwhile, Jacob was taking away weapons (via telekinetically tossing them over into their van, which complicated things – such as Lazlo’s driving – there again), dealing with small arms, and dumping people out of the “enemy” (well, perhaps “mislead should-be friends”) landspeeder – but there were entirely too many of them to deal with while clinging to the side of the landspeeder.

. He managed to dump a few weapons (including the missile launcher), toss one idiot over into the window of the van (and almost into Lazlo’s lap, making maintaining control rather difficult), and disarm a couple more before they managed to dislodge him.

. He didn’t injure himself hitting the road – sometimes it was nice to be made of metal! – but his opponents promptly swung around to try and run him down. A good thing that the automatic systems were already diverting other traffic… Wait! They were using a repulsorlift vehicle! All he had to do was to lie flat! There would be some pressure, but it wouldn’t be anything too serious…

. The resistance fighters themselves saw a major benefit in dropping back; it took them out of Alys’s line of fire, and – given the accuracy of her shots – that was really looking like a good idea.

. It occurred to me that a small fan would keep blow all the damage away from us, but I didn’t have the time, the space, or the equipment to do something elegant like that. Not when there was still a van out there able to fire more missiles at us. Phasing through the seat and the rest of the van, I hit the road at a run as I accelerated into hypertime. I quickly caught up with the van and ran along side it. Cutting out the missile was going to be too time consuming even in hypertime. No choice then but to try this the hard way. Grabbing onto the missile, I propped my feet against the side of the van and pulled. I felt the Force instinctively respond to the effort as power surged through me. The missile budged slightly and it was then that I realized that I was trying to move something in stasis while I myself was in hypertime.

. With a subjective several minutes of pulling, sliding, and straining, I finally managed to pull the missile free of the van. It’s explosion sped up as it left stasis, but thankfully was still in slow motion from my perspective. Seeing a side maintenance tunnel not being used by anyone, I quickly hit the ground, pivoted, and flung the missile into the side tunnel where it could detonate safely. With the missile out of the way, I could see one of the resistance fools dangling halfway through a window of the van. It was a simple matter to push him the rest of the way through; his pants would probably catch on fire from that, but I didn’t really care at the moment.

. Inside the van, 10CH suddenly had something to do, as a burning, heavily armed, insurgent carrying a selection of explosive devices was abruptly shoved into the van; disarming and extinguishing him suddenly became a top priority – and once again complicated Lazlo’s attempts to keep from crashing.

. Looking down the road towards the other van and Jacob, I could see the fools trying to run him over with a hover van of all things while Jacob did his best impression of a speed bump. I ran down the road to intercept the van from behind but found myself significantly slowed as Jacob caught a glimplse of me and his atavism began to overpower my hypertime.

. Damn it, Jacob makes a really good boat anchor for our own efforts, while continually bringing Sith down upon us. OK, that weird atavism talent of his had saved our necks once or twice – but we could probably have found some other way out of things that wasn’t such an aggravation the rest of the time!

. Doing the best I could to maintain as much of the hypertime technique as I could, I powered on the lightsaber and ran down the van. Once I reached it, it was a simple matter to start cutting the van from the rear towards the front. When I came into range of the repulsor it felt like I was walking through water. Oh yes, that was another warning from A-Valerie, shield effects (and thereby repulsors and lightsabers) could significantly disrupt my cohesion while phased. Impacting a shield barrier could easily scatter my atoms across the multiverse if I wasn’t careful. Luckily I was only in hypertime so all it did was slow me down even further.

. I finally managed to slice the hover van in half and re-entered normal time just so the two pieces of the hover van could dramatically but harmlessly slide to either side of me as it spilled out all it’s passengers. Jacob was looking at me strangely after that and muttering something about radiation blasts. Right, smacking him until he came to his senses, we took off back down the road after the others. Jacob wanted me to pull him with a rope while I went into hypertime, but I refused. Not only was I not going to pull someone of his weight that far, but his atavism made the point moot.

. From Jacob’s point of view, a flaming figure emitting a fair amount of X-Ray radiation was coming his way. He promptly fired his own repulsor systems, sending himself skidding down the road on his back. Fro good or ill, however, that hadn’t really been apparent in Hypertime.

. Jacob used some sort of built in repulsors to start sliding over the road like a miniature landspeeder, and I followed along with the Force Speed technique until we caught up with the rest of the group again. Once we were all back aboard the van, Lazlo took us down another tunnel and into a much older section of the city underground. It was obvious these tunnels hadn’t been used in many centuries judging from the maintenance. Several more turns and down ramps later it was felt we were probably safe from pursuit for the time being. Radiation alarms were going off, although nothing high enough to warrant immediate evacuation. After some brief exploration, we found out why: we were standing on top of the regional hypermatter reactor.

. Even I could tell the thing hadn’t been maintained or repaired for quite a while. Ben immediately started basic diagnostic checks while Alys and Jacob interrogated the two resistance members we had caught. At first I was willing to dismiss how they were tracking us to Zandaras using precognition to track Ben, but they managed to pry out the tidbit that the locals were hacking the droids to track us for them. Wait a minute, just how many droid engineers have joined the resistances? I was flabbergasted to learn that most of the locals knew how to do some of the more basic hacking techniques.

. How the hell did this happen?

. Wait a minute, they actually put droids in charge of the education system and didn’t supervise the process? So apparently the kids had begun hacking the droids to improve their grades and take days off and cover up anything else they got up to, while simultaneously (and unwittingly, at least from a kid’s perspective) undermining the education of generations? Look, I know I slacked off in school at almost every opportunity Sabrina would give me, but I was only hurting myself and not society at large with those shenanigans. Looking back at the hypermatter reactor I wondered how much of the neglect was actually negligence and how much was actually due to this planet having no one qualified to do such work.

. The idea of putting this system under a fake occupation beneath Ben is suddenly looking a lot better and a lot less fake.

. Ben came back with his report on the status of the hypermatter system. Nothing was critical yet, although it definitely was going to need preventative maintenance soon and was probably going to need a serious refurbishing in the next century or two as well. Given the way that a hypermatter reactor leaked neutrons, you always had to keep replacing the physical shielding – and it looked like the maintenance staff was letting it go as long as possible between overhauls. Why did that sound like every other public works project?

. Unfortunately, it looked like the idiots in city planning had preferred to pour massive amounts of concrete on top the maintenance levels as opposed to paying for proper access routes for preventative maintenance. To make matters even worse, they then proceeded to build the entire city on top of the giant concrete slab so there was no easy access to critical systems. If someone was going to refurbish it wholesale, then they needed to dismantle the city to begin. The looks from the resistance I got when I stated this were incredibly frustrating, especially when it was pointed out that you only had to do that even few thousand years.

. Maybe I am spoiled from growing up on Alderaan, but there we couldn’t tear up cities to work on the utilities every few thousand years. Cities like Crevasse City which are built into a cliff side couldn’t afford to tear up the landscape like that. There were huge maintenance tunnels disguised to look like part of the cliff face and it was even said the river could be temporarily diverted for the larger jobs. Of course, now I think I understand why the Alderaan school system forbade the use of droids for teaching. They probably saw the consequences of that and actually learned the lesson as opposed to shrugging and saying it’s someone else’s problem.

. Maybe the furipedes could come up with something.

. Sigh, I needed to unwind and I could see staying on either of these topics was going to further irritate me. Instead I turned my attentions to Ichara and attempted to see what information I could get out of her. At first she was focused on her obsession and didn’t really want to talk about anything else, so I took the tact of complaining about people and their oddball and innane projects. She quickly picked up on that and started discussing her companions and their obsessions and how they weren’t focusing on anything important like her project. With some more encouragement and prodding, she began to rant about all of them.

. There were nine of the Artificers on this planet, including Ichara. Another eight were off with Zandaras’s fleet doing weapons testing she thought. We proceeded to focus on the ones here on the planet as priority as we tried to steer Ichara to discuss them. First one was a hyperdrive researcher much like Ben. Second one was obsessed with automated manufacturing systems and wanted to reduce the inherent error rate. Given what we knew of the structure of the universe, that was probably a lost cause. Third Artificer was obsessed with the self-replicating/organizing systems and wanted to learn about the “Living Death Asteroids”. Sigh, it seems whether I am serious or joking, it all comes back to haunt me.

. Fourth Artificer was big on biological spacecraft nonsense and wanted to know more about the killer jellyfish. The fifth was big into weapons, but the exact type wasn’t exactly clear. Given the fact that he was here and not on the front, we concluded it was more likely personal weapons as opposed to ship weapons. Sixth one was obsessed with shields and other defensive mechanisms. Seventh looked to be a powered armor nut. Eighth one looked like a real piece of work as a mythic researcher keen on becoming some sort of fantasy necromancer.

. Eh, some of them could probably be negotiated with given the knowledge and resources our group had at our disposal. But I could see that a few of them either weren’t going to be happy with the answers we had to provide or were big on obsessions that weren’t exactly compatible with everyone else.

. At which point Ichara chose to point out that Jacob was very unstable and degrading right now and he needed to get into an organic body again soon. Jacob then started wanting us to make him a new body to inhabit. My answer that we made him a new body, but then he chose to sell it for a bounty didn’t seem to register with him. We didn’t have the facilities of our own to make him a new one, nor did we have the genetic data to get the hospitals to make one either. The only place that had the resources and the data needed was the asteroids, and they were on their way to Alderaan right now. I had enough problems to deal with right now and I didn’t need to deal with ones Jacob creates because he finds it “cute”. At this point Lazlo started complaining about a buzzing sound and wandered off.

. Lazlo found a contingent of bounty hunters – led by De’Arc – who had apparently commandeered a tunnel-boring machine and were trying to sneak up on them that way. Apparently De’Arc had managed to tap into some local resistance source, had found that they were headed down, had deduced where they had to be headed – at least in general – and had seen their stasis fields in action often enough that he’d recorded their signature and was following that.

. Damn it, the man was actually competent at his job in some ways!

. Lazlo promptly tried to settle things amicably again. It had to work sometime, and they now had enough money to offer a sizeable reward for cooperating that you were actually likely to get! Surely the bounty hunters would realize that the bounty on Kira being so high meant that you were almost certainly not going to be able to collect it.

. For once, it seemed to be working. He took them all back to the others to discuss it!

. Jacob, Ben and I were still busy arguing over Jacob’s dilemma when I noticed Lazlo return with a good deal of company. Said company looked to be six Kredath Berserkers, six competent looking Bounty Hunters, and another Bounty Hunter that looked very familiar and dressed all in black armor. I know I’ve seen that one before. wait a minute, that’s De’Arc.

. Oh hell.

. My thoughts immediately turned to the massive hypermatter reactor behind me as I looked at that mass of weaponry. No one could possibly be that stupid. Surely that level of idiocy would have caused the Kredath to go extinct. Lazlo piped up with some story of hiring them to work for us as opposed to hunting us. My mind immediately figured the real story was he was now going to get a cut of the bounties in exchange for either staying out of the way or helping. Alright then, I could probably escape, but the others were going to be a lost cause if this came down to a serious firefight.

. I asked if De’Arc had come to donate more equipment to our cause. DeAarc replied by complaining about how his insurance premiums had gone through the roof. My counter about it being fair play in exchange for attempted kidnaping got some nonsense about “Honor of the Bounty Hunters”. I don’t think someone willing to kidnap or kill people merely because someone is willing to pay him to do it has much right to claim honor.

. What soon followed was a good deal of arguing, finger-pointing, and negotiating over cooperating or fighting. Sensibly, it looked like most of them agreed fighting in front of the hypermatter reactor was an unprofitable situation for everyone. I figured this meant the bouhty hunters were going to wait until I wasn’t paying attention to fire a stunner at me.

. One of the Kredath, clearly agitated by all this “talking” walked up to me. He tried to be intimidating as he wondered aloud about how much more money he could make capturing me rather than being paid by Lazlo. Feeling the need to remind him how stupid said plan was, I gestured to the hypermatter reactor behind me and reminded the idiot how stupid it was to fight next to one. The Kredath then asked if I was calling it stupid and didn’t like my answer that backing down would show it to be smart. It pulled out a large mace from that mass of weaponry it was carrying and proceeded to swing it in a side sweep intended to crush my arm and ribs.

. I already had my shield and lightsaber in hand in case things turned hostile. Indeed, most everyone already had weapons in hand and ready to go. Instinctively, I met the mace with my shield as I felt the Force flow through me. The mace impacted the shield hard and rang it like a bell as I was sent rolling across the ground. Rising to my feet as I was surprisingly unharmed, I saw two Kredath charging me: one with the mace, and the other pulling out a similar weapon. Fighting broke out all around me as others began their own fights, but I could only focus on my two attackers at the moment.

. Unfortunately, several of the unprotected characters – such as Shipwreck and Alys – had gone down with the first salvo of knockout gas grenades. Fortunately, most of the bounty hunters had been looking for a chance to smack down the Kreedath anyway. Ben went for the stasis systems – since Jacob and Khadim could resist the effect, that was a near-unbeatable edge if he could adjust it so as not to paralyze the city. Lazlo went to work tying up the Kreedath he was fighting, one loop of rope at a time.

. Precognition made it clear that both were coming in with large overhead swings meant to crush my skull or shoulder. That made it a simple matter to spin around the first attack while slicing at his knee. A quick step back dodged the swing from the second as I then slashed across his chest. I finished up with a telekinectic blast to knock them off their feet and hurtle them a good distance away from me. Looking at them, it was clear they were both stunned, but I had only barely injured the one with that slash to the knee. Apparently that thick leathery hide of theirs was tougher than I had imagined.

. As I was pondering how to best whittle my opponents down, precognition suddenly indicated something very bad was about to happen to my left. As I turned my head, I saw another Kredath leveling a fully automatic blaster rifle at me. Then I realized that I the hypermatter reactor was behind me with respect to this latest attacker too.

. Oh hell.

. A stray shot that missed me would still impact the reactor behind me and potentially incinerate us all. Attempting to reason with the Kredath was obvious out of the question; these were the idiots that rated “going out in a huge blaze of glory” as the ideal end to a warriors life. I tapped into the Force harder than I could maintain for long as my precognition and speed went into overdrive. The shots came in fast and I struggled to intercept them all when two of the bounty hunters tackled the Kredath and began trying to bash his skull in. Looking around, I saw similar scenes as Bounty Hunters and party members overpowered and tied up the Kredath. Ben then began to put the captured ones into stasis to prevent escapes.

. De’arc and the other bounty hunters quickly deduced the nature of the stasis fields, and it was revealed that the stasis systems were how De’Arc was now tracking us. De’Arc then proceeded to unnerve me as he guessed that the hypertime effect I was doing was the opposite effect and that a lightsaber would work nicely against me while phased. Ben tried to spin some nonsensical tale about breaking time, alternate dimensions, evil clones, and conspiracy theories, but that did little to dissuade De’arc and the Bounty Hunters – especially when Ben tried De’Arc on the Codex Channel and found that he could see it. Was that how he actually managed to locate targets? Using the Codex to rate probabilities? And now he’d know even more about it and us…

. Damn Ben and his damned channel!

. It was clear though that futher hostilities were out of the question in the presence of the hypermatter reactor. Just what would happen once we left here was an open question. Lazlo was treating them like his new best friends, but I considered the betrayal to be almost inevitable. I wasn’t going to start the fight, but I sure as hell was prepared to finish it.

. Things proceeded with the looting the Kredath of all their valuable possessions. The spoils were divided and I took one of the belts of thermal detonators and a laser pistol. The thermal detonators didn’t have locking mechanisms to prevent telekinetically activating them, but we might be able to rig something up. The laser was a power hog and wouldn’t last as long as a regular blaster, but my adventures with Valerie and Virstris proved they had their uses.

. With things settling down for the moment, Ben and I began to discuss the upcoming attack on the shield generators. I expressed concerns about whether this planet full of hackers may have damaged the software running the shields and other military systems, but Ben assured me that such systems were built in such a way to prevent remote access. The only thing that really could be done remotely he said, was a planetary alert would trigger the shields to activate automatically.

. Great, so that meant we either had to fake a planetary alert, or get someone inside one of the generators to broadcast a link out. That still meant we had to find some talented hackers to pull either scenario off though and where were we going to find someone like that? The answer came to both of us at the same time as we stared at each other and cursed our stupidity. We were sitting on a planet full of hackers! Organizing them was going to be a real impressive trick, but that mass of manpower should be able to overwhelm the system through sheer odds.

. Presuming we could get them organized, that should allow us to raise the shields while the stasis systems prevented anyone from interfering. That still left us with the capital ships in orbit that would immediately proceed to start hammering the shields. Our own big ships were out of the system and likely out of touch for an extended period of time. Plus we would be trapped inside the shields for all intents and purposes so we couldn’t immediately try to salvage those derelict fleets either. We needed something to at least distract the capital ships in orbit long enough for us to cobble something together, but where were we going to find the resources for that?

. Hmm, 20,000 bounty hunters on the planet meant a similar number of ships were here too. They either were planetside or in one of the port stations in orbit. Those same stations should be inside the planetary shields when we raise them too. Well, several thousand armed freighters surely could make a dent or provide some distraction for the occupation forces in orbit. Trouble got to be, capturing all those ships was going to be difficult and messy. I really couldn’t see any way to pull it off without a huge amount of manpower and a major mess resulting.

. Ben and I bounced crazy ideas off each other on that one for a bit with no real success. Either his precognition would say it wouldn’t work or my probability analysis would give abysmal odds. In frustration I started scanning the room looking for distraction and my eyes came to rest on 10CH standing guard over the place.

. 10CH standing guard…. why did that seem important?

. Wait!

. When we met 10CH, he was standing guard over the Asari (then the Nightraptor) for De’arc. Bounty Hunters typically leave their ships guarded by droids. We were on a planet full of droid hackers! Oh this was going to make my previous thefts of ships look pitiful in comparison if we could pull this one off. This was going to require a massive coordination effort to work, but if we could get the shields raised, then we had the time. Hell, we might even be able to use the time to work out some negotiations with the other Artificers to assist us in exchange for what information we had regarding their various projects. It was worth a shot at the very least.

. Alys pointed out that there was a body we could get for Jacob: the empty clone that was captured. Her own inquiries indicated it was laying in a hospital on the surface. Odds were good that at least some of the bounty hunters were watching it though. That meant a high potential for a serious fight then. Ichara repeated her point that Jacob was rapidly deteriorating and needed an organic body soon. Damn it, I guess I know what we are doing next.

. Oh well, I suppose a trip topside was inevitable. After all, my new robes should be done soon anyway and I get the sneaking suspicion that I am going to need them soon enough.

Darth Vader and Eclipse d20

Star Wars - Darth Vader

Image via Wikipedia

. One recent request was for Darth Vader as “he would have been if he hadn’t been so severely injured”. Now this one is sort of awkward; even if there were some agreed-on base statistics for Darth Vader in the first place, this would take us into pure speculative extrapolation territory – even presuming that he didn’t reform, retire, and take up a new career as an electronics engineer. After all, he apparently had quite a talent for that too.

. First up, which version of Darth are we talking about? The original-trilogy version? Including the later prequels? Including the expanded universe novels? Including comic book appearances? Including his encounter with the energizer bunny? Including Video-Game powers? Including fan-fiction?

. Perhaps fortunately, I haven’t read anywhere NEAR all of the expanded-universe stuff, or the comics, or (thank god) the fan-fiction. I don’t play many video games, and I think I can discount the appearance with the energizer bunny. That leaves turning Darth Vader as he appeared in the movies into Darth Vader the d20 character.

. There are, of course, multiple published versions – most notably, several more-or-less official versions from licensed star wars game systems.

. The trouble with those versions are pretty simple: the original Star Wars universe is a low-power, semi-plausible (or “rubber science”), and reasonably realistic world. At it’s most basic, that means that “going up in level” is vanishingly rare; the vast majority of the population is level one at best, a single direct hit from a high-powered weapon will take out anyone, and even minor special powers are a pretty big deal.
. On the other hand, the primary characters are generally fairly competent, have good attributes – and are normally lucky beyond belief. That’s not necessarily a “power” of theirs in the source material; it’s simply that die rolls and background are under the control of the author and the plot rather than up to whatever randomizing system your game system of choice uses.
. This generally doesn’t work in a game, where some form of “experience system” or “leveling up” is pretty much expected. In long-term games, player characters tend to start off competent, and – all too soon – become near-godlike.
. That means that most conversions suffer pretty badly along the way. Either the “End Bosses” get their abilities inflated far beyond what the source material really justifies or the game system gets nerfed so as to put the bad guys at the top of the power scale. Neither is really a good choice, which is why I usually don’t use characters from non-game sources as major opponents – but if I must, I prefer to nerf the game system, perhaps by using the Low-Level Adventurer Template. There’s not much point in using characters from a source if I’m going to turn them into something unrecognizable anyway.

. Of course, Darth Vader may well have had a lot of powers that he didn’t show onscreen. That’s one of the major problems with such conversions; it’s pretty hard to say what powers a literary or cinematic character MIGHT have.

. It’s a lot easier to determine a list of upper limits. Just off the top of my head…

. We know that Darth Vader was NOT:

  • A strong enough telepath to simply pull the information he wanted out of Leia’s mind.
  • A strong enough telekinetic to simply de-spin a starfighter.
    • For that matter, Palpatine was supposed to be stronger than Darth was – and he didn’t seem to have enough telekinesis to fly; all the large items that he moved about seemed to either be light or had built-in repulsor drives. Yoda and Luke’s starfighter are a possible exception – but that could be a special stunt, or it could be that starfighters simply are relatively light thanks to being built out of advanced materials; it lets them accelerate and maneuver faster.
  • A good enough clairvoyant to simply locate the rebel alliance – which also eliminates things like Hypercognition.
  • Capable of teleportation – even at short ranges.
  • Capable of regenerating his body.
  • He couldn’t tell that Luke was his son on their first encounter.

. In fact, there’s quite a list of possible d20 abilities – even limiting ourselves to psychic abilities – which Darth Vader pretty definitely does not have. No high-order healing, dimensional travel, or time manipulation. He apparently can’t simply take over someone else’s body, he has to use slow-motion telekinetic strangulation rather than simple death effects, he can’t simply rewrite memories, entrance servants, dominate wills, entrap foes in ectoplasm, use reliable clairvoyance, or throw massive area-effect energy attacks. He can’t create private pocket dimensions, or bend reality, or shapeshift, or turn into shadows. He can’t phase through solid matter, create it, or annihilate it with a wave of his hand. He can’t use Psychic Reformation, or even see in all directions at once – or Luke couldn’t have sprung out at him unexpectedly.

. In the movies, Darth never demonstrates any force powers which – in d20 – exceed level two effects except for one; strangling someone on another starship over a video link. That’s actually pretty classic for psychic powers (“you can affect anything that you’re perceiving of in real time, regardless of actual distances”), but it’s hard in a game system, where considerations of “game balance” usually call for letting even the most untalented individuals shoot back when attacked. That’s just going to have to be a special stunt. Fortunately, Eclipse has rules for that.

. Now, the video games include a lot of level three stuff, and the comic books include effects of up to epic level – such as Palpatine invoking force-storms that could destroy planets – but if he could do that, why did he bother building a death star in the first place?

. Overall, that gives us a quick, clear, hierarchy in classical d20:

  • Untrained force sensitives can use cantrip-level effects.
  • Trained characters – like most Jedi – can use first-level effects.
  • Master-level characters, like our injured version of Darth, or Obi-Wan, can use second-level effects.
  • Grand Masters – such as Palpatine and Yoda at their peaks – can use third-level effects.
  • Transcendent Masters – such as Darth apparently had the potential to become – may be able to use fourth, or perhaps even fifth, level effects. It’s hard to say exactly; the movies never showed us what such a character might actually be able to do.

. Literary and cinematic characters tend to blur the lines whenever it’s convenient for the storyline, but if you want to incorporate that into a game, all you need is a “stunts” rule; In Eclipse that just means that the character took Action Hero and the Stunts option, or some similar occasional-use temporary power booster,- and thus can occasionally pull off something otherwise impossible.

. In a conversion, “lucky” had better be a power; players expect their characters, and their major opponents, to be able to do the kind of things that the characters do in the source material pretty routinely – despite the fact that the source material, naturally enough, focuses on the more unlikely, dramatic, and exciting moments.

. So; For an uninjured Darth Vader, we’ll want…

  • Luck with +8 Bonus Uses (18 CP). That will let him pull off the occasional fantastic stunt., take 20 to shoot missiles into exhaust ports, and so on. It will also let him build droids as a kid – simply by taking 20 on the relevant rolls, pilot podraces effectively, and otherwise be astoundingly competent.
  • Block, Melee and Missile with two levels of Multiple on each (24 CP, with the Multiple Specialized for Half Cost – only while using a lightsaber). Realistic characters can’t take monstrous amounts of damage – but they do get missed a great deal. Block works for that, since it doesn’t matter if it’s a literal block or just ducking; the point is that a shot which might well have killed you misses. In a game, and combined with Luck, this might even be a bit too good, since Luck will let it work reliably. Still, he doesn’t have all THAT much luck.
  • That will also call for Reflex Training/the Combat Reflexes variant (6 CP), as well as a good dexterity. Still, good attributes pretty much come with “major character” status in virtually every game; taking the roll of a feeble idiot isn’t much fun.
  • Action Hero/Stunts will let him pull off the occasional never-to-be-repeated trick, escape situations that should have killed him, and be really impressive sometimes. With stunts he can strangle an admiral at long range, survive a podracer crash or massive lava injuries, last long enough to throw the emperor into the pit, and survive death as a free spirit. This runs into problems if level advancement is very slow however, since you only get a limited number of stunts per level. Ergo, we may want to use an Inherent Spell that temporarily bestows a feat effect, but is only usable a few times a day. That version doesn’t call for regular level advancement, but costs more than Action Hero – a total of (18 CP) for a daily allotment of one minor, one intermediate, and one major stunt. That seems about right.
  • Occult Sense/Force Sense (6 CP): Darth can sense force disturbances, when people who are strong with the force are nearby, and is pretty difficult to surprise.
  • Now, Darth is pretty tough – but he has to use his powers to resist force lightning (and gets overwhelmed by it at the end), and blocks attacks rather than just tanking them, even with battle armor on. We’re not really looking at any tremendous quantity of hit points. Lets give him a twenty-sided hit die at level one (16 CP) and thereafter let things fall where they may.
  • We’re not looking at grandmaster level swordsmanship either. There’s no reason why that lightsaber should weigh anything at all – yet the lightsaber duels are pretty slow compared to even a college-level fencing tournament. Real fencers don’t have a lot of time or attention to spare for conversation. In d20? I’d give him about a +6 BAB (36 CP), a Lightsaber Martial Art (just spend a few skill points), and good attributes. That will give him a +14 /+9 or so (even without equipment bonuses) – compared to normal thugs and stormtroopers with their +2 or so. In other words, they won’t hit often, and he’ll hit a lot.
  • I’ll throw in a few levels of Defender too (18 CP); that will give him an extra +6 AC or so, which will mean that – with a decent Dex and Armor – normal folks will only be able to hit him with a natural 20.
  • He doesn’t show much evidence of being all that skilled though; when you’re that lucky, do you really need to be?

. Now, as for his “force powers” – well, those are a little harder.
. The Witchcraft system in Eclipse would handle everything he actually does (and a great deal of stuff that he doesn’t) quite easily – but if I use that, I’ll have to go through it and pick out just what powers he actually does have. That’s dull, and is sure to lead to him not fitting into some games.
. Ergo, I’m going to take the quick-and-dirty method – the Path of the Dragon. We’ll want Shaping (6 CP), Pulse of the Dragon III (to let him freely power effects of up to level three, for 6 + 12 + 24 CP), Heart of the dragon III (Specialized for Double Effect, to let him freely shape effects of up to level four, for 6 + 12 + 24 CP), and Blood of the Dragon (6 CP) – which will let him invoke those fourth level effects every so often, but not quite freely.
. That’s… 90 CP. Ouch. Of course, this would let him produce pretty much any effect of up to level four that he wanted, any time – and he doesn’t do that. Ergo, the entire mess is corrupted and specialized to reduce the first steps to one-third cost; and the Heart of the Dragon part to two-thirds cost double effect it can drag you to the dark side unless you spend your entire life in monastic self-denial, comes with weird self-fulfilling visions, can only be used to produce in-theme “force effects”, requires some kind of skill check or concentration check to use, and gets you locked in to assorted “destinies” whether you like it or not. That brings the cost down to 44 CP.
. In Eclipse, all that adds up to… 186 CP. Presuming you bought almost nothing else, that gives us a minimum level of seven (six if you used your bonus feats getting his base powers rather than on buying extras). Of course, he’d need to be level seven to use fourth level powers safely anyway.
. Personally, I think spending some points on reflex saves, and perhaps fortitude and will, buying d6 hit dice,  throwing in weapon and armor proficiencies, and adding in a few extra skill points is in order – which will give us a base level of about ten. That’s “Action Movie Hero” verging on “Comic Book Superhero” (for a breakdown on power levels, look HERE).
. The partially-crippled version probably clocks in at about level six or seven – just past the point where a character starts to go from “Astounding Hero” to “Action Movie Hero”. Looking at the movies, I’d say that fits quite nicely.

. Now, one thing this build doesn’t quite account for is young Anakin taking out a fleet – pretty much by himself. By accident.
. And yes, that was pretty ridiculous.
. What does account for that stunt is a combination of factors:

  • The fleet – like so many other major items in Star Wars – seems to have been built with the equivalent of a big red self-destruct button. I’m going to presume that this is some requirement of star wars engineering, not a character power. The alternative is just too silly.
  • The droid-piloted ships were depending on instruments and central command to pick targets, and so a stunt – unconsciously using his nascent powers to blank his ships signature – would let young Anakin take a ship he could barely control though the battle without being shot at much.
  • The player/director had Anakin spend luck like mad on taking “accidental” shots.
  • Yes, this requires a certain amount of game-master/director connivance, but – in star wars – the rest of the galaxy is basically a backdrop for the focus characters, and only exists to make them look cool. For a less “gamey” explanation, we can just presume that it’s a big galaxy (if you want to think about just HOW big, there’s an article on that over HERE)- and we’re just following the adventures of the one kid in a thousand in a vaguely similar situation who DIDN’T just get blown to bits.

 

Exalted – Occult Combat Charms

. First up for today, it’s some solar charms for Exalted – in this case, a batch more-or-less designed to make the combat system a little more interesting by increasing the number of factors involved.

Ghosting Technique

  • Cost: 5M, 1W; Mins: Occult 3, Ess 2, Type: Simple.
  • Keywords: Combo-OK, Obvious.
  • Duration: Scene.
  • Prerequisite Charms: Any Occult Excellency.

. The occultist draws forth a myriad fragments of possibility from the chaos underlying the cosmos and blurs the boundaries between himself and elsewhere. Finding him within the shattered mirror of reality becomes nigh-impossible. For the duration of the scene, the user may add his or her net Occult skill dice to his or her Dodge skill dice when calculating his or her DV.

Child of Phantoms

  • Cost: 4M; Mins: Occult 4, Ess 3, Type: Reflexive.
  • Keywords: Combo-OK, Obvious.
  • Duration: Instant.
  • Prerequisite Charms: Ghosting Technique.

. Once Ghosting Technique is in effect, a true adept may choose which possibility of existence to make real at any given moment. The user may, at any point during an attack sequence – including after the result is determined – decide that an attack or flurry was actually made against one of his or her quasi-real images, and thus perfectly negate it. This will not, however, work against effects which target areas greater than (user’s Essence x 5) feet in radius – a unique flaw of invulnerability. It will work against individually-targeted non-attack effects as well, although using it in social combat is simply a fancy method of running away.

. Yes, this is intentionally priced so that the user may occasionally opt to take a not-too-serious hit in preference to spending motes.

Whisperer of Dreams

  • Cost: —-; Mins: Occult 5, Ess 4, Type: Permanent
  • Keywords: None.
  • Duration: Permanent.
  • Prerequisite Charms: Child of Phantoms.

. This effect permanently enhances Child of Phantasms; when the user activates that charm, he or she may spend an additional two motes to “have been at any location within (Essence x 5) feet all along”.

The Spider in its Web

  • Cost: 1M; Mins: Occult 4, Ess 2, Type: Reflexive (Step 2)
  • Keywords: Combo-OK,
  • Duration: Instant.
  • Prerequisite Charms: Any Occult Excellency.

. All things are made up of essence, patterns overlaid upon underlying chaos. A wise occultist can soon become aware of the patterns in that web – and of disturbances thereof. The user may invoke this charm in response to an unexpected attack to render it no longer unexpected, turning it into a normal attack of whatever type. The charm may also be evoked to locate all opponents and major landscape features within (Essence x 10) feet.

Might of the Legion

  • Cost: —-; Mins: Occult 5, Ess 3, Type: Permanent
  • Keywords: None.
  • Duration: Permanent.
  • Prerequisite Charms: Any Occult Excellency.

. Might of the Legion allows the user to use the Occult skill to open mystical links with his or her magical allies. The user may, as an innate power, expend 6M and roll (Int + Occ) to exchange thoughts and sensory impressions with up to (Successes) other characters with essence pools who have participated in a bonding ritual with him or her (Ritual of Bonding, Degree 0, Int + Occ, D2, no resource requirements, ten minutes). Such links will remain active for the remainder of the scene. Once such links exist, the user may spend a point of temporary willpower to allow up to (Int/2) contacted allies to channel essence-based powers through them, and through him or her – taking effect as if the user was present beside the character using this ability.

Latest Material Index

. It’s once again time to get the latest material index updated and to transfer the material from the old one to the main index tabs at the top of the page. If you want the very latest material, it may be necessary to either scroll down or consult the “Recent Posts” listing-widget on the lower right. The previous Latest Materials Index can be found HERE and – for those who like to rummage at random – the full post-by-post index can be found occupying a great deal of space in the lower right column.

. Eclipse Classless d20 Character Construction Cribsheet / Sample Character ListCharacter Creation PrimerCompiled Martial Arts.

. Subindexes: RPG Design – Twilight Isles – BattletechChampionsd20Legend of the Five RingsShadowrunWhite WolfOther GamesBattling Business WorldStar Wars

. Cumulative General Index. Continue reading

Exalted – Mysteries of the Raksha

Forge of Dreams

  • Cost: —- (3M, 2 G); Mins: Heart 2, Essence 3; Type: Permanent
  • Keywords: Shaped-Only , Combo-OK
  • Duration: Permanent
  • Prerequisite Charms: Unassailable Tower of Glamour

. Shaped Fair Folk area bridge between the stability of Creation and the chaos of the Wyld. Those who have learned to exploit this talent may draw the stuff of chaos into the heart of Creation – or the stuff of Creation into the heart of the Wyld.
. (Waking): In Creation, The user adds +2 – with no cap – to the willpower cost of Creation-born ignoring his or her Wyld Stunts and decreases the requirements for enacting such stunts in Creation by -1 Heart and -2 Essence. More importantly, the user may expend 3M and 2G to invoke an extra Wyld Stunt, over and above those allowed by his or her Style background (if any) up to a limit of (Stamina) such stunts per day. These stunts are always rolled with Occult, regardless of what ability they appear to use.
. Dreaming: In the Wyld, the user gains the innate ability to imbue his fantasies with a portion of the energies of Creation, granting them a certain amount of reality. Spending 3M and 2G allows them to travel a short distance into Creation even if they cannot directly alter it (enough to move into the area protected by effects such as Chaos-Repelling Pattern or expansions thereof), increases the difficulty of altering such fantasies by three, and increases the costs of ignoring a fantasy by one point of temporary willpower.

Veiling the God’s Eyes

  • Cost: 3M, 2 G, 1W; Mins: Heart 2, Essence 3; Type: Simple
  • Keywords: Shaped-Only, Combo-OK
  • Duration: One Action/Special
  • Prerequisite Charms: Unassailable Tower of Glamour

. Waking: The Little Gods of Creation are almost as vulnerable to the illusions of the Raksha as any mortal – and deceiving them can be as effective. The user may throw out a veil of glamour and deceive the little gods within a radius of (Essence x 50 feet) into immediately enacting some thaumaturgic effect. While the Raksha must still achieve the requisite number of successes to produce the effect desired with a (Man + Occ) check, he or she need not know the thaumaturgical ritual involved; it is, after all, the business of the gods to know it. The results, of course, are normal thaumaturgy, and so are not subject to Glamour Resistance.

. Dreaming: The user may spend 1G to send messages to any and all desired recipients – and the message may be different for each known recipient or simply be a general broadcast to various groups – within twenty waypoints.

RPG Design – A Drop of Chaos

   This is chaos.

   The good, pure, high-quality, kind.

   There are a lot of names for whatever-it-is that it’s made of at the moment, but we’re going to call that substrate Quintessence. The stuff that could do, or become, anything, and that has no rules at all. Where anything is possible, no individual event is likely – and nothing means anything.

   All universes worth living in are based in chaos, even if they smother it under so many rules and bindings that it can only be detected at the microscopic – or even subatomic – level. If they don’t use it, they’re totally deterministic, and that’s no fun at all.

   Quintessence throws things up – and wipes them away again – all the time. Some things only exist for moments before they destroy themselves. Others are reasonably stable in themselves, but are soon wiped away. Others strive to continue, despite the surrounding chaos, with more or less success. Simple things are thrown up often, more complex ones more rarely, and extremely complex ones not at all often. Some are extremely durable, and so often last for a long time, even drifting in the Quintessence. Look around, and you can probably find some.

   None of them are eternal. Given infinite time, eventually whatever rules made those items durable items – or even “indestructible” – will change, and then, sooner or later, the random surges of chaos will wipe them away. That’s why chaos is not safe to have around – and why all universes eventually end.

   We have plenty of time. We can wait.

   Lets take a closer look.

   When you zoom right down into infinitesimal specks you find…

   Pretty much exactly the same thing. This is chaos remember. It really hasn’t got a “scale” that means much of anything.

   Still, when we’re surrounded by infinity, we’re still free to look at some small bits.

   Now, chaos is almost certain to be changing – either shrinking by any amount of or growing by any amount – at any given moment.

   A lot of those little areas we’re looking at simply wink out of existence.

   Others may abruptly become uncountable trillions of light years across – and every bit of that new chaos will either grow or shrink as seems good to it.

   Sometimes a little bubble with some sort of rules – the essence of a universe – will form, and expand. Those rules aren’t eternal. Eventually chaos WILL wash them away – but if they’re strong, they may endure many billions of years worth of chaotic fluctuations before being shattered by some mighty surge.

   In cosmology this comes dressed up with lots of math, but it’s called Chaotic Inflation – and is one of the major theories about how our universe came into being. It even comes with a lot of really entertaining bits (presuming that you too are a physics nerd) about quantum tunneling, alternate multiverses, vacuum tunneling, zero point energy, false vacuums, designer universes, and energy potentials.

   Oh, wait; you’re probably NOT a physics nerd, and this is about gaming.

   This solves our first problem with a gaming universe beginning though; if you start with chaos, your universe almost certainly came from a tiny seed of chaos – and so will be unencumbered by relics of earlier universes, which are all far beyond its borders. Whatever laws that speck of chaos developed may well have been stretched across a mighty area by that initial expansion – so they’ll be pretty consistent across the universe.

   Now, most of the “fantasy” universes (as opposed to the “science fiction” worlds) are pretty anthropomorphic. They have at least vaguely comprehensible “gods” – even if they do often embody “cosmic principles” – events revolve around more or less easily-understood people, and so on. Most of them have some sort of creators as well.

   Does that make any sense?

   Well, yes, it does. Living beings – or at least their bodies if our universe includes some sort of “life force” – are primarily made up of information and patterns of activity. You can see that with the simplest of bacteria.

   In a universe where chaos is tightly bound, and inanimate matter can exist on its own, selection for self-replicating combinations of matter will get living things jump-started relatively early on – and you’ll wind up with evolution, progenitor-races, and mighty archipelagos of unused matter separating various groups of creatures that got early starts.

   In worlds with looser rules, it all depends on what forms are relatively stable. If things are chaotic enough, you may have to wait until the randomness throws up a very complex pattern indeed – a willful, self-aware, entity equipped to survive in its pocket universe unprotected, capable of reproducing there, able to impress its will on the rest of the place, and wanting to do so.

   If you’re lucky, some forms particular to the universe will prove stable enough to turn up more or less regularly, but it really doesn’t matter – once you’ve got self-replicating survivor-entities, your universe is underway!

   The early ones will likely be pretty powerful. If they aren’t, they probably won’t last long enough to reproduce – and they’re not going to be getting any help from anyone else until there are other creatures around. Even then, there’s no guarantee that they’ll be helpful.

   They’re also going to be pretty long-lived, if not night immortal. The ones who aren’t won’t last long enough to establish their “species”, and no one else will ever know about them.

   They’re also likely to be more than a bit crazy. “Competent enough to survive” is unlikely to equate to “sanity” when a mind assembled at random by the forces of chaos.

   There’s no guarantee that their offspring will resemble them in any way save for being powerful enough to survive, capable of reproducing, having an urge to do so, and being long-lived enough to do so a lot. Later generations will iron out the rough edges as usual; the more competent and better-adapted ones will survive more often.

   All of this IS pretty unlikely of course, but that really doesn’t matter when you’ve got nigh-infinite space, time, and potentiality to play with. It’s bound to happen eventually. In fact, unless there’s some really ODD kind of “Cosmic Copyright” principle in this particular cosmos that says that things can only come into being once, it’s going to happen many, MANY times.

   So we’ve got our mighty cosmic entities – the primordial titans of the dawn of creation – and their considerably-saner, if perhaps less well balanced, descendants.

   Now, we are talking about gaming universes here – and that pretty much demands that characters have a system for increasing their abilities over time. That’s one of the basic goals of playing.

   Still, we can’t let that go on limitlessly – and having the elder titans overshadowing everything the player-characters do isn’t much fun. So we need an upper limit.

   These things are creatures of chaos, and so they could grow to become almost anything. Still, there would always come a point where – if you changed any more – you really wouldn’t be you any longer.

   Ah; there we have a plausible principle: growing in power requires some sort of pattern to follow – and chaotic forces will eventually fill any such pattern. The narrower, and more specialized, that pattern, the more quickly an entity can grow to it’s full potential. The more general it is, the more difficult it will be to add new things and expand to fill it without losing what makes you YOU.

   A self-aware vortex of power, with very little pattern – a thing of chaos and illusion, like so many of the “demons” from various cultures – has vast potential. It could develop into almost anything over its semi-immortal existence. On the other hand, with so little structure, it must advance very very slowly and cautiously; otherwise it could easily disrupt what little structure it has and destroy itself. If you want to play one of these, that’s fine – but they probably won’t grow all that much over the course of the game. Fortunately, that means that their power level can easily be set to what the game requires. In a mixed game, they’ll probably start off strong, then lose effectiveness towards the end while the other character’s abilities increase far more rapidly.

   A being with a very narrow and rigid pattern will achieve great power within a very narrow field quite quickly – and probably won’t get along too well with the more chaotic entities. Such beings will hold a massive edge in the early universe, but can – eventually – be outclassed. Sounds a lot like the old ideas about “Titans”. These probably aren’t playable; they’re just too crazy and focused.

   Their offspring will tend to become less rigid, somewhat grow more slowly until they approach their peak (and only reach their ultimate possible peak with much time and effort), and may well eventually become a bit more powerful than the Titans. We’ll call those “Gods”. These are probably playable in a high-powered game, since they’ll start off strong, but will gradually fall behind the slowly-advancing “demons”. How they’ll relate to mortals depends on the other assumptions of the game – but if mortals are playable, they’ll probably surpass the gods eventually. Otherwise they’d spend the entire game behind, rather than the first half behind and the last half ahead.

   Weak creatures – mortals like humans – may come with a certain amount of power built in, and may either be rigidly constrained by the potential of their basic patterns or capable of tremendous growth. In the first case, they can probably learn what power they can with relative ease; that potential is built into them. In the second case, they’d have to transcend their basic pattern – and become something other than human – to continue to grow in power past their built-in limits. Weak creatures who can grow at a reasonable speed make good characters in most games, but will probably need power boosters to play in high-powered ones.

   There are other variations, but that covers a lot of the classical roles.

   Now, why would our early Titans create a world?

   Well, they wouldn’t get along with the ever-increasing swarms of more chaotic entities that are happy out there in the raw chaos – and, while they’d have an initial lead in power, eventually (if likely only after tends of thousands of years) their rivals could come to surpass them.

   A world though… A world offers stability, protection from the chaos, a chance to recruit lesser allies, a chance to pool their forces, and a chance to share information on possibilities for very cautious growth. Groups of Titans who create worlds are more likely to survive – and once they have a world, they’re most unlikely to want to leave it.

   Of course, their offspring, and any inhabitants they’ve created, may not want to have “their” world controlled by – or even hosting – a bunch of crazed chaos-spawned Titans.

   Ah. That gives us weird gods – that mortals can eventually challenge – “demons” who won’t much like the world, crazed elder titans to create the world (and to be rebelled against or supplanted), the chaos beyond the borders of the world (whether those are geographical or dimensional) as an endless source of monsters and treasures, and can even give us an excuse for an underworld (the Titans, who didn’t want to die, built the world so that true death wouldn’t happen readily – which is also why they cannot be entirely killed).

   That also gives us some metaphysics, a creation myth, possible past invasions, and things that can be summoned from outside and which are not entirely bound by the laws of the world. Most of the classical features of a fantasy world.

   Isn’t it wonderful what you can find in a grain of chaos? Personally, I never tire of watching a world start to unfold from a few bits of speculation. Once you have reasons for your world to be the way it is, you can spin backstory on the fly pretty much endlessly, and make your world as detailed as you want with ease.

Exalted Combat – Dreaming Thunder Guardian

   Combat in second-edition Exalted has often been described as “Perfect or Die” – meaning that the target must deploy a perfect defense when seriously attacked or he or she will probably die. That isn’t entirely satisfactory; I’d like some wiggle-room between “fine” and “dead” besides “running low on essence motes”.

   What we need is something that can be activated to survive the strikes that would be terminal – but which has a high enough activation cost so that taking minor wounds is acceptable and so that it may be worth allowing a weaker opponent to escape.

   Given that this is an experiment, and that such an effect will need to be wedged into the combat system, this particular charm is for the Raksha – who desperately need a perfect defense or two and who, as creatures of chaos, can be expected to produce strange new effects and violate the usual rules.

   Dreaming Thunder Guardian

  • Cost: —, Mins: Heart 3, Essence 3. Type: Permanent
  • Keywords:
  • Duration: Permanent, See Below.
  • Prerequisite Charms: Bastion of the Self.

   Within the depths of the wyld every potentiality, pattern of essence, or creation unimaginable boils up from the chaos – and is just as summarily wiped away once more. That constant storm of possibility is the Dreaming Thunder.

   At the moment when an attack or effect would normally be resolved (during step ten, after the effect has been determined but before it’s marked down), the user may expend one gossamer and one virtue channel, draw both time and a defense from the chaos of the Wyld – however distant it may be – and describe a defensive wyld stunt.

   This works even in the depths of creation, although there the user suffers a one-die penalty on his or her stunt.

   Presuming that the roll succeeds, if the stunt is…

  • Worth one die, the attack or effect is defeated, perfectly. If the attack or effect is a part of a flurry, the entire flurry is defeated, perfectly.
  • Worth two dice, the attack or effect is defeated perfectly, and further attacks using the same basic effect – weapon attacks or what have you – are also defended against perfectly for the next (Essence) ticks.
  • Worth three dice, the initial attack or effect may be redirected against any other target the Dreaming Thunder Guardian user selects within thirty feet save the originator, using it’s original statistics. Further attacks of the same type are defended against perfectly for the next (Essence 4) ticks.

   While this is powerful and versatile as defenses go, it also requires a successful check, a dot of gossamer, and a virtue channel; Dreaming Thunder Guardian will not stand up against an Exalt for long – but it may buy the user time to escape. Fortunately, it works in creation as well, but the stunt suffers a one-die penalty – although this may be made up with the dice from the user’s Style pool or by other methods.