The query here was how to build high-ECL monster characters starting from level one, rather like “Savage Species” did.
As before, that’s pretty easy; you look at what they get – and break it up into template levels. Taking a Template Level in lieu of a Level gets you 32 CP instead of 24 – but it doesn’t provide a free d4 hit die or intelligence-based bonus skill points and a +0 ECL race can have up to 31 CP worth of abilities. This approach also conveniently eliminates all of the “Savage Species” style guesswork while still letting you freely personalize things.
A Succubus is a bit more complicated than a Minotaur; since it has a good deal more in the way of weird abilities – but lets take a look at what they get, and then see how much it costs to buy it.
So a Succubus gets…
- Str +2, Dex +2, Con +2, Int +2, Wis +4, Cha +16. That’s 168 CP right there. Expensive. Also weird. Succubi are NOT supposed to be fearsome sorcerers, leaders of men, or to command vast legions of the dead – all of which a Charisma score like THAT makes easily possible. Indeed, it would be stupid NOT to try to use it that way. I suspect that this oddity is the result of combining two basic factors. Firstly, a lot of d20 writers forget that – while “Charisma” may have something to do with good looks – appearance is the very last (and by far the least important) aspect of it. It’s supposed to represent “force of personality, persuasiveness, personal magnetism, ability to lead, and physical attractiveness” – none of which have much to do with taking advantage of the fact that people like sex. You can look really good and still be a easily manipulated bubblehead who gets towed around by the hand and couldn’t lead a Pomeranian on a leash.
The second factor is that most of the writers are male – and so tend to give high Charisma scores to any female entity that’s usually portrayed with a humanoid body and relatively little clothing. There are a lot of really beautiful and attractive creatures out there with official Charisma scores of “6″ – Cheetahs, Dogs, Horses… Creatures that rather a lot of people think can be quite lovely.
Forget the “appearance” aspect. Every race is going to have it’s own standards of beauty, and every player is entitled to describe their character’s appearance however they blasted well like. Are we going to be assigning scores to “Ruggedness”, “Hair”, and “Skin” next?
Ergo, I’m going to set this up with two options for a racial Charisma modifier – one reasonable and one going with the original score, however much that distorts the game.
So what else do Succubi get?
- Flight, at 50′ with Average maneuverability. That’s Celerity/Additional Movement Mode, with +30′ movement, Corrupted/Average Maneuverability Only (16 CP). That’s handy.
- Natural Armor +7, That increases with level. That’s Defender, with six levels of Improved (42 CP). Again, handy, but less useful than it might be since Succubi aren’t big on combat.
- Natural Weapons, 1d6 Claws. That’s “Martial Arts”, 6 CP. It’s also kind of pathetic; if you’re fighting, and relying on 1d6 natural weapons at a Succubi’s ECL, you’re in trouble.
- An Energy-Draining special attack that requires a kiss. If the target isn’t willing this requires starting a grapple and provokes an attack of opportunity. The succubus’s kiss or embrace bestows one negative level and has the effect of a suggestion spell asking the victim to accept another kiss from the succubus. The save DC is Charisma-Based.
OK; that’s… really not all that useful is it? It really annoys PC’s, but trying to kiss a bunch of armed assailants to death really isn’t all that practical. Ergo, this is simply a Trick (6 CP).
- Next up it’s General (also applies to energy damage) Damage Reduction 10, Corrupted/can be bypassed by cold iron or good weaponry, and by energy forms other than acid, cold, fire, and electricity. Handy – but like Superman and Kryptonite, there’s a certain number of headaches involved in having weaknesses that everyone knows about. That’s 24 CP.
- Darkvision, 60 ft. That’s Occult Sense/Darkvision, for 6 CP.
- Immunity to Electricity. Eclipse doesn’t actually offer an “immunity” normally – most things have upper limits – but being able to withstand 20d6 will generally cover it. That’s Common/Major/Great – adding another 60 points of resistance to the 10 they already have – for 18 CP.
- Immunity to Poison. Again, awkward – but poisons have more limited, and slower, effects than massive cascades of lightning bolts. A similar resistance will cover it nicely, at the same 18 CP cost.
- Spell Resistance at about 10+Level. That’s Improved Spell Resistance (12 CP). Not as handy as some people think – there are a lot of supernatural effects out there that are not spells –
- A succubus’s natural weapons, as well as any weapons it wields, are treated as chaotic-aligned and evil-aligned for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction. That’s Imbuement, Specialized for Increased Effect (pretty much applies to all physical attacks) in that it will never improve or provide any actually-useful functions. How often is a Succubus going to he headed into battle against the legions of the upper planes – the only groups with DR penetrated by Evil or Chaos – anyway? At the end of time? That’s 6 CP.
- Succubi have a +8 racial bonus on Listen and Spot Checks. That’s +8 Skill points for 8 CP and Adept, Specialized, only covers two skills (for 3 CP). In games that combine Listen and Spot, I’d have Adept cover a Specialized for double effect (only covers seduction) version of Diplomacy – giving them a +16 racial bonus on that. That makes more sense than that massive Charisma…
Next up we have a selection of spell-like abilities. These are mostly listed as “unlimited use”. You can build unlimited-use things in Eclipse easily enough – but it’s wise to look at how things are going to work in the game before you go beyond the general rule that “unlimited use” creature powers translate to “enough uses so that the game master need not worry about counting during an encounter”.
For a succubus… Genuinely unlimited Use of Ethereal Jaunt, Greater Teleport, Suggestion, and Charm Monster looks rather problematic. That’s instant escape, plentiful minions, and ending many encounters – and almost all social encounters – instantly right there. Translation; boredom.
A few things work though.
- Detect Good: Occult Sense/Detect Good. That’s 6 CP.
- Detect Thoughts: Occult Sense/Thought-Sensing. That’s also 6 CP.
- Tongues: Succubi get this all the time. Of course, it’s also a cheap spell; there are LOTS of ways around not speaking a language. In this case… Immunity/Having to be able to speak a language to communicate in it, Specialized/does not allow reading and writing, only speech. That’s Common, Minor, and Major (to cover the tongues effect, for a total of 6 CP.
They have 100 ft. Telepathy. Of course, they already have detect thoughts and an immunity to many communications difficulties… That’s Mindspeech, Specialized for Increased Range/doesn’t include the functions their other abilities handle. That’s a bit cheap – but increased range on a basic communications ability is just as cheap. That’s 6 CP.
As for the remaining Spell-Like Abilities…
- They get… Suggestion (L3), Charm Monster (L4), A Polymorph Self variant (only allows humanoid forms, but has no limit on duration, L5), Greater Teleport (a variant that can only move the user and 50 pounds of gear, ergo L6), and Ethereal Jaunt (restricted in the same way as the Teleport – but that’s a lot less important. Still L7). That’s Inherent Spell with Advanced I, II, III, and IV, and +4 Bonus Uses for each spell, for a total of 66 CP.
- We also have a once-per-day, only-sometimes-effective, Summon Vrock (30% chance of success). Since the discription tells us that this is equivalent to a 3rd-level spell that’s just Inherent Spell again, for 6 CP.
That’s 429 CP in total. Ouch.
Fortunately, the entire mess is Specialized for Half Cost. Succubi are inherently evil and are affected by appropriate spells, require special measures to raise, are subject to orders from greater demons (or are hunted by them if they refuse), are widely recognized as monsters to be destroyed, are vulnerable to channelings, mystic bindings, summonings, and entrapments, and are very detectable. That brings things down to 214 CP – right in the middle of +6 ECL territory, which is where they’re supposed to be.
To break things up into template levels…
- For a +0 ECL Baby Succubus pick 63 CP worth of those abilities (I’m using the base costs rather than after Specializing to make things easier).
- For +1 ECL pick 127 points worth.
- For +2 ECL pick 191 points worth.
- For +3 ECL pick 255 points worth.
- For +4 ECL pick 319 points worth.
- For +5 ECL pick 383 points worth.
- For +6 ECL pick up the entire package. You can even afford a few minor extras here and there.
To build a Succubus “Savage Species” style, simply alternate normal and template levels. .
And to have a more reasonable Charisma… Drop +10 of the Charisma boost (saving 60 CP) and buy Advanced Presence / Seductive Aura (12 CP). That will boost the relevant rolls, and allow you to charm people wonderfully well WITHOUT making you a planetary dominatrix. That version only requires a +5 ECL modifier to complete the package – and is what I’d recommend.
I might even recommend dropping to +4 ECL by dumping some of the more useless stuff – the claws, a lot of the natural armor, and so on – to focus on the corrupting-and-controlling-the-men-who- rule shtick – but that’s up to you.
- Eclipse Monster Characters – Level By Level (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Kitsune of the Eclipse Part III from Emergence Campaign Weblog (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Eclipse d20 – Occult Talent Builds (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- More Eclipse Builds by Christopher West (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Power Word: Recriminate (alzrius.wordpress.com)