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.
- Raykul Tepes, Scion of the Damned (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Eclipse – Gar Ashwood, Pathfinder/Dragonstar Soulmech Gunslinger-Detective (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Eclipse – Heir of Darkness (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- The Balancer Of Scales, Dragonstar/Pathfinder Paladin (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- [Emergence Campaign] Illurion Voice-Of-Nightmares, Bard of the Unmaking (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Illurion Voice-Of-Nightmares, Bard of the Unmaking from Emergence Campaign Weblog (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Generational Blessings – Do-it-yourself Charms and Talismans III (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Skills of the Eclipse – Legendarium, Gadgetry, and Glowstone Alchemy (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- [Emergence Campaign] Eclipse — Cinematic Combat at the Narrative Convenience Store (ruscumag.wordpress.com)