Eclipse and Skill-Based Partial Casters

And for today it’s the answer to another question…

I notice that you don’t have a ton of examples of the dweomer system, and no examples of a partial caster using a skilled based one. What might say, a version of a paladin or bard using the dweomer system look like?


In Eclipse, of course, a “Partial Caster” is just a character who buys some magic but who doesn’t really focus on it. Gratuitously, I’m going to assume that less than 60 points over twenty levels is “dabbling”, and that 181 points or more is “a full caster” – leaving Partial Casting as any spellcasting package with a total cost between 60 and 180 points over twenty levels. On the “practical details” side, a partial caster usually has a fairly limited range of effects, is limited to mid-level effects at best (levels 4-6 depending on style), and may have a lower-than-maximum caster level.

So first up it’s Thaumaturgy or Dweomer based Paladin/Ranger/Assassin/Etcetera Spell Casting. To build the basics for that we’ll want…

  • Access to Thaumaturgy/Deweomer, Specialized/only provides access to four skills (3 CP).
  • +15 Base Caster Levels, Specialized and Corrupted / Thaumaturgy or Dweomer Only, do not support effects of above the “Difficult” level (30 CP). That’s five more than a 3.5 Paladin or Ranger gets, two less than a Pathfinder Paladin or Ranger gets – but in Eclipse they can buy a few more if they want to easily enough.
  • Adept (Their four Thaumaturgy/Dweomer Skills, 6 CP)
  • Augmented Bonus / Adds an attribute modifier to the base for Thaumaturgy or Dweomer skills, Specialized/only for the four Adept skills, above (3 CP).
  • Mastery (At least three of the Adept skills, 6 CP). This lets them “take 10″ instead of rolling when casting using at least three of their skills.
  • 10d6 Mana (as 20d4 (50) Generic Spell Levels), Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / Only to power Thaumaturgy or Dweomer, cannot power effects of above the “Difficult”” level (20 CP). Fortunately, generic spell levels return daily without need for Rite of Chi.
  • Unity (6 CP). This avoids the need to split their pool between Power and Generic Spell Levels. Trivial Effects cost 1/2 Spell Level, Easy Effects cost 2, Average Effects cost Four, and Difficult Effects cost 6. “Difficult” effects equate to spells of levels 5-6, and are beyond the usual range for Paladins, Rangers, Assassins, and such, but are possible here.

At a total of 74 CP this costs the same as Pathfinder Paladin Spellcasting. It will require a further investment of 10-20 skill points (or other boosters) to reach it’s full potential of using sixth level equivalent spells (in Eclipse there’s almost always a slight surcharge for creating your own style of themed spellcasting) – but it has the side benefit of boosting some checks and saves and is extremely flexible. It’s also worth nothing that – while it will use up the second permitted use of Adept – adding a second field will only cost 38 CP (totaling 112) since there’s no need to buy the Caster Levels or Unity again. You could even go for a third dip, for a mere 32 CP more (totaling 144 CP) – but you’d need to boost your skill points since you couldn’t take Adept again.

So what skills? Well, for some quick examples, lets say you are building a…

  • Battlerager: Self-Enhancement (personal boosting spells), Armory (summon / boost armor and weapons), Lightning (Page 103), and Physical Healing (Page 105). Avatars of War and Thunder, Battleragers are direct and powerful warriors and reasonably effective healers after a battle. They possess a fairly well balanced mix of abilities and can play many roles on the battlefield.
  • Berserker: Self-Enhancement (personal boosting spells), Shapeshifting (Page 105), Armory (summon / boost armor and weapons), and Speed (haste, rapid travel, accomplishing tasks as great speed). Berserkers are capable of taking deadly forms, equipping themselves in an instant, and rampaging across a battlefield with vastly enhanced physical abilities.
  • Demonologist: (Evil) Monster Summoning (Monster Summoning, Planar Binding, Etc), Hellfire (evil fire magic), Maledictions (from The Practical Enchanter), and Demon Channeling (summon monster channeling variant, from The Practical Enchanter). Commanding deadly and corrupting infernal powers, a demonologist tends to summon a few monsters to help him or her carry the fires of hell into the depths of an enemy line.
  • Healer: Life Transference, Mental, Physical, and Spiritual Healing (all from Eclipse, the Healing List, Page 105). There are lots of ways to heal people at higher levels, but a backup healer can still be pretty handy to have around. Healing is rarely the first option selected, but it’s a fairly common second or third choice.
  • Kineticist: Animation (obvious), Pyrotics, Reconstruction, and Telekinesis (Mostly from Psychokinesis, Eclipse page 104). As direct blasters Kineticists are not the most effective at magical battle, but they have an immense variety of utility effects, ranging from repairing items to opening locks to extracting breathable air from the water that’s filling a room. Whether you need to fly, temper metal, or haul masses of treasure, the Kineticist has a spell for you.
  • Planeward: Dimensional Warping, Stabilization, Transference, and Warp Detection (all from Eclipse, the Warping List, Page 105). A Planeward’s magic is dangerous, and often of fairly high level (commonly leading them to buy more Generic Spell Levels to work with), but the ability to teleport, shunt in matter and energy from other dimensions, detect and banish summonings, resist dimensional and temporal effects, and otherwise counteract a lot of the best high-level effects can make them quite vital in the right situation.
  • Radiant Master: Electrokinesis and Nucleokinesis (Eclipse, Psychokinesis, Page 104), Amplification (Eclipse, Mysticism, Page 106) and Stabilization (Eclipse, Healing, Page 106). The master of atomic energy is an odd fit in most fantasy settings, but they can work there just fine. After all, how many fantasy creatures have defenses against hard radiation, cannot profit from a boosting spell transmuting that hard radiation into raw magical power, or have no use for shifting their metabolism over to nuclear sources to avoid having to breathe for a time?
  • Ranger: Animalism (take on animal powers), Plant Control (animate plants, hurl volleys of spears, grow spikes, make plants let you through, etc), Mobility (boost movement, haste, boost missile fire, dimension door, boost stealth, etc), and Physical Healing (Page 105). Rangers are classic hedge-magi, capable of a wide variety of nature-related spells. It can be quite handy to have a tree pick you up out of a battle and put you safely up in its branches to let you do some sniping.
  • Solar Guardian: Celestial Radiance (holy light and purification), Armory (summon / boost armor and weapons), Inspiration (prayer, bless, other bonuses for the group), and Shielding (Stasis Fields, page 104). As fairly classic “Paladins”, Solar Guardians are radiant servants of the higher planes, defending others and striking down creatures of darkness.
  • Stalker: Darkness Mastery (Page 103), Venom Mastery (poisons and antidotes, toxic clouds, etc), Shadowwalking (moving in and out of the plane of shadow, blinking, etc), and Shadow Magic (the illusion-based variety). While the powers of darkness are usually seen as evil and corruptive, with determination they can be used for a variety of purposes. Similarly, slipping through the shadows to strike down opponents with deadly poisons may not be a pleasant or common way to do good – but it can be used that way.

Now, if you want to create a Spellblade or the equivalent of a Psychic Warrior you’ll want to buy Opportunist and Evasive to let you cast boosting effects as you fight,

For a Godling, advanced Adept, or Bardic type…

  • Upgrade the Access Feat to a full list (3 CP).
  • Take Mastery Again (if necessary, 6 CP).
  • Upgrade to 100 Generic Spell Levels (20 CP)
  • Upgrade to 20 Base Caster Levels (10 CP).
  • Include about +60 skill points (60 CP). Normally I’d take Fast Learner and another level of Adept to help with this, but Bardic types are normally already using those to get their other skills.

That raises the cost by 99 character points – up to a total of 173 CP. Of course, a Pathfinder Bard normally spends 174 CP on his or her magic, so that – once again – fits well enough.

As for skills… Well, at this point you can take any one of the full Thaumaturgy or Dweomer lists from Eclipse or you can invent your own list. Either can be a very effective option. If you want to be a fairly classical bard, you might want a list like:

  • Illusion, Presence, and Projection (Eclipse, Telepathy, Page 104), Physical and Spiritual Healing (Eclipse, Healing, Page 105), Vibration (Eclipse, Psychokinesis, Page 104), Auric Sight (Eclipse, Extra-Sensory Perception, Page 106), and Dimensional Warping (Eclipse, Warping, Page 105).

That won’t cover every spell on the Bard list – but as a freeform system it will cover more of them than any normal Bard with a limited number of spells known will get to have. If it doesn’t cover something you desperately want… well, trade out one of those skills that you don’t want for what you think fits well into a “Bardic Powers” theme.

For the next option:

Substituting Theurgy for Thaumaturgy/Dweomer is straightforward, although you will want an Intelligence of at least 12.

  • +15 Base Caster Levels, Specialized and Corrupted / Theurgy Only, do not support effects of above level six (30 CP).
  • Adept x2 (the six Theurgic Verbs and two Nouns, 6 CP).
  • Augmented Bonus / Adds an attribute modifier to the base for Theurgy skills (6 CP).
  • Mastery (At in 12+ covers all six of the Verbs, 6 CP). This lets the user “take 10″ instead of rolling to use Theurgy. (This is cheap, and may not be permitted – but it’s an obvious modifier to take if the game master allows it).
  • 6d6 Mana (as 12d4 (30) Generic Spell Levels), Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / Only to power Theurgy, cannot power effects of above level six (12 CP). Fortunately, generic spell levels return daily without need for Rite of Chi. Also fortunately, Theurgy is less expensive than Thaumaturgy or Dweomer,
  • Advanced Improved Augmented Bonus (Adds a second Attribute Modifier to their Intelligence Modifier when calculating Skill Points Per Level, 18 CP).

That’s 78 CP – but investing even a modest handful of additional skill points will let you work freeform magic within a speciality. If you invest more… you can wield a wide variety of spells indeed. The Bard/Godling/Etcetera version mostly simply needs more generic spell levels (another 36 CP worth will probably do), and a LOT more skill points – probably about 60 CP worth again. That gets them up to 174 CP – a precise match for what a Pathfinder Bard spends on their magic progression and approaching the limit for a “Partial Caster”.

So what nouns should these characters study?

  • Beguilers master the Mind and Illusion elements, weaving deceptions and influencing minds to subtly bend the world to their will. Suggestion, Charm, Glamours, Phantasms, and more lie within their purview. If a campaign involves stealth or intrigue, they can be most effective.
  • Deathlords study the Spirit and Illusion elements, wrapping the dead in quasi-real shells of undeath, speaking with or raising the dead, imbuing inanimate objects with life, and peering into the planes beyond all fall within their purview.
  • Healers study the Body and Spirit nouns (although they often dabble in the Mind as well) – offering them access to a wide variety of enhancements, the ability to repair injuries of all kinds,
  • Seers study the magic of the Mind and Time, peering into the future to learn a myriad secrets and subtly enhancing their allies and hindering their enemies. Perhaps fortunately, only those few seers who have surpassed all normal limitations may actually travel though time or manipulate it to any great degree.
  • Stormweavers study Air and Fire, two of the most volatile and easily-stirred elements. They may manipulate storm and lightning, channel energy, manipulate the winds, and employ the destructive power of fire. They are easily amongst the more violent Theurgists.
  • Treemages study the Earth and Plant nouns, creating barriers and earthquakes, hurling spikes of wood and stone, entangling victims, dropping them into pits or quicksand, growing useful herbs, constructing fortified campsites, and more. There is rarely a time when mastery over the land and the things that grow upon it is not useful.
  • Voyagers study the magics of Space and Water, allowing them to navigate their crafts through the barriers between dimensions, exploring strange worlds, pocket realms, and the depths of the sea. While they may wield the forces of ice, acid, and banishment in emergencies, their magic is perhaps best used to reach their desires rather than to blast opponents.

Even taking only two elements at a time, there are 66 possible combinations. Add a few more elements to the mix and there are – thanks to the joys of permutations – thousands.

Overall, both systems allow freeform casting within particular themes at a cost close enough to more conventional spellcasting to allow them to be plugged in to “standard” character builds with little or no difficulty.

And I hope that helps!

13 Responses

  1. I think I’m getting a better understanding of this… For the bardic types, they can still probably use another attribute to skill points per level (at a surcharge, if they have already).
    If I was going to play the Paladin, I admit that I would probably want to buy off the ‘level 6’ limitation for some very limited but flashy casting.
    A quick calc says that would be another 25 CP to buy off the relevant corruptions…

    • Well, I’m glad that it’s making more sense to you. The Bardic types can use a second augmented bonus – or Fast Learner and two uses of Adept, or an Immunity, or various other tricks – but it will start getting expensive. I’d usually recommend that they specialize a bit or even just neglect a few fields entirely, both to save some points and because “I have limitations that I must work around but am very good in a few fields” is usually more interesting than “I can do almost anything with reasonable competence” anyway.

      And it would be pretty flashy to have a paladin who could call on the occasional major miracle wouldn’t it?

      Anyway, if there are any more questions about anything do let me know. They often suggest interesting articles.

  2. […] Skill-Based Partial Casting. This is a rather limited spellcasting package, and calls for some investment of skill points, but allows an enormous number of variations at assorted costs. […]

  3. […] for fifteen levels of the Wilder or Psychic Warrior progressions (both at 90 CP), or becoming a skill-based Partial Caster (usually about 80 CP), or throwing in a Template or two. Go ahead. Be an Advanced Pulp Hero Ninja […]

  4. The ‘beguiler’ makes sense as either a bard level package or a paladin level one, right? Becuase from a quick look, Traditional beguiling stuff could easily be covered by Illusion (from telepathy), Presence, Projection, and maybe Electrokinesis to create non-telepathic illusions.
    What would you spend the rest on?

    • Well, or shadow magic illusions.

      • Well, the “Beguiler” example here doesn’t really have anything to do with the “Beguiler” class; it’s a Theurgist, using Noun/Verb magic. These examples all focus on the six Verbs and two Nouns because that fills out their Adept slots – but that doesn’t mean that such characters can’t work with other nouns, they’re just more expensive.

        It also doesn’t mean that six-verbs-and-two-nouns are the only viable combinations. An Element Lord might focus on the Creation, Control, Destruction, and Understanding Verbs and the Four Physical Elements – Air, Earth, Fire, and Water.

        For something close to the “Beguiler” spell list… well, lets see what’s on it that CAN’T be covered with the Illusion and Mind nouns. For example, True Seeing can be managed with Destroy Illusion and simple Detections can be crammed in under Create Mind (Knowledge from nowhere!).

        Similarly we can ignore Cantrips and even first level spells. DC 10 and 15 versus the bonuses on TWO skills? A decent Theurgist can pull off those quite regularly even at very low levels.

        That leaves exactly sixteen problematic spells.

        L2) Knock, Spider Climb,
        L3) Dispel Magic, Haste, Slow
        L4) Freedom Of Movement, Solid Fog
        L5) Break Enchantment, Swift Etheralness,
        L6) Greater Dispel Magic, Repulsion
        L7) Ethereal Jaunt, Phase Door, Spell Turning
        L8) None.
        L9) Etherealness, Time Stop.

        So we’ll throw in a five skill points in each of the Magic, Space, and Time nouns.

        Still, if a Theurgist can cast ninth level time spells like Time Stop then he or she should be able to cast a huge variety of other time spells and Beguilers don’t normally do that.

        This is a job for some narrow-focus boosts such as specific knowledges. By the time you’ll have the casting level for most of these effects your Verb skill should be at least (Level + 3 + Modifier) and your Noun Skill should be at least (1 + Modifier) in general or (5 + Modifier) for Magic, Space, and Time. Given Int 20 and level (and caster level) 17 to cast Etheralness? That’s (Transform +25) + (Space +10) (+5 Specific Knowledge of Ethereal Shifting – although, sadly, only the +5 bonus for “performing a ritual” rather than +15) = +40. Using Mastery to “take 10” will let you reliably throw this spell.

        And I hope that helps!

  5. Thing I just noticed: the theurgy builds seem to tend to make you be really good at a specific thing or two, but generally fine at everything else. If you just spend 10 SP to get 1 skill point in each of the skills that you aren’t specialized in and assume maxed out verb skills, level 20 and 24 for the stat adding to checks you get + 23 (verb) + 1 (noun) + (7*2) = + 38(Int), which is enough even without mastery to get level 6 spells, and with it to get spells of up to level 8. It does kind of throw off the ‘specialist’ angle…

    • Well, you’d have to spend more points on Base Caster Level (both to buy off the limitation to level six and below and to buy more), you will indeed want Mastery, and some other boosts – which generally drives this sort of build up into “full caster” realms anyway.

      In practice, a lot of the actual player builds I’ve seen tend to be self-limiting; there are so many attractive talents to grab at intermediate levels that they often focus on particular fields – buying cheap specialty boosts that only enhance their desired powers. Still, that’s only an observed tendency, not a rule.

      • I guess. One thing I have noted is that there can be wierdly large differences between characters that you generate at higher levels and when you progress an old character. It sometimes magically feels like you have half again as many points when you can buy some of the longer term stuff that helps that.
        I mean, the build is to some extent already specialized towards the the two nouns, so I’m curious what kind of limitation set would work for that.

      • A lot does depend on what level they’re started at. Characters that have been progressed often wind up diverting themselves by towards grabbing something they thought was exceptionally nifty along the way – drastically reducing their level of optimization.

        I may have a look later; I must admit that I’m running on fumes at the moment…

  6. […] Skill-Based Partial Casters (Mostly around 70 CP) can be plugged in to replace Paladin, Ranger, or (at more expense) even Bard spellcasting with few other changes – usually offering higher level spellcasting and a broad choice of themes. They do, however, tend to be a bit more tightly focused, so you’ll need to think about what you want the character to be able to do. If you want to be a traditional Paladin-type the Solar Guardian might do. Barbarian? Battlerager. Antipaladin? Demonologist. These are freeform systems however, and will require a lot of judgement calls and improvisation. […]

  7. […] go with the Skill-Based Partial Casters (Type I or Type II) (Variable […]

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