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…


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.

6 Responses

  1. Ah well, beat me to it. I may still steal some aspects of this when building my own version, but I have so many irons in the fire these days.

  2. Hi! I =really= like the art that goes along with this one, as I usually play female characters. Give the artist a pat on the back for me.

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