Eclipse, The Factotum and the Seneschal

There was a request some time ago for a “Factotum” build. Sadly, I can’t build a Factotum because the class isn’t open game content. On the other hand I CAN use the mechanics in Eclipse to build something very similar – lets call it… a Seneschal.

Of course this style of build suffers from a pretty fundamental problem; “per encounter” abilities simply do not work well in any reasonably realistic setting or one where situations get more complex than expected. For an examination of the problem, look HERE. Still, all we have to do to simulate that is to limit the amount of power available during any one “encounter” and make sure that there’s plenty of recharges to that limit available.

As usual, we’re first buying some basics – Warcraft (BAB) +15 (90 CP), Saves +24 (72 CP), 6 SP/Level (138 CP), d8 HD (80 CP), and Proficiency with All Simple and Martial Weapons (9 CP), Light Armor (3 CP), and Shields (3 CP).

That’s a total of 395 CP out of the usual 504 available for a base class – but as a skill-based class we’ll certainly want to make use of Fast Learner (Specialized in Skills, 6 CP) – providing 40 Skill Points at a cost of only 6 Character Points. That leaves us 143 CP to by special abilities with.

Seneschal Special Abilities:

  • Working Smarter, Not Harder: Augmented Bonus: Add (Int Mod) to (Str Mod) for Skills and Checks (6 CP).
  • I Know What I’m Doing: Augmented Bonus: Add (Int Mod) to (Dex Mod) for Skills and Checks (6 CP).
  • Practice Makes Perfect: Advanced Augmented Bonus: Add (Int Mod) to (Dex Mod) for AC purposes (12 CP).
  • Polymath: All Skills are Class Skills (Immunity/increased cross-class skill costs, Common, Minor, Major, 6 CP).
    • This isn’t a big deal in Eclipse; by default in Eclipse, any skill that makes sense for your character is a class skill – although the GM may choose to limit how many you can pick (in which case this ability is relevant). Of course, it also only takes three extra skill points to turn a “cross-class” skill into a class skill in Eclipse anyway. As a note, “Trapfinding” isn’t usually an ability in Eclipse. In Eclipse skills work the same way for everybody.
  • Contingency Plans: 3d6 (10) Mana, Specialized and Corrupted; can only be regained via the Rite of Chi, only to power special abilities each of which must be both specific and bought independently; it thus does not automatically include a branch of Natural Magic (6 CP).
  • Contact With The Enemy: Rite of Chi with +36 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted/cannot be used to recover spells or power, mana may only be used to refill the user’s “special abilities only” mana pool, cannot be used during an “encounter”, must be used to top up the user’s mana pool between encounters (20 CP).
    • Basically this says that the user can refill his or her mana pool about ten times per day even if he or she runs it down to zero each time. That should more than suffice for a day’s “encounters” If the user wishes to have a bigger mana pool, buy +1d6 Mana (2 CP) and +8 Bonus Uses on Rite of Chi (4 CP) as often as desired; four to six times is usually quite sufficient.
  • Brilliant Improvisation: Immunity/the time normally required to use the Rite of Chi (Common, Minor, Grand, 12 CP).
    • This would be a big deal – natural law immunities usually are – but there’s usually at least three or four minutes to spare between two encounters. Most of the time this has no real effect, and thus there’s no real worry.
  • Clever Tactics: Natural Magic/Reality Editing, Specialized for Increased Effect and Corrupted for Reduced Cost: the user may spend a point of Mana before rolling to gain a competence bonus equal to his or her (Int Mod) on an attack roll, damage roll, or save. This does not require any kind of action, but is the ONLY reality edit that the user may produce with this purchase of Reality Editing (4 CP).
  • Stroke of Brilliance: Natural Magic/Reality Editing, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect: the user may spend a point of Mana without using an action before any skill check to gain an unnamed bonus equal to his or her (Int Mod) on it – but this ability may only be used once per day per skill and is the ONLY reality edit that the user may produce with this purchase of Reality Editing (6 CP).
  • Bane Strike: Natural Magic/Reality Editing, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect: the user may spend two points of mana before an attack as a free action to add (2+ Level/2) extra d6 of damage to the attack to a maximum of 12d6. If the user misses, the effect is wasted (6 CP).
    • The original build had no inherent upper limit on the (sneak attack) damage for this ability IF you had enough points to spend – but in most cases it was still a lackluster ability. Ergo the rewrite here upgrades it (it only costs 2 points for all your extra dice, instead of 1 per die and is just extra damage, without sneak attack limitations) but applies an upper limit (which is above the original one for the base class, but below the limit if you were investing all your feats in buying extra points).
  • Inspired Moment: Reflex Training/Once-Per-Round Extra Action Variant, Mana Fueled Variant (normally costs two mana), Corrupted/actually costs 3 Mana (4 CP).
  • Gods Help Me: Positive Energy Channeling, (Wis Mod + 7) uses per day at +4 on the chart, with Spell Conversion to a 6’th level effect (Heal), Specialized for Reduced Cost: the user must spend a mana point to use this ability and the healing/infliction is limited to hit point damage up to a limit of (2 x Level + Int Mod) (note that this means that the effect on Undead is the same regardless of their save) (16 CP).
  • Taking The Shot: Luck, Specialized for Double Effect (the user may “Take 40″) in rolls to overcome spell resistance, powered by Mana instead of Uses per Day (6 CP).
  • I See A Weak Point: Augment Attack/+6d6 (21) Damage to overcome damage resistance only, Corrupted/requires the expenditure of two points of mana to activate for a round (12 CP).
  • It’s A Million To One But It Just Might Work: Arcane Shaping: Inherent Spell I, Specialized and Corrupted/only as a prerequisite, Inherent Spell II, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (Easy-to-control L10 Greater Invocation / Any Arcane Spell of L7 or less) with +8 Bonus Uses (also Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost) and an Int-Based Save DC. May only produce effects of up to (Level/2.5, rounded down), only one effect of the maximum level can be produced each day, effects must be selected at the beginning of each day despite the “Anyspell” effect, it costs one mana when the effect is actually activated, any special components must be supplied normally, cannot produce effects that cost experience points, cannot select the same effect twice for any one day (12 CP).
    • This is using the cheesy “fabulously powerful inherent spell through Specialization and Corruption” trick – but those limitations will keep its effect safely below the abilities of more specialized casters and it does cost Mana, which raises the effective price considerably since you have to buy that too. As long as the build doesn’t involve too many other pieces of cheese, this is acceptable. Every build is entitled to at least a LITTLE cheese.
  • Anything You Can Do I Can Fake: Inherent Spell III/Any one (+2 levels) “Surprising Mastery” spell adding two related Complex Mental Feats (Level 5 Base, 7 Total). Uses Mana (two points to reduce the level, two points to power it, for a total of four). In Eclipse this lets the user add +12 CP worth of abilities to his or her character until the duration runs out. Specialized/limited to a maximum duration of one minute, the user only has three sets of abilities available each day, although he or she may swap them out from day to day (6 CP). (as a free action).
    • The original class could pick three “extraordinary class abilities” from a “standard class” each day, provided that each was available at level 15 or lower and “appeared in the text description for that class”. By spending four points as a free action they could emulate one of those abilities for a minute. This was a difficult ability to deal with originally; there was no definition of what a “standard class” was, some class abilities were unspecified but arguably “extraordinary”, and a lot of abilities might or might not work – such as “fighter bonus feats”. In Eclipse there are no “standard classes”, and pretty much any ability you want can be built as any kind of ability there is. On the other hand saying “you can do anything at all!” seems a bit too much. The actual intent seemed to be to allow the use of “an ability another character type picked up at a particular level” – so in Eclipse this seems pretty simple: most abilities that get picked up at at a given level cost 12 character points or less (with the rest going to skills, hit dice, saves, and other abilities). So this version of that ability lets you temporarily add 12 CP to your build.
  • Duck And Cover: Inherent Spell IV/Immediate Moment Out Of Time (L6). Much like Moment Out of Time from The Practical Enchanter, this distortion of time makes the user utterly invulnerable. Unlike it, the effect lasts for a mere instant – stopping only one attack. It may be employed as an immediate action after the damage or effect of an attack is announced. Specialized/costs 4 Mana and still expends it’s 1/day use (3 CP).
    • This was mildly tricky; normally I’d just use Reflex Training (the Extra Actions variant) to let the character escape onrushing doom (often by simply getting out of the way) – but he or she might already have used an extra action. Ergo, it has to be magical. Fortunately, that’s not too hard either. If the character wants to describe things more dramatically than “it bounced” or “I vanished for a moment” it really doesn’t matter. Go ahead and let them; it’s the mechanical results that matter as far as the rules are concerned.

And that comes out to 143 CP worth of special abilities, and a grand total (after using Fast Learner) of 504 CP – although there are a few slight improvements over the original; this version gets one extra spell, doesn’t lose the automatic (Int Mod) bonus to AC if they wear medium or heavy armor, gets one extra use of Channeling, can use their once per day “escape death” against things other than hit point damage, has a somewhat-improved attack option, and will eventually get access to ninth level spells at epic levels. I could probably save three or four four character points by fiddling around to precisely match the original model – but why bother? It would just complicate the math.

Now, if you want to purchase some upgrades, take Duties – like the Cleric and Druid. Then spend those extra forty character points upgrading; that’s enough to pay for a few more daily uses of pretty much everything, and probably for a few extra tricks to boot (I’d go for some Witchcraft; it’s the easiest way to get a pocketful of special tricks, even if most of them aren’t particularly overwhelming). As a skill monkey, be sure to scrape up a few points somewhere – possibly from Disadvantages – and take Adept at least once; that will help stretch those skill points even further.

If you want to convert to Pathfinder… Take the Pathfinder Package Deal, pick a Pathfinder Race, and spend the eighteen character points that you’ll be freeing up from the first-level skill allotment.

Personally, I still find it gratifying to find that Eclipse can pretty much duplicate character types that weren’t published until years after it was.

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. Here’s a Featured Review of it and another Independent Review.

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.

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