Eclipse d20 and Dexter’s Laboratory

This time around (and for another try at restarting) it’s another request for a look at how some characters could be represented in Eclipse. In this case… it’s some cartoon characters from Dexter’s Laboratory, starting with Dexter himself. That means taking a look at what Dexter actually does. He may talk about “Science!” a lot – but that doesn’t mean that his abilities and devices actually have anything to do with actual science. In fact… it’s rather more likely that they don’t.

So looking at the episodes, we can derive some rules for Dexter.

  • Dexter normally only uses one major invention per episode. When two appear, the second is usually being used by Dee-Dee.
  • Dexter’s inventions do not carry over from episode to episode. On those rare occasions when an invention “reappears”, it usually does not work quite the same way as it did before.
  • Dexter’s inventions often go very badly wrong – and he is usually not at all clear on how they work or what they do.
  • Dexter’s computer cannot operate his Dream Machine (that requires Dee-Dee). It seems likely that it cannot operate most of his other inventions, or testing them would be a lot safer.
  • Dexter can’t deal with ordinary devices very well; he can’t fix his broken glasses, can’t repair his shoes (instead Dee-Dee helps him call on magical Shoe Gnomes to fix them), and gets caught in a Chinese Finger Trap (although that incident also involved Dee-Dee, which might relate).
  • Dexter’s actions and devices often fail if Dee-Dee thinks they won’t work.
  • Dexter has a limited supply of “mental energy”. When he runs out, he becomes stupid (Not that he doesn’t reach astonishingly silly conclusions most of the time anyway). He spontaneously recovers once his supply of “mental energy” rebuilds, which it does naturally, if relatively slowly.
  • Dexter has been implied to have been killed more than once, and simply comes back for the next episode.
  • Dexter’s laboratory is often “destroyed” – but the damage generally seems to be superficial and “old inventions” often survive (although they are resentful for being abandoned).

For some restrictions…

  • Dexter’s incredible “intelligence” does NOT apply to planning; his plans almost never work.
  • Dexter cannot control his pets, or apparently other living creatures (or ghosts, since he was haunted by a dead goldfish).
  • Dexter’s laboratory draws at least part of it’s power from external sources.
  • Dexter needed two hundred million dollars worth of equipment (from NASA) to build his laboratory. (Conveniently, Dee-Dee produced the money for him to pay them).

Of course Dexter gets into endless amounts of trouble – but that’s a basic element of making a cartoon, and doesn’t count. For all we know… he gets through many entire days without trouble, but those dull days don’t become episodes.

Hm. So far… that doesn’t sound much like actual science. That’s not really surprising of course – this IS a cartoon we’re talking about – but the Professor on Gilligan’s Island came a lot closer than this to how science and engineering actually work.

Perhaps looking at Dee-Dee will help sort things out? Dee-Dee…

  • Cannot be kept out of Dexter’s laboratory.
  • Is not limited by odds – conveniently winning 200,000,000 dollars just when Dexter needed it.
  • Can manifest a dimensional portal without equipment or difficulty to an imaginary realm that she defines (Dexter has to use a pile of equipment, and still cannot make it work properly. Perhaps this explains why Dee-Dee cannot be kept out of Dexter’s Laboratory?).
  • Can casually inflict massive destruction on Dexter’s Lab, Mandark’s Lab, and various other locations.
  • Can manifest imaginary friends – and inflict them on other people.
  • Can trap Dexter in an invisible box via mime.
  • Told Dexter that if he kept scratching his chicken pox he would turn into a chicken. He did.
  • Usually beats Dexter even when he is using an invention and she is not (For example, video games, snowball fighting, and dodgeball, among many other episodes).
  • Can (accidentally?) cause perfectly normal systems – like old Video games – to exhibit abnormal behavior and overwhelm Dexter and his computer.
  • Tends to be treated well and admired by others – including radically different species, such as ants. In fact, she can easily tame dog-dinosaurs and other creatures and run Dungeons and Dragons games better than Dexter can.
  • Can use Dexter’s inventions – often more successfully than he can and with greater skill.
    Seems to be of relatively normal intelligence, if (quite appropriately) childish.

Well, that does tell us a lot about Dee-Dee. She’s either inherently magical or a natural reality-warper. What’s more, she apparently uses the same type of energy as Dexter does, since she can use his devices. She seems to have more of it than Dexter too, but is NOT using much of it to be hyper-intelligent.

So what about Mandark?

  • Mandark is basically an evil version of Dexter, and shows him up several times – mostly being defeated due to his desire for Dee-Dee. While his abilities and limitations seem to be much the same as Dexter’s (see above), he seems a bit stronger – possibly because he may be a bit older.
  • Mandark can spy on Dexter without Dexter knowing. Another indicator of being more powerful.
  • Mandark can pick up a spell book and use magic powerful enough to defeat Dexter, although it has side effects and his control is poor.
  • Mandark can use Dexter’s devices and his own.

So… the same kind of “Mental Energy” that Dexter uses lets Mandark use magic and Dexter’s devices. In Eclipse that pretty much screams “Mana” – Making Dee-Dee a full-scale Reality Editor and Mandark a limited Reality Editor (he has to channel his power through odd devices) and a user of Unskilled Magic.

These gifts seem to be hereditary; Dexter’s Grandfather has a very similar laboratory and created “technologies” surpassing Dexter’s works. Dexter’s parents… accomplish some pretty impossible things at times, without even seeming to be aware of it.

Dexter and Dee-Dee – and, for that matter, Mandark – are all kids. Ergo, they probably don’t have any levels. The do, however, obviously have Templates. Most likely the Cartoon Character Template

+1 ECL “Race”: Cartoon Human (63 CP)

  • Fast Learner/Specialized in Skills: +2 SP/1 CP (6 CP).
  • +2 to any one attribute (12 CP).
  • +2 to any one attribute (12 CP).
  • Immunity/Aging (can expect to live almost indefinitely, uncommon / minor / minor, 2 CP).
  • Grant of Aid: May heal 1d8+5 damage OR 1d3 points of attribute damage OR one negative level once per three levels per day or part thereof, 6 CP), with both Regenerative options (6 CP) and +8 Bonus Uses (12 CP). In core, this requires several hours per use unless the user spends a magic point.
  • Extraordinary Returning (Specialized, requires abandoning all experience and benefits that might otherwise have been gained from a “death episode”) (3 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment: All spells Personal Only: Rubber Fall (resembles Feather Fall, but you have to peel yourself off the ground, 1400 GP),
  • Regenerate Light Wounds (1/Round, up to 20 points/level/day maximum, 1400 GP), Cure Light Wounds (1d8+1 1/level/day as needed, 1400 GP), Immortal Vigor I (+12 + 2x Con Mod HP, 1400 GP), and Void Sheathe (may store a single weapon in “nowhere” and pull it out as needed, half cost due to single weapon restriction, 350 GP). 5950 GP total, 7 CP.
  • Template Disadvantage: Insane (most toons are blasé, even bored, in even the most dangerous and deadly situations, -3 CP).

That will apply to pretty much everyone in their setting of course. It IS a cartoon universe.

As for their precise powers… another 32 CP will give them +2 level templates – which seems pretty reasonable. Throwing in 24 CP for level zero will allow some customization too.

For their basic template they’ll need…

  • 3d6 Mana with Reality Editing (18 CP). Mandark has this Corrupted for 1.5 times effect: his effects are quite unreliable unless focused through a “mad science” device – although he can throw those together quite quickly and easily. Dexter has the same problem plus a Specialization – his devices are terribly unreliable and troublesome.
  • Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, Corrupted/recovers only over the course of an hour (8 CP).
  • Empowerment, Specialized in “Mad Science” devices (6 CP).

For their personal abilities…

  • Dexter has Inherent Spell (Mana-Powered Variant) – a level three version of Fox’s Cunning with a multi-hour duration (6 CP). He probably also has a few skill points in math and scholastic skills – but if he actually knew anything about making things he could have fixed his glasses. They’re not that complicated. His base Intelligence apparently isn’t all that high, but he certainly survives enough explosions and disasters to indicate a high Constitution.
  • Mandark has the same ability as Dexter (6 CP), but also has the Unskilled Magic ability (6 CP). He does seem fairly alert, so he likely has a high wisdom.
  • Dee-Dee has about 3d6 extra mana (18 CP). That’s enough raw power for her to pull off several insane stunts in a row without much difficulty. She has a few skill points in Dance and a decent Charisma and Dexterity.

And really… that’s about all they need. To make them really playable you’d probably want to make them level one and get them a few more points of mana – but brief-minute cartoon segments really don’t call for all that big a power reserve. Of course, this is once again a splendid example of converting characters based on what they ACTUALLY do, rather than what it looks like they’re doing – or how they’re described.

And if at ALL possible I’m going to try to get to the question backlog and start posting here again – even if some articles need to be split into smaller pieces.

2 Responses

  1. […] ECL Cartoon Character template (For Dexter’s Laboratory, with Dexter, Dee-Dee, and […]

  2. […] Cartoon Sitcom Residents – such as Dexter and company from Dexter’s Laboratory – get “Extraordinary Returning (Specialized, requires abandoning all experience and benefits that might otherwise have been gained from a “death episode” (3 CP).” If they die on an adventure, they just show up for the next one and no one really shows any awareness that they died. After all… each episode basically has to start from the same status quo since you never know what order people will see your cartoon shorts in. […]

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