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

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. 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.

Verdigrised Forge, Ironclad Pragmatic Engineer and Honorable Defender

And today it’s another requested Eclipse d20 build…

The gate was tiny, and carefully controlled – and from it was drawn a filament of eldritch fire, primordial and unquenchable, an eternal flame to fuel the construct-forge. It was drawn through the complex internal structures, linked to the enchantments, and knotted back upon itself, that it’s puissance would endure as long as the Ironclad it empowered did.

As it’s interior furnaces ignited, never to be quenched in life, Incarnadine Flame – an Ironclad Aide/Guardian for one of the last powerful mages to fight in the Great War – strode forth, a figure of shining bronze and blazing lines of energy.

——————————————————————————————————————

The Ironclads defense had held beyond all expectations, covering the retreat and evacuation of the surviving mortal troops – but the end approached swiftly; the structure of the citadel itself was failing, stone, mortar and protective spellwork alike crumbling before the unrelenting pressure of the assault. Few of the defenders still functioned. Despite Incarnadine Flame’s devotion of its full capacity to repair and reconstruction, it could not keep up with the ever-escalating damage.

It was reinforcing the weakening foundations when the citadel finally fell, leaving Incarnadine Flame buried in the rubble – badly damaged and unable to move or make repairs with rocks in the way. It devoted its remaining capacity to storing repair, construction, and healing magic and went into stand-by mode. Sooner or later, either release or total systems failure would come.

——————————————————————————————————————

Much later, the wars long over, some local villagers gathering building stone from the ruins of a fallen border fortress inadvertently released a verdigrised and battered figure – burning still with the eternal flame that had empowered him so long ago. Fortunately for them, Incarnadine Flame sought information rather than battle with obvious farming village non-combatants. Considerable time had passed, and it was likely that the war was long over.

It was. The army, the government, and even the country which it had served, had passed into history while it endured. The locals, however, seemed to be their descendants – so Incarnadine Flame, now Verdigrised Forge, distributed much of his accumulated magics among them, and used most of the rest rebuilding the Citadel as a local place of safety.

When some bandits were attracted by the sudden local prosperity… it was a most unpleasant surprise to find that the ancient border citadel was once again a place of refuge – and that a long-forgotten people had sent a last guardian across the years to protect their descendants.

There is a new mission; to root out the menaces that threaten the land – and new, if less well-organized than the army of old, adventurer-companions to do it with.

Verdigrised Forge, Ironclad Combat Artificer

Pathfinder Package Deal:

Racial Package: Ironclad (+0 ECL):

Inherent Equipment:

  • Armor and Weapons (674 GP):
    • Masterwork Breastplate (350 GP).
    • 2x Large Heavy Crossbows (200 GP), 2d8, SRD, 19-20/x2, 120 ft.
    • 2x Warhands (Large Dwarven Waraxes, 120 GP, 2d8, 20/x3).
    • 2x Large Sai (4 GP).
  • Masterwork Kits and Tools (1300 GP ):
    • Acrobat’s Staff (Acrobatics, 50 GP), Alchemists Lab (Craft/Alchemy, 500 GP), Augmented Artisian’s Tools (Craft and Profession, 100 GP), Camouflage Cloak and Soft Boots (Stealth, 50 GP), Climbing Claws (Climb, 50 GP), Escape Kit (Escape Artist, 50 GP), Heal (Surgeons Tools, 100 GP), Jeweler’s Loup (Appraise, 50 GP), Ritualists Pouch (Upgraded Spell Components Pouch, Spellcraft and Use Magic Device, 100 GP), Samurai Styling (Intimidate, 50 GP), Spectacles and Ear Trumpet (Perception, 50 GP), Survival Kit (Survival, 50 GP), Thieves Tools (Disable Device, 100 GP)
      • Net: +2 Circumstance Bonus to Acrobatics, Appraise, Climb, Craft, Disable Device, Escape Artist, Heal, Intimidate, Perception, Profession, Spellcraft, Stealth, Survival, and Use Magic Device.
  • Other Tools (850 GP):
    • 6x Wand Chambers (600 GP).
    • Bolt Cutters (6 GP).
    • Bullseye Lantern with Continual Flame and Hood (120 GP).
    • Crowbar (2 GP, +2 to Strength Checks wherever applicable).
    • Grapnel-Firing Crossbow (70 GP).
    • Multipurpose Hammer and Sledge (Big Hands) (2 CP).
    • Silver Holy Symbol (25 GP). Very VERY few Ironclads ever developed clerical powers – but you never knew, and the expense was small.
    • Winch (25 GP).
  • Enchantments (7300 GP):
    • Feathermail (a touch-range Transmutation effect targeting armor, +3 to maximum Dex, -3 to Armor Check Penalty, reduce movement penalty by 10 for 2 rounds/level, Spell Level One x Caster Level One x 2000 GP (Unlimited-Use Use-Activated) x .7 (Personal-Only) = 1400 GP. Despite its weight, Verdigrised Forge is strong enough to act as if it is light and maneuverable.
    • Industrialist/Power Tool: Spell Level One x Caster Level One x 2000 GP (Unlimited-Use Use-Activated) x .5 (Only on his internal “tools”) = 1000 GP. This lets him use his normal saws as chainsaws and circular saws, fire nails into wood at a great rate, jackhammer through cobbles, and so on. In general, he gets a lot more done than any normal human.
    • Inward Holocaust/Perpetual Forge (250 GP). Verdigrised Forge can use his own flames to work and smelt metal, cook, and perform alchemical operations.
    • Repair Functions/Healing Belt (750 GP). The ability to tap into at least a little bit of positive energy each day is invaluable to any Ironclad, and was an extremely common feature.
    • Shock Absorbers/Boots of Landing (500 GP). While unspectacular, this is another common feature – relatively cheap to install and very handy. Wanting to jump down fifteen or twenty feet is pretty common on a ruinous battlefield.
    • Siege Engineer/Unseen Servant: Spell Level One x Caster Level One x 2000 GP (Unlimited-Use Use-Activated) x .5 (Single Purpose: siege support. These automatically load and ready all allied crossbows and siege engines in the immediate vicinity whenever they’re discharged, including his built-in ones – although they will also help build siege engines, buttress walls, and tip cauldrons of boiling stuff. They won’t do other things though) = 1000 GP.
    • Strength of Steel/Immortal Vigor I (+12 + 2x Con Mod HP, Spell Level One x Caster Level One x 2000 GP (Unlimited-Use Use-Activated) x .7 (Personal-Only) = 1400 GP. And this ability, of course, is so common for Ironclad and Mortal combatants alike that it’s barely worth mentioning.

At a total cost of 9124 GP, this equipment package will cost an additional 4 CP to add to the 5000 GP basic racial package.

Available Character Points: 48 (Level One Base) +12 (Disadvantages) +2 (Duties) (+6, GM is awarding L0 and L1 Bonus Feats, even if an Ironclad forfeits the L1 Feat) = 68 CP.

Disadvantage Notes:

  • Some people are good at being stealthy. Others are massive suits of armor filled with blazing magical energies that leak little jets of arcane fire (Incompetent/-5 to Stealth).
  • Verdigrised Forge is a walking magical laboratory and magic-item shop. Not too surprisingly, a lot of people would like to get their hands on such a handy creature (Valuable).
  • Verdigrised Forge KNOWS who created it, and knows perfectly well that they weren’t all that divine (Irreverent).
  • Illiterate (Variant): Verdigrised Forge is decades (or perhaps centuries) out of date on most things. It will be wanting to invest a couple of points in fixing this sometime.

Disadvantages generally aren’t worth the few points they provide – but they can certainly help properly represent a character. 

Basic Attributes: Str 14, Int 16, Wis 14, Con 16, Dex 14, Cha 8 (32 Point Buy, Racial +2 Con, -2 Cha, +2 Pathfinder Bonus to Int).

Basic Abilities (26 CP):

  • Hit Dice: 12 (3d4, L0 16 CP) + 12 (Magic) +15 (Con Mod x 5) = 39. As a side effect of buying a couple of extra hit dice rather than one larger one (which would get 41 HP for the same cost) this raises Verdigrised Forge’s effective “level” for the racial Imbuement power to start off with Light Fortification. That’s unlikely to be critical, but it might help – and if Verdigrised Forge raises his Constitution later on will it eventually show a hit-point profit.
  • Skill Points: 0 (0 CP) + 12 (Int Mod x 4) +8 (Fast Learner) = 20. Using fast learner to cover it’s skill point needs is a bit cheesy, but I’m very short of points for this build.
  • BAB: +1, Specialized in Axes, BAB +1 Specialized in Crossbows, both Corrupted/built-in weapons only (4 CP). Sure, a +1 BAB would cover the Sai’s too, and cost the same – but that wouldn’t help him learn martial arts.
  • Saves:
    • Fortitude: +0 (0 CP) +3 (Con) = +3
    • Reflex: +2 (6 CP) +2 (Dex) = +4
    • Will: +0 (0 CP) +2 (Wis) = +2
  • Proficiencies: None. Relies on built-in weaponry.
  • Initiative: +2 (Dex)
  • Move: 30′
  • Armor Class: 10 +5 (Armor) +2 (Dex) = 17. That’s not so hot for a war machine, even if Verdigrised Forge was never meant to be a front-line fighter. It will have to do something about this later on.

Usual Attacks:

  • Large Heavy Crossbows: +3/+3 (+1 BAB +2 Dex +3 MA -2 Rapid Shot), 2d8, Crit 19-20/x2, Precise Shot.
  • Hands (Large Dwarven WarAxes): +6 (+1 BAB +2 Str +3 MA), 2d8 +2 (Str), 20/x3, Combat Reflexes (3 AoO).

Other Abilities (42 CP):

  • Spent on extra Innate Equipment (4 CP).
  • Fast Learner, Specialized in Skills for Double Effect, Corrupted/only to keep Adept Skills maxed out (4 CP).
  • Adept (Enchantment Rune Magic, Mastery and Casting, Vitrolic Storm Martial Art, and Craft / Alchemy), Corrupted/all equipment used, including bonus-providing magic, must be internal (4 CP).
  • Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted/only for Skills, only for Craft, Disable Device, Knowledge/Arcana, Spellcraft, and Use Magic Device (4 CP).
  • Genesis Forge: The blazing green flames of the Genesis Forge can infuse their magic into base materials, needing only a few runes inscribed to channel their power and turn them into powerful magical devices. Sadly, the process is slow – but it’s still invaluable on field assignments.
    • Equipage with Purchasing and Returns II (80% of value), Specialized and Corrupted/No mundane objects may be purchased or returned, purchasing items requires at least 25% of the time that would normally be required to create them (although this time may be spent doing other things), items purchased must be level-appropriate or below and may NOT require original research (6 CP).
    • Create Item, Specialized and Corrupted/only as a prerequisite (2 CP)
    • Harvest of Artifice, Specialized and Corrupted/only for use with Transmutation, only provides cash, user must specify plot-hooks resulting from such funding (2 CP). This provides 100 XP a month that can only be used for “transmutation”.
    • Transmutation, Specialized and Corrupted/only to produce money, never actually occurs on screen (2 CP).
      • That gives Verdigrised Forge a steady “income” of 200 GP/Month. It seems quite fair to let a character who starts with this ability have most of a years income from it – call it 2000 GP – to supplement his or her (or, in this case, it’s) starting cash.
  • 1d6 (6) Mana with the Resilience Option (6 CP).
  • Rite of Chi, Specialized/requires at least one hour of “rest” per d6 (3 CP).
  • Empowerment, Specialized in Wands (Currently six uses per day for Half Price, 3 CP).
  • Universal DR 2/-, Corrupted/not versus Electrical or Sonic Attacks (2 CP).

Skills:

  • Climb +8 (1 SP +2 Str +3 Pathfinder +2 Gear).
  • Craft/Alchemy: +12 (4 (2*)SP +3 Int +3 Pathfinder +2 Gear).
  • Disable Device: +9 (2 SP +2 Dex +3 Pathfinder +2 Gear).
  • Knowledge/Arcana: +7 (1 SP +3 Int +3 Pathfinder).
  • Perception +8 (1 SP +2 Wis +3 Pathfinder +2 Gear).
  • Profession/Military Engineer: +11 (2 SP +2 Wis +3 Pathfinder +2 Gear).
  • Rune Magic/Enchantment Casting: +10 (4 (2*) SP +3 Int +3 Pathfinder). Creates it’s runic effects at caster level five.
  • Rune Magic/Enchantment Mastery: +10 (4 (2*) SP +3 Int +3 Pathfinder). May create runic effects of up to second level.
  • Spellcraft: +12 (4 (2*) SP +3 Int +3 Pathfinder +2 Gear).
  • Stone-Cutter Form (Martial Art, Con): +8 (2 SP +3 Con +3 Pathfinder).
  • Use Magic Device: +3 (1 SP -1 Cha +3 Pathfinder +2 Gear).
  • Vitrolic Storm (Martial Art, Dex): +9 (4 (2*) SP +2 Dex +3 Pathfinder).

*half cost due to Adept

The Rune Magic skills are Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (the level of spells cast with them are reduced by two). Forge’s spells require at least one minute and are limited to empowering and enhancing items – creating temporary magical items or boosting and tweaking the effects of items that are already magical.

Vitriolic Storm Martial Art (Dex)

This crossbow style focuses on infusing bolts with corrosive mystical energies, eventually gaining the ability to virtually annihilate obstacles and barriers – burning through wood, stone, and metal with the corrosive energies of the user’s art.

  • Requires: +1 BAB specialized in Crossbows, access to Mana.
  • Basic Techniques: Attack 4, Power 4, Synergy/any Military Profession, and Defenses 1.
  • Advanced and Master Techniques: Rapid Reload, Rapid Shot, Precise Shot, and Weapon Kata (Siege Engines).
  • Occult Techniques: Inner Strength, Focused Blow, Touch Strike, and Wrath (Acid).

Known Techniques (5): Attack 3, Rapid Shot and Precise Shot.

and…

Stone-Cutter Form (Con):

This dwarven form focuses on classic dwarven axe techniques – you stand there, you strike at anything that comes near you with your full strength, you take any counterattacks you must, and you smash things…

  • Requires: +1 BAB specialized in Axes.
  • Basic Techniques: Attack 3, Defenses 2, Power 2, Toughness 3.
  • Advanced and Master Techniques: Battlecry, Breaking, Combat Reflexes, Mind Like Moon.
  • Occult Techniques: Inner Strength, Iron Skin, Ki Block, and Vanishing.

Known Techniques (4): Attack 3, Combat Reflexes.

Equipment (2150 GP):

One-Charge Wands (Note that Verdigrised Forge has no native ability to use Wands save for his own, specialized, Rune Magic wands – although he’d be well advised to pick that up soon – and so generally must rely on using Luck to “Take 20″ on Use Magic Device and then Empower the wand with his Mana – of which he currently gets only 1d6+1 (six maximum) points per day – to avoid using a charge. Unfortunately, he generally has no applicable base caster level to boost them with either).

  • Caster Level Seven: Cure Critical Wounds (420 GP).
  • Caster level five: Dispel Magic (225 GP), Fireball (225 GP), Protection From Energy (225 GP), Flame Arrow (225 GP) and Protection from Arrows (225 GP).
  • -These are in his Wand Compartments where they’re handy and safe. At a total of 1545 GP, they take up a three quarters of his equipment budget.

That leaves Verdigrised Forge with some 600 GP worth of gear – and not a lot of actual needs. It may carry some food, clothing, and blankets, either for the convenience of any companions of for folk in need of such things along the way – but Verdigrised Forge itself need not eat or drink, is impervious to normal weather, and needs no clothing, tools, sources of light, armor, bedding, external weapons, or even flint and steel. It can even make its own alchemical items at half cost.

Still, Verdigrised Forge can use a few items. A writing kit can be handy, as can a block and tackle with some rope or chain, a bag of caltrops, a plentiful supply of bolts, and likely a mule to load things on. Other than that… perhaps a few potions?

Verdigrised Forge is hardly the best fighter ever, and isn’t much of a mage or rogue – but it is about as self-sufficient as it’s possible to get, and can provide all kinds of handy backup within a party – especially if it comes down to a siege situation. Further advancement (likely explained as “repairing old internal damage”) will mostly involve upgrading the number of times per day that it can use it’s various abilities, getting more Mana, and adding Imbuement for Crossbows and for its Axe-Hands rather than any rapid increase in power.

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 – Crafting the Essentials

English: Blodwyen Woodrow, a player character ...

I like simple! Lets do it this way!

When you come right down to it, in most d20 games you can buy pretty much what you want. No one wants to hold up the game while one character tries to get the item that he or she just MUST have. Once you left second edition behind… magic items went from rare, marvelous, and often-unique, wonders to items that were casually looted or which were acquired – generally without difficulty or ceremony – during downtime.

If someone spends some feats – or even levels – in item-crafting, this basically amounts to trading in some feats in exchange for extra gear. Since gear can be broken or taken away, a feat has to be worth rather a lot of extra gear to make it a reasonable exchange – but that runs into a problem that’s built into the foundation of the game; levels. More specifically, wealth-by-level and what levels various items are appropriate to. A quantity of extra gear that will let a low-level character utterly dominate the game for many sessions may add up to less than a high-level character will spend on equipping his or her horse. Thus item creation feats… had to provide a continuing bonus based on the amount a stuff a character of a given level was “supposed” to have.

That basically came down to a bonus percentage – making some items cheaper to get if you had the right feat (with the added bonus that it didn’t matter much how you described this if you had the whim to do so). That’s basically just an extension of investing a few skill points (way cheaper than feats in terms of character investment) in crafting so as to get your mundane gear (which was proportionally far less important to your character) more cheaply. The (rather minor) experience point cost was there to make the setting function properly; it meant that NPC’s couldn’t just turn out mountains of magical items, and that player-character crafters couldn’t just write a few years break into their backstory and start with a mountain of stuff. Magical crafting relied on a special resource (those magically-transforming “experience points”) that PC’s got in abundance and that NPC’s rarely got at all.

Like many other rules that only existed to justify the setting, that got dumped in later iterations of the d20 rules – it is only a game after all, and the number of game masters who really enjoyed complex simulationist world-building and worried about justifying the setting without resorting to handwaving is rather limited. Similarly, you don’t need to worry about profit-making backstories and such when you simply say “it doesn’t matter what your character was up to before play; you start with this much money to spend on gear”.

So now it comes down to… You spend a feat or two and you get an extra allowance of stuff. If you call your feat “craft wand”, you can get cheap wands. If you call it “Landlord” you could get a cheap base with some special facilities. But wait! Couldn’t you go and trade some wands – or rings – or fine houses – for other stuff anyway? Isn’t this more “You get some extra funds and sometimes don’t have to go shopping”?

Well, this IS Eclipse, and if THAT is all we need to build it shouldn’t cost too much. The details are a lot less important too; Eclipse characters usually don’t really need much gear to do their thing – so a bit more or less matters a lot less.

So buy…

Equipage with Purchasing and Returns II (80% of value), Specialized and Corrupted/No mundane objects may be purchased or returned, purchasing items requires at least 25% of the time that would normally be required to create them (although this time may be spent doing other things), items purchased must be level-appropriate or below and may NOT require original research (6 CP).

That will let your character “sell” unwanted items for 80% of their value and convert money into desired items without having to stop going out on adventures. How does it work? You might have a web of contacts, who can buy and sell items for you – or you might have a mystical aura that slowly lends magical properties to things while draining magic from other things, or you might spend a few minutes every day inscribing runes on things, or whatever – but the special effects really don’t matter. You’ve spent 6 CP on no longer having to go magic-item shopping during downtime, and so shall it be.

How to represent the extra allotment of stuff is actually harder; Eclipse games don’t always use the default monetary system, and “wealth by level” doesn’t necessarily apply since power isn’t nearly as closely linked to wealth as it is in basic d20 games. You can buy your character an income though – and upgrade it at higher levels. Over time, as your character advances, that will give you a slowly-increasing allotment of extra stuff. Even better, it’s simple enough to rule that taking lots of time off to accumulate extra stuff has severe limits; the more extra stuff you have, the more attractive a target you become. At some point you’ll start attracting higher level types who won’t have any scruples about taking all those extra goodies (and possibly killing you in the process). Ergo, exceeding your allotted “wealth by level” by TOO much is a really bad idea.

And that takes us right to… you get an extra percentage of stuff over and above what you “should” have.

So buy yourself a Stipend, probably at the basic level to start. That’s a LOT of help at lower levels. It’s less of a help at higher levels , but at that point the cost is only a tiny chunk of your available points, rather than being a big part of them – so that’s fair enough.

Stipends were originally a part of a more general article on character equipment over HERE, but for your convenience…

Stipend

Your character receives a regular income from some source of your selection – whether that is their family, various investments, some magical pact, or some other source. Thanks to this, he or she can generally afford a fine lifestyle and some extra gear. You can build this by taking.

  • Create Item, Specialized and Corrupted/only as a prerequisite (2 CP)
  • Harvest of Artifice, Specialized and Corrupted/only for use with Transmutation, only provides cash, user must specify plot-hook sources for his or her funding (2 CP). This provides 100 XP a month that can only be used for “transmutation”.
  • Transmutation, Specialized and Corrupted/only to produce money, never actually occurs on screen (2 CP).

That will give a character a steady income of 200 GP/Month from somewhere or other. It seems quite fair to let a character who starts with this ability have most of a years income from it – call it 2000 GP – to supplement his or her starting cash.

If you want to upgrade your Stipend change some of the Specializations and Corruptions on Harvest of Artifice and/or Transmutation to “Increased Effect”. For another +6 CP – call it “The Midas Touch” – you can get it up to 1200 GP/Month and about 12,000 GP worth of extra starting cash. Of course. if you have this sort of income, why are you adventuring?

As a side-benefit… a minor NPC with this package (or a small variant that eliminates the “level-appropriate” restriction) can produce and sell a steady stream of low-grade potions, scrolls, minor wands, and similar “spellcaster ammunition” items, and can always get what the characters want given time – but won’t have a huge stash of items just begging to be looted, vast magical powers, or unheard-of skills. You can finally justify those stereotypical magic-shop owners who have everything except the stuff you sold them last week (they sold that, and it’s not currently available) and who are easily killed – but can’t be looted.

Of course, if you want magic items to be rare and wonderful again… disallow the conventional stuff and limit characters to creating Artifacts – thus making magic item creation an adventure in it’s own right.

Eclipse d20 – The Ironclad Racial Template

Cygnaran Ironclad

Look, I’m sorry, but it’s management policy! We don’t admit hulking death machines! Please don’t kill me!

The concept is an old one. Things are raised up to send to war in their creator’s place.

Some are drawn from the depths, whether of the mind or of horrific realms. Sometimes it is the dead, whether in spirit or mindless flesh. Sometimes they are things of magic, sometimes machines of war. Sometimes – in a reflection of cruel reality – they are children, whether human children reforged into cold and terrible weapons or intelligences newborn in the heart of ever-more sophisticated military constructs.

Regardless… when such constructs become sophisticated enough to awaken and live – whether that is a recovery of lost humanity or an evolved intelligence – then their creators are faced with the question of what they have done and what their creations have become.

Those creations… rarely care.

The battlefields of the war were becoming unendurable. Flesh-twisting spells, planar poisons, pockets of horrible diseases, places where massed death had opened rifts to the negative planes – either spawning undead or draining everything that approached – slimes, traps, and toxic plants, all combined to make the land impassible, confining the survivors ever more closely into their sheltered cities and the cores of their realms.

In desperation, forbidden tomes were opened, and terrible arts explored. A spark of life was breathed into the armor that there were no longer enough men to wear – and the first Ironclads rose to war. Sapient constructs.

Whatever their secret – whether it was mass sacrifice, the release of spirits that should have remained forever locked away, or the plundering of life yet unborn – it proved impossible to keep it from being stolen. Soon, in the wake of the first, all of the surviving kingdoms began the mass production of Ironclads. Untouched by emotion or conscience, unaffected by the toxins, diseases, and other horrors that saturated the battlefields, “born” armed and ready for war, the Ironclads stood posed to grind the world into dust.

And then… peace broke out. Some ascribe it to some clever diplomat who foresaw an apocalyptic vision of the Ironclads battling over a sterile wasteland, others say that the world was simply tired of war – and some whisper that the Ironclads, with their ever-increasing intelligence and tactical skills concluded that the war was both never-ending and futile, and decreed peace by simply ceasing to fight.

Regardless… in the ensuing centuries many Ironclads have continued to serve in wars or as peacekeepers. Others labor at inscrutable projects – and still others have joined the bands of adventurers who are attempting to probe the ancient battlefields and the ruins of cities lost to the great war – places that even now are filled with terrible dangers.

Ironclads are hulking suits of armor, filled with strange crystals, twisted masses of fiber, gears and parts, leathery strips, belts and pulleys, vessels of strange fluids, and exotic enchantments. They are sexless and, perhaps fortunately, can only “reproduce” individually through the use of mighty rituals. The secrets of mass-producing Ironclads are long lost – although who knows? If an intact factory-forge can be found, or if the ancient secrets of their creation are rediscovered, an army of Ironclads may march once more. They are renowned for their tenacity and – not at all surprisingly – for their prowess in combat.

The basic traits of an Ironclad are…

  • Immunity/Metabolic Effects: an Ironclad does not suffer further damage for being at zero or negative hit point totals regardless of activity, need not sleep, eat, or breathe, does not age, and is immune to poison, sleep effects, paralysis, disease, nausea, fatigue, exhaustion, sickening effects, and energy drain. That’s (Very Common, Major, Great), Specialized and Corrupted/Ironclads do not heal naturally, can be affected by spells that target constructs, metal, or wood, gain only half effect from magical and psionic healing effects, cannot use beneficial drugs (alchemical bonuses), and – even if they do not need to sleep – must rest at least four hours a night and for eight hours to regain spells and such as usual (10 CP). They are, however, “alive”, do have constitution scores, and are entirely vulnerable to unlisted effects as any other character would be.
  • +2 Constitution, -2 to Charisma (Attribute Shift, 6 CP). Ironclads are tough, but have serious problems relating to other people.
  • Innate Enchantment (Variant): An Ironclad comes with up to 5000 GP worth of built-in gear – although it must pay for it’s armor/body out of that allotment. Improvements can be purchased with additional CP as usual for Innate Enchantment (6 CP).
  • Immunity/any need to purchase proficiency with built-in gear. This does not provide proficiency with external gear of the same type (Common, Minor, Minor, 4 CP).
  • Imbuement (Armor), Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect/only their built-in armor (as per Imbuement/Unarmed Attacks), the first five bonus points must be invested in Fortification (6 CP).
  • Anime Master: An Ironclad – being on the upper end of medium size and being constructed of far heavier materials than a normal creature can grapple, overbear, and wield weapons as if it was a Large creature (note that this gives their fists/gauntlets a base damage of 1d4). Sadly, this also means that they cannot swim, tend to collapse furniture, weigh three to four hundred pounds (and are thus rather difficult to haul to safety or up cliffs), and suffer all the problems that entails (4 CP).
  • Pre-programmed: An Ironclad was created programmed for war, and with many standardized attributes. Thus they do not get a first level bonus feat (- 6 CP).

That comes to a total of 30 CP – a +0 ECL race.

Ironclads are quite formidable, if conspicuous, frightening, and more than a bit suspect. Similarly, their list of immunities is formidable – but drastically limits them in other ways. 

Eclipse d20 – Yolande of the Sternwaters

English: Yolande de Brittany

Well, it’s a classic route… Marry into the nobility!

The memories were sharp… Her wings straining to ride the wild winds on the fringes of the Realm of Storms, Yolande had fled, her few possessions that could not be transformed – mostly her steed, Egelbert, in mouse-form – stashed in a Hidden Pocket on a band secured above her clenched talons. Behind her, on the Isles of the Moon, her clan was being enslaved, bound into whatever forms would please their new masters. Her own escape had been little more than luck – and if she could not loose the inevitable pursuit in the Realm of Storms and swiftly confuse the links that her possessions would provide to her in the Dimensional Realm… she would soon be drawn back to face the same fate.

There was little time, and a long way to travel. She had gambled, seeking out the high winds and the great storms to ride their power to either freedom or death.

Her gamble had succeeded.

Slipping into the society of the Alarian Imperium disguised as a young noblewoman sent down from one of the (countless) minor noble families of Dernmarik required little more than taking the necessary props away from some foolish bandits and picking up a few slave-servants at the first market after entering the Imperium. Surely, among the mind-blind, it would not be difficult to find a place…

It was not long before she encountered Darius – and soon came to trust him enough to reveal her true nature. Now that a chance to found new domains has opened to the north, she is a partner in his attempt to move out of the role’ of a younger son and into a position as a ruler in his own right – even if of a minor, and newly-founded realm. Such a place can be nurtured and built upon.

At the moment Yolande is a witch and shaman – subtle and flexible powers that lack the raw power to blast enemies, but which can be of tremendous help in many other situations. While she has little skill in managing or promoting a domain as of yet, she will probably be developing such talents quite rapidly indeed…

Yolande of the Sternwaters

Atherian Lunar Birthright Witch

Available Character Points: 120 (L4 Base) + 18 (L1, L2, L4 Bonus Feats) +8 (Duties/Tending to the Outpost) +10 (Disadvantages: Compulsive Prankster, History, Hunted) = 156 CP.

Atherian Lunar Birthright Human (+0 ECL):

  • Basic Witchcraft I (6 CP).
  • Fast Learner, Specialized in Witchcraft for +2 CP/Level (6 CP). (Currently +14 CP).
  • +1 Bonus Feat (6 CP): Fast Learner, Specialized in Skills for +2 SP/Level (Currently +14 SP).
  • +3d6 (11) Power (as Mana) with Unskilled Magic (Psychic) Effects (6 CP)
  • Shapeshift (6 CP).

Her bonus points from Fast Learner have been spent on: Witchcraft II and III (12 CP), and Wrath of the Sea (Corrupted/costs 2 Power to per ten minutes, 4 CP).

Attributes: Strength 10 (+0), Dexterity 16 (+3), Constitution 12 (+1), Intelligence 14 (+2), Wisdom 13 (+1), Charisma 17 (21) (+5). Self-Development: +1 Dexterity L2, +1 Charisma L4.

Basic Abilities (66 CP):

  • Hit Dice: 15 (4d6, 8 CP) +12 (Magic) +6 (Con Mod x 6) = 33
  • Skill Points: 16 (Purchased, 16 CP) + 14 (Int Mod x 7) + 14 (Fast Learner) = 48 SP.
  • BAB: +3 (18 CP).
  • Saves:
    • Fortitude: +1 (3 CP) +1 (Con) +1 (Res) +1 (Mor) = +4
    • Reflex: +2 (6 CP) +3 (Dex) +1 (Res) +1 (Mor) = +7
    • Will: +2 (6 CP) +1 (Wis) +1 (Res) +1 (Mor) = +5
  • Proficiencies: All Simple Weapons & Light Armor (6 CP)
  • Initiative: +3 (Dex)
  • Move: 30′
  • Armor Class: 10 +3 (Dex) +4 (Armor) +4 (Shield) = 21.

Usual Attacks:

  • Quarterstave: +8 (+3 BAB +1 Mor, +3 Str +1 Enh), 2d6 +1 (Enh) +3 (Str) +1 (Mor), Crit 20/x2.

Wealth Level: Well-Off (3 CP).

  • Armor, Shields, and Weapons: You can afford full plate armor, exotic weapons, longbows and specialized equipment. Still, at least for the time, masterwork equipment remains out of reach.
  • Magical Items: Three charms and one talisman.
  • Mounts, Pets, and Familiars: You can afford high quality common animals, trained warhorses, and so on. Exotic imports are still simply too expensive.
  • Retainers: You may have a couple of competent and loyal guards and assistants, possibly connections with an eccentric hedge wizard or minor priest (these are often related to you, and prone to sending you on odd missions or having weird visions), and quite a few employees and general gofers. (As if Affluent due to Spirit Binding powers).
  • Skill Bonuses: Yolande actually started at this wealth level, since her family was prosperous for the Ourathan Isles. She gains a +2 Wealth bonus to Diplomacy and Perform/Flute.

Other Abilities (90 CP)

  • Adept/Ourathan Scout (Hide, Move Silently, Survival, and Swim) (6 CP)
  • Basic Witchcraft III (6 CP): Base Power 13. Save DC Will 18, Pacts of Missions, Spirit, and Susceptibility/Iron stops spellcasting. These pay for the advanced Witchcraft Abilities: Spirit Binding, Advanced Spirit Binding, and The Secret Order (+4 Power, 28 total base, has all basic witchcraft abilities). Direct purchase of Darksense (6 CP).
  • +6 levels of the Wilder Power Progression, with no caster levels, Corrupted/gets no psionic abilities, only Power (12 CP). (+35 Power, 63 Total).
  • Block/Melee (6 CP)
  • Fortune/Evasion (6 CP)
  • Growth and Shrinking for Shapeshifting (6 CP)
  • Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized in Saving Throws (6 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment/Sternwater Bloodline (8 CP/7000 GP): All 1st level, Personal Only.
    • Immortal vigor I (1400 GP): +12 + (Con Mod x 2) HP.
    • Resist elements (1400 GP)
    • Shillelagh (1400 GP): Any quarterstaff or club wielded by this character counts as a Large +1 magic weapon.
    • Sustenance (1400 GP): Doubles breathing time and halves food and sleep needs.
    • Void sheath (700 GP)
    • Resistance (700 GP).
  • Reflex Training/Combat Reflexes Variant (6 CP)

Shamanic Magic: Path of the Dragon/Shaping, Pulse, and Heart of the Dragon II (gather one spell level per round, may shape effects of up to L1), Specialized and Corrupted 1/3 Cost, User must call on spirits for magic other than Spirit Sight and Spirit Contact effects (10 CP). Yoland may designate up to (Cha Mod + ECL/2 rounded up, 12 maximum) specific entities or general types of spirits to call on for appropriate types of magic, but each type may only be called on for a total of [(Cha Mod + ECL)/2 rounded up)] spell levels’ worth of magic before the user must rebuild her “pool” of “favors.” Worse, the user may only renew such “pools” slowly. The user regains [(Cha Mod + ECL)/2 rounded up)] points per day through minor rituals and respect for her spiritual patrons. She may also regain (Cha Mod) points by:

  • Fulfilling a special request from the Spirits. For example, fire spirits might want the user to arrange a fireworks display, while water spirits might want a spring cleaned out and purified. The user may simply ask the GM each day about possible tasks; there will usually be two or three available, but there’s no guarantee that any of them will be even remotely practical.
  • Enacting a ritual in honor of some type of spirits. You might sit out in a storm meditating on its power for a night in honor of the air spirits, burn rare woods, incense, and oils in honor of the fire spirits, or conduct a religious ceremony in honor of outer-planar spirits.
  • Promising to undertake a later mission for the appropriate group of spirits. It’s wise to take a few rounds to find out what they’re going to want you to do, but sometimes people are just desperate.
  • Simply talking the spirits into it. This requires 1d4 hours of quiet meditation and a DC 18 Diplomacy or Knowledge/Religion check and can only be done once per day – although you can try until you do succeed. .
  • Expending a Major Spirit Favor, up to once per day per spirit type.

Yolande’s available entities include Air, Earth, Fire, Water, Darkness, and Nature spirits and the King of Stern Waters, who is also her patron for Witchcraft.

Acquired due to her marriage to Darius:

  • Order Birthright Package Deal (Innate Enchantment. Specialized: only works with a high-ranking in-empire patron to channel the magic of Order to the user, double effect (6 CP/10,000 GP). Enhance Charms and Talismans (L2 spell effect, increasing the effects of Charms to L1 and those of Talismans to L2. Personal charms only, 8400 GP) and Inspiring Word (personal only, +1 Morale bonus to Saves, Attacks, Checks, and Weapon Damage).
    • Charms (3): Mage Armor, +3 to Wisdom-Based Skills, and Shield.
    • Talismans (1 ): +4 Charisma.

Retainers: Yolande has Drusila (Order Birthright), her loyal handmaiden, and Edelbert a kid/familiar from the Isles (restricted to Mouse and Horse forms), and a dozen house staffers – a mix of employees and slaves given as wedding presents.

Skills (All +1 Morale, +2 for Tier 2 skills, +3 Competence on Wisdom-based skills)

  • Tier I (1 SP/Level)
    • Diplomacy (Cha+Wealth) +15 (7 SP)
    • Hide (Dex) +11 (3.5 SP)
    • Knowledge/Arcana (Int) +10 (7 SP)
    • Knowledge/Geography (Int) +10 (7 SP)
    • Move Silently (Dex) +11 (3.5 SP)
    • Sense/Spot (Wis) +12 (7 SP)
    • Spellcraft (Int) +10 (4 SP)
    • Survival (Wis) +12 (3.5 SP)
    • Swim (Str) +4 (1.5 SP)
  • Tier II (1 SP/2 Levels)
    • Perform/Flute (Cha+Wealth) +11 (1 SP)
    • Sense/Listen (Wis) +13 (3.5 SP)

Yes, Yolande – like the game she’s in – is using the Skill Tier System from the d20 Practical Skill Redesign segment.

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.

Tragic Villainy, Atheria and the Weasel Totem Birthright

Barbarians according to Chinese cosmology.

Yeah. They’re everywhere. 

Epic villainy… is easy. You need a powerful villain, some nasty minions, some generic innocents to threaten, and one or more difficult-and-dangerous ways in which he, she, it, or they can be stopped – hopefully forever. Sure, there may be a few people wavering in the middle – the confused, victims of blackmail, and so on – but the issues are black and white. Such characters choices will soon enough place them firmly on one side or the other, even if – every once in awhile – there will be alliances of convenience among those with opposing viewpoints.

Sometimes you want a little more complexity though. Then you want tragedy instead of villainy – people doing the wrong things for the right reasons, situations where both sides are in the right but only one can prevail, times when your obvious villains are simply desperate people coping as best they can. At least in role playing games, where player characters may often grow to possess skills and powers far beyond the powers of many mythological gods, such situations can usually be solved as well.

It’s just not as easy to figure out or as straightforward as “defeat the bad guy” is.

On Atheria, the land of their birth grants every child a Birthright – a suite of powers unique to that realm. In the “barbarian lands”, the realm of Totemistic Magic, newborns receive a suite of animalistic powers – normally taking after their mother, although there are occasional exceptions. 

So lets take a look at the…

Atherian Weasel Totem Birthright (Human)

  • Racial Bonuses: 
    • +2 Strength (4 CP, +2 Str, -2 Cha in worlds that are not using the half-price attribute rule).
    • +12 Dexterity (24 CP, only +6 in worlds that are not using the half-price attribute rule).
    • Innate Enchantment, Specialized for Half Effect (2500 GP, 3 CP): Serpents Strike (+1 Melee Attack whenever needed in a round) and +2 Strength.
    • Fast Learner, Specialized/Dexterity-Based Skills Only, only to keep Adept skills maxed out, +1 SP/Level (2 CP).
    • Adept, Specialized, two skills only (Weasel Form Martial Arts and Tumble) (2 CP).
    • +7 Racial Bonus on Weasel Form (Meaning that they all get at least four techniques when fighting unarmed – Strike (for 1d4, considered armed), Power 1 (raises the base to 1d6), Attack 1 (at +1 to hit), and Combat Reflexes) (3 CP).
    • Scent, Specialized (2 CP), -4 on saving throws against related assaults, must make (low) will saves to resist the attraction of food.
      • All of these powers are Corrupted: they give “barbarians” animalistic features and instincts (this may cause serious problems when they fail relevant Will checks), make them very distinct, create many social and organizational problems, leave them unable to move beyond a tribal civilization, and cause most other realms to see them as just a bit subhuman.
  • Racial Disadvantages (-10 CP):
    • Relentlessly Hyperactive: May not spend more than 1 SP on Int-based skills per 4 SP spent on dex-based skills, irritates people, must roll to stay focused on any one project for long, cannot use prepared spells.
    • Hypermetabolism: Must eat a LOT of high-energy foods, poisons require second saves in three rounds, can starve to death rather quickly. They also have an average body temperature of about 105, a heartrate of 160+, and age a bit faster than usual – but that’s not very important.
    • Feeding Frenzy: if they go more than two days without food, they will go insane with hunger and will not regain sanity until they’re stuffed full.
  • Restriction: Cannot wear anything beyond light armor; it’s just too confining – and they will soon become quite frantic if tied up or closely restrained (+1 CP/Level).

So how does this powerful “racial” package turn into racial tragedy?

The Weasel Clans… are pretty common villains around the Totemistic Magic Realm. They’re casual killers, eat their enemies and each other, allow – or sometimes even force – their children to fight to the death, and show virtually no remorse.

That isn’t because they’re “born evil”. It’s because they have no choice.

An adult with the Weasel (Ferret, Mink, Etc) Totem Birthright needs about 16,000 calories a day to survive. It simply isn’t physically possible for a human or near-human to eat enough vegetables and fruits to even approach that amount on a daily basis. They can supplement their diet to some extent with nuts, honey, milk, and a few sugar-rich items – but their digestion simply has to work too fast to handle complex carbohydrates as a major energy source. They need meat, and fat, and blood, and lots of it.

Even other carnivore-totem barbarians rarely need anything even approaching that amount of calories – which means that they may want a high proportion of meat in their diet, but they can still eat a wide variety of grains and fruits, and even some vegetables.

The land that will support fifty herbivore-styled barbarians by farming and gathering will support a dozen canine or feline styled barbarians through hunting, herding, and casual agriculture – and might support two weasel clan barbarians through herding and hunting if they’re lucky.

Individual weasel clansmen are deadly, and have a modest edge on a lot of the other barbarian types – but it’s nowhere near enough of an edge to make up for odds of six to one. The Weasel Clan inevitably gets pushed to the marginal territories that no one else wants – where there is even LESS food.

As a result, they survive on the thinnest of margins. They have no time for any kind of education or study even if they could sit still for that long. They live fast, they have many children – most of whom die, or kill each other, and are eaten – and even the ones who reach adulthood don’t have a very long life expectancy. They aren’t even generally valued much as slaves outside of speciality roles as killers and bodyguards; they eat too much and they can’t sit still to work on delicate tasks that take advantage of their incredible dexterity.

So periodically… either there are a few prosperous years, and their population shoots up (only to become utterly desperate as things go back to normal) or some disaster creates an opening – and the Weasel Clans come pouring out of the wilderness to kill, and eat, and perhaps to live – or at least to die fighting.

If they manage to hold an area outside of the Totemistic Lands for a time… their children are born with that areas Birthright instead of as Weasel Barbarians – and they will become the local population. If they manage to take a better area of the Totem Domain for a time… inevitably they are slowly pushed back to the barren wilderness.

Equally inevitably, some survive – at the very worst, people from other realms giving birth in the totemistic domain will produce occasional weasel-birthright offspring – and the cycle begins again.

As individuals, Weasel Barbarians can be friendly, playful, protective – and even fluffy and cute. In organized groups, working for someone who can keep them fed, they are deadly mercenaries. In large numbers… they are a murderous plague.

Is that horrific cycle fixable? Certainly! It wouldn’t be EASY, but very little is out of reach for a bunch of determined player characters. But until someone does fix it… it will be an ongoing generational tragedy.

Excuse me… Asmodeus, Count Dracula, Darth Vader, Freddy Kruger, General Zod, Hannibal Lector, Martian Invaders, Sauron, Senator Palpatine, Skynet, Smaug, and Wicked Witch of the West… You can all go home now. It looks like we won’t be needing you after all.

Blandly Neutral: The Berzerker

Lukas Scourgeson, The Black Beast

Every now and then, some monarch – particularly those with solid characters levels from adventuring xp – decides they need a stronger heir. After all, what good is a well-educated prince with no levels to back it up? (The answer in DnD3/3.5 is “Not Much”) On the other hand, if you send the kid out on adventure, he’s quite likely to die. You can try to spend for oodles of magic items, of course, but budgets are always tight and then there’s the problem of making them too dependent on the magical gear way above their level, etc.

Solution? It’s easy! Just get a deity or power to imbue said offspring with a nice, powerful template. A single level’s worth is quite a lot of power and if well-designed offers a great deal of survivability. Even if that prince doesn’t turn out to be terribly great as a warrior, he’s likely to be competent. Everybody wins! Except – there’s often a cost for having extreme superpowers stuffed into children. Sometimes physical, sometimes social – and sometimes psychological. Sometimes what you get isn’t even quite human.

Enter Lukas Scourgeson, often known as the Black Beast due to the way the blood coating his armor tends to make it look black on the battle-field. As a child, Lukas received the most powerful available blessing of a deity of the wild. The results were everything his father demanded and more. Lukas is incredibly strong, able to survive horrendous amounts of damage, and can kill anything within reach. There’s only the slightest of side effects… that he’s become dangerously psychotic, prone to random rages and with an unstoppable love of killing for its own sake. Given how hard it is to stop him, the kingdom preferentially keeps him out on various campaigns, where he can indulge his violent whims without repercussion. Of course, this now threatens to plunge the kingdom into horrible war as those same neighbors fear that Lukas might grow even more powerful with time, and don’t much appreciate being raided by a remorseless killer.

That suits Lukas just fine. He has no problem whatsoever commanding an army to victory or death (and those are the only options he considers). He has no care for his own life, no interest in legacies or greater power. He exists to hunt everything he can reach – an incarnation of nature red in tooth and claw. This doesn’t he’s stupid, however. Although not particularly brilliant, he’s surprisingly quick to exploit weaknesses and utterly merciless in doing so. He’s quite capable of inspiring loyalty among his men and has no reason to murder those who follow him – which are men, given his royal birth, success in battle, and frenetically inspirational nature. Eventually, Lukas will likely die a death that will echo in a dozen epics for eons to come, or fashion a huge kingdom over the bodies of his victims. He won’t care which.

Lukas Scourgeson

Chaotic Neutral Level 7 Black Beast

Disadvantages: Irreverent, Insane, and Poor Reputation

Attribute Base (w/ bonuses) /While Raging
Strength 18 (20) /28
Dexterity 13
Constitution 24 /32
Intelligence 11
Wisdom 11
Charisma 15 (17) /21

As you can see, this is not a character most players will want to enter melee with. He’s not unstoppable based on raw stats, but think very carefully before getting within reach of his sword. Note that he *doesn’t* have a racial template. You can instantly make him anything would want, and it won’t matter much.

Disadvantages: Irreverent, Insane, and Poor Reputation. Poor Reputation applies both within and outside of his country. People are rather afraid of him.

HP: 1d20+5d10+42+30 (46)
Warcraft: +6 (36)
Saving Throws: +9 (27)
Skill Points: 18 (12)
Proficiencies: (1)
Special Abilities: (46)
(168)

Lukas has exactly 10 points left over after this, which is enough for a couple feats if one is specialized, buying a few additional skills or saves, or whatever else you might want. It may be a good idea spending them in a way to make him resistant to any one “Big Gun” attack or tool the players have. For example, if they run around using mind-affecting spells on enemies, give him an extra saving throw against those effects or some Luck. Or if they like teleporting huge vats of flaming oil, give him some additional resistance to non-magical energy damage. The point isn’t to make him invulnerable, but to keep hi in the fight long enough to be a threat, or force the players to think very creatively. If nothing else, hand him a couple healing options as he’s got a very unpleasant way to make use of it, or Power Attack and let him destroy a middling-AC creature.

Raging Beast Template (63)
Self Development 4 (24)
Damage Reduction 8/- Specialized: Weak to Destined Heroes (9)
Stoic, Improved, Ferocity, Juggernaut (21)
Berzerker, Odinpower, Odinmight (12) [+8 Str, +8 Con, +4 Cha, -2 AC]

Yeah. I think you get the point. Note the weakness mentioned above. It may mean the power which gave him this template has an obnoxious sense of humor, or it may actually be that Lukas was a convenient threat to force a real Destined hero to develop the skills to defeat him. And if the party doesn’t have a convenient hero available, they might have to find one. Or perhaps, create one…

Skills

Intimidate 11 (9 ranks +2 Cha)
Martial Arts 14 (9 ranks +5 Str)

Lukas uses a variant of Adamantine Fist. Use Power 4, Toughness 2, and Attack 1.

Greatsword Proficiency (1)

I really hate spending lots of points on weapon proficiencies, when most characters only want to use a specific one anyway.

Cleave, +Great Cleave (12)
Leadership (6)
Reflex Training: Heal Self, Triggered by going below 0 hp (6)
Returning: Can only be killed in a suitably epic confrontation (6)

And we have massive melee threat, a convenient cleric to heal him and maybe a couple warriors or wizard sidekicks, the ability to instantly put his wealth back in order, and he’ll miraculously survive if not taken down in a suitably epic manner. In short, he’s a massive pain and may require the party to kill him a few times before they figure out how to seal the deal. Exactly what this means depends on the deity who gave him the original template: Lukas won’t die until that deity thinks the battle was worthwhile. It also means they really can’t poison his coffee or exploit save-or-die spamming.

Innate Enchantment (6)
Charisma +2 (1400)
Strength +2 (1400)
Bonus Attack (1400)
Free Healing Belt (750)

If nothing else, this is a convenient way to give him some healing while increasing his melee threat.

Relics

Highblade of the Highlands (4)
Greatsword with Imbuement, Improved Superior (Currently +3 Greatsword)
Reflex Training: 3 Free Actions (6)

Armor of the Jotun (6)
Heavy Armor Proficiency (15)
Mighty Grant of Aid (9)
Augment Bonus: Str to HP (12)

These are extremely nice relics, and anyone who kills Lukas has definitely earned them. Of course, you’ll have to take them first, which means he’ll eagerly use their full effects on the party first.

Collected Stats

147 HP
•BAB: +11 = +6 +5 (Str) [+15 in Rage]
•Fortitude: +12 = +5 +7 (Con)
•Reflex: +1 = +0 +0 (Dex)
•Will: +4 = +4 +0 (Wis)
•Initiative: +1 (Dex)
•Move: 30
•Armor Class: 10 +1 (Dex) +8 (Armor)

•Greatsword: +15 = +6 +5 (Str) +1 (Attack) +3 (Relic) [+19 in Rage]
•+15/+15/+10 [+19/+19/+14]; 2d10+5 [2d10+9]

Lukas has tactical weaknesses based on lackof flexibility, but not as much as you might think. Remember that he has a few bonus Reflex Actions every day usable for anything he wants – and the best option is usually to move right up into an enemy’s face, preferably a spellcaster. He’ll basically ignore any Attacks of Opportunity – that’s what his sizable health pool is for. And if he does get hurt enough to drop him below 0 hit points, he’ll use an immediate action to boost himself back up. Of course, he’ll also have a standard NPC cleric and wizard at level 4 to assist, along with a couple well-trained level 4 Fighters. Although these shouldn’t prove a massive threat, they’re strong enough to keep the party from completely overwhelming the Black Beast, and expanding his tactical options. Lukas *could* learn to use a bow or some such… but he doesn’t much care to. He has soldiers to kill things at ranges too far to taste the arterial spray from each kill.

Perhaps the easiest way to deal with Lukas is to… help him. No, really – he wants a giant bloody battle. If there’s an invading undead horde or a legion of the damned, the Scourgeson is a huge asset. At worst, he kills massive numbers of the enemy. At best, he kills massive numbers of the enemy and then dies in a climactic battle with some other enemy – thus giving the players the perfect opportunity to finish off the evil threat.

Eventually, Lukas might actually get tired of killing if he gets old enough to become bored by it. Even the oldest wolf eventually goes a bit grey, after all. The real trick is for the players to make sure there’s a civilization left, as Lukas would likely be very high level indeed by the time he hangs up the greatsword for good.

Do-It-Yourself Charms and Talismans VIII – The Forces From Beyond

A Daoist fulu talisman

A Daoist Fulu Talisman

And here we have the final article in this particular series – at least unless some more suggestions pop up. This time around we have devices that channel exotic power sources, some stealth-related knick-knacks, primordial metamagic, and – of course – random oddities and design theory discussions.

Dark Torch: 10′ radius “light” that reveals all details within its radius, but does not give off a light that can be seen from outside that radius. -Brett

Now this is very classic – the good old “Hand of Glory” effect – and could be very useful in some situations while not actually being very powerful, which is pretty much the hallmark of a good Charm or Talisman. A torch seems a bit odd for a Talisman though, given that torches are sort of inherently disposable. I’d tweak this slightly:

(Tweak) Thief’s Lantern (Talisman): This simple lantern may be fitted with a candle, filled with oil, or even be filled with a Light or Continual Flame spell. Whatever the source of light may be, it is as radiant as ever – but its light, and all the reflected light from the things it reveals, simply vanishes once it goes beyond ten feet of the lantern. From beyond that radius, the area appears as it would if the light source within the lantern was not present at all – a boon to thieves and rogues.

It must be noted that combining a Thief’s Lantern with a Talismanic Sunstone makes a rather exotic weapon; you can blast someone within 10′ with a deadly bolt of solar energy – and no one more than ten feet away will be able to see it. Add a Continuous Flame spell to the Sunstone and it’s about as concealed as a weapon can get – and it’s damaging effect is not even magical; a Sunstone simply stores natural sunlight. It is one-shot (at least until recharged), but it will almost certainly be a surprise; relatively few lanterns can be held up to illuminate something – and then will abruptly blast it with solar energy.

(Suggested) Inextinguishable Torch (Charm): Once soaked in oil and ignited, this torch simply will not go out. Even if you grind it into sand or plunge it into water, the flames may be a bit subdued, but they will not go out. When the twenty-four hours are up, a minute or two of soaking in oil will have the Inextinguishable Torch ready for use again.

Lens Darksight: 20′ Darkvision, but Light Sensitivity -Brett

Well, granting 60′ Darksight for an hour per level is a level two spell; Talismans with effects that powerful usually have substantial drawbacks though – and while 20′ is weaker, and can be quite restrictive in combat, it’s not much of a hindrance to moving around without showing a light – which is about all this is good for. Light-sensitivity is any annoying problem for a race, but less of one in a Talisman that you can just take off – and if there’s light, you won’t need it anyway. If you don’t want to go with the Thief’s Lantern – perhaps you’re working with people who have decent Darksight – they might come in handy though.

(Replacement) Eyepatch of the Night (Talisman): This dark eyepatch lets the user “see” normally out to 30′ in any conditions where Darksight would function – but does so by greatly boosting the user’s night vision. The user suffers from a -6 on saves against light-based attacks while this augmented vision is in use and will suffer from gradual sensory overload, taking a -1 cumulative penalty on perception-related checks for each hour or part thereof that this ability is used until the user spends at least eight hours resting without using the eyepatch.

Elemental Arcanix: A bound minor elemental gives the user of this amulet a few cantrip options. It may be possible to have a version of this that has other similar effects by replacing some or all of the options below.

  • Lance, swift action, get 10′ 1d4 elemental “long spear” that grants reach and can be used to strike adjacent targets as the entire spear effectively is a striking surface, can be wielded with one hand, does not get strength mod, lasts for 1 round and is a touch attack.
  • Ball standard action 10′ radius close range Reflex Negates
  • Dart standard action, 1d6 elemental attack, close range, ranged touch
  • Burst standard action, 15′ radius 60′ range, Reflex for Half, 1d8 elemental damage the spell goes to the target area and does not detonate until the next round, during this delay the area of the spell obviously glows clearly indicating the location and intent of the spell. -Brett

I’m not quite sure of the intent here really; does it give a spellcaster access to each of those effects as a cantrip? Aren’t they pretty powerful for cantrips? (After all, the Ray of Frost cantrip has close range, requires a ranged touch attack check, is single target, and does 1d3 damage, which is pretty standard for cantrips). How will that combine with unlimited use of cantrips such as Pathfinder uses? Alternatively, is this meant to allow each of those effects to be used once per day – or is it meant to allow unlimited use of them?

Personally, it looks to me like this one is based on the Spirit Pearl. That particular item IS quite powerful – but as it says… “Occasional magi imprison outsiders within pearls. Set into amulets, such pearls can be used as Talismans…”.

The trick there is that the amulet-Talisman isn’t doing the imprisoning; it’s just allowing the user to project the aura of the imprisoned outsider to cover up his or her own – and allows the bearer to engage in a battle of wills with the imprisoned outsider to try to force it to use one of it’s powers on the user’s behalf up to three times a day. Of course, if the user loses that battle the creature inside may use one of it’s powers however it wills. That probably won’t be too bad if it happens to be a Mephit. If it happens to be a major demon, that may be disastrous –

It is quite possible use a Charm or Talisman tap into and channel the energies of a specific external power source though; if you just happen to have the Unquenchable Ever-Burning Heart of the Salamander King handy it would be quite reasonable (well, OK, maybe “reasonable” is NOT the word) to hook it up to an especially-designed charm to let you throw Scorching Rays all day long – or to a Talisman to offer a modest selection of fire-related powers rather than just one. Such powers still won’t be very sophisticated, and will thus be of low level – these are still just charms and talismans, even if you are hooking them up to a big power sources instead of relying on a trickle of personal energy – but they’ll be much more inclined towards “unlimited use” and the duplication of actual spell effects rather than “a few times per day” and “small but interesting”. Of course, if your power source is sapient and unwilling… you’d better expect to have it act up every so often.

The trouble is, such sources of power are generally unique, the charms and talismans that tap into them are likely to be equally unique, and exactly what is possible is going to vary from GM to GM and from power source to power source – and thus there’s no particular rule for them. If you want to get a little exotic you could make a character based on this notion: Buy Leadership (assorted outsiders) and the use of Charms and Talismans if the world doesn’t allow it already, and have your “followers” represent the spirits you can bind. That way you could have a small selection of fairly potent items that would grow with your character – but if you died, all the spirits that you had bound to your service would go free…

So while there are definite possibilities here I don’t think that this particular device is going to work as a simple Talisman. Now if you can somehow obtain an elemental’s services, whether by binding, bargaining, or authority, to power your device… that’s quite a different matter.

Shadow Self: Gives a shadow clone, if destroyed deals 1d10 HP burn (heal 1 point per day like damaged attribute) dazed 1 min, 1d8 Con,Wis and Cha ability burn. This shadow clone is treated as having 1/5th of the users levels, HP and other effects. It is also only 20% real and the rest is made of shadow stuff, the Will Save is DC 10+users Cha Mod. This shadow clone is partially incorporeal, it is unable to go through solid objects, but can go through objects that have gaps of roughly 9 square inches of any shape, for example it can slowly fit through most doors by going under them, but a tightly fitted door would stymie it. It can be damaged by nonmagical sources if the wielder of such makes the same Will save as a swift action (not all creatures will be aware of this option and obviously objects aren’t, training an animal to know this counts as an advanced trick). Magical sources are fully effective against it. -Brett

OK… this is a weaker version of Simulacrum; it’s only 40% as effective and can only copy the user, but it has no permanent XP cost, the Simulacrum has a special capability of its own, and it’s harder to damage – and totally immune to traps, making it an indestructible trap-springer. Simulacrum is level seven. I’d peg this at about level five or six – far beyond the capabilities of a Charm or Talisman.

Still, there’s something we can do here.

(Replacement) Shadow Phylactery (Talisman): Coiling shadow-stuff gradually builds up in the heart of this crystal pendant, gathering strength. The user may expend 2d4 hit points to imbue his or her personal shadow with the stuff of the realm of shadows, transforming it into a useful servant – equivalent to an Unseen Servant augmented by an Unseen Supervisor spell. The effect is even handier because the shadow can fit through very small spaces and pass through transparent materials – allowing it to slip beneath doors and through windows. While such a servant exists, however, the user will cast no shadow – and if it is forcibly destroyed, he or she will take another 2d4 point so of damage and one point of attribute damage each to Constitution, Wisdom, and Charisma. Until those points are recovered, however, the user’s shadow will not return.

Pouch Rainbows: Color Spray good for 4d6 uses, can also be laid out in the form of a trap for the first person to walk on it, it must be uncovered and visible, if the person triggering the trap is blind, shutting their eyes or otherwise can’t perceive the sand they are unaffected by it. -Brett

Even if this is at casting level one, this is pretty awkward. After all, if this works… why not a pouch of Healing (Cure Light Wounds), or Sleeping Sands, or Floating Disk Crystals? Or a glove of Shocking Grasp? A first level party using the Shaping system for Charms and Talismans might go adventuring with fifty spells each in reserve. That’s a bit much – and is one reason why the actual Pouch of Rainbows Enchantment on page 157 costs 922 GP – and while it holds more charges, it doesn’t let you set them up as a trap.

Less importantly, if still of note, is that Color Spray is a VERY potent spell at low levels.

This might work as an alchemical item (probably about 20 GP per pinch / color spray). It might also work as a natural talisman – something precious that’s occasionally found but which can’t be readily duplicated. Of course, in this case… you’re basically looking at the old “partially used wand” in a slightly more exotic form. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it really isn’t what a Talisman is supposed to be.

Tree of Life: Gives double natural healing or holds in abeyance the effects of any disease or poison for those under the tree, this still allows them to heal this damage and fight off the disease or poison. If the user leaves the tree they will experience the full damage that the tree was buffering. -Brett

This is problematic, simply because it’s a tree – and in general people can’t make those while they CAN make talismans. Is this something you do to a seed? How long does such a tree take to grow? Even if this is a natural Talisman… how did anyone find out about it’s properties to begin with? “Sam is hurt/poisoned/sick, so I think I’ll spend the afternoon attuning to this tree to see if it does anything”?

Secondarily, of course, Delay Poison, Area Effect, and Mitigate Disease Area Effect are relatively potent effects – about a level two base modified from single target to area. This sounds to me more like a very minor Ward Major, a natural place of magic, or perhaps a divine gift rather than a Talisman. After all, as a Talisman… I’d expect every hospital to have at least one of the things planted somewhere about.

Boundary Stone: A permanent Alarm effect, can be specifically used to make trip wires, door chimes etc in addition to the normal effects of Alarm. -Brett

This one works just fine. The effect is already low-powered, has a long duration, is rather subtle, and is very conditional and thus hardly a “must have” effect – which is pretty much ideal for a Talisman.

Most Charms and Talismans don’t offer direct game-mechanical bonuses or give very minor ones at best – and there’s a reason for that; it’s so that items like the Firespice Shaker, Foothold Boots, or Enscrolled Gameboard will be things that characters actually take, rather than list-filler that pads out the space between the dozen or so items that offer the best bonuses and thus are the only items that most characters will actually consider. Thus most of the Charms and Talismans that made the original list can be useful if you’re clever – but more often they’re characterization details.

The Order Birthright on Atheria included a playtest of that idea. One of the abilities that it gave was a power that empowered Charms and Talismans through a personal, power-supplying, innate enchantment. That’s fairly expensive – it is a level two effect – but it allows Charms to easily maintain first level effects and Talismans to maintain second level effects without further difficulty. To restrain that, Atheria uses Wealth Templates rather than the Shaping-based system for gaining Charms and Talismans so that every casual laborer in the realm of Order isn’t carrying a Talisman giving him or her a +4 to strength and every skilled worker isn’t carrying one that provides +10 to a skill. Most of them can’t empower a Talisman at all.

But Order Birthright player characters almost always start off buying a high wealth level (for them it’s REALLY useful to have money) and still tend to have a really, REALLY, boring set of Charms and Talismans – a list of mechanical bonuses, rather than a set of interesting tools.

And that’s why many of the items I’ve gone over so far will come with a “caution” flag on them if and when I get around to turning this series into a PDF. Even with their power levels trimmed back quite a few of them are winding up on the “that is clearly better for this character than anything else” list – as was revealed by considering them in comparison to the usual list of possibilities for Gareth Tamson and Eliki Montari. Their lists lean pretty heavily towards the new Charms and Talismans from this series and would have leaned even more heavily that way if I hadn’t deliberately trimmed them back.

Portable Tent: Ala Harry Potter, does not count as a demiplane for purposes of hiding and being on the same plane, instead treat it as being bigger on the inside than the outside. -Brett

This is very classic – after all, if it was good enough for Frank Baum and Oz, it’s probably good enough for us. Oddly though, extradimensional spaces are dead easy in d20; you can make one big enough for eight creatures of any size that lasts for a good long time with a level two spell – but distorting space inside an existing dimension is a good deal harder than opening a gate out of it.

And yes, that’s weird.

Still… an “Unexpectedly Spacious Tent” really isn’t likely to cause a problem. I’d suspect it to be a species of illusion, or perhaps a low-powered shrinking effect applied to everything inside, or some such rather than a true distortion of space – but it really doesn’t matter; the exact amount of room in your tent doesn’t come up much that I can recall.

(Tweaked) Spacious Tent (Talisman): This tent roomier inside than it has any business being. Arguments continue as to whether this is a distortion of space, being partially extradimensional, subtly shrinking everything that comes inside, or even just an illusion of some sort. Whatever is going on, such a tent does not count as being extra-dimensional, does not lighten any materials brought inside, and does not provide any extra space when the tent is folded up – although it can hold twice as many people as an ordinary tent the same size could (12 maximum).

Beast Skin: Made from the skin or carapace of any CR 1 Animal or Vermin. Can be used to transform into that creature at will as a standard action. Comes with instincts of the specific form which require a Will 12 check to overcome in some situations. Also if salt or other cleansing/corrupting agent is placed on the skin, the next time it is used it deals 2d6 damage to the user. -Brett

There’s already a Talisman for this – the Shifter’s Cloak:

…This item of clothing permits it’s wearer to take the form of a particular animal. It costs 1 Charge, 1D2 points of temporary Intelligence damage, and accepting a dose of animal instincts, to change into an animal. It costs one charge to change back. Since such items typically have 3d4 charges, and can only be recharged with a minor ritual, they’re best used with caution.

Of course, a Shifter’s Cloak can turn you into a buffalo or great white shark. Of course to do it, it’s replacing your physical pattern with that of the creature – which is very effective and very dangerous; thus the risk of getting stuck. Limiting a Beast Skin to creatures of CR 1 or less (even if it is technically adding vermin) does make a difference – but it’s not going to be enough to go to “unlimited use” of what’s still a fairly powerful effect. Most likely… we’re looking at about three times a day, with a maximum duration of eight hours. Still, at least there’s no chance of getting stuck.

(Tweaked) Beast Belt (Talisman): Made from the body parts of any CR 1 Animal or Vermin, this belt can be used to transform into that creature as a standard action up to three times per day for up to eight hours per transformation. Sadly, the form comes with appropriate instincts (which may call for a DC 18 Will check to overcome at GMO). If the belt is damaged, or contaminated with something, the next transformation will do 2d6 damage to the user – although this will also suffice to repair the belt.

Spell Sequencer: Allows the use of the Occult Skill: Spell Weaving and allows the user to use half their ranks in Spellcraft if better than their ranks in Spell Weaving. -Brett

Hm. There’s a Spellweaving skill in World Tree that’s been referenced a few times, but it has nothing much to do with d20 since it’s World Tree’s version of ritual magic. Cadmel has “spellweaves” but they’re something quite different – as are the Spellweaves in Legends of High Fantasy. This could be referencing Kevin’s Martial-Art based “Spellweaving” too – but I think that it’s probably referring to Dunstan’s version of Spellweaving – a custom skill (on a list of many that character used thanks to a loophole in the Skills and Powers rules) from second edition.

So lets look at Dunstan’s version:

Spellweaving allows the user to customize his or her spells – adding up to three advantages per spell during the memorization process. Unfortunately, each advantage must be balanced by a disadvantage. A roll is required if the user is attempting to use a spell which he could not normally cast (yet) as the basis for his effect. In these cases the check is made at the time of casting; a failure expends the spell without effect. Attempting to use spellweaving with “free” magic is dangerous; the roll is made at a -1 per level of the spell and a failure results in an uncontrolled spell discharge. By default this does 1D6 damage to the user per level of the spell being manipulated. The GM is, of course, free to invent effects based on the individual spell or something like the “Wild Surge” table.

Common advantages include; -1 Level, increased range or duration, +4 on caster’s effective level, -4 penalty on target’s saving throw, dropping required components, and reduced casting times. Others are possible.

Common disadvantages include; +1 level, reduced range, damage, or duration, x10 casting time, requiring catalysts (IE; It draws magic from something else. Each casting might require a drop of dragons blood or a charge from a wand with relevant powers. Specifics can be negotiated with your GM), unpleasant side effects (Taking damage, being exposed to corrupting forces, attracting attention from – or owing favors to – powerful magical beings), simply being extremely expensive and cumbersome to cast (Usually implying a big ritual), -4 on the users effective level (Only for spells in which this matters), and only working under specific conditions (In shadows, versus orcs, and so on). The GM should disallow disadvantages that don’t actually limit the use of the spell – such as “Specific Conditions” on free magic.

Spells can be reduced to level “0″ by advantages. In such cases four such spells count as a single level one spell.

As an example, a mage helping an army besiege a town might want a large-scale incendiary effect, rather then a monster-roasting Fireball. He might increase the area of effect greatly (Two advantages), and the range a bit (One advantage), at the price of decreasing it’s damage enormously (To 1D6/5 Levels), allowing those who make a successful save to escape damage entirely (It bursts as a lot of fiery rays, a save indicates that none of them hit you), and requiring a full turn to cast the thing.

Now that IS a very useful nonweapon proficiency. In effect it was a full suite of Metamagical Theorems for an edition that didn’t yet have such a thing otherwise. Well worthwhile even if using it effectively did call for investing rather a lot of nonweapon proficiencies in it.

What are nonweapon proficiencies? Well, they were skill slots. Most characters got three to start with, and one more every three levels. Buying a skill (most cost one slot, a few cost two) gave you a so-so base check in it, and you could spend more slots on it to improve things. There were a lot of them, some with very odd effects for “skills” – such as greatly increasing the range at which you could throw weapons. The Skills and Powers system made this a little more flexible – making most skills cost two of their “points” with some costing more and giving most characters six points to start.

That should sound quite familiar: “nonweapon proficiencies” were basically the second-edition versions of Feats. (The same went for “weapon proficiencies” actually – you wanted to learn to use heaver armor? An exotic weapon? To do some special tricks with a weapon that you could already use? Specialize in a weapon to get some bonuses? Spend some Weapon Proficiencies!)

This particular non-weapon proficiency was set up for the Skills and Powers sub-edition and costs four points. In d20 terms… it cost two feats to get and it wouldn’t be at it’s best until you had at least three or four more invested in it. It’s not entirely coincidental that that is exactly what it would cost in Eclipse to pick up the “Compact” metamagic (the one that lets you add flaws to spells) and most of the rest of the metamagics taken as “Corrupted/the metamagical changes to a spell must sum to +0 spell levels or less”.

Of course in older editions… it was normal for several opponents to act during the time it took to cast any serious spell and any interruption at all caused the spell to be lost with no way to avoid it. Casting powerful spells in combat usually required having several other characters working with you to make sure that it went off. That battle-deciding Fireball was a team effort – which was why an all-Fighter party could do just fine, while all-Wizard parties got annihilated (and yes, that’s from play). Thus the Fighter was far more vital to the party than the Wizard – and handing a bunch of new spell-modifying options to the Wizard wasn’t “unbalancing”; it only meant that the party had an even bigger incentive to scout, plan, and work together so that it could use those options. The Wizard might be carrying the parts for the missile-launcher – but it took the entire party to put it together and fire it.

I kind of miss that personally.

But to end the digression… this one is pretty much a flat “No” as far as I’m concerned. A Talisman simply is not up to granting the equivalent of five or six feats. An Artifact, or major Relic might work though.

Finally we have the…

Wraith Suit: Gives an Psychic Construct skin that covers the user, gives access to a preset type “A” ability, which can be reset with 8 hours of meditation and a Spellcraft DC 20. Wearer can also choose to just use the Strength, Dexterity, 1/2 HP as THP, Natural Armor and Attacks of a Level 2 Construct instead of the type “A” ability, this change can be done as a full round action, this pool of HP replenishes after 5 mins of light activity unless reduced to zero, in which case the construct is unavailable until the following day. -Brett

Hm. “Type A” abilities; those include… +2 Natural Armor, +10′ move, Damage Reduction 5/Magic, taking on an elemental subtype, gaining one of a selection of feats, flight, the ability to store five levels of spells of up to level three, and gaining a swim or tunnel speed. Alternatively, the wearer can take a full-round action to switch to using Str 15, Dex 15, 16 temporary hit points that renew themselves every five minutes of light activity, +6 natural armor and a slam attack. Admittedly, these benefits will go away for the day if you let the temporary hit points go to zero, but there’s no apparent way of depleting them if you stick to using the “Type A” ability – and even if you do, for a first level character… sixteen hit points may be the difference between “entirely healthy” and “Instantly Dead” – while DR 5/Magic may be close to invulnerability at low levels. Why not wear two? Stack DR 5/Magic with +16 temporary hit points that renew every five minutes and you can wade through a small army of many low CR creatures.

Now, a Talisman that manifested two or three Plush Golem’s at a time might be practical – but there really isn’t any way for a Talisman to do what the Wraith Suit does; the power level is far too high. This would call for a third level spell (a possession-variant summoning) with several levels of metamagic to extend the duration and usable every five minutes. That’s going to require an Enchantment, and a powerful one.

The rules for Charms and Talismans, along with quite a list of them, can be found in The Practical Enchanter – along with a great deal of other stuff.

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: 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 Pirate Template, Eliki Montari (ECL 1 Kitsune Pirate), and the Fuzzy Pirates

It's a painting which shows a pirate ship atta...

Honestly, it’s a lot harder with three…

We’ve all seen the movies. Being a pirate isn’t something you LEARN. It’s something that you CATCH.

Rather like measles.

Kid joins a pirate crew? Shortly he or she is a pirate. They’ll pick up everything, and probably be scrapping with the best of them, inside a week. They’ll be helping run the ship inside of two, and will probably be piloting it out of disaster, finding treasure, and running rescue missions in less than a month.

“Pirate” isn’t a profession, or a class, or even a feat.

It’s a Template, and it’s CONTAGIOUS.

That’s why Pirates are better than Ninja. Ninja… you have to train. Often for years. Pirates… you just need to get a crew together with one Pirate, and you’ll have an entire crew of Pirates inside of a couple of weeks, complete with an alcohol tolerance and liver problems that would normally require decades to build up.

Pirate (32 CP/+1 ECL acquired template):

  • Proficient with all Simple and Pirate Weapons (Hand Axe, Rapier, Scimitar/Cutlass, Flintlock Pistols and Muskets, and Muzzle-Loader Cannons, 6 CP).
  • Adept: Pays half cost for Acrobatics, Climb, Flamboyant Roguery, and Profession/Sailor (6 CP).
  • +2 Template Bonus to Adept Skills (4 CP).
  • Fast Learner, Specialized in Adept Skills (all are automatically bought up to HD+3) (6 CP).
  • Mastery: A Pirate may “Take 10″ even under pressure with Acrobatics, Climb, and Profession/Sailor, Specialized/never covers any other skills no matter what the user’s intelligence bonus is (3 CP).
  • Immunity/normal limits on skills, Specialized and Corrupted/only applies to the Adept skills in this template, only allows two special tricks per skill, tricks are usually DC 20 where relevant (Very Common, Major, Minor, 3 CP).
    • Acrobatics Tricks: Erratic Movement (a Pirate may charge over hindering terrain, turn while charging, or even swing on ropes and such while executing movement-based maneuvers), Evasion (a Pirate may attempt a check after a successful reflex saving throw for half effect; a success negates the effect entirely).
    • Climbing Tricks: Aerial Combat (a Pirate may roll to fight without penalty while balancing on spars, hanging from one foot, swinging from ropes, or on wildly rolling decks) and The Flynn Effect (a Pirate may roll to find a rope ready to hand when he or she needs one to swing on, avoid falling, or tie something up).
    • Flamboyant Roguery Tricks: A Pirate may also select Block (Melee) and Weapon Kata (All Pirate Weapons) as martial techniques, evading the usual limit of four.
    • Profession/Sailor Tricks: Shipboard Accident (a Pirate aboard a ship may roll once per round as a free action to cause an opponent to get entangled in a rope/get in the way of incoming missile fire/slip or trip on something on the deck/get hit by a boom/whatever) and Dimensional Piloting (DC 30 to pilot a ship into another realm, through the plane of shadow past a terrible storm, or some such).
  • Innate Enchantment (9000 GP Value, 10 CP). In general, all abilities caster level one, spell level one, unlimited-use use-activated, personal only – for a base cost of 1400 GP.
    • Burning Black Powder/Produce Flame (Corrupted, requires a “Flintlock” for a focus, 933 GP).
    • Flashing Parry/Force Shield I (Corrupted, requires that the user have either a Dagger or Rapier in hand, 933 GP).
    • Attuned to the Sea: +3 Competence Bonus on all Pirate Skills (Corrupted/requires that the user dress as an utterly stereotypical pirate. Covers the four Adept skills plus Appraise, Escape Artist, and Swim, 933 GP).
    • And Iron Men/Immortal Vigor I: Provides +12 + 2x Con Mod HP. Everyone knows pirates are really tough (1400 GP).
    • Unseen Servant: Pirates can get themselves untied, get a passing monkey to bring them the keys to the cell door, get impossible amounts of work done aboard while doing nothing but drink rum, row large boats by themselves, survive long falls, and so on. Some of them can even walk on water or float in the air while waving pistols… (2000 GP).
    • Rugged Metabolism. Pirates are healthy and recover very very quickly indeed: Fast Healing I for 18 Rounds 2/Day, Relieve Illness 1/Day, Relieve Poison 1/Day, and Lesser Restoration 1/Day. From the Hedge Wizardry list on this site and The Practical Enchanter (1400 GP).
    • Inspiring Word. +1 Morale Bonus to Attacks, Weapon Damage, Saves, and Checks. Pirates ALWAYS have great morale, 1400 GP.
  • Immunity/Dispelling and Antimagic (Common, Minor, Great, Specialized and Corrupted/only protects the innate enchantments in this template, 4 CP). Of course none of this stuff is “magic”! Pirates are simply subject to the Rule of Cool, not to mere physics.
  • Template Disadvantages: Broke (Pirates tend to spend money when they’ve got it, and hide it – in part from themselves – to spend later when they get a lot), Hunted (the authorities are always after pirates), and Compulsive (one or another Pirates Code) (-10 CP).

Flamboyant Roguery Martial Art (Dex):

Some people aren’t happy with fighting sensibly. They want to swing on ropes while hacking at each other with swords, fight duels on pitching decks during raging storms, and otherwise act like they’re in a really bad movie.

This is Eclipse; never let it be said that you can’t do what you want.

Flamboyant Roguery is Specialized for Double Effect (one technique per skill rank)/the user cannot wear anything beyond leathers, is spectacularly obvious as a pirate or highwayman, and will find himself or herself drawn into insane adventures on a regular basis. It’s normally taken for use with any one Pirate or Highwayman weapon.

  • Requires: Being a Blatant Pirate or Highwayman, ability to use some sort of “Firearm”.
  • Basic Techniques: Attack 4, Defenses 4, Strike, Toughness 2, Synergy/Acrobatics, Synergy/Climb, and Synergy/Reflex Saves.
  • Advanced and Master Techniques: Combat Reflexes, Sneak Attack I, Mighty Blow and (Combat) Expertise.
  • Occult Techniques: Inner Strength x2, Light Foot and Touch Strike.

A specialized martial art is always iffy – but these are PIRATES. They’ve got to use a cheap trick to win somewhere along the way!

Eliki Montari (ECL 1 Kitsune Pirate)

Being a wild fox SUCKS BIG TIME. Sleeping in damp holes in the ground, hardly ever not hungry, things trying to eat you… Sure, once you were old enough to pick up a little magic, things got a bit better – but the only way to actually get comfortable was to move in with the humans.

Female Kitsune had it easy; they could just MARRY some human, and move in with him, and all was well! They just had to play up to the belief that new brides never had any idea what they were doing! Males… well, you had to find somewhere where you wouldn’t be expected to know much of anything about what was going on, and where no one would expect to know you, and where odd social gaffes were EXPECTED, and where the fact that you weren’t strong enough for serious physical labor would pass unremarked…

Picking up a berth as a “Cabin Boy” on some passing ship was the quickest way that Eliki found to do it.

As it happened, it was a Pirate Ship – and soon (very VERY soon) Eliki was a Pirate like the rest. Not so long after than, he’d managed to teach it to a couple of other wild creatures – and was off to be a Pirate on his own.

Sometimes with Gareth Tamson. Working together has worked out VERY well. 

One-Tailed Kitsune (Age 106, 31 CP/+0 ECL Race): Full template over HERE.

  • +4 Dexterity, +2 Wisdom, -4 Constitution, -8 Strength (0 CP).
  • Occult Senses/Low-Light Vision and Scent, Corrupted/Kitsune are rather doglike, and have a hard time adapting to “normal” standards; they tend to find carrion attractive, like to eat various bugs and rodents raw, and so on. This often gives them away (8 CP).
  • Celerity/+10 Ground Movement Speed (6 CP).
  • Immunity/Aging (Uncommon, Major, Major). This gives a Kitsune a potential lifespan of about 1200 years, spreading out their aging across the ages. This is, however, Specialized; Kitsune may not use transformation to augment their physical abilities, totally conceal their true forms (there’s always some kind of clue), disguise their reflections in running water, or conceal their scents (3 CP).
  • Universal Damage Reduction 2/- (3 CP).
  • Immunity/the normal XP cost of Innate Enchantments (Uncommon, Minor, Trivial [only covers cantrips and first level effects at caster level one], Specialized/only to cover their racial abilities, 1 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment: All effects unlimited-use use-activated at caster level one – for a base effective “cost” of 1000 GP per cantrip and 2000 GP per first level spell.
  • Cantrips: Dancing Lights, Flavor*, Ghost Scent*, Ghost Sound,
  • First Level Effects: Beglamourment*, Disguise Self, Enhance Attribute/+2 Charisma, Enhance Attribute/+2 to non-charisma attribute of choice, Expeditious Retreat, Humanoid Form*, Hypnotism, Jump, Magic Fang (allows them to bite for one point of damage), Pass Without Trace, Produce Flame, Silent Image, Speak with Animals, Tactile Illusion*
  • That’s 32,000 GP – or 33 CP – worth. This is Specialized and Corrupted for reduced cost however, reducing the cost to 11 CP:
  • Kitsune take damage from Dispel Magic and Antimagic effects – generally 1d4 per level of the caster up to 10d4 (once per minute for antimagic fields). Even a “young”, single-tailed, Kitsune is far, FAR, past a foxes “natural” lifespan – and only their shapeshifting magic keeps them alive. Dispelling that is a terrible shock – and while an antimagic field is slower, a Kitsune who fails to escape one will soon perish.
  • Kitsune Magic is an expression of concentration and fox instincts. When they are frightened, overcome with emotion, or injured, they must make a concentration check to avoid losing control and dropping effects which require even moderate concentration – such as all their illusions. They cannot escape their instincts without renouncing their magic either; when confronted with something that would trigger their instincts – angry dogs, distracting food, chances for sex, and similar short-term diversions – they must make a DC 15 willpower check to resist giving in.
  • Disadvantage: Social Outcast, mostly unprotected by the law and generally considered untrustworthy (-3 CP).

Pirate Template (32 CP/+1 ECL).

Pathfinder Package Deal (Free):

Basic Attributes: Str 2, Int 12, Wis 16 (18), Con 10, Dex 22, Chr 12 (14). (Purchased: Str 10 (2), Int 12 (4), Wis 14 (6), Con 14 (6), Dex 16 (10), Chr 12 (4). Kitsune: +4 Dexterity, +2 Wisdom, -4 Constitution, -8 Strength, +2 Cha (Magic), +2 Wis (Magic), +2 Dex Pathfinder).

Available Character Points: 24 (L0 Base) +10 (Disadvantages; History, Untrustworthy, and “Uncivilized” (he’s confused about many social items as of yet)) +0 (Pirate Captain Duties) = 34 CP.

Basic Abilities (4 CP):

  • Hit dice: 3 HP (L0 Free) +12 (Magic) +0 (3 x Con Mod) = 15 HP. (Net DR 3/-).
  • Skill Points: 1 (Purchased, 1 CP) +3 (Int Mod x 3) + 6 (Fast Learner) = 10 SP.
  • BAB: +0 (0 CP).
  • Saves:
    • Fortitude: +0 (0 CP) +0 (Con) +1 (Mor) = +1
    • Reflex: +1 (3 CP) +6 (Dex) +1 (Mor) +2 (Syn) = +10
    • Will: +0 (0 CP) +4 (Wis) +1 (Mor) = +5
  • Proficiencies: None.
  • Initiative: +6 (Dex)
  • Move: 50
  • Armor Class: 10 +6 (Dex) +4 (Shield) +4 (Martial Art) = 24.
  • Usual Attacks:
    • “Pistol” (Produce Flame): +8/+8 Touch Attack (+0 BAB +6 Dex +1 MA +1 Mor), 1d6+1 (Flame) +1 (Morale), 120′ Range. May add +2 levels of Elemental Manipulation metamagic to it.
    • Rapier +10 (+0 BAB +6 Dex +1 MA +1 Mor +1 Enh), 1d6+6 (Dex) +1 (Mor) +1 (Enh), Crit 15-20/x2, 2d6 Sneak Attack.

Known Martial Art Techniques (15): Attack 1, Defenses 4, Synergy/Reflex Saves, Toughness 1 (3/- total), Combat Reflexes, Mighty Blow, (Combat) Expertise, Weapon Kata (Pirate Weapons), Block (Melee), Inner Strength, Light Foot, and Touch Strike.

Special Abilities (30 CP):

  • Fast Learner, Specialized in Skills for +2 SP/Level (6 CP).
  • Enthusiast, Specialized and Corrupted/only for Pirate and Kitsune Themed Relics for 3 CP worth (3 CP).
  • Create Relic, Specialized and Corrupted/one and two-point relics only, only with points from Enthusiast, only personal relics (2 CP).
  • Use of Seven Charms and Three Talismans (Shaping Package, 6 CP). Normally uses
    • Talismans: Rune Weapon (+1 Keen Rapier), Traveling Pack (holds 20 pounds with no weight, what you want is always on top, nicely weatherproof), Sigil of the Divine (functions three times / day, can add +2 to any single roll after the roll is made, reduce hit point or attribute damage/drain by three points, or reduce the duration of a negative condition (including Surprise) by four rounds.
    • Charms: Catfall Boots (land on your feet, negate one die of falling damage, the next two become nonlethal), Amulet of the Stallion, All-weather Cloak, Ditty Bag, Firebox, Luncheon Pot, the Ocean’s Arms (cannot sink, almost cannot drown).
  • Mystic Companion (6 CP) with a +2 ECL Template (Half effect – +1 ECL – only, the Pirate Template, 3 CP), with an Additional Companion (6 CP), all Specialized/the companions have definite minds of their own, want shares of treasure, and often bring trouble home with them, 7 CP). His companions are a Wolverine and a Leopard, who normally share his magical shift to a anthropomorphic human form – although there are always giveaway traits.
  • Finesse: Uses (Dex Mod) instead of (Str Mod) when fighting with Flamboyant Roguery (6 CP).

Usual Relics:

  • Sigil of the Forest Night (1 CP Kitsune Relic): Three levels of Clerical Package Deal Spellcasting (The Hidden One), with the Components restriction added (spells cannot be cast while wearing armor), Specialized/the Hidden One is well aware that Eliki isn’t at all dedicated – it’s a pact – and will only renew his spells once a week or so when Eliki holds a small ceremony in his honor and makes an offering (which will need to become larger as the spell levels available to him increase). Eliki has the Thievery and Luck Domains [The Thievery Domain grants +2d6 Sneak Attack. L0: Prestidigitation, L1; Personal Haste, L2; Knock, L3; Shrink Item, L4; Tricky Fingers (Skill Mastery/+10 Competence Bonus to thief skills). The Luck domain grants one daily use of Luck] (8 CP).
  • Hat of the Pirate King (1 CP Pirate Relic): Advanced Presence/“Dashing Rogue”. +4 to Charisma-based skill totals and an Aura of Animation; small objects in the immediate area will shift around to help him out; ropes will drop into his hand, curtains will billow out to hide him, small objects will get under opponents feet… the user may pick one such occurrence per round as a free action. Corrupted/relies on the user’s existing swarms of unseen servants, and will not work without them.
  • My God That’s A Big Gun (1 CP Pirate Relic): Metamagical Theorems/Multiple & Elemental Manipulation and two levels of Streamline, all Specialized and Corrupted/only to enhance his Produce Flame effects (8 CP).

Skills:

  • Acrobatics +15 (3 SP* +6 Dex +3 Comp +3 Path).
  • Appraise +8 (1 SP +1 Int +3 Comp +3 Path).
  • Climb +5 (3 SP* -4 Str +3 Comp +3 Path).
  • Diplomacy +10 (1 SP +2 Cha +4 Presence +3 Path)
  • Escape Artist +13 (1 SP +6 Dex +3 Comp +3 Path).
  • Flamboyant Roguery +15 (3 SP* +6 Dex +3 Comp +3 Path).
  • Gather Information +10 (1 SP +2 Cha +4 Presence +3 Path).
  • Perception +10 (3 SP +4 Wis +3 Path).
  • Perform/Oratory +10 (1 SP +2 Cha +4 Presence +3 Path).
  • Profession/Sailor +13 (3 SP* +4 Wis +3 Comp +3 Path).
  • Stealth +10 (1 SP +6 Dex +3 Path)
  • Swim +3 (1 SP -4 Str +3 Comp +3 Path).

*Free from Pirate Template.

 Eliki… is actually quite powerful there; A high-end race coupled with an optimized template and a specialized martial art make him a pretty good combatant and his magical talents are – like any other kitsune – fairly extensive.  Just as importantly… when it comes to a fight, his two companions are pretty good themselves.

Future development? Well, Eliki wants to be a pirate king; so more companions to fill out his crew a bit, augmented bonus (add (Cha Mod) to (Dex Mod) when computing AC and Reflex Saves), bonus uses to go with his domain-based Luck, a Reputation, and Mystic Artist/Oratory (to inspire his men) are probably in order. Outside of that… a fairly standard mix of light-duty casting and moderate melee abilities should keep him relevant as levels increase. 

Do-It-Yourself Charms and Talismans VII – Speaking of Witch

Vector drawing of the five kinds of Zener card...

There are better ways to get in touch you know!

And to continue with Brett’s suggested Talismans…

Exo Frame: gives Large size, +2 Str, -2 Dex, in use user has 1d4 subdual damage that can’t be healed while the suit is in use. -Brett

The looks like it’s basically intended to duplicate the effects of the SRD Enlarge Person spell. The effect isn’t all that out of line. After all there’s Shimmermail, which basically duplicates the Mage Armor spell all day long (although that IS one of the most powerful talismans in the book; most of the talismans that produce spell-equivalent effects suffer from serious limitations). The trouble with this one lies more in it’s form. According to the rules, the most common weight for an adult human male is 175 pounds. Going to large size multiplies that by eight, so this Talisman must weigh in at about 1225 points.

Talismans cost 12 1/2 gold pieces and a few days of work to make. I… just cant see someone with some fairly basic skills turning out a half-ton articulated exoskeleton – even if it is powered by the user’s natural magic – in three days, much less for twelve and a half gold pieces. This will require some tweaks:

(Replacement) Mighty Heart Stone (Talisman): Mounted on a suit of half-plate or full-plate armor, this potent stone channels the user’s strength and vitality into the armor itself – allowing him or her to wear armor that is one size too large. The effect is equivalent to the SRD version of Enlarge Person. Sadly, the strain of animating such a massive suit of armor with personal energies leaves the user down 2d4 points of non-lethal damage that cannot be recovered or healed as long as the armor is worn.

Now that does much the same thing, but you won’t have every farmer and laborer getting one to use to move heavy stuff (not only +2 strength but double encumbrance limits!) since the large armor is going to be pretty expensive. It’s not too much of a problem for an adventurer of course – but if an adventurer wants to be Enlarged, it’s rarely that big a problem for them anyway.

(Replacement) Ambrosial Condiments (Talisman): When this tasty sauce is sprinkled over the user’s meals, he or she will start to rapidly grow larger. Within a week, he or she will be a giant – an effect equivalent to a continuous Enlarge Person spell, save that it does not affect the user’s equipment and makes the user VERY hungry. When the user stops using the condiments, they will begin to shrink back down – but that process also requires a week, and while all bonuses are lost immediately, the penalties will remain until the ex-user is entirely back to normal size.

OK, I never could resist a classic literary reference.

Enchanted Whetstone: Gives weapon a +1 Magical Enhancement for 1 min. -Brett

This, of course, is equivalent to having this talisman cast Magic Weapon, at caster level one, whenever it’s used. If it can be used at all often a talisman just isn’t up to that. It also doesn’t say how long it takes to use; if it takes ten minutes or so it’s going to be fairly useless.

(Replacement) Masamune’ Silk (Talisman): When used to polish and hone a blade, this silken cloth smooths away imperfections and hones a bladed weapon to an unmatched edge. Sadly, the process requires great concentration and precise attunement to the spirit of the weapon. The user may only maintain one weapon (or, in deference to d20 standards, 50 arrows or similar pieces of ammunition) in this fashion at a time and switching requires de-, and re-, attuning the Talisman. Still, a weapon so maintained gains a +1 Enhancement Bonus to both attacks and damage and is considered a magic weapon.

While a Rune Weapon Talisman offers a superior effect, you can reassign this bonus overnight or hand some magic arrows out to all your friends. That seems fair enough.

Crystal Spire: A small crystal that over the course of one hour after being planted grows into a tall narrow spire that gives the attuned user and any that he grants access to a 5 mile radius telepathy field. When deployed the spire gives a telepathic buzz that can be detected by some sensitive individuals (in general any psionic creature and limited others). If detected a creature may attempt to listen into the telepathic field by making a successful opposed Will save at a -3 penalty with the owner, the owner is only aware of this contest if they win, otherwise the eavesdropper remains undetected. -Brett

I think that this is intended to create a somewhat-selective telepathic communications network that covers a five mile radius. The problem is that “selective area effect covering 78.54 square miles” just doesn’t go together well with “first level spell with 24-hour duration” or “a burst of a second level effect”. Going by the effects that can be produced with Prestidigitation – which are the weakest effects actually described in the system – would a spell that “cleans everything within a five mile radius” really fit in at first or second level?

This one just isn’t going to work as a Charm or Talisman. Even as an enchantment it’s going to be a fairly major (and very expensive) piece of work – which is probably a good thing for the game. Having every basic guard able to instantly sound the alarm, report all about the party, and call in near-perfectly coordinated reinforcements, sounds to me like a recipe for a LOT of total party kills.

(Replacement) Streamer of Consciousness (Talisman): This narrow band of gossamer ribbon comes in hundred-foot spools, and will restore itself if some is removed at a rate of (user’s Chr) feet per day. Those touching an active Streamer may communicate mentally, transferring words, images, emotions, and concepts in moments. If the user wishes, he or she may imprint a message on the Streamer and entrap it by tearing off a foot or so and tying it into a bow; whoever unties the bow will receive the psychic message even as the bit of streamer dissolves into nothingness.

Sending Stones: 1/Day message of 50 words across any distance on same plane, for 1 spell level or 2 power additional use. -Brett

It’s not too clear as to whether these simply send messages, or whether they come in pairs or sets – or whether they target places, people, or each other – but the basic idea certainly looks like the Sending Stones in the Magic Item Compendium. Those, of course, cost 1400 GP (I’ll assume they come as a pair since they’re useless otherwise) and function only per day each – sending a maximum of twenty-five words to whoever holds the other stone. They can, however, apparently reach other planes of existence – just like the Sending spell they’re based on (evidently using the clerical fourth level version). Sending normally brings back a return message, so splitting it between the two stones covers the “each sends 25 words per day” bit. Leaving your device in two vulnerable pieces – one of which must already be at the target location, and is vulnerable there is probably worth 50% off. Offering no real choice of targets on a spell that would normally let you send messages anywhere, to anyone at all… 75% off. All in all… (CL7 x SL4 x Unlimited-Use Use-Activated 2000 GP x .2 (one use per day) x .5 (two vulnerable pieces) x .25 (fixed target) = 1400 GP.

So these are using a fourth-level spell. Talismans simply are not up to fourth level spells, and certainly can’t boost one spell level worth of power to provide a fourth level spell effect.

You CAN make an item that does this; the Applied Spellcraft rules in The Practical Enchanter will allow you to make a Runic Formula coupled with a +3 Spell Amplifier at DC 50 – which can be done if you stack up enough bonuses. That would let you expend a first level spell slot to power a full-scale Sending spell. That’s more useful – but it’s simply not going to be as cheap or easy as making a Talisman. That gives us an…

Astral Mirror: The complex, delicate, inscriptions on this engraved silver disk twist off into other realms. The holder may expend one spell level worth of magical power to invoke a Sending spell effect whenever desired. Creating an Astral Mirror only requires about 50 GP worth of material – but it also requires about two weeks and a DC 50 Spellcraft check.  An Astral Mirror has no magic of it’s own, and isn’t even a Charm or Talisman – but finding someone capable of making one is rarely easy.

You can also create a rather minor relic for the purpose; You’d want Mystic Link with the Communications modifier. That has a base cost of 6 CP, but limiting it to messages of twenty-five words or less, costing 1 spell level or 2 power for each time past the first in a day, and requiring that the recipient have a special focus item… is probably enough to count as double-Specialized and Corrupted – reducing the base cost as a character power to one character point. As a relic… a 1 CP relic could sustain nine such links and the secondary foci would probably be replaceable. Call it a…

Web of Minds (1 CP Relic). Mystic Link with the Communications and Transferable upgrades (12 CP), +5 additional Links (15 CP), Double-Specialized and Corrupted/each link can only be activated once per day from each end unless the user puts in one spell levels worth of magical energy, each activation can only transmit a message of twenty-five words or less one way, only links to especially prepared focus items which count as Charms.

The Chronicles Of Heavenly Artifice CXL – Encounters with Apep in the Boat of a Million Years.

A Christmas Carol - Ghosts of Departed Usurers

Ere now! What do you lot think you’re playing at! Be off with you!

In the depths of Yu-Shan’s geomancy the tracer-spells and artifacts had at last traced out all the major nodes – although the endless subtleties of the smaller ones would take more time than anyone had left. All too many of the geomantic systems – or were they internal organs? It WAS kind of blurred with primordials – were failing. Ensuring the proper flow of essence in and out of creation had not been easy on her own flows. To repair them and restore her to health… would require fabulous amounts of essence – but well within projected supply limits, although it might require a temporary powering-down of other projects or accelerating the relative timerate of Aden.

A very old lady was very sick, and needed to wake up to see the grandchildren!

Elsewhere the Crimson Banner Executioner had finally completed her analysis of her records of what Charles had done to The Preceptor of Ancient Ways manse – and was just a bit appalled! The artifacts he’d installed were harmless enough – if you didn’t mind Infernals founding beast-person civilizations in deep space (even if she had to admit that there was plenty of room and that it was a fairly harmless ambition compared to some of them!) – but the child should have at least TALKED TO SOMEONE before handing a couple of infernals ANY kind of artifacts! Much less a vastly-upgraded Manse!

Charles… actually expected them to get bored. Even with a pair of exalts to help it get started, simply breeding up to a planetary population would take quite a few generations. And even if they established themselves as god-kings… so what? It would still be a tiny outpost in a hubble volume that no one else was using – and a bunch of people who would never have gotten to exist otherwise. Besides, they did seem relatively reasonable within their obsessions and so they got a sanity award – and it wasn’t like a pair of Infernals with Essences of around seven couldn’t get a nifty manse some other way – if only by asking the Yozi’s. The Yozi’s were inclined to reward effort over connections, although people sometimes didn’t like how they did it.

Oddly enough, Charles often acted that way too

Speaking of Charles… His probe-construct was traveling with an Abyssal Exalt en route to an unusually white portion of the Underworld where an unknown Deathlord held sway – while the Tsunami was hosting a bunch of astronomers, an eclectic collection of Tarvialan citizens, and a planet – all of them heading toward the Tarvial System itself.

For good or ill, however, he’d taken some precautions; the constructs inputs were going to a straightforward instrument panel and filtering artifacts to be recorded and have any kind of weirdness stripped out, while his responses were simply being typed in fast time – giving him lots of time to consider and stripping out anything in the way of body language, intonation, or other give-aways! Deathlords were tricky, but hopefully that and some advice would be enough!

His precautions were complete (and probably overdone) by the time the landing procedures were complete – and Charles and Skimmer were able to depart the ship. And… the world outside was white, with terrible whispers permeating the barren, dusty landscape. There was a palace, with stark and imposing spires penetrating the clouded skies, nearby.

They headed that way under heavy spectral guard – ghosts well-armed with energy rifles and their own space suits (more for intimidation value and protection than life support, of course; ghosts didn’t need to breathe). A mixture of realtech – perhaps from aliens? – and magical energy weapons, with the magical energy weapons going to the ones in the fancier suits.

“Flat”, “White”, and “Featureless” sufficed to describe most of the local landscape – but there were a few interruptions; pale pyre flames illuminated a village not too far from the palace. The light reflected ominously off the domes – but broke the monotony somewhat.

(Charles) “Why not busier? Plenty of people have died at one time or another haven’t they?”

(Skimmer) “The master wants only pure ghosts in his domain. His standards are quite high!”

It showed too! There were only a few ghosts around, and the ones that were about… well, they weren’t in outright terror, but there was definitely some unease! Even some of the soldiers looked nervous – although they were trying not to show it before the Abyssal.

It wasn’t nice to scare dead people! They were supposed to be kind of DONE with that!

(Charles) “So the qualifications are more complicated than being dead I take it?”

(Skimmer) “There must not be a sign of any Void taint in them! The master is adamant about that-such aberrations are unworthy even of soulsteel.”

(Charles) “Hrm… but isn’t the Void just the memory of Oblivion? It still has POWER of course, but that much?”

(Skimmer) “It is much weaker than it was in the days the master first walked Creation. Can you imagine it – a world unbroken? But when the world broke, and the Void weakened, it became easily controlled, but impure!”

That… was the first bit of real passion he’d seen out of her!

(Charles) “Ah! So only the oldest charms – the ones given form and pattern back in the days of true Oblivion, and now wielded only by the survivors from that era – can still even approach that old power, and even then only because anyone that old inherited a portion of the power of Oblivion during the Reshaping!

Well, OK – anyone who had those Charms anyway.

(Charles) And a younger spirit, if tainted by the void… is starting to fall into Lethe aren’t they? So the more they call on that kind of power, the more likely they are to forget themselves and vanish into the reincarnation cycle, is that it? And that would make them…. very forgetful, absent-minded, and unreliable. With part of them already gone, they wouldn’t even make effective soulsteel would they? Forging them into it… would just drain it into Lethe, and crumble the entire batch! Effective Soulsteel has to be focused on the NOW.”

(Skimmer) “Yes, yes, you understand! Ghosts these days fall into Lethe more and more quickly with every batch of deaths as well! Only through reinforcing the power of true Oblivion can we reinforce our own power!”

That… was really starting to look distressing, between her withered face and the rather intense look in her eyes!

(Skimmer) “Even with this construct, you are useful! We must get you to the master at once!”

(Charles) “Well, we are headed that way anyway!”

Hrm… Ghosts were passing faster and faster? Too many non-theists? The rise of monotheism? Changing expectations? Less fear of the Void than of Oblivion? He needed more data!

Gothmug reminded him – rather sharply! – that sharing his theories could give rather too much away just as well as any other slip-up!

Entering the palace… revealed a few more ghosts, running to and fro tending to the cleaning, what furniture there was, to the architecture, and otherwise being very, VERY busy. There were some nods to friends among the guards, and a few smiles that were more unsettlingly nervous than happy. The construct had… turned white, as had Skimmer. The lengthy hall, led to a set of double doors made of a tough metal – not Soulsteel, but Labyrinthine steel, and not the modern kind either! An OLD facility to go with an old master…

He got a committee going on the answers to further mask things.

(Charles) “A bit monochromatic… will we get to being black outlines a little further in?”

(Skimmer) “Is it disconcerting? Rest assured, it is not harmful to your body! The master was very stern about that!”

(Charles) “Oh well! It’s a lot like winding up in a Manga!”

That required an explanation of manga, but it was easy enough to give her some; at least she got the concept of sequential art.

There were security checks at the door, too, that were just as extensive as the ones for landing. But since construct-Charles hadn’t brought anything harmful (or much of anything at all, except his near-boundless supply of curiosity, with a sideline in naivete and even a bit of snark and sarcasm!) with him, he passed. The doors opened into a vast white chamber with many high windows – each depicting what was currently happening on a world in the system. There was an odd uniformity to the ghosts on those screens as they went about their busy afterlives. Looking further… there is also some decoration in here, images of a man in a cap and striped shirt taking a goremaul to what appeared to be many powerful ghosts. Horrific, smoky necrotic Essence burst from where their heads should be, and sometimes other body parts. At the rear of the room was a simple throne – the first bit of soulsteel Charles had seen in here, and classical in its structure. It was… rather reminiscent of the soulsteel that he’d found in Dudael, actually! Even it was white, with the faces the only black portions. They pressed against the edges, twisted and seemingly begging for release. Of course, that was always true of soulsteel – but the alien faces were definitely unusual.

(Skimmer) “Ah, behold the master’s throne! A marvel of the Underworld!”

In Aden Charles sighed. Sadly… he could not reasonably get to all the soulsteel in the world for a very long time to come… It was a reminder that he never had gotten that soulsteel figured out too! Preventing disasters had been taking priority over fixing old ones, and even then he was basically going by scale.

Skimmer pushed something on her void suit, the soldiers quickly took their positions in front of the throne and along the walls, and there was a blinding flash of white light. Fortunately… the construct had lots of sensory instruments.

(Skimmer) “The Arbiter of Games’ End, Purifier of the Void’s Memory!”

It was the fellow from the pictures, goremaul and all, accompanied by three simple rings of – oddly enough – starmetal. They were floating next to him in an ascending chain. There was quite a lot of magical power in them too; was he binding something to him that wouldn’t normally be in the underworld? There was some sapience there too. Perhaps a god with the rings bridging Creation and the Underworld to allow it to respire and act here?

Charles took a more direct look… Hm… rather sophisticated artifacts, each with a spirit bound into it! The one floating over the Arbiter’s head was capable of some pretty potent blasts. Another reason why “not actually being there” might be a good thing!

The Arbiter sat on the throne, the rings floating nearby – one over his head, and the other two floating on either side. He leaned the goremaul alongside the throne, and Charles heard a faint sigh.

(Charles, via indirect telepathy to the spirits – a good thing that his Thaumaturgy was so good!) “Hi!”

(Alpha, the blaster) “Hi! I’m Alpha! I’m on a mission of purification!”

Uh-oh! That sounded like Nomad and Captain Kirk!

(Charles) “I’m Charles, and I like to fix things! What are you purifying?”

(Alpha) “The universe! But this portion of it first; Master is very unhappy about the state of it and the specters!”

(Charles) “A big project!”

(Epsilon, the enhancement ring) “Oh yes! Recently, he had to purify another world! Very unpleasant!”

(Omega, the healer) “He doesn’t show it, but I’m sure it distresses him to have to do that.”

Meanwhile, Skimmer had knelt before her master, and was reporting in!

(Charles) “What was wrong with it in particular?”

(Epsilon) “Well… it was full of specters, and run by a very bad ghost who had found a process that makes ghosts into a nasty addictive powder. He was giving it to everyone so they would work harder. Fortunately, the master put a stop to that by taking off his head, and beating up the ones whose heads exploded, and after that the world was purified!”

(Omega) “And now it is part of his domain, and everyone can be peaceful and safe!”

Hrm… that sounded rather like a reformer who knew no compromise or restraint… a potentially troublesome type!

(Charles) “Well, peaceful and safe are good things!”

The Arbiter was running some Abyssal Charms over the construct… powerful ones, made for analyzing spiritual structures. From the faint “chill” construct – Charles felt… at least some effects designed to detect exposure to the Void.

Charles HAD opened a gate there – but the construct hadn’t been involved and had no direct connection to it. It had only had the exposure from jumping through the void with Skimmer to get to the meeting. It didn’t have much of a spiritual structure either. It had an associated little god of course, but it was sleeping, and it had quite a lot of genuine tech in addition to the artifact properties.

(Arbiter) “Hmm… nothing other than the usual small god expected with a construct. No other spiritual inhabitants, and presumably being run by remote artifact or technological control – and no Void-taint other than that expected from transit.”

There starmetal rings… seemed to dance, ever so slightly.

(Charles) “Well, yes; it’s really just a quick reworking of an existing probe… I wasn’t really using them anyway!”

(Arbiter, to Skimmer) “And there are energies similar to those detected on that distant world… if much stronger. You have done your task.”

From her smile that was the closest the Arbiter ever got to praise.

Charles was amusing himself by taking his passive scans of the rings and the Arbiter and seeing what he could figure out… It looked like Arbiter was an essence-8 dusk caste, specializing in melee and the occult. He was definitely showing signs of an afterlife-body, as well as of several internalized artifacts made from his inner demons and hatreds… Now THAT was an interesting way to make personalized artifacts – and purge yourself of many emotions at the same time. Unfortunately, it probably took out positive emotions at the same time – if the Arbiter had had any left to start with.

The rings were… essence-4 renegade gods, able to respire essence in the Underworld as well as in Creation thanks to their connections to the Arbiter. They did get some additional benefits from that connection, such as the ability to use some of his Charms and Arcanoi.

The Arbiter’s demeanor was icy cold. If he had any positive emotions or intimacies connected to anything but purification… he was hiding it really well. As it was now… he was disappointed to have only a construct here.

Huh! Aikiko’s monks… were gradually eroding away even the memory of Oblivion weren’t they… Charles hastily kicked that thought over into the perfect privacy manse for the moment, so that even he didn’t know it right now. No point in risking a slip-up!

(The Arbiter, turning to Charles) “Now, you… you are a problem. You have no idea, but you have set back my efforts on Earth considerably.”

(Charles) “Well… what are you trying to accomplish? It’s often possible to work things out!”

(Arbiter) “I had intended to open a shadowland there, under my control and with a large number of recently-incarnated ghosts present to be… evaluated for service. I left it to my servants’ discretion to determine how to perform this task.”

(Alpha, telepathically) “Master understands that his servants cannot often communicate over interstellar distances, and gives them leeway! Master is the best master!”

(Charles, to Alpha and the other rings) “Well that’s very sensible! It would take FOREVER to check back on everything!”

(The Arbiter) “I did not anticipate someone altering a Manse’s geomancy on the spot, however. I have read of such techniques only in books no longer extant in the living world.”

(Charles) “I like manses!”

Skimmer shook her head… how could he be so cheerful? The Arbiter himself, however, was not at all perturbed yet.

(Arbiter, with a still-icy but pointed look) “Mmm… a boy of many talents, it seems – and an Essence signature of such confusion that even the first analyses took weeks. I wonder what such a child could be… or where he has hidden my tools for purification?”

(Charles) “The spirits didn’t want to be in the Soulsteel, so I let them out!”

(Arbiter) “I think you know very well what I am talking about… what did you do with my servants’ shards?”

Charles turned up the timerate in Aden a few more notches, and activated a Conversation Piece just to help some more, and sat back for a moment to listen to the committee… at that speed he could take out quite some time without it exceeding the random typing-delay variances in any case. “In for repairs!” was probably too revealing, any mention of “where they belong” would give away Lytek’s involvement, “I was asked to keep it a secret!” was probably ALSO traceable to Lytek unless it would be another Deathlord (unlikely given his apparent personality)… “I’ll have to consult Autochthon” perhaps? It was somewhat ambiguous…

(Gothmug) “Oh, Charles… this is why I was against you even sending a probe! You should say you need to consult Autochthon! At the worst, he’ll want to have that horrid woman escort you to the Great Maker’s world-body, and I doubt his people would let her anywhere near him.”

(Malinda) “I agree with Gothmug, dearie! You do have friends in Autochthonia who could help you deal with this problem!”

Well, with flash-communications and a Conversation Piece running he could consult people who weren’t on his committee already! Lets see… he had a link to Aikiko, and she might like more information on a Deathlord anyway! And Righteous Hala and Mr Montague if they were available!

(Mr. Montague) “How did you get in a meeting with a – oh never mind! Think you could trick him into thinking another Deathlord snatched them? That Clearwater guy said it’s possible once.”

(Aikiko) “Dude, you should bluff him as long as you can. I’m not sure telling him anything is such a good idea!”

(Charles) “Well… he knows that I enhanced the manse to catch them – so I don’t think he’d believe that another deathlord got them. That probably wasn’t hard to find out; it would have left essence-traces all over the place!”

There was a brief divergence while he explained what happened at the manse to Mr Montague and Aikiko and Righteous Hala, who really didn’t know. They were a bit startled by that one… weaponizing a manse was more or less unheard of! Even if even Charles had to admit that it only worked in special situations.

(Righteous Hala) “Well, this is a tricky situation you’ve gotten yourself into! This is why it’s a bad idea to meet with Deathlords, and after what you did, too. I think you should tell him that you need to meet with your ADVISORS first. That will give you some stalling time and be nicely vague enough not to give the Autochthonians issues.”

(Mr. Montague) “He IS a Deathlord! Surely he’d understand the need for secrecy.”

Charles considered… and picked up typing again.

(To the Arbiter) “Oh dear! My advisors all want to yell at me for even talking to you and I haven’t even actually told you much of anything… Would you mind if I put this in inactive mode for awhile? That way they can all get it out of their systems and it’s not like I can really tell them to go away!”

There! That nicely implied that his “Advisors” might be Devas, or Handlers, or his Creators, or at least are something that he couldn’t get rid of or ignore…

(Arbiter) “Could I talk to your advisors? Some of our findings match subsidiary souls, and if they understand that I would be foolish to kill my only source of communication with you, I might be able to soothe their nerves. Or perhaps Skimmer would be better?”

(Charles, back in the subjective-time conversation) “Does anyone WANT to talk to him?”

Even the Guardians were pretty reluctant, although Gothmug was willing to step up if it would resolve the situation without Charles giving things away… Mr. Montague and Aikiko were even more leery of the idea, being younger Exalts.

(Charles, to the Arbiter) “I’m sorry, but I need a bit! I can’t think with all of them talking… Is there an out-of-the-way place where I can leave this body for an hour or two?”

(The Arbiter – narrowing his eyes and clearly suspicious) “I think we can keep it secure for… whatever you need to do. Alpha!” (The ring hums faintly.) “Watch this construct!”

It floated over towards the construct as Charles shut down the active feed to put things in “record” mode. Nothing too interesting was likely to happen without them participating and it would give him time to talk to everyone!

(Charles) “Well… I sent a construct since he managed to have an Abyssal Courier crash into the Tsunami. He already knew about the episode at the manse, and thus knew that I set it up to capture the three Exaltations. I can’t say if he was entirely certain, but it looked like denial wouldn’t be any use! That didn’t leave all that many options for answering a direct question as to what I did with them… I certainly didn’t want to mention Lytek, he may well know that Autochthon isn’t answering, and simply saying that I still had them seemed unlikely to work out well… On the upside, no matter what I tell him now he’s not going to believe it anyway! So the truth – that I’m trying to get them fixed – just might be the best thing to tell him right now…

(Montague) “Dang it… this is going to be a pain. At least I’m the right faction for reporting this to Lytek, so we can do something to protect him!”

(Charles) “Well… he probably wouldn’t consider Lytek! After all, if he could do fix them… they would probably have been fixed long ago!”

(Hala) “It’s going to complicate your plans if he tries to steal them back, you know. Are you really sure you want to tell him the truth? I normally know not to ask, but this could be BAD!”

(Charles, sighing) “Well, he’s already tried to swipe them back once. At the moment… he certainly suspects that I – along with some Nocturnals and many other beings – was involved in doing something with them; the perfect privacy effects would have covered up the presence of Lytek and his staff, but not the beings who actually came out to block his approach.”

(Hala) “Arghh… that would include at least you, Gothmug, and Chauffri, right Malinda?”

(Malinda) “I’m afraid so, dearie!”

(Hala) “So he probably suspects a Primordial, or somebody who knows a Primordial… and, I’d say, a lot of other people besides. And knowing that Abyssals and Infernals sometimes work together – and now that he and his crony have a good idea of your personality – saying that they’re in Malfeas won’t work.”

(Charles) “Well… He’d know about Val, You Hala, Gothmug and some Baalgrogs, and everyone else who held the perimeter. He was knowledgeable enough to specifically target me, skilled enough to locate and board the Tsunami while in flight across the universe, and sure enough of his results to simply ask what I’d done with “his” exaltations – so it’s not like he didn’t know, or wasn’t already after me.”

(Hala, frowning) “I… you’re right. I’m so glad you sent a construct for this, Charles!”

(Charles) “Well, that was why!”

(Mr Montague, sighing) “No helping it, I guess! I’ll still let Lytek know, just in case.”

(Charles) “Well, I figured that at least knowing who was chasing me might be worth something… but that’s why the communications link is going by texting! It makes it much harder to read tones and such when there aren’t any… Does anyone actually know anything about this fellow?”

(Montague) “Hmm… of all the times to WANT to be a Chosen of Endings; they get better training on this stuff than most of us. What I know is that he relies on nemissaries possessing objects a lot, and is on some crusade for purification that involved Yu-Shan somehow.”

(Hala) “He’s called the Arbiter of Games’ End because he has an interest in the Games of Divinity.”

(Charles) “Apparently he wants to purify the Void back into Oblivion… I don’t think that could even WORK, but “Deathlord” and “Sanity” don’t usually seem to go together anyway!”

He replayed what he’d gotten out of the interview so far.

(Hala) “Well! He may well believe he could use the Games of Divinity to do that.”

(Mr Montague) “How would he know that, though? Or would he just steal them and make them into a mechanism somehow?”

(Charles… replayed a few bits again… and frowned) (Thoughtfully…) “To restore Oblivion… he needs to kill a Primordial. As far as he knows… there’s Autochthon, who is missing, and Gaia… but he might have realized that Yu-Shan is a primordial and rather near death! If he’s been listening to the echoes of the Whispers of the Neverborn in the Labyrinth, or delving into the memories of the Neverborn, it would be easy enough to find out. He may have more detailed information on the Primordials than anyone else but Gaia… And the Games… are at Yu-Shan’s central nexus, and would be destroyed with her – and might even drag the gods playing them into the underworld in her wake. That would restore oblivion, wipe out the Incarnae, destroy the Loom of Fate, and eliminate the Celestial Bureaucracy – and most of the resources of any surviving Sidereals, who are the last truly organized group of Exalts in existence – at a stroke. He can bind gods and turn them to his purposes too – so if they were cast into the Labyrinth, he’d have lots of raw materials to use against the other Deathlords.”

(Mr Montague, with a somewhat horrified expression) “If that’s true… and we do have him registered as a high-threat… (urgently!) Sorry, Charles! I need to talk with Sifu about this!”

(Charles) “Well, I can’t be sure – but it’s the worst scenario I can think of at the moment, and therefore the one to be ready for! And that’s perfectly reasonable!”

Besides, she was already in on things anyway… Did the Arbiter really believe that he was truly a reformer doing the “right thing”, was he simply obsessed, or was it just a front?

(Mr Montague) “Of course not… which is why I’m going to try to get in with the Violet Bier of Sorrows, and see what they’ve got on him! I need to be sure about this before we get TOO excited.”

Charles… was somewhat pleased! It looked like there were reasonable odds that he came out ahead in the information-trading so far… He hadn’t given away much that wasn’t common knowledge. He now had a powerful enemy of course – but that had been inevitable really, even if they’d never met their purposes were diametrically opposed. Better to know about his enemies rather than have them be a nasty surprise!

Mr Montague sent called back in an hour and a half.

(Montague) “Had to get a favor from Clearwater – he’s a real favormonger, so I’ll be in his debt for a while! But for this, though… yeah, he said the Arbiter’s forces have been really active lately, and pushing Earthward. The Violet Bier of Sorrows is securing that one gate – I’m sure you know about it – a REALLY old Deathlord’s palace is supposed to be nearby… Oh, bother. Here’s a bit from Clearwater’s research: apparently he didn’t participate directly in World War II, but he did send supplies – so he would know where Earth is.”

(Charles) “Well, he sent agents there to blow up a manse and establish a shadowland under his control – and nice to have who THAT was confirmed. Since I eliminated them, and he knows it… he’s now pretty sure that I intend to actively oppose his plans.”

(Mr Montague) “What do you say, Hala? Think he might as well bite the bullet?”

(Hala) “Sigh… I think so.”

They weren’t likely to have let anything slip in front of the construct, but Charles ran a quick review just in case before he powered it up again…

It looked like the Arbiter had issues explicit orders not to speak in front of the thing, or touch it. Alpha then picked it up with a charm and carried it someplace dark. There were no longer any power readings below its neck – but Charles powered it up anyway.

(Charles) “Allo!”

The construct had been decapitated, and the head put on a table. He could see the three rings floating in front of it – and the shadow of something goremaul-shaped over the head.

(Charles) “My, cranky!”

(Alpha) “I’m really sorry! Master made us!”

(Charles) “Well, it’s just a construct!”

(Omega) “But it’s such a nice construct, that you probably worked really hard on…”

(Charles) “Oh well! I can make more if I need them!”

(Arbiter, through a speaker) “All right, what did you do with the shards? Tell me, or I will hunt you to the edges of the universe and beyond…”

Hm… Still icy calm, but there was definitely some tension there! The Arbiter wasn’t handling dealing with something that he couldn’t directly threaten at all well!

(Charles) “Well, my Advisors don’t really think I should talk to you at all – they don’t think that you’re a nice person, and this does seem to confirm that – but I get the deciding vote. As for the Shards, they needed to be fixed, because someone’s gone and inverted a lot of essence flows in them and made them rather yucky! So I’m doing that!”

(There was a short period of silence, then the Arbiter spoke quietly but sharply) “Fixed. Ha. They were born broken, when the traitor Incarnae and the Betrayers decided to overthrow the order of Creation. The Neverborn only adjusted HOW they were broken. You know so little about such things. And in any case, I have some idea of who might be helping you. Alpha?”

(Alpha) “Oh no…”

(Arbiter) “Blast him.”

(Alpha) “I’M REALLY SORRY!”

(Charles) “It’s fine! Saves me the trouble! Thank you!”

Alpha lashed out at the remains of the construct with a wave of boiling hot… plastic? Oh well! Charles was busy using some (absolutely normal, if highly-skilled) thaumaturgy to redecorate the entire palace and surrounding area for many miles (via a bit of alchemical surface-transmutation) in glorious iridescent tie-dye patterns! The Arbiter was already irrational – really, trying to be intimidating by smashing his only communications link? – so that might as well be encouraged!

And… the Arbiter hadn’t thought to block Thaumaturgy at all – much less purely coemetic thaumaturgy – and once it was done dispelling wouldn’t do anything about it, the magic was over and done with. He’d just have to try and work a similar spell to correct it (a lot harder when the first one included the random function to make random colors; a reversal… would have to plot out all the randomness and adjust to reverse it in each section) – or get a LOT of repainting done. It would not hurt to have him think that Charles was a childish clown!

Actually, the Arbiter didn’t even try. He sent in a crew of ghosts to do it. It was beneath the dignity of a Deathlord to do his own painting!

He purified the ghosts afterwards, just in case – even if it was a senseless expenditure of time and resources. All that color was quite intolerable!

(Charles, back in Aden – after confirming the constructs destruction) “Well now! I doubt that THAT told him anything more… and we know a bit more about HIM. He’s obviously deduced that Lytek is involved – but I’m associated with him anyway, he’s the god of Exaltation, and he’s known to have tools that can work on them, so that’s nothing that he didn’t already know – but that also tells US that HE has information sources in Yu-Shan. I’ve set Lytek up with more protection already; we may want to upgrade that further.”

(Mr Montague) “And we’ll have to track down those sources, too…”

(Charles) “Well, knowing that they’re there is half the battle!… Overall… I think that went fairly well; we know a good deal more than we did, and he knows very little more than he did. His hostility is now focused on me of course – but that was inevitable; I want to fix the universe, and he wants to destroy it.”

(Hala) “Now let’s hope he doesn’t get you before you pull this off…”

(Charles) “Well, he’s obviously very dangerous – but he’s also somewhat short of minions or doesn’t trust most of the ones he has. After all, he sent three Abyssals on an errand to blow up a damaged level three manse when an animated corpse with a sledgehammer would have been just as effective – and he controls them through threats of pain, so he may no longer really understand any other form of loyalty. I’d guess that he doesn’t trust manse-servitors either or he wouldn’t be relying on ghosts for personal staff even in the underworld – and most underworld servitors couldn’t get into Creation anyway… At least now I know who’s after me!”