Eclipse d20 – Using Dweomer, Electrokinesis, Nucleokinesis, and (Molecular) Reconstruction

Simulation of many identical atoms undergoing ...

Image via Wikipedia

Here we have some questions from Derek about the sample skills for Psychokinesis in Eclipse d20 – so, first up, it’s well worth noting that Dweomer operates on the worlds underlying mechanisms. Thus, for example, if a particular setting doesn’t have atomic structures – perhaps being made up of the “fundamental elements” of earth, fire, air, and water – Nucleokinesis won’t be very useful (or exist). You’ll either have to skip it or (preferably) substitute a skill that makes sense in the setting.

What can electrokinesis and nucleokinesis do at high level? What makes them different from reconstruction?

The basic differences between Nucleokinesis, Electroninesis, and Reconstruction are actually fairly fundamental to the levels at which they operate:

Nucleokinesis can rebuild atoms and transmute elements via the manipulation of subatomic particles. It does not affect larger-scale structures, such as molecules, save through the side effects of changing some of the atoms that may be involved.

  • At low levels you could detect and shield against hard radiation, decontaminate food, water, people, and devices, accelerate or decelerate radioactive decay (a knack which isn’t often called on, but can come in very handy if you happen to be near a nuclear reactor which is going to melt down or which you need to power up, if you’re near a nuclear bomb you want to keep from going off, or if you just need some heat).
  • At medium levels you can generate, direct, or eliminate intense fields of radiation, perform small-scale transmutations (allowing, for example, poisoning people in very subtle fashions, creating computer chips with three-dimensional architecture via transmutation doping, or refueling nuclear batteries), treat cancers, and use nuclear imaging to sense the internal structure of anything nearby.
  • At higher levels you can perform nuclear transmutations on a larger scale (perhaps providing oxygen and hydrogen, from rock or strengthening or weakening metal objects), stabilize normally-radioactive elements, induce small-scale nuclear fusion or fission (suitable for a power source), destabilize protons to disintegrate matter (in a blast of intense radiation of course).
  • At the highest levels you can create and stabilize exotic nuclear structures such as high-order transuranics, create massive explosions (ranging from simply breaking atoms down into hydrogen on through destabilizing or fusing nuclei to produce nuclear blasts), generate monopolium, assemble masses of strange matter, and stabilize and manipulate neutronium.

Electrokinesis manipulates electromagnetic fields – photons – and can manipulate electrons since they’re very light and are easily shifted around with electromagnetic fields.

  • At low levels you could create bursts of light, weak “laser” beams, simple holographic illusions, magnetize susceptible materials, illuminate or darken an area, reflect light, resist electricity, simulate telescopic or microscopic vision, encourage photosynthesis, or give someone a nasty shock.
  • At mid levels you could shift the frequency of incoming light to see heat or ultraviolet frequencies (or both), move magnetic materials around with magnetic fields, blind people for lengthy periods, overload sensors, transmit made-to-order radio or television signals, weld metals, play games with friction, guide lightning, sterilize areas with ultraviolet, power a machine, torture people with electrical shocks, or generate formidable laser beams and electrical discharges.
  • At high levels you could become physically invisible (while still “seeing” by magically sensing photons), take X-Rays and spectrograms (although you’d need some skill in interpreting them), generate massive attacks with line-of-sight range, move large amounts of magnetic material around (or smaller amounts of non-magnetic material), read computer media, or manipulate the electrical activity of a machine or the central nervous system.
  • At very high levels you could cause a laser beam to home in on someone at very long ranges, transform yourself into light, create monstrously powerful magnetic fields, selectively suppress electrical forces (the ones which hold matter together), liquefy photons, or support the electrical activity of a nervous system without the nervous system.

Reconstruction revises molecular structures. It does not affect individual atoms except to move them,

  • At low levels you could break down poisons, corrode and weaken materials, temper steel to improve it, temporarily toughen materials, catalyze or inhibit chemical reactions, extract metals from ores, instantly bind surfaces together, fractionate mixtures, distill or extract components of them, refine oil and other substances, and disrupt opponents bodies and metabolisms.
  • At mid levels you could detoxify poisons that are in someone’s body, create moderately complex chemical compounds (simple plastics, explosives, and alloys) from base materials,  make flammable materials burn up in seconds, put someone into hibernation, and create crystals out of supplies of their base atoms and – essentially – play around fairly freely with inorganic chemistry.
  • At high levels you could change the state of matter (for example, making iron soft and easily worked with your fingers), make complex biochemicals and compounds, create crystals, prevent water from boiling or solids from melting despite high temperatures, play around freely with all of inorganic chemistry, create various polymers from air, reshape lumps of matter by adjusting the relationships between it’s molecules, and stabilize normally impossible inorganic chemicals.
  • At very high levels you could rewrite DNA, play around freely with the entire field of polymers and organic chemistry, create tailored drugs to produce particular effects, create impossibly active compounds (such as the infamous acid blood from the “Alien” movies), and so on.

Now, if you want to restructure things on a larger scale – for example, turning polymer threads into clothing – now you’re looking at the Telekinesis skill.

What dweomer skill can alter planar traits (if any listed)?

The Warping discipline includes all the time-and-space manipulations. In this case, you’ll want the “Overlay” skill, which can be used to alter planar traits in a localized area – although what a “localized area” is when you’re talking about warping dimensions is up for negotiation with the game master. I’m afraid that “what does your game master think of that idea” always turns up in any freeform magic system somewhere.

Which skill can turn energy to mass and mass to energy?

Under Psychokinesis the Capacitance skill covers converting energy from one form to another – and matter is simply a tightly-bound form of energy. Given the amount of energy bound up in matter though, at least under normal physical conditions, it will take a very high level effect to change very much matter into energy or vice versa.  You can also get some effects involving matter-to-energy conversion or vice-versa with high very level Nucleokinesis.

Theoretically you could use Temporal Warping under Warping to reverse the flow of time within a chunk of matter and convert it instantly to antimatter, but that takes a very high level spell indeed, as well as agreement from the game master about the underlying physics of his or her setting.

Which skill(s) can be used to create permanent hot or cold springs (for arctic and desert conditions respectively)?

This breaks down into two basic elements – (1) providing a steady supply of water (since recirculating old water really doesn’t fit the description of a “spring”) and (2) providing a long-term way to heat or cool it. Making a spell last longer, or even making it permanent, simply requires casting it at a high level – so that’s easy enough.

For a quick list, ways to get water include:

  • Re-arranging the local geography to provide it. That’s a job for some MASSIVE Telekinesis.
  • Hauling it in from elsewhere. A job for Telekinesis (to haul water in physically or make it flow uphill or whatever) or for Transference (to bring in water from another dimension), Spatial Warping (to teleport in water from elsewhere in your own dimension), Temporal Warping (at ludicrously high levels to bring in water from the future or the past)
  • Getting something else to haul it in for you. Options here include Healing Transformation (to create a creature that brings in water for you), Telepathic Projection (to persuade a creature – probably an elemental – do devote itself to bringing in water for you, or Mysticism (Imbuement and Permanency) to create a permanent device that brings in the water.
  • You can also use the Analytic Probe ESP ability to simply figure out where to dig to open up a suitable spring. There’s likely to be a suitable spot somewhere.

Actually, a lot of those would also do for ways to obtain, or dispose of, thermal energy. For some alternatives, you could use a Pyrotic effect (to heat or cool the water directly), Capacitance (to change another energy source into thermal energy or remove it – a good application for a very SMALL mass-energy conversion effect). You can get heat out of almost any form of energy fairly easily, so any technique that can produce energy can be applied to a hot spring.

Under telepathy, would links or projection allow the transfer of skill ranks? What would be the maximum number of people allowed to receive those skills?

  • Links can be used to share skills with people – and increasing the level of the spell can increase both the level of the skills that can be shared and the number of targets. For guidelines as to both, it will be simplest to consult the spell template for “Competence Bonuses” in The Practical Enchanter and apply a two level reduction in the spell level for having to have available to provide the skill.
  • Projection can explicitly provide other characters with the user’s own skills (or, for that matter, with those of other donors) – and they’ll last for a time regardless of range or of the current status of the “donors”. You can find some guidelines for similar effects in The Practical Enchanter under the “Enhance Effective Level” and “Grant Feats” sections. Again, actually having to have someone around who actually has the skill or feat already to provide the template is worth a reduction in the spell level of one or two levels.

You may find some more useful material in the other articles related to Thaumaturgy and Dweomer linked below.

13 Responses

  1. The reason I asked about the planar traits is the genesis psionic power. With miniplanes laying about, sometime it would be nice to customize them to the current owner’s taste.

    And note that the Predator’s blood glows. The xenomorph’s blood is a super acid.

    Thank you far taking the time to write this up.

    • Ah yes. It’s been a long time, and I fear I’ve crossed up my Acid-Bleeding Alien Super-Predator with the Alien Predator. Easily fixed though. Behold the power of the “Edit” function!

  2. Sorry, what was that about the Predator and Xenomorph? I get the reference of course, I just don’t understand the relevance.

    Hmmm… ways to build super-acid blood. Take Reflex action and a lot of Bonus uses, and then respond to any damaging attack on you. Or buy a variant on Fire Shield and stack enough Persistant on it to make it all-day-long.

  3. The last bullet under Reconstruction in the article.

  4. Ah, gotcha. Missed that.

  5. Can Reconstruction be used to make material that reproduces (like some crystals)? Can it be used at high level to make potions, dusts and similar magical items or should that be restricted to Nucleokinesis?

    • You can make quite a selection of self-reproducing molecules with Reconstruction, although the required spell level will likely scale with the complexity – and crystals are essentially single molecules.

      Unfortunately, unless the game master rules that some physical structures are inherently magical or lets you stretch the field, you can’t make magical items with any of these skills directly. For that you need feats for enchanting items or to use the Mysticism Dweomer Skills to embed the effect you want in an item.

      You can, however, make a wild and wonderful variety of alloys, chemicals, exotic materials and elements, toxins, and more – but none of them are inherently magical.

      If the distinction is a moot point in the setting, then you can do whatever your game master lets you get away with. That’s freeform magic for you.

  6. That’s the thing. If there are naturally existing magical materials (or even cast offs like dragon scales), they could be the basis of many magic items for Reconstruction to create.

    • Yep – but the question there is what makes them magical?

      If “magic” is something that happens at particular points on the periodic table, Nucleokinesis will let you make magical materials.

      If certain combinations of atoms are inherently magical then Reconstruction can make magical materials.

      If magic is an exotic force which can be infused into physical things but really isn’t a part of them, then neither Nucleokinesis nor Reconstruction can produce it; it simply isn’t one of the things they cover – although you could certainly use them to help reshape and combine materials that are already magic. Whether that would interfere with that existing magic is up to how the game master thinks that magic works in the setting though.

      Which it is depends on the setting – so, since the sample Dweomer skills are setting neutral, there’s no way to say which, if any, of it’s skills could be used to “create magical items” in any given setting.

  7. Could any of these create sapience without a soul? Say rocks that can observe and speak to act as sentries.

    • I’d have to say that it depends on the setting. After all, a given setting may not have souls at all, may have souls but allow sapience without a soul, or may say that any sapient being will acquire a soul. Similarly, in some settings “life” may be easy to create, it might require some mystical infusion of “life force”, or it might be the province of cosmic powers alone.

      You could – presuming that you were REALLY good at it – use any of these to construct the equivalent of a computer intelligence, or perhaps even to construct at least the physical side of some sort of creature. That would probably be immensely complicated however.

      If you really want to use Thaumaturgy or Dweomer to create a sapient or quasi-sapient entity or effect, there are far more appropriate fields than Electrokinesis, Nucleokinesis, and Molecular Reconstruction. After all, in d20, even first level spells – such as Magic Mouth or Unseen Servant – can apparently observe the area and carry out complex tasks. Necromancy (Channeling, Life Force Transference, or Summoning will all work), Telepathy (Constructs), or Mysticism (Imbuement and Willcrystal) will all work.

  8. What’s your general guide for each of the level tiers you describe? Also, over at the ‘skill based partial caster’ page, you described a few radiant master effects that I’m less than sure of the level or discipline of.

    • Well, d20 has an immense list of magical benchmarks – the existing spell lists – so if you’re doing something similar to an existing spell you can just use that as a rough guide.

      On this list:

      “Low Level Effects” are usually “Trivial” or “Easy” Dweomer effects.

      Mid-Level Effects are usually “Average” to “Difficult” Dweomer effects.

      High Level Effects are usually “Amazing” to “Grandiose”Dweomer effects.


      Very High Level Effects are usually “Grandiose” or “Epic” Dweomer effects.

      As for the Radiant Master… once again, compare to existing spells. Want to not breathe briefly? Air Bubble. Replace food with radiation absorption? Sustanence. Turn radiation to magical power? The boosting spells from The Practical Enchanter will cover that.

      Given that it’s freeform magic, there really isn’t a specific level – just that the higher the level of the spell, the more powerful it is.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: