Eclipse and Mythic Ascension, Part I

And today it’s a question from Alzrius – although only part one, because this is going to be a LONG one. 

You’ve converted a number of Pathfinder classes to Eclipse, but I wanted to ask how you’d convert over Paizo’s latest big power-up for PCs: Mythic Adventures.

I tried taking a stab at this myself, but I suspect that this is a bit more than I can chew, at least until I’m able to get further experience with using Eclipse. I did get some basics down, however.

The Designing Encounterssection mentions (under the “Adjusting CR and Level” sub-header) that a character with 20 class levels and 10 mythic tiers (the maximum number allowable) is essentially a 25th-level character.

From that, I figured that a mythic character has a +5 ECL template, and so has a total of 191 CP to build it with. Throw in a mythic flaw (as a disadvantage that’s part of the template) and that rises to a total of 194 CP.

The base mythic abilities are easy enough to make…for the most part. Most of the mythic abilities revolve around spending a use of “mythic power” for various effects, the most basic of which is to improve die rolls; that sounds like Action Hero, with other abilities specialized to require an action point. There’s also a lot of Improved Self-Development (+10 total!).

The mythic feats granted by the template were a little more difficult to convert, simply because 1) there are so many of them, and 2) I wasn’t sure about building just those feats in Eclipse without also including the “normal” feat abilities, since they build on those.

Mythic Paths was where things went off the rail for me. Mostly because there were so many abilities across six different paths, and because having each path have twelve (!) different path abilities – in addition to the base mythic abilities – really pushed the cost. (I eventually figured the entire template was specialized, since gaining all of these requires satisfying a grand total of 29 mythic trials…not to mention how the template is gained in the first place).

Mythic spells and magic items aren’t part of the character, and so don’t need to be dealt with…I think. I’m slightly uncertain because some still require an expenditure of “mythic power” – presumably that’s no different than an expensive material component.

Finally, since these are meant to be broken up into ten “tiers,” I wasn’t sure how to do that, short of breaking up the entire template into ten packages of 19- or 20-CP bundles to dole out over time.

Presuming that’s not too tall of a request…how would you make “Mythic Eclipse”?

-Alzrius

I’ve got to admit it; I find this one more than a bit strange.

Basically, under Pathfinder’s “Mythic” rules… your character is exposed to some weird source of power, and infused with some of that power. As your character performs mighty deeds, he or she gains even greater powers. Soon lesser individuals can barely touch your character, and have little chance to oppose him or her.

This sounds a great deal like normal play to me.

After all, “exposed to some weird source of power” often happens as part of a characters basic origin story – and if it doesn’t happen then, player characters quite routinely expose themselves to alien energies, wade through dragon’s blood or other weirdness, visit exotic planes of existence, pick up malfunctioning artifacts, work for crazy divine patrons, channel entities from beyond the comprehensible cosmos, and, if all else fails, get involved with their own insane magical experiments.

They “perform mighty deeds and gain power from them”. Yes. Yes, they do. Story / quest / goal / whatever awards have been around since the early days of first edition. You completed a mission of some sort, you built up your reputation and legend, you gathered mundane rewards – and you also went up in level, gaining mighty powers.

And it’s pretty well acknowledged that, all else being equal, low-level characters have little chance against higher level ones.

Really, the “Mythic” rules represent a jump back to first edition.

In first edition, most people could not gain levels. Player characters and special NPC’s were unique because they could. By third edition EVERYONE got levels, and PC’s only real claim to being special was that they were apparently lucky bastards who found more gear than most of the other people. .

Under the “Mythic” rules, most people cannot gain Mythic Tiers; Player characters and special NPC’s are unique because they can.

In first edition quite a lot of your character advancement was awarded for accomplishing goals of some sort. By the time third edition came along, that sort of award was pretty rare. It was hard to calculate or award “treasure” – and keep wealth-by-level straight – for goals.

Under the “Mythic” rules a fair chunk of your character advancement is awarded for accomplishing goals of some sort.

“Mythic” does split from first edition in putting story awards on their own track – but that’s not particularly new either; quite a lot of early games put experience points into separate tracks depending on how you earned them. Thus games like Ysgarth and World Tree had different categories of abilities that advanced with XP from using those abilities.

While I’ll look at other ways of building mythic abilities next, the simplest, quickest, and most flexible option for mythic-style Eclipse only requires one power:

Immunity/having only one experience point chart; Very Common, Severe, Legendary, 60 CP Base, Specialized for Increased Effect (gets only one additional chart, abilities purchased on the secondary chart do not have to pay attention to the restrictions of the Adventurer Template) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost/the secondary “tier” chart only gets special goal-awards rather than splitting XP awards evenly with the primary chart, only goes to level ten, does not provide hit dice or skill points, and is normally capped at (Level/2) +1. Net Cost: (40 CP).

And that pretty much does it. With that extra allotment of character points you’re free to buy all kinds of specialized enhancing abilities. If you want to copy the original style, you can go ahead and throw in “Corrupted/Does not work against opponents who also possess this “mythic immunity” on a lot of defenses and special powers.

As usual for similar items, levels from the secondary progression do not stack with levels from the primary one. Thus being Level Thirteen/Tier Seven does NOT let you buy abilities as if you were a 20’th level character; it lets you have a complimentary set of level seven abilities to go with your level thirteen abilities – rather like a Gestalt character, although players are likely to buy truly complimentary talents rather than just getting a second set.

Now that is pretty cheap. It’s not hard to come up with 40 CP, and if you put it into a template you get a mere +1 ECL unless you put some more stuff into it.

Now talking your game master into letting you take an Immunity to a pretty fundamental aspect of d20’s rules is quite another matter. Such Immunities carry a rider about “if the Game Master opts to allow it” for exactly this reason; allowing someone to take an Immunity to having to gain experience points to go up in level, or to the normal progression of time, or to limits on actions in a round, or some such, can easily wreck the game. It’s a bit like playing Chess and ruling that pieces can’t be taken; there are some rules that the game simply does not work without.

On the other hand, ruling that Knights can also move and capture like pawns (and will now be known as “Templars”) will leave the game quite playable.

Will this particular Immunity break the game? It’s blatantly asking for an ECL adjustment, but if all the player characters are using it… well, the levels and abilities of NPC’s are pretty much arbitrary anyway. I think I’d prefer to just note that most NPC’s are fairly low level and stay that way, and thus the PC’s are special right out of the box – but this route will achieve much the same result.

Next time around I’ll look at the basics of building to match the “mythic” rules.

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Locations – the Tumbledowns

"View in Wall Street from Corner of Broad...

Now roll it back another few centuries…

The area just within the city wall – the Great Wall Road – is kept clear of buildings. In times of siege, or when the monsters of the wild lands press close, that broad space is used to muster and drill troops, to rush supplies and reserves to wherever they are needed, to hold the livestock that will be butchered to help feed the city, to stockpile supplies, to rally the militia, and to watch for signs of sappers. It’s where the priests set up to bless the walls and heal the defenders, where sentinels watch for infiltrators, and where – on rare occasions when dark powers are abroad – the mages and priests work to reinforce the wards and protect the entire city. Buildings too near the the wall would interfere with all of this, and would be a hindrance and fire hazard in times of war – easy to ignite from the outside, and thus a peril to the wall and it’s defenders. There are an assortment of wells near the wall and pools by the buildings within, which serve to supply water and firebreaks for fighting fires, to add a margin of safety against incendiary missiles, and to farm fish – in addition to being decorative and providing relatively safe places for children to splash about.

The Town Wall has proved it’s worth many times. It helps to keep monsters, and bandits, and hordes of orcs, and similar hazards at bay, serves as an anchor for the cities wards, and provides sheltered yet elevated posts for sentinels. The Wall Road, (or Wall Street), is an important part of the Town Wall. It’s maintenance is a military matter; you can’t build there.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t hold fairs and markets and put up tents. You can even put up rather long-term tents arranged in sprawling communities. You just have to be ready to fold them up and get out of the way when one of the periodic drills is held. Those sprawling communities of tents are home to many of the cities poor – and when they’re knocked down, or a fire breaks out, or there’s a sudden monster attack, or any of a dozen other disasters happen, they are swept away – only to rise again as soon as it’s relatively safe.

These are the Tumbledowns – a bustling circular market/slum/tent carnival filled with colorful tents (the merchants pay apprentice mages a few coins to pass through the area and cast coloring cantrips on the drabber ones; it helps keep the customers enthused), outdoor games, very junior craftsmen and merchants manning their booths, the cheapest of mystical services, prostitutes, and even more dubious services, stray children, salesmen hawking their wares, the farmers markets (patronized by the poor seeking the cheapest of overage foodstuffs and by the servants of the rich, seeking the freshest), lines of washing, pushcart-vendors, day-laborers looking for work, and the most petty of petty thieves. The occasional larger events, such as traveling entertainers, gypsy caravans, visiting religious preachers, magical duels, and so on, may either clear a space or – for a modest payment to the city and as long as they are strictly temporary – briefly use one of the practice grounds the city keeps clear to train the militia in. Inevitably, the area is hazy with dust and smoke when it isn’t muddy.

Evading pursuit is easy enough in the Tumbledowns – but evading notice and recognition is very hard indeed; few keep as sharp an eye on their possessions and possible threats to them as those who have very little. It’s always easy to wave over an urchin child and give him or her (it’s often hard to tell the difference) a half-copper to guard your wares, run errands, keep an eye on someone, get a recitation of all the local rumors and news, carry your packages, or locate the less legal (and more mobile) services. Working for farmers at the markets is especially popular with the kids; the farmers often pay with a really good country meal – plentiful, and sometimes with a bit of actual meat in it – instead of with hard-to-come-by coin.

While the troops stationed along the wall will intervene in major disturbances, really petty thievery and cheating – a bit of short measure, a thumb on the scales, or shortchanging some rich adventurer – is rife in the Tumbledowns. Still, anything much more than that attracts too much notice eventually, usually resulting in a few more gruesome executions, public punishments, or slave-sales beside the western gate.

The Tumbledowns do NOT host the great fairs – the major mercantile gatherings which bring in so much of the towns money in fees and taxes (and thus are tightly controlled, regulated, and taxed). Most of those are held in the fields beyond the gates, although the most expensive goods and biggest deals are often handled in small private meetings in the more expensive inns without anything so crass as actual goods or money ever putting in an appearance.

The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice CXLVI – Foundations

on a bronze french cannon, the relief of coat ...

Are you SURE that’s a bracer?

In Skoll, Aikiko was laughing too hard to stand. She’d finally thought to ask Skoll – and the lever that Larquen Quen, the Mask of Winters, had used to bring the Unconquered Sun out of Yu-Shan and into Skoll’s reach… had been a millennia-old promise to drop by a birthday party. And he’d managed to turn that minor promise into… freedom from the Neverborn for a birthday present! It was going to be hard to top that!

In Aden, Charles was considering… Perhaps it was “alas, poor Unconquered Sun! He just had to clear a few billion more levels! He couldn’t let that game beat him by not finishing it in one go, for he was the embodiment of perfection and excellence!” Was the way that people got stuck in the World of Warcraft a reflection of the Games of Divinity? Or was it Papers and Paychecks?

After all… the games were played by the Primordials, each of whom had their own specialties and didn’t even think about other things – which alone said that the interface adapted to suit the player, and that it the game targeted his or her weaknesses to remain challenging. So the Maidens kept getting peeks into “Samsara” (probably through the link to the loom), the Unconquered Sun felt that he couldn’t stop without letting it beat him, and Luna perhaps felt that it would show her even more of the possibilities of creation. Gods did tend to be a bit… focused… and if it played to their purposes… that might explain their effects on those with less multifunctional minds than the Incarnae as well. A direct interface with their full consciousness and complete fulfillment of their purposes would be an incredible ecstasy, and the mere draw of it would have a tremendous effect on them. On more-or-less normal people… Well, a quick look at the games hadn’t had any effect on HIM, but that might be Dudael – on the other hand… he’d had to block it out for Six Ebb, Ten Peach, and Nuahathia – but not for Sorina Chisaru and Mr Montague; they’d gotten better as soon as they’d gotten their eyes off the Games.

That… would kind of fit! Mortals simply had too many motivations and functional limitations for the full effect to hit them, mid-level gods were the most vulnerable – and recordings of their experiences with the games would be filled with THEIR sensations – the Incarnae could handle it to some degree… and the Primordials found it wonderful fun, but not all-consuming – as did their Higher Souls, since they were part of something greater, but the interface could only adapt to what was actually present. Some gods – the ones with drives that couldn’t be fulfilled by the games (such as “Fix the Universe”) might not even find them especially attractive.

The actual play of the game – at least as long as it was complicated and could go on for a very long time – might not even be relevant if the interface that was that important. It might not even be something that could be described within the universe; after all, the games predated shaped reality…

Not too important really! It would be nice to get the Incarnae unaddicted, but wasn’t like it was hurting them any as far as he could tell. They were the greatest gods, made by the direct efforts of multiple Primordials each – and the more powerful gods were better able to resist. It was hard to get into the Jade Pleasure Dome to fix things anyway and there were far more urgent projects addressing far more urgent needs than the Incarnae amusing themselves. Gaia had done a good job; the universe had been looking after itself tolerably well for some time! Enormous amounts of totally empty space made a pretty good defense – not to mention leaving the outside relatively small and arranging to put Lunars and friendly Raksha hordes all over it! And with the Lunars very well-acquainted with using Wyld pockets for interstellar travel… they could hop from the core of Creation to the Empirical Galaxy with ease as needed.

After all, there were an awful lot of permanently shaped Raksha these days. The Hannya and Shapeless might still make pests of themselves, but the space-distortion tended to ensure that there were swarms of defenders for every intruder. It wasn’t like Creation was especially unique; there were seven hundred extra exaltations around to prove that it wasn’t! Even if the other creations were alternate timelines, or existed in other dimensions… you could still get there by traveling the wyld. It was a churning sea of possibility and chaos after all.

He was still considering that when he was informed that the Masons wanted to open a branch office in Aden.

Well, that had been weeks ago – shortly before leaving for the edge of the universe. He’d dropped by to take the Mason’s some presents! A production run of Sigils Of The Dawning Age and a few Rods of Construction. After all… I wouldn’t be fair to give the government scientists magic and not give some to the people who had been earnestly studying it.

They’d recognized him – he had been pretty generous the first time – and they’d passed him on to the Grand Master fairly promptly.

(Charles) “Hello sir!”

(Grand Master) “Hello – Charles, was it? What brings you back here? And still without your guardian?”

(Charles) “Well, things have gone very well, and your tools were very helpful in getting things started, so I wanted to bring you some bonuses! You’re likely to be needing some of them soon what with all those advertisements!”

The Grand Master checked the privacy wards.

(Grand Master) “The divinations on the ads themselves indicated they were real – some sort of geomantic working, I’d say. But to do it all at once like that… would you know anything about that other than what’s in the advertisements? You seem well-connected for your age.”

(Charles) “Well, a fair amount… what did you need to know?”

(Grand Master) “We’re interested in some of the worlds on the other side. Some of us have heard that magical development on the other side is greater than on Earth. I’m not so sure about that myself, but if we’re going to send people across, I’d rather not be completely blind. I’d like to avoid reenacting Aliens or Predator, at least. So, if you’d heard the same rumors, I was wondering if you knew any particularly good worlds.”

(Charles) “Well, they’re basically uninhabited except for a few advance parties and some entities who’ll be acting as guides and pathfinders. Most of them do have facilities built around service-mansions though, so that they’ll be ready for people to arrive.”

(Grand Master) “What about the environment… and have you visited these worlds personally?”

(Charles) “The galaxies were selected so as to have no other sapient races, and – in most cases – no other advanced life forms. There shouldn’t be any major problems there! The environments are modeled on Earths before it got messed up, so there won’t be any problems there either. Overall, it should be pretty easy – roughly like opening up of the some of the uninhabited islands around the earth during the age of sail; some limitations on local transport, but overall straightforward enough!”

(Grand Master) “Well, whoever this is has planned things out… I’d almost say for centuries.”

OK… if the boy wasn’t an Exalt or major God, he certainly had some contacts – although he couldn’t make out ANYTHING about the aspect. He was almost too innocent to be an Exalt though…

(Charles) “Anyway, since magic will be getting a lot more important and common soon, it seemed only fair to bring you some more – and a lot of construction will be needed anyway! I thought that these (as Charles pulled out a box containing one production run of three hundred Sigils of the Dawning Age) and a few (as he pulled out four) of the rods from earlier might be useful!”

(Grand Master, after a brief analysis…) “These are… pretty good. Considerably more powerful than the usual enlightenment-devices! How’d you get so many in one place? The enlightened try to keep those under control!”

(Charles) “Well, it’s one batch really!”

(Grand Master) “Mind if I ask where you got them? We normally only see a dozen at a time at most – and even that’s pretty rare.”

He stuck with “cheery” at the moment! There was no point being too forceful when you’re getting free stuff!)

(Charles) “Well… I picked them up in Aden, and came down through Yu-Shan!”

(Grand Master) “I know a little about Yu-Shan – mostly that it’s Heaven, you can go to a party there once a year if you’re lucky or crazy, and it’s normally NOT a good idea to try to get in – but I don’t believe you’ve told me about Aden.”

(Charles) “Another pocket-dimension realm!”

(Grand Master) “Ah… not where you’re from, is it?”

The boy… did have a rather interesting Essence signature! Including a rather frustrating aspect that he couldn’t quite identify! The fact that he seemed to act like a cheerful good fairy didn’t truly rule out most things, but it certainly made them seem unlikely! Some questions about “Aden” were definitely in order!

(Charles) “Well sort of!”

Hm! Either a dodge or a “this is too complicated to explain”. The boy was so blatantly bad at lying that normally he would have suspected a front – but why would a manipulator drop by their lodge with massive gifts of magical power? The order was skilled, but the Masons were not one of the great powers of the universe!

(Grand Master) “Is Aden more open than Yu-Shan?”

(Charles) “Well, generally! Why? Did you want to visit?”

(Grand Master) “I was curious, yes – if only to check out the geomantic network. Earth’s pretty well-claimed, and I hear that Yu-Shan is too!”

That gave them both some information… It was a solid chunk of evidence for “too complicated to explain” for the Grand Master, and it told Charles that – while the Masons had apparently managed to retain more information than most Exalts had any more – they didn’t have much recent information on Yu-Shan.

(Charles) “ Well, if you want… do you have a few minutes?”

(Grand Master) “I have about fifteen until my next meeting.”

(Charles) “Mind if I use the closet door? It’s easiest to have a frame to work with!”

(Grand Master) “Nothing nasty’s going to chance coming through, is it?”

(Charles) “Definitely not!”

(Grand Master, erecting a few hurried wards just in case) “All right, then.”

Charles cheerily opened up his usual primary gate, ushering the Grand Master through to the usual a mountainside overlooking the singing forest, with the sea of chaos lapping at the docks of an elven treehouse town, and all the rest. Since there was a limited alert on… a couple of Baalgrogs were playing exceptionally gloomy chess, and a contingent of elves were having an illusion-casting competition, nearby.

(Grand Master) “This is pretty big for a pocket… I ran into one in the mountains once, but it was a lot smaller than this!” (Nodding to the Baalgrogs) “Locals?”

(Charles) “They do security!”

The Grand Master had a few essence-sensing effects available. Once he got over his shock at the seething geomantic energies he checked the Baalgrogs (it wasn’t too unusual for Raksha to take on pop culture characteristics, but generally not quite like that!) and the Elves – only to find them (at Essence 7) to be some of the most potent beings that he’d ever encountered! Raksha didn’t normally run that powerful! And certainly not in GROUPS! Hardly anything did!

And the boy… was still just as hard to read, but was at least as powerful, and his aura… faded seamlessly into the incredible geomantic background.

(Elf) “Hello Charles! Another guest? Will he be needing a place to stay, or is this just a visit?”

(Grand Master) “I’m just visiting; I’ve got a meeting with someone in about five minutes. You know this young man? What does he do around here?”

Charles rather abruptly realized that he hadn’t told ANYONE to conceal that information.

(Elf, with some startlement) “Well… sustains existence? He is this realm after all!”

(Grand Master) “WHAT?” (In a bit of denial) “But… he’s just a boy!”

(Charles) “Aw! Everybody fusses if you tell them that!”

(Grand Master) “What are you!?”

(Charles) “I don’t think we have a formal name yet! A lot of people think I’m a primordial though!”

(Grand Master) “Gah!”

Interesting! The Masons had access to a LOT of very old information! Had they really managed to maintain one of the second or third age thaumaturgical schools?

(Grand Master) “The Primordial of Generosity, I assume?”

(Charles) “I like to fix things! And people need more room, and there are a LOT of other things to fix too!”

(Grand Master) “So… am I right when I guess that gate project is your doing?”

(Charles) “Well, yes!… It’s not a problem is it?”

(Grand Master) “Err… it’s causing a stir with some Terrestrial factions. They’ve tried to remove the ads from the papers, but somebody keeps putting them back up!”

(Charles) “Well, they’d have a hard time anyway… it is a global campaign after all! And people might as well be ready!”

(Grand Master) “Well… we can’t stay on one world forever, even if the Sahara seems to be moistening and pollution is unaccountably decreasing.”

He looked at Charles meaningfully.

(Charles) “Needed fixing!”

(Grand Master) “How are you intending to handle the gates? Did you put any near Savannah?”

(Charles) “Uhm… Three relatively nearby, 162 across North America! 864 across Earth!”

(Grand Master, boggling at the raw power that implied…) “And you’re opening these all at once? How?”

(Charles) “Gate-manses, and access-restriction manses on the Earthly ends. Fortunately, with more power flowing into the dragon lines, there are plenty of suitable places to put them now!”

(Grand Master) “And you can build that many Manses all that once?”

(Charles) “I made Djinn to do that! I have enough to do with Yu-Shan and Earth!”

Djinn? Like the creatures of legend? The ones that… built instant magical palaces… How old was the boy?

(Grand Master) “Ah… I might have to talk to one or two of those. So what else are you doing with the geomancy… err, if you don’t mind telling? I’ll come back after my next meeting if it’s long.”

(Charles) “Uhm… That WOULD be kind of long… I could leave you an aide with library access though!”

(Grand Master) “All right… If it’s not obvious, sure.”

(Charles) “Hey Jasfari! Would you like to help out the Grand Master here for a bit? “

(Jasfari, a Coatl) “Certainly Charles! Hello there… Grand Master is a bit awkward; what do you like to go by?”

(Grand Master) “Albert Jameson!”

(Jasfari) “Then I’ll help you out for awhile Mr Jameson! Charles does lack a sense of proportion about some things.”

(Albert) “I’m seeing that…”

After all… even at a quick glance, this serpentine “assistant” seemed to be… well, not as powerful as the other spirits, but still more powerful (Essence 5) than any human! And was apparently linked to still greater sources of power!

He slipped Jafari into his jacket pocket.

(Charles) “Hmph! everyone thinks I need babysitters! (grumble-grumble-grumble…)

The Grand Master didn’t think that was such a bad idea! It was pretty obvious that the boy was… likely to give stuff to anyone who asked nicely!

While it wasn’t quite so obvious that the box full of amulets he’d been handed provided far more than just Enlightenment (as if that wasn’t enough) the things… pretty much explained themselves, and all the basics of Thaumaturgy, and started providing some minor protections, pretty much as soon as you touched them! And there were multiple layers of them, neatly packed – apparently about three hundred. That represented a tremendous amount of power right there… All in one batch? If he could persuade the child to use even a tiny fraction of those resources on the Freemason’s behalf… He’d have to review what he could get out of “library access” after his meeting… he still had to go, even if it was with a lot more reluctance than when he started with Charles today. Mason’s didn’t exactly recruit, but if the boy could be persuaded to ask to join… he’d do whatever it took to get him in! The boy would be a credit to virtually any organization.

Locations – Temin’s Bed’n’Pottage

In his Father’s day Temin’s was an excellent inn, widely noted for it’s fine food, comfortable rooms, and well-stocked cellar. Running an inn is pretty much all that Temin has ever done, but growing up around so many loutish, drunken, customers may help explain why he’s never actually liked people very much.

On the other hand, Temin has never encountered a coin that he couldn’t become close personal friends with at a moments notice. Lacking the talent (and desire) to actually run a good inn (or for much of anything else), Temin has settled for running one of the cheapest and most crowded establishments in the city – turning a profit almost entirely on the economies of scale. His taxes would be higher, but – while putting Temin out of business might be a fine service to humanity – he does fill a need of sorts.

These days Temin’s Bed’n’Pottage is a rattling, broken-down, multistory firetrap consisting of an old inn, a dilapidated warehouse, am old stable, and a row of mildewed and collapsing tenements, all tied together by crudely pegged-together bridges, knocked-out walls (sometimes turned into bridges), and a tangle of stairwells, passages, and ladders. Most of the larger rooms are, of course, subdivided into a cramped warren with the cheapest of rush-matting “walls” (through which people who try to lean on them regularly fall). Some customers say there’s a hole in one of the basement rooms where – if you pull away the rotting wooden cover – you will find a pit that drops straight down to the very pits of hell, which is where Temin gets the fire for his stove, since he’s too cheap to burn wood or coal. Most of the other customers say that if there was such a hole, Temin would have run the demons and monsters out long since and would currently be renting out rooms in hell since they couldn’t possibly be any less comfortable than the ones he rents out now!

When it comes to the meals, Temin’s mostly serves “pottage’n’trenchers”. If you have to ask what’s in the pottage, you aren’t hungry enough – but it’s mostly turnips (or whatever vegetable is cheapest this month), peas, butcher’s leavings and overage meat, occasional stray animals, and the cheapest fish from the sea, thickened with the same flour that Temin uses to bake the trencher bread – the cheapest to be found. In general, that’s the stuff that’s sold to the cities poorest – the leavings swept up at the end of the day from the milling room floor; husks, sawdust, spilled grains, the flour-dust from whatever was being ground that day, and assorted bugs and rat hairs.

Temin’s does offer several “security features” of sorts; the groaning, creaking, floors, rustling canvas sheets that serve as the doors to most of the rooms, and horrible tangle of busy unlit near-crawlways make it easy to hide and virtually impossible to sneak up on anyone. If your room doesn’t have a back door, a simple well-placed kick will usually produce one. Attempts to search the place are more likely to stir up a plague or poisonous insect than anything that’s been hidden – and Temin himself is notorious for paying close attention to money and none at all to his customers, making asking him or his staff nosy questions an exercise in futility. Drunken brawls aren’t a big feature either; Temin’s “beer” is too weak to get anyone drunk and brawls burn precious energy that’s better spent on survival. Petty theft is rife of course, but Temin’s is a reasonably effective safehouse if you need one.

Despite whispered rumors of gladiatorial pits in the basement, and assorted unsavory dealings, the most Temin ever provides is quiet little rooms with multiple back exits in which you can conduct whatever dealings take your fancy. That sort of thing is none of his business, although having the occasional body hauled away is.

If you want to go shopping, or sell something, Temin is more than willing to rent nooks and small sets of slightly larger and more comfortable rooms for the day, week, month, or year, so that his residents can run small businesses and exchange “their” (or more often someone else’s) goods – which leads to fixed locations for the kind of businesses that usually operate in alleyways out of the inside of an overcoat. In practice, Temin has managed to cram half the cities slums into a single noxious block.

Gods forbid that the place should ever catch fire though; the death toll would almost certainly be horrendous – and attempting to escape a maze of passages with flame bursting unexpectedly through the floor, collapsing areas, choking smoke, and people screaming, would be almost as bad as an adventurer’s raid on hell itself.

Still, if you’re desperate enough to stay at Temin’s, a half-copper will buy a slab of trencher bread loaded with pottage and a mug of water flavored with the cheapest beer. It isn’t good – or even common – food, but it has a fair amount of calories and even a little nutritional value from all the cheap vegetables. It’s a solid meal for a worker (albeit not enough for a full day of labor) or enough for a hungry child to get through the day. Another half-copper will buy a tolerably warm spot in the main room for a night or a (colder and more cramped, if more private and “secure”) little box of a room for the same period.

A silver will get you both for a week, along with a ragged blanket and breakfast – a small mug of “beer” and a thick slice of bread with something fatty (they call it butter, but it’s usually mostly lard or drippings) smeared on it for breakfast.

If you want someplace to stay out of sight, and where pretty much anything you d

Ox tongue, wild boar sausage and pottage

Not nearly this good

o will be carefully ignored, Temin’s Bed’n’Pottage may fit the bill. If you need minor items under the table, or connections to petty thieves and the rumormill, you can find them here. If you’re not quite dead broke, Temin’s will get you through a cold winter’s night. If you’re a health inspector… well, all your troubles will be over after your head explodes.

The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice – the Cosmic Knights

The Cosmic Knights are far less powerful than Skoll and Hati. After all, their artifact suits and empowering manses – however indestructible – aren’t pinnacles of Deathlord craftsmanship. Still, they WERE patterned after Skoll and Hati by Gaia – who basically just held up an essence-mirror and projected versions of the surviving bits of creation out into chaos. That was a very Primordial thing to do, but “fine control” was not a big concern at that point. Defenders of the new structure, on the other hand…

There were many other experiments of hers out there too, although the cosmic knights did turn out really well.

Cosmic Knight Armor (Artifact-*****, only usable by Essence-3 mortals or Godbloods with at least some knowledge of Thaumaturgy).

While Cosmic Knight Armor also includes, and relies on, three Manses (****. ***, and ***), players do not get to design those manses; they’re isolated on distant worlds and are devoted to empowering the armor and to hiding and maintaining themselves – while the Cosmic Knights are extremely conspicuous, cannot remove their armor (as they no longer actually have bodies), tend to find trouble everywhere they go, and are easily recognized throughout most of the universe – leaving possible opponents quite familiar with their basic capabilities. These problems suffice to pay for the necessary manses.

Cosmic Knights always start as Essence-3 Mortal (or Godblooded) Thaumaturgists with a virtue total of 14+. On merging with the Cosmic Knight armor they are essentially transmformed into Gods inhabiting that armor, gaining:

+2 Effective Essence (+1 from the Armor – transforming an Essence-3 Mortal into an Essence-4 God – and +1 from one of the linked Manses). Unfortunately, they generally cannot buy it up any further – and are permanently trapped in the armor barring intervention by some far greater power.

As an Essence-5 God, the new Cosmic Knight gains:

  • +24 Spirit Charms. Additional charms may be purchased with experience – but at mortal costs.
  • +1 to each Virtue.
  • +20 Ability Dots, Maximum 7.
  • +30 Attribute dots (Strength and Stamina; Minimum 10, Maximum 15, Appearance Maximum 5, other attributes Maximum 10)
  • +2 Will (10 Max).
  • +10 Bonus Points (+1 to an Attribute or +1 Charm costs 4, +2 to an Ability, Virtue, or Willpower costs 2, and +1 to a Background or picking up two specialty dice costs 1).
  • A Base Essence Pool of Essence x 10 + Willpower x 5. They gain a bonus of +20 motes per hour to their respiration.
  • +10B/+10L Inherent Soak (on top of their Stamina-Based Soak).
  • Base Health Levels of 4x -0, 10x -1, 10x -2, 4x -4, and 4x Incapacitated.

Yes, being promoted to Godhood is pretty nice for a mortal. 

  • Cosmic Knight Armor provides +25B/25L/25A inherent soak and has a hardness of 12. It perfectly caps damage from any attack or flurry at two health levels. In addition, any Crippling, Desecration, Shaping, Sickness, or Poison effect which an attack or flurry would normally inflict may be converted to the loss of two motes – even if it would normally take effect more than once due to a flurry or involves more than one of those keywords. Finally, three times per scene, the wearer may perfectly resist any one attack in it’s entirety – including any additional special effects that it would normally have. The armor itself is indestructible, but many of it’s functions (such as the built-in artifacts and ability to transform new wearers) will shut down if it’s supporting manses are destroyed.
  • The wearer regenerates one level of bashing damage every minute, one level of lethal damage every thirty minutes, and one level of aggravated damage every two hours and gets +8 automatic successes against diseases or poisons if he or she is out of motes to counter them with. Donning Cosmic Knight Armor adds about two centuries to the wearer’s lifespan, but does not extend it indefinitely.
  • The wearer need not eat, drink, breathe, or sleep, and may survive in any natural environment. In space they may communicate, use their senses, and use their ranged weapon at appropriate ranges. (Yes, this means that they can speak and hear in a vacuum. This is Exalted and these are interstellar heroes, were you really expecting them to pay much attention to physics?)
  • Cosmic Knight Armor includes the equivalent of double-speed Wings of the Raptor, a Translight Space Drive (rated at three if a roll is required), the equivalent of three dots worth of Artifact Melee Weapons, the equivalent of three dots of Artifact Ranged Weapons, and three Hearthstones (two x *** and one ****). All of these are built into the armor and require no committed motes, although the Hearthstones enhance mote recovery normally. One of the Rating-*** Stones is always a Stellar Navigator’s Stone (the user never gets lost and can see in the dark – including the dark nebulae of their dust-shrouded home galaxies).

While the weapons and hearthstones are, of course, fixed for each suit, if someone makes a Cosmic Knight character they are free to make their own selections. There are, after all, rather a lot of them.

When a Cosmic Knight dies their armor will vanish in a great burst of light and essence, only to reappear in its crypt in its manse complex to await a new claimant. Since some of those crypt complexes are quite famous in their home galaxies, and there are usually would-be claimants waiting.

Can you build a Cosmic Knight character?

To qualify you’ll need to take a mortal and buy Essence 3 (20 Bonus Points), a total of 14 Virtues 14 (5 Bonus Points, given that virtues have been errated to 1 bonus point per dot) and then buy an Artifact-***** (the allowable three dots from a mortal’s five-dot background allotment and 4 Bonus Points). That’s 29 Bonus Points.

Barring errata and house rules, mortals get 21 bonus points and may normally have up to 10 points of flaws – so yes, you can build a Cosmic knight (although you won’t have much in the way of other bonuses). You might even have an initial advantage over a new Exalt, although that will tend to fade fast.

The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice CVL – Swimming in Light

And to continue with Aikiko in the wider universe…

Aikiko considered… assorted bits of interstellar behemoths would obviously be useful in drive-artificing; they would normally travel in strange and bizarre ways. So… she had a project!

Would it be possible to communicate or negotiate with some of them? After all… it was likely that they’d never even notice contributing a bit to an artifact, they didn’t seem to be fighting each other, and they’d presumably been stuck in this pocket long enough to REALLY want to get out. Was there enough intelligence there to work with?

(Aikiko) “So… what’s with the central gate? Where do the things that get “taken” wind up?

Considering the Primordials involved, it might well be Beyond! But it was still good to ask.

(Older Gray) “It apparently – at least usually – goes to Malfeas. We suspect that Isidoros and Oramus have been collecting their own ingredients for something since the reshaping gave them a chance to set up their reflections of Isidoros / collection points across the cosmos. From what we have… it was impossible for any aspect of Oramus to remain free – so of course some did. It was to be expected that he would have a perfect defense against total confinement. After all, if he could exist before existence… then remaining free despite imprisonment is a small feat.

(Aikiko, slowly) “Thus, at the center of this sargasso… there is an aspect of Isidoros, and one that is even stronger than usual, that acts as a massive one-way gate to Malfeas.”

(Older Gray) “Indeed. We have been… VERY reluctant to take that route out.

Aikiko found it hard to blame them for that. After all, they worshiped one of the Yozis’ prime betrayers.

Still… “Cosmic Knights”. She hadn’t been expecting THAT one! It made sense in it’s own weird way, just like most of the cosmos did – but so often things made sense in ways that made your brain hurt! If the Mask of Winters ever found out… it would be nice to see his face! Surely he had not expected that particular ancient project to spawn a thousand new near-exalted heroes!

And that was a bit of an inspiration. She’d been focusing mostly on getting OUT of Skoll. If she really could gain full control of him… he’d be a MAJOR edge! Just the life support and superstrength alone, not to mention the armor and the artifact-emulation. Few Exalts, even among the elders, could boast the extent of THAT emulation.

It wasn’t long after that that she had Skoll cloaked and the Mental Invisibility Technique running – which should, hopefully, avoid attracting the notice of Isidoros – and was off to have a look at some Behemoths. Surely at their scale she could pretend to be unimportant and harmless!

Skoll was quite amenable at the moment; the only apparent route to capturing the Sun or finding the Mask of Winters seemed to be to help the Jadefolk build an artifact. That was not within his areas of competence, so directions were needed – and Aikiko was piloting right now.

The Fusion Shark was a mere thirty-two miles long, but it was glowing in x-ray frequencies. The Nebular Man-o-War was mostly immaterial, but it was at least light-months across, and it’s force tendrils extended for even further. The Neutron ammonite was only ten miles across, but was EXTREMELY solid. There was a cloud of Transmutation Mites, a Photonic Storm, and some sort of magnetic field entity that was REALLY hard to make out…

The Mountain Folk (Space Folk? Searchers?) needed… a fusion-ignition node from the Fusion Sharks stomach. It looked like the thing was… basically a living fusion rocket; it was mostly made of fields of force, it’s stomach was a fusion reactor, it propelled itself by tapping a stream of plasma off it’s stomach, and it consumed comets and such for fuel. The “Gill” structures were magnetic-seperation systems that channeled other materials to appropriate organs. Given that it lived in space, it simple radiated waste energies and stray photons from the fusion reactions. It wasn’t a Death Star, but it could project lasers through it’s “teeth” powerful enough to chop comets – up to twenty miles or so across – into chunks for easy ingestion. That was certainly enough to obliterate cities, and maybe enough to take out continents! A beam that cold cut through thirty miles of rock and ice… could easily cut through a planet’s crust.

Evidently the Behemoths got remade to suit their new environment during the reshaping. A head-on attack would not be the best approach, even with Skoll! Sneaking up might get her to it without problems – but getting that node would mean either killing it or passing through the stomach. Even with the Skoll and a Behemoth Cloak… too much of that probably wouldn’t be survivable without soak-based perfect defenses. Dodging wasn’t going to help much here; she’d be pretty much swimming in the stuff! But fighting it… it was capable of surviving it’s own energies indefinitely – which mean that it was probably largely indestructible.

Well, if there were any EASY options, the Mountain Folk would have come up with something long ago.

The things stomach actually ran around the 150L level; it was running a higher-efficiency reaction than the core of a giant star. While it couldn’t maintain it for long, it could pulse the temperature up to about 200L – the total-conversion level – for brief periods to meet greater energy demands.

The rest of the list wasn’t too easy either… They also needed a Quagma Tendril from the Neutron Ammonite, and a bit of the spacemap in the mind of the Nebular Man-of-War. They… intended to use the Quagma Tendril – which was pretty close to being solidified wyld energy – and the ignition node to control it’s breakdown so as to change the structure of reality around their city. They’d use the spacemap concept to keep track of the changes. If they could work that trick… they could jump outside the universe entirely, and thus bypass any barrier – including the black holes around this place.

Well, that would be handy!

Hrm… She’d still be taking damage – but between Skoll and the Behemoth cloak it wouldn’t be very fast. Checking with the the Mountain Folk… they were willing to lend her some fully-charged healing chalices, and some lesser healing items if she thought that that would let her survive (she WAS a Solar; they were known for surviving practically anything – and while she wasn’t entirely sure, she wasn’t admitting that to THEM). She couldn’t get through to Aden at the moment – even if she WAS still partially there (Drat Oramus anyway. How could she still be THERE and still functioning there and yet be unable to get through? Would the aides in Aden be able to funnel through some healing if she started showing signs of injury THERE? Or would she show signs of injury at all?)

Well, her own aides had some healing thaumaturgy – as limited as that was – and there were some mutations she could take on that would help. Between Adenic Thaumaturgy and the cloak and her Ox-Body techniques she could take quite a bit of damage. If she could accelerate her swimming/flying enough… it might work. She could just dive in with the food and head for the stomach. She might even gain a little time just by hiding in a thick enough layer of ice, and the Durability of Oak Meditation would help for awhile…

So… Twelve to fifteen minutes. Maybe up to twenty with a little luck and some wards and a layer of ice and such. Her personal motes would probably be better spent on speed charms and thaumaturgy than on defense, and she could get some more speed-boosting artifacts set up from Skoll…

By the Incarnae… this just might work!

The ice exploded into vapor as it passed through the laser-tooth bursts – but the outer layer of wards deflected that nicely, leaving her hurtling down a glowing tunnel towards a truly massive magnetic field. Other lasers and energy beams were playing over her… It was obviously very rare for a chunk of solid matter to get this far!

Oddly enough… they seemed to be… analytical? Interesting! She attempted to spoof them – pretending to be a big hunk of soulsteel!

Skoll was abruptly wrenched to one side – and was funneled down a side-passage at high acceleration. He was headed towards an organ that… the Mountain Folk had completely failed to identify from the outside. It looked like… reflective energy fields, a LOT of essence, judging from the effects powering up – it “digested” artifacts that could be broken down, and ejected any truly indestructible stuff.

Botheration! That wasn’t what she needed at all! And nothing to hang onto; it was all made of fields of force… Time to power up!

Aikiko – and Skoll – abruptly blazed with sunlight, as Aikiko activated her athletics charms and began kicking off the walls to head back towards the stomach. Fortunately, few things actively resisted once past the teeth…

Huh. She was intentionally diving into a superheated, high-pressure, fusion plasma hotter than the core of the sun. Somehow that didn’t sound like a very sensible thing to do…

Weeeeelllll… that was where the thing she needed was, so while it still wasn’t sensible, she still needed to go there.

As she passed through the essence-containment, the pressure shot up to to a couple of million tons per square inch, the temperature went up to 100,000,000 degrees or so, and radiation levels went WAY above “lethal in fractions of a second”. The outer levels of wards were peeling away, as were the ablative layers. The essence-flux was boiling as matter, energy, and essence blurred.

Time to pick up the pace!

Scanning for the nearest ignition node with her investigation excellency… it looked like the nearest one was about two miles away; they were apparently clustered around the intake area to start the incoming gases fusing…

The area started to glow glow radiantly, and warm. As the brilliance increased, the Coatl set up wards. Since they – unlike Aikiko – had no direct link to the outside, mere wards could protect them for some time – but not forever.

(Skoll) “External environment exceeds filtering capacity. Dimensional interface will heat until pilot or system limits are reached and escape protocol must be engaged. Time estimate… eighteen minutes, sixteen seconds.

The ignition node… was about twenty feet tall, and looked fairly fragile, although it obviously wasn’t. At peak, spheres of iridescent energy formed and shot off into the incoming plasma – blazing like minature stars as the plasma was drawn into them and the fusion-cascade begins. As an active part of a living creature it couldn’t be truly indestructible – but it was certainly incredibly tough. Fortunately… as long as most of the damage was only to the support structure and energy-feeds, the Mountain Folk wouldn’t have much trouble fixing it…

Combining Skoll’s massive strength, Sledgehammer Fist Punch, Upgraded Smashfists (that also halved the soak of inanimate targets), and a few more enhancements actually got Aikiko up to the point where she was inflicting damage on the support structure of the Ignition Node despite it’s ability to withstand essence-effects and the constant damage of the stomach for lengthy periods.

It took… rather too long to cut it free – although it was easy enough to store thereafter. Another one budded from the wall moments later… Evidently the conditions of the stomach eventually wore them out.

At the rate this was going she had less than ten minutes of survival time left, and the constant low-level essence radiation burn was REALLY getting annoying. She needed to get out, FAST.

The exits… were primarily the drive-torch; which was about four miles away across the center, about ten along the walls. There are some secondary plasma taps for other purposes though – presumably going to organs that needed superheated plasma or fresh fusion plasma.

She had Skoll shift his artifact array from smashing to facilitating rapid travel and headed for the drive-torch. With any luck, it would be fast enough – perhaps even fast enough to let her time her exit for when it wasn’t using full thrust…

She still had more than a minute left as she approached the torch-feed. The creature was only thrusting casually at the moment – mostly just chasing bits of water ice in nearby orbits. It probably didn’t like being trapped of course, but it probably wasn’t suffering much. Of course… the primary walls were VERY close to being indestructible – and might indeed be so while actively supported. The exit area… was a hundred feet across, and was filled with iron atom nuclei moving at cosmic-ray speeds – so close to light speed that their mass was increased by a notable factor. The pressure inside Skoll was rapidly increasing, as the pressure outside exceeded normal methods of calculation.

This was going to hurt.

As the Fusion Shark shifted orbit, the floor vanishes to vent a stream of iron nuclei moving at almost light speed – and Aikiko and Skoll were swept along for the ride – at tens of thousands of gravities of acceleration. Thank the Incarnae – no, thank Charles – that the Behemoth cloak could limit any source of damage and that the Coatl had their own defenses.

Aikiko went hurtling into space at near the speed of light, out of healing supplies, seriously injured, and heading for the shell of black holes which bordered the place.

Still not ideal.

(Aikiko) “How long to bring down the velocity with a flight system?”

(Skoll) “About thirteen weeks at five gravities”.

THAT wasn’t going to work. Could the Mountain Folk pick her up? Steer towards an asteroid or something? The impact would be nasty, but the fast-healing mutations would patch her up in time… Well, she could boost her acceleration with Travel Thaumaturgy, telekinesis would add more acceleration without injuring anyone, and she might be able to do something with warding…

Ward against gravity? It WAS a black hole up ahead.

That took some tinkering to avoid going near the speed of light the other way – but reducing the efficiency of the Ward got it down to something manageable eventually – and once her speed was something reasonable, the Jadeborn could pick her up. They did want to know what kind of Thaumaturgy that was… normally you couldn’t ward against gravity!

(Aikiko) “My friend set it up – the one who’s good with Artifacts and Manses!”

(Mountain Folk) “It’s an impressive trick! Even more than it would have been in Old Creation, where the best you could have done would be zero gravity.”

(Aikiko) “It saved my life!”

(Mountain Folk) “Well, it’s an impressive resource, even if it doesn’t do anything else… with an appropriate ward, you could move a planet!”

(Aikiko) “I think he’s done that…”

The Mountain Folk felt that they’d definitely missed some developments out there in the greater universe. Being trapped here… was a serious problem! That’s why they ALL needed to get out! They were pretty grateful though. They hadn’t managed to figure out a way to get one of those Fusion Nodes, and they’d been working on it for decades.

(Aikiko) “I’m just glad I got it out… I’m not sure even I could survive another trip in there.”

Perhaps fortunately, the Fusion Shark would never notice. After all, on it’s scale… those nodes were smaller than an eyelash, and were constantly being destroyed and replaced anyway.

Meanwhile… Charles’s new priesthood had concluded that he was the most HYPERACTIVE deity in known history; he intervened at an incredible rate if there was some actual emergency…

Charles, of course, was betting that a several-thousand year old Deathlord had LOTS of other enemies, and quite a few other projects – and probably preferred to plan well ahead (or he very likely wouldn’t have lasted this long) – which meant that it might be months, or maybe even some years, before he launched any personal assaults – and to his mind… that was practically forever, even if the Deathlord considered it the blink of an eye.

Which gave him time to build more manses and send bodyguards to all vulnerable positions and Tenders/Overseers in Yu-Shan – no matter how much consternation that would cause the Occupation/Bureaucracy. He had a writ for it!

Ahlat was taking an interest as well; he’d gotten such GOOD mileage out of “promise them stuff later”, Monotheism, and “Prophecy” routines that it was more than a bit disconcerting to see someone bringing forth waters in the desert, a child leading the way into new worlds, an entity that seemed almost all-benevolent answering prayers en mass, the Raksha being tamed to live with mortals…

When had there EVER been anyone who was willing to say “It’s a GOOD promise! I don’t care who made it, I’m keeping it!” Was he planning to fulfill the entire earthly paradise routine? That could really foul up his operations! On the other hand, if the boy – or whatever he was – could be convinced to SUPPORT his operations… it might make him almost invincible!

The amount of Sidereal and Lunar interference that he was having to chop through was almost absurd though! Was the child some manipulation of theirs?

Beasts of Atheria Part III – Reaching Razorbacks and the Vanishing Hyrax

Snowi, a young wild boar (Sus scrofa) in the W...

And what do YOU want?

Beasts born in Atheria, like Humans born there, gain a Birthright – abilities derived from the magic of the domain in which they’re born. Thus, here are another couple of inhabitants of Dernmarik – the realm of dimensional magic.

Pigs are adaptable sociable omnivores, scavengers, and predators, capable of surviving in a wide variety of environments. They’re quite intelligent, and normally weigh about as much as a human does (and are just as prone to extremes of size). While pigs are widely domesticated, the domestic pig is a mere subspecies of the wild boar – and will quickly interbreed and revert to type if given the opportunity. In either case, they’re quite dangerous (especially in injured or threatened) – even without a magical Atherian Birthright.

There are some realms of Atheria where attempting to keep pigs is, at best… ill-advised.

Sometimes it’s lethal.

Dernmarkian Reaching Razorback (Wild Boar, 18 CP).

Reaching Razorbacks are one of the subtypes that no one sane attempts to keep; while they aren’t inherently hostile, they can kill a human (or especially a tasty-looking child) very casually – employing the same dimensional manipulations that they use to pull fruit out of trees and defend themselves from predators. As a side-effect, they can somewhat manipulate their other dimensional relationships – granting them the ability to modify their size, a trick that they use to fit through small places or to increase their ability in battle.

Reaching Razorbacks tend to escape confinement with ease – enlarging themselves to dig holes and push down fences and gates, shrinking to fit through small holes, and easily reaching fastenings that would be out of reach of any normal animal. Worse, they can attack at range, and several times before they’re reached if they don’t like whatever’s approaching – and will do so as a group. They’re best dealt with using ranged weapons or magic, although they’re tough enough to make even that difficult.

Reaching Razorbback Birthright (18 CP):

  • Innate Enchantment (All effects either Spell Level Zero or Spell Level One, Caster Level One, Unlimited-Use Use-Activated, Personal Only, for a 700 or 1400 GP effective value). Enlarge Self, Reduce Self, Immortal Vigor I (Adds +12 + [2 x Con Mod] hit points), and Resistance (L0, +1 to saving throws) (6 CP).
  • Lunge (+5′ effective reach), Specialized/only with jaws (3 CP).
  • Bonus Uses/+2 Attacks of Opportunity per Round (3 CP).
  • Martial Art/Razorfang Style (Str): Power II (Raises primary attack to 1d12), Toughness 1 (gains DR 1/-), and Reach (for a total reach of 15′) (6 CP).

Vanishing Hyrax:

D2A_5772_Hyrax.jpg

More tricks than you can shake a boulder at.

A Dernmarikian Vanishing Hyrax (use the base attributes for a Monkey) is a mildly unusual creature, and is probably an import that established itself since it really doesn’t seem to fit into the local ecology. A climbing vegetarian creature, it might be described as a monkey-like rabbit – but is more closely related to the Elephant than to most other creatures. The Dernmarik variant is a very clever animal – in fact, borderline sapient – and is capable of drawing trivial magical effects from other dimensions to suit itself. While it’s still too small to have a very powerful birthright, it’s clever enough to use what power it can handle quite effectively – and possesses considerably more versatile abilities than most animals.

A Vanishing Hyrax makes an excellent companion or familiar for almost any character, and can be quite friendly. Of course, a Vanishing Hyrax will also steal bits of your meals, siphon your soup, pester for attention, magically pinch children who annoy it, ride on your shoulder when it suits it and keep wandering from pocket to pocket otherwise, and poke it’s nose into things…

Vanishing Hyrax Birthright (12 CP):

  • Self-Development: +2 Int (Only +1 in settings that are not using the half-price attributes rule – still enough to make it sapient, 6 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment (all effects Spell Level One, Caster Level One, Unlimited-Use Use-Activated, for an effective value of 2000 GP/Spell Level). Conjurer’s Tricks (Reduced to L1 throughthe Blood of the Dragon by the sacrifice of a point of dexterity, 2000 GP), Mage Armor (which it can share with a friend, 2000 GP), and Create Water (1000 GP), for a total cost of (6 CP).

Common “tricks” taught to Vanishing Hyrax companions include…

  • Arm – put a weapon or other item in your hand when you hold out your hand in a particular way; a Vanishing Hyrax is capable of keeping track of three different items and their respective request-gestures.
  • Attack – actually harass an indicated target with small magics.
  • Cleanse – keeping itself, it’s user, and the immediate area neat and clean.
  • Come – when called.
  • Conceal Item – magicly shuttle an indicated item around your body so that it’s never where anyone else is looking at the moment.
  • Fetch – generally within short range, and by magic. She tends to keep the item conveniently levitated if you don’t take it.
  • Heel – a variant in that it will mostly ride on your shoulder and/or hide in a pocket.
  • Hinder – use it’s magic to inflict small penalties on an indicated target.
  • Ignite – heating liquids or setting small fires as indicated.
  • Perform – doing various minor magic tricks.
  • Tend – use it’s powers to try to stabilize someone who’s dying; it will do this for it’s owner without a command.
  • Ward – using it’s tricks to keep itself and it’s companion comfortable, warm in chill conditions, cool in hot ones, keeping off rain, chasing away bugs, and so on. This neatly compensates for the fact that Hyrax have rather poor temperature-regulation systems.

A Vanishing Hyrax can learn quite a few tricks if it wants to; it is, after all, sapient – if pretty dim. In many ways, they act like very small children.