The Emperic Masquerader

The question here was how to do a “Chameleon” style build – along with a few queries about how to match a variant build from a forum over HERE. That’s easy enough, so here we have the Emperic Masquerader – also known as the…

  • Adaptive Copycat
  • All-Embracing Understudy
  • Competent Quack
  • Elusive Mimic
  • Masterful Chameleon
  • Mercurial Stand-In
  • Opportunistic Mountebank
  • Persona Impressionist
  • Protean Pretender
  • Resourceful Impersonator
  • Splendid Imitator and…
  • Weathercock Mocker

This character is built around a rather old notion – an individual who’s so flexible and generally competent that – when they get into a role – they can effectively stand in for almost anyone. While the notion was most celebrated during the Renaissance, it’s been a standard of popular fiction ever since, growing ever more popular as it became less and less possible.

An Empiric Masquerader draws on the power of the great archetypes, much as a spirit binder might channel the power of an elemental or nature spirit – tapping into the strengths of a warrior, or a guardian, or a mage, or a shaman, or what-have-you to temporarily assume some of the abilities of such an individual. Sadly, this ability is limited; while each such archetype or “mask” is reasonably formidable, they’re no match for a true master of a field who has permanently internalized those abilities – and no mortal soul can temporarily host more than two such archetypes at a time.

Still, the approach does offer considerable flexibility.

The original d20 implementation of this idea was a prestige class requiring at least five levels in another class or classes first – so we can expect to see the use of a number of the high-efficiency options to start a similar build at level one. Ergo, we can assume the use of…

  • Duties, granting an extra 2 CP per level. An Empiric Masquerader may be talented, but they will always owe SOMEONE for all the training they require.
  • Fast Learner, Specialized in Hit Dice. The Empiric Masqueraders physical training means that they can never entirely slack off in their physical development (6 CP).
  • Adept. Empiric Masqueraders pay only half cost for Bluff, Concentration, Disguise, and Use Magic Device – all skills often vitally necessary for imitating other classes, an ability which effectively provides +2 Skill Points per level (6 CP).

Since the original version was presented as a ten-level prestige class, creating a reasonable match means setting up a ten-level base base class – which gives us a grand total of 262 CP (L10 base) + 20 CP (Duties) + 20 CP (Fast Learner, for Hit Dice Only) +10 (Restriction; at least 30% of the character’s base points most be invested in Mask abilities, no more than 6% may be expended on any one mask) = 292 CP.

For some basics we’ll want Fast Learner and Adept (as above, 12 CP), +7 Warcraft (BAB, 42 CP), 20 SP (plus the virtual SP from Adept, 20 CP), +9 Saves (27 CP), d8 Hit Dice (40 CP), and Proficiency with All Simple Weapons (3 CP), Light, Medium, and Heavy Armor (15 CP), and All Shields (3 CP) – at a net cost of 162 CP.

That leaves 130 CP with which to buy special abilities. Of course, we’ll need to stretch that a bit…

Getting Into The Role: Innate Enchantment, Specialized for Double Effect / the bonuses only apply to subgroups of skills, saves, and abilities suited to the user’s current mask or masks, Corrupted for decreased cost/requires appropriate props and gear to work. All abilities Spell Level One, Caster Level One, Unlimited Use Use-Activated, and Personal Only – for a net “virtual cost” of 1400 GP per ability.

  • +2 Competence Bonus to All Skills (The Practical Enchanter).
  • Sidestep/Reflex +2 Competence Bonus to Reflex Saves (The Practical Enchanter).
  • Sidestep/Will +2 Competence Bonus to Reflex Saves (The Practical Enchanter).
  • Sidestep/Fortitude +2 Competence Bonus to Reflex Saves (The Practical Enchanter).
  • Enhance Attribute +2, Six times, for each attribute (The Practical Enchanter).

The original writeup provided a Competence Bonus to one attribute. The fact that this would stack with normal attribute enhancements, and thus allow some absurdities, once again calls for a tweak. I’m using Enhancement Bonuses rather than Competence, but this does allow two attributes to be enhanced.

  • At a total of 14,000 virtual gold, this selection of Innate Enchantments costs 10 CP (5 CP at lower levels, where it’s specialized for reduced cost instead of double effect) – and would cost a lot of XP, save for…
  • Immunity/the normal XP cost of Innate Enchantments (Uncommon, Minor, Trivial [only covers first level effects at caster level one], Specialized/only to cover Mask-enhancing abilities, 1 CP).
  • Immunity/Dispelling and Antimagic (Common, Major, Great, Specialized and Corrupted/only protects innate enchantments that provide personal augmentations, 6 CP).

Floating Feat: Enthusiast x6, Specialized for Half Cost / cannot be used to gain skill points, add to caster levels, buy spell progressions, etc; only for classical feat-type abilities (9 CP).

Turn Undead 3/Day at +4 Levels (12 CP).

The Masks:

The entire Masks package is corrupted; Only two “masks” can be used at a time, and the user may only change his or her selection three times a day, at the cost of ten minutes of meditation. Thus the user is has a broad selection of powers to choose from, but cannot use more than two-fifths of them at a time. Three twenty-eight point masks and two twenty-seven point masks thus cost (5 x 28 x 2/3 = 92 CP).

The Mage’s Mask (28 CP).

  • Role Bonuses: Concentration, Knowledge/Arcana, Knowledge/The Planes, Spellcraft, Will Saves, and Intelligence or Charisma.

Spellcasting is the expense here; the original version got 4/4/4/4/4/3/1 spells of levels zero through six and could get bonus spells for both Int and Wis. It also went from a caster level of 2 at level six, to 20 at level fifteen, and then – if you continued with the epic rules – went up two levels per additional level in this class and eventually far, FAR exceeded the caster level of a dedicated spellcaster.

Er, wait, what?

I think that I’ll just dump that into the “badly thought out class features” bin and use Inherent Spells; those have a caster level equal to the used’s hit dice, and so will start out more useful and then continue to improve much more reasonably.

  • Inherent Spell I through Advanced III (24 CP): Greater Invocation/Any Arcane Spell Effect of Levels 0, 1, 2, and 3 with +4 Bonus Uses Each (24 CP). All Specialized and Corrupted as below for one-third cost (Net 16 CP).
  • Inherent Spell, Specialized and Corrupted for triple effect (level nine Greater Invocation. Any Arcane Spell Effect, 6 CP), with +10 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted for one-third cost (7 CP).

As for those Specializations and Corruptions… the “Greater Invocations” simply provide daily spell slots that…

  • Must be refreshed with sleep and then filled with prepared spells from arcane spell books.
  • Must be “cast” fulfilling all normal requirements – including dealing with armor-based failure.
  • Can be interrupted, counterspelled, and dispelled like any other spell-like ability.
  • Are limited by the user’s effective caster level (maximum level usable = level/2, rounded up as usual – although, by grace of the GM, this goes by the level of the spells being cast, not by the theoretical level of the greater invocation spell effects creating them).
  • Are – for those upper-level slots – limited to 5/4/2 slots.

That gives us a final progression of 5/5/5/5/5/4/2 spells, cantrips through level six – and, for the sake of simplicity, simply provides one more spell of each level instead of fooling around with bonus slots.

Now this is substantially cheaper than buying a normal spell progression that good – but it relies on the game master allowing the character to have a great big slice of cheese; access to spells at levels far lower than is normally allowed. I’d probably allow it – it is an interesting character concept – but it might not be best to count on it.

The Priests Mask (28 CP).

  • Role Bonuses: Diplomacy, Heal, Knowledge/Religion, Knowledge/The Planes, Fortitude and Will Saves, Wisdom or Charisma.
  • This uses exactly the same setup as the Mage’s mask – changing out “arcane” for “divine” and making a few other small tweaks – to cover access to some divine spells.

The Warrior’s Mask (28 CP):

  • Role Bonuses: Bluff, Craft/Weapons and Armor, Ride, Survival, Strength and Constitution, Fortitude Saves.
  • Additional Innate Enchantments: Immortal Vigor I (+12 + 2x Con Mod HP), Aura of Favor (+1 Luck Bonus to Attacks and Damage), Inspiring Word (+1 Morale bonus to Saves, Attacks, Checks, and Damage) (3 CP). Note that, at higher levels, these effects are doubled.
  • Berserker (6 CP).
  • Proficiency with All Martial Weapons (6 CP)
  • Skill Focus/+2 on a chosen Martial Art (4 CP).
  • Smite with +2 Bonus Uses (9 CP)

This is actually a good deal more powerful than the original version – but the original version wasn’t especially well balanced against the spellcasting options. The Masks of the Knave and the Wild are similarly improved. 

The Knaves Mask (27 CP):

  • Role Bonuses: Disable Device, Hide, Move Silently, Open Lock, Search, Dexterity, and Reflex Saves.
  • 3d6 Sneak Attack (9 CP).
  • Augmented Bonus/Adds (Int Mod) to (Dex Mod) with Dex-based skills (6 CP).
  • Awareness (6 CP).
  • Fortune/Reflex Save Variant (6 CP)

The Mask Of the Wild (27 CP):

  • Role Bonuses: Climb, Handle Animal, Jump, Knowledge/Nature, Survival, Charisma or Dexterity, and Fortitude.
  • Celerity, +10′ Ground Movement (6 CP).
  • Lore/Animals, Specialized for Double Effect in “how to get along with them” (3 CP).
  • Martial Arts / 1d6 Natural Weapons (6 CP).
  • Shapechange (6 CP).
  • Traceless/Travel, Specialized/in natural surroundings only (3 CP).
  • Travel/Forest (3 CP).

This comes out to 292 CP – exactly the number of character points available. It does use a few cheap tricks to do that, but also trades raw power for flexibility and has a number of improvements over the original build. It should be very effective in the hands of a clever player, but there are certainly far more overwhelming Eclipse builds out there.

Next up; a look at the additional abilities for the twenty-level forum build.

One Response

  1. […] Empiric Masquerader: A ten-level build that can impersonate many other […]

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