Today’s request is a character loosely styled after Jason Blood / Etrigan (DC Comics) or Naruto (Anime) – a youngster who’s had a mighty demonic force that some magician couldn’t handle or kill directly imprisoned in his or her body, so that it will die when he or she does. That provides the character with some minor special powers – and, when the character is seriously injured or otherwise distracted, the dark power within will emerge to save it’s own life by striking out at the characters enemies.
Now this is indeed a rather neat, if not especially original, twist – as witness it being the basis for various superheroes and anime characters – but it leaves open a lot of questions.
- The original binder was ruthless enough to do this to a kid. If he or she wanted to be rid of the demon, why not then kill the infant? Every moment the child lives it is a threat to those around him or her – and to the binder. Even for a “good” character this is pretty much a no-brainer – unless, perhaps, the binder has some goody-goody target he or she wishes to drop a time bomb on (although, to be fair, in that case a timed-release effect would be a LOT better).
- If the binding is inescapable and moments of freedom restrained and short, then why is the entity prolonging it’s misery?
- If the times of freedom can be prolonged, what was the point in the first place? A jail with a unlocked revolving door and an awkward kid for a guard isn’t much of a prison.
- If the binding is escapable, why doesn’t the entity keep the kids body injured enough to maintain control and do what-it-is it needs to to escape permanently?
- If the force is irredeemably hostile, why not take times of freedom as a chance to go on the rampage, avenge itself on humanity, and slaughter everyone in the vicinity? This character is putting the lives of everyone in the area at risk every time they get into a fight – or use the stairs, or step out in the street, or otherwise might be injured. Even if you can restrain the creature enough to keep it from massacring your friends, the world is full of innocents ready to be victims. There’s a reason why so many werewolf movies wind up with a dead werewolf.
- If the entity bound within isn’t far more powerful than the characters, what’s the point? It’s like having a bad-tempered dog that occasionally jumps out at people if you don’t hang onto the leash. This is an even worse problem in d20, where the player characters start weak, and grow rapidly – and where there are plenty of powerful NPC’s about. Your entity needs to be so potent that epic-level NPC’s couldn’t handle it – yet you don’t want to hopelessly overshadow the other characters while they’re first level.
- D20 worlds are full of rampaging monsters; if this works, why isn’t the world overrun with kids (and adults) with demons bound into them? For that matter, why wasn’t it done centuries ago, leaving the monsters long gone?
Now, if we gloss over problems like those what we wind up with is some mighty force that… intervenes whenever the character is in really serious trouble, smacks down his or her enemies, may or may not make some minor trouble for the player character group, and then conveniently goes away. That’s not much of a “curse”. That’s a really convenient power that overshadows everyone else in the group. There’s a reason why Etrigan and Naruto don’t usually hang out with crowds and are central characters rather than just being one of a team.
So… to build the actual mechanics, what we need is a set of boosts that enhance the characters existing abilities, rather than acting as an independent entity and are specialized or corrupted to involve some – but not too much – loss of control. That will make the “imprisoned monster” abilities useful/effective throughout the character’s career while avoiding overshadowing everyone else too much. The “terrible imprisoned being” backstory is fine, but in game terms it’s just a special effect. It’s the mechanics that actually matter when it comes to character-building.
Fortunately, Eclipse already has some mechanisms for just that effect. What we want here is Berserker, possibly with some Innate Enchantments that only function while berserk.
- Berserker with Odinpower and Enduring, Specialized for Double Effect (+12 Str, +12 Con, +6/- DR, -3 AC)/the character transforms into a more monstrous form and loses control, this dubious ability activates automatically when the character is severely injured, their normal mind is suppressed, or when the GM thinks it ought to. While the character can usually refrain from hurting friends too badly, and from outright massacring NPC’s, severe injuries, destroyed goods, structural damage, and general trouble are the order of the day. In effect, the character has a potent (but not insurmountable) “save my ass!” card in reserve – but playing it is going to be expensive (12 CP).
- Innate Enchantment, Specialized/only works while the character is Berserk (10,000 GP total value, 5 CP), Immunity/Dispelling and Antimagic (Common, Major, Major, Specialized and Corrupted/only protects innate enchantments that provide personal augmentations, only while the character is berserk, 3 CP), Immunity/the normal XP cost of Innate Enchantments (Uncommon, Minor, Trivial [only covers first level effects at caster level one], Specialized/only to cover the abilities derived from being “possessed”, 1 CP) (9 CP total).
The actual Innate Enchantments are generally first level spells at caster level one, are unlimited at-will, and are personal-only whenever that’s applicable – for a net cost of (L1 x CL1 x 2000 GP x .7) = 1400 GP.
• Demonic Endurance: Resist Energy. Provides Resistance 10 to all energy types (1400 GP).
• Hellish Vitality: Rugged Metabolism package, including Fast Healing I – for 18 Rounds – 2/Day, Relieve Illness 1/Day, Relieve Poison 1/Day, and Lesser Restoration 1/Day. (1400 GP). While putting in unlimited healing would be a mess, restricting things to uses per day (x.2 x number of daily uses up to four) brings down the cost nicely.
• Immortal Vigor I: Provides two bonus six sided hit dice, which are treated as having rolled sixes. (1400 GP)
• Infernal Ward: Shield (2000 GP). One of the few spells that starts off as personal-only, and so isn’t eligible for that price break.
• Rending Talons: Claws. Provides 1d8 Natural Weapons. May make a full attack using both at normal BAB. Also, +4 BAB with Claws (2800 GP).
• Speed of Night: Personal Haste. Provides a +30 Enhancement Bonus to movement and +1 Bonus Attack at full BAB when making a full attack (1400 GP).
Now, with a net cost of 21 CP, that’s a not-unreasonable expensive package. In fact, a baseline d20 human only costs 9 CP (gaining one Bonus Feat for 6 CP and Fast Learner Specialized in Skills for half cost for 3 CP) – and the allowance for a +0 ECL species is 31 CP. That means that, if the GM is generous, you can just call your race “Demon-Infused Human” – at a net cost of 30 CP – and have done with it. That has the advantage that – if you ever manage to get rid of your personal demon – you won’t have to rebuild your character particularly. You just drop back to the baseline human.
So lets create a preliminary build for…
Fourteen-Year-Old Demon-Bound Human (+0 ECL).
This probably won’t bear too much resemblance to the final build; the actual information that the prospective player provided for this is only about half a paragraph, and contained few details on the characters actual abilities – but that doesn’t really matter in an example.
Basic Attributes: Str 16, Dex 14, Con 16, Int 12, Wis 14, and Chr 12 (The GM is using a rather generous attribute array there. I think I’ll also assume that a part of that strength is of supernatural origin; it’s a bit hard to credit in a kid otherwise).
Available Character Points: 48 (Level One Base) +10 (Disadvantages) +2 (Duties) + 18 (Human Bonus Feat and Level -1 and 1 Bonus Feats. Yes, the GM is being generous again there, and Eclipse levels start off in infancy at -2) = 78 CP.
- Warcraft (BAB): +1 (6 CP).
- Hit Points: 20 (L1 d20, 16 CP) +3 (Con Mod) = 23 (53 Monstrous).
- Proficient with All Simple Weapons (3 CP).
- Armor Class 10 (Base) +2 (Dex) = 12 (13 Monstrous)
- Initiative +2 (Dex)
- Move: 30 (60 Monstrous)
- Save Bonuses:
- Fortitude: +1 (Purchased, 3 CP) +3 (Con) = +4
- Reflex: +0 (Purchased) +2 (Dex) = +2
- Will: +1 (Purchased, 3 CP) +2 (Wis) = +3
- (Normal) Club: +4 (+1 BAB +3 Str), 1d6+3 (Str), Crit 20/x2,
- (Monstrous) Claws: +15/+15/+15 (+1 BAB +4 BAB Bonus +9 Str), 1d8+9 (Str), Crit 20/x2.
- Witchcraft I and II (12 CP): Provides 15 Power, access to The Adamant Will, Healing, and Witchsight, with a Will DC 14.
- Advanced Witchcraft/The Sight, Specialized/uncontrollable aspects only (3 CP).
- Mana, for +3d6 (16, a VERY good roll!) Power (6 CP).
- DR 2/- (3 CP). Note that this also protects against energy damage.
- Fast Learner, Specialized in Skills for +2 SP/Level (6 CP). We’ll be generous, and assume she picked this up at birth with some disadvantage points.
- Adept (Knowledge/Theology, a Martial Art, Survival, Linguistics) (6 CP)
- +5 Skill Points (5 CP). That gives her 5 SP (Purchased) + 12 (Fast Learner, 3/level, x4 at L1) +4 (Int at L1) = 21 SP. Eight of those will go to maximizing her Adept skills, leaving her 13 SP to spend – enough to maximize another three skills with one point left over to dabble in something – perhaps picking up another language.
From what little I’ve got in the way of backstory, Lerona was being raised as a cloistered priestess to help keep the beast within her under control – although she hadn’t actually learned much of anything in the way of priestly powers. She was kind of upset at the prospect of spending her entire life basically stuck in a cell for something that wasn’t at all her fault – and so she ran away. Ergo, Theology is one of her stronger skills.
This character is an extremely dangerous combatant when the beast comes out – but the beast is actually pretty vulnerable; a simple Hold Person, or (at least at the moment) even a Sleep spell will take out the beast very neatly. The base character may want to pick up some spell resistance and other special defenses later on; after all, when the beast does come out, the character has just become a high-priority target.
- Eclipse d20 – White Necromancy (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Variant Eclipse Shapeshifting – The War Forms from Emergence Campaign Weblog (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Eclipsing Wealth, Part II (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- [Emergence Campaign] Biomancy and Monster Mashing (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Residents of the Ars Goetia (ruscumag.wordpress.com)