“Ghost” of the Chosen Ones at Eclipse Level Four

And here we have an updated version of “Ghost” – going from level three to level four. That’s actually quite easy in Eclipse; there’s no need to take weird prerequisites that will only be useful later on, to hunt for weird prestige classes, or do much fiddling around to get what you want. You just spend your points on the things you want to have.

In going to level four Ghost gets… 24 Character Points (the base) +2 CP (Duties to the Chosen Ones) +6 CP (her fourth-level bonus feat) = 32 CP. Her 18 Intelligence gets her four bonus skill points and she gets two from having Fast Learner Specialized in Skills. Finally, she’ll get +1 on an attribute – in her case Dexterity.

She’s a witchcraft-based stealth expert, mystic spy, and light-duty combatant. So she wants to buy…

  • Her Witchcraft II up to Witchcraft III (4 CP; normally 6 CP, but she’s limited her powers to working in shadows or darkness – which is, by the way, increasingly becoming a pain; it’s time to start buying that limitation off if she can afford it). That will give her access to another four basic powers – in her case the the Hand of Shadows (minor telekinetic effects), Glamour (minor projective telepathic effects), Witchfire (molecular-level telekinesis), and The Inner Eye (minor receptive telepathic effects). None of those are especially powerful – for example, even if you spend more points and develop Glamour to it’s limits the most powerful effects you can produce are things like Good Hope and Suggestion.
  • Warcraft: +1 BAB (It’s time to get to +2) (6 CP). At the moment Ghost is relying on magical boosts to swamp her low BAB – and for the moment it’s working.
  • Raise the base 1d4 hit die she gets for free to 1d6 (2 CP).
  • Boost her saves with Resist: +1 Fortitude (3 CP) and +1 Will (3 CP).
  • Buy a little extra Power (+3d6) as Mana (6 CP). That’s not a lot, but Witchcraft is pretty low-cost.
  • +0 SP (0 CP). That’s a total of 6 skill points this level – likely enough, especially considering that she has Adept to reduce the costs of some of her skills.
  • Buy another 2000 GP worth of Innate Enchantment. She had 700 GP (and the round-off) worth left unused anyway, so that will let her get something worthwhile – in this case duplicating the powers of a Healing Belt (Magic Item Compendium, 750 GP), a Hat of Disguise (1800 GP; it’s just SO handy for a spy-type), and a Least Crystal of Darkness (as per a Least Crystal of Illumination, but sheds shadows instead of light, 200 GP).
  • Since she still has six character points left for this level, it’s time to buy off the “only in shadows” restriction on her Basic Witchcraft I, II, and III (6 CP). Her advanced powers will still only work in darkness, but at least the basic stuff will work anywhere. This is actually a pretty common feature of Eclipse leveling; Ghost had a fair number of powers to start with – but they were restricted and limited. Now that she’s moving up in level she’s getting rid of some of those limitations, increasing her flexibility a lot and her power a little, rather than the other way around.

So at level four Ghost will look like this:

“Chosen One” Template (“GM Plot Hook Bonus”): This provides +2 each to Strength, Constitution, and Charisma, 60′ Darkvision, a mental link with the other Chosen Ones, a bonus language (Draconic), Grant of Aid with the regeneration option, Companion with two upgrades (corrupted by an independent turn of mind), and 1d6 Natural Weapons/Claws. There may be more to the template than this but the characters still have no idea what that might be.

Race: Drow Elf (Modified):

The setting – and being a “Chosen One” – changes the standard Drow Elf. Half-price attributes makes the race cheaper and eliminate the constitution penalty. Since being a Chosen One grants darkvision (and there’s no need to buy it twice) we’re presuming the regular exposure to light has made her eyes less sensitive – reducing her darkvision range byt eliminating her light sensitivity. Condensing the skill list saves a few points on her racial bonuses too – and the Drow Inherent Spells (Darkness, Dancing Lights, and Faerie Fire once per day each) are being subsumed into her Witchcraft-based Shadow Mastery talents.

  • Self-Development: +2 Charisma, +2 Dexterity, +2 Intelligence (18 CP).
  • Improved Spell Resistance (10 + Level) (12 CP).
  • Immunity/Sleep Effects (Uncommon/Minor/Major, 3 CP)
  • Resist/+2 on Will saves against spells and spell-like abilities (3 CP).
  • Resist/+2 on Saves versus Enchantment Spells and Effects (3 CP)
  • Proficient with hand crossbow, rapier, and short sword (a limited group of weapons, 3 CP).
  • Occult Sense/Detect Secret Doors (Specialized: requires a Search check and passing within 5 feet, 3 CP)
  • Skills: Extra Languages, Elven and Undercommon, +2 on Perception and Stealth (6 CP)
  • Disadvantage: Outcast (-3 CP). Dark Elves are widely regarded with fear and suspicion.

That reduces the cost of her race to 48 CP – or the 31 CP available to a +0 ECL race and 17 CP out of her level one allotment, which is what she opted for.

Available Character Points: 120 (Level Four Base) +10 (Disadvantages; Hunted, Valuable, and Irrationally Secretive) +24 (2x L1, L2 feat, and L4 Feats; the GM is being generous) +8 (Duties as a Chosen One) = 162. Subtracting her racial costs leaves 145 CP to spend on her build. The attribute array was 12, 12, 14, 14, 16, 16. Far more importantly, the GM is not restricting the characters choice of abilities – allowing them to gain some fairly powerful specialities early on.

Basic Attributes: Str 14, Dex 19 (21), Int 18, Wis 12, Con 16, Chr 16

Basic Purchases:

  • Warcraft (BAB): +2 (12 CP).
  • Hit Points / Dice: 21 (L1-4d6, 6, 5, 4, 6, 8 CP) +12 (4 x Con Mod) = 33 HP.
  • Proficient with All Simple Weapons (3 CP)
  • Armor Class 10 (Base) +5 (Dex) +4 “Armor” +1 (Martial Art) +1 (Deflection) = 21 (23 when using her Shadow Form). (Her “Robes” can turn into any kind of clothing desired and – at the moment – provide a +4 AC bonus and a +1 Deflection bonus).
  • Initiative +5 (Dex)
  • Save Bonuses: +1 Fortitude (3 CP) +1 Reflex (3 CP) +2 Will (6 CP). This gives her Fortitude +4, Reflex +6, and Will +3.
  • Skill Points: 6 (Purchased, 6 CP) +24 (Int Mod x 6) +6 (Fast Learner) = 36 SP.

Usual Weapons:

  • Sai (Well, actually a disarming dagger in game terms, but she likes the look): +12/+12 (+2 BAB +3 BAB (Magic) +5 Dex, +1 MA, +1 Enh, Serpents Strike), 1d6 (improved base damage) +2 (Str) +1 (Enh), Crit 19-20/x2. 1d6 Sneak Attack, Disarming (+4 to Disarm rolls but no bonus to use sleight-of-hand to hide it). She usually dual-wields, but – at the moment – this is just a special effect.

Other Abilities:

  • Finesse: uses Dex Mod instead of Str Mod to hit with knives, daggers, short swords, sai, and similar weapons (6 CP).
  • Fast Learner, Specialized in Skills for +2 SP/Level (starting at level “-1″, 6 CP).
  • Adept: pays half cost for the Acrobatics, Deception, Stealth, and NightWraith Martial Art skills (6 CP).
  • Expert Rogue/Augmented Bonus: Adds (Int Mod) to (Dex Mod) with dexterity-based skills (6 CP).
  • Block/Melee, Specialized / Only with Short Blades, Costs 1 Power/Use (3 CP). Ghost can manifest momentary adamantine shields to help save her skin…

Nightwraith Package:

  • Innate Enchantment/9000 GP Value (10 CP). All abilities; (Spell Level ½ or 1) x (Caster Level 1) x Unlimited-Use Use-Activated (2000 GP) x .7 (Personal-Only, if applicable) or item copies.
    • Increase Attribute/Dex +2 [1400 GP]
    • Martial Mastery (+3 to hit – Sai/Dagger) [700 gp]
    • Fortune’s Favor II (+2 Luck Skills) [1400 gp]
    • Expertise II (+2 Competence Bonus to All Skills) [1400 gp]
    • Serpent Strike (Additional Melee Attack) [1400 gp]
    • Healing Belt [Magic Item Compendium, 750 GP]
    • Hat of Disguise [SRD, 1800 GP]
    • Least Crystal of Darkness [As per Least Crystal of Illumination, but absorbs light instead of shedding it, 200 GP].
  • Immunity/the normal XP costs of Innate Enchantments (Uncommon, Minor, Trivial, 1 CP).

Using Serpent Strike is more than a bit cheesy, but restricting it to a second melee attack (instead of an extra attack at any moment) makes it somewhat more reasonable. It still means that a simple “dispel magic” against caster level one will drastically reduce the characters combat abilities though – and it’s so useful to a melee combatant that they’d be fools not to take it.

Shadow Mastery Package:

“Ghost” can tap into the magics of twilight and darkness, channeling those hidden forces into a modest variety of tricks. This particular ability package is being purchased as Witchcraft, with all advanced abilities Corrupted / will not work in areas of bright illumination and can be dispelled by light-based powers. That’s a bit of a bottleneck – but this is only a supplementary set of abilities.

More importantly, Witchcraft is a very cheap and efficient way to get some fairly good powers – but it doesn’t improve that much with level. Thus it’s great for low-level characters, fair for mid-level characters, and only a minor supplement for high-level characters.

  • Witchcraft I, II, and III; 18 CP. This provides (Str+Dex+Con)/3 Power (that’s 18 power) and seven basic witchcraft abilities. Where relevant, the Will Save DC against these abilities is 16. The range is thirty feet; going past that is possible, but costs more power.
    • Adamant Will. This allows her to spend 2 power as a reflex action to resist various forms of mind control or to make a second save against mind-reading or “truth” effects. For three power she may reflexively present a false aura to detection spells or ignore pain.
    • Glamour: Projective telepathy. +6 on relevant social skills for 1 power/ten minutes, and minor emotional influence and hypnotic effects at L0 for 1 power and L1 for 2 power.
    • Hand of Shadows: Covers minor telekinetic effects. 1 power/minute to do things you could do physically, do an hours worth of light work for 1 power, first-level animation effects (entangle, animate rope, etc) 2 points each, +2 if excessive force or fine control is required.
    • Inner Eye: Thought-sensing. See surface thoughts, find hidden beings, share senses, and read psychic impressions for small costs. If used socially +6 on relevant checks for 1 power/1- minutes.
    • Shadowweave: This allows the manipulation of light and darkness to create minor illusions and special effects. Cantrip level effects can provide bonuses of up to +6 on things like disguise checks and cost one power per ten minutes of activity. A first level effect (such as Color Spray or Faerie Fire) costs one power.
    • Witchfire: Manipulate heat or cold (1d8 for 1 power, 3d6 for 2, +1 for a modest area of effect, -1 if using pre-existing flames), infuse or extract drugs and toxins, trivial effects for 1 power per 10 minutes of activity.
    • Witchsight: Spend one power to enhance a sense for an hour – gaining either a +6 bonus on relevant checks or extending an existing sense (such as upgrading her sense of smell to Scent). Spending one power on a specific roll – such as attempting to detect poison by scent – triples the bonus.

Advanced Witchcraft Abilities (All Corrupted for Reduced Cost / will not work in areas of bright illumination and can be dispelled by light-based powers). At level four “Ghost” can have two Pacts. She currently only has one; Duties (she must spend a great deal of time lurking in the shadows, for only there can she feel at home) – but this reduces the cost of her advanced abilities by (-6 CP).

  • Advanced Shadowweave (Specialized/only allows access to second level light and darkness effects at the cost of 2 power, 2 CP).
  • Nightforge (4 CP): Creates “Solid Darkness” – a material equivalent to Adamantine – for one Power per 20 lb. It lasts an hour and can be used to entrap people.
  • “Shadow Form”/Ashen Rebirth with the Dimension Door and Teleportation upgrades (8 CP). Ghost may spend one power to merge with the darkness for one minute. In that form she gains DR 10/-, the ability to walk on walls and ceilings, the ability to pass through cracks and crevices, a +5 enhancement bonus to stealth, and a (Cha Mod) deflection bonus to her AC. While in this form she may spend 2 power to dimension door from one shadow to another as long as she can trace a transverseable path between them or 7 power to teleport to another shadow.

This is a minor variant on the usual Ashen Rebirth power – notably weaker, but without the damaging side effects or the conspicuousness of turning into flame.

  • +7d6 (27) Power (12 CP). With her 19 base that gives her a total of 46 Power each day.


  • Acrobatics: +6 (SP*) +5 (Dex) +2 (Luck) +2 (Competence) +4 (Int) = +19
  • Deception: +6 (SP*) +3 (Cha) +2 (Luck) +2 (Competence) = +13
  • Nightwraith Martial Art (Dex): +6 (SP*) +5 (Dex) +2 (Luck) +2 (Competence) +4 (Int) = +19
  • Perception: +6 (SP) +1 (Wis) +2 (Luck) +2 (Competence) +2 (Race) = +13^
  • Perform (Stringed Instrument) : +6 (SP) +5 (Dex) +2 (Luck) +2 (Competence) +4 (Int) = +19
  • Persuasion: +6 (SP) +3 (Cha) +2 (Luck) +2 (Competence) = +13
  • Stealth: +6 (SP*) +5 (Dex) +2 (Luck) +2 (Competence) +2 (Race) +2 (Synergy) +4 (Int) = +23^
  • Thievery: +6 (SP) +5 (Dex) +2 (Luck) +2 (Competence) +4 (Int) = +19

*Adept Skills, purchased at half cost.

^ May be augmented with Witchcraft.

Skills in the setting have been somewhat condensed:

  • Acrobatics: Covers Balance, Tumble and Escape Artist.
  • Athletics: Covers Climb, Jump and Swim.
  • Arcana: Covers Knowledge (Arcana) and Spellcraft.
  • Linguistics: Covers Forgery and Decipher Script.
  • Deception: Covers Bluff and Disguise.
  • Survival: Covers Knowledge (Nature) and Survival.
  • Perception: Covers Search, Spot, and Listen.
  • Persuasion: Covers Diplomacy and Intimidation.
  • Stealth: Covers Hide and Move Silently.
  • Thievery: Covers Disable Device, Open Locks, and Sleight of Hand.

 Everything else is as per the SRD.

Nightwraith Martial Art (Dex):

The Nightwraith Style focuses on concealment, sudden strikes at vital areas, and on the use of the Sai – as well as inherent mastery of the powers of (physical) darkness. It is smooth, flowing, and generally performed in dark, loose-fitting clothing with wide sleeves and pants – both of which serve to conceal the user’s movements in swirling folds of cloth. It’s generally regarded as the private art of the Lahir Wraiths (a secretive order of Drow assassins) and they’ve been known to object to having it spread around.

  • Requires: Access to Shadow Mastery – or at least something similar. Uses the Sai.
  • Basic Techniques: Attack 2, Defenses 2, Power 2, Strike, and Synergy/Stealth.
  • Advanced and Master Techniques: Combat Reflexes, Sneak Attack I, Prone Fighting, and an Unarmed Kata (allows use while unarmed as well as with a Sai).
  • Occult Techniques: Inner Strength, Light Foot, Serpent Strike, and Touch Strike.
  • Known Techniques (10): Attack 1, Defense 1, Power 1, Synergy/Stealth, Combat Reflexes, Sneak Attack I, Prone Fighting, Touch Strike, Inner Strength, and Serpent Strike.

Dark Offerings – Do-It-Yourself Charms and Talismans VI

English: The Ark of the Covenant Brought into ...

No,no… Definitely not THAT powerful!

And here we have a few more Talisman suggestions – with, as usual, some delving into world-building and d20 magical theory along the way. Of course, most of the material on Charms and Talismans can be found in The Practical Enchanter. 

Implements of Sacrifice: Sends portion of the soul’s energy to the dedicated power. The user gains a single use spell like ability as a gift from the dedicated power. This is chosen by the power, thematically linked and in general of a Level equal to the sacrificed creatures (HD+1)/2. While most commonly used by evil cultists it is possible to use this in an attempt to redeem a corrupted being. -Brett

Well, there’s the modern view that sacrifices and offerings are simply showing dedication to a faith or are supporting an organized church. Of course, such views really don’t apply in most d20 settings; “dedication” doesn’t mean much when it’s simply background choice – and if it actually costs a character something the players will expect a commensurate payoff, even if it’s mostly on the social side of things. If that payoff doesn’t actually show up… they tend to opt out. Even the dedicated roleplayers don’t always want to put their characters at a gratuitous disadvantage.

Similarly, there’s little need to support most d20 churches; the ones that have serious power of their own don’t need it – and the ones that don’t have power are almost invariably background elements. At most… they’re ways for characters to establish their “good guy credentials” and an excuse for adventuring. “We are undertaking this dangerous task in hopes of Wealth and Power and… oh yeah… to help out the village/orphans/kindly old priest/noble king/whoever”.

The classic view is that you’re offering up a sacrifice because the power you’re offering it to gets something out of it (if only satisfaction) and gives something back (even if all it does is to refrain from smiting you with ill fortune). The Old Testament lists various sins, each with a specified sacrifice to be offered up in atonement to generate “a pleasing odor before the Lord” and to gain forgiveness. Blood was important to this process, because the “blood is the life”.

The remains of such sacrifices then became the property of the priests – who were supported by a steady stream of offerings.

So offering a creature’s life force to a power in exchange for something is about as classical as it gets. A set of magical implements that strengthen the link to said power is a very reasonable notion. After all… simple prayers can reach such powers with no help at all (perhaps thanks to the fact that every sapient being is constantly linked to the outer planes by the energies of it’s alignment), and even very minor magic can reach the outer planes (as per “summon monster” – which may be easy because the powers of the outer planes WANT to be called to the material realms, and all you’re doing is opening a door) even if it is a LOT harder to locate a specific non-divine creature.

Specifying that power’s response to such offerings – even in general – is where this Talisman first goes overboard. Telling godlike beings what to do is hubris at the very least, and potentially blasphemy or worse. Even coming to their attention by trying to help is not necessarily a good thing. Thus the fate of an unsanctified man who tried to stabilize the Ark of the Covenant when it seemed likely to fall:

And when they came to Nachon’s threshing-floor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and God smote him there for his error; and there he died.

Secondarily… the general response listed is incredibly generous. Even sticking with normal land animals, looking at hit dice… Rats and such are good for cantrips. 1-2HD (L1 spell granted); Baboon, Badger, Dogs, Hawk, Monkey, Owl, Pony (and probably sheep, goats, and similar animals), 3HD (L2 spell granted): Bear (Black), Camel, Cheetah, Crocodile, Boar, Horse, Mule, 5 HD (L3 spell granted): Bison, Lion (and presumably bulls, water buffalo, and other bovines), and 11HD (L6 spell granted): Elephant (and yes, there were plenty of domestic elephants).

Now to look at the old testament again… King Solomon sacrificed (not personally) 120,000 sheep and 22,000 oxen at the dedication of the temple. OK: that’s 120,000 L1 spells and 22,000 level three spells. Now yes, priesthood is a big business – but that seems a bit much.

Is someone important dead? Sacrifice an Elephant to Osiris and up they get! Worried about raiders hitting your farm? Sacrifice the old bull you were replacing anyway to Agni for a Fireball spell to hold in reserve. Kid hurt? Sacrifice the chickens you were butchering for sale today to one or another healing god and fix that right up with a string of cantrips!

While “slaughterhouse wizards” sounds amusing, it doesn’t work very well. Requiring that the body be destroyed afterwards works a little better, but still makes some fairly powerful magic available awfully easily.

If sacrifices are restricted to intelligent beings… well, now you have a major incentive to capture all those enemies; that way you’re not only depriving their gods of worship, but you’re empowering your own god and getting power for yourself as well – and all you have to do is a bit of mass slaughter! Adventurers do that all the time anyway!

Honestly, intelligent beings (and d20 characters) behave badly enough without that kind of encouragement. Any benefits from making sacrifices should be subtle, rather than flashy.

(Replacement) Sigil of the Divine (Talisman): Those who faithfully observe the requirements of their god (or gods) – praying regularly, observing holy days, making offerings, reading sacred texts, and listening to sacred tales – strengthen the link between themselves and their gods. With a Sigil of the Divine to aid them, even those who lack the talents of a priest can tap into a little divine power when they need it most. A sigil functions three times per day; when called upon (at any time, regardless of initiative – but no more than once per round) it can bring Fortune (add +2 to any single roll after the roll is made), Providence (reducing hit point or attribute damage/drain by three points), or Beneficence (reduce the duration of a negative condition – including Surprise – by four rounds). According to legend, Sigil-bearers who find themselves confronting mighty enemies of their faith sometimes receive additional divine aid – increasing the daily uses to seven, and allowing the expenditure of up to three uses a round with cumulative effects.

As a welcome side effect, that particular Talisman will finally give characters other than Clerics and Paladins some reason to pay some attention to their religion…

Of course, there is a place in the system for devices that kill people in exchange for power; its in the Black Magic section – with the Bloody Bowl, Spirit Cloak, and Spirit of the Unborn. Such items carry dark and terrible potencies.

(Replacement) Nightfall Wand (Black Magic Talisman): Fashioned from disturbing materials, engraved with blasphemous runes, and empowered by the lives of murdered children, a Nightfall Wand has seven charges. The effects they can be used to produce depend upon what foul powers are called upon during the empowering ritual, but generally correspond to a choice of two second (costing two charges) and three first level (costing one charge) effects. Where relevant these use the user’s attributes and caster level – although the user may spend an extra charge to boost his or her effective caster level by three. The life of one child will restore three charges, while the lives of two restores all seven and allows the wand to be rededicated – changing the effects that it can produce.

Even if they are basically limited to extremely evil spellcasters, Nightfall Wands are powerful things to start with; a 5d4 Burning Hands effect – perhaps followed up by a Scorching Ray – can easily decide a battle at second or third level. If those effects come from a Nightfall Wand, it will almost certainly be decided for the bad guys. That power is a tease of course, but by the time that a character reaches higher levels, and finds a Nightfall Wand next to useless, he or she will have been lured into committing horrible crimes. Isn’t that what Black Magic does?

I’d still be very cautious about allowing them into a game though; they’re entirely too close to a “must have” item for villains – and entirely too likely to lead to total party kills at low levels if they’re used cleverly. Like it or not, when it comes to peasants, villagers, and street children life is just as cheap in d20 as it was in reality.

Jeweled Amulet: Allows a spellcaster to imbue the amulet with a L1 spell. The user may later cast this spell using the original caster’s stats. It is also possible to leach power from the imbued spell for an appropriate cantrip, but this can only be done 3/day and requires a DC 10 Cha check to avoid being fatigued for one hour or harmlessly discharging the stored spell, users option as to which. -Brett

This one is a fairly reasonable talisman – although I’d make it one of the “naturally-occurring only” ones. That way you can avoid the “level nine mage gives fifty peasant children one magic missile spell each and annihilates incoming major monster/military patrol/bandit horde/anything without spell resistance” thing. Even low-level spell storing can get out of control pretty easily if you can hand it out to everyone.

Ornithopter: gives limited flight, requires concentration and being powered by pouring magical energy into it in the form of spell levels, power points, or device charges. This item is highly campaign specific, some will have no issues with it being a very effective flying device for those who can afford it and fuel it, some will wish to limit it to a certain number of rounds per day and otherwise curtail it. -Brett

Converting magical power into bursts of thrust is pretty straightforward – although this does raise the problem of why every first-level Warlock isn’t playing rocket man. It also means that – as soon as someone hooks up a use-activated enchantment as a power source – you can expect to see pretty much everyone doing aerial acrobatics. Given that the power source is external, it’s kind of hard to justify a rounds- or uses- per day restriction either. Ergo, I’d suggest…

(Replacement) Wings of Icarus (Talisman): These wings allow anyone with enough magical power to fuel them – at least one spell level per three rounds – to fly. Unfortunately, they are very fragile, keep the user’s arms occupied, and are murderously difficult to control. Even worse, too great a control failure is likely to damage them – making maintaining control even more difficult and (usually) leading to a literal death spiral. Of course, the skilled (or mad) can pour even more magic into them to go even faster.

Further details of using the Wings of Icarus can probably be safely left to the evil imagination of the game master – which is why very few NPC’s are willing to so much as consider using the things.

Is this important? It will allow low-level characters access to flight, however limited. If they have to scale a wall, or cross a terrible river, or some such, the Wings of Icarus will make it easy.

On the other hand… A Phantom Mill (2000 GP) can produce enough Unseen Servants to let a fair-sized party take to the skies – if very slowly. Basic Shapeshifting is cheap. Winged races, or mystic powers of flight, are out there. Overall this really shouldn’t be a problem.

And there are more of these than I thought… I’ll have to continue the list next time around. 

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.

Gravewright Eyes-Of-The-Dead, Level Six Lesser Lich

A depiction of a lich from the game The Battle...

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Long ago, Gravewight was a diligent student of the arcane arts, studying at one of the worlds great centers of magical scholarship. There – in the finest traditions of the dark arts – Gravewight enslaved the weak, destroyed rivals, pacted with infernal powers, and offered sacrifices. There he walked the bridge of blades above the abyss – and there he fell. Even in the shadowy towers and echoing libraries of that place… there were things that you did not do and boundaries that you did not cross.

Gravewight became bored, as Gravewright does – and did those things, and crossed those boundaries.

Gravewright was not content with mere money and power that came with being a respected and powerful dark wizard. Gravewright became obsessed with immortality – and set to work on Lichdom.

That took a lot of research, and using up a lot of younger students in the experiments. It took burning away much of Gravewight’s memory, throwing away it’s humanity, and renouncing the person it had once been – and there are still deeper and darker secrets of undeath to uncover – but Gravewrights quest succeeded. It is eternal now, even if what it feels is but an eternal hunger for the lives of others and for acquiring ever-greater arcane lore and secrets. Gravewright seeks such things without remorse or pity.

Along the way, that brought him to the Obsidian Blades – an order of assassins who were in need of a mage willing and able to supply them with minor magical devices and with no scruples whatsoever.

Gravewright fit the bill perfectly – and was quite willing to help out more directly on missions where that was required as long as its phylactery could be kept utterly secure. Gravewright does not limit itself to working exclusively for the Obsidian Blades – it continues to work as a crafter of potions, scrolls, wands, and stranger things, selling it’s creations through various dealers and blinds – but its association with the Obsidian Blades is useful and profitable. It could easily do quite well for itself if it focused entirely on crafting – but magical research beckons, even if, with all eternity before it, there is no hurry at all…

Whatever it was before has been sealed into its tomb. Only Gravewright remains.

Gravewright Eyes-Of-The-Dead

Level Six Lesser Lich Wizard

Racial Template: Minimal Lich (+1 ECL / 63 CP):

  • No Constitution Score (0 CP). Like it or not, Liches are quite dead. As genuine “immortality” goes, lichdom is a complete bust. Still, most liches have entirely lost the emotions that would make that important, so what do they care?
  • Immunity to Cold (Common, Major, Trivial, 5 points of resistance, 3 CP).
  • Immunity to Electricity (Common, Major, Trivial, 5 points of resistance, 3 CP).
  • Occult Sense/Darkvision 60′ (6 CP)
  • Advanced Finesse (substitute Int for Con for bonus hit points) (12 CP)
  • DR 5/Magic (6 CP)
  • Attribute Shift: +2 Dexterity, -2 Strength (6 CP). In worlds using the half-attribute-cost rule (such as this one) treat this as a simple +2 Dexterity.
  • Defense: Natural Armor +1/5 levels (6 CP)
  • Innate Spell: Desecrate (2/day) (6 CP)
  • Returning (Extraordinary): Must destroy Phylactery, Specialized/Everybody knows this one (6 CP).
  • Immunity (Common +6 CP, Major +3 CP, Major 1/1): Reduce all critical hit damage by 30 points (9 CP)
  • Resist/+2 to Saves versus Mind-Affecting Effects (3 CP).
  • Template Disadvantage: Accursed/Malign Animation. Liches – even rather minimal ones – are animated by negative energy. Positive social emotions and memories simply find no purchase in their minds. At best, thanks to the intellectual focus which originally brought them to this state, a Lich will retain a cold intellectual curiosity, a fascination with magic, a willingness to work with a group that advances their purposes, and perhaps a few hobbies. (-3 CP).

The Minimal Lich Racial template is derived from the Minimal Vampire Racial Template – and does not carry the full set of “undead” immunities; instead it merely grants a bit of resistance to various effects. Of course this IS an Eclipse build; characters are perfectly free to build up those immunities and more advanced undead powers later on.

Pathfinder Package Deal Human:

Available Character Points: 168 (L6 Base) +10 (Disadvantages: Accursed, Outcast (Undead Abomination), and Untrustworthy (Evil Lich)) +12 (Duties to the Obsidian Blades) +18 (L1, L3, and L5 Bonus Feats) = 208 CP. The Pathfinder Package Deal bonus of +1 CP/Level provides an additional 6 CP, but these have not yet been spent.

Basic Attributes: Str 10, Dex 18 (20), Con -, Int 20 (22), Wis 15, and Cha 10 (12). (Purchased: Str 10, Dex 15+2+1 at L4= 18, Con 7 (before undeath), Int 18+2 (Pathfinder)= 20, Wis 15, and Cha 10.

Basic Abilities (62 CP):

  • Hit dice: 12 (L1d12, 8 CP) +16 (5d4) +66 (6 x (Int Mod + Dex Mod)) = 94 HP.
  • Skill Points: 6 (Purchased, 6 CP) +45 (Int Mod x 9) + 18 (Fast Learner) = 69 SP.
  • BAB: +2 (12 CP), +2 additional Specialized in Staves (6 CP).
  • Saves:
    • Fortitude: +0 (0 CP) +0 (Con) +2 (Res) +1 (Mor) = +3
    • Reflex: +4 (12 CP) +5 (Dex) +2 (Res) +1 (Mor) = +12
    • Will: +5 (15 CP) +2 (Wis) +2 (Res) +1 (Mor) = +10
  • Proficiencies: All Simple Weapons (3 CP).
  • Initiative: +5 (Dex)
  • Move: 30
  • Armor Class: 10 +5 (Dex) +4 (Armor) +4 (Shield) +4 (MA) +1 (Nat) = 28
  • Usual Attacks:
    • Staff: +6 (+4 BAB +0 Str +1 Enh +1 Mor), 1d6+2 (Enh and Mor) + 1d6+1 (Fire), Crit 20/x2. Combat Reflexes, Reach, Whirlwind Attack, Inner Strength, Ki Block and Vanishing.
    • Staff-Delivered Touch Attack: +11 (+4 BAB +5 Dex +1 Mor +1 Enh), 1d6+2 (Fire) plus spell effect, Crit 20/x2. Combat Reflexes, Reach, Whirlwind Attack, Inner Strength, Ki Block and Vanishing.
    • Flame Dart: +8 (+2 BAB +5 Dex +1 Mor) Ranged Touch Attack, 1d6+2 (Fire), Crit 20/x2, 120′ range, maximum one per round.
    • Masterwork Light Crossbow: +9 (+2 BAB +5 Dex +1 Enh +1 Mor) 1d8+1 (Mor), Crit 19-20/x2, 80 Ft Range Increment.

Special Abilities (155 CP):

  • Fast Learner, Specialized in Skills for Double Effect (from original humanity, retained after becoming a lich by paying for it, 6 CP).
  • Adept (Knowledge: Arcane, History, Religion, and Planes, 6 CP).
  • Fast Learner, Specialized in Wizard Spell Progression Levels for +2 CP/Level (6 CP)
  • Action Hero/Invention, Specialized and Corrupted/only for Inventing Spells (at 2 AP per level of the spell, half that for existing spells), only during downtime – for a total of 3(Level+2) AP per level (6 CP). At L6 that’s a total of 99 action points so far.
  • Advanced Improved Augmented Bonus: Add (Dex Mod) to (Int Mod) when calculating HP (18 CP).
  • Companion (Familiar) with a +2 ECL Template (12 CP).
  • +8 levels of the Wizard Spellcasting Progression, Specialized for Reduced Cost/must ritually sacrifice large animals and the occasional sapient being to keep these powers active, must carry especially engraved sigils to cast spells, and his spellcasting causes minor negative energy effects (deaths of plants, occasional destruction of unattended items, and 1d6 damage to all allied living creatures in a twenty foot radius) (44 CP after Fast Learner). At Int 20 this provides him with 4L0, 6L1, 5L2, 4L3, and 3L4 spells per day. He has not purchased the ability to use his L0 spells repeatedly as of yet but does get the base allotment of “all” L0 wizard spells and seven standard first level spells of choice.
  • Finesse: Touch attacks use Dex instead of Str (6 CP)
  • Staff Like Bone: Immunity/the distinction between weapons and himself (Common, Minor, Major, Specialized in Staves, 3 CP). The power of his undeath flows through the dead wood of a stave as through his bones; attempts to sunder or disarm his staff are treated as normal attacks against him – and any touch-based effects, unarmed combat enhancements, or “unarmed” martial arts which he has will operate through his staff.
  • Innate Enchantment (5000 gp worth, 6 CP): Inspiring Word (1400) +1 Morale Bonus on saves, attacks, checks, and damage, Void Sheath (700) Store three items in a personal pocket dimension, Force Shield II (1,400) +4 Shield AC Bonus, and Force Armor II (1,400) +4 Armor AC Bonus.
  • Spell Storing/Scribe Scroll (6 CP).
  • Double Enthusiast with Adaption, Specialized in Relics (4 CP worth of Relics) (8 CP).
  • Create Relic, Specialized and Corrupted/only with points from Enthusiast, only to create relics related to making magical devices (2 CP). (Thus his Sorcerous Tools let him access any two item creation feats).
    • Midnight Sun Stave (2 CP Relic): Reflex Action (three action per day variant) with +4 Bonus Uses / Specialized and Corrupted/only to release the spells bound into the stave (4 CP), 1 1/2d6 Mana (9 CP) as 3d4 generic spell levels, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect (24 spell levels)/only measures the number of spell levels that can be bound into the staff, the user must charge it using his own spells. In effect, the Midnight Sun Stave can store 24 levels of spells. Seven times per day one can be released as an immediate action.
  • Turn Resistance (2 CP). This grants a bonus of +1 effective Hit Die for the purpose of resisting Channeling, spells, and other Hit-Die based effects only per 2 CP invested. It’s most commonly found in the undead, but can be useful to any character at times.
  • Elemental Manipulation Metamagical Theorem with Streamline, Specialized / only to make spells Disruptive (Targets affected by a disruptive spell must make concentration checks when using spells or spell-like abilities (DC equals the save DC of the disruptive spell plus the level of the spell being cast) for 1 round. Targets that avoid the spell’s effects avoid this feat’s effect as well). No increase to spell level (6 CP).
  • Lacing Metamagical Theorm with Streamline, Specialized/only to apply the Penetrating option (+3 to penetrate Spell Resistance for +0 spell levels, additional +3 per additional spell level, 6 CP).
  • Major Privilege/Member of the Obsidian Blades (6 CP).
  • Heartstone Attunement / The Obsidian Blades (6 CP).

Attunement to the Obsidian Blades heartstone allows the free use of Unseen Servant, Disguise Self, Sleep, and Summon Weapon (lasts one minute per level, as per Spiritual Weapon but must be wielded, L1) at caster level one. It allows the free use of Spider Climb, as well as three uses per day of Invisibility, at caster level three as well as a +2 bonus on rolls regarding knowing about, or using, poison. Secondarily it grants access to the following Sorcerer / Wizard Spell Formula:

  • 10L0: Bleed, Detect Magic, Detect Poison, Drench, Ghost Sound, Light, Mending, Open/Close, Prestidigitation, and Ray of Frost.
  • 7L1: Abundant Ammunition, Expeditious Retreat, Feather Fall, Magic Weapon,, True Strike, Vanish, and Ventriloquism.
  • 5L2: Darkvision, Ghoul Touch, Knock, Pernicious Poison, and Pyrotechnics.
  • 4L3: Blacklight, Blink, Shrink Item, and Spell Resistance (Lesser) (from The Practical Enchanter).
  • 3L4: Enervation, Phantasmal Killer, and Vermin Shape I.
  • 2L5: Baleful Polymorph, and Suffocation.

Why am I listing available spell formula instead of just noting the usual Spell Pool? It’s because this game is being run with all major spellcasters as spontaneous casters. That’s not what I usually recommend, but so be it!

Chosen In-Class Skills: Craft and Profession (Automatic), Fly, Knowledge (Arcana, History, Religion, and Planes), Linguistics, one Martial Art, Perception, Sense Motive, Spellcraft, Stealth, and Use Magic Device.

Skill Point Expenditures (all +1 Morale, +3 Pathfinder): Craft/Alchemy +18 (6 SP +6 Int +2 Tools), Fly +15 (+6 SP +5 Dex), Knowledge/Arcana, History, Religion, and The Planes all +19 (9 SP (4 with Adept) +6 Int), Linguistics +11 (1 SP +6 Int), Perception +17 (9 SP +2 Wis +2 Familiar), Sense Motive +15 (9 SP provided by Headband of Vast Intellect +2 Wis), Spellcraft +19 (9 SP +6 Int), Stave of Ahriman +19 (Martial Art, 9 SP +6 Int), Stealth +13 (4 SP +5 Dex), and Use Magic Device +15 (+9 SP +2 Cha).

Languages Known (7): Common, Draconic, Dwarven, Elven, Goblin, Infernal, and Undercommon.

Stave of Ahriman Martial Art (Int):

Arcane energies glow within the staff like veins of molten iron, spelling out terrible truths of blood and death. While the physical side of the Stave of Ahriman art focuses on circular blocks and defense, it’s true power is derived from channeling magic through the weapon. Great masters may possess additional powers (Imbuement, Countermagic/Specialized, only while wielding a staff, and so on), but even basic expertise may be enough to let the user turn a single-target spell into a blazing ring of power (combining a Touch Attack spell, Whirlwind Attack, and Reach).

  • Requires: Weapon Focus/Staff or equivalent point buy, Staff of Bone, ability to cast first level arcane spells with at least one touch attack spell.
  • Basic Techniques: Defenses 4, Power 2, Toughness 2, Synergy/Acrobatics, Synergy/Jump, and Synergy/Spellcraft.
  • Advanced and Master Techniques: Combat Reflexes, Mind Like Moon, Reach, and Whirlwind Attack.
  • Occult Techniques: Inner Strength x2, Ki Block, and Vanishing.

Known Techniques (10): Defenses 4, Combat Reflexes, Reach, Whirlwind Attack, Inner Strength, Ki Block and Vanishing.

Equipment (23,500 GP Net Value):

Magical Gear: Headband of Vast Intellect +2 (2000 GP*, attuned to Sense Motive), Cloak of Resistance +2 (2000 GP*), Handy Haversack (1000 GP*), +1 Quarterstave (1600 GP*), Wand of Invisibility (2250 GP*), Lesser Ring of Flames (Produce Flame at caster level one at will, had to buy this one, 2000 GP), Lesser Staff of Evocation (Magic Missile and Shocking Grasp at one charge each, base caster level eight, classic style/50 charges, 4500 GP*), Dimension Stride Boots (1000 GP*), Ring of Silent Spells (1000 GP*), Chronocharm of the Horizon Walker (250 GP*), ten wands with ten charges each (level one utility spells at caster level one, 750 GP*), and five wands with ten charges each (level two utility spells at caster level three, 2250 GP*) (grand total 21,500 GP).

*Made – thanks to his Sorcerous Tools – personally, at half cost.

Minor Gear: Scholars Outfit, 10 Daggers (20 GP), Masterwork Light Crossbow (335 GP), 100 Bolts (10 GP), 12 Spellbooks (180 GP), Two Spell Component Pouches (10 GP), Basic Alchemy Lab (200 GP), Artisan’s Tools (5 GP), 50′ Silk Rope (10 GP), Writing Kit (10 GP) (Net 780 GP).

Minor Valuables: 1520 GP, 600 GP worth of Onyx


The player wants a Ghost-Butler – the spirit of Gravewright’s deceased uncle – as a familiar. That’s mildly awkward; sapient beings are usually more Followers than Companions and there’s no point in losing your memory if someone is hanging around to point stuff out. Still, it’s doable; we just need an appropriate base – in this case a Pathfinder Poltergeist. Those are CR 2 Undead, and normally you can only have a CR 1 creature as a Familiar. Fortunately, this just means that we’ll need to take a template and mark off 32 CP for the +1 CR. We can also assume that uncle whoever doesn’t have too many coherent memories of the old days either; he missed out on a lot of that stuff and becoming a poltergeist linked to his obsessive undead nephew hasn’t helped his memories out one little bit.

Now a Poltergeist is incorporeal, naturally invisible, returns after being destroyed unless it’s done properly (in this case by destroying the phylactery). They’re normally bound to a particular place, but being bound to a creature is certainly reasonable enough. They have telekinesis and can drop their invisibility to frighten people. As a Familiar it has one-half it’s master’s hit points (47), and it’s skill and save bases are as per it’s Master. Poltergeists fly at 20′, with perfect maneuverability.

As a Familiar for an ECL 7 master it gains a +4 bonus to it’s Deflection (normally Natural Armor, but it’s incorporeal, so a total of +6 Deflection with it’s Charisma for a total of 10 +3 Dex +6 Def +4 Armor +4 Shield = 27) and Intelligence, gains Improved Fortune (Evasion), and uses it’s masters base Skills, Saves, BAB, and Effective Level. May automatically use “Aid Another” on it’s masters Perception checks while it’s nearby, telepathic communication with it’s master, and lets it bestow 6 CP worth of abilities on it’s master.

Attributes: Str -, Dex 15 (16), Con -, Int 6 (10 with ECL 7 Master), Wis 12, Cha 12 (14)

With a +2 ECL Template it gets 93 CP to spend.

  • First up: Taking a base CR 2 creature as a Familiar (32 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment (7 CP): All at Spell Level One, Caster Level One, Unlimited-Use Use-Activated and Personal-Only where appropriate. +2 Dex (1400 GP), Unseen Servant (2000 GP), +2 Cha (1400 GP), and Deathwatch (1400 GP). Note that the +2 Dex and Cha and Deathwatch abilities are shared with it’s master when it’s within range.
  • Immunity/The XP costs of it’s innate enchantments (Minor, Minor, Trivial (L1 effects only), 1 CP). This isn’t strictly necessary in Pathfinder, but it’s not like it’s expensive.
  • Negative Energy Channeling: (Cha Mod + 11) Uses/Day, Specialized/only for Spell Conversion (10 CP), Spell Conversion to Inflict Serious Wounds, Summon Undead III, Bestow Curse, and Earthward III (Negative Energy Shield) (9 CP).
  • Cloaking/Conceals it’s Magical Aura (6 CP).
  • Cloaking/Conceals it’s Psychic Aura (6 CP).
  • Celerity/+10 Flight Movement (6 CP).
  • Presence/Aura of Death, Specialized for Double Effect (Death Knell); operates a maximum of (Cha + 3) times daily, but can be used off initiative without it counting as an action (6 CP).
  • Reflex Training/Three extra actions per day variant (6 CP).
  • +1 Int, +1 Dex (with the half-price attribute rule in play, 6 CP). Already included above.

Bestowed Ability: Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized in Saving Throws.

Master’s Skills (all +3 Pathfinder, has undead type so no morale bonus): Craft/Alchemy +9 (6 SP), Fly +20 (+6 SP +3 Dex +8 Natural Flyer), Knowledge/Arcana, History, Religion, and The Planes all +12 (9 SP (4 with Adept)), Linguistics +4 (1 SP), Perception +15 (9 SP +1 Wis +2 Master), Sense Motive +13 (9 SP provided by Headband of Vast Intellect +1 Wis), Spellcraft +12 (9 SP), Stave of Ahriman +12 (Martial Art, 9 SP), Stealth +12 (4 SP +5 Dex), and Use Magic Device +14 (+9 SP +2 Cha).

Gravewright has… rather a lot of magical power. Specializing an entire, major, spell progression will do that – and so will the fact that the rest of his build is also pretty thoroughly optimized. So will the use of alterable relics combined with Pathfinders elimination of experience point costs; that particular combination will let a spellcaster make almost anything he or she could want to have, effectively nearly doubling up on his or her gear. So will letting him build his own template for his familiar. So will… well, I think everyone has gotten the point. 

He’ll probably still need some minions and cannon fodder if he’s going to fight a group of adventurers, but he’s probably a lot more interesting as someone that the characters have to bargain with to get those specialty magical devices that player-characters always seem to want. 

The Rhammi Cont’d: Building the World

The Rhammi Continued: World Building

Having given it some thought, let’s continue with world-building the Rhammi, only this time we’ll focus on putting them into a quasi-normal world. As before, we’ll roughly keep this in a half-way sane world. No, it really makes no sense to use the Rhammi as the base centerpoint of the world here, but since we’ve established them, it’s more convenient.

The Great Vale of Pyremmia

To the northwest of the Rhamm lies the edge of the plateau, but small parties can get up or down it with a little patience. This allows the Rhammi to control access to the the scrublands below. Anyone trying to climb up would have a hard time doing so without the favor of the clanholds along the rim. As a consequence, the tribes near to the base of the plateau are very friendly, and actively encourage raiders to come – not for battle, but because the raiders usually sell the heavier loot before returning home.

The peoples farther out aren’t defenseless, of course, but it’s difficult to completely avoid the Rhammi horseman from stealing away a few cattle or horses here and there, with the occaisional larger attack to plunder liquor, silver, and women. The particular people in question are the tribes of the Pyremmia. Although Pyremmia is vast, the tribes lack any kind of unity and feud bitterly.

Pyremmian traditionalists fight stripped to the waist, or occaisionally entirely naked, although their frequent use of psychedelic drugs may be partially responsible. Young men often try to show their courage by fighting without shields, although older and experienced warriors prefer strong armor to insane battle-fury.

Pyremmians certainly do raid others, but in the last century have been pushed back severely. Several centuries ago, they burst out of their original homeland and conquered most of their current territory, subjugating the existing peoples. But as they civilized, they also lost their ferocity. The wealth of their new posessions meant they had something to protect. This in turn attracted the attention of the Rhammi, as well as Vaskyndr raiders even farther west.

Ten Thousand Golden Isles

Said Vaskynder occupy the coastal penninsualas and the northern islands of The Ten Thousand. They are perhaps the finest armorers on the continent, crafting typically strong but surprisingly lightweight armors using cunning arrays of mesh, plate, leather, and scale as needed. This is rather important, as proper armor allows them  a considerable advantage when raiding the Pyremmians or the Sarom to the south. The Vaskynder have many gods of battle and take great pride in pleasing them with bloody victories.

Hard living, many battles, and a cold climate mean the Vaskynder consider “natural” deaths rather unpleasant and undesirable. Hence after a certain age, Vaskynder men often actively seek out risky battle and glorious death. Even the occaisional warmatron seeks it. Despite a certain level of fatalism, the Vaskynder have a tendency towards optimism and a reputation for having an infectious sense of humor.

The Sarom, to the south, couldn’t be more different. A dusky-hued people with a history of great literature and theater, they prefer the defensive and have a strong, united Imperial State. Masters of fortification and organization, everyone able to carry arms has a place in the militia, from the lowest slave-born child to the Emperor himself. This level of readiness is necessary because the Sarom often face pirates frm the south and Vaskynder from the north, and both are brave and effective fighters.

Saromland is entirely an island nation save a few colonies, and its warm, shallow waters provides tremendous amounts of fish and other seafoods, feeding a growing and wealthy population. The Sarom further divide their people into many classes and grades of citizen, each with specific duties and priveleges. The Imperial System purports to cover the proper rules for everyone in the world (shockingly, people outside the Empire ignore it), including precise instructions for honoring the gods and ancestors. Other rules prescribe all social interactions between classes, as well as rules for trade, warfare, and even food. In order to ensure that everyone knows these rules, literacy is required for virtually everyone except the lowliest slaves. Any significant local laws will be clearly posted in relevant areas.

Micarie the Divided

Turning east along Bellun Sea, Green Sea, and Brackish Sea and almost directly south of the Rhammi, we arrive at the land of Micarie. MIcaries boasts thick and mature forests and the bounty it brings, along with rich soils for farming. Two peoples divide the land – the tribes and cityfolk. Though divided by language, clothing, art, and religion, each needs what the other possesses. Further, tribe and city-states compete against their own, leading to complex chains of alliances. As groups grow more and more intertwined, they are also intermarrying and long-standing blood ties, giving rise to even more complex relationships.

Micarie is a land on the cusp of change and revolution. Many of the cities were formed by colonists from the eastern lands, but that era is fading. The old lands have their hands full, while the city-states are looking to the west for their future. The tribes, meanwhile, know they can’t stand up to other lands without adapting. They have ancient and very large towns themselves, but little technological expertise. They need learning, firearms, and steel and know it. Some tribes, however, still retain the oldest traditions as many of their kin did before the Pyremmians conquered much of their people.

Strong trade ties exist between Micarie and the Rhammi, as it’s the easiest path into the Plateau. The tribes are distantly related to the Rhammi themselves, and the townspeople use these links to move a constant stream of caravans northwards.

The Sun Kingdom (Solar Empire)

Far to the south and well past the Brackish Sea lies the land of The Holy and Unending Empire of the Great River of the Ten Thousand Eternal Dawns and Dusks, or the Sun Kingdom for short. In terms of population, it’s the largest nation in the world.  The geography is what makes the Sun Kingdom so unusual: the entire country revolves entirely about the Great River. The river’s annual cycle determines the harvest and the therefore the seasonal cycle of work, and hence the all the various Holy Days of the calender.

Further, the river itself is so rich and fertile that the entire country forms one unbroken urban zone. Past the fields on either side fo the river runs a narrow stretch of homes, shops, manufactories, warehouses and everything else needed. The continual nature of the city means that everything is either national or extremely local – there are few dialects and little variation in worship, style, or habits. Any ideas are rapidly carried and communicated throughout the land; any product can be transported to any point along the river.

Above it all rules the Sun Emperor, who rules through the numerous temples. Everything in the land revovles around temples, and all government business is conducted through them. Temples of Wealth collect taxes and make loans using the cash manufactured and officially approved of by the Temple of Money. The Temple of Arms provides armaments for the Temple of Soldiers, who are commanded from the Temple of War. The state even has Dark Temples, dedicated to ideas such as Anarchy and Insurrection. Of course no one would be foolish enough leave offerings there except for specific requried ceremonies, which is proof as far as the government is concerned that all its subjects are happy and loyal.

The lands away from the river rapidly turn to desolate, desertlike barrens, hence it becomes very difficult for the Sun Kingdom to expand. Although from time to time it’s mounted expeditions, and nominally collects tribute from beyond its borders, the military forces available are more numerous than skilled. This was not always so, and at one point the Sun Kingdom was a true empire with numerous dependencies. However, the rising of the Lords of Under-Mountain ended with the utter obliteration of the Sun Kingdom’s expeditionary force and wiped out the expertise of generations of soldiers.

The Lords of UnderMountain

Although the Solar Empire, now Sun Kingdom, once ruled the lands east of their river-valley with an iron grip, they eventually made the mistake of attempting to wipe out restless religious leaders and enforce Imperial dogma upon everyone. Instead of ofrcing complete loyalty, however, it sparked a vast uprising and bled the Imperial treasury white.

Despite this, the skill and numbers of the Sun Kingdom’s troops were able to partially pacify the region, forcing many leaders into hiding; the place they chose was Atrara, a mountain situated in a desert with only shallow hills and oases to keep it company. This ancient holy site for the region’s peoples formed the nucleus around which a revived rebellion emerged. The key difference was a strong religious core which united the disparate groups and prevented the Sun Kingdom from crushing them separately.

The result was that the Solar Empire lost its empire. It was powerful, but not able to sustain a military effort of controlling a region ten times the size of its homeland, and the strain of attempting to do led to collapse. In the wake of victory, the leaders of the rebellion went their own ways, united not under political control but through a fanatical faith.

These leaders, political as well as religious, continue to take pilgrimages to the sacred mountain in order to hear the whispers of the Hidden God, which claim inspired their journey to freedom and watches over them still. Although internal war is not unknown, they keep a wary eye on the possibility of outsider invasion, and can indeed unite when necessary.

Both the environment and cultures reflect immense diversity among this people. From the marsh-dwelling Natchzean fishermen to Vintpma farmers with flawlessly geometric fields to the Rapamahech-ch sponge-divers, the great land knows complex trade and social relationships. Even to catalogue its peoples could be the work of a lifetime, and only the Utter East lies beyond.

While the lords themselves number in the hundreds, the Seven Great Lords are the real powers of the land. When one dies, the others replace him in secret. Almost all Great Lords were lesser lords as well, but not always. The Great Lords also hold a cadre of devoted servants who carry messages to and from the sacred mountain, and examine the worth of supplicants and pilgrims.

Although he Lords of UnderMountain have brought relative peace and prosperity, a key to their power is the use of skilled smithcraft. The people of this land regard smithwork as a holy calling and view the working of earth and fire by human hands as a sacred rite, the secrets of crafting steel given to the people by the Great Lords.

The Battleground of Appenia

The rich penninsulas of Appenia (located east of Micarie and northwest of UnderMountain) are ancient centers of civilization with a rich and often bloody history. However, they are largely unified into Kingdom of Appenia and the coastal Medillean Republic. Given the Kingdom of Appenia’s war with the northern barbarian, an uneasy peace prevails between the two states.

While there many regional differences exist, most Appenians live in large towns. Cramped and twisting streets are the norm, with special quarters set aside for different industries or guilds. The latter have a special social status, and in Appenian tradition do not always make sense or stay consistent from region to region. In the city of Drocran, for instance, the barrel-makers’ guild also handle shoeing horses, making crates, and basket-weaving. On the other hand, Chanu permits anyone to make any item used by horsemen, including shoes and tack or even cavarly sabers.

In time of war, guilds and other social organizations even provide much of the basic militia needed, although such troops are rarely skilled. The blade to the guilds’ shield are the nobility, who train extensively with the elite implements of war such as the sword, the horse, and siege weapons and engineering.

The invaders are the Mrittani, dangerous invaders trying to claim the bounty of Appenia for themselves. Over the last generation, they have assaulted the Kingdom a dozen times in varying raids and invasions. Although ferocious, their greatest weapon is a form of bloody sacrifice. They know exceedingly well how to terrorize and subdue civilians, and armies that face them quickly learn to fear. The Mrittani learn from a young age to fight in the dark, and often pick off sentries or kill enemies in their sleep. The Mrittani further sacrifice captured soldiers in a variety of horrible ways to earn the favor of their bloodier gods.

This creates a further religious conflict, as the businesslike Appenian religion has a much more convenional outlook. Temples are major sources of business and have their own legal and social priveleges, but otherwise don’t influence politics per se – but many nobles are also priests of the more prestigious gods.

Ethnically, the Mrittani alsio contrast with the Appenians. The latter are predominently olive-skinned, stocky and dark-haired, while the Mrittani are pale and slender. The Mrittani further make themselves distinct by filing their teeth and using dyes to draw intricate patterns on their skin, a practice the Appenians view as revolting.

Micarie was settled by men from the northern reaches of Appenia in more peaceful days gone by, but those culture have been largely assimilated by the Kingdom. New refugees still leave across Weaker Ocean, but it’s a perilous journey. One can also reach Micarie by skirting the land along the edges of the Bellinte Sea, but that risks pirate attacks.

Terror of the MetaVoice

If one were to venture to the far north of Appenia, and well northeast of the Rhammi), you might just be able to catch a glimpse of a vast fortress composed entirely of metal. If one were to explore cautiously into the wastelands beyond, one might discover four more titanic pillars along the barren taigalands. But tread lightly and swiftly, for these are the lands of the MetaVoice.

The Five Holy Temples of the MetaVoice are vast holds with thousands upon thousands of inhabitants each, all organized into unchangeable castes from birth. Bound by fanatical purpose and continuous devotions to their gods, the pale Followers of the MetaVoice offer up gruesome prizes to their gods. Each of the Five Temples houses one of the Holy Ones, the gods of the MetaVoice, and the Followers hand over blood sacrifices of captives or traitors (preferably alive, or at least fresh) into the central furnaces. The MetaVoice, according to the Followers, in turn provide all that they need: endless warmth in a frigid environment and the energy needed to forge weapons and armor.

The Followers need those implements as they ruthlessly wage war on all they can reach. More than simple raiders or even conquerers, they aim to dominate all the neighboring peoples for the sake of blood and prestige. Their usual tactic is to send a small group of perhaps a mere hundred warriors against any number of foes – but the Followers choose the largest and strongest from a young age and train them relentlessly. In battle they bear extremely hjeavy armor of the finest steel and painted with geometric phrases glorifying their gods, as well as small cannon, firearms, spears, and swords. If this band dies in battle, even the most fearsome and courageous foes inevitably note two things. First, the Followers died without reatreating and may have killed themselves out of spite, mocking their enemies all the while, and second, that the Followers killed many times their own numbers before dying. The prospect of facing more Followers afterwards is not a pleasant one. And the Followers are happy to obliterate anyone who does not surrender, or preferentially destroy their leadership and force the survivors to heel.


The End – For Now

You may have noticed that all the above have at least some connection to real-world groups, although very stretched and often based in extremely early history. Two things stood out when I was designing it, however. First, I wanted to describe reasonable ethnic groups and population dispersal. Hence most of the peoples listed have neighbors with some similarities, but some even in the past (often implied) which split them away for some reason. Some things are just for fun – other aspects are there to frighten.

But more importantly, I wanted to have room for myth and differentiation. It’s all generic quasi-European cities with no culture and no internal identity or conflict. This is ideally a world people can stretch their legs in – and there’s enough blank edges on the map that you can easily add things to your convenience.

Gareth Tamson, Feyblooded Cartographer of Dreams

English: Top view of 1765 de l'Isle globe A 17...

So where did you want to go? We’re not limited to just this one…

Magic -and especially the magic of the fey – follows it’s own rules. Gareth’s father, Tam, spent seven years in the service of the Fey before Gareth’s mother rescued and married him. By rights, their son, born almost a year later, should have been entirely human. But Gareth inherited a spark of the magic of the fey along – with his father’s love of tales and distant lands and his mother’s love of the sea. As humans do, he took that spark of magic and made it his own.

Gareth grew up in a great port, walking it’s streets and shores, and watching the ships arriving and departing. He played with the selkies, and the brownies, and the other local fey who saw him as kin, he listened to the sailors tales, and he dreamed of distant, magical, lands. He drew “maps” of those lands – works that filled the gaps in what he knew with a child’s imagination.

That interest turned into a childhood job at a mapmakers, where young Gareth proved to have a fine hand – and continued to draw splendid, if speculative, maps of places real and mythical.

Until, one day, one of his maps carried him out of the world in body as well as mind – and the gates of a thousand adventures opened for him and for anyone he chose to share his gift with.

Gareth Tamson, Level One Cartographer-Mage

Pathfinder Package Deal Human:

Template: Minor Fey Bloodline (+18 CP. ECL cost, if any, depends on the cost of the base race. Pathfinder Humans are 13 CP; with a total cost of 31 CP a Pathfinder Human with a Minor Fey Bloodline is still +0 ECL).

  • The Blood of Magic (+2 initially): A Favored Foe variant: it adds to Deception, Persuasion, Knowledge, Perform, and Will checks involving Fey creatures and (of course) marks the user as kin to the fey. The bonuses will increase with level, but the user will never gain any additional favored foes (Specialized, 3 CP).
  • Fey Tokens: Shaping, Specialized and Corrupted for increased (primarily level zero and level one) effects / only produces effects for which the user has an appropriate charm or talisman, can only support a limited number (seven minor charms and three notable talismans) of such charms or talismans at a time, it takes hours to swap out charms and talismans), and such charms and talismans must be personally created out of items given to the user as gifts (6 CP).
    • Charms (7): Astrolabe, Elder Wand Spell Catalyst (The Laborer’s Word, 9 uses), Anoptic Spectacles, Traveling Pack (a gift from his grandfather), Water Shoes, Swarm Bow, and a Spirit Anchor.
    • Talismans (3): Shimmermail (a vest his grandmother made for him), a Loaded Brush (a fine quill for a favored teacher), and Bracers of Hurling.
  • The Dreaming Thunder (Immunity/Aging; Uncommon, Major, Trivial, 2 CP). Feyblooded are not immortal, but they do age considerably more slowly than their base species usually does after they reach young adulthood.
  • Of Air and Darkness (Damage Reduction 2/-, Specialized in Physical Attacks, Corrupted/not versus Cold Iron, 1 CP). The Feyblooded are – slightly – resistant to attacks; they somehow slip just a bit aside from anything save Cold Iron, which seems to anchor their reality.
  • A Spark of Magic (+1 Base Caster Level, 6 CP). The Feyblooded have a knack for magic.
  • Enchanted Fortune: Luck (6 CP).
  • Nature of the Fey: The Feyblooded are compulsive about reciprocating gifts and favors (-3).
  • A Duty to the Court: The Feyblooded will, occasionally, be asked to undertake minor jobs for the great lords of the fey. Such tasks are not compulsory – but it’s wise to undertake at least a few of them (-3).

Available Character Points: 48 (L1 base) +10 (Disadvantages) +2 (Duties) +12 (Human, L1 Bonus Feat) = 72 CP.

Basic Attributes: Str 10, Dex 14, Int 16, Wis 14, Con 14, Cha 14 (3.5 32 Point Buy, Str 10, other attributes 14, +2 Pathfinder bonus to Int)

Basic Abilities (21 CP):

  • Hit dice: 12 (L1d12, 8 CP) +2 (1 x Con Mod) = 14 HP.
  • Skill Points: 4 (Purchased, 4 CP) +12 (Int Mod x 4) + 8 (Fast Learner) = 24 SP.
  • BAB: +0 (0 CP).
  • Saves:
    • Fortitude: +0 (0 CP) +2 (Con) = +2
    • Reflex: +2 (6 CP) +2 (Dex) = +4
    • Will: +0 (0 CP) +2 (Wis) = +2
  • Proficiencies: All Simple Weapons (3 CP).
  • Initiative: +2 (Dex)
  • Move: 30
  • Armor Class: 10 +2 (Dex) +4 (Armor) = 16.
  • Usual Attacks:
    • Staff: +0, 1d6, Crit x2.
    • Light Crossbow: +2 (+2 Dex), 1d8, Crit 19-20/x2, 80′ Range Increment.

Special Abilities (51 CP):

  • Upgrade Human Fast Learner to +2 SP/Level (3 CP).

Mystic Artist/Cartography, Specialized/gets no basic abilities, one daily use is automatically imbued into each map he makes, only works when making a new map (2 CP).

  • Echoes: Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (no time limit on usage, works for everyone in the immediate vicinity of the map when it’s activated): Each map can only be imbued with a single use of Mystic Artist, which only serves to prime the Echoes ability, which can only be used for the Path of Whispers. After the Echoes are expended, they are simply maps (6 CP).
  • Path of Whispers: Subliminal, Conditioning, Compelling, and Undertow, all Specialized and Corrupted/only as prerequisites, requires drawing a new map each time (8 CP).
  • Path of Whispers/Immersive, Specialized and corrupted/only to convey visions of places, requires drawing a new map each time (2 CP).
  • Path of Whispers/Worldgate, Corrupted/requires drawing a new map each time (4 CP).

In essence, Gareth Tamson is capable of drawing maps that each have three “charges” – and are either capable of granting visions of the place portrayed or of actually transporting those in the area when the map is activated into the realm it portrays – a historical setting, a myth, or a popular tale – and placing them in an appropriate role within it. Once the plot is completed (or hopelessly derailed) those participating will be returned from whence they came.

  • Witchcraft II (12 CP). Power 19, Save DC 15, Glamour, Healing, and Shadowweave. Pacts of Rituals and Taboos paying for a Crow Familiar (Grants Inherent Spell/Earthward with +8 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted/only while using a staff, not while medium or heavy armor or while heavily encumbered. This lets him block (3d8+Level) points of damage or any one special effect (poison, etc) from an incoming attack as an immediate action nine times per day) and the Weathermonger advanced witchcraft abilities.
  • 2d6 Mana taken as 4d4 (12) Generic Spell Levels/Day, Specialized and Corrupted/only usable for Hedge Magic (4 CP) plus Hedge Magic (from The Practical Enchanter, 6 CP).
  • Enthusiast, Specialized in Relics (1 CP).
  • Create Relic, Specialized and Corrupted/only usable with points from Enthusiast, one point relics only, may never maintain more than 2 CP worth of Relics (2 CP).
    • The Ring of the Wanderer (his grandfather’s signet ring, 1 point relic): Innate Enchantment (6000 GP Value, 7 CP), Immunity/the normal XP costs of Innate Enchantments (Uncommon, Minor, Minor, 2 CP). Healing Belt (750 GP), Traveler’s Cloak (1200 GP), Dimension Stride Boots (2000 GP), Hat of Disguise (1800 GP), Crystal of Illumination (400 GP).
  • Specific Knowledge/The Fey Courts (1 CP).

Skills: Linguistics, Profession / Cartographer +10 (+4 SP +3 Int +3 Pathfinder), Profession / Sailor +8 (2 SP +3 Int +3 Pathfinder), Disguise +7 (2 SP +2 Cha +3 Pathfinder), Knowledges +8 (Arcana, Geography, History, and Nature, all 2 SP +3 Int +3 Pathfinder), Perception +7 (2 SP +2 Wis +3 Pathfinder), Spellcraft +8 (2 SP +3 Int +3 Pathfinder), Stealth +7 (2 SP +2 Dex +3 Pathfinder), and Use Magic Device +7 (2 SP +2 Cha +3 Pathfinder),

Profession (Cartographer): The creation of accurate maps is a highly specialized art – and in a realm of magic,

  • Special: Profession (Cartographer) may be rolled in place of (or in addition to) Knowledge / Geography, Knowledge / History, and Knowledge / Local for questions related to maps, routes, and layouts.
  • DC 5: Determine the cardinal directions, estimate travel time from a map with a small margin of error.
  • DC 10: Draw a basic, but useful, sketch map of an area, copy a map or chart accurately.
  • DC 15: Determine the likely dangers, time, and difficulty of various routes, draw a map of an area recording elevations with reasonable accuracy, create an astronomical chart suitable for use by an astrologer or astronomer.
  • DC 20: Keep a mental map in three dimensions, locating likely connections and relationships between areas, draw a map of an oceanic area accurately displaying depths, rocks, and currents. Use a map for basic dowsing.
  • DC 25: Draw a map so close to reality that it’s sympathy for the area portrayed will make it self-updating with respect to notable features.
  • DC 30: Draw a map that shows extreme levels of detail under magnification, or an accurate map of a place you haven’t been.
  • DC 35: Use a local map to plot and navigate along ley lines, through mystic gates, and on the hidden paths between realities. Plot a map of the heavens suitable for interstellar navigation.
  • DC 40: Draw a map that serves as a sympathetic link to the place portrayed, draw a map that gives hidden features of a location that you have no normal way of knowing, or draw a map that shows population demographics.
  • DC 50: Draw a self-updating map of an area that’s detailed enough to show people who have no special defenses against scrying magic.

Why is this sort of thing possible? For the same reason that a character with +25 Knowledge / Local will know the layout of a town better than the vast majority of the people who live there even if he or she has never visited the dimension that it’s located in before. Skills at that level… simply do not correspond to anything in reality. They are utterly magical, so they might as well be treated that way.

Notable Equipment: Surveying Kit, Mapmaking Tools, Quarterstaff, Explorer’s Outfit, Light Crossbow, Case of Bolts, 3 Flasks of Oil.

Magical Equipment: a Big Bag of Tools (A self-made Conjure).

Gareth is – as usual for a focused Eclipse build – fairly formidable for a first level character, even if his “big attack” is a witchcraft-based Color Spray effect and his hedge magic is of relatively little use on most adventures. Still, he’s very durable, has some useful support talents – and is far deeper than any first level character should really be allowed to go into the advanced mystic artist abilities. Still, given the way that they’re restricted… sure, one of his maps can serve as an instant (if temporary) escape from a nasty situation – but it will do it by dumping you straight into another adventure. It’s an amazing power that… mostly says “we can jump straight to the exciting stuff without worrying about trekking to the dungeon”. Isn’t that exactly how it usually goes anyway? Nobody plays out the boring bits. This character has spent a lot of points on a really cool ability to… save the game master a bit trouble. I’d allow it.  

Dallyn Vortys, Ebonthane of Nidhogg the Devourer, Level Seven Would-Be Dark Lord

The black and crimson sigil swirled across the infant’s back – the symbol of the generational curse that had already claimed his mother. But she had taken THAT secret to her grave, and none knew the truth – or what would all too likely come to pass as the child grew. Early on the child might have been turned aside, finding another destiny – but the teacher and playmate who might led the child out of darkness died in a mysterious giant scorpion attack.

The church had little more success; the child had a quick mind and more than a little talent – but seemed to lack the faith and hope that would have made him a good cleric of the Sunlord.

That was true. Listening to the voices and lessons of the priests… always seemed to awaken a dark whisper of doubt, of anger, and of mockery from deep within himself. He skipped as much of the teachings as he possibly could. Despite his father’s urgings to follow a more peaceful path, he was drawn to the militia and the life of a warrior – where he showed almost frightening talents. No weapon seemed beyond his hand, armor hindered him little more than his own skin, injuries vanished overnight even without benefit of healing magic – and his speed and strength in battle was incredible. It seemed that they had a budding hero on their hands.

At fifteen, during yet another family quarrel, young Dallyn’s cold anger manifested itself as a blade of solid darkness, blazing with psychic balefire. The dark urges which had made it so hard for him to embrace a civilized life rose – and his father died, blood boiling as the flaming blade slid into his chest.

In his shock that inner voice continued to guide him as Dallyn left a town lit by the spreading fire which concealed his crime and went out into the world. It would be his; it was time to raise another Empire of Darkness, the night resurgent.

So; this is Eclipse, and we want Dallyn pretty heavily optimized. If he wants to start building an empire of evil single-handed he’s going to have to be pretty tough; after all Conan found that pretty rough going and HE had the author in his side.

As a result, Dallyn possesses rather a lot of power – mostly because, as an evil conqueror, he can afford to take limitations on his powers that heroes cannot. What does he care if his horrific allies wander off to eat the local peasants on occasion? Or if the side effects of his magic blight the earth, cause plagues, unleash monsters, and destroy things around him? If an evil spirit inhabits his body and constantly whispers foul suggestions to him? If the shadowy minions of his evil god use his body as a gateway through which they can slither into the material world? If he must regularly offer up intelligent beings in sacrifice?

Well, OK; it was bothersome how much time some of that stuff could take up – but that sort of thing is what minions are FOR.

Dallyn – despite his ambitions – wouldn’t really make a very good king, but he certainly makes a good conquering warlord or ravager of the countryside. For his actual build…

Dallyn Vortys

ECL 7 Ebonthane of Nidhogg the Devourer.

Pathfinder Package Deal: Human (Free).

Template: Chthonic Invested (+1 ECL):

Available Character Points: 168 (L6 base) +10 (Disadvantages) +12 (Duties to his God) +24 (Human, L1, L3, L5 Bonus Feats) = 214 CP.

Basic Attributes: Str 14 (16), Dex 14, Int 17 (19), Wis 14, Con 10, Cha 14 (3.5 32 Point Buy, Con 10, other attributes 14, +2 Pathfinder bonus to Int, +1 Level bonus to Int)

Basic Abilities (62 CP):

  • Hit dice (See: Fast Learner): 20 (1d20, 8 CP) + 32 (5d8, 6,6,8,8,4, 10 CP) +12 (Magic) = 64 HP. His Adamant Full Plate provides DR 3/-.
  • Skill Points: 2 (Purchased, 2 CP) +27 (Int Mod x 9) + 18 (Fast Learner) = 47 SP. This is cheap, but we are getting the required number of skill points from Fast Learner…
  • BAB: +2 (12 CP), +2 Specialized in Swords for Double Effect (12 CP).
  • Saves:
    • Fortitude: +2 (6 CP) +0 (Con) +1 (Res) = +3
    • Reflex: +4 (12 CP) +2 (Dex) +1 (Res) = +7
    • Will: +0 (0 CP) +2 (Wis) +1 (Res) = +3
  • Proficiencies: Light and Medium Armor with the Smooth Modifier (18 CP).
  • Initiative: +2 (Dex) +4 (Improved Initiative) = +6
  • Move: 60′
  • Armor Class: 10 +2 (Dex) +12 (+4 Full Plate Armor) +4 (Shield) = 28 (If defaulting to his Whispering Shadow Style AC 32, Mind Like Moon, Deflect Arrows, and Ki Block).

The “Chitin Mail” template effect reduces this to medium armor, eliminates the move penalty, and increases the maximum dexterity modifier to +3. The “Smooth” modifier for Medium Armor eliminates Armor Check Penalties and Arcane Spell Failure. In effect, his Full Plate hinders him no more than his normal clothing.

Usual Attacks:

  • Bastard Sword (Blood Reaver Style): +16/+16/+11 (+6 BAB +3 Str +4 Magic +3 MA, Haste), 1d10 + 8 (+4 Magic, +4 Str, may cause lethal or nonlethal damage), Crit 19-20/x2. Combat Reflexes, 10′ Reach, Combat Expertise. May augment with elemental damage, infliction, and various other abilities.
  • Unarmed (Blood Reaver Style): +8/+8 (+2 BAB +3 Str +3 MA Haste), 1d4+3 (Str), Crit 20/x2, considered armed, may cause lethal or nonlethal damage or add in special abilities.

Other Abilities (146 CP):

Servant of the Shadows (24 CP):

  • Witchcraft III (18 CP) with +3d6 Power (6 CP). Total Power 36, Save DC 15.
  • Basic Abilities: The Adamant Will, Elfshot (Specialized/only inflicts wound-style penalties but may be used as a part of a successful melee attack), Glamour, Infliction (Specialized/only to add damage to melee attacks, may be used as a part of a successful attack, spend 1/2/3 power to add 3/5/7d4 damage), Witchfire (Specialized/only to give melee weapons the equivalent of the Flaming, Frost, or Shock properties, at a cost of one power per property per minute), The Hand of Shadows, and Shadowweave.
  • Pacts: Gateway, Hunted, Souls, and Spirit. These pay for the Path of Darkness/Nightforge (1 power to create 20 pounds of “adamant” for one hour), Wrath of the Sea (1 Power for +6 Str for ten minutes). The Path of Water/Dismissal (Specialized/only usable as part of a successful melee attack), and Venomed Touch (1/2/3 power to create a 1d6/1d10/1d12 attribute damage poison).

Master of the Adamant Forge (24 CP).

  • Immunity/the distinction between weapons and himself (Common, Minor, Major, Specialized in Swords, 3 CP). A true masters weapon is an extension of themselves; attempts to sunder or disarm them are treated as normal attacks against them and any touch-based effects and unarmed combat enhancements or martial arts which they may possess operate through their blades.
  • Imbuement (Bastard Sword), with the Focused and Versatile upgrades, Specialized for Double Effect (for a total bonus of +Level/2 rounded up) and Corrupted for reduced cost/only works on adamant (or equivalent) swords that he has personally created (12 CP). His usual self-created solidified-darkness blade thus gains a +4 bonus.
  • Imbuement/Armor Specialized for Double Effect (Bonus of +Level/2) and Corrupted for reduced cost/only works on heavy adamant (or equivalent) armor that he has personally created (4 CP). His usual suit of self-created solidified-darkness adamant armor thus gains a +4 bonus. This is actually a minor variant ability; Imbuement is usually used on weapons, adding to both attacks and damage, but there’s no reason why it can’t be used on armor – in which case it’s only adding to one number, and so can reasonably be applied to all kinds of armor. It’s not as if characters change out the type of armor they use very often.
  • Specific Knowledges: Construction of Masterwork Plate Armor (for him), Construction of Masterwork Adamant Bastard Sword (for him) (2 CP).
  • Block, Specialized/only while using one of his personal adamant blades (3 CP).

Eldritch Master (70 CP).

  • All His Spellcasting: Eldritch (Full set of modifiers, 6 CP), Corrupted/all spells have (very) destructive environmental side effects. This can cut down on the party treasure, create major disturbances, cause people to hunt him, and kill off important NPC’s.
  • Five Levels of Package Deal Clerical Magic, Wisdom Based Spontaneous Casting Variant, Caster Level upgraded to cover his second magic progression, below (37 CP). Spell Conversion to Harming Spells.
    • 5/4/3/1 Spells of L0/1/2/3 per day plus domain slots (-/1/1/1), Known Spells 7/5/3/2 plus domain spells.


Travel Domain (Grants Freedom of Movement for One Round/Cleric Caster Level/Day and Survival as a class skill)

  1. Longstrider: Increases your speed.
  2. Locate Object: Senses direction toward object (specific or type).
  3. Fly: Subject flies at speed of 60′
  4. Dimension Door: Teleports you short distance.
  5. Teleport: Instantly transports you as far as 100 miles/level.
  6. Find the Path: Shows most direct way to location.
  7. Teleport, Greater: As teleport, but no range limit and no off-target arrival.
  8. Phase Door: Creates an invisible passage through wood or stone.
  9. Astral Projection (M): Projects you and companions onto Astral Plane.

Time Domain (Grants Improved Initiative):

  1. True Strike: +20 on your next attack roll.
  2. Gentle Repose: Preserves one corpse.
  3. Haste: One creature/level moves faster, +1 on attack rolls, AC, and Reflex saves.
  4. Freedom of Movement: Subject moves normally despite impediments.
  5. Permanency (X): Makes certain spells permanent.
  6. Contingency (F): Sets trigger condition for another spell.
  7. Legend Lore (MF): Learn tales about a person, place, or thing.
  8. Foresight: “Sixth sense” warns of impending danger.
  9. Time Stop: You act freely for 1d4+1 rounds.
  • Five Levels of the Bardic Spell Progression (Int-Based, Spontaneous Variant, picking spells from the Pathfinder Magus Spell List, 27 CP). Can cast 3/4/2 spells/day of levels 0/1/2, knows 6/4/3.

Minor Abilities (28 CP):

  • Upgrade Human Fast Learner to +2 SP/Level (3 CP).
  • Adept (May buy his two Martial Arts, Profession (Military Commander), and Knowledge (Religion), for half cost. 6 CP).
  • Fast Learner, Specialized in Hit Dice (reduces initial d20 to 4 CP, d8’s to 2 CP, 6 CP)
  • Luck with +3 Bonus Uses, Specialized in Saves (5 CP).
  • Reflex Training (Three Actions/Day Variant) with +8 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted / cannot be used off-action, only to allow the substitution of casting a spell for one attack in an attack sequence (6 CP).
  • Rite of Chi with +1 Bonus Use (8 CP).

Skills (53 SP):

  • In-Class Skills: Craft (Int) and Profession (Wis) (Automatic). Survival (from Clerical Domain, Wis). Chosen: Bluff (Cha), Diplomacy (Cha), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (Arcana, History, and Religion), Two Martial Arts (Var), Ride (Dex), Sense Motive (Wis), Sleight of Hand (Dex), and Spellcraft (Int).

Wait a moment! This character DOESN’T have Perception as a class skill?

No. No, he doesn’t. He’s BLIND. He relies on his Dark Guardian – Shadow-Upon-The-Moon – to share what IT sees with him, and so it’s the one with the perception skill.

  • Anyway…. this really isn’t a particularly skill-based character outside of his martial arts… 15 SP go to having 1 SP in each of his fifteen class skills – including Craft (Smithcraft) (he doesn’t fix his own gear much these days, but he used to) and Profession (Military Commander). Of the remaining 32, 12 go to maxing out his Adept skills, and four more each go into Diplomacy, Intimidate, Knowledge (Arcana), Ride, and Spellcraft.
  • Net Skills: Bluff +6 (Cha), Blood Ripper Form Martial Art +14 (Wis), Craft (Smithcraft) +8 (Int), Diplomacy +10 (Cha), Intimidate +10 (Cha), Knowledge (Arcana +12, History +8, and Religion +16, Int), Profession (Military Commander) +14 (Wis), Ride +10 (Dex), Sense Motive +6 (Wis), Sleight of Hand +6 (Dex), Spellcraft +12 (Int), Survival, and Whispering Shadow Martial Art +14 (Dex).

Martial Arts:

The Stalking Shadow Style has several subschools – Bone Cleaver, Blood Reaver, and Flesh Ripper – based on the Axe, the Sword, and Unarmed techniques respectively – but they all build on the same philosophy. The Will to Kill lies within the mind; both weapons and hands are mere extensions of that will. Without that will… they are nothing, to be brushed aside by anyone who knows the truth. When your will is one with darkness… the merest touch can kill.

Coiling shadows obscure the practitioner of the Stalking Shadow Style, his or her blows strike at vital points, leaping like shadows cast by a stroke of lightning – sudden and deadly. It’s masters are few, and hidden, and often charge highly for lessons – and if a student lacks the Will to Kill… the lesson is always the same, for the teachers do not.

Blood Ripper Form (Wis):

  • Requires: Witchcraft (Infliction and Shadowweave), BAB +2 or more, and evil alignment.
  • Basic Techniques: Attack 4, Defenses 3, Power 4, Strike.
  • Advanced and Master Techniques: Combat Reflexes, Expertise, Reach, and Mobility.
  • Occult Techniques: Inner Strength, Light Foot, Touch Strike, and Vanishing.
  • Known Techniques (7): Attack +3, Combat Reflexes, Expertise, Reach, and Vanishing.

Whispering Shadow Style (Dex):

  • The Wind Whispers Over Water And Snow.
  • Shadows Pass Without Trace, Disturbing Nothing.
  • Darkness Hides All, Bit What Is Hidden From Darkness?
  • What Words Can Be Hidden From The Wind Which Bears Them?
  • The Riddle Of The Night Whispers In Silence.
  • Learn The Stance Of The Void, The Absence Of Being.
  • Seeing, Not Seen.
  • Where Enemies Strike… BE NOT.
  • Requires: Witchcraft (Glamour and Shadowweave), Dex 14+.
  • Basic Techniques: Defenses 4, Synergy/Acrobatics, Escape Artist, Perception, Slight of Hand, Stealth, and Use Magic Device.
  • Advanced and Master Techniques: Deflect Arrows, Dodge, Instant Stand, and Mind Like Moon.
  • Occult Techniques: Inner Strength, Healing, Ki Block, and Resist Pain.
  • Known Techniques (7): Defenses 4, Mind Like Moon, Deflect Arrows, and Ki Block.

Equipment: Chronocharm of the Horizon Walker (take a half-move that does not provoke attacks of opportunity as a swift action three times per day, 500 GP), Vest of Resistance +1 (Torso, 1000 GP), Belt of Strength +2 (Belt, 4000 GP), Headband of Intellect +2 (Head, 4000 GP), Ring of Mystic Fire. +1 Caster Level with Fire-Based Spells/Psionics, 3 Charges/Day, spend 1/2/3 charges as part of a casting action to add +2/3/4 d6 of damage to a fire-based spell or power (Ring, 7500 GP), Boots of Stomping. 3/Day as a standard action topple creatures and objects in a 15′ cone, Reflex DC 15 to avoid falling if on the ground (600 GP). Leaves 5900 GP.

Followers from Leadership, 16 CR; 2’nd level Werewolf (4), Imp (2), Quasit (2), Lesser Nightmare (Planar Handbook, 4), and Shadow-Upon-The-Moon, his Dark Guardian (4).

While the others are mostly just monsters (and the werewolf is left open for development; it’s only level two anyway), as a fourth-level “Cohort”, Shadow Upon The Moon – his Dark Guardian – has 120 CP and 21 SP to spend. These go to…

Shadow-Upon-The-Moon, Dark Guardian, L4 Psionic. 

  • Six levels of the Psion Magic Progression (Kineticist, 72 CP): 44 Power. Available Powers are 5xL1 (1 Power); Call to Mind, Control Light, Control Object, Matter Agitation, Telempathic Projection. 4xL2 (3 Power); Control Sound, Energy Missile, Id Insinuation, Knock (Psionic), and 4xL3 (5 Power); Dispel Psionics, Energy Cone, Energy Wall, and Time Hop.
  • Reflex Action (3/Day variant) with +4 Bonus Uses (12 CP).
  • Adept (Knowledge Arcana, Religion, History, and Perception, 6 CP).
  • Fast Learner/Specialized in Skills, corrupted for Increased Effect/only to keep Adept Skills at maximum (6 CP).
  • Witchcraft II (12 CP): The Hand of Shadows, Healing, and Witchsight.
  • Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses (12 CP).
  • Skills: Knowledges +13 (Arcana, Religion, and History, +3 Int +7* SP, +3 Pathfinder), Perception +12 (+2 Wis +7* SP +3 Path), Spellcraft +13 (+3 Int +7 SP +3 Pathfinder), Linguistics +13 (+3 Int +7 SP +3 Pathfinder), and Knowledge/The Planes +13 (+3 Int +7 SP +3 Pathfinder).

Shadow-Upon-The-Moon will generally use it’s powers to help Dallyn out – but it has it’s own purposes, even if it has only limited means to work towards them.

Dallyn here is pretty obviously a major villain – and a rather versatile one.

Eclipse – Getting Crafty and Professional with Demonology and Military Command

St Adrian, by Hans Holbein the Younger

Don’t let your skill monkeys be dull and gray! Add some color!

Craft and Profession Skills are often regarded as wastes of skill points. After all, craft skills list three basic options – repair items, make items/masterwork items, and make money. You can’t even make alchemical items without “being a spellcaster” – although apparently learning a single, totally irrelevant, cantrip will do. Profession skills have even less to say; the ONLY thing that the description lists them as being good for is making money – and even that is at rates so poor that it’s unlikely that any real player character will want to bother unless he or she is just filling in the downtime.

Remember though…

The listed applications for skills are simply examples; the only real limit on what you can do with a skill is what a game master can be persuaded to to set a target number for.

A blank spot in the rules is a place where you can define the effects you want.

So Profession (Sailor) could reasonably be used to stock a ship properly for a trip, to guide it through a hurricane, to navigate it, to handle its sails and ropes, to climb around in its rigging, to organize its watches, to perform fancy maneuvers, to try to outrun another ship, to make small repairs to it, to keep it afloat despite damage, and so on. It could also be used to find the best bars and recreations in a port town, to know how to handle cannon, to avoid a press gang, to predict the weather at sea, or to handle pretty much anything else involved in being a Sailor. Does that overlap with several other skills? Why yes, yes it does! And so what? It’s not like you can’t find ways to get other skills to overlap – or even any real reason why skills shouldn’t overlap.

Will a sufficiently high Craft skill let you make far more money? Gain you entrance to the courts of kings as a master craftsman? Let you build wonders like Daedalus? Let you imbue normal items with temporary powers or even craft magical items without special feats or levels as a spellcaster?

Ask your game master. It very well might. In fact, it SHOULD. If ten levels of Craft/Swords costs the same as ten levels of Perception then it should be just as useful (unless, of course, the game is using the d20 skills rewrite, and it doesn’t cost the same…).

So lets say that Profession (Investigator) covers gathering, preserving, and analyzing evidence, getting along with the police and using their (and other public or library) records, using relevant sensory equipment, basic surveillance, and having a license. We can even note that it provides a synergy bonus on Profession/Computer Expert and Profession/Researcher as well as some police and street contacts scattered around your home city. If you have it at a professional level you may even have a private detective’s license. Do you want to set up a hidden stake-out? Locate a street informant? Do a little skip-tracing? This skill will work.

Is having it necessary? You could certainly use Search to look for clues, Craft (Alchemy) to preserve them, and something (perhaps Knowledge/Arcana) to analyze them. You could use Diplomacy to get along with the police and Knowledge/Local to know about their procedures. Searching public records might call for Gather Information, while running surveillance would use Hide and Spot, and perhaps Disguise and Listen. Using “relevant sensory equipment” (and probably computers) would likely be Use Magic (or other) Device. Getting police contacts is probably a job for a special Feat or (In Eclipse) buying some contacts – but would you rather take a feat and eleven different skills – or just one skill?

Do you want skills to be subordinate to narrative and players solving their own problems? In this case you want another world law – Narrative Preemption. Buy this one as “Opportunist/the character gets to make an immediate skill check if an appropriate attempt to resolve a situation descriptively fails if he or she has a relevant skill at +5 or more (6 CP).” While this option is discussed in detail over HERE, what it amounts to is that the players get to describe what their characters are doing first – and only roll if that wouldn’t work because their character is likely to be better at whatever-it-is than they are. Thus, if a rogue was proceeding cautiously and checking the floor for traps, but failed to check for trigger-wires strung across the corridor at chest height, he or she could make a “find traps” check to detect the trigger-wire. If he or she was running madly down the corridor, there wouldn’t be a check; that’s not an appropriate attempt in the first place.

Do skills cover any magic by default? In a world full of magic it’s certainly arguable that they should cover at least a little; there’s no game-mechanical difference between using a prayer to the fire spirits and some mystic gestures to light a fire and rubbing two sticks together. They’ll both call for relatively dry wood (the fire gods hate water), free hands, and a little time. If you blow it with the sticks you may get an annoying splinter and no fire. If you blow it with the fire spirits you may get an annoying blister and no fire. Either way… it’s just special effects, and those are generally up to the player.

Some skills may be much more deeply involved with magic than that. To be classic, lets have a look at Profession (Demonologist).

Contrary to Hollywood, medieval demonology did not require any ill intent; the notion was that “demons” (basically all inhabitants of the lower planes) were subject to the will of God; and so they were forced to submit to a magician who was holy enough to invoke God’s authority – which wasn’t actually that hard; God was supposed to approve of humans a good deal more than he approved of demons.

Of course, if you weren’t holy enough even by that loose standard to invoke God’s authority, or wanted to summon a demon for malevolent and immortal purposes, there was always making a bargain. Luckily for the less-than-saintly, holy symbols and words – and thus protective circles and amulets – remained potent regardless of the worth of their user.

So Profession (Demonologist) covers identifying and recalling facts about creatures of the lower planes, including their true names (like a Knowledge Skill), creating inscriptions and amulets that offer (some) protection against creatures of the lower planes, summoning and banishing such creatures, and binding them to service. It DOESN’T cover bargaining with such entities; that’s a task for diplomacy, negotiations, and offerings – but if an agreement is reached it can be sealed and made binding.

  • DC 5: Recognize a blatant infernal creature. Seal a bargain with a minor infernal creature. Summon or banish an infernal creature of CR 2 or less at the cost of 1d4 attribute damage (the summoner may select the attribute to be damaged), minor components, and one hour (minute for banishing). Note that a banishment may be directed at a demon OR at the circle or item that was used to call it forth.
  • DC 10: Draw a protective circle equivalent to a Circle of Protection Against Evil. Recognize the major types of infernal creatures. Seal a Bargain with a major infernal creature. Summon or banish an infernal creature of CR 3 or less at the cost of 1d6 attribute damage, 10 GP worth of components, and 3 hours (minutes for banishing, instant with a named infernal creatures true name).
  • DC 15: Recognize a shapeshifted infernal creature as such. Provide basic information about most types of Infernal Creatures. Summon or banish an infernal creature of CR 5 or less at the cost of 1d8 attribute damage, 25 GP in components, and 7 hours (minutes for banishment, one standard action with a named fiend’s true name). Bind an infernal creature of CR 2 or less to service (a Demonologist may so bind up to (Charisma/3) total CR worth of infernal creatures, although the CR of any individual creature may not exceed one-half the number of skill points invested in Demonology, rounded down).
  • DC 20: Provide some details about most types of infernal features. Create an amulet that provides a Protection From Evil effect versus a general type of lesser demon or a specific greater demon (a demonologist may empower up to (Cha Mod) such amulets at any one time). Summon or Banish an infernal entity of CR 8 or less at the cost of 1d10 attribute damage, 60 GP in components, and 1 day (30 minutes for banishment, as a full-round action with a named fiend’s true name), Bind an infernal creature of CR 3 or less to service.
  • DC 25: Determine a minor fiends true name. Summon or Banish an infernal entity of CR 12 or less at the cost of 1d12 attribute damage, 150 GP in components, and a week (three hours for Banishment or five rounds with a named fiend’s true name), Bind an infernal creature of CR 5 or less to service.
  • DC 30: Determine a powerful fiends true name. Summon or Banish an infernal entity of CR 16 or less at the cost of 1d20 attribute damage, 400 GP in components, and two weeks (one day for Banishment, or ten minutes with a named fiend’s true name). Bind an infernal entity of CR 8 or less to service.
  • DC 35: Determine a major power’s true name. Summon or Banish an infernal entity of CR 22 or less at the cost of 1d20 attribute damage, 400 GP in components, and two weeks (three days for Banishment, or one hour with a named fiend’s true name). Bind an infernal entity of CR 12 or less to service.
  • DC 40+: Determine an archfiends true name. Summon or Banish an infernal entity of CR 25 or less at the cost of 1d20+4 attribute damage, 1000 GP in components, and one month (three days for Banishment, or one hour with a named fiend’s true name), Bind an infernal entity of CR 12 or less to service.

Try Again: Rolling a 1 on an attempt to Summon or Bind a demon generally just turns it loose to do what it wishes – although you can’t even attempt to summon something beyond your current limits. Rolling a 1 on an attempt to seal a bargain results in the demon being free to do as it wishes (although it may pretend otherwise). A character may not “Take 10″ or “Take 20″ on (Profession) Demonology Checks.

Synergy: Having 5+ ranks in Profession (Demonology) offers a +2 Synergy Bonus on both Knowledge (The Planes) and Knowledge (Religion).

There; that will let a Demonologist command the services of an Imp, Quasit, or similar entity relatively readily – and eventually add a Hellhound or similar creature – but anything beyond that will require either purchasing special abilities in the field or extremely high levels and attributes. Similar Skills – Profession (Elemental Master) or Profession (Lightbringer) – can cover calling up minor elemental creatures or minor celestial beings. It won’t give such characters the fast, heady, power of actual spells or the earthshaking power of high-level adventurers – but it will certainly let them do some things and get into far more trouble than they can handle… In Eclipse this (and any similar skills) will probably count as “Occult Skills” – but that’s a minor tweak.

If you think that skills in general should cover some magic beyond special effects, you can take a look at the Condensed d20 skill list (which builds in magical effects), consider the d20 Practical Skill Redesign (the Synergies and Skill Benefits section especially), or add Skill Tricks or The Magical World (below) as a world law. Those modifications will allow any skillful character to work some minor magical tricks – and make such hedge wizardry a common fact of life.

Skill Tricks: Shaping, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect; the user may create level zero (DC 15) and weak level one (DC 25) effects with skill checks; such checks are treated as move actions and the user may always opt to “take 10″ for the purpose. Each skill may only be used to produce an effect once every ten minutes and no individual skill may be used to produce more than four L0 and three L1 effects per day with failed checks counting against this limit. If this leads to too much freeform mayhem, the game master may opt to limit any individual user to a maximum of three different L0 and two different L1 effects. If a character wishes to buy Skill Tricks independently it will cost 6 CP.

Some sample L0 effects from an old character writeup include:

  • Bluff – Lesser Hypnosis: As per Hypnotism, but can only affect a single target with up to 1d4 hit dice.
  • Disable Device – Momentary Jam. A device – even something as simple as a door – can be disabled at a range of up to 60′ for 1d4 rounds.
  • Hide – Moment of Invisibility: Lasts up to three rounds, but ends if you attack something.
  • Knowledge/Local – Diplomatic Guise: Creates an illusory change of clothing, which lasts for up to one hour.
  • Martial Art – Iron Skin: +2 Force Armor for thirty minutes.
  • Move Silently – Tracelessness: Wipes away signs of minor activities (footprints, disturbed dust, fingerprints, swinging curtains, lit candles, etc) within a forty-foot radius burst.
  • Search – Reveal Magic: Close range, any magic within a 5′ radius burst will briefly sparkle in a complex light display life fireworks. Spellcraft rolls may be made to try and tell what it is.
  • Sleight of Hand – Recall Knives: Puts up to (2 x Dex Mod) knives that you drew within the last three minutes back into your sheathes if they’re within a 30′ radius and not being held by someone else.
  • Tumble – Great Leap: Adds 20 feet to your movement this round.

This approach will make every expert into a minor magician – no match for an actual spellcaster of course, but with many neat little powers to make their skills more interesting.

If you want high-level skills to be a good deal more powerful then use…

The Magical World: 2d6 Mana with Reality Editing, Specialized for half cost, Corrupted for Increased Effect (effects may be built up over time via ritual behaviors)/only to produce effects associated with Skills, requires a minimum skill bonus of +5/+10/+15/+25 to make Minor / Notable / Major / Grandiose edits (6 CP). High level characters may want to buy another couple of dice of Mana and some Rite of Chi and Bonus Uses to recharge more quickly, but that’s cheap enough.

This approach makes expert skill users capable of incredible feats – given sufficient time and ranks. A common Sailor (+5 skill) might be capable of getting the sails fixed during a storm or patching a leak quickly (A minor edit costing 1-3 Mana). An expert might bring a ship safely through a hurricane or improvise enough repairs to keep a gravely damaged craft afloat (a notable edit costing 3-5 Mana). A true master might pilot a ship safely though a horrible supernatural storm or whirlpool or rebuild a functional ship from scraps (a major edit, costing 5-10 Mana and possibly requiring days at the high end). If the GM permits “edits” on such a scale, a transcendent master with a skill bonus of +25 might be capable of steering a course between the worlds (a grandiose edit, costing 9-15 Mana – and very likely requiring multiple days). Similarly, a craftsman might reduce the time required for a task as a minor edit, create a masterwork item as notable one, given an item minor magical properties as a major one (bypassing feat, spell, caster level, and possibly part of the time requirements, albeit not the costs, of making such an item), or even create major items similarly as grandiose edits. This will NOT allow the creation of epic items – such things are still the provenance of epic spellcasters – but will allow master sword-smiths to create magical blades without requiring them to be high-level spellcasters with specialized feats.

Even if the game master doesn’t want to apply either of those options in general, individual Eclipse characters are – as always – generally free to buy them. If a particular Eclipse character wants skills to cover other kinds of magic… well, there are a variety of ways to do that over in this article on Skills and Powers.

How high should skill difficulties be?

Ordinary applications of skills have difficulties of 5-15 – a range at which success is generally automatic for a skilled adult. Your basic level one mechanic (with +4 skill points in Profession (Mechanic), a +3 Specialty in Cars, and perhaps a +1 attribute bonus if he has a knack for his job) can “take 10″ and reliably fix virtually any problem with your car – even if he might have to order a few parts or it would take an impractical amount of work to unbend the frame.

The world record for a long jump – and athletes normally make quite a few tries in their lives – is not quite thirty feet (DC 30). Evidently no athlete in the entire world has a jump bonus of more than +10. Lets see now; even going with just the base rules a level one human can get… (4 SP +4 Attribute Bonus +2 Masterwork Shoes +4 Run Feat +3 Skill Focus Feat) = +17. At level two you can throw in another skill points and a +2 Synergy bonus from Jump for a +20 – enough to let you “take 10″ and break the world record.

According to the skill tables a DC 30 Perform check will let you impress gods. A DC 30 Knowledge check is enough for a breakthrough insight that leads to a new scientific theory, such as Relativity. Those scores may be a bit harder to reach without that +4 bonus from the “Run” feat – but consulting a few colleagues, or getting a good stage manager, can get you a nice “Aid Another” bonus or two to replace it. The greatest feats that any actual real-world human being has ever accomplished are DC 30. Any DC beyond that is in the realm of fiction and mythology.

There is one thing to be cautious about however. You DON’T want to get tangled up in real-world complications. Sure Knowledge (Tactics) or Profession (Military Commander) probably covers anticipating enemy tactics, coordinated plans of attack, evaluating intelligence, and so on – but half of that is stomping on the player’s fun, and half of it is stuff that even the game master may not know. Bringing in real-world tactics beyond the most basic is just asking for arguments and confusion, while trying to figure out what tactics will really work best in a fantasy world run on a somewhat-abstract rules system is a nightmare all it’s own.

When skills like that come up… just let the players roll for some abstract bonuses and avoid all those complications.

So here are some possibilities for Profession (Military Commander) – an expert on effectively running military units, tactics, and command. Roll this skill when the user is giving orders to NPC’s or offering advice to PC’s. If both sides have a professional commander… let them roll against each other and round up the margin of victory to the nearest 5 to see what benefits the winner can make available. Sadly, PC’s are always individualistic and awkward; they only gain half the benefits a commander can provide and even then only if they actually listen to him or her.

  • DC 5: Organize a Patrol, military outpost, or small unit effectively. Arrange tight security for an area (+4 to rolls to spot the enemy or people sneaking in). Set up a rationing system to extend the effective duration of your supplies by 25%. Get some basic orders (attack at THIS point, head for the escape routes at THIS point) drummed into your troops. Get a bunch of peasants or kids to work together and point their weapons in the same direction with reasonable coordination.
  • DC 10: Organize NPC’s to take full advantage of defensive terrain / fortifications (+2 to Saves and AC). Organize basic troops into mass combat units (representing groups of organized minor creatures as individual higher-level characters). Get a warning from the GM if you’ve included a really, REALLY bad idea in your plans. Identify military ranks and general organization.
  • DC 15: Set up a rationing system that extends the effective duration of your supplies by 50%. Issue advance orders so that NPC units effectively remain under your command when you’re not there. Given NPC troops +2d6 Temporary Hit Points. Give NPC troops a +2 Initiative Bonus. Provide two DC 5 benefits. Provide your troops with a +6 bonus to Hide when laying in ambush. Set up an escape plan which will get all your mass combat units and at least 50% of any individual characters out “alive” if you lose the battle.
  • DC 20: Give NPC troops (whether as individuals or as mass combat units) a +2 to Hit and Damage or +1 level of Warrior. Provide two DC 10 benefits. Delay placing any traps you set up until you need them (to represent anticipating where you will want them later). Get a warning from the GM if you’ve included a blatantly bad idea in your plans. Get (Int Mod) advance hints about your opponents troops/tactics/resources and get to modify your plans accordingly. Provide two DC 5-10 Benefits (they do stack). Deduce the basic capabilities of opposing mass combat units.
  • DC 25: Set up a rationing system that extends the effective duration of your supplies by 75%. Provide two DC 10-15 benefits. Deduce where the enemy has hidden units and/or traps. Keep one out of every four enemy mass combat units from making it to the battlefield.
  • DC 30: Set up a rationing system that extends the effective duration of your supplies by 100%. Provide two DC 15-20 benefits or three DC 5-10 benefits. Get to “see” where the enemy has set up their troops and positions before setting up yours.

Try Again: Generally you can only roll Profession (Military Commander) once per situation. While you can “Take 10″, you cannot “Take 20″.

Synergy Bonuses: +2 to Spot checks when looking for ambushes, military details, hidden installations, or locating snipers, +2 bonus to any combat related Sense Motive checks (such as resisting a feint), +2 to Knowledge checks that involve military topics.

There’s no reason for skills to be dull – or to be uncreative with them – especially in Eclipse.

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.

The Chthonic Invested (Acquired or Inborn Template. 32 CP/+1 ECL)

The print depicts Minamoto no Yorimitsu exorci...

Good luck there!

Some people – perhaps the victims of bargains made in a previous life, touched by some curse visited on a parent, or having been offered up to some dark god shortly after birth – are marked from infancy by terrible powers. They are protected, guided, and – almost inevitably – corrupted by the evil spirit which lives within them. While some few will defy their destiny, most will be lost to it – walking the world as a bane upon the forces of light. They are destined to strife – and to them are given the strengths that they will need to survive in battle. As they grow in strength, they will acquire an entourage of monstrous spirits – none of which can be truly slain, or even fully banished from the material plane, while their “master” endures to anchor them there.

The Chthonic Invested (32 CP/+1 ECL):

Innate Enchantment: 8000 GP effective value, Corrupted/Counts against the limits on Innate Enchantment totals despite being in a racial template, marks the bearer with some obvious sign of dark powers (6 CP). All innate enchantments are Spell Level One, Caster Level One, Unlimited-Use Use-Activated, and Personal-Only where relevant. The effects include:

  • Chitin Mail: L1 Transmutation. For one minute per level of the caster whatever armor the user is wearing is treated as being one armor category lighter. The maximum dexterity bonus increases by two, the armor check penalty is reduced by two, arcane spell failure goes down by 15% (to a minimum of 5%), and the speed penalty is eliminated (1400 GP).
  • Immortal Vigor I (The Practical Enchanter): Provides +(12 + 2 x Con Mod) Hit Points.
  • Personal Haste (The Practical Enchanter): Provides +30′ Movement and +1 attack at the user’s full BAB when making a full attack (2000 GP).
  • Protection From Good (SRD): (1400 GP). Note that this prevents a Chthonic Imbued from being truly controlled by his or her Dark Guardian; he or she cannot simply be compelled into evil; the choice must be theirs.
  • Master’s Touch (Spell Compendium): The user is effectively proficient with all weapons and shields (1400 GP)

Dark Guardian Of The Damned, Guide to Nightfall Eternal: An additional 6 CP worth of Innate Enchantment, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect (18,000 GP Value)/the Dark Guardian is dedicated to the service of one or another evil god and the destruction of his or her foes and all their works. It constantly whispers corrupting councils to its “master”, encouraging deeds that serve its god. At young adulthood it will begin subtly encouraging its “master” to kill his or her current guardian(s), twists it’s “master’s” physical form to reflect his or her ongoing corruption – and renders him or her near-blind (a symbolic necessity). It will, however, share it’s own senses with said “master” as long as he or she serves the causes of the Dark Guardian’s evil god.

When it’s “master” reaches young adulthood, he or she will be subtly urged to dispose of his or her current guardians (if any) and to dedicate himself or herself fully to the service of the Dark Guardians god – his or her “true parent”. If there are threats to either the child, or to its slide into darkness, before that… well, that is what huge shadow-scorpions are for.

The Dark Guardian is built as a Phylactery of Faithfulness (1000 GP) and an Intelligent Amulet of Tears (itself, as a “construct”, equipped with a Healing Belt (750 GP) and an Amber Amulet of Vermin (Huge Monstrous Scorpion, 700 GP) of it’s own). That’s 2300 GP and a Base Ego of 1), Intelligent (NE Alignment, 500 GP), Int 16, Wis 14, Cha 14 (4000 GP, +7 Ego), Telepathy and Sense-Sharing (1500 GP, +2 Ego), 120′ Senses (1000 GP), Darkvision (500 GP), Blindsense (5000 GP, +1 Ego), and Shield 3/Day (1200 GP, +1 Ego). Net Ego: 12.

Immunity to Dispelling, Antimagic, and Countermagic (Common/Minor/Great. Specialized in protecting innate enchantments only (6 CP).

Leadership with the Exotic and Emperor’s Star improvements (Evil Outsiders and Accursed Beings, the positive level points go to Returning), Corrupted for Increased Effect on Leadership (CR of up to (Level-2) instead of ECL and (Level-3)) and Reduced Cost on the Improvements / Followers are loyal to the Dark Guardian and its God rather than to the character (12 CP).

Note that you CAN take your “Dark Guardian” as a “follower”. That will make it far more useful – and give it even more power over you. The Chthonic Invested also make popular leaders for various types of Lycanthropes and other accursed beings; it provides them with minor bonuses (which are handy) and the ability to return from the dead (which is a pretty major benefit). 

+3 Specialty in Knowledge/Religion (The Dark Powers), +3 Specialty in Diplomacy (Negotiation with Evil Outsiders) (2 CP).

Yes, this is another high-efficiency “bad guy” template – in this case one for Warrior-Mages. Assassins, and Black Knights. The Chthonic Invested are tough, fast, skilled with weapons, and inhabited by an evil spirit that can provide them with blindsense and a bit of protection and healing. That’s not a huge set of advantages – but it’s certainly a convenient one.

Besides, it’s coming up on Halloween, and this year it’s getting an early start. 

Eclipse – Dressed for Success

Anyone who’s been looking at the level seven evil characters recently will have noticed that there’s a certain similarity to their equipment lists; since I don’t know where that game is going to be going, they’re filled with generically useful stuff.

After all, every d20 player knows that when a game is using normal magic items and wealth by level some items are just too handy to pass up unless you’re using one or another alternative system too (Innate Enchantment or Siddhisyoga, or some such – which is what we’re really interested in here).

Those item’s aren’t necessarily the “big six” though; at low levels, and low prices, weapons and armor/shield are only really vital to characters who rely on direct combat – and in Eclipse even they may opt to internalize their combat boosts and save their money for more interesting stuff. A +2 ability booster is cheap enough – but the big price gap between the +2 and +4 booster means that going beyond +2 is out of the question for awhile – and an affordable Amulet of Natural Armor and/or Ring of Protection don’t offer a big enough bonus to be blatantly better than a lot of other items as of yet.

A Ring of Sustenance or Counterspells is very handy, but hardly vital – and the Survival Pouch is a lot more interesting. A few of the other really common items (like Boots of Striding and Springing) are still priced out of reach, while others (like Pearls of Power) are less important in Eclipse because characters are less likely to run out of spells (at least at the levels of Pearls which they can currently afford).

There’s always specialty or campaign-specific gear – for example, In the Federation-Apocalypse setting no sane character would DREAM of going adventuring without Smartclothes and possibly some Upgrades – but some of the generically handiest cheap items include:

  • A Healing Belt (MIC, 750 GP). This dandy gadget provides some daily healing for yourself or others for a mere 750 GP? With the option to heal a substantial chunk of a low-level characters hit points in one shot? That’s a big “Yes!” right there – especially for characters who may not otherwise have daily healing abilities and who don’t want to buy them, or invest heavily in wands and Use Magic Device, or who are in a slow-progression game. Sure, it becomes trivial at higher levels, but what do you expect for 750 GP?
  • A +1 Cloak of Resistance (SRD, 1000 GP) isn’t necessary if a character has the points to spare for Luck or other special defenses, but is potentially priceless otherwise. A mere 1000 GP for a +5% chance of resisting all sorts of nastiness? Even if you get those special defenses and trade the thing in later, it’s generally well worth it to start with.
  • Boosting your primary attribute (SRD, 4000 GP) is always good. While +2 isn’t an especially huge edge it’s relatively cheap and helps almost all the time. Even better, while you might want to upgrade later, this particular booster never goes out of style. Even in Eclipse, where characters generally don’t actually need attribute boosters to function properly, they’re still virtually always nice to have.
  • For a mere 1000 GP Pathfinder’s Boots of the Cat offer the ability to survive long falls – and are quite likely lifesaving; not only can you readily live through unexpected drops (a common hazard in many games) but you can use cliffs, gorges, and similar features of the landscape as escape routes. A Ring of Feather Falling costs only 1200 GP more and negates falling damage entirely – but I’ve found that characters drifting gently down at 60′ feet per round often wind up being treated like a Pinata.
  • An Amulet of Tears (MIC, 2300 GP) gives you “get more hit points” as a swift action. OK, so it’s only 12/18/24 hit points for 1/2/3 of it’s three daily charges – but that’s a fair amount for many or most low-level characters and a few extra hit points in a tight spot are (once again) a likely lifesaver. Combine an Amulet of Tears with Boots of the Cat and you can bail out at ten thousand feet without a parachute and walk away uninjured – and you’ll reach the ground in about 60 seconds (traveling at a bit more than 120 MPH, not that it matters) rather than in just under half an hour and blown god only knows how far by the wind.
  • A Handy Haversack (SRD, 2000 GP) lets you carry a lot of extra stuff, and have it all conveniently to hand. That’s a subtle help – but well worthwhile for most characters. Rope, candle, torches, oil… there are very, VERY, lengthy lists out there of useful, cheap, supplies that you can haul along. Just as importantly, unlike (say) stacking the stuff on a nice cheap mule, the Haversack keeps your supplies always conveniently to hand.
  • A Survival Pouch (MIC, 3300 GP). Sure, the stuff disappears in eight hours if you don’t use it up first, but getting to pull out your choice of a days rations, two gallons of water, a tent and two bedrolls, 50′ of rope, a shovel, a campfire (or eight torches), a composite shortbow (+1 Str bonus) and a quiver of 20 arrows, or even a mule with bit, bridle, saddle, and saddlebags (it can’t fight, but it can carry stuff and it’s a dandy trap-springer, portable barrier, and heavy object to drop from a height) five times a day is pretty handy. Admittedly, the practical functionality overlaps with the Handy Haversack a good deal – but never having to worry about the basics again is probably worth it even if you can’t think of ways to get creative with that stuff.

What adventurer in his or her right mind would pass most of those items up?

Now if you ARE using Innate Enchantment… for a mere 6 CP (one Feat) and either a few hundred XP or using the Pathfinder Package Deal you could get several of those items as permanent personal powers. Lets say you take…

  • Amulet of Tears (MIC Duplicate Effect, 2300 GP).
  • Healing Belt (MIC Duplicate Effect, 750 GP).
  • Resistance (SRD SL0, CL1, Unlimited-Use Use-Activated, Personal Only, 700 GP).
  • Enhance Attribute +2 (The Practical Enchanter, SL1, CL1, Unlimited-Use Use-Activated, Personal Only, 1400 GP).

That’s not too bad package for one Feat even if it WOULD also cost 206 XP in classical worlds. Get through a single introductory adventure (or invest in Action Hero/Crafting or a small immunity to that XP cost) and you’ve suddenly become a good deal more survivable. Even at higher levels… the fact that this stuff won’t be taking up body slots is of some benefit, even if the actual effects aren’t very important any longer.

For a second Feat or another 6 CP (and possibly 252 XP) you can throw in the Handy Haversack, Boots of the Cat, and Survival Pouch as innate enchantments – although you are brushing up against the roundoff limit there and might well be better off just buying the Survival Pouch as an actual item and taking a couple of low-level but handy effects (Mage Armor, Shield, Inspiring Word, Immortal Vigor I, Protection From Evil, etc) as innate enchantments like Enhance Attribute above). The Haversack… continues to offer a major benefit as an Innate Enchantment though; no one can take it away from you. That’s more of a question of style though. If you’re playing a mage, or a stealthy rogue, or some such being able to store your gear in a magical fold in space may be just your thing. Your mighty barbarian will probably find it a bit out of character.

You want to be even cheaper? Make your Innate Enchantment Specialized/requires a selection of finely-crafted foci and equipment to function. While your “items” can thus be damaged or taken away, and will be moderately expensive to replace, you can’t lose them permanently. They still won’t take up item slots though – and that will let you buy the entire “survival package” as a basic 6 CP Feat.

Is this a really good use of your character points? That depends on the game. Is it going to pretty much stay at low levels with relatively little in the way of treasure and external magic? Then this sort of thing is probably a pretty good deal. Is it going to hit high levels with fairly standard wealth-by-level? Then spending those six character points buying Luck with +4 Bonus Uses (Specialized in Saving Throws) is going to be a much better deal in the long run. If you really want to mix the two… buy Create Relic (Specialized in making low-end Relics with Enthusiast points) and Enthusiast (Specialized in Relics for double effect). That will let you make a relic that provides the Innate Enchantments early and swap it out for something that will be more useful at higher levels later on.

Illurion Voice-Of-Nightmares, Bard of the Unmaking

Italiano: Albero della Cabbala, Kabbalah Tree,...

No, no… the Dark Mirror of Creation, the Spheres of Husks and Rinds, BELOW the lowest sphere of the Sephiroth. Yes, that’s it… LOOK HERE. 

And here we have another character for a level seven evil game – in this case a Bard-type who has delved deeply into the entrophic spheres, the fallen worlds of the Aliphoth – and now speaks the words of unmaking. 

Like most of the evil characters, this is a very high-efficiency build, and is suitable for a boss encounter for any normal party. 

Pathfinder Package Deal: Human (Free).

Available Character Points: 192 (L7 base) +10 (Disadvantages) +30 (Human, L1, L3, L5, L7 Bonus Feats) = 232 CP.

Basic Attributes: Str 8, Dex 12, Int 16, Wis 9, Con 12, Cha 20 (22) (3.5 32 Point Buy, Str 8 (0), Dex 12 (4), Int 16 (10), Wis 9 (1), Con 12 (4), Cha 17 (13), +1 Cha (Level), +2 Cha (Pathfinder Bonus)

Basic Abilities (81 CP):

  • Hit Dice: 20 (1d20, 16 CP) + 25 (6d6, 12 CP) +7 (Con Mod x 7) = 52 HP.
  • Skill Points: 8 (Purchased, 8 CP) +24 (Int Mod x 8) +32 (Fast Learner) = 64 SP.
  • BAB: +3 (18 CP).
  • Saves:
    • Fortitude: +2 (6 CP) +1 (Con) +1 (Res) = +4
    • Reflex: +2 (6 CP) +1 (Dex) +1 (Res) = +4
    • Will: +4 (12 CP) -1 (Wis) +1 (Res) = +4
  • Proficiencies: All Simple Weapons (3 CP).
  • Initiative: +1 (Dex)
  • Move: 30′
  • Armor Class: 10 +1 (Dex) = 11
  • Usual Attacks:
    • He avoids physical combat if at ALL possible.

Special Abilities (151 CP):

  • Upgrade Human Fast Learner to +2 SP/Level (3 CP).
  • Fast Learner, Specialized in Skills for +2 SP/Level (6 CP).
  • Augmented Bonus x2 (12 CP): Whispers of Darkness; Adds (Cha Mod) to (Int Mod) and (Dex Mod) for skill purposes.
  • Reflex Action, three action per day variant, Specialized/only for using Mystic Artist abilities (3 CP).
  • Adept x2 (12 CP): Pays half price for Bluff, Disable Device, Disguise, Gather Information, Linguistics, Perform/Sing, Stealth, and Use Magic Device.
  • Houngan Conjurer power package (9 CP).
    • OK, I think that this one is fun. It’s also very versatile, nicely thematic, and will make the character a valued member of almost any party. It’s hard to improve much on that. 
  • Tongue of the Qliphoth, Voice of Husks (42 CP): Mystic Artist (Linguistics – speaking the words of the dark realms), with Echoes (effects recur up to three times and/or last up to three minutes, Rapid (takes effect immediately), Seeking (may specify affected targets), and +(2x Cha Mod) Bonus Uses
    • Path of Dissonance: Distracting (opponents must make opposed concentration checks to focus on tasks), Disrupting and Advanced Disrupting (he may generate a Greater Dispelling or Greater Dispel Magic effect or do (check result) damage to all exposed), Stunning (may try to stun those affected for 2d4 rounds), and Maddening (may try to confuse those affected)
    • Art of the Occult: The Hidden Way (he may cast spells by playing music), Spellweaver (he may play for some minutes to add up to (Cha Mod) levels of Metamagic to a spell), and Sphere of Mastery (surround a 5′ radius with a dimensional barrier that his art will work through)
      • All Specialized/obvious and blatant black magic that calls on powers from the Outer Realms, and is easily recognized as such, may have strange side effects on the area, draws the attention of the defenders of law and reality to the user.
        • Manipulation Abilities: Fascinate, Hold Audience, Suggestion, Emotional Auras, Freedom.
        • Synergy Abilities: Block, Amplify, Harmonize, Serenity.
  • Mystic Artist (Performance/Sing), with Harmonics (Undead), Spirit Summons, and +(Cha Mod) Bonus Uses (24 CP).
    • Inspiration Abilities: Emotion, Greatness, Excellence, Mass Greatness, Mass Excellence
    • Synergy Abilities: Block, Group Focus, Amplify, Harmonize,
  • 10 levels of the Druidical Spellcasting Progression (40 CP) (Arcane spells, but limited to Illusion, Enchantment, and Conjuration), Specialized/spells beyond level one count as uses of Mystic Artist (and will have appropriate side effects if the Tongue of the Qliphoth is used to power them).

In-Class Skills: Craft and Profession (Automatic), Bluff, Disable Device, Disguise, Diplomacy, Gather Information, Knowledge / Local, Linguistics, Perception, Perform/Sing, Sleight of Hand, Stealth, and Use Magic Device.


  • Bluff +22 (10* SP +6 Cha +3 Path +3 Comp)
  • Diplomacy +15 (3 SP +6 Cha +3 Path +3 Comp)
  • Disable Device +23 (10* SP +1 Dex +6 Cha +3 Path +3 Comp)
  • Disguise +22 (10* SP +6 Cha +3 Path +3 Comp)
  • Escape Artist +12 (2 SP +1 Dex +6 Cha +3 Comp)
  • Gather Information +22 (10* SP +6 Cha +3 Path +3 Comp)
  • Intimidate +10 (1 SP +6 Cha +3 Comp)
  • Knowledge / Local +25 (10 SP +3 Int +6 Cha +3 Path +3 Comp)
  • Linguistics +25 (10* SP +3 Int +6 Cha +3 Path +3 Comp)
  • Perception +7 (5 SP -1 Wis +3 Path)
  • Perform/Sing +22 (10* SP +6 Cha +3 Path +3 Comp)
  • Sleight of Hand +18 (3 SP +3 Int +6 Cha +3 Path +3 Comp)
  • Stealth +23 (10* SP +1 Dex +6 Cha +3 Path +3 Comp)
  • Use Magic Device +22 (10* SP +6 Cha +3 Path +3 Comp)

*Half cost due to adept.

Equipment (23,500 GP): Healing Belt (750), Cloak of Resistance +1 (1000), Ring of the Silver Tongue (+3 Competence Bonus to Cha-based Skills, 2000), Headband of Charisma +2 (4000), Boots of the Cat (1000), Amulet of Tears (2300), Handy Haversack (2000), Survival Pouch (3300). Leaves 7450 GP for equipment of choice.

For his personal Conjure, I’d recommend something defensive – luck for saves, or innate enchantments to get some AC, or some such.

Illurion is actually very VERY dangerous; he’s rubbish in a melee, and limited in his spellcasting – but he’s delved a long, LONG way into some of the most potent mystic artist abilities. With Advanced Disruption he can inflict a good deal of damage to many enemies at a time – with Seeking ONLY to enemies even if his friends are in his area of effect – and with Echoes he can repeat it several times without cost. With Sphere of Mastery he can protect himself from pretty much all normal attacks – and yet he’ll still be able to use his mystic artistry, if not his magic. If he ever learns to project his vocal abilities to greater ranges he’ll be a major threat.

Raykul Tepes, Scion of the Damned

English: Thecount

Hey Dad! What’s up?

And here’s another ECL 7 Character / Monster full of evilness – suitable as a “boss encounter” or for an evil game (such as the one which requested it). 

Like most Eclipse characters, having a strong concept for the character results in them having more power – and so this heir to dark powers is quite formidable.

What? Oh, NO. Trust me! It has nothing at ALL to do with being thoroughly optimized...

In d20 universes, almost everything can breed – but some things… should never do so.

Scion of the Damned (+2 ECL Race/+3 ECL Acquired Template, 94 CP):

The accursed offspring of a Necromancer Vampire Lord and a true, Demonic Lycanthrope, born of their blasphemous affection and unholy experimentation, the Scion of the Damned was nursed on necromantic magic, demonic energies, and stolen life force since before his or her birth – and has grown strong and terrible – if utterly corrupt – on that accursed diet. Their profane life force is capable of enduring horrific insults – and of disrupting and draining lesser lives, drawing them into itself as a whirling leaf is drawn into a blazing balefire. Their shifting flesh ejects weapons and seals wounds and their blows chill their victims souls. They are a wandering blight upon the earth.

And, oddly enough, sometimes their parents really do like them. Don’t count on it though.

  • Immunity/Need to Eat and Drink (Common, Minor, Major, Corrupted/costs 6 Power/Day, 4 CP).
  • Fast Learner, Specialized in Increased Hit Dice, increasing their base to 1d10 at level one and to 1d6 per level thereafter (6 CP).
  • Adept (Predatory Skills: Any one creepy martial art, Perception, Stealth, and Survival. 6 CP)
  • +6 to each racial adept skill (12 CP).
  • +4 Constitution (24 CP) (+8 in worlds using the half-price attribute rule).
  • DR 3/-, Specialized in Physical Damage for 6/- (6 CP).
  • Witchcraft III, Corrupted/Pacts are Preset (12 CP): Basic Abilities: The Adamant Will, The Hand of Shadows, Healing, Hyloka, The Inner Eye, Shadowweave, and Witchsight. Save DC Will 13, Power 32.
    • Birth Pact: Vamparism. Pays for Path of Earth/Bones of Iron.
    • Level One Pact: Gateway (undead tend to rise in his wake). Pays for Path of Fire/Leaping Fire.
    • Level Three Pact: Susceptibility (holy items). Pays for Path of Water/Venomed Touch.
    • Level Seven Pact: Hunted (monster-slayers and holy men). Pays for +3d6 Power (Mana).
    • Level Twelve Pact: Souls. Pays for Path of Darkness/Voice of the Dead.
  • Other Withcraft Abilities: Path of Earth/Essence of Earth (6 CP), Path of Fire/Dance of Flames (6 CP), Path of Water/Wrath of the Sea (6 CP) and Flesh Like Mist (Three of the “favored” forms are the forms of his last three victims, 6 CP).

His particular “Creepy Martial Art” is…

Leechcraft Martial Art (Con):

Some of those accursed with a life-draining touch try to moderate it – wearing thick gloves, avoiding close personal contact, and accepting their lonely fate. Others… revel in it, learning to channel more and more negative energy into their touch, inflicting more and more damage, and surrounding themselves with a swirling mist of darkness, both cloak and warning. They walk the Stalker’s Wheel and their touch brings death.

  • Requires: Vampiric Touch.
  • Basic Techniques: Power 4, Toughness 3, Strike.
  • Advanced and Master Techniques: Combat Reflexes, Crippling (Constitution), Mighty Blow, and Mind Like Moon.
  • Occult Techniques: Inner Strength, Iron Skin, Paralyze, and Resist Pain.
  • Known Techniques: (13): Power 3, Toughness 3, Combat Reflexes, Crippling, Mind Like Moon, Inner Strength, Iron Skin, Paralyze, and Resist Pain.

Sadly, while the art boosts the damage inflicted by the user’s touch, it doesn’t actually let him or her transfer more power into his or her pool – unless the GM is feeling rather generous. 

Pathfinder Package Deal, +2 Bonus to Str

Available Character Points: 144 (base) +10 (Disadvantages) +18 (L1, L3, L5 Bonus Feats) = 172 CP.

Basic Attributes: Str 18, Int 14, Wis 12, Con 22, Dex 14, Chr 10 (3.5 32 Point Buy, Str 15+1 Level, Int 14, Wis 12, Con 14, Dex 14, Chr 10)

Basic Abilities (95 CP):

  • Hit dice: 20 (1d20, Fast Learner + 10 CP) + (4d10, 10, 9, 5, 8, Fast Learner + 16 CP) +30 (Con Mod x 5) = 82 HP. DR 9/- after martial art bonuses.
  • Skill Points: 12 (Purchased, 12 CP) +16 (Int Mod x 8) +12 (Fast Learner) = 40 SP.
  • BAB: +3 base (18 CP), +3 (Specialized and Corrupted/only in unarmed melee combat, 6 CP).
  • Saves:
    • Fortitude: +2 (6 CP) +6 (Con) +1 (Res) = +9
    • Reflex: +2 (6 CP) +2 (Dex) +1 (Res) = +5
    • Will: +0 (0 CP) +1 (Wis) +1 (Res) = +2
  • Proficiencies: All Simple Weapons (3 CP), Light and Medium Armor with the Smooth Modifier (18 CP).
  • Initiative: +2 (Dex)
  • Move: 30′
  • Armor Class: 10 +2 (Dex) +7 (+2 Breastplate ) +6 (Nat) = 25

Usual Attacks:

  • Unarmed Strike: +10/+5 (+6 BAB +4 Str), 1d6+4 (Str) and 1d8 drain versus living targets (Power, HP if no Power, one half the total drained – rounded up – is transferred to his reserves), Crit 20/x2 physical damage, x2 Drain, and 1d4 Con damage, Adamant, Combat Reflexes.
  • Javelin: +5 (+3 BAB +2 Dex), 1d6+4 (Str)

Special Abilities (77 CP):

  • 2x Monstrous Occult Contacts – his parents. Most characters are kind of assumed to have their parents as contacts, but most people can’t pass as (reasonably) human while having horrendously powerful monsters as parents. I will count this as Specialized though; having parents like that is enough to provide the game master with quite a few plot hooks (3 CP).
  • The Dark Inspiration: 2d6 Mana with Reality Editing, Specialized and Corrupted/only to produce blatantly unnatural results with skills – performing strange surgeries, healing wounds, and stitching together uncontrollable monsters with Heal, forging screaming black haunted swords with Smithcraft, inciting frenzied riots with Diplomacy, and so on (4 CP). Rite of Chi with +2 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted/only to recharge his Dark Inspiration, only after getting a nights sleep (3 CP).
  • Rite of Chi with +2 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted/requires meditation, power only, kills plants and ruins the soil in the immediate vicinity, won’t work if there are no plants to drain, 3 CP).
  • Immunity to Diseases and Poisons (Common, Major, Minor; reduce attribute damage from such sources by six points) (6 CP).
  • Immunity to Negative Energy Attacks (Very Common, Major, Minor, Specialized/the total resistance must be divided between damage, attribute damage, and level drain at the usual 1 to 1, 1 to 2, and 1 to 5 ratios. Provides DR 1/not being undead, 3 points of resistance to attribute damage, and resistance to one negative level per attack. Other undead attack effects, such as paralysis, are saved against at +4) (7 CP).
  • Fast Learner Specialized in Skills for +2 SP/Level, acquired at level (-1) (6 CP)
  • Ritual Magic, Specialized in Necromancy and Demonology (3 CP).
  • Reflex Training/may spend one power point on witchcraft each turn as a free action (6 CP).
  • Augmented Bonus/Adds (Con Mod) to (Dex Mod) when calculating AC (as Natural Armor, 6 CP).
  • Trick/Energy Drain. After two successful unarmed strikes, he may spend 3 power with his next strike as a free action. It if hits it will inflict one negative level – but the effect only lasts for an hour and never results in level loss (6 CP).
  • 1d6 Natural Weapons (6 CP).
  • Imbuement (Unarmed Strikes, 6 CP). Unarmed strikes are treated as Adamant.
  • Adept (6 CP; Half Price on Heal, Knowledge/Arcana, Bluff, and Use Magic Device).
  • Leadership: Specialized in Lycanthropes, beasts of the same types, and Bargheests for Double Effect (Use CR instead of ECL and 3 x (Level + Cha Mod) total CR (6 CP). Currently he has two Bargheests (8), two second level female werewolves (8), and a pack of five Wolves (5).

In-Class Skills: Craft and Profession (Automatic). Added by Racial Adept Ability: Leechcraft Martial Art, Perception, Stealth, and Survival. Chosen: Acrobatics, Bluff, Climb, Escape Artist, Fly, Handle Animal, Heal, Intimidate, Knowledge/Arcana (also used for Rituals), Sense Motive, Spellcraft, and Use Magic Device.

Skill Totals: Leechcraft +25 (10 SP* +6 Con +6 Racial +3 Path), Perception +17 (10* SP +6 Racial +1 Wis), Stealth +18 (10* SP +2 Dex +6 Racial), Survival +17 (10* SP +1 Wis +6 Racial), Heal +14 (10* SP +1 Wis +3 Path), Knowledge/Arcana +15 (10* SP, +2 Int +3 Path), Bluff +13 (10* SP +- Cha +3 Path), Use Magic Device +13 (10* SP +0 Cha +3 Path). All SP costs are halved due to Adept.

Equipment: 23,500 GP.

  • Magical Gear: Healing Belt (750), Hat of Disguise (1800), Amulet of Tears (2300 GP), +2 Breasplate (4250), Cloak of Resistance +1 (1000), Handy Haversack (2000), Survival Pouch (3300), Boots of the Cat (1000). Leaves 7100 GP for gear of choice.

Like most of the other evil characters, Raykul is an atrocity of power for his level; after all, he’s a “boss” – and so has a personalized racial template. Those can be very powerful by themselves – and this one makes extensive use of Witchcraft – just at the levels where it really shines the most – and can certainly help take a fighter-type over the top into “unstoppable whirlwind of death” territory. 

The Practical Enchanter – Essay Questions

I have a question about the numbers used in the Campaign Resources part of The Practical Enchanter. While the conclusion I entirely agree with on a broad level “stuff is around to a degree that genuine novel ideas would be somewhat rare” the specifics for your number of wizards and Adepts elude me. Hamlets have a -2 community modifier, Wizards are 1d4, Adepts are 1d6. So unless I am missing something Wizards have a 50/50 chance of not being present, if they are you either have a single 1st level, or a 2nd level with two 1st level, based on rolls of 1 & 2 just being below 0, 3 being a single 1st, 4 being a 2nd which then generates two 1st.

Were they more common in your world, thus using a larger die, or am I missing something with the community modifier?


Basically it’s because the first draft was done from notes while I was away from the books – and I intended to add the community modifiers later. Then, for good or ill, I forgot to put them in, and the draft section got put into The Practical Enchanter without including the community modifiers. Given that only a few people seem to have noticed, that it doesn’t really change the general outcome of the calculation particularly, and that including those modifiers gets VERY messy and takes up far too much room (and is dull to boot), I’ve never considered it a particularly urgent problem to fix.

In a way, the error was a good thing. Applying the community modifiers gets more than a little weird. To see why, the first thing to do is to look at the population distribution. Lets say we have 10,000,000 people in the kingdom. What can we expect in the way of communities?

Rural Dwellers (85% of the population):

  • 70% dwell in Thorps (Often no more than a couple of farmhouses, a wandering tribe of hunter-gatherers, or a group of woodcutters and their families) averaging 50 people – 119,000 Thorps (one roll each at -3, special modifiers for Rangers/Druids).
  • 20% dwell in Hamlets averaging 240 people – 8,854 Hamlets (one roll each at -2, special modifiers for Rangers/Druids).
  • 10% dwell in Villages averaging 650 people – 1385 Villages (one roll each at -1).

Urban Dwellers (15% of the population):

  • 30% dwell in Small Towns averaging 1450 people – 310 Small Towns (one roll each at +/-0).
  • 20% dwell in Large Towns averaging 3500 people – 86 Large Towns (one roll each at +3).
  • 20% dwell in Small Cities averaging 8500 people – 35 Small Cities (two rolls each at +6).
  • 15% dwell in Large Cities averaging 18,500 people – 12 Large Cities (three rolls each at +9).
  • 15% dwell in Metropolisis averaging (perhaps) 40,000 people – 6 Metropolisis (four rolls each a +12). Personally, I’d call it three plus a Capital with 120,000 or so people.

Is this debatable? Well… few sources agree – but De Vries estimates for Europe (1500) gives a total of about sixty million people and 154 locations with 10,000 or more inhabitants. Given that about a third of the “Small Cities” will run 10,000+, this model gives 166 such locations. That’s not too bad of a match for some pretty crude estimates from a rule of thumb of “80 to 90% or more in tiny rural settlements”.

So we have… 447 Urban Communities and 129,239 Rural Communities. Out of a total of 129,686 communities, 99.7% are rural, and 91.8% are Thorps. Thorps may have only one roll, and that at a penalty – but they’re going to dominate the statistics since they get 90% of all the rolls. Ergo, lets start with Thorps.

First up; Clerics. After all, every tiny cluster of people needs a priest! At (1d6-3) we get an average distribution of three 50-inhabitant thorps with no cleric, one with a first level Cleric, one with a second level Cleric and two first level Clerics, and one with a third level Cleric and two first level Clerics – 5 L1, 1 L2, and 1 L3 Clerics, or 7 Clerics per 300 people – 2.33% of the population. Straightforward enough.

The same goes for Adepts and Bards (I won’t even bring up the base classes that were added later… the community generation rules were never really revised to include them).

A group of druids from the Sylvan Grove of the...

Oh yeah! There’s no stopping us now!

Druids however, have a 5% chance of a +10 modifier. That changes things; we’ll have to go to considering 120 Throps instead of six to get an average – 114 that come up with no extra modifier and 6 that come up with the +10 modifier. So that’s 114 with the same distribution as the Clerics, and one each with…

  • 1x L8, 2x L4, 4x L2, 8x L1
  • 1x L9, 2x L4, 4x L2, 8x L1
  • 1x L10, 2x L5, 4x L2, 8x L1
  • 1x L11, 2x L5, 4x L2, 8x L1
  • 1x L12, 2x L6, 4x L3, 8x L1
  • 1x L13, 2x L6, 4x L3, 8x L1

That’s an extra 48 L1, 16 L2, 8 L3, 4 L4, 4 L5, 4 L6, 1 L8, 1 L9, 1 L10, 1 L11, 1 L12, and 1 L13 Druids. So our expected Druid percentage is ((114/6) x the Base + 90 extra druids) = 223 Druids per 6000 people = 3.7% of the population.

Out of every ten million, you’ll get about six million people living in Thorps. Your kingdom thus starts off with 143,000 L1, 35,000 L2, 27,000 L3, 4000 L4, 4000 L5, 4000 L6, no L7 (they must all be on sabbatical in another dimension), and 1000 each of levels 8 through 13 druids for a total of 223,000 druids in total – but not a single Cleric of above level three as of yet and only 140,000 (100,000 L1, 20,000 L2, and 20,000 L4) of them in total.

Rangers get the same boost – but their base level is only 1d3, meaning that Thorps never have rangers unless that 5% chance of a +10 modifier comes up. The table for Rangers per 3000 population thus looks like this:

  • 1x L8, 2x L4, 4x L2, 8x L1
  • 1x L9, 2x L4, 4x L2, 8x L1
  • 1x L10, 2x L5, 4x L2, 8x L1

That provides a total of 48 L1, 24 L2, 8 L4, 4 L5, 2 L8, 2 L9, and 2 L10 rangers per 6000 people in Thorps – 1.5% of the population. Still, that gives us 90,000 rangers in the kingdom’s Thorps, including 2000 each of levels eight, nine, and ten.

Paladin’s don’t get a boost and use a 1d3 base – so Thorps never have any. Thorps DO have Barbarians and Monks though, since those use a d4 base – so one in four “normal” thorps has a first level Barbarian or Monk – one per 200 people, or 30,000 of each in our six million population. Not a single one above first level – but that’s still impressive compared to our complete absence of Paladins. Not very impressive compared to those two thousand 10’th level rangers though…

What if Barbarians or Monks are “more common” and are using that special 1d8 base rule? Then out of every eight Thorps, for whichever is using the d8, we get…

  • Three Thorps with none.
  • 1x L1
  • 1x L2, 1x L1
  • 1x L3, 2x L1
  • 1x L4, 2x L2, 4x L1
  • 1x L5, 2x L2, 4x L1

That gives us a total of 12x L1, 5x L2, 1x L3, 1x L4, and 1x L5 per 400 people – 5% of the population, or 300,000 out of our six million, including 75,000 at level two and 15,000 each at levels three, four, and five. That sounds better. Given that this is d20, and monsters abound I don’t see any reason why Monks and Barbarians shouldn’t be “more common” EVERYWHERE – but I’ll stick with the basic calculation for the moment.

Fighters and Rogues use a d8 base, so that’s also the number for them.

Sorcerers and Wizards use a d4 base. They’ll appear in the same ratio that base-die Barbarians do.

But wait! What about Warriors (2d4), Experts (3d4), and Commoners (4d4)?

Here the math gets… even messier.


  • 2 1/16
  • 3 2/16
  • 4 3/16
  • 5 4/16
  • 6 3/16
  • 7 2/16
  • 8 1/16

So out of every 16 Thorps you can expect 1 L5 (2 L2), 2 L4 (4 L2), 3 L3, 4 L2, and 3 L1 Warriors – 19 per 16 Thorps, or 141,312 in total.


  • 3 1/64
  • 4 3/64
  • 5 6/64
  • 6 10/64
  • 7 12/64
  • 8 12/64
  • 9 10/64
  • 10 6/64
  • 11 3/64
  • 12 1/64

So out of every 64 Thorps we have 1 L9 (2 L4, 4 L2), 3 L8 (6 L4, 6 L2), 6 L7 (12 L3), 10 L6 (20 L3), 12 L5 (24 L2), 12 L4 (24 L2), 10 L3, 6 L2, and 3 L1 Experts. That’s a total of 1 L9, 3 L8, 6 L7, 10 L6, 12 L5, 32 L4, 42 L3, 79 L2, and 3 L1 Experts (188 total). You can multiply by (119,000/64 or 1859 if you want totals for the kingdom.


  • 4 1/256
  • 5 4/256
  • 6 10/256
  • 7 20/256
  • 8 31/256
  • 9 40/256
  • 10 44/256
  • 11 40/256
  • 12 31/256
  • 13 20/256
  • 14 10/256
  • 15 4/256
  • 16 1/256

So out of every 256 Thorps, we can expect to roll up 1L 13 (2L 6, 4L 3), 4L 12 (8L6, 8L 3), 10L 11 (20L 5, 40L 2), 20L 10 (40L 5, 40L 2), 31L 9 (62L 4, 124L 2), 40L 8 (80L 4, 320L 2), 44L 7 (88L 3, 176 L 2), 40 L6 (80 L3), 31L 5 (62L 2), 20L 4 (40 L2), 10L 3, 4L 2, and 1L 1 Commoners.

That’s 1L 13, 4 L12, 10 L11, 20 L10, 31 L9, 40 L8, 44 L7, 50 L6, 91 L5, 162 L4, 190 L3, 806 L2, and 1 L1 (1450 leveled) commoners per 256 Hamlets (multiply by 465 if you care about the numbers). At 119,000 Hamlets, that’s 674,023 leveled commoners out of our six million people in Thorps.

Now, we’re supposed to divvy up the remaining population as 91% Commoners, 5% Warriors, 3% Experts, .05% Aristocrats, and .05% Adepts. Well, I’ll have to figure out how many people remain to account for first.

Uhm… Wait… So in our Thorps that’s a base of…

  • Adepts, 100,000 L1, 20,000 L2, and 20,000 L3.
  • Aristocrats: 30,000 L1.
  • Barbarians, 30,000 L1 (Optionally, 180,000 L1, 75,000 L2, 15,000 L3, 15,000 L4, and 15,000 L5)
  • Bards, 100,000 L1, 20,000 L2, and 20,000 L3
  • Clerics, 100,000 L1, 20,000 L2, and 20,000 L3
  • Commoners, 674,000 (of various levels up to 13)
  • Druids, 143,000 L1, 35,000 L2, 27,000 L3, 4000 L4, 4000 L5, 4000 L6, 0 L7, 1000 L8, 1000 L9, 1000 L10, 1000 L11, 1000 L12, 1000 L13
  • Experts, 350,000 (of various levels up to 9)
  • Fighters, 180,000 L1, 75,000 L2, 15,000 L3, 15,000 L4, 15,000 L5
  • Monks, 30,000 L1 (Optionally, 180,000 L1, 75,000 L2, 15,000 L3, 15,000 L4, and 15,000 L5)
  • Paladins, None
  • Rangers, 48,000 L1, 24,000 L2, 8000 L4, 4000 L5, 2000 L8, 2000 L9, and 2000 L10
  • Rogues, 180,000 L1, 75,000 L1, 15,000 L3, 15,000 L4, 15,000 L5
  • Sorcerers, 30,000 L1
  • Warriors, 141,000 (of various levels up to 5).
  • Wizards, 30,000 L1

That comes to 2,648,000 out of our 6,000,000 – leaving us with 3,352,000 to split up. That gives us another 167,000 first level warriors, 100,560 first level Experts, 16,760 first level Adepts, 16,760 first level Aristocrats and 3,050,320 first level commoners – not that this matters all that much in most games.

Things are getting a little weird here though… Disregarding Commoners and Experts, the high-level end of things is totally dominated by Druids, followed by Rangers – and every other class only has a few mid-level types. Maybe moving on will fix things?

Hamlets have only a -2 community modifier instead of a -3, although they have the same boosts for Druids and Rangers (which tells us where the level seven Druids are; they live in town for some reason). First level Paladins, and second level Sorcerers and wizards will start to appear – but the overall numbers are going to look quite a lot like those for a Thorp. The big impact will be on Paladins and Rangers – the two classes that use a 1d3 base. Those 8854 rolls will add in nearly three thousand first level Paladins and Rangers, which is a big deal for the Paladins when the original number of Paladins was “none”. Next up will be the d4 classes – Aristocrats, Barbarians, Monks, Sorcerers, and Wizards, who will get 1 L2 and 3 L1 members out of every four hamlets – adding another 2213 L2 characters and 6640 L1 characters. Other than that… the ratios will remain much the same.

That helps some of our scarce classes – but not a lot. Paladins are still vanishingly rare, which is, perhaps, as it should be.

Villages have only a -1 community modifier, but no longer get extra Druids and Rangers. Still, with only 1385 villages… they’re not going to have a big impact on the numbers. Thorps dominate our calculations because there are just so many of them – and because the percentages of above-level-one classed characters in them are very high in comparison to those in larger settlements.

Towns and above have better community modifiers – but their overall contribution to the statistics is almost negligible as far as raw numbers go. They WILL contribute a small number of very high-level types, but they will not even approach the number of druids that Thorps contribute. Worse, the best modifier – for a Metropolis of 25,001 or more people – is only +12.

  • A Small Town (Community Modifier +0) rolls once and there are 310 of them.
  • A Large Town (Community Modifier +3) rolls once and there are 86 of them.
  • A Small City (Community Modifier +6) rolls twice times – but there are only 35 of them.
  • A Large City (Community Modifier +9) rolls three times – but there are only 12 of them.
  • A Metropolis (Community Modifier +12) rolls four times – but there are only 4 of them.

Thus a Small City will, on the average, have 1/2 a 4’th, 1/2 a 5’th, 1/2 a 6’th, and 1/2 a 7’th level Wizard running about. We can combine them with the similar number of Sorcerers to create hybrid “Arcanists” I suppose…

A Large City will, on the average, have 3/4’th 10’th, 3/4th 11’th, 3/4’th 12’th, and 3/4’th 13’th level Wizards and their associated lesser characters – as well as 1/2 each Clerics and Druids from levels 10-15. There are 12 of them, so 9 13’th level Wizards.

An average Metropolis will have one 16’th, one 15’th, one 14’th, and one 13’th level Wizard. It will also have 2/3’rds each of 18’th, 17’th, 16’th, 15’th, 14’th, and 13’th level Clerics and Druids. There are four of them, so four Wizards of each of those levels (along with their subsidiary Wizards – (2x L8, 4x L4, 8x L2, 16x L1 per L16 guy), (2x L7, 4x L3, 8x L1 per L15 guy), (2x L7, 4x L3, 8x L1 per L14 guy), and (2x L6, 4x L3, 8x L1 per L13 guy) for a total of 4x L16, 4x L15, 4x L14, 4x L13, 8x L8, 8x L7, 8x L6, 8x L4, 24x L3, 16x L2, and 160x L1 = 308 wizards in the Metropolises).

So our average kingdom of ten million has… thirteen 13’th level wizards and four each of levels 14, 15, and 16. It also has nearly 1100 13’th level druids and at least eighty 14’th level types – with competitive numbers in the 15 and 16 range and clearly superior (to “none”) numbers in the 17-18 range.

Thus… Druids rule the world. Wait! This almost makes sense; Druids possess almost all the power, they don’t generally like big cities, and it’s vastly to their benefit to have EVERYONE living in Thorps – so the community modifiers tell us that the natural state of a d20 setting is to have almost everyone living in Thorps and Hamlets, under the protection of the almighty Druids. Clerics are distinctly secondary, and have almost no power in comparison, all powerful melee fighters (other than Druids) are Rangers (who work with the Druids). Rogues and Fighters offer occasional support – and all the other classes… are quite unimportant to society save for specialty functions. A few unique individuals may get placed by the game master, but the Druids rule a pleasantly rural world full of small clusters of people…

That doesn’t sound much like a normal d20 world of course, but so be it!

And now you know another reason why I’ve never bothered to correct the original mixup. It’s because I have trouble coming up with a justification for why Druids dominate the world to that extent or a reason why they don’t when there are so MANY of them. The “correct” numbers are just too far out of whack to do much with except ignore them – while the ones with the mistake included actually do make some sort of sense (which is probably why I forgot to fix it in the first place).

The community generation system doesn’t make much sense to begin with. After all, for example, if Sorcerers are born, not trained, shouldn’t they be a fairly well fixed percentage of the population? Shouldn’t Wizards make up a larger percentage of the population in cities where there are more chances to study than they do in rural areas instead of the other way around? Yet the rules say that there is one Wizard per 200 people in Thorps, but a mere 1 per 526 in the Metropolises.

It was that sort of question which prompted me to put the “Town Resources” section into The Practical Enchanter – redefining how communities worked to try to make it make a little more sense. That’s also one reason why the Feats chapter quietly insinuates that rural arcanists are fairly common, even if they do mostly rely on the Hedge Magic feat.

Eclipse – Heir of Darkness

Hades and Cerberus, in Meyers Konversationslex...

Yeah. I’m taking over now. You OK with that Dad?

Today it’s a seventh level character for an “Evil Game” – or for use as a villain.

The Lord of Murder, Sacrifice, and Assassins has fallen, and his offspring – each bearing a spark of his terrible gifts and power – contend to take his place. Within each lies the potential for direct command of certain magics (if on a far lesser scale than the powers of a god) – and, perhaps, the potential to become a greater power in their own right.

World Laws: Pathfinder Package Deal. Half Price Attributes (a base of 6 CP per +1).

Basic Race: Moon Elf (31 CP/+0 ECL)

  • +2 Dex, +2 Int, Half-Price Attribute Rule In Play (12 CP).
  • Immunity/Sleep Effects (Uncommon/Minor/Major, 3 CP)
  • Resist/+2 on Saves versus Enchantment Spells and Effects (3 CP)
  • Occult Sense / Low-Light Vision (6 CP)
  • Proficiency with Elven Cultural Weapons (bows, long and short swords, and rapiers) 3 CP)
  • Occult Sense/Detect Secret Doors (Specialized: requires passing within 5 feet, 3 CP)
  • Speaks Elven as an extra language (1 CP)

The Heritage of Darkness (+2 ECL Template/64 CP):

Unlike most powerful parents, the Dark Lord was intentionally granting his offspring a portion of his godhood – intending that it destroy them while serving as the seed of his resurrection. Perhaps fortunately, he utterly bungled it somehow despite all those divine goodies (such as automatic 20’s on rolls for planning and magic theory). His offspring have thus inherited a spark of divine power rather than a raging, all-consuming, flame – enough to allow them to produce some fairly formidable effects through the direct, instinctive, manipulation of raw magical energy. Still, their power IS limited, both by their talents and by their ability to perceive that flow of magic – at least for now. His spawn receive…

  • Divine Insights: +8 Wisdom for magical purposes (in general, for learning and casting spells and for bonuses to magical skills), Specialized/only affects bonus slots, save DC’s, and skill scores for Rune Magic, not for other spellcasting and magic-related skills, half price in template, half price due to reduced attribute cost world law (6 CP).
  • Spark of the Divine: Adept x2, halving the cost of the Casting and Mastery Rune Magic skills for four fields of (almost invariably wisdom-based) Rune Magic (12 CP). (In his case he has a fairly typical set; Conjuration, Destruction, Necromancy, and Transmutation).
  • Birthright of the Darkchilde: Has the Magician (6 CP) and Runic Ritual (6 CP) abilities for his Rune Magic – as well as +4 to all eight of his rune magic skills (16 CP). A typical Dark Heir can manifest effects of up to level two within their fields by sheer instinct.
  • Reflex Training/Extra Actions variant, with +12 Bonus Uses (15 Total), Specialized/only for using Rune Magic (12 CP).
  • Evasive/Spellcasting in Melee, Specialized/only applies to Rune Magic (6 CP).

That’s a very focused little template – “you have some fairly formidable instinctive spellcasting that you can build on”. That double-helping of Adept and skill bonuses would still make this a very good template for any aspiring Rune Mage even without the half-price attribute rule taking the wisdom bonus from +4 to +8. With that rule in play… an aspiring runemaster would be a fool to pass this one up. It’s also a nice, straightforward, template for empowered divine offspring (at least those who aren’t physical types) in general.

That leaves us with a fifth level character to build.

Available Character Points: 144 (Level Five Base) +10 (Disadvantages) +5 (Restrictions; +18 (L1, L3, L5 Bonus Feats) = 187 (+5 CP from the Pathfinder Package, left for player discretion).

Basic Attributes: Str 8, Int 16 (18), Wis 20 (22) (30), Con 12, Dex 14, Chr 10. (3.5 32 Point Buy, Str 8, Int 14, Wis 18, Con 12, Dex 12, Chr 10, +2 Wisdom from Pathfinder Package, +2 Int and Dex from Race)

Basic Abilities (87 CP):

  • Hit dice: 12 (1d12, 8 CP) + (4d8, 6, 8, 5, 6, 16 CP) +12 (Magic) + 7 (Con Mod x 7) = 56.
  • Skill Points: 12 (Purchased, 12 CP) +32 (Int Mod x 8) +12 (Fast Learner) = 56.
  • BAB: +2, +4 with Shortswords (18 CP).
  • Saves:
    • Fortitude: +2 (6 CP) +1 (Con) +1 (Res) = +4
    • Reflex: +2 (6 CP) +2 (Dex) +1 (Res) = +5
    • Will: +4 (12 CP) +6 (Wis) +1 (Res) = +11
  • Proficiencies: All Simple Weapons (3 CP), Light Armor with the Smooth Modifier (6 CP).
  • Initiative: +2 (Dex)
  • Move: 30′
  • Armor Class: 10 +2 (Dex) +5 (+1 Chain Shirt) = 17

Usual Weapons:

  • Short Sword +7 (+4 BAB +3 MA +1 Enh -1 Str), 1d6 (+1 Enh -1 Str). Crit 19-20/x2, 4d6 Sneak Attack, quadruple damage when striking from behind with surprise.
  • Longbow +4 (+2 BAB +2 Dex), 1d8, Crit 20/x3, 100′ range increment.

Special Abilities (94 CP):

  • Fast Learner, Specialized in Skills for Double Effect (+2 SP/Level, 6 CP).
  • Access to an 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.
  • Adept (Knowledge/Arcana, Occult Skill/Secrets, Spider’s Fang, Stealth, 6 CP).
  • 5d6 Mana with the Resilience Natural Magic Option, Corrupted/only usable for Resilience and Rune Magic (20 CP).
  • Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized/only works when sleeping to “recover spells” (6 CP).
  • Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized for Increased Effect/activates instantly – but only at a rate of 1d6 mana per intelligent creature he kills (6 CP).
  • Traceless (Murder; his victims exact cause of death cannot be determined and he neither leaves nor acquires bloodstains, fingerprints, or similar clues, 6 CP).
  • Cloaking (Divination; he appears to be an honest and blameless man to all divinations).
  • Dominion and Ears of the Wind (12 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment: +2 Wis, +2 Int, Immortal Vigor I, Critical Strike (SC), Master’s Touch (SC) (8 CP).
  • Augment Attack/+2d6 Sneak Attack (6 CP).
  • Action Hero/Stunts Option (6 CP). Used properly, this will make him very VERY difficult to get rid of permanently.
  • Double damage when striking from surprise, Specialized for double effect (x4 damage)/only when striking from behind (6 CP).
  • Grant of Aid, Specialized/Hit Points Only (3 CP).


In-Class Skills: Craft and Profession (Automatic), Bluff, Climb, Knowledge/Arcana, Knowledge/The Planes, Knowledge/Religion, Perception, Rune Magic/Necromancy, Secrets, Sleight of Hand, Spellcraft, Spiders Fang Martial Art, and Stealth.

Skill Point Expenditures; Knowledge/Arcana (4*), Rune Magics (Necromancy; Mastery 4*, Casting 4*, Other Three each: Mastery 3*, Casting 3*), Secrets (4*), Spider’s Fang (4*), Stealth (4*), Knowledge/The Planes 2, Knowledge/Religion 2, Perception 2, Sleight of Hand 2, Spellcraft 2, Bluff 1, and Climb 1.

Net Skill Scores:

  • Rune Magic Necromancy +25 (8 SP +10 Wis +4 Race +3 Path, allows effects of up to level six at caster level twelve).
  • Rune Magic; Conjuration, Destruction, and Transmutation +20 (6 SP +10 Wis +4 Race, allows effects of up to level five at caster level 10).
  • Bluff +4 (1 SP +0 Cha +3 Path), and Climb +3 (1 SP -1 Str +3 Path).
  • Knowledge/Religion +9 (2 SP +4 Int +3 Path).
  • Knowledge/The Planes +9 (2 SP +4 Int +3 Path).
  • Knowledge/Arcana +15 (8 SP +4 Int +3 Path).
  • Perception +11 (2 SP +6 Wis +3 Path).
  • Secrets +15 (8 SP +4 Int +3 Path).
  • Sleight of Hand +7 (2 SP +2 Dex +3 Path).
  • Spellcraft +9 (2 SP +4 Int +3 Path).
  • Spider’s Fang +13 (8 SP +2 Dex +3 Path).
  • Stealth +15 (8 SP +2 Dex +3 Path +2 Synergy).

That leaves 2 SP left – enough for Mastery/Casting 1/1 in another field of Rune Magic, for a net +11 (Allowing second level spells at an effective caster level of 5). Alternatively, he could pick up a couple of Specialties – perhaps including +3 on Rune Casting/Necromancy when using a particular set of favored spells (three of the most powerful ones he can cast). For the moment, those might be…

Armor of the Dead: This terrible power summons up a hungry spirit from the shadow worlds of the afterlife, granting it a taste of the material world again – and brief surcease from it’s endless hunger – in exchange for it manifesting around the caster as a sort of (quite horrific) “armor”. Summon Undead IV (in general, this covers undead creatures with challenge ratings of up to five) with an extended duration (one minute per caster level, +1 level) and the Possession modifier (+1 level).

Chain the Dead: Unused magic echoes in the minds of the slain, and it’s traces remain in their relics, to be called forth by those versed in the dark lore. Greater Invocation/Produces any arcane magical effect of level three or less for which the user possesses an appropriate talisman – the skull or brain of a spellcaster or creature which was capable of using that spell (had it memorized or otherwise available) at it’s time of death.

Optionally, if the game master is willing to put up with the bookkeeping and wishes to restrict the user even more stringently, each effect that remained unused at the time of death can only be called forth once. Otherwise, it’s assumed that the user is calling forth the spirit of the creature involved (which is entitled to put in the occasional appearance as a haunt) and drawing on its powers. At the moment, she likely has the skull of a low-level sorcerer or mage or two – so she might well have access to a Fireball or two if she really needs to use them.

Dust of Ages. The world of the living is built upon the bones of the dead. For every creature that lives, a billion have died. Few realize it, but the world is a vast graveyard – and it’s dust can be summoned to take form once again by those who are intimate with death. As per Animate Dead – but no gems or bodies are required. Unfortunately, their lack of solid structure means that they will return to the dust from which they were summoned after 1d4+1 hours.

Martial Art – the Spider’s Fang Technique:

  • Requires: Weapon Focus/Short Blade (Dagger or Shortsword) or equivalent point buy.
  • Basic Techniques: Attack 3, Defenses 2, Power 3, Strike, Synergy: Stealth
  • Advanced and Master Techniques: Sneak Attack 3, Combat Reflexes.
  • Occult Techniques: Inner Strength, Ki Block, Light Foot, and Serpent Strike.
  • Known Techniques (7): Attack 3, Synergy/Stealth, Strike, and Sneak Attack 2.

Equipment: 23,500 GP.

Magical Gear: Healing Belt (750), Hat of Disguise (1800), Amulet of Tears (2300 GP), Wand of Cure Light Wounds (750), Cloak of Resistance +1 (1000), +1 Chain Shirt (1200), +1 Short Sword (2100), Handy Haversack (2000), Survival Pouch (3300). Leaves 8300 GP for gear of choice.

The Heir of Darkness is pretty formidable there – commanding some surprisingly powerful magic for his (or her) level and enough combat skill and endurance to take a few casual hits. Their power will start to lag eventually, since rune magic doesn’t improve nearly as quickly as most other branches of magic – but they’ve got enough of a head start to remain competitive for quite awhile. If one uses his or her reflex actions to defend as needed, he’ll make an excellent “boss” encounter for a low-mid level group. If they can build up a decent power base, and start exploiting Dominion effectively, they may indeed be on the path to godhood – if no one else comes to stop the rise of a new Dark Lord. 

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.

The Balancer Of Scales, Dragonstar/Pathfinder Paladin

The abandoned children were disposable – and they were trained to kill. It wasn’t that they were fabulously skilled or some such mythical nonsense. No brilliant Sensei had made them into unstoppable Ninja, or set them against each other, or sent out only “the best” – but even well-trained guards could often be taken by surprise by a child who suddenly went from “crying and lost” to “firing poisoned flechettes into your guts”. Sure, a lot of them died – but so what? There were always more – and the kids never knew enough to reveal anything worthwhile about the people or facility that had trained them. 

Every so often a child was lucky. In this case, his target – a paladin of the Father – survived, and captured his youthful assailant alive, and took him into his care – training him to follow in his own footsteps under the guidance of a local aspect of The Father.

Pathfinder Package Deal:

Racial Template: Half-Elf (Drow) (25 CP/+0 ECL):

  • May pick the attribute that gets the +2 pathfinder bonus – buying off a Corruption worth 4 CP normally but only worth 2 CP with the half-cost attribute rule in effect (2 CP).
  • May pick two favored progressions at first level, buying down he Pathfinder Templates “Fast Learner” ability to merely “Corrupted” (1 CP).
  • Occult Sense/Low-Light Vision (6 CP).
  • Counts as both elven and human for any effect related to race (No cost).
  • Immunity/Sleep Effects (Uncommon/Minor/Major, 3 CP)
  • +2 against enchantment spells and effects (Resist, 3 CP).
  • +2 on Perception skill checks (2 CP).
  • One bonus feat (6 CP). Currently this gets set to a skill-enhancing feat by default, but I prefer the original version with a free choice. 
  • Bonus Language: Elven (1 CP).

When Amilko Moonshadow unleashed his wave of chaos near the galactic core, the changes reached the rim of the galaxy. The Amilko Event had MANY strange effects (among them, disrupting the laws of classes that had held since the beginning and allowing many new abilities and types of magic) – but one of the more common was to grant quasi-animalistic templates (+1 ECL) to the young of many fringe worlds. The divine order, ordained by the gods, has been broken – and none knows what will come of it. As it happened, this youngster acquired the “Cat Person” template…

“Cat Person”: Acquired (In Early Childhood) Racial Template, 32 CP/+1 ECL.

  • Fast Learner, Specialized in Skills, Corrupted/only to keep Racial Adept Skills maxed out (4 CP).
  • Adept (Acrobatics, Climb, Stealth, Survival, 6 CP).
  • +6 Racial Bonus on Adept Skills (12 CP).
  • Str +4 (12 CP), Dex +6 (18 CP), and Con +4 (12 CP) – all purchased at one-quarter price because they’re part of a racial template AND the half-price attribute rule is in play.

The Template – like most of those bestowed by the Amilko Event – is Specialized; anthropomorphs are subject to strong instincts (and will occasionally require will checks to resist those instincts), suffer major species-related social prejudices (including often being mistaken for monsters), have assorted dietary restrictions, are somewhat limited with regard to equipment (a lot of it must be especially-fitted for particular species), and are readily described and recognized since their transformation is blatantly obvious.

Available Character Points: 48 (Level one base) +10 (three Disadvantages of choice) +2 (Duties to the Space Marines) +6 (Level one bonus Feat) +6 (Racial Bonus Feat) = 72 CP, 8 SP due to Int.

Basic Attributes: Str 14, Int 14, Wis 14, Con 18, Dex 22, Chr 14 (3.5 32 Point Buy: Purchased: Str 10, Int 14, Wis 14, Con 14, Dex 14, Chr 14. Pathfinder bonus to Dex, +4 Str, +6 Dex, +4 Con due to race).

Basic Abilities (37 CP):

  • Hit dice: 12 (d12, 8 CP) +12 (Magic) + 12 (Con Mod x 3) = 36.
  • Skill Points: 2 (Purchased, 2 CP) +8 (Int Mod x 4) = 10.
  • BAB: +1 (6 CP).
  • Saves:
    • Fortitude: +0 (0 CP) +4 (Con) = +4
    • Reflex: +0 (0 CP) +6 (Dex) = +6
    • Will: +1 (3 CP) +2 (Wis) = +3
  • Proficiencies: All Simple and Martial Weapons (9 CP), Light and Medium Armor (9 CP).
  • Initiative: +6 (Dex)
  • Move: 30′
  • Armor Class: 10 +6 (Dex) +7 (Ar, Battle Suit) +4 (Sh) = 27

Usual Weapons:

  • Pulse Screamer Pistol(s): +7 or +5/+5 (+1 BAB +6 Dex, -2 Rapid Shot), 2d4 Sonic, Crit 20/x2, 100′ range increment. Since they can draw on the generator in his Battle Dress they have unlimited ammo when he’s wearing his armor, the usual 30 shots each otherwise.

Other Notable Equipment: Battle Suit with generator, hardly-used civilian clothes, credstick, datapad, two datachips, theological database, personal communicator, survival pack, two minicells.

Special Abilities (35 CP):

  • Occult Sense/Detect Ma’at: This ability detects disturbances in “the balance” – a criminal going unpunished disturbs the balance. A child’s inheritance being stolen disturbs the balance. Opening a rift into another dimension disturbs the balance. Many other things disturb the balance – and how far away then can be sensed depends on just how great the disturbance is. Specialized and Corrupted: what constitutes “a disturbance of Ma’at” is determined at the discretion of the GM, as are any details that he or she provides (2 CP).
  • Divine Aid (all Corrupted; only while doing a fair job of being a noble, honorable, paladin): Luck (4 CP), +4 bonus uses each specialized in defense, attack, and skills (6 CP).
  • Fortune/Evasion, Corrupted/not usable in heavy armor, while carrying a medium or heavy load, or while otherwise restrained (4 CP).
  • Servant of the Gods: One level of Clerical Package Deal Spellcasting, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost/user may only renew his spells by conducting a formal religious ceremony taking some hours, spell slots can only be used to power Theurgy (3 CP).
    • Vengeance Domain: Grants: Holy Zeal (Berserker, +4 BAB and +4 Con], L1 Doom, L2 Locate Creature, L3 Rage, L4 Bestow Curse, L5 Shout, L6 Harm, L7 Destruction, L8 Spell Turning, and L9 Storm of Vengeance.
    • Mysticism Domain: Grants: Divine Providence: Add (Cha Mod) as a luck bonus to saves for (Cleric Level) rounds once/day as a free action. L1) Divine Favor, L2) Spiritual Weapon, L3) Visage of the Deity, Lesser, L4) Weapon of the Deity, L5) Righteous Might, L6) Visage of the Deity, L7) Holy Word, L8) Holy Aura, and L9) Visage of the Deity, Greater).
  • Mana, 1d6 as 2d4 (6) generic spell levels, Specialized/only usable for Theurgy (3 CP).
  • Two-weapon gunfighter: Bonus Attack, Specialized/only with dual-wielded Pistols (3 CP).
  • A Nose For Trouble: Professional/Search, Specialized in Trapfinding (3 CP)
  • Righteous Eye (Net 7 CP), Companion (Familiar) with +2 ECL Template (Spirit Fetch) +3 CP Transference, and Might, all Specialized and Corrupted: Righteous Eye is quite independent, will insist on strict standards of behavior and the defense of innocents, and often brings in requests for mission from various Celestials, murder victims, and similar. Total of 18 CP from Might and Transference. Points go to Innate Enchantment (A “Handy Haversack” that it shares with him, Immortal Vigor I (from The Practical Enchanter), and Shield, and 2x Healing Belts (from the Magic Item Compendium, 8 CP), and access to “Department Q” of the Celestial Intervention Agency (10 CP). Bestows Heka Magic (Augmented Bonus, uses Charisma as a base attribute for Theurgy skills) as it’s 6 CP “familiar” benefit.

Department “Q”

  • Enthusiast (Double): Specialized: Can only be changed by traveling to the Celestial Realms and expending a Spirit Favor to pick up a new supply of items, Corrupted: Only usable on “Inherent Spell” and similar abilities (to be described as various technical gizmos). The two modifiers triple the effect, providing a total of 6 “Floating” CP to make such items at a cost of 6 CP.
  • Create Relic. Specialized: only to make limited-use items costing a maximum of 3 CP each. Corrupted: only usable with points from Enthusiast (2 CP).
  • Blessing. Specialized and Corrupted/only to loan items created with this package to Vaylin (2 CP).

Relevant items are normally bought as Inherent Spell (Sometimes with Bonus Uses): Specialized (Does not recover, Half Cost). For example:

  • Grenade Launcher. Inherent Spell: Fireball, +4 Bonus Uses (5 total). 1 CP. For 2 CP you can have 13 uses. For 3 CP you get 21. The same pattern works for other L3 spells, such as Cure Serious Wounds (L2 spells get an extra use, if you want L1 spells you get two of them with the same number of uses each).
  • Minor Gizmos: Occult Talent/Improved, Corrupted: Slots must be preset, Effect x 1.5 (7x L0, 5x L1 spells in total). For example you could be carrying two Flares (Light x2), a one-shot emergency transmitter (Message), a compass (Know Direction), canteen (Create Water), superglue (Mending), some antidote (Delay Poison), a hologram projectior (Silent Image), two smoke bombs (Obscuring Mist x2), a knockout gas grenade (Sleep), and a flash-pack (Color Spray). As usual these “spells” are cast at an effective caster level equal to the characters total level. 2 CP
  • First Aid Kit. Healing Touch with Bonus Uses (5 doses that Cure [Charisma Mod x Level] HP) and Improved/Switch/Empower with Bonus Uses (4+Level/3 total uses of Remove Disease, Remove Blindness/ Deafness, Cure Serious Wounds, Remove Curse, Neutralize Poison, and Restoration). 3 CP.

More occult items are certainly possible – but that batch will pass without too much notice, and Paladins in the Dragon Empire need to keep their heads down a bit at the moment.

Skills aren’t particularly central to our paladin’s character conception – but it’s worth noting that his Racial Adept Skills (Acrobatics, Climb, Stealth, and Survival) are all automatically at ([Level+3] Skill Points +6 [Racial] +3 [Pathfinder In-Class Bonus) +[Attribute Modifier]) At level one that’s +(12 + Att Mod) – or +19 Acrobatics, +15 Climb, +19 Stealth, and +15 Survival).

Craft and Profession are considered “In-Class” automatically. For his selected in-class skills… I’d suggest Diplomacy, Fly, Heal, Knowledge/Arcana, Knowledge/The Planes, Knowledge/Religion, Linguistics, Perception, Sense Motive, Spellcraft, Stealth, and Swim. None of those are critical to him – and to take advantage of the Pathfinder +3 bonus, he might as well put 1 SP (including his “favored class” bonus) into everything but Linguistics.

At level two his “Wealth by Level” is a mere 1000 Credits – although it might be a bit more since the usual starting wealth in Dragonstar is 2d6x100 Credits. Still nowhere’s near enough to buy anything much better than what he’s issued anyway, although a few personal items are reasonable enough (such as the ubiquitous wand of Cure Light Wounds…).

It would be a good idea for him to pick up a martial art soon, but at the moment he doesn’t really qualify for most of them. 

The Balancer of Scales is reasonably formidable – and has Luck to guarantee him a “20” when he really needs one – but the weaponry available in Dragonstar still makes the best strategy one of dealing with situations with evasion, cleverness, and negotiation rather than combat. His “Sense Ma’at” ability is much more general – and far more interesting and ambiguous – than “Detect Evil”. You detect an evil presence? Deal with it with caution and fight if necessary. You detect a child who’s been cheated out of her inheritance, or a woman being forced into a political marriage against her will, or a strange artifact upsetting the weather patterns across a continent? That’s just a bit more complicated.

Finally, of course, as an Eclipse character he’s compatible with (3.0) Dragonstar and with Pathfinder – as well as with pretty much every other d20 setting. That way you can just let the players build their characters and not worry about having to convert everything.

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.

Let’s Play Frayed Knights!

Yes. We should all play Frayed Knights. But if not, you should watch this video series. That’s a lot like playing Frayed Knights, but not quite as fun.

This may be moved over a new blog, as I’m unsure how tolerant Thoth will be about cramming the blog with semi-unrelated material. On the other hand, we will move into a more serious (for Frayed Knights, anyway) look at how games create consistent and believable worlds. Besides, he might have a soft spot for the old Magic and Magic series.

Eclipse – Gar Ashwood, Pathfinder/Dragonstar Soulmech Gunslinger-Detective

The boy’s poking about had been too clever, gone too far. Now, the corrosive power of the Black Sun was slowly and agonizingly devouring his life force. It was bonded to his soul; as long as life – or, for that matter, unlife – force linked him to the prime material, the Black Sun would feed upon it. Even death and resurrection would not break that bond.

Yet wealth and power are rarely entirely without resort. It might not be true life, but it was more than death – and so it was done.

As years passed, the alienation grew too great to bear. Gar sought his own way. The Ashwood clan provided him a stipend, and might call upon him at need – but their estates could no longer be his home.

Pathfinder Package Deal (Free).

Race: Android (Soulmech) (30 CP, +0 ECL). Racial Options: Adept Skills: Computer Use (+4 Racial), Knowledge/Local (+2 Racial), Perception (+4 Racial), Profession/Investigator (+2 Racial). Armored Frame/Finesse, bases bonus HP on Str instead of Con, Wired Reflexes/Augmented Bonus, adds (Int Mod) to (Dex Mod) for skill purposes. Profession/Investigator covers gathering, preserving, and analyzing evidence, getting along with the police and using their (and other public or library) records, basic surveillance, and using relevant sensory equipment. Computer Use is found in d20 Modern.

Basic Attributes: Str 16, Int 18 (20), Wis 14 (16), Con —, Dex 20, Chr 8 (3.5 32 Point Buy: Purchased: Str 14, Int 16, Wis 14, Con —, Dex 16, Chr 8. Pathfinder bonus to Dex, +2 Str and Int due to race).

Available Character Points: 72 (Level two base) +10 (Disadvantages; History, Unarmored, and Accursed/linked to the “Black Sun”) +4 (Duties to the Space Marines) +6 (Level one bonus Feat) = 92 CP, 20 SP due to Int.

Basic Abilities (38 CP):

  • Hit Points: 14 (L1d8 (8), L2d8 (6), 8 CP) +6 (Str Mod x 2) +20 (Construct Size) = 40.
  • Skill Points: 6 (Purchased, 6 CP) +20 (Int Mod x 5) = 26.
  • BAB: +1 (6 CP), additional +1 Specialized in Guns (3 CP).
  • Saves:
    • Fortitude: +0 (0 CP) +0 (Con) +1 (Mor) = +1
    • Reflex: +1 (3 CP) +5 (Dex) +1 (Mor) = +7
    • Will: +1 (3 CP) +3 (Wis) +1 (Mor) = +5
  • Proficiencies: All Simple and Martial Weapons (9 CP).
  • Initiative: +5 (Dex)
  • Move: 30′
  • Armor Class: 10 +5 (Dex) +4 (Ar) +4 (Sh) +3 (MA) = 26

Special Abilities (54 CP):

  • Fast Learner, Specialized in Skills, Corrupted/simply keeps racial adept skills maximized (4 CP). For simplicity, I’ll presume this was purchased with disadvantage points at birth; that way there’s no math at all.
  • Gun Fu (9 Mana) with Gun kata (24 CP).
  • Clever Observer: Augmented Bonus, Add (Int Mod) to (Wis Mod) for Skill purposes (6 CP).
  • Intuitive Detective: Occult Sense/Detect Importance, Specialized/only activates when the GM feels like having it do so, Corrupted/never reveals more than three items per use. Ashwood has a talent; every so often… some tiny overlooked item, or a particular clue, will just scream for his attention – and will invariably turn out to be important, if not vital (3 CP).
  • Stipend/The Midas Touch. Has an income of 1200 CR/Month, starts with an extra 12,000 CR (mostly spent on improvements on his robotic body) (12 CP).
  • Enthusiast, Specialized in Relics for 2 CP worth (3 CP).
  • Create Relic, Specialized and Corrupted: One point relics only, only with enthusiast points, only for himself (2 CP).

Current Relics:

  • Ring of Loki: Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses and +1d6 (4) Mana, all Specialized/only for Rune Magic (3 CP each).
  • Ring of Odin: Innate Enchantment (7000 GP value, 8 CP) and Immunity to the XP cost of activating the ring (Uncommon, Minor, Trivial, 1 CP). Innate Enchantments, all at Spell Level One, Caster Level One, Unlimited-Use Use-Activated, Personal Only (1400 Virtual Gold Each): Mage Armor, Shield, +3 competence bonus to Int-Based Skills, +2 Intelligence (Per Pathfinder grants Stealth at maximum), and Inspiring Word.
    • Oops – Editing glitch; 8400 GP value, 9 CP, was also supposed to include +2 Dex. Still a 1 CP relic though

Both handy, if not exactly overwhelming. 

Usual Attacks:

  • Blaster Pistol: +10/+10 (+2 BAB, +3 MA, +5 Dex, +1 Mor +1 Laser sight, -2 Rapid Shot), 3d8 (electrical) +1 (Mor), Crit 20/x2, range increment 100′, may inflict non-lethal damage if he wishes. Carries two; often uses one in each hand as a special effect for his Rapid Shot.
  • Hand or Pistol Butt: +7 (+1 BAB, +3 MA, +3 Str), 1d4+3 (Str) +1 (Mor), Crit 20/x2. May inflict lethal or nonlethal damage.

Notable Equipment:

  • Headband of Wisdom +2 (4000 Cr).

Body Upgrades (8200 Cr):

  • Shock Absorber Legs (Pathfinder, Boots of the Cat, 1000 Cr).
  • Tool Hand (Pathfinder, Traveler’s Any Tool, 250 Cr).
  • Holoprojector (Hat of Disguise, 1800 Cr).
  • Glowstone Infusor (Healing Belt, 750 Cr. +2 to Heal, 3 Charges / Day, 1/2/3 to touch-heal 2d8/3d8/4d8)
  • Sensor Implants (Scout’s Headband, MIC 132, 3400 Cr) +2 to Spot (Perception in Pathfinder), 3 Charges/Day, 1 for 60 Darkvision for an hour, 2 for See Invisible for ten minutes, three for True Seeing for one minute).
  • Magnetic Grip (MIC, Lesser Crystal of Return; draw gun as a free action, call it to hand from up to 30 feet away, 1000 Cr).

Automatically In-Class Skills: Profession, Craft, and his Adept Skills (Computer Use, Knowledge/Local, Perception).

Chosen In-Class Skills: Acrobatics, Disable Device, Escape Artist, Knowledge (Arcana, Engineering), Linguistics, Martial Art (Firestorm Ballet), Rune Magic (Divination and Technomancy), Sense Motive, Spellcraft, and Stealth.

Rune Magic Skills: Divination (Mastery) and Divination (Casting), Technomancy (Mastery) and Technomancy (Casting): All Wisdom-based, effective totals each (+1 SP +2 Wis +5 Int +2 Competence (halved, rounded up) +1 Morale (halved, rounded up) +3 In-Class) = +14. Allows the production of effects of up to level three at casting level seven.

Firestorm Ballet Martial Art (11 Techniques Known): Attack 3, Defense 3, Combat Reflexes, Rapid Shot, Unarmed/Pistol Butt Kata, Inner Strength and Light Foot.

Skill SP Base Stat Bonuses Class Total
Computer Use  -*  5  +5  +3 (Com) +4 (Race) +1 (Mor)  +3 +21
Knowledge/Local  -*  5  +5  +3 (Com) +2 (Race) +1 (Mor)  +3 +19
Perception  -*  5  +8  +3 (Com) +4 (Race) +1 (Mor) +2 (Magic)  +3 +26
Profession/Investigator  -*  5  +7  +3 (Com) +2 (Race) +1 (Mor)  +3 +21
Acrobatics  4  4 +10  +3 (Com) +1 (Mor)  +3 +21
Disable Device  2  2 +10  +3 (Com) +1 (Mor)  +3 +19
Escape Artist  2  2 +10  +3 (Com) +1 (Mor)  +3 +19
Knowledge/Arcana  2  2  +5  +3 (Com) +1 (Mor)  +3 +14
Knowledge/Engineering  2  2  +5  +3 (Com) +1 (Mor)  +3 +14
Linguistics  2  2  +5  +3 (Com) +1 (Mor)  +3 +14
M. Art/Firestorm
 5  5 +10  +3 (Com) +1 (Mor)  +3 +22
Sense Motive  2  2  +8  +3 (Com) +1 (Mor)  +3 +17
Spellcraft  2  2  +5  +3 (Com) +1 (Mor)  +3 +14
Stealth  3  3 +10  +3 (Com) +1 (Mor)  +3 +20
Disguise  —   —  -1  +5 (Int Boost Effect)  —  +4

*automatically maximized racial skill.

Minor Gear: Long coat, hat, boots, assorted straps and clips for other items, credstick, two flashbang grenades, datapad, two datachips, personal communicator, flare gun and flares, multiscanner, surveillance laser, multioptics goggles (low-light/IR/+3 flash/glare protection), four minicells.

Gar is pretty heavily optimized (primarily by focusing on exactly what the player wants him to be able to do and by using some of the abilities – such as Reality Editing/Gun Fu – that aren’t particularly level-dependent) since the game is offering a choice between Gestalt characters and Eclipse characters. If you don’t want to optimize so much (and it will get harder and harder to pull it off at higher levels as the brute-force “you get more stuff!” of Gestalt Builds becomes more and more apparent) you can also handle this by offering the Eclipse characters some extra points per level.

Gar also illustrates one of the things that can make Eclipse different from most d20 systems; an Eclipse character can start off very good at a particular specialty – but they will have done so by picking most of the available boosts for it that don’t depend on levels. Thus, rather than increasing notably in power for the first few levels after character creation they tend to extend the duration/number of uses of their existing abilities and to broaden their repertoires. Personally I prefer it that way; it lets the player experiment with their characters existing abilities and develop their own traits and strategies for awhile rather than giving them piles of new abilities before they’ve finished trying out what they started with. 

Eclipse – Androids and Constructs

Golden People love Gold Jewelry Robots

Do you have anything less… sparkly?

Android (30 CP/+0 ECL Race)

You are a spirit bound to a body that has never lived at all – a thing animated by purely mortal craft. A form both terrible and wonderful, a body lacking the subtlety of divine craftsmanship but gaining the cold beauty and brute strength of a machine that has no need to grow from infancy or to repair itself from the inside. It doesn’t much matter if you’re a brain mounted in armored casing, a neural pattern transcribed onto computer chips, a spirit bound into a robot, a golem of clay and magic, an animated suit of armor, or what-have-you. The important part is that you’ve basically undergone a full-blown reincarnation. Anything that came with your race before – instinctive abilities, special powers, and so on (as well as much of your ability to relate to normal people) – is gone, wiped away along with the body and brain that once shaped so much of your consciousness.

You may be called an Android, Abomination, Golem, Talos, Cyberzombie, Soul-, Neuro-, or Full Conversion Borg, or by various other names – but regardless of you’re called, you have the following racial template:

Android bodies are not alive and have no constitution score. They are simply constructs, and whatever force anchors their spirit is neither positive nor negative energy – although they do gain hit points for their size category (normally +20 for being medium-sized). They normally use Con as a “Dump Stat” during character creation – although (if using point-buy attributes) they may not “sell it back” for more points. Sadly, this is Specialized and Corrupted; Androids may not employ the Body Fuel (no suitable body), Deep Sleep (no sleep), Shapeshifting (no appropriate environmental patterns to draw on), Timeless Body (they don’t age anyway), or Witchcraft (they have no appropriate energies to tap) abilities at all and may not use Self-Development to increase their physical attributes since their bodies have no growth potential to develop (4 CP). Thanks to this they…

  • Cannot be Raised or Resurrected and are instantly destroyed at 0 HP – or if someone, somehow, breaks or overrides the effect holding their spirit in their body, even if this does normally require very special measures indeed.
  • Are immune to damage or drain to their physical abilities.
  • Are immune to positive and negative energy effects and to effects requiring Fortitude saves unless they work on objects. They are thus immune to conventional healing, and must be repaired if damaged.
  • Do not tire, sleep, or age. They may thus move, work, or remain alert indefinitely and are immune to sleep, paralysis, stunning, and subdual damage.
  • Have no metabolisms, and so need no food, air, or water and are not subject to more-or-less mundane diseases – although they thus also cannot smell, taste, eat, breed, or heal naturally.

Since they have not purchased an appropriate immunity, Androids are subject to Critical Hits. Presumably their complex internal structure also has “vital spots”.

While an Android’s BODY is a Construct, it’s MIND is not. They are subject to damage and drain directed against mental attributes, to mind-affecting effects, to being “held”, and so on, unless they purchase an appropriate immunity.

Skill Programming: Androids gain Adept in four skills of choice and +6 Skill Points to spend on those skills, although no skill may be increased by more than +4 as a racial bonus (12 CP).

Attribute Modifiers: Androids may select either +2 Strength or +2 Intelligence. This is Specialized/any transmutation-effect physical boosting spells or items must be especially designed to work on them, as opposed to actual living bodies (6 CP). In worlds where the half-price attribute rule is in play, simply add both bonuses.

Androids are Ungradable, gaining Siddhisyoga with the Fey upgrade, Specialized/employing this option requires access appropriate equipment for modifying their robotic bodies and sources of appropriate components and skills (6 CP). Note that, in combination with the Pathfinder Package Deal, this lets them improve themselves relatively readily.

Gain their choice of a two physical enhancement abilities worth 6 CP each. Common choices include celerity, “natural” weapons, sensory enhancements, power outputs for minor secondary devices (Shaping, powering their versions of Charms and Talismans), limited self-repair systems (Grant of Aid), emergency boosters (Berserker), and Inherent Spell (representing various devices) (12 CP).

Androids do suffer from three racial disadvantages, reducing their racial cost by (-10 CP):

  • They are fundamentally Irreverent. Souls are meant to be anchored into the material world by positive or (rarely) negative energy. Voluntarily binding yourself there in another fashion defies the will of the gods and the structure of the universe.
  • They are Incompetent when it comes to social skills. Like it or not, the body shapes the mind – and only living things are really sociable.
  • They start off with some major Obligations. An Android body, and whatever procedure spell, or ritual got your spirit into it, is incredibly expensive. Somebody expended some serious favors, cash, or other resources to buy you life – or at least a close approximation thereof – and you owe them.

Every so often someone wants to play a character like this – so why not?

With a total cost of (40 – 10 Disadvantages) = 30 CP, Androids are a +0 ECL Race.

Eclipse and Gun Fu

Dictionnaire raisonné du mobilier français de ...

Don’t be like this guy.

Gun-Fu is awesomely popular and amazingly impractical. There is a REASON why real-world militaries do not teach people to sumersault through windows while firing guns with each hand. There is a REASON why the police go for that two-handed stance instead of holding their guns sideways and going all “gangsta on their asses!”. It’s because reality just does not work that way, and trying that stuff will get you killed.

Still, this is Eclipse. If reality does not work the way you want it to, then you take Mana and Reality Editing and you make reality keep it’s head down where it’s safe while you make with the Gun Fu. Just don’t try to keep it up once your Mana runs out; once you’ve run dry reality will pop up again, just as persistently as ever.

Basic Gun Fu Package (18+ CP):

  • 2d6 Mana with Reality Editing, Specialized and Corrupted: Only for gun-related tricks. (Yes, considering how many things Mana and Reality Editing can be used for, that’s definitely both Specialized and Corrupted), the user may spend a maximum of one point of mana per level per turn on Gun Fu – but spending Mana does not count as an action and may be done at any time. The usual set of Gun Tricks is described below – but the costs listed already include the “Triple Effect” modifier for the Specialization and Corruption (12 CP).
  • Rite of Chi with +8 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost; only usable to recover mana, recovered mana may only be used to refill the user’s “Gun Fu” mana pool (6 CP). Normally this will refill the user’s Mana Pool whenever there’s a few minutes to rest – up until it runs out of course. Eventually you hit adrenal exhaustion.

That will let you pull a wide variety of “Gun Tricks” and unlikely maneuvers. Just how unlikely? Well, just for that, I have watched many action movies, and compiled a quick list…

Minor Gun Fu Maneuvers (1 Mana Each):

  • All The Magic I Need: You can make your weapon +2 (special properties may be +1 of this total) for the duration of a fight. (Yes, this does mean that your local Gun Fu Master will probably give himself or herself a Bane (whatever the major opposition appears to be) weapon in a lot of fights, at least until their purchased permanent bonuses supersede that. If you really feel that +1/+7 for a fighter-type is going to break the game, don’t let Gun-Fu Masters use the “Bane” property).
  • Bottomless Magazine: You can forget about ammunition for the duration of a fight, either reloading dramatically – dropping magazines from your sleeve, tossing them into the air and catching them in the gun, or whatever, without taking an action – or just never running out of ammunition at your option.
  • I’m Just That Good: Don’t bother rolling; you just Take 20 on an attack. Yes, this threatens a critical. No, it doesn’t confirm it.
  • It Was Totally Necessary: Negate all penalties to shooting while performing an improbable maneuver. Go ahead, do backflips down the hall, or ride a shield sliding down a spiral staircase, while shooting with deadly accuracy. It doesn’t matter if the actual maneuver succeeds or fails as long as the Gun Fu Master was the one making the success check; it will look cool anyway.
  • Quickdraw Artist: Draw, clear, and/or repair your weapon as an immediate action – and gain a +4 bonus to your Initiative.
  • Snap Shot: Make an extra attack at your best attack bonus. Sadly, this can only be done once per round.
  • Take Careful Aim: You may ignore all range modifiers or penalties this round.
  • Your Basic Trick Shot: Execute a melee-only combat maneuver at range using (Dex Mod) instead of (Str Mod). You may also use this to move a small object around up to thirty feed or to inflict nonlethal damage with your bullets this round.

Notable Maneuvers (2 Mana Each):

  • Ballistic Escape: Blow a hole in a wall or floor. Falling or jumping through it is optional, but a free action if you want to do it. This may also be used to shoot off a lock, break a chain, bring down a pile of junk, blow a hole in the ceiling, or destroy a similar inanimate object within thirty feet. Sadly, there are upper limits; the weapons damage is multiplied by five for the purposes of breaking things, but it isn’t infinite.
  • Bulletproof Corpse: Use a handy corpse (or helpless or unconscious foe) to absorb up to 30 points of gun-or explosive-style damage that would otherwise affect you this round. You can use tables or other reasonably solid objects instead, but those are only good for twenty points of damage.
  • Called Shot: Add a Bestow Curse effect (simulating an appropriate injury) to an attack. Save DC (14+Cha Mod). Such injuries will persist until the victim receives a healing spell of third level or higher or for at least one day in creatures with fast healing or similar powers.
  • Hit The Fuel Tank: If there’s something that conceivably COULD blow up in or on the target, this attack results in a Fireball (1d6 per level damage, 10d6 maximum, save DC of (14 + Cha Mod)).
  • Like Disarming Germany: You may produce a holdout gun when you seemed to be unarmed. Normally such a weapon is one size smaller than you are, for +2 Mana you may make it of your size.
  • My Magic Boomstick: Make your weapon +3 (special properties may be part of this total) for the duration of a fight.
  • Pistol Fist: Use your gun to full effect as a melee weapon for the round. The statistics remain identical, save that it is now Ranged OR Melee. Since you are in possession of a melee weapon, you threaten attacks of opportunity normally – but using it as a ranged weapon will still provoke attacks of opportunity normally.
  • Sniper’s Shot: Double your weapon’s range increment for this round. If you make multiple attacks against a single target you may roll them all but combine the damage of those that hit as a “single shot”.

Major Maneuvers (3 Mana Each):

  • Driven By The Recoil: Your movement, voluntary or otherwise, no longer affects your shooting for the duration of the fight. You may make a full move and shoot (or shoot along the way, or before moving) without penalty, get hit by a bus and sent flying and shoot, or shoot while being thrown from a horse or in an uncontrolled fall without penalty.
  • Fast as Lightning: Your “Burst Fire” causes your weapon to inflict double it’s normal base damage on this rounds attacks – without expending any additional ammunition.
  • I’m An Expert Kid: Triple your weapons range increment for this round. Any penalty for switching targets during an attack sequence no longer apply.
  • No Time for This Nonsense: You may shoot down an incoming missile (say an anti-aircraft missile, or the rocket from a bazooka) as an immediate action. If it’s an explosive munition, you may detonate it at any desired point along it’s path.
  • Ricochet Shot: Shoot around a corner or other obstacle or series of obstacles without penalty, ignoring modifiers for cover, for lack of a line of sight, for blur or illusion-based miss percentages, and similar effects provided that you have a fair idea of where the target is. And yes, you CAN fire into the ventilation ducts and bounce the bullet through to someone in another room – although range modifies your shot as if it was a straight-line shot.
  • Seven with One Blow: Make the same, individually-targeted, shot against three separate targets. While this option may only be used once per round, it can be combined with Snap Shot if you can afford the Mana cost.
  • The Most Powerful Handgun In The World: Your gun does damage as if one size larger for the duration of the fight. Alternatively, you may treat guns as one size smaller than they actually are for the duration of the fight.
  • You Don’t Want To Know: You may produce a gun after a strip search, going through a metal detector, or otherwise being disarmed and checked over. Normally such a weapon is one size smaller than you are, for +1 Mana you may make it of your size.

Grandiose Maneuvers (4 Mana Each):

Note that these are the equivalent of grandiose reality edits; they would normally cost about 12 Mana without that triple effect modifier – and allowing them is strictly optional. If your game master does allow them… then lucky you. You’ll want to buy more Mana. Of course, if you’re serious about making a Gun Fu character, you’ll want to do that anyway.

  • Animistic Slayer: You may shoot and “Kill” an incoming spell, psychic power, or energy effect as an immediate action, producing a gun from nowhere if necessary – although if you must do so, it will vanish a moment later. Alternatively, you may “kill” an existing magical effect – removing magical barriers, buffing spells, and status, or similar annoyances. Sadly, you may only kill a single specific effect – unless, of course, you can afford to combine this with Seven At One Blow.
  • Coup de Grace: You may use a Coup de Grace maneuver with a ranged weapon as a standard attack.
  • Death Blossom: You may make one full-BAB attack against every eligible target that you wish to attack within thirty feet.
  • Dervish Dance: Your gun threatens every square within it’s first range increment for (Dex Mod) rounds, allowing you to make ranged attacks of opportunity against anyone who would provoke one within that area.
  • High Noon Showdown: You and your opponent duel it out in up to (Will Save Bonus) rounds of private time; no one else may interfere. Others may comment, or fight their own battles – but you and your chosen opponent might as well be occupying a private pocket dimension as far as everyone else is concerned.
  • Hit The Main Reactor: You may destroy minor vehicles or cripple major vehicles with a single shot. If you’re targeting an industrial facility or some such you may cause a fire or considerable general destruction.
  • Shooting Through The Cracks: You may ignore armor bonuses and cover modifiers for the duration of a fight. If you need to “shoot through a friend”, the friend takes only one point of damage, the rest goes to the target.
  • Two Fisted Death: Your gun counts as a melee weapon for the duration of a fight. It’s statistics remain unchanged whether used in melee or at range and you do not provoke attacks of opportunity for using it as a missile weapon while in melee.

If you want to master the “Gun Kata”, you’ll want Berserker (+4 to AC and +4 to BAB, Specialized for double duration/only while using a gun) for another 6 CP.

Gun Fu is pretty nifty – but it’s expensive, and you’ll run out of Mana all too soon if you try to rely on it unless you’re willing to make it a major character focus (and spend a lot more points on it). If you want some more reliable firearms talents, well, d20 firearms expertise comes in a few basic levels:

At it’s most basic… you’re proficient with Firearms and you have a decent base attack bonus. You’re way ahead of most of the people in the real world. You might even specialize a few points of base attack bonus in guns.

A gun-based Martial Art is pretty sensible if you’re going to be rely heavily on Firearms. A high level in one of those can make you fairly formidable at the cost of some skill points. After all, when it comes to a firefight… if you can’t get under cover you want to move fast and erratically to allow your opponents as few clear shots as you can possibly manage. You want to strike out viciously at anyone who gets too close and to pick out your targets and take them down as quickly as you possibly can while you continue to evade. As an example we have…

The Firestorm Ballet (Dex):

Wreathed in the smoke and energy-corona of weapons-fire, lit by the flash of exploding powder or flaring energy like a strobe light, the erratic twists and spins of the Firestorm Ballet make the user a difficult target indeed – while sweeping his or her weapons across almost every possible angle and firing from unpredictable positions. A flaring coat, a spinning gun, empty magazines tossed away… anything to draw an opponents eye – and with it his or her aim – away from the user’s form. When the bullets are flying… distraction and illusion can buy inches – and inches can buy life.

  • Requires: Weapon Focus/Pistol or equivalent point buy and a Tumble (or replacement skill) total of +5 or more.
  • Basic Techniques: Attack 3, Power 2, Defense 3, Strike, and Synergy/Tumble (or replacement skill).
  • Advanced and Master Techniques: Combat Reflexes, Instant Stand, Rapid Shot, Weapon Kata (Unarmed / Pistol as hand-weights).
  • Occult Techniques: Focused Blow, Inner Strength, Iron Skin, and Light Foot.

Admittedly, you’ll need an incredibly high skill score to master the entire art – but even a few skill points in it can help out a good deal.

Beyond that, of course, there’s taking augmenting abilities – such as blind fighting, tumble and jump, weapon specialist, precise shot, augmented attack, block (melee and missile), innate enchantment, and so on. Honestly, the possibilities there are pretty much endless – but they really aren’t all that different from the kind of abilities you’d buy for an archery specialist.

The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice CXXXIX – A Mirror Darkly

A View of Earth from Saturn

Are you SURE that it’s right to meddle this way?

Aikiko was considering… She’d never quite understood the Primordial War. Fights didn’t usually take centuries! Had it been more of… the Exalted identifying the weak targets, developing geomantic assault charms that made Ghost-Eating Technique look like a rock tossed by a child, and going in after them?

Charms that severed portions of a Primordial’s world body like limbs? That tore them apart like a battlefield-range Ghost-Eating Technique? Or – perhaps most likely and most devastating of all – which prevented their subsouls from actually dying OR healing. After all, killing them just led to their immediate recreation – but leaving them dying but never QUITE dead would seriously harm a Primordial. And get them all like that… and the greater entity might as well be dead. Do that… and you could even enslave the First Circles with near impunity. Had the Exalted created the Neverborn intentionally? As a terror-tactic against the stronger primordials? Were they deliberate prisoners, rather than accidental ones? As well as… a vital source of all sorts of things… After all… wasn’t that how the Exalts of the First Age had treated the Yozi’s? How they were STILL treated to some extent?

That… made more sense; she could almost see the Exalted teams going into world-bodies and spending years of covert surveying identifying geomantic weak spots – and then attacking those weak spots – while the Devas searched for intruders and defended them. Sensible tactics, but horribly cruel. Bad enough to shock the others into surrendering… That made sense of the calendar troubles too; how could you keep track of time when each world-body was on it’s own personal system? Had the major conflicts in Creation would have been when some Primordial got it into their world-body’s neural center (whatever that was like) to either take their toys and leave – potentially dissolving creation – or to strike at the mortal populations? No more humans, no more Exalted, right? Had there been battles against the Raksha as a sideshow? They were good at sensing when Creation’s defenses were weak. Was that why there was only one strike recorded against the Dragon Kings? Had they only really gotten in the way once?

No wonder new Primordials never showed up; it was actually safer for them out in the Wyld.

Oh there would be other viewpoints out there… The conflict had been more than big enough for THAT – especially when differing versions of history might all be valid! She was no scholar – but she’d heard at least one version focusing mostly on the Ebon Dragon and the consequences of IT’S schemes, and how he’d apparently more-or-less started the whole conflict. What if, for instance, he knew the effects the Primordials would have on mortal beings in Creation… and kept his mouth shut? That certainly sounded like him! After all, he didn’t have impressive warpings of reality, or massive control of natural forces. Just the darkness, metaphorical and physical. Was he jealous of his siblings’ obvious might? It couldn’t be easy to be just a Dragon’s Shadow! And so the poor little overlooked and ignored nerdish weakling had gotten his revenge – and then had gotten tossed into prison by the OTHER overlooked and ignored nerdish weakling and the baby sister.

Even the official histories of the War said that “the Yozis are insane and nasty and crippled because the Exalted intentionally tortured them and made them that way after they’d surrendered!”. It was hard to put a positive spin on that!

I suspect that most of this sort of thing is because Exalted PC’s must ALWAYS be better than the NPC’s somehow (even if it’s just because Chejop Kejak is going to die soon somehow) – but there’s no game-mechanical way to make the players decent planners and strategists. Ergo, all NPC plans and strategies – past, present, and future – must be lousy enough to make any PC plan short of “I hammer nails into my eyes!” look good by comparison.

Personally I feel that if the players – given the kind of powers and resources that most Exalted characters control – cannot manage to come up with a decent plan, that’s their tough luck.

Sadly, with the passing of Dhengu-Gata, She Who Enables And Brings Wealth, The Bringer Of Purpose To The Inanimate, Creation’s stone and molten depths no longer simply provided their resources to those who needed them; instead resource production resulted in pollution and environmental damage. Dhengu-Gata’s equivalent of the Shadowlands; toxic wastes, polluted barrens, and dying rivers – retaliation or consequence of a victory/crime that even most Exalted had long forgotten – if only that resulting from the destruction of the planned order. A limited mirror in Creation of what had been done to her… Not as outright lethal, but definitely WRONG, at least from the perspective of the universe creators.

Would her efforts to help help fix those problems? She had quite a few of the second and third circles aboard… The greater self had gone, and the memory-reflections had been being steadily drained into their new selves – a kind of reincarnation through the human racemind, using it as a version of Lethe.

And on Earth, pollution levels were swiftly going down… That was most directly due to Charles and his Deva’s of course – but as The Broken-Winged Crane had demonstrated, with the Primordials causation could echo both forward and backward through time… Coincidence or causation? It was looking more and more like the latter!

Meanwhile, aboard the Tsunami, a bunch of astronomers were discussing relativity… So many of it’s predictions had been observed that it was hard to simply throw it out – but it insisted that Faster-Than-Light travel would allow backwards time travel, violate causality, and create other time-paradoxes…

Wait; Charles had said that Earth was literally the center of the universe – and thus occupied a preferred reference frame. With THAT in play… there WAS a definable “now”, and – given what he’d said about the alternate size of the cosmos – true simultaneity. The rest of the cosmos would look purely relativistic from EARTH – but not necessarily from elsewhere. That eliminated time travel (albeit not time-distortion) and left you free to opt out of the speed-of-light limitation!

Of course that killed most of the cosmological calculations based on there being nothing special about the Earth – but they’d already been told that the history of the cosmos was more-or-less artificial anyway. After all, they were crossing the universe in a TREE, and were apparently being propelled by a child’s imagination… Not to mention that they could still commute back and forth to Earth via some sort of teleportation “Gate”.

Blasted magic!

By now Charles and the Tsunami were dipping so deeply into Creations original metric that they were effectively traversing almost ten-to-the-ninety-seventh-power light years per hop – emerging into the normal cosmos only when there was some interruption in the Old Metric or some mighty essence-disturbance in normal space threw things off enough to call for a bit of recalculation.

At the moment there had been such a disturbance – and Tsunami was slowed enough for a few moments to actually view a magnificent collection of galaxies, including a glorious barred spiral, which left space awash with light and swirling gases. Things were… strange however; they were far enough out from Earth that the rules were changing as more traces of Wyld energies appeared and essence began to dominate matter… Charles was rather pleased; it looked like there would be plenty of space for the more exotic life forms from the borderlands of Old Creation!

Of course, it was also slow enough for whatever was causing the disturbance to try to skim Essence off Tsunami – and they came to a near-halt while Charles and Tsunami probed around.

Very near by intergalactic standards, hidden within an Oort cloud, there was a collection of dull black spheres, stretching essence-strands through the old metric – a net of dull, cloying, energies cast across an entire cluser of galaxies that drained motes from active powers that came too near. Tsunami felt… icky…just being this close to them.

The cloud whirled around the outer reaches of an alien solar system. Gas giants and their myriad moons shimmered there – and shiny, fast moving specks indicated spaceships or fast- moving extraplanetary objects heading inwards while Charles put up wards for Tsunami, himself, and the rest of the passengers…

Gothmug jumped on him mentally when he started probing at the spheres, so he put in through an appropriate no-attunement artifact to serve as a buffer – and asked the rescued starship crew; they might recognize them!

(Daru, the monkey humanoid) “That’s not good. Those are Undying Oblivion Avatar Catchers. Deathlords use those to keep each other out of their territory – they’ll try to snare anything that has any of a bunch of readings, including world-body readings.”

(Charles) “Well that’s a bother!”

(Daru) “If it was up to me… I’d find a way around. From the looks of things, there’s either an offensive going on, or somebody’s claimed this system.”

It looked like the system WAS under attack. There was a large fleet of black ships – several wings of fighters, a healthy amount of corvettes, cruisers, and freighters, and several destroyers. There was even a battleship… The defenders – or at least some of them – had Tarvial markings on them, and seemed to be the only reason why the one obviously-inhabited planet with all the radio traffic hadn’t been taken yet. Other than the Tarvail ships it was a classical ragtag ensemble of traders, mercenaries, and pretty much anyone with some sort of spaceship available. There were defensive satellites throughout the system, but most of the ones in the outer reaches had been neutralized.

That was awfully mean! He’d have to… Hrm… Ah! Mach’s Principle! It was time for a couple of tricky wards!

Green-gold light sparkled around Charles for a few moments as he made some gestures.

Charles put up some wards against gravity and relativistic effects – a carefully-shaped cup (to neutralize tidal effects) wrapped around the planet and it’s defenders – leading roughly a quarter of the universe pulling the area one way and the rest not affecting it. A few more – against gravity, and detection, and being tracked, and particle-collisions, and excess radiation – completed the set.

Well, and a perfect privacy ward for himself… He’d probably need that all the time now!

The planet and it’s small fleet of defenders jumped past the speed of light in a fraction of a second – and continued to accelerate. He’d have to park it somewhere safe! Maybe with Tarvail?

That led to various “What the!?!?” cries from the astronomers – and a certain amount of shock on the planet as the sun abruptly vanished, to be replaced by a blue glow over half the planet (and NOT the half that had been in sunlight), while the rest of the sky went to profound blackness… Even with the defense failing, they hadn’t been expecting THAT.

Charles tried to get in touch with someone on the planet to reassure them while Malinda helped pick out a path… Bringing a planet along made it REALLY hard to steer!

Behind them the Abyssal Fleet was scrambling fighters and lighter warships to scout the system for powerful threats; SOMETHING had just snatched their prey from them!

Fortunately, Tsunami had seen no reason at all to stick around instead of accompanying the planet. Charles was so impulsive! It would only have taken a minute or so to ASK first, and the defense could have held out for hours more!

The Undying Oblivion Avatar Catchers lashed out through the Old Metric with coils of Soulsteel – seeking the source of the disturbance. Gothmug threw up indestructible barriers and tried to trap the spheres in his elsewhere-box traps – but it was a lot harder than usual! The things seemed to be designed to resist geomantic powers!

Fortunately, throwing in some Thaumaturgy and a few spirit charms helped. They caught most of them while Tsunami slipped away. He’d have to take them somewhere safe and look at them later!

Getting into touch with the person who’d been organizing the defense of.. .Kyeki-II?… turned out to be relatively easy.

(Charles) “Hello!”

The fellow on the star-trek style screen was a leopard beastman; a tag in the local variant of Tarvialian Tradespeak identified him as “Commander Zetai”.

(Zetai) “Okay, who is this? And do you know what just happened? I just lost contact with the remaining defense systems on Kyeki I and III – and all of the attacking ships in orbit just dropped off our sensors!”

(Charles) “Uhm… I’m Aden or Charles, and is everyone all right down there? Or do you need some help? And I didn’t bring them! They weren’t being nice at all!

(Zetai, blinking.) “We’ve got some damage from planetary bombardments on the surface, and I think we’ve also lost access to our satellites… what do you mean, bring them? Not that we wanted them here anyway.”

(Charles) “Well, I’m moving you and your defenders to somewhere better! It will take a little bit though… The satellites are probably just having problems with static; the electromagnetic flux will be kind of high for a bit. I think I got everyone friendly in the area though! Malinda was pretty sure!”

Daru quietly fainted – although the staff made sure that he didn’t hurt himself falling.

(Zetai) “On the fly!? That’s risky! And who’s Malinda?”

(Charles) “She helps with the divination! And it was a bit risky I suppose, but you WERE under attack, and that’s pretty dangerous too!”

(Zetai) “Wait. I think I know who you are… is your full name Charles Dexter Ward?”

(Charles, with considerable surprise) “Huh! I didn’t think anyone much would know me this far out… That’s me!”

(Zetai) “Can you teleport magazines, too?”

(Charles) “You mean periodicals?”

(Zetai) “There’s this… periodical… you need to look at.”

Malinda checked it first, but magazines seemed unlikely to be booby-traps…

(Charles) “And you’re not being teleported really… just accelerated at an effective rate of about 800 times the velocity of light per second; a good thing that that puts you in a warp which doesn’t interact with intergalactic particles! But OK!”

It was… a mass media news magazine, full of lovely pictures and fluffy articles. One of those articles was about lobbying in Tarvial’s Senate. One of their Lunars, an “Undying Steer”, was trying to get Charles recognized as one of their gods. Huh! That ghost in the Underworld Communications Manse had mentioned him, and Righteous Hala had as well.

(Charles) “Oh! Well, that’s a coincidence! Running across a planet where somebody knew me wouldn’t make any sense at all without the Narrative Imperative, but that is one of the more powerful basic forces!”

(Zetai) “I’m not much for theories… I thought it was just another attempt to get a favored god some more worshipers. He really seemed to believe in you, though. Said if the Senate approved the bill, we’d be able to get lots of artifacts.”

(Charles, thoughtfully) “Huh! I suppose that would work in it’s way! At least minor ones, and it would draw my attention more anyway… Anyway, I take it that Tarvail is actually very widely distributed and linked via the Wyld Zones? Otherwise I wouldn’t find your planets so many galaxies apart… Well, I’m going that way anyway; want to be dropped off a lot closer to your realms core worlds?”

What with the Lunar involvement and their preferred means of interstellar transport that would make sense! Tarvial would be more of a web than a discreet sector.

(Zetai) “Think you could drop us off closer to Tarvial System? Not right next to it – it’d raise too many questions. But being closer never hurts!”

(Charles) “Well…. I suspect that moving your planet a good chunk of the way across the univese will cause a lot of questions anyway! But closer is easy!”

(Zetai) “Oh, I’m going to have headaches and paperwork galore for this. Better than being part of some Abyssal’s track shoes, though.”

(Charles) “They aren’t very nice at ALL. And you can always just blame me… That way you don’t have to do very much paperwork!”

(Zetai) “Yeah, but then they’ll ask me where you are and why you didn’t use the Wyld jump points, and I’ll have to explain you’re flying around in what our clairvoyant is pretty sure was a tree… I mean, there are few gods that have interstellar ships. There’s Astravinia the Lightrunner, and Richof Haldane, and Hersetstina the Reaver… can’t think of many other than that, and they usually look more like, well, ships.”

(Charles) “Well, I’m taking the scenic route! And I’ll probably be back in Yu-Shan, and the Tsunami does take the form of a tree!”

Huh! They thought that Gramps was a god? He might be of course… but given his job it was no surprise that he traveled the universe a lot!

(Zetai) “Oh… right. Out on a pleasure cruise?”

(Charles) “Well, some business! But I wanted to get a good look at more of the universe while I was at it and see how it’s doing!”

(Zetai) “Right… we’ll have to rebuild, and we might need some help with that – part of why I wanted to be closer to the core, makes it easier to get supplies. Won’t pry into your business, except to record where you’re headed for the Patrol.”

(Charles) “Oh! Well, by the Empirical Galaxy, through the Wall of Chaos, and out of the universe most likely! It’s an errand! What needs rebuilding?”

(Zetai) “The settlements of Gray Run and Nakara got hit pretty hard… with the blasts they took, I’d be surprised if anything was still standing. They also took out a lot of our anti-air defenses – blasted drop ships and their concussion cannons.”

(Charles) “Do you have a good map and some plans of what’s supposed to be there?”

(Zetai) “We can mop up the remaining attackers on the surface – thank the gods, no Abyssals as far as I know – but like I said before, supplies are an issue. And yeah, we have maps. Though our own gods will be watching, most likely.”

(Charles) “Well, if you want I can fix some things up for you and clean up any radioactivity and such!”

(Zetai) “Right… I’ll let the chaplain of Kyeki-hari know. She’s our planetary goddess.”

(Charles) “And what supplies do you need?”

Hm… there were a couple of cities on fire, but otherwise it was a lovely habitable world with seas of green and many, many islands. The largest continent was about the size of Europe.

(Zetai) “Mostly munitions and rocket fuel; the invasion took out a lot of our stock. With what happened at Gray Run and Nakara, food, medical supplies, clothes, and water, too.”

Charles promptly extinguished the fires, did some general repairs, and provided supplies… He wasn’t not really much on munitions, but the rest of it was easy enough. The people were grateful – and, due to depictions of him in that magazine, he’d have had a hard time escaping notice if he’d tried – and he didn’t really. After all, these people were used to magic!

In Yu-Shan, on the outer reaches of the loom, a major thread was shifting – the rough equivalent of a small town in Old Creation. Admittedly it wasn’t a particularly large disturbance, especially since it seemed to be entirely natural – but it would require some file updating and might get an inspection team scheduled…

Back on the bridge, Daru was waking up again, to find an Inukami with a medical kit fussing over him…

(Charles) “And are you doing all right?”

(Daru, scratching his head with a foot) “That was… I don’t know what to say!”

(Charles) “Uhm… It’s just moving a few things around. It’s fairly simple!”

(Daru) “Yeah, but that was a planet. I mean, I’d heard some applied theory that planetary apportation might be possible, but to see it in action like THAT… You’ve got divine skill, kid!”

(Charles) “Well, they were in trouble! It would be mean not to take them somewhere safer!”

(Daru) “Yeah… I just hope you can keep it safe until we get to Tarvial itself. But if you can do that… a planetary forcefield would be no problem either.”

(Charles) “It would be simple enough… but maybe I should add some more geomantic support for it? I’ll have to ask Kyeki-hari about it!”

(Daru, weakly) “It’s always good to ask the gods before meddling with their worlds like that! I’m not sure how she’d feel about you butting in – although, if it were me, I’d be pretty happy not to be soulsteel – or whatever they do with gods.”

Huh! He’d have to explain to Kyeki-Hari about where he was taking her planet.

(Charles) “Something unpleasant I’m sure!”

There were several more rescues of distressed starships over the next few days – and Tsunami was getting rather lively, as hobbits brought party trays, the astronomers interviewed newcomers the “aliens” turned it back on the astronomers by asking them to explain some of the Earth delicacies, and Charles cheerily explained to the astronomers that pretty much all life in the universe save the Raksha originated on Earth about thirty thousand years ago – although relativistic effects had made some inhabited worlds far older than that!

They could certainly believe that. There was no rational reason for aliens to look like monkeys, or plants – or for that matter fire-breathing dragons.

The dragon woman was actually very nice, and was apparently a celebrity in the Satries Confederation – but the cheer of the party was interrupted when Tsunami abruptly lurched hard enough to spill everyone’s drinks – and Tsunami reported a sharp pain on her port side!

Charles checked – while letting the healing effects get to work, and adding more protections, and trying to isolate whatever it was… A ship, with no markings of nationality, was stuck nose first on that side of the ship. There was no signal coming from it, although there were faint life signs within. Weird! Why hadn’t the Tsunami sensed that as an attack in time to erect a defense? Ah! It had… been along their trajectory and they’d effectively run into IT. Still… that was almost absurd! Someone had to have at least perfect piloting and navigation – as the Tsunami did – to arrange THAT.

He modified some constructs that he’d made to act as remotely-linked space probes (adding a humanoid form really wasn’t very complicated), sent them in to have a look, and isolated the ship in an elsewhere-box. It was hard to be too careful with Deathlords and Abyssal types!

The ship was cramped, but otherwise very nice inside; there was even a minibar. In the pilot’s seat, there was a a figure in a void suit. The helmet was down, and the visor was opaque from this side. The pilot read as unconscious – but the current earth-style atmosphere was apparently suitable, so the probe-golem opened up the helmet to check the essence-signature and provide some first aid.

The woman inside had a rather withered and haggard face, with pale skin and thin hair that fell out with a touch. Only the pointed ears and violet skin tone differentiated her from a normal human. Her essence-signature was faint, and well-hidden, but she was at least an Abyssal Half-Caste.

That didn’t necessarily make them a bad person… but it was definite grounds for caution! Direct contact was OUT, more wards to prevent probing or transmitting effects back along the golem’s link, and some isolation-wards it was – along, of course, with proper medical attention.

The first thing she did after waking up was… turn on Essence senses.

(Woman) “Fascinating. I seem to be Elsewhere… and is this a construct? The craftsmanship is splendid, even if there is too much living Essence for my comfort.”

(Charles/Golem) “Well, hello! Some precautions seemed sensible, given your nature. I hope that you are not offended! Provisions have been made to refresh you and heal any injuries you might have!”

(Woman) “Hmm… I took a nastier bump than anticipated there. I do hope I did not do too much damage to your ship… spirit-ship? It shares some characteristics with them, and it would be a shame if it were unable to travel at the moment. I wasn’t sure I would be able to stop you any other way… but I needed to speak with you.”

(Charles/Golem) “The damage was not significant, and is already repaired… What do you need to talk about?”

(Skimmer) “Ah yes! Let us get… what is the phrase, down to business? I am the Skimmer Between the Dimming Lights. I believe you have access to some… unusual energy types and Wyld Magic?”

Ah, very pretentious name! Probably a full Abyssal Exalt… What was it with full Exalts and the over-elaborate names?

(Charles/Golem) “Well yes!”

(Skimmer) “Then I wasn’t off base in my aim… There is an urgent matter my liege wishes to discuss with you. His palace sits several hundred light years from here; he would be most disappointed if you declined.”

(Charles/Golem, doubtfully) “Uhm… At current pseudovelocities… we traversed roughly ten to ninety-fifth power light years while you were saying that. Crossing ten to the hundredth power light years in a reasonable length of time calls for a great deal of speed! Do you have some coordinates? A representative can be sent fairly readily to a specified location.”

(Skimmer) “My liege tries to keep the exact location of his palace secret; he would rather not have every competitor in this region of space after him. Though I can understand your reluctance; it is only prudent. Perhaps we can compromise? I can hold a construct in my ship… and you likely will be able to fix it.”

(Charles/Golem, with some surprise) “Oh, that’s already done; you can’t leave things broken!”

(Skimmer) “Truly prompt and helpful… it’s hard to believe you’re the same person who killed two of my colleagues so quickly.” (She smiled; the effect on the wrinkled skin was… rather disconcerting), “Whatever happened to their shards, I wonder?”

(Charles/Golem) “I’ve been asked to keep that a secret!”

(Skimmer) “Ah, of course…”

Of course, there were only a few places with the resources and ability to trap such shards – and it was obvious that they were trapped; otherwise they’d have come back! It was just a matter of WHERE – and if “Charles” wasn’t just a front, he was FAR too nice for Malfeas!

She took a notebook and pen out of her void suit pocket and make notes.

(Skimmer) “Well, thank you for your cooperation and understanding… normally these tasks require more violence. Now, I trust the construct will be ready once I’m free to go? I’ll have to evaluate it before I allow it on the ship…”

(Charles/Golem) “Oh, we can just use this one! It’s ready now!”

(Skimmer, blinking) “Am I free to go?”

(Charles/Golem) “I’ll return you and your ship back to normal space roughly where you arrived….”

After all… that in itself had already given away most of the location. “A few hundred light years” wasn’t much of the universe…

The elsewhere box quietly dissolved – leaving her, her ship, and the construct back about where they’d come aboard – and leaving her to wonder why Charles was BOTHERING with physical travel instead of gates! Was he REALLY simply crossing the cosmos simply for the sightseeing? Who had the power to WASTE on that sort of thing? Ah well! Time to report back to her liege… and, in the future, to make contact through that construct.

She tried conversing about Charles’s daily life… What did he do? What did he like to eat? She might be an Abyssal, but she was very civil – and an adept pilot, too.

Charles saw no point in denying that – mostly – he fixed things, or that he liked peanut butter – but promptly inquired as to what SHE did.

(Skimmer) “Well… courier duty, mostly. It was the same way before… this. Before the Exaltation, I mean.”

(Charles/Golem) “Huh! I’d heard that peoples lives usually changed a lot when they exalted! How did it happen?”

(Skimmer) “Have you ever seen a dehydrator pistol? I would suspect not, since they don’t have those where you were from.”

(Charles/Golem, thoughtfully) “Uhm… various settings, blue glowing end on it?”

(Skimmer, with some surprise) “Hmm, you have… we must talk about where you got that information after my liege has finished his business with you. Someone shot me with one of those while I was on a dangerous delivery. Now, while that normally isn’t fatal… being shot in the head is a different matter. And while all the fluids in my head were turning into dust, HE contacted me and… well, I’m moving around and solid, anyway.”

(Charles/Golem) “Huh! That’s a little different from what I’d heard… I was told that it was supposed to be more dramatic than that! As for where I saw the pistol… Megamind had one, in the movie!”

(Skimmer, making more notes) “Hmm. Interesting. Who is this ‘Megamind’?”

Charles proceeded to show her the movie…. There wasn’t much laughter there, just watching blankly. It was almost like she’d traded her ability to laugh for something… At least she didn’t point at Megamind and say “That’s the boss!”. It was no surprise that most of the cultural references – the one room schoolhouse, and so on – missed out completely, but oh well!

(Charles/Golem) “Anyway… It’s an entertainment thing, mostly done on computers!”

(Skimmer) “Ah. I see that some things have not changed; living people do enjoy their comedies. It was supposed to be a comedy, right?”

(Charles/Golem) “Well yes!”

(Skimmer) “Ah, here we are… now, I’m going to have to temporarily blind you for this next leg of the journey. I would use a blindfold, but I can’t take my chances.”

At the moment, outside… just looked like the general blankness of deep space.

(Charles/Golem, who was thinking about other things) “Hmmm… Want to test something? It’s a neurological mirror amulet, designed to compensate for mental structural changes! ”

There was a moment of mutual blankness

(Skimmer, sighing) “Right. Now, stand still, and if you could revoke any defenses against Crippling you have set up? I assure you the only ill effect you will experience will, in fact, be blindness.”

(Charles/Golem) “Uhm… It’s a construct. I don’t think that Crippling effects work at all… Perhaps… (and the constructs hands reached up, unscrewed the eyes, and hold them out). Will that do?”

(Skimmer) “Ah, very nicely indeed. I would rather not mar such a fine item anyway; I’ll take those for the duration.”

And there was much shrieking, howling, and other nasty stuff as she activated the interstellar travel Charm… For while the ship was fast (and Charles had made it faster), she needed to jump to the Underworld for the next leg!

Charles shared the remaining sensory data – including the multispectrum analysis, radiation and essence pickups, magnetic scans, and all the rest – the construct-core WAS a space-probe after all – with Galileo for analysis – but it was quite familiar really! The void, just what Aikiko had gone into through the underworld gate! Location… sort of indefinable.

The trip didn’t end in Coruscant, but in another system entirely – with five barren rock worlds. Of course, ghosts didn’t need to breathe, and could live just about anywhere in Underworld-space. While barren, the worlds teemed with faint pyre flames, and smelled faintly of incense. The star was a dim red light in the black – not that Charles could “see” that at the moment, but there was FAR more than enough data to reconstruct what the probe would normally be “seeing”.

Hm. Skimmer probably wasn’t much of a scientist or artificer – or perhaps she was just very literal-minded; she’d been told to make sure that “Charles” didn’t see where “he” was going – and so she had!

They landed on one of the less-inhabited worlds. It was… white. Other than the pyre-flames, there was no light or dark, just white. Sound traveled slowly here, and was damped even more than in the rest of the Underworld. Faint whispers tickled at the construct’s senses, unnerving and desperate – or would have been if Charles was really paying attention; at the moment he was letting one of his manse-presences and some subprocesses in his own Synergistic Overmind pay attention.

Landing procedures toook some time, with extensive security checks.

Meanwhile… Tarvial was slowly getting closer and closer – And some of the astronomers were wanting to visit an alien world! After all, Charles was more or less towing one along.

Unnerving as it was that this obliging child was moving an inhabited planet across distances too great for any human to really comprehend on a whim.

Still, Charles saw no reason why that shouldn’t be OK… He asked the astronauts and local governmental officials on the planet about visa procedures…

They’d need passports. They weren’t entirely sure how to handle this one, since there was no official passport for Earth – but they had MUCH bigger concerns with ensuring everyone was taken care of and that the few invaders who’d made it to the surface were captured or otherwise neutralized. They decided that – as long as the astronomers had passports from their countries of origin – they could come down. They insisted on extensive health checks though, to ensure that they didn’t have diseases that might cause trouble.

Fortunately, they’d passed through Aden – so no one had anything at all.

They were treated as a VIP delegation, with careful security. No one wanted to upset the person who was currently shuttling their planet across the universe. Still… they were weirdly generic! Like a sort of average of all the normal (tiger, monkey, bird, etc…) people with all their distinguishing features stripped away! Just blandness! It was… really disappointing! The locals had been expecting mass psychic powers, or laser hands, or something. Humans lived at the metaphysical center of the universe; they should be exotic! Instead… two eyes, two arms, two legs-just like nearly everyone else. And even the more exotic variants, like the four-eyed four-limbed golden beings, still have the same number of appendages on each limb as humans.

Charles cheerily explained that humans were the baseline, and everyone else is more or less derived from them! It was things from further out, closer to the Wyld, who got exotic!

A lot of people… weren’t sure if that made it better or worse. Anti-Wyld sentiment, while not exactly high, did exist – mostly toward the more outre mutations. They did often make it hard to live in civil society. Four arms was one thing… falling apart was quite another.