Eclipse d20 – Binding Mysterious Spirits VI. Apophis, Barbatos, Ruh Göbekli-Tepe, Haures, Ipos, Shax, The Triads, The Heartless Shadow, Mucha Lucha – and why not Zceryll.

As usual, all of these Mysteries build on the powers of the basic Bokor Package – although that is cheap enough that it’s normally well worthwhile.

Apophis (32 CP + 3 CP Disadvantage / Outcast. Sensitive individuals can sense the aura of destruction that Apophis radiates, and will want nothing to do with his host).

Chupoclops was a predatory eater of ghosts from the Forgotten Realms setting and has no real history from elsewhere. As an apocalyptic beast it was supposed to bring about the end of all things by devouring hope. With it slain, there is no longer a destined end of the world . Still, that’s not exactly an unprecedented role for a monstrous mythic figure. So let us go classical and create one of the earliest apocalyptic beasts we know of.

Apophis the Chaos-Bringer, the Oblivion of Souls, Destroyer of Ma’at, that which was Before Creation and Will Be After, rises again and again against the Gods. Each coming of the dawn proclaims their victory, that Apophis has once more been slain and cast beyond, preserving the cosmos for another day. Yet there can be no final victory. Apophis, like a thousand-headed hydra, rises ever again from the spaces which are not, the void beyond existence, to assail once more the structure of creation. Whether calling upon Apophis grants the Chaos-Bringer an opening to attack or diverts some portion of the power that would otherwise be hurled against the world cannot be said.

Yet Apophis answers those who call for the Oblivion of Souls upon the hidden ways – and for the wise perhaps that is answer enough.

  • Presence of the Destroyer/Doom, Corrupted/affects everyone else within ten feet rather than merely his enemies when activated – perhaps because Apophis has no true allies within creation (4 CP).
  • The Devourer of Ghosts: Immunity/Dimensional Barriers (Very Common, Severe, Major, Specialized and Corrupted/only the barrier between the Ethereal and Material, must return to the material plane after taking an active move, standard, or full-round action other than waiting and watching). This allows the user to become Ethereal as a Move Action up to once every five rounds, to see into the Ethereal Plane (or from there into the material plane) as a constant effect, and to attack or cast spells / manifest psionic abilities in both planes at once as desired (5 CP). Sadly, this also allows the user to be attacked by ethereal creatures and affected by their spells and manifested powers regardless of which plane he or she currently occupies.

Why is this only a “Major” immunity? It’s because the dimensional barriers in basic d20 worlds aren’t very hard to penetrate. Various creatures do it routinely. The Blink spell does it over and over again at level three, Astral Caravan takes entire groups into the astral plane at level three, Plane Shift jumps entire groups across multiple dimensional barriers of choice AND teleports them at level five – and even if it has targeting problems, it can be used offensively. D20’s dimensional barriers are more akin to paper screens than walls.

  • Martial Arts/1d4 Natural Weapons (Claws and Bite), is always considered armed (3 CP). Note that – if you are larger or smaller than Medium size – this scales appropriately. If you have claws and/or a bit anyway, just add +2 damage to their effects.

Nothing prevents humans from going for the basic mammalian claw-claw-bite attack routine save for their teeth and claws (fingernails) being generally ineffectual. Those channeling Apophis will find that the power of the Destroyer makes their natural weapons effective – if still not all that impressive.

  • Occult Sense/Detect Souls. Specialized for Increased Effect/20 foot maximum range. You detect living creatures within 20 feet as if you possessed Blindsense and can automatically determine their Type, Subtype, and level of vitality (Number of hit points. The character doesn’t actually get a number; he or she can simply see how “bright” a soul is. The Player gets a number, since that’s the only way to meaningfully rate that “brightness” without wasting time constructing and consulting a scale) (6 CP).
  • Opportunist/You can make a full attack (including the natural attacks for free appendages) at the end of a charge (6 CP).
  • Embodiment of Oblivion: Witchcraft III, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect/each basic ability is limited to a fairly specific, simple effect (rather than allowing dozens), often with additional limitations (6 CP).
    • Phantom Charge/Shadowweave. None can know from where Apophis will strike, or which of his thousand feints is true. Those channeling Apophis may spend one power as a part of a charge or attack action to generate a Mirror Image effect.
    • Entropic Cascade/Witchfire: Apophis’s touch can inflict terrible wounds on any creature of the cosmos. His channelers may spend two Power and a Swift Action to add “+2″ worth of weapon enhancements of choice to their natural weapons for one minute per level. This need not include an enhancement bonus and does not stack with itself, but it does stack with dissimilar weapon enchantments.
    • Draught of Life/Hyloka: Apophis drinks the life of the cosmos. When one of his channelers hits an opponent with an unarmed attack or a natural weapon he or she may spend 2 Power as a Swift Action to add a Vampiric Touch effect (albeit at only 1d6/2 levels, 10d6 max) to the attack as a supernatural effect
    • Shattering Strike/Infliction: The mere presence of Apophis weakens unliving material, causing flaws and cracks to spread through it. When one of his Channelers strikes an unliving target he or she may spend a swift action to amplify this effect – inflicting an extra five points of damage per level to a maximum of 15/25/35/50 damage for 1/2/3/4 Power or affecting all unliving materials other than what he or she is carrying in a five foot radius of the point struck for an additional +3 Power. If used against a force construct this counts as a Disintegrate effect, and can allow the user to continue straight through such a barrier.
  • .+3d6 Mana as +9d6 (32) Power, Specialized and Corrupted/only to power the Embodiment of Oblivion powers listed above (6 CP).
  • Rite of Chi with +7 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted/only for Power, only to rebuild the power pool for the Embodiment of Oblivion Powers, above (5 CP).

Apophis won’t make you a great warrior if you don’t bring some other abilities along those lines to the table – but the Destroyer of Ma’at can certainly give you a pretty good boost. If your Bokor is going in for melee combat, there’s a pretty good chance that Apophis will be in the his or her lineup of Mysteries. Apophis also illustrates something very important about Eclipse; with the “good” abilities no longer at the ends of chains of Feats, martial characters can afford to buy a selection of them as well as various quasi-magical powers. They may have a slightly harder time becoming super-powered specialists like the Ubercharger, but they can easily pick up a great deal of versatility. How many melee builds would find it useful to be able to generate mirror images, steal hit points, operate while blind, and tailor their weapons enhancements to individual enemies on the fly?

Barbatos (Bonus Mystery) (32 CP + 3 CP Disadvantage / Uncivilized. Those channeling Barbatos will find it nigh-impossible to deal with complex social situations, banking schemes, and similar complexities, suffering a -4 penalty on any such attempts).

According to the Ars Goetia Barbatos is a spirit of the woods, similar to Robin of the Woods, the Green Man or Knight, and other trickster spirits. His unique attribute amongst the array of (very similar) powers most of the spirits of the Ars Goetia grant is the understanding of beasts – so that’s what I’m going with.

Ruh Göbekli-Tepe (32 CP + 3 CP Disadvantage / Obligations. Those channeling Ruh Göbekli-Tepe may never abandon a city under attack save to cover the evacuation of it’s citizenry if the defense fails and must do what he or she can to aid a city in distress).

All I can make out of “Desharis” is “Country Patron”, and even that is a bit of a stretch based on “Desh” being Hindi for “country” or “land” – leaving “Aris” to Google to translate as a patrician, noble, or magnate. While that fits in well enough with the basic idea, I would prefer a less-fictional name – perhaps Ruh Göbekli-Tepe; the Spirit of Göbekli Tepe (a religious center founded about 9100 BC). Of course, Çatalhöyük was founded about 7500 BC and showed many (but not all) of the characteristics usually associated with cities. Jericho had fortified walls in 6800 BC, but seems to have been abandoned several time. The title of oldest continuously-inhabited city is contested – although Athens, Argos, and Byblos / Jubayl can all make fairly good claims on being the “oldest permanently inhabited city on Earth” since they’ve all been inhabited for at least seven thousand years.

…All of which, I suppose, is interesting but none too relevant.

Ruh Göbekli-Tepe is the spirit of the agricultural revolution, the urban dream – of food in plenty, of the safety of a gathered tribe in a strong place, of the strange tongues of visiting traders, of cyclopean walls, of the tales that brought structure to the world, and of the marketplace full of the exotic wonders that skilled craftsman create and visitors from afar bring. Today, when cities and towns crowd the earth, the wonder of approaching one in the dawn of the world has faded to a forgotten whisper – but while thinned, and scattered, and no longer a thing of wonder… the Spirit of the City lives still, it’s power a foundation of the modern world – even if, like all foundations, it is rarely actually seen.

  • The Urban Dream / Access to two Occult Skills – Dream Binding and Stealing the Scene (6 CP).
  • Lore of the Elder World: Augmented Bonus: Add (Cha Mod) to (Int Mod) for Skill Points through L1, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect/may only be spent on the three Adept skills, must be evenly split between them. This effectively provides a bonus of (Cha Mod x 5) skill points in Dream Binding, (Cha Mod x 4) + (Con Mod) skill points in Stealing the Scene, and (Cha Mod x 4) in Linguistics (6 CP).
    • Dream Binding – “the Wonders of the Markets” – means that Desharis “comes” with (Cha Mod x Cha Mod) x 2500 GP worth of equipment, although no single item may be worth more than one-third of that total. This can be very important indeed at lower levels – or if you happen to not have access to your usual sources of equipment.
    • “The Ancient Tales” cover Stealing the Scene. It’s Shticks, and the Languages spoken for Linguistics, may be chosen anew each time that Desharis is summoned. (In general, unless you unexpectedly encounter some really weird creature with an unknown language as a plot device – in which case you can speak it tomorrow – this should be more than enough languages to speak anything you’re at all likely to run across in any given region save for a dimensional crossroads).
  • Spirit of the City / Witchcraft III, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect/each basic ability is limited to a fairly specific, simple effect (rather than allowing dozens), often with additional limitations (6 CP).
    • Pulse of the City / The Inner Eye: You may sense the currents and pulse of the city, moving with it’s flow and easily navigating it’s currents. Crowds do not hinder your movement and you gain a +6 bonus on Diplomacy, Gather Information and Knowledge (local) checks which counts as being skilled – but only within settlements. This is a constant effect, with no cost.
    • Breath of the City / Hand of Shadows: You may Animate Objects as per a caster of equal level at the cost of a Standard Action and 2 Power.
    • Sword of the City / Infliction (Limited target set for more power). Once every five rounds you may add a triple-damage Infliction effect to a successful melee attack against an animal, elemental, fey, or plant creature.
    • Hands of the City: You may use a Standard Action and up to one Power per level to accomplish the equivalent of 25 GP worth of work per point of Power so expended. Basic materials for such work (clay, mortar, stone, timber, fiber, etc) – are automatically drawn from the environment, but metals, gems, and other special materials must be provided normally. Similarly, basic tools are not required, but the effects of superior tools can be added in. Any required rolls are made with a +6 bonus and count as being skilled. If repairing a Construct, each Power repairs 3d6 + Level (15 maximum) damage.
      • Install door and suitable framing, with bar, to fit 10 x 10 area: Wooden (Hardness 5, 10 HP) 10 GP, Reinforced Wooden (Hardness 5, 20 HP) 40 GP, Iron (Hardness 10, 60 HP) 500 GP.
      • Build 10 x 10 Wall: Masonry (2′ thick, hardness 8, 180 HP, Break DC 25) 250 GP, Packed Earth (3′ Thick, Hardness 2, 30 HP, Break DC 19) 10 GP, Wood (1′ Thick, Hardness 5, 120 HP, Break DC 26) 100 GP.
      • Dig out 10 x 10 x 10 cube of: Earth 5 GP, Clay/Rocky Soil 15 GP, Stone 50 GP. Yes, you can put holes under creatures, but it’s only a DC 16 Reflex save to avoid falling in. Just as bad, going more than fifty or sixty feet down in earth tends to lead to the walls collapsing before anything can fall that far, leaving any possible victims landing on a pile of soft earth about sixty feet down for 3d6 damage.
      • Build a Well (5 x 5, 100 feet deep) 200 GP. It comes with rope, winch, and bucket. While fitted stones hold the well open, trying to open one under someone allows them a DC 11 reflex save to jump away in time – which is unlikely to catch anything of the least importance.
      • Build a Trail 1 GP/100 Feet. This means clearing out the trees and brush, and enough leveling to let a small wagon get dragged through.
      • Build a Road: 1 GP/30 feet, x5 for difficult terrain. x2 for Gravel, x3 for Cobblestones, x5 for a solid base and mortared stones.
      • Build a Bridge: 5′ x 5′ section: Rope-and-Board 2 GP, Wood 10 GP, Stone 25 GP, Iron 150 GP.
  • All Cities One City: Ashen Rebirth with Teleportation, Specialized and Corrupted: only usable once every five minutes, must be passing through a door, walking down an alleyway, or otherwise be engaged in a scene transition, must emerge from a similar door/alley/arch/whatever, and must be able to trace an open path between the entrance and exit points. This costs 2 Power for any jump within a city or 7 Power to jump to another city within 100 miles per level (4 CP).
  • +3d9 Mana as 9d6 (32) Power, Specialized and Corrupted/only for use with the five city-related powers above (6 CP).
  • Rite of Chi with +10 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted/only to restore Power, only to restore the City Powers Pool, above (7 CP).

Ruh Göbekli-Tepe brings treasure, craftsmanship, and communications, as well as a powerful affinity for cities and the ability to move between them. He’s still somewhat specialized, and offers no general-purpose combat powers – but he’s got some extremely useful practical powers to offer a Channeler and if you happen to be in a jail or something he’s ideal.

Haures (32 CP + 3 CP Disadvantage / Accursed. Anyone channeling Haures suffers a -2 penalty on saves versus Illusion effects and will often provoke doubts about their sanity by talking to, and taking advice from, an imaginary friend).

According to the grimoires, Haures (also Flauros, Flavros, Hauras, Havres) gives true answers of many things past, present and future, but must compelled to do so, otherwise he will deceive the conjurer and beguile him. He can also destroy all the conjurer’s enemies with his infernal flame. If the magician requests it, he will not suffer temptations from any spirit or in any form and can be avenged upon demons.

Yes, we’re back to the Ars Goetia.

Now according to Wizards of the Coast, Haures grants a continuous Mind Blank effect (probably derived from the “protection against temptations” bit). While this is useful, it is also very boring – and shuts down many communications spells, status checks, divinations that gave bonuses to healing you, and so on. Secondarily, Pathfinder severely nerfed Mind Blank; it still protects against Divination, but now merely provides a +8 resistance bonus against Mind-Affecting stuff – which, since most characters of high enough level to be using Mind Blank in the first place will already have good Resistance bonuses, makes it virtually useless on that front. He lets you ignore the effects of difficult terrain (a pretty minor effect), move through enemy-occupied spaces (like Tumble or Acrobatics in Pathfinder), and gives Attacks of Opportunity against you while you’re moving a 50% miss chance (also like Tumble or Acrobatics, but less effective). He lets you create Major Images and wield Phantasmal Killers.

  • Immunity to Divination (Uncommon, Minor, Epic, Corrupted; This cannot be turned off. You are thus immune to many communications spells, attempts to determine your status, divinatons that give bonuses to Heal checks, and similar (8 CP).
  • Witchcraft III (6 CP). This is being purchased without limitations, to allow the full range of subtle and immediate uses without having to bother with a Bokor’s “spellcasting”.
    • The Adamant Will: In many ways this basic Witchcraft power is a better deal on the Mental Protection front than Mind Blank; while it does have a small cost, you only activate it when needed (and thus helpful effects are unhindered) and it allows you to falsify the results of various divinations, instead of just returning “no reading”.
    • Shadowweave with the Advanced Upgrade (+6 CP). This allows the user to generate Illusion effects of up to level three at a cost of 1/2/4 Power for effects of levels 1/2/3 – including Major Image, Invisibility Sphere, Mirror Image, Hypnotic Pattern, Color Spray, Disguise Self, and a wide variety of other tricks. Given that the Eclipse version of the Binder already gets some minor illusion-casting, this is a simple upgrade.
    • Pyroclastic Gaze: Glamour, Specialized and Corrupted/The user may spend 2 power and a Standard Action to unleash a Phantasmal Killer effect (Save DC 16 + Cha Mod), but has no other options.
    • Phantom Stride: The Hand of Shadows, Specialized and Corrupted/only to enhance your movement with three specific effects: Surefoot (Spell Compendium, level one), Surefooted Stride (Spell Compendium, level one), and allowing you to ignore speed reductions due to carrying a medium or heavy load or wearing medium or heavy armor. This effect lasts for one hour per user level at a cost of three power and an immediate action.
  • Augmented Bonus: Add (Cha Mod) to (Int Mod) for Skill Points through L1, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect/may only be spent on Tumble (Acrobatics in Pathfinder), Use Magic Device, and Bluff and must be evenly split between them (6 CP).
  • Rite of Chi with +8 Bonus Uses, Specialized/only to restore Power (9 CP).

Haures is a fairly solid choice, if only for the illusion-casting – which can be a very effective suite of abilities in the hands of a clever player, even if it is limited to fairly low-level effects. The immunity to Divination has its uses as well – but really, how often is a personal immunity going to protect you against attacks targeting the party? And how often are your enemies going to be relying on using Divination to attack you? That’s only at its best when you want to do some sneaking about.

Ipos (32 CP + 3 CP Disadvantage / Insane. Ipos knows no fear – and so the game master may ask for a DC 18 check if someone channeling Ipos wants to act with stealth and caution).

Ipos is another visitor from the Ars Geotia, but is also another rather generic entry even there. He reveals secrets, he grants valor and wit, and he has leonine attributes – and that’s about it. He’s so bland that he doesn’t even turn up in popular culture much. According to Wizards of the Coast, he grants 1d6 cold iron claws, flashes of True Sight, boosts the DC of saves against the powers of the Mysteries you host by one and gives you a +1 level boost on your usage of them, lets you resist the deleterious effects of various planes, and lets you make a Rend attack.

Evidently Wizards of the Coast couldn’t find anything really interesting to say about Ipos either. Worse, the basic Bokor build already includes a better way to get True Seeing – and the standard Binder build already grants immunity to fear one level after Ipos becomes available, so either way at least one of those powers is quite useless.

  • Double (Claw) Damage, when you hit with both claw attacks, Corrupted/requires an additional successful attack check, albeit one made at your full BAB (4 CP).
  • +2 Charisma, only for increasing the DC of saves against your abilities (6 CP in a Template).
  • +1d4 Hit Die, Specialized/only for increasing the usage level of your hit die/level-based abilities (2 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment (6 CP, 5000 GP net value):
    • Avoid Planar Effects (Level One Single-Target Variant, Personal Only, 1400 GP).
    • Remove Fear (Personal-Only, 1400 GP). Anyone hosting Ipos cannot be affected by Fear.
    • Surefoot (2000 GP): Gain a +10 competence bonus on Balance, Climb, Jump, and Tumble. You do not lose your Dexterity bonus to AC when balancing or climbing.
  • Immunity to Dispelling effects (Common/Minor/Great, Specialized and Corrupted / only to protect Innate Enchantments, Only those that come with this Mystery, 4 CP).
  • Leonine Form: Shapeshift, Attribute Modifiers (Replaces the user’s physical racial modifiers, if any, with Str +6, Dex +8, and Con +4, +10 Move, +1 Natural Armor, +8 to Balance and Climb, Low-Light Vision, Scent, and 1d3 Claws), Hybrid Form, Clear Speech, Variants (Near-Human Appearance). Specialized: Mountain Lion Form Only, Corrupted: Cannot actually Change Forms (27 CP base, net cost 9 CP).

This is classic shapeshift cheese; you summon Ipos, you become a lion-man, and you pick up some major physical boosts. Of course Ipos is a L6 Vestige. At Spell Level Five (Druid) we have Bite of the Weretiger – granting enhancement bonus of +12 to Str, +4 to Dex, +6 to Con, +5 Natural Armor, a Claw/Claw at full BAB (1d8+Str) and Bite (at -5 BAB, 2d6 + 1/2 Str) attack routine 1d8 , Blind-Fight and Power Attack. Ergo this bit of cheese is perfectly in line with other bit-of-cheese spells – at least if you don’t mind being a petting zoo person and your armor won’t cramp your tail.

  • Imbuement (Unarmed/Natural Weapons): Counts as Cold Iron at Level 4+, plus Adamantine at Level 11+, and Silver at Level 18+. Corrupted/only for giving your natural weapons the qualities of various materials (4 CP).

Ipos is another strong candidate for inclusion in a melee build, at least if your Bokor isn’t of a race with massive physical advantages already. There are much more interesting sets of abilities out there – but a set of nice, dependable, attribute, speed, and skill boosts is pretty much always useful to any combatant. They don’t require actions, or special gear to take advantage of, or any other trick. They just quietly provide statistical benefits all day. The fact that they’re available on the cheap, while being far less useful to full spellcasters, is another little boost for the martial types of course.

Shax (32 CP + 3 CP Disadvantage /Untrustworthy. Anyone channeling Shax might as well be wearing a sign saying “I am a Dark Wizard! Beware! Beware!”).

According to the Ars Goetia Shax “takes away a persons the sight, hearing and understanding at the conjurer’s request, steals whatever the conjurer asks and brings it to him or her, can discover hidden things if not thwarted by evil spirits, and sometimes gives good familiars, but sometimes grants familiars that deceive the conjurer. He should not be bothered too often. Shax is thought to be faithful and obedient, but is a great liar and will deceive the conjurer unless obliged to enter a magic triangle drawn on the floor. He will then speak marvelously and tell the truth. He knows when lies are told and uses these to teach lessons.” He takes the form of a swan.

Wizards of the Coast turned Shax into an possibly evil goddess of storm giants and had her grant limited Freedom of Movement, Immunity to Electricity, an extra 2d6 damage in melee (if you hit, and it takes up your swift action to prime it), and a swim speed. This makes very little sense and, quite frankly, is almost worthless to a PC. One round in five of Freedom of Movement is only useful as a way to activate another countermeasure or get out of an entangle or some such, and something as cheap as a Third Eye Freedom (2600 GP) can give you that. +2d6 damage to a single target but only on a successful attack, wasted if you miss, and requiring a swift action is trivial, and there are lots of (cheap) ways to get a swim speed if you need it. OK, Immunity to Electricity is nice – but Energy Immunity is only level six and lasts for twenty-four hours. Immunity to Electricity (Only) – call it “Faraday Cage” – would probably only be level five.

No, I have no idea of why Wizards of the Coast went to the effort to invent a history and then give their new Vestige no worthwhile abilities. Even basing their vestige on Shakespeare (“Shax” seems to be a nickname for him) would have been SOMETHING. Even worse, in the Eclipse version, Focalor – a level three Mystery – grants Resistance to Electricity, stronger (and ranged) attacks, a swim speed, water breathing, and lets you move and attack normally underwater – as a level three Mystery. This makes Shax even more useless.

That will never do.

  • Winds of Creation: Companion (Hawk Familiar) with the Spirit Fetch Template (12 CP). Shax may be a Mystery, but he – unlike so many others – can be both bound and free to transverse the Multiverse at the same time, serving his channeler as both a source of power and as a Spirit Fetch.
  • Dark Sorcery: Witchcraft III, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect/each basic ability is limited to a fairly specific, simple effect (rather than allowing dozens), often with additional limitations (6 CP).
    • Hyloka/Daemonic Resilience. The channeler may spend 2 Power to negate a Confused, Dazed, Fascinated, or Stunned condition as it would take effect. This does not count as an action.
    • Dreamfaring/Between the Realms. The channeler may spend 3 Power and a Swift Action to infuse his or her physical form with the energies of the astral realm, making movement more of an act of will than a physical thing – creating a personal Freedom of Movement effect.
    • Elfshot/Accursed Gaze. The channeler may spend 7 Power and a Standard Action to generate a Feeblemind (Save DC 17 + Cha Mod) effect.
    • Hand of Shadows/Hand of Shax. The user may spend 2 Power and an Standard Action to attempt to steal an item weighing up to eighty pounds from any target within 60′. If the target fails to save (Will DC 17 + Cha Mod) the item (armor, weapon, ring, pants, or whatever) appears in the user’s hands. The user must have a free hand to use this effect.
  • Dark Sorcery II: Advanced Witchcraft, Specialized and Corrupted as per the basic Bokor Witchcraft Package. Grounding, Flesh Like Mist and Weathermonger (6 CP).
  • +3d6 Mana as +9d6 (32) Power, Specialized and Corrupted/only to power the Dark Sorcery abilities listed above (6 CP).
  • Rite of Chi with +7 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted/only for Power, only to rebuild the power pool for the Dark Sorcery Powers above (5 CP).

Shax brings flexibility. His dark sorcery is not enormously powerful, but it offers a wide variety of exotic options and he provides enough power to use it freely. He’s not particularly strong on direct damage, but either his Accursed Gaze or Hand of Shax gives him a fair chance at pretty much incapacitating most opponents. A Feebleminded Spellcaster or Disarmed Martial Character is in deep trouble.

The Triad (32 CP + 3 CP Disadvantage/Compulsive. Those channeling the Triad find themselves unable to put up with pretty much any mortal government; they are all fatally flawed, need to be overthrown, and should not be offered respect. Channelers will support revolutionaries without much thought and will be pointlessly rude to governmental authority figures).

According to Wizards of the Coast, The Triad is a fusion of three fallen gods from a mighty psionic civilization that fell to shadowy side effects of their own infrastructure. Apparently no one in the mighty psionic civilization was any good at precognition, or dimensional awareness, or sensing subtle psychic intrusions, or boosting their knowledge skills past their presumably high base in knowledge/the planes and psionic lore, or… you know what? I think I’m going to go with the secret-society Triads instead – especially since the Triad, as written by Wizards of the Coast, is really not worth bothering with. That’s actually a common problem with the “official” vestiges; with no real underpinning to designing them but guesswork, the quality is very unreliable. Some are clearly winners, others clearly losers, and the rest are mostly all right. Sure, even using Eclipse you can still put in useless powers and such – but at least you’ll know if you have points left over or have spent far, FAR, too much.

Oppression bred secrecy, rebellion, and a thousand hidden conspiracies, tunneling through the society like the roots of some invasive weed, finding rich and fertile ground amongst the lower classes, dispossessed aristocrats, the ambitious, the criminal, and the desperate – flowering into outbreaks of resistance, of violence, of marching men. And like flowers, they fell to the scything weapons of professional soldiers. The White Lotus Society, the Taiping Rebellion, the Boxer Rebellion, and the Heaven and Earth Society… all fell, and were forgotten, the last remnants swept away.

Yet seeds fell in other lands, blown from the homeland in the red storm. The teachings of the Three Harmonies had focused on Body, Spirit, and Mind – and the power of the mind was the mark of its leaders. Unseen. Needing no sorcerous tomes, exotic components, or strange rituals, ready to respond in an instant to a channeled and focused will. And that power will answer still to those few who know how to call the last traces of the masters from the misty reaches of the past.

  • The Inner Fire, Specialized for Increased Effect: Bonus “Slots” are converted into Power (2 Points/Level of the bonus slot, bonus slots converted to Power cannot be used for other purposes) and the user may select psionic abilities from the basic Psion/Wilder list), but the number of available effects is halved and the caster level and safe usage level limits (Casting Level = 1/2 User Level, Maximum level of spell usable safely = User Level/4, rounded down) of The Inner Fire continue to apply. These are normal manifestations, not supernatural powers (6 CP).

The Triads Inner Fire Discipline List:

  • L1 (1 Power, Level 4+): Call to Mind, Empathy, and Entangling Ectoplasm.
  • L2 (3 Power, Level 8+): Body Equilibrium, Detect Hostile Intent, and Knock.
  • L3 (5 Power, Level 12+): Dispel Psionics, Energy Wall, and Time Hop.
  • L4 (7 Power, Level 16+): Correspond, Dimension Door, and Freedom of Movement.
  • L5 (9 Power, Level 20+): Ectoplasmic Shambler, Plane Shift, and True Seeing.
  • L6 (11 Power, Level 24+): Cloud Mind (Mass), Retrieve, and Temporal Acceleration,
  • L7 (13 Power, Level 28+): Divert Teleport, Energy Wave, and Personal Mind Blank.
  • L8 (15 Power, Level 32+): Iron Body, Shadow Body, and True Metabolism.
  • L9 (17 Power, Level 36+): Etherealness, Microcosm, and Timeless Body.

Note that most of these will not be usable until very high levels due to the restrictions on The Inner Fire. Using Charisma-Based Bonus Spell Slots… Charisma 12+ = +2 Power, 14+ = +6 Power, 16+ = +12 Power, 18+ = +20 Power, 20+ = +32 Power, 22+ = +48 Power, and so on.

  • Adept: Diplomacy, Psicraft, Sense Motive, and Spellcraft, Specialized/only to double the boost provided by Augmented Bonus, Below (3 CP).
  • Augmented Bonus/Dedicated Student: Add (Con Mod) (totaling +2 x Con Mod with Adept) to each of Diplomacy, Psicraft, Sense Motive, and Spellcraft (6 CP).
  • Lore (As per Bardic Knowledge) (6 CP).
  • Upgraded Proficiencies: A Bokor is normally proficient with Simple Weapons. This is upgraded to being proficient with all Simple, Martial, and Exotic Weapons (12 CP).
  • Additional Psionic Ability: Psionic Blade. L3, costs 5 Power. Manifested as a Swift Action; the user pours psionic energy into a weapon, adding his or her Charisma to Attack Checks and (level, +10 Max) to Damage for the next three minutes (2 CP).

The Triad isn’t very powerful at low levels even if the skill bonuses will have a larger relative impact there – but at mid-levels and up combining a high Charisma with the Triad can provide quite a lot of Power and a fairly decent array of abilities to use it with. Going further, the Triad will continue to provide new powers well into the epic levels. Most of the rest is just lagniappe, although the Psionic Blade ability can be a useful contribution to a melee build and the weapon proficiencies can come in handy at times. Still, if you want to rely on a weapon you’ll hopefully have learned to use it long before you can call on the Triad .

The Heartless Shadow (32 CP + 3 CP Disadvantage / Dependent on Shadows. Those channeling The Heartless Shadow suffer a -3 penalty to all rolls when they are out in intense bright light, such as direct sunlight).

Vanus is, once again, not really a name; it’s another obscure word (likely Latin or Estonian) that can be translated in various ways (boastful, ostentatious, vain, empty, vacant, void, unsubstantial, and untrustworthy) – which at least explains where the “legend” came from. He radiates fear, he lets one nearby ally take a free move action once per round, escaping almost any confinement, he does +1d6 damage when attacking a weaker foe and gives you a big bonus to Listen checks. Ergo we have the Heartless Shadow. An obsession with capturing or killing Keyblade Wielders is optional.

  • Augmented Bonus: Add (Cha Mod) to (Int Mod) for Skill Points through L1, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect/points may only be spent on Listen (Perception in Pathfinder), Hide (Stealth in Pathfinder), and Ride and must be distributed evenly between them (6 CP).
  • Presence/Aura of Fear: As per Doom to enemies who come within 10, Specialized for Increased Effect (Those who fail to save are Frightened, those who save are Shaken) / will not take effect again until the duration of the effect expires, once a creature saves it is immune for twenty-four hours (6 CP).
  • Presence, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (Vaporous Jaunt) / only affects a single ally within 30 feet per turn, only usable once every three rounds. Designating the ally to be affected is a free action (6 CP).

Vaporous Jaunt: Transmutation, L2, Components V, Casting Time 1 Standard Action, Range: Medium, Target: One willing creature, Duration: Instantaneous, Saving Throw: Will Negates (Harmless), Spell Resistance: Yes.

The target dissolves into mist, reforming at a place of it’s choice within it’s normal movement range – although, since no physical movement is required, chains, bars, hold spells, grapples, and similar obstacles will not prevent the Jaunt and no attacks of opportunity are triggered. Similarly, this does not require an action on the part of the target.

  • Innate Enchantment (11 CP). All effects are Swift or Immediate, SL1, CL1, Unlimited-Use Use-Activated for an effective value of 2000 GP each.
    • Void Cloak/Invisibility, Swift
    • Shadow Walk/Swift Expeditious Retreat
    • Night Wings/Feather Fall
    • Form of the Void/Windy Escape (Pathfinder)
    • Shadow Strike (Your weapons do +1d6 damage for the round)
  • Shield of Shadows/Block (Melee) (6 CP).

The Heartless Shadow is a surprisingly capable team fighter, and almost always gets to use its Swift Actions, even if its swift abilities are fairly minor. The ability to shuttle allies about, cause fear in the enemy, and block attacks makes it a reasonably effective fighter as well.

Mucha Lucha (32 CP + 3 CP Disadvantage / Accursed. Mucha Lucha comes with an elaborate mask, and the channeler will resist all attempts to remove it. If someone manages to remove it anyway, the innate enchantments he grants will not work until the channeler puts it back on).

According to the Ars Goetia, Zagan makes men witty and wise, changes various liquids into wine or oil or water (sources vary) and turn metals into coins. Considering what many of the others are supposed to be able to do… that’s not much of a portfolio. Wizards of the Coast gave him various snake-themed abilities, possibly due to his being a patron of counterfeiters and deceivers. Both are a bit meh, so I bring you Mucha Lucha, the Spirit of Masked Wrestling.

  • Anime Master, Specialized and Corrupted/only for Grappling (2 CP): Increases your size by one level for grappling purposes.
  • Evasive/Grapple: takes no attacks of opportunity for making a grapple attempt (3 CP).
  • Specialist / Grapple: +4 to Grapple (3 CP).
  • Presence/Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (Only usable once every five rounds, only affects a single target within 30′), produces an Aversion effect (6 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment (10 CP):
    • Embrace The Wild: +2 to Listen and Spot, Gain Low-Light Vision and either Blindsense out to 30′ or Scent (chosen when the Mystery is summoned) (2000 GP).
    • Fist of Stone: +6 Enhancement Bonus to Strength for the purposes of attack rolls, grapple checks, or breaking and crushing items. May make one natural slam attack, dealing 1d6 points of damage + your new Strength bonus (or 1-1/2 times your Strength bonus if you make no other attacks in the round) (2000 GP).
    • Corrosive Grasp: Gain a touch attack doing 1d6+1 Acid Damage (2000 GP).
    • Grip of Iron: +4 Enhancement Bonus to Grapple Checks (Psionic, still 2000 GP).
    • Serpents Bane: You gain +2 to Attacks and +2d6 Damage against snakes, snakelike creatures, and creatures with a natural poison attack (Personal-Only, 1400 GP). . This lets you easily out-wrestle huge boa constrictors and anacondas.
  • Immunity to Dispelling effects (Common/Minor/Great, Specialized and Corrupted / only to protect Innate Enchantments, Only those that come with this Mystery, 4 CP).
  • Augmented Bonus: Add (Cha Mod) to (Int Mod) for Skill Points through L1, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect/points may only be spent on a Wrestling Martial Art (although each summoner may create their own Dex or Str based style), Tumble (Acrobatics in Pathfinder), and Intimidate and the points must be distributed evenly between them (6 CP).
  • Specific Knowledge/The Lore of Masked Wrestling (1 CP)

Mucha Lucha is obviously a bit of a niche Mystery. He’s quite good at what he does, and grappling can be quite effective up until Freedom Of Movement is a pretty standard precaution – but most adventuring parties really don’t need a professional wrestler along. Still, if you ever need that sort of cover, or are up against  a swarm of minor casters or some such… Mucha Lucha may be right up your alley.

Zceryll

The last level six Mystery is from a Class Chronicles article – and Zceryll raises four major red flags.

First off, it’s from a web article. There ARE very good web articles out there, but web articles are notorious for dubious quality and wonky mechanics for a reason.

That articles initial premise – that Vestiges, originating from any dimension in the multiverse and now resident beyond it, somehow need “adapting” to local histories setting to make them usable – demonstrates that the author doesn’t get the basic idea of what a “Vestige” is supposed to be. Given that, it’s all too likely that he or she doesn’t understand how to build one either.

It’s for the Forgotten Realms – a setting notorious for mechanics like “Spellfire” and for Mary Sue and Marty Stu characters.

It’s widely considered the best vestige available before epic levels. There’s a certain relationship here with the first problem on this list isn’t there?

So Zceryll:

  • Grants the (non-epic) “pseudonatural” template. So… you become an Outsider, get a +20 insight bonus on an attack check once per day, get some (15 Max) resistance to Acid and Electricity, get some Damage Reduction (10/Magic max), and Gain (10 + Level, Max total 25) Spell Resistance, can take a weird form that causes attackers to suffer a -1 Morale Penalty when attacking you, and you get a +0 to +2 to your CR. And yet there are – quite specifically – no penalties to diplomacy, or perform, or any other activities for becoming a writhing lovecraftian horror from beyond. It doesn’t even make you hard to recognize. And here I would have thought that most people would find it awkward. So you get a poorly-implemented template that was meant for monsters only. Do any other vestiges grant +2 ECL templates? No?
  • You gain immunity to Confusion, Insanity, and Weird spells. Not to Confusion or Insanity effects, but just to those three specific spells. Why not, say, Phantasmal Killer since Weird is just an area of effect version? Who knows? In addition, you receive a +1 bonus per four binder levels on saving throws against mind-affecting effects. Well… OK.
  • You can fire a ranged touch attack ray up to medium range that dazes an opponent who fails a will save for 1d3 rounds. Once you have used this ability, you cannot do so again for 5 rounds. A fairly good ability, but at least it makes some sense and the mechanics are clear enough.
  • “Summon Alien: You can summon any creature from the summon monster list that a sorcerer of your level could summon. Any creature you summon with this ability gains the pseudonatural template. Thus, at 10th level you could summon any creature from the summon monster I-V list. When you reach 14th level, you can summon any creature from the summon monster I-VII list. You can only summon creatures that can be affected by the pseudonatural template. Once you have used this ability, you cannot do so again for 5 rounds.”

OK… Disregarding that the ability does not say how long your summoned monsters stick around (I’d say that it’s most likely intended to be one round per level, like the Summon Monster spells), whether or not you can call multiple lower-level creatures like the Summon Monster spells (I’d say no), and whether or not you can control what you summon (probably yes, but it doesn’t say so), there are problems with this over and above the author’s poor implementation (yet another confidence-reducer – as if I needed any more).

Most obviously… you get to do more summoning than any actual summoner – up to 2880 times per day. Producing effects of up to level nine (since this ability scales instead of being limited to effects based on the level at which this vestige can first be summoned). And that gives you similar access to an immense range of spells. Just to start off with, this provides effectively unlimited access to Repairing Touch, Spider Climb, Invisibility, Magic Missile, Dispel Magic, Glitterdust, Gust of Wind, Neutralize Poison, Pyrotechnics, Scorching Ray, Suggestion, Wind Wall, Obscuring Mist, and Cure Moderate Wounds – among many other spells. Just for some further highlights…

  • Level Twelve? Add Animate Dead, Bestow Curst, Create Food and Water, Dominate Monster, Cure Serious Wounds, Quickened Fireball, Fog Cloud, Lightning Bolt, Wall of Stone, Magic Circle Against Evil, Speak with Animals…
  • Level Fourteen? Add Greater Command, Commune, Death Ward, Dimensional Anchor, Fly, Holy Smite, Major Creation, Major Image, Phantasmal Killer, Raise Dead, Remove Curse, True Seeing, Wind Walk, Wall of Ice.
  • Level Sixteen? Add Blade Barrier, Cone of Cold, Entangle, Heroism, Knock, Passwall, Polymorph Other, Scrying, Stone Shape, and Telekinesis.
  • Level Eighteen? Add Blasphemy, Death Ward, Dismissal, Dispel Chaos/Evil/Law, Greater Dispel Magic, Divination, Enervation, Enthrall, Find the Path, Freedom of Movement, Heal, Hold Monster, Holy Word, Greater Invisibility, Locate Creature, Locate Object, Nondetection, Prismatic Spray, Reincarnate, Greater Shadow Conjuration, Stone to Flesh, Symbol (any), Trap the Soul, Tongues, Wall of Force, and Wall of Fire.

So… your minions can do the fighting, the healing, the blasting, the battlefield control, and the construction work, get you all the information you like, dispel enemy magic, and help you sneak about and get into places. They can charm and manipulate people for you. They can create illusions and provide undead minions just in case keeping two or three monsters around all the time is not enough. Admittedly you have to spend 20% of your time summoning – but there are entire core classes which are far less potent and versatile than this single ability.

Now I COULD build this. I could throw in something like Kagura’s specialized reality editing to get the summoning and lesser effects, put in another template-bestowing effect, and kludge some sort of dimensional overlay (with a superhero universe to get a continuous flow of mana to power everything with) ability together (an immunity or some of the mystic artist powers could do it). It would be a HORRIBLE kludge though, and no sane game master would allow it any more than they would allow the original Vestige.

I’m not going to bother. If you must have an “I Win!” button there’s not much point in playing.

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2 Responses

  1. It says that Ipos provides a d4 hit die, specialized to only affect level-based effects, for 2 CP. But I always thought the cost for a hit die would be 4+die-type, in this case 8 CP, which would also explain how class.levels, that come with an automatic d4 hit dice provide 24 CP as opposed to a template’s 32 CP.

    That sounds a bit weird, but wouldn’t Ipos provide a d0 hit die?

    • And so he does. That comes up in a few builds – mostly templates that include an animal shapeshift that calls for a minimum number of hit dice. Since those wouldn’t work properly if applied to a character lacking the minimum number of hit dice, they sometimes include a few d0 hit dice (providing [Con Mod] hit points each) to boost the total. Like many other oddities, it’s a corner case that’s occasionally handy.

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