Exalted – Simplified Martial Arts, The Tiger Style

Tigers fight

Yep. This style (Doug88888)

Since there’s been some question of how to build a simplified martial art, here’s a quick example.

The Tiger Style focuses on devastating claw-hand strikes, twisting acrobatic kicks, grappling, and low, wide – and exceptionally stable – stances. It’s primary focus is close combat. If outnumbered by his or her enemies a Tiger Stylist will close with one of them and attempt to eliminate him or her as swiftly as possible – while keeping the fight in whirl of motion so that his or her other foes will be unable to join in. It’s special maneuvers display the user’s massive power – smashing and destroying barriers, weapons, and foes, breaking bones, incredible leveraged throws, and ripping things apart – including the very earth when augmented with essence. It is one of the most primal martial arts that is still practiced in Creation.

Unenlightened Mortal Mastery:

  • Martial Arts 3+, High Str and Dex preferred.
  • Tiger Style Mastery: 1/Day Each +2d Stunt Enhancers: Ripping Claw Strike, Tiger Lashes Tail, Leap of the Tiger, Invincible Claw Block, Tiger Seizes Prey

Enlightened Mortal Mastery adds…

  • Martial Arts 4+
  • Mysteries of the Tiger I (Ess 2): Gain Iron Hand Strike (Claws, 1), Endurance Training (Wolf’s Pace, 1), and Hardening Kata (Large, 1).
  • Mysteries of the Tiger II (Ess 3): Gain Survival Training (Fur), upgraded Hardening Kata (Huge,+1), and Night Vision (1).
    • Fun fact! The “Mysteries of…” charm sequence is permanent; even if you’re not using the style at the moment. Yes, that means that having Mysteries from more than one form will stack – but there’s only so much you can do with one and two point mutations. Fortunately, as charm effects, all negative consequences of such “mutations” are ignored.
  • Initiate of the Tiger (Ess 2): Gain (Essence-2) Bonus Uses of your Martial Arts Maneuvers per day OR one bonus use of one of them in each fight (Enlightened Mortals should almost always take the per-fight option).

Divine or Godblooded Mastery adds…

  • At least one Martial Arts Excellency.
  • Unconquered (Ability) Perfection 1 (Channel a Virtue and add +2 DC to add a thaumaturgy-level effect to your martial action).

Unconquered (Ability) Perfection pretty much replaces most charm trees – which is the entire point really. Why should the amazing powers of the Exalted be confined to a relatively small selection of rigid abilities?

Exalted Mastery adds…

  • Unconquered (Ability) Perfection 2 (Dragonblooded. Ess 3, Channel a virtue and add +4 difficulty to produce a terrestrial circle sorcery level stunt), 3 (Lunar, Sidereal, Ess 5, Channel a virtue and add +7 difficulty to produce a celestial circle effect), or 4 (Solar, Ess 8, Channel a virtue and add +10 difficulty to produce a solar circle effect).
  • Possible Additional Excellencies.
  • Mysteries of the Tiger III (Ess 7): Gain Eye of the Tiger (Chakra Eye) and upgrade Endurance Training to Gazelle’s Pace.

Sidereal Mastery adds…

  • Challenge Fans The Flames
  • Tiger Form: +3 Valor Channels, Emulates the Mask of the Tiger:

Mask of the Tiger: Artifact III (Power 5, Utility 4, Plot Impact 2, Script Immunity 1 = Rating-***). 8x Class-B Powers: +2 Dex, +2 Str, +4 Martial Arts, +4 Damage, +4L/B/A Soak, Counts as a Reinforced Buff Jacket (cost 2 so Class-B) with no armor penalties (also Class-B for Class-B Armor; Net +9L/+12B), Damage Cap 5.

Yes, that’s a big stack of generic bonuses instead of anything particularly interesting – but this is an awfully generic style when you come right down to it; close and smash…

It’s also fair enough to use this basic artifact design for pretty much any martial art form charm. 

Exalted – Upgrading Excellencies II

Dragon blood tree

Yes. lets prune those trees a bit…

And to continue with the additional solar Excellencies…

Fifth Excellency: (Ability) Races Lightning.

  • Cost: 5m; Mins: (Ability) 3, Essence 2; Type: Simple (DV -1)
  • Keywords: Combo-OK
  • Duration: Special
  • Prerequisite Charms: None

The talents of the Exalted put mortal flashes of inspiration to shame. If a task is not actively opposed by an essence-user, it may be accomplished in a single action if it would normally take fifteen minutes or less, within a minute if it would normally take an hour or less, and at (2 x Essence) times the normal speed if it would normally take more than an hour. If the task is actively opposed by an Essence-user, the Fifth Excellency allows a magical flurry – permitting the user to use the same effect against up to three targets simultaneously without penalty. If the task requires more than a few moments, the motes expended on this excellency are committed for the duration unless the user chooses to interrupt his effects. In such cases the task will have been advanced proportionately.

Yes; under these rules… nonmagical flurries do not exist, and magical ones only allow dealing with multiple opponents; they do NOT allow multiple attacks. You can, however, plow through forty mortals who might normally take ten minutes to deal with – or teach a lesson, or whatever – in mere moments.

The Lunar variant allows a Lunar to act as a work crew, or military unit, with a magnitude equal to his or her essence. The Sidereal variant causes someone else to have already done the work (or to briefly intervene in the opposed situation) so that you don’t have to. The Dragon-Blooded variant simply allows them to work tirelessly until a task is completed – staying awake for a week with Sailing to bring a ship through a storm,

Sixth Excellency; Superlative (Ability)

  • Cost: 4M; Mins:(Ability) 4, Essence 2; Type: Supplementary
  • Keywords: Combo-OK
  • Duration: Scene
  • Prerequisite Charms: Any Other (Ability) Excellency

The hands of the Exalted are peerless tools, and reality bends to their whim. The user is treated as if he or she was using his or her choice of the finest mundane personal equipment appropriate to the ability in question; If there’s a choice – such as between types of armor and weapons for Melee – the user may choose when this charm is activated. If no other benefits of fine equipment are noted for a particular skill, the user can treat the effects as having a 2d Speciality appropriate to the ability in question.

The Lunar version provides only ordinary gear, but it will continue to function in animal form – thus, for example, allowing a fly to pick a lock, or a snake to carry items in it’s “pack”. The Sidereal Version allows you to make a skill roll on behalf of someone else using their actions. If the target lacks an essence pool, this may cause them to take actions against their will. The Dragon-blooded version provides only the equivalent of ordinary gear, but – being purely “virtual” – it is unaffected by the elements.

Seventh Excellency: (Ability) Surmounts Mountain

  • Cost: 3m Instant, 12m Scene; Mins: (Ability) 3, Essence 1; Type: Reflexive
  • Keywords: Combo-OK
  • Duration: Special
  • Prerequisite Charms: None

No ordinary challenge can withstand the will of the Exalted. The user may ignore up to (Essence + 2) levels worth of External Penalties, either for a particular action or throughout a scene depending on how much essence he or she is willing to spend.

The Lunar version is only one-third the cost, but only affects internal penalties – although this specifically includes wound penalties. The Sidereal Version costs only 2m/8m, but applies to any other single target within line of sight; probability falls before the will of the Sidereal Host. The Dragon-Blooded version costs 1/6m and reduces an external penalty by only one – but each individual in a group may contribute, to reduce penalties by up to five levels.

New Excellency Modifier:

(Ability) Leadership.

  • Cost: 6M, 1W; Mins:(Ability) 4, Essence 3; Type: Supplementary
  • Keywords: Combo-OK
  • Duration: Scene
  • Prerequisite Charms: Any (Ability) Excellency

The Children of the Sun inspire others to greatness in their wake. The user may share his checks within (ability) with a group of up to (essence magnitude) others. Thus you can help a tribe survive in the desert, lead a massed escape beneath the noses of the guards, and rally a unit of archers to strike down some mighty foe.

The Lunar Versions allow the user to share his or her attributes with a group of up to (essence-1) magnitude. The Sidereal Version allows the user to add or subtract his or her virtue ratings from the virtues of a group of up to (Essence-2) in magnitude involved in a relevant activity – and to spend a point of will to cause them all to channel that virtue. The addition and subtraction is decided on a per-virtue basis. Thus, if attending a peace conference when a war is desired, a Sidereal with this charm in Presence could add his or her Valor 3 to everyone involved, and subtract his or her Compassion 3 from their Compassions. The Dragon-Blooded version only works on other Dragon-Blooded, but costs only 3m.

Eclipse and Mythic Ascension IV – The Universal Abilities

Mythic Technicality

Well, TECHNICALLY… Luminis Kanto

For this segment it’s time to look at the “Universal” Mythic Abilities – the options that any “Mythic Character” can take. 

First up is a look at the two most outstanding (or, perhaps more accurately, most disruptive) abilities on the list…

Beyond Morality: You have no alignment. If an effect is alignment-based, you’re treated as being of the most favorable one for you.

  • This one is pretty easy to build. Immunity/Alignment Energies (Common, Major, Minor – since the forces that cause you to have an alignment are pretty subtle, 6 CP).

Divine Source: You may grant divine spells. You gain two Domains – your alignment domains unless you’re Neutral, in which case you may select freely. Each day as a spell-like ability, you can cast one spell of each level equal to or less than your tier chosen from among your domain spells. At tiers 6 and 9 you may select this again, adding a domain and two subdomains each time.

Before building this ability, it’s necessary to note a poor design decision in the original rules. The basic Mythic rules let you pick up Beyond Morality – a fine choice in itself, since it protects you from Holy or Unholy damage as appropriate, from quite a few spells, and from a variety of other troubles – and then take Divine Source – gaining a free choice of two domains. Of course, you can always propose new domains or pull them from obscure sources.

Now spell-like abilities are pretty handy things. According to the SRD…

A spell-like ability has no verbal, somatic, or material component, nor does it require a focus or have an XP cost. The user activates it mentally. Armor never affects a spell-like ability’s use, even if the ability resembles an arcane spell with a somatic component. It has A spell-like ability has a casting time of 1 standard action unless noted otherwise in the ability or spell description. In all other ways, a spell-like ability functions just like a spell. They are subject to spell resistance and to being dispelled by dispel magic. They do not function in areas where magic is suppressed or negated. Spell-like abilities cannot be used to counterspell, nor can they be counterspelled.

So you can pick up access to two spells of each level one through nine and use one of them of each level up to your current tier each day as a spell-like ability. Admittedly it’s in two thematic lists – but there are a LOT of thematic lists out there.

That’s pretty obviously a great deal better than – say – spending two of your choices on picking up “Commune” and “Plane Shift” once per day each, or Darkvision (there are fairly cheap spells and items for THAT), or the ability to speak all languages (get a Tongues spell) or some such. So we either assume that pretty much EVERYBODY takes this (and simply reduce the number of choices by two and build it into the base template abilities) or we let the price go up some.

So lets take a look at the price of building it.

  • Dominion and Manipulation, Specialized and Corrupted/only as prerequisites (4 CP).
  • Sphere of Influence x2, Specialized (for Increased Effect; your clerics may draw spells of up to your Tier from you without your having to withdraw to an outer plane) and Corrupted/does not reduce spell levels for you or provide awareness of events within your sphere of influence (8 CP).
    • To pick up additional Spheres of Influence according to the original rules, buy them at 6 CP each – with the Corruption going to acquiring two subdomains from those that go with the basic sphere of influence.
  • Godfire, Specialized and Corrupted/does not actually allow the user to collect or expend godfire or provide any side-benefits (2 CP).
  • Divine Attribute, Specialized and Corrupted for increased effect (the character remains in control)/does not provide near-limitless power, rather the user may, each day, as a spell-like ability, cast one spell of each level equal to or less than your tier chosen from among the domain spells that your spheres offer to your Clerics (6 CP). Personally, I’d insist on a substitute for any domain that offers access to Gate, Miracle, Wish, or any other spell that’s primarily controlled by it’s massive costs.
    • This one is more than a bit of a stretch simply because the mathematics is wonky anyway; there’s no reasonable way to decide just how much power a Specialization and Corruption on infinite power should let you have – and an “increased effect” that lets you gain control of something infinite, even if it is reduced in the process is just as unreasonable. I’m going to blame it on Mythic Power and Reality Editing this time – but I wouldn’t allow this anywhere else. Throw “reliant on the user having Mythic Power to maintain control” in with the other limitations there.
  • Transcendence (Corrupted/only applies to Mythic Template abilities, 4 CP). This lets you ignore things like “level requirements” in favor of simply using your tier – since there’s nothing that actually prevents a low level character from having a high Tier.

That’s a grand total of 30 CP on this one – the price of five normal feats. Like it or not, this represents quite a lot of power, and bringing down it’s cost that far is already a bit of a stretch.

How comparable is that to the rest of the path abilities though? I’ll just have to work out more of them and find out before deciding what to do about it.

So for the rest of the Universal Mythic Abilities we have…

Commune with Power: You can spend an hour in meditation to Commune with the source of your power.

  • To build this one take Inherent Spell, Specialized for Double Effect / requires one hour of meditation (Commune) (6 CP).

Display of (Attribute): You can spend a point of Mythic Power to get a +20 bonus on a roll based on a particular attribute.

  • To build this one take Inherent Spell, Mana Powered Option, Corrupted for Increased Effect/limited to boosting rolls linked to a specific attribute: Moment of Insight/Skills and Checks, +3 levels to convert to a Circumstance Bonus (6 CP).

Extra Mythic Feat: Get an extra mythic feat. 

  • There’s nothing to build here; spend 6 CP and buy an extra.

Extra Mythic Power: Get +2 Mythic Power/Day.

  • To build this buy more Mana, Specialized for double effect (each point counts as two) /only to power mythic template abilities, natural magic must be purchased separately and for specialized effects only (6 CP).

Legendary Item: Gain a legendary item with (Tier) abilities (Maximum 3/6/10 with first / second / third purchase).

  • “Legendary items” are generally difficult to destroy, contain a certain amount of “Legendary Power” (as opposed to “Mythic Power”, although “Mythic Power” can substitute for “Legendary Power”), must be bonded to a specific character for it’s Legendary Powers to operate, and can let it’s user power his or her “surge” ability with Legendary Power. After that, they can have a fairly wide variety of special powers. Eclipse calls items along those lines Relics – although Relics are a good deal more flexible (and potentially more powerful) than Legendary Items, since Relics can add directly to the user’s powers… Getting a Legendary Item in Eclipse is pretty straightforward; buy Create Relic, Specialized and Corrupted/only for making personal relics using points from Enthusiast, can only make a limited selection of relics (2 CP), Double Enthusiast, Specialized for Increased Effect (4 CP available) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost/the points may only be used to make Relics, creating a relic requires some associated mighty deed (4 CP). Further upgrades may mean investing more points in a relic – but Mystic Link and similar abilities may also be very helpful.

Longevity: You no longer physically age and regain any physical attribute points lost to aging.

  • Well… Immunity/Physical Aging (Uncommon, Major, Major, 6 CP).

Mythic Craft: You craft things twice as fast as usual, can make them masterwork by simply paying the cost, and add your tier to skill checks associated with making magic items.

  • This is kind of dull, but OK; take Luck, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect/only for Skills, only for crafting-associated checks, only to “take 20″ in advance. Thus Mythic Crafting; you may automatically “Take 60″ on crafting-related checks. It’s only once per day, but so are such checks. Alternatively, you could take an immunity to the time normally required for crafting and multiply your speed that way, or just take Action Hero/Crafting and pull stuff out whan and as you need it. In all cases, you can buy this for (6 CP).

Mythic Spellcasting: You can spend a point of Mythic Power to pump up a limited number of spell effects.

  • Another easy one. Take Reality Editing, Specialized and Corrupted/only to amplify spells, can only be applied to (Casting Attribute) chosen spells to produce a preselected effect. Of course, doing it this way means that you can decide how Mythic Spellcasting will upgrade each of your chosen spells – and so every Mythic Spellcasters Mythic Spells will be different. Personally, I think that that’s a good deal more appropriate.

Mythic Sustenance: You no longer need to eat, drink, or breathe. If targeted by something that affects you through those functions you may ignore it.

  • That’s Immunity/Metabolic Effects (Very Common, Major, Major), Specialized and Corrupted/only covers eating, drinking, and breathing, does not protect the user if he or she voluntarily eats, drinks, or breathes (and yes, that means no talking if you don’t want to breathe) (5 CP).

Pierce the Darkness: You either gain Darkvision or improve your existing Darkvision.

  • Buy Occult Sense/Darkvision or the Improved modifier, in either case (6 CP).

Enhanced Ability: Gain a permanent +2 bonus to an ability score, may be taken once per score.

OK; this is a sop to the Multiple Attribute Dependent types; rather than watching as – say – the party wizard takes a +10 Intelligence while they need to settle for +4/+4/+2, they could make that +6/+6/+4 – although the opportunity cost is high and the Wizard will probably take this once for a +12 Intelligence in total. Of course, the fact that this is limited to +2 per attribute pretty much says that it’s a typed bonus of some sort. The fact that it doesn’t say what type indicates that it’s going to be an unusual one.

  • So; Take Innate Enchantment (7000 GP Value) for (8 CP), take the usual “+2 enhancement bonus to an attribute” personal-only boosting spells (five of them, at 1400 GP each), and then throw in the Innate Enchantment modifier that converts them to another bonus type – perhaps Sacred or Profane or Alchemical or some such (+6 CP). Throw in Immunity/Dispelling and Antimagic (Common, Minor, Great, Specialized and Corrupted/only protects the innate enchantments in this template, 4 CP) and you have 18 CP for +2 to each of five attributes – a bargain for the multily-attribute dependent, but a high cost for a character who only needs one or two of those.

Next up it’s an assortment of immunities – all of which fail if the source of the effect is another creature with Mythic Power. Of course, given that all serious opponents are going to be Mythic, this makes them a lot less effective than they might be… In general, either Uncommon, Major, Great (covering effects of up to level seven; I suspect that anything throwing around effects of level 8+ is going to be Mythic anyway) (6 CP), or (Common, Minor, Great) (also 6 CP). Listed immunities include Fear (Common, Minor, Great), Diseases and Poisons (Common, Minor, Great), Curses and Compulsions (Uncommon, Major, Great), Blindness and Deafness (Uncommon, Major, Great), Petrification and Polymorph (Uncommon, Major, Great), and Sleep (Common, Minor, Great). If you want, call them Corrupted for Increased Effect (covers effects of up to level eleven)/not versus powers originating from “Mythic” sources. 

Ultimate Versatility: Once per day you may temporarily change one of your past choices about a class feature.

  • This one is awkward for two reasons. In a normal game it’s a headache since it can involve some fairly major shifts, all of which must be accounted for. In Eclipse it’s even worse, since it doesn’t really have classes. Oh well; buy Inherent Spell/Personal Inspiration (L3, provides +1 Positive Level for ten minutes. 6 CP). That will let you snag a particular special ability if you need it for a bit without calling for a profound character rewrite…

Farwalker: You can plane shift once per day. Taking this twice provides three uses/day.

  • For this one take Channeling 1/Day, Specialized/only for spell conversion (1 CP) and Spell Conversion to a L5 effect (Plane Shift), Corrupted/cannot be powered by normal channeling (6 CP). OK, this one costs 7 CP for the first instance – but only another 2 CP to get it up to the three times a day version.

Mythic Presence: You may spend a point of Mythic Power to frighten those nearby, affecting non-mythic creatures much more severely than Mythic ones (Panicked/Shaken versus Unaffected / Shaken if of lesser Tier, totally unaffected if of higher Tier).

  • Buy Presence (Fear), Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (30′ radius and add Tier to base 10 + Cha Mod save), only works for one minute on a point of Mythic Power rather than being continuous, limited in effects by Tier (as above).

Mythic Sight: Gain 30′ blindsense. If taken twice you can detect illusions and magical deceptions as if using true seeing . This ability doesn’t work against illusions and magical effects that were cast by other mythic creatures or that are affecting other mythic creatures.

  • Another easy one; Take Occult Sense/Blindsense (6 CP) then Improved Occult Sense/Illusions and Magical Deceptions, Specialized/does not work against effects that originate from or are on “Mythic Creatures” (Another 6 CP).

Tongues: You can understand and speak any language, as the tongues spell.

  • Take Presence (Comprehend Languages), Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (all languages in a wide radius)/only works on you, does not allow reading languages (6 CP).

Hm… At this point, virtually all the universal mythic abilities except the divine powers and the multiple attribute boost work out to six character points – just the same as a normal feat. Since the multiple attribute boost normally took several choices, that works out nicely, but the divine powers may just have to wind up as a part of the general framework. I really can’t see too many characters passing them up – especially when, in Eclipse, you can buy most of the other powers outside of the Mythic Template if you feel like it.

Eclipse and Mythic Ascension Part III – Mythic Hero Basics

Mana Potion!

Just drink it!

And to continue with Alzrius’s basic question…


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.


While the secondary progression mechanic (Part I and Examples) is probably the simplest way to do “Mythic” characters in Eclipse, giving the players a secondary pool of character points to go wild with may be a little intimidating. Still, there’s no reason why you can’t build a match for the original mechanics. It just takes longer since you can’t offload the work on the players. Thus, under the original Mythic rules…


A “Mythic” character should be treated as being about 5 levels higher than he or she actually is – and the Mythic progression itself is divided into ten ranks that require a LOT of story-awards (the initial catalyst and then twenty-nine more mighty deeds) to get. Besides the general wonderment of beholding the return of the ECL modifier, that gives us a +5 ECL Template divided into ten steps – and probably Specialized to double up the available points/the abilities only become available gradually, in a set of ten “Tiers”, each of which requires completing various quests. It’s apparently expected that characters will have a base level of nearly twice their Tier – but that also apparently isn’t a hard requirement. It’s just that you usually won’t be able to get in a lot of mighty deeds without getting in a lot of adventuring.


That gives us a framework to work with. As for what we’ll want to hang on it…


Mythic characters have access to a source of power that others do not – some occult force that allows them to resist the efforts of those who do not possess it and empowers many other special abilities. That power is measured in mythic energy points which renew themselves each day.


Eclipse includes a form of powerful mystic energy points that can be used to power a very wide variety of abilities – Mana. Ergo, in a Mythic Setting, any character who’s purchased Mana is “Mythic”, but most people never (or can’t) buy any Mana. When does someone cease to be normal and ascend to the level of myth? That’s up to the game master. In general though, only the player characters can successfully deal with Mythic Menaces – so we’re back to first edition… “Help us Player Characters! You’re our Only Hope!”.


To get a self-renewing pool of magical energy equal to the specified limits buy:


  • Mythic Power: Mana 6d6+2 (23), Specialized for double effect (each point counts as two) and Corrupted/only to power template abilities, maximum availability of (Tier x 2 +3) points per day, natural magic must be purchased separately and for specialized effects only (27 CP). Getting it back on a daily basis calls for Rite of Chi with +12 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted (all uses are automatically expended once per day even if this wastes some or all of them, only usable to regain mythic power) (8 CP).

That covers the full mythic power reserve. You could break up the cost per tier if you wanted to – probably at 8 CP for the first Tier and +3 per additional Tier – but it’s certainly not important yet.

Mythic Characters and Creatures also get to pump up their attributes on the cheap. That might just be a world law – in fact, I’d recommend that anyone who wants to run a game filled with legendary heroes apply the half-price attributes rule – but they seem to get attributes even more cheaply than Feats (they can get up to +22 in total, although only +10 of that can be spent freely, the rest would go into +2 to each attribute). That’s a bit tricky. There are several ways in Eclipse to raise your attributes and effective attributes that are cheaper than just buying them, but most of them don’t stack with everything.


You could take an immunity to the time and effort needed to raise your attributes, reducing the character point cost – but I’d be REALLY reluctant to allow this one. Natural-law immunities go out of control very easily amd this conversion is alredy likely to involve several of them. Even more importantly, if you allow an immunity like THIS you don’t even need an infinite loop; you can just jump straight to infinity. I’m pretty notorious for helping people build any kind of character they want to, but even I’m going to have to say “No” to this one.


Since they have Mana anyway, this might just be Reality Editing; making yourself stronger, smarter, et al seems unlikely to be harder than creating a secret escape passage that didn’t exist before (although doing so in a stable fashion is probably a LOT harder) – and most people overestimate their abilities anyway. Of course, this sort of thing REALLY needs a limitation to avoid the infinite loop syndrome. It does fit very nicely though; their source of special power raises their attributes to superhuman levels as well. Ergo…


Occult Skill; Life Editing (requires Mana with Reality Editing and that the “Mana = Mythic” rule be in play. No Attribute Base, Trained Only).

Reality Editors normally edit situations and the environment, not individual living creatures – and especially not themselves. After all, tinkering with the structure of the body, mind, or soul with your will alone is all too likely to result in changes that will kill the being so manipulated without the ongoing support of your will – and everyone sleeps, gets knocked out, or runs out of Mana sometime. Once that happens, the horrible effects are entirely up to the game master. A Life-Editor has, however, mastered the art of making small changes so carefully that his or her merely being alive is enough to sustain them. Even better, when he or she dies… the changes will simply fade away harmlessly. While Life Editing cannot benefit from an attribute modifier (since that produces unstable feedback problems), and is most unwise to enhance (since, if an artificial boost fails, you’re back in “the game master selects the horrible consequences” territory), it can be affected by skill-enhancing feats other than Augmented Bonus.

In any case, a Life Editor may increase his or her own attributes, or those of any other non-“mythic” creature that lacks this ability by a grand total of (Life Editing Ranks/2), rounded up. Unfortunately, once such a bonus has been allotted, it will require months of careful meditation and self-discipline to reallocate it. Optionally, characters may substitute 6 CP spent on enhancing the target’s racial abilities instead of taking +1 to an attribute – but that’s up to the game master. It’s more common amongst monstrous characters though.

  • So; Buy Reality Editing (Specialized and Corrupted/only for Life Editing, 2 CP), Access to Occult Skill/Life Editing (3 CP), Fast Learner, Specialized in Skills, Corrupted/only to keep Life Editing at (Level + 3) (2 CP). That’s a total of (7 CP).

Mythic Items: All Mythic Characters can spend “Mythic Power” to get special results out of magic items.


  • That’s Reality Editing, Specialized (for double effect) and Corrupted/only to enhance magical items (4 CP). That will allow spending one point of Mythic Power to produce “notable but plausible” edits – which is quite enough to get some spectacularly unlikely effects out of a magic item.

Hard to Kill: Mythic characters automatically stabilize when below 0 HP and survive until (-2 x Con) HP.


  • Well, this isn’t as effective as the (fairly common) house rule of not dying until minus (HP) at higher levels, but it is handy. To buy it take Grant of Aid with Spark of Life: Specialized and Corrupted/simply stops bleeding and extends survival to -(2 x Con Score) (4 CP).

Surge: You get to boost d20 rolls, rather like Action Points can be used to do.


This does look a lot like Action Hero at first glance – but Action Hero is a per-level, not a per-day thing – and, honestly, there are better ways to get occasional boosts. Thus, while the boost-a-roll option is included under Action Hero for back-compatibility, the real meat of the ability is in the more exotic options – crafting, influence, invention, stunts, and so on – all of which really SHOULD be available, but certainly should NOT be a per-day thing. To buy this take:


  • Reality Editing, Specialized for half cost and Corrupted for increased effect: Only for minor edits, only for boosting the effects of character-action d20 rolls (not, for example, if the player opts to by a d20 hit die), the bonus is determined at random based on the user’s tier (1-3: d6. 4-6; d8, 7-9; d10, 10; d12) (3 CP).

Amazing Initiative: Add your Mythic Tier to your initiative checks.


  • This one is a little tricky simply because in Eclipse – among the other attempts to limit the Rocket Tag syndrome – I tried to avoid open-ended initiative bonuses. On the other hand (since it was intended to have ways to reproduce everything in the game), that just means that the methods of getting bonuses are a bit less obvious. For this one take Augmented Bonus (add a chosen attribute modifier to Dexterity based checks, Specialized in Initiative Checks for Double Effect, Corrupted/only becomes available at +1 per Mythic Tier, 4 CP) with Reflex Training/Costs Mana Option (6 CP), Specialized/can only be used on your turn, cannot be used to cast a spell. That lets you spend a point of Mythic Power to take an extra standard action (3 CP).

Recuperation: Get back all your hit points after resting for eight hours. If you rest for an hour and spend a point of Mythic Power you regain (Max/2) hit points and any (non-mythic) class features that are limited by uses/day – such as rage, bardic powers, and spells as if you’d rested for eight hours.


OK now; restoring some hit points is pretty easy. Refreshing all your uses-per-day stuff is quite a bit harder. While there are a few things in Eclipse which will do it; all of them are rather limited high-order abilities. That’s because resource management is – or at least used to be – a fairly important part of the game (and to judge by the frequency with which people have trouble with credit cards and debt, no learning opportunity in this field should ever be discarded lightly). Still, once you make this a common ability of all the player characters most of it’s actual effect is gone. You’ve simply gone from “come back tomorrow” to “come back in a few hours” – the only real change in actual play being that enemies who survived the first fight will still be down a bunch of their daily-use stuff while you’re effectively down any minions you could have had since they can’t keep up. Given that the Mythic rules are pretty blatantly slanted towards “if you don’t have this tag on your character sheet you lose” anyway, who cares?


  • Buying it simply requires another natural-law Immunity – in this case to Recovery Time (Very Common, Major, Major – to reduce it to one-eighth normal), Corrupted/only works on hit points unless the user spends a point of Mythic Power (10 CP).

Mythic Saving Throws: On a successful save you completely resist effects from non-mythic sources.


  • This is an easy one. Buy Fortune x 3 (Evasion, Impervious, and Defiant), Specialized/only works against non-mythic creatures (9 CP). Why is that Specialized? Because in a Mythic game all of your real opposition is going to be Mythic anyway.

Force of Will: You can spend Mythic Power on rerolls or on making nonmythic types reroll.


  • This sounds like luck – but the ability to force other creatures to reroll is definitely reality editing (if you wanted it to be personal only, just buy Luck, Corrupted/Costs Mana instead of uses/day, specialized/rerolls only – which will be a bit cheaper). To buy this little knack take Reality Editing, Specialized for Increased Effect (can affect other creatures and offers no saving throw) and Corrupted/only to force single d20 rerolls (minor edits), must be a personal roll or a roll made by a non-mythic creature (4 CP).

Unstoppable: You can shrug off a wide variety of conditions.


  • Now this is a handy one; all that save-or-suck stuff still costs you something – but it won’t cripple you in a single shot. To buy this take Reality Editing, Specialized and Corrupted/only to remove personal conditions ( bleed, blind, confused, cowering, dazed, dazzled, deafened, entangled, exhausted, fascinated, fatigued, frightened, nauseated, panicked, paralyzed, shaken, sickened, staggered, or stunned), only one at a time as a minor edit (2 CP). Opportunist/may be used once per round at the start of the user’s turn even if this would not normally be possible (6 CP).

Immortal: You come back after you die unless you’re slain by an Artifact, Deity, or Coupe De Grace.


  • This one is actually pretty iffy. Obviously enough, the primary way to get rid of a Mythic Character once they get this ability is a Coupe De Grace. Unfortunately, many players see an enemy making a Coupe De Grace attempt on their character as the Game Master spitefully targeting them. After all, aren’t there other characters who are still up that their opponents “should” be focusing on (rather than fairly sensibly making sure that some pesky healer doesn’t put a “fallen” foe back into the fight)? From those players point of view… a Coupe De Grace only makes sense once all the characters are down and the game master is closing down the game in a total party kill. This one… seems likely to result in either a) effectively unkillable characters, or b) ill feelings. Still, most game masters are pretty reluctant to kill player characters anyway; it disrupts the game too much – which means that this this ability makes little difference. That’s also why it’s a cheap one in Eclipse. To buy this ability just take Returning (Means of death; Coupe De Grace or slain by a deity or artifact) (6 CP).

Legendary Hero: You regain a point of Mythic Power every hour.


  • Yep, you get to use your mythic powers more often. Buy Grant of Aid with +8 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted/only to refill the user’s Mythic Power Pool, only restores one point per our (6 CP).

That’s 93 CP so far – a fair chunk, but nowhere near the total that we have to work with.


Finally, a Mythic Character gets five Mythic Feats, ten Mythic Path Abilities, and two Special Mythic Path Abilities. I’ll start dealing with them next.


The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice CXLVII – Celestial Alchemy

Elsewhere in Aden, other projects had been continuing… With Bright Oscillating Shield to provide some directions, Charles had started trying to get in touch with the other Alchemicals from the First Pole Of Earth Expedition.

That included Celerous Dart of the Heavens, a Moonsilver Colossus (and, according to Bright Oscillating Shield both their starship and the Alchemical equivalent of an elder Exalt). there was the Orichalcum Caste Efficient Smith of Accords (the diplomatic specialist), the Soulsteel Caste Righteous Brand of Guardianship, and the Starmetal Caste Analyst of Vibrant Septs.

Plus, of course, there was the followup expedition (since things had obviously gone awry and Alchemical Exalts were vital natural resources) with Mercurial Bane Of Deception and her friends – whom she never HAD really identified.

(Bright Oscillating Shield, a little surprised) “Really? I would have thought that Bane would have undergone the colossus conversion by now – although, if she was really concerned about Dart or Smith, I could see it.”

(Charles) “I take it that Celerous Dart of the Heavens and Moonsilver Colossus are kind of oversized to be wandering around unremarked?”

(Bright Oscillating Shield) “Probably hiding someplace in the asteroid belt with the cloaking up, if I know her.”

(Charles) “Well… do you know who really needs treatment? I suspect that they’re going to be the hard cases!”

(Bright Oscillating Shield) “Smith – this was all his idea in the first place! Brand’s going to be a hard case too; Gremlin Syndrome always hits his kind harder.’

Oh dear. The diplomatic specialist, the stealth expert, and the living starship. That was going to be awkward indeed!

(Bright Oscillating Shield) “And remember, none of us can go home until you do something about the physical problem, either.” (Shaking his head) “What a pain…”

(Charles) “Well, the stabalization effect is essentially permanent – but it’s a pallative, not a cure! I think I’m going to have to work from Autochthon’s end for a full cure, and maybe even for a limited one on one of you since the Academy came up dry for the moment. Still, maybe there’s another way…”

(Bright Oscillating Shield) “Not like you won’t have support… I bet once the Tripartite meets you and you explain yourself more, you’ll get more support than you’ll know what to do with! Just be careful outside! The Elemental Pole of Smoke is no joke!”

(Charles) “Well… first up is to call them, and see if any are willing to come in! Besides… even just talking over a link may help a bit with their current condition!”

Sadly the attempts to call Dart, Smith, and Analyst directly hit perfect privacy defenses or other shielding effects – but Brand turned out to be available!

(Charles) “Hello there!”

Brand was, to all appearances, a handsome gentleman sitting in a cafe and having a drink while doing some work on his computer. Ordinary people were nearby, unaware that an artificial life born from magical materials, clay, and the wills of Autochthonia’s finest thaumaturges sat among them. He peered at the video-conference image appraisingly.

(Brand) “Another petitioner?”

(Charles) “I don’t think so! I’m trying to get in touch with your expedition, but a lot of it’s members are behind shields, which makes it awkward – but you weren’t!”

(Brand) “Oh. Disappointing… well, we aren’t taking any requests right now. SOMEBODY messed things up for everyone. And as for me… I’ve been keeping a lookout for a missing member of our expedition!”

Brand had started attempting to trace the call automatically – but that certainly looked like Bright Oscillating Shield’s hand behind the boy… That made it urgent!

(Charles) “Well, Bright Oscillating Shield said that you might need some help with things!”

(Brand) “Really now? I THOUGHT that was him behind you. Where did you find him?”

(Charles) “Oh he was sort of stuck in a spell!” (a thought to Bright Oscillating Shield) “Well… if he IS afflicted, it seems milder or he’s compensating somehow”.

(Bright Oscillating Shield, Privately) “He was our investigative and stealth specialist – and we had only one copy of the module for moderating it. I guess he’s the one using it right now.”

(Brand) “I know… I saw the Terrestrial clan head cast it. Do you know where he is?”

Well, according to the computers he was in a halfling hotel, where he’d been running the clan remotely and recuperating. He’d really needed a lot of sleep at first!

(Charles) “Oh I settled that down! (To Bright Oscillating Shield, privately) “Does that negate the mitigation effects of working with normal people? It seems like it might”.

(Bright Oscillating Shield, Privately) “Unfortunately, yes.”

(Charles, to Bright Oscillating Shield, Privately) “Drat! That means that I’ll have to actually get him here…”

(Charles, to Brand) “Are you having problems? I might be able to help!”

(Brand) “Problems? Other than this and some dissent among our supporters, not really. We can handle it on our own. And could you return Shield to us? We need him to track down who did this – we take attacks on us seriously!”

(Charles) “Uhrm… It seemed like a rather pointless quarrel and no harm done. Wouldn’t it be better to try to get along? After all, I already set up your sponsors with an extra planet, there’s no need for arguments!”

(Brand) “We also need to trace down this mysterious Essence source he and his lackey were using. Terrestrials should not be capable of God-Protocol – our sponsors? The short-sighted fools will only waste such a gift saving themselves!”

Brand looked QUITE annoyed.

(Charles) “Well, that is one of the things it’s for… Is there something wrong with them using more advanced powers? After all, some of the normal people are using them too.”

(Brand) “It makes them much harder to control! And is that the explanation for those strange miracles I’ve been seeing all over the place? It’s never anything big, but there’s been many of them!”

Drat it! Tracing and divinations just said “Not in Creation”! Not even just “Not on Earth”! Of course… it also showed rather a lot of those same weird essence-traces!

(Brand, with some frustration) “WHO and WHERE are you!?”

(Charles) “Oh, I’m Charles! And why control people? Oh! Sorry; I’m in Aden… From your point of view, I suppose that’s best described as a pocket dimension in Elsewhere. There are lots of things that can cause “Strange Miracles” on a small scale though! So I can’t be sure if that’s what’s going on!”

(Brand) “They are weak little bags of meat, ill-suited for anything other than raw components! Even these Terrestrials are weak, and the Sidereals are letting Yu-Shan fall into decay while doing nothing about it one way or the other! The Lunars and those green Exalts are too concerned with the realms outside to do anything about THAT! *I*, on the other hand, was made to bear an Exaltation! Why SHOULDN’T I exert my superiority over them?”

Bright Oscillating Shield – still well off-camera – winced. That line of thinking seemed so reasonable just a short time ago!

(Bright Oscillating Shield, privately) “As you can see, he has lost all empathy toward humanity – a perversion of what the Maker intended for us. We are meant to serve, not rule.”

(Charles, to Brand) “Because it’s not nice? And how can you be a Champion of your people if you despise them?” (Privately, to Shield) “So I see… I could try to pull him through for treatment or just persuade him – but what sort of attacks should I expect from him? I think it’s fairly obvious that there will be some!”

(Bright Oscillating Shield, privately) “Knowing him, he won’t come in first – he’ll send a probe in to do reconnaissance. He probably has some combat Charms installed. How can you handle poison gases?”

(Charles, privately) “Well, no poison or disease can harm anyone here, and corrosive mists and such will be blocked by the environmental effects, That sort of thing isn’t very nice!”

(Bright Oscillating Shield, privately) “What about electricity? I think you call them Tasers around here – only he’s throwing around higher voltage. He’s probably got his Precalculated Evasion System installed too – I’ve never known him to remove it. I think you’d call it a “perfect evasion? Perfect dodge? Well, something like that”.

(Charles, privately) “Well, I could handle a lot of it – and Gothmug and the others can make barriers and such. I suppose I could just move the entire area… Would his probe be linked back to him?”

(Bright Oscillating Shield, privately) “It’s a part of his body, so yes. His eye if it matters.”

(Charles, to Brand) “Well, would you like to come visit? One of my aspects IS approaching the edge of the universe, and sending an aspect back to the center would really be getting kind of spread out.”

(Brand) “All right, but there had better not be any trickery here!”

Hm… the location – one of the observation domes looking out over the dinosaur preserves on the “lost world” plateau from a top a small mesa – was already well-isolated and pretty secure… The upper level was soaring one-piece dome of flawless, polished, alchemically-reinforced, and utterly transparent quartz – with a ward on the outside and inside to keep dust, stains, water, and so on off so that it stayed perfectly transparent – except for the selective-magnification spell for watching dinosaurs.

Lower down – deep in the heart of the mesa – there were the areas, the kitchens, the guest rooms, the subway station, and the galleries of prehuman works – in this particular mesa, focusing on (mostly reconstructed) artworks and miniature cityscapes. Sure, most of them made no sense at all to humans – but they were really interesting!

And what with giving planets to the remnants of most of those species, and making bodies to get their reincarnation cycles started again, it would also let them have their cultures back.

Charles put a perfect containment for non-aden creatures outside the dome and sealed off access to the lower levels – but that wouldn’t be apparent unless the probe intentionally cracked the dome and headed out to run into it.

Then he notified Gothmug and the other Guardians that intervention was likely to be required (and Gothmug was VERY pleased that he’d thought to do so in ADVANCE), made sure that no one vulnerable was ANYWHERE near (which meant having to shoo away several Kickaha and other types, including the waiter (who got a big tip)… Why did there seem to be several people – and often the same ones – hanging around everywhere he went anyway?

Fortunately that only took a few moments – and getting a gate open normally took longer than that anyway. Charles set up a small workshop and sandwiches while he waited…

At first it seemed that nothing was coming through – but then a small orb with leg tendrils and small wings fluttered in under cloaking. There were quite a few linked sensory effects running through it, too – including Essence senses.

It blinked – and blinked again – and flew around the observation dome.

Not a demesne, and not a manse – but surging flows of geomantic essence everywhere and manse-like energies… quite ridiculously well-meaning too! The analysis suggested healing, life-extension, and a dozen other helpful functions, as well as consciousness – and more power than HE had, which was worrisome! It was like the readings inside a metropolis! The area outside the dome might be an illusion of course – but there was no indication of that, and the area appeared to be immense. The exit doors were currently closed – and doubtless sealed – but that would be a pretty minimal precaution. Expert craftsmanship; there weren’t any cracks anywhere. Most of the area seemed to be set up as a… café and viewing area? Oddly enough, the boy’s essence… merged almost perfectly with the background of the place. Some sort of projection perhaps? The creature seemed to be busy… making self-refilling medical kits and supply packages.

What, in case anyone got hurt nearby? Very strange!

And Bright Oscillating Shield… didn’t seem to be restrained in any fashion; he was simply… having one of the sandwiches.

The probe withdrew back through the portal.

Bright Oscillating Shield could have caught the probe, and had been kind of tempted to snatch it – but had decided that simply waving while Charles continued tinkering around and making more artifact medical kits.

Brand’s conclusion was that – no matter how weirdly content Bright Oscillating Shield was acting – he needed to get him out! Still, it would be silly to go in alone…

It was a couple of hours before a bunch of humans wearing full-face masks and military gear stormed through the portal!

It was fairly good stuff too (even if Charles DID prefer less combative items)… Not nearly as good as it might be, but it WAS technomagical combat armor and weaponry even if it did seem like it was quite a strain on the users!

Bright Oscillating Shield was sitting up – not manifesting combat Charms yet, but moving towards Charles – who had his evasion charm ready. Still, at the moment…

(Charles) “Hm! Not bad, but could be lighter, and with a shield function… classical techno-magical combat armor, yes? It doesn’t seem to be personally fitted, so I’d guess that it’s mass-produced? Easy enough to fix though!”

He did so – which proved a fairly effective distraction.

(Troops, after a few confused moments) “What kind of… whatever he is… enhances his enemies?” “I guess he just wanted a challenge.”

THEN they started firing the weapons at him; electrical Essence discharge stuff, mostly!

(Charles) “Why should you be enemies?… Aw! Not very nice!”

He let Seiden Starswarm – as Master of Energetics – handle the electrical attack. He could use it to power some more machines or some such.

(Charles, as coruscating blasts of electrical Essence shattered against Seiden’s shields in bursts of blue light) “What’s the problem?”

(Troops) “Boss said you had HIM (Bright Oscillating Shield) captive, and to capture you if we could!” “Unknown Essence signature!”

(Charles, thoughtfully) “Uhm… If I was capturing people, wouldn’t it make more sense for me to shut the door?” (doubtfully) “I suppose I can capture you if you insist…”

(Soldier 1) “He said that he tricked you into negotiating… and don’t do that! He’ll just come in here, and you don’t want THAT!”

(Soldier 2) “I don’t know, these containment wards look pretty strong.”

(Charles) “Well, I called him… but OK!” (He made some walls). “Uhrm… Let’s see… I’ll add cable television, movies-on-demand, lunch, showers, a training facility, private rooms, shooting gallery, kitchen, wet bar, small park… there’s lots of room further down under the observation bubble! Is there anything else you’d like?

(Soldier 3) “Um. You’re not a miniature patropolis by any chance, are you? I never saw one of those, but they’re supposed to be pretty big.”

(Charles) “I don’t think it’s quite the same!… Oh yes! Personal wardrobes, hobby materials, library room…”

(Bright Oscillating Shield) “Well, it was worth asking… I could use a drink.”

(Charles) “OK! I guess you’re captured!”

A drink for Bright Oscillating Shield arrived quite promptly – and the attackers relaxed as they were shoved into their new (admittedly downstairs and with only window-views instead of a grand dome) accommodations by advancing walls – and came to the conclusion that they’d been – almost certainly very temporarily – confined to a luxury hotel with room service and an expense account. As battle results went, that wasn’t bad at all.

It was about half an hour before Brand – now a monstrosity of soulsteel very much like what Charles found when he first delved deeply into the Primordial Archives of Dudael! – burst in. He was sparking electricity all over the place in a big web and trying to grab Charles telekinetically.

(Charles) “Oh hello!”

He will let the gate go away – but the grab attempt was tingly!

(Charles) “Tickles! Uhm… did you want, say, a maze full of horrible mechanical monsters and traps to run amuck in for a while? There are some random generation tables in the back of the first edition dungeon master’s guide…”

Brand had leapt up, and was currently clinging to the dome somehow and trying to buzzsaw it open – although Gothmug promptly made it indestructible and put a halt to THAT while the gash self-repaired… Brand was definitely in a rampagey mood though… He threw something weird at Charles as Charles was making him a nice rampaging area; it was pulsing with all sorts of strange and vaguely toxic-feeling light…

Fortunately, Charles had his evasion-charm going. It hits the floor behind him, which blackened and started sizzling. The juke box and display screen there sparked wildly and shattered. The shrapnel was black, crude, slightly twitching, and made Charles feel momentarily sick…

(Charles, while analyzing) “Yucky!… What’s wrong Mr Brand?”

Hm… the area was some sort of blight zone at the moment, filled with raw entropy and the corruptive essence of the Gremlin Syndrome. It probably wouldn’t be wise to send in any mechanical devas. If it had hit… well, it was probably a good thing that he had protections against shaping effects, since otherwise he might have been pretty sickened and prone to behavior a lot like his at the moment!

Meanwhile, from the rampaging area, there was loud, and almost metallic, screaming! Bright Oscillating Shield winced again.

(Bright Oscillating Shield) “Calm down, it’s all right! Charles is going to make you sane again.”

Not too surprisingly, that got nowhere… Fortunately, a maze of indestructible barriers, endless pop-up targets, a constant stream of minor “attacks” (mostly Darts of Serenity), knockout gas, and various other annoyances, eventually wore Brand down (even if it did take nearly thirty minutes), and let Charles slip in attunement to the Privacy Manse under the guise of a mote source. Fortunately, with seventy-two “Devas” able to channel their defenses and powers through him… a single Exalt had a REALLY hard time running Charles down.

(Charles) “Are you feeling better now?”

(Brand) “I think so…”

(Charles, with great good cheer) “Oh good!”

(Brand, blinking) “So how long did I last in there?”

(Charles) “Er… you mean running around blasting and buzz-sawing things? About half an hour!”

(Brand, looking quite proud of himself) “I’ve still got it! Need more Essence boosters, though… And the men are all here and uninjured, I see… good, good.”

(Charles) “Well, people generally aren’t allowed to get hurt here!”

(Brand) “That’s a pretty strong pocket dimension rule… I’d guess you mean that you don’t let them get hurt if it can possibly be prevented? I think I’m attuned to a Manse, too… which is keeping me sane.”

(Charles) “Well, that’s one of the functions of that particular manse. That function really wasn’t designed for people – it was a prototype – but it works just fine for them!”

(Brand) “I owe you one, right? We’re pretty good with industrial work.”

(Charles) “Oh, it’s no worry! I’m sorry that I haven’t got a truly permanent cure ready yet, but I think that I’ll have to work from Autochthon’s end for that…”

(Brand, to Bright Oscillating Shield) “Does he know how to get there?”

(Bright Oscillating Shield) “He said he had an aspect heading toward the Maker!”

(Charles) “Oh, I have a gate there if I need one!”

(Brand) “So I guess you already let the people back home know.”

(Charles) “Well yes! I gave them a planet as a stopgap measure though!”

(Brand) “Huh… so the mission we originally set out to complete is complete except for the cleanup.”

(Charles) “Well… I still have to get the rest of the expedition in for treatment!”

(Brand) “And then… cure the physical part of it, I guess.”

(Charles) “Trickier! But at least the manse-attunement is a palliative!”

(Brand) “Yeah, good for that… now if only I could uninstall these nasty Charms.”

(Charles) “Why can’t you?”

(Brand) “No Vat!”

(Charles, thoughtfully…) “Are they complicated?”

(Brand) “The patropoli and metropoli install them… not sure how you’d do it without one. Sorry… I’m an investigator, not a Sodalt.”

(Charles) “Hm… Well… Lets check with Mardi Gras! As long as you accept the quasi-reality it should work fine!”

Unfortunately, while that did give Charles a good look at a Vat Complex, it wouldn’t actually work; the Alchemicals were just to “real” to even Mardi Gras powerful fantasies to work on their actual structure. It was going to need… a highly specialized manse!

(Charles) “Oh well! I’ll just have to make one! Fortunately there’s plenty of territory that hasn’t been purposed yet; I’ve been expanding anyway! It looks like your “Charms” are basically personal artifacts though; it would be hard to turn one into a general artifact, but making an artifact that will fit a slot and channel essence into something should be straightforward; that and the link to the user just has to be some of it’s functions. I think I can make – or wyld-quest – those if you need them…

Next stop was an appropriate rank-***** demesne to set up a manse/vat-complex. That wasn’t especially hard, even if it was a bit showy.

(Charles) “There we are!”

(Brand) “I saw that, right? He just SHAPED a Vats Complex out of nowhere!”

(Bright Oscillating Shield) “He does a lot of shaping, it seems.”

(Charles) “Uhm… why not? I like making things.”

(Bright Oscillating Shield) “Is it in contact with the Maker? I suppose there’s only one way to find out… Let’s get that nasty Voidtech uninstalled from you.”

They took turns, to make sure the process didn’t go awry. As it turned out, it wasn’t in contact with Autochthon – but for current purposes it didn’t matter a great deal. From Charles’s point of view… it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to get into contact yet either. That nasty illness might make trouble. Oh well! design things himself it was! Being able to check the diagnostics that came with the Vats made that a lot easier anyway – and let him appreciate the full complexity of the Maker’s work… Caste seemed to be primarily in the wiring and soulgem; it was conceivable that an Alchemical could have Charms made primarily of a non-Caste material, but the anima would remain the same. That was good since Charles wasn’t much for soulsteel; he much preferred to simply build things with built-in harmonic adjusters.

And – like that chunk of soulsteel in Dudael – the wide eyed faces and spindly hands pushed against the metal, screaming for relief… Fortunately, neither Bright Oscillating Shield or Brand had any use for the uninstalled voidtech charms, so they had no objection to Charles letting those spirits out…

Personally, Charles wouldn’t really have been surprised to find that Autochthon had wiped up half the Dragon Kings himself when he wanted some raw materials quickly and easily… Letting them out required working at the Gathering Of Shadows (the underworld communication manse), a good deal of mental soothing, finding that millennia of torment had driven the souls quite mad, and setting up another manse for long-term (potentially multi-millennia) healing for spirits that had been trapped in Soulsteel for WAY too long, and a lot of analysis…

They were rather eerie things – much like the classical “greys” – and had apparently been made by Autochthon himself to glorify him with their technical skills. But they did something that had seriously displeased him – something about a/the “spire” – and he’d eaten them. Well, it would take a long time, but eventually they’d be back to being sensible! Autochthon never had understood people of ANY discription very well! Had he modeled them on the Raksha and then tried to regulate them? That would neatly explain them going mad and upsetting the Maker! Of course, there was also a lot in history that indicated that the Primordials had treated the lesser species like toys – or at least hadn’t understood them in the slightest.

Sadly, even Brand and Bright Oscillating Shield didn’t know anything about that – and they didn’t recall anything in the Tome of the Maker on the sources of soulsteel.

(Charles) “Well, it isn’t very nice!”

That got him a matched set of odd looks… That was obviously pretty profound disapproval for their host!

(Brand) “They must have done something BAD. I mean, I always thought that the soulsteel was souls that had wronged the Maker somehow, but I could never figure out the source. Even Lumpen get a chance to redeem themselves in the next lifetime.”

(Charles) “Well, I really don’t think that “Eternal Torment” is a reasonable sentence for much of anything – except maybe doing it to someone else.”

Brand didn’t quite know what to say to that, considering that he probably wouldn’t exist if the Maker hadn’t eaten them! Or at the very least, would be another caste entirely.

(Charles, sighing) “It IS possible to make soulsteel without actually using souls – you just need the proper resonances – but it’s still nasty stuff! Not that that’s any reflection on YOU – once it’s made if you can’t let them out you might as well use the stuff.”

(Brand) “And up until I left his person, I would have considered myself a virtuous member of the Regulators!”

(Charles) “Well..,. you helped where help was needed I’d guess – and that’s a pretty major part of Virtue!”

(Brand) “That’s right!”

(Charles) “And I think that some more of the people on your expedition probably need help… And your troops have apparently given up on checking exits and have settled in for lunch now!”

Eclipse: The Timewalker Packages

Alternative version of image:Wooden hourglass ...


This one was another request; how to build a relatively low-level character with temporal powers. Given that this IS d20, this is going to be more Rifts-Style Temporal Raider than Dr. Who – but there’s really nothing to do about that; games have game masters not script writers. That’s why “Timewalker” is a supplementary ability package, rather than a primary one.

First up, it’s simple and cheap:

The Blood of Chronus (6 CP):

  • Innate Enchantment (8000 GP Base Value, Corrupted/Makes the user very magically conspicuous and marks them as very valuable, 6 CP). In general, Spell Level 1 or 0, Caster Level One, Unlimited-Use Use-Activated, base of 1000/2000 GP base cost for L0/1 effects.
    • Accelerated Reflexes/Enhance Attribute (+2 Dexterity) (Personal-Only (x.7), 1400 GP).
    • Living In The Moment/Immortal Vigor I (+12 x Con Mod x 2) HP. Personal-Only (1400 GP).
    • Precognitive Defense/Sidestep (Reflex Saves) (+2 Competence Bonus to Reflex Saves, Personal-Only (x.7), 1400 GP).
    • A Healing Instant/Healing Belt x2 (Magic Item Compendium, 1500 GP).
    • Whispers Out Of Time/Sapience (for the Healing Enchantments); Int 12, Wis 12, Cha 10, Empathy, 30′ Vision and Hearing, Ego 4, casts Nerveskitter three times per day (2200 GP). A Timewalker’s own thoughts whispering across time will often provide a warning of threats, even when he or she is asleep or otherwise off guard. Yes, that’s paradoxical. What do you expect from a time-manipulator?

Optionally you can throw in “Detect Temporal Energies” – a first-level effect that can tell you when you are, if paradoxes are disturbing the flow of time, what events cannot be changed, what things CAN be changed, if someone “belongs” in another time period, and much more. As a personal-only effect this would normally add 1400 GP (or 1 CP) to the total price – but, given that this is purely a game-master plot device with no purpose other than to drag characters into missions and restrict their options, I’d make it free – if I didn’t decide to count it as a variation on the “Accursed” disadvantage.

Similarly, you’d normally have to pay a few experience points to activate this unless you invest in Action Hero/Crafting or an immunity to that cost (1 CP). You might want to buy an immunity to dispelling too – but that won’t matter much until later on.

Temporal Manipulation (40 CP):

This is the big one: with this package you can manipulate the structure of time in a variety of ways – a power that can compliment almost any other set of abilities very nicely indeed.

A Timewalker can manipulate the structure of time. While their ability to contain temporal energies is limited, a “basic” timewalker can hold a pool of 3d6 (10) “Instants” ready to use – and can regain up to 15d6 (50) “Instants” per day, refreshing their temporal pool whenever they have a few minutes to recover. Sadly, using most of their powers sends up flares of poorly-controlled temporal energies, may trigger temporal disturbances and side effects or attract troublesome temporal creatures, occasionally forces them to go on bizarre time-and-causality patching missions to preserve their own timeline, and attracts all kinds of weirdness – effects which generally cover them being Specialized and Corrupted. Just to start with, the game master is entitled to consider the “Instants” spent during any brief period as points of Mana spent on an awkward reality edit. Still, they may spend an “instant”…

  • As an Immediate Action to take a Full-Round Action up to once per turn (“Borrowed Time”).
  • As a Standard Action to move up to one mile (“Racing the Winds of Time”).
  • As a Standard Action to gain +90′ movement, a +2 Dodge Bonus to AC and Reflex Saves, and +1 attack when making a full attack for one hour per level (“Bullet Time”).
  • While making a physical melee attack (not an action) to add the effects of a “Disintegrate” spell cast as if by a sorcerer of equal level to the attack (“Superluminal Strike”).
  • As a Standard Action to shift timelines (if the game master is agreeable) or automatically to resist changes in the timeline (“On Tides of Time”).
  • “Take 20″ on a roll – including skill and ability checks, initiative, attacks, and saves. This does not count as an action (“Choosing the Branch of Time”).

Other time-related effects, such as resisting aging effects, disrupting time-related spells, undoing very recent events (“Takebacks”), evading the effects of some terrible attack or event, and even time travel, may be performed as Reality Edits, producing Minor/Notable/Major/Grand effects at a cost of 1/2/3/5 “Instants”. Unfortunately, the permissibility of any given edit is always up to the game master.

If the game master chooses to enforce the minimum level of use on innate spells Racing the Winds of Time will not be available until L3 or L5, Bullet Time will not be available until L5 or L7, Superluminal Strike will not be available until L7 or L9, and On Tides of Time will not be available until L9 or L11. In this case just skip buying those until your Timewalker is high enough level to use them. In any case, to build this particular package take…

  • Tapping The Time Vortex: 3d6 (10) Mana with Reality Editing, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect when spent/as above, plus only to power time-based abilities, not other powers (18 CP).
  • A Timey-Wimey Thing: Rite of Chi with +14 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted/cannot be used to recover spells or power, mana may only be used to refill the user’s Time Vortex pool of “Instants”, can not be used during an “encounter” (9 CP).
  • Borrowed Time/Reflex Action, Mana-Powered Option, Corrupted for Increased Effect (provides a full action rather than a standard action)/costs 3 Mana (one “Instant”) rather than 2, Specialized for Half Cost (3 CP). Expend one “Instant”, take a full action as an Immediate Action.
  • Racing The Winds Of Time: Inherent Spell I/Rapid Travel (The user may travel up to one mile too quickly to be subject to attacks of opportunity along the way; he or she must be able to trace at least a semi-plausible path to the destination however; while the path may explicitly cross over water or gaps of up to 30 feet in the floor, the user may not move anything more substantial than a light door along the way, open locks, or otherwise interact with people or the environment other than by causing minor disruptive side effects – such as kicking up a trail of dust and creating a gust of wind. This is normally a level four spell, but it costs 2 Mana for the Powered By Mana option and 1 Mana to reduce it to level three – making the cost one “Instant”) (2 CP).
  • Bullet Time: Inherent Spell II/L5 Version of Boundless Energy (The Practical Enchanter) with a one-hour per level duration, Mana Powered Option (1 Mana to reduce it to L4, 2 to power it – for a net cost of one “Instant”). Provides +90′ movement, +2 Dodge Bonus to AC and Reflex Saves, +1 attack when making a full attack (2 CP).
  • Superluminal Strike: Inherent Spell III/Disintegrate variant; has no range and no spell resistance but acts in conjunction with a physical attack as the user strikes so fast – and thus with so much kinetic energy – that the target may be completely destroyed. (2 CP).
  • On Tides of Time: Inherent Spell IV/A voluntary or self-activating level seven effect (powered by Mana and reduced to level six by the additional point of mana inherent in an “Instant”) that allows the user and those he or she opts to include in a 20′ radius to shift to another timeline. While this will self-activate to keep users from being affected by changes in their own past, it also occasionally takes the party to timelines where things have gone drastically wrong and need fixing, or which are about to invade across time, or some such (2 CP).
  • Choosing the Branch of Time: Luck, uses Mana (one “Instant”) instead of Uses/Day (2 CP).

I’ll Be Back (6 CP):

One thing for Doctor Who, that “regeneration” trick is pretty handy.

  • Time Heals All Wounds; Grant of Aid with Spark of Life, Regenerative, and Mighty, Specialized and Corrupted/only activates if the user is driven to the point where he or she OUGHT to die or if the user spends three points of mana (an “Instant”) on it, the user’s personalty tends to change radically if he or she is driven below (Negative Constitution) hit points and this power saves him or her, activates ten rounds after the player decides that it ought to, and takes another ten rounds before another use may be activated (6 CP).

Martial Art; Deja Fu (Dex)

Deja Fu is the art of manipulating time in combat – dipping in and out of the Time Vortex to attack and evade with supernatural speed, to blink from place to place, and to find plenty of time to react to any given attack. Practitioners seem to adopt a series of near-stationary poses and stances without actually moving between them – a strobe-like effect, as if a fight was being illuminated by lightning even when everything is clearly visible.

  • Requires: Tapping the Time Vortex.
  • Basic Abilities: Attack 4, Defenses 4, Strike, Synergy/Knowledge (History).
  • Advanced and Master Abilities: Combat Reflexes, Instant Stand, Mind Like Moon, and Weapon Kata (any single weapon).
  • Occult Techniques: Focused Blow, Ki Block, Light Foot, Vanishing, all powered by “Instants” rather than by Constitution Points.

There are obviously a lot of other appropriate powers – the various Block abilities can be VERY handy, augmenting your constitution bonus to hit points with your intelligence (as you cleverly sense when to get out of the way), Imbuement/Natural Weapons used to acquire the “Warning” +1 ability is pretty handy, and there are dozens more – but this is a low-level package, and that kind of thing can (and sometimes must) wait until later.

Eclipse and the Soul Eater

Eclipse and the Soul Eater

And here it’s another question…

How would you build the Soul Eater class from the Book of Vile Darkness?


Well, the mechanics are easy enough, but there are a couple of problems with this general character design – and the biggest one is the mismatch between the fluff and the mechanics.

The fluff says that thse characters are utterly reviled, a practitioner of arts so vile “even by the standards of creatures such as beholders, lamias, and mind flayers” that the soul eater is feared by all creatures that live”.

Yet… all the mechanics seem to actually do is inflict negative levels, with no mention of any changes to the standard rules (24 hours/save DC (10 + 1/2 attacker’s HD + attacker’s Cha modifier) governing them. There’s really nothing more reprehensible about that than there is about any other standard level-draining effect.

Well, I’ll get to that a bit later. For the basics, this is a ten level prestige class (although, in Eclipse, there’s nothing stopping you from just starting off as one), so there’s a base of 240 CP available. For the basics it has a d8 HD (40 CP), 40 SP (20 CP for 20 SP, 6 CP for Fast Learner), and +21 to Saves (63 CP). That comes to 129 CP. – leaving 111 CP available to buy the special powers with.

As far as their special powers go…

  • They have a touch attack that can inflict one negative level at first and two at higher levels. Sure, that’s annoying for PC’s, but it’s really not all that effective in a fight once you’re past the first few levels – and it’s pretty easy to counter or get defenses against. In Eclipse terms, that’s probably best represented as a Trick (6 CP).

That leaves 105 CP.

They have a variety of powers that only work for twenty-four hours after they drain someone. Sadly… that’s not really a limitation. That’s their primary attack after all – and it works on pretty much any living creature. Yes, that includes rats, rabbits, chickens, and fleas. No, that’s not going to be a serious problem.

And as for those powers…

  • They get a +4 Enhancement Bonus to Str, Dex, and Con for twenty-four hours after draining someone. This is most readily purchased as Innate Enchantment (36,000 GP Worth, for 37 CP), Immunity to Dispelling, Antimagic, and Countermagic (Common/Minor/Great. Specialized in protecting innate enchantments only (6 CP)), Action Hero/Crafting, Specialized/only for paying for innate enchantments (3 CP).
  • They can fire a Ray of Force twice a day. That’s pretty much Inherent Spell (L2, Ray of Force, 6 CP).
  • They get a +2 Enhancement Bonus to All Saves. That’s just Resist, Corrupted/counts as an Enhancement Bonus (12 CP).
  • They get a +2 Enhancement Bonus to all checks which “stacks with any enhancement bonuses gained to ability scores that apply to saves or checks”. Of course applying an enhancement bonus to an attribute doesn’t turn the boosted attribute modifier into an enhancement bonus in any case, so as far as I can tell this is a meaningless appendum. I’ll chalk that bit up to bad editing, but that still leaves a problem; Enhancement Bonuses do not normally apply to checks. Fortunately, that’s easy enough to fix; buy a Personal-Only +2 Competence Bonus to all Skills and Checks as an Innate Enchantment (Spell Level One times Caster Level One times Unlimited-Use Use Activated at 2000 GP times Personal Only (.7) = 1400 GP or 1CP) and the Absorption ability for Innate Enchantment for it (+6 CP) – and turn that Competence Bonus into an Enhancement Bonus.
  • Anyone slain by their Energy Drain turns into a Wight. This is, of course, the default for creatures killed by Energy Drain, so there’s no cost there (which also makes the note that they do so at level nine in the original class another editing failure). They do, however, get to control them automatically. While there’s no mention as to how many can be controlled, the default for controlling undead is kind of low – so in this case I’ll add Leadership, with the Exotic Followers modifier, Specialized for Double Effect/only for Wights (9 CP). That will – at higher levels, where this ability normally comes into play – let them command quite a few Wights, albeit not a limitless horde.
  • When they drain someone to death they can take “the victim’s form, appearance, and abilities (as the shapechange spell)”. Well, Shapechange refers you to Polymorph which refers you to Alter Self. Attempting to disentangle that chain and the rules for prestige classes is a nuisance, but it looks like there are several limitations here:

They don’t get anything that isn’t a part of the victims racial template – and thus no learned or class-based abilities.

They are limited to Living Non-humanoids and Living Monestrous Humanoids. If they try to take another form, they no longer qualify for the class, and thus lose this ability. This kind of limits the utility of this ability. I won’t be duplicating this aspect; it’s just too silly.

They can’t take a form that has more than (Caster Level) hit dice, or twenty five, whichever is lower.

Shapechange explicitly removes all of the user’s own supernatural abilities – which might do odd things considering that this is one. I’m going to assume that this is more poor editing and that this ability is an exception.

You have to kill a creature before you can take it’s form, and you can only keep it for twenty-four hours.

It doesn’t say anything about whether you can take a form again after you abandon it, or even if you CAN voluntarily abandon a form. From the fluff, I’m going to assume that the answers are “No” and “Yes” on the grounds that once you give up someone’s “Soul Radiance” it’s gone.

Building this mess with Shapeshift is going to be complicated. It’s going to be much easier to use a spell. Ergo, it’s off to The Practical Enchanter and the Shapeshift Spell Template.

  • It looks like we’re going to want a Deep Magical Transformation (Base Level 5), a duration of twenty-four hours (+3 Levels) and to allow a choice of forms at the time of casting (+1 Level) for a level nine effect. Ergo, Inherent Spell with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect/the user must kill a creature by inflicting negative levels before taking it’s form, the form is lost unless used within twenty-four hours, and once the user gives up the form he or she cannot take it again until he or she kills such a creature again (12 CP). Using “Triple Effect” to take a third level spell effect up to level nine is a bit of a red flag – but the limitations here are pretty severe, and so it’s unlikely to be a game-wrecker.
  • They get a +2 Profane Bonus to the DC or saves against their spell-like and supernatural powers. That’s a couple of incidences of Ability Focus (12 CP).
  • They get double uses per day of their spell-like and supernatural abilities. What spell-like and supernatural abilities? Who knows? This is a monster class, and monsters may have quite a few abilities like that – or none at all other than the force ray effect (which I’ve already doubled). So… call it four levels worth of Bonus Uses (24 CP).

Now all of that comes to 128 CP – a few more than the 105 that they have available. Fortunately for them, the entire mess is Corrupted; for some reason (don’t ask ME why; I didn’t write up the original fluff) these powers cause pretty much every living thing to hate the user and consider them an unspeakable horror. They aren’t going to find allies, assistance, or even people willing to deal with them. Even horrible evil monsters will consider them to be horrible evil monsters. That reduces the cost to 85 CP – leaving them with 20 CP left over, just in case they need some more bonus uses for supernatural abilities or (more reasonably) want to buy something sensible like – say – some protection from Negative Energy?

Exalted – Solar World-Body Charms, Part II

Koneswaram temple

And to continue with the Charms in this sequence…

Unified Field Theory:

  • Cost: -; Minimum Lore 6, Essence 5, Type: Permanent.
  • Duration: Permanent.
  • Keywords: None
  • Prerequisites: Chaos Repelling Pattern, Dreaming Narrative Conquest, Gate of Dreams. Warden of the Marches, The Pillars Of The Temple, Primordial Grace Of The (Grace) at least four times.

Once you have at least four poles, the unique energies of your new world become the primary form of essence within it; Manses, demesnes, and spirits native to your inner cosmos do not overtly change, but their primary essence type is now your own, while their current essence types become mere secondary resonances. Creatures (and the user) gain access to a charm tree based on their new essence type. Any internal Manses gain the Self-Stabilizing and Regenerating functions at no cost.

Sense Of Community:

  • Cost: -, Minimum Lore 6, Essence 6, Type: Permanent.
  • Duration: Permanent.
  • Keywords: None
  • Prerequisites: Chaos Repelling Pattern, Dreaming Narrative Conquest, Gate of Dreams. Warden of the Marches, The Pillars Of The Temple, Primordial Grace Of The (Grace) at least four times, Unified Field Theory.

The user may invest of his or her intimacies in other beings (most commonly a God or Raksha) – creating a permanent and (normally, unless the creature truly desires to break the link) unbreakable bond. As a benefit, even if one of the creatures dies, a portion of it lives on in you – allowing it to be reborn in mere hours, albeit somewhat weakened (being reborn this way costs 20 XP, although the creature can “cash in” charms and other qualities to meet the price). Unfortunately, such a death is an immense shock to the user, resulting in the user acquiring a shiny new two-point Derangement – or upgrading an old one. Getting rid of such a derangement requires special (GMO) methods as well as paying it off.

The upside depends somewhat on the polar forces that were used in the investment – although it always includes quick and easy communication, sense-sharing, and making it impossible to externally alter the user’s motivation or invested intimacies.

  • The Sword allows the user to control his or her “souls” – taking possession of them and channeling his or her own powers through them for up to (Sword) hours per week each and binding them to the user’s will as if he or she possessed their Heart Graces (even if they aren’t Raksha).
  • The Staff allows each creature involved, including the user, to commit 1 to (Staff) motes to take on twice that many points worth of mutations or mutation keyworded raksha charms. Sadly, each participant is limited to a fixed list.
  • The Ring allows spirit-entity Souls to manifest in up to (Ring) different places at the same time. While their health tracks and actions are independent, their other powers are not – and the places must be very widely seperated.
  • The Cup allows the user and up to (Cup) “souls”, wherever they might be, to share the effects of defensive charms and to use them on each others behalf.

The effects of non-standard Graces will have to sorted out with the game master.

Heart Of The World:

  • Cost: -, Minimum Lore 7, Essence 7, Type: Permanent.
  • Duration: Permanent.
  • Keywords: None
  • Prerequisites: Chaos Repelling Pattern, Dreaming Narrative Conquest, Gate of Dreams. Warden of the Marches, The Pillars Of The Temple, Primordial Grace Of The (Grace) at least four times, Unified Field Theory.

The user’s Inner Chancel becomes a true World-Body – an independent embodiment of the user’s consciousness. As such, the user gains room for an additional (poles) intimacies and may sustain up to (Sta/2) charms indefinitely by committing personal geomantic relays to them instead of motes. If the user’s original body is destroyed, he or she will survive as a world, and may generate a new body in various ways.

Unrelenting Solophistic Hostility:

  • Cost: – (1+ M), Min. Lore 6, Essence 6, Type: Reflexive.
  • Duration: Scene.
  • Keywords: Combo-Automatic.
  • Prerequisites: Chaos Repelling Pattern, Dreaming Narrative Conquest, Gate of Dreams. Warden of the Marches, The Pillars Of The Temple, Primordial Grace Of The (Grace) at least four times, Unified Field Theory.

Attackers, or those unwelcome within the user’s world-body will encounter hostile environments, occasional monsters, and other hazards. Anyone who is NOT hostile will have no such experience, even if they are holding hands with someone who is. If the user has relevant chancel-wide manse powers or “tweaks” or other area-effect abilities he or she may also target those on an individual basis, but each specifically-designated (or exempted) target costs a committed mote for the duration.

Persona Non Grata:

  • Cost: 15M, Minimum Lore 7, Essence 7, Type: Reflexive
  • Duration: Turn.
  • Keywords: Combo-OK
  • Prerequisites: Chaos Repelling Pattern, Dreaming Narrative Conquest, Gate of Dreams. Warden of the Marches, The Pillars Of The Temple, Primordial Grace Of The (Grace) at least four times, Unified Field Theory, Unrelenting Solophistic Hostility.

The users inner reality twists itself into a temporary perfect defense against interacting with a particular creature, object, or force. For a few moments it does not exist for the user – and the user does not exist for it. Unfortunately, when someone is in a Chancel or World-Body which has abruptly ceased to exist, they are left in some random location in Deep Chaos – unless they happen to wind up stranded in Elsewhere or in some other dimension entirely.

And yes, this does indeed have a flaw of invulnerability; it’s not only very expensive to use, but it defends the attacker against the user just as perfectly – giving said attacker just as much time to act without interference as it gives the user. It’s still a good way to eject pests though.

Reality Bending Stride:

  • Cost: Special, Min. Lore 5, Essence 5, Type: Reflexive.
  • Duration: Indefinite
  • Keywords: Combo-OK, Stackable.
  • Prerequisites; Chaos Repelling Pattern, Dreaming Narrative Conquest, Gate of Dreams. Warden of the Marches. The Pillars Of The Temple.

The user may select up to (Essence/2 +1) rounded up build points worth of manse powers, and may activate some or all of them for a scene by (1) spending 5 motes per point of manse power to be activated, or (2) having other manses commit geomantic relay points to power them, or (3) some combination thereof. Geomantic relay points will remain committed to the end of the scene, even if the power is terminated early. At a base these powers affect a radius of (Essence x 10) yards. A Zone of Influence extends this to (Essence x 50) yards, and an Extended Zone of Influence to (Essence x 100) yards. In general, only essence-based manse features can be emulated. Things like Fortification cannot be. The charm may be taken more than once to expand the range of usable powers.

Riding The Borders:

  • Cost: 60M, 2W, Min; Lore 5, Essence 5, Type: Simple
  • Duration: Indefinite
  • Keywords: None.
  • Prerequisites; Chaos Repelling Pattern, Dreaming Narrative Conquest, Gate of Dreams. Warden of the Marches. The Pillars Of The Temple, Reality Bending Stride.

The user may twist his personal geomancy back upon itself to seal away his or her Internal Chancel / World-Body. For the duration, attempts to exit without immensely powerful magic will lead into elsewhere, nullspace, or the deep wyld, while all attempts to enter are perfectly blocked. Sadly, this also makes it pretty much impossible to tell what’s going on outside. Worse, the constantly recirculating essence will – gradually – accumulate overtones and resonances. Over the centuries the user will sicken, and may even eventually die – although the seal will usually fail before then. This may be delayed if the user has access to reserves of essence, souls, and the magical materials – but not forever.

Yes, this is basically Autochthon’s Seal of Eight Divinities – and, just like the Seal of Eight Divinities, it will eventually lead to problems, no matter how advisable a retreat seems at the moment. Sadly, this does nothing at all about troublemakers who are already inside.

Hand Of The Infinite:

  • Cost: -, Min; Lore 5, Essence 5, Type: Permanent
  • Duration: Permanent
  • Keywords: None
  • Prerequisites: Chaos Repelling Pattern, Dreaming Narrative Conquest, Gate of Dreams. Warden of the Marches.

The user’s inner world is truly a part of him or her; he or she may spend two motes (this is compatible with ANY other action) to consider himself or herself to be “touching” any target that’s currently within his or her inner world. Similarly, any creature that is currently hosting one of the user’s intimacies thanks to the Sense Of Community charm and is currently within his or her inner world may spend two motes to consider himself, herself, or itself, to be touching the user.

Dreaming Limitless Dreams:

  • Cost: -, Minimum Lore 5, Essence 5, Type: Permanent.
  • Duration: Permanent.
  • Keywords: Stackable.
  • Prerequisites: Chaos Repelling Pattern, Dreaming Narrative Conquest, Gate of Dreams (taken at least four times).

The user’s inner world begins to expand. The user may purchase this charm up to (Conviction) times. The first four purchases each multiply the number of waypoints available in the users inner world by a factor of ten. The fifth, and final, purchase renders the potential size of the users inner world effectively infinite. Unfortunately, this in no way accelerates the user’s ability to shape those regions into something useful.

Of course, when you’ve already got tens of thousands of waypoints worth of territory to fool around with, it might as well be infinite anyway, Who has the time – or the imagination – to shape all that? You might as well just throw a generic environment over it and have done.

Exalted – Solar World-Body Charms, Part I

world-body charms image

Charles developed the first couple of charms in this sequence mostly so as to have somewhere to keep manses, then started working on ways to impersonate a Primordial as a cover / distraction from his actual activities. Of course, given how little information there is available on Primordials in the first place, and the level of variation that might be expected in unique beings born of the Wyld, after a hundred session of tinkering… it’s becoming really hard to tell the difference.

The first two charms have been presented before, but it’s easiest to include them here than to refer back to them. 

Gate of Dreams:

  • Cost: -; Minimum Lore 4, Essence 3, Type: Permanent.
  • Duration: Permanent.
  • Keywords: None.
  • Prerequisite Charms: Chaos Repelling Pattern, Dreaming Narrative Conquest.

The user transforms a bit of his soul into a Chancel of rating (Essence + 1); if this takes it above five, simply square the rating to determine the number of waypoints it contains. Of those, one is always pure chaos, surrounded by six deep wyld waypoints, with the rest being middlemarches. The Chancel has no attunement cost.

The Chancel has no “main entrance” normally, although the user can spend three motes to open one wherever he is, and even enter it – although the main portal is always stationary while it exists (and so it does not matter if the interior is shaped or not). Destroying the main gate does not destroy the Chancel; instead it inflicts two levels of aggravated damage on the user.

The user may purchase this charm again to expand his or her internal world at a cost of 4 XP up to (Conviction) times; each time will also provide him or her with one bonus charm for which he or she is otherwise qualified that will only operate within the Chancel. These are fixed once chosen unless the user actually learns one, in which case a new bonus charm may be chosen.

The user may also wish to invest in some internal guardians; after all, other people can get inside his or her little world by sneaking through the secondary entrances as they could any other Chancel. It can be really embarrassing to open the gate to your secret castle only to find a swarm of assassins waiting for you.

Warden of the Marches:

  • Cost: -; Minimum Lore 4, Essence 4, Type: Permanent.
  • Duration: Permanent.
  • Keywords: None
  • Prerequisite Charms: Chaos Repelling Pattern, Dreaming Narrative Conquest, Gate of Dreams.

Once the user has established a personal world and forged his or her imagination into reality, it has become a real place – and one that it can be quite annoying to have trespassers in. Fortunately, a landlord with this charm finds his or her internal world far easier to survey. Once this charm is purchased, the users senses are all considered to extend throughout the internal world normally. While stealth, evasion, and other distractions may help, those inside will never quite know when the user will become aware of their presence and activities.

The Pillars Of The Temple:

  • Cost: -; Minimum Lore 5, Essence 4, Type: Permanent.
  • Duration: Permanent.
  • Keywords: None
  • Prerequisites: Chaos Repelling Pattern, Dreaming Narrative Conquest, Gate of Dreams. Warden of the Marches.

With the user’s essence extended throughout his or her inner world, he or she can now channel geomantic energies into it, giving it strange and wonderful properties. The user gains the Network Node and Geomantic Nexus manse powers, and may accept geomantic relay points to add up to (Willpower + Essence) points worth of additional manse powers to his or her inner world – but activating those powers requires the commitment of three points worth of geomantic relays per point of manse powers activated. Worse, the list of powers is virtually fixed once chosen; revising it will require at least two months of work adjusting the geomancy of the user’s personal chancel.

Yes, if you want to start adding things Malfeas’s smashing layers (“Ultra-Deadly Traps), Szoreny’s mirror-mazes (“Puzzle Manse”), control of the passage of time within your inner world (Wyld Revocation), or similar exotic properties… here’s your chance.

Primordial Grace of the (Grace):

  • Cost: -; Minimum Lore 5, Essence 5, Type: Permanent.
  • Duration: Permanent.
  • Keywords: None
  • Prerequisites: Chaos Repelling Pattern, Dreaming Narrative Conquest, Gate of Dreams. Warden of the Marches, The Pillars Of The Temple, Possession of the relevant Grace and a World-Body.

The user may funnel the energies of the Wyld through one of his or her convictions, making a principle truly a part of his or her self – and creating an “elemental pole” related to his or her own nature. The user’s inner world will shift slightly, becoming less a thing of Creation’s elements and more a thing unique onto itself. The user may apply (Grace Rating) points worth of supernatural tweaks to his or her inner world and/or those within it.

Possible “tweaks” include the equivalent of mutations (one point per two points worth of mutations), adding the equivalent of thaumaturgic effects cost 1-4 points (for Basic / Initiate / Adept / Master effects), higher-order sorceries cost 5/7/10 points for Terrestrial / Celestial / Solar circle effects (and require that the user be capable of enacting such effects normally), and adding the equivalent of manse powers costs one point per point and cannot exceed the level of the highest level demesne added. If a manse power has a variable cost, always use the lowest. If a manse power has a variable effect based on the manse level, use the level of the highest level manse or demesne included in the waypoint.

Each pole forges a permanent intimacy to the appropriate principle and – to some extent – colors how the associated grace/virtue is expressed. If you go and turn your Cup Grace into the Pole of Death you’re likely to go in for promoting euthanasia, destroying intrusive species, and similar acts of compassion-by-death. Use your Sword Grace, and the effect will be a lot less pronounced – but you’re still likely to resolve a lot more conflicts by death then you might have previously. A pole represents a major drive.

As a nascent primordial grows, and resolves individual drives, the principles of it’s poles tend to unify – gradually defining the nature of it’s first Excellency, it’s individual essence type, and of it’s Feitch Soul as the nascent one visits the Wyld and forges it’s poles into a central core. Of course, that’s the “normal” way to go about it; it may or may not wind up working that way for someone who’s doing things their own way.

Optionally, the user may now take charms that require (Pole) (X) rather than ability or attribute prerequisites.

Exalted – Condensed Martial Arts

The Exalted Martial Arts are very complicated, scattered over many books – and there seems to be pretty general agreement that many or most of the styles are pretty badly broken. Just as importantly, I prefer more freeform systems anyway. Ergo, here are the five basic charms that – in conjunction with the tweaks to the various Excellencies – can serve to replace the various martial art styles of Exalted.

Why? Because it makes it SO much easier.

  • (Martial Art) Mastery -> Mysteries Of The (Martial Art)
  • Initiate Of The (Martial Art)
  • (Martial Art) Form
  • Challenge Fans The Flames

(Martial Art) Mastery

  • Cost; —, Min; Martial Arts 3, Essence 1,Type: Permanent
  • Keywords; None
  • Duration; Permanent, Stackable
  • Prerequisite Charms: None. Does NOT require an active essence pool.

The user has mastered a martial art, such as Judo. He or she may name five specific maneuvers for that art, such as “Flying Double Kick”, “Wrist Lock”, or “Dragon Sweeps Tail” (leg sweep). Each may be invoked once per game session to provide a +2d bonus to a relevant stunt, which may take the stunt bonus above 3d. A three die stunt may explicitly blind or hold an opponent for a turn, stop an overwhelming attack, or provide any of the other usual scene-editing functions. A stunt rated at four or more dice may provide a perfect defense or attack.

This charm may be taken again, representing a new martial art (or doubling up on an old one), at Martial Arts 4 and 5. Each time the user acquires a new set of daily maneuvers. Sidereal Exalts may master one additional art per point of essence above 2. Solar and Lunar Exalts may master an additional martial art at Essence 3, 5, 7, and 10. Dragon Blooded Exalts may master one additional martial art at essence 3 and 5. Other supernaturals may master one extra martial art at essence 4

Mysteries Of The (Martial Art)

  • Cost; —, Min; Essence 2, Martial Arts 3, Type: Permanent
  • Keywords; Stackable.
  • Duration; Permanent.
  • Prerequisite Charms: (Martial Art) Mastery, an Active Essence Pool.

The user has engaged in many mystic training techniques, developing his or her body and inner energies in ways most people will never manage. He or she acquires three points worth of mutations to represent this training – although any negative effects of those mutations, including overly-exotic appearance, may be ignored. Have you developed callouses like iron on your hands, toughened yourself to withstand blows, and so one? Invest those three points in “Claws” (calloused, toughened, and well-exercised hands), “Fur/Scales” (callouses and conditioning and toughening exercises), and “Large” (incredibly buff due to intensive training). After all, it’s only Wyld Mutations – not “mutations” gained from training, birth, charms, demesnes, or manses – that limit your ability to survive in creation, and with this charm the special effects are pretty much up to you.

Mysteries Of The (Martial Art) Style may be taken again at Essence 3, 6, and 10 (and Martial Arts 4, 7, and 10), but the mutations themselves cannot be stacked beyond the two-point level; you can’t get anything beyond “Poxes” and “Afflictions”. 

Initiate Of The (Martial Art)

  • Cost; —, Min; Essence 2, Martial Arts 4, Type: Permanent
  • Keywords; None
  • Duration; Permanent.
  • Prerequisite Charms: (Martial Art) Mastery, user must have an active essence pool.

The user may employ his or her martial arts maneuvers more often, choosing between either an extra (Essence-2) times per session or one extra use in each fight. In either case this may be used to gain extra uses of any desired maneuver, but the total is a pool of uses, not per-maneuver. Celestial Exalts, and any other creature with Essence 6+ may also opt expend two uses of a maneuver at once to increase the stunt bonus to +4d.

(Martial Art) Form (Sidereals Only):

  • Cost: 6m; Mins: Essence 2, Martial Arts 4, Type: Simple
  • Keywords: Form-Type (under this system a rather redundant keyword), Obvious.
  • Duration: One scene or until another (Martial Art) Form charm is activated.
  • Prerequisite Charms: Martial Arts (Mastery)

Activating a Form Charm creates an obvious iconic display related to the martial arts style used (such as an anima-tiger image for a tiger stylist) and provides +3 Virtue Channels for a chosen virtue (although these may only be used to boost stunts related to the styles theme) as well as the equivalent of either a single 3-dot or two 2-dot custom artifacts with abilities related to the style (their abilities do stack with actual artifacts, albeit not with each other). Sadly, you cannot add channels to a particular virtue more than once per scene and any remaining extra uses are lost once you switch – making switching forms too often counterproductive. This charm may be taken once per martial art, but does not stack with itself. Activating a new Form ends the old one.

While Solar Exalts thus cannot take Sidereal “Form Charms”, they can certainly develop their own suite of inherent “artifact” based abilities to duplicate the effect, as well as their own methods of regaining virtue channels. Once again, they can duplicate the Sidereal Martial Arts if they wish – but they’ll have to work harder on it than a Sidereal will.

Challenge Fans The Flames (Sidereal Only):

  • Cost: —, Mins: Martial Arts 5, Essence 3; Type: Permanent
  • Keywords: None/
  • Duration: One scene.
  • Prerequisite Charms: Martial Arts (Mastery), Martial Art (Form).

The user regains Virtue Channels and points of temporary Will equal to the new level of opposition each time the level of opposition increases. The levels are

  1. Mortals/None
  2. Terrestrials, Jadeborn, Dragon Kings, Minor Gods
  3. Lunars, other Sidereals, Second Circle Demons
  4. Solars, Third Circle Demons
  5. Deathlords, Primordials, etc.

Thus, a Sidereal Martial Artist who is abruptly confronted by an upstart group of mortal mercenaries will get one Virtue Channel and one point of Will to fight them with. If – after that – a Terrestrial leader-type puts in an appearance, the Sidereal will get two virtue channels and two points of will – but the arrival of a few more Terrestrials or a swarm of mortals will yield no further benefits. The arrival of a Deathlord will, however, provide five virtue channels and five points of will to work with – which will probably only delay the inevitable doom a bit, but it’s handy anyway.

And there we are. In conjunction with Unconquered (Martial Arts) Perfection that pretty much boils down the entire martial arts system into excellencies and five basic charms – two available to Mortals, one available to the Dragon-Blooded and other supernatural types that works better for Celestials, and two available to Sidereals. That should be a good deal simpler to play.

Personally, I think that the Martial Arts ability shouldn’t infringe excessively on other abilities; if you want a “martial art” based around teleportation, or channeling storm spirits, or generating mirror-duplicates of opponents… then what you really want is a “martial arts style” based on a more appropriate ability. If you really think that “Martial Arts” should be able to substitute for Occult, Medicine, or Athletics, just allow weird themes and stunts.

Exalted – Upgrading Excellencies

Well, it’s once again time to play catchup with a few quick posts about Exalted stuff…

Charms in Exalted are a horrendous mess. They may be cleaning that up with third edition, but I have my doubts; really cleaning up the system would mean that – like the Hero System, or World Tree, or Eclipse, or quite a few other systems – you wouldn’t really need anything but the core book. Sadly, that means that grinding out new sourcebooks isn’t as profitable – which is why it’s rarely the commercial business model of choice. Ergo, here’s a couple of quick general charms for Solar Exalts (the other groups get their own versions of course), with a few more to come.

New Excellency:

Fourth (Ability) Excellency; Fortunate (Ability) Benison

  • Cost 4M, Mins: (Ability) 1, Essence 1, Type; Reflexive (Step 3 for attackers, step 6 for defenders)
  • Keywords: Combo-OK.
  • Duration: Instant
  • Prerequisite Charms: None.

The perfection of the Unconquered Sun infuses the actions of his Exalted. Tapping into that perfection through Fortunate (Ability) Benison causes all bonus dice on that action from Stunts and Channeled Virtues to count as automatic successes. The Fourth Excellency is compatible with all three existing Excellencies.

New Excellency Modifiers:

Clouded (Ability) Sun

  • Cost: —, Mins: (Ability) 3, Essence 2; Type: Permanent
  • Keywords: None
  • Duration: Permanent
  • Prerequisite Charms: Any (Ability) Excellency, (Ability) Essence Flow

The supreme skill of the Solar Exalted becomes a natural part of their very nature, as unremarked as the air. The user’s (Ability) associated Excellencies become purely internal affairs. They are never obvious and do not disturb essence-senses. Motes spent on them, whether Peripheral or not, do not count towards anima flare, and they may be applied any time a relevant roll is called for – even if their use would normally be disallowed (such as during Shape Sorcery actions).

Unconquered (Ability) Perfection.

  • Cost: — (special), Mins: (Ability) 4, Essence 2 (3, 5, 8), Type; Permanent
  • Keywords; Obvious, Sorcerous, Stackable
  • Duration; Permanent (Special)
  • Prerequisite Charms; Any (Ability) Excellence.

When the Exalted set their wills to a task, the very fabric of the world can but tremble and obey. When the user channels a virtue into an (Ability) stunt, he or she may increase the base difficulty by two to attempt to pull off a normally impossible feat. While the feat must be appropriate to the ability used and to the virtue being channeled, it’s effects are basically equivalent to augmenting the usual ability with master-level Thaumaturgy. Thus:

  • A swordsman (melee) might attempt to entwine ectoplasmic threads from a spirit about his or her blade, allowing attacks against immaterial beings for the duration of the scene.
  • An archer (archery of course) might try to attack a small area, causing the arrow to ricochet from target to target – or he or she might attempt a shot that would snag an allies belt and carry him or her a short distance to safety.
  • A “master of the serpent style” (martial arts) might try to strike a pressure point that will induce uncontrollable laughter until the target falls unconscious.
  • A superb observer (awareness) might sharpen his or her senses – or weave a mirage from a handful of dust to confound others.
  • A scholar (lore) might try to utter a Raksha mantra to confound the minds of those who approach a particular area, leading them astray.
  • A mystic (occult) might sound a bell in a rhythm that disrupts the essence-flows of ghosts to raise a barrier against their approach.

With a second purchase at essence three the user may increase the difficulty by four to to attempt a stunt that would normally require Terrestrial Circle Sorcery – perfectly blocking some incredible attack with your staff and melee skills, turning a simple thrown knife into something like the Death of Obsidian Butterflies, invoking the lore of some ancient pact to gain the aid of an elemental, pronouncing an occult word of command to banish a minor demon, or using medicine to cast someone into deep hibernation or cure a truly deadly disease in a mere moments.

With a third purchase at essence five the user may increase the difficulty by seven to attempt a stunt that would normally require celestial circle sorcery. One might use Dodge to cross a city, Occult to perfectly block some mighty magical attack, martial arts to hurl everyone away from you like a bomb, pilot to sail a ship between worlds, or some similar stunt.

With a fourth purchase at essence eight the user may increase the difficulty by ten to attempt a stunt that would normally require solar circle sorcery – perhaps using Athletics to generate a tornado while running so fast that he or she is perfectly protected from ranged attacks, Lore to create an artifact design so perfect that it comes into existence spontaneously for a time, Craft to create a temporary warstrider or raise a city, medicine to heal a shadowland, and so on.

Given that this IS a Sorcerous Charm, it is possible to reduce the extra difficulty by up to one per level of Unconquered (Ability) Perfection known through the use of (GMO) appropriate magical components, by invoking an appropriate primordial entity (and thus owing it a favor or giving it a chance to meddle a bit), by making a special study of a particular, limited, group of effects (3 XP, acceptable groups of effects are – once again – up to the game master), or by taking your time to perform an appropriate ritual.

And yes, those ARE all up to the game master. This is a freeform ability, and that’s kind of inevitable.

Variations on this charm are available to most of the other Exalted.

  • Lunar Exalts base their abilities on their attributes and are limited to three purchases, but gain +1 level of effect when invoking effects related to transformation, nature, the wyld, or survival and self-healing. For example, if they pay and roll for a Terrestrial effect while turning a wild cat into a colossal steed, then what they’ll get is a Celestial effect. Sadly, this is not cumulative; such an effect might arguably fall under all three of transformation, nature, and the wyld, but one level of effect is all they get.
  • Sidereal Exalts are also limited to three purchases, but, rather like the Lunar Exalted, gain +1 level of effect when invoking effects related to Bureaucracy, Destiny (via Occult), Lore, Martial Arts, and Stealth. Thus, while Solar Exalts can still duplicate the effects of the “Sidereal Martial Arts”, they’ll have to work a good deal harder than a Sidereal Exalt to do so.
  • Dragon-Blooded are limited to two purchases, but gain +1 level of effect when creating effects involving blood relationships, elemental forces, or large-scale military actions.

Yes; this can effectively replace rather a lot of the higher-order charms. Admittedly, virtue channels and will are a little harder to renew than Motes, and the mote cost irself may be higher if you need to use a bunch of Excellencies to hit the difficulty – but in exchange you’re getting unmatched flexibility as well as a tolerably-consistent ceiling on what is and is not possible for a charm to do.

Exalted – The Raksha Hordes

The Creation of Adam

And thou shalt have facial hair, and be like unto me in a very small way…

Sleighwen, The Bard Who Calls the Stones To Weep

Sleighwen’s narrative is one of lost love, of mourning – and of hope. He mourns Branglera, a daughter of creation, who fell to time – aging and dying in an eyeblink as mortals do. He travels Creation singing of her – of her beauty and kindness and love, of the tragedy of time and death. He sings of a loss that need not be eternal – for when all creation has shed a tear for her, then she will be reborn of the Wyld as a Raksha, perfect and eternal – and his long sorrow will be at an end. Until then, he wanders and – in her memory, and because those who mourn for themselves have little time to hear his song and sorrow for others, he uses his mighty powers to negotiate an end to wars, to bring health, prosperity, and joy to the people of Creation, to defend them, and to wipe away their tears – asking that they shed but one for his own ancient pain. His music and his narrative spreads far and wide, entangling everyone – whether as sympathizer or as someone so hard-hearted as to be unmoved by his ages of epic grief.

Is his story true? Did Branglera ever actually exist? Is he in the right version of Creation? Could Branglera indeed be born or reborn of the Wyld once all creation has shed a tear for her? Does it matter? Sleighwen has come forth from the Wyld, and has entangled much of Creation in his tale – and that is much to Creation’s benefit.

Is Sleighwen a likely foe?

Well, not really. You could contrive something of course. Perhaps the princess must never shed a tear, since that is the key to unlock some terrible doom, and thus the Sidereal Brotherhood wishes to stop the music. Perhaps some Crafter wishes to harvest the eyes of twenty children who have never cried to make some wonder. Perhaps you’d really be stretching there unless you’re running a “we like nastiness!” Abyssals or Infernals chronicle.

Is Sleighwen an Ishvara? His essence is very high, his tale certainly spreads to involve everyone around him, it places the little gods of creation under his sway – rendering him immune to weapons and environmental damage (if not to unarmed combat) and to ranged attacks other than shaping combat, as well as allowing him to work instant thaumaturgies affecting massive areas – and he has many other unique powers. He probably is.

And he’s still basically harmless. This sort of thing is why the Raksha only make a difference when there’s a statistical fluke. They are BORN of Chaos – but they don’t SERVE Chaos. The only inherent bias in their desires and motives is towards survival and activity, and even that is only because the ones who don’t have a survival drive simply dissolve into chaos again, while those who lack a desire to be active tend to be content manifesting as inanimate objects or passive pieces of the landscape. For every “Destroy Creation!” narrative, there’s a “Defend Creation!” narrative, a hundred or so – such as Sleighwen’s – that rely on Creation’s existence (and so will draw them to defend it), another hundred or so which exist in opposition to those benign motives, hundreds more involving goals like “locate the best of all beers!”, and thousands that have nothing to do with Creation at all since they’re founded on ideas and principles that have no place in it.

Fundamentally, the larger the number of Raksha are in any given area, the more likely it is that any given individual Raksha will have a counterpart who will effectively cancel out their efforts, whether directly or indirectly. Sure, there will be the occasional random cluster which will have an impact – but even the greatest Ishvara will never be able to draw the vast majority of Raksha into involvement as anything other than “audience”. Yes, the Balorean Crusade had quite an impact on Creation – but there have probably been a thousand other Raksha Crusades, every bit as powerful, since. It’s just that when a flood of Raksha pour in, visit a small island called Roril, turn all the parrots there a pretty shade of electric blue, and – their crusade against Green Roril Parrots victorious – depart into chaos again, it’s entirely likely that no one will notice. Even the Loom of Fate probably won’t care about the color of parrots on a distant island.

Raksha motives and narratives don’t have to be anti-creation, or even coherent by Creation’s standards. They just have to BE.

If there are long-term limits to their power, then – in a long-term sample – the trend will tend to be towards becoming sociable, peaceful, averse to risk, focused more on defense than offense, showing some self-restraint, and using tolerably effective strategies. The weaker ones will band together in more stable areas and groups. How do we know that? Simply because those traits tend to lead to long-term survival when there are no more rewards to be won.

Taking large risks to build up power rapidly is a viable strategy as well if there is no upper limit – but the general assumption is that there is. For an immortal, it’s a lot easier and more efficient to get there slower but with a lot less risk.

And thus you’re rather unlikely to see someone like Balor. You’re much more likely to meet someone like…

Rasamenite of the Green Mustache

This Ishvara travels the deep wylds seeking out alternate versions of creation. When he finds one, he walks within it, seeks out one of it’s largest cities, and invokes a potent onieromancy – transforming every rat within it into a feybeast green mustache-rat which will seek out and bond with the nearest mortal face – making the mortal bearer good looking, self-confident, clever, and alert, as well as giving them a knack for finding what they need! Admittedly, this means that men, women, and children will all soon be sporting bushy green mustaches – but that is surely a splendid thing, even if it confuses some of them. 

Then he moves on, to seek out another creation to bring the Green Mustache to.

Why? Because it is his purpose and tale, and he needs no others. Within the reach of his (admittedly, somewhat eccentric) tale, no Raksha can be clean-shaven, and in his wake there are boycotts against barbers.

No, there’s probably no real point in doing battle with HIM either. Still, his unique transformative powers might be VERY useful at some point; he can make fey beasts other than Moustache-Rats of course (including some that bestow other abilities), it’s just that he generally doesn’t bother to do so. Still, he’s a sucker for people admiring his own glorious mustache. 

Moustache Rat (Behemoth *, also known as a “Fey Beast”):

This is a small rat that looks, feels, smells, and otherwise resembles a luxuriant bushy mustache. They live by symbiotically attaching themselves to a humans face under the nose, and then basically… go to sleep. They do sneak off for a bit to breed when their “owner” is asleep sometimes though. For good or ill, they normally don’t breed nearly as rapidly as the original rats do, and sometimes only seem to do so when the wearer/bearer uses somebody else’s comb.

Six Mutation Points base plus No Natural Weapon (+2) and Dependent on Humans (Mustache Rats must spend at least one day a week in close contact with a human to survive, +2). That gives them ten points worth of mutations:

  • Symbiotic Attachment (2): Provides the benefits of up to six points worth of the creatures mutations to it’s partner (although no conferred mutation may exceed the two-point level) as long as said partner remains in contact with the creature, accepts having it as a part of his or her body, and commits one point of will to the relationship. This effect will not work on characters with access to Charms beyond the Martial Arts and Terrestrial circle sorcery.
  • Self-Reproducing (2): Mustache Rats can breed more mustache rats, and will do so reasonably often.
  • Glorious Hero Form x2 (4): Provides +1 each to Appearance, Charisma, Intelligence, and Perception.
  • Scavenger’s Knack (2): The user gains a +1 bonus to his or her effective Resources.

And yes, this same basic build could be used to spread a variety of other mutations among the human population; it’s not like there aren’t plenty of ways to to that anyway.

Arcanist Casting in Eclipse

Freezing on the Sea Cliffs

Hey, I didn’t know that you knew that one! – kleinnick

Today it’s another question from Alzrius – in this case, on how to use Eclipse to build something new from Paizo…

Paizo recently released the public playtest for their Advanced Class Guide. One of the classes in the book – the arcanist – has a method of spellcasting that blends the spontaneous spellcasting of a sorcerer with the prepared casting of a wizard.

More specifically, the arcanist has a number of spells per day and spells known, as per a sorcerer. The difference is that they have a spellbook, and each day they use it to choose what their “spells known” will be, preparing them out of their spellbook like a wizard.

While the developers are still making changes to these classes, they’ve said that the arcanist’s spellcasting method will remain the same. This leads me to ask, how would you model this method of spellcasting in Eclipse? Not using the Studies limitation for a magic progression means that you are a preparatory spellcaster who uses your entire spell list (a la the cleric or druid), whereas using the Studies limitation means that you’re either a preparatory caster who needs to find and record spells before you can prepare them (as per the wizard) or are a spontaneous spellcaster with a small – and unchangeable (mostly, maybe swapping out a spell known every level or two) – list of spells known. There doesn’t seem to be an option for a “hybridized” method of spellcasting like what the arcanist has.

Well, the conceptual basis for “Vancian” spellcasting – at least as presented in earlier editions – was basically that a Wizard had no particular natural power; he or she skillfully drew a trickle of energy from the planar structure of the universe and bound it into spells – each an an individual immaterial object, comparable to a hand-assembled anti-tank missile or similar one-shot device. A Wizard could only keep so many spells ready for much the same reason that a fighter could only carry so many weapons; they each took up part of a limited carrying capacity. Being Out of Spells was simply being Out of Ammo. They needed spellbooks to help them prepare or “memorize” their spells simply because spell-structures were incredibly complicated and had to he just right to work.

When Sorcerers were introduced the general presumption (where people gave it any thought at all) was that a Sorcerer either had a natural reserve of magic or could draw on power much more quickly than a Wizard and had some sort of natural channels through which they could shape that power into a particular effect, much like a fancy tip on an icing applicator. Of course, they only had so many channels and could only handle so much power. The rules never examined the difference that closely – after all, the rules also don’t bother to differentiate between an axe to the head and a club to the knee – but presumably a Sorcerer ran out of stored magical energy or power-handling capacity and tired (albeit not enough to have an in-game effect worth noting) while a Wizard just ran out of prepared spells.

The Arcanist evidently has a Sorcerer’s ability to tap into or store raw power but lacks natural channels for it – so they build artificial channels for it. Sadly, artificial channels are apparently both fragile and complex, and must be renewed on a daily basis. (Why Spell and Channel formula are entirely interchangeable is a good question, but game convenience has a lot to say about that).

Now this does have limitations. Most notably, this makes an Arcanist even more dependent on his or her spellbook than a Wizard is. At least if something happens to their spellbook a Wizard will have whatever spells are in his or her head to work with. If worst comes to worst, he or she can even convert most of them into Scrolls, and then copy them back into a spellbook once he or she is back in town and can pick up a new book. Arcanists have no such option; their spell choices are simply gone in the morning. Of course the fact that a Wizard or Arcanists spellbooks are vulnerable, expensive, and time-consuming only has an effect if the game master enforces it, so this may not be much of a limitation at all.

Secondarily, the flexibility is not as great as it might be; most characters have some favorite, workhorse, spells that they use all the time anyway – while a high-intelligence Wizard may well have a greater variety of prepared spells available in any one day, and can gain some of the same casting flexibility with spell-recall items, such as Pearls of Power (or some of the even cheaper items in the Magic Item Compendium).

As for how to build such a character in Eclipse… the quick and easy way is to buy levels in a desired spellcasting progression as a spontaneous caster, Specialized for Increased Effect (spells known may be readily changed) with the limitations being that…

  • The user loses one spell slot of each level he or she can cast.
    • Honestly, that’s no big problem in most cases – and if it is, there are plenty of ways to get more spells.
  • Their Spells Known (or “Channels”) other than Read Magic must be renewed from a spellbook daily. As usual for book-based casters the user starts off with a spellbook containing Cantrips as the GM decides, (Int+3) first level spell formula at level one, and an additional two castable spells of choice per level thereafter. Other spells must be acquired in other ways.
    • How important this is varies with the Game Master and the setting. If spells are scarce, spellbooks are seriously threatened on occasion, and the characters must rely on spell research and automatic spells, then this is a major limitation. If not, then it’s a lot less important.
  • Due to the fragility of artificial magical “channels”, the user cannot amplify his or her spells or effective casting level with Mana, Hysteria, Berserker, or similar abilities. Similarly, he or she may not reduce the impact of applying a metamagical theorem other than Compact or Battle Magic below +1 spell level.
    • Now this is a significant limitation. It cuts an Arcanist off from a lot of the usual Eclipse ways of powering up their spells – but, to be fair, those methods don’t exist in Pathfinder, so that’s fair enough.

There are other ways of course; an Arcanist gets a base of 225 levels of spells per day at level twenty. To build that progression we’ll want to buy:

  • 90d4 generic spell levels as Mana, Corrupted/only usable for arcane spells, must be broken up into a regular spell progression (never offering more spells of any higher level than of any lower level) – although turning it into a progression does allow attribute based bonus spells (180 CP).
  • 20 Base Caster Levels, Specialized/only for the generic spell levels purchased above (60 CP).
  • 34 Spontaneous Spell Formula. That would normally cost 68 CP, but we want to be able to change them – which calls for thirty-four instances of Enthusiast, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (2 points per instance, all points can be reassigned with a mere hour of study)/ Only for Spontaneous Spell Formula, never offering more spells of any higher level than of any lower level, arcane spells only, spells must be renewed every day – a net cost of 102 CP.
  • Spontaneous use of Read Magic (2 CP). Actually I’m not quite sure whether or not Read Magic counts against an Arcanist’s available formula slots, but I’m going to assume that it doesn’t.
  • Buying Attribute Based Bonus Spells for a custom progression was never addressed directly – but it’s simple enough; buy Immunity/the need to apply the Magician ability to Rune Magic only (Common, Minor, Epic, Corrupted/only applies to a single spell progression, 12 CP) and then the Rune Magic Magician ability (6 CP).
  • Getting unlimited Pathfinder-style use of a selection of Cantrips calls for Shaping, at the usual six-point cost (6 CP).

That gives this progression a base cost of 368 CP at level twenty or 18.4 CP per level – just over what a Sorcerer pays (or the same with rounding). Of course, those extra 8 CP buy you the ability to make minor tweaks in the progression to suit yourself and avoids one of the major restrictions of doing it the quick-and-simple way.

Is doing it either way especially unbalancing?

I’d say no. There are plenty of ways to work freeform magic in Eclipse; allowing a Sorcerer-type to vary their spell list in exchange for a few fewer spells really isn’t that big a deal.

Eclipse and Mythic Ascension, Part II – A Progressive Interlude

English: The Hill o' Hirdie From the car park,...

On Secondary Paths

As always when I put up some new wrinkle in how to use Eclipse to build exotic character types, our players and game masters had a few notions of their own on how to use the “secondary progression” mechanic. In this case, Spellweaver81 had the most suggestions, so this is more or less a collaborative article with him.

For example a setting could feature…

Goal or Alignment-Based Supernatural Progressions. In this setting major magical powers can only be purchased in secondary progressions. Thus…

  • A Paladin would have a primary progression as a Knight and a secondary progression of holy powers based on their story, their undertaking of holy quests and deeds, and on how well they live up to being a true force of law and good. Major alignment infractions, or giving up on holy quests and such, might result in negative (secondary) levels – possibly eventually driving the character into a mirror-image unholy powers progression. A truly major break – the equivalent of “falling to the dark side” might instantly convert a bunch of secondary levels to their negative equivalents.
  • A Priest might have a primary progression as an influential scholar and leader, with the same general sort of secondary progression (albeit likely focused more on “miracles” than on combat powers) and the same general sort of “anti-progression”. Mages, on the other hand, might be scholars, alchemists, engineers, and tricksters, with a secondary progression based on their discovery of strange secrets and cryptic lore. For them… negative levels might accumulate from shamanistic practices, chaotic behavior (such as breaking their word), dealing with dangerous entities, and destroying knowledge – which would be at the risk of ever-increasingly turning to dangerously chaotic supernatural pacts and such for terrible powers that violate the order of the world and break down it’s structure.
  • A secondary focus on technology and invention, working to expand and advance civilization, might be mirrored by one focused on they mystical control and promotion of beasts, weather, and other natural forces – accumulating technological power through innovation, constructing or promoting cities and facilities, discovering the secrets of mysterious devices, and spreading civilization. Negative levels might accumulate from destroying such things, promoting the values of tradition, spreading the wilderness, creating parks and nature preserves, preserving older – and presumably “better” – techniques, and so on.

Are any of these progressions and “antiprogressions” (save, presumably, for “good” and “evil”) inherently bad?

Well, not really. In an overly-structured world, Chaos has it’s place – and may well need to be promoted a bit. It’s hard for an individual to focus on both nature and technology (or any other two things at once), but both definitely have their points unless you just don’t like sapient life.

In such a setting greater magical powers are rare and wonderful things, magic items are scarce to nonexistent, only adventurers can deal with many monsters, and so on. Personally, I’d allow the use of a small number of Charms for everybody (perhaps Con/3) and (Chr/6) and Talismans for high-status types and Adventurers. Relics would probably be allowable as under the Literary Magic Items series – and “normal magic items” could be pretty much eliminated entirely. That way spellcasters will be greatly reduced in importance, allowing more mundane characters a rare chance to shine.

Political Progressions. For those who want a game filled with intrigue, domain building, and large-scale maneuvering, secondary progressions might focus on connections, influence, building castles, social influence, gathering non-adventuring followers, and similar activities without draining excessive amounts of points from the characters progression in more common paths. Benefits will accrue from successful intrigues, undermining rivals, building settlements, making alliances, and winning wars. Negative levels might accumulate from royal disfavor, backing the losing side in some intrigue or political maneuvering, losing wars, and failed power-plays, Get too many negative political levels… and you’ll be starting in on an “outlaw” or “rebel” progression instead.

  • A Noble Progression would be focused on influence, domain-building, and rulership, while its opposing Rebel progression would be focused on tearing such things down. A Warlord progression would be focused on building a mighty army and maintaining iron control of a land – while the opposing Horde progression would focus on building a devastating (if almost impossible to control) barbarian horde and reducing civilized lands to desolate wastelands and uninhabited wildernesses. A progression devoted to espionage and diplomacy might be mirrored by a focus on treachery, cultish devotees, and assassination.

Since secondary progressions will be limited to the player characters and major NPC’s, this means that there are some people who are simply natural leaders, nobles, or rebels who will readily rise to leadership, while others (who take points out of their normal progression to pay for such things) will struggle to achieve half as much – and many other (NPC’s) who will focus the levels they gain on other things – possibly achieving great personal power, but never rising to rulership.

Racial Progressions are a bit of a jump back to basic Dungeons and Dragons and races-as-classes. Their advancement would be dependent on participating in appropriate racial cultural events and rituals, supporting and advancing the race, and doing whatever-it-is that a particular race “does”. Thus…

  • An Ironclad character might have a progression for upgrading their body/chassis – with it’s development dependent on quests and research to find mystical raw materials, understand their own structure, locate craftsmen and mystics with the necessary skills and persuading them to help out, and so on. An Ironclad who utterly neglects such things will take negative levels in their “body” progression – and so might find that their basic systems will begin breaking down.
  • A Human progression might well focus on leadership, organization, and social status – the things that humans tend to define as “success” (which would also neatly explain why so many d20 countries are basically run by humans). A human who neglects such things will take negative levels in the human racial progression, and will soon find themselves considered eccentric, then socially isolated, then outcast, and finally outlawed.
  • An Elven progression would depend on the nature of the local elves. Such a progression might focus on environmental awareness and harmony, wilderness skills, and shamanic skills, or on fey magics and illusions, or on almost anything else – but it will pretty much define the nature of elves and what makes them unique in the setting.

“Multiclass” Progressions again reach back towards first edition – but allow characters like the Gray Mouser, who’s primary progression is more-or-less roguelike, but who dabbles in magic with wildly varying levels of success throughout his career. Standard character builds have a hard time who representing a character who’s good at fighting, sneaking, and stealing and gets better at those things – but who possesses minor magical powers that are sometimes quite effective, and at other times quite negligible. After all, since those secondary powers are not a characters major focus, they can increase and decrease with story events without either overpowering or crippling the character.

  • I’m not going to be providing examples here; most d20 players are familiar with a LOT of classes that might be suitable as a secondary progression for the right character.

And now that the digression is over with, next time around it’s back to the general “Mystic” framework.