Eclipse d20 – Playing With The Pulps Part III: More Pulp Powers, Pulp Drugs, and Pulp Archetypes

For Part I – the Basic Pulp Hero and Advanced Pulp Hero Templates – Click HERE.

For Part II – Advanced Pulp Powers Part I – Click HERE.

And to continue the list of advanced pulp powers…

  • Pressure Point Mastery/Elfshot: You may spend 1 Power as a free action to cause your unarmed strikes to inflict double-strength Elfshot effects that last for one minute.
  • Prophecy/Witchsight (GM controlled): You may see glimpses of destiny in visions, or hear mysterious voices, or read Tarot Cards, or throw the I-Ching – but you get occasional free clues, or mysterious warnings, or clairvoyant flashes, or what-have-you – but the mechanism remains the same for each individual seer.
  • Providential Privacy/Shadowweave (constant): Mundane attempts to subtly eavesdrop on you, bug or record you, follow you unnoticed, get a look at you when you’re insufficiently dressed, or read over your shoulder, automatically fail thanks to providential shadows, noises, and other interference – but the failure mode (of subtlety or information gathering) is up to the game master.
  • Razor Tongue Technique/Glamour (constant): Your body language, expressions, and words are subtle social weapons. As long as you aren’t actually in combat you can make people look like idiots, infuriate them, flatter them, sow rumors, or provoke dissension without appearing to say or do anything particularly out of line. You can make a Diplomacy, Bluff, Oratory, or Intimidate check once per round as a free action without this being apparent to anyone who does not make a will save. You may spend 1 Power as a swift action to gain one use of Pathfinder’s Antagonize, Call Truce, or Taunt feats.
  • Reaching Hand, The/The Hand Of Shadows: You may manipulate items within 60 feet as if you were using one hand with Str 12. This does not require line of sight if you know where the item to be manipulated is and provides tactile feedback, allowing you to pick locks and such with your usual skills. You may thus unbar doors, yank a vehicles steering wheel, throw a knife, or even inflict 3d6 damage to a target who fails to save by squeezing their internal organs (this will not work if they are immune to critical hits). This costs 1 power per minute of use.
  • Scent/Witchsight (constant): You gain the Scent ability. Note that, outside of combat, you can identify disguised individuals by their scent, detect and identify poisons and drugs in food, drinks or the air, locate herbs and other substances, gain a +6 bonus to locating food and water in the wild, identify wines, identify potions, and perform similar tricks.
  • Second Wind/Hyloka: You may spend 1 Power as an Immediate Action to gain (1d6+Con) (that’s Con, not Con Mod) temporary hit points – or twice that if you are wounded to the 50% mark or more. Unfortunately, these only last for ten minutes, this ability cannot be used more than once an hour, and such hit points do not provide healing, although new damage is (as usual) taken from temporary hit points first.
  • Sensory Filtering/Hyloka (constant): You may automatically filter out unwanted sensory stimuli. You cannot be blinded, stunned, or dazzled by bright lights, nauseated by odors, or influenced by torture or pain. You may also filter distractions, allowing you to do things like listen to a specific conversation in a crowded, noisy, room without penalty.
  • Shadow Meld/Shadowweave: You may spend 1 Power to cloak yourself in shadows for thirty minutes. During this time you gain a +12 Circumstance Bonus to Stealth and may hide in plain sight – but these benefits only apply if there are at least some natural shadows or dimly lit areas about.
  • Shamanic Adept/Dreamfaring: You may detect the presence of nature spirits and communicate with them. After that, it’s up to you to be persuasive, but anything from getting information on up to causing or preventing natural disasters is possible.
  • Signature Weapon/Witchfire (constant): A favored weapon or pair of weapons is infused with Power, gaining “+2″ worth of Enhancement Bonuses and/or special abilities (they do not have to include an enhancement bonus). You may apply this effect to your fists if you so desire.
  • Simulate Death/Hyloka: You may spend 3 power as an Immediate Action to enter a deep trance. In this state you need not breathe more than once per week, do not bleed, and are basically treated as an object; you are unaffected by poison, energy drain, nondestructive extremes of temperature, and so on. You may set triggers that will immediately awaken yourself (2 Power per Trigger) or can be awakened with twenty minutes and a DC 20 Heal check.
  • Soul Sight/Witchsight (constant): With a few moments of concentration you may look beyond the surface of reality to peer into the realms of the soul. Unfortunately, what this can show you will vary from game to game; in some settings you may see deeply into peoples personalities or prior incarnations or what mystical forces are influencing them. Perhaps you will see and interact with powerful spiritual entities, or lost gods Perhaps you will be able to guide the wandering dead to their final destinations. Or maybe you won’t. You can, however, spend 3 Power and a Standard Action to set a soul-link on anyone who fails to save within twenty feet. While you can only maintain (Cha Mod) soul-links at a time, until you drop such a link you will have a general idea of the target’s location and condition no matter where they go – and may get odd warnings and visions about what they’re up to. For 5 Power and a touch, you can attempt a meeting of souls – perhaps exploring deep motivations, or coming to an understanding, or getting to battle a neurosis or possessing entity. Discuss this one with your game master; this is a deeply mystical power and will mean different things in different settings.
  • Stage Magic/Hand of Shadows and Shadowweave: You get a +10 bonus to Sleight of Hand and Escape Artist and may perform elaborate feats of stage magic with Sleight of Hand, a few basic props, and either 1d4 rounds to prepare or the expenditure of one power as a swift action, and may spend one power to use Sleight Of Hand or Disable Device at a range of 20 feet.
  • Surge of Strength/Hyloka: You may spend 1 Power as a free action to gain a +10 bonus on a single strength-related check, including jumping, melee damage, or smashing things.
  • Synergistic Knowledge/The Inner Eye: You may pool the information available to every willing target within twenty feet, including things they have forgotten or clues that were never mentioned to the other characters. Everyone involved can attempt to aid whatever the best knowledge skill roll in the group is and theories may be assembled using those augmented skills and all of the available information. This requires a three full rounds and the expenditure of 3 Power. (Yes, this makes the user a convenient channel for game master exposition and for leading questions – such as “but didn’t you informant also say that…” – when some player hypothesis is wandering off into never-never land).
  • Talons/Hyloka (constant): The user’s “natural weapons” (hands and feet) are toughened enough to inflict 2d4 base damage. They are otherwise treated as normal weapons. Secondarily, the users hands are impervious to needles, rope burns, high voltage electricity, handling hot objects, and similar perils.
  • Thought Sensing/The Inner Eye: You may employ Detect Thoughts and Detect Hostile Intent at no cost. Given a minute, you may employ Object Reading or gather any psychic impressions that are present in the area.
  • Thundering Command/Glamour: You may spend 3 Power and a Standard Action to issue a short and simple command, targeting up to (Cha Mod) specific creatures within a 20′ radius within sixty feet. The effects of such commands persist for three rounds and cannot include self-harm beyond the trivial; ordering someone to provide a few hairs or a drop of blood is quite acceptable though. Exorcists are fond of “Begone!” (sending a spirit back to it’s home plane or, if it’s bound to something, back to whatever binds it), law enforcement is fond of “Drop your weapons!” or “Freeze!”, and so on. Focusing on a single target increases the save DC by two. Traditionally user’s are limited to seven specific commands. In this case they may opt to have some or all of them be Absolute Commands that can also affect inanimate objects, approximating effects of up to level two. For an example, “Open!” might make a creature open it’s mouth or open a gate, but the Absolute Command version would also be functionally equivalent to a Knock spell. Common Absolute Commands include “Burn!” (Combust) and “Shatter!” (Shatter). For that matter, “Jam!” can briefly disable guns or make doors stick,
  • Tinker/Hand of Shadows: You may spend 1 Power to accomplish a days worth of work on a device, vehicle, or similar, in one minute or to accomplish some simple repair or modification that would usually take up to fifteen minutes as a swift action.
  • Venomous Infusion/Hyloka and Witchfire: You gain a choice of seven different toxins or drugs that you may synthesize, and infuse into targets by touch at the cost of 2 Power and a Standard Action. Unfortunately, realistic toxins and drugs are enormously complicated,

Doing Drugs n’ D20 – DD&D

d20 really doesn’t have a useful system for drugs. That’s partially because “Drugs are Bad” and so mostly only appeared in The Book Of Vile Darkness (oddly, I know many people who take drugs for blood pressure or other conditions without any notable evil) and mostly because realistic drugs generally have no real effect in d20 terms. After all, d20 is a system that ignores pain, the effects of major injuries, and broken bones. You can be stung by a colossal scorpion, wind up with your body having more poison than blood in it, and shrug it off with a good die roll. If marijuana makes you mellow and hungry… MAYBE that’s a +1 on will saves against certain emotion-controlling spells and a roleplaying note, but is it really worth tracking?

Fortunately, these are Pulp and Fantasy drugs, rather than realistic ones, and do have dramatic and impressive effects: Ergo…

  • Pulp and Fantasy Drugs and Toxins approximate the effects of spells of up to level two.
  • They have Alchemical effects, and provide alchemical modifiers.
  • They will not affect creatures with no constitution scores.
  • No more than three doses of a particular drug will work on any one individual in any one day. Doses after that are wasted.
  • The more powerful beneficial drugs exhaust the bodies resources. After they wear off, the user suffers Fatigue. If the user is immune to Fatigue in the first place, they won’t work.
  • Ingested substances require 2d4 rounds to take effect. Directly infused substances take effect in the round of use.
  • Pre-prepared substances are normally good for 1d4+1 days.
  • Real drugs and toxins often have a wide variety of deleterious long-term effects. In D20 being stabbed a dozen times is easily endurable and will heal up without a trace in days even without treatment. Ergo, D20 drugs have no long-term effects.
  • Addiction is not a problem either. D20 characters routinely ignore pain, stress, and comfort, stay awake for days on end, and more. If they want to quit using something, it really isn’t a problem for them.

So here are some drugs and toxins, ready to go:

  • Aggrande I through VI (Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, Constitution, Dexterity, Charisma): Enhance Attribute +2, 1 Hour/Level Duration (The Practical Enchanter). Variants have double effect if limited to a particular purpose – boosting Strength for Carrying Capacity, Intelligence for enhanced recall (Knowledge Skills) or to raise Spell DC’s, Wisdom for Enhanced Senses or for Will Saves, Constitution for Hit Points or Fortitude Saves (or the ever-popular Sexual Capacity), Dexterity for Armor Class, or Extra AOO or Reflex Saves, and so on. Anti-Trauma: Light Revival (The Practical Enchanter, as Cure Light Wounds but will work for a few rounds after “death”).
  • Antipsychotic: Allows a madman to function relatively normally for 3d6 hours.
  • Apercept: Induce Blindness/Deafness.
  • Aphrodisiac: Suggestion (Infatuation/Have Sex). Note that other specific drugs produce other specific suggestions and so induce other moods and effects. Still, nothing has ever been as popular as the search for a genuine aphrodisiac except the search for money and power.
  • Augamenti I through VI:(Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, Constitution, Dexterity, Charisma): Bulls Strength, Foxes Cunning, etcetera. Variants have double effect if limited to a particular purpose – boosting Strength for Carrying Capacity, Intelligence for enhanced recall (Knowledge Skills) or to raise Spell DC’s, Wisdom for Enhanced Senses or for Will Saves, Constitution for Hit Points or Fortitude Saves (or the ever-popular Sexual Capacity), Dexterity for Armor Class, or Extra AOO or Reflex Saves, and so on.
  • Bactril: Induces minor regeneration and tissue adaption, facilitating the regrowth / reconstruction of things like noses, eyes, and fingers, cosmetic surgery, and reducing the difficulty and tissue-matching needed for transplants – making such things possible with the Heal skill at reasonably low DC’s.
  • Berserkerite: Wrath (The Practical Enchanter).
  • Bloodstop: Immortal Vigor II (The Practical Enchanter).
  • Botulism: Torn Muscle (Pathfinder).
  • Cancerphage: Cures cancer given about a weeks worth of once per day doses.
  • Clarity: +4 to Perception and Knowledge Checks but -4 to Charisma Checks for the day.
  • Combat Drug: Heroism.
  • Comprehensive Immunization: Provides a wide range of inoculations.
  • Contraceptive (Hedge Magic) Lasts one day for males, one month for females.
  • Depressant: Induces Exhaustion.
  • Elixir Of Health (A.K.A. “Azoth”): Make two immediate extra saves versus a disease, each with a +5 bonus.
  • Ephemera: This drug greatly accelerates cognition. The user gets to ask (Int Mod +2) extra questions as free actions each round. In combat the user may give up two questions (presumed to be about possible openings) in exchange for a +1 Insight Bonus to an attack or a +1 Insight Bonus to their AC. The effect lasts for about ten minutes, but it seems much longer.
  • Fleshknitter: Fast Healing II (The Practical Enchanter, lasts 2d8 + Caster Level (max 10) rounds).
  • Halcyon Tonic: Cures vitamin and mineral deficiencies, +2 on all rolls against diseases for one week.
  • Hypercaf: Postpones all feelings of Fatigue or Exhaustion for a full day. Then you crash.
  • Hyperstim: Negates the effects of one negative level for twenty-four hours.
  • Immunobooster: Rite of Bodily Purity (Pathfinder). It does not require an hour to administer, but does to take effect.
  • Intoxicant: Touch of Idiocy.
  • Lethe: Confuses memories of the last hour and prevents the effective formation of new memories for another hour.
  • Lifebane: Victim must save or Heal Checks on the victim take a -12 penalty and using healing magic on the victim requires a DC 27 caster level check. This effect lasts for 24 hours.
  • Metset: Adjusts the user’s metabolic rate. May be used to induce (relatively) rapid weight loss (Heal DC 10), induce a deep coma approaching true suspended animation in a willing recipient (Heal DC 20), or reduce the aging rate to 50% of normal (Heal DC 30). A dose lasts for 1d4+1 weeks.
  • Muscle Relaxer: Ray of Enfeeblement.
  • Neurostim: Remove Paralysis.
  • Numbwort: Delay Pain (Pathfinder).
  • Paralytic: Ghoul Touch; 10 minutes/level but no odor.
  • Physiological Regulator: Soothing Word (Pathfinder)
  • Psybane: Allows the user to voluntarily suppress memories, possession, lycanthropy, and similar disorders leading to the loss of mental control for twenty-four hours.
  • Rejuvenation Serum: Lesser Restoration. No fatigue if simply used to eliminate the effects of over-indulgence (hangovers, etc) or to eliminate fatigue or reduce exhaustion.
  • Soma: Makes the user cheerful and happy for twenty-four hours.
  • Sophoric (Nightsnare, Pathfinder). No range, but the victim will remain normally asleep after the effects wear off until they awaken or are awakened naturally.
  • Soulflight: Gives a willing user strange visions, out-of-body experiences, glimpses of the afterlife, and similar experiences – none of them predictably. Usually has a subjective duration of 1d6 x 1d6 hours, lasts about an hour on the physical level.
  • Suppressant (Strength, Intelligence, Etc. -4 for one hour per level). Note that most intoxicants and hallucinogens are simply wisdom suppressants with exotic special effects. Specialized Suppressants – for example, reducing Wisdom for Perception purposes only – are doubly effective.
  • Susparin: Corrects homeostasis malfunctions, such as diabetes, hypo- or hyper-thyroidism,
  • Thermaset: Allows the user’s body to quickly adjust to livable (if possibly very uncomfortable) environmental extremes, including desert heat, arctic cold, water scarcity, and high altitudes.
  • Tranquilizer: Calm Emotions (single target, but ten minutes per level).
  • Troll Serum: User automatically stabilizes if below zero hit points and automatically stops bleeding after the first round. This effect persists for one hour per level.
  • Truth Serum: Touch of Truthtelling (Pathfinder) plus Suggestion (Babble). If the first save fails, the ongoing Suggestion effect will require a save for each question to resist answering – usually with many digressions and at excessive length.
  • Universal Antitoxin: Gain a +10 bonus versus Poison for one hour.
  • Vermifuge: Renders the user’s blood mildly poisonous to other organisms, eliminating various worms, bloodsucking insects, and other parasites for the next day. They’ll need an hourly save.

What with the various variations on aphrodisiacs (or general mood-influencing drugs), augmentations and suppressants, that should easily provide you with eighty or so drugs to work with – which should be more than enough.

  • Ventriloquism/Witchfire: You may create noises, including voices, music, footfalls, and even deafening roars or claps of thunder (fortitude save or deafens for 1d4+1 rounds), anywhere within a sixty foot radius. Extremely loud noises, or very complex ones (including music and equivalents of Shatter and Sound Burst) cost 1 power to generate, voices and simple noises of reasonable volume have no cost.
  • Visage Of The Dragon/Glamour: You may spend 2 Power as a part of an Intimidation check to target all non-allies within a sixty foot radius. If you focus on a single target and succeed you may cause them to freeze in terror as long as you continue to concentrate and they are not blatantly distracted (perhaps by the interposition of a barrier, or being attacked) from your terrifying visage.
  • You Cheat!/Witchsight: You almost invariably win at games of chance and can find any game that happens to be in the vicinity. This can be a good social gateway – no one will mind much if you join in, win twenty dollars, and buy everyone a round of drinks – but using this gift to get large quantities of money tends to attract a LOT of hostility. Unfortunately, you cannot try to turn a situation into a game to get a guaranteed win; betting your companion that you will win a solo fight against thirty opponents is not a game of chance.

Obviously enough, when you get a set of five powers for your investment, a lot of characters will have themed sets. To cover those here are thirty sets of themed abilities for making quick characters or gathering inspiration.

  1. Academic: Defining Aura (famous world-class expert with invaluable expertise and impeccable credentials), Focused Mind, Synergistic Knowledge, I Planned For This Contingency, and Instant Inclusion.
  2. Artiste: Defining Aura (Celebrity Artist, to be pampered and indulged), Grandiose Gesture, Impeccable Image, Instant Inclusion, and Razor Tongue Technique.
  3. Cavalier Cowboy: Adroit Cavalier, Forced March, Greased Lightning, Visage Of The Dragon, and Second Wind.
  4. Doctor: Bioawareness, Defining Aura (Noncombatant healer; an authorative physician and an amazing expert to be recruited if possible), Mystic Adept (Healing), Simulate Death, Venemous Infusion, and You Cheat!
  5. Dragonborn: Blinding Flash, Elemental Mastery, Gliding, Longevity, and Ventriloquism.
  6. Ghost Hunter: Elemental Mastery, Ghost Strike, Medium, Mystic Adept (Dreamfaring), and Soul Sight.
  7. Interrogator: Analytical Gaze, Handwriting Analysis, Lay Of The Land, Sensory Filtering, and Thought Sensing.
  8. Jungle Lord/Lady: Animal Companion, Animal Friend, Outrun The Fireball, Scent, and Surge Of Strength.
  9. Mafia Don: Defining Aura (A deadly criminal mastermind, with wealth, favors, and minions to call upon and a deserved reputation for dealing harshly with those who cross him), I Planned For This Contingency, Inspiring Presence, Instant Inclusion, and Providential Privacy.
  10. Martial Artist: All-Around Sight, Athletic Paragon, Focused Mind, Pressure Point Mastery, and Talons.
  11. Master Investigator: Analytical Gaze, Bioawareness, Handwriting Analysis, Lay Of The Land, and Providential Privacy.
  12. Mechanic: Demolitions, Intuitive Operator, My God That’s A Big Gun, Signature Weapon, and Tinker,
  13. Mercenary: Forced March, Outrun The Fireball, Perfect Healing, Second Wind, and My God That’s A Big Gun.
  14. Munitions Master: Blinding Flash, Demolitions, Kangaroo Pouch, My God That’s A Big Gun, and Signature Weapon.
  15. Mystic: Gliding, Draught Of Eternity, Hypnosis, Mystic Adept (Shadowweave), and Ventriloquism.
  16. Night Phantom: Adhesion, Gliding, Providential Privacy, Sensory Filtering, and Visage Of The Dragon.
  17. Officer: Inspiring Presence, I Planned For This Contingency, Papers Please, Thundering Command, and Visage Of The Dragon.
  18. Operator or Special Agent: A Thousand Faces, Kangaroo Pouch, Demolitions, Impeccable Image, and Signature Weapon.
  19. Orator: Grandiose Gesture, Inspiring Presence, Linguistic Acquisition, Papers Please, and Ventriloquism.
  20. Physical Adept: Athletic Paragon, Draught Of Eternity, Mind Over Body, Perfect Healing, and
  21. Psychic Master: Cloud The Senses, Focused Mind, Prophecy, The Reaching Hand, and Thought Sensing.
  22. Shadow Walker: A Thousand Faces, Cloud The Senses, Darkness, Darksight, and Shadow Meld.
  23. Shaman: All-Around Sight, Ghost Strike, Shamanic Adept, Soul Sight, and Thundering Command.
  24. Socialite: Defining Aura (Utterly harmless, if extremely good-looking, and wealthy party-goer who should be invited to all the best parties and have their expenses paid), Venomous Infusion, Grandiose Gesture, Instant Inclusion, and Razor Tongue Technique.
  25. Speedster: Athletic Paragon, Clouds Above The Earth, Evasive Jinx, Greased Lightning, and Outrun The Fireball.
  26. Stage Magician: Blinding Flash, Stage Magic, Simulate Death, Hypnosis, and Grandiose Gesture.
  27. Street Urchin: Defining Aura (Young, Innocent, Trustworthy, and other descriptives of choice), Demolitions, Evasive Jinx, Lay Of The Land, and You Cheat!
  28. Survivor: Forced March, Outrun The Fireball, Perfect Healing, Second Wind, and Venomous Infusion (usually rare herbs).
  29. Tenacious Bruiser: Athletic Paragon, Forced March, Greased Lightning, Second Wind, and Surge of Strength.
  30. Wandering Exorcist: Focused Mind, Ghost Strike, Medium, Prophecy, and Thundering Command.

Next time around on this; other pulp abilities – including how to acquire early modern-style vehicles.

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2 Responses

  1. […] For Part III – Advanced Pulp Powers Part II, Pulp Drugs, and Pulp Archetypes – Click HERE. […]

  2. […] For Part III – Advanced Pulp Powers Part II, Pulp Drugs, and Pulp Archetypes – Click HERE. […]

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