Precepts of the Eclipse; Tinkering with Magic Items

Have you ever considered rules for tinkering with magic items? They are technology of a sort and yet tinkering does not appear anywhere in the core rules of any edition I have read. Upgrading, yes, but minor improvements and changes, no.

-Derek

The idea is straightforward enough; you have a gun. You can add a laser sight, a custom grip, rechamber it to use more powerful ammunition, load it with special types of ammunition, add an extended clip, put in a biometric safety, and so on, It certainly seems like it would be reasonable to be able to do the same basic thing with that Wand of Fireballs – adding charges, raising the Save DC, extending the range or area, increasing the damage, changing the color, and adding special effects – but it would take a near-complete rewrite of the magic item system to make it happen directly; the basic d20 magic system is just too crude to support it.

There are a few existing rules that might apply:

  • According to the SRD the cost of upgrading an item is (New Cost – Current Cost) and how long it takes is apparently based on the net cost – which technically means you can “upgrade” a scroll containing Nondetection and Phantom Steed into a first level Wand of Sleep at no cost except for the minimum time requirement of one day. I generally recommend against allowing this sort of thing – but people who want to “upgrade” a Lesser Orb Of Fire wand into a Lesser Orb Of Lightning wand do have a better case.
  • The Practical Enchanter includes the “Flourishes” rule (on page 107) – allowing magical items to be given minor magical tweaks when they’re created – but that isn’t quite what you mean. Lightrods (under Glowstone Alchemy items on this site) let the user change the energy type that they project by swapping out their alchemically-prepared focusing gems at minor expense, which suggests some possibilities.

Unfortunately, the real problem with adding minor functions is that d20 generally doesn’t actually address minor functions; everything is rated in terms of game-mechanical quantum steps. A masterwork embroidery needle gives you +2 on Craft (Embroidery) for 50 GP. Things like “this needle is always easy to thread, never snags, and never pricks your finger” are simply too minor for the game system to represent. If they come up at all they’re presumed to be a part of the bonus – just like magic armor that fits anyone who puts it on. Just as importantly, there’s really no place in the game system for an improvement between “+1″ and “+2″ on an item that adds to your armor class; sure, you could start giving bonuses against particular types of attacks – but that takes us well into “bookkeeping nightmare” territory.

So lets look at the possibilities:

  • You can squeeze in fractional improvements in a few places. A weapon could conceivably go from +1 to “+1 to attacks and +2 damage” OR to “+2 to attacks and +1 damage” en route from “+1″ to “+2″, and it might be possible to go from “not flaming” to “+1d6 Flame” in incremental steps – perhaps a d2 and a d4. If the game master feels like putting up with this, each step costs (New Full Value Price – Original Price) / number of steps GP – and you’ll wind up with things like a “Cloak of Protection +2, +3 Reflex”. Sadly, the extra bookkeeping will – once again – be nightmarish and you’ll wind up with you players wanting to know if a sword +5 to attacks +1 to damage is priced as a +3 sword or is it 4x(Price of a +5 Sword – Price of a +1 Sword)/8? And what does it count as when you’re stacking special functions?

I don’t recommend this approach. D20 has enough formulas and calculations already. Unfortunately, that pretty much eliminates the “gradual, minor, improvements” approach.

  • You might get a secret compartment or something built in, but there are distinct limits to how many little mechanical gizmos you’re going to have any real use for – and quite a lot of people will find it more than a little absurd to go to the local smith to install a secret compartment in the hilt of their legendary sword or to have the hilt rebound with sharkskin to help prevent disarming.

Sure, in some cases this is possible – but it’s not magical and it lacks style.

  • You can take the “King of Bling” approach. That’s already been pioneered for you in the Magic Item Compendium with Armor and Shield Crystals. Just rule that each of your magic items can mount a gem or crystal with some minor auxiliary function.

Of course that leaves you inventing lists of trivial items, trying to balance them, and at least doubling up on the item bookkeeping. Not ideal.

  • You can take the “Fixed price add-on functions” approach – the standard “it costs this much to add this feature” – but this is going to leave you (once again) compiling a price list for trivia. If you want to take this route, it’s probably best to simply set a fixed price; perhaps 25 GP to add a specific, prestidigitation, effect, 100 GP for a second, and 500 GP for a third (the maximum). Perhaps your magical gloves change color to go with any outfit or your Headband of +2 Intelligence also always keeps your hair clean and neatly combed.

That’s workable, but still adds substantially to the bookkeeping.

Ideally, what we want is something that the PLAYERS can keep track of, that can be accounted for quickly, that won’t be a part of the treasure values to throw things off or be annoying for the GM to generate, that lets each player give a personal flourish to his or her character, and which will have an occasional, but rare, game effects.

Ergo, lets create Precepts.

Precepts: In a world of magic every peasant knows a bit of it. Adventurers often ignore such lore, but they don’t have to; if they care to bother each character can focus a bit of the magical power that surrounds them into manifestation. They may give three mundane items, and any permanent magic items that they possess, an additional minor function each. They may attempt to convince the game master to allow them to claim a +2 circumstance bonus for relevant noncombat checks, but he is not required to allow it.

For example, your boots might always keep your feet dry and warm, allow you to perform fancy hacky sack tricks, conceal a dagger in the sole, make your tracks look like those of some other creature, or help you tap dance. If you want your Eternal Wand of Burning Hands to instantly heat your teakettle, or to leave glowing lines in the air for a few minutes when you wave it, or to act like a cigarette lighter, or to smoke like a smoldering stick of incense, that will work too.

There are, of course, Greater Precepts. A character who takes Craft (Precepts) may devote ranks from his or her effective skill rating to tinkering with his or her magic items in a more substantial fashion, leaving those skill ranks committed to the item to keep his or her changes active. No more than three ranks may be reassigned in a day of work.

What can you do this way? That is, of course, up to the game master – but for an example, if you REALLY want to improve that Wand of Fireballs… go ahead. Add +2d6 Damage (2), +2 to the Save DC (3), make it more efficient (every fourth charge use does not count, 1), and make the fireball look like a giant floating skull filled with green fire (1), and let it perform cantrip-level tricks with fire at no cost (2), and there you go. In three days of work you’ve thoroughly pimped out your wand – presuming that you had at least nine unassigned ranks in Craft (Precepts) to devote to it. Of course if you had +12… you would only have committed nine of them to the wand and you could take another day and upgrade something else with the remaining three ranks.

That way the players get to propose things, and all you have to do is glance down their list and assign costs. Since each magic item and character is different, and such tinkering is intensely personal, it doesn’t matter if you’re not entirely consistent about it…

And you can give your villains some niftily-upgraded gear without having to worry about the player characters snatching it.

Any sufficiently analyzed magic is indistinguishable from SCIENCE!

-Agatha Heterodyne, Girl Genius

Eclipse Pathfinder – An Arcane Rogue

I’m playing a rogue/sorcerer going the arcane trickster rogue in pathfinder. I’ve agreed with the GM to keep his rogue abilities hidden. Which is problematic if I use only the pathfinder stuff as sooner or later people will start wondering why I am lacking in magical abilities. So I’ve been thinking how to get more oomph into the build. My character is level 3, so to see what I have to work with, I created a naive rogue 3/sorcerer 3 build. This showed that there isn’t much overlap between both classes, so I can’t add much stuff to a full sorcerer. Even if I sacrifice BAB and saves in the beginning to buy abilities which save me CPs in the long run (like the suggestions you pointed out in the sorcerer eclipse build). I’ve been thinking of splitting up slots and caster level to free up some points, but I’ve been wondering if I’m too conservative. Do you have some suggestions regarding a rogue who can fool others (including players) into being nothing more than a run-of-the-mill sorcerer?

-Verequus

Well, emulating the abilities of a low-level Sorcerer isn’t all that hard; spell progressions are (quite intentionally) overpriced at low levels and underpriced at high levels for what they do. Unfortunately, the players will know that something’s up as soon as you do an unreasonable amount of damage via sneak attack or pull off some other non-sorcerous trick. It’s going to be pretty hard to avoid that (I’d suggest an agreed-on list with the GM, which may let you use Sneak Attack and a few other abilities for some time without it becoming obvious around the table). You also haven’t specified a race, bloodline or attribute generation, so I’ll go with Arcane Bloodline (most of that should be easy enough to emulate) and leave attributes out of things for the moment. .

So for a possible build…

Pathfinder Package Deal (Free)

Available Character Points: 96 (L3 Base) +10 (Disadvantages) +6 (Duties) +6 (Pathfinder Bonus Traits) +12 (L1 and L3 Bonus Feats) = 130 CP.

Basic Purchases (41 CP):

  • Warcraft (BAB): +1 BAB (6 CP), +1 Specialized and Corrupted in a particular weapon (2 CP) (to allow for a martial art later on).
  • Hit Points / Dice: 3d8 HD (12 CP)
  • Proficient with: Rogue Weapons (6 CP).
  • Save Bonuses: (Yes, these are low; he or she will have to rely on Luck for the moment)
    • Fortitude: +1 (3 CP)
    • Reflex: +1 (3 CP)
    • Will: +1 (3 CP)
  • Skill Points: 12 (Purchased, 6 CP after Fast Learner). (Remember that as an Eclipse build you get (Int Mod x 4) free skill points at level one, for a current total of (Int Mod x 6). A high intelligence will be much to this character’s advantage).

For the “Sorcery” take…

  • Three Wizard Spellcasting Levels purchased with no Components Restriction (allowing the use of armor and negating the need for minor material components), Intelligence Based, Spontaneous Caster Variant, Specialized/does not provide spell slots; only access to bonus slots and spell formula. (24 CP)
  • +2d6 Mana taken as Generic Spell Levels (10), Corrupted/only for use with Wizard Spellcasting Levels (8 CP)
  • Shaping, Specialized for Increased Effect (only works for the characters limited list of level zero Wizard spells), Corrupted/must be free to gesture and speak (4 CP).

This spellcasting build has several advantages over a standard Sorcerer; it offers access to more spells (helping to emulate the Arcane bloodline) one level earlier – and the flexibility of spell points rather than spell slots. It will also reduce this builds multiple attribute dependency. On the other hand, a Sorcerer will outpower it at high levels by simply having more spell levels to throw around. There’s always a price.

Personally, I’d recommend a few cantrips in particular: Detect Magic, Prestidigitation, Least Skill Mastery (provides a +1 Competence Bonus on a skill check made within the next minute), and The Mystic Touch (cast as a part of a skill check this makes the check appear magical and lets it be done at a range of one foot).

Other Abilities (51 CP):

  • Fast Learner, Specialized in Skills for +2 SP/Level (6 CP).
  • Adept x2 (12 CP). Between Fast Learner and a decent Intelligence this will let you keep eight skills maxed out even before buying skill points. I’d recommend that a Martial Art be one of them.
  • Luck with +2 Bonus Uses/Specialized in Saving Throws (4 CP)
  • Luck with +2 Bonus Uses/Specialized in Skill and Attribute Checks (4 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment: (6 CP/5000 GP effective value. All current spells Spell Level One x Caster Level One x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x.7 (If personal-only applies).
    • Dexterous Fingers: Reduces the time required to use a skill by three rounds. If this reduces it to zero time or “less”, it becomes a free action, although only one such action is permitted per round. If Dexterous Fingers is used on a continuous basis, it can reduce the time required for the long-term use of a skill by 75%. (Personal-Only, 1400 GP)
    • Tricksters Hand: The user may make a Disable Device or Sleight of Hand skill check at a range of 30 feet – although the DC is increased by five (2000 GP)
    • Force Shield: +4 Armor Bonus to AC, immune to Magic Missiles (Personal-Only, 1400 GP).
  • Companion (Woodpecker Familiar). Grants +2d6 Sneak Attack (6 CP). (This is also the last major low-level component of faking an Arcane Bloodline).
  • Professional (+ Level/2, rounded up to Perception and Disable Device), Specialized/only versus Traps (6 CP)
  • Fortune (Evasion) (6 CP).  (Takes no damage on a successful reflex save)
  • Awareness/Danger Sense +1 (1 CP). +1 versus traps.

That actually leaves 2 CP left over. Personally, I’d put it towards another 1d4 generic spell levels.

For equipment… I’d advise getting a Healing Belt (Magic Item Compendium, 750 GP). They’re just so handy at low levels.

This still leaves the character with no spare points to spend on the bonus feats and such that a Sorcerer would be expected to have – but it should cover all the basics for awhile.

Eclipse – Talismanic Mystics

This time it’s the answer to another question – and a fairly complex one.

A player for an Eclipse game wanted to have a shapeshifter character, but wanted to go about doing so in an unlimited manner rather than the per day mechanic of Shapeshift. They wanted to build a version that was based off of Path of the Dragon instead. The initial draft was the following

Shaping: Specialized (increased effect):Only for personal effects that can be described as “shapeshifting” most often based around a subset of the Transmutation school based effects, but may include such an effect as could be described as such, for example a version of “Mage Armor” that represents a touch physical carapace and looses the Force descriptor, still counting as a type ‘Armor’ bonus for play balance.

Corrupted (increased effect): These shapeshifting effects are limited by the user’s overall health and general well being which is modeled based on their wealth level. Only a certain number of effects are available at any one time which correlate with what Charms and Talismans the character at that wealth level could use, the character may change ConMod slots per an hour, may “lock” slots to speed up how fast the remaining slots can be changed, each slot so locked reduces the time required by 1 step [talismans count as 2 steps] hour, ten minutes, minute, full round, standard, move, swift, immediate, free (max Con Mod per turn) . Specific effects must be learned and practiced which takes time and could involved finding a model to imprint from, some extended training time, or incur costs with getting a set of components to enable the transformation. Effects are based off of spell equivalents, currently the user has up to 7 1st level effects, with up to 3 weak 2nd level effects.

Thoughts for this type of a control system and framework? The player may use the Mana:Spell Enhancement options to increase their level, or have some actual Charms and Talismans that temporarily allow higher level effects. The entire thing could also be expanded on with more Path of the Dragon abilities as well of course. Likewise is the initial specialization and the framework in the corruption enough to make this usable for other types of effects, such as a a limited Illusionist etc?

-WestB3

Unlimited-use Shapeshifting can be done in a number of ways. The first ways that come to mind include Innate Enchantment (as in this power package), through some of the later abilities in the Path of the Dragon, through converting a high-level spell slot to a permanent polymorph effect, through simply taking enough bonus uses on Shapeshifting so that it doesn’t matter, or (if the game master will allow it) taking an Immunity to the uses-per-day limitation on Shapeshifting.

Charms and Talismans can do a few things along those lines, but they really are very limited. Charms that emulate more powerful effects include Blessed Blades (which will be destroyed with a serious backlash against the wielder, if used against a target with more than six hit dice), Blessed Symbols (act like holy water three times per day), and Glittering Disks (cast a non-combat version of Hypnotism three times per day).

Most Charms have constant effects at the level of Cantrips or below. Charms can achieve results similar to a first level spell – but all of those that do are either very limited use or have serious drawbacks (See Arcanum Minimus in The Practical Enchanter) which serve to lower the effective level of the effect produced.

The most powerful Talismans include Blazetongues which give a weapon the Flaming property – but each minute of use does a point of constitution damage to the user, a Dao Sigil which can cause lost limbs and organs to regenerate – given months or years to work in, Helms of War, which can provide an instant of Heavy Fortification – but only hold 2d4 charges and regain only one per week, Shifter’s Cloaks, which let you shapeshift into a particular animal at the cost of one charge, 1d2 points of intelligence damage, and potentially being trapped as an animal since they only have 3d4 charges and it takes one to change back, Shimmermail (which emulates Mage Armor), and Martyr’s Blades which can only occur naturally when a hero sacrifices himself or herself in battle against the powers of darkness and which can take on “+2″ properties for about ten minutes – but only a few times a day and, each time, at the cost of 2d4 hit points from the user.

Yes, Rays of Hope are exceptional – but they’re more or less a promise-token from the celestial planes; the basic Talisman simply provides a small morale bonus for good creatures in the area – but occasionally, at the game master’s option, a higher power will provide some additional aid when one is invoked. They’re generally naturally-occurring only and only work 2d4 times before they vanish permanently.

Talismans can typically emulate first level effects persistently, or produce second level effects with severe drawbacks.

Basic Charms and Talismans really won’t support this kind of concept; they’re just too limited.

Fortunately, there is a way to step them up; you simply need an ongoing source of magical power to feed your Charms and Talismans. You can get that by going further up the Path of the Dragon – or by taking an appropriate innate enchantment.

Innate Enchantment (9 CP): Enhance Thematic Charms and Talismans – a level two effect which, if given the Unlimited Use and Use-Activated properties will increase the effects of the user’s in- theme Charms to continuous, personal, level one effects or to 7 or 12 (GMO) uses of externally-directed first level spell effects. The effects of the user’s in-theme Talismans are enhanced to continuous, personal, level two effects or to 7 or 12 (GMO) uses of externally-directed second level spell effects. As usual for Charms and Talismans, Arcanum Minimus (Q.V. The Practical Enchanter) modifiers may be applied to permit access to effects which would normally be one level beyond those limits – at a price. The Caster Level of enhanced Charms and Talismans is the level of the user or the casting level of the Enhance Charms and Talismans effect, whichever is less. Handily, the effects of enhanced personal Charms and Talismans can be turned off by simply turning off the extra power to them – or turned on again similarly.

The user will still need the ability to use Charms and Talismans in the first place – which will cost the usual 6 CP if they’re not normally used in the setting – but will have considerable versatility otherwise.

You’ll still have to make your Charms and Talismans normally (and may have some trouble since they’ll all be unique to you), and it will all cease to work if someone takes your little gizmos away – but within those constraints this can be a fairly effective package. Sadly, most methods of providing spell-level and caster-level boosts (Mana, Berserker, etc) won’t work since you’re using external tools to produce your effects – so this kind of package will never be able to compete with the abilities available to a high-level character – but it will work for building a village healer, partial shapeshifter, minor illusionist, or similar character. Such individuals simply have a natural knack that they can enhance with specialized Charms and Talismans.

Eclipse – d20 Modern Class Breakdowns

I noticed that you have done the Level-by-Level Base Class Breakdowns for fantasy classes. I’m wondering if you’ve done the same for some of the d20 modern/future classes? Thanks.

-Michael Fuller

 Well, that’s simple enough, at least to start with.

The first thing to note with the basic Modern Classes is to recognize that – in Eclipse – Talents and Feats are entirely interchangeable (even if a lot of the official Talents are a bit lame compared to the kind of Feats that fantasy d20 games allow. After all, d20 Modern tries to stay on the “action hero” end of the spectrum, as opposed to the “high fantasy superhero” end). That means that the only real variances in the per-level cost are the extras they get at first level and their BAB/Saves/Defense improvements – so we can construct a quick table of those costs at various levels and, with that, quickly construct a cost table for each of the basic Modern Classes.

BAB Saves Defense
Level Gd Int Pr 1xGd 2xGd 3xGd Pr Int Gd
1 6 0 0 3 6 9 0 6 18
2 6 6 6 3 6 9 6 6 6
3 6 6 0 6 3 0 0 0 0
4 6 6 6 0 0 0 0 6 6
5 6 0 0 3 6 9 0 0 0
6 6 6 6 6 3 0 0 0 6
7 6 6 0 3 6 9 0 6 0
8 6 6 6 0 0 0 6 0 6
9 6 0 0 6 3 0 0 0 0
10 6 6 6 3 6 9 0 0 0

For our cost tables I’ll give the cost of each level and then the total – with negative numbers meaning overspending and positive numbers indicating unspent character points. Of course, an Eclipse character will usually have a few Disadvantages, Adept to cut the cost of their favorite skills, and Fast Learner specialized in something or other.

The Charismatic Hero: (BAB: Pr, Saves; 2Gd, Def; Pr)

  • Each Level: d6 HD (2 CP), 6 SP (6 CP), +1 Feat/Talent (6 CP) = 14 CP
  • Level One: Proficient with All Simple Weapons (3 CP), Action Hero/Heroism with +3 Bonus AP/Level (12 CP), +18 SP (18 CP).
Level L1 L2 L3 L4 L5 L6 L7 L8 L9 L10
Cost 53 32 17 20 20 23 20 26 17 26
Balance -5 -13 -6 -2 +2 +3 +7 +5 +12 +10

Like most of the Modern Base Classes, the Charismatic Hero starts off front-loaded – although not by very much – and starts falling behind later on, where fantasy characters would be gaining increasingly potent special abilities. Talent Chains and Bonus Feats are handy – but when they’re restricted to non-magical effects they’re a lot less potent.

The Dedicated Hero: (BAB: Int, Saves; 2Gd, Def; Int)

  • Each Level: d6 HD (2 CP), 4 SP (4 CP), +1 Feat/Talent (6 CP) = 12 CP
  • Level One: Proficient with All Simple Weapons (3 CP), Action Hero/Heroism with +3 Bonus AP/Level (12 CP), +12 SP (12 CP).
Level L1 L2 L3 L4 L5 L6 L7 L8 L9 L10
Cost 51 30 21 24 18 21 30 18 15 24
Balance -3 -9 -6 -6 0 +3 -3 +3 +12 +12

The Charismatic Hero is a reasonably solid build – but in the absence of really robust social mechanics I think I’d rather invest in being a bardic type – or at least in Mystic Artist/Oratory or something.

The Smart Hero: (BAB: Pr, Saves; 1Gd, Def; Pr)

  • Each Level: d6 HD (2 CP), 8 SP (8 CP), +1 Feat/Talent (6 CP) = 16 CP
  • Level One: Proficient with All Simple Weapons (3 CP), Action Hero/Heroism with +3 Bonus AP/Level (12 CP), Fast Learner Specialized in Skills (6 CP), +24 SP (24 CP).
Level L1 L2 L3 L4 L5 L6 L7 L8 L9 L10
Cost 64 31 22 22 19 28 19 28 22 25
Balance -14 -19 -15 -11 -4 -6 +1 -1 +3 +4

The Smart Hero’s 32 SP at level one tips this class into “overspending” territory at lower levels – but if I wanted to make a similar Eclipse character I’d be looking at a couple of purchases of Adept, to improve my skill point economy. Of course, given my fondness for mages, I’d probably wind up investing a fair chunk of those bonus feats in picking up some abilities from the Truenamer rewrite or something similar.

Tough Hero (BAB; Int, Saves; 1Gd, Def: Int)

  • Each Level: d10 HD (6 CP), 2 SP (2 CP), +1 Feat/Talent (6 CP) = 14 CP
  • Level One: Proficient with All Simple Weapons (3 CP), +6 SP (6 CP), Action Hero/Heroism with +3 Bonus AP/Level (12 CP)
Level L1 L2 L3 L4 L5 L6 L7 L8 L9 L10
Cost 44 29 26 26 17 26 29 20 20 23
Balance 04 -1 -3 -5 +2 0 -5 -1 +3 +4

The Tough Hero is a light-duty tank. Unfortunately, in d20 Modern, with relatively high-power weapons around, being a tank is usually less than wise. When it comes to a gun battle, getting out of the way is usually more important than being tough.

Fast Hero: (BAB; Int, Saves; 1Gd, Def: Gd)

  • Each Level: d8 HD (4 CP), 4 SP (4 CP), +1 Feat/Talent (6 CP) = 14 CP
  • Level One: Proficient with All Simple Weapons (3 CP), +12 SP (12 CP), Action Hero/Heroism with +3 Bonus AP/Level (12 CP), Fast Learner Specialized in Defense (6 CP)
Level L1 L2 L3 L4 L5 L6 L7 L8 L9 L10
Cost 66 29 26 26 17 22 23 26 20 23
Balance -16 -19 -19 -19 -10 -6 -5 -5 +1 +4

The Fast Hero wouldn’t be nearly so overspent if it didn’t splurge on a triple dose of Defense at level one. Personally, I’d be more inclined to spend a few points on cheap, indirect, bonuses to my armor class (Augmented Bonus is a good choice) and wait a bit on dipping into Defense.

Strong Hero: (BAB; Gd, Saves; 1Gd, Def: Gd)

  • Each Level: d8 HD (4 CP), 2 SP (2 CP), +1 Feat/Talent (6 CP) = 12 CP
  • Level One: Proficient with all Simple Weapons (3 CP), +6 SP (6 CP), Action Hero/Heroism with +3 Bonus AP/Level (12 CP).
Level L1 L2 L3 L4 L5 L6 L7 L8 L9 L10
Cost 48 27 24 24 21 24 27 18 24 21
Balance 0 -3 -3 -3 0 0 -3 +3 +3 +6

The Strong Hero is basically a fighter with a few proficiencies and hit points pulled off and a big pile of bonus feats and Action Hero tacked on. In a lot of roles and builds a Strong Hero is pretty clearly superior to a basic fighter – if only because the class actually spends almost all it’s points.

Now all of these are pretty much the simplest and most direct builds. Thanks to the fact that all D20 Modern characters start out in one of the basic classes, and the fact that new talents for those classes have been relatively scarce, d20 Modern has evaded quite a bit of the power creep that the fantasy systems have undergone. That means that straightforward builds are perfectly viable in d20 Modern games.

One thing to note is that quite a few d20 Modern Talents – the defenses in particular – really do suck by generic fantasy standards. Thus, in the basic d20 Modern rules, a Tough Hero can spend three (four if you count the prerequisite) Talent selections – in total considered to be worth 18 (or 24) character points – getting DR 3/-. In Eclipse you can buy DR 3/- for 6 character points. Similarly, the Energy Resistance Talent Tree, or the Increased Speed Talent Tree, can be purchased much more cheaply in Eclipse, where superhuman abilities are more or less the norm.

Eclipse and Spirits II – Spirit Summons

For today it’s the rest of an answer to an old question – how to adapt a first edition metaspell (a spell that can be cast at various levels to produce a variety of effects) to current d20 games. The “Eclipse and Spirits” article was part one, and now it’s time to cover the specific effects.

Spirit Summons calls a deceased spirit to the prime material plane. The spirit is anchored there through a link with the casters personal life force, and so must return to it’s own realm shortly after the caster dies or releases it from its bond. Occasional exceptions do occur – but usually involve a spirit bonding with some other person. Otherwise, spirits may remain as long as they please. The spirits which can be called vary with the level the spell is cast at, as given below. Unlike most spells, this one can be cast at any desired level with various effects – but only by necromantic specialists; the user must integrate the basic spell formula with the study of his specialty to use the advanced forms.

Adapting Spirit Summons to current versions of d20 presents a dilemma. First Edition AD&D – with its completely arbitrary spell lists for various classes and specialists, and emphasis on the rarity of spells, and various other occult restrictions, had no problem with spells that offered permanent benefits – just as it had no problem with a fighter drinking from a magical pool and having their strength increase by two equally permanently. Current d20 games generally have far less room for this sort of thing; the stress has shifted from the party to individual characters – and thus “character balance” has become important. To maintain that balance any special character upgrade other than level advancement must come with a commensurate cost.

Since Spirit Summons is pretty obviously a Metaspell it has a known, fixed, cost – one feat or six character points. To figure out whether or not this works, lets look at what it does…

L1: Guardian. Guardian spirits are usually those of ancestors and friends. Already possessing a close tie with the caster and wanting to come, these spirits are easy to summon. Guardian spirits are quite immaterial, command minor psychic powers – and are only visible to their summoner. The character may have up to (Chr / 3) guardian spirits. On the other hand, they can be very annoying, since they WILL harass you, make small requests, and offer unwanted advice.

Guardian Spirits are simply Spirits with an existing interest in you and your well-being. That connection with you makes them easy to reach, to link with, and to anchor to the material world. They usually use the Spirit Template straight, although they (like any spirit) may have invested a few more points in Witchcraft. In other words… this gets you a small squad of (exotic) NPC Aides.

L2: Mentor. Mentors are spirits with similar interests and skills, who want to continue their studies and/or pass on their lore. On the other hand, they have been known to pose bizarre tests, and often have obscure goals of their own. Still, a “mentor” can be excellent teacher and trainer. You only get one mentor.

Mentor Spirits use the basic spirit template (although they very often know a little more witchcraft since they’re usually higher level), but happen to be extremely interested in same topics that you are and are already quite knowledgeable and willing to act as a teacher. That (very literal) sympathetic link lets you contact them – but you only get one because trying to follow that kind of again will just lead you back to the most suitable candidate; the mentor you already have.

In current edition terms, this kind of Mentor is simply an NPC aide.

L3: Lesser Spirit. These are minor spirits which can possess small animals, act as scouts, or animate a dead body. While they have very little power, they can make good servants. A necromancer can keep up to Chr/2 lesser spirits hanging around. Lesser spirits are just those who don’t want to lose touch with the world.

“Lesser” spirits are generally spirits of simple, brute, urges – fading remnants of more sophisticated spirits, or the residuum shed by spirits moving on. They can be drawn in by sympathy with the caster’s own base, material, urges since physicality is one of the things that they value most. Lesser spirits can control animals of up to “small” size, animate corpses of up to medium size, and bring back simple reports about the area nearby.

In current edition terms… “lesser spirits” are spirits with very simple urges and a couple of specialized witchcraft talents to indulge them with – Possession (small animals only, but cheaper to use) and Hand of Shadows (Only to “animate bodies”, but cheap).

L4: Mediumism: This allows the caster to hold a classic seance – calling up a specific spirit who hasn’t any interest in him. This usually requires expending some PSP, especially if the spirit actively doesn’t want to come or wants to refuse to talk or answer. A personal relic or possession helps, acting as a PSP focus.

Mediumism is pretty classic; you use an indirect link – a personal possession or an individual with a link to a spirit – to contact it. Of course the spirit you reach may or may not be cooperative.

So… in current edition terms you can get in touch with an NPC, and even demand their attention – although they’re quite free to resist, be rude, lie, or even ignore or attack you. If you happen to have the proper psychic powers you can try to force them to answer you. The only exotic element here is opening a link to them because they happen to be dead.

L5: General Spirits. While these are given a more “solid” form then lesser spirits, these are basically just people – servants, men-at-arms, and so forth. While they can’t really be slain, they can be disrupted, and will take several days to recover from that. A single necromancer can maintain up to (Chr/3) such “servants” in his employ. General spirits must be called as known individuals, using some relic of their physical lives.

At this point your arcane power is sufficient to embody spirits who don’t need bodies with much of any power-handling capacity, shaping shells for them out of raw ectoplasm. Thus if you liked cake, and had Bob the Baker’s old cap, you could summon up Bob the Baker to make cakes for you. Theoretically you could summon a powerful mage if you had a relic of them – but if they tried to use any of their powerful magic, they’d just blast themselves back to the outer planes – so there’s no point. If all you want to do is talk, and you have a link handy, you can just use Mediumism.

In current edition – or at least Eclipse – terms… you have some ordinary followers who happen to have Returning (they come back as long as you’re around to call them), and so can be hauled along on adventures readily. If your cook gets “killed”… well, he, she, or it will be back to make those tasty meals again in a couple of days.

L6: Spirit Sage. Spirit Sages are simply experts in a field chosen by the caster. Essentially, he is now powerful enough to call up someone with a specific set of skills and knowledge without any other link. This can be very useful in getting advice and such, but the lack of a link means that “sages” always leave in very short order after the consultation.

Spirit Sages take a lot of skill and power to contact because the caster is using a very tenuous link indeed – his or her interest in some problem or piece of information that the “spirit sage” happens to have a good knowledge of. Of course, once you get that information your interest fades – and so does the link, dismissing the Spirit Sage.

In current edition terms… this is more or less “I burn a sixth level spell slot to consult with a knowledgeable NPC”, which seems reasonable enough.

L7: Greater Spirits: “Greater” Spirits are specific individuals, and often powerful ones. They can be give physical bodies to act through, or can go forth on their own as potent wraiths. They will commonly want something in exchange for their services. The necromancer can maintain up to (Chr/6) greater spirits in his employ.

“Greater” Spirits are contacted using nothing more than their name for a link. They’re usually known as “Greater” spirits because no one bothers to use seventh level magic to contact the spirit of Bob the Generic Innkeeper. It’s always the spirit of a deceased emperor or something. Such spirits often have considerably greater powers of “witchcraft” than the spirits of ordinary folk, and so can be quite dangerous if displeased.

In current edition terms, these are higher-level spirits with a specialized version of the “Apparition” witchcraft power (likely among others) – allowing them to take physical form, and thus to use their skills and combat abilities as well as Witchcraft.

L8: Channeling: This application allows the caster to tap the power of a spirit and channel it through himself. It’s wise to contact and bargain with the spirit first.

Classically this is used for things like allowing the murdered king to strike back at his killer, to let a long-dead mage cast some powerful spell, or to temporarily use some power you don’t have by calling on a spirit that does have it.

In current edition terms… you’re basically getting in touch with a spirit and allowing it to partially possess you. And yes, that can be a very bad thing if it doesn’t like you much. Still the Possession ability (Advanced Witchcraft) is pretty common amongst more powerful spirits, and no one bothers with this with Bob the Generic (Whatever) unless (perhaps) it’s a role-playing bit where you use your mighty powers to let Bob make contact with his sad grandchild or some such – and for that you don’t need much power.

L9: Possession: The pinnacle of spirit summoning lets the caster summon up a spirit and place it in a truly living body. Note that damned spirits are extremely trustworthy. The necromancer’s link with them is all that’s keeping them out of hell.

In current edition terms… “hell” isn’t an especially onerous fate for dark spirits; it’s really just an obnoxious pyramid scheme. What you’re really doing here is getting some reasonably loyal spirit-minions with the “Possession” power specialized for long-term use.

Overall, in current edition terms, this metaspell includes getting a lot of spirit-minions and either two spells – “Contact Spirit” and “Channel Spirit” – or some ritualistic talents. As a metaspell it costs 6 CP or one Feat. Can we do something comparable another way?

As it turns out, we certainly can. Take Leadership, with the Exotic Modifier (Spirits), Specialized / relies on the user’s ability to cast higher-level spells, spirit followers only, followers can be temporarily banished in various ways and must thereafter be resummoned, followers are individualized NPC’s and are not always all that cooperative (3 CP) and either two spell formula (Contact Spirit and Channel Spirit, 2 CP for those who prepare spells, 4 CP for spontaneous casters) or Ritual Magic, Specialized and Corrupted for increased effect (can be fast)/spiritualist rituals only, rituals require burning spell slots for power (3 CP). Now, Leadership would require you to be of a slightly higher level at first, but this version calls for a high level of magical power to get the really useful followers – which seems more than fair.

Depending on whether or not you’re a spontaneous caster, and just how you buy it, that package costs 5, 6, or 7 CP – which is certainly comparable to the 6 CP cost of a Metaspell. Ergo, the price is fair enough presuming that the game master is allowing characters to take Leadership. If not… then Spirit Summoning should probably be on the forbidden list as well, since it does almost exactly the same thing.

The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice CLII – Digressions and Diversions

Back in Aden, the Kickaha had mostly settled down – patrolling the wilds, staffing the more physical attractions, and rearing their packs. The bad news was that some of them wanted a little more excitement. They were itching for Charles to open up the gates to space! Once they could go to untamed worlds, the universe would be open to them!

Charles HAD been letting them set up as colonization guides and go out to map out the new worlds – but the restless ones wanted to explore beyond those worlds… to cross into the Wyld zones and from there, to the wider universe, to explore, adventure, and hunt down the nastier evils! And they didn’t really have the means to do so without spaceships and Wyld drives.

(Charles, with vast hypocrisy) “Uhm… Not until you’re older!”

(Anaki, a young brawler) “But you’re what, fourteen? You have a babysitter, for gods’ sakes! But you’re jumping all over the place!”

(Charles) “Er… But I have lots of backup along!”

(Anaki) “Well, yeah, but how often are we going to run into the kinds of things you take on? I’ll be fine if I have a way to get back to Aden!”

(Charles, who was feeling rather stuck) “But… but a lot of you have kids and need to look after them!”

(Anaki) “Even if I fall, my pack will watch over my kids… and I’ve got to do SOMETHING more with your gifts! No offense, but surveying and being a tour guide is getting boring!”

(Charles) “Well, as soon as the colonization gates open you can help people colonize and deal with those problems!”

(Aniki, who could see the obvious, sighing) “…if you’re that worried about our safety, couldn’t you just build a lot of cool gadgets to keep us safe?”

(Charles) “Well… I suppose… Did you at least complete a few martial arts courses?”

(Aniki, realizing that Charles was just stalling) “Did I complete a few martial arts courses!?”

She showed off her Solar Hero Style training.

(Charles) “Been practicing with some of the students over at the Citadel of Enlightenment?”

(Aniki) “Oh yeah… I wanted to be prepared!”

(Charles, yielding to the inevitable) “Well, that’s good! I guess I could make some artifacts! Armor and things anyway… At least for those of you who don’t have the enhanced link to the Dun and have it anyway!”

(Aniki) “Great! Thanks, Charles! We won’t let you down!”

Oh dear. He’d accidentally created a race of would-be interstellar heroes! Not that that was a BAD thing, but…

Charles put upgraded commando armor in the que, along with some specialty tools and even (sigh) some weapons for the few who really felt like they needed them.

As a stopgap… he checked to see how many of the would-be adventurers were willing to take on temporary roles as guardians; at the moment, what with the Arbiter of Games End acting up, he had a LOT of places that needed watching!

As long as it would put them her against evil – and allow her to use their training and powers to the utmost – Anaki was happy to try bodyguarding for a bit. Halekua, a boy in another pack, had trained in both the bodyguard oriented Falling Blossom Style and God Slayer Style (optimized for fighting spirits). Manesku was incredibly strong and perceptive and had been studying Lunar Hero Style.

And Frumasara stuck her nose in and told him – in no uncertain terms! – that if he was setting up bodyguards for all kinds of OTHER people and places, he should definitely get a few for HIMSELF!

Well… some personal bodyguards might not be a bad idea and (sigh) quite a few of the Kickaha were entirely willing – not ot mention all the other guardian-types he’d been creating to protect the tenders and vital areas of Yu-Shan. At least they all had multiple occurrences of the “only a unique special method will truly kill them” even if it had proven impossible to set up directly contradictory methods on the same individual… there was always SOME flaw (even over and above “wreck the supporting manse:). You could make it almost arbitrarily difficult though!

And there were enough now to deploy additional defenders for the the various Tender bunkers, the likely-vital sites that did not have fate disruptions in Yu-Shan, a few around the Jade Pleasure Dome and Perfect Lotus of Destiny (even if those were likely the most secure locations in the city… still, HE’D gotten through the defenses on the Jade Pleasure Dome without a lot of trouble, even if he HAD only wanted a communications link. Still, with all the gods and exalts around there, they were probably pretty secure. .

He set up some tests, with the various gear items as awards for completion/success, and some counseling (as in: “if you have kids it’s not fair not to raise them first”) to ensure that the ones who graduated were ready!

The program turned out to be fairly popular, even with the “if you fail a test you have to study some more before you can retake a variant of it”. There would still be a reasonable minority of Kickaha ready to go adventuring when the gates opened.

There were some begging for help of course – but extra training courses seemed like a suitable answer there! It wasn’t as if there was THAT big a rush!

The fey rescuees had mostly settled in as child-caretakers and such – apparently it had quite a few similarities with attending the fey – and even the established procedures were managing even the worst cases of naturally-low willpower. The “buying from the fey” program was going well – the Raksha were commonly trading for the Resplendent Butler’s Accouterments – and… there seemed to be a few beastman kids in the latest batch who were so comfortable as panther-people that they’d pretty obviously been that way either from birth or for a VERY long time!

Were they importing from off-earth just because the prices were good?

The Pantheroids from a Wyld zone a LOT closer to Tarvail than to Earth. They even had ribbons “of joy and delight” around their necks. They’d… made a deal with the Fey: they wanted to visit Aden, and the sellers had heard of it from a friend of a friend, and they didn’t really have anyone else to look after them other than the fey, and since Aden was known as a god of charity and kindness, well… From their attitudes… evidently Aden was the next best thing to their conception of Heaven.

Oh well! If they wanted to live in Aden, THAT was an easy set of desires to grant… They were pretty normal kids otherwise, so they got sent to the usual they’ll-be-kids-for-centuries-so-some-school-some-practical-apprenticeships-and-LOTS-of-play program.

And they were cute and Naturally Fuzzy! The Teddies proved to be VERY fond of them.

Meanwhile, Celestial Lion Zuangwo was investigating a reported deiphage attack. Normally that wouldn’t have drawn much notice in a neighborhood so bad – but the reports had indicated some high-end energy discharges and a lot of power involved for a scuffle in a back alley. Some sort of stasis effect, and lunar essence! Not a common combination!
It didn’t take him long to fly over – and the alleyway was choked with ice linked with some sort of stasis effect – with several lesser deiphages stuck in it!

(Zuangwo) “What the…?”

He cast around for witnesses and found a (sigh) over-excited god of Pekingese dogs who’d seen the whole thing. Unfortunately… he was very excited to be interviewed, if slightly nervous about the interview being conducted by a big cat!

(Zuangwo, giving an imposing glare to make sure he didn’t get jumped on. Sigh… Minor gods and their excitability!) “Right! (Montioning towards the scene with a paw) Now what’s all this then?”

(Ranappy) “It was a machine god or something! Maybe a god of gerrymandering or electronic vote fraud! Lots of power, even if he didn’t look too important! A small group of deiphages were lurking in a side-cubby there – must have come up from underground – but he froze them right out!”

(Zuangwo) “What did this god look like, other than a machine?”

(Ranappy) “Well, he had a swirling cloak and a big hat with a feather, and pirate boots and a scimitar – but underneath he was all metal! An electronic vote pirate I think!”

Zuangwo blinked… he didn’t recall any gods like that, but then there had been so many over the millennia! Crazy modern gods…

He turned to the area itself, to perform a more detailed Essence analysis.

(Ranappy) “Anyway, his cloak swirled around, and there was a terrible flash, and the deiphages got all frozen – and he just departed! Didn’t even wait for the reward! MUST be a god of something undercover!”

(Zuangwo, while analyzing) “You didn’t see where he went, did you?”

Huh… Lunar and… Exotic… and Wyld?!? A Reality Shaping stasis effect, but… no actual reality shaping cause evident. And the exotic was… something he’d never run across before! It felt… gigantic, and oddly human, with a touch of the wyld about it, and… prayer of some sort. Definitely reality twisting! Humph! Both artifact and living… with immense amounts of power backing it. And geomancy.

Unfortunately, the Sidereals had been keeping the Kaiju Manses a deep secret.

Some kind of god of geomancy? But why would a powerful god be hanging out in the empty quarters? Did “Gerrymandering” generate it’s OWN geomancy? And such power! And four lesser deiphages in stasis WITHOUT a shaping effect to do it.

He tried to get a sketch from the Pekingese god’s description to get a better idea of it’s form – but that turned out, annoyingly enough, to be mostly of it’s clothing. Still, that was something and would make it easier to spot the god! Wyld and Exotic Essence was not normal for gods!

Well, except for that one guy in the Forbidding Manse of Ivy, and nobody knew what the Wyld had warped him into except the division head.

And the essence level was reading as… 5.2? DECIMALS? Perhaps an average? That would mean that the god was… being possesses, or controlled. That was very troubling, even if it was going against deiphages! And by something with an unknown power signature, which was worse!

The trail… was short. Not a Teleport (thank the Incarnae), but down the alleyway, then… traces of a wyld energy charm of clothing alteration – and then lost in the flow of traffic. That was always a problem in Yu-Shan!

He filed a report and watched for further sightings – and called Charles; the kid was pretty knowledgeable about anything at all to do with geomancy and seemed to be involved with a good half of the weird stuff that was going on these days.

He had to settle for sending a messenger – Charles was hard to reach directly at the moment – but there were a few other things going on… A flying vehicle? creature? god? had collided with an aerial rickshaw (who’d thought that it had the right-of-way due to an arrogant god pilot); and there was some argument, and then suddenly… the accident had never happened, and there were only vague memories of it… which was a LOT of power to spend on a traffic offense! Especially when you were arguably in the right!

And the reported essence signature had been… Sidereal-Exotic-Wyld.

Argh! Not another! Yu-Shans security was really pretty permeable, but TWO in one day? With what seemed to be… the same type of exotic essence.

More reports came in from around the city over the next few days – but correlating the reports showed that they were mostly centered on… various attractions. Amusement parks, casinos, and other facilities – with nothing being stolen, but some VERY odd results. One casino in particular… the roulette wheel had landed on “green” then on “do not pass go” – neither of which were actually on it. Four players got simultaneous royal flushes, but were beaten out by seven incarnae. The bingo… had gotten VERY weird. The cards had gone non-euclidean, and had started transforming directly into prizes

That wasn’t even the right number of cards for Celestial Poker! And what happened with the bingo? Plentimon, God of Gambling, must be livid… What in Malfeas was going on?

Actually, he’d been annoyed at first, but then had decided that it was just making the gamble bigger.

Anyway… eventually the casino had had to call in a specialist and purge the whole casino of Wyld energies.

Hm. Business would be down for months now that rumors of THAT have gotten out. What a pain for the divine manager – and a pain for him and and his colleagues, too! Wyld energies were NOT supposed to be in Yu-Shan! ESPECIALLY when the source could apparently blend in well enough to move freely around Yu-Shan!

Worse… there were enough instances that it looked like at least two infiltrators, and perhaps three or more.

Zuangwo grumbled to himself… Blast. He might have to swallow his pride and get Tender help. Useful as the “treaty” Charles had brokered had been, it STILL didn’t sit well! They… just had too damned much in common!

After much additional investigating Zuangwo and the Tenders got close enough to spot King Ghidorah moving through a near-deserted quarter, apparently with no fear at all. He was fairly conspicuous, even with a trenchcoat and three hats. Even among gods, few had three heads!

When Zuangwo got there he found a most CURIOUS creature… shopping. It had a WEIRD power signature though – well concealed, but still Solar-Exotic-Wyld! It looked like it had been worth the trouble to bring in Fifty-Six Joy and Ninety-Seven Daffodil…

The Tenders were pretty puzzled anyway… That exotic aspect… it felt VERY human – but there was no such thing as a “human” aspect! Definitely a LOT of geomantic power there though! No human, or group of humans, should have power like THAT. Even Exalts were less diverse… most of the time. (The Lions weren’t so sure about Charles!)

Zuangwo had the lion dogs, scarab guardians, and (sigh…) deiphages in the area discreetly keep an eye on the thing – but kept the human forces out of it. For some reason the humans and Sidereals tended to get cross when they died, and this could be dangerous!

The thing seemed to have plenty of ambrosia – and was mostly shopping for ornaments and other trivia. A little interest in artifacts and such though.Mostly convenience stuff, some interest in armor and weapons (not that much), and some queries about Rings of the Wyld – a rather rare item!

Rings of the Wyld were from early in the first age, when the Raksha were more or less being seen as entertainment. They shielded a Raksha from the sun, allowed respiration in Creation, and allowed the use of some minor powers on a personal level – a bit like a low-grade personal wyld pocket. They were mostly used for entertainers and ambassadors at the time.

Harumph! That.. Wasn’t good,, although he’d heard that the Silver Faction Sidereals used those on fey associates sometimes… still very suspicious! Of course (sigh…) etiquette in Yu-Shan being what it was, he couldn’t do an arrest like the humans would see on COPS. He’d have to ask it to come with him down to the local station with him. If it resisted, and didn’t somehow manage to slip away… THEN he could pursue.

He quietly slipped up beside the thing…

(Zuangwo) “Well. Finding what you’re looking for?”

The lion dogs and scarabs covered the entrances, with orders to be discreet but cut off escape.

(“Khan” Ghidorah, “speaking” in a bizarre sound that somehow translated as) “Partially! If you’re one of the clerks, how much on this spun-emerald sash with the gold-and-ruby buttons?”

Now THAT was weird.

(Zuangwo) “Harumph… I am no clerk. I have some questions for you, if you wouldn’t mind joining me for a little while…”

(“Khan” Ghidorah, with an offended noise) “What, store security then? As if I, Khan Ghidora, would stoop to stealing something from a shop like this! Or are you just a nosy pest moonlighting a bit? “Very well! I present you with this award!””

Somehow – despite the lack of arms – it hung around his neck… a huge fluffy ribbon-bow tied to an incredibly gaudy and tasteless medal declaiming “1’st Place – Overzealousness!” in great big letters!

(Zuangwo, through gritted teeth) “Sir, please come with me…”

(“Khan” Ghidorah) “Harrrounnkkk!” – which came across as “And why?”

Argh! If he said “I suspect you’re a Wyld creature,” it would cause a panic!

(“Khan” Ghidorah) “Gronkkkk! / The shop owner is happy enough to take my money!”

(Zuangwo) “Your Essence signature is of interest to Heavenly authorities. My colleagues wish to look at it.”

(“Khan” Ghidorah) “Grwowwth! / “Very well then! If it is my essence signature that you find interesting, here is a sample!”

The creature – somehow – handed him a bottle full of… essence signature!?!?

While he was considering that, the creature cheerily attracted the nearest clerk, filled her pockets with ambrosia – and sprinkled her with a bit of… powdered essence signature, a sort of sparkling crystal sand – making HER essence-signature a duplicate of HIS!

(Zuangwo) “Whaaaaaa?!?!”

(“Khan” Ghidorah) “Hooonnnkkkkk! / Try out new brand of essence-makeup!”

Zuangwo groaned to himself…. other than the weird twists of fate, they hadn’t done anything truly malevolent. Just… annoying! At least the essence signature would be something. Though that might count as “disturbing gods” there!

At least if he hadn’t plentifully bribed her first.

(Zuangwo, with gritted teeth) “Thank you, sir. Is there a way I can contact you if I need further information?”

The three heads looked at him from all directions…

(“Khan” Ghidorah) “Hoooonnngggg! / Quickest? Grab nearest human, slip him a coin, have him pray to “Khan” Ghidorah! How else?”

(Zuangwo) “Of course, sir.”

Savvy creature! It knew how hard prayers were to trace! Although… that DID say either that he was lying or that he was better at hearing individual prayers than most gods were…

He was still considering the fact that he’d just been handed a sensory impression in physical form as “Khan” Ghidorah departed… It might be a suitable arcane link – but turning impressions into objects… was definitely dream-magic or wyld thaumaturg. It was usually a Raksha stunt! That was VERY worrying! Infiltrators in Yu-Shan, or at least somebody using potent Wyld magic at a fairly critical time! At least there was a possible link that the sorcerers might be able to use to track it!

Annoyingly… that was NOT easy, and it traced to… the deep wyld, earth (slightly more in Japan and America), elsewhere, and humans in general all at once. Still, it was SOMETHING to go on – and revealing – and worrying! – in it’s own way.

Still… while there were occasional strange reports… at the moment nothing outright horrible was happening, although Raksha imports – which were normally very rare – were up! It was mostly amusements and diversions – bottled dreams, candied euphoria, some gossamer stuff (mostly as novelties, although the Armor was popular; it was still protective even when it was constructed of pure narrative, and hence generally hard to even detect in Yu-Shan). Possibility-stones were popular too.

Was that just Charles again? Aden was a good source for that stuff.

Charles eventually did get back to him, even if it was by phone.

(Charles) “Hello there! What do you need?”

(Zuangwo) “Hello, Charles! I’ve got a case I need assistance with…”

He explained – but it was mostly “Huh” and Hmm” – until he mentioned “Khan Ghidorah” and his three heads and lack of arms – at which Charles was suddenly paying attention.

(Charles, suddenly sitting up straight) “Oh DEAR! Khan – “King” – Ghidorah? With a solar-exotic-wyld signature?… Er… (shows some scenes from movies) did it look like this? (and a near-perfect match)”

(Zuangwo) “Almost exactly!”

(Charles) “Oh dear! That’s not a god… That’s something that humans dreamed up!”

(Zuangwo) “Who would think of such a thing?”

(Charles) “Well… Entertainers actually! For a movie!”

Charles happily showed Zuangwo Godzilla versus “Monster X” (King Ghidorah) – which, incidently, showed it being summoned by shapeshifting beings who become strangely animalistic and then sort of calcified when killed – and who came from beyond “the dark side of jupiter” to attack a huge city….

(Zuangwo) “Incarnae! That’s not good!”

(Charles) “Yeah but… it never goes shopping in the movies! Just flies around blowing things up!”

(Zuangwo) “Hrmm… I’m sure it’s up to something. I’ll have to monitor it… Now how did it get out of the movie? That normally doesn’t happen unless somebody’s fooling around!”

(Charles) “Er… well… (sigh) It’s a manse built from dreams.”

(Zuangwo) “I knew it! Some kind of Wyld technique, no doubt…”

(Charles) “Well yes! You have to build it in the domain of the mind – but it’s sited on an IDEA rather than a fixed demesne – and ideas don’t really have “locations”, so it can move around!”

(Zuangwo) “Hrmm…”

He put two and two together; The lions all knew all about Demien’s Hearthstone. They’d been specifically guarding the place – albeit with nowhere near enough resources.

(Zuangwo) “Argh! If only we had enough resources to keep those blasted troublemakers out!”

(Charles) “Well, I can send some help – but they’re already here! And they’re… shopping and seeing the sights…”

(Zuangwo) “Nothing we can do but surveillance at this point… until they do something.”

He could barely grumbling about improper allocation of Celestial resources! No wonder so many of his colleagues had gone renegade!

Charles tried to avoid inducing panic – but he wound up having to explain that the Kaiju were manses, with crews of hundreds of Raksha and some Exalts and their own awakened god, etc, etc, etc.

(Zuangwo) “What can I expect out of these things?”

(Charles) “Er… well… anything you might expect from… several hundred Raksha, an Exalt or two, a Manse, and Artifacts. If King Ghidorah as “Solar” as a part of it’s signature, it’s probably got a Solar for a pilot!”

(Zuangwo) “That many raksha-and a Cauldron-Born pilot? That’s it! I’m advocating round-the-clock surveillance for these things!”

(Charles) “I hope that you’ll be able to find them!”

(Zuangwo) “One down, anyway… we’ll find the others, or I’m no lion!”

(Charles, somewhat plaintively) “But… what are they PLAYING at? Why are they just… amusing themselves? Are they waiting for something? They have free access to Yu-Shan already!”

(Zuangwo) “You don’t think they’re planning to mess with somebody else’s plans, are they?”

(Charles) “Urm… (And he looked a bit worried suddenly) maybe!”

(Zuangwo) “I mean, just blending in means you see a lot of things you wouldn’t get to if you went in Charms blazing. And with the time I had tracking that one down, the others will take at least as much time.”

(Charles) “Well… I’ve been worried that they could get in for quite a while now… It’s a relief in some ways to know that they are already here I suppose.”

(Zuangwo) “Nothing left to do but keep an eye on them!”

(Charles) “I suppose not!”

There were other things to deal with of course… Multipresence and transdimensional cell phones let such a lot of people pester you at once! Fortunately, he could now handle that…

(Charles) “Er… Hello?”

Maybe I should get a secretary?

(Mr. Montague) “Hello, Charles! There’s something you might be interested in over in the Lunargent Ecological Protectorate… the geomancy’s going crazy around this one Quintessence fountain. I’ve been asked to look at it and wanted to invite you along. Got time to look?”

(Charles) “Oh? Oh! OK!”

He’d have to send a remote – but at this point they were almost impossible to tell apart from HIM save that he couldn’t use anything but the most basic charms and thaumaturgy through them. Of course, that covered most of his usual activities anyway… Of course, given his current schedule – at least for those who knew what was going on – a remote was pretty much expected.

(Mr. Montague) “Great! I’ll give you the address and meet you there…”

That led remote-Charles to a cordoned-off Quintessence fountain in the local empty quarters. There were still indigent gods and divine servants receiving the daily handouts there, and guardian gods watching over it. But even from a fair distance he could see that the Quintessence was “burning” brightly. Mr. Montague was there outside the cordon, carrying some surveying tools. He was… rubbing his hands again.

Charles quietly checked on that as well as the fountain – and it looked like Mr. Montague was in quite a bit of pain! And a minor god was approaching him with a package…
Excess energy? The fountain was certainly pulling too much and what was affecting Mr Montague seemed like it might be an excess – or blocked – energy-flow problem. The fountain was, of course, very much like the local Essence – but moreso. Were the Sidereals linked to the old geomancy through the loom? Could this be a part of Yu-Shan’s “price”?

He tried to counter the pain for the moment anyway and looked for any actual damage… could it be purely sympathetic? Related to Yu-Shan’s depleted power reserves?

Meanwhile, Mr Montague had opened the package… which turned out to contain a necklace and a note. He read the note and took a divinatory look at the necklace.

The pain reduction did seem to be helping somewhat – and it was DEFINITELY linked with Yu-Shan’s pain and felt “alive” – even if there was only a bit of physical damage from the supercharging. Yet another reason to get on with the fixing! And… none of the NEW Sidereals were showing any symptoms…

Mr. Montague had put on the necklace with a quizzical look on his face, and had headed over to the fountain. He looked a little more worried now.

(Mr Montague) “You might want to stay back, Charles… something’s not right here.”

Charles was still busy analyzing… the Fountain seemed to be way overcharged… it was getting a LOT of interstellar prayer-input, and the other fountains weren’t spreading it around properly! The source of the damage seemed to be a lot of cracks in the fountain’s base that were constantly healing and sealing themselves as the energy flowed in and out. As for the energy… compared to the other fountains, this one was actually showing some signs of life, and a bit of sapience.

Mr. Montague’s analysis matched up – although he seemed rather distracted. Almost as if he was listening to something.

Charles made some special purpose automatons – rather like Folding Servants but set up to go do repairs on other fountains and powered by the energy-flows of Yu-Shan, rather than by personal essence.

(Mr Montague) “Can you put audio recorders on those?”

(Charles, with some surprise) “Sure! Why not?”

(Mr Montague) “Okay, good… are you really not hearing it?”

(Charles) “I’m afraid not! What does it sound like?”

(Mr Montague, leaning in to whisper) “It wants me to dive in!”

(Charles, thoughtfully) “Now THAT’S a little weird… it wants you to… join it? Become a secondary focus? Help feed power to the city? Power up the Loom?”

(Mr Montague) “It says that I need to unlock my full duties! The note said the necklace would keep me under control if I did dive in, but ordered me not to!”

(Charles) “Ah! That’s the city speaking… it wants you to fulfill a VERY old bargain, and it has gotten somewhat desperate!”

Mr Montague showed him the note – but all all traces of who had sent it had been expertly thaumaturgically removed, although it was written in Old Realm script.
Interestingly, the same script that had appeared in his cocoa. Roughly translated… “Put the necklace on if you wish to continue your life as is, and stay at least a foot away from that fountain. If you insist on fooling with the fountain, the necklace will keep you under control afterwards, but I make no guarantees for your future.”

(Charles) “Huh! Well… lets see what happens with the other fountains!”

He’d already finished up some 1200 fountain-repairing automatons. There were a LOT of fountains!

(Mr. Montague) “Right… I’ll keep tabs on those for you… while keeping my distance.”

Hmm… fixing more fountains to pick up interstellar prayer helped reduce the load on this one! And the stress on Mr. Montague too! (Although he WAS still staying at least a foot from the fountain).

(Mr Montague) “Er… Charles? How did you know what was going on and how to program artifact-servants to reproduce it? And do you have any idea why a thaumaturgic ward against deiphagy, turned INWARD, would have helped me out? Because that’s what’s on the necklace!”

(Charles, privately) “Well… you’re linked to Yu-Shan through your Exaltation which is linked to a thread in the loom which is linked to Yu-Shan! Yu-Shan desperately needs power – and that’s affecting you! With so much extra power so close at hand… the craving was becoming overwhelming I think! I suspect that if you exposed yourself to that much extra power the link would open fully and you’d start pouring it through into Yu-Shan – basically becoming an exalted counterpart to the Deiphages!”

(Mr Montague, privately and in a bit of denial) “But… I’m HUMAN! It shouldn’t work that way!”

(Charles, privately) “Why? You’re an Exalt, and so an active essence-wielder – and if you started being drained of motes all the time wouldn’t you be desperate to replace them?”

(Mr Montague, privately) “Well, yeah, but… what that means! I could go berserk and mess things up – and somebody other than you knows about this…”

(Charles, privately) “But you aren’t! – And after I get things fixed, the problem should go away!”

(Mr Montague, privately) “Thank the gods… I’m going to try to find who sent this note… if I can get the time.”

Hm… it sounded like he was going to keep the necklace on.

The other fountains flowed more freely – and this one powered down somewhat.

(Charles) “Much better now!”

The gods guarding the fountain were much relieved, – if bewildered by the speed at which Charles had done it. Though he’d taken the pressure off their backs-the Quintessence from that fountain was absolutely delicious…

(Charles) “It should be spreading out a bit! It will take the workers about twenty minutes per fountain though even after they reach them!”

And there were questions, and requests for instructions on making the fountain-fixing automatons, since that one fountain had been getting too much Essence.

Charles turned out another 1200 anyway; Yu-Shan had a LOT of fountains! And hopefully there would be no further eruptions of Essence like that, both for the city’s sake and for the Sidereals.

There’d been far more interstellar prayer-flux than he’d thought there was! It needed better distributing so that Yyu-Shan wouldn’t get unruly in her sleep…

(Mr Montague, privately) “Now then Charles… Having the fountain talking to me with no one else noticing was weird – and just HOW did you know exactly how to fix the issue? And what to program your automatons to do?”

(Charles, privately) “Oh… Well, when I was wandering around the deep passages, I ran across the substructure of a fountain and it wasn’t properly adjusted to pick up interstellar prayers – so I adjusted it for more efficiency! But with it being the only one there was a local overload!”

(Mr Montague, privately) “There’s a reason you don’t mess with the fountains, you know…”

(Charles, privately) “But it wasn’t working right!

(Mr Montague, privately) “Yeah, but look at what happened… at least you fixed it.”

(Charles, privately) “Well, that should make the quintessence a good deal more abundant!”

(Mr Montague, privately) “I don’t think anyone will complain too much, at least.”

(Charles, privately) “I hope not! It’s just maintenance really!”

Eclipse – Sample Races, Templates, and Characters

Here, at last, is an indexing update; all the Eclipse-Style Races, Templates, Power Packages, and Sample Characters on the blog.

If you’re building a character, the usual sequence will be Race – Template (if any) – Basic Build, so that’s how this is organized. If you’re looking for “how-to” information, next up is the level-by-level class breakdowns and the general power-package information and examples. After that, for inspiration, swiping power packages from, and use in other games, comes the sample higher-level characters.

Character Creation and System Primer

Sample Races:

Sample Templates:

Eclipse Pathfinder:

Eclipse handles Pathfinder just fine – so here are Eclipse breakdowns for Pathfinder –Basics and Races and the class breakdowns for the  Alchemist, Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Druid, FighterMonk, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, Sorcerer and Summoner. The sample characters are pretty much all compatible with Pathfinder; if they don’t already have the Pathfinder Package Deal from Basics and Races simply add +2 to an attribute and +3 to their skills.

Sample Level One Character Builds:

Level-by-Level Class Breakdowns:

General Build Information and Power Packages:

Sample High-Level Characters:

. . Note that these characters were generally built for particular campaigns, and so are sometimes built using campaign-specific variants – usually a price break on especially-relevant abilities. These are covered in the Campaign Sheets for the relevant campaigns – Federation-Apocalypse Campaign, Ironwinds Campaign, Atheria Campaign, Twilight Isles Campaign, and Darkweird Campaign.

Level Two Sample Characters:

Level Three Sample Characters:

Level Four Sample Characters:

Level Five Sample Characters:

Level Six Sample Characters:

Level Seven Sample Characters:

Level Eight Sample Characters:

Higher Level Sample Characters:

Level Ten and Twenty Breakdowns:

Christopher West has put up a fair number of Eclipse character designs over on his RPG Blog – so here are some links. His notions of how to build things tend to be very different from mine – and that’s a very good thing; original approaches and differing interpretations create interesting characters.

  • The Battle Sage (Basic Concept, Build, and an Adventure Log). I really like this one; I’ve always been rather partial to the notion of including a scholar in a group as something other than a primary spellcaster – and this character (a scholar so knowledgable that he can call forth a weapon designed to work against a particular opponent) works in that role very nicely.
  • The Planer Mage-Assassin: Some notions for a magical assassin specializing in destroying extra-planar beings. The things certainly make enough trouble to justify a small society of such people after all.
  • Building Warlocks in Eclipse: Basic Thoughts and Greygin the Render – a Warlock-style build using Spirit Weapon. Both definite contrasts with the way I was building a Warlock and (in Greygin’s case) an EXCEPTIONALLY nasty specialization.
  • The Jester: A basic layout for creating that old second-edition April-Fools favorite class.
  • Star Wars Eclipse – thoughts on converting the Saga Edition.
  • Dark Era Priests – a partial design for priests as a medieval player might have viewed them. Most suited for a low-magic world.
  • Burnt Meat – an (extremely) troubled young woman with flame powers.
  • The Anti-Magus. A few possible designs for a character who’s very presence negates magic – a powerful, but not-especially advantageous ability.
  • The Shifting Mind – a character who has the classic day/night split personality problem – although, in this case, the “monster” only comes out during the day…
  • The Healer: A dedicated healer – and an exceptionally good one.
  • The Dagger Master: A roguish specialist in Daggers in a second-edition style – back when daggers were faster, and got more attacks, than other weapons did.
  • The Arch Mage: A youthful mage who is being consumed by her own, terrible, powers.
  • The Blood-Fueled Mage: A notion for creating a mage who draws power from blood and slaughter. Sadly, I have some serious doubts about the first option on this one; a requirement for killing other creatures doesn’t really effectively substitute for a personal cost. Most of the others look good if you can get the speciality spells past your game master.
  • Creating A Monster: This one is a massively deadly barbarian-type, mostly revolving around using Augmented Bonus to get massive numbers of hit points. I’d – as usual – want a good explanation for why you got to add your strength modifier to your constitution modifier for calculating your hit points – but there are certainly more atrocious builds out there, even in standard d20.
  • The Elder Scrolls Hero: Here we have a generalist adventurer – some skills, some combat, and some magic – but not too much of anything.
  • A Healer’s Nightmare: A healer with a severe flaw – the life she grants must be taken from elsewhere…
  • Wasting Time with 3.5: More or less a short review of Eclipse (and why Mr West is enjoying it more than 3.5).
  • The Squirely Squire –  Here we have a classic young squire – a student who specializes (at least for the moment) in working as a part of a combat team, rather than as a solo warrior.
  • The Summoner Controller – A summoner who can seize control of other people’s summoned monsters, rather than taking the usual course of augmenting his own.
  • The Specialist Sniper –  RPG’s tend to be designed to make life difficult for snipers: yes they’re cool – but they’re only at their best in specialized situations and the players tend to really hate it when a sniper blows away a few of the more vulnerable PC’s at the start of a battle. Fortunately, in Eclipse, the easiest way to build a “sniper” is to simply make a more effective ranged combatant – and that’s no worse than any other specialist.
  • Hunter of Magus  Basically a witch-hunter who gains power from resisting spells.
  • The Apprentice – A spellcaster with a wide range of tricks – and the ability to cast spells spontaneously from his or her spellbook.
  • Spell Touched Mind –  A spellcaster with random access to magic, rather than control.
  • A Perfect Thief – Here we have an actual fantasy thief – someone who specializes in getting in, stealing stuff, and getting away again and uses enough magic of their own to counter magical defenses and help with emergency escapes.
  • An Eclipse Review: A quick review of Eclipse here. OK, it’s not a character build – but there’s no reason to get out of order with the Eclipse topics on the blog.
  • Saboteur – Destructor –  Here we have a blaster / trapsetter who is very good at blowing things up – starting with inanimate objects. Of course, such things are often in the way.
  • Desert Dancer Elementalist –  A character who persuades the elemental forces of the world to produce effects using the Rune Magic system. A nice idea and an excellent bit of background here.
  • The Fallen Mage –  A once-powerful spellcaster who has lost much of his or her power.
  • Dead Sight – A sort of a medium, who gains strength when creatures die nearby. I haven’t read the story it’s based on, but the build works just fine.
  • Spy vs Spy –  A fairly straightforward deep-cover secret agent.
  • Infernal Seduction – A demonic seducer in service to his/her/its demonic masters.
  • Fearmonger – A specialist in raw, primal, terror.
  • Skyborne Archer – Another semi-sniper build, favoring shooting from somewhere well out of reach.
  • Mage – Assassin – A spellcaster who specializes in getting in, eliminating a target, and getting out.
  • The Dabbler – A youngster with partially-controlled spontaneous magic. I really like this one; the untrained wannabe with more power than is at all good for him (or her) makes such a wonderful plot hook…
  • The Sneak Thief – A character who can use his or her skills very swiftly indeed. An interesting idea, but perhaps a bit over-specialized.
  • The Draining Wilder – A psionic expert who goes berserk when out of power. An entertaining surprise for people who think that running the psion out of power points is the optimal strategy.
  • Kinetic Mage Apprentice – A specialist in telekinetic powers.
  • Dark Priest of Misty Dawn – A warrior-priest who drains the souls of those he kills.

Alzrius has also put up quite a few Eclipse characters on his Intelligence Check blog – including quite a few interpretations of popular characters from a variety of sources. Pretty much all of them are written up for Pathfinder, and usually use the Pathfinder Package Deal.

  • Rinoa, from Final Fantasy via Dead Fantasy, a powerful 15’th level spellcaster – along with the Hyne Witch template and a discussion of many of the other characters.
  • Pyrrha Nikos, a 7th-level Huntress-in-training, along with statistics for Vytal Humans, three Martial Arts, and some world background and discussion.
  • Sharalia, a Level One Fire Dancer – a character who controls flame through dance.
  • A 20’th level breakdown for an Antimage –  a “class” that specializes in negating the powers of dangerous spellcasters.
  • The Maedar – a racial template breakdown for a male medusa.
  • Sailor Saturn – a fragile young woman from the Sailor Moon anime with some exceptionally over-the-top powers.
  • Scorpion from Mortal Kombat, written up at the peak of his powers – along with the Netherrealm Ghost template and three Martial Arts.
  • Sam Winchester, a level three paranormal investigator from the Supernatural television series.
  • Varek, a Level Six Cleric with some support abilities.
  • Abraham Lincoln, Level Twelve Civil Warrior of the United States of America – with a touch of Vampire Hunter and including his Martial Art.
  • Agent Spin – a Second Level Elite Beat Agent who gets sent… to encourage people in trouble.
  • Gargamel, a First Level Incompetent Ritualist and Bumbler – perhaps fortunately, without statistics for Smurfs.
  • Spinnerette, a Level Five Spider-Style Superheroine/
  • Malecite, a Level Ten Villainous Mage from Suburban Knights, along with Malecite’s Hand, a vastly powerful relic and various new spells.
  • Dirk Markson, a Level One Dark Witch – and possible hero.
  • Barney Stinson (Scroll Down), a Level One Sitcom Inhabitant – from How I Met Your Mother.