Halfbreeds and Ponyfinder in Equestria – Kirin in Eclipse

And here we have another Ponyfinder type – the Kirin.

In Ponyfinder the Kirin are strongly dragonblooded ponies from distant lands. They have scaly coats, vaguely draconic features, and colors based on their elemental affinity – red, orange, and yellow for fire, blue, green, and white for water/ice, deep greens, browns, stony colors for earth, and the many colors of the sky for air. It’s implied that their cultures are basically eastern asian (with no particular reason given for that), but I’m having to rely on online sources here; I don’t have that particular book and they seem to be purely a fanon creation as far as the actual program goes.

Personally, I’d see a Dragon-Pony crossbreed – or race thereof – as creatures of great internal contradictions.

  • Dragons: Arrogant. Solitary. Predatory. Violent. Touchy. Hoarding. Hot-Tempered. Dominating.
  • Ponies: Sociable. Gregarious. Friendly. Mostly Nonviolent. Herbivorous. Generous. Enthusiastic. Group Oriented.

One could assume that a lot of those traits cancel each other out – but a lot of the point of playing a hybrid is to combine dissimilar traits and see what you can make of them. So trying that for Dragon-Ponies I see…

  • Generosity versus Hoarding. Kirin want stuff – and also see the value in being liked, owed favors, and impressing others. Thus they exchange gifts, especially when greeting others. Whoever gives the most impressive (but still reasonable for the recepient) gift will gain a substantial social edge, and the more impressive the gift, the greater the edge.
  • Solitary and Gregarious. Kirin DO live in tightly-packed groups, but they’re relatively small groups and they try to create an appearance of privacy and solitude through careful etiquette, privacy screens, thin “walls” that do little more than block line of sight, and similar stratagems. Many things are simply carefully “not seen”.
  • Nonviolent and Forgiving versus Touchy and Violent. Kirin are capable of savage violence and are easily offended – but are also well aware that violence is problematic and that most offenses are quite unintentional. Thus their social interactions tend to be filtered through layers of social rules, etiquette, and formality.
  • Herbivorous versus Predatory: This one is pretty simple. Kirin cusine tends to mix a bit of pretty much everything – a little meat, some gems and minerals, and simple vegetable fillers and sauces that let the exotic flavors shine through.
  • Arrogant and Enthusiastic: Kirin tend to throw themselves into their projects – but rarely, if ever, spend much time thinking about potential failure modes or whether or not whatever they have in mind is a good idea.
  • Sociable versus Hot-Tempered: Kirin like to share their projects and interact with each other – but criticism, rivalries, and even minor arguments tend to lead to contests to “settle the issue”, rather than to any kind of rational debate. Admittedly, having two fruit-growers involved in a heated, high-stakes, jam-making competition is a bit weird by most other races standards, but it works tolerably well.
  • Dominating (Me First!) versus Group-Oriented: Kirin want a hierarchy (SOMEONE needs to be in charge!) – but while anyone will enjoy the social status and rewards of leadership, any sane Kirin leader knows that the way to earn those rewards is to promote the welfare and goals of the group – not to simply exploit your followers. Kirin leaders thus focus on wisdom – knowing how to effectively promote those goals – rather than power. Their leaders tend more towards scholars, wise elders, teachers, and problem-solvers rather than warlords, demagogues, and combatants. A respect for age tends to go with that.

Ergo, we can reasonably say that many “eastern” elements of their culture and behavior are more or less rational social systems for dealing with their natural tendencies rather than an arbitrary way to reflect Earth’s mythology. That also means that they might reasonable appear in (surviving) relatively isolated kirin settlements without being a part of a greater culture. And that’s a good thing, because Dragon-Pony crossbreeds are likely to be scarce.

As for their abilities…

In Ponyfinder they get:

  • +2 Constitution, +2 Wisdom, and -2 Dexterity, to be Fingerless Quadrupeds with a boost to ground movement while on all fours, and Low-Light Vision just for being ponies. I personally don’t agree that ponies have Low-Light Vision – I see little evidence of it in the show – so that isn’t included in the Eclipse basic pony package, but a lot of other stuff is.
  • Fast Healing II whenever they take at least 1 Damage from the type of energy they’re resistant to to a maximum of 2 hit points per level per day. Honestly.. that’s over complicated and not very useful. Fortunately, basic Eclipse ponies get boosted healing (averaging 16.5 points per day) anyway. If you really must specialize for double effect / only work when exposed to appropriate elemental energies go right ahead.
  • 60′ Darkvision from having the Dragon type. I don’t think I’ll put this in though; at least judging by Owl’s Well That Ends Well, Spike can’t see well in the dark; we can’t be seeing as he does in the green dragon’s cave since there are shadows, Twilight needs Owlowiscious to guide her in the dark, rather than getting directions from Spike, and she wants a night assistant. Ergo it looks to me like Equestrian Dragons don’t have Darkvision.
  • Immunity to Spells and Psionic Effects causing Sleep or Paralysis from having the Dragon type again. Again, there’s little evidence of this from the series, although there is some evidence for general magic resistance – such as Greed-Growth Spike being immune to most magical attempts to stop him.
  • +1 Natural Armor. Well, that’s reasonable enough.
  • Resistance 5 to one energy type and “a corresponding elemental vulnerability”. Whether that means double damage or merely +5 damage or a penalty to saves or something is not entirely clear. Fortunately this can be ignored, since basic Eclipse ponies come with Resistance 9 to all kinds of energy straight out of the box.
  • Once per day they can spend a swift action to add +1d6 of the appropriate elemental damage to their melee attacks for up to one round per level. A modest, but worthwhile boost.

In Eclipse…

Kirin tend to be found in small clusters and villages, tucked away on mountain peaks, or in hidden valleys, or distant islands – wherever a dragon or two and some ponies had kids without too many others about to dilute the bloodlines before they settled into a reasonably stable culture. Unfortunately, this means that there are no mighty kirin empires out there; there simply aren’t enough kirin. Instead they tend towards isolated settlements, wizened elders who have settled down to meditate on a mountaintop for a few years (perhaps the equivalent of a draconic long nap), and wandering adventurers. Following their natural tendencies, Kirin are among the few ponies who have extensive inherent combat talents backing up their focus on formal etiquette and contemplative wisdom. Mucking about in a Kirin settlement is all too likely to trigger an “everyone’s a martial artist” episode. In Eclipse Equestria they get the following racial abilities:

Kirin (+32 CP, 63 CP Total with the Basic Pony Template for a +1 ECL).

  • Bonus Language: Draconic (1 CP).
  • Adept, Specialized for Increased Effect (+4 to the skill per SP) / only to determine the cost of their racial skill bonuses (6 CP). Their adept skills are:
  • Any one (Elemental) (Air, Death, Earth, Fire, Life, Spirit, Void, or Water) Dragon Style Martial Arts (Con Based), Specialized for Increased Effect (normally double the effect of each ability purchased, but variations – such as combining two base abilities – are possible) / only if the user is unarmored and unencumbered, user radiates elemental magical energies and is easily sensed by other elemental martial artists.
  • The same style, without the Specialization, for use when armored, Corrupted for Reduced Cost / must take the same abilities (or only one of the two options of “mixed” abilities) as the specialized version.
  • Rune Magic (Same Element) Casting.
  • Rune Magic (Same Element) Mastery.
  • Racial Skill Bonuses: +12 each to their two innate Martial Arts (5 CP), +12 Rune Magic Casting (3 CP), +4 Rune Magic Mastery (1 CP).

This means that a Kirin starts off with at least six, and more likely seven or more, martial arts selections and can start with one or more advanced techniques – and gets double effect out of them when unarmored and unencumbered. Thus, for example, an Earth Dragon Stylist could start off with DR 4/- (8/-) over and above their basic pony DR, a Weapon Kata (perhaps with a damage boost), and an Occult Technique (or two).

  • +2d6 (7) Mana with the Resilience Natural Magic Option, Specialized / only for use with their racial branch of rune magic and Resilience (6 CP). Note that, in Equestria with the Superheroic World Template, they may spend up to (Con Mod) Mana each round to fuel their Elemental Magic or Occult Martial Arts Powers without having to draw on their pool.
  • Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted / requires one hour of rest or meditation per die, only to refill the mana pool above (4 CP).
  • Spell/Power Resistance. Either Generic or Specialized for Increased Effect / only Spells and Psionic Effects causing Sleep or Paralysis (6 CP).

This type of Kirin – like half-orcs in a more conventional game – are always a bit of a sideshow even in an Equestria game. After all… if they even EXIST, they’re going to be pretty rare. Still, making an exotic character is another large part of the point of playing a hybrid in the first place. After all, this is Eclipse; any special power a hybrid gets can be developed in some other way if you want them.

Of course, this power package can be applied to other races as a +1 ECL level adjustment – a handy way to start off as an expert elemental martial-artist mystic if you so desire.

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Currency and Economics on the Anomaly

And for a bonus post today it’s some more of the background for the Anomaly setting – in this case the…

Economic Basics:

While they look like a minor race, the Gathri are actually one of the major economic influences in Avrinthos and several of the neighboring realms. Whether gathered in little clans (their natural tendency), spread out as freeholders, or held as slaves, serfs, or peasants, their racial mastery of “Hedge Magic” allows them to be incredibly productive. An average Gathri has enough power to – in just a few minutes – plow a field, fertilize it, plant it, remove the weeds, and ward it against vermin or harvest it. Sure, that will be it for the day (unless they’ve developed their abilities a bit more) – but that’s still normally two or three weeks of work for a team of four to six peasants. Even without the use of any Charms, Talismans, or other special powers (such as their modest allotment of “city magic item” equivalents), the Gathri are fifty to a hundred times as productive as a “normal” farmer. Enough so that their basic survival strategy tends to be “we supply all of you warlike sorts and you protect us”. Most of the time… the local Gathri are treated as a part of the loot, rather than opposition.

So things like “a hearty meal and someplace warm and reasonably comfortable to sleep for the night”, “traveling supplies for a week”, or “basic clothing” tend to be available for the equivalent of pocket change. Starving street children, crude mud huts, and desperate beggars simply are not at all common despite the superficially unindustralized appearance of most rural settlements.

So for the most part, there’s not much point in trading in basic commodities. Any settlement that doesn’t have some Gathri will soon import some, and any settlement that does will have plenty of food, cloth, rope, water, and housing. Moving small amounts of exotic foodstuffs, spices, fine wines, and similar items supports some local traders – but differing racial tastes and Gathri clannishness tends to keep the markets fairly limited. It’s a pretty good job if you want to take the risks – but it certainly isn’t a road to fabulous wealth.

Trade Goods – Exotic Materials:

The Anomaly is full of plants with strange properties (physical or biological) that only grow in limited areas, exotic materials, locations where rare metals and crystals are mined, and more. The demand for such things tends to vary – but near Vitromasse alone, Ironwood is as tough as highly advanced starship hull material, Firesap Vines produce incendiary sap that serves as fuel as-is and can be crystallized into a powerful explosive, and Bronzefruit rinds supply metal. For those with the capacity to transport reasonable quantities of such things – and willing to put up with the erratic markets and risks – simply wandering from settlement to settlement can provide excellent profits. It does tend to require tying up a lot of cash and carrying capacity in various cargoes while you roam about looking for a buyer however – so only bold and well-funded merchants are likely to take this route.

Trade Goods – Devices:

On the Anomaly – or at least in the local area – “Devices” usually refers to anything that most people can use without a lot of training but which are tricky to produce – requiring either special talents or special resources. Items in this category include:

  • Basic Chemistry, Advanced Medications, and Alchemical Items, including things that have been “distilled into their ideal forms” by someone with the right knack or various semi-unique compounds derived from special local resources – allowing there to be trading in things like “2000 Proof” alcohol and very high grade explosives as well as powerful medicines. Fortunately, alchemically enhanced curatives tend to be effective on an immense variety of species.
  • Charms and Talismans from The Practical Enchanter (or psionic equivalents), When linked with a user these devices can help focus the ambient energies of the Anomaly into an immense variety of minor-but-useful abilities. Unfortunately, many of them require special materials or particular affinities to make – so they’re a common trade item to places that cannot produce a desired charm or talisman. Most people can only use a few at a time, but several Birthrights allow more.
  • Basic Technology includes steam engines, chemical batteries, explosives, flintlocks, and similar items – which can be unexpectedly powerful by off-realm standards given alchemy, materials with weird properties and alchemically-boosted materials can result in flintlocks that fire the equivalent of small cannon shells. Oddly enough, a selection of microtronic devices work as well – but the vast majority of places near Avrinthos cannot produce them.
  • Low-End Magic and Psionics (Mostly levels 0-2, most Witchcraft) can be learned and used by pretty much anyone – and so devices built using such effects work for anyone who knows how to use them. While such devices are relatively low-powered in high-magic worlds, they can be remarkably potent and very, VERY, useful in less magical realms.
  • The Elemental Forces may or may not be distinct from Psionics and Magic. They are popularly believed to have a different origin and mechanism, but the actual effects are similar enough to Magic and Psionics to lump them into that category.
  • Midrange Social Constructs aren’t usually direct-export items – but experts capable of organizing things on a higher level than that, and books and courses that help out the less talented ARE. This isn’t usually a major field of trade, but it is a requirement for building major trading networks, organizing large projects, going past the city-state level, or organizing large-scale religions. Thus most religions are local cults. Interestingly, the domestication of animals falls into this category; skillful trainers have a very marketable ability.
  • Ceremonial Magic – using the exotic energies inherent in times, places, and materials – works for anyone with the skill to use it, and underlies a great many superstitions. It’s a fairly important trade item in itself, since ceremonies often call for exotic components and ceremonial magic is easy to adapt to very specific tasks and the creation of minor devices, b ut isn’t very powerful.
  • Religious Powers are based in the Four Spiritual Elements – Life, Spirit, Death, and Destiny – although they only function at relatively low levels in most of the Anomaly, leaving much confusion about the nature of the afterlife and similar issues. Oddly enough, however, they still have a fairly massive impact since minor and major tokens of the four powers are easily invoked by anyone who holds them and are easily recognized as valuable by any sapient being – making religious faith a basic part of the system (such as it is) of currency.
  • Gems, Crystals, and Rare Metals are valued somewhat for their durability and beauty, but mostly because they’re used in a wide variety of Devices. They don’t have the blatant inherent value that the Tokens of Life, Spirit, Death, and Destiny have – but they’re compact, fairly valuable, and easy to carry, making them common and reasonably important trade goods almost everywhere.

Trade Goods – Living Beings:

  • Racial Powers – including the exotic properties and abilities of various plants and animals – seem to work almost everywhere, even if they offer access to to abilities that the Anomaly does not normally readily support. This seems to be linked to the Anomalies life-supporting properties. Plants, Beasts, and Indentured Servants or Slaves with exotic abilities or talents are a major trade item.
  • Birthrights – the dimensional attunements that are acquired at the moment of birth – seem to be more or less unique to sapient beings and travel with them. While relatively few individuals are capable tapping into the full power of their Birthright (it takes great personal strength and a lot of practice / being higher level), once again, Hirelings, Indentured Servants, and Slaves with the more useful (and controllable) Birthrights are a major trade item.

Skill Stunts and Epic Skill Stunts Part VII(b) – Language

Now that we’re past the mere Supernatural Skill Stunts for linguistic skills, here are some researchable Epic Skill Stunts for them.

  • Tongue Of Thunder (Research Level 3, DC 22): For the next (Check Result / 5) rounds your words may be clearly heard over a radius of (Cha Mod) miles.
  • Stirring The Depths (Research Level 4, DC 26): As per the 3.0 Emotion spell. Once researched, this can be upgraded with “built-in metamagic” as per The Practical Enchanters rules – researching further to increase the level and expand the area, amplify the effect, or add other modifiers.

Emotion Enchantment (Compulsion) [Mind-Affecting]
Level: Brd 3, Sor/Wiz 4
Components: V, S
Casting time: 1 action
Range: Medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
Targets: All living creatures within a 15-ft. radius
Duration: Concentration
Saving Throw: Will negates
Spell Resistance: Yes

This spell arouses a single emotion of the character’s choice in the subjects. The character can choose any one of the following versions:

  • Despair: The enchanted creatures suffer a –2 morale penalty to saving throws, attack rolls, ability checks, skill checks, and weapon damage rolls. Emotion (despair) dispels emotion (hope).
  • Fear: The enchanted creatures flee from the character whenever they are in sight of the character. Emotion (fear) dispels emotion (rage).
  • Friendship: The enchanted creatures react more positively toward others. Their attitude shifts to the next more favorable reaction (hostile to unfriendly, unfriendly to indifferent, indifferent to friendly, or friendly to helpful). Creatures involved in combat, however, continue to fight back normally. Emotion (friendship) dispels emotion (hate).
  • Hate: The enchanted creatures react more negatively toward others. Their attitude shifts to the next less favorable reaction (helpful to friendly, friendly to indifferent, indifferent to unfriendly, or unfriendly to hostile). Emotion (hate) dispels emotion (friendship).
  • Hope: The enchanted creatures gain a +2 morale bonus to saving throws, attack rolls, ability checks, skill checks, and weapon damage rolls. Emotion (hope) dispels emotion (despair).
  • Rage: The enchanted creatures gain a +2 morale bonus to Strength and Constitution scores, a +1 morale bonus on Will saves, and a –1 penalty to AC. They are compelled to fight heedless of danger. Emotion (rage) does not stack with barbarian rage or with itself. Emotion (rage) dispels emotion (fear).

Sadly, this spell was a casualty of the drive to eliminate multi-function – and often the more subtle – spells. I liked it anyway, so here it can make at least a subtle comeback. 

  • Sphere Of Pedagogical Speech (Research Level 5, DC 30): For the rest of the day every sapient creature currently within a fifty foot radius of you gains the ability to speak and read any one ordinary language from among those you know.
  • Prayer Of Wrath (Research Level 6, DC 34): You may select up to three Types or Subtypes of creature. Creatures within a fifty foot radius with one, two, or all three Types of Subtypes will take 2d6, 3d6, or 4d6 damage respectively and – as long as the caster continues to utter a brief prayer each round as a free action – will continue to take such damage for up to (Check Result / 5) rounds. Saves and Spell Resistance do not apply, but the caster and his or her allies are not exempt if the caster makes a poor choice of types and subtypes.
  • Word Of Divine Smiting (Research Level 7, DC 38): You may unleash a Blasphemy, Dictum, Holy Word, or Unholy Word. You are not affected in any case.
  • Voice Of Prophecy (Research Level 8, DC 42): You gain access to the True Prophet function of the Deep Sleep ability sequence from Eclipse for twenty-four hours.
  • Realm Weaving Tale (Research Level 9, DC 46): Your words may carry a group into a Realm Of Legend – a tale of gods, heroes, epic battles, and deep mysteries. There you and as many as 199 other creatures can adventure for a period of time—up to 200 days divided by the number of creatures affected. You can seek out secrets lost in the fall of a legendary empire, adventure with a (reasonably approachable) version of gods in a mythic tale, participate in an ancient battle, or drop in on any epic literary tale.
  • Syllabus Of Magic (Research Level10, DC 50): You may weave together words of power to create any spell effect of level six or less, although you must either provide any expensive or hard-to-find components required by the original spell or cover raising the level to account for buying off those components.
  • Words Of The Elder Tongue (Research Level 11, DC 54): You may speak Power Words – three of level three or below, or two of level six or below, or one of level nine or below.
  • Haunting Oratorical Venom (Research Level 12, DC 58): You may hurl any ninth level curse you can build with the Malediction Spell Template in The Practical Enchanter.
  • Heroic Narrative Of Construction: (Research Level 13, DC 62): The user becomes a living Rod Of The Imperator (scroll down) for the next twenty-four hours with the normal three hour allotment of time in which to use it’s abilities – although recasting this spell will refresh that allotment.
  • Malignant Brand (Research Level 14, DC 66): You may cast any two Symbol spells of level six or below or any one symbol spell of levels seven to nine in a mere one minute and without material components. This is explicitly compatible with the DC 50 Transcription stunt. (A 19’th level, DC 86, version lets you throw in +4 levels worth of any desired metamagic on the Symbols).
  • Ghost Written Blood Calligraphy (Research Level 15, DC 70): When your party slays a creature you may immediately cast this spell upon it’s corpse to convert all of its unused memorized spells, spell-like abilities, and (in the case of spontaneous casters) unused spell slots, into scrolls – although, for spontaneous casters, the spells are selected randomly from their spell lists for the appropriate spell level. Secondarily, the spell generates a detailed tell-all autobiography of the creature, an essay on what was going through its head in its final moments, assorted threats against whoever was involved in killing it, a (likely ignored) last will and testament, final messages to it’s loved ones (or agents, or whatever), and whatever other memorabilia the game master finds appropriate.
  • Watch Me Pull A Pidgin Out Of My Hat (Research Level 16, DC 74): You may select two languages that you speak and target an area of up to one planet. From now on anyone who was in the affected area and who speaks one of the two languages can communicate (albeit crudely) with anyone who was in the affected area and speaks the other.
  • Society Shaping Tale (Research Level 17, DC 78): You may unleash a narrative so well attuned to a culture and/or species that it will become a major society-shaping force. You may show rule by dragons as the ideal social form, raise a massive anti-slavery movement, inspire some sort of cult, or advance some philosophy.
  • Rune Of Ten Thousand Beasts (Research Level 18, DC 82) For the next minute you may speak the name of a beast that can be summoned by Summon Nature’s Ally IX each time you attack with a missile weapon. On a successful hit, the missile will inflict damage normally and then transform into the creature (or creatures) as if you had cast Summon Nature’s Ally IX.
  • Gift Of Speech (Research Level 19, DC 86): You may compose a language ideally suited to the physiology and psychology or a specific type of non-sapient creature, provided that it normally has an intelligence of one or better and has some relatively rapid method of expressing itself (clams, vermin, germs, slimes, etc, generally need not apply) and bestow it upon the species in question. Their racial modifier for Intelligence will increase to a minimum of +0 if it is currently below that over the course of the next thousand years.
  • Babel (Research Level 20, DC 90): A target language that you know ceases to exist, leaving your memory as the last record. Everyone who speaks it gains a random language it int’s place, any works in the language are similarly converted.

And hopefully the next entry in this sequence won’t take so long to write.

Skill Stunts and Epic Skill Stunts Part VII(a) – Language

In the Beginning Was the Word.

Crafting – the creation of tools and useful items – is one of the fundamental pillars of civilization. The other is culture. A complex array of facts, beliefs, behaviors, and mental processes passed on from one generation to the next – and it is Language that grants the ability to reliably pass on abstract ideas and tales of events from long ago, to communicate detailed messages, to teach the young more than the basic procedures that they can learn from example and encouraging noises.

Language is what makes an advanced culture possible. Language shapes our worldview, our notions of how reality works and what is logical. It is even more fundamental than tools. Tools allow sapient creatures to build civilizations. Language allows sapient creatures to engage in abstract thought and build cultures. Regardless of how the world came to be… the Word is how PEOPLE came to be.

And the fantastic settings and worlds of games are fundamentally built of words – often literally so in the case of fantasy settings defined by various cosmic entities. Words are the stuff of magic, names hold power, and the hidden language of creation is not just the mathematics of physics, but something that can be spoken, understood and – with that understanding – manipulated. For we are geeks, and d20 is OUR world.

Of course, on the downside, communications is another one of those assumed fundamentals in d20. While d20 does include a few nods to linguistics (such as a language list, with no indication whatsoever or if any are related to each other), a few low-level spells and psionic powers (mostly Comprehend Languages, Tongues, and Mindlink), and a few intelligent creatures that characters specifically cannot communicate with – but, as a rule, free communication with anything other creature currently capable of speech in the immediate area is pretty much assumed. So this list is going to have to look at some fairly abstract notions of what languages are and mean.

Pretty obviously, anyone seriously interested in linguistic powers should take one or more versions of the Mystic Artist ability too. After all, language is so fundamental that it already has quite a list of powers associated with it.

Sample Stunts for Linguistics, Speak Language, Decipher Script, Perform (Oratory), and Craft (Language or Literature).

  • DC 10 (normally no stunt required):
    • Argot: You may communicate with others in a personalized dialect, making it quite difficult for non-native speakers and anyone who doesn’t know the pattern to understand you. Examples include “Pig Latin”, “Satrovacki”, and “Verian”. Occasionally used by adventuring groups who want to shout directions to each other that their friends will understand but which will take many of their opponents at least a few moments to decipher.
    • Babble: You may produce sounds that give the impression of a language without actually being one – possibly holding up questions or interrogation while an attempt is made to find someone who understands whatever “language” you are speaking. Sadly, the DC tends to rise very rapidly as you attempt to keep it up – unless, of course, you actually HAVE invested a skill point in some invented language for private communications.
    • Cluelessness: You may avoid properly understanding something with some vaguely plausible explanation as to how you misunderstood or misheard.
    • Sounds Like: Given a sample of speech or writing, you may attempt to identify a related language that it might be, even if you do not speak it. Thus, for example, you can determine that it “sounds sort of Chinese” – and that seeking out someone who spoke Chinese might be helpful (if only by telling you that it is actually Japanese, and you need someone else).
  • DC 15 (May or may not require a stunt):
    • Digression: You may attempt to briefly hold the attention of an individual or small group with your inane chatter, overrunning initial attempts to shut you up and always at least appearing to be coming to some sort of point. While this will not override attention to combat or other urgent situations, it is an excellent distraction.
    • Insinuation: You may suggest an idea without actually saying it, causing the notion to go through the heads of an individual or group whom you are speaking with. Do you want the guards to have the thought that their boss may not be paying them enough to die for him? For the king to at least consider the idea that the Baron is a traitor? Now you don’t have to say so outright, you just let your targets own brains put the idea together.
    • Provocation: You may upset and annoy someone – trying to get them to say something stupid, focus their attacks on you for a bit, accept a personal duel, or admit to wrongdoing in an effort to shout you down. This is, effectively, a very limited version of Suggestion.
    • Shocker: You say something so offensive, clueless, or otherwise distracting as to cause a brief pause, and possibly a change of topics (anyone who wishes to get stick with the current topic may make an opposed check) in any social situation short of outright combat. Go ahead; delay the execution briefly to see if a last-minute pardon arrives.
  • DC 20:
    • Aphorism: You may summarize something complicated in a few pithy, easily remembered, phrases – making explaining things, even to those of limited understanding, quick and easy.
    • Decipher I: Given a reasonable sample, you may easily break and read a simple cipher for any language that you speak, such as a substitution cipher, binary code (such as morse code), scytale cypher, or transposition cypher.
    • Pidgin: Languages borrow bits and pieces from each other all the time. This stunt allows you to get basic messages across in languages that you do not speak for the rest of the day.
    • Reconstruction: You may examine a badly damaged, or partial, linguistic effort, such as damaged pages from a book, a partially recorded or translated message, fragments of ancient clay tablets, or some such, and accurately reconstruct the original information – restoring a document from as little as (101 – Check Result, 1 minimum)% of the original.
  • DC 25:
    • Create Language: You may construct a new language, complete with an extensive vocabulary, coherent grammar, pronunciation rules, and various other features, and teach it to others – a quick and easy way to arrange for reasonably private communications in many situations.
    • Deep Resonance: You may identify the effects if a spell with verbal components as it is being cast. This is DC 30 if the spell is modified by Metamagic.
    • Read Runes: You may Read Magic, Decipher Scrolls, and determine the purposes of magic circles and runic inscriptions.
    • Thoughts Like Serpents: You may rephrase and translate incoming questions and directives, as well as your own responses, in your head so that whatever answer or action you wish is “correct” – for example, a magical or psionic command to “Surrender!” might be interpreted as “Give up your attempts at control, give into your rage, and go berserk!” – or in whatever other way suits you. This can be employed as an immediate action and lasts for up to (Intelligence) minutes.
  • DC 30:
    • Beast Speech: You may speak with animals and use any social skills you may have against them without penalty.
    • Body Language: You may interpret body language, gaining a +(Check / 4) Insight Bonus on Detect Motive checks and a +2 (increasing to +3 at DC 50, +4 at DC 75, and +5 at DC 100) Insight Bonus on your Armor Class, Attacks, Damage, and Saves (against opponent actions only, not versus environmental hazards), for 3d6 minutes.
    • Legacy: You may make an informational structure self-sustaining – creating a version of a tale that will endure for thousands of years unchanged, of which successive translations will come ever closer to your original structure rather than diverging or writing a computer program that corrects any copying errors in its code as it runs.
    • Shankara Mantra: You may augment the power of your spellcasting with the power of your words, increasing the effective caster level of a spell by +1 (DC 30), +2 (DC 35), +3 (DC 40), +4 (DC 50), +5 (DC 60), +6 (DC 75), or +7 (DC 100). Sadly, this does not stack with the effects of a Primal Utterance.
  • DC 35:
    • Echoes: You may hear and speak, or see and reproduce (within the limits of your skills) what was once but is no more – if you are where it was made or in the presence of a relic of the creator. At the tomb of an ancient leader you could echo a speech they gave in their voice, at a fallen temple you could build a model of what it looked like and echo prayers long lost. You can visit an old studio and reproduce (within your skills) the portfolio of the artist who worked there. Sadly, echoes fade; the game master may increase the DC for especially complex events, for those that were a very long time ago, and for things that have been intentionally obscured.
    • Primal Utterance I: You may add any one desired +0 level Metamagic to any spell you cast that has a verbal component. This does not stack with Mana’s Spell Enhancement option.
    • Tongue Of Secrets: You may use the Unskilled Magic option with whatever Mana reserve you are using to power your Stunts even if it could not normally be used for other purposes. You may also reduce the Mana cost to a minimum of one point of mana by taking 1d6 damage per point by which the cost is reduced. For +2 Mana/d6 of damage you may create a simple, immediate, effect involving a single word of command (Stop! Burn! Heal!) as an Immediate Action, although the normal constraints of unskilled magic continue to apply.
    • Tongue Of Magic: You may unleash the magic contained in a scroll. It is wise to have deciphered it, so that you know what it is, first.
  • DC 40:
    • Cognitive Disruption: There are holes in every language, the places where there are words that cannot be said, concepts that no normal mind can hold, and thoughts that disrupt the neurology that supports the mind. A sufficiently skilled linguist can use a fill those voids with words that take their form without actually hosting those thoughts – a sonic Basilisk Image or Killing Joke. This affects only those who speak the language used as a native language. A disruptor may be whispered to a single target or shouted to affect a radius. Victims who fail a Will save may be Dazed for 1d4 rounds at DC 40, Stunned for 1d6 rounds at DC 50, Confused for 3d6 rounds at DC 60, be rendered Unconscious for 4d6 minutes or Feebleminded at DC 75, or slain outright at DC 100. Alternatively, the user may opt to inflict (Check Result) lethal or nonlethal damage, with a Will save for half. The DC increases by +10 level for written disruptors, and by +25 for symbolic ones.
    • Decipher II: Given a reasonable sample, you may easily break and read intermediate-level ciphers or encryptions for any language that you speak, including keyword cyphers or shifting caesar cyphers, fractionating ciphers, and book ciphers.
    • Nymic Arsenal: You may call a nonmagical/nonpsionic “item” (this may mean a set of items, such as “court dress”, “quiver of arrows”, “chainmail armor”, “alchemists kit”, “hand grenade”, etc) worth up to 400 GP (+100 GP per +10 DC) into being by naming it – although such items are distinctively “unreal” when examined. If touched, being used, or being worn, such items remain in existence for up to (Check Result) minutes, but otherwise will fade from existence after (Cha Mod) rounds. Sadly, such items cannot be used as spell components.
    • Primal Utterance II: You may add one level of any desired metamagic to any spell you cast that has a verbal component. This does not stack with Mana’s Spell Enhancement option.
  • DC 50:
    • Read Intent: Upon listening to a speech, examining a document, or otherwise being exposed to a communique, you may read between the lines – determining the purpose of, and the motivation behind, it, as well as obtaining a fairly detailed description of the author. Was the speech given by a high-level rogue working for a rival nation and intended to soothe the populace long enough for troops to move in? It will be quite obvious to you if you employ this stunt to analyze it.
    • Spell Shattering Tongue: You may attempt to disrupt the casting of any spell with a verbal component as if using Dispel Magic using your hit dice as the caster level as an immediate action. At DC 75 this acts as Greater Dispel Magic using your hit dice as the caster level and at DC 100 this counts as a specific counterspell.
    • Sunspeech: You may speak with plants. At DC 60 you may persuade them to Animate and help you out, as per Animate Plants.
    • Transcription: Your words carry enough power to impress themselves on the structure of matter and magic in the vicinity with a (Cha x 5) foot range. They may hang in the air, echoing for years to come, be recorded in a nearby book, be impressed into the magical structure of some item to be heard by whoever takes it up, or be inscribed upon some surface. The user may thus create records, cast and inscribe Symbols, Glyphs, Runes, and similar spell effects at range as a standard action (although they must be capable of such things before they can be so augmented), and inscribe magical circles and Runic Formulas (see The Practical Enchanter), simply by speaking and/or gesturing (sign language works too).
  • DC 60:
    • Aphasic Sphere: You may scramble or distort one of the languages you know within a radius of (Charisma x 10) feet. Anyone who attempts to say something in that language must defeat you in an opposed linguistics check or find themselves unable to say anything in that language for 3d6 rounds.
    • Linguistic Mirror: Language shapes Culture as Culture shapes Language – a dance as close and interdependent as the two halves of a coil of DNA. If you know the language… you can predict cultural tendencies and popular movements, tell a cultures ancient hero-tales without actually having heard them first, and meld into the culture seamlessly. Once active for a particular language, you may employ your linguistic skill as a knowledge skill of the culture, to predict what the likely reactions of a member of that culture will be to various situations, in checks to avoid social pitfalls, and to augment other relevant social skills (+5 circumstance bonus) for the next full day.
    • Primal Utterance III: You may add a total of two levels worth of any desired metamagic or metamagics to any spell you cast that has a verbal component. This does not stack with Mana’s Spell Enhancement option.
    • Tongue Of Creation: You may opt to speak in the Words of Creation. While this effect is active…
      • Any living creature will understand you. If the setting happens to include things like “sea spirits” or “the spirit of the north wind”, those can be communicated with as well.
      • Your promises are binding. and will result in some form of mystical backlash or curse if broken. Moreover, anyone who hears them will instinctively know this.
      • You may attract the attention of mystical entities, sending your words to otherworldly beings – and perhaps attracting their notice whether you will or no.
      • You may give an item a True Name, transforming it into a relic (and expending your own CP). .
      • You may give a newborn creature (or other newly created entity) a True Name, bestowing upon it a Destiny (equivalent to an Office, see Political Dominion).
      • You may swear a Great Oath (see Oathbinding), regardless of whether or not that world law is in use.
  • DC 75:
    • Babelsmith: You may leave everyone who attends a meeting or social function with a different impression of what was said, tailoring each such account as you please. At DC 100 you can do the same with orders in battle, affecting a radius of up to (Cha Mod x 10) feet.
    • Creation Myth: You may spin a tale that duplicates the effects of a Rod Of Security – transporting you and up to 199 listeners into a pocket creation. At the end of the duration, you may either let everyone return to normal reality or let the pocket paradise “hatch” – beginning a new world.
    • Narration: You may describe events about you, and cause your “spin” on them to override reality. While you speak you may modify die rolls by a circumstance bonus or penalty of up to +/-4, although opponents may opt to save to resist the modification of their die rolls. At DC 100 you may throw in three “Minor Detail” and two “Notable” reality edits during the course of your narration. Narration is a free action, but anything that keeps you from talking will stop it.
    • True Decryption: You may freely read any stored or recorded information, ranging from genetic codes to computer files to alien languages, provided only that you can perceive the record (if you can’t sense magnetic fields, looking at a floppy disk is not enough – but displaying the contents as a screen of ones and zero would be).
  • DC 100:
    • Animistic Voice: You may speak to things that are not alive and cannot normally communicate – stones, walls, doors, rivers, buildings, fires, and more – as long as it has a perceivable existence as an individual entity, and is small enough to notice you (mountain ranges and forests and such usually are not) even if the setting does not feature such things having spirits or any form of consciousness. While you speak, they effectively do – and so such things are normally reasonably friendly; after all, they only “exist” while you interact with them. While you are so interacting, objects are more than willing to talk (if mostly about themselves), and to tell tales (albeit from their own viewpoints) – but they are also capable of acting independently if you can persuade them to do so. Of course, it’s much easier to get things to act within their normal tendencies. It is very easy to talk air into moving about and creating wind, but very difficult to talk it into holding still and acting like stone (even if it may well recall being stone long, long, ago). Similarly, doors are made to let things through – but trunks and their locks tend to be much less cooperative about opening up without their key. Stone tends to just sit where it is, but is usually willing to fall down if it can as walls, arches, and similar structures tend to do over time – and it is fairly often willing to shake, shift, or fault if you just happen to be asking for a way to get into a collapsed area. It does that fairly often anyway. Talking it into turning into lava is a lot harder.
    • Primal Utterance IV: You may add a total of three levels worth of any desired metamagic or metamagics to any spell you cast that has a verbal component. This does not stack with Mana’s Spell Enhancement option.
    • Spelltwister: When someone casts a spell with a verbal component within (Wisdom x 5) feet you may take an immediate action to attempt an opposed level check to add your own words to the spell, redefining it’s controllable parameters – retargeting a ranged effect, instantly dismissing a dismissible effect, taking over concentration on a sustained spell, and so on.
    • World-Shaping Tale: Your words may overwrite the structure of the world. In an existing world you may add environmental features such as walls, rough terrain, lava pools, trees, hills, and similar items within a radius of (Wisdom x 10) feet. If you are expanding the pocket realm created by the Creation Myth stunt into a new world, you can lay out its description, general nature, and early history.

For some reason (possibly because language is tied into so many things that it is hard to keep linguistic abilities distinct) this one has been taking a very long time to write – long enough that I’m going to have to put the Epic Stunts in part (B). Still, there should be quite enough here to inspire some linguistic mayhem in any game that’s making use of skill stunts. 

Eclipse – Nightmare Rituals

And for today, it’s another much-too-long for a comment reply to a question in response to these two articles – Avrinthos and its Birthrights and The Gathri, Suugken, and Gaunthounds – with include the information that a Guanthound is actually a member of a normal race who’s been transformed with the Nightmare Binding and Dream-Binding Rituals. .

Well now I have to ask for stats for the Nightmare Binding ritual and the Dream Binding ritual.

-Alzrius

Well, that’s simple enough. Since our ritualists are generally using rituals for common, relatively simple, purposes, their magic could readily be built using either Legends of High Fantasy-style rituals or straight Eclipse style rituals. So I’ll do it both ways for comparison.

The Ritual Of Dream-Binding.

This ritual allows the target/victim to bond with a Dream-Spirit, trading in mental attribute points for additional character points worth of powers. The exchange rate is, however, extremely bad. The victim gains only one-half the cost of buying the lost attribute points back up in new powers. Thus Attributes of 12+ yield 6 CP per point given up, those of 10-11 yield 6 CP for being reduced by two, and those of 7-9 can be reduced by three to gain 6 CP. Attributes already at six or below cannot be further reduced to any profit. Most victims wind up sterile, but that is not guaranteed (or intentional) – it’s just that being bonded with a nightmare is not good for a Fetus.

  • For Legends of High Fantasy we’re looking at Area: Living Target (Base DC 0), Duration: Instantaneous (+10 DC) and Effect: Notable (you may be granting someone a template of sorts, but it’s one with a negative value, containing no abilities that they could not fairly easily buy anyway, and that they probably didn’t want, +0 DC) for a Base DC of 10.
  • The usual modifiers are a form of Investment – after all, half the attribute points spent in the ritual are lost for no benefit – for (+10), being Rushed to an hour for (-5), and being Memorized (+5) – for a net bonus of +10.
  • Presuming that the ritualist has at least a +1 in Knowledge/Arcana to avoid taking a penalty, the ritual has a 95% chance of success. Anyone who makes a habit of using rituals will generally have a bit of Luck too, just in case that one-in-twenty chance of getting a natural 1 comes up.

So: One hour, creates magical disturbances within a fifty foot radius, requires a small silver mirror which will be severely tarnished (requiring some vigorous cleaning) at the end of the ritual, a selection of incense and herbs, and at least a pint of fresh blood. Obviously it must be performed at night, by a ritualist attuned to the realms of dream.

The target/victim must be stripped and placed in the midst of a circle of magical symbols, have more magical symbols daubed across him or her with the blood, and must be made to gaze into the mirror – which will tarnish to an impenetrable blackness as much of their mind is lost forever to the realm of dreams while a formless hunting horror flows forth from the mirror and into their flesh, mind, and soul, becoming one with them to grant them the powers of dream-monster. The victims can, in theory, resist (Will DC 18) – but given that they tend to be restrained slaves they normally do not try.

  • Using Eclipse Style Rituals… well, according to Savage Species, major transformations take a seventh level caster. Psychic Reformation does a similar job as a level four effect – which is saying “seventh level caster” again. On the other hand, this transformation isn’t really beneficial or even neutral – and so dropping it to a level five caster seems reasonable. So the ritual magic guidelines in Eclipse give this a base Spellcraft (or other ritual skill) DC of 20.
  • Of course, in Eclipse you still get the +5 for having it memorized and you can add up to seven additional components – such as the recipient / victim sacrificing a bunch of attribute points over and above what’s necessary to pay for the transformation (+4), requiring that the ritualist be attuned to the realms of dream (+3), calling upon the Dream Hunters (+2), a silver mirror (+1), a restrained target (+1), only working at night, when others dream nearby (+1), and blood (+1) – for a net total of +18, Once again, any ritualist who isn’t taking penalties should succeed barring a “natural one”.

Now, admittedly, I’ve made a modest effort to wind up with “about the same” for a result, but it didn’t take much of one – mostly because “be afflicted by a magical transformation that inflicts massive penalties in exchange for a modest amount of power” and “helpless victim transformed into a minor monster” are both very classic and really quite minor in game terms.

The Dreambinding Ritual:

This ritual lets you take a fully-restrained victim and use an hour-long ritual to inflict a Greater Curse effect on them – inflicting the equivalent of a repeating dream, strange inability, near-paralysis and inability to flee, strange compulsion, or many other dreamlike afflictions, in the real world. That’s simple, straightforward, and unpleasant.

  • For Legends of High Fantasy we’re looking at Area: Living Target (Base DC 0), Duration: Years (+10 DC) and Effect: Notable/+0 DC (a Greater Curse can indeed make the victims life pretty miserable – but once you have a victim tied down and are free to do what you wish to them you can make their lives very, VERY, bad without any magic at all. You don’t need to calculate the caster level for “Cause Blindness”, “Cause Deafness”, “Mute Victim”, “Amputate / Mangle Limb(s)”, “Leave Victim Horribly Scarred And Maimed”, and “Desex Victim” when you have a helpless victim, a knife, and time for a little sadism). So, a Base DC of 15 again.
  • The modifiers for a Rushed (one hour) ritual (-5) and Memorization (+5) remain the same. For components… a restrained victim amd an iron knife dipped into their blood and used to inscribe curse-symbols into their skin, perhaps with some mildly toxic graveyard mold to make sure that it will scar is probably worth a +5 when it comes to making life suck.
  • Ergo, this comes out a bit harder – DC 5 – but really, no practicing ritualist should have any real problem with that (save for rolling a natural one), even at first level. It does say that an enduring curse is a little bit more difficult than summoning a nightmare spirit – but we all know that having a recurring nightmare is much easier (it happens in the real world quite often) than working an effective curse (which, at least in the real world, are primarily legendary).

So: One hour, creates magical disturbances within a fifty foot radius, requires an iron knife dipped into the blood of the restrained victim of the ritual, mildly toxic mold, and a selection of incense and herbs, causes 2d4 damage to the victim, and – once again – must be performed at night, by a ritualist attuned to the realms of dream and nightmare.

  • Using Eclipse… in Eclipse you could call this a ritual to let you cause spiritual injuries with your knife, or take it as a specialized version of Bestow Curse (Double Effect, only works on a restrained victim, caster level seven required) – which gives us a base DC of about 24. So +5 for memorization and up to seven additional components – a restrained victim to be tortured is worth a +5 for a ritual designed to harm said victim, requiring that the ritualist be attuned to the realms of dream (+3) is the same, you will doubtless be calling on the powers of Nightmare (+2), you need an iron blade and toxic mold (+1), only working at night, when others dream nearby is the same (+1), and damaging the victim is probably worth +2. So… +19, trying to hit DC 24.

That’s exactly the same and I wasn’t even trying for that this time.

Overall, both of these are simple-and-easy rituals because – in game terms – they aren’t actually accomplishing very much; if you want some (rather stupid) hound-minions you can get some easily enough – and if you want to do horrible things to helpless people all you really need is an evil alignment (or not using an alignment system at all). They’re “major” rituals because they do have game effects beyond simple convenience, but they’re certainly not on the scale of banishing an archdemon, raising an army of the dead, or cleansing a city of plague. They’re “major” for folk who are trying to go about their lives – not for adventurers who are out to change the world.

Continium II – Notes on Ceremonial Magic

And for today, it’s another bonus answer that – as so often happens – got WAY too long for a comment.

Could you expand on the Ceremonial Magic you linked in the Anomaly article? I have tried to read the Continuum II articles that are here, but I feel I am missing the primary sourcebook and have not been able to find one that seems to match.

Westb3

Continium II’s Ceremonial Magic (as opposed to Ritual Magic, which was quite another thing) operated much the way that some people think it works in the real world. The most common references that the players used were by Scott CunninghamCunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs and Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Crystal, Gem, and Metal Magic. Symbolism was most often pulled from the books on Tarot or Norse Runes, (since those were all available handy to the table), whatever astrological data was available for the current setting, and general ideas about Ley Lines and Nexi.

Power and Complexity turn up as spell design concepts in The Practical Enchanter, even if they are both mostly subsumed into “spell level” in d20. The basic distinction here is that Power reflects the amount of raw energy available, while Complexity cover s how detailed the structure of a given effect is.

A Fireball or Lightning Bolt calls for high (3+) Power, but very little Complexity (1 at most). A subtle illusion, or a healing spell, is exactly the other way around; calling for very little power, but a lot of complexity. Summoning and Binding creatures calls for both about equally (and so Ceremonial Magic can only actually summon and bind the most trivial entities – although if you wanted a micro-elemental (fire) to monitor your hearthfire and keep it at the proper level for cooking while you were busy elsewhere, you could fairly readily manage that. Of course, simply getting in touch with more powerful entities calls for very little power and only moderate complexity – but then you need to bargain.

So Ceremonial Magic was a common “helping” ability – the swiss army knife of magic. You used it to add some protective inscriptions that would help some if you lost control of your summoned monster, you got a few helpful micro-elementals that got you small bonuses in your alchemy lab, you used Ceremonial Magic to get in touch with, and seal a pact with, a brownie that kept an eye on the baby, sped recovery from a plague, made small, useful, things, and so on. The benefits were never especially huge, but – in adventurer terms – the cost was very small. A handful of hammered copper symbols, pinches of common herbs, some pebbles and terribly flawed (and near-valueless) gemstones from a rock collection, and a little study? You were set. Sure, it was never POWERFUL, but knowing what influences were active in that ancient haunted mansion, or getting a glimpse of who was behind the attacks, or laying down a ward that kept stray zombies from wandering into camp, could get you a long ways on very very little power.

When it comes to Continium II in general… well, the title was a transfinite mathematics pun, as well as a reference to alternate dimensions, which probably says something about what to expect from it.

Continium II never made it to publication, partly because much of the material predated the easy publication systems now available, but mostly because it was simply too long and too complicated. It was rather heavy on “how things worked” rather than “here’s a game effect” and so it placed heavy demands on the game master. Shapeshifting to a whale? Out came the book on whale biology to get some details. Monster design? A bit like the Martial Arts system, with modifiers for Evolutionary Time (the longer a group of species had to adapt to a particular set of natural laws, the more powerful they because within that dimension and the less able to function elsewhere), reproductive strategies, and a lot more evolutionary biology went into making monsters.

For an example that happens to be posted…

  • It had the twenty-five basic and twenty-five advanced Introspection powers based on awareness of your personal energy field – the lowest tier of psychic effects. Those worked even when the local dimensions Transfer Impedance for Psychic Powers was “4″ – just below “5″ where psychic powers were basically impossible to use.
  • At the next tier, Chi Powers (based on shifting your internal energies around inside yourself and requiring a transfer impedence of 3 or less for effective use) offered about hundred powers that you could combine to produce desired effects.
  • Tiers 3 and 4 – Psychomancy (directing personal energies into external effects, allowing fine control) and Psionics (tapping external energy sources and projecting the results) shared the same list of six hundred-odd disciplines and rules for creating variants, but they functioned differently. For an easy example… a Psychomancer using Telekinesis might try to pinch a few blood vessels to hurt someone or open a door from the inside to pick a lock. They had high precision, superb control, and could feel the feedback from their abilities – but they had very little power. A Psionic faced with similar tasks could smash the door, or lock, or throw things around – but they’d have to work very hard, roll well, and specialize in such tasks to develop anything even approaching a Psychomancers basic level of fine control. Both systems had their advantages.
  • Then, of course, there were psychic subfields drawing on psychic nexi and popular beliefs, the planetary biofield, and other local sources.

After the psychic powers, there were numerous other types of power sources to play with – Gramarye (including Sorcery (Shaping cosmic-level energies through symbols – requiring rigid structure to maintain control), Powershaping (where you freely shaped local energies related to your affinities. You got a few, but the list was long. To start with “A” there was Abjuration, Air, Analysis, Animation, Anticipations, Architecture, Astrological, Attunement…), Thaumaturgy (inducing positive and negative feedback loops in planetary energy fields – powerful and potentially long-lasting, but you were using small inputs to try to manipulate a chaotic system, and so it was very prone to going wrong and was very difficult to stop), True Illusion, Ceremonial Magic, Mysticism, Ritual Magic, High Alchemy, Personal Magic, and Domination),

Then, of course, there were Percipience (and it’s subfields) – Engineering (Technological (in several variants), Biogenetic, Social, Probabilistic, Reality Catalysts, Linguistic, Pattern Tech, and Weird Science), and Invocation (divided by tbe nature of the entity being invoked; what you could get from a subspace creature that devoured energy – a “demon” – was a lot different from what you could get from a living cosmological principle).

Continium II did keep a group containing several engineers and scientists busy exploring how things worked for a decade and a half (and it was always fun to hear “Blast it! We should have realized that he/she would be able to do that from the type of powers he/she was using…) – but I could hardly ask a prospective game master to read it before trying to run the game. Quite a few of the players ran Continium II games after a while – but not until after they’d been playing for years. Nobody has that kind of time these days.

Currently a lot of the Continium II ideas have been recycled. For example, the Witchcraft system in Eclipse uses many of the concepts that went into Introspection, Chi, and Psychomancy – but the list of abilities has been greatly reduced, most of the complexities were relegated to “why I built it this way” (and not actually mentioned unless someone asks) instead of being anything that players and game masters have to deal with, and most of the advanced options have been stripped out – all in the interests of making it playable without a few years of experience with the system. I’m told that Eclipse is still too complex for a lot of tables – but that’s a considerable improvement over Continium II.

Still, I post occasional chunks of the Continium II rules for nostalgia, inspiration, showing where design elements came from for later systems, ideas, and to oblige some of the original players, who often still have questions, want to review something for their own projects, or want a bit of an update. Perhaps I should get back to doing that again. It’s not like there isn’t a LOT of material available, even if some of it is still handwritten.

Anomaly – Things Of Interest Around Vitromasse

And for today’s bonus post, since the players voted for Avrinthos, here are some of the things going on in the area.

  • The Star Treaders. Vitromasse isn’t a major stop for the Star Treaders – unusually for them, most of their usual stock-in-trade is actually less variegated and exotic than what is available locally and nobody really wants their “technology” – but supplies of air and water are basically free, the Gathri may not be all that friendly but they’re willing to sell plenty of food cheaply, and the local Suugken holdings will sell them the occasional outright quasi-miracle. Even along their routes, that’s a rarity. Few of the accessible worlds in their realm have developed the local psychic and material technologies to such a degree. They still stop by every month or two, and are often looking for something they have heard is available on the anomaly – somewhere.
  • The Formless Horrors. Thanks to the Tindalos birthright, it’s all too common in Avrinthos for someone to call up something that he, she, ze, or it, cannot put down. Despite the efforts of the Gaunthounds, it’s not uncommon for something to be missed – and so there will have to be hunts to put down the latest formless-tentacled-horror that’s melting people’s flesh / sucking the blood from people so they rise as some sort of mummy / whispering horrific occult secrets into people’s minds and driving them mad. There are probably two or three aroud the place at the moment.
  • Elkdunar. This village was relatively nearby, (about fifteen miles, along the twisting routes in the mountains about three days travel), but has apparently been destroyed by giant monsters. The current popular rumor is that the Jagurhund Ramperdr forged himself a Masque Of Wrath and wiped the place out. The more sober people are hoping that it’s something else; someone who’d forge a Masque Of Wrath is unlikely to stop at wiping out one village, The locals are currently debating whether or not to send a group to investigate.
  • Sturmkanal (so named due to the regular lightning strikes on it): Perched atop a nearby mountain, this massive (metal?) citadel apparently dates back to a previous cycle. Why it’s still working is an open question, but the usual answer was that it was somehow brought to life millennia past, and so has it’s own Birthright – so it and everything in it’s interior will continue to operate under that Birthrights rules as long as the castle survives. The castle itself is noted for it’s many traps and monsters, it’s digital clocktower, and it’s incredible garishness – but adventurers who go poking about it in all too often come to a bad end. As a rule, however, Sturmkanal keeps to itself; if you don’t go and bang on the walls or go into the place, it’s not a problem.
  • Rilantha. The passes to the south, of course, lead into Rilantha – a realm noted for it’s colossal beasts and savage tribes. Occasional hunting expeditions (Usually Ri’on Huntsmen brought in by the Star Treaders) use Vitromasse as a jumping-off point, and there is always a market for multi-ton logs of ivory, incredibly tough behemoth hide, and similar products of giant beasts. Just as importantly, the local tribes may be a bit barbaric, but they’re generally up for some trading if someone brings along enough firepower to survive the trip.
  • The Olistor River: The riverboat that moves up and down the navigable section of the Olistor (The Tenshi) connects at least fifteen communities (argument continues on how to count logging camps and similar outposts) and is basically a small community in its own right. Rumors, of course, note the presence of water monsters, a mysterious cavern that leads elsewhere, some sort of tree-guardians attacking a logging camp, and the appearance of a Skinwalker that gunned down a gambling group and made off with the pot.
  • Vitromasse General Area: There’s been a good deal of trouble recently with things that come out of the ground – strange, partially-metallic beings riding huge spiders -but they rarely leave a lot of survivors (another reason why the locals been investing in more Guanthounds recently).
  • Vitromasse: A couple of young-adult Suugken are about ready to move out – and their mother (Intimoda, Time/Space Affinity, Exotic Technological Birthright) would rather like someone to keep an eye on them to improve their odds of survival. Unfortunately, while she one of the more formidable defenders of Vitromasse, and can build technical gear beyond most of the other locals skills, it simply wouldn’t be RIGHT to interfere with the kids Hegira directly.
  • Vitromasse: For those with ethics, the fact that most of the Guanthounds are the enslaved results of burning out much of a victim’s mind and involuntarily transforming them may be troubling. Whether or not much can be done about it is an awkward question.
  • Avrinthos: A number of youngsters are showing unfamiliar Birthrights; It is obvious that a Time Of Change began some years ago, and will not be causing increasing disruptions.
  • Far North: There are some tales that the Uruk, piloting a force of massive war machines that work like creatures, are making conquests up that way – but even with the various ways of speeding up travel available in Avrinthos, that area is some thousands of miles away. By the time such news makes it to Vitromasse any details in the stories are at least as likely to have been added along the way as to have been transmitted accurately.

Observations from Space (These are available to several characters):

  • Avrinthos: Most of the other villages that have been spotted on the surveys have at least one (and often more than one) odd phenomena near them – weird pyramids radiating strange energies, odd patches of forest, pools or “roads” of light, paths that go nowhere, and so on. Most such seem to either be considered local resources or are exploiting some other local resource themselves.
  • The surrounding realms:
    • There is crude AM traffic to the (quite arbitrary) north and more distant north east – mostly unencrypted AM. Fortunately, most of the major sources are broadcasting with far more power than a modern station requires, making much of the traffic relatively easy to intercept. For good or ill, however… much of it appears to be military. There seem to be various more-or-less local conflicts going on across Malador, Haldon, Orrort, Ustcheon, and Nichtfel along with a few large constructs moving about. Still, given the size of the realms… there are probably a fair number of peaceful areas as well. Much of the area seems to have a basic Railway Network that extends across several realms.
    • There’s also a lot of much more modern, throughly encrypted, traffic from the Crystalreaches, where something seems obsessed with constructing pylons. There is similar traffic – and some pretty odd energy readings – around Stardock. Given that the peak there seems to extend above the Anomalies atmosphere, and possibly actually extends into the Star Wars universe proper, there is some discussion of putting down a small ship simply to see if it can take off again.
    • Directly to the east, in Nilandar, there seem to be forests and islands cloaked in perpetual darkness. No one is quite sure how that works, but they aren’t quite sure how other places get sunlight anyway. Perhaps they are drawing it from other universes?
    • To the Northeast (in Leros) there appears to be large-scale irrigation, agriculture with at least some mechanized harvesting, and a fairly prosperous semi-industrial civilization – although, oddly enough, there is no radio traffic.

Things of Specific Interest:

  • The locals feel that if you want something REALLY large moved (such as Vanatica’s shuttle), the best thing to do is to call in some heavy haulers from Rilantha. It’s mildly expensive, but they can drag a LOT of stuff about. For faster travel, you’ll want someone with the right Birthright unless there are only a few of you and you can talk Intimoda into teleporting you.