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?