Granny Part IV – Rulership, Miscellany, Investments, and Equipment

Vamachara Tamas, The Left-Hand Path of Mastery (or The Way of the Dark Overlord) (20 CP).

  • Rajanyoga: Dominion, Specialized for Reduced Cost / Granny draws on the awe and mystery of being a mysterious figure that works from the shadows. Thus she may be the power behind the throne (or at least the most respected advisor for the country), may be a patron of several covens of witches, a major figure in the underworld, and more – but she must do so without directly ruling, and so gets only half the usual number of dominion points for her various roles (3 CP).
  • Asuramantra: Power Words, Specialized for Half Cost and Corrupted for 1.5x Effect / only to store Witchcraft effects (base level of three), only to works on effects modified with Dominion Points to act as Battle Magic (affecting an entire battlefield without level change). With an 18 Con, this allows Granny to stock six such effects – allowing her to create massive healing effects, or toxic miasmas, or a wide variety of other effects. She usually uses Foresight to simply have what she needs available (3 CP).
  • Asura Raksha: Leadership, Specialized for Reduced Cost and Corrupted for Increased Effect (various monsters and creatures, either singly or in groups, treating CR as level)/Granny has to create and provide facilities for her own monsters, by cursing people or animals to transform into suitable, obedient, horrors. (3 CP).
    • With 10 Hit Dice and a Cha Mod of 10, Granny gets 40 CR worth of followers or groups thereof of up to CR 7. Since she tends to like groups of lesser creatures, she’s got: 3 Barghests (CR 7), 4 Hellhounds (CR 7), Rakith (A Giant Weasel Lycanthrope Assassin-Type, CR 2 + 4 Eclipse Class Levels = CR 6), Heksested (Heavy Horse Lycanthrope Witch-steed, CR 3 + 3 Eclipse Levels = CR 6), 6 Ratlings (CR 7), and 4 Werewolves (CR 6 +1 Eclipse Level to give them some magical “gifts”, Berserker, and WOD flavor = CR 7).
  • Kalantaka Dhaal: Reflex Training/Three Action Per Day Variant, Specialized in Defensive / Escape actions only (3 CP).
  • Cintamani Yukti (the art of the wish-fulfilling stones): Create Relic: Specialized and Corrupted: Only for working with points from Enthusiast, can only create 1 CP Relics, each relic must have a 3 CP Disadvantage attached (although this may reduce their cost), relics are created with ominous rituals invoking weird entities from beyond (2 CP). Double Enthusiast, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect: Only for making Relics, only for one-point relics (6 CP).

Granny really SHOULD have Action Hero/Stunts. Unfortunately, Action Hero/Stunts really only works for PC’s who go up in levels reasonably often. Ergo, Granny uses a combination of relic making and foresight to obtain much the same effect; if she REALLY needs a particular ability to bail her out… that just happens to be one of the relics she has ready.

It’s also worth noting that these are also the kind of triks you can play with Action Hero/Stunts; all you have to do is Specialize things for Double Effect (it’s most efficient to specialize the base ability, but it can be done on the fly with practice).

Sample Relic Effects:

  • Consecration Of The Shattered Tower: Sanctum (6 CP) and Cloaking (Specialized for Increased Effect / covers a location – the Sanctum – rather than the user. Despite Granny’s tendency to infuse her residence or stronghold with the dread forces of the Ruinous Powers, even advanced magical and psychic techniques will reveal no trace of that from the outside – and within her Sanctum she gains 24 CP worth of special abilities.
  • The Indomitable Inward Void: Turn Resistance (+6), Corrupted for Increased Effect / user must spend 2 Power (this may be done at any time and does not count as an action) to activate this ability for five minutes. May be Specialized against a particular attack type (or in some other fashion) for Double Effect (+18 Levels). Is someone trying to hit you with Blasphemy or Holy Word? Censure? Death Strike? Any other annoying hit-die or level based effect? Go ahead; spend an Action Point, jump your effective hit die or level by +18, and shrug it off (12 CP).
  • The Dragon’s Grasping Claw: Shaping (Specialized, Only for adding flourishes to the use of magical items, 3 CP), Dragonfire (Specialized, only for pouring available energy into magical items, usually at 3 Spell Levels = 1 Charge), and Eye of the Dragon (Specialized for Increased Effect/only works three times per day to automatically absorb an incoming spell or effect and pass it’s energy into Dragonfire. This does not count as an action, 6 CP). (12 CP Total). This allows the user to absorb up to (Int) levels worth of incoming spells, without expending an action, and whether or not they are individually directed, and use them to recharge his or her magic items.
  • Whisper Of The Winds: Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized in Saving Throws (6 CP) and Reflex Training (3/Day Extra Action Variant, 6 CP).
  • Falling Night Sigil: Seal of Life/Death (Specialized, only to protect against positive energy channeling, 3 CP), Seal of Light/Darkness (Specialized, only usable against those using holy attacks against you, 3 CP), Inner Light/Darkness (6 CP). This allows Granny to spend a usage of Channeling to gain the benefits of the Half-Fiend Template. Since the user’s effective hit dice for the use of Spell-Like Abilities = Intensity her enhancements to that do apply.
  • Talisman Of The Forest King: Shapeshift with Tiny and Diminutive Forms and +2 Bonus Uses (12 CP). While shapeshifting has all kinds of recreational and practical uses, it’s also one of Granny’s last-resort escapes: use a reflex action, turn into a mouse or some such, drop through the grate she will happen to be standing on (foresight again), and slide down (along a curve to break line of sight) into a maze of mouse tunnels.

Since Granny can use six Relics, if you don’t want to bother with using Foresight – or want her to rely on it less – you can just use some or all of the six noted above routinely. They do cover a lot of the basic defenses between them.

  • Ward of Yama: Immunity to Over-Optimized Characters (Common, Severe, Major, Specialized for Increased Effect / double effect against the most over-optimized character in a given group, normal effect against the second-most over-optimized character, no effect against any further characters or against any characters at all if the party contains no over-optimized characters (12 CP).

Yes, this bestows DR 60, blocks 12 points of attribute damage or drain, and spells of up to level ten, and provides a +12 on saves against other effects generated by the most over-optimized character, and half those benefits against the second most over-optimized character. This won’t stop an Ubercharger, or Hulking Hurler, or similar – but it will seriously hinder rather a lot of builds for a mere 12 CP.

This is pretty silly, but quite allowable. So, for that matter, is using Action Hero / Stunts to buy an immunity to one particular character for one minute – but that’s allowable too.

Maleficent: Before the sun sets on her sixteenth birthday, she will prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel, and fall into a sleep like death! A sleep from which she will never awaken!

Maleficent: The dark curse? Really? You must know that even it’s unholy power can not bring your loved one back from the dead. Have you considered a pet? They can be quite comforting.

Miscellaneous Powers (21 CP):

  • Amrit Kalash, The Tithonic Rite: Immunity/Death by old age (Uncommon, Severe, Minor. Specialized for Reduced Cost / Like many other flawed immortality effects, this ability does nothing to prevent aging; it simply keeps the user from dying because his or her “time is up”. If they can avoid accidents, disease, and similar difficulties they may spend many centuries being venerable elders. This ability thus works much better if combined with ways to prevent the loss of attribute points due to age and some method of age-shifting (3 CP)
  • The Dark Revenance: Returning / As long as one or more of her Shadow-Familiars exists to bring her back, Specialized / may require many months (3 CP).
  • Omen Mastery: Occult Sense / Attackers. Granny is always at least vaguely aware of when a group is coming for her. When actually attacked she cannot be caught flat-footed and is always considered to have just had three rounds to prepare (6 CP).
  • Ward of Maya: Cloaking / Granny appears to divination as a generic kindly old lady, with a bit of skill in ritual and white witchery perhaps, but no great powers (6 CP).
  • Money Management: Privilege / Landlord: You have assorted local, non-liquid assets – ownership of, or shares in mundane or magical businesses, lands, or structures with a net value of one-half/three-quarters of the base wealth of a PC of the your level for 3/6 CP. Sadly, these cannot (for whatever reason) be converted to cash. You may either use something like Pathfinder’s downtime holdings system or – for the sake of simplicity – get a 5% yearly return on whatever portion of your holdings you devote to getting cash or use 10% (whether in amount or time) of whatever facilities you own. Thus, if you own a shipping company with three ships, you could reasonably divert one for three and a half months (10% of the 36 they will have available this year) to take you and your friends on an expedition – or use 10% of the space in the ships holds to transport your own cargo or some such. Similarly, you can use an office and some of the space in their warehouses. In general, this is best used to gain access to various facilities or (if lifestyle costs are in play) to pay for those. Like it or not, 5% of 50% (or even 75%) of your wealth by level will not greatly increase your power – but at higher levels it will pay for a nice lifestyle and get you some social influence.
    • Granny has Money Management at the 3 CP level, and – at level eight – thus has 16,500 GP in non-liquid investments. Of that…
      • 5000 GP is invested in a Greater Marvelous Tattoo Parlor, entitling her to the use of three Tattoos. She normally uses +4 Con, Spell Resistance 33, and a +2 boost to her effective Caster Level).
      • 4200 GP is invested in a Fantastic Stable, allowing her the use of six of it’s summons per year. Granny usually keeps a couple of Unicorns around the House of Wisdom (it helps her image and provides emergency medical treatment if anyone gets hurt), two Manticores at Caer Hunleff (to ride and to support the garrison), four Pegasi (for one summons) on call to carry messages and do any necessary scouting and such, and holds one summons in reserve in case she needs to have something replaced early.
      • 3600 GP is invested in a Type V Shrine of War, entitling her to the use of a dozen of the 1200 +5 weapon enchantments it maintains. Four of them normally go to keeping the guards at Caer Hunleff stocked with 200 +5 Bolts between them, one goes to each of her four “henchmen”, one each goes to each of her four level six minions, one goes to Rakith, two go to Heksested, and one is for her.
      • That leaves 3700 GP. This is invested in her “family farm” – a pleasant, if rather old-fashioned, place with sprawling orchards (which require more startup time but are less work later on), the usual farmhouse-barn-chicken coop-pigpen-well house combination, various minor Conjures to make life easier (Elfin Harvest Baskets, a Composter, the “gentleman farmer” package, etc), and similar conveniences. Overall, the “Grandchildren” can take care of it handily.

On Investment:

Why 5% in actual income or 10% in use of facilities? Well…

Business and investment is an insanely complicated subject – but the general historical rule has usually been the about same: if your expected return-after-risk is more than about 5%-over-inflation per year, then something will soon cut into that return. Taxes. Bandits. Competition. Raises for your managers. Whatever. If it’s under that then you do not have a particularly attractive investment.

So your expected return is (Investment) x (1.05)Ex(Years until payout) / (Chance of Success + 1%.). While this does presume a binary model of success or failure, partial losses and lower-than expected profits tend to distribute themselves on a bell curve, adding enormous complexity to the math while changing the overall results very little. Similarly, adding variable terms for inflation is irrelevant to most d20 games, which use fixed price lists and static, fully fungible, currencies based on pure metal weight at fixed exchange ratios (another absurdly unrealistic, but extremely convenient, game convention).

  • So if it’s a one-year investment account and the chance of success is 98%, then you can expect to see it offered at about 1.06%, at least in a healthy, non-inflationary economy. Interestingly, that was the rate that savings accounts paid when I was a child.
  • If it’s a three year junk bond with only an 80% chance of success, a reasonable offer is closer to a 143% total return over that time period
  • If it’s a share in a five year trading voyage with a 15% chance of success… it might reasonably be offered at eight to one – and possibly even more to make up for the lengthy period of uncertainty. When such voyages pay off they make men rich.

“Investment” becomes gambling when you do not have a very good idea of one or more of the number of years involved, the final rate of return, or the chance of success. If you happen to have a better idea of what one or more of those numbers are than the rest of the possible investors then you have either earned that advantage through study and investigation or you have a “tip”. If you got that information from someone connected to the investment than it’s “insider trading” and is generally considered an unfair advantage.

Yes, this is still incredibly oversimplified. It will do for game purposes however.

Since this is a character attribute purchased with character points, it pays once per year, and there is no real risk of loss – so now you know why I picked 5% for cash. The “10% in kind” is because you’re avoiding the expenses inherent in converting to a cash profit and because having access to a ship, or an alchemists shop, or some such is a LOT more interesting and exciting than having a modest investment income. Facilities provide a reason to adventure. Investment Income provides a reason to stay home.

So what about treasure? Well… Granny is a heroic NPC, and so gets 7800 GP worth of personal treasure at level eight. Worse, she cannot spend more than 390 GP worth of it on any one magical item. That pretty much restricts her to a few potions, cantrip wands, and minor trinkets.

  • Ring of Aesculapius (180 GP): reduces the severity of illnesses in those she tends.
  • Bracers of Legerdemain (250 GP): makes handling toxins and alchemical reagents much safer.
  • Air-Bladder (375 GP): for if she needs to effectively hold her breath for a long time, such as when escaping underwater.
  • Alchemical Catalysts (6000 GP): since she uses these up using several of her powers. Also, she hasn’t got much to spend money on.
  • Assorted Holy Symbols (120 GP): several are for use with her Channeling, but several more are just for camouflage. After all, an old lady in a polytheistic universe might be expected to carry several holy symbols, right?
  • Ritual Chest (120 GP): a selection of candles, cards, odd dusts, and other components for ritual magic.
  • Spell Component Pouch (5 GP): granny doesn’t really need this for much, but it gives opponents something to try to grab.
  • Wardrobe (500 GP): assorted fine clothing, some jewelry, a signet ring, and more.
  • Assorted Supplies (250 GP).

Granny is extremely frustrating and dangerous to player characters. She specializes in inflicting long-term, difficult-to-remove, crippling effects. Even worse, she tends to “attack” through her readily-replaceable shadow-familiars from many miles away. She’s hard to find, and will cheerily curse the land about her (disposable) stronghold to throw obstacles (worth no XP since they’re an ability of hers) in her enemies paths, send out disposable construct-minions (also worth no XP) to waste their resources (efficiently focusing on eliminating softer targets first), raise a storm and drop lightning bolts on your head from miles away when you get closer, possibly (depending on how evil she currently is) transform a few random animals or (unrelated) people into monsters (worth XP, but with no treasure outside of the guilt of killing innocent people who have been cursed) if she runs out of more “deserving” monsters to send – and will then teleport (or fly, or burrow, or use shapeshift to get away through a crack in the foundations, or plane shift, or even swim) away rather than fight personally once you reach her. Even if you attempt scry-and-die, she still gets three rounds to get ready for you. If she MUST fight, her main staples are laying darkness that doesn’t hinder her in a wide radius, using the “Enveloping” ability on a Psychic Construct to obtain armor class, extra hit points, and either flight or tunneling (to escape with) (both of which she can automatically have ready one round before you arrive), and using her Nightmare Storm technique to hit everyone attacking her with a Phantasmal Killer.

And if you do kill her (despite her tendency to leave a shadow-familiar to “die” in her place), most of her “treasure” will disappear and she’ll either have her surviving Shadows bring her back or rise as an undead.

Fortunately, Granny really isn’t there to fight. Granny is an evil that exists to forestall greater evils, serving not as a defender, nor as a bringer of justice, but as an avenger. On that ever-anticipated last day, when the light triumphs and all that is evil will be thrown down into the pit… Granny will go down with all the rest, content in the knowledge that she has avenged what was HERS. When adventurers loot a town instead of defending it, when the mongol hordes attempt to overrun a city and put everyone there to the sword… Granny will make sure that their fate is grim enough to dissuade anyone who ever hears of it from even considering doing the same. Did you promise the refugees passage to safety, only to slaughter them and steal what little they carried? Granny will make sure that, when the demons come at last to carry your soul to hell, you will sincerely thank them for giving you refuge from HER.

In terms of her game function. Granny is a cop. She’s the reason why sensible adventurers don’t turn on the people that they should be defending, why thieves guilds stick to a little theft instead of selling the entire population to the Drow for sacrifices, and why the rule of evil overlords still results in a fairly functional civilization. Evil people have kids, and friends, and like living in reasonably comfortable cities, and having a nice lifestyle with reasonably well-behaved and efficient servants just like the good guys do – and they are willing to be a LOT more vicious, and less sporting, about defending those things than the good guys are. The good guys may leave you tied up on the steps of the police station with a note – but when the bad guys leave you skinned, blinded, gutted, and nailed to a sign proclaiming your guilt to scream for a few hours before your inevitable slow and horrible death the message tends to get around.

Secondarily, of course… Granny can provide a party with special equipment, supply specific magic items without implying a stockpile of the things, sell powerful poisons, work a wide variety of spells without being good at adventuring (since they have those pesky side effects), teach young adventurers, supply dungeons for low-level types to level up in, act as a mentor, produces prophecies, get you all kinds of information, and otherwise pretty much provide all the background support that a party of adventurers could ever need until they’re ready to go and fight the dragons and other major horrors that she can’t handle herself.

And she doesn’t care all that much if you’re good or neutral, or evil, as long as you do the job she wants done. As far as she’s concerned… they all have their advantages and disadvantages.

To answer an offline question…

“Why is Granny treating all her skills as class skills?”

It’s because characters who get stuck with NPC wealth by level in Eclipse have a fairly serious disadvantage – and thus should get SOMETHING in compensation. Ergo, major Eclipse-built Pathfinder NPC’s who get stuck with NPC wealth-by-level get to treat any skill they take as a favored class skill. It’s not really enough, but it does save me from the bother of having to pick a skill list.

Endora: [after turning Darrin into a werewolf] Darrin, I feel terrible. I really do. Do you think I want my daughter married to a werewolf?

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2 Responses

  1. […] Granny, The Secret Overlord: Racial Template Free – but what if, say, Granny Smith was an ancient witch-queen, and one of the secret founders and powers of the realm? Why ARE Celestia and Luna only “princesses”? Part II: Skills, Skill Tricks, and Skill-Related Abilities, Part III: Architectural Wonders, Experience by Study, the Thieves Guild, the Defense of Greendale, and her Legendarium Panoply, Part IV: Witchery, Poisons, and the Ruinous Powers, Rulership, Miscellany, Investments, and Equipment. Granny and Player Characters, […]

  2. […] Landlord I, Specialized for Double Effect / you gain your funds from slumlording, usury, rackets, illegal gambling, and many similar activities, and gain an appropriate reputation and legal problems (3 CP). During the times that you are not channeling Greed, this money is tied up in legal problems, protests, and similar difficulties. […]

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