Eclipse and the Anime SRD

Here we have another part of the answer to Alzrius’s last question – a review of the d20 Anime SRD in comparison to Eclipse

0066 Grand Canyon_ Mather Point Improvements

I see a certain gap between intent and outcome here…

Sadly, the Anime SRD suffers from a number of fairly basic problems.

The authors didn’t really think about how attributes operated in d20 – and on which effects were cumulative and which were not. They also attempted to make an end run around the restrictions of the d20 license by providing a point-buy system for attributes that said “generate attributes according to the player’s handbook, then add up their costs, compare the total to this stated point allowance and then modify freely to fit” – thus providing a system where you generated a set of numbers, and then ignored them to buy what you wanted in their system.

That system was “attributes cost 1/2 their value, rounded up” (this, of course, eliminated odd scores from the system, but that’s no big deal). As a normal base, you had 40 points to buy your attributes and racial abilities. You could buy any racial stuff you wanted later just as cheaply though – and attributes had no upper limit. You could also take 24 points worth of disadvantages, and thus get 64 points to start with. We’ll do that.

This has some VERY problematic consequences. Most blatantly, low scores are less of a hindrance than a high score is an advantage – which is why d20 characteristic point-buy systems normally use sliding scales.

So… I’ll take a bookish mage-type character. He’s socially inept (Cha 2), imperceptive due to his glasses and solitary lifestyle as well as easily persuaded by anyone willing to interact with him socially (Wis 2), he’s a clumsy couch potato who never gets out at ALL (Str 2, Dex 2), but he is healthy (Con 18), and he’s VERY bright (Int 60). That leaves us with 22 points left.

Now that’s not quite as good – or bad – as it sounds; the anime SRD alters what bonuses your attributes give you; Strength no longer provides bonuses to hit, or penalties either – and high stats no longer provide bonus spells, although they still seem to affect Save DC’s and do provide skill bases. Intelligence still does provide skill points though – and so we’ve just picked up a hundred of them.

Of course, we’ve also thrown out back-compatibility, or comparability with almost anything else that was ever published for d20 despite the later pretense at “breaking down the standard classes so you can just take one of them”.

I’ll get to those later. We’re still on those skill points.

The system also provides “Combat Skills” – skills with no attribute base that add directly to your AC or Attacks in certain situations. So… Gun Combat, Melee Attack, Melee Defense, Ranged Defense, and Special Ranged Attack (Magic). Sure, that’s 20 skill points up front and 5 more each level – but it’s also +4 to attack and +4 to AC at level one and +1 to attack and +1 to AC each level – neatly making up for Dexterity penalty on AC at level one and improving matters thereafter. Given that we have more skill points than we’ll EVER need, that’s quite a bargain!

Hm… there a lot of other different skills in the system (there goes back-compatibility again) – but we can max out twenty more skills, which is quite enough to compensate for those low attributes. Heck, with one point each in knowledge skills our young mage is starting off with a +26 at level one. That’s not bad.

Are there other ways to get skills? Certainly there are! Some come with our class (there’s no true classless option), but if you take a standard human…

Standard Human: Base movement (0), +1 Feat at 1st Level (2), +4 Skill Points at 1st Level (1), +1 Skill Point each Level (2), any favoured class (when multiclassing) (1): Total Cost (6), Base Racial Allowance (6) for a net cost of zero – then you’ll be… shafting yourself; for 3 points you could get +6 Intelligence (and +12 skill points at level one) instead of +5. Of course, as far as humans go… the system specifically does not include multi-class penalties, so the humans are paying one point for… nothing.

Forget humans. Half-orcs get five points back (four if you buy off their attribute modifiers) and thus make the best of all standard races for pretty much ANYTHING. If your game master will let you get away with it, don’t buy ANY racial abilities and just keep all six points!

We’ll go with half-orc with no attribute modifiers though. That gives us 26 points to spend.

Class? We’re taking “Adventurer”. Poor saves, d4 Hit Dice, poor BAB, 4 SP/Level (who cares?), and five PRECIOUS points per level to spend on anything we want. We shall drool now. No other class need be considered.

Of course, for comparison… we have the Anime SRD breakdown for standard class builds:

Class Ability Costs:

  • +1 to Fort, Ref, or Will Save (1): So +1 to Fortitude costs the same as +2 to Constitution. I see a problem (and a certain lack of thought) here.
  • +1 to Base Attack Bonus (3): Now THAT’S obviously VITAL compared to simply buying those combat skills. If you want it, you can buy it any time as “Attack Combat Mastery”.
  • (2 + Int modifier) Skills gained each Level (0.5 each Level)
  • (4 + Int modifier) Skills gained each Level (1 each Level)
  • (6 + Int modifier) Skills gained each Level (1.5 each Level)
  • (8 + Int modifier) Skills gained each Level (2 each Level): Yeah. Forget ALL of these. Buy Intelligence.
  • Wizard Class Skill bonus each Level (0.5 each Level): What?
  • d4 Hit Dice (1 each Level)
  • d6 Hit Dice (1.5 each Level)
  • d8 Hit Dice (2 each Level)
  • d10 Hit Dice (2.5 each Level)
  • d12 Hit Dice (3 each Level): So which is better? A d4 hit die and +4 Constitution each level or a d12 hit die each level? Those 40 points a Barbarian spends on going from d4’s to d12’s could be buying him +80 Constitution. I think I’ll take that. The “Armor” power is worth considering too; each point invested in it… reduces the damage from ANY attack by one point. A bit of that to start could be pretty helpful at low levels, although investing in constitution for +800 hit points is pretty nice later on. You could also buy “Damn Healthy!” at 2 points for an extra d8 hit die and Constitution Modifier – but +4 Con will rapidly outshine that. This is a useless power – one of many to come.
  • 0th Level spell slots (further modified by spell breadth) (0.25 each)
  • 1st-9th Level spell slots (modified by spell breadth) (0.5 times spell Level)
  • Cleric domain spell slots (One half times normal value)

Spell Breadth” was an interesting notion. To quote the Anime SRD…

“Assigning Character Points proved to be an interesting exercise. The capability of casting a spell costs a base of 0.5 Points times the spell Level (0.25 Points for 0 Level spells; one-half value for all Cleric domain spells), but this is only the base cost. Since some classes have a much wider range of spells from which to choose, all casting classes needed an “accessible spells multiplication factor” to provide appropriate balance (see Table 5-20: Accessible Spells Factor for Casting Classes). This factor is equal to the number of potential of spells available to the class divided by the number available to the Wizard class – resulting in a factor between 0 and 1. To determine the total number of Character Points assigned to spellcasting ability, the base Point cost total is multiplied by the spells factor for each class.

Although Sorcerers have the same potential spell access as Wizards, and thus could have the same multiplication factor of 1, Sorcerers have two aspects that set them apart from Wizards. Sorcerers do not need to prepare their spells in advance each day – a powerful advantage – and Sorcerers know far fewer spells than Wizards at each level – a severe disadvantage. Consequently, the Sorcerer’s multiplication factor of 0.85 is derived more from these two differences than the potential spell access that is considered for all other spellcasting classes.”

The writers apparently forgot about having to FIND spells versus the entire list being available, about researching new spells, about new sourcebooks, and about theme and versatility of spells meaning more than number.

For that matter, they also failed to realize that d20 Modern Classes include the bonus skill points for being human since ALL d20 modern characters are assumed human, but that’s a rather minor issue – although it does show that they didn’t bother to actually talk to anyone who played d20 modern while writing their system.

  • Special class talents and abilities (Variable): What a surprise!

Those cheap characteristics make a LOT of powers rather pointless. To give some examples…

  • Defense Combat Mastery provides +1 AC per 2 points – or you could buy more Dexterity, for +1 AC, +1 Reflex, +1 Initiative, and +1 to dex based skills per point. Guess which is better.
  • Heightened Awareness provides a +2 on Ability and Skill checks relevant to noticing otherwise hidden things, such as concealed objects, ambushes, or anything else related to sensory awareness per point. That’s actually competitive with wisdom, since it offers a +2 instead of a +1 each to Will and Perception Skills / Checks.
  • Highly Skilled provides four extra skill points per point invested in it. Investing that point in Intelligence… provides four extra skill points at level one and nineteen more over the course of your career, plus a bonus on all intelligence-based skills. Forget Highly Skilled.
  • Massive Damage adds +2 damage to a specific attack for 2 points or to all attacks for five points. That’s potentially marginally useful for some things – but for 2 points you can buy +4 Strength, which adds to all melee attacks and muscle powered weapons. Given how high your strength can go… skip Massive Damage.
  • Superstrength… costs 4 points for +8 Strength and has no other effects. Wait, isn’t this the base cost? Why yes, yes it is! It won’t hurt to buy “superstrength” as opposed to just buying strength – but it’s a useless entry that just takes up space in the book.

So we want to buy magic and other special abilities, and we have – as an adventurer – 31 points to spend.


  • Dynamic Sorcery II (Calling on Spirits): As a “limited field” (well, not so “limited”; since Dynamic Sorcery lets us make up any spell we like that’s in the rough power range of a d20 spell one level lower, we can find a way to do almost anything) (8 points). OK, we’ve only got effects of levels zero and one to work with, but they can be ANYTHING. Even better, with a casting attribute of 60, pretty much nobody is going to be saving. As soon as this character goes up one level, and can get “Hold Person”, it’s going to be instant “I Win!” time.
  • Energy Bonus III (+60 Energy): This is important, since spells of effective level 0 cost 1, and spells of effective level 1 cost 4 – and without this bonus we won’t have much (9 points). Fortunately, a character gets back the highest of his mental attribute modifiers in Energy each hour, whether or not he rests. With that 60 Intelligence, that’s 25 points an hour. Pretty good.
  • Armor-I (reduces all damage by four points): Who wants to get hurt? (4).
  • Personal Force Field I (absorbs incoming damage, collapses for a round if hit by more than 10 in a shot, but still absorbs the 10) (3).
  • Reincarnation (stopped by blowing up his ritual area, takes several weeks (2).
  • Flight (OK, it’s only 10 MPH to start, but you can do it all you want) (4).
  • Sixth Sense (Senses Magic): Well, that’s sort of basic (1).

Oh wait! We can also get up to nine more points for establishing our characters background. Lets go for that…

  • Buy Dynamic Sorcery up to III (4).

We could buy Wealth – after all, it only takes 18 points to be a multi-billionaire (Don’t try to use this SRD with ANY setting where money provides power!) – but why bother? We’re headed down the path of “I can do ANYTHING!” at pretty high speed. Honestly… I’ve got five points left and I don’t know WHAT to buy.

  • His saves do suck of course. We could get some Divine Relationship (rerolls, costing 1 point per roll per session) – but lets get those crappy stats up to 4 (4 points) and one reroll (1 point).

For further advancement… Adventurer, 5 points per level. Buy up stats. Buy some more Energy. Buy up Dynamic Sorcery. You can be wielding ninth level spells by level ten easily, and have good stats, and +18 to hit (thanks to those combat skills), and +13 AC (due to those combat skills again), and…

Well, you can have lots of other stuff. You won’t need weapon proficiencies though; anime SRD characters are presumed to be proficient with all weapons and armor (which has generic skill penalties for everyone).

Ironically enough, one of the goals – at least according to the SRD – was to enhance the martial classes compared to spellcasters.

I don’t think it worked.

The Anime SRD does have it’s own “balance” of course, but it’s not one that’s going to work in any normal d20 setting. In it’s own way it was a valiant try; it’s just that it wasn’t a valiant try at making an anime-themed d20 SRD. It was a valiant try at funneling customers away from d20 towards BESM – and it ultimately wasn’t really delivering the sensible d20 game system that it was promising.

And for a stylistic complaint… A lot of things got given fractional point costs. That’s just sloppy – and a holdover (just like the list of abilities and a lot of the price structure) from Big Eyes Small Mouth which got hauled over into d20 where it really didn’t work. Go ahead; if you’ve got fractional point costs… multiply. It’s easy, it costs nothing, and it’s a lot easier for your customers to track.

BESM was fun sometimes, but the d20 version never really got much traction. It relied an awful lot on “talk with your GM” – and like most such games, never really understood that that gave massive advantages to players who knew their GM’s well and/or were persuasive talkers. Yes, some GM discussion and input will be needed in pretty much ANY point-buy system. Eclipse can be abused too – but at least it hasn’t got a bunch of utterly useless powers, and lets you use the vast majority of other d20 source material.

The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice CXXVI – Infernal Considerations

Meanwhile, Chisaru had – on thinking more – concluded that Charles was probably being a bit naive about the notion that fixing the Yozi’s would fix the universe, but even just making them a bit saner would probably be useful… At least on the “there’s room!” front it was hard to argue with the child! Still, both she and Mr Montague were wondering if he intends to go to Malfeas and propose this to him … They couldn’t predict the results of that, of course. But they doubt that even the other Yozis could!

Charles, in fact, was aware that he might be wrong – but he’d hate to think that the universe was so messed up without a reason. He was planning to offer the option to one or two of the more traditionally reasonable or quiet Yozi’s – or just try a few third circles, and see if that had an effect! Cytherea might be a good one (if he could find her), or perhaps Isidoros; he didn’t seem too badly damaged, he’d pretty much just remained a boisterous black hole/boar. That would be pretty easy!

“Hey! Wanna try an artifact? You can eat it later if you don’t like it!”

Of course, considering Isidoros, he might eat it if he DID like it… he tended to live by his whims and not think too much of the future. Still, it would only be a test – and besides, Charles rather suspected that Isidoros had a charm for incorporating things he liked by eating them, and another for spitting things out later even if he did eat them. That way he could also have his best pal Szoreny the Silver Forest duplicate it using HIS Charms. Then both of them could have whatever the thing was! Szoreny’s copy would be perfect except for being made out of highly reflective silver of course…

Hm! He’d better make sure that he was REALLY well stocked up with Instant Genius Points before he started fiddling with Yu-Shan too! You might not be able to prepare for EVERYTHING, but you could make sure that you had lots of options to work with! That way you could compensate on the fly if and when things started going wrong…

Still, with any luck, he could keep most of the universe too confused to interfere for just a little while longer…

On a distant world, two Infernals were inspecting the changes that the boy – whatever he was – had worked upon their manse, and were… a bit baffled.

The (Original) Preceptor Of Ancient Ways, a Cecelyene Manse-3:

This fanciful, brightly-tiled desert palace of domes and minarets looks like something out of the Arabian Nights, a cathedral to Cecelyene rising above the lesser domes and structures – and the blowing silver sands – about it. It is Watoka Danaj’s temple and bridgehead for the eventual return of the Yozi’s to the earth…

Or at least it was.

Construction Points: 6 (Base) +3 (No Notable Hearthstone) +2 (Maintenance) = 11

Spent on: Extended Zone of Influence (favored, 3), Password Activation (1), Hidden Passages (ruled favored, 1), Geomantic Subtlety (2), Minor Tricks and Traps (1), Archive (the history of Creation (the architect was big on his people knowing that their ancestors came from creation and that they were “destined to rule it once again”), Yozi Lore, and Biology), Charm Transparency (those within it may project offensive charms through the walls as if they weren’t there, 1), and a double dose of Magical Conveniences (it IS a cult center after all):

  • Sweep the Sands: The manse can move the surrounding sands around to make dunes, bury or reveal nearby structures, or mildly annoy people. This is not fast enough to attack with however.
  • Refreshing Waters; The manse provides an endless supply of tea, coffee, and fruit-flavored drinks, hot or cold as desired.
  • Public Address Systems: The manse can project the users voice and image to a multitude, or send messages to the minions within its zone of influence.
  • Thaumaturgic Anchor: The manse can sustain up to (manse rank) thaumaturgic effects applied to itself (usually wards to protect it and an illusion to hide it) and will recreate those effects in six ticks if they’re broken.
  • One Way Mirrors: Those within the manse can see out easily and into public hallways (not the private rooms) within the manse.
  • Air Conditioning: Despite it being in a desert, the temperature is always cool and comfortable.

The place also has a demon locust spawning pit – but that really isn’t a part of the manse architecture.

Charles’s modifications have transformed the Preceptor Of Ancient Ways into the Preceptor Of Ascending Minds (Cecelyene Manse-5) – upgrading the demesne and manse to rating-5 without changing the hearthstone (+6 construction points) and adding two sets of Enhancement Artifacts (+6 additional construction points). Those have been used to purchase…

A set of Alternate Locations (5) – five habitable, fertile, animal-populated, and welcoming planets scattered around a cluster of galaxies in an otherwise uninhabited hubble volume some 10 to the 40’th power light years away from earth – far, FAR, beyond the cosmic event horizon as seen from Earth. (Actually we’re still considering whether or not Alternate Locations and Gates should be on Cecylyene’s favored list; they certainly seem to suit her. If they are, the extra point will go to adding a few more planets to the list).

A full Control Room – replacing the Password Controls (+1). This is mostly to allow the inhabitants to shift planets when they need to and to operate the various artifacts, below.

Two sets of Integrated Utility Artifacts (6):

  • A Forge Of Souls (Artifact-5): A lesser version of the Well of Souls, only capable of supplying new souls for a few dozen planets. Like the Well of Souls, the souls created by the Forge will automatically attach themselves to the Loom of Fate, and enter a human-style reincarnation cycle.
  • A Lathe Of Souls (Artifact-5): This adjutant to the Forge Of Souls can (permanently) adjust new souls created by the Forge to bond properly with a wide variety of Uplifted Animal Species – granting them full sapience and ensuring that they will continue to reincarnate within their own species.
  • A Metamorphoses Chamber (Artifact-5): This room mutates creatures within it via channeling the energies of the host manse; thus it has no effect on essence-users, but its effects on those who lack that talent are a normal expression of creation’s laws, with the usual genetic developmental drawbacks and the ability to breed true. The Chamber can grant up to 12 points worth of positive mutations without cost, and can counterbalance up to +6 additional points of positive mutations with negative ones – but such mutations must be physically plausible.
  • A Molecular Assembler (Artifact-5): This facility can – given stocks of raw fiber, ore, wood, stone, and edible material – provide basic pioneering supplies (heavy clothing, tools, instruction books, knives, a few weeks worth preserved food, etc) for a group of with a magnitude of up to (host manse rank -1) per month.

Additional Convenience Functions:

  • Babysitting: Provided the supplies are available, the manse can effectively look after up to (Manse Rank Magnitude) youngsters – ensuring that they get bathed, fed, and cared for.
  • Tutoring: Sapient beings resident in the manse will soon find themselves picking up a basic education suitable for grade (manse rank).
  • Test Kits: The manses facilities allow it’s residents to invest a little work to identify minerals, toxic and edible plants, and similar basic environmental data.
  • Automatic Archiving: The manse keeps records of your test results, research projects, and other records for you – and keeps them neatly organized as well.

Additional Archival Subjects:

  • Fundamentals of Civilization – a set of early industrial-era technical manuals, a good science encyclopedia, and basic thaumaturgical handbooks. All in all, a mere thirty or forty volumes – but quite invaluable for building a new colony.
  • Architecture and Engineering – how to build buildings, plan cities, and construct arches, trusses, bridges, and similar practical structures.

After they’d had a chance to look over their upgraded facility both Watoka Danaj and Odirle were simultaneously impressed and disturbed by the ease with Charles had added those functions to the manse – and installed ten powerful artifacts to boot! That should have required tearing down the entire place, re-engineering the demesne, and rebuilding (tearing it down and rewriting the catechism if you’d gone as deeply into Cecelyene charms as Danaj had) – not… modifying the manse on the fly to accommodate the geomantic shifts! Breaking Odirle’s wards was impressive as well; he’d spent quite a lot of time on those, and deployed a lot of powerful enhancements – and he certainly hadn’t been expecting some child to waltz right through them! And so obliging… And so willing to talk, and obviously opposed to hurting people, destroying things, or even… making people unhappy. So ODD in a being of his obvious power!

They petitioned the Unquestionable, to get his Essence signature analyzed; they would know if he was, as suspected, another primordial power…

The answer on that wouldn’t come back for quite some time. After all, Charles had blurred things quite a lot and his true essence signature was still perfectly concealed… But what did show wasn’t a true Primordial signature – far too un-unified and far, FAR too many essence types! – but the new (Adenic) essence type was interesting, and a personal essence type was typical of a well-developed world-body and Primordials. The creature accompanying him was obviously bound to his essence, and was equally obviously a manse-emanation – if one of quite incredible power for a manse-emanation. It… might or might not be being infused with the new essence type to truly become a part of it’s creator and BECOME a true Deva, but personal geomancy clearly indicated a world-body anyway!

Whatever this being was – or was becoming – he was definitely hiding SOMETHING.

The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice CXXV – The Sands of Time and Space

Elephants in the Okavango Delta seen from a ma...

Elephants in the Okavango Delta

Charles considered… so the powers of the Silver Sands were blocking communications? Probably by diverting them into some dimensional pocket? Well… might as well just knock! He was at the sanctum entrance after all!

Huh! That felt like… sandstone, rather than riverbed sand, and had the same energy-signature as the Silver Sands, and his greetings weren’t getting any answer!

Probing… revealed that silver sandstone was walling off all the entrances to the sanctum. He could get through with a little work – and it seemed that the god was in a well-appointed cave, decorated in local fashion, pacing back and forth frantically. Communication was not currently possible – and, on the desk (for all sanctums were required to have writing implements regardless of the owner’s literacy or lack of hands), there was a huge stack of letters. Evidently the poor delta god was sealed off from Yu-Shan as well as Earth!

Charles started examining the barriers… very much magical, and rather durable, although not immune to Sapphire Countermagic or a really potent physical attack. There were several alarms on the work too; the finesse on them approached his own skill in thaumaturgy, although they were only equivalent to Terrestrial-tier spells. Someone was really very good!

He put up his own wards against alarms being sent – and started negating alarms and then cracking the spells. After all… blocking the message was likely to be a good deal easier than removing the spell without letting it send it…

That came to… 9d Int, 15d Skill (both at the boosted limit), 3d Specialty (at the limit), 8d Tool (using his staff grace as a superior thaumaturgic wand), 8d Artifact (at the limit), 5d Hearthstone (also at the limit), 3d (thaumaturgic Fortune boost, at the limit), +1d (stunt), with a Target Number of 3 (Spellstone and Artifact, at the Limit) for a total of 52d +14 (Adenic Manse Boost) successes. The only thing left that he could throw in would be his First Excellency – and he didn’t want to be that obvious.

It was still CLOSE though; either somebody really WAS close to his skill when it came to thaumaturgy or they’d been maintaining the effect regularly. They might be similarly focused of course, but they might just be OLD enough to have accumulated every possible toy in the field! That could be a problem… If they were THAT old… they’d probably have lots of power in areas where he didn’t have it! That really didn’t bode well…

Still, the alarms were disabled, it was time to take another check for traps and such – and then to crack the barriers!

He couldn’t find any traps – but he set up his own defenses anyway before starting in on the dismantling – and then a comfortable pavilion… after all, someone had gotten sealed in the sanctum once, it would be silly to go in and await a repeat performance!

(Charles) “Hello!”

(Alefi, God of the Okavango Delta) “Hello, young one! Thank goodness you’re here!”

(Charles) “What’s going on? Somebody seems to have locked you in!”

(Alefi) “Well, it started when one of the cattle gods lost a herd of his antelopes. Please, sit down and have some water…”

He summoned some purified water from the river using a basin…

(Alefi) “Then Resolute Bison started losing buffalo, Cerulean Runner lost some her wildebeest, and no one knew who was doing it! It kept them from harassing me, which I did appreciate, but it was worrying indeed! But Adina was the one who tracked them down, when they went after her warthogs!” (He leaned in, a bit of water sloughing off his robes.) “Strange creatures, hidden behind illusions, but covered in black carapaces! Since I had the most connections with the Terrestrial Bureaucracy, I was the one chosen to write the warning prayers to Heaven – and that was when the Silver Sands sealed my doors. I’ve been stuck in there ever since – for several weeks.”

(Charles) “Ah! Well, the warnings to Yu-Shan should be going off now that the seals are down… I guess I’ll have to go look into the creatures with carapaces! Where were they?”

(Alefi) “Adina tracked them further into the desert, a few hours to the northeast. She said there were many wards, and a… oh, what do my worshipers call those? Ah yes, a chain link fence! Whoever constructed them also put up that alarm ward, from the difficulty she had breaking them.”

(Charles) “They were very good!… Hm… You seemed to be expecting me to come by… Why?”

(Alefi) “A young western Sidereal visited me on unrelated business a couple of weeks before I was sealed up. He suggested that I speak with you. I could use assistance dealing with the cattle gods after this . . . they are VERY greedy and selfish sometimes!”

(Charles) “Hm… Let me guess; they all want more water than is available, and they aren’t supporting you in maintaining it? I can see you must be having a hard time with it!”

(Alefi) “Indeed! How can grass grow if the rivers and swamps are empty?”

Charles checked with Elzeard… Elzeard had been planning to add more water to the Kalahari, like the Sahara. Would it hurt to add more here, and where would be best if it wouldn’t?

Elzeard informed him that it wouldn’t hurt a bit. He’d have to make some adjustments on Lake Ngami to optimize things, but nothing too big.

(Charles) “Well then… First thing we need is to set you up with a reliable water source! That should make things much easier!”

He checked for domains in the area. It was a lot easier to start with something!

(Alefi, clapping his hands – whereupon a bit of water splashed out from the impact.) “Wonderful!”

Hm… the potential for a water demesne, simply because it was the most significant source of water in the area – but nothing active. Oh well! A little more work then!

(Charles) “Right then! Demesne over here… privacy wards… would you prefer many springs, regular rain, or just an upwelling river?”

(Alefi) “Long ago, this region was a lake. My predecessor told me this shortly before wandering off in despair. While I would enjoy seeing the lake once more… I know it would attract too much attention. Springs it is!”

(Charles) “Well, that’s simple! It will just become a lake a few years down the line… The entire area will be getting wetter soon anyway! I’ll put in a water-producing manse with some utility functions!”

After a short discussion Charles cheerily upgraded the Demesne and started planning.

Alefi was actually worshipped among the local Bantu and Bushman groups, so he asked Charles to put in some things for their benefit; he wanted them to be competitive with foreign peoples, so they could turn the tide against some of the recent troubles. Of course, he defined “recent” as “in the past couple of centuries”…

Charles added a second set of conveniences then, mostly to let the local tribesmen live comfortably and happily in their traditional manners.

Given that the Crimson Banner Executioner had asked him to leave communications open for the moment (so that she could see what he was up to and monitor what he might plan to do about the Silver Sands), she had some comments too…

(Crimson Banner Executioner) “Better add some way to hide the place for now, too! Otherwise every warlord in Africa will be trying to take that place for their own! Even the ones who aren’t Terrestrials or God-Bloods can be a pain!”

That was a good idea! He threw in the pocket-dimension effect and some wards to keep hostile people away, and a super-extended zone of influence…

The Okavango Springs Manse featured many clean upwelling springs (part of two sets of Magical Conveniences – springs, fertility control for the area, rapid plant growth, enough lift so that the manse area would remain above water as the lake grew, disease-curing for the various unpleasant diseases of Africa to help keep the waters clean and usable, and a set for the local tribesmen – improved hunting and fishing, food preservation, educational access, some minor thaumaturgy bonuses, and assistance in their daily tasks, 1+ 1), a more secure Yu-Shan quality set of sanctums (Spiritual Stronghold and Ambrosial Font, 2 + 2), a boost for any local gods who cooperated in maintaining the manse and the area (the usual +1 effective essence and three extra charms, Dance of the Dragon Lords, 4), Integrated Utility Artifacts (ward anchors for some security boosts and a way to keep hostile people away from the area, the pocket-dimension generation effect, and improved communications, 3), a set of Archives (courtesy of Galileo, Elzeard, and some of the others) on Ecological and Agricultural Management, African Cultures and Traditional Lifestyles, Plants and Animals of Africa, Village Thaumaturgy, and Medicine (all hooked up to the teaching effects of course, 2), a five-miles-per-level Super-Extended Zone of Influence (5), a Control Room (2), and Indestructibility (5) at a net cost of 27 points – paid for by the base allotment (-10), it generating no Hearthstone worth mentioning (-5), a full set of Integrated Enhancement Artifacts (-9), and it being quite Uninhabitable (due to not really having an “inside” to inhabit, -3). Physically… it was mostly a collection of stone outcroppings, extending deeply into the earth.

(Charles) “There then! That should help a lot! I’ve kept the amount of water appearing in any one area relatively low – but the total across nearly two thousand square miles should be plenty to start the lake slowly refilling!”

(Alefi) “I had heard stories of how quickly Exalts could raise Manses – but not like this! You’ll always be welcome in these lands. I’ll make sure of it!”

(Charles) “Well I like manses! And thank you, it’s always nice to be welcome! Please let me know if anything else goes wrong though!”

(Alefi) “Of course… now that I can write letters again!”

The hearthstone was a mere glassy trinket of course – but it did make Alefi the controller of the Manse and first beneficiary of it’s powers…

Charles went to check on the other gods, particularly the one who found the carapace things. Alefit was more than happy to direct him to Adina’s sanctum. There are many warthogs there, shimmering under Essence sight. Touching them would be a bad idea right now, even if the males didn’t have impressive tusks…

(Charles) “Hello! Is Adina here?”

The sanctum itself was… connected to that bit of leather, hidden beneath a bush, and guarded by a particularly scarred and burly male warthog. It was… also sealed up, but not warded like the last one.

Charles was cautious anyway – which was just as well; it did have a bit of contact poison on the leather. Very deadly to a mortal, and certainly annoying to most Exalts! Not very pleasant for a god to touch, either – mote drain AND a magically-destructive toxin… Still, it was easy enough to transmute THAT away!

And the warthog was eying him with some intelligence.

(Charles) “Allo! I’m here to see Adina!”

(Kefri, actually speaking – and in much better Old Realm than Charles would normally expect from a Warthog) “I’m Kefri! I try to protect the herd why Mother is away (sadly) but I couldn’t protect her!”

(Charles) “What happened to her?”

(Kefri) “Bad men with shiny skin that chips tusks came and stole my brothers and sisters. Mother tried to come out and stop them, but she could only bless us before one of them snatched her house from my mouth! He was covered in darkness with silver sparks!”

(Charles) “Huh… And he put barriers on her sanctum? Did he lock her inside?”

(Kefri) “Yes! I tried to yank it from him, but one of the other men stuck a poison on it that made my insides and magic parts burn! I’m sorry!”

(Charles, applying healing magic to remove the lingering effects) “No need to be sorry! It’s not your fault they were more powerful than you!”

Time for privacy wards again, alarm containment wards, another very good look – and careful cracking of those barriers – which was easy enough given his power sources and a little time to work in. He nearly get trampled by an unusually large female warthog leaping out afterwards thought!

(Charles) “Hello!”

(Adina) “Where are they? SOMEBODY needs a goring!”

(Charles) “Uhm, not me please! I think they left some time ago…”

(Adina, glaring around) “Bother, they already left.”

(Charles) “I guess that I’m going to have to chase after them!”

(Adina) “Double bother! Kefri, how many did we lose this time?”

(Kefri) “Eight, mother! I’m sorry…”

(Adina) “Don’t worry… there was no way you could oppose that power.”

(Crimson Banner Executioner – who found it hard to believe that Charles was apparently quite seriously considering going after an Infernal on behalf of WARTHOGS) “Charles… if you’re going after an Infernal, even one, I’m going to have to insist on SOMEBODY accompanying you.”

(Charles) “Well, it does look like it doesn’t it? Who would you suggest? Because whoever it is is not being nice at ALL.”

(Crimson Banner Executioner) “No… and if they’re abducting cattle, I have a BAD feeling about that. Here, let me take a look… huh, that’s weird. There’s already a document here for something like this. It says I’m to send… Righteous Hala? Well! I was going to come down myself – it’s been a while since I fought demons – but this is VERY official.”

(Charles) “Well, you can come if you want I suppose! I could make a gate!”

(Crimson Banner Executioner) “And she is an experienced Full Moon, too. Righteous Hala it is then – but there’s nothing here saying I can’t join in! Let me get my swords…”

They were both down in about three hours. The Executioner had set her armor to look like an ordinary woman for the region – and Hala, of course, Charles could recognize despite her form at the moment!

(Hala) “The Executioner gave me a quick briefing. We’re going after a likely Infernal installation fifty miles to the north? And it sounds like a possible Malefactor, too… grrr…”

(Charles) “Well, they’re not being nice! They’re locking up the local gods and stealing the animals they look after!”

(Hala) “That’s horrible! They could be doing any number of things with those animals!”

(Crimson Banner Executioner) “And the power readings on that Charm were worryingly high, as well… I’d say of the seventh rank. We should head off as quickly as possible.”

Adina provided some directions. She estimated that the fencing was about five miles in diameter – as were the wards it was behind.

(Charles) “Off we go! Would taking a ship be best? And that sounds like someone else is building manses!”

(Hala) “Let me guess, you’re going to pull one out of Aden? It would help!”

(Charles) “Well, they don’t get out much… so why not?”

He opened a gate to let a small starship through.

(Crimson Banner Executioner) “They?!?” (And then the ship popped out.) “OK, that should get us there pretty fast.”

Behind her mask, the Crimson Banner Executioner was boggling a bit at the Essence level… did the child make Devas for everything too? No wonder Mr. Jorgensen wanted tabs kept on him!”

(Charles) “Hello Tyrfing! This is Righteous Hala and this is Crimson Banner Executioner! And would you give us a lift? There’s somebody – probably an Infernal Exalt – who’s fairly powerful and is being quite mean over that way!”

(Tyrfing) “Of course Charles! Are you feeling up to that though? Infernals can be quite unpleasant!”

(Charles) “Uhm… I think so! Maybe I should ask Gothmug to come along? Do you think so Ms Hala?”

(Righteous Hala nodded) “We need all the help we can get on this one, I think! Infernals don’t grow like the rest of us do.”

(Charles) “OK!”

(Crimson Banner Executioner) “I HOPE that this one doesn’t have that Shintai that makes them insubstantial. Charles can probably handle that, but it’s a pain!”

(Righteous Hala) “Right, Malefactor… probably a lot of cultists. We’ll have to deal with them too.”

She didn’t have to say “without killing or even hurting them too badly, because Charles is here and will not handle that well!”. The Crimson Banner Executioner could easily read that in her glance…

(Charles, boarding) “Well… off we go I guess! Oh, could anyone use any extra protections?”

(Crimson Banner Executioner) “I could use some wards… normally I’d ask Meyers for some before leaving, but he’s been even more overworked than usual. Anti-detection, anti-demon, and… anti-bullet too, if you please! Oh yeah, and a telekinetic shield! Those are pretty handy!”

Charles set up those wards for everyone along the way.

(Charles) “Would you like some specialty protections?”

(Crimson Banner Executioner) “Hrm… if we’re going up against somebody with Cecelyne Charms, I wouldn’t mind some additional mental protections, just in case. Anti-sand stuff wouldn’t hurt either-they can sling it so hard it’ll flay humans to the bone.”

(Righteous Hala) “I’ll take the same; that sand is really hard to get out of your armor if it gets in there.”

(Charles) “Well, if you want you can attune yourself to one of the defense systems… It will cover mental influences, shaping, poisons, toxins, aging, disease, disabling effects, crippling effects, and bleeding and enhance your vitality… And here’s an anti-sand ward. If you want, these ward-sustaining amulets will let you put your wards back up automatically if they’re dispelled, but it would cost a few motes if you have to do it more than once or twice!”

It also covered extra mote gain and requiring special measures to kill you – but that was too much to bother explaining in an emergency.

(Crimson Banner Executioner) “No problem! I always try to keep a motestone on me just in case. And I’ll take that attunement, too . . . thank you very much!”

Righteous Hala took it too – although her Adenic Thaumaturgy already covered most of it, an extra layer of defenses never hurt.

(Charles) “You’re welcome!”

Gothmug was not very happy about Infernal intrusions at all; it was a clear violation of Earth’s security!

For the rest of the way, it was quite apparent that Hala and the Crimson Banner Executioner were watching each other as closely as they were watching Charles – although, considering that they were from separate factions, that was to be expected.

They soon approached a rather large area, warded against airplanes, birds, visual senses, and the other items that Charles would expect a secretive contemporary Manse to be warded against. The wards were quite potent! On a level with what he’d seen at Alefi’s sanctum. Still, nothing that would actually prevent them from going in… He checked for other wards and alarms and such too!

There was an alarm ward, as well, and a chain link fence. Beyond the chain link fence, the sand of the desert was silver.

(Charles) “Should we knock?”

(Crimson Banner Executioner) “Damn it… this is BAD! Knock? (She gave Charles an incredulous look) We need to do some recon first!”

(Charles) “Erm… Look with a telescope? I bet it’s abnormally far to the center…”

(Crimson Banner Executioner) “Well, that is one way to do it… and if this is what I think it is, there IS a cult around here somewhere.”

Tyrfing was an interstellar ship after all; there was PLENTY of magnification available.

(Crimson Banner Executioner) “Okay… luckily for us, this area is still pretty much part of Creation. We need to make sure it doesn’t get any bigger. And to do that . . . Charles, we’re going to have to find the center and have you dispel it!”

(Charles) “Hmm… Oh yuck! It looks like the alarm ward goes off for people coming in who HAVEN’T eaten some sort of demon locust in the past few days… They come out of the ground, then die and they taste like a familiar beloved meal that you can’t quite identify. Attempting to bypass it with magic will also set it off – which will be hard to block if it alarms someone inside! By the time I could contain that, the alarm will already have been sent…

(Crimson Banner Executioner) “DEFINITELY somebody using Cecelyne Charms, then.”

(Charles) “I’m pretty sure I could break it, but it might sound the alarm anyway.”

(Righteous Hala) “We’ll just have to take that risk!”

Charles considered… An illusion of having eaten a demon locust probably wouldn’t fool a ward and you couldn’t really ward against wards; that was just another way of breaching it. About all he could do was to try and bypass it locally; that might be easier than trying to take down the whole thing… Dispelling it was!

He waved his wand in a sweeping circle like a glass-cutter while humming the theme music from Mission Impossible as little sparks of essence crackled down the length of the wand! He didn’t want to use the Solar Excellencies where people were watching, since they were obvious and fairly easy to spot as solar charms.

Once again, he actually had to push a bit to chop his way through the ward (even 63 successes was not enough to do it entirely cleanly…).

Righteous Hala and the Crimson Banner Executioner – in harmony for once – gave him such a LOOK… TV theme songs? Didn’t the child take ANYTHING seriously?

(Righteous Hala, shaking her head) “Part of the spell, I assume?”

(Charles) “Why not? Lots of mental energy behind those! And every little bit helps, even if it’s not on the scale of direct motonic manipulations!”

(Crimson Banner Executioner, sighing… after all, the was an explanation of sorts, but there were a lot of more sensible sources if you wanted a tiny bit of extra power in a spell. There was no need to be so… silly!) “Good enough for me… we should head through before someone catches us.”

Tyrfing did so.

Charles was almost unable to restrain the impulse to declaim “I am Oz the Great and Powerful! Who dares attempt to cross the Deadly Desert to reach my lands?!” – but if he did, the poor Crimson Banner Executioner’s head might explode…

Righteous Hala read THAT thought easily enough, and had to sigh; she was surprised only that Charles had REFRAINED, not that he’d been inclined to spout such a line…

It WAS rather arid in the area. It might not actually be Cecelyne, but they weren’t seeing any plants or animals in here! Deserts weren’t the most lush places in Creation, but you’d expect some!

There WAS a warning though… in Setswana, a contemporary language! It sounded like a native speaker too… It seemed to echo from the very land itself.

(Voice) “All right, who broke my wards? That doesn’t happen very often! Identify yourself at once.”

Charles had to call on Malinda’s linguistic talents to understand.

(Righteous Hala) “Arrgh…”

(Charles) “I did! We’re missing some piggies and things!”

(Voice) “Hmm… interesting. Well, you had best leave! As curious as I am about HOW you broke through – and without a blatant Essence signature at that! – I will be forced to oppose you if you go any further.”

(Charles, with considerable surprise) “Why? Is somebody making you?”

(Voice – also with some surprise) “No, but if I abandon it, there will be consequences I would rather not have to experience… and the area does hold some affection for me.”

(Crimson Banner Executioner) “Oh, damn it… you’re not an alien at all, are you?”

They were rapidly approaching a building in the distance, with walls and with minarets. Some other buildings were sinking into the silver sands, but not this one! Obviously enough, it was a rank-3 Cecelyne Manse – and there were people moving their way. They were hidden under illusions to look like normal Africans, but underneath they had shiny black carapaces and clawed hands. Fortunately, they didn’t fly…

The first sand-blasts started to target Tyrfing, but ran into some of Gothmug’s indestructible shields… so did the rockets that the defenders were firing. Still, fancier attacks could get around a simple barrier easily enough; Charles gave Tyrfing a Behemoth Cloak to help with those – but pretty much ignored the human defenders otherwise; they weren’t really doing anything effective.

There were many bursts of sand, frantic shots with rockets, and yelling in an alien language that Malinda didn’t bother translating; they weren’t saying anything very interesting. Still, the ones who’d realized that they were up against something utterly unexpected were hurrying back to the manse – not that Tyrfing wouldn’t get there well ahead of them; it was supersonic after all…

There was a suitable landing area in the courtyard, with its mosaics – but for the moment Charles and Tyrfing settled for hovering.

(Charles) “Uhm… what is it we need to do?”

(Crimson Banner Executioner) “Well, this place is right over the center of the area. I’d say if we can find the Hearthroom, we’re good to go.”

(Charles) “Oh; we need to wreck the manse? That’s not a good thing! Gothmug? Would you catch the people down there and send them to safe stasis for awhile?”

(Gothmug) “Certainly!”

Well, at least the child wasn’t suggesting taking them into Aden! Of course Charles didn’t want to kill them, but they’d need a lot of watching outside of stasis!

Charles, in fact, actually didn’t think that inviting them in would be a very good idea! The MechaGodzilla incident had taught him some caution about inviting in anyone who came along… Stasis in Elsewhere should be good though!

It wasn’t really any problem; Gothmug was more than capable of entrapping a bunch of humans, even if they were adapted to Malfeas.

(Righteous Hala) “This place… don’t be fooled by how pretty it is, Charles! I think that whoever-it-is will have it well-trapped and ready for an assault. Infernals who are tied to Cecelyne are pretty good planners!” (She grinned.) “Although I don’t think they’d count on somebody like you…”

(Crimson Banner Executioner) “Let’s not get cocky here. We don’t know what’s in there, For all we know, it could lead directly to Malfeas, and we’d be in big trouble.”

(Righteous Hala) “I do agree, although I doubt that most Infernals would be ready to deal with somebody with their own world body.”

(Charles) “But… will we have to damage it? It may have to go away to change the demesne…”

(Righteous Hala) “I’m sorry, Charles… it’s capping the place as well as any other Manse.”

(Charles) “Aw! I HATE breaking manses!

He took a good look at the geomancy and recorded it so that he could study it later, erected some wards against the upcoming blast, and swirled his wand – gathering threads of essence from the demesne. He didn’t really approve – but the Lions had shown him their memories of the Tenders doing it, and when you came right down to it, geomantic sabotage was a LOT easier than building up a demesne…

(Charles) “Hold on!” – as he sent bolts of disruptive essence snaking down into the geomancy of the area…

(Voice, after a shocked moment of evaluation) “Wait! If you do that, you will kill the pigs and other cattle! That IS what you came for, yes?”

(Charles) “Well, yes – but if you haven’t already done something nasty to them, they’re VERY unlikely to survive a fight over the place!”

(Voice) “Not all of them… and I DO NOT want to see this place destroyed! Will you leave it if we at least discuss things like civilized humans?”

(Crimson Banner Executioner) “Charles, look, it’s probably a trap.”

(Charles) “Well, that’s always possible… But she or he is ALREADY talking, it probably won’t get much worse on that front… (To the Infernal) So what are you proposing?”

(Voice) “I’ll give you the animals I stole, and… go to other worlds for what I need. I was just trying to stick closer to home. In return, I want you to leave this place alone.”

(Charles) “Hm… I’m NOT making a commitment here – but what is it you DO need? It might be possible to reach some sort of accommodation before resorting to explosions… And I take it that this place was home once?

The Crimson Banner Executioner was glad that the child wasn’t agreeing to that, since she and Hala couldn’t countenance Infernal incursions on Earth!

(Voice) “I was performing a project to uplift Earth’s animal species. They would make splendid colonists once given sapience and other adaptations – and my efforts so far have been fruitful.”

(Righteous Hala) “Waitaminute… that doesn’t sound like a Malefactor at all.”

(Charles, thoughtfully) “Well, there’s no reason why THAT wouldn’t work… you’d just need to design higher souls for them and set them up with a reincarnation cycle of their own!”

(Voice) “Exactly! My research has proven that if you perform certain thaumaturgical procedures, you can transmigrate human souls into animals. The original procedure was for dolphins, but I have adapted it to other species. And life in space would be much better than being stuck under this world’s contentious spirits, don’t you think?”

(Charles) “Well… that’s not fully inherited though! The souls just return to the human cycle, and the offspring are cleverer than normal – but not fully sapient. For that… they need souls of their own made for their own species!”

(Voice) “Indeed, and there lies the problem. But the worlds of the Empirical Galaxy are ill-suited to my research. The animals there, tainted by chaos as they are, are much harder to study and alter, and there is always the issue of Lunar and fae incursions! Fortunately, we had this installation here, set up for other reasons. I was able to adapt easily enough… and I already knew the lay of the land… Why don’t you come in? You seem much more rational than those buffoons in Yu-Shan.”

(Crimson Banner Executioner) “HEY!”

Charles was considering… You could create souls with simple Wyld Shaping. The Well of Souls did it a LOT, but that was just scaling up… Wait, was IT having problems covering the expanded universe? He needed to check on that.. Anyway, anchoring souls into the Loom so that they could reincarnate was a little harder, but could be done with the right manse power or artifact or by the Sidereals… Souls COULD be designed to do it themselves on an individual scale (it was only exerting a minor power after all), but otherwise you’d need to either reprogram the Loom or build a secondary one… He wasn’t up to THAT yet. So; a soul-well capable of supplying souls with the self-attachment option for animal-folk on a planetary scale would probably be rating-5 and might need to be per species…

(Charles) “So why do you want to spread animal-colonists – instead of mutated humans – around?”

(Voice) “The universe has enough humans that have deviated from my masters’ intent. Animals, on the other hand, have not been raised to sapience in mass for several eras… and many do have characteristics useful for such efforts.”

(Charles, to the others) “Uhrm… is that a problem in itself?”

(Crimson Banner Executioner, with exasperation) “Oh, for crying out loud… it’s an INFERNAL MANSE, a beachhead of the Endless Desert, on Earth! It needs to be taken out!”

(Righteous Hala) “I was about to ask why we were still talking myself.”

(Voice) “So irrational… I have no idea what the boy is – I’ve been attempting to analyze him for a while now – but I know that he’s more reasonable than either of you!”

(Charles, consideringly, to his companions) “Well, that’s true enough! It is very awkward and will cause constant conflict as long as it’s HERE. So perhaps it should be somewhere else?”

(Righteous Hala, after a moments pause. Surely he didn’t mean to…) “What’s your idea?”

(Charles) “A set of upgrades – some temporary, some permanent – and a relocation I think! (To the Infernal) Would that work out? I promise, the permanent upgrades will be useful for your project!”

(Voice) “To be honest… this isn’t my Manse or cult territory. One of my friends owns this place. Would he still have access to Earth?”

(Charles) “Uhm… I think that’s the sticking point for my friends here… but if they insist I blow the place up, he won’t have access anyway!”

(Voice) “Excuse me for a moment, I need to interrupt his ceremony, and he won’t be amused.”

(Crimson Banner Executioner) “Ugggh… it’s going to spread.”

(Charles) “That’s awfully coincidental timing… Well, I need to plan for a minute…”

And then another voice popped up – speaking Old Realm, in the Malfean dialect.

(Watoka Danaj) “Who dares pull Watoka Danaj from his followers?”

The Emanseapation…

Charles had his plan almost ready… Upgrade the Demesne and Manse to Rank-5 and keep the hearthstone the same. Adding in a couple of sets of enhancement artifacts (-6) would give him a reasonable amount of power (12) to work with… Enough to add a set of Alternate Locations (a set of five habitable, but VERY distant planets – about ten to the fortieth power light years out, 5) along with a couple of sets of Integrated Utility Artifacts (adjustable soul-makers for some animal people with the self-attachment option, along with some helpful biosculpting systems, 6), and upgrade it’s existing Password Activations to a full-scale Control Room (+1).

Then he could use a temporary boost to add Alternate Locations again (here) and extend it’s existing Zone of Influence so that they could take their city AND almost all the sand along, jump the manse, city, and most of the sands out to their new set of locations, remove THIS location from the system, and re-orient and re-cap the demesne to make sure that it couldn’t ever come back! That should work just fine!

(Charles) “And I guess that’s me!”

(Watoka Danaj) “A fellow Earth human broke Odirle’s wards!? You were just talking to him! No wonder he looked sour! This is unexpected. Very well, what do you want? He said you had a Sidereal and Lunar – but were not here to destroy the place.”

Charles got the sensation that he was being examined in quite extensive detail!

(Charles) “See, now that Yu-Shan knows you’re here, this could get very messy! They’re very stubborn about not allowing this on earth – but there’s lots of room in the cosmos, so would it be all right if I upgraded and moved the place? That way everyone will be happy! Otherwise they’ll want me to blow it up, and that’s no fun!”

(Watoka Danaj) “My people will not be amused if you move us into one of Isidoros’ reflections. I believe you call them black holes?”

(Charles) “Those are no good for colonizing! You need habitable planets for that!”

(Watoka Danaj) “Well… I had hoped to keep the holy city on Earth, but if individuals like you are running around, that isn’t feasible any more. How far out are we talking here?”

(Charles) “How about… maybe 10 to the 40’th light years? That’s still within the inner… er… 1/10 to the 180’th power percent of the universe, but it should be plenty to keep everyone from arguing!

(Watoka, sighing) “Not optimal. Nonetheless, better than being killed or ejected entirely. I would see the locations of these worlds before I make my decisions, and don’t dare try to trick me.”

(Charles) “Well… how about these five? (He showed them). Those should work nicely!”

(Odirle) “The planetary surveys are accurate, Danaj… and certainly much better than Malfeas.”

Well of course they were nice planets! Even with earth-style animals! It wasn’t like there was any shortage!

(Watoka Danaj) “Hmph! I have no choice but to accept. Mark my words, though; this will not be the last time you see me on your planet – if you even know I’m there!”

(Crimson Banner Executioner) “Ha! We’ll be ready for you!”

(Charles) “Well, probably not! But it avoids trouble for the time being, and that might be long enough to solve things more permanently!”

(Watoka Danaj) “Very well then!”

(Charles) “OK then! Would you send out the remaining normal animals? There are lots more on the new planets anyway!”

And a telepathic message was coming in…

(Odirle, mentally) “Hmm… Charles, is it? Danaj agrees with me that you’re shockingly reasonable, and he said he wanted to discuss something with you some time. He was evasive about what it was, but he’s like that. Would you be interested in a meeting on one of these planets?”

(Charles, mentally) “Why not? I may have to send a remote though! I have lots to do!”

(Odirle, mentally) “As do we… and a remote would be fine. Preferable, even!”

(Charles) “OK then! I’ll send you off… you DID did you want to take the city along, right?”

(Odirle) “I think Danaj would insist.”

(Charles) “OK then!”

(Odirle) “Sigh… I will miss Botswana, but it was good to see the old country again.”

(Charles) “I’m sorry, but maybe later!”

Charles let Gothmug collect the animals they sent out – about half of the ones they’d taken, although that seemed like an honest accounting of the ones that hadn’t yet been tinkered with – and got to work on the manse! As usual, it only took a minute or two…

He sent the Manse off… while the Infernals made absolutely certain that they were getting the right readings while analyzing him. That was easy enough to detect, but then nobody else had been able to analyze him so far… It might waste some of their time!

The Crimson Banner Executioner sighed… No matter what, the boy tried to fix it with a manse…

Even Charles would have had to admit that – from the outside – he DID look pretty hopelessly obsessed! But manses were SO handy! Besides, he’d never even actually seen a geomantic explosion and he hated them already!

Righteous Hala, on the other hand, was looking rather proud! Charles had gotten two powerful Infernals far away from Earth without a geomantic explosion. Given that Charles hated killing people or destroying Manses… that was one of the best outcomes she could have hoped for!

(Crimson Banner Executioner) “That takes care of the Yozi taint… my superiors are not going to believe this!”

She took pictures, just so that she had some extra proof!

(Charles) “Well, I still have to clean up the remaining desert, put a manse on it, and return the remaining animals, but that will be simple enough!”

(Crimson Banner Executioner) “No problem… I’m pretty sure you could handle that on your own. Are you going to stay with him, Hala?”

(Charles) “Anyway… I’m glad that worked out with no fighting! People would have gotten hurt!”

(Crimson Banner Executioner) “I DO like a good fight, but that could have been nasty…”

(Righteous Hala, after thinking) “He should be safe enough here on Earth. But it’s been a while since I’ve spoken to him.”

(Crimson Banner Executioner) “Yeah… I’d better go file my report…”

(Charles) “I made a recording; would a copy help!

(Crimson Banner Executioner) “Thanks! I’ll take that…”

She headed back towards the gate she’d entered through.

Charles headed back to return the various animals… Hm! Nobody had asked about the captured cultists!

He asked Righteous Hala what to do about them!

(Righteous Hala) “From the looks of them, they’re Gigeues! They’re descended from humans unlucky enough to get stuck in Malfeas. The carapaces are for resisting Ligier’s light without protective clothing. The claws… well, Malfeas is a pretty dangerous place. Other than that, and probably being nasty sorts to begin with, they’re as human as you or me!”

(Charles) “Well… should I change them back to normal humans – or just plant them on a planet somewhere?”

(Righteous Hala) “I’d go with transferring them to another planet – if that Danaj is a Malefactor, and they still want to hang around him, they’ll pray and he might answer! And THAT’S why I’m glad we didn’t have to fight an entire cult today! Thanks, Charles and Tyrfing!”

(Tyrfing) “You’re welcome! If you ever need a lift again, just call me! It’s fun to get out!”

(Charles) “You’re welcome! Thank you for coming along! That could have been very touchy!”

(Righteous Hala) “Even more so if you hadn’t defused it… Anyway, let’s get these animals back to their gods!”

It was… good to know somebody who could teleport Manses that far… and was a decent person! Even if it had been geomantic judo – making the manse use it’s OWN power to teleport itself and he probably couldn’t have done it directly (although he just might have been able to find a way somehow) it was still impressive both in the lateral thinking and in the power level… even if it always did seem to go back to “hit it with a manse!”.

The Infernals would probably find a way back to Earth eventually, but it probably wouldn’t be for awhile and they’d have to build a new power base – and they had something new to consider anyway. Suddenly there were individuals on Earth who were both not Yozi cultists and willing to be reasonable with them – and at least one of them was an absurdly powerful geomancer and had enough raw power to have devas accompanying him, and in him – and untainted devas, too! That was something that they couldn’t ignore…

And on top of that, he’d been… quite willing to help them get what they wanted, and to keep Siderals and Lunars from attacking them… and the Exalts had LISTENED to him too. They might have objected more to being moved, but the sheer shock had been keeping them off balance! That was not at all how they expected such a meeting to play out! Danaj had been expecting to marshal his fellow aliens against the invading forces while Odirle used his telekinetic powers to make barriers and cause trouble! They hadn’t been expecting the situation to be resolved peaceably, albeit far from where they wanted to be. Had – after thirty thousand years – Yu-Shan or the Incarnae come up with something new of their own? What WAS the boy? Could he really be a new Primordial? No one quite knew WHAT such a creature might look like after all and he did show most of the more blatant signs!

The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice CXXIV – Cell Phones and Silver Sands

Español: Samsung Galaxy R (i9103)

Yes, Exalted has gods for EVERYTHING.

Next up was the Air manse… It had turned out that handing out universal skills would involve too much mental feedback – at least when it involved the Elemental Pole – so communications it would have to be!

The symmetry requirements called for a location in the pacific ocean; there were several that would do – but Guam was just about right! Hopefully there’d be someone suitable locally to give it to…

Hm! It did have a really good good communications system for its size, with high-speed internet access widely available! That was a very good sign; perhaps there was some natural affinity to work with – or someone was favoring it for their own interests…

Huh. It also counted as US domestic for the postal service?

Anyway… the manse would need to be atop a high, rocky, point – hidden in the usual pocket realm – and would consist mostly of fields of force and patterns of flowing air… It would improve communications (including allowing interstellar links – if with a bit of delay once you got out of the solar system – and for links to pass through gateways), and would make it easier for normal people to learn languages (almost to the point of universal communications, at least in English, since he could imprint at least one pattern on it), and to learn to read and write, worldwide – if only due to the increase in Air Essence levels!

A bit of inquiring showed that the god of a particular cell phone model had set up shop there. He wasn’t overly powerful, but he enjoyed the climate – and the comparatively high level of the communications networks didn’t hurt either.

Charles called him to ask for an interview; he didn’t give out his number, but prayer always worked; it just had to be directed to Eloquent Star, god of the Samsung Galaxy S3.

(Eloquent Star) “Hi! You’ve reached Eloquent Star, god of the Samsung Galaxy S3! Would you like to know about the features of this device?”

(Charles) “Oh, actually I’d like to offer you an upgrade!”

(Eloquent Star) “Darn! Nobody ever wants to know about the features! They’re really great too! It even responds when you tell it to answer a call! Anyway… I’ve heard of you! Go ahead! This should be interesting!”

(Charles) “Well… Since you’re the god of the Samsung Galaxy 53, it seems appropriate to link you – and through you, them – up with an enhancement plan allowing interplanetary calls and interstellar texting!”

(Eloquent Star) “Wait, seriously? Now I know you’ve done crazy things in the past, but that tops them all! What you’re telling me would mean I wouldn’t be obsolete for a very long time!”

(Charles) “Well, why not? I need SOMEBODY to look after the setup!”

(Eloquent Star) “Why don’t you come down here and explain that setup in more detail? The weather’s great today. Besides, the god of the Chamorro language is visiting and I’m tired of grabbing a local to translate for me.”

Huh? Oh, that was a quirk of the language gods: they didn’t speak Old Realm!

(Charles) “Certainly!”

He dropped by. Guam WAS very nice – as well as VERY isolated physically… Oh, there was a thought! He could set up a gate to one of the nicer, really isolated, uninhabited, pacific islands so that the various “pets” and such could at least visit earth when they wanted to!

Anyway… Eloquent Star rented a place on one of the beaches. None of the locals were aware that a god lived on their island, although the people who had talked to him thought that he worked for Samsung. He certainly talked about their phone all the time! He and Maisa, god of Chamorro, were sitting on the deck. He waved as he saw Charles approaching!

(Charles) “Hello!”

(Eloquent Star) “Hey, great! You actually came down from… wherever you were! That’s service!”

(Charles) “Why not?”

Eloquent Star had heard about how obliging Charles was! Oh, this should be entertaining to listen to… it did get boring sometimes. Guam wasn’t very big, and it was hard to meet fellow gods there if they didn’t know how to fit in. And judging from what his searches on the Yu-Shan internet had shown… whatever-it-was was more likely than not to work, too!

(Charles) “Anyway… I need to put up a manse here, linked to the old Elemental Pole of Air, to balance the planetary geomancy again! That will mean that I’ll need someone to keep an eye on the place and that a LOT of air essence will be flowing through here – and boosting communications! It might as well be properly channeled!”

(Eloquent Star) “I don’t know much about ancient history, but I do know when somebody’s asking me to do something. So how often am I going to have to visit the place? And can you translate that for him? (Indicating Maisa) He’s got better local connections than me-even if this sounds like it’s in my domain.”

(Charles, doing so) “Certainly! Now I was planning to put it on Guam – so it should be pretty handy for you anyway – and include some special conveniences for you, as if you were residing in Yu-Shan, as compensation for your time!”

(Maisa) “I will need to see the plans for this as well. It sounds like it will affect the people of the Mariana Islands greatly, even outside of Guam.”

Charles was happy enough to show them.

(Eloquent Star) “Have you done anything like this before? This is pretty big! Like, even I can tell big. I might have to text this to the other Samsung gods if this works.”

(Charles) “Fairly often! I kind of specialize in Geomancy and Manses!”

(Maisa) “Incredible… Though something like this would be hard to hide on the geomantic scale.”

(Charles, pointing) “Oh, that’s what this section is about… It would still tip the planetary energy balance, but the source will be near-impossible to pinpoint!”

(Maisa) “Wonderful. Even the Essence sensitives here will not be able to find it.”

(Charles) “Well… Shall I put it up? There’s a suitable small demsne fairly nearby!”

(Maisa, to Eloquent Star) “Shall we back this, young one? There will be a most significant influx of… your domain into the islands once this is known, but I do hate to see speakers of my language leaving.”

(Eloquent Star) “Hey, he had me on with not becoming obsolete! You older gods have no idea how fast that happens with us techies!”

Maisa just looked a bit confused. Technology gods…

(Charles, cheerfully) “That would be a “yes” on his part I think!”

(Maisa) “Oh! I see. Shall we head to Lamlam then? It is the highest point on the island.”

That was the only air demesne on the island actually – although there was a water demesne close to the oceanic trench. They were both only level one though. Still, it was off to the mountain, establish privacy, upgrade the demesne, and create the place!

Charles had an odd feeling that that including more Wyld energy in the place would be fun, and make things more vibrant! But… not this time; it needed to match the existing two for balance!

Elsewhere, there was a faint sense of disappointment. Still, it had been worth a shot! Even better… there’d been very little resistance to the idea other than “balance” – and the place seemed to be set to include wyld energy for wyld revocation and FTL communications anyway!

(Charles) “And there you are!”

There was applause from Star’s own Samsung Galaxy S3 phone. Maisa just looked contented that nothing bad had happened. An awful lot of his language’s remaining speakers were from here after all!

(Charles, catching that thought) “Hey, I try to make very sure that nothing bad happens when I fix things! That just makes more work!”

(Maisa) “Commendable.”

He told the story of when Guam was a bit bigger… before the local level four Manse had exploded. That demesne was now in the Mariana Trench.

(Charles, disapprovingly) “That was VERY sloppy of somebody!”

(Maisa) “Indeed. Which is why I will be watching this place closely.”

(Charles) “Well, if there’s trouble somehow (and the place WAS indestructible and reliant on the geomancy of the pole, not so much locally) call me and I’ll come fix it up!”

(Eloquent Star) “No problem! Hey, is that a transdimensional cell phone?”

(Charles) “Yep! It’s an easy function to add really!”

(Eloquent Star) “Does it let you transfer data back-to-back?”

(Charles) “If you want!”

(Eloquent Star) “Heh. Artifacts. No brand, but ALWAYS have all the features! I’ve GOT to get into that domain!”

He shook his head a bit sadly… The God of Artifact Cell Phones position was occupied, and would be for a long time! No obsolescence there!

(Charles) “It is a handy one I think!”

(Eloquent Star) “Anyway… I’m going to test this place out! Not sure who I’ll call, but dialing random numbers should get me something. Maisa, are you in?”

Maisa shrugged. He had no idea what the silly phone god was talking about, but it sounded like something he’d need to watch.

(Eloquent Star) “Unless Charles here knows any interstellar numbers?”

(Charles) “Hrm… Not offhand I think… Oh wait! There are some for the Sidereals… they tend to be busy though. But there are a couple for Lunars and things…”

Eloquent Star was up for just about anything! A younger Sidereal or Lunar would be great.

Charles referred him to one; he had a few numbers, and being able to call earth directly might be convenient for them too!

The young Half Moon Eloquent Star eventually called was quite surprised to be receiving a call from Earth… and not from an artifact phone either. They spent some time conversing about trivial things until the Lunar had to go for business.

(Charles) “Well that works nicely! Only one more to set up!”

(Maisa) “Well, good luck with that.”

(Charles) “Thank you!”

Charles headed for Africa – Botswana to be precise. A low-end but developing economy, with a fairly high potential for solar energy but no notable local development in that area… Of course, the power of the quasar galaxies was on an entirely other scale – but fortunately only a minuscule amount of that near-limitless energy was getting imported!

At least as of yet.

Hm… Ixiah had heard rumors that the god of the Okavango Delta was looking for a new position; cattle grazing was pressing that area hard, and some of the gods involved with that were in good with Ahlat. The desertification hitting the nation was not helping that. Still, a cartel was traditional for energy resources of course… Perhaps a group?

There was a Fire Aspect family in Gaborone – the capital. They kept a pretty low profile for that elemental affinity, even considering Terrestrial practices . . . but they’d supposedly kept the government among the most honest in Africa. Corruption was so often bad for economic development, after all. Well, a delta god was familiar with the flow of things, and electrical power is just a more abstract form of flow… and the fire aspects would be good at managing the place in particular!

Charles headed for the Okavango first. He needed to know if the local god was really looking for another position!

The delta didn’t actually flow into any body of water; when it was moist, it was also a swamp… long ago there had been a lake. Oh dear… the poor god was probably just barely hanging on! In fact, it looked like – if he were not working his rear off for a god – the area would be a barren desert. As it was… there was some greenery, and rather a lot of wild cattle.

Well, Elzeard WAS working on adding water to the Kalahari… things should be improving for him soon anyway – but Charles stopped by to see just how desperate he was – and to make sure that he knew that more water WAS coming.

Oddly enough, the actual location where the sanctum entrance was… was an oasis, and currently had rather a lot of antelope eating the green grass. The water was clean and appealing in the thick heat – but it was easy enough to see that there were more antelopes than the place would normally be able to handle. That… wasn’t at ALL natural! Someone was working hard… Cattle gods versus the Delta god? They ought to see that they’re mutually dependent!

Ixiah… knew that divine politics was a complex thing. He thought that one of them might want to have the position for reasons of his own. How better than to make Heaven think that the current position holder couldn’t do his job?

Charles tried to get in touch – a simple prayer was worth a try before getting weird – and found that it was… blocked.

That wasn’t nice at ALL! Tracing the source took several minutes – but it turned out to be not a god at all! The essence had the tinge of silver sands.

Uh-oh! Hiding in the Kalahari? Was this where the sand that the glassblower had had came from? There was only one type of Essence that Charles knew of that was affiliated with silver sands…

The source was fifty miles to the north. Who’d be in charge of… Ah! The Subsidiary Convention on Demons, a sub-convention of the Bureau of Destiny’s Convention on Essence Wielders.

Charles placed a call to them; they might be some of the ones looking into those weapons too!

That eventually got him through to someone who’s features he couldn’t really make out… He’d heard of that particular artifact! That was the Crimson Banner Executioner armor, readjusted for a Creation where even that armor’s innate abilities are not enough to keep discreet!

(Charles) “Hello!”

(Crimson Banner Executioner) “Ah, Mr Ward! It must be something important for you to be calling the Convention on Demons… I hope.”

(Charles) “Well… I was picking up this (he sent a scan) signature here in Africa, interfering with the local gods, and I thought that I ought to ask you about it! As last I’d heard… those signatures hadn’t been spotted on Earth for quite some time!”

(She – although had Blossom of Lost Dreams not previously told him that the current Crimson Banner Executioner was a woman, he wouldn’t have known it was a she – looked) “Agggh… I had hoped Antarctica was the last we’d see of those things. Right! It sounds like you’re dealing with a Malefactor, or somebody who’s cozied up to Cecelyne too much! I’ve got good news for you, though; you can probably countermagic that.”

(Charles) “Oh good!”

(Crimson Banner Executioner) “Thing is… you do that, and they’ll probably come calling for you. They do that weird ‘a god am I’ stuff. Peh! And get those cattle out of there, too!” (From the tone… she knew what was going on with THAT already.)

(Charles) “OK!”

Sadly, the session was called at that time due to fatigue…

The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice, Session CXXIII – The Celestial Lions and the Hands of Sorrow

Tai Shan

Outside the Dome, the rear entrance is well camoflagued…

Charles was considering… he still had a couple of elemental manses to install, and some planning to finalize, and picking up whatever-it-was for Gaia, and he really needed to try to find something more reliable than Wyld Stunts to use to expand his powers across Yu-Shan, and it would be a good idea to get as much more information as possible, and to get everyone organized to assist…

Come to think of it, that last bit was probably going to take awhile for them to get used to! He’d better get on that next, before he would up having to try to evacuate Yu-Shan! Otherwise there might well be TOO much chaos – geomantic, social, and political alike – for him to manage… To start with, he was going to need the Tenders, Overseers, Celestial Lions, and some of the Geomancy Gods. Considering that the Tenders and Overseers protected and promoted geomantic structures that were pretty blatantly bad for most gods, that was going to be a rather contentious group to mediate.

Still… giving Yu-Shan’s world-body multiple aspects would keep them all separated until they could all learn to get along! According to all his calculations, and to the geomancy gods, Yu-Shan waking up shouldn’t be a direct problem, and enlarging the world-body SHOULD work – not that there was any way to be totally sure. Still, at worst… (not that it was easy to tell, Primordials were nothing if not individualistic) it looked like there might be an additional aspect or two. Charles HAD been hoping that “five” was one of the mystical stable numbers – but if it turned out to be seven… well, that should work too!

He hoped that “she” wouldn’t mind – but at this point it pretty much qualified as an emergency treatment for terminal coma. After all, the surviving Tenders were pretty much a life support system at the moment! And the universe did NOT need another Neverborn! OR a geomantic collapse linked to it’s center!

He was checking VERY carefully – now that he KNEW that Yu-Shan was a Primordial’s world-body – that his intervention would HELP her, rather than harm her. That meant studying all available information on her geomancy, talking to the Tenders and Overseers, consulting his own geomantic specialist (who, of course, always succeeded), checking deep in the primordial archives (now that he knew what to look for), having Malinda check, taking a look at the sympathetic loom, trying to determine where Yu-Shan’s Devas and lesser souls were (to check with them), trying diagnostic and treatment-oriented medicine charms on Yu-Shan, and even trying to probe her mind a bit. (A lot of it would probably be too complex for him to understand, but her being comatose might let him get something).

It looked like most of the plan should work just fine though – and that she probably couldn’t last many millennia longer without either the Tenders making a major push to clean up the world-body or geomantic collapse.

That probably wouldn’t make Gaia happy at ALL. They were “sisters” or a sort.

Malinda could do quite a bit with the sympathetic loom; it looked like Charles’s plans – if he could implement them – wold be largely beneficial, if hard for the Bureaucracy and many Sidereals to wrap their heads around – ESPECIALLY if a Jouten appeared in what everyone thought was a mere sanctum. Social and political shifts were. inevitable. The worst issues on the geomantic front would likely be frantic attempts to reverse it, despite the speed, and attempts to piggyback off the energy for other projects. Cauldron-Born and Infernal involvement was likely – but could go either way.

Still… the Bureaucracy and the Celestial Lions hadn’t had much luck fighting the Tenders and Overseers to date – and even without more backing he fully intended to use Luna’s Writ to draft most of the geomantic gods, and get the Lions to try to keep people from fiddling with the project. As for the Infernals… well, hopefully there weren’t many around Yu-Shan – but both they and the Cauldron-Born were pretty much (by definition) wild cards.

The diagnostic, treatment-defining, and treatment charms and artifacts would take some time (Yu-Shan WAS the size of Russia after all!) – as would searching for her subsouls or attempting to probe her consciousness a bit. The primordial archives… would have to wait until he personally had more time!

He needed to get in contact with the Lady Sorrowhands, so that he could learn more about that blank spot in his maps that was the Jade Pleasure Dome and the Games of Divinity! It was, after all, on Yu-Shan’s central nexus. Still, he didn’t want to make trouble for her!

Ah… the writ was enough to let him send some messages in! Not too many a day – she WAS technically an enemy of the Bureaucracy, much like that demon serving as the ambassador from Malfeas. Still, that would do for some inquiries. He didn’t care exactly what the power went into – or about the action of the games – but the geomancy was important!

That was… rather revealing. It was the central node of Yu-Shan’s geomancy, where according to the Sorrowhands, Yu-Shan had stored the Games of Divinity. The other Mighty Ones built the Jade Pleasure Dome as a further protection. The dome was built directly upon Yu-Shan’s main Essence reservoir – and if the geomancy was working properly, the Lady Sorrowhands’ fellow Overseers and the Operators beneath them would be feeding motes into the system as they stewed in their pods. As it was… it was only Overseers right now, and that only began seven thousand years ago Even that was… being diverted, and Yu-Shan was pretty much starved. The reservoir’s total motes could be measured in the single digits most of the time. Occasionally – presumably when some Overseer had mounted an offensive – it had hit low double digits. The highest level that the Sorrowhands could recall had been about fourteen motes, out of around a thousand. (The Sorrowhands weren’t quite sure; Yu-Shan had mote pool boosters.

It wasn’t so much that it drained into the games; it was that nothing was coming in. It didn’t help that there was a conversion process from Tender Essence to Yu-Shan Essence, and it compacted the motes greatly. The Sorrowhands had…. pretty much felt trace amounts of Yu-Shan Essence hit the geomancy of the Dome… and then nothing.

Hm… In the days of the Primordials, the Eastern Overseers would bring the fruits of their and their subordinates’ labor to a grand columned annex to the Jade Pleasure Dome where the Sorrowhands would supervise the final preparations for the Mighty Ones. That place was considerably more secured when the Incarnae took over the Dome. She was a bit bitter about that; it had a nice view – but nowadays, it was as secure as any other gate into the dome. They still brought the wine and peaches there though – and all Charles needed was to meet them in person for a couple of minutes…

It took a lot of pointing at Luna’s writ, but eventually the Celestial Lions agreed – even if they WOULD be watching.

Charles dropped by to give each of the Sorrowhands a few manse-links – six each, for 120 motes an hour. Even with compaction, that should help a good deal! Besides… that would also make them effectively present at six manses each, spread across the cosmos. That will make it MUCH easier to get into contact with them while maintaining their oaths; they wouldn’t be interfering with Yu-Shan or Earth in any fashion.

They were very appreciative of the thought… Most of the essence types in the package weren’t as delicious as the Sun’s, but they were a lot easier to digest! Actually, however, they craved Raksha Essence.., It had been quite some time since they’d hunted!

Huh. Well if they’d just said, a Wyld-oriented manse or two would have been pretty easy; he’d just have to adjust one to suit. For that matter… a wyld-aspected manse could be pretty useful in some ways! Something to look into later!

The Lions – who had some of those essence-sensing items – wanted to know what Charles was up to while he was setting up for that; whatever he was planning to do with the Sorrowhands it had some ODD essence-signatures!

Charles happily turned it into a conference with the Lions! He’d been planning to hold one with them shortly in any case! They were, unsurprisingly, adamant-chased celestial lions of better than average power, and Arelis and Aros Sorrowhands, of course, were the rulers of… Yu-Shan’s maintenance staff. At least to start, you could cut the tension with a knife… a couple of the lions were not removing their eyes from the Sorrowhands, and Charles was pretty sure that the rest were running all manner of detections. For their parts, the Sorrowhands were maintaining a quiet air of superiority despite being prisoners.

Charles waved cheerily at the lions, who were only allowing this because Luna had given him an absurdly open-ended writ – and because they were quite used to her eccentricities. Still, there were EXCELLENT refreshments not celestial wine and peaches of immortality, but as close as you could get below that.

(Hanzong, a Senior Lion) “OK, just what in the blazes is this about? Few people even know who they are-and fewer still would want to do THAT for them!”

(Charles) “Oh, it’s simple enough! At this point… there’s only about 2518 years, plus or minus about fifty – depending on the vagaries of the geomantic conflict – before the geomancy of Yu-Shan will collapse, most of the city will become an aspect of the Labyrinth, Yu-Shan herself becomes a new Neverborn, and most of the inhabitants of the city – the lucky ones – are sucked into Oblivion. Of course, current events are threatening to advance that timescale to less than a year. Therefore something really needs to be done!”

(Hanzong) “And why does this… wait, Yu-Shan is going to become a WHAT? But that would mean-“

(Charles, with some surprise) “Well, yes! Didn’t you know?”

(Arelis) “Charles, do you think they would believe us? They have a vested interest in maintaining Yu-Shan as they made it. As it is (nodding to the lion) you’ve made your own bed.”

(Aros) “Now if only we could get out of it – but that is why Charles came today.”

(Hanzong) “I only did what I could to make the city habitable for the gods of Meru!”

(Charles) “Well, that’s why it needs to be multi-aspected! That may broaden her charmset of course, but it should mostly be Raksha-style echo-variants with different orientations of the same basic effects!”

(Hanzong) “And you’re going to do this in the largest city in existence – something that might or might not be a Primordial, according to some Unwanted gods’ words? Have you even tested this? CAN you even test this?”

What kind of prank was Luna up to here!? This wasn’t funny!

(Charles) “Do you actually see a choice? It’s either that… or see Yu-Shan destroyed and pretty much everyone in it die.”

(Hanzong) “No . . . but I can’t believe it’s come to this – and what in the Malfeas am I going to say if somebody from the Bureaucracy snoops around?”

(Charles) “That’s why Luna gave me a writ!… Well, to be fair, she gave it to me because I asked, but that’s one of the reasons why I asked!”

(Aros) “Oh for the love of the Mighty Ones… you’re a Celestial Lion. Just snarl at them imposingly and tell them Luna ordered it-everyone knows how she is.”

(Charles) “Well, we can always let them argue with Gaia afterwards! She said she’d help…”

(Hanzong) “Aaargh… Gaia is in on this too.”

(Arelis) “Of course. They’re sisters – and I’m surprised you haven’t gotten Autochthon’s opinion on this. Where is he, anyhow?”

(Charles) “Hrm… I think he’s deep interstellar at the moment, and I haven’t really had time to go hunting. His responses to sendings are very vague though!”

(Hanzong) “Look, Charles – we’ve got orders not to let these… things… eat any Essence but the Sun’s. Otherwise, there could be side effects. Is this going to be integral to the stuff in that writ?”

(Aros) “We have names, you know…”

(Charles) “Yes; Yu-Shan must eventually wake up or die; perpetual coma is just not sustainable. Providing reality level accommodations for everyone here will require quite a LOT of changes!”

(Hanzong) “Well, can I at least know what you’re going to do? I’d heard rumors about you planning something big around the precinct stable last time I visited – I didn’t think it was THIS! It’d be good to have DETAILS, at least!”

(Charles, after putting up some additional privacy wards) “Oh sure! (He pulled up the displays again) I was going to need your help anyway! I was planning to hold a meeting on that fairly shortly after I got a few special tools!

(Arelis) “He has planned this quite extensively… though I’m not sure about some of his methods.”

(Aros) “My dear, is his Wyld Shaping really that different from what the Mighty Ones did to make Creation?”

(Arelis) “They channeled and directed it through one of their own, at least – not that that would be feasible here.”

The lions… were looking.

(Charles) “Well, I will be working with the Guardians, a network of geomantic control artifacts, and a couple of thousand geomantic assistants.”

(Arelis) “So, channeling it through yourself, at least partially. Not even Gaia and Cytherea took that risk.” (She takes a sip of the wine.) “So, what do you lions think of this?”

(Charles) “Well… I don’t have time for anything else! I can’t make enough artifacts that powerful fast enough!”

(Liuwei) “So… they get a Yu-Shan, we get a Yu-Shan, the humans get a Yu-Shan, the raksha get a Yu-Shan… does that mean the deiphages will be staying in their Yu-Shan where they don’t bother us?”

(Charles) “Well, there’s not much reason to fight when there’s no need to meet! And I’m mostly providing the power… really, most of the control inputs will be handled as the power pours into Yu-Shan’s geomancy!”

(Aros) “He’s already discussed this with our subordinates. And really, haven’t you wanted to be rid of us for thirty thousand years?”

(Liuwei) “Oh, like you don’t feel the same way . . .”

The Lord Sorrowhands smiled and nibbled at his meal.

(Charles) “Well, a good fix gives everybody what they need!”

(Hanzong) “I… don’t have the authority to oppose this. Just don’t blame me if these two make trouble with it!”

(Arelis) “On something like this? I seriously doubt we’d risk it; you’d tear us apart.”

Although the expression on her adamant face was a bit enigmatic.

(Charles) “Well… I think that everyone will need to cooperate on this! After all… if it doesn’t work… Yu-Shan will be destroyed and everyone will die. That’s REALLY not a good thing! But not trying will have the same result!”

EVERYONE else looked a little leery at that level of idealism. Was he serious? Still, they’d seen the plans – and it DID look pretty bad!

(Hanzong) “I’ll take this to my superiors… I don’t think they’ll be happy about it, but they’ll just have to accept it! We can’t have the city dying on us! And… well, they can do their own investigations if they’re skeptical.”

(Charles) “Well, I can give a presentation! And things are almost ready on Earth; the power levels there are starting to come back into balance nicely as the wood and water pole-tapping manses take effect, and the air and fire manses will be next – which will give us the elemental energy basis to mirror and stabilize the energy balances here!”

(Hanzong) “More of your work, no doubt… I’ll let you know when they’re ready to talk to you.”

(Charles) “OK!”

(Hanzong) “Well, let’s get this over with… now what is this bonding going to involve? I want details on that too.”

(Charles) “It’s setting them up with links to some manses! That way they’ll have some extra power to feed into Yu-Shans central reserve.”

The Lions insisted on Manses without means of outside communications or ways of linking to the other Tenders and Overseers, just in case they got up to something! Old habits died hard, writs or not – and, of course, means of escape were right out. Still, as long as only motes went through, and only for this project…

(Charles) “Well, they are on distant planets that currently have no communications with Yu-Shan. Is that good enough?”

(Hanzong) “Fine by me.”

(Charles) “OK then!”

And he set up the links – much to the delight of both Sorrowhands. With any luck… they could start slowly filling up the reserve a bit!

(Aros) “It feels… wonderful.”

(Arelis) “Yes… with this, we can preserve her while you’re finishing the final stages of your planning.”

(Charles) “Ah good! I’m sorry it got left so long, but I wasn’t around to try to help earlier!”

(Hanzong) “And we’ll be watching them to make sure nothing funny happens. Not until this goes off, at least…”

(Charles) “Well, after that… a lot of things should be working better!”

(Hanzong) “I hope so!”

(Arelis) “And we actually agree on something.”

(Charles) “It’s a start!”

There wasn’t any handshaking or smiling there… but they did seem to have an understanding, and Charles was glad to settle for that. Hopefully nobody would try to doublecross anybody. After all, the situation was dire, both sides were dedicated to their parts of Yu-Shan – and with any luck they could all get exactly what they wanted!

Even if the Lions DID all look like they had headaches.

The Sorrowhands waved as Charles departed. Perhaps, not all that long from now, the Lions would be willing to call them by their names…

Charles too, of course, cheerily waved back at everyone. He still had to get the Air and Fire manses set up to finish balancing things!

The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice CXXII – Interlude with Lytek

Painting of Yushan by Nasu Masaki (那須雅城).

It’s just a small addition, really!

Charles had decided that Lytek might need some more defenses – and he knew just what to give him! A pocket dimension full of manses and protectors and aides! He could hide it behind the Cabinet… after all, hardly anyone but Lytek have the nerve to touch the thing, and it wouldn’t (or at least shouldn’t) set off any autochthonian booby traps as long as Lytek gave permission…

Lytek WAS interested in some form of protection beyond the lions and other guards. The memories of the Usurption died hard…

(Lytek) “So what were you planning to install my boy?”

(Charles, happily) “A pocket dimension – about 25,000 square miles – with thirty-six each rank five, three, and two manses! One of the big ones will eventually be for that trip into the corrupted Shard – or similar shards with a little retuning perhaps! – and another to provide you with a (normally inactive) private backdoor in and out of Yu-Shan – but that will still provide a about twenty thousand guards and aides and such, plus the hearthstones and things… That way you could have a lot of handy stuff! It will take almost two years to fully populate the manses, but that can be sped up some; if I increase the timerate inside, that will also increase the rate at which it will restore your essence pool outside as long as you’re multipresent in it! And a good linking artifact – a perfect binding would be best, so it can never be taken away – would let you travel there and back even if you couldn’t access the main portal!”

And with the remote links set up… Lytek would be properly protected against being killed, even if something happened to him and HIS manses!

(Lytek) “Oh my… That WOULD be very useful, but wouldn’t it be an awful lot of work? You tend to be far too busy now Charles.”

(Charles) “It wouldn’t take too long – and you might need the protection!”

(Lytek) “Well, if you’re sure, certainly!”

And that would provide Lytek with Hearthstones of freedom, of protection from mental manipulation, of protection from sidereal martial arts, and links to manses that provided healing, remote presence, a mental backup function, a remote exaltation viewing gallery (easy enough with the portal right next to the Cabinet), a backup archive for memory-fragments and technique memories and such, essence-boost manses to give him and any minions he wanted to favor extra essence and charms, and more… All safely with his secondary location, so no one could deprive him of them at all easily…

With that kind of safety margin, he might even be willing to start inviting Sidereals (and possibly even Bronze Faction Sidereals – although that would probably take even longer) in again – which would be another thing being given a chance to heal, even if it was sort of intangible.

It didn’t actually take very long; with the faster internal timerate a great deal could be accomplished in a Yu-Shan afternoon…

Lytek was a bit bemused… Yes, Charles operated on an immense scale – but his motives seemed to be a LOT like those of a normal, idealistic, child… Was this what being a “parent” was like? If so… he could understand the attraction of siring god-bloods a great deal more!

Eclipse Power Package – the Houngan Conjurer

Most spirits cluster around the Core Realms of the Multiverse – the realms of mind and matter, of more or less comprehensible space and time, of life and death, of sanity and order, and of a fairly reasonable number of dimensions. Others voyage outwards, to the outer rim of the great spiral of infinity, to realms incomprehensible to any normal mind, where alien powers hold sway.

Some few of those remember what they once were, and occasionally yearn to experience solid existence once more. When properly called with a summons cast through the unseen labyrinth of the dimensions, those few will answer – sharing the strange energies of the realms beyond with their hosts, while their hosts share their lives and material existences with them.

Few mortals learn such lore, for many fear and beings that may be summoned – whether they call them Apparitions, Daemons, Eidolons, Imprints, Loa, Remnants, Residues, Residuum, Shades, or Vestiges. In truth, however, as long as one resists the temptation to attempt to truly comprehend the mind-shattering nature of such spirits existence there is little danger in it. Still, mad men are all too often drawn to such studies – and whatever standards such spirits may hold, they bear no relationship to the morality of the Core Realms. Whatever they are called, they will lend their power to enterprises mad, petty, or malevolent as readily as to purposes sane, grand, or benevolent.

In game terms the Houngan Conjurer only needs two powers:

  • Create Relic, Specialized and Corrupted/only usable to make one-point relics, only usable with points from Enthusiast, requires that the user come up with a neat ritual, and all relics carry a disadvantage – although this does help reduce their cost (2 CP).
  • Double Enthusiast, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect (a total of six “floating” character points)/points may only be used to create relics (known as “conjures”), relics have a maximum cost of one point and no one can use more than one at any one time (6 CP for the ability to create a similar number of one-point relics).
  • If you’re in a hurry add Adaption (using the same limitations to reduce the cost to an additional 1 CP) so you can change them around in a day or so if you need to.

That allows our Houngan to maintain up to six “Conjures” at a time – presumably one for each member of the party. Of course, as Relics, to be really effective they’ll need to be tailored to each recipient. With a disadvantage on the relics to help, a Houngan Conjurer can squeeze up to twelve points worth of powers into each one – enough to provide the equivalent of two feats. If a Conjure gets broken, destroyed, or discarded, he can make another as soon as he can find a few hours (mostly spent laying out the diagrams) to perform another ritual.

Yes, this guy is going to be a POPULAR party member.

As examples, here we have some conjure-creating rituals created by Narthion, a quasi-demonic mystic who’s magically-charged blood burns when exposed to air, which gives him some fun special effects to play with…

The Amulet of the Lidless Eye:

For our resident Ur-Priestess.

The diagram on the floor is a triangle, with curious sigils at the points, and a swirling, distorted, seven-pointed star surrounding a stylized eye at the center – all of which start to glow as the summoner sets a mirror of gold and obsidian at in front of the diagram, places a rough amulet on a chain in it’s exact center, and traces each symbol with his wand. As he squeezes three drops of his burning blood onto the mirror, the smoke of it’s black and crimson flames entwines above the symbols in strange signs as the summoning chant begins.

  • “Hidathia, who Foresees Disaster, Unheeded Prophetess!
  • I Whisper your Name Upon the Hidden Paths, the Forgotten Ways.
  • It echoes within the Void, the Invisible Labyrinth!
  • Hear Us and Waken, Arise from the Void Between the Worlds.
  • We share with you Vitality, share with us your Power to Foresee, the Shield of the Infinite Night.
  • By the Sigil which Calls, the Sign which Anchors, Let the Binding be Forged!”

The triangle flares brilliantly before shifting to a black which sucks all light that comes near it into it’s endless depths. When the claimant applies a drop of her blood to the amulet to complete the binding, a portion of the power of Hidathia will be hers until the binding is broken.

Hidathia, the Unheeded Prophetess, foresees many paths, and can reveal them to those who call upon her – but foresees only darkness and disaster. To walk the paths she shows you is to rush into doom, and that anguish makes her power bittersweet. The Amulet of the Lidless Eye is a channel for her power, granting some tiny portion of it to those who dare to bear it – and often allowing them to take another path at the last second.

Disadvantage: Accursed. The bearer of the Amulet is occasionally compelled to warn complete strangers of the dire consequences of some cherished plan or scheme, speaking dark prophecies that few heed and many resent (-3 CP).

Granted Abilities:

  • Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized in Saving Throws (6 CP).
  • Block (Melee and Missile), Specialized/the user must spend a spell point and cry aloud a Word of Negation (in some terrible, tongue-twisting language) to shunt an incoming attack into the void between the worlds.

The Sigil of the Elder Beast:

For the parties resident shapeshifting hyena-warrior.

For this ritual the sigils and diagrams are crude scratchings, marks as if made by claws ripping into trees to mark territory. The “name” is a strange rumbling, a heavy, predatory, scent, a dreadful fear, and an impression of fangs and claws. The summons is a series of defiant bellows, an offering of meat, and growling which mixes challenge – to once again hunt – with an invitation to once more experience life in the world directly. A few drops of blood from each participant are still required however – and as they strike the center of the ritual’s symbols the floor will seem to shimmer and heave, humping itself up and rippling as a vast, barely-detectable, presence climbs up out of it as it it was emerging from a pool of water to momentarily touch it’s nose to the recipients – and then swirl down, spinning into a scattering of drops of blood across the recipient’s flesh.

Before the blade and bow, before the rise of mind, were tooth and claw and red, red, rage. This remnant of that primordial world has a scent, an impression, an image, and  and an emotion of terror – but no name. The Sigil of the Beast lurks upon the user’s form like a thing alive, crawling across their skin like a living tattoo, all the stronger when merged into a bestial form. The force it channels – primal and terrible – is filled with feral rage, which constantly strains to escape when confronted with the incomprehensible oddities of “civilization”.

Disadvantage: Uncivilized. The user will find it quite impossible to deal with complex social situations and the chaos of crowds. If the user already suffers from this disadvantage he or she becomes Accursed – and the Uncivilized disadvantage becomes obvious to others at a glance (-3 CP).

Powers Granted:

  • Berserker (Standard Bonuses) with Enduring and +2 Bonus Uses (12 CP).

A Shard of the Shattered Mirror.

For the parties resident dual-minded psychic, who happens to be using Green Ronin’s Psychic Handbook (a skill-based psionics system).

A complex branching spiral pattern of glyphs and mathematical symbols lies within a circle of mirrors, reflecting that pattern and each other into a myriad branching lines of possibility which twist and change unsettlingly in their depths. They hang unsupported, and reflect nothing but the unsettling spirals, no matter if someone passes in front of them. As the summoner applies a drop of his blood to each mirror, the spirals it reflects will ignite with black and crimson fires – and the spiral on the floor will fade away as the blazing vortex of mind-tearing symbols becomes self-sustaining in non-existence. The whisper trembles on the edge of inaudibility, but seems to bypass the ears to well up directly from the depths of the mind.

  • “Tekili-Li, who is the Gate and Guide and Guardian of the Gate to the Realms Beyond.
  • I set your Sign upon the Mirrors of the Gate, the Myriad Paths.
  • You Dance within the Void, where the Mind recoils, the Invisible Labyrinth.
  • Rise from the Places that Are Not, the Depths Within.
  • We share with you the Places Left Behind, share with us the Thoughts we Cannot Hold.
  • By the Paths which Beckon, the Mind which Hosts, Let the Binding be Forged!”

With the summons the mirrors will flare blindingly – and one will almost explode, shattering into a thousand shards, one glowing with a single arcane sigil still burning within it’s depths. A drop of the recipients blood upon the glowing shard will complete the link.

In the early days of Creation, before the walls between the worlds were firm, Tekili-Li sought out the outermost limits of creation and the mind, passing at last beyond the limits of the imaginable, of life and death, and of existence. There, beyond space, time, and mind, the vortex of power and identity that is Tikili-Li delves forever into the incomprehensible. A fragment of shattered mirror linked to the equally incomprehensibly fragmented identity of Tekili-Li opens a channel for his terrible power to flow into the bearers mind, expanding it perilously beyond all normal limits.

Disadvantage: Incompetent. With his or her mind filled with the incomprehensible power of Tekili-Li, the user will find it near-impossible to relate to normal people – suffering a -3 modifier on all such attempts.

Granted Abilities: These vary with each invocation, but are always related to expanding the user’s mental powers. In this case it’s bestowing…

  • Activated Potentials: Occult Skill/Access to Psychokinesis Skills (3 CP) plus one skill point each in Apport, Telekinesis, and Telekinetic Shield (3 CP).
  • Dual Consciousness: Strengthened by the power of Tekili-Li, the two halves of the recipients dual mind mind can operate semi-independently. Sadly, they’re still sharing the same body, and so only one can act physically at a time. Companion (“Familiar) with +2 ECL Template, Specialized/has no physical existence, cannot move independently, only one can control their shared body during any one round. The Template powers are essentially just the base characters, and only amount to +1 ECL (6 CP total). The ability bestowed by the “Familiar” is Enhanced Fine Control (Augmented Bonus / Adds (Dex Mod) to Psychic Skills, 6 CP).

Psychic Familiar Template (30 CP):

  • Assistant and Aide, Specialized for Double Effect/Primary Consciousness Only, Mental Actions (including Perception) only (12 CP).
  • Grant of Aid with +4 Bonus Uses Specialized (for Double Effect)/only for healing hit point/strain damage (12 CP).
  • 2x Mystic Link, Corrupted for Increased Effect (User may simply spend 1 strain point to make mental contact as a free action), Specialized for Reduced Cost (Has no passive function) (2 CP).
  • Luck with +2 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted/only for use with skills, only works with psychic skills (3 CP).
  • +1 Skill Point in Mind Reading (1 CP).

The Hearts Blood Blade

For the parties resident swordsman of course.

The diagram for this ritual is relatively simple; a triangle formed by three interlocking swords, surrounding a shield bearing the emblem of a mighty bear, salient, in plate armor, and bearing a sword. Around it wraps a swirling banner. A sprinkling of powdered magnetite and iron lends it shading, somehow falling perfectly. As the summoner drips three drops of his blood into a glass of brandy and scatters the now-flaming fluid across the diagram, the swords bleed – filling the banner and the shield with crimson hues. The recipient will need to set his or her sword in the center, aligned with the sword the bear carries as the summoner begins tapping gently on a small iron gong or cymbal with a wand – but the sound will be deep, and roll like the surf upon the shore as it calls the heart to dance to it’s rhythm.

  • “Vierdan Sanguine, thou Bloody General! We’re very thirsty, very dry!
  • The Cry of War Resounds, Drink Deep! Awake the Iron and the Storm!
  • The Battle-Thunders Call Through Darkness, Echoing in the Invisible Labyrinth!
  • Turn from the Stilled Wheel, be Sheathed Once More in Blood and Bone!
  • We share Breath and Flesh with you, Walk with Us the Paths of Destruction!
  • By Blade and Blood, by the Beat of Blades and Heart, Let the Binding be Forged!”

Most of the blood and powdered iron will be drawn into the sword, tracing shimmering ruby veins within the steel. Completing the binding will require a drop of the recipients blood upon the steel – and when that drop of blood falls upon the sword, the remaining magnetite powder will swirl around him for a moment – and then pour into the skin of his sword-arm, tattooing the symbols of Vierdan Sanguine upon him for the duration.

The sword shimmers with crimson traceries, shining within the steel, as if blood has been absorbed within the metal, and pulses within the blade with the strength of a thousand stolen lives. When drawn, it fills the user’s mind with whispers, faint echoes of the battle-cries of ancient wars and feuds, for Vierdan Sanguine, the Bloody General, Lord of Iron, War, and Storm, has walked in spirit in them all – and his dread presence pulses within the steel, guiding it’s wielders hand. It is a good day for someone else to die.

Disadvantage: Insane: Gods too fall before the blade, and the Iron Lord has seen a myriad pass while he endures. Their priests and followers may wield a power they call “divine”, but they will fall before the blade as easily.

Bestowed Power:

  • +12 Skill Points in a martial art of the ritualist’s choice, Specialized for Double Effect (one technique per level for a total of 12)/only usable with the blade, not with any other weapons or with unarmed techniques.

The Cloak of Shadows:

In this case two slight variations on the same relic – for the parties resident dragoness and the resident mystic martial artist (who happens to be using Witchcraft to represent C’hi Powers).

The floor seems to ripple like the surface of a pond, and from it wisps of dark mist rise and coil, striking outwards like reaching serpents. Apparently deep within it, lines of blackness crawl; as the light dims and the area fades into shadow, the dark patterns half-seen beneath the mist remain visible by their own radiant darkness, deeper than the depths between the stars. Around it are placed seven short cylinders of green stone, each anointed with a drop of the ritualists fiery blood as he walks counterclockwise around the circle – and burning with the dark fire that drinks light and warmth. There is a terrible chill in the air, and a faint, sweet, scent of corruption as the ritualist carefully positions the skull of some strange beast in the center of it all.

And the shadows and mist will lend ethereal flesh to the skull, as it whispers in the deep voice of some great beast, long passed:

“In ages long past, in the beginning of days, Nidhogg the Formless, The Living Dark, First Wyrm, rose to burrow between the worlds. In it’s wake followed men, and it swallowed their forms and took them, walking among them beneath a thousand skies, secret and unknown, taking their deaths into itself and avoiding it’s own. But men, at last, could not follow where Nidhogg led, as it passed beyond the worlds of form, to become the shadow of all things, And in every shadow Nidhogg lurks, shapeless and unknown, watching and waiting to walk the worlds once more.”

And the ritualist replies…

  • “Blacker than the Deepest Night, Shining Dark like Gold within the depths of Hvergelmir!
  • Great Nidhogg who Crawls Between Life and Death, Shadow of All Things, hear my call!
  • You ARE and ARE NOT; You Shatter the Walls of the Invisible Labyrinth!
    Rise from the Endless Void, the Realms Beyond, Return to the Flesh you left so long ago!
  • We give you Shape, grant us the Twilight Paths, The Strengths of a Thousand Worlds!
  • By Fall of Night, by the Darkness and the Light and the Paths of Souls, Let the Binding be Forged!”

And the tendrils of mist weave around the recipient(s), becoming a subtle silken cloak. It must be marked with a drop of the recipients blood lest it drift away between the worlds once more – and when the recipient does so, his or her blood will sink into the silk, becoming a crimson personal sigil worked into the very fabric.

The cloak of Shadows clings like a wisp of finest silk, a subtle thing that drifts between the worlds, merging with the darkness – and the strengths of many worlds.

Disadvantage: Anyone who wears the Cloak of Shadows will find themselves attuned to the shadows; they will be easily mistaken for others (whether for good or ill) and will find themselves inclined to irrational secrecy.

Granted Abilities:

  • Shapeshift with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted/Humanoid Form Only, does not actually change any game statistics beyond losing access to things like claws, wings, and fangs, and allowing the user to fit into smaller places if he or she is larger than medium sized (4 CP).
  • Hysteria, Specialized and Corrupted/only applies to one particular subset of abilities (in this case it was their Breath Weapon for the Dragon and their Witchcraft/”C’hi Powers” for the Martial Artist (2 CP).
  • 2d6 (10) Mana, Specialized and Corrupted/only to fuel Hysteria (4 CP).
  • Rite of Chi, Specialized and Corrupted/only to refill mana pool, requires ten minutes of meditation (2 CP).

The One Ring (no, not THAT one ring)

In this case it’s a booster for our Demon Mystic himself – although it’s an enhancement that he, once again, intends to share with his companions. This actually makes seven relics in this particular set – but our ritualist opted to invest another character point so that he could have a toy too…

The lines of the summoning diagram are laid out with geometric exactitude, strange symbols from a world unmade laying out a schematic of a device of unnerving simplicity and subtlety, a functional Hieronymus Machine – the Final Gate. Around it lay a dozen tokens, small products of craft and artifice. As three drops of the ritualist’s blood fall into the center, the diagram takes fire – and the void opens, a doorway into a nothingness that the eye cannot accept nor the mind comprehend.

  • “First and Last the Hammer Falls, Ringing like a Thousand Bells, Sounding Death and Renewal!
  • Somon, Mastercrafter, Smith of the Unmaking, hear my call among the Endless Paths of Time!
  • Ages like Drifting Leaves are gathered into the Vaults of Time, you Shape and Reshape the Invisible Labyrinth!
  • The Gate of the Mind is Opened, Let Artifice come forth to break once more Obdurate Fate!
  • We share Time and Destiny with you, share with us the Skill that Transcends the Final Night!
  • By Craft and Coil, by Shattered Chain and Worlds Departed, Let the Binding be Forged!”

And the recipient may reach into the eye-twisting nothingness – and withdraw his hand bearing a strange ring, tarnished as if ages-old, yet clear in every detail – and covered with strange sigils that, for the moment, blaze with the fires of a single drop of his blood, although the sigils swiftly fade to blackness, unseen beneath the tarnish of the ring.

A night had fallen that would never see another dawn. Times End, the Triumph of Entropy was nigh, the last embers of consciousness and purpose drifted in gossamer illusion, fading memories of a dying universe remembering it’s lost children. Somon the Artificer, Last Craftsman, wrought at last the Final Gate – and the Endless stepped from Worlds End to Times Dawn, where Death itself might not follow. In ages passing, Somon creates and destroys, stealing energy from realms that will never be, wrenching the course of time into a new path, and unmaking his own past. Times End will never come, for when it approaches, Somon emerges from nonexistence once more.

The One Ring is metaphor and truth, myriad yet singular, merely a token and yet the endless cycle of time. Because of it’s existence many futures will never be, and their power flows through the legions who bear it.

Disadvantage: Any bearer of the One Ring is driven to manipulate and change the course of events, exerting their skills to change situations – whether for the better or for the worse is irrelevant, as long as stability and the humdrum course of bland destiny is diverted.

Granted Abilities:

  • Shaping, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (level one and possibly weak level two) effects/can only produce the effects for which the user has the appropriate foci ready, can only support a limited number (seven and three) of minor charms and more notable talismans at one time, charms and talismans are modestly tricky to make and take some time to attune for use (6 CP).
  • Shared Multiple Blessing, Specialized and Corrupted/Only to share the Shaping Package, secondary users get only three charms and one talisman instead of seven and three, all such Charms and Talismans are marked by the Sigil of Somon (6 CP).

Yes, this is pretty much the standard “you get to use Charms and Talismans” effect – but they are pretty handy, especially when the group is actually of fairly low level.

Relics are fairly powerful things – and because they’re amplifiers for their user’s own powers never really lose their usefulness. This particular set is designed to counter some of their bearers major weaknesses, but the special disadvantages they bring should add more than enough interest to things to make up for THAT.

Random List: Keeping the party together

And it’s a guest post from Editorial0…

Keeping it Together

As every GM knows, the worst, most terrifyingly awful event which can ever occur is for the party to split up.  This is so terrible and nightmarishly bad that brave men have been known to set themselves on fire and leap off mountains and things just to make it stop.

Losing his sons was bad n' all, but it just *wrecked* his campaign.

Not many realize that Denethor was a GM. Losing his sons was bad, but it just *wrecked* his campaign.

Pretty much the only alternative is to shave your head and retire to a monastery, where at least you may be able to find inner peace and/or train white guys to steal primetime slots from Bruce Lee.

Yes, that's a David Carradine joke

Yes, that’s a David Carradine joke

But, let’s say you aren’t a broken shell of man and somehow summon the will to game on. No – we both understand how ludicrous this statement is, but hear me out. Though no one has yet demonstrated this kind of will, the ever-evolving Nietzschean Superman may one day emerge, a bitter husk of a man who might somehow find the strength to carry on in spite of a splitting party. It won’t be easy, but the iron soul of a scarred and bitter giant, towering over other men by dint of sheer force of personality, might just do it. And on that day, these ideas may somehow aid him in his quest to bring order to humanity and discipline to the party.

He's the hero Ponies deserve.

He’s the Goddamn Batman you deserve.

Without Further Ado – Here’s the Top Ten Countdown in no particular order for… Keeping it in the Party

(10) Fiat

Who says your players a choice, huh? They don’t want to stick together? Make them! They’re your pawns, to be crushed underfoot as you see fit! I am guiding you to glorious times! Those who stand with me I shall honor but any who stand against me I shall crush underfoot! I am the alpha and the o-hmigosh. *Ahem*

May have gone a little overboard there. But that’s the point: fear! terror! sow obedience through the crushing of their spirits!

(9) Curse

Let’s face it, the average adventurer pisses off six gods before breakfast, and by lunch usually manages to offend enough townsfolk to fill an entire cathedral. If anyone can get away with laying annoying curse on the party, they will. Most of the time these aren’t all that dangerous, but for the adventurer in question they can be quite unpleasant.

A well chosen curse or two can keep the party together handily. The key is to make sure the curse really annoys the player, and can be mitigated by staying near the party. Perhaps a party member’s talent means the character doesn’t have to sleep – or the character falls asleep when separated too far for everyone else. Sure, it won’t last forever, but in the meantime you get a little peace and can think of something else.

(8) Threat

When the party’s being hunted by their numerous enemies, they won’t want to split up too often. And what adventurer *doesn’t* have a grotesque number of foes, who’ve all sworn eternal hatred and undying vengeance? When they’re on the prowl, the party likely won’t scatter for fear of being attacked. They don’t actually have to do anything too hostile – just make sure that the players knows they’re present. Of course, eventually the enemies have to hatch *something*. But make sure it’s incredibly roundabout and obnoxiously cruel so the players never see it coming.

(7) Mistrust

Paradoxically, party members often stick together if they fear each other. If they can’t trust one another, they’ll work very hard to make sure the others are never alone and able to hatch evil schemes. Of course, sowing this level of suspicion without inducing complete paranoia takes great skill and cunning; you have to manipulate the players into seeing each other’s characters as the enemy, while making sure they all believe it to be their own idea.

Or just start passing various secret notes around. Just ask players to occasionally leer at each other and smile evilly. Works wonders.

(6) Bribe

If you want a reputation as a nice, popular GM, you can always try giving your players a dirty, stinkin’ reward for sticking together. You can give the players food, longer sessions, or some external reward to the game. Y’know, if you want to be a spineless pushover.

(5) Cheese

A more organic solution is to give the party some powers or bonuses that they can only use while they stick together. Players will often stick like glue for fairly small bonuses.

This has an additional advantage in that it lets the party pick up any new characters – obviously, new party members are the ones with the same special abilities.

(4) Attention

Nothing says you have to pay attention to splitters. If some players go off to do something unimportant, then tell they succeed (or roll some dice or whatever) and then get back to the sensible things.

(3) Danger

If a player finds his or her character in the throes of immediate danger, they’ll either go berserk and try to kill everything (hopefully limited to the game world) or run to get some help (also hopefully in the game world) – and probably stick close to the party for a while (could go either way if you’re fine with codependency).

(2) Death

As we all know, killing players is illegal.

Shockingly, however, a legal loophole has existed for decades allowing you to kill their characters with no repercussions whatsoever. Although authorities don’t spread this around, there is indeed no law against killing characters any way you please. It can be cold blooded murder – even conspiracy if you like. And there are no rules on how you do it either – slow torture, fire, dismemberment, or even repeated episodes of Barney.

Helpfully, this can also be an abject lesson in why you won’t screw with the GM. Once you horribly kill a player character, the others truly begin to understand that you rule! That terror and obeisance should follow all the days of your life, that you hold absolute power of life and death over them – that your eyes are fire and your heart ashes! Now you are become Death!

And if they don’t stick together, make them Become Death, too. And make sure to laugh evilly while doing it.

(1) Ask

While on general principle we object to lowering yourself to the level of mere players, from time to time it may possibly coulda perhaps might occasionally sometimes now and then be wise to just… ask.

I mean, if it causes a problem when parties split, then it’s reasonable to suggest you can’t do as good a job. So, just ask. Point out it’s an issue, and if they want to divide things it will cause players to wait around.

Granted, this is the weak man’s way out, but it often works. You wuss.

XI: Yea, Thou Shalt Honor Thine GM With Pizza and Beer

XI: Yea, Thou Shalt Honor Thine GM With Pizza and Beer

Eclipse and Complete Races

To continue with Alzrius’s question about comparing Eclipse and other classless / point buy d20 systems I’ll be finishing up the “Complete” series from Dreamscarred Press with  Complete Races.

Complete Races  is pretty simple. It…

  • Assigns a point cost to a long list of racial abilities taken from the various playable races.
  • Notes that races will generally have an ECL of (Total Points/8) -1, rounded up.
  • Notes that the same rules apply to Templates.
  • Builds three races using it’s guidelines.
  • Recommends that races be designed without racial hit dice if they’re meant to be used with Complete Control.

And that’s all perfectly functional.

Regrettably it does not…

  • Provide complete costs. Instead it notes that it’s rules are “merely guidelines”, and implies that exceptions will be required when GM’s are pricing other abilities.
  • Include rules for advancing racial or template abilities – a MAJOR disappointment considering that it was a companion piece to Complete Control.
  • Cover buying off ECL adjustments.
  • Include the rules on how most of the abilities it covers work.
  • Include a rule allowing player-created racial variants or races with multiple choices for a racial  ability.

It also falls into at least one major trap – making drawbacks provide the same number of points as a similar advantage costs. Secondarily, it falls into the related (if somewhat lesser) trap of  valuing some attributes more than others – an effect which creates niche races. Yes, that’s taken  from the d20 rules and notes about building races, but it doesn’t really work.

For example, taking a -4 racial penalty to Strength gets you (2 x -4) = -8 points. +2 to Int costs  2 points. Getting one extra skill point per level costs 4 points (which makes no sense of course,  since +4 Int gets you TWO extra skill points per level for the same price). So: Take a Human. Dump  the extra skill point per level in exchange for +4 Int. Want an uber-wizard race? Throw in -4 Str  and +8 Int at no net cost.

Thus, a race with a Bonus Feat, -4 Str, and +12 Intelligence is a +0 ECL race. Heck, dump the bonus  feat and take -4 Str and +16 Int – and still stay ECL 0.

OK, Complete Races does note that “races of medium size should not exceed a final +/-2 to any score without care” – but going from medium to small is another -8 disadvantage. So drop the Str penalty in favor of Small (-8) and +16 Int (16) for a net ECL 0. Lets start MY small Wizard with Int 34 and no ECL adjustment. Sure, I won’t have any other racial powers – but at +16 Int I think I can do  without them.

The d20 rules encourage specialization – and that makes it fairly obvious that bonuses to attributes help more than penalties hurt because the players will pick a class and role for their character which plays to their strengths and away form their weaknesses. Treating some attributes as being more important than others just makes this worse since it makes taking those as a dump stat even MORE efficient.

Even with the other abilities listed in Complete Races, the pricing is pretty iffy. For example,  Spell/Power Resistance of (11+Level) costs a mere 3 points – the same cost as gaining three Power points, or +2 Natural Armor, or +2 on saves versus Fear, Illusions, and Poison. Now, +2 Natural Armor  is nice, and save bonuses are handy (although three power is actually pretty neglegible) – but I’ll take spell/power resistance over any one of those three alternatives any day.

Overall… Complete Races is reasonably functional if kept strictly in the hands of a sensible GM who won’t create abusive races.

 Now it’s quite possible for a player to create abusive races in Eclipse as well, but I like to think that the pricing is a little better (it’s certainly far more complete, if only because Eclipse includes more than a hundred pages of abilities and rules for customizing them to cover pretty much any ability in the game). Moreover, Eclipse covers advancing racial and template abilities, provides the rules for using those abilities in the game, AND is available for free…

Unfortunately, Eclipse is still far, FAR, more complicated – which plays against casual games, quick-and-easy race design, and so on.  If you’re willing to put up with needing a pile of different books and supplements, and don’t need Eclipse’s level of flexibility, Complete Races may suit you just fine.

Complete Races does solve some of the problems inherent in Complete Control; it’s use of a constant  number of points per effective level, recommendation against racial hit dice and “level”, and the linear progression of some of the abilities it prices is a step ahead, and would make it a prototype for a revised version of Complete Control or a precursor to Eclipse – except for the fact that it came out in 2010, five years after Eclipse. Overall, I’m afraid that – as with Complete Control and Complete Gear – I’m throughly used to the complexities of Eclipse, and so I really don’t have much use for Complete Races – although it is superior to a good many other d20 products out there.

Eclipse: The Codex Persona is available in a Freeware PDF Version, in Print, and in a Paid PDF Version that includes Eclipse II (245 pages of Eclipse races, character and power builds, items, relics, martial arts, and other material) and the web expansion.

The Practical Enchanter can be found in a Print Edition (Lulu), an Electronic Edition (RPGNow), and a Shareware Edition (RPGNow).  There’s an RPGNow Staff Review too.

The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice CXXII – Family Visitations

Hypatia, by Charles William Mitchell (1885).

Haven’t we painted this same basic picture quite a lot of times before?

Lets see… what else was on the catchup project list? Oh yes! Check on the Morgans and see if they were all right! He had to stop in Atlanta and catch up on things there anyway! He’d been meaning to get to that – but there hadn’t been any alarms or emergency calls and other things kept taking precedence…

Hm… Jose had wanted to visit too, and he was available at the moment! Still, it would be kind of rude to just shove a Sidereal in their faces without asking; it might lead to problems. Charles called the Morgans first!

The only ones he could get into contact with at the moment were Howard and Mitchell, his son.

(Charles) “Hello there! What’s going on?”

(Howard, who had gotten to the phone before Mitchell) “Hello, Charles! What’s going on with you? Things have been crazy lately!”

(Charles) “Well… lots of Geomancy projects mostly! And balancing out the elemental energy flows and such!… What’s been crazy?”

(Howard) “Handling all our guests! I’m still not sure what Dad and Peter did at that meeting, but they haven’t been talking to me that much. They’ve been bringing in a lot of artificers, though. I’m not sure why they haven’t called you on that-you seem like you’d be a natural.”

(Charles) “Well, I could drop by! I wanted to make sure that he was all right though… He DID ask for armor after all!”

(Howard) “Since you’re just dropping by, no problem! I’m sure the kids will be happy to see you.”

(Charles) “Oh… Jose (there were some fairly extensive explanations) wanted to visit… He kind of misses being able to see the family!”

(Howard) “Gahh… THAT was the Sidereal who sent me to Guam that one time. I think I should thank him, though! That was quite the discussion. Just… tell him not to do that again, OK?”

Jose might well have been responsible for both his grandson and Howard souring on Sidereal hunting – but then taking on a Sidereal Martial Artist might well have that effect.

(Charles) “Well, if no one is attacking him, there shouldn’t be any reason to send people to distant locations! Although I must say that that is a nicer art than most! A couple of hours then? OK”

Jose found movement fascinating, and Eburnean Angles of Lacunae’s concentration on space and distance fit him like a glove. And then when he got the booster artifact for it … well, it had been quite a shock to Howard at least.

Charles called Jose to let him know – and offered him a gate if he needed one.

(Jose) “Thanks, son… I’ll go in when you do, just in case.”

Howard’s place was as much as it had been before: nicely manicured and hedged lawn, fancy driveway, and all. Mitchell was the one to greet them.

(Mitchell) “Ah, come in Charles. We’ve been busy lately, hosting the experts Granddad has bought in.”

He nodded to Jose, whom he’d seen around Yu-Shan.

(Charles) “Oh, projects? I just wanted to be sure everyone was all right! After all… first asking for armor and then dropping out of contact was sort of ominous!”

(Mitchell) “That’s just the way Fire Aspects are. Granddad wanted answers right away, so he and my uncle went to meet with their backers. We should probably go to the warded room. Dad said we should probably be careful about this one – and I think Mr. Cisneros needs to hear this too.”

They headed upstairs, to the warded study with the testing equipment.

(Mitchell) “All right! What Dad told me was that Granddad and Uncle Peter went to meet with the Starbreaking. Granddad was confident that the Adenic Thaumaturgy alone would be enough to protect him if something happened… which it did.”

(Charles) “There are limits there! I hope it was all right!”

(Mitchell) “Mom, Dad, and I don’t know the EXACT details, but there was a fight. From what Dad said, Granddad managed to get out by the skin of his teeth. My uncle and his Awakened entourage managed to grab something and bring it back with them.”

That was… rather pleasing. Adenic Thaumaturgy was fairly powerful, but a lot of people were REALLY GOOD at hurting people!

(Jose) “So I take it they’re not your family’s backers anymore.”

(Mitchell) “No, I think not. Anyway… Granddad and Uncle Peter have been at one of the family atelier-chapels since then. We’ve been keeping in touch with our artificer contacts and hosting them for dinner every week, since we ARE the ones in town.”

(Charles) “Do they need help with something?”

(Mitchell) “Whatever it is, they’ve been analyzing it for many weeks now. It must be rather complicated or they must be stumped.”

He didn’t mention the possibility that it might be something BAD… he didn’t want to get Charles into MORE problems or worry about that himself!

(Charles) “Well… I could try to help if they wanted – but lots of people have secrets and things!”

(Mitchell) “I’m actually wondering why they haven’t already… but I’m sure they have their reasons. All I know is that my grandfather and uncle got home, and we should be very happy for that.”

(Charles) “As long as everybody’s all right!”

(Jose) “Yeah… an Alchemical with the right stuff installed is not a slouch in a fight.”

(Charles) “Well, I didn’t really make the upgrade for fighting, but it’s nice to know that it’s versatile enough to handle it…”

(Mitchell) “Anyhow… are you staying for dinner? You and Mr. Cisneros must be very busy, but Erin makes a great casserole!”

(Charles) “OK!”

It was indeed a very good casserole, thaumaturgically enhanced for reduced fat, salt, and other bad-for-you things – which was an application that Charles hadn’t really thought of! It probably WAS a lot easier to get it out of the food than out of you after you’d eaten the food!

Jose was a topic of some conversation due to his resemblance to Howard’s trusty sidekick. But he could explain it quite easily;

(Jose) “I’m visiting him from abroad!”

That wasn’t even a lie! And Charles cheerily… failed to explain!

(Lilah, Wood Awakened) “Well, he’s been watching the family places of power since Peter and Mr. Morgan have been away.”

She didn’t explain either – but she was happy to inform them that Raymond was in town, which likely meant the Water Tower.

He asked indirectly. After all, if they didn’t want to tell him, it really wasn’t his business!

(Lilah) “Well… he was guarding the big one, so if you want to meet him there… but he’s been a bit tense lately. He went with Mr. Morgan you see.”

(Charles) Should I visit? After all, if its something they wanted me to know… they’d have told me I think!”

(Howard) “I’m the man in charge right now, so I’m going to okay it. He is pretty jumpy though!”

(Charles) “Well, I guess I should drop by then! Something might need fixing!”

(Howard) “Not if Raymond’s been doing his job. And nice to speak to you, Jose!”

He did seem a little glad that the Sidereal was leaving, though… Of course, that situation had been pretty tense for over a century!

(Jose, after they left and were well out of earshot) “Can’t blame him… still, at least I didn’t turn him into a duck. Let’s see this… Water Tower, isn’t it?”

(Charles) “It’s a fairly nice manse!… Why would you turn him into a duck?”

(Jose) “*I* wouldn’t, but a lot of Sidereals forget that people aren’t pawns. Besides, I haven’t studied that style.”

(Charles) “Well… it can be done with Thaumaturgy until it wears off! That sort of thing can be fun sometimes!”

(Jose) “Eh… maybe as a prank. Not when you want to get people on your side.”

(Charles) “Oh, sometimes it’s fun to fly on your own wings and such!”

(Jose) “Ah, it’s times like that I wish I was a Lunar…” (And once they got to the Manse) “Yep! Definitely a notable security system here.”

(Guard) “Mr. Cisneros, what are you doing out – hey, you’re not Mr. Cisneros.”

(Jose) “Is he in? He’s been wanting to see me for some time!”

(Charles) “Howard sent us over!”

(Other Guard) “Ah, you’re the… Exalt. We’ll be watching you.”

The guards accompanied them in. There was no trust for Jose there – but he was either too cheery to care or was intentionally projecting that image. They led them upstairs, where Raymond was looking at some documents. He DID look pretty stressed out!

(Charles) “Hello! Howard sent us over!… Are you all right?”

(Raymond) “Hello, Charles. I’m fine…”

No he wasn’t; he looked like he hadn’t been sleeping that well lately.

(Jose) “You sure, grandson? I know lack of sleep when I see it! What’s the problem?”

(Raymond) “Oh, just that Mr. Morgan nearly got himself killed being impulsive… and got me caught up in it.” (He brightens up slightly.) “Great-grandfather? You actually came! I can’t believe it.”

(Jose) “Hey, you did ask where I’d been. Seriously, though, what’s wrong? You’re lucky to be alive, you know that?”

(Charles, somewhat sadly) “Family is important!”

(Jose, guiltily) “Yes, yes it is.”

There was hugging, which was easier in a Hispanic culture!

(Raymond) “Damn it… I wish I could tell you more about what happened, but I’ve been sworn to secrecy on it.”

(Charles) “Well, I’m glad you didn’t get killed! Even with the upgrade that can get pretty traumatic!”

Raymond pulled up his shirt to show a rather nasty scar.

(Raymond) “I would have if you hadn’t been so generous.”

(Well I’m glad you weren’t! Anyway… do you need any help?”

(Raymond) “No… and …” (To Jose) “Can I visit you in Yu-Shan?”

(Jose, thinking) “Eh … that could get complicated! I’ve got no permanent residence up there. You’d have to stay with someone else … but I’ll see what I can work out.”

(Charles) “Well… probably something can be arranged soon!”

(Jose) “Aren’t you doing enough, son? Well, I won’t stop you … “

(Charles) “Well… it will be a minor sub-aspect of something else anyway!

Jose looked puzzled for a moment, as did Raymond.

(Jose) “Some secret project?”

(Charles) “Yu-Shan needs a lot of fixing! It has a LOT of damaged manses and the geomancy is a terrible mess!”

(Both) “No kidding.”

(Jose) “Can you talk about it? I’ve got friends in the bad areas, so …”

(Charles) “Well… I was going to add a reconstructive resonance mode and feed more energy into the dragon-lines of Yu-Shan! That way most of the repairs should take care of themselves!”

(Jose) “Huh… knowing you, probably not taking centuries, either. That’s pretty big-scale manipulation, though. Can you control it?”

And behind his cheer… holy Maidens, the boy was progressing in unexpected and potentially dangerous directions.

(Charles) “I think so! I have lots and lots of healing available now, and I won’t be starting until I’m sure!”

(Raymond) “Healing? Charles, you’re not doing anything rash, are you?”

(Charles) “It’s for fixing things! Manses are sort of quasi-living, and so – if you tune it right – they can be healed too!”

(Jose) “Hey, you know as well as I do the boy’s a force of nature.”

(Raymond) “You’re going to let him do that in Yu-Shan, grandfather?”

(Jose) “You’ve seen the place … it’s time SOMEBODY took action.”

(Jose considered Charles appraisingly.) “What would you do if somebody interfered, or did something that might be opposed to that, though? I’m not accusing anybody, but it’s good to have contingencies.”

(Charles) “Well… set up precautions mostly! It will need a lot of stabilizing, but I asked for help with that, and it should be all right!”

(Jose) “Huh … well, I’d hate to see the kind of thing that would oppose you. I wouldn’t mind some details, so I can know what to expect.”

After all, his fiancee lived in Yu-Shan – as did his other descendants!

(Charles) “It won’t be for a bit! There are still lots of things to get ready… The biggest risk was if someone was feeding wyld energies into the system, but that’s why it might need stabilizing!”

Jose… wasn’t so sure about this, but if everything went as planned …)

(Jose) “Keep me posted, okay? I’m afraid I’ve got to let other people know about this one! Not too many though-it just needs some monitoring.”

(Charles) “OK! There will have to be notifications anyway… But I did get permission!”

(Jose, nodding knowingly) “And that’s why I’m not more concerned … you’re a good kid who does that.”

(Raymond) “But Yu-Shan is tied to Creation! I know he’s good at this stuff, but that’s a lot of trust.”

(Charles) “Oh it is! And if the geomancy of Yu-Shan continues to degrade… eventually the elemental poles will destabilize, Gaia will be unable to maintain them, and Creation will fall back into chaos!”

(Jose) “I think we can all agree that would be a disaster.”

(Charles) “Sort of by definition really!”

Jose nodded.

(Raymond) “Is it really that bad? Surely the Bureaucracy would do …” (There was a blank stare from Jose – a bit disconcerting coming from someone normally so cheery!) “Okay, that answered my question.”

(Charles) “It really needs fixing!”

(Jose) “I promise to save you if things go badly. I”m sure Charles would do the same thing.”

(Charles) “Even at the very worst… the Earth will hold for quite awhile; the Raksha… are very used to having it around and the collapse would take quite some time anyway.”

(Jose) “Anyway … I just wanted to catch up with you, grandson! You’ve probably got a lot of questions for me. Mind giving us privacy, Charles?”

(Charles) “No worries!”

He wandered off for a bit. The guards were watching him – and that room – carefully, but they were more relaxed now that he wasn’t with a Sidereal…

The manse was still running nicely, and everything was in order – but the guards could use some better armor and sense-boosting artifacts, and they could use some way to tie the wards into the geomancy so they’d be much harder to break, and…

After about an hour Jose found him again – busily upgrading things and giving out more-or-less random presents.

(Jose) “Thanks, Charles. That was nice, seeing that he’s doing good… even if he’s under a lot of stress right now. I wish I could stay longer, but work called.”

(Charles) “Oh well! Back to Yu-Shan then!”

Back in Yu-Shan Sailor was waiting to cart him to where he needed to go – and Charles cheerily waved good-bye – and expected yet MORE people watching him shortly.

Eclipse and Complete Gear

Levitating, Meditating, Flute-playing Gnu

Seeks the Siddi’s Path My Son…


To continue with Alzrius’s question about comparing Eclipse and the “Complete” series from Dreamscarred Press… next up we have Complete Gear.


Complete Gear has got 13 pages, including cover, OGL, and artwork. I don’t actually have it – but I do have the sample file, answers to a few questions from a quick look at Dreamscarred Presses Boards, and the actual content from the OGL Wiki.


As far as the rules go…


  • Each character gets “Influence Points” equal to the standard Wealth By Level quantity which they can use to make items act like they’re magical. If an item costs 2500 GP, they can invest 2500 IP in any vaguely-similar item to give it identical properties. It does have to use the same body slots and other properties though, even if the form is different.
  • It takes one hour of meditation per 1000 GP worth of items or part thereof to attune the item(s) to the desired function and nothing happens until the attunement is complete. An interruption will spoil that attempt, although you can simply try again. Only one successful meditation may be performed in any given day – although multiple items may be attuned during it and an attunement lasts until you change it or the item is destroyed.
  • Optionally, the game master may require masterwork or otherwise especially-prepared gear be used for appropriate imbuements (weapons and armor mostly, since few other items require a masterwork base) – but the rules pretty much recommend not doing so, since such costs are already included in the magic item costs for specific weapons and such.
  • Attuned items only have magical powers when used by the person influencing them, for anyone else they are simply mundane gear.
  • If you’re mixing normal magical items with Influence Points, subtract the value of the normal magic they use from the characters supply of influence points. Given that Influence Points are far superior to fixed-property items, I can’t see why any character would ever bother with “ordinary” treasure (unless it’s worth more Influence Points than they have) except to give it to some subordinate who doesn’t have many Influence Points – but that may be just me.
  • Giving items the properties of special materials is done by spending the appropriate number of influence points – although the GM may decide otherwise. I’d kind of recommend it; why bother with those dangerous expeditions to get special materials, and the distant mines, and so on, when you can just influence it up? For that matter… “Iron” is arguably a special material (it gives picks and shovels made of it massive advantages over those made of – say – wood), can I make the sweater mother knitted for me into the equivalent of a chainmail shirt? Why not if the exact form doesn’t matter and I can influence it into acting as a +1 chainmail shirt? Good-bye Armor Proficiencies! After all, “items made by an influence have the hardness and hit points of their magical counterparts”.
  • As a possible variant, “The process of attunement has a unique effect upon smaller influences. Any limited use influence that costs less than 3,000 IPs destroys the mundane object once the magical use has been expended… Additionally, this variant can be extended to permanent influences of less than 3,000 IPs if desired.” Not much actual effect there. A Handy Haversack full of little vials and birch bark to write on and such is pretty cheap.
  • You can create charged items. As soon as they’re used up, or discarded, or destroyed, you get your Influence Points back. Personally, since this IS related to Complete Control, I would have thought that once you used up the charges you’d have to spend XP to “refresh” those Influence Points (probably at twice the creation cost, since you aren’t spending on materials) – but that isn’t so; you just get them back.


Hm… A Staff of Passage with two charges (enough for a Greater Teleport) costs only 6820 GP. A sixth-level character can imbue THAT. A Ring of Wishes with one Wish in it costs 32,650 GP – and a ninth-level character can imbue one. Hm… Party of Five, take two months off, and return to action with each character having a +5 Inherent Bonus on every attribute. Handy!


So, a third-level party gets shipwrecked on a desert island! Each could only save a few items in the disaster! They aren’t up to making a Staff of Passage, even with only two charges in it! How will they survive and get home? An exciting classical adventure awaits!


Well, they collect a few shells and seagull feathers from the beach and a climb trees for temporary safety where they meditate for three hours. They produce some Feather Tokens (several Swan Boats for safety reasons, a few Anchors, and a Bird to send home with a message saying they’ll be a bit late), they turn a few big leaves into Travel Cloaks, and they turn a few bits of wood into Spell Tiles (which work like potions when broken), quickly healing all injuries.

Hm. So any second-level character can meditate for an hour, invest their 900 Influence Points in Spell Tiles (Cure Light Wounds) if they can’t cast Cure Light Wounds (and in Wands of Cure Light or Lesser Vigor if they can cast those spells or have a good Use Magic Device check) if someplace REALLY needs healing. One second level character – of ANY class – can thus quite reasonably heal at least eighteen, and possibly a couple of hundred people in a day. Higher level characters… can do more.

Sure, the characters can only meditate successfully once per day – but this system says that you can pretty much say “goodbye” to all limited-resource adventures, survival situations, and tough choices. Need something built? Any sixth-level party can equip themselves with Lyres of Building. You want to harvest a field? A Phantom Mill (The Practical Enchanter) costs 2000 Influence Points, but it can keep a swarm of hundreds of Unseen Servants on a job.


In a normal game, characters (and utility items) are restrained because charged items get used up and trading in permanent items costs money (or XP if they’re creating their own replacements), which prevents characters from optimizing their gear to meet each situation. They have to make some decisions and try to meet many contingencies with the same load-out. Under this system… not so much. It WILL mean much more use of obscure and special-niche magic items, which can be fun – but it can also make quite a mess of how the game is supposed to work. It’s manageable – but a LOT of assumptions and things about the setting are going to change. It also means saying good-bye to a lot of plots involving incompetents who’ve gotten a hold of a powerful item, the recovery of stolen magical items, and so on – but there’s a price for everything.


Of course, even if the game master sensibly disallows such charged-item shenanigans, given that this means that the characters will pretty much ALWAYS have pretty thoroughly optimized gear, I’d reduce the amount a bit and charge XP to recharge expendable item powers.


Fortunately, that system is already a part of Eclipse… To buy the “Imbue Items” power in Eclipse you want to purchase Siddisyoga with Efficient and Inner Whispers (allowing the creation of charged items, but requiring that XP be spent to “recharge” them), Specialized for Increased Effect (the user may revise his “item selection” given one hour of meditation per 1000 GP of value provided that any charged “items” being “traded in” are fully charged), if the GM does not wish to keep track the user may default to two-thirds of his or her expected wealth by level) and Corrupted for reduced cost)/the user must simulate magic items and use appropriate slots, the user must select specific items as foci for his or her innate enchantments, if a focus is lost, stolen, or destroyed the user must meditate as if selecting a new enchantment to designate a new focus, the user cannot employ standard magical items, although artifacts and relics will work normally (12 CP).


There. That will remove “wealth” as a measure of power for anyone who takes that particular ability, and let them spend their money on barmaids, paying for that castle they burned down, and on building temples (or whatever) AND let them go broke without it actually changing their power level particularly. If the game master wants this to be the default for his or her game world – and dump most of the magic item glut (as well as all item creation feats) then he or she can simply implement it as a world law or mandatory package deal. Personally I’d also want to extend the meditation time required so as to put an end to the “re-equip for any mission in a day or two!” aspect, but that may well be just me.



Complete Control versus Eclipse

D&D Scout

D&D Scout (Photo credit: borkweb)

And for today, since I’ve found a copy of “Complete Control” to base the comparison on, it’s part one of an answer for Alzrius, who wanted to know how it – as another classless d20 system – compared to Eclipse (among other things). Ergo, it’s time for a stroll through the realms of Complete Control…

Complete Control (Dreamscarred Press) is a classless system for d20. The version I’ve borrowed is from 2008, and covers 3.0 (Complete Control was apparently last updated in 2009, and was still 3.0 at that point). Fundamentally the book provides a set of formulas / charts for assigning experience point costs to abilities – primarily based on what level they appear at, secondarily on if they progress with level and how often they can be used. Characters then spend their experience points to buy the abilities they want directly, at the levels they want. Abilities like base attack bonus are bought up at steadily-increasing prices. +1 costs 110, +2 costs another 215, +3 costs another 430, and so on.

Buying abilities directly with experience is really nothing new of course. The Hero System has been doing it since 1981 (when Champions came out) and has always been entirely “classless”. Classless buy-with-experience is actually quite normal in RPG design.

“But the principle that must be understood is that this system frees characters from the concept of having a class or a prestige class. A character can have class, but a character no longer has a class. Let that thought sink into the mind for a little bit. How much of current role-playing is centered on this concept of class?… What if – like in some top grade spoof that combined The Matrix with role-playing – Morpheus was sitting before you holding out two pills? One of them was red and the other was blue. And you are told, “Take the one pill, and life goes back the way it was. You go back to gaming, close this document, and make characters based on class like you’re familiar with doing. But, if you take the other pill, your eyes will be opened and your mind will be freed. Character design will know only the boundaries of your Game Master and your imagination. The choice is yours… The mind-shattering fundamental principle that absolutely cannot be overlooked is that role-playing done through spending earned experience is most free when it is classless. Yes, that’s right – without class altogether.

-Complete Control

Actually the answer to “how much of current role-playing is centered on the concept of class” is “not all that much”. Class is a big thing in most d20 games, but it doesn’t even exist in a lot of others. The fact that the writers for Complete Control apparently thought that a classless system was innovative is not promising. A broad knowledge of game systems is very helpful when you start writing stuff for them.

So… how do characters justify their gains in ability under this system? There’s a segment on that, which offers general advice and pretty much winds up with “ask your GM”.

How much experience should characters get to start with to approximate the abilities given to first level characters? Complete Control recommends starting characters with 1500 to 2000 points, but there are no breakdowns of how to build the standard classes. Given that “Domain Powers” are listed as costing 2700 XP – which is probably a typo (with the correct number being 270, although I can’t find any errata for the book) – clerics, at least, are kind of awkward.

How reliable are the prices for various abilities? Lets look at some of the ones that are given in the book (a selection limited to some of the basic classes from the SRD and the publishers own primarily psionics-oriented material). A Paladin’s ability to add his or her (Cha Mod) to all saves costs – along with it’s prerequisites of Aura of Good and Detect Evil – a total of 815 XP. A Monk’s rather useless Timeless Body ability (which prevents aging, although it doesn’t extend your life) costs 4050 XP. Guess which one I’m buying if I have any Charisma bonus at all? Saves are major problems a LOT more often in most games than aging is.

Similarly, buying a d12 hit die to start off with costs 90 XP (Buying two costs 180 XP and buying three costs 360 XP). Buying a d4 costs 30 XP. Buying Nature Sense costs 270 XP and buying +1 BAB costs 110 XP. Yes… I think I’ll skip Nature Sense and start off with 3d12 hit points. Proficiency with all Simple and Martial Weapons only costs 75 XP, so I think I’ll take that too. That will help a lot with those early adventures!

The trouble is, rating abilities cost according to the level at which they appear, rather than according to what they actually do, really doesn’t work very well.

Does Complete Control replace other books or actually provide all the rules you need to make a character? Sadly, no. It doesn’t actually include rules for any of the abilities it mentions, or cover feats at all except for how many you can get – so you still have to buy, and go through, piles of other sourcebooks to make your character.

There’s a rather lengthy section on how the math was worked out. Unfortunately it starts with a set of fairly arbitrary approximations of how much experience “goes into” each aspect of a hypothetical “average character” – set at Hit Die 12%, Base Attack Bonus 12%, Saves 12%, Proficiencies < 1%, Ability Increases 6%, Skills 12%, and Feats 12%. Apparently the author couldn’t set up and solve the system of simultaneous equations for each class – a task that was, admittedly, made unnecessarily difficult by the desire to use experience in a non-linear progression directly instead of assigning fixed totals. Given that those percentages are suspect… all the math based on them is equally suspect, no matter how well explained it is.

Rather more importantly, in d20 terms that non-linear progression leads to some rather disastrous balance issues. You don’t see why? To look at the issue of “Balance” in Complete Control lets take two high-level sorcerers specializing in Conjuration. I’ll presume that Complete Control can come close enough to building a standard SRD class – and if not, it doesn’t matter much; we’re only interested in the differences between these two characters. They’ll have identical base stats (and a +4 Belt of Magnificence at 100,000 GP to be simple and convenient) and almost identical builds – except that one has purchased a +10 BAB to be bog-standard, and the other has only purchased a +7 and has spent the 4945 points that saves him on some other stuff.

So: Stats: Str 10 (14), Int 12 (16), Wis 11 (15), Con 12 (16), Dex 11 (15), Cha 18 (29) (+2 Race, +5 Level, +4 Belt).

So what has our +7 BAB sorcerer spent his saved points on?

  • +1 to Wis and Dex (720 XP). (If this guy was really optimizing… all his base stats but Charisma would start odd, and this total would be 1800 – but then our base starting attributes would differ). Still, that’s an extra +1 to AC and Will there.
  • 4d12 HP to start instead of 4d4 (360 XP more than 4d4). Extra hits to start with are always good! Buy them at level one and you’re MUCH more likely to live through getting to higher levels.
  • Proficiency with All Simple and Martial Weapons (75 XP total, but only 50 above All Simple Weapons like the basic Sorcerer). Could be useful.
  • Proficiency with All Shields (50 XP). Hey, why not?
  • Proficiency with all Light, Medium, and Heavy Armor (150 XP). Why learning to wear heavier and lighter armor is harder than learning how to use hundreds of different weapons is a good question, but so be it!
  • Aura of Alignment (Neutral Good) (270 XP). An ability which does not actually do anything – but it’s a prerequisite for Divine Grace, which is what we REALLY want.
  • Detect Alignment (45 XP). Why you’d progress this I don’t see, but our sorcerer doesn’t need to. Handy sometimes, but mostly another prerequisite for Divine Grace.
  • Divine Grace (540 XP). Oh yeah. Now we’re talking. Add +9 (his Cha Mod) to all saves. Even at low levels, where the bonus will only be +5 that’s VERY handy.
  • Monks Wisdom: (Add Wis Mod to AC) (270 XP). +3 AC never hurts.
  • Animal Companion III (135 XP). OK, you’re only getting this as a level three character would, but this is quite helpful at low levels, a fair diversion at high ones, and a good pet. What more could you ask?
  • Lay on Hands (75 XP). Ok, this is only working at level one, but nine times a day you can just touch someone and stabilize them. Could be handy. It could be doubled up for another sixty XP, but that isn’t really required for anything.
  • Rage twice/day: (540 XP). You only get the basic ability, but this could still come in useful at times!
  • Smite Evil: 45 XP for L1 (+Cha/+1), 30+60+90+120 for four uses = (345 XP). When you do need to hit something – and rather a LOT of opponents in most d20 games are evil – an extra +9 to hit is just the ticket – and four uses a day is cheap enough!
  • Manifester Level III (135 XP x8) with Limited Access to first level abilities (25 XP x8). We’ll buy this six times for the six varieties of Psion, once for Psychic Warrior, and once for Wilder. That provides a total of 41 power (entirely from attribute bonuses) and 36 first-level Psion powers, 3 first level Psychic Warrior powers, and 2 first level Wilder Powers. That won’t be anything too big of course, but the total cost of 1280 XP really isn’t too big either – and there’s a LOT of convenient first-level stuff. The character won’t have so much Power before boosting his characteristics of course – but even to start with it will be pretty handy.
  • Caster Level III: (135 XP), Limited Access to L0 (5 XP) and L1 Spells (25 XP). OK, for the Clerical spells we’ll go with Favored Soul style – relying on Charisma and bonus spell slots (3 first, and 2 second level that can be used for first level spells). Not too big a deal, but five first level clerical spells can be handy. We’ll do the same thing again for a Shamanic type – a Charisma-based druidical spellcaster. That’s a total of (330 XP) – and pretty much means that we’re NEVER going to need to buy Use Magic Device (or Use Psionic Device either).
  • What the heck, lets throw in Spontaneous Conversion/Cure (270 XP). Sure, we’ve only got five first level spells to convert, but a little extra cheap healing never hurt a party.

Oops. We’re 40 XP over the top there – we’ve spend 4985 rather than 4945 – but we could drop some of the armor proficiencies without hurting anything; the character is only going to be using armor for the first few levels where the heavy stuff is a big expense anyway.

Personally I’d drop something else – in this system a single higher-level spell slot is quite expensive – and pick up a couple of Minor Marshal’s Auras (from the Miniatures Handbook). As first-level fixed abilities they’re going for 270 XP apiece – and I’m sure your party will be happy with an extra +9 to overcome Spell Resistance and on Dexterity checks, Dexterity-based skill checks, and Initiative checks. Perhaps a minor Warlock power would be convenient too…

This… is not working properly. Is giving up +3 BAB for a spellcaster who specializes in summoning creatures to do the fighting REALLY worth all of that stuff? Won’t a lot of the characters in your game start looking a lot alike once everyone realizes that they pretty much have to grab a pile of the convenient low-level stuff just to stay competitive?

Yes, this example is a bit forced – several of those abilities won’t do much without the emphasis on Charisma – but it didn’t take two hours from first opening the book. Worse… with every sourcebook mined for abilities the problem is going to become bigger and bigger as more and more convenient low-level abilities turn up. That’s a basic problem with the “level twenty powers cost nineteen times as much as level one powers” principle. It means that – instead of taking a level twenty ability (such as taking your base attack bonus from +19 to +20) – you can pretty much effectively take all the convenient low-level powers of BUNCH of other classes.

Finally, of course, Complete Control doesn’t really handle Races at all, and pays very little attention to Templates. There is a later point-buy system (well, more of a pamphlet) called Complete Races from the same company, but it uses an entirely different system, includes no way of advancing or improving on racial abilities, and doesn’t interface with Compete Control at all. That’s… somewhat disappointing, although I may take a more detailed look at it later.

Now Eclipse certainly isn’t perfect – it’s FAR more complex than Complete Control, and most of the examples got shoved into Eclipse II (although that does come free with the paid PDF version) to keep the page count down to something manageable – but it is free to try and it does provide the rules for the various abilities, it uses linear pricing to avoid the “cheap low level powers” syndrome, it allows the use of varying feat and experience point progressions, it is fully compatible with d20 3.0, 3.5, Modern, Future, and with products that came out long after it did – including Pathfinder, Iron Heroes, and others – it can get along with or without magic items in several different ways, it handles races and templates and lets you vary and build on those abilities, it tries to keep the math easy, it covers designing feats, it provides multiple new magic systems, and it allows you to build pretty much any ability that any player has ever asked for yet short of the various variants on the “I Win!” button (such as Pun-Pun). It pretty much replaces all classes, all prestige classes, all lists of feats, all lists of special abilities, flaws, skill tricks, all templates, and all races. That was a lot of the point – to fix it so that you only needed one book to build whatever character you wanted. Admittedly you’ll still want the System Reference Document or some other setting book for spell lists – but I wasn’t changing the spells, so there was no need to include them other than the extended above-ninth-level spell list to expand the list of benchmark effects available.

Unfortunately, Eclipse provides a toolbox for building things, rather than a box full of precut parts – which makes it complicated to explain and use. I can’t deny that it can be abused as well – I’ve presented a list of examples of abusive builds on the site so that user’s know what to watch out for – but that’s what the page on keeping characters under control is all about.

Overall… I don’t think I personally have any real use for Complete Control. All it really presents is it’s formulas, so there really isn’t even much in the way of character ideas to mine. I’m quite used to the complexity, so for my purposes Eclipse works a great deal better.

Personally, I’d say that Complete Control would work a LOT better if the authors had simply discarded the existing experience point chart, and said something like:

OK: It’s 2000 XP per “level” for accounting purposes. Experience Point Awards are 5/50/100/150/300 per character for Trivial/Easy/Average/Hard/Atrocious encounters (do not adjust this is an encounter is unexpectedly easy due to some bit of player cleverness), add up to +50 per character per session for good roleplaying and similar things. If the characters are of differing levels, award experience individually, based on the encounter difficulty for the character in question.


Then the system could have used fixed costs – and eliminated the basic balance issue and most of the complicated formulas along the way.

Eclipse – The Mastercrafter

Dungeons and Dragons Heroes

What do you mean the pansy “crafter is more use to the party than I am?” Dungeons and Dragons Heroes (Photo credit: Will Merydith)

Here we have another special request – how to build a specialized crafter of magical items in Eclipse.

Wizards may weave their spells, warriors slay dragons, clerics invoke minor miracles, and thieves pilfer from the gods themselves – yet their efforts are passing things, and soon forgotten. A Blade of Legend however… such a creation may endure for a thousand years and more, to become a part of dozens of tales. Even lesser items may become a part of a hundred heroes tales.

Such is the path of the Mastercrafter.

Basic Purchases: BAB +15 (90 CP), Skill Points 92 (58 CP after Fast Learner), Saves +24 (72 CP), 20 Bardic Spellcasting Levels (Int based, 120* CP), Proficient with all simple weapons, light and medium armor, and shields (15 CP).

*Specialized; minimum casting time of one minute, all spells either create temporary magic items or enhance constructs, even if similar to common spells they’re considered “Crafting Spells” rather than being Arcane or Divine. Enhanced Effect/free choice at the time of casting from the entire (if of very limited theme) Spell List.

That’s 355 CP – and a fairly basic framework for any semi-spellcaster adventurer with limited access to magic of one sort or another. As with most such characters, the really interesting part is the list of special abilities.

First up though there’s a complication:

In games where making magical items costs “experience points” (a type of magical energy which accumulates in people and objects until it abruptly reaches one of a series of critical points and transforms and empowers them to a greater or lesser extent) Mastercrafters basically have four choices.

  • They can put up with spending some of their own “experience points” on making magic items, presumably making up in equipment what they lose in personal power. That’s why a (the?) classic class along these lines provides some 22,900 XP along the way for just this purpose.
  • They can buy Harvest of Artifice from the item-crafting ability sequence – a talent which, at its base level, provides 100 “experience points” per month to craft items with. That’s not a huge supply, but it’s certainly useful – and the ability can both be upgraded to get more points per month and will keep on paying off forever. Sure, it will take nineteen years to get that 22,900 XP this way – but if you happen to be playing a long-term game, or expect most of it to take place at low levels, this is much better. If you expect to be power-leveling at four encounters a day this won’t do you much good – but you aren’t going to have time to make items anyway. You’ll want to look into the Unspecialized version of Action Hero / Crafting.
  • They can buy Action Hero/Crafting, Specialized for Double Effect/can only be used to pay XP costs, the appropriate amount of time and money must still be spent. That will get them 500 Action (or “Crafting”) Points to spend making things over the course of a twenty-level career.

But how does that stack up against experience points?

Well, a Wand will cost three action points regardless, so you might as well make decent ones. Say… 6d Fireball? That would normally cost 540 XP. A minor, permanent, enchantment – perhaps a Lens of Detection (140 XP) – costs six action points. That’s a much poorer ratio. A “midrange permanent item or “lesser magical staff” – perhaps Bracers of Armor +5 (1000 XP) or a Staff of Illumination (1930 XP) costs 10. A major magical staff costs – perhaps a Staff of Transmutation (2600 XP) cost 15. Making a pair of Plane Shift scrolls (90 XP) costs only 1.

Overall, a ratio of about 100 XP to 1 Crafting Point looks about right for an approximation, although you may be less efficient during the first few levels – but the vast majority of your Crafting Points will become available at higher levels, where you’ll be making the good stuff. This is also a superior option – and if you don’t have time because of the pace of the game, you can just take it without the Specialization; sure, you’ll only get about about 25,000 XP worth of action/crafting points that way – but now using them will also eliminate the time requirements and can be done at any time. Abruptly pulling out just the item you need in a given situation… is often well worth the price.

  • They can try to persuade the game master that crafting items shouldn’t cost experience points. This can be done – it’s the way it works in several d20 variants – but it REALLY makes a mess of the magic-item economy in the long run. Just remember oh mighty game master – “experiences” have nothing to do with “experience points”.

Just to make sure our Mastercrafter will be buying options #2 and #3 – Harvest of Artifice AND Action Hero/Crafting with the specialization. If you’re going to specialize in making stuff, you might as well make a LOT of stuff.

Special Abilities (147 CP):

  • Fast Learner, Specialized in Skill Points for Double Effect (6 CP).
  • Action Hero/Crafting Option, Specialized/for Double Effect/can only be used to pay XP costs, the appropriate amount of time and money must still be spent (6 CP).
  • Occult Sense/Magic Analysis, Specialized/requires minutes or hours, direct access to the item, and a chance to examine it carefully (3 CP). Mastercrafters are good at sorting out just what things do.
  • Augmented Bonus/Adds (Int Mod) to Charisma-based skill based, Specialized and Corrupted/ only for Use Magic Device, only for types of items that the Mastercrafter knows how to create (2 CP). Crafters are good at using the stuff they make. Is that really a surprise?
  • Equipage with Purchasing, both Specialized /the user must spend the time, XP, and cash as appropriate to create the item in question and must be otherwise qualified to create it save for not being of an appropriate alignment or race, being a level or two short of the usual level requirement, or not knowing the appropriate spells – although this effect restricted to common spells (6 CP). Magical items can have all kinds of annoying prerequisites; they may call for particular levels (even when levels are in no way relevant), particular spells, and even particular items. While a Mastercrafter can’t bypass special materials requirements – no forging adamantine blades when you haven’t got any suitable metal – they can evade many other requirements. Yes, this means that you can whip up scrolls for your buddies with spells they don’t know in them. Of course, at the same effective cost you could go and buy one anyway.
  • Master Craftsmen get Scribe Scroll, Brew Potion, Craft Construct, Craft Wondrous Item, Craft Magic Arms and Armor, Craft Wand, Craft Rod, Craft Staff, and Forge Ring – as well as Harvest of Artifice (60 CP).
  • Inherent Spell, Specialized and Corrupted for Double Effect and reduced cost (4 CP)/requires eight hours to cast, user must have the item creation feat for the item to be affected. Fundamental Breakdown 1/Day (L6, the user may transform a magical item into power components (salvaging the XP invested in it – or a part of it for partially depleted items) plus additional materials worth 1/4’th of the purchase price of the item. The salvaged XP may only be used to create items, not for other purposes).
  • 30 CP – for additional item-related abilities of choice.
  • Greater Empowerment: Empowerment, with +4 levels of Streamline, all Specialized for Half Cost and Corrupted for Increased Effect (Empowerment has no usage limitations, Streamline applies to any metamagic)/can only be applied to a charged item, uses one extra charge from the item per level of streamline required, only works on one metamagical theorem and effect at a time. A Mastercrafters can push his or her tools beyond all normal limits, applying any single metamagical theorem that he or she knows to them at the cost of spending one additional charge per level of metamagic applied (15 CP).
  • Grand Empowerment: Empowerment with Surge (Int-Based) with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized for Half Cost and Corrupted for Increased Effect (Empowerment has no usage limitations, Surge can apply to any one metamagic, can only be applied to a spell-completion item (12 CP).
  • Mastery (Spellcraft, Use Magic Device, Knowledge/Arcana), Specialized/only applies to those three skills regardless of (Int Mod) (3 CP).

That comes out to 502 CP out of the 504 available at level twenty – almost precisely right.

A Mastercrafter is pretty formidable – but their real punch comes from simply having twice as much gear as anyone else. Is that worthwhile? In a low treasure campaign… they may not be able to get much use out of their abilities. In a high treasure campaign… the skies the limit.

Lynxi Abysinia: ECL 6 World-Conquering Sorceress Super-villainess Catgirl


But Really! I’m Conquering The World!

For today, it’s a Pathfinder-compatible, super-cute-magical-cat-girl-sorceress-supervillainess.

Why you say? Well actually for the usual reason: somebody asked. Besides, supervillainess super-cute magical cat girl… what’s to object to? If such a creature actually existed she could probably conquer quite a few places just by making appearances and waving at people. There are much much worse political leaders out there than someone who is a) competent, b) possessed of magical powers that they can teach to other people, c) female (and thus rather less likely to drag unwilling young women to their harem or suffer from a desire to posture menacingly), and d) apparently wishes to rule so that she can have lots of servants and parties without having to worry about the bills and because other people are less cute. You’d rather have Stalin, Pol Pot, or Kim Jong Un?

In the usual fashion of comic-book magical types, this character is going to have to be unreasonably tough for a supposedly fairly “normal” person, somehow able to cast lengthy spells in the time it takes for a bullet to travel twenty feet, capable of powerful and broadly flexible magic within a rather limited set of themes yet almost useless otherwise and – preferably – should capable of coming back in some fashion if “killed”. They’re also going to need to be full of mysterious secrets; after all this is a supervillainess, a would-be world-conqueror, a sorceress, and a cat. At least three out of four of those call for it.

Ergo, it is time to create…

Lynxi Abysinia

ECL 6 World-Conquering Super-villainess Catgirl

Racial Package/Cute Catgirl (+0 ECL): +2 Charisma (12 CP), 1d4 Claws (3 CP), DR 2/- (3 CP), Occult Sense/Low-Light Vision (6 CP), Shaping (specialized in automatic cleaning, hair-brushing, clothing fixing, etc, 3 CP), +2 Reflex (6 CP), Speaks Feline (1 CP), Disadvantage/distinctive (obvious catgirl, -3 CP).

League of Villainy Package (12 CP):

The “League of Villainy” is, more or less, a union and clearing-house for Supervillains, allowing it’s members to readily find replacement henchmen, team up with other members, obtain supplies and gear for their schemes, and find appropriate archenemies. Members are obligated to adhere to an elaborate code of honor – notably restraining them from most attacks on civilians and the more obnoxious criminal offenses in favor of dramatic confrontations with heroes. Knocking out the guards and robbing banks is fine, murdering non-heroes and burning down orphanages is not.

In practice, that means that the independent (and often quite psychotic) supervillains are generally considered a much higher priority by the authorities than the members of the League. You can even get thrown out of the league, or even be hunted down with prejudice by your former “allies”, for breaking the rules.

Unfortunately, the entire League of Villainy package deal is Corrupted; those who join the league will soon find themselves sought by heroes, with a Nemesis, a theme, and a flamboyant costume, and will find it hard to operate anywhere without being recognized.

  • Innate Enchantment (8 CP): All supervillains gain some minor enhancements, with an effective value of 7000 GP. These usually consist of a few unlimited-use, personal-only, use-activated spell effects of levels zero or one at caster level one. They’re easy to disrupt, but are rarely a big enough factor for the heroes to bother doing so.
  • Immunity/the normal XP cost of Innate Enchantments (Uncommon, Minor, Trivial, Specialized/only covers the enchantments in this package deal, 1 CP).
  • Privilege/Wealthy (3 CP). What self-respecting Supervillian would EVER be short of funds? Of course, as a minor privilege… this covers having a mansion, servants, and a very enjoyable lifestyle, but not a lot of extra adventuring gear. That stuff is REALLY expensive.
  • Returning/unless the villains enemies make VERY sure to find, examine, and dispose of, the body, he or she will soon return, Specialized/will not work if the character intentionally makes a heroic sacrifice or dies in an exceptionally dramatic and final fashion (falling into a black hole, cast down a shaft into the main reactor, etc, 3 CP).
  • Privilege/the villain can always find a ready supply of incompetent henchmen, guards, servants, and similar nonentities to serve as yes-men and has access to competent lawyers and technicians without cost (3 CP).

That’s a total value of 18 CP, reduced to 12 CP by the Corruption noted above.

Lynxi’s personal enhancements are Shield (2000), Personal-Only Mage Armor (1400), Personal-Only Immortal Vigor I (1400), Fast Healing I (up to a limit of 36 points per day, 400), Personal-Only Inspiring Word (1400 GP), and Undetectable Alignment 2/Day (400 GP).

Actually this is pretty much a copy-and-paste deal from Baron Ector, also a not-quite-serious supervillain (And who would make a GREAT partner for her). Still it fits – and is one of the handier features of Eclipse; you see something you like in another Eclipse character? Just copy-and-paste, pay the points, and now it’s yours!

Template/Ancient One (+2 ECL): (Summary)

  • Prior “Lives”: +3 Specialty in each of three times and places where the character “previously lived” (3 CP).
  • Memory of Stone: Immunity/Forgetting Things and Memory Alteration (Uncommon, Minor, Great, 6 CP). +8 bonus to Recall.
  • Occult Skill/Secrets (3 CP): Each skill point invested in the “Secrets” skill brings extraordinary knowledge – the names of a dozen powerful fey, the routes through the crypts beneath the sacred mountains, or the summoning chant of the three winds. The game master may let a character roll against his or her Secrets skill to see if they know some bit of lost information – or simply give the user additional secrets/plot hooks when it’s convenient.
  • Rune Weaver: Gain the Magician (6 CP), Runic Ritual (6 CP), and Adept (twice) abilities – although the second instance of Adept is Specialized/two skills only (9 CP). Each Ancient One gets three Rune Casting and Rune Mastery skills for half price.
  • Past Master: +8 to their primary spellcasting attribute for magical purposes (in general, for learning and casting spells and for bonuses to magical skills), Corrupted/does not increase save DC, Specialized/only affects bonus slots and skill scores for Rune Magic, not for other spellcasting and magic-related skills (8 CP).
  • Long Experience: Augmented Bonus/add (Wis Mod) to (Int Mod) with respect to their Knowledge Skill Scores (6 CP).
  • The Deep Lore/+4 to all six of their core magical skills (12 CP), +3 to Secrets (3 CP), +3 to a Martial Art (3 CP), +3 to Linguistics (the languages of previous “lives”, 3 CP), and +3 to any two other skills (6 CP).

Template Disadvantages: History (Where is your memory talisman located? What are you doing to look after it? Who were you in your earlier lives, how did those memories wind up in a talisman, and what were those lives like? Playing an Ancient One involves coming up with a fair amount of information), Hunted (the Ancient Ones always have enemies), and Insane (Ancient Ones act pretty oddly, tend to upset people, never forget an injury or offense, and are often so weird that they’re believed possessed) (-10 CP).

Pathfinder Package Deal for Catgirls (Free):

  • +2 Dex.
  • Fast Learner, Specialized and Corrupted/only works as long as she sticks to her “sorceress” build, points may only be spent on skills and additional hit points (2 CP). (Yes, this is the Pathfinder “Favored Class” bonus).
  • Immunity/not being allowed to buy up their (normally maximized) level one hit die later on. Uncommon/Minor/Major (3 CP).
  • Action Hero/ Crafting option, Specialized and Corrupted/the user still has to spend the time, and money, and may ONLY create items by spending action points (2 CP).
  • +3 Bonus to “Trained In-Class Skills”. Craft, Profession, and a selection of twelve. “Adept” skills are added automatically.
  • Accursed (must use the Pathfinder versions of spells even where those have been downgraded, may not take “overpowered” feats, -3 CP).

The Ancient One template makes for some awfully formidable low-level Rune Mages. As a skill-based magic system, that effective +8 to their three primary thematic fields of magic provides +4 casting levels and +2 on the level of spells they can use – and they’re bound to get plenty of bonus spells too. They ARE using the half-price attribute rule, but they’re still pretty formidable even if the game master drops it to a mere +4 for a game that isn’t using that rule. Later on, of course, their limited spell supply and slower spell level progression will catch up with them – but at least they’ll have more points to spend on other things than a sorcerer or a wizard.

Available Character Points: 120 (L4 Base) +10 (Accursed/ must wear skimpy “cat girl” outfits, Incompetent/she is just too cute to Intimidate people, & Irreverent/if you’re going to conquer the world, well the gods are part of it aren’t they?), + 12 (L1, L3 Bonus Feats) = 142 CP

Basic Attributes; Str 8, Int 14, Wis 10, Dex 14 (16), Con 12, Chr 20 (22, Headband) (30 for Rune Magic Purposes).

Languages: Common, Feline, +2 additional.

Basic Abilities (51 CP):

  • Hit Points: 12 (L1d12, 8 CP) +15 (L2-L4, d6, 5, 5, 5, 6 CP) +12 (Im. Vigor) + 6 (6 x Con Mod) = 45. Universal DR 5/-.
  • Skill Points: 10 (10 CP) +14 (Int) +14 (Fast Learner) = 38.
  • BAB: +2 (12 CP).
  • Saves:
    • Fortitude: +2 (Purchased, CP) + (1 Con) +1 (Mor) = +4
    • Reflex: +2 (Purchased, CP) + (3 Dex) +1 (Mor) +2 (Race) = +8
    • Will: +0 (Purchased, CP) + (0 Wis) +1 (Mor) = +1
  • Proficiencies: All Simple Weapons (3 CP).

Combat Information:

  • Initiative: +3 (Dex)
  • Move: 30′
  • AC: 10 +4 (Armor) +4 (Shield) +3 (Dex) +1 (MA) = 22.
  • Usual Weapons:
  • Claws: +2 (+2 BAB -1 Str +1 Mor), 1d4-1+1 (Str and Morale), Crit 20/x2.

Special Abilities:

  • Super-Villainess Package Deal (See Above, 12 CP):
  • Too Cute to Die (24 CP):
    • Grant of Aid with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized in hit points for Double Effect (12 CP).
    • Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized in Saving Throws (6 CP).
    • Reflex Training/Three Action Per Day Variant (6 CP).
  • I Like Minions (27 CP):
    • Leadership with Beast Lord (9 CP) – probably some big cat bodyguards, a few servants, and other minions. Even if we go by ECL instead of level (which is fair enough for a Pathfinder type), there aren’t going to be all that powerful or numerous yet even with that high Charisma.
    • Companion (Hawk Familiar) with the Spirit Fetch Template (12 CP). Bestowed Ability: Mindspeech and Spirit Speech, Specialized/only for communication with spirits.
    • Occult Sense/Spirit Sense, may see and hear spirits (6 CP).
      • After all, cats (and dogs) are ALWAYS seeing and hearing things that you aren’t.
  • Mistress of Magic (28 CP):
    • Adept (Acrobatics, Sleight of Hand, Spellcraft, Stealth, 6 CP).
    • 2d6 Mana, Corrupted/only to power Rune Magic, no natural magic (8 CP).
    • Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses (8 CP), Corrupted/requires the use of an especially-crafted staff in a small ceremony.
    • Fast Learner, Specialized in Skills for +2 SP/Level (6 CP).

Rune Magic Skills:

  • Rune Magic/Casting (Binding, Conjuration, Transmutation): +3 (Tr) +10 (Cha) +4 (2 SP*, 6 total) +4 (Race) = +21 (CL 10).
  • Rune Magic/Mastery (Binding, Conjuration, Transmutation): +3 (Tr) +10 (Cha) +4 (2 SP*, 6 total) +4 (Race) = +21 (Max L5).
    • Magician provides 3/3/2/2/2/2/1/1/1 spell slots to work with, although she cannot yet use those of above level five.

OK, that IS presuming some fairly formidable powers there. If you want to change it to Divination, Enchantment, and Illusion, and make her about six (say, -2 Str, +2 Dex for being really young)… well, that will make her even LESS serious. Or you could always just say that she had a past life as a cat, give her Self-Transformation, Personal Enhancement, and Weaponry Augmentation as fields and call her Nuku-Nuku…

Knowledge Skills:

  • Arcana, Geography, History, Local, Nature, Nobility, Planes, and Religion. All +3 (Tr) +2 (Int) +1 (1 SP, 8 total) = +6

Other Skills:

  • Acrobatics: +3 (Tr) +3 (Dex) +4 (2 SP*) +3 (Race) = +13 (17 with Belt).
  • Linguistics: +3 (Tr) +2 (Int) +3 (Race) +4 (4 SP) = +12
  • Martial Art/Cheetah Style: +3 (Tr) +3 (Dex) +4 (2 SP*) +3 (Race) = +13
    • Known Techniques (7); Defenses 1, Toughness 3, Deflect Arrows, Instant Stand, Inner Strength, and Light Foot.
  • Secrets +3 (Tr) +2 (Int) +4 (2 SP*) +3 (Race) = +12
  • Sleight of Hand: +3 (Tr) +3 (Dex) +4 (2 SP*) +3 (Race) = +13
  • Spellcraft +3 (Tr) +2 (Int) +4 (2 SP*) +3 (Race) = +12
  • Stealth +3 (Tr) +3 (Dex) +4 (4 SP) = +10

All skill checks also gain a +1 Morale Bonus.

Skill Specialties:

  • Three “Past Lives”: +3 (Racial).

Equipment (16,000 GP):

  • Agile Alpenstock (2000 GP): +5 Speed, +2 versus Tripping, as per a Quarterstave.
  • Belt of Tumbling (800 GP: +4 Acrobatics.
  • Boots of the Cat (1000 GP): Minimal damage from falls, always land on your feet.
  • Headband of Allurement (4000 GP): +2 Charisma.
  • Ioun Torch (75 GP): Provides light.
  • Ring of Sustenance (2500 GP): Needs no food or water and less sleep. This doesn’t STOP her – she just doesn’t HAVE too.

This leaves about 625 GP for mundane gear and 5000 GP for more magic. Pick something. It also leaves her with 4 CP from her “Favored Class” bonus to be spent on something – nominally either hit points or as more skill points, but you can always pick some specialized cat-girl bonus.

OK; Lynxi is actually pretty formidable – tough enough, and with enough normal and summoned minions to be low-level “boss” encounter – but she’s also perfectly suitable as an adventurer. It’s not like wanting to grab all the money and rule the world isn’t the basic motive of half the adventurer’s out there anyway. In a campaign… she’ll probably eventually find out that – despite her initial advantages as a Rune Mage – she’s really just not cut out to actually rule the world.

Not, at least, without a powerful partner.

Eclipse d20: Noita Verduur, Psychic Shapeshifter

Brown bear rearing2

Not so cute and cuddly up close

Here we have another character request – in this case a shapeshifting psychic “special agent” for a semi-military game. Noita tends to enter the field most deceptively unarmed – not that it matters much when you can turn into a huge bear with deadly psychic powers.

Now, if only her commanding officer could keep track of her…

Noita Verduur, Level Five Special Agent

Changeling (or classical doppleganger) Racial Template (19 CP, +0 ECL):

  • Shapeshift (Specialized, only as a prerequisite, 3 CP), Variants (Specialized, only to alter their personal appearance. While physically-based, this is essentially equivalent to Disguise Self and does not affect clothing or gear – although it does provide a +10 bonus to disguising themselves, 3 CP).
  • Resistance, +2 on saves versus Sleep and Charm effects (3 CP).
  • Adept: Changelings may buy Deception, Persuasion, Sense Motive, and Speak Language for half cost (6 CP).
  • +2 Racial Bonus to their Adept skills (4 CP).

Available Character Points: 144 (L5 Base) +10 (Duties) +10 (Disadvantages) +12 (L1 and L3 Bonus Feats) = 176.

Basic Attributes: Str 14, Int 16 (18), Wis 10, Con 14, Dex 14, Chr 14. (36 Point Buy). The L4 attribute bonus has been left up to the player…

Basic Abilities (90 CP):

  • Hit Points: 8 (L1;2d4, 8 CP) + 24 (4d8, L2-5, 16 CP) + 12 (6x Con Mod) = 44
  • Skill Points: 24 (24 CP) +24 (Int) = 48 SP.
  • BAB: +3, Corrupted/only for light weapons and unarmed/natural weapons combat (12 CP).
  • Saves:
    • Fortitude: +1 (Purchased, 3 CP) +2 (Con) +1 (Res) = +4
    • Reflex: +1 (Purchased, 3 CP) +2 (Dex) +1 (Res) = +4
    • Will: +3 (Purchased, 9 CP) +0 (Wis) +1 (Res) = +4
  • Proficiencies: All simple and Martial Weapons (9 CP), Light Armor with the Smooth Modifier (6 CP).
  • Initiative: +2 (Dex).
  • Move: 30′
  • Armor Class: 10 (Base) +2 (Dex) +5 (+1 Chainmail Shirt) = 17, 21 if using Force Shield.
    • As Bear: Additional +1 Dex -1 Size +5 Natural = 22, 26 if using Force Shield.

Usual Weapons:

  • (As Brown Bear): Claws +13/+13, 1d8+10 (Str), Crit 20/x2, Bite +8, 2d6+10 (Str), Crit 20/x2.

Special Abilities (85 CP):

  • Fast Learner, Specialized in Skills for +2 SP/Level (6 CP).
  • Adept x2: Acrobatics, Gather Information, Linguistics, Martial Art, Martial Art, Perception, Stealth, and Thievery (12 CP). For quick play… In general all skills are at Base 8, +2 Att (+4 if Int, +0 if Wis), +2 Comp. Witchcraft often +6.
  • Witchcraft I, II, III (18 CP, provides 14 Power and access to Glamour, The Hand of Shadows, Healing, The Inner Eye, Shadowweave, Witchfire, and Witchsight) with Advanced Glamour (+6 CP), Advanced Shadowweave (+6 CP), and Leaping Fire (+6 CP).
    • Total Power: 61, “Caster Level” six, Save DC Will 15 (for all effects). May produce emotion-influencing, telepathic, hypnotic, and illusion-based spell effects of level 0/1-2/3 for 1/2/4 Power, minor animation effects for 2 Power, or spend 3 Power to Haste herself for 3d4 rounds among other, less dramatic, talents. See Witchcraft.
    • Three Witchcraft Pacts: (-18 CP); Taboos (which sometimes trip her up when infiltrating), Tithe, and Duties.
  • Six Int-Based Wilder Casting Levels (36 CP). Provides (35 + 3 x Int Mod) Power and access to the Force Screen (+4 Shield to AC), Sustenance, Knock (Psionic), and Energy Burst (5d6 in a wide radius) disciplines.
  • Racial Shapeshift to Corrupted/Only Bears instead of being Only as a Prerequisite (+1 CP) with the Exemption (items will continue to work as a Hybrid), Hybrid, Large, and Attribute Modifiers enhancements (+12 CP).
    • Brown Bear Hybrid form: Large, Str 30, Dex 16, Con 18, Move 40′, +5 Natural Armor, 1d8 Claws, 2d6 Bite, Low-Light Vision, and Scent.

Current Items:

  • Headband of Intellect +2 (2000 GP)
  • Cloak of Resistance +1 (1000 GP).
  • Chain Shirt +1 (1250 GP).
  • Ring of Competence +2/All Skills (2000 GP)
  • Ring of Mind Shielding (8000 GP).
  • Normal Gear: 750 GP, assorted.

Game Role: Noita is an infiltrator, beguiler, and assassin. While she isn’t the most powerful warrior around by a long ways, at least in her largest bear-form she’s pretty formidable – and she has a knack for getting into JUST the right place to take out the foe. Her psychic talents are not yet tremendously potent, but they are tremendously flexible, especially considering the immense variety of ways they can compliment her many skills.