The secrets of the Arcane are dark, and terrible, and were never meant for mortals to wield. Those who dabble with such forces without exercising the utmost precautions, and engaging in long purifications before and after doing so, become something other than human. At the very least, they are strange, and distant, and cold. At the worst… they are twisted mockeries of their original selves, their very flesh ravaged by the forces they channel and their lives supported in their withered husks by unnatural energies instead of healthy flesh and blood.
That’s a common, and fairly popular, fantasy trope. The problem with trying to bring it into a game is that most games that allow player characters to have magical powers at all treat them as just another set of skills that adventurers can have; the only real “cost” to studying mystic lore, poring over dusty tomes, and learning eldritch secrets… is that you aren’t spending your time learning to swing a sword, maintain a fusion engine, fire a missile launchers, pick locks, or whatever else the game and setting allows.
There is one way to do it though. Sure, any character can study magic – but those who are willing to take it into themselves, to become a suitable vessel for it’s unnatural power, and to risk the lures of still greater powers and transformations… gain greater power. You offer the players a choice; take the power and the transformation, or settle for mortality and somewhat lesser magics. That way your serious roleplayers will treat magic as something fearsome even if their only actual “trial” is to say “I’m not taking that option” and the ones who feel that they (or their characters) want power at any cost can take it – even if the increase is only modest.
Thus we have the…
Rad’Egion – Initiates of the Arcane Forge
(61 CP / +1 ECL Race or +2 ECL acquired template).
Most mystics study magic.
Some few seek to become it.
An Initiate of the Arcane Forge may have started life as a human, elf, or some similar creature – but once they are done ritually infusing themselves with the blazing inner fires of arcane magic, they are reborn, no longer a common mortal but a being with blood of silver fire, attuned to the very pulse of magic. Their new modifiers replace their original racial modifiers, and they will be as if they had been Rad’Egion from the very beginning, made over in the image of magic.
Rad’Egion are marked by the fires that flesh was never meant to hold; they tend to be thin, to have dry, pallid, parchment-like, skin, and to be prematurely gray (when they are not colored entirely unnaturally). Their eyes are often a solid gray or silver, and their touch is often cold – and they tend to have trouble relating to others. It is rare for a Rad’Egion to marry, even rarer for them to bear or father children. Many will have disturbing stigmata or transform even further as their powers advance.
Rad’Egion Racial Modifiers:
- +2 Intelligence (12 CP).
- +2 to any single characteristic other than intelligence (12 CP).
- Immunity/Aging (Uncommon, Major, Major, 6 CP): A Rad’Egion may expect to live for several millennia – presuming that nothing goes wrong.
- +1 Base Caster Level, Specialized in Wizard Spellcasting (3 CP).
- +1 level of Wizard Spellcasting (14 CP).
- Fast Learner, Specialized in Spells (+2 per level, starting at Level Minus One) (6 CP).
- Any two Metamagical Theorems (12 CP), with two levels of Glory, Specialized and Corrupted/can only be used three times per day each, only with wizard spellcasting, use must be declared during the casting, if the spell is disrupted, counterspelled, or otherwise fails the chance to use this ability is lost as well (4 CP).
- Occult Sense/Detect and Analyze Magic (6 CP).
- +2d4 Generic Spell Levels (bought as Mana), Specialized for Increased Effect (4d4 (10) spell levels)/must be bound into prepared wizard spells to supplement those otherwise available to the character using known formula (6 CP).
- +2 on Saves versus spells (3 CP).
- +2 on Saves versus mind-affecting spells or effects (3 CP).
- +2 to Concentration, Knowledge/Arcana, and Spellcraft (6 CP).
That comes to a total of 93 CP – which would normally make the Rad’Egion a +2 ECL race. Fortunately (or unfortunately), the entire package is Corrupted. The Rad’Egion are creatures of magic, and they…
- Take damage from Dispelling and Antimagic – suffering 1d6 damage per two caster levels when exposed to such effects with no save.
- Must spend at least an hour a day after they awaken meditating and channeling magic into themselves or they will lose access to all of their racial abilities other than their longevity, their boosted intelligence, their skill bonuses, and their limitations, for the day.
- Are seriously obsessed with magic; the GM may call for will saves to resist offers of new spells or occult lore, meddling with dangerous magical spells, effects, and devices, attempting to use magic to resolve every situation, or even (occasionally) going to bed with unexpended spells.
- Are obviously unnatural; the lack of the red of natural blood makes them look odd, they radiate a strange magical aura, and most other people find their obsessions disturbing. In general, they will suffer a -2 on social skill checks.
- Can easily be spotted with Detect Magic effects, even if otherwise well hidden.
- Are very, VERY, likely to become Liches after death if they’ve made it to a high enough level (after all, half their life is based on magic anyway).
- Perhaps worse, many find it very hard to resist the temptation to take and abuse the Compact metamagic – often warping and twisting themselves with variations on Black Magic (another easy route to lichdom, see Arcanum Minimus in The Practical Enchanter), or taking on excessive debts to magical beings, or otherwise falling to the lure of easy magic. At the least, this gives them a questionable reputation.
That brings the net cost down to 62 CP – a +1 ECL race.
OK… the Rad’Egion pretty much have “Wizard!” stamped on their foreheads, and gain quite a few useful advantages in being wizards – to the point were it would be pretty silly in a conventional game NOT take some levels in Wizard unless you just wanted to meet the requirements for some prestige class. In Eclipse taking some Wizard Casting Levels is virtually mandatory – why else would you any player select this race? Still, while they’re more powerful than most +1 ECL races those racial disadvantages can really come back to bite them.
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. If you want, there are some reviews.
- Eclipse – The Mastercrafter (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Eclipse d20 – the Primal Elves (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Lynxi Abysinia: ECL 6 World-Conquering Sorceress Super-villainess Catgirl (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Ptaysanwee, Epic Guardian of the Primal Elves. (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Eclipse and Complete Races (ruscumag.wordpress.com)