Ponies Of The Eclipse – Mistmane, Pillar of Beauty

Mistmane – or at least her role as the “Pillar of Beauty” – is a bit awkward. After all, beauty isn’t really a quality that you have. It lies in other people’s perceptions.

Checking some definitions… “A set of qualities in a person or thing that pleases the senses or exalts the mind or spirit”. “An especially graceful, ornamental, or excellent quality”. “An exceptionally good example of something, regardless of whether or not it is a “good” thing.”.

There is physical, mental, and spiritual beauty, the dagger-like beauty of a deadly stratagem, the beautiful elegance of a brilliant mathematical proof, the bloody beauty of a tiger pulling down its prey, and even a warped beauty in a scene of utter carnage. There is beauty in friendship, love, and sacrifice – and in the maniacal purity of obsessive hatred.

There have been people who have thought that torturing children was pleasing to the senses, exalting to the mind and spirit, and an excellent example of the finer things in life – a thing of marvelous beauty. Thankfully, most people do not agree – but that alone shows that there is no consensus on what is “beautiful”.

I personally would say that there is more beauty in a scarred, crippled, and elderly, but still enduring, survivor of war, loss, and suffering, than there is in any vain supermodel – but that is merely MY perception.

Mere appearance often has little to do with beauty. Beauty lies in the mind that perceives it, not in the outside world.

And if Mistmane (who struck me as rather physically ugly to start with and seemed to gain some character from her magical “aging”), had somehow given up what most of us would describe as her inner “beauty” – some or all of the positive elements of her personality and perhaps a part of her ability to relate to others (the primary function of Charisma in d20 terms) regardless of the motive – she wouldn’t be hero material. She’d be Granny at best, or more likely Hydia from the Volcano of Gloom, or the Wicked Witch of the West.

Damaging her physical appearance was a side effect. Mistmane’s aspect is not mere physical “Beauty”, but a much deeper and far greater Beauty. Her aspect is Accord – forgiving wrongs and overlooking conflicts to come together to solve greater problems. Cooperation – not quite Harmony, but perhaps the best that could be expected of a relatively new federation of once-quarreling tribes. Still, in Accord… there is the seed of Harmony.

Perhaps quite literally.

That is why (at least in my version) she has that moving magical mane, an effect she shares with Princess Celestia, Princess Luna, King Sombra, and the Pony of Shadows – all individuals channeling a power beyond themselves.

So, Mistmane was a pretty young mare with high-end magical talent, an excellent spellcasting education (if only fair by modern standard since there have been advancements over the last thousand years) , and a good deal of natural power (in superheroic d20 terms a high constitution). She returned home from school on being informed that one of her best friends had become the local ruler, only to find that said friend had gone a bit mad with jealousy as well. She defeated and cured her old friend, restoring beauty, prosperity, and good government to the area in the process, before wandering off across Equestria to look for further adventures in being nice to people.

So what is Mistmane seen to do? Well – presuming that Rarity’s campfire-tale version of a story from a thousand years ago has all the details right (which honestly seems pretty unlikely) and throwing in what the Wiki’s say she does in the comics, she is seen to…

  • Escape an entangling/grappling effect. That’s L0) Untie, boosted up to L1) Liberating Command, with the usual Unicorn option to power it up further to escape other forms of confinement, dogpiles, and similar restraints. .
  • Communicate with Animals and Plants That’s L0) Influence Animal, powered up to L1) Speak with Animals, L2 Speak with Plants, and L3) Influence Animals (lets you try to persuade groups of animals and grants a +10 enhancement bonus on social skills against them).
  • Attempts to Purify a Timberwolf. That’s probably L0) Purify Food And Drink boosted up to L3) Remove Curse. She might also be able to manage L3) Neutralize Poison.
  • Cause a plant to suddenly grow and grapple someone. Similarly, she can fix up a sick tree and – for a short time thereafter – a trail of flowers sprouts where she walks. So… L1) Enhance Plant (prettier, stronger, more fruit, stronger medicinal effect – double something at CL1+, 3x effect at CL4+, quadruple something at CL 7+), L2) Plant Strike (cause a nearby plant – even if small – to execute up to (Cha Mod in total) combat maneuvers on those targets adjacent to it – such as a Grapple, followed by a Hold/Pin), and even L3) Plant Growth or L3) Diminish Plant. She has a slight disadvantage on this particular set of effects – they cause her to leave an obvious trail of flowers for a bit – but that’s really too minor to worry about in game terms.
  • Project multiple magical blasts – although they might be representing telekinesis. I’ll presume an actual combat spell – L1) Magic Missile – although she can power it up to provide a variety of secondary or enhanced effects.
  • Summon a Flying-Serpent Psychic Construct (Water versus Fire) that defeats a similar construct and then either grapples an opponent, ties them up in vines, or dissipates while Mistmane casts a spell to tie an opponent up in vines. Probably L1) Summon Psychic Construct, powered up to get higher level ones.

OK, up to this point this is Improved Occult Talent (three level zero and three first level effects plus standard unicorn boosting effects) – the standard unicorn bonus feat option for having an advanced magical education. Given a high constitution and the superheroic world template (or a reserve of Mana) to work with and boost those effects, you get a versatile mage with a wide selection of fairly low-level effects.

  • She’s also seen to clean up, and make minor repairs on, an entire village and it’s landscaping – including possibly removing a curse of ugliness -albeit at a significant, and apparently permanent, personal cost. Of course, in game terms… none of that has real effect save, perhaps, acting as a large-area Mending spell. Whether or not things look nice just isn’t a major element in the d20 rules. This is a powered-up version of Mending, Prestidigitation, or an effect that does cantrips. I’ll call it Cantrip Mastery (L2, produces up to three arcane cantrip effects targeting any desired target in a 20′ radius within short range. Thus you could Mend a lot of stuff, apply a Ray Of Frost to six opponents, and Drench all the torches in the area. A L3 version produces four effects in a 30′ radius within medium range. That’s useful, and fairly versatile, but still… I bet that most casters would prefer something like Fireball, Fly, or a nice battlefield-control effect).

So that’s Mana-Powered Inherent Spell (L3 Cantrip Mastery, 6 CP). Her grandiose effect was achieved by spending more Mana (+3 points), using the Compact Metamagic to pay for another +3 (by accepting a permanent curse of damaged appearance), and +2 levels worth of the Magic Of Accord (Below), to achieve an Amplified effect across a massive area.

And, of course, she has the standard unicorn racial Occult Talent package – all of which can be boosted as usual.

  • L0: Dancing Lights (in many trivial variants), Daze (with various special effects), Detect Magic, and (Skill) Mastery (provides a +3 competence bonus on a particular skill for ten minutes per level, +6 if it only covers a limited aspect of a skill. In her case it’s Craft/Landscaping).
  • L1) Greater Mage Hand.

The Magic Of Accord:

  • Metamagical Theorems, all Specialized/only for use with Occult Talents and no more than three inherent spells, no more than two Amplify (only +1 CP since Unicorns get part of it already), Area (3 CP), Compact (3 CP), and Sculpting (3 CP),
  • Streamline III (two levels of each of the above Metamagics save Compact), Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost/no more than two levels in total may be applied to any one effect, only when acting on behalf of others or working in a group endeavor, shows a tell-tale physical sign (moving ethereal mane) (6 CP).

The Magic of Accord is, in fact, a lesser, and somewhat unbalanced, version of Alicorn Magic – but it’s about as much of that power as is available to a Unicorn who lacks Earth Pony and Pegasus Magic. It does, however, give Mistmane exceptional flexibility and control over her magic when acting in Accord with others – a trick that Starswirl the Bearded (who is something of an anti-social loner) has never mastered. That alone makes her a renowned sorceress and allows her to make a substantial magical contribution to a group that contains a more powerful spellcaster in Starswirl and a more versatile healer/item crafter in Mage Meadowbrook.

Mistmane The Enchantress, Pillar of Beauty Accord.

ECL 5 (including a+1 ECL racial template) Unicorn Pony Enchantress

To summarize the low-level adventurer template, those affected get:

  • A -3 penalty on unskilled skill checks.
  • Very slow level advancement, by direct session-based character point awards rather than experience points. Succeeding in goals helps, but killing things and taking their stuff does not.
  • The status of valuable trouble magnets – they’re rare and find trouble everywhere they go.
  • A +3 bonus on five skills which suit their backgrounds and training. Sadly, this cannot be applied to active magical skills.
  • Extra hit points equal to [12 + (2 x Con Mod)].
  • Two minor special talents. For the full list see the Template. For Mistmane we’ll take a +2 bonus to her Constituition) and Enduring (providing her with a +1 bonus on her Saves).

To summarize the Basic Pony Modifiers:

  • Quadruped. In general ponies are slow and have trouble moving while using tools or weapons.
  • Attribute Modifiers: -2 Dex, +2 Con. An additional +2 Con and +2 Chr are dispellable magical bonuses.
  • Damage Reduction 9/- versus both Physical and Energy Attacks, only DR 2/- versus melee attacks by living creatures.
  • Endure Elements. Ponies pretty much ignore the weather.
  • Ponies heal 1d8+1 damage per round three times per day.
  • Ponies are always treated as having lots of pockets, even in the nude.
  • Ponies get minor cartoon effects, such as hair that responds to moods, blushing through fur, and so on.
  • Ponies may begin or participate in spontaneously choreographed musical numbers that provide bonuses for group tasks.
  • Have a base pool of 1d6+3 Mana, regaining 1d6 with an hours rest up to three times a day and 1-2 points per day regardless.
  • Get a +2 Racial Bonus to Perform/Sing

To Summarize The Unicorn Subrace Modifiers:

  • Occult Talent provides their usual minor spellcasting.
  • Immunity/Being unable to Concentrate on more than one thing at a time (covering up to three tasks and/or spells of up to level three at any one time).
  • Upgrade their basic Mana supply with the Spell Enhancement Natural Magic option.
  • Metamagic: Amplify / Only applies to Occult Talent abilities.
  • A +2 Racial Bonus to Knowledge/Arcana (2 CP).
  • +2 Intelligence/-2 Strength.
  • One Bonus Feat.
  • Executive, Corrupted for Increased Effect (add the user’s Int Mod to his or her effective level of use)/requires 2 Mana/hour to power. Unicorns are good at coordinating groups, and can provide substantial bonuses.

Basic Attributes: Str 8 (-2 Race = 6) (+3 for one level of Self-Development = 9). Dex 14 (-2 Race = 12), Con 16 (+4 Race +2 Knack = 22), Int 12 (+2 Race = 14), Wis 14, Cha 14 (+2 Race = 16). (Pathfinder 25-Point Buy).

Available Character Points: 120 (Level Four Base) +10 (Disadvantages: Blocked (Polymorph Magic), Compulsively Nice and Forgiving, and History) +12 (L1 and L3 Bonus Feats) +8 (Duties: Pillar of Equestria) = 150 CP.

Basic Abilities (50 CP):

  • Hit Dice: 20 (L1-4, d6, 8 CP) +22 (12 + 2 x Con Mod Template) +24 (4 x Com Mod) = 66 HP.
  • Skill Points: 12 (Purchased, 12 CP) + 14 (Int) + 14 (Fast Learner) = 40 SP
  • BAB +2 (12 CP).
  • Saves:
    • Fortitude +0 (0 CP) +6 (Con) +1 (Knack) = +7
    • Reflex +2 (6 CP) +2 (Dex) +1 (Knack) = +4
    • Will +2 (6 CP) +2 (Wis) +1 (Knack) = +5
  • Proficiencies: All Simple Weapons (3 CP) and Oriental Weapons “Suitable For Women” (3 CP).
  • Initiative: +1 (Dex)
  • Move: 40 (four legs, 20 on three or less).
  • Armor Class: 10 (Base) + 1 (Dex) +4 (Shimmer Mail) +3 (Martial Art) = 18

Other Abilities (100 CP):

  • Magic Of Accord (Above) (16 CP).
  • Inherent Spell (as above, 6 CP)
  • Fast Learner, Specialized in Skills for Double Effect (6 CP).
  • Adept (Atheric Dance, Craft/Landscaping, Perception, and Knowledge/Engineering, 6 CP)
  • Mystic Artist (Landscaping) (6 CP), with Composition (Specialized, only as a Prerequisite, 3 CP), Influence (6 CP), Mass Influence (6 CP), Acclaim (6 CP), Song of Power (Specialized, only as a prerequisite, 3 CP), and Touch The Soul (6 CP).
    • At a net cost of 36 CP this is pretty expensive – but Mistmane’s magical landscaping can deeply influence cultures, illustrate philosophical points, empower her to achieve remarkable things, and – at it’s peak and once every thousand years – change the world. Mistmane never fully understood it (or she might have completed her ascension to Alicorn)- but her beautiful Gardens of Accord would help bring the suspicious tribes, insular villages, and local leaders of Equestria together as one nation and would, in the end, usher in the Age of Harmony (and likely Discord, since he put in an appearance soon after the Tree of Harmony did).
    • At +20, this allows her to incorporate Inspiration (Emotion, Competence, Greatness, Excellence) and Synergy (Block (prevents weeds and minor changes in her gardens), Amplify, Harmonize, and Serenity) functions into her gardens – over and above her ability to influence the wider world with them.
  • Luck with +8 Bonus Uses (18 CP).
  • Privilege (Fabulous Beauty, 3 CP).
    • Mistmane sacrificed this ability to empower her grand spell of renewal – which is why her high charisma currently manifests itself as looking like everyone’s cheerful grandmother. The points wound up accidentally being invested in the flower she used as a focus, giving it Returning (the flower is essentially indestructible, 6 CP), a Mystic Link (with Power Link, 6 CP) to her, and Grant of Aid (6 CP) with +2 Bonus Uses (3 CP) – the net cost of 21 CP making the flower a three-point relic.
  • Skill Emphasis (Craft / Landscaping, 3 CP).
  • Skill Focus (Craft / Landscaping, 6 CP).

Skills:

  • Aetheric Dance Martial Art +7 (3* SP) +3 (Tem) +6 (Con) – +16
  • Craft (Landscaping) +7 (3* SP) +2 (Int) +3 (Tem) +5 (Feats) +3 (Enh) = +20
  • Diplomacy +4 (4 SP) +3 (Cha) = +7 (Specialized in Animals for Double Effect, +10 Enh = +24).
  • Escape Artist +4 (4 SP) +1 (Dex) = +5
  • Handle Animal +2 (2 SP) +3 (Cha) = +5
  • Knowledge / Arcana +4 (4 SP) +2 (Int) +2 (Race) = +8
  • Knowledge / Engineering +7 (3* SP) +2 (Int) +3 (Tem) = +12
  • Knowledge / Nature +2 (2 SP) +2 (Int) = +4
  • Perception +7 (3* SP) +2 (Wis) +3 (Tem) = +12
  • Perform (Sing) +2 (2 SP) +2 (Race) +3 (Cha) = +8
  • Sense Motive +3 (3 SP) +2 (Wis) +3 (Tem) = +8
  • Spellcraft +4 (4 SP)
  • Swim +2 (2 SP) -1 (Str) = +1
    • Specific Knowledge: Oriental Cultural Arts (1 SP).

Aetheric Dance Style (Con):

  • Requires: Unicorn Magic
  • Basic Techniques: Defenses 4, Synergy/Knowledge/Arcana, Synergy/Spellcraft, Toughness 2 (Variant, +2 on saves made during magical duels), Attack 2 (Specialized for Increased Effect / with spells during Magical Duels).
  • Advanced Techniques: Mind Like Moon, Weapon Kata (Shuriken or Chakram), Deflect Arrows, and Improved Initiative (Specialized, only during Magical Duels).
  • Occult Techniques: Healing Hand, Inner Strength, Serpent Strike, and Vanishing.

Known Techniques (8): Defenses 3, Toughness 2, Improved Initiative, Inner Strength, and Healing Hand.

Equipment:

  • Charms: All-Weather Cloak, Automatic Writer (Uses Loaded Brush), Bracers of Force, Druid Boxes, Grace of Miravor, Sands of Time, and Stunstone.
  • Talismans: Loaded Brush, Shimmer Mail (Mages Kimono), and a Sunstone.

Mistmane is a powerful – if rather subtle – force for cooperation, cultural change, and peace – but isn’t really much for fight scenes and is best off sticking with someone who can block incoming attacks. As a more conventional adventurer she’d be well advised to acquire a damage blocking effect as an Innate Spell or to find a way to upgrade her Psychic Constructs so that she can “wear” one and let it absorb the damage. Worse, as usual for superheroic mages, she’d need several levels worth of Mana and Rite of Chi to get it back with to function effectively in more conventional settings.

Still, she’s an excellent example of a standard superheroic mage; she’s got a rather limited list of base effects that she can use all she wants. She can vary them to fit the situation and boost them to some extent – but most of the game-breaking powers (easy long-range teleportation and that kind of thing) are basically out of her reach. 

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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