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!


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.

12 Responses

  1. This is excellent! I really hope you do this for the other skills, because it’s extremely inspirational!

    One quick question, how long does the “Augment Value” ability last? Presuming it’s a short-term augmentation, but the text doesn’t specify precisely how short-term.

  2. […] 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.  […]

  3. The immunity approach is interesting, though it makes me curious if you could have a wider supernatural skill power using a common or very common immunity.

    • It is also a bit unclear how skill stunts interact with skill-based magic and occult skills.
      Also, what do you think a ‘stunt master’ class would look like, with the general idea of having a dedicated skill magic user, as opposed to a conventional caster/skill monkey.

      • Well, part of that one’s already come up – so to quote myself for the first bit:

        I’m intending to cover a few of those – but the major themes there seem likely to be Inversion (such as using “Destruction” Rune Magic to repair something without a massive boost in the level of the spell), semi-mundane applications (using Fire magic for making metal alloys, selective distillation, or designing a furnace), and altering the nature of what you manipulate, rather like the old notions of some Alchemists (for example, making solid air that remains solid even without magic because that is now it’s “natural” state).

        Of course, you never know what will actually occur to me once I start writing, so that’s speculative until I actually do it.

        And I shall probably include a “stunt master” class along the way. The foundation is basically the first level package given above, but throwing in Adept, Fast Learner, and some other skill boosters to expand the list of effects available as they level up.

      • Beyond the basics in the first article I shall try to include a more detailed writeup with some of the later articles in the series.

    • Yes – and it will be cheaper. The limitation, however, is that the Immunity approach does not serve as a gateway to Epic Stunts.

    • just offhand… “Common” would usually cover three to five skills, depending on how closely linked they were. “Very Common” would cover a dozen or so, or a particular category, such as “martial art skills”.

  4. […] Nine Swords Disciplines as Skill Stunts is easy enough: buy the relevant Immunity as listed in the Skill Stunts articles (probably buying it at “very common” to cover all your martial-arts related skills), […]

  5. […] Part I: Surpassing the normal limits of skills. Appraise, Profession/Finance, and Similar. […]

  6. […] Part I: Surpassing the normal limits of skills. Appraise, Profession/Finance, and Similar. […]

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