Eclipse and Uplifting Animals

And today it’s another question – in this case, one that’s jumped to the head of the que because just jotting down some notes for it quickly turned into a full article.

A rather specific question this time around: I’ve noticed that Self-Development has no provision for increasing an ability score below 3. Ergo, it cannot be used to raise the Intelligence of a creature with an Int of 1 or 2.

Presuming that I have such a creature (without it being a familiar), and have a way to grant it additional CPs (e.g. I’ve taken Leadership with Beast-Lord and Emperor’s Star), what ability could I spend those CPs on to permanently raise their Intelligence?

(Obviously, the best bet would just be to find the proper awaken spell to have someone cast on the creature(s) in question, but I wanted to restrict this to CP-purchasable abilities.)


D20 attributes are a bit awkward at the lower end of the scale aren’t they? Earlier editions used 3-18 to cover what functional (“playable”) humans were like, with everything below that crammed into the range of 0-2 and everything above that – no matter how superhuman – crammed into 19-25. Currently characters are mostly created using attribute point buy and generally aren’t don’t get scores of 6-, effectively reserving the 3-6 range for (non-player) characters with serious disabilities – but the venerable 3-18 is still considered the “normal human range” even if the upper cap has been taken off for monsters, gods, high-level characters, and other things that go well beyond “human”.

Of course, to stick with Intelligence… for most game purposes that 0-2 range works just fine. “Mindless Animal”, “Stupid Animal”, and “Bright Animal” pretty well cover it on the extremely rare occasions when it comes up. Who cares about measuring the exact relative intelligence of an ordinary worm, garter snake, parrot, cat, dog, and preying mantis? None of them are playable, none of them are going to be coming up with complex plans, and none of them are going to be major enemies.

The same goes for the other attributes. “Totally Ineffectual”, “Almost Totally Ineffectual”, and “Basically Hopeless” really all say the same thing; “let the player characters handle things and don’t expect any help from THIS non-player character”.

So Self-Development in Eclipse doesn’t cover attributes in the 0-2 range both because Eclipse was focused on playable characters and because 0-2 actually covers an immense range of values – in scale, far greater than the 3-18 range. After all, Str 3 lets a human carry 30 pounds as a heavy load. Str 18 lets them carry 300 pounds – a net range of one order of magnitude. On the other hand, Str 0-1 covers bugs to squirrels and things. Lets take the classic example of an ant (a creature noted for it’s in-scale strength). Ants, according to the biologists, are capable of carrying a maximum of almost 1/2000 of a pound – what d20 would call “a heavy load”. Str 1 lets you carry a maximum of 10 pounds as a heavy load – twenty thousand times as much. Other bugs can still carry things, if not as well as ants – so 3-18 covers a range of 1-10, the scale between 0-1 covers a range of at least 1/200,000 pounds to 10 pounds – at least six orders of magnitude crammed into that single step. Letting a non-magical boost cover that kind of range just didn’t seem right. Magic, however… magic follows its own rules.

Still, as with paying points for more starting cash, this is a spot where simple approaches don’t work very well because it’s a corner of the d20 system that doesn’t work well to start with – which d20 gets away with because it’s also a bit that very few people care about. Still, as with building a Stipend (in the linked article), there are ways to work around it.

Animalistic Intelligences:

This particular approach requires that the creature buy…

  • Innate Enchantment: +2 Int (Spell Level One, Caster Level One, Unlimited-Use Use-Activated, x.7 Personal Only) = 1400 GP Value (2 CP).
  • Immunity to the Experience Point Cost for the Innate Enchantment above (Uncommon, Minor, Trivial, 1 CP). You won’t need this in Pathfinder, but then it’s only 1 CP – and an animal may not have the Pathfinder Package Deal to begin with.
  • Immunity to Stacking Limits (Common, Minor, Major), Specialized and Corrupted / only for Enhancement Bonuses, only to allow the bonus from the first-level spell given above to stack with a single other enhancement bonus (2 CP).
  • Immunity to Dispelling, Antimagic, and Dead Magic (Common, Minor, Great), Specialized and Corrupted / only to convert the innate enchantment given above into an extraordinary ability (4 CP).
  • Disadvantage: Accursed. The user has no innate language skills and may not be able to speak properly even after learning to understand a language (- 3 CP).

This involves three natural-law immunities and thus is a literal game-changer – as might be expected of pushing a creature across whatever border it is that separates a sapient entity from an animal. I don’t think I’d allow it for most characters, but then most characters would just be looking for the immunity to stacking limits.

The Thinking Cap:

You can also simply add intelligence by magic, like adding sweetener to oatmeal. If you can enchant living creatures, then there is nothing preventing you from giving one Sentience.

  • Enchant the creature as a 1’st level Pearl Of Power (1000 GP, Caster Level 17). Those are always handy. Or a Meridian Belt (1000 GP, Caster Level 9) to let it wear rings on all four feet. Or something. It doesn’t matter all that much what, although a higher caster level will help your creature avoid brief bouts of stupidity when it gets hit with Dispel Magic. .
  • Now give it Pathfinder-Style Sentience: That’s (500 GP) base, plus, say, Int 14 (1000 GP), Wis 12 (500 GP, presuming that the base creature hasn’t got Wis 12+ already), and Cha 12 (500 GP). Throw in Speech (500 GP).

That’s a total cost of 4000 GP, or 2000 GP if you’re enchanting it yourself. You could spend some more to throw in a few powers to take advantage of that nice high caster level though.

Since a sapient item gets to control the “functions” of the enchanted item, this gives you a bolt-on “intelligence module” that – since it is free to act – should let your new magically-intelligent creature gain levels like any other character.

  • If you want the creature to pay for it’s own bootstrap, take this as an Innate Enchantment. A 4000 GP value would cost 5 CP. Throw in an Immunity to the Experience Point Cost for the Innate Enchantment above (Uncommon, Minor, Trivial, 1 CP) and we’re back at (6 CP).

This method is vulnerable to being temporarily dispelled, or disjoined, or some such. To get immunity to THAT you’d want Immunity to Dispelling, Antimagic, and Dead Magic (Common, Minor, Great), Specialized and Corrupted / only to convert the innate enchantment given above into an extraordinary ability (4 CP). That raises the total cost to (10 CP) rather than six, but it lets your creature start off with a much better Intelligence (and likely Charisma) score and three languages. Go ahead! Unleash those Sapient Colossal Scorpions! Also, give them bowler hats, teacups, and English accents while you’re at it!

The Nurture Of Minds

  • On the personal level you can use Innate Enchantment: Upgrade the “Awaken” spell to level six to eliminate the material component cost and take it as an innate power: (Level Six Spell x Caster Level Eleven x 1800 GP (Command Word Activated) x .05 (Usable once per month) = 5940 GP (7 CP worth of innate enchantment, barring other modifiers. This would only be 4950 GP for Spell Trigger, or 1650 GP for Spell Completion, but those have more complicated requirements to use.
  • To get an animal to Awaken itself you’ll want Use-Activated, but you can throw in Personal-Only (x.7) for net cost of 4620 CP or 6 CP worth of Innate Enchantment. Of course, you’ll also want an immunity to the XP cost of the Innate Enchantment (1 CP) and an Immunity to the need to consciously activate the spell (Uncommon, Major, Trivial, 2 CP) for a total cost of 9 CP.

Since this only needs to be activated once a month until it “takes”, and never again thereafter, the best way to use this setup it is to put it in a (1 CP) relic. Call it a Stone of Sapience and hang it on the creature you want to Awaken, and in a few months it will take effect – and you can either put the Stone on some other creature to awaken IT or (if you bought a version of the usual relic-making package) make something else.

Alternatively, you can take the “personal only” modifier off and let the creature start awakening other creatures – likely it’s companions, mates, or offspring – but that might start getting troublesome and is more expensive.

  • You can do pretty much the same thing with Inherent Spell (Specialized for Increased Effect to get a 6’th level effect and Corrupted for Increased Effect to avoid having to meet the level requirement, 6 CP), but you’ll want to throw in the immunity to having to consciously use it (2 CP) again. I’m not too sure what you’d use for Specialization, but personal-only is one of the more obvious possibilities for the Corruption if you give it to the animal to be awakened – although you’ll need the Immunity to the need to consciously activate the spell (Uncommon, Major, Trivial, 2 CP) again. This will function every day if you wish, but whatever specialization you come up with is likely to be troublesome.

The Doctor Dolittle Effect:

If you wish to be surrounded by a modest number of sapient beasts you can use…

  • Blessing with the Group Modifier, Corrupted for Increased Effect (you automatically count as one of the group enhanced and those enhanced start off friendly) and Specialized (for Reduced Cost) / only to bestow Intelligence, cannot be revoked after bestowal (although the death of the recepient will open up another “slot”), only works on creatures with an original intelligence of 2 or less (6 CP). This will allow the user to grant up to (Chr Mod +1) creatures intelligence equal to his or her own.

Unfortunately, this one really won’t work very as a bootstrap effect unless you give the target creature the above power, an immunity to needing to use it consciously, and a secondary blessing to transfer both of the above powers to a creature that is already intelligent – (thus gaining that creatures intelligence for itself and a few other creatures). That would technically work, but is getting rather silly.

The Wandering Soul:

This approach has already been discussed by Jirachi (responding to the original comment); it consists of stuffing a spirit into an animal body to let it use (or be used by) the Spirit’s intelligence and abilities. This can be done in an immense variety of ways, but does require using either the Specific Creature summons option or the Spell Renewal option, otherwise your animal friend will lose it’s memories each time the spell is cast and brings in a new spirit to inhabit it.

  • Witches can use The Path Of Spirits or create a Tulpa that needs a host body to manifest in.
  • Summoning Spells (the Channeling Variant from The Practical Enchanter) will do it for anyone using general magic or inherent spells.
  • Channelers can convert uses of Channeling to the correct spells or use the Hand Of Darkness path to split off fragments of their own personas to possess creatures.

Overall, however, the vast majority of these methods require outside interference – something you do to a creature as opposed to an ability you purchase for it. I suppose you could give a creature the abilities needed to summon it’s OWN spirit, but that gets rather expensive and is complicated to build.

  • Given that Ritualists can simply invent their own effects. I suppose it would be possible to create an extremely limited package using Occult Ritual, Luck, and Specific Knowledges and then use Blessing to cause an animal to “instinctively” perform a self-awakening or spirit binding ritual on itself until it works – but that is, once again, getting pretty silly.


While you specifically noted that you didn’t want these, for general reference they obviously belong on this list.

  • Familiars, Psi-Crystals, Mystic Mounts, and other Companion Creatures are, of course, shaped by the owning character’s will and magic – and specifically get increased intelligences. Still, they call for a substantial investment from the owning character to give them much in the way of special powers Given that a little bit of power flows back to the master from them, providing various minor enhancements for the master, it IS theoretically possible to set them up so that they boost themselves and / or the number of companions that the character possesses. This is, however, both blatantly silly and potentially game-breaking (to the point that game masters should pretty much never allow it). Uncontrolled positive feedback loops are generally trouble.

And I hope that helps!

8 Responses

  1. I think you might also need a type-changing effect or something similar, since the Animal-Type in Pathfinder outright states this:

    -Intelligence score of 1 or 2 (no creature with an Intelligence score of 3 or higher can be an animal).

    • Presumably it would automatically make the creature in question a magical beast, the way awaken does. While Eclipse usually requires things to be bought separately, some things do have attendant changes.

    • Well, to cover THAT…

      The awkwardness arises because d20 “Types” are only relevant in two ways – as shortcut descriptions for ability packages (unless someone makes an exception) and for spell targeting. Thus the distinctions between “Charm Animal”, “Charm Person”, and “Charm Monster” and why you generally can’t cast “Animal Growth” on the Fighter.

      There really isn’t any underlying mechanism for that, it’s simply a game convenience. Thus, if I apply “Awaken” (or some similar effect) to a Chimpanzee, it becomes a Magical Beast. Yet Humans and Chimpanzees share more than 99% of their genome – closer than many species that successfully produce hybrids. So why is an awakened Chimpanzee a “Magical Beast” rather than a “Humanoid”? It’s because the rules say so.

      Since there’s no rule that says that casting Fox’s Cunning on a dog abruptly gives it a new type, larger hit dice, darkvision, and an increased Base Attack Bonus because it now has Intelligence 4, that presumably does not happen – which at least lets us out of explaining why you can’t come up with a version that applies those same side effects to Humanoid targets.

      For that matter, an Animal Companion is still considered an animal. After all, the rules note:

      “A druid may cast spells on her animal companion even if the spells normally do not affect creatures of the companion’s type (animal). – presumably why they use d8 Hit Dice and explicitly count as normal animals for spell targeting purposes.

      Yet Pathfinder also notes:

      “If an animal companion increases its Intelligence to 10 or higher, it gains bonus skill ranks as normal. Animal companions with an Intelligence of 3 or higher can purchase ranks in any skill.”

      Yet as you noted, under the Animal type Pathfinder explicitly states that “no creature with an Intelligence score of 3 or higher can be an animal”

      Fortunately, Pathfinder also provides a solution to this contradiction – the general rule that “specific trumps general”. Animal Companions remain “Animals” because their description says so.

      By default, in Eclipse, everything you buy is a specific exception – so a “type” only changes if you buy something that explicitly changes it or if the game master things that it should.

      Eclipse doesn’t really say anything on the game master issue because it comes down to how the game master thinks things work in the setting. Consider that dog. It has humanlike social behaviors, limited language comprehension, and is really quite human-like in a lot of other ways. What is it that makes it subject to “Charm Animal” instead of “Charm Person”? And if I boost it’s intelligence, should I consider it to be a “person” of some sort, or will it now call for “Charm Monster”?

      You could validly answer in several different ways – and since it’s up the game master, presumably that will happen in different games.

      And I hope that helps!

  2. Thanks for the quick and thorough answer! Using Innate Enchantment to give a creature greater mental ability scores for a small cost is definitely my favorite option, but these are all great ideas!

  3. In hindsight: Would it be an option to give the animal Presence (+2 Int via first level spell)/Specialized to only affect the animal itself for 3 CP? Or am I overlooking something with that idea?

    • It would work – but unless you threw in a mystic link or something only as long as the animal stayed nearby most of the time, since otherwise the effect would wear off.

      I suppose you could Specialize it to add the “renewal” option to the spell, and so make as many animals as you could fit in a 10′ radius intelligent for as long as you stuck around though.

    • Oops, sorry, on glancing back at this I misread what you wrote. I suppose you could do it that way – but I think that I’d prefer to go with the Innate Enchantment. It just seems less convoluted.

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