Skill Stunts and Epic Skill Stunts III – Social Skills and RPG’s and Deception Skills

Skill Stunts and Epic Skill Stunts allow you to attempt wild and wonderful things with your skills – provided that you can pay the price. Since there aren’t all that many examples provided in Eclipse, here are some for two additional sets of skills: Part One of this series (Basic Notes and stunts for Appraise / Finance / Etc) can be found HERE, Part II – covering Movement and Personal Control skills – can be found HERE.

Social Skills are a very awkward part of tabletop RPG’s because an awful lot of the players and game masters are introverts with social disorders who have no idea of how social skills work or of what they can and cannot do. Then these people – and I am certainly one of them – try to write a simple, usable, system of rules to simulate something that they don’t really understand. It rarely works all that well. The usual result is that game masters who have decent social skills run things according to the rules as they think they were intended to work (confusing any socially awkward players and producing results inconsistent with the rules) while game masters who lack such talents run them according to the much-abused “letter of the rules”, producing absurd results and confusing any more socially-aware players. Neither result is entirely satisfactory.

On the other hand, trying to get along without rules for social skills hands a huge advantage to those players who happen to have real social skills, tells introverted players that they can’t have social characters, and gives you no way to handle it when a wheelchair-bound player wants to have his/her massive barbarian intimidate the scrawny mage character being run by a football player. It’s kind of hard to separate the impressions the two characters should produce from the physical reality of the two players.

About the best rule-of-thumb that I can give is to remember that the world FUNCTIONS. Some people do fall for “Nigerian Prince” scams, but most do not. You are much more likely to get away with little stuff. That friendly, helpful, sympathetic truant officer may cut your magical girls secret ID more slack than a cranky one who thinks all kids are liars, but after a few times around even the friendly one will start insisting that you go to school no matter how good your social skills are. Basically… social skills can tip the balance when there is reasonable doubt as to what people will do. Otherwise… you may get a few moments of listening to your wild story or insane proposition simply because they can’t believe their ears, but they aren’t going to go for it unless there is something very wrong with them. Sure, you may have the skills to induce fanatic loyalty – but you’re going to have to start with people who are already looking for purpose and something to believe in in their lives and work on them for quite some time.

No, that doesn’t give a lot of credit to superhuman levels of social manipulation, but unless you just assume that a modest number of superhuman social manipulators run your entire world – but that the player characters simply happen to be immune to them because they’re special – you’re just going to have to assume that normal social skills have an upper limit on their effectiveness (and that the player characters just happen to be on the highly resistant end of things).

This also tells us what a lot of the supernatural stunts will look like; they actually can force your targets to do things or expand the scope of your influence.

Sample Stunts for Bluff/Con Artist/Deception/Disguise/Perform (Acting)/Perform (Storytelling).

These skills all revolve around the same basic function – convincing other people of things that are not true, whether through words of appearances.

  • DC 10 (normally no stunt required):
    • Body Language: You may seem young, helpless, naive, pathetic, despairing, joyful, or whatever fits your current deception. If you are facing the consequences of your deceptions, whoever is imposing the penalty must make a will save or reduce it’s severity by one level (this is not always a cure all, going from “torturous death” to “quick death”, or even “quick death” to “chopping off a hand”, is an improvement – but not enough to really save you). The effect remains until you drop it – or switch out for something else.
    • Cover Story: You may produce a consistent, detailed, background to support your deceptions. At DC 20 you also have appropriate paperwork and records. At DC 35 you can easily produce minor props to suit your deception. At DC 50 you can have arranged things like the use of a mansion to support your deception (while the proper owners are diverted) or other major props.
    • Unshakable Professionalism: You may take events in stride, compensating smoothly no matter how much they would normally disrupt your performance. The player may call for a switch to another character or a brief break during which no game time will pass for his or her character while he or she thinks of something.
    • Whispered Slander: You may start a juicy rumor that those who can “Gather Information” or who have local social contacts will soon hear of. At DC 20 it will soon become a popular meme with a fair number of believers, at DC 35 a widely credited whispering campaign sure to draw official notice, and at DC 50+ a trigger for an official investigation / witch-hunt by the targets enemies.
  • DC 15 (May or may not require a stunt):
    • I Came Prepared: You may pull out a selection of minor props to support a story or common role. If you are impersonating a city guard you might have a badge, club, uniform sash, and other basic items to suit the role, for a lawyer you can haul out stacks of legal paperwork, seals, and so on.
    • Lifestyles of a Nigerian Prince: Your scams can support you at an Average lifestyle for a month without noticeable effort, but at some risk of investigation, arrest, or vengeance. If you wish to be an ethical scam artist (specializing in crooks and such), the DC increases to 25 and the risks skew towards “vengeance”.
    • Suggestion: You may make a subtle Suggestion to any one creature you are conversing with.
    • Words of Beauty: You may tell people beautiful tales, hopeful lies, and otherwise make them feel much better about their life, lightening the burdens of any tragedies. They will tend to see you as a trustworthy, friendly, presence for at least 3d6 x 10 minutes thereafter unless they make a will save.
  • DC 20:
    • All In The Attitude: You may make a Bluff, Disguise, or similar check without penalty as a Swift Action.
    • One With The Crowd: You may merge into a group, imitating their customs, accents, business habits, social rituals, and so on for up to twelve hours. You will not be disturbed unless everyone is being checked.
    • Facile Belief: You may believe your own deceptions. For the next 3d6 hours magical detection of “truth”, mental probing, and effects meant to reveal disguises will not detect a particular deception of yours.
    • Psychoanalysis: You may help someone sort out their motives, recover from mental illness and become saner – or you may attempt to identify what “buttons” a target has available to “push” and try to exploit them if they fail to save. This requires several rounds worth of communication, although listening to someone monologue, gloat, or explain their plot or backstory, is quite sufficient.
  • DC 25:
    • Camouflage: You may conceal an Area or Group: if done verbally you may deny their existence, cause groups of guards to have to overcome your bluff check or dismiss the existence of the area or group as mere rumors, and similarly divert attention. If done via Disguise you may alter the apparent purpose of a building, make it appear to be an abandoned ruin, or drastically alter the appearance of a section of terrain. If used to conceal an ambush, or hide a group, any search must overcome your skill to succeed. The effect lasts for some 3d6 hours.
    • (The) Honeyed Tongue: You may generate a first level Enchantment spell effect. This is actually based on social manipulation, not magic – but the effect is essentially identical in game terms.
    • Lifestyles of a Nigerian Prince: Your scams can support you at an Average lifestyle for a month without noticeable effort, but at some risk of investigation, arrest, or vengeance. If you wish to be an ethical scam artist (specializing in crooks and such), the DC increases to 25 and the risks skew towards “vengeance”.
    • Paralysis of Disbelief: You may spin a story, or don a guise, so unbelievable that you can hold the attention of everyone who can clearly see or hear you for at least 3d6 turns – provided that they are not threatened with physical harm or some other blatantly obvious event occurs that takes precedence over gaping at the spectacle.
  • DC 30:
    • Animatronics: Your disguises and self-promotion are now powerful enough to emulate the effects of a Monstrous Physique I spell (Pathfinder). This upgrades to II at DC 50, III at DC 75, and IV at DC 100. It normally lasts for 3d6 minutes.
    • Placebo: You may persuade others that they are feeling better, bringing their personal reserves into play to grant them the effects of a level one or level two curative spell. Sadly, no individual can be affected by the Placebo effect more often than once every twelve hours, and they may only gain two spell levels worth of curative effects from Placebo Effects every twenty-four hours. At +15 DC you may affect one target per level.
    • Rabble Rousing: You may induce unrest, cause a riot, stir up a lynching or a mob with torches and pitchforks, or otherwise create a major ruckus and diversion, targeting anything the populace regards as even a little bit questionable or suspicious. The effect normally continues for some 3d6 hours.
    • Reality Like Swirling Leaves: You may generate a Major Image effect, whether through cunning words or through physical activity. At DC 50 this becomes a Persistent Image or Mirage Arcane. At DC 100 this becomes a Permanent or Programmed Image.
  • DC 35:
    • Appearance of Death: You may Feign Death without a Feat.
    • Lifestyles of a Nigerian Prince: Your scams can support you at an Wealthy lifestyle for a month without noticeable effort, but at significant risk of investigation, arrest, or vengeance. If you wish to be an ethical scam artist (specializing in crooks and such), the DC increases to 50 and the risks are always “vengeance”.
    • Method Acting: When you disguise yourself as a stock role – A stoic city guard, a messenger, a grasping merchant, or what-have-you, you gain your choice of One Positive Level (see Eclipse) or 12 CP to spend on the abilities needed to support your role. This lasts for 3d6 rounds under the stress of combat, but for a similar number of hours when under less stress.
    • Uncovering Fears: Your victim must make a Will save or suffer the effects of a Phobia spell.
  • DC 40:
    • Advanced Sugar Pills: Your Placebo effects may now produce three levels worth of spell effects per day.
    • Collaring The Mind: Your honeyed words, appearance as a religious authority, status as a great celebrity, guise as a messenger, or apparently being a member of an organization causes members of a group to accept you as an important ally for 3d6 hours.
    • Night Terrors: You may spin a terrifying tale or put on a horrifying act, generating the equivalent of a Night Terrors spell. (Pathfinder, Horror Adventures)
    • (The) Silver Tongue: You may generate a second level Enchantment spell effect. This is actually based on social manipulation, not magic – but the effect is essentially identical in game terms.
  • DC 50:
    • (The) Darkness Whispering: You may generate a Shadow Conjuration effect.
    • (The) Inspector General: You are mistaken for a major visiting dignitary, a divine emissary, or a similar person of authority. This will last for 3d6 hours unless the actual individual in question turns up. In either case, insane shenanigans are guaranteed.
    • Lifestyles of a Nigerian Prince: Your scams can support you at an Extravagant lifestyle for a month without noticeable effort, but at great risk of investigation, arrest, or vengeance. If you wish to be an ethical scam artist (specializing in crooks and such), the DC increases to 75 and the results of a failure generally lean towards “killing you and all your friends and family”.
    • Psychosomatic Death: You may describe your targets terrible symptoms and fate so believably and graphically that you generate the equivalent of a Phantasmal Killer. (With Disguise you can achieve the same result with your alarming symptoms).
  • DC 60:
    • Ectoplasmic Shell: You may wrap yourself in your deceptions, generating a level six psychic construct (the Practical Enchanter) with the Class-C Enveloping property as a bonus ability. This will last for 3d6 minutes in combat, for 3d6 hours in a peaceful situation.
    • Grand Placebo: Reality now twists a bit at your words, allowing you to produce the equivalent of four levels worth of curative spell effects during a twenty-four hour period.
    • (The) Hidden City: With the cooperation of the locals and a days effort you may disguise a city or similar area. If done verbally you may alter it’s ambience, apparent history and overall alignment, and known loyalties – thus, for example, causing a conquering army to bypass the place since it’s now “held by THEIR loyalists”. If done through disguise, you may chance the appearance of the place, conceal it in the wilderness or hide it from aerial travelers, and even protect it from scrying and divination. If this is done when the city is founded, and cooperation continues, the changes stay in effect indefinitely. Otherwise they remain in effect for 3d6 days.
    • (The) Viper’s Tongue: You may generate a third or fourth level Enchantment spell effect. This is actually based on social manipulation, not magic – but the effect is essentially identical in game terms.
  • DC 75:
    • Exalted Presence: You may impersonate a god, the rightful king returned, or some other major supernatural presence. Presuming that you appear before at least a hundred people, their massed belief will begin to generate appropriate special effects, minor miracles, and similar events. The more believers who become involved, the greater the effects and the longer the effect persists. Attempting to push this to the point of your own divine ascension will usually provoke the intervention of the existing local gods, and it will VERY rarely be in your favor. On the other hand, if you want to fight Zool on more-or-less equal terms, this will work.
    • Greater Method Acting: When you disguise yourself you gain your choice of two Positive Levels (see Eclipse) or 24 CP to spend on the abilities needed to support your role. This lasts for 3d6 rounds in under the stress of combat, but for a similar number of hours when under less stress.
    • Knife Of Words: You may spread rumors and speculation about a target that will provoke minor rebellions, assassination attempts, official penalties for misconduct, or other severely inconvenient or potentially fatal complications in their life until the rumors are somehow countered or 3d6 such occurrences have come to pass.
    • Supplanted Belief: You may convince a target that some cherished belief of theirs is in terrible error – that their patron means to betray them, that their spouse is unfaithful, or that the priest to whom they’ve been sending money is a fraud. The effect will last for 3d6 days between saves.
  • DC 100:
    • Heart Of Darkness: You may spread tales and rumors throughout a populace to focus the malice, suspicion, and darkness that lurks within the hearts of even the children of light, inflicting some dreadful curse upon an area, individual, or group. Suitable effects include Supreme Curse Terrain (Pathfinder, Horror Adventures), the Curse Of Fell Seasons or Curse of Night (From the same book), a Generational Curse of Lycanthropy, or something similar from The Practical Enchanter. This will require at least one month to take full effect and – even if countered normally – will tend to return until the tales and rumors are laid to rest.
    • Of Ill Repute: You may wrap yourself in your deceptions, generating a level eight psychic construct (as per The Practical Enchanter) with the Class-C Enveloping property as a bonus ability. This will last for 3d6 minutes in combat, for 3d6 hours in a peaceful situation. If the situation changes, convert the remaining time appropriately.
    • Revenance Of Deception: Your Placebo effects now warp reality in wild and wonderful ways. You can now produce up to seven levels worth of curative spells in the recipients per day – and at +20 DC you may affect up to fifty targets per level. Yes; you can indeed perform a Mass Resurrection (Or a Mass Create Undead) through Placebos.
    • Rumor Turned Substance: You may employ Greater Shadow Conjuration.

Epic Stunts:

  • Deceiving Automation (Research Level 7, DC 38): This is basically equivalent to Simulacrum.
  • Sigil Of Secrets (Research Level 8, DC 42): You may expend 4500 GP on magical tattoo inks to imbue yourself with magic equivalent to having a Handy Haversack (2000 GP), Hat of Disguise (1800 GP), Traveler’s Any-Tool (250 GP), Ring of Silent Spells (2000 GP), and a Travel Cloak (1200 GP) as inherent powers.
    • Yes, at 8000 GP for research and 4500 GP for casting this is precisely equivalent to purchasing those items with slot-free upgrades. Why not? They’re all very convenient innate powers for a deception specialist.
  • Form Stealing Slaughter (Research Level 9, DC 46): You may absorb the form of a fallen friend or foe of similar size and bodily form. Thereafter you may shift back and forth between that form and your own. Forms come with mannerisms, superficial memories, and various minor habits, in effect granting a +25 bonus to assuming the fallen individuals identity via Disguise. The switch is entirely physical and requires a single round. Sadly, the user may only maintain (Wis Mod) additional forms at any one time, and any form renounced to make room for a new one is gone for good.
  • Ten Thousand Whispering Tongues (Research Level 10, DC 50): You may employ up to three of your non-epic skill stunts against an entire city, army, or similar group within the next hour.
  • Deceptive Alliance (Research Level 11, DC 54): You may effectively use the Supplanted Belief stunt against up to (Check Result) hit dice worth of creatures, although none may have more hit dice than (your level – 4). You might thus convince a Hill Giant patrol that their allies had turned against them and that their only chance was to join you, cause a mob to rise up against the local nobility, or otherwise cause trouble and unrest.
  • Shapechange (Research Level 12, DC 58): While this requires no material component, it is otherwise identical to the (Pathfinder) ninth level Shapechange spell.
  • Eight Trigram Blasphemous Embezzlement (Research Level 13, DC 62): You may draw a 12’th level soul from the outer planes into your own body, sharing in it’s power (as per Channeling in The Practical Enchanter) for a full day. Each user gains access to eight specific characters – seven drawn from differing Core Classes of compatible alignment and one wild card with an exotic base class. In general, you can get away with this occasionally, but making a habit of it will require doing various favors for the spirits you channel and sometimes for the powers of the plane that they are drawn from (who may well be offended by your borrowing souls in this way). The user may only host a single soul at a time.
  • Sphere Of Camouflage (Research Level 14, DC 66): You invoke The Hidden City stunt as a full round action with a +30 bonus on opposed checks and a duration measured in months instead of days.
  • Forge Identity (Research Level 15, DC 70): Your disguise gains reality. You abruptly have a home, where the neighbors know you and you have lived for years. You have records, have paid taxes for years, probably have a spouse and children, all of whom you know well and who know you. An appropriate local job, minor connections, wardrobe, guild membership, a reasonable level of prosperity… a complete life now exists where there was none before. True, the people in your “family” are likely to be street folk manipulated to suit – but they will often be far better off. The effect is permanent, although – if you decide to renounce your new name and identity – your new family will believe you dead, and continue on without you.
  • Duck Fate (Research Level 16, DC 74): This effect is self-casting, and will trigger according to it’s user’s desires even after his or her death. The user is restored to the condition he, she, or it was in three rounds ago and, in fact, was never actually involved in whatever situation caused the effect to trigger; a Simulacrum (which was just destroyed) was. The user is, instead, somewhere else within the setting, doing something entirely different and entirely peaceful.
  • Soul-Binding Secret (Research Level 17, DC 78): You employ some terrible threat or blackmail to recruit a (resentfully) loyal servant. The effect is equivalent to The Attentive Slave (Eclipse).
  • Organizational Usurpation (Research Level 18, DC 82): You may twist an organization from it’s purpose. For the next 3d6 days you may send the Thieves Guild out to assassinate a noble, turn the Royal Guard to hunting one of your enemies, or get the Merchants Guild to import forbidden merchandise. Each member is, however, entitled to a Will save, and – if they save successfully – get a second save to gain a clue as to your identity and motives. Tampering with a sufficiently large organization (containing powerful characters or simply having enough members that the 1 in 400 who rolls two natural twenties for saves becomes important) may cause you serious trouble. Individuals of (your level – 4) or higher level are not affected in any case, but do get to try the second save to see if they gain some information about the caster.

Eclipse: The Codex Persona is available in a Freeware PDF Version, in Print, and in a Paid PDF Version that includes Eclipse II (245 pages of Eclipse races, character and power builds, items, relics, martial arts, and other material) and the web expansion. Here’s a Featured Review of it and another Independent Review.

The Practical Enchanter can be found in a Print Edition (Lulu), an Electronic Edition (RPGNow), and a Shareware Edition (RPGNow).  There’s an RPGNow Staff Review too.

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Ponyfinder in Equestria – Bat or Leatherwing Ponies and Equestrian Evolution

Next up we have Bat Ponies or (in Ponyfinder) Leatherwings. They seem to have batlike wings, may have slit pupils (we mostly see them from the side, so it could just be prospective), and they seem to have ear tufts. Despite some apparent confusion with Flutterbat among fan theories and portrayals they don’t seem to have fangs – although given their remarkably limited number of appearances some of them might.

On the other hand… it’s hard to be sure that they actually exist at all. We saw Rainbow Dash as a batpony in Nightmare Moon’s timeline (sometimes with ear tufts and sometimes without) – so we know that, in at least some cases, “Bat Ponies” are simply royal guard Pegasi with illusion or minor transformation spells on them for style.

That actually fits better than the “lost race” idea. That got some support from staff comments, but the notion that Luna found them, recruited them, got some into the royal guard, got them through whatever training program the royal guard has, and moved them up the ranks until they qualified for unsupervised princess transport/bodyguard duty so quickly is just a bit much. I suppose that she could have just abused her authority or they could be in memory of a lost race rather than being made up out of whole cloth, but how would you tell?

It just seems a lot more likely that Luna threw a few more illusions in with the rest of her Nightmare Night theatrics.

That ambiguity – and the lack of any evidence for any powers beyond what a normal pegasi has – is is why Bat Ponies didn’t make it into the first series of d20 pony articles.

And the first question is… where did they come from and why didn’t we see them before?

Equestrian Evolution… is not like Earthly Evolution. Intelligence is the result of a fairly unlikely set of evolutionary circumstances on Earth. How do we know this? Well, we’ve left traces all over the world that will be apparent many, many, millions of years from now – but we haven’t found any such traces from a prior civilization. That tells us that we’re the first major civilization building species on Earth – and an awful lot of species have come and gone. More than a dozen very similar but separate species of “Sabertooths” have evolved in the last forty-odd million years – but Intelligence sufficient for an advanced civilization? That’s only appeared once in the history of life on Earth.

Equestria has a bunch of different intelligent species running around at roughly the same stage of development. Moreover, they’re living in a world that requires periodic, intelligently directed, magical intervention to maintain its environment.

That simply will not work with conventional evolutionary theory.

Genetic Evolution is not a primary speciation driver in Equestria, as shown by the fact that rather a lot of apparently wildly different types of creatures seem to have no trouble at all crossbreeding.

On the other hand, from Cutie Marks alone we know that inward magic can alter the physical body. Alicorn ascension suggests this as well. So do sea serpents with mustaches and elaborate hairstyles, Luna’s transformation into Nightmare Moon, and various other examples.

We also know that magical tendencies tend to be hereditary. Pegasi tend to have pegasi kids or Cloudsdale would not be practical. Earth Ponies tend to have Earth Pony kids, or the Apple Family would not be mostly Earth Pony Farmers. Any family (like the Cakes) CAN throw a sport or two – but it’s relatively rare.

So all that needs to happen for a new pony subtype to appear is for a few similar “sports” – in this case perhaps with an affinity for the Night Sky instead of one of the usual affinities – to get together and have families. There might have been a little tweaking by Luna, Nightmare Moon, Discord, or some other major magical power, but it isn’t really required.

In any case, Ponyfinder establishes Leatherwings as a pony type of their own, and since this question was about what an Equestrian Eclipse upgrade would look like, that’s going to be the base.

Ponyfinder Leatherwings get

  • +2 Wis from the Pathfinder Package Deal. This has no cost.
  • A 10′ reduction in ground movement. I have no idea why except for “balance”, but it goes against the standard rules for having four legs, so I’ll skip it. No cost.
  • +2 Con and -2 Cha. Of course, the Basic Pony Template provides +4 Con and +2 Cha (and -2 Dex because hooves) – and the fan conception of Bat Ponies is that they are very cute. Ergo, I’m going with the base, at no cost.
  • A modified diet. Bat Ponies have a typical omnivorous diet, as opposed to the usual heavily herbivore-slanted pony diet. They can handle meat (or blood if you MUST have “vamponies”) easily, but have a hard time digesting significant amounts of cellulose. No real game effect, so no cost.
  • They may or may not have little ear tufts and/or cute fangs. They definitely have leathery wings and dark-colored fur instead of feathers, and probably have slit-pupiled eyes. Since this is all basically cosmetic, there’s no cost.
  • They get 30′ Flight with Clumsy maneuverability, not usable in Medium or Heavy Armor, must be able to use their wings. That’s Celerity, with an Additional Movement Mode, Specialized and Corrupted (as above, is also subject to dispelling, antimagic, and similar effects (6 CP).
  • They get 90′ Darkvision, but are automatically dazzled in bright light and take a –2 penalty on saving throws against effects with the light descriptor. That’s Occult Sense (Darkvision), Corrupted for Increased Effect and Specialized for Reduced Cost (as above, 3 CP).

As for their Equestrian Upgrades, they get…

  • Adept (Acrobatics, Fly, Stealth, and Perception, 6 CP).
  • Fast Learner, Specialized in Skills, Corrupted/only to keep their Adept skills maxed out (4 CP).
  • +2 Racial Bonuses on their Adept Skills (4 CP).
  • Occult Talent, Specialized for Increased Effect (four level one and one level two effects) / must be powered with Mana as the ability includes no spell slots, effects are entirely preset and cannot be changed (6 CP). Effects: Lighten (reduces a weight, allowing them to carry more in flight or tow a chariot while flying), Echolocation (reveals the location of things within Close range), Ear-Piercing Scream (Pathfinder), Razor Wings (as per Beast Claws), and Darkness,
  • +1 BAB, Specialized in Melee, Corrupted/only for use with the Razor Wings effect (2 CP).
  • A +1 Racial Bonus in a Razor Wing Based Martial Art (1 CP).

This comes to a total of 32 CP. When stacked with the basic pony template (31 CP) it comes to a total of 63 CP – a +1 ECL race, just like all the other pony variants.

This makes Bat Ponies expert night sentinels, hunters, and guards, skillful rogues and assassins, and fairly deadly melee fighters. They are not, however, nearly as versatile as a Pegasus Pony or most of the other varieties, and so tend to occupy specialized ecological niches, such as mountain caves (or the royal night guard), instead of being widespread across Equestria.

That leaves Sea Horses and Zebras. They’ll be along eventually.

Why? Well…

“What if I want to play a Ponyfinder subtype (Chaos Hunter, Clockwork, Gem, Leatherwing, Sea Horse, or Zebra) in full-blown superheroic Equestria? How would they be changed to match the more powerful Pegasi, Unicorns, Earth Ponies, and Changelings you’ve built?”

“Well, the simplest approach is to go right ahead without changing anything. Take your racial writeup with it’s built-in Pathfinder Package Deal and build a character. If you’re in Equestria you get free Mana equal to your (Con Mod) each round from the Superheroic World Template, will probably be using the Low-Level Adventurer template, and get a free level instead of the +1 ECL Templates that Earth Ponies, Pegasi, and Unicorns use. Next simplest (at least for me) is change them however you and/or the game master want.”

“No, no! I want to see what your powered-up versions of those subtypes would be like!”

“Well… as I get to them then!”

Eclipse: The Codex Persona is available in a Freeware PDF Version, in Print, and in a Paid PDF Version that includes Eclipse II (245 pages of Eclipse races, character and power builds, items, relics, martial arts, and other material) and the web expansion. Here’s a Featured Review of it and another Independent Review.

The Practical Enchanter can be found in a Print Edition (Lulu), an Electronic Edition(RPGNow), and a Shareware Edition (RPGNow).  There’s an RPGNow Staff Review too.

Skill Stunts and Epic Skill Stunts II – Movement and Personal Control

Skill Stunts and Epic Skill Stunts allow you to attempt wild and wonderful things with your skills – provided that you can pay the price. Since there aren’t all that many examples provided in Eclipse, here are some for two additional sets of skills: Part One of this series (Basic Notes and stunts for Appraise / Finance / Etc) can be found HERE

Sample Stunts for Acrobatics/Balance/Burrow/Climb/Fly/Jump/Tumble (and sometimes Drive or Pilot) and similar skills:

All of these skills are about movement, and are already treated as being pretty flexible. I’ve yet to encounter a game master who would say “there’s no rule about trying to roll under the quickly-descending door! You can’t try to do that!”. Similarly, if you want to try to run on that tightrope, rather than walking slowly, or climb quickly and recklessly… it may be much more difficult, but that’s what DC modifiers are for. Ergo, this is a relatively short list as skill stunts go.

  • DC 10 (normally no stunt required):
    • Balance on one hand, or sit on a flagpole for days, or do a triple-inside-out loop, or perform some other impressive but basically useless trick demonstrating your expertise. The better your roll, the more impressive your trick.
    • Maintain movement discipline with a group – marching, piloting, or otherwise – so as to avoid accidents (including “friendly fire”) and interfering with other members of the group. Sadly, while you can march all day in combat the duration drops to 3d6 minutes.
    • Make slow progress under moderately difficult conditions – picking your way over rough terrain, across ice floes, or climbing a somewhat-rotten tree. The duration is however long it takes to do it .
  • DC 15 (May or may not require a stunt):
    • Accurate Measure: Accurately track how far you have traveled in various directions and at what angles, providing accurate measurements for mapping. Activating this stunt is good for twelve hours.
    • Instant Stand (or evade falling when tripped or otherwise knocked prone) with no AoO. (This is allowable, but much more difficult, under the basic rules. In Eclipse, however, it is a built-in part of many martial arts and available at first level).
    • Roll with the Punch: Subtract (Check Result – 10) from the damage inflicted by a fall or blunt force attack as an immediate action.
    • Sea Legs: Stand, fight, or act without penalty while on top of a relatively stable moving vehicle. Once active, this lasts until the situation changes or the user falls unconscious (including going to sleep).
  • DC 20:
    • Ascension. You may move up walls or along ceilings as a part of your ground movement.
    • Evasive Maneuvers: Retain your full dexterity bonus even when moving at full speed in a straight line. Once active, this lasts for 3d6 minutes.
    • Tree Striding: You may move normally through forested areas or forest canopies. This remains in effect until the trip is interrupted.
  • DC 25:
    • Communicate a clear message through interpretive movement. This requires however long it would take to give a similar speech and allows the use of other oratorical or communicative abilities.
    • Smashing Charge: Use a standard action and your (check – 15) as a strength check to smash a door, wall, or similar inanimate target.
    • Storm Legs: Stand, fight, or act normally while aboard a ship in a storm, atop a car during a chase, or while dealing with violently unstable or minimal footing (such as the classic “while standing on posts” martial arts duel). . This lasts 3d6 minutes after combat begins, but for hours otherwise.
  • DC 30:
    • Dervish Dance: You may sacrifice your move action to gain an extra attack at your full base attack bonus, adding another bonus attack for each +30 on your check result to a maximum of +4 attacks.
    • Light Foot: stand or move on narrow surfaces, thin ice or branches, and other surfaces that would not normally support you without difficulty. AT DC 75 this includes clouds, illusions, and beams of light. This normally lasts for 3d6 minutes, but can be extended with concentration.
    • Navigate through whirling blades, bouncing boulders, or similar erratic obstacles. (Or, for that matter, pilot a small starfighter through a parking garage). If this is an ongoing problem rather than a single check, this remains in effect for 3d6 minutes.
  • DC 35:
    • Coaching: Share your base movement skill with a group of up to (Charisma) others by focusing on giving them directions. This generally lasts as long as you continue to concentrate on giving directions.
    • Dream Stride: Somehow catch up with someone who is moving much faster than you are.
    • Implausible Maneuver: make a mid-air turns, perform a full attack while leaping or falling, execute a bootlegger reverse with an eighteen-wheel tractor-trailer.
  • DC 40:
    • Evasion. Take no damage from an area effect attack after a successful saving throw.
    • Move normally despite severe damage – run on broken legs, drive a car despite having lost both tires on one side, and so on. The effect lasts for 3d6 minutes or for the duration of a dramatic scene, such as piloting a badly damaged ship that ought to be sinking through a terrible storm.
    • Take a move as an Immediate Action – for example, running across a roof quickly enough to catch someone who is falling off.
  • DC 50:
    • Bowling for Minions: run into or sideswipe a creature, inflicting (Skill Check – 50) damage and a bull rush effect as a part of your move action.
    • Breach a dimensional barrier to move onto a coexistent plane as a standard action. You may take along whatever you can carry as usual.
    • Leap from chunk of debris to chunk of debris to run up an avalanche or collapsing roof.
  • DC 60:
    • Leap of Clouds; move up to a mile as appropriate to the skill in use as a standard action. .
    • Water Dividing Fu: Swim up or divide a waterfall, tunnel through molten rock (leaving the tunnel open behind you), or leave a “tunnel” of vacuum in the air behind you. Such pathways will remain open for 3d6 minutes.
  • DC 75:
    • Sonic Boom: Your movement generates a powerful shockwave in the ground/air/water/whatever is appropriate, inflicting up to (Check Result/10) d6 of damage to everyone and everything within 20 feet of your movement path. This will be modified by the base skill; if you are causing a shockwave in the ground, flyers will be unaffected.
    • (The) Toe Crusher: As a standard action move by up to (Dexterity) targets within long range, inflicting (Check – 60) damage to each. You may wind up anywhere within long range.
  • DC 100:
    • Chasm Crossing Stride: move up to ten miles as appropriate to the skill in use as a standard action
    • Optional Gravity: Treat your personal gravity as having whatever direction is most convenient for you at any given moment for 3d6 minutes.

Epic Stunts:

  • Ghosting Technique (Research Level 4, DC 26): You move so quickly that you generate afterimages equivalent to Greater Mirror Image. You may maintain this effect for 3d6 minutes, generating more images even if all of them were destroyed in a previous round.
    • This illustrates an important point. “Epic Stunts” don’t have to be particularly over-the-top in game terms. They’re just over the top in skill terms. Generating mirror images through illusion magic is easy. Generating them by moving so fast that you’re leaving afterimages? Definitely epic – and a good way to help keep a skillmonkey relevant at higher levels as well.
  • Racing Cheetah Strike (Research Level 5, DC 30): Move to any location within extreme (800 feet plus 80 feet per level) range, become hasted for 3d6 rounds, and make a full attack.
  • Spiders Dance (Research Level 7, DC 38): You may move across walls, ceilings, narrow ledges, twigs, individual strands of spider silk, water lily leaves, through horrible storms, over the most difficult terrain, the thinnest of ice, and through other environmental hazards, without hindrance or penalty.
  • Leap Between Worlds (Research Level 8, DC 42): You may move from one world to another – perhaps leaping from Earth to Barsoom, from Planescape to Faerun, or from the depths of the Abyss to Greyhawk. You can bring along anything you can carry.
  • Stance Of Clouds (Research Level 9, DC 46): You may appear at any location within one mile, stand and fight there without penalty (whether or not there is a surface or environment that can support you, and then reappear at your original location.
  • Shadow Step (Research Level 10, DC 50) The user may move via the equivalent of a Dimension Door, three times as an immediate action, picking up and dropping off passengers along the way.
  • Cometary Impact (Research Level 11, DC 54): The user may ascend several thousand feet, creating a takeoff shockwave which causes 8d6 damage in a 20′ radius and descend on any 40′ radius within long range, creating a str 40 pressure wave that will attempt to force anyone there prone and still, and impacting to cause (Check / 2)d6 damage within that area – although there is a choice of lethal or nonlethal damage.
  • Scarlet Ribbon Dance (Research Level 12, DC 58): The user gains a +25 Dodge Bonus versus Ranged Attacks. Whenever this bonus causes an attack on the user to miss he or she may expend and AoO to redirect it at any valid target within 20′.
  • Whirlwind Stance (Research Level 14, DC 66): The user’s movement is sufficient to generate tornado-force winds, for the next 4d6 rounds all desired targets within long range will be exposed to the effects of a Tornado.
  • Avalanche Charge (Research Level 16, DC 74): Move up to five times your normal movement, automatically smashing through any obstacles in your path, including Antimagic Fields, Walls of Force, small mountains, and similar “impenetrable” barriers. Everything within a 20′ radius of any point along your route can be dealt up to 20d6 damage at the user’s option. If the route leads “through” a creature, it will be carried along until you drop it off or your movement ends.

Sample Stunts for Autohypnosis/Biocontrol/Biofeedback/Concentration/Control Shape/Meditation and similar skills:

As a “Psionic Skill”, Autohypnosis was rather awkwardly tacked on to the d20 system, has never had any real expansion or development beyond a few “epic level” uses, and primarily focuses on a suite of limited-use biocontrol abilities – not exactly a normal approach to a skill. You usually get to use skills all you please. It thus occupies it’s own little niche, somewhere between a skill and a suite of psionic powers. The Control Shape skill was a minor note under Lycanthropy (used to control their transformations), was given no other uses there, and got no real further mention or expansion anywhere at all – although I usually let it be used in place of Disguise if you wanted to use a transformation to conceal your identity. Since it’s functions were little more than a badly crippled subset of what you could do with Autohypnosis, I’m including it here. In any case, this is a straightforward pattern to expand on.

  • DC 10 (normally no stunt required):
    • Deep Slumbers: You may fall deeply asleep at a moments notice, moving immediately to the most restful stages of slumber. You need two hours less sleep than normal each day.
    • Moderate Addiction: You may eliminate the cravings and penalties of a personal addiction for a day with a few minutes of meditation.
    • Tweak Form: When using any kind of shapeshifting you may control its fine details, granting a +5 bonus to Disguise checks to impersonate particular creatures or simply make yourself harder to recognize. This effect is automatically included when using a higher-DC shapeshifting effect to provide unique details in your default transformations.
    • Wipe Memory: You may forget inconvenient facts to avoid interrogation, mental probes, and similar. They are, however, gone for good barring the use of much higher-level effects.
  • DC 15 (May or may not require a stunt):
    • Control Bleeding: As a swift action you may make a check to stop any bleeding you may be experiencing or act while at zero hit points without suffering further ill effects.
    • Endure Elements: You may protect yourself with an Endure Elements effect for a full day.
    • Firewalking: You may expend a standard action to gain Energy Resistance 5 versus any one energy type for 2d4+2 minutes. A check result of of 30+ increases this to Resistance 12, and a result of 60+ increases it to Resistance 30.
    • Purge Overindulgence: You may negate the effects, side effects, and after-effects of intoxication, the use of various drugs,
  • DC 20:
    • Beastspeech: You may communicate with animals – although this does not ensure that they will have anything worthwhile to say.
    • Ignore Pain: You may resist torture, the effects of caltrop injuries, and spells and penalties based on pain.
    • Least Warp Spasm: Duplicate the effects of Pathfinders Beast Shape I (for Control Shape or Meditation) or Monstrous Physique I (for Autohypnosis or Bio- skills) .
    • Resist Domination: You may substitute the results of an Autohypnosis check for a failed will save against an Intelligent Item in a dominance battle against an intelligent item or items.
  • DC 25:
    • Focused Mind: You may reroll a knowledge check with a +5 circumstance bonus. Unfortunately, this may only be used once per check.
    • Hibernate: You may enter a deep sleep, during which your need for food, water, and air is reduced to one-fifteenth normal. You will awaken if seriously disturbed, at a chosen signal (“Spring!” is very classic), or after an (approximate) chosen duration.
    • Remove Paralysis: You may negate a Hold, Paralysis, or related effect, whether or not you could normally act.
    • Soothe The Beast: You may retain control through an episode of Lycanthropy or a similar curse.
  • DC 30:
    • Adrenal Boost: You may apply a +2 Alchemical Bonus to your Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution or a +4 Alchemical Bonus to any one of the three.
    • Tap Reserves: Once per day you may tap into your reserves, regaining 1d8 Power or Hit Points, 1d6 Damaged Attribute Points or Negative Levels, 1d4 Spell Levels or Drained Attribute Points, two Drained Levels or two uses of a daily-use special ability. The user may add another choice from that list (the same one may be taken more than once) for each additional 10 points in the check result.
    • Trance: You may substitute entering a waking trance for sleep without losing sleeps benefits. While in such a trance you remain as alert as if you were fully awake and can tolerate interruptions totaling up to ten minutes without losing the benefits of a full nights rest.
    • Walk of Memory: You may “revisit” a segment of your personal past, reviewing every sensory impression and thought that was going through your mind in exhaustive detail in only a few minutes
  • DC 35:
    • Death Trance: You may die, releasing your spirit freely and cleanly into the outer planes, despite any attempt to entrap your spirit, force you to remain alive, or restrict you to a particular realm.
    • Feat of Endurance: You become immune to exhaustion and fatigue, and may continue even the most strenuous activity without food, water, or rest, for a full day.
    • Lesser Warp Spasm: Duplicate the effects of Pathfinders Beast Shape II (for Control Shape or Meditation) or Monstrous Physique II (for Autohypnosis or Bio- skills) .
    • Pattern Weaver: You may analyze your opponents movements and contacts, gaining a +1 Insight Bonus to your attacks and damage against them. A check result of 50+ grants a +2, and 75+ a +3.
  • DC 40:
    • Clarity Of Focus: You may temporarily give yourself (Check Result / 5) extra skill points, although they may not exceed normal limits.
    • Purge Disease: Given a few minutes of meditation you may purge a disease from your body.
    • Sight From Beyond: Your senses, communications, and your ability to attack with unarmed strikes or natural weapons, extends into coexistent planes.
    • Stasis Trance: You may sink into metabolic stasis. In this state you are immobile, and only very distantly and slowly aware of your surroundings, but you are impervious to the passage of time, immune to poisons, radiation, and similar hazards, require no food, water, or air – essentially becoming a statue. You will awaken after a preset time, if you are forcibly damaged, ifany of up to (Int) preset triggers occur, or if someone applies an appropriate special ability.
  • DC 50:
    • Memorize Scroll: You may transfer the contents of a scroll into a series of symbols embedded in your own consciousness, storing a maximum of (Wisdom / 3) such effects.
    • Perfect Resistance: If the user makes a saving throw for a partial effect, he or she can then use this check to negate the effect entirely.
    • Purge Poison: You may expel a poison from your system. If you start on your first action after it takes effect, this will negate the initial damage and any further required saves.
    • Warp Spasm: Duplicate the effects of Pathfinders Beast Shape III (for Control Shape or Meditation) or Monstrous Physique III (for Autohypnosis or Bio- skills).
  • DC 60:
    • Iron Fist: Your natural weapons or unarmed strikes gain a total enhancement bonus of +3 (+4 at DC 75, +5 at DC 100). You may reduce the total as usual to add +1 or +2 weapon properties.
    • Memory Vault: You may conceal your true personality, skills, pieces of information, alignment, or other mental qualities in a sealed pocket of your subconscious. Until you opt to once more unveil your true self, all probes, divinations, or similar effects will reveal only your cover persona. This includes the ability to use appropriately-aligned sentient items without penalty.
    • Personal Panacea: Three times per day, whether or not you would normally be capable of taking an action for any reason short of death, you may generate a personal Panacea effect.
    • Psychic Reformation: As per the psionic ability.
  • DC 75:
    • Greater Warp Spasm: Duplicate the effects of Pathfinders Beast Shape IV (for Control Shape or Meditation) or Monstrous Physique IV (for Autohypnosis or Bio- skills) .
    • Pierce The Veil: You may meditate for an hour and cast your inner vision across the world, duplicating the effects of a Scry, Legend Lore, or Commune spell.
    • Purity Of The Self: You may eliminate any forced alignment change, cast off enchantment/charm effects, restore any lost or erased memories, eliminate any transformation effects, and otherwise return to your true self.
    • Unconscious Concentration: You may place the responsibility for maintaining concentration on an effect on your unconscious mind, allowing said effect to continue until you decide to drop it. Sadly, no more than three effects may be sustained in this fashion – one for the Id, one for the Ego, and one for the Superego.
  • DC 100:
    • Akhasic Shadows: You may open yourself to the astral echoes of the past, consulting the long dead. While you can have dreadful experiences this way, it isn’t dangerous – but there is nothing that forces any given echo to be cooperative, and no way whatsoever to force them to be since they are mere reconstructions within your own mind; if they will not cooperate, it’s all too likely that you’ve either hit a spot you couldn’t reconstruct or your mind is suppressing something that could damage it. Whether or not getting some clues to that ancient vault is worth listening to Dark Lord #372189 monologue for a day and a half is up to you.
    • Gate of Worlds: You may duplicate the effects of an Astral Projection spell.
    • Nirvanic Ascension: You may achieve Nirvana. From now on your image can appear anywhere and can speak with anyone or anything, dispensing whatever brand of “wisdom” you favor. You are indestructible, undispellable, unrestrainable, can use out-of-character information, and are as eternal as you wish to be. You can, however, do nothing else whatsoever – and the GM is entitled to veto your activities if they are too mundane (such as acting as a scout, messenger, or convenient information source). Note that you can make a check for Nirvanic Ascension up to once per year, including up to three times after death.

Epic Stunts:

  • Reincarnation (Research Level 0, DC 10): You may carry your memories and abilities into a new incarnation. They will gradually emerge as your new self grows into them.
    • This has no cost; anyone capable of epic stunts in this field can do it. Of course… getting a nice, simple, “Raise Dead” is generally preferable to coming back decades later, potentially worlds away, with a new personality, and having to grow up again – complete with the risk of dying again before you unlock this ability again.
  • Hypercognition (Research Level 9, DC 46): This functions exactly like the eighth level psionic power of the same name.
  • Total Awareness Meditation (Research Level 10, DC 50): You gain a +10 Insight Bonus to your perception skills, may make checks against anything within (Check Result x 5) feet, and your senses extend through solid matter – although concealment effects allow a save against you. You could sketch a map of a network of underground tunnels, survey it for the current location of any monsters, determine what is in a tomb without unsealing it, and so on. Unfortunately you must choose what to focus on amidst the overwhelming flood of information. The game master may volunteer some obvious bits, but if you – for example – don’t ask what the tapestries look like, you will miss the terrible, sanity-blasting, eldritch horrors they portray and the symbols which can call them into being.
  • Shapechange (Research Level 12, DC 58): While this requires no material component, it is otherwise identical to the (Pathfinder) ninth level Shapechange spell.
  • Contemplation Of The Bodhisattva Nature (Research Level 14, DC 66): You may tap into the energies of the outer planes directly up to (Wis Mod) times daily, invoking the equivalent of any standard clerical spell of level seven or less without components.
  • The Allegory Of The Cave (Research Level 15, DC 70): What is reality and what is shadow? This effect makes a projection – a clone, remote body, projected image, simulacrum, or what-have-you one and the same with whatever it is linked to. Thus stealing an item from a projected image is the same as stealing it from the caster, wherever he or she may be – as is stabbing a simulacrum, or giving a remotely operated body a cold. The effect normally lasts for 2d6 hours.
  • Expressing The Soul (Research Level 16, DC 74): You may express the outer-planar attunements of your own soul, in effect Channeling (as per The Practical Enchanter) a summonable Outsider of your alignment of up to CR 15 for 3d6 minutes (add 1d6 minutes per -1 CR). The type of outsider is fixed once selected (you must work with the game master on this to select something compatible that exists in the setting), barring a change of alignment on your part.
  • Shadows of the Past (Research Level 18, DC 82): Tapping into the akhasic shadows you may weave a pocket realm in the spaces between worlds to temporarily embody the past and place yourself and your companions within it – allowing you to, say, fight in an ancient war, visit a long-lost library, or discover what really happened to the princes in the tower. While physical items cannot be removed from the pocket realm, being killed in it simply results in needing to rest for 1d3 days after returning to reality. While the pocket realm lasts for a mere 2d6 hours by outside clocks, within it it’s duration may be up to a year and a day.

Eclipse: The Codex Persona is available in a Freeware PDF Version, in Print, and in a Paid PDF Version that includes Eclipse II (245 pages of Eclipse races, character and power builds, items, relics, martial arts, and other material) and the web expansion. Here’s a Featured Review of it and another Independent Review.

The Practical Enchanter can be found in a Print Edition (Lulu), an Electronic Edition(RPGNow), and a Shareware Edition (RPGNow).  There’s an RPGNow Staff Review too.

Skill Stunts and Epic Skill Stunts

And for today, it’s the start of the answer to a question…

The Stunt and Epic Stunts abilities (under the Skill Focus ability, Eclipse p. 44), are incredibly versatile in nature, but have almost no examples listed. As such, I’d like to make a request: combing through the standard 3.5 skill list, could you give us two or three examples of skill stunts – and, say, one epic stunt – for each skill, with a brief description and the DC listed? I think that would be great for generating ideas!

-Alzrius

Well, why not?

Skill Focus (2, 4, or 6 CP for +1, 2, or 3) provides a boost with skills – but it’s also the Eclipse gateway to pushing your skills past all natural limits. Adding the Stunts modifier (at +6 CP) lets you perform supernatural stunts with a skill at a cost of 2 Mana or two points of Attribute Damage. While it does not reduce the (likely high) DC of such tricks, it makes stuff that would normally be impossible possible. (You can do the same thing with an Immunity to the normal limits of a skill without it costing anything to use – but that costs several times as much to buy. There’s always a trade-off).

Some of these stunts – particularly on the very high end – will take a lot of time and work to pull off, but that can generally be left up to the game master.

  • You can use Supernatural Stunts to work abnormally fast – but that will increase the DC as the game master feels appropriate.
  • You can also use them to craft items related to the skill as if you were using Spellcraft, automatically bypassing spell prerequisites.
  • If a saving throw against a Stunt or Epic Stunt is called for, targets resist with whatever seems appropriate at a DC of (10 + Users Level/2 + Skill Attribute Modifier).

As an alternative to Stunts, you can take Immunity to the normal restrictions of a skill. That’s (Uncommon / Major), with a Major Immunity allowing for checks against DC’s of up to 49, Great Immunity allowing for checks against DC’s of up to 69, Epic Immunity covering DC’s or up to 119, and Legendary Immunity covering anything higher than that at a cost of 6.12.18/24 CP.  That’s expensive. Unless you plan on using a particular skill a LOT, Stunts is probably a better choice.

While it does take a bit of specialization to take advantage of this kind of thing at lower levels, you can take Skill Focus (+1 to a skill, 2 CP), Stunts (for the skill, 6 CP), 1d6 (4) Mana plus Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted/no natural magic, only to pay for Skill Stunts (6 CP), Luck with +8 Bonus Uses, Specialized for Increased Effect and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only for Skills, only to “Take 20” (40) in advance (12 CP) at a total cost of (26 CP) and “Take 40” on nine checks a day – upgrading them to supernatural stunts.

26 CP is expensive at low levels, but it’s within reach of a dedicated first level character – and can easily be expanded on to other skills and more uses as levels increase. Admittedly, it will require very high level or some pretty extreme shenanigans to reach those absurd “Legendary” DC’s, but if a game happens to go on that long there are some pretty good tricks waiting there.

Researching Epic Stunts is actually pretty cheap; as with researching standard spells it normally costs 1000 GP and one week per level-equivalent of the effect and requires a skill check with the relevant skill of (10 + the equivalent level of the effect to invoke) – and by the time you can use any of them (the usual invocation DC is 10 + equivalent level x 4) that’s generally trivial.

If you wish to develop a lot of Epic Stunts for your skills, you may want to take Stunt Research. That’s Action Hero/Invention, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (it costs 1 AP per effective level of a Stunt to develop it) / only for coming up with epic skill stunts, only during downtime.

Sample Stunts for Appraise, Profession/Finance, and similar:

  • DC 10 (normally no stunt required):
    • Find Value: Maintain a Poor lifestyle (See Pathfinder’s Cost of Living entry on this page) for a month without further effort or cost.
    • Evaluate Equipage: Determine the most expensive visible item that a creature is carrying.
    • Appraise the general quality of a common animal.
    • Act as a critic of art, architecture, literature, or similar.
  • DC 15 (may or may not require a stunt):
    • Evaluate Magic. Determine the nature and strength of every magical aura in a large room.
    • Find Value II: Maintain an Average lifestyle (See Pathfinder’s Cost of Living entry on this page) for a month without further effort or cost.
    • Act as a refined critic.
    • Roll an opposed check to someone else’s Perform Check through criticism, heckling, and ridicule. If you win, you wreck their performance.
  • DC 20:
    • Determine a target’s probable power level based on their equipment.
    • Evaluate the abilities and general worth of a target creature.
    • Optimize Contract: get 20% off the cost of having a major structure built.
    • Appraise Operation: determine the value of a mine, store, or other operation that produces money and/or resources, discovering how profitable it is, if resources are being diverted, how many employees there are, what security is like, and so on.
  • DC 25:
    • Know Provenance. Discover an items maker, history, value, and general properties (magical or not). This also reveals forgeries and counterfeits.
    • Find Value III: Maintain a Wealthy lifestyle (See Pathfinder’s Cost of Living entry on this page) for a month without further effort or cost.
    • Sell an object for 80% of it’s base value.
    • Evaluate Components: determine what magical or mundane valuables can be harvested from a slain creature.
    • Correctly evaluate the pros and cons of a demonic contract.
    • Appraise Land: determine what resources, crops, and profit can be extracted from an area if it is well-managed.
  • DC 30:
    • Identify an item, determining it’s command words, properties, number of charges, and so.
    • Value At A Glance. Evaluate the net value of entire treasure hordes with a quick look.
    • Investment. By employing this stunt every month you may maintain a pool of non-liquid investments equal to 50% of your base Wealth by Level (see Money Management ).
    • Appraise Organization: You may determine the value of a major organization, as per Appraise Operation, above.
    • Assess Completeness: Determine if pieces are missing from a spell formula, artwork, or other item.
    • Locate Buyer: You can find a buyer for your goods in the most unlikely of places.
  • DC 35:
    • Tales of Profit: Employ a Legend Lore effect in a few hours.
    • Augment Value: temporarily boost the value of a permanent item or collection thereof by up to (Check x 1000 GP). Only one such boost may be in effect at any one time and the effect lasts for 3d6 minutes by default – but the user may opt to concentrate (as per spells) on the effect to maintain it after that point.
    • Appraise Person; if you talk to someone for an hour or so you may determine their general abilities, whether or not they will be reliable in a particular position, and whether or not they have concealed motives.
  • DC 40:
    • Appraise Panoply. Value and identify all the items that someone within medium range is carrying.
    • Investment II. By employing this stunt every month you may maintain a pool of non-liquid investments equal to 75% of your base Wealth by Level (see Money Management).
    • Radiant Wealth: If Wealth-By Level is a Natural Law, trick the universe into setting yours at +1 level.
  • DC 50:
    • Determine the value of information, including (for example) how worthwhile a treasure map is or how much someone will be willing to put up with to avoid having a secret revealed.
    • Appraise Expertise: you may determine how well an individual will do in a particular role or position.
  • DC 60:
    • Find Value IV: Maintain an Extravagant lifestyle (See Pathfinder’s Cost of Living entry on this page) for a month without further effort or cost.
    • Sell an object for 90% of it’s base value.
    • Determine whether an offer for a particular service is fair – and if it isn’t, why not.
    • Radiant Wealth II: If Wealth-By Level is a Natural Law, trick the universe into setting yours at +2 levels.
  • DC 75:
    • Dark Temptation. Discern what the perfect bribe would be for a given target as well as what they would consider a reasonable offer for a particular favor.
    • Locate Seller: you may find someone who is willing to sell you any item which is available for purchase somewhere in the setting provided that you are willing and able to pay for it.
  • DC 100:

Epic Stunts for Appraise, Profession/Finance, and similar:

  • Instant Purchase (Research Level 7, DC 38). Exchange an appropriate quantity of money for a level-appropriate item as a standard action. DC 48 for a Move Action, DC 60 for a Swift Action, and DC 80 for an Immediate Action.
  • Estate Sale (Research Level 8, DC 42). When you clean the monsters out of a dungeon, or the evil cult out of a temple, or defeat the dark baron… you may cast this spell to find a buyer for the place who will offer a fair price and put it to use, thus preventing if from (necessarily) becoming a monster lair in the immediate future or having more cultists move in or some such.
  • Balancing Fortune (Research Level 10, DC 50, cast as a swift action). You gain a reservoir of 24 luck points. You may spend 1/2/4/7 of them to add or subtract 1d8/2d8/3d8/4d8 from any die roll, although opponents targeted by this may save to resist. The effect can be employed either before or after the result is revealed. The effect ends once all points have been expended, the spell is cast again, or twenty-four hours have passed.
  • Stock Manipulation (Research Level 12, DC 58). Halve a targets effective Wealth By Level for the next seventy-two hours. Items affected do not change physically, but have their effectiveness reduced.
  • The Irresistible Lure (Research Level 13, DC 62). Creates an illusion of the fulfillment / embodiment of the targets deepest desires. If the target fails to resist, it will follow the lure wherever the caster sends it – not matter what the peril or risk. The victim can, however, try to handle any challenges along the way intelligently.
  • Appraise Lands (Research Level 14, DC 66). You instantly determine the location of all available natural resources within a thirty mile radius. You learn the locations of rare herbs, veins of gems, ores, and other minerals, stands of exotic woods, where the best fruits are, and so on.
  • Balancing Ancient Scales (Research Level 15, DC 70). You may give the long-fallen champions of a losing cause a new chance for revenge – calling forth an army of spirits, suddenly-restored war machines, a mad scientist who failed to get his greatest creation to work, or a would-be world conqueror who was defeated and slain the last time around. This often has considerable side effects, and they are rarely entirely controllable, but you have at least done them a major favor. Whatever you call forth will fade away again inside a day. In general, determining what is available to call forth is a job for a Knowledge / History or Bardic Lore check, learning of one possibility per 5 points past DC 10 by which the roll is made.
  • Strategic Training (Research Level 20, DC 90). You may spend a day administering precisely targeted “training from hell” to up to (Check Result x 1000) people – granting them a template of up to +4 ECL for the next seven days.

Eclipse: The Codex Persona is available in a Freeware PDF Version, in Print, and in a Paid PDF Version that includes Eclipse II (245 pages of Eclipse races, character and power builds, items, relics, martial arts, and other material) and the web expansion. Here’s a Featured Review of it and another Independent Review.

The Practical Enchanter can be found in a Print Edition (Lulu), an Electronic Edition(RPGNow), and a Shareware Edition (RPGNow).  There’s an RPGNow Staff Review too.

Crystal Ponies, Gem Ponies, and Ponyfinder.

Crystal ponies are a bit awkward, mostly due to a lack of information; none of them are major characters and they’ve only put in a few appearances. That’s why they weren’t a part of the original series of articles. Still, Ponyfinder gave it’s “Gem Ponies” some definite abilities, and the question was about “what would your version look like”. Ergo, here we go – Crystal / Gem Ponies as a full-blown +1 ECL over the basic pony template.

We do have a little information. Before anything else we’re told that “If the empire is filled with hope and love, those things are reflected across all of Equestria. If hatred and fear take hold…”

So either there’s some sort of massive linked destiny effect (this seems unlikely, or the place being sent to limbo for a thousand years should have had some pretty major effects on the rest of the world) or it generates some sort of empathic broadcast. There’s still no evidence that this has anything to do with the actual Crystal Ponies directly; it might just be a function of the Crystal City and/or The Crystal Heart.

When we first see the Crystal Ponies they’re all grayish, droopy, and blatantly depressed and hopeless – but when they become hopeful they became sparkly, and brighter colored, and apparently regain their memories. Upon recalling themselves they pumped “light and love” into the streets of the Crystal Empire, which lit up and fed it into the Crystal Heart, which cleared away the dark crystals, blew up King Sombra, fixed the weather, got rid of the snow, and more. Evidently the Crystal Ponies can supply magical energy to devices – and the city itself is a massive magical channeling / amplifying system that focuses power into the Crystal Heart. The combination is capable of supporting a sizeable population in an icy wilderness, broadcasting their massed power (and a pretty lightshow), keeping the area unfrozen, performing spontaneous civic repairs, and more.

In game terms, that’s pretty obviously a Ward Major, but the details won’t matter to prospective adventurers.

We can probably throw in some ability to strengthen and repair crystal too. When it comes to building a city out of the stuff crystal just isn’t that great a structural material.

We don’t see any wings or horns among the Crystal Ponies at first although there are occasional examples later – but they’re rare enough that they might just be normal unicorns or pegasi with a temporary effects going. After all, exposure to the empowered Crystal Heart made everyone – including Spike – look crystalline for a bit and we do know from Nightmare Moon’s alternate-timeline guards that cosmetic transformation effects exist in Equestria (and are a good in-setting explanation for various animation errors). Secondarily, King Sombra’s forces in the Crystal War timeline didn’t seem to include flyers or other magic users. While we didn’t get that good a look at them, the lack of an aerial wing to meet Equestria’s Pegasi seems kind of telling. It would be downright stupid not to field them if they had them available.

Finally, the Crystal Ponies seem to be ridiculously easily influenced. They were made to forget everything pre-Sombra, can be transformed by speeches, and were apparently fairly easily turned into a mass of mind-controlled soldiers.

Well, crystals do seem to be a big thing in Equestrian magic – and when Sombra controlled the Crystal Empire he seemed to get a limitless supply of mind-control helmets and weapons with it – and I don’t think that he was personally laboring day and night on artificing.

So Crystal Ponies can shape, maintain, and repair crystal, empower crystalline devices, create magical crystal devices, and shift identities – to the extent of major personality and memory shifts. This is not always a good thing.

Ponyfinder Gem Ponies get:

  • +2 AC versus Rays.
  • The ability to deflect a Ray as if using Deflect Arrows 1/Day, although a free hand is not required.
  • A +2 racial bonus on saves against Fear and Despair effects.
  • A reroll any desired d20 check once per day.

Those are actually pretty good racial bonuses. They’re not particularly high-powered, but rays are pretty common attacks, fear and despair can be incapacitating, and a reroll – even once per day – has all kinds of uses.

So for our full-powered +1 ECL Crystal Ponies buy:

  • Spellcraft +6, Specialized and Corrupted / only for use as a Craft Skill to make (crystalline) Charms and Talismans (2 CP).
  • Specific Knowledge: How to make 20 specific Charms (2 CP) and 3 specific Talismans (1 CP).
    • Each Crystal Pony has an intuitive knowledge of how to make a small selection of charms and talismans. If the setting doesn’t require such knowledge, they get a bonus on creating their specific set.
  • Mana-Powered Inherent Spell I / Crystal Spirit (L3, Enhances Charms and Talismans. For the next minute the user’s personal Charms and Talismans have a base of L1 and L2 effects respectively. Alternatively, this can be used to pump power into major devices, but it will usually require a sizeable group of users to accomplish much. In either case, the effect can be renewed without it requiring an action or conscious effort as long as sufficient Mana is available (6 CP).
  • Mana-Powered Inherent Spell II: The Crystal Forge (L4, produces any crystal-related effect of up to level two, 6 CP).
    • This will allow Crystal Ponies to readily shape, repair, strengthen, or shatter crystal, to produce crystal implements, and even to create temporary crystal armor.
  • Crystalline Nature: Improved Defender (only, no base), Specialized for Increased Effect (+2 t0 AC) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost (4 CP) / only versus Rays.
    • A Crystal Ponies reflective coat is sparkly and shiny and tends to deflect magical rays as well as light.
  • Block (Arcane), Specialized and Corrupted / only versus Rays, plus Luck with + (Cha Mod) Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted / only to use with this Block (6 CP).
    • Crystal Ponies can consciously deflect rays, although they will have a difficult time keeping it up if pressed.
  • Resist: +2 on saves versus Mind-Affecting Abilities, Specialized for Half Cost / only versus Fear and Despair effects (1 CP).
  • Luck, Corrupted/only for Rerolls (4 CP).
  • Being semi-transparent and apparently made of crystal is purely cosmetic, and has no real effect. It’s not like a lot of races don’t look a bit weird anyway. With no effect this has no cost.
  • Racial Disadvantages:
    • Accursed / Crystal Ponies are easily affected by the the power of Black Magic Charms and Talismans, and cannot avoid both empowering and amplifying them when they are afflicted with them. They can thus be readily forced to power their own torment or enslavement or suffer repressed memories (-3 CP).
    • Incompetent / Crystal Ponies are sparkly, somewhat glowey, and very, very conspicuous. They suffer a -3 penalty on all Stealth, Disguise, and related skill checks (-3 CP).
  • Crystal Ponies either get a Bonus Feat (6 CP) or – if Charms and Talismans are not normally (or widely) available in the setting – they’ll need to take:
    • Use of Charms and Talismans: Shaping, Specialized and Corrupted for increased effects/can only produce the effects for which the user has the appropriate foci ready, can only support a limited number (seven and three) of minor charms and more notable talismans at one time, charms and talismans are modestly expensive and take some time to attune for use (6 CP).

Total Cost: 32 CP

There. That lets our Crystal Ponies equip themselves with crystal weapons and armor, produce various boosting charms and talismans, and resist a lot of rays (probably the most common Unicorn Pony offensive effect). Given the right choices of charms and talismans that can actually make them fairly formidable fighters – far better than most ponies are without lots of special training – and thus explains their ability to hold their own against a much-larger Equestria (with a presumably far greater population) in the Crystal War timeline.

These Crystal Ponies actually make excellent explorers, adventurers, and hostile-environment colonists since they can use personal Charms and Talismans to  endure bitter cold, reduce the amount of food they need, and can create tools and simple structures out of magically-created crystal.

Dedicated Hunters and Ponyfinder

Many adventurers are in it for themselves. Others are loyal to great lords and nations. Some seek ancient knowledge. More are brought up as mercenaries or agents. A few are simply thrust into the adventuring life when they are forced out of their normal lives – whether by being caught thieving or by being forced to seek new homes.

Other people, however, are perfectly happy as humble woodcutters, bustling cooks, and simple fishermen. But then something goes wrong in their comfortable worlds. Some monstrous force – war, flood, plague, famine, or some literal monster – strikes their lives and strips away something they value.

And rather than falling into despair, or railing against fate, or resigning themselves to their loss and their inability to change the world… they find PURPOSE. An anchor against the whimsical winds of fate. A course is set – and the farmers boy, simple woodcutter, or imaginative child picks up whatever comes to hand and sets out to do something about it.

When that force is large and abstract you can expect to see feats of engineering, or research into new cures, or organizations founded. If smaller, expect social heroes – a fireman, doctor, or investigator. And when it truly was a monster… expect an avenger.

An old destiny is no more. A Hunter has been born. And despite all logic telling us that apprentice bakers should leave the demon-hunting to trained professionals… they often turn out to be very, VERY, good at it, somehow substituting anger and grim determination for actual training and equipment.

Hunter (Werewolf Slayer, Dragonbane, Vampire Hunter, etc). 24 CP acquired template / power package.

  • Favored Foe (6 CP). The Hunter has his or her Prey. Do you gain some bonuses to overcoming a Favored Foes Spell Resistance, to Will Saves against them, to Knowledge Checks involving them, to the Damage you cause them, to your ability to Intimidate them, to Tracking them, to Perception checks involving them, or to various other functions? You get to pick five options. Starting Hunters often Specialize this (does not increase with level) – but that’s usually just a way to save a few CP when starting off, and gets bought off before it actually matters.
    • Favored Foe doesn’t turn up in that many sample builds – it tends to be a bit campaign specific and the examples are built to be a bit generic – but it would be hard to find a build where it’s more appropriate to use it than this one.
  • Hunters Wrath: 1d6 Mana with the Unskilled Magic option, Specialized and Corrupted / only for Unskilled Magic, only for effects used designed for use against the user’s Favored Foe targets. The user may thus create temporary “Bane” weapons, blast or detect his or her foes, create specialized protections against their powers, heal the wounds (and any special conditions) that they inflict, and so on. In general, this is best taken as Increased Effect (1 Mana per Spell Level, requires no Cha check) and Reduced Cost (4 CP/Die). Add Rite of Chi, Specialized and Corrupted / requires at least one hour of rest or quiet to use, only to recharge the Hunter’s Wrath pool above (2 CP). Most starting Hunters only have one die of Mana to play with, and so rely pretty heavily on the “bonus mana” effect of emotional stress – fueling it with fanatical hatred of their targets. Older and calmer Hunters usually buy some more dice of Mana and bonus uses on their Rite of Chi to get it back.
    • Note that using Hunters Wrath effectively requires at least a +1 base on Will Saves. Most Hunters have strong wills anyway – it rather goes with the territory – but they can always skip buying this for a bit if they don’t have at least a +1 will save bonus yet.
  • Triumph Of Will: Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized / only usable when dealing with their Favored Foe(s) (6 CP). Hunters don’t stop. Has no one in the village ever successfully fought a Werewolf and lived? A visiting Werewolf Hunter has probably torn all the limbs off three of them with his or her bare hands.
    • When a Hunter REALLY needs to make that save, or that shot, or confirm that critical, somehow they pretty much invariably do.
  • Battle Scars: Immunity to a Favored Foe type. That’s Common (After all, you’re actively pursuing them. It might even be Very Common, and thus more expensive, if the campaign revolves around a particular type of foe – but that will increase the utility at least as much as it increases the cost), Major (Favored Foes do tend to want to hurt you), and Minor (6 CP). This will protect the user against twelve points of damage from each of his favored foes attacks and from effects of up to level three (with a +4 bonus on saves against higher-level effects).
    • Yes, this means that basic, minor, foes probably will have no real chance of hurting you – pretty much the way that Buffy the Vampire Slayer can casually dispatch dozens of minor vampires and only has trouble during special situations.

Recommended Extras at higher levels: 

  • At least a +2 Base Will Save (6 CP).
  • Extra dice of Mana: 4 CP Each.
  • Specific Knowledge (Favored Foes) (1 SP).
  • Bonus Uses on Rite of Chi: 2 CP per +4.

The problem with having a Hunter in the group is the same as it is with any other specialist; they’re a bit overwhelming within their little field and a bit behind everyone else outside of it. That’s not necessarily bad, but it can make running the game awkward if you’re not used to it.

In Ponyfinder becoming a Chaos Hunter costs a feat. You dedicate yourself to fighting the forces of chaos and there you are. You can build that in Eclipse too of course; buy +1 to Will Saves (3 CP), and Favored Foe (Specialized for reduced cost, does not improve after level one, Corrupted/only applies to two items, but they’re AC and BAB, 3 CP) taking a +2 to AC and BAB versus Chaotic Outsiders. That’s actually slightly better than the original version (where it was CMB (Grapple) instead of BAB), but then Eclipse tends to encourage character diversity by making all kinds of niche bonuses a bit cheaper.

The Clockwork Rangers

All right, I’m recovered enough to start writing again – but I’m not going to bother trying to catch up on a few missed entries this time.

The toxic dust of a dying world blew upon the wind, drifting across the barren hills. The earth lay shadowed beneath a layer of eternal clouds that blocked out the sun to leave either sweltering hothouse barrens or deathly cold – and yet left even a spattering of corrosively contaminated rain or snow a rare and treasured thing. The few and scattered plants that grew were twisted and venomous – and those few of the animals that were still living things instead of undead horrors were worse.

For long centuries the colony had lain hidden deep beneath the hills – a stronghold of life from an earlier age, before the great war, before the spells of death, and fire, corruption, and plague had rained from the sky. An ark of hope for the future if the slow, cleansing, progress of wind and rain should ever make the surface truly livable again.

But the earthquake came many centuries too soon. While the children were rushed to temporary safety in the deepest caverns, the haven was opened to the poisoned surface, the techno-magical support systems were failing, and death awaited.

But loving elders would, as ever, sacrifice themselves for the children. They lacked the resources to repair everything, and their own failing bodies could not host their spirits much longer no matter how strong their wills – and so they worked with surviving fragments of lore and ritual, attempting to reseal the haven and to repair it’s systems by pouring their own spirits and life forces into them – hoping that their sacrifice would at least save the children.

And whether some nigh-forgotten power aided them, or their ritual both failed and succeeded beyond their wildest hopes, or some last remnant of the builders protective intent provided a focus for their sacrifice, they accomplished much of their goal. The remnants of the old systems twisted and changed – and the Clockwork Rangers were born from failing bodies, spells, and life support systems, transmigrated spirits, and a will to protect beyond death. Bodies of metal, crystal, ticking gears, and strange forces came forth in a final attempt to both save the children and to bring new life to a world on the brink of the final abyss.

Not surprisingly… some Clockwork Rangers sought out gates to other, more livable, worlds – allowing them to find homes for the children in their care. Others still travel the wastelands, rescuing occasional survivors and helping found and build communities as life begins – ever so gradually – to return. But even in kinder worlds… there is always a need of guardians

And, of course, there are always those who take such a gift and twist it to their own ends. Many things are created with good intentions, but go astray.

Clockwork Rangers have a variety of powers related to their original haven’s life, community, and social support systems as well as some basic defenses. Unsurprisingly, they are at their most effective in poisoned, blasted, environments where their powers are vitally necessary – but even in gentler areas, they are fairly durable and effective healers and reasonable combatants.

Clockwork Ranger 24 CP Acquired Template

Innate Enchantment: 11,500 GP Value (12 CP).

  • Handy Haversack: Only for storing toxins, radiation, explosives, and similar hazards (x.4 = 800 GP). Intelligent (500 GP): Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 10, Speech (actually a display in the Clockwork Rangers vision and an auditory feed; the system cannot “talk” to anyone else, 500 GP), 120′ Senses (1000 GP) and Darkvision (500 GP), Benign Transposition 3/Day (1200 GP).
  • Field Provisions Box (2000 GP). A Clockwork Ranger and up to 5/15/45 Large/Medium/Small companions (or some combination thereof) need neither eat nor drink – although they can if they wish to do so.
  • Deep Breath (SL 1 x CL 1 x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x .7 Personal-Only = 1400 GP). Clockwork Rangers need not breathe, and cannot drown, be suffocated, or be affected by inhaled gases unless they intentionally inhale them.
  • Amulet of Tears (2300 GP)
  • Healing Belt (750 GP)
  • Traveler’s Any-Tool (250 GP).
  • Each Clockwork Ranger has an additional 300 GP worth of permanent mundane gear installed, but it varies with each individual. One might have an alchemical lab and a bunch of reference material, another armor and weapons, and still another grappling hooks and engineering tools.

Since the original request was about Ponyfinder, and the Pathfinder Template can be presumed to be in play… there’s no need to worry about the 3.5 experience point cost of those enchantments.

Witchcraft I, II and III (18 CP)

  • Base Power = (Str + Dex + Con)/3, Save DC = (13 + Cha Mod).
  • Seven Basic Abilities:
    • Duty Beyond Death / The Adamant Will: Specialized and Corrupted / no cost, but only applies when a Clockwork Ranger is acting to defend its charges or other noncombatants.
    • Safe Haven / Hyloka: Corrupted for Increased Effect and Specialized for Reduced Cost (free): only to induce resistance to injury in companions, only works on those who remain within thirty feet for at least one hour and wears off after four hours if they depart that radius. Induces DR 5 / – and Universal Energy Resistance 5.
    • Purifying Aura / Witchfire, Specialized and Corrupted for a single (Increased Effect) / Detoxification. Toxins, radiation, plagues, and similar hazards are drawn from the surrounding 30′ radius and into the Clockwork Rangers extra-dimensional storage space. While it requires one Power to detoxify a living creature (and it can save if it wishes), maintaining a livable air bubble despite any reasonable level of contaminants, and slowly purifying the soil and water, is automatic.
    • Mass Driver / Hand of Shadows, Specialized and Corrupted for a single (Increased) effect: a Clockwork Ranger may spend 1 Power to launch three bolts of available materials. These get a +4 bonus over the user’s BAB, but are otherwise treated as if the Clockwork Ranger was using a heavy crossbow of the appropriate size. If they actually have an enhanced crossbow available, it’s bonuses apply as well even if they are not using it. This can be especially dangerous if the Clockwork Ranger has been operating in highly toxic areas, since any stored supply of toxins is a part of the available materials to be so launched.
    • Occult Physician / Healing. Clockwork Guardians are highly effective healers and extremely resistant to drugs, intoxicants, and similar biological difficulties. They also commonly apply this ability to either duplicate the effects of the Keep Watch spell (2 power) or to simply negate the negative effects of going without their trance-like equivalent of “sleep” (1 power per day).
    • Sweet Dreams / Dreamfaring. Specialized and Corrupted for a single effect at no cost. No matter how haunted, cursed, enchanted, or traumatized, anyone sleeping within a hundred and twenty feet of a Clockwork Ranger will have only peaceful, healing, dreams – equivalent to superb therapy.
    • Guardian / The Inner Eye, Specialized and Corrupted for a pair of ongoing effects at no cost – Status (the user may add up to (Wis) extra targets by giving them a token to carry) and Detect Hostile Intent.
  • Pact: Spirit (-12 CP). A Clockwork Ranger is already deceased, its spirit bound to the world by will and the damaged life support magic of an artificial body. When that body finally fails, that spirit flows into the earth, immediately becoming a part of the great cycle – beyond the reach of magic such as Raise (or Speak with) Dead or Resurrection. Still, where a Clockwork Ranger falls a green oasis will bloom even in the most desolate void- and will continue to flower while the Clockwork Rangers endure.
  • Advanced Abilities:
    • Intuitive Engineering / Master The Elements. Specialized and Corrupted for reduced cost / the Clockwork Ranger must evaluate the problem, survey the area, and actually work on building a practical solution – but they have an intuitive ability to lead the way in reshaping environments to support communities (2 CP).
    • Tending The Garden / True Prosperity. Specialized and Corrupted for reduced cost / a Clockwork Ranger who opts to settle in an area and devote it’s efforts to supporting a local community will allow such a community to prosper and grow at the upper limits for its environment – its harvests always good, its people and livestock healthy and fertile, and with many small disasters averted (2 CP).

A Great Light / Major Privilege, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost. A Clockwork Ranger can offer the newly dead an immediate reincarnation as a “young adult” Clockwork Ranger – if, and only if, they have died/are dying with major goals and commitments to things beyond himself or herself left unfulfilled, they are willing to accept the Spirit Pact involved, and they are willing to place their faith in the Clockwork Guardian (2 CP)

A Clockwork Ranger transformation has a total cost of 24 CP, and must be paid for immediately when acquired – most often by sacrificing some preexisting racial or personal abilities that seem incompatible with being a ghost haunting a body made of quasi-living machinery transmuted from your old corpse. If you REALLY can’t think of anything… each 6 CP not paid for will temporarily reduce one of your attributes by one. Those “lost” points will return when as the template is paid for.

Of course, they’re also a sort of “resurrection” available at level one – a econd chance for both dying people and dying worlds. They can also operate quite effectively whether or not the “superheroic” world template is in use. If it is… it’s fair enough to count the overall template as Specialized (cannot be powered with Mana), reducing the total cost of the package to 12 CP.

Why? Well…

“What if I want to play a Ponyfinder subtype (Chaos Hunter, Clockwork, Gem, Leatherwing, Sea Horse, or Zebra) in full-blown superheroic Equestria? How would they be changed to match the more powerful Pegasi, Unicorns, Earth Ponies, and Changelings you’ve built?”

“Well, the simplest approach is to go right ahead without changing anything. Take your racial writeup with it’s built-in Pathfinder Package Deal and build a character. If you’re in Equestria you get free Mana equal to your (Con Mod) each round from the Superheroic World Template, will probably be using the Low-Level Adventurer template, and get a free level instead of the +1 ECL Templates that Earth Ponies, Pegasi, and Unicorns use. Next simplest (at least for me) is change them however you and/or the game master want.”

“No, no! I want to see what your powered-up versions of those subtypes would be like!”

“Well… as I get to them then!”