Playing with Package Deals

the rest is history

Image by andrevanb via Flickr

Package Deals are another form of game shorthand. You took the “Knight Templar” package? Now you’ve got an instant selection of enemies, rivals, and allies, some background history, a role in society, an explanation of where you trained and a possible source for further training, a set of goals and oaths, an idea of what further paths of development you might take, and some loyalties and obligations – or some knowledge of who’s upset with you for reneging on those oaths, loyalties, and obligations.

That’s not bad for putting four words on your character sheet.

Of course, a lot of players are rather reluctant to tie their characters to the setting that way. They prefer “Lone Heroes” – often because they see the game master as an adversary, and feel that letting him or her get “hooks into their character” is ceding him or her partial control over their character – and thus a victory.

If they’ve got a lousy game master, that may even be partially true. In general though, the game master is trying to find reasons why an otherwise-isolated character would get involved in events other than bribery with power and treasure (that does get old after a bit doesn’t it?), and will acknowledge that those “hooks” go both ways. Sure, the Knights Templar are entitled to call on you for assistance! That means that, if you’re in trouble or need some specialty help, you’re entitled to call on them!

Some game masters – often because they’re “balanced encounter” true believers – object to that. After all, if the players look at their carefully-designed balanced encounter, and decide that it would be WAY easier with a little extra help, and go and get that help, it will totally ruin the balance of their encounter! And they’re quite right; yes, yes it will – but if simple and perfectly sensible character actions will ruin the flow of your game, there’s a problem with the way you’re running it. That’s one reason why Balanced Encounters are generally a bad idea – and it’s one reason why an awful lot of player characters are footloose wanderers, with no particular commitments, no connection to the society around them, and no loyalties save to a personal code.

Now there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. The Lone Samurai or Gunslinger is probably the most familiar embodiment of this particular approach, but they’re far from unique. There are, however, certain problems with the trope in many role-playing games and settings.

Lone Heroes are often hard to fit into a group. Even if everyone plays a character with a nigh-identical code, a cluster of such heroes has nothing much to hold it together – and so relatively minor differences may lead to the group endlessly arguing, splitting up, or even starting internal fights.

That leads to the second major problem with Lone Heroes. They tend to die a lot. Historically, you never hear of a lone individual terrorizing a town for long save through a string of anonymous murders. How long would Jack the Ripper have lasted if he’d let people know who he was? Single individuals holding the town hostage tend to be a problem of modern weaponry – sniper rifles and high explosives – and the problem doesn’t usually last for long. If the trouble all comes from one guy, and you know either who or where he or she is… he or she has got to sleep sometime,  can always be overwhelmed by force of numbers, and you can always fall back on traps, poisons, or backstabbing.

In less historical games matters are more difficult if the problem is a dragon or demon or some such – you now need more power or more subtlety or both – but the lone horror is STILL usually a lot easier to deal with than the Generic Empire of Evil (sarcastic “TM”), even if the members of the GEoE are a lot weaker than the lone monster individually.

A Lone Hero (who hopefully won’t face the hostility of the populace in general) may well last longer than a Lone Villain – but, sooner or later, he or she will get stunned for a minute, or take a serious wound, or get taken by surprise, and wind up dead. Having someone around to cover for you or apply a bandage when things go wrong is a pretty big benefit. Even Batman often finds a sidekick helpful.

Now, character deaths can be a good end to a story. In an old-style game where they’re expected, they aren’t even much of an interruption; the continuity lies with the party and the campaign, not with any individual character. A lot of players take them kind of personally though, and a lot of game masters find that they really upset their plans – and they want to hold the casualties and the disruptions down by promoting party based play rather than Lone Heroes.

At the game-mechanical level, that usually calls for a bribe. A lot of players won’t see the benefits of their character having an intangible web of social connections and obligations – but they’re right behind putting some special ability down on their sheet, even if it is in “exchange” for a few “game master hooks”.

In Eclipse, Package Deals contain up to twelve character points worth of abilities and represent either membership in an organization or (more simply) game master bribes designed to reward players who take on roles that fit the campaign.

Now, twelve character points isn’t a lot, and characters can only have one package deal – but they can provide a welcome boost to a low-level character and a framework for the setting. They’re also one of the ways to gain access to “special permission only” abilities. Since each character only gets one package deal, and they’re set up by the game master, such abilities can readily be limited to applications which won’t foul up the setting.

And here are some samples – a compiled list of the reasonably-general package deals that are already up on the site.

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Alarian Legionary

The basic training for the Legions of Alaria place massive emphasis on drilling and functioning as a team, the use of shields, and in enduring long marches with heavy loads. Oddly enough by most military standards, the Legions don’t teach their recruits to use armor. Instead the Legions are issued Shimmermail – a form of magical cloth that acts as light armor without otherwise hindering the troops.

Recruits may have differing talents to start with, but the legions make bloody well sure that all of their standard troopers and NCO’s-to-be wind up with the basic military skills they’ll need to serve in the legions. While the Legions do offer limited amounts of special training to take advantage of any exotic talents that their recruits may have, basic troopers tend to look a lot alike. Specialists, such as mages, get equally special training and treatment – for which they are both respected and resented. In any case, legionnaires are subject to military command and discipline while on duty, to emergency reactivation for years afterwards, and – even when they’re getting old – will be expected to maintain the old legion standards.

  • The Legionary Feat (6 CP)
  • Shield Use Proficiency (3 CP)
  • +1 to Fortitude Saves (3 CP)

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Crafters

Crafters are one of the most ancient roles. They’re not as primal as Mother, Father, and Child, or even as Leader, but – at least for those races with manipulative limbs – they’re usually right up there with Gatherer, Warrior-Hunter, and Shaman. They’re not usually one of the major archetypes for adventurers though, mostly thanks to modern prejudices. There isn’t much in the way of mystery or wonder about the role of a Crafter any longer.

Still, once the role of a Crafter was the role of a practical magician; someone who transformed material into tools and wealth by secret skills and arts.

Now that’s more interesting.

Crafters get Rune Magic, using some practical skill as a base. For example, blacksmiths make popular heroes (usually using the swords they’ve forged, and thus are mystically attuned to). Thus a Smith might have Smithcraft (Casting) and Smithcraft (Mastery) – and be able to cast small spells that heat metal, provide modest amounts of protection from fire, enhance blades and metal weapons, and corrode or command metal chains. Ergo, Crafters get:

  • Four extra skill points to spend on their chosen Casting and Mastery skills (4 CP).
  • Immunity/May use their chosen Casting and Mastery skills in place of the actual craft skill (Uncommon, Minor, Minor, 2 CP).
  • Magician (allowing them to use bonus spell slots to cast a few such charms each day, 6 CP).

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Crystal Seer

Secrecy is never helpful in the long run. You don’t deal with a dangerous location by keeping those dangers a secret from the people who need to pass through it. That which is buried always comes to light again. Admittedly, you don’t need to pass out the exact text of the dread ritual which ends the world – but making sure that everyone knows enough about the ingredients list and conditions to know what to watch out for is the only way to go. Otherwise the only people who will know what to look for are the ones who are fascinated enough by such a ritual to spend ages digging up all the details – which is fine if it’s academic curiosity, but what happens if they’re obsessed enough to try it out and no one else knows enough about what they’re doing to give the alarm?

Some groups try to hide such information. They place their own judgment above that of everyone else – an arrogant, and ultimately disastrous flaw in their thinking.

Such foolishness cannot be tolerated. Knowledge must be sought out, recorded, and disseminated. The consequences of foolish accidents or the misuse of knowledge must be dealt with, and the individuals involved must be educated, so that they will know what not to do in the future. Crystal Seers get…

  • Create Relic, Specialized for Half Cost/only to create relics from the Enthusiast points, below. (3 CP).
  • Enthusiast, Specialized in Relics for Double Effect.2 CP worth of Relics (3 CP). The Crystal Seers are always tinkering with things.
  • Lore/Cryptic Secrets, Specialized/must consult various tomes and references to sort out the relevant information (3 CP).
  • Favors/from the Nobility. The Seers have a certain amount of influence with the nobility and the courts, where they often work as court magicians, and can often obtain minor favors for each other (3 CP).

The Crystal Seers tend towards research and magical tinkering – and so towards mages, bards, sages, and similar types. As might be expected, they’re fairly well known – albeit mostly in academic circles. Every magical academy and major court is likely to have a representative of the Seers around. Of course, this same visibility weighs heavily against them when it comes to undertaking quiet missions or when people are trying to find out about them. As might be expected, they’re very much against the Obsidian Order, which they see as a band of arrogant murderers. While they prefer to avoid direct confrontations, they’ll certainly try to make life difficult for members of the Order if they can manage it safely. They do have a problem finding recruits though; most prospective members simply aren’t idealistic enough to join.

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Cultist

Cultists are simply people who follow small, suppressed, religions – minor gods, nature cults, or (for that matter) demons or gibbering lovecraftian horrors.

Now, in d20, that’s bloody weird. People join odd cults because they believe that they offer special benefits that they can’t get elsewhere. In most d20 universes, the usual faiths and paths of magic are a lot less trouble, and – quite demonstrably – offer a reliable set of pretty much the same benefits.

Ergo, the Cultist simply gets some stuff easily.

A Cultist gets to pick one field of rune magic related to his or her deity – perhaps Infernal Flame, or Fertility, or Plants. They then get:

  • 2d6 Mana (Specialized and Corrupted, only usable for the chosen field of Rune Magic, detectable by other priests as a reserve of “unholy” power, 4 CP)
  • Rite of Chi with +2 Bonus Uses (Specialized and Corrupted, only to restore the Mana Reserve for the chosen field, requires a brief and obvious ritual in honor of the cultists god, 3 CP)
  • Skill Emphasis in the Rune Mastery and Rune Casting skills for his or her chosen field, Corrupted/the user is regarded as a social outcast and troublemaker (4 CP)
  • And a +3 Specialty in Knowledge/Religion/The Secrets of the Cult (1 CP).

Cultists are thus strong spellcasters in their particular field, but suffer a great deal of persecution and social ostracism. They can make a major contribution to a low-level party if their deity happens to grant a useful field, such as healing. Of course, they’ll also make trouble for the party everywhere they go.

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Department “Q”

Whether the character is an inventive genius or he or she simply works for an organization which employs them, a character with this package can start off each adventure with a collection of neat gizmos.

  • Enthusiast (Double): Specialized: Can only be changed in laboratory, normally between adventures. Corrupted: Only usable on “Inherent Spell” and similar abilities (to be described as various technical gizmos). The two modifiers triple the effect, providing a total of 6 “Floating” CP to make such items at a cost of (6 CP).
  • Create Relic. Specialized: only to make limited-use items costing a maximum of 3 CP each. Corrupted: only usable with points from Enthusiast (2 CP).
  • Blessing. Specialized, only to loan items created with this package to other people (3 CP).
  • +1 Skill point in Slight-of-Hand (1 CP).
  • Relevant items are normally bought as Inherent Spell (Sometimes with Bonus Uses): Specialized (Does not recover, Half Cost). For example:
    • Grenade Launcher. Inherent Spell: Fireball, +4 Bonus Uses (5 total). 1 CP. For 2 CP you can have 13 uses. For 3 CP you get 21. The same pattern works for other L3 spells, such as Cure Serious Wounds (L2 spells get an extra use, if you want L1 spells you get two of them with the same number of uses each).
    • Minor Gizmos: Occult Talent/Improved, Corrupted: Slots must be preset, Effect x 1.5 (7x L0, 5x L1 spells in total). For example you could be carrying two Flares (Light x2), a one-shot emergency transmitter (Message), a compass (Know Direction), canteen (Create Water), superglue (Mending), some antidote (Delay Poison), a hologram projector (Silent Image), two smoke bombs (Obscuring Mist x2), a knockout gas grenade (Sleep), and a flash-pack (Color Spray). As usual these “spells” are cast at an effective caster level equal to the characters total level. 2 CP
    • First Aid Kit. Healing Touch with Bonus Uses (5 doses that Cure [Charisma Mod x Level] HP) and Improved/Switch/Empower with Bonus Uses (4+Level/3 total uses of Remove Disease, Remove Blindness/ Deafness, Cure Serious Wounds, Remove Curse, Neutralize Poison, and Restoration). 3 CP

This package has a sneaky advantage built in here: not only does the user have a plentiful supply of low-level gizmos to start off each adventure, but he or she can pass them around and can make them with any spell effect he or she desires: you don’t have to “learn” spells to get them as inherent spells or occult talents.

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Dr Frankenstein

There’s always someone out there who wants to bring life to the inanimate. The character with this package deal may be obsessed with digging up graves, performing strange experiments, and ignoring the protests of the local villagers – but he or she can indeed build a quite formidable monster, and even keep it under control most of the time.

  • Companion/Mystic Companion Variant with a +2 ECL Lesser Golem Template (12 CP). The base creature is a Medium Animated Object – an iron-plated wooden statue (Hardness 10).

Lesser Golem Template (94 CP/+2 ECL, normally only applies to Animated Objects):

  • Inhuman Strength: Self-Development/+6 Strength (36 CP).
  • Implacable: Immunity/Magic that allows Spell Resistance (Very Common, Severe, Major, 18 CP). Lesser Golems are immune to magical effects that allow spell resistance of up to level five, and receive a +8 bonus on saves against similar higher-level effects.
  • Elemental Imbuement: Grant of Aid with +4 Bonus Uses/Specialized and Corrupted for triple effect, only works when the Lesser Golem is subjected to a particular type of elemental attack (whether or not it works), only to heal hit point damage (12 CP).
  • Durability: +2d10 Hit Dice (28 CP).
  • Reconstruction: Returning/all Lesser Golems can be readily rebuilt by their creators if destroyed (6 CP).
  • Accursed: All Lesser Golems can be Slowed for 2d4 rounds by being subjected to either of two different types of elemental attacks – although being subjected to the attack type that heals them will automatically eliminate any remaining rounds of being Slowed (-3 CP).
  • Accursed: All Lesser Golems occasionally go berserk. There’s a cumulative 1% chance of this happening per round it spends in combat. A berserk Lesser Golem goes on a rampage, attacking the nearest living creature or smashing some object smaller than itself if no creature is within reach, then moving on to spread more destruction. The creatures master can try to regain control with a DC 19 Charisma check (made each round). It takes a full minute of inactivity to reset the chance of going berserk to 0%.

Once you work out the statistics, the creature is actually fairly formidable – at least when it comes down to lifting heavy objects or acting as a tank. It’s a lot less effective once special attacks start becoming important in the game. Still, it’s a wonderful thing to have to hide behind at lower levels – at least until it goes berserk for a while and wipes out half the party. Use with caution.

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Escaped Slave

Escaped slaves are generally considered something of a cross between “valuable properties” and “dangerous feral animals”. They are generally scarred, bitterly resentful of their ex-masters, and react very, VERY, poorly indeed to any hint of restraint or surrender, since it would usually mean a return to enslavement. As a rule, a character taking this package should note how he or she became a slave, who owned him or her, and how he or she escaped. The benefits of this package deal include:

  • A +4 bonus to Survival (4 CP). Escaped slaves must avoid pursuit, and civilized territories, at least at first.
  • A +6 CP Bonus towards their first hit die. Slaves who escape and survive are invariably pretty tough.
  • Immunity to minor Enchantment Effects (Common, Minor, Trivial, 2 CP). They’re unaffected by simple first-level enchantment effects like Charm Person, Hypnosis, and Sleep and get a +2 bonus on saves against higher-level enchantment effects. Slaves who can’t learn to resist effects like that generally never escape at all.

Do remember that escaped Slaves are NOT necessarily sympathetic characters; they just didn’t have the chance for much overt villainy while they were enslaved.

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Forester

Hunters, trappers, woodcutters, prospectors, and gatherers of herbs and dyes – the outriders of civilization – all make their livings on the borders of the wilderness. That is a hard, dangerous, and lonely life. Civilization – the art of living in cities – is as much a protective armor as any shell, scale, or chitinous exoskeleton. It should be no surprise to find that many adventurers arise from the self-reliant ranks of those who discard that cumbersome armor to face the wilderness with their own strengths and skills. Of course, that same isolation tends to lead to most Foresters being more than a bit antisocial – and distrusted on general principles. Foresters gain:

  • Travel/Forests (3 CP) with Trailblazing, Specialized/only in areas which they are specifically acquainted with (3 CP)
  • Tracking/Wilderness (3 CP)
  • +3 Specialties in Survival/The Local Wilderness, Knowledge/Nature /The Local Wilderness, and Knowledge/Geography/The Local Wilderness.

Most Foresters are also acquainted with weapons, healing, and tactics for fighting common local creatures – and a few know a bit of herbal magic (Rune Magic) or other lore – but that sort of thing varies a lot with the individual involved.

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Hedge Mage

Hedge Magi, Wisewomen, and Cunning Men have learned the practical low magic which makes village life so much easier – simple spells that draw on their own energies and those of the world around them, rather than the searing extraplanar forces tapped by the high magic of Wizards and Sorcerers. While adventuresome cottage magi often go on to wield high magic, the wise will not forget their original training.

Of course, when some magical problem comes up, or there’s a haunting, or rumors of a curse, the local hedge mage will be expected to deal with it – even if he or she has few powers of any use in doing so.

The Hedge Magic feat could simply be imported from The Practical Enchanter. After all, like all non-Eclipse feats you simply need the approval of the game master and six character points to spend – but I prefer to build things in Eclipse, especially when making examples. That’s more bother, but it’s pretty much always possible. So what does that feat actually do?

The Hedge Magic feat adds a lot of minor, noncombative, spells to a characters spell list. Sets of themed spells are purchased via the Domain/Path ability. Ergo; a Path (Hedge Wizardry) will add those spells. In this case we’ll be adding a lot more spells than usual, but the hedge wizardry list only goes up to level two (and quite a lot of them have no likely applications in adventuring), which seems fair enough.

The Hedge Magic feat also provides a version of Create Item, that allows the creation of minor, utilitarian, items using the Hedge Wizardry spell list and the “Utilitarian, fragile, village magic” modifier (half cost). Given that Hedge Magic is limited to level two, and that modifiers may be applied during item creation without any special Feat, that seems like a reasonable variant.

  • A Path and Create Item would normally cost 6 CP each, but essentially noncombative abilities in a standard d20 setting can (quite reasonably) be considered Specialized – reducing the cost to 3 CP each. That’s 6 CP in total, or the basic cost of a Feat.

Now, we want those spells used. So our Hedge Wizard will also need.

  • One Base Caster Level, Specialized in Hedge Wizardry (3 CP). That’s a direct – if small – benefit for any character who wants to go on to develop some form of High Magic; it will save them a few points.
  • 1d6 Mana as 2d4 Generic Spell Levels, Specialized; only usable for the spontaneous casting of Hedge Wizardry spells (3 CP).

OK, a hedge wizard should probably have some herbcraft, some knowledge/arcana, and some other skills – and possibly ritual magic – but that doesn’t have to be part of the package; a serious wizard will invest a few points for such things anyway.

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House of Roses Manifold Agent

The House of Roses – the traditional Royal House of England in the 2500’s – has only ceremonial official functions, but still controls considerable wealth and influence. With the opening of the infinite dimensions of the Manifold, and its supernatural perils, the House has attempted to build an organization to explore those dimensions – and to stand as a first line of defense against those perils. It offers its agents an unusual, graduated, package deal:

  • Rank 1, Newly Recruited Agent (6 CP in total)
    • Privilege: Access to military-level hardware and vehicles. Corrupted/access is limited by what the organization decides that a particular mission calls for (2 CP).
    • Immunity: Neural Enhancer can only be taken away by special surgery or by the use of spells or psychic powers of level 4+ (Uncommon/Minor/Minor, 2 CP)
    • Relic/Neural Enhancer (2 CP): +6 Skill Points (1 CP) and Augmented Bonus (Socially Deft: adds [Base] Dex Mod to Cha Mod when calculating charisma-based skills and Leadership effects (1 CP). Both effects already included above.
  • Rank 2, Veteran Agents (+2 CP, for 8 CP in total)
    • Enthusiast: Specialized, only changes with access to appropriate skill programs (1 CP).
    • Favors/House of Roses: Specialized, only available in pursuit of assigned mission or to maintain the integrity, secrets, and reputation of the House (1 CP).
  • Rank 3, Special Agents (+2 CP, for 10 CP in total)
    • Relic/Neural Enhancer (+1 CP, 3 total): Immunity/Revealing House or Personal Secrets (Uncommon / Minor / Major, to effects and drugs rated at L5 and below, 2 CP) and +4 SP (4 CP).
    • Contact: Any one other agent or director within the House (1 CP)
  • Rank 4, Elite Agents (+2 CP, for 12 CP in total)
    • Relic/Neural Enhancer (+1 CP, 4 total): Any one of (a) +6 Skill Points, (b) +6 CP worth of Witchcraft abilities (usually The Secret Order), (c) Action Hero/Heroism Option, and (d) Acrobatics.
    • Immunity: Intoxicants and Hallucinogens (Uncommon / Minor / Trivial, 1 CP): thanks to the long-term effects of their Neural Enhancers, Elite Agents can now handle doses of recreational drugs which would incapacitate normal people and still function – although there are upper limits.
  • Rank 5, Agency Directors
    • While these characters have reached the limits of their Package Deal, they are granted 15-point Offices via Political Dominion. Such offices are, however, normally unique.

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Initiate

Religion is a serious matter. In d20, where the gods grant healing and powers to their faithful, the roots of the local faiths will dig deeply indeed. There will be few times when the gods will not be involved in daily life. Many youngsters are deeply impressed by the gods and the powers of their priests – often enough so to dedicate themselves to particular gods, to study their lore, and to serve in their shrines and temples. They may or may not go on to become priests themselves, but such faith has it’s own rewards; Initiates get

  • +2 skill points to spend on Knowledge/Religion (2 CP) with a +3 Speciality in their own faith and god (1 CP)
  • Occult Ritual, Specialized in the rituals of their particular faith (3 CP)
  • Have memorized (Int Mod +3) Minor Rituals (1 CP), one Major Ritual (1 CP), and the primary sacred tome (or collection of scrolls) of their religion (1 CP)
  • Enjoy a Minor Privilege (minor clerical legal privileges and a standing welcome in relevant shrines and temples, 3 CP).

Initiates have a good foundation for scholarship, a career in the faith, or a career as a ritual mage – even if they never learn any actual spellcasting.

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Kadian Administrators

Kadian Administrators are trained to run Lord Kevin’s multiversal operations – scattered across a thousand differing dimensions, with wildly varying inhabitants, laws of nature, and situations. As such, they must be prepared to arrive, evaluate an operation, and take effective command within moments. Fortunately, the Kadian training programs – the produce of advanced technology, magic, and psionics – are a match for the requirements.

  • 3x Enthusiast, Specialized in Skills (3 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment: All enchantments Spell Level One, Caster Level One, Unlimited-Use Use-Activated, and Personal-Only, 6000 GP effective value (7 CP).
    • The Counselors Word: May use the Aid Another action by providing advice – even at long ranges (2000 GP).
    • Rapid Assessment. May take a full minute to think about something (or consult neurally-linked databases), but not to do anything else, as a move action (1400 GP).
    • Instant Learning: May switch a single point in Enthusiast with a mere minute of study, 3 Uses/Day, (1200 GP)
    • True Skill: +20 on a skill check, 3/Day (1200 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 Administrative abilities, 1 CP).
  • A +3 Speciality in Profession/Administrator/Small Teams (1 CP).

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Kadian Aide

Kadian Aides are trained to improve their abilities as familiars and bodyguards. This is one of the more basic – and most common – training packages available to them. Unfortunately for others, this particular package requires that the user already possess the Rite of Chi ability – and that the Augmented Bonus ability be allowed in the setting.

  • Intensive Training: Augmented Bonus/May add Con Mod to Dex Mod for Skill Purposes (6 CP).
  • Deep Reserves: +2 Bonus Uses on their Rite of Chi, Specialized/only for Power, requires ten minutes of meditation to use (2 CP).
  • A +3 Specialty in Spot/ambushes, assailants, and hidden weapons (1 CP).
  • Power Words, Specialized/requires ten minutes of preparation to store a spell, must be able to gesture to release them (3 CP).

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Kadian Child-Bookies

Kadian Child-Bookies are the product of one characters efforts to train his kids to follow in his own (rather crooked) footsteps. As yet, they’re all very young – equivalent to seven or eight years old at the most.

  • This package includes +1 Skill Point each in Bluff, Gamble, Knowledge/The Underworld, Psychology, Sense Motive, Sleight of Hand, and Streetwise, for a total of (7 CP).
  • Skill Specialty: Bluff/Appear Innocent and Guileless (1 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment, Specialized/only half value. All effects at Caster Level One, Spell Level One, Unlimited-Use Use-Activated. 2500 GP effective value (3 CP): True Skill 3/Day (1200 GP), Undetectable Lie 2/Day (800 GP), and Hypnotism 1/Day (400 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 Bookie abilities, 1 CP).

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League of Villainy

The “League of Villainy” is, more or less, a union and clearing-house for Supervillains, allowing it’s members to readily find replacement henchmen, team up with other members, obtain supplies and gear for their schemes, and find appropriate archenemies. Members are obligated to adhere to an elaborate code of honor – notably restraining them from most attacks on civilians and the more obnoxious criminal offenses in favor of dramatic confrontations with Superheroes. Knocking out the guards and robbing banks is fine, murdering non-heroes and burning down orphanages is not.

In practice, that means that the independent (and often quite psychotic) supervillains are generally considered a much higher priority by the authorities than the members of the League. You can even get thrown out of the league, or even be hunted down with prejudice by your former “allies”, for breaking the rules.

Unfortunately, the entire League of Villainy package deal is Corrupted; those who join the league will soon find themselves sought by heroes, with a Nemesis, a theme, and a flamboyant costume, and will find it hard to operate anywhere without being recognized.

  • Innate Enchantment (8 CP): All supervillains gain some minor enhancements, with an effective value of 7000 GP. These usually consist of a few unlimited-use, personal-only, use-activated spell effects of levels zero or one at caster level one. They’re easy to disrupt, but are rarely a big enough factor for the heroes to bother doing so.
  • Immunity/the normal XP cost of Innate Enchantments (Uncommon, Minor, Trivial, Specialized/only covers the enchantments in this package deal, 1 CP).
  • Privilege/+1 bonus on Effective Wealth Level (3 CP). What self-respecting Supervillian would EVER be short of funds?
  • Returning/unless the villains enemies make VERY sure to find, examine, and dispose of, the body, he or she will soon return, Specialized/will not work if the character intentionally makes a heroic sacrifice or dies in an exceptionally dramatic and final fashion (falling into a black hole, cast down a shaft into the main reactor, etc, 3 CP).
  • Privilege/the villain can always find a ready supply of incompetent henchmen, guards, servants, and similar nonentities to serve as yes-men and has access to competent lawyers and technicians without cost (3 CP).
    • That’s a total value of 18 CP, reduced to 12 CP by the Corruption noted above.

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Militia Training

Most towns and villages will get a retired warrior, guardsman, or the local lord to provide some basic combat training for any of the local youngsters who show an interest – or who don’t show any others. That differs somewhat from classical medieval society, but d20 worlds have a lot more in the way of random menaces floating about than the classical medieval world did. Militia Training won’t make anyone an expert combatant, but it does provide a solid base to build on – and new guards and soldiers have to come from someplace. Of course, when the village is threatened, the troops are called up, or there’s trouble in the streets, the militia-trained are expected to deal with it, as they’re expected to help deal with all kinds of menaces.

  • Militia Training provides Proficiency with Light Armor, Shields, and All Simple Weapons (totaling 9 CP)
  • Legionary, Specialized/only usable with other people with the Militia Training package (3 CP).

Militia Training is a very straightforward package, and valuable to almost any low-level warrior type, since they’d be buying most of those things anyway. While the Legionary ability won’t be a lot of use unless there are several other militia-trained characters in the party, for another 3 CP you can either eliminate the specialization or double the effect – which can make fighting as a team well worthwhile.

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Ninja

The Ninja Package is actually pretty straightforward: it assumes that you’ve trained from an early age in sneaking about, evading or blocking attacks, and in some martial art or another. It doesn’t include anything particularly occult, or superhuman, or even all that unusual either. It was, after all, a package developed by people in the real world.

  • Adept (6 CP): Pays half cost for Hide, any one Martial Art, Move Silently, and Tumble. (Games using other skill sets should simply trade out a few appropriately).
  • Block/Melee (6 CP): May expend an Attack of Opportunity and make a DC 20 Reflex save once per round to reduce the damage from a successful incoming melee attack by up to sixty points – albeit to a minimum of zero.

Ninja, of course, as professional spies, assassins, and saboteurs are generally disliked, regarded as dishonorable (whether they are or not) and mistrusted by more straightforward combatants.

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Obsidian Order

There are people who make – or are – trouble. They unseal ancient crypts, rummage out and read copies of the Necronomicon, and publish translations and analysis of dark rituals in scholarly papers. They know words of power, deadly secrets, and bits of history that should remain forever buried. If the man on the throne is decent enough – even if he is NOT the rightful king – is “THE TRUTH!” really worth a civil war?

There are some secrets that should never come to light.

The Obsidian Order is dedicated to concealing such secrets and dealing with such people. Before they can make too much trouble. With extreme prejudice.

Sometimes that has to wait while they help the responsible parties clean up whatever horrific mess they’ve made – but the Obsidian Order tries to make sure that it happens in the end.

If preserving that shroud of secrecy means tearing out the throat of an elderly academic, braining three of his students, and burning his house and laboratory to the ground, that is a small price to pay. They’d prefer to get that academics small grandchildren out of the house first – but if it can’t be done, it can’t be done.

Sometimes the troublemakers are adventurers, and are considerably harder to deal with – but no one said that the duties of a member of the Obsidian Order were going to be easy.

Members of the Obsidian Order get:

  • Minor Privilege: Access to the facilities of the order – a modest selection of safehouses, a loose information network, and some basic equipment and services (3 CP).
  • Mentor and Secret Master, Specialized/provides no XP bonus, but the instructors can teach a variety of advanced Witchcraft and Combat Techniques (6 CP). Note that their version of Witchcraft training will normally include two Pacts – Hunted (by the Crystal Seers) and Taboos (Must never reveal any secrets that have been entrusted to them, must never pay for research, and must not tolerate the use of major divination effects without protest).
  • Cloaking, Specialized/only conceals the existence and nature of secrets entrusted to the character (3 CP).

The Obsidian Order tends towards secrecy and combat missions – and thus towards warriors, rogues, and similar types. They’re a shadowy, undercover, group of ruthless murderers and assassins – who admittedly mean well. After all, they’re serving the greater good, even if it is pretty hard on the occasional individual who happens to be disturbing the peace. In most places the Order is officially unknown, and – in most places where they’re known – they’re illegal.

They also have a big job and not nearly enough agents – partly because of the caution with which they approach prospective new members, partly because of a fairly high casualty rate, and partly because suitable members are not easy to come by. They don’t want someone who causes gratuitous damages, or who might be tempted to abscond with some horrific arcane secret. They prefer to teach their recruits Witchcraft, including various Taboos (about revealing secrets that have been entrusted to them, paying for research, or allowing the use of major divination effects without protest.

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Rithian Blademaster

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.

  • 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.

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Servant of the Dark Powers

Those who pledge themselves to the powers of darkness gain some quick and easy power – but the dark powers are jealous masters. They will not tolerate other loyalties in their servants. Even worse, they can only be raised if the dark powers which have claimed their souls decide that it suits their purposes – and they’re generally more than a little crazy. On the benefits side, they gain…

  • Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, Corrupted/only for checks and defensive rolls, not for attacks (8 CP)
  • Immunity/Divination (Common, Minor, Minor/effects of up to level three, 4 CP).

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Street Brat

Margins are thin in medieval times. Penalties for even petty theft are harsh, since it will often mean that the victim and his or her family go hungry for a time.

Stray or orphaned children have few ways to earn their way. Unless some generous relative takes them in, or (by some marvelous stroke of good fortune) someone with spare resources takes pity on them, and takes them on as servants or apprentices and pays with food and shelter, they must earn their own ways.

There are little odd jobs such as running messages, but it is a fortunate day indeed when those provide enough to eat well. Still, a street brat who survives will learn to turn his or her hands to a multitude of tasks – and will probably be one lucky fellow. As adventurers, they’ll almost certainly grow up to be Rogues.

Street Brats get

  • Luck with +2 bonus uses, Specialized and Corrupted/only for skill rerolls (3 CP)
  • Fortune/Evasion Variant, Specialized/the user must be un- or lightly armored and encumbered, must be free to move, and must have space to dodge in (3 CP)
  • Spell Resistance, Specialized and Corrupted/only works against divination magic directed at determining the truth of the user’s statements (2 CP)
  • +3 Specialties in Bluff/Denying Things, Sleight of Hand/Swiping Small Items, Knowledge/Local/Home Town, and Perform/Acting Innocent (4 CP).

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Super-Scientist

The Super-Scientist always has to deal with super-villains who want his or her inventions, lab assistants mutating into monsters and villains, endless weird events, an odd inability to spread their super-technologies to the world, eccentric malfunctions, and (usually) all the problems of being a child prodigy – but when your latest insane invention hums to life, it’s all worthwhile!

At least until it blows up again, thirty seconds later.

This particular package provides:

  • Advanced Augmented Bonus: Adds (Dex Mod) to (Int Mod) when calculating skill points per level, Specialized, only applies through level one (9 CP).
  • Action Hero / Invention, Specialized/inventions cannot get past the “personal use” level (3 CP).

Most serious super-scientist types buy off the Augmented Bonus specialization at level one, but it’s not required.

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Time Master

This exotic package deal can be acquired by those who travel extensively through time – and is, honestly, of little use to others.

  • Occult Sense/Temporal Perception (6 CP). The user can sense disturbances in time and space, movement through either, and various odd items about time – such as whether an event can be changed or not. He or she can sometimes sense other time manipulators, but this depends on whether or not the entity in question has been meddling with time and space recently. The user can sometimes tell where and when he or she is with a perception check, but this is anything but reliable. Fortunately, “Disturbances in Space and Time” include teleportation and dimensional travel, making it very hard to get the drop on the user.
  • Energy Infusion/Dimensional Energies (6 CP): The user is immune to paradox, can meet him- or her-self without trouble as long as he or she indulges in a little caution, can resist the effects of having his or her past interfered with – and is immune to minor annoyances such as Slow, Aging, Time Stop (although, sorry to say, being “Immune to Time Stop” means that YOU cannot use it, or Haste, or similar beneficial time effects), and similar manipulations. On the other hand, the user takes double damage from Cosmological Energies, and may be harmed or affected by the strange forces released by weird dimensional weapons that other characters will not even notice. On the other hand, this protects the user from one of the most difficult-to-defend-against attacks in existence – being eliminated by time travelers meddling with the past. If some pest – or ill-considered personal meddling – has made it so that a character with this package deal was never born, he won’t be hindered in the least.

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Village Priest

Village priests may be faithful enough, but discharging most of the duties of a classic priest – regardless of the religion involved – revolves around being able to use the right rituals, being able to handle the locals, and implying the backing of both your religious hierarchy and of the gods. Of course, a Village Priest normally must be on-call to perform various religious rituals, must obey his or her religious superiors, and knows perfectly well that he or she has to be impressive. On the other hand, he or she gains…

  • Occult Ritual, Specialized in the Rites of his or her faith (3 CP). While anyone can perform such rituals, only a Priest – or more powerful occultist – can actually get them to work.
  • Privilege/Priestly Authority, Specialized/only effective on those who share the same religious beliefs (1 CP). In areas touching on their god, no wise man ignores the dictates of a priest. In consequence, priests invariably get support from the people in the area, whether in the form of glad donations, grudging tithes, labor, or special privileges.
  • Privilege/may intercede with the higher powers on behalf of others, asking for forgiveness for various transgressions, for the removal of misfortune, and for similar benefits – including the use of their power for tasks such as casting out evil spirits, Corrupted/only works on behalf of those who respect his or her religion (2 CP).
  • Favors/from his or her church (3 CP). As part of a hierarchy, the Village Priest can call on higher authorities – and possibly even divine powers – occasionally for minor favors.
  • +3 Diplomacy, Specialized in Religious Applications – appealing to gods, offering prayers, and influencing people about religious and related matters for double effect (+6, 3 CP). Whether inspired or simply backed by the religious authorities, Village Priests exert a strong influence.

A Village Priest will probably still want a decent knowledge of his or her religion, and some knowledge of the appropriate rituals – but anyone who wants to be a Village Priest really should already have those. He or she can perform healings and exorcisms, bless flocks and fields, and erect barriers against evil spirits – but only through rituals. That’s useful, and the characters may well find themselves in need of the services of a Village Priest regularly, but it’s never going to overshadow the more immediate abilities of an adventurer.

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Wannabee Adventurer

Many youngsters dream of high adventure, epic heroism, and personally confronting the forces of darkness.

Then they grow up a bit, and realize just how suicidal that is, and the vast majority of them go and do something else for a living.

There are a few though, who never lose that idea – who listen to every tale, and practice odd skills and impractical maneuvers, and dream of becoming mighty heroes.

Most of them die of course, but some few will go on to inspire other youngsters in their turn. – and to inspire their companions with a constant stream of heroic tales – and possible locations for them to look for treasure.

Sadly, everyone else is likely to consider the Wannabee an impractical dreamer.

Wannabees get

  • Lore (Creatures, Treasures, and Tales of Adventure, 6 CP) and
  • Presence/High Morale: The Wannabee – and any of his companions who regularly spend time listening to him – will enjoy a +1 Morale Bonus to attacks, saves, checks, and damage.

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Wannabe Werewolf

Wannabe Werewolves come from cults, misunderstood magical rituals, powerful wizards making scary minions, and magical accidents – but that doesn’t make them any less subject to the various prejudices against shapeshifters and lycanthropes, despite their not having anything approaching the power of true lycanthropes. They’ve only got the minimal Hollywood werewolf package.

  • Innate Enchantment. All enchantments Spell Level One, Caster Level One, Unlimited-Use Use-Activated, and Personal-Only. Specialized/comes with wolfish instincts (and the need to make occasional will checks to resist such impulses), pack loyalty, and the traditional signs of being a werewolf. 7000 GP inherent value (4 CP).
  • Wolf-Shift. A lesser, specific, variant on Alter Self that provides +2 Natural Armor Fur, d6 Claws/Fangs, and a wolfish or full-wolf appearance without other game-mechanic alterations (1400 GP).
  • Speak with Animals (1400 GP).
  • Enhance Attribute/+2 Wisdom (1400 GP).
  • Wrath. +2 Str, +2 Con, +1 Will, and -2 AC when in use (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 werewolf package (4 CP).
  • DR 2/-, Specialized versus physical attacks only, Corrupted not versus silver, both for Increased Effect. +6/Silver to base DR, if any (3 CP).

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Worlds-Edge Ranger

The Worlds-Edge Rangers are the guardians of the world, the first line of defense against the powers of darkness and chaos. If they fail in their guardianship, there will be another full-scale war against the powers beyond the rim of the world.

That will not happen until the last of the Rangers has fallen – something that has happened before and which will surely happen again, which is why the order of Rangers has been re-established at least four times. Still, it need not happen NOW – and as long as they fight well enough, it need never be NOW. Worlds-End Rangers gain…

  • Imbuement/Bows (6 CP).
  • Immunity/the need to have cover or concealment to use the Hide skill (Common, Minor, Minor, Specialized/only while in natural terrain, 2 CP).
  • Immunity/the inability to hide while under direct observation (Common, Minor, Minor, Specialized/only while in natural terrain, 2 CP).
  • Immunity/Running out of arrows (Common, Minor, Trivial, 2 CP).

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.

The Practical Enchanter can be found in a Print Edition (Lulu), an Electronic Edition (RPGNow), and a Shareware Edition (RPGNow).  There’s an RPGNow Staff Review too.

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