The Empiric Masquerader part II – The Online Variant

English: A Beijing opera mask

Well, sort of…

The question here was how to do a “Chameleon” style build – which was covered over HEREThe secondary question on this particular build was how to duplicate some of the features of the home-brewed twenty-level version – from a forum over HERE in Eclipse. Ergo, for Part II, it’s a quick look at that forum build. 

Well, first up, after paying for the saves (27 CP), hit dice (40 CP), and +8 BAB (48 CP) of that version, adding another ten levels leaves another 165 CP to spend.

Several of those features are additional masks – another five or so – all of which it makes available at first level. Of course Eclipse makes a near-infinite number of design-your-own masks available, some of which can have extremely potent (if highly specialized) abilities. Given that allowing an infinite variety of powers really won’t work, the best way to represent this is simply to buy more masks of your choice. As examples…

The War Forms package (conveniently 28 CP) creates a formidable shapeshifter. Call it the Beast’s Mask and there you go.

The entire Archetypes series (Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part IV), at 24 CP each, can be used as additional masks. Most of them are less focused on raw power, but they offer a wide variety of interesting options and enhancements. In fact, a great many of the power-packages used in constructing other characters can be fit in as masks.

Other masks are easy to construct. You want a Martial Artist? Call it the Pugilist’s Mask (27 CP).

  • Additional Innate Enchantments: Feather Fall, Martial Arts (the user’s hands and feet are as effective as a +2 Hand Axe), Sure Step (the user gains a +10 enhancement bonus on Balance, Climb, Jump, and Tumble and retains his or her Dexterity bonus to AC when balancing or climbing), Immortal Vigor I (the user gains +(12 + 2 x Con Mod) HP), C’hi Healing(provides Cure Light Wounds three times per day and Lesser Restoration twice per day), and Tough as Nails (converts the first five points of damage from any attack to nonlethal damage) (6 CP).
  • Celerity/+20 Ground Movement (9 CP).
  • Improved Imbuement/Unarmed Variant (12 CP)

If you want to build a mask that provides martial maneuvers, or warlock-style powers, or create soul-melds, or bind spirits, or summon vestiges, you can do so.

Some of the other powers are hardly worth discussion. For example, “Chameleon Lore” is simply a renamed version of “Bardic Lore”. “Mimic” mostly consists of purchases of Augmented Bonus, Specialized to only a few times “per encounter” (NOT a good idea; the troubles with “per encounter” abilities get a much more through discussion over HERE). Imitate sounds, imitate alignments, and disguise self are just a few more Innate Enchantments. Throw in Guises, Improved Cloaking, and an Inherent Spell or Immunity to allow swapping out a mask quickly once per day, and the ability to maximize a “Cure” spell every so often, and you’ve got it.

OK, you’d have to squeeze the points pretty hard to cram all of this stuff in – but that’s a pretty standard feature of class designs by enthusiasts; they’re virtually always more than a bit overpowered. It really isn’t that hard in principle.

The online writeup does introduce some very… awkward… aspects though. For example, it notes that the spells the character casts will fade away when he or she shifts to another mask.

Er… spells don’t do that even if the caster dies. Is swapping out a mask more profound than that?

The most troublesome ability it introduces is, of course, the one the original querent was most interested in – Jack of All Trades.

To make sure I’ve got that right, I’ll simply quote that bit:

Jack of All Trades (Ex): A chameleon dabbles in all things, excelling in what she chooses to excel in. Beginning at 1st level a chameleon treats all skills as trained, and makes skill checks with all skills as if she possessed a number of ranks in that skill equal to half her class level (minimum 1). Additionally, whenever a chameleon changes her Mask she selects a number of skills equal to (4 + her Intelligence modifier). She may use these skills as if she possessed a number of skill points in each equal to (her character level +3).

You meet the skill prerequisites for selecting feats as if you had ranks in all skills equal (your class level +3). If, when changing your skills around with Jack of All Trades, you reduce any skill to the point where your effective ranks are lower than needed for a feat you possess, you lose access to that feat until your regain the required ranks

-Djinn_in_Tonic

Now, this ability is grossly overpowered; the only thing that makes it look even remotely sane is the fact that the discussion in the original thread focuses exclusively on “combat balance”. Even considering only the SRD skills, there are thousands of possible craft and profession skills – including many that are not normally available in any given setting. So this ability effectively provides several thousand skill points per level and makes it’s user skilled in everything from flint knapping through starship engineering and building time machines – even if starships and time machines don’t exist in the setting, you know all about how to build good ones and have all the skills needed to start from scratch.

Knowledge skills are open too – the ones in the SRD are specifically called out as simply common examples. Ergo this makes the character an expert in everything from “knowledge/how the universe was created” to “knowledge/dread secrets that will cause anyone who discovers them to instantly drop dead” (See: “Basilisk Image” HERE and HERE). Yes indeed, you know what secrets Cthulhu whispers to drive men mad, you know the secret names of demons, you know the most depressing facts in the universe, and you know the intimate details of a trillion possible alternate lifetimes as well as you know your own life…

You know, I might allow this after all; “brain `axplode’” is always fun.

In Eclipse it would also cover a near-unlimited selection of Rune Magic Skills, Martial Art Skills, Thaumaturgy and Dweomer Skills, Theurgy Skills, and Restricted Skills. Call it ten thousand skill points per level.

That doesn’t mean you can’t build it of course. It’s just that no sane game master will let you take it. What you want here is “Immunity to having to have skills to use them; all skills are treated as if you had (Level/2, rounded up) skill points and (Int Mod +4, changeable at intervals) are treated as if they had (Level + 3) skill points invested in them. That’s Very Common, Major (since it does cover things like trap detection and martial arts), and Legendary (since it goes up pretty much indefinitely) for a net cost of 60 points – although you could distribute that over quite a few levels as you buy it up to cover your ever-increasing effective skills.

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One Response

  1. I have been looking at a way to make the “Jack of All Trades” ability without the issues that you brought up, so far…

    4 CPJack of All Trades, Universal Specialized [reduced cost] and Corrupted [reduced cost]: Provides no numerical bonus, just counts as being “Trained” in all non restricted skills.

    !42 CP Innate Enchantments = 1CP for base, 8CP for the first, 20 CP for the latter which when bought using Enthusiast Specialized only for Innate Enchantments and Adaptation (only during a “Mask Change” and part of that time) costs 30+3 in actuality).
    Spell Level 2 * Caster Level 3 * 2000 use =12,000 GP * (2/3) from Corruption = 8,000 GP
    Spell Level 3 * Caster Level 5 * 2000 use =30,000 * (2/3) from Corruption = 20,000 GP
    Skill Mastery L2 (from practical enchanter) Any/All skills, Specialized [double effect] bonus provided overlaps with a character’s skill points, so effectively 4 ‘ranks’ which is effectively 8 ‘ranks’ after the double from Specialization, Corrupted [reduced cost] bonus is capped at (1/2)*HD.
    Skill Master L3 (from practical enchanter) Group of skills equal to IntMod+4, Specialized [double effect] bonus provided overlaps with a character’s skill points, so effectively 8 ‘ranks’ which is effectively 16 ‘ranks’ after the double from Specialization, Corrupted [reduced cost] bonus is capped at HD+3.

    1 CP Immunity XP Cost for Inate Enchantments (uncommon, minor, minor, Up to Spell Level 3, Specialized and Corrupted only the two listed in this package).

    !9 CP Immunity/Dispelling and Antimagic (Common, Major, Epic, Specialized and Corrupted/only protects the above two innate enchantments).

    !4 CP Immunity to Stacking Limits for Compentence Bonus derived from Innate Enchantments in the above ability. (Common, Minor, Minor)

    For a grand total of 56 CP (Of course the the abilities with ! marks can get scaled to the level of the character and be paid for with reduced cost Specialization to start with and set to a lower effect threshold as well).

    A level one version of the above would be

    !8 CP Innate Enchantments = 1CP for base, 1 CP for the first, 3+3 for paying for the second with Enthusiast with Adaptation.
    Spell Level (1/2) * Caster Level 1 * 2000 use =1,000 * (1/2) from Specialization = 500 GP
    Spell Level 1 * Caster Level 1 * 2000 use =2,000 * (2/3) from Corruption = 1334 GP
    Skill Mastery L1 (from practical enchanter) Any/All skills, Specialized [reduced cost] bonus provided overlaps with a character’s skill points, so effectively 1 ‘rank’.
    Skill Master L1 (from practical enchanter) Group of skills equal to IntMod+4, Specialized [double effect] bonus provided overlaps with a character’s skill points, so effectively 3 ‘ranks’ which is effectively 6 ‘ranks’ after the double from Specialization, Corrupted [reduced cost] bonus is capped at HD+3.

    1 CP Immunity XP Cost for Inate Enchantments (uncommon, minor, minor, Up to Spell Level 3, Specialized and Corrupted only the two listed in this package).

    !3 CP Immunity/Dispelling and Antimagic (Common, Major, Major Specialized and Corrupted/only protects the above two innate enchantments).

    !2 CP Immunity to Stacking Limits for Compentence Bonus derived from Innate Enchantments in the above ability. (Common, Minor, Trivial)

    So only 14 At level 1 which would not really need to be increased much for a couple levels.

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