Eclipsing Warlock

Warlock illustrates a major problem in character conversions. Open-ended powers are fairly common in writing because you don’t have to explain exactly how the powers work to the reader until something comes up – which means that rules and limitations can be added as needed for your plot. In the comics this usually annoys selected readers – the ones who see how a particular ability could easily be used to solve a problem if it wasn’t for the fact that the character with that ability apparently knows nothing about a field that they’re supposed to be an expert in. In reality, this is usually because the writer is NOT an expert in the characters field of study, and so doesn’t know about whatever-it-is – but that does not really work as an in-setting explanation.

In a role-playing game you have to set up all those limitations in advance, know how things work, and be reasonably well aware of the possibilities inherent in any power that you let a character have. That’s why so many RPG’s wind up full of lists of “what this power can do”, and specific spells, and so on. It’s so that the game master has a good idea of what the character can do, rather than having to deal with the players pulling stuff out of nowhere.

Some game masters can handle that, but I’ve seen more than one game collapse when one of the players started asking questions. For example… one Shadowrun game collapsed when the player who happened to be a business major started asking questions about economics. (Just as another went down when a character turned out to have some actual principles). My favorite was the collapse of a Champions game when the question of “How to tell if they’re clones?” came up – and the exercise enthusiast in the group said “Well… we’re working with a team of medical experts. Take a look at the crystals in their bone structure; they develop microfractures under stress,. Those don’t heal because the crystals are inorganic and are formed during bone growth, so comparing them in high and low stress areas will tell you about their age, exercise habits, and a lot more!”

And then the player who read a lot of science magazines chimed in with “And if that doesn’t work we can check…” and gave his own list of tests to try.

Now imagine giving a bunch of college student engineers access to the ability to “mimic any technological device subject only to the technological limitations of a superhero universe.

That’s a bit of a worst-case scenario, but it isn’t pretty is it?

Ergo, this version of Warlock is going to be taking the “list” approach. It’s going to be a pretty generous list, but still a limited one.

THIS version of Warlock builds him as a self-aware construct. Unfortunately, in d20 terms, that is a poor approach. Warlock simply does not have the d20 Construct type. After all, he wasn’t good at attacking, could be stunned, could be subjected to mental effects, death effects, and (exotic) diseases, could heal on his own, could be knocked out or have his attributes drained, was subject to exhaustion, and more. He fed on electricity, and could be recharged through a standard wall socket (although he certainly did not get enough energy that way to actually power most of his tricks). I’ll take the attribute estimates though.

It’s also very hard to say how old he was, but he was apparently “born” with most of his powers. Ergo, most – if not all – of his major abilities are going to be in his technorganic racial template.

Technorganic Entity / Technarch (94 CP / +2 ECL Racial Template or +3 ECL Acquired Template):

  • Racial Attribute Modifiers: Str +2, Con +2 (24 CP).
  • Trick: Transmode Virus. Infecting someone with the Transmode Virus is a throw of the dice; you may get a chance to drain their bioelectric “lifeglow” as they transform – but they might resist the virus, develop an asymptomatic infection (as Douglas Ramsey did), resist the drain or break away before it’s complete (possibly developing their own technorganic powers as S’ym and Nastirih did), and – even if you succeeded – it only put the victims into suspended animation until they got hit with some electricity and woke up with new powers (they may or may not retain their old ones). Given that it is extremely unreliable, and that the results are more or less up to the game master, the circumstances for using this touch-attack trick is simply “when confronted with an organic target that isn’t protected from viruses” (6 CP).
  • Mana Powered Grant of Aid, Corrupted for Increased Effect / substitutes for food and water and can restore fatigue or exhaustion / requires electrical power input. If the source is a Trans-mode Virus victim, that suffices for (1 + their Con Mod) uses. Plants suffice for 1-3 depending on the size, house current suffices for 2 per turn, high voltage stuff up to five (6 CP).
  • Stardrive: Mana Powered Inherent Spell, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect: Only usable out of atmosphere, is extremely fast but does take time, can be followed, and can be detected, blocked, or intercepted along the way. Greater Teleport with a +2 level advantage; you get to look around along the way (6 CP).
  • Amorphous (6 CP). Technarchs basically don’t have a “true form”.
  • Extra Limbs (6 CP).
  • Adept, Specialized for Two Skills Only (Expertise (Computers) and Technolog, 3 CP).
    • +10 to each Adept Skill (10 CP).

Outside of the basic boosts, Warlock could apparently transform his body to emulate virtually any technological device or vehicle – provided, of course, he knew how they worked, that he had sufficient internal resources to keep his core functions online while emulating whatever-it-was, that he had sufficient fine control to emulate the required precision, that his technorganic flesh could emulate the required material properties and structures, that he thought of it, and that the writers wanted it to work.

Really, I suspect that there was a reason that his “vehicle” and “power armor” forms were really just him with a passenger compartment – although the fact that his “mutant power” was pacifism and a desire to be nice was probably a limiting factor too.

Warlocks exact limitations remain pretty much unknown, since his major displays of “power” were 1) competing with the Impossible Man as to who could look more impressive (there was a lot of teleporting during that, but that may well have been the Impossible Mans doing) and 2) trying to stop the Beyonder, upon whom his energy attacks were completely ineffectual.

Now there may have been later character development, but he was dead until fairly recently – so I’m going to assume that what I recall from his original New Mutant days is still close enough. And from what I remember, in actual practice Warlock often turned into (cartoonish) vehicles for his friends to travel in, became power armor for Cypher (apparently providing strength, a direct computer interface, protection, and sensory information), used tendrils of himself as probes, and occasionally smacked people – with getting much bigger and a few energy-weapon options for serious emergencies.

And that was about it as far as emulating technology beyond car-jacks and such went. Really, Warlock acted as if he had a not-especially enormous library of built-in options and simply mixed and matched to suit his current needs. Ergo, that’s what I’m going to give him.

  • Powering Up: Natural Magic(s): Reality Editing and Spell Enhancement, Specialized for Increased Effect and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only to affect his innate enchantments / technological gear, only to amplify the effects, effects are fixed with each one of his abilities, only gets (Int Mod) boosts per system, effects are low mana cost but of brief duration; in effect (and to avoid assigning and then tracking a wide variety of durations) he simply gets to allo (Con Mod x 3) Booster Points between his various abilities each round (8 CP).
  • Advanced Tech: Innate Enchantment can normally be used to buy the equivalent of mundane equipment – but it’s rarely worth bothering with in fantasy based games. With that 1-to-20 GP-to-Credits conversion ratio and both d20 Modern and Future in play however… mundane equipment is suddenly a LOT more attractive. Still, even superheroes don’t automatically have access to super-technology, so I’m going to treat having access to the d20 Future lists to “buy” stuff from as a an Immunity / normal limits on equipment availability (Very Common, Major, Great (for +4 Tech Levels over the usual PL4 base), Specialized and Corrupted / only for Innate Enchantment purposes, any systems that require ammunition or fuel must have it supplied by normal purchases, 10 CP).

This is actually the first character on the site to use a classical “exploit” – combing through various d20 books to find some rules that were never meant to work together and combining them in a thoroughly abusive fashion. In this case it’s Innate Enchantment, the GP-to-Credits conversion rule, and searching through a pile of d20 Future equipment lists and Cybernetics to get really cheap bonuses. Of course… this is a pacifistic support character in a superhero setting, where many or most problems are solved by fighting. Getting him a lot of cheap high-tech “gear” to use probably isn’t going to unbalance anything very much.

It was somewhat amusing to do it once, but it was terribly time-consuming and I don’t think that I’d care to do it again.

  • Quasi-Magical Functions:
    • Masters Touch (Spell Level One x Caster Level One x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use Activated x.7 Personal Only = 1400 GP), Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / he has no need for proficiency with any of his built-in technology. Boosts: 1/2/3 grants a +2/3/4 competence bonus with any rolls involved in using a specified item.
    • Boosted Str and Con: +2 Base (2800 GP, Spell Level One x Caster Level One x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use Activated x.7 Personal Only): Boosts: +1/2/3 to raise the bonus for one of the affected attributes to +4/+6/+8.
    • Enlarge (mostly used to become a vehicle. Spell Level One x Caster Level One x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use Activated x.7 Personal Only = 1400 GP): Boosts: +15 Reach, grow an additional size category,
  • Technical Functions:
    • AudioVideo Camera (33 GP): Boosts: Telescopic Pickups, Ultrahigh Resolution, Voice Analysis
    • Blackout Goggles (60 GP). 60′ Darksight. Boosts: 120′ feet, Electromagnetic Field Detection, Frequency Filtration.
    • Boost Armor (DC 18) with Gravlight (+4 DC), Environmental Seal (+4 DC), and Segmented I (+2 DC) : +7 Armor, +5 Max Dex, Armor Penalty 0, Speed +10, +4 Str, +2 Reflex Saves. (1000 GP). Boosts: Extra +6 Str, Extra +5 AC, Extra +2 on Reflex Saves and +20 Ground Movement.
    • Cargo Capacity: 4000 Lbs (5 GP). Boosts: Exotic Environment (Below Freezing, Vacuum, Odd Atmosphere, Etcetera), Provisioning (air, food, water, etc). Suspension (unresisting creatures can be put into suspended animation).Note that, while cargo can easily be accommodated, any actual cargo will still count against the user’s encumbrance.
    • Cellular Interceptor (250 GP). Boosts: Tap Nearby Hardline, Signal Trace, Line Monitoring.
    • Chemical Kit (33 GP, +2): Boosts: Increased Quantity, Medical Synthesis, +10 to Roll.
    • Class-II (Starship) Sensor Array (DC 27, 750 GP): High Resolution Video, Infrared, Electromagnetic Sensors, Radiation Detection, LADAR Detection. DC 15 computer use check to determine location and general nature of those in the area, identify and locate all visible hazards, identify major weapons and defenses, survey and analyze the environment. Boosts: Tracking (can follow other “vehicles”), Orbital Survey (a detailed evaluation of astronomical stars, planets, etc, allowing them to be mapped, various characteristics identified, and their biospheres (if any) to be examined), and Navigation (+10 on relevant checks).
    • Desktop Computer (175 GP). Boosts: Automatic Piloting, +10 to Technology, Personal Backup (in case someone erases some of his memories, or there’s a major trauma he wants to forget).
    • Force Shield (325 CP): DR 10/-, Boosts: Total DR 15/-, Double Energy Resistance, 10′ Radius.
    • Grappling Tether (5 GP): A “Tractor Beam” that locks on to something up to 200 feet away. Boosts: Extreme (Space) Range, Repulsion (Str + 6), 20′ Radius Effect.
    • Hologram/Audio Player/Recorder (10 GP). Boosts: Extreme Scale, Extreme Volume, High Fidelity (can be mistaken for reality, but only requires a DC 15 perception check to spot the illusion at a glance. Any careful inspection reveals it).
    • Hoverpack (45 GP): Flight, 80/Perfect. Boosts: Orbital Launch/Reentry, Supercruise (for long range travel), Submersible.
    • Intellipicks (14 GP): Opens Mechanical Locks and Maglocks (Roll Disable Device at +20), Boosts: Disable Electronic/Computer Locks, Security Scan, Spoof Security Sensors.
    • Microscope (50 GP). Boosts: Diagnostic Scan, Bioanalysis, Materials Analysis.
    • Microtorch (10 GP): Arcwelder/Cutter, 2d10 Touch Attack. Boosts: Double Damage, Taser (Fort Save, DC – Damage + 4 or paralyzed 1d4 +1rounds, can also disrupts gear), Arclight (blinding light in a 60′ cone, DC 16 reflex check to avoid 1d4+1 rounds of blindness when it comes on).
    • Neural Computer Link (450 GP). Computer Use and Research checks become free actions. Boosts: +10 on roll, Wireless Access, Secure Channel.
    • Neural Recorder (25 GP): Can record sensory information and thoughts so others can experience them. Boosts: Transmit Experiences (Short Range), Memory Probe (+5 to Save DC), Psionic Analysis.
    • Portable Environment Generator (14 GP): According to it’s listing, this works under “any conditions”. I’m going to presume that it normally does NOT work deep underwater, in space, in high-radiation zones, and so on. Boosts: Mobile, Severe Environment (toxic atmosphere, high radiation levels, underwater, etc), and Deadly Environment (requires Severe Environment, covers deep water, space conditions, corrosive atmospheres, and so on. It will require further boosts to do things like survive inside a star).
    • Power Backpack (Fusion Generator , 4 GP). Boosts: Power External System (1-3 depending on the external systems scale).
    • Silent Suit (60 GP): +10 to Stealth, Boosts: +15, Chameleon Weave, Simulate Clothing.
    • SmartPhone (5 GP). Boosts: Voice Mask, Spoof Identity, Emergency Beacon.
    • Traveler’s Any-Tool (250 GP) (Universal masterwork tools). Boosts: Powered (Work x5), Automated (Work x 20, requires Powered), and Enhanced (Additional +3 to checks),
    • Universal Communicator (3 GP): Send and receive audio, visual, and digital information. Boosts: Extreme Range, Burst Transmission/Flash Download, and Transmission Editing.
  • Cybrenetics”. Specialized for Half Cost / cannot be “Boosted”. Having these causes him to take 50% more damage from electrical attacks. Moreover, since a creature can only support (Con Mod +1) cybrenetic un-miniaturized “implants” before beginning to acquire negative levels, to survive becoming a technoorganic creature (with three implants that count) a target must have a base Constitution of 12+ or be above first level.
    • Anti-Flare Implants (Miniaturized/does not count against implant limit, 500 GP)
    • Data Archive: All skills are class skills, +4 to Knowledges (375 GP).
    • Luminous Skin (Miniaturized/does not count against implant limit, 2 GP).
    • Neuron Booster I (+2 Int, 38 GP)
    • Subcutaneous Body Armor, Heavy: +8 Natural Armor. DC 25 (225 GP)
    • Twitchfiber I (+2 Dex, Miniaturized/does not count against implant limit, 88 GP).
  • Melee Weaponry:
    • Chainsword: 2d8, Crit 19-20, Slashing (45 GP)
    • Concussion Rod: 2d8, Crit 20/x2 (45 GP)
      • Standard Melee Weapon Boosts: Double Damage, Adamantine, Merciful
  • Ranged Weaponry:
    • Concussion Rifle with Heavy Stun (Fort DC 18) Module: 2d10, every 5 throws back 5 (90 GP)
    • Disintegrator 3d8, Crit 20/x2, Energy, 50′ Increment (250 GP)
    • Variable Charge Pulse Rifle, 3d10, Crit 20/x2, 80 Ft (325 GP)
      • Standard Ranged Weapon Boosts: Double Damage, 20′ Radius, Extreme (Space) Range.
  • Special Weapon:
    • Gravity Snare (45 GP): DC 13 Reflex Save to avoid 1d6 rounds of being unable to move. Escape Artist DC 40 or Str DC 30 to escape. 30′ Range Increment. Boosts: Extreme (Space) Range, 20′ Radius, Antivehicle.

That comes to a total of 11,204 GP and a total Innate Enchantment cost of 12 CP. While 12 CP is the usual limit, that will let him eventually learn to emulate another 296 GP worth of gear – most likely a few weapons that use ammunition (which he will have to stock.) or some special gadgets such as a DNA sequencer or some such.

Template Disadvantage: Xenophobia. Technorganic Creatures begin speaking only their own, racial, language and are generally unsure that any organic creature can be classified as being truly intelligent (-3 CP).

That comes out to a total of 94 CP – a +2 ECL race.

So…

Warlock / Douglock / Current Magus of the Technarchy

Level Four Stellar Explorer, +2 ECL Race (Technarch) = ECL 6.

  • Superheroic World Template (gets Mana equal to his (Con Mod) to use each round, free).
  • Four-Color Package (24 CP). This includes Superheroic Physics, Superheroic Durability, Superheroic Build, Rapid Recovery, Minor Conventions (Ready for Inspection, Comics Code, It’s Sufficient, Heroic Will, Heroic Rally, Coincidental Catch, Heroic Health, and a some Minor Benefits (in his case three cantrip effects, see below).
  • Pathfinder Package Deal (+2 to Int)
  • Technarch Racial Template (Above): +2 ECL.

Basic Attributes: Str 14 (+4 Eq +2 Racial +2 Enh = 22), Int 14 (+2 Racial +2 Eq = 18), Wis 12, Con 16 (+2 Race +2 Enh = 20), Dex 14 (+2 Eq +1 Level = 17), Cha 8

All of Warlock’s special abilities are inherent in his racial template and the four-color template.

Available Skill Points: (Int Mod x 7, free) = 28 SP.

Skills: Expertise (Computers) 4 (+10 Race, usually +10 Eq), Investigation 2, Perception 5, Speak Language (English, 1), Stealth 1 (+10 Eq), and Technology 1 (+10 Race) = 14 SP. That leaves him with 14 unspent skill points. A small Martial Art with Whirlwind Attack and Improved Grapple might be in order – he did once grab a bunch of the Avengers at one time – but it was with surprise, so it might not count.

Basics:

  • BAB +2, Corrupted / does not contribute to iterative attacks (8 CP).
  • Hit Dice: 20 (L1, d20, 16 CP) + 8 (L1, 2d4, 16 CP) + 16 (L2-4, d8’s, 12 CP) + (Con Mod x 6) = 62 HP (plus Force Field) (Mutants and Masterminds Toughness +9. +12 with Force Field).
  • Saving Throws:
    • Fortitude +4 (12 CP) +5 (Con) +1 (Res) = +10
    • Reflex +4 (12 CP) +3 (Dex) +2 (Eq) +1 (Res) = +10
    • Will +6 (18 CP) +1 (Wis) +1 (Res) = +8
  • Proficiencies: None. His species does not normally use external equipment.
  • Armor Class: 10 (Base) +7 (Armor) +8 (Natural) +3 (Dex) = 28
  • Attacks:
    • Melee +8 (+2 BAB +6 Str, possible competence bonus or more Str), Damage Transmode Virus or by weapon, current Size, and current Str modifiers (Mutants and Masterminds, anything up to +12 damage, can be armor-piercing)
    • Ranged +5 (+2 BAB +3 Dex, plus possible competence bonus)

Minor Items

  • Minor Favors: The X-Groups (3 CP).
  • Extraordinary Returning: Warlock can return from having his “lifeglow” drained, or even from being disintegrated – but it takes him being infused with a lot of lifeglow to do it quickly; most of the time it will take months or years (12 CP).
  • Immunity/Seduction (Uncommon, Minor, Major) (3 CP). Being fundamentally sexless will do this for you.

Point Costs:

  • Four-Color Package: 24 CP
  • BAB: 8 CP
  • Hit Dice: 44 CP
  • Saves: 42 CP
  • Minor Items: 18 CP

Total: 136 CP

Available Character Points: 120 (Level Four Base) +10 (Disadvantages: History, Enemies, Broke and Pacifist) +12 (Restrictions: non-unique external Armor, Weapons, and Equipment) +12 (L1 and L3 Feats) = 154 CP.

That leaves 18 CP left over – enough for three feats. Since I haven’t seen the character since his return, I’ll just leave those to cover anything that I’ve left out.

Finishing Touches:

  • Warlocks minor four-color powers are Resistance (+1 Resistance Bonus on Saving Throws), Know Direction (given his sensors and navigational abilities being able to sense magnetic north is not too important, but he can), and Stabilize (Karma automatically stabilizes if knocked below zero hit points).
  • Wealth By Level: Warlock is theoretically entitled to 2000 GP worth of stuff after applying his “broke” disadvantage – but he really has nothing much to spend it on anyway. He’s basically a living space probe. What is he going to spend money on? Bribing Captain Kirk to stop spouting cheesy contradictions at him to try and make him malfunction?
    • He might or might not carry the standard X-Man “First Aid Kit”, but he certainly does not wear the usual uniform, even if he often fakes it.

I initially considered buying Warlock Immunity / Effects Targeting Normal Life Processes (Very Common, Severe, Great, Specialized / can be affected by electronics-disrupting powers as if they were targeting his metabolism, can be “hacked” with appropriate abilities, still subject to exotic “poisons” and “diseases” targeting technorganic creatures, requires small quantities fo raw materials (and a fair amount of electrical energy) on a regular basis, and so on. Notably, however, he does not need life support in space (18 CP). However, given his environmental seal and other abilities… he does not really need it.

Warlock… is potentially very dangerous, but the pacifism pretty effectively limits that – so for the most part he serves as transportation and to provide utility powers. There’s nothing wrong with that of course, but it’s not the most exciting role to actually play. Personally I’d tend to speculate on a racial history AS an evolution of a crashed technorganic starship – it would certainly seem to fit, right down to his preference for having a “pilot” – but there’s really no way to be sure.

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