The Doctor

Kivan Lark

Level 7 True Neutral Human Biologist

•Irreverent, Outcast, Compulsive

Some madmen dabble
In God’s domain, others can
Go Professional

The Doctor is a complete monomaniac, with but one desire: to understand how life functions. He certainly can use magic to alter existing creatures, but his tastes run as much in recording and analyzing creatures as forming insane mutations. Ultimately, he plans to create a complete mathematical table allowing the develop of entirely new and more efficient forms of life. He will know exactly how to merge body shape, musculature, growth patterns, bone structure and even internal organ arrangement. Kivan will then have something even the Gods do not – the power of scientific analysis.

This is a quick mini-table of what he gained at each level-up.

Level Gain
0 24 CP +6CP +10DV +9SP (Int)
1 24 CP +3SP (Int)
2 24 CP +3SP (Int)
3 24 CP +6CP +3SP (Int)
4 24 CP +1SD +4SP (Int)
5 24 CP +4SP (Int)
6 24 CP +6CP +4SP (Int)
7 24 CP +4SP (Int)

Attributes

•Strength 10 +0
•Dexterity 17 +3
•Constitution 15 +2
•Intelligence 18 +4
•Wisdom  13 +1
•Charisma 14 +2

Basic Abilities

•Hit Dice: 1d8 +6d4 HP (Purchased, 4 CP) +2d6 (Immortal Vigor) +1d10+7 (False Life) +18 (9 x 2) = 61 HP
Skill Points: 14 (Purchased, 14 CP) +34 (Int Mod) = 48 SP
BAB: +4 (24 CP)
Fortitude: +3 (9 CP) +2 (Con) = +5
Reflex: +3 (9 CP) +3 (Dex) = +6
Will: +7 (21 CP) +1 (Wis) = +8
Initiative: +3 (Dex)
Move: 30′
Armor Class: 10 (Base) +3 (Dex) +4 (Armor) +4 (Shield) = 21

Proficiencies: None!
•Special Abilities: 139 CP

Special Abilities (139 CP)

Spellcasting: (49 CP) 7 Wizard, Spec’d: Necro, Trans, Encha, Divin
Leadership: (9 CP) +Beast-Lord, Spec’d: Follower only
Companion: (30 CP) +Template X3 +Might
Blessing: (3 CP) Spec’d: Martial Arts only
Reflex Action: (6 CP) spec’d: Can use CounterMagic when targeted or included within a spell
Luck: (6 CP) Spec’d: First round of combat
Immunity: (6 CP) Companion/Template Permanency
Journeyman: (24 CP) Leadership level cap
Innate Enchantment (6 CP):
Immortal Vigor I
Mage Armor
Shield
Healing Belt

Skills

Healing (Wis)  8 +1 = 9
Knowledge: Arcane 10 +4 = 14
Knowledge: Biology 10 +4 = 14
Wind Dance (Dex) 10 +3 = 13
Adamantine Fist (Str) 10 +0 = 10

Kivan usually prefers to keep to himself, in a large and isolated family mansion filled with experiments, notes, and spare body parts. The area around likely has a number of twisted creations, former test subjects, and odd discarded “samples” purchased from off-plane. This makes getting to him a rather dangerous proposition. Violent monsters roam the area, searching for fresh prey, while an overhanging miasma of blood and embalming fluids pervades the rank air.

Of course, that begs the question of why the characters might want to see him. There are several options. First, if the characters include a rare species or race, Kivan would potentially pay well to analyze his physical and magical abilities. He’s not inherently a villain, after all – his devotion is to scientific knowledge beyond morality. If he can get what he wants without force, he will. On the other hand, it may be that the Doctor has something they want, or perhaps one of his dangerous critters got loose and terrorized the countryside. Finally, he could easily go over the edge into sheer madness, requiring the PC’s to stop him before he does something truly abominable.

If the characters do come for blood, they’d better watch out. He’s capable of having a couple personal 7th-level  magical beasts at his side, while whichever one he’s favoring comes equipped with Companion Bonuses (usually the Paladin Steed bonuses), a whopping 6-level template, and further enhanced with one of the custom martial arts he knows (normally Adamantine Fist). And if The Doctor has a moment, he has all kinds of enhancement spell and a few useful protections to throw on as well. One of these is easily enough to challenge an entire party of similarly-leveled characters, or even a party with a level or two up provided the beast uses intelligent tactics. And it should – it’s being guided by a twisted but canny mind with a penchant for maximizing the effectiveness of his minions.

Sample Companion~

“Blasphemy” the Manticore/Half Fiend
Large LE Native Outsider

Hit Dice: 8d10+40 (94 hp)
Initiative: +4
Speed: 30 ft. (6 squares), fly 50 ft. (Average)
Armor Class: 24 (-1 size, +4 Dex, +11 natural), touch 13, flat-footed 20
Base Attack/Grapple: +8/+19
Attack: Claw +14 melee (2d12+7) or 6 spikes +12 ranged (1d12+4/19-20)
Full Attack: 2 claws +14 melee (2d12+7) and bite +12 melee (1d12+4); or 6 spikes +12 ranged (1d12+4/19-20)

Space/Reach: 10 ft./5 ft.
Special Attacks: Spikes
Special Qualities: Darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision, scent, acid/cold/electricity/fire resist 10, DR 5/magic,  Spell Resistance 18, Empathic link, improved evasion, share spells, share saving throws,
Spell-Like Abilities: Darkness 3/day, Desecrate, Unholy Blight, Poison 3/day
Saves: Fort +11, Ref +10, Will +3
Abilities: Str 25, Dex 19, Con 21, Int 11, Wis 12, Cha 11
Skills: Listen +12, Spot +12, Survival +12, Hide +5, Move Silently +5
Feats: Flyby Attack, Multiattack, Track, Weapon Focus (spikes)

Assume Blasphemy has a selection of Lore skills at +5 and has Adamantine Fist at +17 counting Str Bonus.

Adamantine Fist

Strike, Power (2), Toughness, Mighty Blow, Master Technique: Sunder, Inner Strength, Ki Focus (Str), Focused Blow

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Eclipse – the Stormlord Template

English: Severe storm in Sydney in 1991, pictu...

All right already! We’re coming!

Today it’s a template request based a suggestion by Fireslayne – although it has, of course, been put throughly mangled along the way…

There have always been Thunder Gods. An earthquake, volcano, or tidal wave may unleash greater devastation – but they are rarities that many will never see. Storms – with their winds, floods, and lightning – display the awesome power of the Thunder Gods on a regular basis.

Some – blessed by the Thunder Gods, bearing their blood, or infused or merged with the power of a storm, carry a portion of that power within themselves. An odor of ozone hangs about them, sparks dance across their skin, eyes and scars may be lit with electrical fires. For those with eyes to see, the signs are clear.

StormLord (158 CP/+4 ECL):

Furies of the Storm (71 CP):

  • Strength Of The Thunder Gods: Attribute Modifiers: Str +2, Dex +2, Con +4, Cha -4. (Two levels of Attribute Shift, 12 CP, +4 Con, 24 CP. (In worlds using the half-price attribute rule eliminate the Charisma penalty and either reduce the total cost from 36 CP to to 24 CP or boost strength and constitution a bit more).
  • Wrath Of The Heavens: Smite (Select Something) 1/Day (6 CP)
  • Tempered In The Lightning: Defender/+2 Natural Armor, Corrupted/does not increase with level (8 CP)
  • Electric Flesh: +2 Constitution for Hit Point purposes only (6 CP In a Template. If the half-price attribute rule is in place, just upgrade constitution for all purposes).
  • The Living Lightning: Immunity/Electrical Damage (Common, Major, Great (up to 60 points), 18 CP).
  • Disadvantage: Incompetent/-5 on attempts to be stealthy. When you emit electrical sparks, glow a bit, and smell of ozone, it’s rather hard to hide (-3 CP)

Mastery of the Winds (49 CP):

  • Walk Upon The Winds: Celerity/+10′ Ground Movement (6 CP).
  • Riding The Storm: Inherent Spell I, II, III, IV: Summon Medium Air Elemental (Specific Monster Summoning, L3), Large (L4), Huge (L5), and Greater (L6), all Corrupted/requires appropriate minimum levels (5/7/9/11) to use (16 CP).
  • Blood Like Thunder: Inherent Spell with +2 Bonus Uses, Specialized (only lasts one round per level) for Double Effect/a L6 variant of Warband (from the Practical Enchanter); has no range but can affect targets within a 30′ radius (6 CP). (This is replacing Blessing of the Storm – mostly because open-ended bonuses are system-breaking).
  • Within The Whirlwind: Improved Augmented Bonus: Adds (Con Mod) to (Dex Mod) when calculating armor class (12 CP).
  • Strike Of The Tornado: Improved Augmented Bonus: Adds (Con Mod) to (Str Mod) for melee combat purposes (12 CP).
  • Disadvantage: Accursed. Being constantly surrounded by rushing winds may be cool and refreshing, but it makes it extremely difficult to read or write on paper or parchment, to use paper money, to avoid stirring up clouds of dust, to use scrolls, to spice your food, or to hear what’s going on around you (-5 penalty whenever relevant, -3 CP).

Lightning Mastery (38 CP):

  • Storm Surge: Berserker with +4 Bonus Uses and Enduring, Specialized/only usable once per “encounter”, and Corrupted/while “berserk”, and for (10-Con Mod) rounds thereafter, the user will be unable to use Hammer of the Skies or One with the Lightning unless he or she is hit by an electrical attack which would normally inflict at least 4d6 damage. Adds +6 Str and a +2 Deflection bonus to AC as it wraps the user in his or her own private storm (5 CP).
  • Hammer Of The Skies: Augment Attack/+4d6 damage on a Critical Hit, Specialized/number of dice will not exceed the critical multiplier of the weapon, cannot active more often than once ever other round (6 CP).
  • One With The Lightning: Inherent Spell/Immortal Vigor III (provides 6d6 +(6 x Con Mod) temporary hit points) with +2 Bonus Uses, Specialized/only lasts for one minute, cannot be used on other characters (4 CP).
  • Convulsive Strengths: Spell Resistance II, Specialized against electrical effects and effects that lower the user’s strength or constitution (6 CP).
  • Lightning Storm: Inherent Spell II/Lightning-based version of Blistering Radiance (Spell Compendium) with +2 Bonus Uses (9 CP), with the Sculpting Metamagical Theorem and three levels of Streamline, all Specialized and Corrupted/only to add Targeting to the Lightning Storm (8 CP). As a fourth-level offensive spell this is generally not available for use until level 7+.

With a net cost of 158 CP the Stormlord template is a +4 ECL template – like the Half-Celestial or Half-Infernal templates… Why is the template broken down into three sections? Why not?

As far as the game goes… A Stormlord is essentially a junior superhero. While this is a pretty good package for a warrior type, I have to admit that – in Eclipse – high-end templates are relatively uncommon; since you can freely tailor your character anyway, the principle use of Templates is to obtain attribute bonuses on the cheap. 

Eclipse d20 – The Promethean Revenant

 

The outer planes are places where all things are made of alignment energies, as the inner planes are made of elemental forces. Thus, the very flesh of an Archon is made of law and good, as the bone and ichor of a Demon is forged of evil and chaos. Even if such a being chooses to adhere to another alignment, it’s underlying flesh remains… Only if such a being truly dies, and is remade of the forces of it’s chosen alignment can it become truly a being of another outer plane. Thus the bodies of such creatures fade away upon death; without vitality and magic to sustain their arcane structure, they cannot exist upon the material planes.

 

Some people never leave well enough alone.

 

A Promethean Revenant can come into being when some madman – not content with attempting to bind limbs and organs forged of the unearthly energies of the outer planes to material flesh – decides to build a creature from the magically-preserved body parts of creatures of the outer planes.

 

Unsurprisingly, most such attempts fail in disaster.

 

A few achieve a sort of balance – and turn the conflicting energies inherent in their very flesh into a source of power.

 

Such is the…

 

Promethean Revenant:

 

Attribute Modifiers: +2 Str, +2 Con, and +4 Int. Promethean Revenants must have bodies that are tough and powerful, as well as quick and facile minds, to balance the forces raging within them – or they will be destroyed by them. These bonuses are, however, Corrupted; Promethean Revenants have no afterlife. Upon death their composite body/soul fragments and dissipates back into the outer planes. They can only be restored to life by a Wish; a Miracle will not do; gods in general disapprove of them and will not intervene to recreate them (21 CP).

 

Innate Enchantment, Corrupted/The unearthly flesh of a Promethean Revenant is filled with blazing magical power – a force that sustains their existence, even as it shields them from other powers. They are magically blatant, have glowing eyes, mucous membranes, and blood, wounds, scars, and (on some of them) stitching blaze with eldritch energies (11,000 GP Value / 8 CP. All such enchantments are spell level one, caster level one, unlimited-use use-activated, personal only (x.7) for a base cost of 1400 GP each).

 

  • +2 Enhancement Bonus to each Attribute (8400 GP in total). This is a great deal cheaper than buying straight attribute bonuses – even after the cost of negating the vulnerability to dispelling and the XP cost – but it doesn’t stack with attribute-boosting items later on. That alone makes such bonuses far less useful than straight attribute bonuses
  • Resist Energy (10 Points worth, 1400 GP). The flesh of a Promethean Revenant is of the outer planes, and does not interact strongly with the energies of the inner planes – making them somewhat resistant to elemental energies.
  • +2 Natural Armor (1400 GP). Just as their flesh resists the elements, it resists the solider, but still elemental, forces of physical damage.

 

Immunity/Dispelling and Antimagic (Common, Major, Epic, Specialized and Corrupted/only protects innate enchantments that provide personal augmentations, 9 CP).

 

Immunity/the normal XP cost of Innate Enchantments (Uncommon, Minor, Trivial [only covers first level effects at caster level one], Specialized/only to cover initial racial abilities, 1 CP).

 

4d6 Mana with Reality Editing, Specialized and Corrupted/only usable for two fields of rune magic – necromancy and the user’s chosen field – and for creating new Promethean Revenants. For weal or woe, however, creating a new Promethean Revenant requires that the creator have recently been present at the death (summoned creatures do not actually die, so they won’t do) of at least two powerful outsiders in a combination that provides all four alignment energies, calls for an elaborate laboratory, and costs the user 500 XP, as the creator must give up a portion of his or her own vital energies to the new Promethean Revenant. Promethean Revenants are thus “born”, full-grown (8 CP).

 

Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted/only works while the user rests or meditates quietly at 1d6/hour (4 CP).

 

Adept/Intelligence-based Rune Magic, Casting and Mastery for Necromancy and one other field of choice (6 CP).

 

A +4 Racial Bonus on all four Adept skills (8 CP).

 

All Promethean Revenants have an affinity for the magic of death, a consequence of the forces of their creation. They also have a secondary affinity, although that varies from one to the next – an expression of the unique mix of qualities that each combination of Outsider parts brings with it.

 

Fast Learner, Specialized and Corrupted for double effect/only to keep racial Adept Skills at their maximum (4 CP).

 

Occult Sense/60′ Darkvision (6 CP).

 

Defender (Natural Armor, 6 CP).

 

Damage Reduction, Specialized in Physical Damage for Double Effect 4/- (3 CP).

 

Immunity/the need to eat, drink, and sleep (Immunity, Common, Minor, Major, 6 CP). While spellcasters will still need to rest normally to regain their powers, the unearthly vitality of a Promethean Revenant needs no crude elemental inputs to sustain itself – although, for some reason, they must still breathe to balance the flow of dimensional energies through their bodies.

 

Presence x3, Corrupted/these abilities cannot be upgraded and must all be related to either necromancy or to the user’s secondary rune magic theme. A Promethean Revenant’s supernatural powers extend beyond his or her body, generating effects equivalent to three first level spells on himself or herself and on a chosen group of those about him or her – although this is subject to the usual restrictions on usage for those effects with cumulative effects (12 CP).

 

Disadvantages (-10 CP):

 

  • Accursed/Sterile: Unlike most d20 creatures, which can breed with almost anything, the unnatural composite soul of a Promethean Revenant is incapable of bringing forth new life save by the creation of a new Promethean Revenant. Regardless of whether they are male, female, both, or neither… they are irreversibly sterile.
  • Irreverent: Like it or not, a Promethean Revenant simply is not a suitable conduit for divine power; it’s connections to numerous outer planes serve to dissipate it over them – empowering at least some enemies of any particular god. Gods will not grant Promethean Revenants divine spells or powers and they cannot take alignment-restricted abilities.
  • Incompetent/Stealth (-5 on related rolls). Being a glow-in-the-dark anime/video-game styled type does have it’s limitations.

 

While a Promethean Revenant might logically be resistant to poisons and disease – or at least to those which primarily affect creatures of the material elements – their stability is so delicately balanced that such things have their full effect anyway.

 

With a total cost of 92 CP, a Promethean Revenant is at the upper end of +2 ECL territory – and will make a reasonably formidable addition to most parties. While their Rune Magic will eventually begin to lag behind the abilities of a dedicated spellcaster, it’s flexibility can still make it a formidable advantage even at very high levels.

 

 

 

The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice CXLI – The Midnight Sun

English: Planets, Incorporated

These places are so dangerous. Why don’t people stay in nice, safe, space?

And to continue with the adventures of Aikiko in the Underworld…

The area immediately around the Voidwell was about as close to abandoned as Coruscant got – but there were a few lonely or crazed souls hanging about the place. Some were lost in listening to the echoing memories of the Neverborn – but others were just hanging out where few would try to pursue them. A few were even trying to use it… after all, the Voidwell was one of the (very few) places where you could try to jump aboard a starship; while they were passing through the Void notions like “speed” – and the solidity of their hulls – were kind of… debatable.

Of course, if you missed, you’d pop out somewhere in the cosmos at random – but sometimes a spirit felt that it was worth the risk.

Naturally enough, there were patrols as well – just waiting to intercept (or at least pass on a warning about) whoever and whatever popped out of the Voidwell. One of those patrols was heading her way, guns drawn… It was too bad that she didn’t have a clipboard! Holding one of those authoritatively and looking impatient could get you past pretty much any official group!

Skoll proceeded to give her his full, annotated, sensory feed – showing weapons, essence-sources and ratings, artifacts, and rather a lot of other things. The summary said… 23 primary energy weapons (six boosted with esoteric underworld thaumaturgy), 14 side-arms (one a minor artifact, self-reloading, minor damage enhancements), 37 assorted blades (seven boosted with thaumaturgy, three minor Daiklaives), troop essence levels of 2-4 (4 classified as presumptive leader). It looked like the communications systems had already sent out a basic alert. Protective devices (surprisingly enough) apparently lagged behind offensive devices locally; most of the troops had only basic armor. There were some indications of Arcanoi, but nothing particularly major or threatening. Risk classification was “minimal.”

Geez! Targeting displays, energy-readouts, penetrating scans, suggested target priorities… Oh yeah! Skoll had been built… to personally break a Raksha horde of several billion. Normally she’d at least stop to talk in the face of that much firepower… but threat: “Minimal”?!?! Besides… did she really WANT to talk to the local authorities?

(Skoll) Suggested evasion; Mountain-Leaping Stride. Offensive weaponry is currently limited; two of the five primary manse-V power sources are down. Available Secondary Weapons Systems: Twin Heavy Implosion Bows, Daiklaive of Conquest, replication of any single Artifact IV weapon in design library. Primary weapons – Oblivion Lance and Godspear – are currently unpowered, due to unavailability of primary sources. Tertiary weapons (and the list went on).

Geez, the GODSPEAR? Somebody had REALLY done his homework!

(Aikiko) “Can you produce a cloaking field or something?”

(Skoll) “Manifestation of two Rank-IV or four Rank-III utility artifact systems available… Cloaking field engaged.”

(Aikiko) “OK… Well, a flight system and a stealth module for it then? Preferably turning on the stealth before the flight?”

They’d probably have Arcanoi for penetrating that kind of thing – it would be only sensible if they were stationed here – but once she got behind a few buildings it would probably be easy enough to lose them. Arcanoi… were of limited power and range!

The troops raised the alarm – but were easy enough to outrun.

(Aikiko) “What have you – we – got in the way of disguise artifacts? And… can they conceal your power level?”

(Skoll) “Limited disguise functions available; power level excessive for most such systems to conceal. By inference from primary directives it was not a design priority.”

(Aikiko) “Once we’re a bit further out switch to non-winged flight and I’ll use Flawlessly Impenetrable Disguise

The city… was becoming much more lively as they moved away from the Voidwell – and it looked futuristic? Shouldn’t the underworld reflect the past and be pretty primitive? Had the local living technology greatly outpaced Earths? The energy levels were registering as… close to those of Creation proper! It was still lower of course, but not by all that much. How weird! And this close to the Void, too? There HAD to be someplace to land and adjust the artifact setup around here somewhere…

It was easy enough to land on one of the roofs so far above the canyon-like streets. Most of the other traffic seemed to be aerial too.

And… dawn was breaking.

Aikiko watched! It was a bit of a first for her – and it might be tellingly different from Earth’s somehow!

The sun that rose was very small, but EXTREMELY brilliant. According to Skoll’s systems updates… it showed… a blackbody spectrum. Also, it was HOT – and the sun of the underworld was not known for it’s blazing heat! That was DEFINITELY not normal for the Underworld! Sure, her sources were doubtless out of date – it wasn’t like the Underworld and Yu-Shan were on friendly terms much of the time – and the Underworld was clearly MUCH bigger than it used to be – but that was still weird!

Wait; she’d emerged from what had once been the Well of Oblivion. Ergo… this had to be the modern version of Stygia. It SHOULD be near the Earth – although, on thinking about it… on the current scale, the local cluster of galaxies was so NEAR earth as to be equivalent to being only a few feet away from the center in the old days. So… anyone dying in that enormous radius might well wind up here. No wonder it was so busy for the afterlife. The population would be in the trillions, and that might be lowballing it. That still didn’t explain the Sun – unless it was… dying stars? They might still have some faint links to the Loom, and they had to go someplace when they died too. They might well be powering that star up in the sky right now.

While she was watching (and still cloaked) a group of people emerged onto the roof. They… were followed by several slaves and constructs carrying… inflating chairs, a folding table, some snack foods, and what looked like equipment for some sort of ball game. There were courts over to one side. They looked… surprisingly healthy for dead people. Even MORE weird! Some effect of the sun perhaps? Was it intense enough to actually give dead people a tan?

She consulted with Charles… Half of his answer was likely to be wild theorizing – and it would be impossible to tell which half it was – but he was still one of the cleverest and luckiest guessers that she’d ever met!

Besides… her own roll had been absolutely terrible.

(Charles) “Well… traditionally the underworld is energy-poor, and decaying, and teetering on the edge of dissipation, because it’s FED from Creation with the energy carried along by dying creatures – and that’s not very much compared to the energies of creation proper! To make it so… lifelike, SOMETHING must be feeding ENORMOUS amounts of energy in – enough to let things in distant orbits climb away from the minimal energy levels of the classic underworld… Er… the place you describe sounds kind of… familiar. Does it remind YOU of anything?”

(Aikiko sighed resignedly) “Yeah, it looks a lot like Star Wars’ Coruscant… Wait, you don’t think someone took ‘Death Star’ literally, do you? Though it’d be more Life Star, wouldn’t it?”

(Charles) “Huh… “at the center of the Galaxy”… Gah! Do you think it’s orbiting the Galactic Black Hole? That would be a pretty LITERAL “Star of Death!”

(Aikiko) “It’s possible…”

Even with Skoll’s sensors it was almost impossible to make out much about what the rest of the “stars” looked like… Between backscatter from the “Sun”, what seemed to be a monstrous number of ships in orbit (oh, of course… they could fish lost ships from across the universe out of the Voidwell!), all the towers, and the rest of the stuff, not even Skoll could see through hundreds of miles of junk. And at night… there would be a tremendous amount of artificial light.

(Aikiko) “Well, I’ll try to take a look around. This is really weird!”

She ducked into a nest of rooftop vents, swapped out the wings for a disguise module and an essence-signature damper – and took on the appearance of a normal ghost. It was going to be pretty fragile and it wouldn’t survive serious probing or much physical contact – Skoll had a LOT of power to try to hide and he was still made of metal and crystal rather than ectoplasm – but she’d just have to deal with that!

Skoll… had been checking the available local computer networks – although their security was unexpectedly good! On a level with the first age! About all he could access was public information – and there was no evidence that the Mask of Winters was ANYWHERE around Coruscant. The place seemed… well, not quite what he’d be likely to make somehow.

Hm. How to get down to street level? Jump and climb out of the resulting crater? Leap from aircar to aircar until she was down? Levitation disk?

Aikiko decided not to be silly, went inside, and took a public lift-shaft. It looked like coming UP was restricted to upper-level residents, but going down was open – and the place had… 1024 floors, at about twenty feet per floor – although at least a hundred floors were underground.

Wow. Even for the afterlife-world for the local group of galaxies (according to Charles, by far the most densely-populated area of the cosmos) that implied a LOT of ghosts… Well, down to street level to see how most of them lived!

That actually turned out to be below where the majority of the ghosts lived – but there were still plenty down there! The streets seemed to be… lower class. It reminded her a bit of some of the Asian cities crossed with Mardi Gras (due to all the aliens). The aliens… appeared to be very definitely lower class, unless they were very close to human. There were LOTS of people selling stuff, lots of drinking, lots of shows, and other stuff too… looking at the Kadian database, that was closer to the original trilogy than the newer versions.

A closer look at what was on sale showed a wide variety of items. There seemed to be three basic levels of quality though; whipped up from ectoplasm (cheap, fragile, and short-lived – although a lot of the “food” seemed to fall into that category, given that “eating” really wasn’t relevant to most of them except out of habit), made from general underworld materials (which were about as enduring as normal materials were in creation), and the (scarce) stuff that was destroyed in Creation (very enduring – starting at least on the level of thaumaturgically-enhanced stuff in Creation). The ectoplasm crafters were mostly working where beams of “sunlight” were making it through the maze above; they seemed to be using the light as raw materials somehow… Actual “Grave Goods”, Artifacts, and magical materials generally didn’t seem to be available on the streets though – although there WERE a few slaves up for sale – mostly aliens.

Probably a good place to buy a datapad at least! The currency system seemed to be… some sort of credit system for high-level stuff, essence-coins for moderate purchases (it looked like those could be made by anyone with the knack and four motes to spare, but they were good for powering all kinds of things and thaumaturgical spells – so they didn’t tend to inflate much). For small change there were coins of Underworld gold, silver, copper, and stranger metals.

The coins should be easy enough to replicate with a swap of artifacts. Skoll didn’t have one in his databanks – but Charles was perfectly willing to provide a design for an essence-coin pocket. Aikiko went shopping for datapads (and badly frightened a pickpocket or two who found that what they FELT was nothing like what they saw).

This just kept getting stranger… there had to be SOMETHING making this place more vibrant than the rest of the Underworld!

There were plenty of people – well, wraiths – selling such things. Ease of use was a factor though, since it was unfamiliar technology. The high-end models seemed to be… voice and touch-screen using Old Realm (although an English plug-in module was available) – basically a cross between laptops and smartphones.

They were quite eager to make sales – and one salesman (with a lucky eight successes on six dice) managed to sell her a datapad, an english plug-in module, a japanese plug-in module, a data plan, and quite a lot of accessories…

Her essence-coins were, of course, of shiny, radiant, gold, rather than the usual dull black of the Underworld. THAT… created a ripple of silence about her…

(Vendor) “Where did you get THOSE coins?”

Well… they WERE glowing with a healthy solar radiance – rather unlike the pure white of the local “sun”. Uh oh. She should have taken a look BEFORE going to spend them, and maybe put an illusion on them. Dang it! She hadn’t thought of that problem! Maybe if she got Charles to send through a few motes? He had LOTS of different kinds!

And that filled up her pouch with… Elemental coins of sapphire, emerald, ruby, tourmaline, and diamond, of sparkling tinted Sidereal crystal, of radiant Lunar silver, of green-and-gold florite for Aden, iridescent disks of strange metals flashing all the colors of the rainbow (and some colors that were tasted, or smelled, or felt, or heard rather than being visible) for the wyld, a few of carved ivory from the Kickaha, some wooden coins from nature gods, and even a few REALLY strange Primordial metals and stones!

Plus more solar gold of course.

Just as confusing as Charles’s actual Essence signature.

That still left her with the “What to say” dilemma! Telling the truth might lead to dire consequences, but there surely weren’t too many places around here where someone would find coins like that!

Mental Invisibility Technique it was, even if that DID sacrifice her change!

There was much excitement as she vanished – although at least a couple of ghosts still seemed to see her. That was to be expected really… likely heroic ghosts. Still, it gave her an excellent chance to take her leave (and to try to avoid blatant solar charm use; that might be a dead giveaway if the right or wrong people heard about it!

There was a lot of speculation and gossip starting up, a few people making calls, people taking pictures of the area – and two of the ones who saw her were trying to edge up next to her and talk out of the corners of their mouths…

(Ghost) “Hey there… Have you got, like a cult, or a link to the living world or something? Coins like THAT… nobody HERE can make them unless something REALLY weird is going on!”

That did stop her. She hadn’t really thought about THAT option!

(Aikiko) “Something like that, yeah… I wasn’t expecting the coins to look like THAT!”

The second one who had been approaching – and the third who saw her… were losing themselves in the crowd FAST. The one who was talking looked nervous – and rather eager.

(Ghost) “Ah… You’re… alive aren’t you? And more than human… You’ve never made coins before or you’d know how they’d turn out, and you didn’t have to study how to do it, and you had enough essence available to make a handful at once! That’s a LOT of power! A god perhaps? Why here?”

(Aikiko) “Why do you want to know?”

And for a moment it was obvious that he was dead, and hungry, and… sort of lost. Predatory… and more than a bit pathetic at the same time.

(Ghost) “Well… It’s not like I hear it USED to be – but ties with the living world are REALLY useful! And knowing someone powerful there is even better!”

Ah! A ghost with no one to pray to him, no grave goods, and no connections? Of course, these days, MOST ghosts probably didn’t have any ancestor cults or grave goods. What fraction DID wind up in the underworld these days? It couldn’t be very large, or even a city-planet would be buried beneath the dead of several galaxies…

In fact… he didn’t look QUITE human, and he had a rather odd accent in Old Realm, and he’d obviously gotten a fairly advanced education somewhere.

(Aikiko, quietly) “We should go someplace less public. I think I can manage some more coins there, away from prying eyes.”

Her new acquaintance was happy to go somewhere less public; there are lots of darker corners down at street level.

(Aikiko) “Right. There’s got to be some way to HIDE the Essence signs on these. You wouldn’t happen to be a thaumaturge, would you?”

She probably wasn’t skilled enough for alchemical transmutation, if it was even possible, so Illusion it would probably have to be! It should be reasonably practical if she pushed it a bit.

(Ghost) “Ah, I know some of that! Still… that will be difficult; perhaps you would be best off just trading it for other coins?”

Oh of course. Money-changing and laundering would be a big business on a world like this. There were probably currencies from half a dozen galaxies in circulation.

(Aikiko) “Probably… know any markets that’ll keep coin from the living quiet?”

(Ormendante) Ah, that is no great service! My name is Ormendante by the way, (Sighing), once of the Reiskaer Tienken-El-Asvarin, now – sadly enough – of Coruscant.

Hm! Of the “Defiance of Night”? Or perhaps of the “City that Defies the Night”? That was kind of interesting!

(Aikiko) “I’m Kiko! Nice to meet you, Ormendante! Now let’s get these coins changed…”

While giving out her real name, or a nickname of it, might not be the best idea they WERE a bit secluded. Would it be gauche to ask how he died? He didn’t seem like the type to care about Underworld etiquette… Why not? At worst it would be an invitation for bragging and stories and the guy certainly didn’t look like he got a lot of entertainment…

(Aikiko) “So… how did you die, anyway?”

(Ormendante) “Ah (sadly)… I was part of a planet-side search team – the area we had to search was essence-shielded – and we were unexpectedly attacked by some rather nasty creature… some sort of blasted guardian-beasts on an old site I think. I…never did find out what was going on; all I know about that was we came up on some ancient pyramid, there was a blur of movement – and suddenly I was dead, and being pulled across the space of the underworld to here… I hope that the rest of the team got out all right; whatever it was must have been pretty nasty; I WAS wearing issue-armor, and that came along – but it’s got rather limited usefulness HERE.”

(Aikiko) “It must’ve been important for you to have to… beam down?”

(Ormendante) “We took a shuttle; transportation effects might have been disrupted by the essence-shielding, and that can get pretty nasty!”

(Aikiko) “Ah.” (Yes, that was right… the transporter was ALWAYS having problems and leaving the away teams stranded in hostile territory… Just how much of the universe was reflected in Earth’s popular fiction?) “Well, what were you looking for?”

(Ormendante) “The readings said that one of the elders might be trapped there – and finding them IS the reason for the Search of course!”

(Aikiko) “Tell me more about this search…”

Ormendante spent a little while explaining the Jadeborn’s Great Search – at least as far as he knew its history. Still, between the libraries of Aden and her own information… that was enough to fill in most of the picture. So THAT was what had happened to the Jadeborn! That was… epic and sad and desperate and noble all at once. She had to admire their patience and determination though; they must have built up the greatest fleet in Creation by now!

Skoll put up with it quite patiently; after all… if their Great Search was that widespread, they might know where the Master was!

Aikiko let Charles know; he’d mentioned them and he’d certainly be interested in where Creations greatest race of artificers had gotten to!

(Charles) “Ooh… No wonder they were so hard to find! That’s a really big project too!”

(Aikiko) “And at least one of their… kids?… has gotten himself stuck in an afterlife I’m pretty sure he wasn’t expecting. You wouldn’t happen to have a place for him, would you? He doesn’t seem very happy here!”

(Charles) “Huh! Well… the Spirit Sanctum Manse should be able to reach him… but I can’t really make him alive again without changing a lot of his personality; attaching a new lower soul sort of revises all the emotional patterns – and doing THAT without Lethe will cause him all kinds of upset and confusion… it might be a more interesting place to stay though!”

(Aikiko) “It’s worth a try!” (To Ormendante) “Hey, I just asked my Essence source about doing you a favor! You’ll be in a place more interesting than here, and you might even be able to get in touch with your friends there.” (To Charles) “If he accepts, what does he need to do?”

(Charles) “Hm… Well, he’s a spirit, so he can travel over essence links… So I’ll just send one his way!”

(Aikiko) “Okay, got it!”

(Aikiko, to Ormendante) “All you have to do is accept the spiritual link when it comes!”

A few moments later… a blaze of green-gold essence flooded the area, washing over the streets and buildings in a substantial radius.

(Ormendante) “So welcoming… and so much POWER! What IS this friend of yours?”

(Aikiko) “Not even I’m sure, but he likes to help and fix things! You’ll probably meet him soon enough-he calls himself Aden Shining Dream sometimes.”

(Ormendante) “Huh… Well, I’ll give it a try!”

He stepped across.

Meanwhile… there was a LOT of excitement outside (and not a few hitchhikers on the link). Aikiko waved – and then tried to get the heck out of the area!

(Skoll) “This activity seems incompatible with stealth.”

(Aikiko) “Well… I wasn’t expecting the link to be THAT dramatic!”

Skoll had a good point there! Setting mile-wide sections of the city glowing with brilliant arcs of living essence might just make her the least stealthy Night Caste ever! Perhaps a trip back to the Voidwell, and then the Labyrinth, might be best? There really didn’t seem to be much here that wouldn’t wait.

That and there had to be SOME way to get out of Skoll, even if she had to do some Charm research while trapped inside! Still… it was the most COMFORTABLE adventure she’d ever been on, and Aden DID make enormous amounts of magical power available to everyone.

Oh wait! She was still… remotely present in Kadia, and Charles HAD offered to attune her to a bunch of power-boosting and charm-bestowing manses. Why not? That would give her.., a good deal more in the way of power to work with, over and above her personal powers and the Adenic Thaumaturgy.

That turned out to be quick, easy, and surprisingly effective… The kid really DID have a manse for pretty much EVERYTHING.

Unfortunately, as Skoll approached the Voidwell… there was a full military unit waiting, with sensory gear, heavey weapons, warstriders/mecha, and demands that Skoll surrender. Not good, not good! She was pretty sure that not even Skoll could stand up to that level of firepower, not without damage – and her magical skills weren’t really at Charles’ skill level, or even close! Skoll has some really potent weaponry, but so did the warstriders!

The targeting and data displays were kind of overwhelming…

Oh heck. Skoll was DESIGNED for this sort of thing! She consulted him!

(Skoll) “Threat to unit; Minimal. Possible feedback hazard to occupant if essence-exhaustion occurs.”

Urg… Indestructible, right, but there would be bleed-through past the dimensional interface to HER. That much firepower… could probably mote-tap her soon enough, even WITH the boosts from all those manses! Well… she could stall for at least a few seconds! She’d have to think fast!

Wait. Why was Skoll letting HER make all the decisions? Was it just that, in the absence of any programmed directives, he would default to whoever had his ear?

Skoll was more or less expecting that she’d decide to pretty much just wade through the entire unit… After all, Aikiko was a Solar, that was what they DID. Still, the matter had no relevance to his objectives, and therefore could safely be left to Aikiko’s decisions. A comparison between the expected odds of attempting to search the cosmos for the Mask of Winters at it’s current scale and relying on the narrative imperative to cause a coincidental encounter… favored relying on narrative imperative by two hundred orders of magnitude. It was one of the strongest of all forces after all – and Exalts were major foci for it. Keeping his coincidence-drawing captive happy by doing whatever irrelevant thing she wanted just kept her from trying so hard to escape – and his systems had been designed to contain the relatively-static Unconquered Sun, not a Solar who could be expected to actively develop new abilities. If she kept trying… she would succeed eventually. Therefore it would be best to keep her otherwise occupied as long as possible.

Lucas Arwin, the Master of the World

The Zeppelin LZ 129 Hindenburg catching fire o...

Lets hope not.

The eagle had carried the squealing wolf-cub aloft – but had lost its grip, sending the bleeding pup plummeting into young Lucas’s arms. It hadn’t been badly hurt – but it had certainly been frightened enough. The soothsayer had said it was an omen; if he survived, then one day young Lucas would play a mighty role. As a soaring master of the arts… it would fall to him to either preserve or condemn a a great kingdom – or perhaps a world.

It was a nine-days wonder – and then was forgotten except among the other children. There were, after all, many predictions. The soothsayer had to earn his keep SOMEHOW, so he produced them quite regularly.

A few years later Lucas had done very well indeed in his training – and had shown a knack for war-magic; the ability to – with proper assistance – expand his spells to affect entire opposing armies. If he just developed his basic powers, that would be an enormous asset to the house. Thus Lucas was placed in charge of a modest ship and sent forth, hopefully to grow in power with the absurd speed that adventurer’s so often showed.

Pathfinder Package Deal:

Pureblooded Human (Half-cost attribute rule in play)

  • Fast Learner/Specialized in Skills: +2 SP/Level (6 CP).
  • +4 Intelligence (Normally 24 CP, reduced to 12 CP by world laws). As a note, there have been many attempts to enhance the intelligence bonus even further, but they tend to lead to psychological problems and instability. Of course, player characters may be the fortunate exceptions.
  • +2 to any one attribute other than Intelligence (normally 12 CP, reduced to 6 CP by world laws).
  • Immunity/Aging (uncommon/minor/minor, 2 CP). They can expect to live for several centuries without much of any signs of aging.
  • Grant of Aid/Specialized (requires several hours): May heal 1d8+5 damage OR 1d3 points of attribute damage OR one negative level once per three levels per day or part thereof, 3 CP), with the Regenerative option/Corrupted (requires lots of food and rest, 2 CP), allowing them to slowly regrow lost limbs and organs.

Available Character Points: 48 CP (L1 Base) +10 (Disadvantages) +12 (Human and L1 Bonus Feats) +2 (Duties) = 72 CP.

Attributes: Strength 14 (+2), Dexterity 14 (+2), Constitution 14 (16) (+3), Intelligence 22 (+6), Wisdom 10 (+0), Charisma 14 (+2). (32 point buy, 1×10, 5×14. Racial Bonus; +4 Int, +2 Constitution, Pathfinder Bonus; +2 Int, Permanent Enhancement Bonus +2 Int).

Basic Abilities (21 CP):

  • Hit Dice: 8 (L1d8, 4 CP) +12 (Magic) +9 (Con Mod x 3) = 29 HP.
  • Skill Points: 2 (Purchased, 2 CP) +24 (Int Mod x 4) +8 (Fast Learner) = 34 SP. The skill choice is being left up to the player, but a bit of a sword martial art and a good investment in intelligence-based skills is recommended.
  • BAB: +1, Specialized in Swords (3 CP).
  • Saves:
    • Fortitude: +1 (3 CP) +3 (Con) = +4
    • Reflex: +1 (3 CP) +2 (Dex) = +3
    • Will: +0 (0 CP) +0 (Wis) = +0
  • Proficiencies: All Simple Weapons &Swords (6 CP)
  • Initiative: +3 (Dex)
  • Move: 30′
  • Armor Class: 10 +3 (Dex) = 13.

Usual Attacks:

  • Longsword: +3 (+1 BAB +2 Str), 1d8+2 (Str), Crit 19-20/x2.

Other Abilities (51 CP):

  • Privilege/Noble, Specialized/as a junior member of the family, Lucas is subject to a wide variety of requests and demands, and can be readily overruled. He still gets some nice social privileges though (1 CP).
  • Wealthy, Corrupted/it’s mostly not really HIS money; it’s family funds – and thus may vary due to events outside his control and obligates him to the family (8 CP).
  • Dominion (6 CP). While Lucas knows how to draw on the power of his followers, outside of the crew of his ship he really doesn’t have any yet – so his accumulation of Dominion Points is very slow. He’ll need to work on this.
  • Battle Magic (6 CP). Lucas knows how to expand his spells to affect massive areas – but lacks the resources to do so at all often.
  • 2d6 Mana as 4d4 (12) Generic Spell Levels, Specialized/only to bind into Intelligence-based prepared wizard spells (6 CP). Lucas can prepare a total of twelve levels of spells.
  • +1 Base Caster Level, Specialized/only for his prepared arcane spell effects (3 CP).
  • Action Hero/Invention, Specialized in Spells for Double Effect (6 CP). Even taking this at level zero means that he’ll still only have ten first level spells – but that’s not a bad selection to start out with.
  • Innate Enchantment (6 CP / 5000 GP effective value).
    • Amulet of Tears (MIC Duplicate Effect, 2300 GP).
    • Detect Magic (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).
    • Healing Belt (MIC Duplicate Effect, 750 GP).
  • Privilege/Ship Commander (3 CP): Lucas currently commands a basic ship’s crew – a dozen level zero NPC’s with enough training to act as magical assistants for his Battle Magic and
  • Airship (Dirigible, the Phantom Wanderer) Owner, Specialized/this is another privilege that’s being provided by his family, and so – once again – his missions are ultimately subject to their authority. Purchased as a Mystic Companion (Giant Owl) with a +2 ECL Vehicle Template for a total CR of 4 (6 CP).

The Phantom Wanderer (Steam Dirigible):

Painted a mottled blue, gray, and white, trailing wisps of white smoke, and driven by its near-silent steam engines, the Phantom Wanderer is well-calculated to blend into the sky – a fortunate thing, since, by default, the ship is entirely unarmed. While the crew area is cramped, it’s a good deal more comfortable than actually camping out.

  • Size/Type: Gargantuan Construct
  • Hit Dice: 4d10 +12 +72 (Str Mod x 6) = 106. Subject to the Naval Damage Charts, must be Repaired rather than Healed.
  • Initiative: +3 (Caps Pilot Bonus).
  • Speed: 10 ft. (2 squares), fly 70 ft. (average), 100′ with piloting risks.
  • Armor Class: 11 (-4 size, +2 Dex, +3 natural).
  • Attack: Propellor Slash (1d6+12). Full Attack 2 Propellor Slashes plus possible ram (1d8+6).
  • Space: 20 x 60 (roughly 12 x 48 usable area; considering the crew and a smallish cargo area, this is rather cramped – but there is enough space around the central 2′ corridor for six tiny 6′ x 5′ cabins, the 8′ x 6′ piloting compartment at the front, two 3′ x 5′ efficiency washrooms, the twelve triple-decker crew bunks around the 12′ x 8′ common area, and the combined 9′ x 9′ engineering / utility space. Fortunately, the cargo space is located under the floor.
  • Special Qualities: Universal DR 2/-. Lighting Systems (Dancing Lights), Voice Tubes (Message), Compass and Maps (Know Direction), Enclosed Crew Area (those aboard are protected by the equivalent of a Tower Shield against attacks from the outside, although they are not considered to be “holding the shield”), Stable Platform (those aboard suffer no penalties for “being mounted”), Safety Holds (those aboard have places to hold on, and may more around under normal conditions without risk), Basic Comforts (those aboard are shielded from most weather, and can expect to remain reasonably comfortable), and Pressurized (those aboard will not be affected by thin atmospheres – provided that the hull is not breached). Carrying Capacity: 9 1/3 tons for a light load, 18 2/3’rds tons for a medium one, and 28 tons for a heavy one.
  • Saves: Fort +2, Ref +6, Will +3.
  • Abilities: Str 34, Dex 15, Con —, Int —, Wis 14, Cha 10
  • Skills: Listen +17, Move Silently +8, Spot +10
  • Feats: Alertness, Hovering Capability.

Since Lucas is Wealthy the Phantom Wanderer would normally gain +5d10 Hit Dice, +2 on its saves, +2 to each Attribute, +5′ Movement, and +5 Skill Points. Whether or not it will actually do so is up to the game master for this particular game, so these bonuses have not been included.

Eclipse and Purchasing Vehicles

Prague 2002: A fur coated blacksmith presents ...

You want me to make you a WHAT?!?!

As far as most characters are concerned, vehicles are more or less something that happens. You escape the villains stronghold aboard his personal jet, you use the mole-machine to reach the hidden complex deep beneath the Himalayas, you work aboard the mighty space-battleship, you travel with smugglers, you charter a boat to reach the mysterious island… The details don’t matter much; the game master has set it up.

But what if you want your character to own a vehicle of his or her own? How expensive should that be? After all, worthwhile vehicles can be hugely expensive in terms of money – but in Eclipse things are bought with character points, and “how expensive” in terms of character points usually comes down to some variation on “How useful is this?”. So just how useful is having a personal vehicle?

On the upside..

  • A vehicle lets the characters haul along more stuff – including, possibly, fixed-mount weapons or a laboratory or something if it’s a large vehicle. Even a smaller vehicle can offer places to hide and/or smuggle stuff. Of course, so does a mule, or a bag of holding, or – for smaller articles – a bit of sleight of hand.
  • A vehicle provides a bit of hard cover against attacks from outside of it – whether that’s provided by the bulwark of a ship, the sides of a wagon, or the door of a car. Of course, so does a tower shield. In fact, a Tower Shield models the kind of protection offered by a vehicle fairly well in a lot of cases.
  • A large vehicle lets the characters avoid camping out; they can sleep inside and travel in comfort. A really large one can be a semi-secure base of operations. A house will cover some of that, but is hard to travel with. Inns work too, but sometimes they’re hard to find. Caravans are a classic low-end solution though, and don’t necessarily cost much more than a wagon does.
  • A vehicle allows all-out ranged combat, since most of the characters are not having to bother with moving around or seeking cover. Of course, the same applies to the enemy.
  • A vehicle – at least in RPG’s – almost invariably looks cool and attracts admiring attention. Some of them can even intimidate your enemies.

In theory…

  • Vehicles let the characters travel faster. In practice, most trips are accomplished at the speed of plot and things will be at whatever stage the game master thinks they should be when you get there.
  • Vehicles let the characters avoid travel fatigue. in practice, few d20 games worry about travel fatigue very much.
  • Vehicles let the characters avoid many encounters and stops. In practice, the game master will insert as many of those as he or she likes anyway; traveling in a vehicle simply changes how they’re described a bit.
  • Vehicles let the characters outrun problems. In practice, the game master simply makes that arbitrarily difficult anyway. If he or she wants a chase scene, or wants to force the party to fight, or is simply rolling some dice to see if you can get away, whether or not you have a vehicle won’t really matter much.
  • Vehicles let the characters reach places that they couldn’t get to otherwise and go wherever they want to. In practice, there will always be a way to reach wherever the game master wants you to go while going straight to places where he or she doesn’t want you to go will always be fraught with difficulty.
  • Vehicles let the characters to do battle with opponents that would normally be far beyond their power to affect. In practice, however, if an opponent is supposed to be defeatable, the characters will be presented with options for doing it (if they can figure them out). If it’s not defeatable – and thus is basically an obstacle to be evaded or dealt with in some other way – a vehicle won’t help unless the game master intended said vehicle to be a possible solution anyway.
  • Vehicles are worth a lot of money. In practice, actually selling a vehicle in the game is as difficult as the game master decides it ought to be and yields however much money he or she thinks will be good for the game.

“Since the XP-38 came out, they’re just not in demand.”

-Luke Skywalker.

On the downside…

  • Vehicles are dangerous to fall out of -whether that means hitting the ground at high speed, being lost at sea, falling a great distance, drifting away in space, or some even more exotic doom.
  • Vehicles can be damaged, often fairly easily, with potentially disastrous consequences – and are then awkward or expensive to fix or replace.
  • Vehicles are targets for thieves and opponents, who more easily steal them and anything aboard them.
  • Vehicles can crash, or otherwise lose control, endangering everyone aboard and possibly leaving them stranded in awkward locations.
  • Vehicles can make it very difficult to escape a scenario set aboard one.
  • Vehicles usually require fuel or maintenance, making them a nuisance to maintain.
  • Vehicles usually require an investment in some sort of piloting ability – at least if you want to avoid crashing.

For the game master…

  • Vehicles allow you to have dramatic chase scenes while keeping the party together (and most of them shooting), rather than letting the slower ones fall behind and focusing on running.
  • Vehicles can be a money sink; they’re something that can be enchanted or upgraded independently of the character.
  • Vehicles can be plot devices. If reaching location X requires vehicle Y and the characters have to get to location X, you have a fairly standard quest-step – and one that’s probably easier to swallow then needing a particular mystic key or something. Everyone wants the giant dimension fortress containing the secret of a magical energy source for giant mecha? Bad guy in the black armor has a giant space station that destroys worlds? You and your fellow cadets are suddenly in charge of the last surviving major military ship and have a load of civilians to protect? Well, we know where this is going – but we also know that this isn’t something that player characters can just buy, so we really don’t need to worry about it in terms of individual character purchases.

Of course, ways in which vehicles are convenient for the game master don’t have much to do with how useful they are to an individual characer – but it still looks like, in game terms, vehicles are pretty much a wash. Most of the actual real-world advantages of a vehicle don’t really mean anything in terms of the game. Just as importantly, in RPG terms, all vehicles start out as western-movie stagecoaches. That is to say…

  • They are traveling boxes which offer some degree of protection against basic personal weapons.
  • Characters and their stuff (sometimes including bigger weapons) ride in them.
  • When they are attacked – whether it’s by people riding in another box or by a scattering of individuals – the people inside make ranged attacks on the attackers and get into melee with any opponent who manages to get into or onto the box.
  • If someone falls off, they may suffer serious injury and generally get left behind.
  • Occasionally something goes wrong with the box or with whatever-it-is that makes it go, and there will be a daring and dramatic scene of the characters holding things together, avoiding crashing, dragging behind the vehicle, or whatever.

If you want to get fancy…

  • Military vehicles offer more protection, are tougher to damage, and are far more expensive in terms of money (and a bit more expensive in terms of character points) to get and maintain – but are otherwise pretty much the same.

So you have your own personal vehicle. If it’s reasonably common and available in the setting that’s a Minor Privilege (3 CP). If it’s a common military vehicle or a very expensive civilian one like a big yacht that’s going to be a Major Privilege (6 CP). If you want it to be really big take the “Specialized for Double Effect” modifier; it’s going to be extremely expensive to support and repair, horribly conspicuous, and likely to attract all kinds of trouble. If you just want to add some strings, Corrupt or Specialize it by owing favors or services to some sponsoring organization instead.

If you want it to be a major factor in events… that’s a little harder.

  • Does it mount massive weapons that – given a little time – can affect entire battlefields?
  • Does it terrify planetary governments and grant influence in galactic politics?
  • Can you rig it’s systems to produce weird and likely never-to-be-repeated effects?
  • Is it crewed by a horde of loyal robotic minions?
  • You want it to contain terrible elder secrets?
  • You want it run by a powerful, loyal, artificial intelligence?

Well, those are all things that a character could buy directly – so now you want it to be a Relic. Now you want it to be a relic. Those specific functions can be covered by Battle Magic, Action Hero/Influence, Action Hero/Stunts, Followers (Improved), a selection of Specific Knowledges, and Companion – all with their costs reduced or effects increased by the “relic” in question being exceptionally unwieldy. After all, they’re embodied in the ship, not in some convenient hand-portable item.

Ships like that are still fairly cheap really, since they’re also major targets for theft, espionage, and other exciting problems that the characters will have to deal with if they want to keep their neat toy.

If a character wants some sort of vehicle that doesn’t normally exist in the setting… then things get a bit more awkward. If it’s simply that it looks different, that doesn’t really matter – but if they want a highly maneuverable ornithopter in a setting where dirigibles are the only common form of airship or airships aren’t normally available at all… then they’ll just have to build one.

  • Creating such a thing by pure enchantment, or by casting some massively powerful spell, is likely to be overly expensive, both in terms of obtaining the ability to do so and in cash.
  • Actually creating such a technology through Action Hero/Invention (and possibly Action Hero / Crafting) is likely to take several levels (unless you take Leadership/Research team), but can result in you revolutionizing the setting on the cheap. This has it’s points, but the character’s special advantage won’t last all that long (although his or her fame might).
  • Finally, of course, vehicles can be built as Followers or as Companions.

As a follower we have an example sapient vehicle over HERE – but you’d have to be fairly high level to qualify for getting a major haunted warship as a “Follower”. Getting a vehicle as a Companion is, however, much easier. You can do it at level one if you really must.

To convert a Mystic Companion into a vehicle, just apply these Vehicle Modifiers:

  • Pick a base creature at a cost of (32 CP x (Current CR – 2). Any positive cost is Specialized for half cost/the “user” is subject to system failures, damage side effects, and all the other troubles associated with the Naval Combat Charts.
  • Increase it’s effective Strength in steps of +8 until it is strong (and, due to the side effects, large) enough. This is Specialized and Corrupted/users suffer all the negative effects of gaining +1 level of Size per step of strength increase taken but gain only one of the benefits – an increased encumbrance multiplier. Secondarily, the user is too large for helpful spells which target “creatures” to work and cannot use most equipment (16 CP/Level of Increase).

Then add in the rest of the modifiers listed below for an additional 28 CP.

  • Int 0. It’s a construct (0 CP).
  • Con 0. It’s a construct (0 CP).
  • Advanced Finesse/base additional HP on Str, not Con (12 CP).
  • Presence x 5, all Specialized and Corrupted/these functions rely on the structural integrity of the vehicle (another reason why the naval damage charts apply), cannot be upgraded, and mean that the “vehicle” may require weapons-operators to use it’s “natural” abilities (if it has several) and will require a pilot or driver to move; it can neither move nor attack on it’s own. Moreover, it must be repaired, not healed (10 CP).
    • Presence/Enclosed Crew Area: those aboard are protected by the equivalent of a Tower Shield (a minor variant on the Shield spell) against attacks from the outside, although they are not considered to be “holding the shield”.
    • Presence/Stable Platform: those aboard suffer no penalties for “being mounted”.
    • Presence/Safety Holds: those aboard have places to hold on, and may more around under normal conditions without risk.
    • Presence/Basic Comforts: those aboard are shielded from most weather, and can expect to remain reasonably comfortable.
    • Presence/Draught of Air: those aboard can continue to breathe normally as long as the vehicle is in an appropriate environment and conditions outside are not too hostile (yes, this will work underwater for submarines, or at high altitudes for aircraft – as long as the outside pressure remains more or less reasonable; if it’s no longer reasonable, than the environment is now “too hostile”.
  • Damage Reduction 2/- (3 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment (6000 GP Value): Specialized/the user needs a pilot to operate it’s systems (3 CP).
    • Structural Reinforcement: Immortal Vigor I (+12 + 2 x Str Mod HP, 1400 GP).
    • Lighting Systems: Dancing Lights (1000 GP)
    • Voice Tubes (Message, 1000 GP)
    • Compass or Maps (Know Direction, 1000 GP).
    • Faster (Expeditious Retreat, requires piloting/driving/reflex/dexterity checks to exploit this, as it involves pushing the vehicle, driving dangerously, and pulling wild maneuvers in hopes of escaping or cutting down your travel time, x .8 = 1600 GP).

So to create an Ornithopter lets use a Giant Eagle: That’s CR 3 (16 CP) and is already Large, but we want to get it up to +16 Strength and Gargantuan (32 CP). That’s a cost of 76 CP (a +1 ECL template what with 32 CP of it being devoted to reducing it’s ECL, for a net CR of 4). It will have a carrying capacity of 2333/4666/7000 Lbs (Str 34) x 8 (Gargantuan) = 9 1/3 tons for a light load, 18 2/3’rds tons for a medium one, and 28 tons for a heavy one. Since we’re buying this as a Companion, all we need is a Companion with a +2 ECL template – at a total cost of 12 CP. If you owe someone favors, or have to work for a sponsoring organization, or some such… well, that is – once again – a Corruption or Specialization that will reduce the cost.

I may get into the full statistics next time – but, for the moment, that quick summary will do just fine. 

Want a Dirigible? An Owl might be more appropriate. Want a really extreme sports car? Use a Cheetah. Want a submarine? Use a Dolphin. Want a literal Tiger Tank? Use a Tiger and blow it up to the Colossal level. Assign someone to run the “pouncing” system and mount a few weapons on it. Want a fighter? Use a small dragon or something. The Nautilus? Use a Narwhale. A burrowing mole-machine? Use a Badger. You want a Mecha? Use a Blood Ape. Of course, since a +4 ECL template has a maximum of 169 CP – about 60 of which will go to other costs – the maximum CR creature you can use is going to be around CR 6 (for an 18 CP base cost), at least until you hit higher levels. That’s still not at all bad however.

Go ahead. Hold a MONSTER TRUCK RALLY. You know you want to.

Now, admittedly, this is a quick-and-dirty system – but it means that low-level characters can afford to get themselves interesting vehicles, that the statistics of those vehicles can be generated quickly, that there will be a wide variety of vehicles, and that they will operate entirely under the existing rules – making them very easy to bring into play.

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.

Eclipse d20 – Faelan, Mathghamhain, and Caiside.

These three youngsters were out hunting and foraging in the forest when the Weasel Clan hit their village. Luckily, the three got away without being spotted – although it wasn’t all that long before they got picked up by Lady Yolande. She, finding three unprotected and unclaimed children wandering about in the middle of a deadly wilderness war zone pretty much decided to keep them. While that does officially make them slaves, she’s crediting them with pay as scouts in service – a portion of which will neatly cover them buying themselves free once their apprenticeship is completed and leave them with a tidy sum left over. For them, it was a much better bargain than they were actually expecting to get even if they made it to the border of the Alarian Imperium and safety.

They’re also an example of why Atherian Birthrights, or any other optimized race, can make even level-zero children unique and interesting to build in Eclipse: even with only half the character points of a first level character they can still have a variety of interesting abilities – they’re just going to build directly from their racial/birthright abilities and be very narrowly defined and restricted to bring the cost down.

Faelan, Mathghamhain, and Caiside

Level Zero Scout-Apprentice Slaves

Atherian Dimensional Birthright Human (+0 ECL):

  • 2d6 Mana with the Reality Editing option (12 CP).
  • Action Hero with the Heroism option (6 CP).
  • Fast Learner (Specialized in Skills, for +2 SP/Level, 6 CP).
  • A bonus feat worth 6 CP.

Available Character Points: 24 (L0 Base) + 10 (Compulsive / slave-bindings, Broke, and History (which is basically a GM freebie in an NPC)) + 0 (Duties to Mistress) +6 (Birthright Bonus Feat) = 40.

Basic Attributes: 

  • Faelan: Str 12, Int 9, Wis 12, Con 16, Dex 12, Chr 16.
  • Mathghamhain: Str 12, Int 10, Wis 15, Con 13, Dex 12, Chr 14.
  • Caiside: Str 9, Int 16, Wis 12, Con 14, Dex 10, Chr 9.

Basic Abilities (16 CP):

  • Hit Dice: 6 (L0 3 HP Base +3 CP) + (Con Mod x 1) = 9/7/8.
  • Skill Points: 6 (Purchased, 6 CP) +6 (Fast Learner) + (Int Mod x 3) = 12/12/21
  • BAB: +0
  • Saves: Zero plus attribute bases (0 CP).
  • Proficiencies: All Simple and Hunting Weapons (6 CP), Light Armor (Specialized in Leathers, 1 CP).
  • Initiative: +(Dex Mod)
  • Move: 30′
  • Armor Class: 10 +2 (Leathers) + (Dex Mod).
  • Wealth Level: Common (3 Charms Each).

Forager Package (6 CP):

  • Faelan: Locating food, water, and shelter/hiding places.
  • Mathghamhain: Finding Metals and Minerals.
  • Caiside: Finding Charms, Talismans, and Ritual Components.

Other Abilities and Skills (18 CP):

  • Faelan: +1 BAB/Specialized in Bows (3 CP), Track/Wilderness (3 CP), Universal DR 2/0 (3 CP), Innate Enchantment (Serpents Strike, True Strike/Dodge/Save/Skill/Initiative 2/Day Each, and Resistance, 6 CP), Adept (Specialized/Survival and a Bow-based martial art only, 3 CP). Skills: Survival +4, Martial Art +4 (3 SP), Survival +4 (3 SP), Spot +4 (3 SP), Profession/Trapper +4 (3 SP). Charms: All-Weather Cloak, Blessed Bow, and Lucky Charm.
  • Mathghamhain: One level of Priestly Package Deal Spellcasting (Specialized/acolyte only, spells are per week; The Lord, domains are Fertility and Beasts, 5 CP), Presence / Camouflage Aura (6 CP), Relic (Ring of the Woodlands, 1 CP), +2 Will (6 CP), potential for Shapeshift. Skills: Knowledge/Religion +3 (3 SP), Survival +5 (3 SP), Perform/Oratory +5 (3 SP), Profession/Herbalist +5 (3 SP). Charms: Bracers of Force, Lucky Charm, and Sweat Stone. His Fertility Domain grants him the effects of an Amulet of the Stallion and a Contraceptive Charm, as well as the ability to grant those abilities to up to (Wis Mod) others at a time.
  • Caiside: Pathmage x2 (Basic, 4 CP), +4 bonus uses in Triggering (2 CP), Ritual Magic (Specialized in lesser magics only, 3 CP). Adept (His Rune Magic Skills – Earth/Plant and Totem/Animal (he had a wolf-barbarian grandfather), 6 CP), Mindspeech with Animals Only (3 CP). Skills: 6 SP invested in his Int-Based Rune Magic skills (all at +6), 8 SP in +1 (+4 total) in each knowledge, Spellcraft +3 (3 CP). Specialities: Dernmarik, Wolf-Totem Magic, Barbarians, & Getting information from Animals (4 SP). Charms: Bracers of Hurling, Ditty Bag, and Lucky Charm.

Here are some common bonus feats for the villagers, foresters, and other less-than-heroic types with the Dimensional Birthright. Sure, “Action Hero/Heroism” is useful (especially if you skip directly to the +6 CP/you can use Heroism once per day at no cost) and the occasional drastic reality edit can be a lifesaver as well- but it’s small, steady, abilities that really help people in their daily lives.

Forager:

This handy little package lets you reliably produce a certain type of small edit. For example, while finding a great strike might call for the massed reality-editing efforts of dozens of prospectors, workable placer deposits and small veins require much smaller edits.

  • Triggering (Reality Editing), Specialized and Corrupted/only for a specific sub-type of edit; such as finding deposits of metals and minerals, locating food, water, and shelter, finding charms and talismans, finding helpful people, locating routes, finding special herbs and plants, finding easy hunting targets, calming and training animals, and so on (2 CP).
    • As a rule, Minor edits are treated as L1 effects (DC 13), Major ones as L3 (DC 17), and edits beyond that may have their cost reduced by the cost of a Major Edit, but cannot simply be triggered.
  • Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted/only for skill and attribute checks, only for Triggering (4 CP).

Pathmage:

This helpful package allows an Atherian who can’t readily regain mana to still use some Rune Magic even without a high attribute and Magician.

  • Triggering (Rune Magic), Specialized and Corrupted/only for a specific sub-type of Rune Magic; such as Hearthcrafting, Healing, or Light (2 CP).
  • Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted/only for skill and attribute checks, only for Triggering (4 CP).

That’s not a LOT of magical power – and it can never be built up to really high-level spells (although that’s not too important on Atheria) – but it can certainly be convenient. 

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.