For today it’s an optimized version of “Ghost”, a character from the “Chosen Ones” campaign. That particular setting casts the characters as heroes who were being given a variety of special enhancements to meet the demands of a particular set of missions – and hopefully accomplish them easily.
Unfortunately, the process was interrupted and the mystics who were providing those boosts were all killed – leaving the characters to awake with amnesia, with an assortment of enemies, a half-finished set of enhancements, temporarily reduced effective levels, and a set of missions to carry out that they don’t remember and won’t be getting any briefings on.
What was supposed to be a fairly simple set of errands just got a lot more complicated.
Ghost is a Drow stealth expert and shadow master – and doesn’t really remember much more than that save for a sense of paranoia and an affinity with the shadows.
“Chosen One” Template (also known as the “GM Plot Hook Bonus”): This provides +2 each to Strength, Constitution, and Charisma, 60 Darkvision, a mental link with the other Chosen Ones, a bonus language (Draconic), Grant of Aid with the regeneration option, and 1d6 Natural Weapon Claws. There may be (almost certainly is) more to the template than this – but, as of yet, the characters have no idea what that might be.
Race: Drow Elf
The standard breakdown for a drow elf looks like this. For good or ill however, the setting calls for a few small changes, which will be detailed below.
- Attribute Shift: +2 Dexterity, -2 Constitution (6 CP).
- Self-Development: +2 Intelligence, +2 Charisma (24 CP).
- Improved Occult Sense/extended Darkvision, Specialized/user is susceptible to light blindness. Abrupt exposure to bright light will blind him or her for one round and leave them dazzled as long as they remain exposed (6 CP).
- Improved Spell Resistance (10 + Level) (12 CP).
- Immunity/Sleep Effects (Uncommon/Minor/Major, 3 CP)
- Resist/+2 on Will saves against spells and spell-like abilities (3 CP).
- Resist/+2 on Saves versus Enchantment Spells and Effects (3 CP)
- Inherent Spell/Darkness (L2, Corrupted/only usable once per day, 4 CP)
- Inherent Spells/Dancing lights (L0) and Faerie Fire (L1), taken as a pair of L0-L1 effects normally usable twice per day each, Specialized/only usable once per day each (3 CP).
- Proficient with hand crossbow, rapier, and short sword (a limited group of weapons, 3 CP).
- Occult Sense/Detect Secret Doors (Specialized: requires a Search check and passing within 5 feet, 3 CP)
- Skills: Extra Languages, Elven and Undercommon, +2 on Listen, Search, and Spot (8 CP)
- Disadvantage: Outcast (-3 CP). Dark Elves are widely regarded with fear and suspicion.
That’s 75 CP (in +2 ECL territory). Fortunately, the setting modifications save Ghost a few points here and there.
- First up, the game is using the half-price rule on buying attribute bonuses. That saves 12 CP up front and lets us drop the “-2 constitution” bit while keeping the +2 Dex.
- Both the template and the race provide darkvision. Since you only need it once, I’m going to presume that the non-bothersome (if shorter ranged) Chosen One version is paramount; with exposure to more light, her eyes have gotten a bit less sensitive. That saves another 6 CP.
- The game rolls the Listen, Search, and Spot skill into a single “Perception” skill. That means she can have a +2 racial bonus on Stealth and still save 2 CP.
- The usual Drow Inherent Spells (Darkness, Dancing Lights, and Faerie Fire once per day each) are being subsumed into her Shadow Mastery talents. That saves 7 CP.
That reduces the cost of her race to 48 CP – or the 31 CP available to a +0 ECL race and 17 CP out of her level one allotment.
Available Character Points: 48 (Level One Base) +10 (Disadvantages; Hunted, Valuable, and Irrationally Secretive) +12 (2x L1 feats; the GM here is giving out an extra one) +2 (Duties – another GM-determined item) = 72. Subtracting her racial costs leaves 55 CP to spend on her level one build. The game master is using a (rather generous) attribute array of 12, 12, 14, 14, 16, 16. Even more importantly, he’s not restricting the characters choice of abilities – allowing them to gain some fairly powerful specialities early on.
Basic Attributes: Str 14, Dex 18 (20), Int 18, Wis 12, Con 16, Chr 16
- Warcraft (BAB): +0 (0 CP).
- Hit Points / Dice: 6 (L1d6, 2 CP) +3 (Con Mod) = 9 HP.
- Proficient with All Simple Weapons (3 CP)
- Armor Class 10 (Base) +5 (Dex) +2 “Armor” +1 (Martial Art) = 18 (21 when using her Shadow Form).
- Initiative +5 (Dex)
- Save Bonuses: +1 Will (3 CP). This gives her Fortitude +3, Reflex +5, and Will +2.
- Skill Points: 6 (Purchased, 6 CP) +16 (Int Mod x 4) +2 (Fast Learner) = 24 SP.
- Sai: +8/+8 (+3 BAB +5 Dex, Serpents Strike), 1d6 (improved base damage) +2 (Str), Crit 20/x2. 1d6 Sneak Attack. She usually dual-wields, but – at the moment – this is just a special effect.
- Finesse: uses Dex Mod instead of Str Mod to hit with knives, daggers, short swords, sai, and similar weapons (6 CP).
- Fast Learner, Specialized in Skills for +2 SP/Level (starting at level “-1″, 6 CP).
- Adept: pays half cost for the Acrobatics, Deception, Stealth, and NightWraith Martial Art skills (6 CP).
Nightwraith Package (9 CP total):
- Innate Enchantment/7000 GP Value (8 CP). All abilities; (Spell Level ½ or 1) x (Caster Level 1) x Unlimited-Use Use-Activated (2000 GP) x .7 (Personal-Only, if applicable).
- Increase Attribute/Dex +2 [1400 GP]
- Martial Mastery (+3 to hit – Sai) [700 gp]
- Fortune’s Favor II (+2 Luck Skills) [1400 gp]
- Expertise II (+2 Competence Bonus to All Skills) [1400 gp]
- Serpent Strike (Additional Melee Attack) [1400 gp]
- Immunity/the normal XP costs of Innate Enchantments (Uncommon, Minor, Trivial / only covers L0 and L1 effects at caster level one) (1 CP).
Using Serpent Strike is more than a bit cheesy, but restricting it to a second melee attack (instead of an extra attack at any moment) makes it somewhat more reasonable. It still means that a simple “dispel magic” against that “caster level one” will drastically reduce the characters combat abilities though – and it’s so useful to a melee combatant that they’d be fools not to take it.
Shadow Mastery Package (12 CP Total):
“Ghost” can tap into the magics of twilight and darkness, channeling those hidden forces into a modest variety of tricks. This particular ability package is being purchases as Witchcraft, with all abilities Corrupted / will not work in areas of bright illumination and can be dispelled by light-based powers. That’s a bit of a bottleneck – but this is only a supplementary set of abilities.
More importantly, Witchcraft is a very cheap and efficient way to get some fairly good powers – but it doesn’t improve much (if at all) with level. Thus it’s great for low-level characters, fair for mid-level characters, and only a minor supplement for high-level characters.
- Witchcraft I and II, 8 CP. This provides (Str+Dex+Con)/3 Power (that’s 17 power) and three basic witchcraft abilities. Where relevant, the Will Save DC against these abilities is 16.
- The Adamant Will. This allows her to spend 2 power as a reflex action to resist various forms of mind control or to make a second save against mind-reading or “truth” effects. For three power she may reflexively present a false aura to detection spells or ignore pain.
- Shadowweave and Advanced Shadowweave (Specialized/only allows access to second level effects, 2 CP). This allows the manipulation of light and darkness to create minor illusions and special effects. Cantrip level effects can provide bonuses of up to +6 on things like disguise checks and cost one power per ten minutes of activity. A first level effect (such as Color Spray or Faerie Fire) costs one power while second level effects (such as Darkness) cost two power.
- Witchsight: She may spend one power to enhance a sense for an hour – gaining either a +6 bonus on relevant checks or extending an existing sense (such as upgrading her sense of smell to Scent). Spending one power on a specific roll – such as attempting to detect poison by scent – triples the bonus.
As a level one character “Ghost” can have two Pacts – providing an additional 12 CP worth of Advanced Witchcraft abilities. She currently has only has Duties (she must spend a great deal of time lurking in the shadows, for only there can she feel at home) – providing only 6 CP worth of abilities. In her case, those have been invested in
- “Shadow Form”/Ashen Rebirth (with the Dimension Door and Teleportation upgrades, 8 CP). Ghost may spend one power to merge with the darkness for one minute. In that form she gains DR 10/-, the ability to walk on walls and ceilings, the ability to pass through cracks and crevices, a +5 enhancement bonus to stealth, and a (Cha Mod) deflection bonus to her AC. While in this form she may spend 2 power to dimension door from one shadow to another as long as she can trace a transverseable path between them or 7 power to teleport to another shadow.
This is a minor variant on the usual Ashen Rebirth power – notably weaker, but without the damaging side effects or the conspicuousness of turning into flame.
It’s worth noting that Shadow Mastery focuses on tapping into the powers of physical darkness; it has no inherent morality. While many evil creatures like concealment, illusion, and the ability to merge with the shadows, nothing prevents a character from using those powers heroically.
- Since Ghost has 2 CP left over at the moment, I’ll invest those in Mana as Power (Specialized and Corrupted for one-third effect, or +1d6 Power, 2 CP). That gives her a total of 21 Power to work with each day (17 + 1d6 ).
- Acrobatics: +4 (2 SP*) +5 (Dex) +2 (Luck) +2 (Competence) = +13
- Deception: +4 (2 SP*) +3 (Cha) +2 (Luck) +2 (Competence) = +11
- Nightwraith Martial Art (Dex): +4 (2 SP*) +5 (Dex) +2 (Luck) +2 (Competence) = +13
- Perception: +4 (SP) +1 (Wis) +2 (Luck) +2 (Competence) +2 (Race) = +11^
- Perform (Stringed Instrument) : +4 (SP) +5 (Dex) +2 (Luck) +2 (Competence) = +13
- Persuasion: +4 (SP) +3 (Cha) +2 (Luck) +2 (Competence) = +11
- Stealth: +4 (2 SP*) +5 (Dex) +2 (Luck) +2 (Competence) +2 (Race) +2 (Synergy) = +17^
- Thievery: +4 (SP) +5 (Dex) +2 (Luck) +2 (Competence) = +13
*Adept Skills, purchased at half cost.
^ May be augmented with Witchcraft.
Skills in the setting have been somewhat condensed – although everything else is as per the SRD.
- Acrobatics: Covers Balance, Tumble and Escape Artist.
- Athletics: Covers Climb, Jump and Swim.
- Arcana: Covers Knowledge (Arcana) and Spellcraft.
- Linguistics: Covers Forgery and Decipher Script.
- Deception: Covers Bluff and Disguise.
- Survival: Covers Knowledge (Nature) and Survival.
- Perception: Covers Search, Spot, and Listen.
- Persuasion: Covers Diplomacy and Intimidation.
- Stealth: Covers Hide and Move Silently.
- Thievery: Covers Disable Device, Open Locks, and Sleight of Hand.
Nightwraith Martial Art (Dex):
The Nightwraith Style focuses on concealment, sudden strikes at vital areas, and on the use of the Sai – as well as inherent mastery of the powers of (physical) darkness. It is smooth, flowing, and generally performed in dark, loose-fitting clothing with wide sleeves and pants – both of which serve to conceal the user’s movements in swirling folds of cloth. It’s generally regarded as the private art of the Lahir Wraiths (a secretive order of Drow assassins) and they’ve been known to object to having it spread around.
- Requires: Access to the Shadow Mastery package – or at least something similar. Uses the Sai.
- Basic Techniques: Attack 2, Defenses 2, Power 2, Strike, and Synergy/Stealth.
- Advanced and Master Techniques: Combat Reflexes, Sneak Attack I, Prone Fighting, and an Unarmed Kata (allows use while unarmed as well as with a Sai).
- Occult Techniques: Inner Strength, Light Foot, Serpent Strike, and Touch Strike.
- Known Techniques (7): Defense 1, Power 1, Synergy/Stealth, Combat Reflexes, Sneak Attack I, Prone Fighting, and Touch Strike.
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