Zhan Rayden, Master of the Earth (Levels (-2) to 2

This particular Eclipse d20 build request was rather confused. The player wanted a build roughly equivalent to his eighth level earth-based Kineticist (with some secondary air talents), but possibly including some upgrades from a (not provided) Gestalt Fighter-Kineticist version of the same character with “some, but not too much, optimization” and “some interesting stuff for building things”. He also seemed to be wanting a “Last Airbender” feel – which looks more or less like what the class was supposed to have anyway. He didn’t want to use the Bender Template though, which made things more complicated.

Even outside of the missing information from the Gestalt build, there really wasn’t a particularly clear concept there – which made the character rather hard to build. Even “equivalent” is kind of doubtful; there’s no point in building a character with exactly the same abilities. What should be different? You can use Eclipse to make pretty much anything, so how do you pick out what you want from a virtually endless array of options without a strong concept?

Taking a look at the class…

The Kineticist gets an unlimited-use elemental attack. It’s not on the level of an moderately well optimized damage-dealer build using various other classes, and nowhere near the kind of damage you get with an ubercharger or similar exploitative build – but after you apply some boosts it’s fair. At the top end you can make your blast area of effect (although trying to compete with the major spellcasters is generally a waste of time) or possibly get an extra shot. Kineticists get some fairly useful defensive talents (in this case some good damage reduction), a handful of utility powers (including a few fairly good ones; in this case it’s wall-walking and making low dirt walls all he wants), a modest selection of skills, and “Burn”.

“Burn” lets you push your powers in an emergency at the cost of draining your hit points for the day. Well and good. You try to handle too much power and you overload yourself. Seems reasonable. Burn, however, is a very two-sided mechanic; some powers mitigate Burn, while others reward you for taking Burn so you overstrain and weaken yourself and… get stronger? That’s a rather tangled mess… I’m just going to buy the things that “Burn” provides directly, and forget about that particular mechanic.

Overall, the class seems to be generally regarded as being a bit weak. After all, you’re basically playing a minor superhero in a game where “Superhero” starts at level six and you graduate into “demigod” territory around level eleven. You’ve got a rather messy mechanic for pushing your powers. You have the usual over-valuing of “unlimited use” when parties tend to fall back when any member starts exhausting their best powers and many days will have only one or two fights. You have very limited usefulness out of combat, and little or nothing to do if there are no fights today.

So this build is a pretty literal “tank” – he’s got massive Damage Reduction and a big “gun” that fires rather slowly. We’ll want that DR and (per the players request) LOTS of hit points. For the utility stuff… I think I’ll trade out “unlimited use” for “far greater versatility”. Given earth powers, that will neatly cover “interesting stuff for building things” anyway. I’ll throw in some rapid position-shifting, battlefield control, and anti-artillery (spellcaster) stuff as well. Why not? He might want to visit World of Tanks, and I wouldn’t want him to feel out of place.

He also has a family enemy Drawback and some Traits – which work just fine in Eclipse as having taken some Disadvantages to get a few extra character points.

I’ll probably still be leaning fairly heavily on the anime for inspiration and comparisons – but at least I’ve got something to work with now.

Zhan Rayden, Master of the Earth (Levels (-2) to 2

Level-By-Level “Earth Based Kineticist / ‘Earthbender’” build.

Basic (rolled) Attributes: Str 15, Dex 16, Con 19 (17 +2 Pathfinder), Int 14, Wis 16, Cha 13.

Pathfinder Package Deal and Race (Human): This has no cost. Outside of providing a +2 bonus to an attribute and Pathfinder’s “Favored Class” benefits, this won’t have that much effect.


L(-2) (Infant):

Basics: 6 CP (Human Bonus Feat) + 6 CP (Disadvantage s; Family Enemy and Recorder) = 12 CP. 1 HP.

  • Bright Kid / Upgrade Human Fast Learner to +2 SP/Level gained from now on (3 CP).
  • Healthy One / Fast Learner, Specialized in Getting More Hit Points and/or Damage Reduction (+2 CP / Level gained from now on, 6 CP).

There are several ways to get more hit points; In this case we’ll be delaying gratification a bit by waiting to spend the extra points until level one instead of just buying extra hit points at each level.

  • Upgrade the Pathfinder Package Deal Template “Fast Learner” to Double Effect (2 CP). This will not help at the moment since the package specifically limits it’s benefits to levels 1+ – but we’re mostly establishing potential at the moment.
  • +1 Hit Point (1 CP towards upgrading his or her first hit die). Unfortunately, infants do not yet get to add their constitution modifier. This still gives this infant 2 HP – making him twice as tough as the average baby!


L(-1) (Child):

Basics: +4 (2 x Int Mod) SP, add (Con Mod) to HP:

  • Fast Learner (Healthy One): +2 CP towards more HP (Saved for L1). Fast Learner (Human) +2 SP. Net: 6 HP, 6 SP. Unfortunately, at level (-1), the character is limited to 2 SP in any given skill.
  • Skills:
    • Instinctive Earth Affinity / Avalanche Fist Martial Art +1 SP +4 Con +3 Path: Net +8, Toughness II, Attack I, and Combat Reflexes
    • Multilingual / Linguistics +2 +2 Int +3 Path: Common, Terran, three other languages.
    • Active Kid / Climb: 1 SP +2 Str +3 Path = +6
    • Well-Off Family / Ride: 1 SP +3 Dex +3 Path = +7
    • Avoiding the Parents / Stealth: +1 SP +3 Dex +3 Path = +7


L0 (Youth):

Basics: +2 (Int Mod) SP, +24 CP, +2 HP (Now 8 Base)

  • Fast Learner (Healthy One): +2 CP towards more HP (Now 4 CP banked for L1). Fast Learner (Human) +2 SP.
  • +1 BAB Specialized in Melee Combat (3 CP)
  • Basic Earthbending / Innate Enchantment: Corrupted for Increased Effect (multiply the effective value by 1.5). Drawing on the primal elements, a “Bender” is subject to restrictions resembling those of a Druid; they are restricted to light, non-metallic armor and shields, are easily detected by elemental creatures, and must uphold the elemental balance of nature. They also tend to have rivalries with other elementalists, but that isn’t much of a restriction. 12 CP for 16,500 “GP” net value.
    • Force Shield I / Palms of Stone: +4 Shield Bonus to AC, blocks Magic Missiles (Spell Level 1 x Caster Level 1 x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use Activated x .7 Personal Only = 1400 “GP”).
    • Force Armor I / Granite Bell Technique: +4 Armor Bonus to AC (1400 “GP”).
    • Stone Strike: The targets unarmed attacks are equivalent to using a +2 Hand Axe. The user is considered armed (1400 “GP”).
    • Riding the Earth: Personal Haste: +30′ Movement, +1 Attack at full BAB when making a full attack. While already personal-only, x .8: Extra movement only applies when in contact with the ground, the extra attack only applies when using unarmed combat, 1600 “GP”).
    • Storm of Stone: Adds a Range Increment of 100 to his melee attacks, although they remain melee attacks, x.8 (“Unarmed” attacks only) = 1120 “GP”.
    • Volcanic Wrath (+2 Morale Bonus to Strength, +2 Morale Bonus to Constitution, +1 Morale Bonus to Will, -2 AC). X.9 (Cannot be turned off) = 1260 “GP”.
    • Mountain Stance: Add (L/6 + 1)d6 (to a maximum of +4d6) to the damage inflicted by the target’s melee attacks this round. This is considered normal weapon damage; the spell simply lets the user hit things harder (1400 GP).
    • Endurance of the Ages / Immortal Vigor I (+12 + 2 x Con Mod HP) (1400 GP).
    • Geokinesis / Unseen Servant: The personal-only modifier is irrelevant, but these can only touch earth-derived materials – stone, earth, metal, clay, and crystal and can only be directed to perform one basic task at any one time. The user may thus plough fields, move massive rocks, and build walls with remarkable speed – but not cook (even with earthenware pots and utensils), make jewelry, or any other complex task (x.8) = 1600 “GP”.
    • Dust Weaving: Produces effects roughly equivalent to Silent Image – except that the images are all obviously made of drifting dust, strong winds will blow them away, it wont work under water, and the dust composing the image is entirely real, it can irritate people, sometimes make them sneeze, and can’t be seen through with anything that wouldn’t see through a normal cloud of dust. Since “personal only” is meaningless in this case, there are no cost modifiers (2000 GP).
    • Item Effects: Impact-Accepting Earth / Ring of Feather Falling (Pathfinder, 1100 GP), Tool Shaping / Travelers Anytool (Pathfinder, 250 GP), and Essence of the Earth / Healing Belt (Magic Item Compendium, 750 “GP”) (No, Earthbending from the series doesn’t include any healing powers, no matter how minor. D20 combat, however, includes a LOT more in the way of injuries than Anime combat).
  • Grand Total: 16,680 “GP” – safely within rounding-off limits of 16,500.

As usual with Innate Enchantment that’s a lot of power on the cheap – one reason why I usually only allow 12 CP worth of Innate Enchantment. Of course, it’s also easily disrupted, hard to expand on very much, and makes the user extremely magically conspicuous – not to mention the behavioral limitations.

  • Resistance: +1 to Fortitude Saves (3 CP).
  • Adept (May buy Craft/Stonemason, Martial Art/Avalanche Fist, Perception, and Profession/Engineer for half cost, 6 CP)

With a total of 4 SP to spend, a +2 on each Adept skill is in order.

  • Avalanche Fist Martial Art +3 (2) SP* +4 Con +3 Path: Net +10, Toughness II, Attack I, Combat Reflexes, and Breaking (Specialized for double effect/only against earth, stone, and metal).
  • Climb: 1 SP +2 Str +3 Path = +6
  • Craft/Stonemason: +2 (1) SP* +2 (Int) +3 (Path) = +7
  • Linguistics +2 +2 Int +3 Path: Common, Terran, three other languages.
  • Perception: +2 (1) SP* +3 (Wis) +3 (Path) = +8
  • Profession/Engineer: +2 (1) SP* +3 (Wis) +3 (Path) = +8
  • Ride: 1 SP +3 Dex +3 Path = +7
  • Stealth: +1 SP +3 Dex +3 Path = +7

Zhan Rayden now possesses 31 HP (after Immortal Vigor and his new constitution boost is included), AC 19, DR 2/-, and some decent base attacks and abilities. He’s ready – as bender kids in the Anime are shown to be ready – to go get started adventuring. Still, it can be presumed that – at this point – Toth has several levels on him. Alas! Rayden is not yet a legendary prodigy!

Like any PC, he’s certainly got a good start on it though.


L1 (Adolescent/”Adult”):

Basics: +6 SP (+2 Int Mod, +2 Human Fast Learner +2 Doubled Pathfinder “Favored Class” bonus), +34 CP (24 CP Base + 6 CP L1 Bonus Feat +4 for selecting a final disadvantage), +1 HP (for automatic maximized base d4 HD at L1).

  • The doubled-up Pathfinder “Favored Class” Bonus (Earthmaster) is now taking effect. This will provide a choice of +2 SP, +2 HP, or +2 CP towards a GM-permitted* special “racial” bonus each level from now on at each level where the character remains focused on his or her mastery of the Earth. That’s “GM-permitted” since – with Eclipses essentially unlimited choice of races and :”classes” – a list of specific bonuses by race and class is clearly impractical. It’s also mostly irrelevant, since simply taking the bonus as skill points will free up CP to be spent elsewhere anyway. Almost every character spends at least a few CP on skills at each level – and an extra +3 HP per level turns the basic d4 into the equivalent of a d10.
  • “Healthy One” (Fast Learner): 6 CP accumulated towards “more hit points”. This is being spent on Advanced, Improved, Augmented Bonus: Adds (Wis Mod) to (Con Mod) when calculating bonus hit points per die, Specialized and Corrupted/Only applies to levels 1-3 (6 CP). It will cost another 3 CP (Available by level three) to buy the restriction down to “Specialized / only applies to levels 1-6″ and another 9 CP (available by level 7) to buy off the restriction entirely. At levels 8+ he’ll be looking for another way to spend his 2 CP per level to add more hit points. (It would be more efficient to add extra hit points from his Dexterity, but that – for reasons that will become apparent below – is probably getting into “over-optimized” territory).

So to spend those 34 CP, let us buy…

  • +1 BAB (+2 Total), Specialized in Melee (3 CP).
  • +3 Resistance (Total base saves of +2 Fortitude and +2 Reflex, 9 CP).
  • Armor of the Earth: “Shapeshift” (earth and metal shell) (Jaguar/Big Cat), with Attribute Modifiers, Hybrid Form, and Clear Speech, Specialized/Jaguar Only (12 CP). (By the rules Str +6, Dex +8, Con +4, +10 Move, +1 Natural Armor, +8 to Agility and Stealth skills, Low-Light Vision, and Scent. By the special effects, leave off the sensory boosts).

This is a BIG slice of optimization cheese; Shapeshifting can get you major attribute bonuses on the cheap, provided that you don’t mind looking like a beastman, monster, or lycanthrope. On the other hand, it only boosts physical abilities, and so is mostly helpful to the more martial combat, skill, and stealth based characters while being of far less use to spellcasters – and Pathfinder still leaves a pretty big gap in ability between the spellcasters and non- (or limited) spellcasters. Ergo this falls under “let the combatants have a bone”. I am, however, giving it to them very early for one simple reason; characters with long lists of widely-variegated special abilities that they can swap out – usually known as “spellcasters” – inevitably dominate the game at high levels simply by number of options. There’s no cure for that other than drastically limiting their options, which pretty much eliminates the point. Ergo, just to be fair… allowing things like this means that the martial and skill-based types will dominate the game early on, while the casters will dominate it later.

Of course, presuming that Rayden does not care about looks, there really isn’t any reason to ever turn this off. With two liberal slices of high-quality cheese already – a massive load of innate enchantments and shapeshifting – the whole “Anime Thing” is well underway.

Basic Attributes: Str 15 +2 (Wrath) +6 (Shift) = 23, Dex 16 +8 (Shift) = 24, Con 19 (17 +2 Pathfinder +2 (Wrath) +4 (Shift) = 25, Int 14, Wis 16, Cha 13.

  • Adept (May buy Use Magic Device, Profession/Architect, and Earth Rune Magic (Casting and Mastery) for half cost, 6 CP)
  • This leaves 4 CP, which are going into Skill Points – giving him ten at this level. They’re being spent on Use Magic Device 2, Profession/Architect 2, Earth Rune Magic/Casting 2, Earth Rune Magic/Mastery 2, Perception 1, and Profession/Engineer 1. Yes, that leaves him with a d4 HD at level one – but, in Pathfinder, that can always be made up later and he has plenty of bonus HP.
    • Avalanche Fist Martial Art +3 (2) SP* +4 Con +3 Path: Net +10, Toughness II, Attack II, Combat Reflexes, and Breaking (Specialized for double effect/only against earth, stone, and metal).
    • Climb: 1 SP +2 Str +3 Path = +6
    • Craft/Stonemason: +2 (1) SP* +2 (Int) +3 (Path) = +7
    • Earth Rune Magic/Casting +4 (2) SP* +3 (Wis) +3 (Path) = +8
    • Earth Rune Magic/Mastery +4 (2) SP* +3 (Wis) +3 (Path) = +8
    • Linguistics +2 +2 Int +3 Path: Common, Terran, three other languages.
    • Perception: +4 (2) SP* +3 (Wis) +3 (Path) = +8
    • Profession/Architect +4 (2) SP* +3 (Wis) +3 (Path) = +8
    • Profession/Engineer: +4 (2) SP* +3 (Wis) +3 (Path) = +8
    • Ride: 1 SP +3 Dex +3 Path = +7
    • Stealth: +1 SP +3 Dex +3 Path = +7
    • Use Magic Device +4 (2) SP* +1 (Cha) +3 (Path) = +8

At this point Rayden is about as far ahead of the power curve as he is ever going to get; for a first level character his armor class is good, he hits very hard, and he effectively has three maximized hit dice (even if they are only 5, 6, and 6) at +10 HP per die. His powers will still increase with level of course – but he’s going to gain breadth faster than raw power.


Level Two:

Basics: +6 SP (+2 Int Mod, +2 Human Fast Learner +2 Doubled Pathfinder “Favored Class” bonus), +24 CP (24 CP Base), +1d4 HP.

  • +1 BAB (+3 Total) Specialized in Melee (3 CP).
  • Initiate of the Earth: 2d6 Mana, Specialized in Rune Magic, Corrupted/includes no Natural Magic (4 CP).
  • Strengths of the Earth: Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted / only to restore Mana, requires at least one hour of sleep per die regained (4 CP).

This combination allows Rayden to start putting his Rune Magic skills – which have been pure theory up until now – to use. At the moment, thanks to the Pathfinder skill bonus, he will have an effective casting level of four and can use up to second level spells – although basic earth magic is really pretty limited. They will also cost one point of mana per level, so he can’t use such spells very often, even if it is a freeform magical style. Sadly, when the casting level is based on (Skill/2) and the spells usable are based on (Skill/4), this will soon start to lag far behind a full caster. It should make for a handy suite of utility magic though.

  • Saves: +1 to Fortitude and Reflex (+3 Total Base) (6 CP).
  • Shockwave Stance I: Immunity to Distance (Considers squares up to 5 feet away to be adjacent. Very Common, Major, Trivial). (Either the earth does it for him or it tosses him from place to place – although such movement does not allow AOO along the way).Corrupted/not while airborne, waterborne, or spaceborne (3 CP).
  • Shockwave Stance II: Upgrade Shockwave Stance to a Minor (12, rounded down to 10, foot) immunity, Corrupted/not while airborne, waterborne, or spaceborne (+4 CP).

Shockwave Stance is a third helping of cheese; it vastly increases his mobility and lets him use his attacks of opportunity as if he had +10 reach. That’s not earthshaking yet – but he’s free to keep on upgrading it. That will probably be pretty important later on.

His 6 SP go to Avalanche Fist 1, Craft/Stonemason 1, 3 to get his remaining six Adept skills up to +5, and Stealth 1.

  • Avalanche Fist Martial Art +5 (3) SP* +4 Con +3 Path: Net +12, Toughness II, Attack II, Combat Reflexes, and Breaking (Specialized for double effect/only against earth, stone, and metal). Yes, going for half skill points is a bit silly – but it makes for a smoother progression all around without having any other real effect. From now on, he’ll just be assigning four skill points to his Adept skills each level to keep them maxed out. This wouldn’t be a problem (or at least would be glossed over for convenience) if we’d just spent all his skill points from his childhood levels at level one – but such is the price of going into extreme detail.
  • Climb: 1 SP +2 Str +3 Path = +6
  • Craft/Stonemason: +5 (2.5) SP* +2 (Int) +3 (Path) = +8
  • Earth Rune Magic/Casting +5 (2.5) SP* +3 (Wis) +3 (Path) = +9
  • Earth Rune Magic/Mastery +5 (2.5) SP* +3 (Wis) +3 (Path) = +9
  • Linguistics +2 +2 Int +3 Path: Common, Terran, three other languages.
  • Perception: +5 (2.5) SP* +3 (Wis) +3 (Path) = +9
  • Profession/Architect +5 (2.5) SP* +3 (Wis) +3 (Path) = +9
  • Profession/Engineer: +5 (2.5) SP* +3 (Wis) +3 (Path) = +9
  • Ride: 1 SP +3 Dex +3 Path = +7
  • Stealth: +2 SP +3 Dex +3 Path = +8
  • Use Magic Device +5 (2.5) SP* +1 (Cha) +3 (Path) = +8

So far Zhan Rayden is pretty heavily optimized. Combined with the usual benefits of a focused Eclipse design that puts him at about ECL 5 or 6 – although he still lacks breadth, or much of anything to do in noncombat situations except build things.

3 Responses

  1. […] it’s not quite feasible at his current level, I’d expect that Zhan (Levels -2 to 2, Levels 3-8) would benefit greatly from purchasing Siddhisyoga and using it with a Lyre of […]

  2. […] Zhan Rayden the Earthmaster (an extended example). […]

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