Occult Skills aren’t necessarily magical; they’re simply “hidden” – in that they don’t appear on the skill list for a given setting and aren’t normally available in it. That doesn’t mean that a character can’t have most of them – this IS Eclipse after all – it just means that they have to pay a few extra character points for the privilege. Some of the Occult Skills that have turned up so far in our games include…
Legendarium (Charisma, No Unskilled Use, Restricted, Base Skill Only*).
You may tap into the power of myths and legends through items and places tied to their prior embodiments or you may seek to build your own legend. This works like a magical item with a value of up to (Base Legendarium Skill) squared x 300 GP. Unfortunately, the powers of such an item must fit into the legend in question (Excalibur may bring victory in battle, and grant powers of rulership – but it doesn’t cure plagues or let you breathe underwater), they are needlessly conspicuous and easily identified, they are sought (by would-be users for items, by rivals or enemies otherwise), and the powers must be activated by deeds and quests appropriate to the legend being tapped – and such deeds and quests inevitably get tougher and tougher as you go.
- If you are using an item, each +3 skill points or equivalent requires a new deed to activate. Thus a simple masterwork blade might become +1 when wielded in battle in defense of the innocent at Legendarium 3 (Up to 2700 GP value) and increase to +2 at Legendarium 5 – but activating the next set of powers (the rank 6-8 range) will require another deed, and a greater one. If you discard, pass on, or lost the item, you may apply your Legendarium skill elsewhere – but you’ll need new deeds to reactivate it. If your item is destroyed, it can always be recreated or reforged or some such – although this will require some trouble and an extra deed.
- If you are being hailed as the reincarnation, heir, or return of some legendary figure, you can split up the power between multiple items and/or personal powers – but they all have to relate to the legend and personal powers must be slot-free. Worse, a deed is required every +2 skill points. The only way to “discard” this application (and free up your Legendarium to use elsewhere), is to retire from the role appropriately – sailing away into the unknown with a promise to return someday, dying heroically, or otherwise bringing the legend to an appropriate conclusion.
- If you are building your own legend you’ll have a lot more input on the powers you can gain – after all, your theme is up to you – but you will require a new deed with every skill point – and discarding your own legend is close to impossible; you’d probably have to move to a different dimension, use epic magic to make everyone forget you, or raise up a replacement to step into your tale in your place. Like it or not, creating your own private mythology from scratch is quite a project.
If you are using the Item or Reincarnation approach and you exceed the limits of the original tale, you may expand upon it, although this will – once again – require one deed per additional skill point. For good or ill, however, the tale is still something that your associated with rather than being entirely yours and can still be discarded as usual.
Legendarium basically allows a character to turn in skill points for extra magic – although the “Deeds” requirement keeps this nicely under control and, as a bonus, gives the character a series of special goals to accomplish. Secondarily, it allows an item to remain important throughout a character’s career – turning the sword of a heroic ancestor into something that a character can inherit when first starting out, spend years living up to, use as a primary weapon from level one to level whatever, and eventually make their own as their legend exceeds that of their famous ancestor.
It also, of course, replaces the entire “Weapons of Legacy” book, but that’s another matter.
*“Base Skill” turns up in a number of magical skills one way or another; it simply refers to the characters permanent score – (Skill Ranks + Attribute Modifier + Effects of Permanently-Active Feats or Racial Abilities). Occult bonuses often simply do not work well with occult skills; they tend to interfere instead.
Gadgetry is a common skill in the dimension-hopping Federation-Apocalypse setting, where the laws of nature say that – in the ninety-five percent or more of the game that doesn’t take place in the Core Worlds – the characters beliefs and expectations shape reality. It represents the user’s ability to keep some personal items working that shouldn’t work in the current dimension. After all, it doesn’t matter if your gun is currently a magic wand, a microlaser, a mystic word of power as long as it’s game statistics are basically the same. In narrower settings, Gadgetry can also be used to represent a collection of minor items that the user may have along without explanation or expense (and possibly may not be considered an “Occult Skill” at all). In either case, in mechanical terms it’s simple;
Gadgetry (Charisma for Reality-Shifting version/Dexterity for Tinkerers, No Unskilled Use, Restricted). Characters using the Reality-Shifting version who actually possess Reality Editing get a +4 synergy bonus on their Gadgetry skill score. Tinkerers may gain synergy bonuses from up to two relevant craft, knowledge, or professional skills – such as chemistry, craft/alchemy, or engineering. Each point of the “Gadgetry” skill may be assigned to a particular item, with more powerful or complex devices requiring more points. The Reality-Shifting version of the skill will keep those devices operating normally despite changes in natural law. The Tinkerer version allows the user to simply carry such devices without worrying about where they come from, practicality, or the details of how they work. It can also be rolled when the user wishes to improvise some minor repair or wants to make a quick stab at using some device. Thus a Tinkerer with Gadgetry-9 might carry Smoke Pellets (1), a Sleeve-Mounted Grapnel Launcher and Rewinder (2), a Gas Mask (1), some Poison Cloud Grenades (3 – for the poison, the storage, and the release mechanism), and a Folding Sword (2, for sheer impracticality). A Reality Shifter with Gadgetry-9 might be carrying a Flaming Sword (whether that’s currently being a lightsaber, a magical mass of magma, or a crystal that focuses mental energy into a pyrokinetic blade, 1), an Adjustable Plasma Pistol (2), a Wand of Healing (with the same game statistics regardless of whether it’s currently a wand, a bag full of herbs, or a box of medical-nanite injectors, 2), a long-term Light (whether it’s currently an inextinguishable torch, a fusion-cell powered flashlight, or a perpetual glowstick, 1), and a set of futuristic Smartclothes (providing a wide variety of useful functions, whether as a magical amulet, smartfiber cloth, or a covering of metamorphic psychic metal, 3).
You can boost Gadgetry in all the usual ways, but short-term boosts aren’t especially helpful most of the time. Long term boosts are useful to Tinkerers, but are less useful to Reality Shifters, who must usually allot part of the boosters effect to maintaining the booster.
Glowstone Alchemy is the art of working with (and surviving working with) Glowstone – an immensely powerful and toxic mineral normally found only in a particular campaign setting. Glowstone Alchemy is a fairly common skill there – but it’s an Occult Skill in most other places, where Glowstone is vanishingly rare or must be (somehow) artificially produced. There are articles up on the Basics of Glowstone Alchemy (including glowstone tolerance and poisoning) and on Glowstone Items. Buy it as Craft (Glowstone) – but it cannot be used unskilled, just as Craft/Nuclear Devices cannot be used unskilled.
- Eclipse: Castle Hieronymus from Emergence Campaign Weblog (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Eclipse, True Names, and Nymic Magic from Emergence Campaign Weblog (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- “Little” Bear, Wrestler of Magic (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Eclipse, The Factotum and the Seneschal (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Eclipse: The Summoner and the Chimeric Master (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Eclipse d20; Pandering to the Martial Arts (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Eclipse – The Questionable Inner Fire (ruscumag.wordpress.com)