Adventurers Of The Anomaly – “Zin”, Seeker Of Refuge

The invaders – formless, writhing, corruptive, tumors in the fabric of reality which inverted life into something even more malignant than mere undeath with simple contact – had driven many mad by their mere presence. Their arrival distorted space and time, surrounding Karresh with a dimensional maze of twisted reality. Nevertheless, with great courage, sacrifice, and heroism over a time distorted and thus inconsistent and unknown… the people of Karresh had driven them back.

It had not sufficed. Behind them they left the Withering – sometimes known as the Cinghalum. Whether it was a weapon of the invaders, or if their touch alone was enough to infect the world is unknown – but the Withering slowly spreads into any solid unliving matter – poisoning, draining, and eventually consuming any living beings within its domain.

Massive barriers of life energy were set up to contain the corruption – but while those barriers are holding for now, the Withering/Cinghalum constantly strains against them, growing stronger by feeding on its cage. All too soon the containment barriers will inevitably fail and the Withering will be set free to fulfill its mindless purpose.

A solution – or a refuge – was needed, but the remaining heroes, mages, and artificers of Karresh were fully occupied in containing the Cinghalum – and all their lore, theories, and experiments failed in the face of the Withering. Yet, in facilities across the world there were large numbers of now-redundant but nearly-finished war golems.

They were re-purposed. Tough and durable, they could pass the dimensional distortions that still roiled about Karresh without the mighty efforts that sustaining larger, safer, gates would require – to seek among the myriad alien worlds of the Dragon’s Scales a solution or refuge. Their purpose of destruction rewritten to seek out an alien solution to the Withering – or a suitable refuge for Karresh’s remaining inhabitants to retreat too. Each golem was sent to a different possible world with two objectives: gather information about the local environment to determine suitability for colonizing and search for something that could cure or stop the withering

And so Seeker 21N / “Zin”passed into the Anomaly.

Karresh World Laws:

  • Mystic Mechanisms: you may build and take the equivalent many items of of d20 Modern and Future (Tech Level 6+) Gear as equipment, at the usual 1 GP = 20 Credits equivalence (Immunity to Tech Level Restrictions, Common, Minor, Epic, 18 CP).
  • Power Storage: May store (Con) generic spell levels, using them to either power equipment or to power quick spells (Power Words, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect / only to store generic spell levels, may only be channeled into other abilities, 6 CP).

K’areshian Seeker Probe Golem (31 CP / +0 ECL Race):

  • Golem Body: Immunity To Metabolic Effects: Seekers do not suffer further damage for being at zero or negative hit point totals regardless of activity, need not sleep, eat, or breathe, do not age, and are immune to poison, sleep effects, paralysis, disease, nausea, fatigue, exhaustion, sickening effects, and energy drain. That’s (Very Common, Major, Great), Specialized and Corrupted/Seekers do not heal naturally, can be affected by spells that target constructs, metal, or wood, gain only half effect from magical and psionic healing effects, cannot use beneficial drugs (alchemical bonuses), and – even if they do not need to sleep – must rest at least four hours a night and for eight hours to regain spells and such as usual (10 CP). They are, however, “alive”, do have constitution scores, and are entirely vulnerable to unlisted effects as any other character would be.
  • Sensor Suite: Shaping, Specialized for Increased Effect and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only to generate level zero divination effects (4 CP). Such effects include Detect (Magic, Psionics, Poison, Disease, Time, Location, Dimensional Disturbances, Ores, Nutritional Value), Find (Fish, Game, Forage, Campsite, Water, Oil, Gold, Personal Items), Know (Diagnosis, Direction, Numbers, Age, Origin, Creature Classification, Plant Classification, Immediate Past, Weather), Assay (Purity, Creature, Plant, Literature), Link (set a short-term “bug”, “camera”, or “tracer” on something touched), and speeding up a search (Sift). A Seeker is equipped to analyze new worlds and their creatures so as to seek out a realm suitable for colonization.
  • Technomagical Body: Innate Enchantment. A Seeker comes with up to 11,500 GP worth of built-in gear and enhancements (12 CP).
    • Core Enchantments (5730 GP):
      • Durable Construction: Immortal Vigor I, Personal-Only (x,7) (1400 GP).
      • Librarian’s Zeal (1400 GP): Personal Haste (x.7, +30′ to movement, but instead of an additional attack the user halves the time required for searching, studying, gathering, writing or sorting).
      • Micro Thopter Foundry: Summon Bird (L0, produces a reasonably obedient small bird (in his case hummingbird ornithopters) which will remain for 2d4 minutes. These have no significant abilities but can fly and swim at 30′. The user may not summon more than five at a time (x.9) = 900 GP. (These are usually combined with a couple of links from his sensor suite to do remote scouting).
      • Compact Design: Reduce Person (Personal only x,7, cannot be deactivated x.7, 980 GP) All Seekers were reduced in size to make them less conspicuous/threatening.
      • Reconstruction: Repair Construct (Light) (50/week recharges 15% per day, 800 GP) Allows for self repair and maintaining equipment.
      • Reconfigurable Hands: Traveler’s Any-Tool: Universal masterwork tools (250 GP)
    • Built-In Technomagical Devices (1800 GP):
      • Adamant Framework/Main Body: Boost Armor with Gravlight (Max Dex +1, Armor Check -2), Improved Defense II (+2 Armor), and Increased Range of Motion II (+2 Max Dex), Rigid (+1 Armor Check Penalty). Total +7 (+3 Improved Defense = 10) Armor, +4 Max Dex (+2 IRoM, +1 Nimbleness = +7), Armor Penalty 3 (+1 Rigid -2 Gravlight -2 Nimbleness = 0), Speed +10, +4 Str, +2 Reflex Saves. (1000 GP). Net: +9 Armor, Max Dex +7, Speed +10, Str +4, Reflex Saves +2
      • Aegis/Force Shield (225 GP): DR 5/- and General Energy Resistance 5 (a set of Energy Shields and a Personal Force Field). In theory this has duration restraints, but in practice those won’t matter much.
      • Lens of Lingering Twilight (200 GP): Multioptics Band: Low-Light, IR, Ultraviolet, Telescopic/Microscopic Vision x60, +2 to Perception, Computer Link.
      • Memory Crystal Familiar (200 GP): Computer, HUD, Audiovisual Recording, Printer, Software (Various, more is added as Equipment).
      • Skyshaper (33 GP): Jetpack.
      • Storage Compartments x 3 (40 lb capacity each, 15 GP). Normally one for hardcopy reports, one for sample storage, and one for miscellaneous storage). The original design called for extradimensional spaces – but the only real advantage of those versus internal compartments is reducing encumbrance. Given that this design includes +8 Str, a little extra encumbrance should not matter.
      • Thief’s Bane Orb (20 GP): Motion Detector, effective through modest thickness of normal construction materials.
    • Minor Items (107 GP Total): Advanced MedKit (+2 Bonus, 3 GP), Bolt Cutters (2 GP), Basic Electrical and Mechanical Toolkit (35 GP), Fire Extinguisher (4 GP), Flash Goggles (25 GP), Grappling Tether (5 GP), Microtorch (Arcwelder/Cutter, 2d10 Fire Touch Attack, 10 GP), Portable Environment Generator (Only works in relatively livable environments, 14 GP), Power Backpack (Micro-Fusion Generator , 4 GP), Tactical Flashlight (3 GP), Universal Communicator with Satellite Datalink (3 GP).
    • Occult Weaponry (610 GP):
      • Concussion Rod: 2d8, Crit 20/x3 (45 GP)
      • Laser Sight (+1 with Ranged Attacks, 25 GP),
      • Solar Lance: Laser Rifle with Heavy Stun option (3d8 Fire, Crit 20/x2 OR DC 18 Fort save or 1d4 rounds Stun, 80′ Range Increment, Semi-Automatic/Full Automatic, 450 GP)
      • Tidal Bolt: Concussion Rifle with Heavy Stun (Fort DC 18) Module: 2d10, every 5 throws back 5 (90 GP)
    • Runic Skeleton (Cybrenetics, 3290 GP):
      • Artificial Twitch Fiber II (Cyberscape) / +4 Dex (600 GP).
      • Artificial Muscle Fiber II (Cyberscape) / +4 Str (600 GP)
      • Data Archive: All skills are class skills, +4 to Knowledges (Arcana, Engineering, Religion, and Scholar) (375 GP).
      • Feat Plexus with Four Feats (2250 GP)
        • Hypercognition I/Augmented Bonus, Adds Dex Mod to Wis-Based Skills,
        • Hypercognition II/Augmented Bonus, Adds Dex Mod to Int-Based Skills,
        • Fiberoptic Nerves I/Augmented Bonus, Adds Dex Mod to Con Mod for Cybertolerance Purposes.
        • Fiberoptic Nerves II/Reflex Training (Combat Reflexes Variant).
      • Miniaturized Antishock Implant (75 GP). Removes special vulnerability to electrical attacks.
      • Neuron Boosters II (Cyberscape)/ +4 Int (450 GP)
      • Proverb Chip (Cyberscape) (100 GP): +2 Wisdom
      • Redundant “Organs” (Systems) (Cyberscape) (325 GP): +4 Con
  • Basic Programming: Immunity (any need to purchase proficiency with their racial built-in gear). This does not provide proficiency with external gear of the same type (Common, Minor, Minor, 4 CP).
  • Resilient Enchantment: Immunity/Dispelling and Antimagic effects on personal enhancement spells. Specialized/ Only for racial innate enchantments. Seekers are well built and are reinforced against having their core enchantments disrupted (Common, Minor, Major, 6 CP)
  • Still A Golem: Incompetent (Social Skills): War golems are overly stoic and generally have a hard time understanding social situations resulting in -3 to social skills (-3 CP).

The Seeker Racial Template is quite literally exploitative. It’s using the Warlock Exploit – the fact that high-tech gear is extremely cheap for what it does when mixed with a fantastic monetary system based on dragon-horde sized heaps of gold, combined with the rarely-used “innate mundane items” application of Innate Enchantment, and an (18 CP) immunity to the normal technological limits of the setting – to basically be Iron Man or a video-game super-soldier.

On the other hand, the Anomaly IS pretty much a “RIFTS” style setting – and this really has noplace else to go; these bonuses are already about as good as technological equipment gets, can’t be readily modified, and generally won’t stack with external gear. Given the nature of the Anomaly, a Seeker will fit in well enough there – although I wouldn’t try to use it in a normal setting. For that… try an Ironclad or a Clockwork Ranger.

Low-Level Adventurer Template:

Everyone on the Anomaly gets either the NPC (adjusted for people who just want to live quietly) or the Adventurer version of the Template for Characters in a Low-Level World. Not too surprisingly, this character is getting the “Adventurer” version. To summarize it’s effects:

  • A -3 penalty on unskilled skill checks.
  • 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.
  • A +3 bonus on five skills which suit their backgrounds and training. Sadly, this cannot be applied to active psionic or magical skills. These are, however, considered to be natural skill ranks.
  • Extra hit points equal to [12 + (2 x Con Mod)].
  • Two minor special talents or “knacks” appropriate to their home universe – one Class-A (roughly equivalent to the effects of a first level spell or power) and one Class-B (roughly equivalent to the effects of a cantrip). His are +2 Dexterity and a +1 Universal Damage Reduction.

Skill List:

  • Characters will be using the Condensed Skill List, complete with the various skills special functions. These may, however, be adjusted for world or origin; Sci-fi characters rarely spellcast, but often have other special talents. Skill Checks are normally made on 3d6, and characters may “take 15″ instead of “20″. They are normally assumed to get a “5″ for passive checks, such as to notice something in passing.

“Zin” – Repurposed War Golem / “Seeker 21N ” Advance Scout Golem

Available Character Points: 72 (Level Two Base) +28 (Experience, just starting level Four) +8 (Duties: Search for an answer to the withering and gather information about the local environment to determine suitability for colonizing. Make contact periodically to report, get new orders, and send important samples back) +3 (Disadvantage / Outcast (blatantly obvious construct)), +12 (L1 and L3 Bonus Feats) = 123 CP.

Basic Attributes: Strength 11 (-2 Size +4 Enh +4 Cyber +1 Level = 18), Dexterity 16 (+2 Size, +2 Knack, +4 Cyber = 24), Constitution – 14 (+4 Cyber = 18), Intelligence – 14 (+4 Cyber = 18), Wisdom – 12 (+2 Cyber = 14), Charisma – 12 (Pathfinder 25-Point Buy).

Basic Abilities (53 CP):

  • Hit Dice: 6 (L1d6, 2 CP) +12 (L2-4d6, 6 CP) + 12 (Template) +12 (Immortal Vigor) +32 (8 x Con Mod) = 74 HP.
  • Skill Points: 6 (Purchased, 6 CP) +8 (Fast Learner from Level One, 6 CP) +28 (7x Int Mod) = 48 SP.
    • Adept x2 (12 CP): Buys Perception, Solar Flare Martial Art, Stealth, Survival, Arcana, Engineering, Religion, and Scholar for half price.
  • BAB: +1 BAB (6 CP), +2 BAB Specialized /Ranged Attacks Only (6 CP).
  • Saves:
    • Fortitude: +1 (3 CP) +4 (Con) +1 (Mor) +1 (Comp) +1 (Res) +1 (Luck) = +9
    • Reflex: +1 (3 CP) +6 (Dex) +2 (Eq) +1 (Mor) +1 (Comp) +1 (Res) +1 (Luck) = +13, +19 for Block.
    • Will: +1 (3 CP) +2 (Wis) +1 (Mor) +1 (Comp) +1 (Res) +1 (Luck) = +7
  • Proficiencies: As derived from his internal systems (0 CP).
  • Initiative +7 (Dex) = +7
  • Move: 30 +30 (Enhancement) +10 (Armor) = 70,
  • Armor Class: 10 (Base) +7 (Dex) +9 (Boost Armor) = 26

Usual Attacks:

  • Solar Lance: +17 (+3 BAB +7 Dex +3 Comp +1 Morale +1 Sight +2 Martial Art), 3d8+1 Fire Damage, Crit 20/x2 OR DC 18 Fort save or 1d4 rounds Stun, 80′ Range Increment, may fire on full automatic for any one of 1) +4 to the Attack, 2) Hit 1d4 members of a group, or 3) Do double damage/require two saves against double any applicable DR.
  • Tidal Lance: +12 (+3 BAB +7 Dex +1 Morale +1 Sight), 2d10+1 Force Damage and Knockback OR Knockback and DC 18 Fort save or 1d4 rounds Stun, 80′ Range Increment
  • Concussion Touch: +6 (+1 BAB +4 Str +1 Morale), 2d8+1, Crit 20/x3,

Other Abilities (70 CP):

  • Universal Damage Reduction 2/- (Totaling 10/- with Force Fields, Knack, and Martial Arts) (3 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment (up to 5500 GP effective value, 6 CP): All effects Personal-Only (.7)
    • Inspiring Word: +1 Morale Bonus to Attacks, Damage, Saves, and Checks (1400 GP)
    • Ward of Heaven: +1 Luck Bonus to AC and Saves (Personal Only, Saves Only x.7 = 980 GP)
    • Sidestep: +1 Competence Bonus to Saves) (1400)
    • Resistance: +1 Resistance Bonus to Saves (700 GP)
      Weapon Mastery (Solar Lance): +3 Competence Bonus to BAB with Solar Lance (700 GP)

Defense Mastery (35 CP):

  • Block (Melee), Block (Ranged), and Block (Arcane), with one level of Multiple for each, all Specialized / Maximum of two Blocks per round (18 CP).
  • Bonus Uses: +6 Attacks of Opportunity per round (Total: 14 after Combat Reflexes) (9 CP).
  • Blessing with Multiple, Specialized for Increased Effect (Up to Charisma nearby targets, which normally includes himself) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only for defensive abilities, those in the immediate vicinity, no lingering blessings, uses up his own AoO, only as described below (8 CP).
    • Zin can protect those nearby – essentially loaning them his ability to Block incoming attacks, up to three of his Attacks Of Opportunity, and his Reflex Save Bonus to each of those nearby. In practice, he simply gets to roll up to three blocks per turn on behalf of each nearby friend or ally – at least until he runs out of Attacks Of Opportunity. Secondarily, if someone under his protection is subjected to a combat maneuver such as Trick, Grapple, Trip, Disarm, etc, he may roll to resist it if they are unsuccessful and everyone he is protecting shares his (Universal) Damage Reduction / Energy Resistance of 10 points.

Modular Artificer (6 CP):

  • Double Enthusiast, Specialized for Increased Effect (4 points) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only for creating Relics (4 CP).
  • Create Relic, Specialized and Corrupted / only for personal use, only for use with points from Double Enthusiast, above, requires a workshop change, 2 CP relics maximum (2 CP).

Current Relics:

  • Warding Bracers: +6 to Reflex Saves, Specialized / only for Block (1 CP as a Relic).
  • Inertial Damper: Anime Master, Specialized and Corrupted for triple effect / Does not allow for the use of larger weapons; only provides bonuses for resisting grapple and overbear, against which the user is treated as being three sizes larger (1 CP as a Relic).
  • Gem Of Fortune: Luck with +6 Bonus Uses, Specialized in Saving Throws (1 CP as a Relic).
  • Rune Of Gaian Harmony: Advanced Improved Augmented Bonus: Adds (Int Mod) to Dweomer Skills, Specialized / only gains half the total benefit (effectively +6) (1 CP as a Relic).

Where relevant, these bonuses are already included in his statistics.

Minor Dweomerist (20 CP).

  • Thaumaturgy/Dweomer (Healing) (6 CP). Skill Mana Option (Currently +4 Mana, totaling 12)
  • +2 Base Caster Levels, Specialized in Dweomer for Reduced Cost (6 CP).
  • +2d6 (8) Mana, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only for Dweomer, only for non-harmful effects (4 CP).
  • Rite Of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / requires at least fifteen minutes per die, only to recharge the mana pool purchased above (4 CP).

Skills:

  • Dweomer Healing Skills
    • Environmental +7 (7 SP) +6 (Rune) +1 (Mor) = +14
    • Mental +1 (1 SP) +6 (Rune) +1 (Mor) = +8
    • Physical +1 (1 SP) +6 (Rune) +1 (Mor) = +8
    • Spiritual +1 (1 SP) +6 (Rune) +1 (Mor) = +8
  • Other Skills:
  • Arcana +7 (3* SP) +4 (Int) +7 (Dex) +4 (Data Archive) +1 (Mor) = +23. Provides seven minor rituals:
    • Diplomatic Pouch: transfers information and small objects to and from his creators.
    • Hearthwarding: brings a household good fortune and improved health for year and a day.
    • Marriage Ceremony: ensures compatibility and fertility (if that is at all possible).
    • Prosperity Blessing: Increases the wealth level a farm, business, or similar provides by one for a year and a day.
    • Radiant Seal: creates a minor, or reinforces a major, positive energy seal.
    • Tame Beast: trains an animal.
    • Ward Settlement: warns those within a settlement of attacks, disasters, and other dangers as they occur for a year and a day.
  • Engineering +7 (3* SP) +4 (Int) +7 (Dex) +4 (Data Archive) +1 (Mor) = +23. Provides 7 Gadgets. For conveniences sake, this is currently being treated as 5 Charms and 2 Talismans:
    • Charms: Alchemist’s Flask, Astrolabe, Automatic Writer, Blessed Symbol, Wraith Gauntlets.
    • Talismans: Helm Of War (4 Charges), Rubydraught
  • Heal: +3 (3 SP) +2 (Wis) +7 (Dex) +1 (Mor) +2 (Kit) = +15. DC 15/25/35 check to reproduce the effects of a L1/L2/L3 curative spell up to four times daily.
  • Linguistics +3 (3 SP) +4 (Int) +7 (Dex) +1 (Mor) = +15. Speaks 15 Languages.
  • Martial Art/Solar Flare Style: +7 (3* SP) +7 (Dex) +3 (Tem) +1 (Mor) = +18
    • Abilities (9): Toughness II (Total 10), Attack II, Assistant (Combat), Block Upgrade II (Deflections), Assistant (Combat), Inner Strength.
  • Perception +7 (3* SP) +2 (Wis) +7 (Dex) +3 (Tem) +1 (Mor) +2 (Optics) = +22
  • Persuasion +3 (3 SP) +1 (Cha) -3 (Race) = +1
  • Profession/Administrator: +7 (3* SP) +2 (Wis) +7 (Dex) +3 (Tem) +1 (Mor) = +20 (+23 with Colony Administration), Provides (Bonus/2, rounded up) Political Position Points when the user runs an organization.
  • Religion +7 (3* SP) +4 (Int) +7 (Dex) +4 (Data Archive) +1 (Mor) = +23. Grants access to one level of Clerical Spellcasting (3 Cantrips, 2 L1 Spells) and the Community Domain (Calming Touch heals 1d6+1 and removes the Fatigued, Shaken, or Sickened conditions 5/Day), Domain Spell: Bless.
  • Scholar +7 (3* SP) +4 (Int) +7 (Dex) +4 (Data Archive) +1 (Mor) = +23 Provides +4 levels in the Favored Foe ability: He currently gains a +2 Bonus to Attacks, Damage, Perception, Survival, and Knowledge Checks versus Lovecraftian Horrors / Creatures Of The Cinghalum .
  • Stealth +7 (3* SP) +6 (Dex) +3 (Tem) +1 (Mor) = +17. Has a built-in Handy Haversack Effect, May become Invisible (as per Improved Invisibility) for 7 rounds per day, activating it from round to round as a free action.
  • Survival +7 (3* SP) +4 (Int) +7 (Dex) +3 (Tem) +1 (Mor) = +22. Gains Endure Elements, may learn Animal Languages, leaves no trail, movement is not hindered by overgrowth or terrain.
  • +3 Skill Specialties: Profession/Administrator (Colony), Diplomacy (First Contact) (2 SP Total).

Solar Flare Style Martial Art (Dex)

Whether it is you or your allies who land the final strike is not important; it only matters that it is done with as little loss to your side as possible. To distract, stun, or momentarily blind a foe or to defend your allies is as or more useful than any indecisive strike. The Solar Flare style focuses on the defense of your allies, on deflecting incoming attacks, on using the radiance of your attacks to bedazzle and blind the enemy, and providing covering fire so as to allow someone to get in a decisive strike.

  • Requires: The inherent ability to use energy based attacks that produces light.
  • Basic Techniques: Attack 4, Defense 3, Toughness 3, Strike
  • Advanced/Master Techniques: Blinding Strike, 2x Block (Ranged, or any one Block Upgrade), Assistant (Combat)
  • Occult Techniques: Inner Strength, Ki Block, Overburden, Wrath (Positive Energy).

Zin is basically a proactive priest – focused on preventing damage rather than on healing it after the fact. In the usual tradeoff for taking on a dull job that no one else wants… he’s frighteningly good at it – capable of preventing an average of nearly eight hundred points of damage per round – at least provided that it comes in fourteen sixty-point chunks from a reasonably well-distributed mixture of powerful but individually-directed ranged, melee, and magical attacks against him and his companions. He’s far less effective against lots of minor attacks (especially if they’re of only one type), area effects, or really overwhelming individual attacks – but no one is perfect.

Like the other Adventurers of the Anomaly, Zin is extremely powerful for his level – a consequence of using high technology, a highly optimized custom race, gaining the benefits of a set of free world laws, and the low-level adventurer template on top of character optimization.

Adventurers Of The Anomaly – Felix Solar, Mechwarrior

A lot of untested, desperate, things are done in time of war – but what was skipped was actually very minor. In the rush to send relief forces to assist with the defense of Skepptana a technician aboard the Jumpship Cormorant missed a potential short in the jump drive during the pre-flight maintenance checks. When the Cormorant attempted to jump, energy poured into the system and flashed over certain coils and circuits, creating an imbalance that twisted the jump field in ways that no one understood.

The Cormorant – its jump drive badly damaged, its reserves depleted, and its location unknown – appeared somewhere far outside known space. The local star would have been reachable – but there was something much closer. The local manifestation of the Anomaly – a light-years long strip of livable land hanging in space – had intercepted the Cormorant’s uncontrolled journey, and pulled it into a stable orbit.

The sensor systems of the Successor States (or even the Star League) are none too sophisticated, but there were fields and cities. Radio traffic. Trains and vehicles. Even what might be mecha. Supplies and refuge to be found. Just as importantly… no aliens had ever been discovered and the mysteries of what had been achieved by the Star League were just as unknown. The assumption that the place would be inhabited by humans was natural enough.

And explorers were dropped. The hottest, most independent, pilots available. The Cormorant was never meant to land, but if a port could be established supplies could be brought up to repair it. Even if repairing the drive (and figuring out a way to get home) proved impossible, the troops being transported and the crew would survive.

Felix is one of those explorers. A hotshot young pilot with a light scout mech, a persuasive multilingual tongue, an ability to inspire others, and a burning ambition to build his own legend… he was just about perfect for it. With luck, he will find help and the necessary materials. Even with less luck… he should at least be able to find a safe place for the dropships and crew to land.

Felix sees a marvelous opportunity for fame, lands, and founding his own noble household. This place has more usable land and resources than the entire inner sphere! Much of it apparently untouched!

And while he doesn’t really believe in Aliens or Gods – such things are obviously just more of Comstar’s Mysticism wrapped around Star League biomanipulations and the technologies that must have been used to create this place – he is certainly willing to poke around a bit.

Battletech Universe World Laws

  • Scrounging: Battletech characters may purchase the Armory, Gadgetry, Logistics, and Weaponry skills – although high-end Armory purchases tend to become large, clunky, war machines and Weaponry installed in such machines is upgraded in size. No matter how through the destruction, Battletechers will soon manage to put their equipment packages back together again (12 CP).
  • Resourceful: Battletech characters may add another attribute modifier to their Intelligence Modifier when computing their skill points for levels up to level four. In general, Pilots add Dex, Techs add Con, and Politicians add Cha – but the effect is pretty much the same regardless. (Augmented Bonus, 6 CP).
  • Hyped: Battletech characters are considered to have Witchcraft I for free, giving them (Str + Dex + Con)/3 Power. While most never put this ability to use, hot pilots, brilliant politicians, and such often have access to a personal boosting ability or two – making them impossibly clever, lucky, fast, or whatever their own little edge is. (6 CP).
  • Battletech is entirely non-magical; there are no magic items, no charms or talismans, no spells, and fairly little psionics save for flashes of insight and minor witchcraft knacks. Similarly, it has little Biotech. Magical and psionic items and powers beyond the minor stuff that the Anomaly itself enables generally won’t work for Battletechers.

Battletech is basically “Junkyard Wars” writ large. Very small forces of giant robots piloted by scions of noble houses fight the wars, while the vast majority of the populace and the industrial base remains totally uninvolved. Why? Because they live on thinly-terraformed alien worlds. allowing the infrastructure to get involved leads to mass death – leaving nothing to fight over and a population with nothing left but revenge.

So the noble houses frantically scavenge for the parts needed to keep their war machines running and claim to rule – while having little impact otherwise.

Post-Industrial Human (31 CP / +0 ECL Racial Template):

  • Highly Adaptable: Racial Bonus Feat (6 CP).
  • The Quick And The Dead: Fast Learner Specialized in Skills for +2 SP/Level (6 CP). Homids are the preeminent masters of acquiring knowledge – even if they often do acquire inaccurate ideas just as easily.
  • Tribalism: Humans bond with other people to form close personal friendships, and intensely – loyal groups quickly and easily. They perform at their best when defending those relationships. Presence/+1 Morale Bonus to attacks, damage, saves, and checks, Specialized for double effect (+2 bonuses)/only when defending or assisting members of their family, tribe, or extremely close personal friends (6 CP).
  • Enduring Traveler: Celerity, +20′ ground movement, Specialized/only for use in calculating long-distance travel ranges and whether or not they can catch up with something (4 CP). The heritage of ancient migrations and persistence hunting remains a fundamental part of humanities genetic arsenal.
  • Projectile Predator: +1 Racial Bonus BAB with ranged attacks (3 CP). Two million years of throwing weapons leaves it’s mark.
  • Omnivorous Scavenger: Humans are tougher than vultures. They can handle horrific pollution levels, noxious food additives, and many other environmental insults with little harm. They get a +4 bonus on relevant Saving Throws (Resist II, 6 CP).

Low-Level Adventurer Template:

Everyone on the Anomaly gets either the NPC (adjusted for people who just want to live quietly) or the Adventurer version of the Template for Characters in a Low-Level World. Not too surprisingly, this character is getting the “Adventurer” version. To summarize it’s effects:

  • A -3 penalty on unskilled skill checks.
  • 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.
  • A +3 bonus on five skills which suit their backgrounds and training. Sadly, this cannot be applied to active psionic or magical skills. These are, however, considered to be natural skill ranks.
  • Extra hit points equal to [12 + (2 x Con Mod)].
  • Two minor special talents or “knacks” appropriate to their home universe – one Class-A (roughly equivalent to the effects of a first level spell or power) and one Class-B (roughly equivalent to the effects of a cantrip). His are:
    • Gun Bunny (A-Tier): You threaten all squares within your normal melee reach when wielding a gun as if it was a melee weapon and do not provoke attacks of opportunity when firing.
    • Fast Draw (B-Tier): You may get objects out of pockets, off of belt loops, and similar as a free action.

Skill List:

  • Characters will be using the Condensed Skill List, complete with the various skills special functions. These may, however, be adjusted for world or origin; Sci-fi characters rarely spellcast, but often have other special talents. Skill Checks are normally made on 3d6, and characters may “take 15″ instead of “20″. They are normally assumed to get a “5″ for passive checks, such as to notice something in passing.

Felix Solar

Available Character Points: 72 (Level Two Base) +18 (Experience, level three working on level four) +6 (Disadvantages: Insane/refuses to accept the existence of aliens and Irreverent/doesn’t believe in Gods either) +18 (Human, L1, and L3 Bonus Feats) = 114 CP.

Basic Attributes: Str 10 (22 with Armor), Dex 16, Con 12, Int 16, Wis 8, Cha 14 (Pathfinder 25 point buy)

Basic Abilities (60 CP):

  • Hit Dice: 6 (L1d6, 2 CP) +8 L2-3d6, 4 CP) + 12 (Template) +5 (5 x Con Mod) = 31 HP (+40 with Armor)
  • Skill Points: 12 (Human Fast Learner) +18 (6x Int Mod) +12 (Human Bonus Feat Fast Learner) +18 (6 x Dex Mod, From World Laws) = 60 SP
    • Fast Learner (Human bonus feat from birth, 6 CP).
    • Adept: Thievery, Deception, Perform, Persuasion (6 CP).
    • Adept: Armory, Gadgetry, Logistics, and Weaponry (6 CP).
    • Augmented Bonus: Adds (Int Mod) to Armory, Logistics, and Weaponry (6 CP)
  • BAB: +1 BAB (6 CP), +2 BAB Specialized /Ranged Attacks Only (6 CP) (+4 to ranged attacks with racial bonus).
  • Saves:
    • Fortitude: +0 (0 CP) +1 (Con) = +1
    • Reflex: +2 (6 CP) +3 (Dex) = +5
    • Will: +2 (6 CP) -1 (Wis) = +1
      • Luck with +4 Bonus Uses Specialized in Saves (6 CP).
  • Proficiencies: As derived from his Armory and Weaponry Skills (0 CP).
  • Initiative +3 (Dex) = +3
  • Move: 30′.
  • Armor Class: 10 (Base) +3 (Dex) +3 (Kevlar Uniform) OR +6 (Power Armor) = 16 / 19.

Usual Attacks:

  • Melee: +7 (+1 (BAB) +6 (Str).

    • Power Armor Greataxe Hands: +10 (+1 BAB +6 Str +3 Personalized), 2d12+6 Damage, Crit 20/x3, +15 Damage to overcome DR only.
    • Personal Scimitar: +4 (+1 BAB +3 Personalized) 2d6 damage, Crit 18-20/x2, +2d6 Nonlethal (Electrical + Fortitude DC 16 to avoid being stunned for 1d3 rounds).
  • Ranged: +7 (+4 (BAB) +3 (Dex))
    • Power Armor Machine Guns: Range Increment 80′, 2d8 damage, Crit 20/x2, 250 Shot Magazines. May expend five shots in an attack for any one of 1) +4 to the Attack, 2) Hit 1d4 members of a group, or 3) Do double damage against double any applicable DR
    • Power Armor Laser Cannon: 120′ Range Increment, 4d10 Damage to a 10′ Radius (Can Crit at 20/x2, but only if targeting an individual, the increase does not affect the area effect), 50 Shots.
    • Power Armor Assault Cannon: 120 Range Increment, 3d10 Damage, Crit 20/x2, 100 Shot Magazine. May expend five shots in an attack for any one of 1) +4 to the Attack, 2) Hit 1d4 members of a group, or 3) Do double damage against double any applicable DR.
    • Personal Gyrojet Pistol, 40′ range increment, 50 shot magazine, 3d6 Damage, Crit 20/x2, Silent.
    • Personal Mini-Grenade Launcher: 5 Shots, 4d8 damage in a 10′ radius, 40′ range increment.

Mechwarrior Skills:

  • Armory +6 (4* SP) +0 (Str) +3 (Tem) +3 (Int) +3 (Power Armor Speciality) = +15
    • Powered Battle Armor: Growth I (Large : +8 Str, -2 AC, -4 Stealth, 10′ Reach, built-in weapons are considered large) (3), +40 HP (3), +8 AC (4), Sensors (Nightsight, Flash, and Hearing Protection, 1), Environmental temperature control and breathing apparatus (1), +4 Str (2), Extended Magazines (any built-in weapons get double their normal magazines, 1) = 15 Points.
    • Felix’s original Scout Mech was Huge instead of Large (+16 Str, -4 AC, -8 Stealth, 15′ Reach, built in weapons are considered huge) (+3 Points), but was considered Medium Armor (Armor Check Penalty -2, Max Dex Bonus Four, -2 Points) and had problems with heat buildup (-1 Point). The redesigned version – using Star Wars and Star Trek technologies, and local tinkering – is a great deal more manageable.
  • Gadgetry +6 (4* SP) +3 (Int) = +9
    • Electronic Binoculars: up to 60x, light-amplification, flash limiter, rangefinder, recorder, infrared, and directional microphone functions (2), Flashlight, adjustable, dim to blinding, narrow to broad area, can focus to cut or weld (2), Medical Kit II (+3 to Heal) (2), Thieves Kit (+4) (3).
  • Logistics +6 (4* SP) +2 (Cha) +3 (Int) = +11
    • Explosives Supply, including Breaching Charges (3), Condenser/Filter/Heater Canteen (1), 12-Day Energy Bar pack (1), Spare Parts (Combat Armor, Five Crisis, 3), Ammunition (Three Crisis, 2), and Lifestyle (always lives well in civilized areas, 1).
  • Weaponry +6 (4* SP) +3 (Dex) +3 (Int) +3 (Tem) +3 (Laser Cannon Specialty) = +18
  • Power Armor Weapons (12 Points):
    • Slugthrower Machine Gun (Normally two-handed, but built into his power armor and so considered one-handed). Selective Fire, Increased Magazine II (III with Armor Bonus). Net: Range Increment 80′, 2d8 damage, Crit 20/x2, 250 Shot Magazines. May expend five shots in an attack for any one of 1) +4 to the Attack, 2) Hit 1d4 members of a group, or 3) Do double damage against double any applicable DR (2 Points).
    • Second Armor-Mounted Slugthrower Machine Gun (2 Points).
    • Medium Laser Cannon: Heavy Energy Weapon, “Explosive” III (Double damage in a 10′ radius), Built into his power armor and so considered two-handed, Increased Magazine I (50 shots) due to Armor Bonus. Net: 120′ Range Increment, 4d10 Damage to a 10′ Radius (Can Crit at 20/x2, but only if targeting an individual, the increase does not affect the area effect), 50 Shots. (3 Points).
    • 2x Greataxe Hands (“Primitive” Melee Weapons) (Vibro and Personalized): Net 2d12+Str Mod Damage, Crit 20/x3, +15 Damage only to overcome Damage Reduction, +3 bonus to hit (2 Points Total).
    • Assault Cannon: Slugthrower Heavy Weapon, Explosive I, Selective Fire, Enlarged Magazine I (II with armor bonus). Net 120 Range Increment, 3d10 Damage, 100 Shot Magazine. May expend five shots in an attack for any one of 1) +4 to the Attack, 2) Hit 1d4 members of a group, or 3) Do double damage against double any applicable DR (3 Points).
  • Personal Weapons (3 Points):
    • Gyrojet Pistol: One-Handed Slugthrower Small Arm, Enlarged Magazine I, Explosive I, Silent. Net: 40′ range increment, 50 shot magazine, 3d6 Damage, Crit 20/x2,
    • Mini-Grenade Launcher: One-Handed Slugthrower Small Arm, Cannot Critical, Improved Damage I, Explosive III: 2.5 lb, 5 Shots, 4d8 damage in a 10′ radius, 40′ range increment (1 Point).
    • Scimitar (Personalized, Electrified): One-Handed Blade, 2d6+ Str Mod,,Crit 18-20/x2, +2d6 Nonlethal (Electrical + Fortitude DC 16 to avoid being stunned for 1d3 rounds), +3 to Attacks (1 Point).
  • Unknown Weapons: Felix has 3 points worth of weapons left.

Note that these Occult Skills cost an extra 3 SP each – giving them a current cost of 4 SP each.

Other Skills:

  • Acrobatics +6 (6 SP) +3 (Dex) = +9. May take 3d4 damage to pull off a nigh-impossible stunt.
  • Deception +6 (3* SP) +2 (Cha) = +8
  • Heal +3 (3 SP) -1 (Wis) +3 (Kit) = +5.
  • Local Knowledge +6 (6 SP) +3 (Int) +3 (Tem) = +12
  • Perception +6 (6 SP) -1 (Wis) = +5
  • Perform +6 (3* SP) +2 (Cha) +3 (Tem) = +11, +5 (Skill Speciality and Emphasis in Oratory) for +16 (May employ the Emotion, Fascinate, or Block basic Mystic Artist abilities up to (Cha Mod) times per day, may make an excellent living). Covers Acting, Comedy, Dance, Oratory, Wind Instruments, and Singing.
  • Persuasion +6 (3* SP) +2 (Cha) = +8
  • Socialize +5 (6 SP) -1 (Wis) = +4. Provides two free Contacts.
  • Survival +3 (3 SP) +3 (Int) = +6. Is protected as if by “Endure Elements”.
  • Thievery +6 (3* SP) +3 (Dex) +3 (Tem) +4 (Kit) = +16 (May perform such tricks as a free action up to (Dex Mod) times daily and make use the skill at up to 30′ range up to (Dex Mod) times daily.
  • +3 Specialties: Armory (Power Armor), Weaponry (Laser Cannon), Perform (Oratory) (3 SP).
  • Languages Known: English, Japanese, German, and Spanish.

Natural Leadership (17 CP):

  • Mystic Artist (Oratory): with Rapid and Echoes, Corrupted / only for Inspiration and Synergy Abilities (12 CP). Plus Skill Emphasis (Perform), Corrupted for Oratory Only (2 CP). Known Mystic Artist Abilities: Emotion, Block, Competence, Greatness, Excellence, and Mass Greatness.
  • Reflex Training (Three Actions per Day variant) with +2 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted / only to use Oratory (3 CP).

Hotshot Pilot (18 CP):

  • Fortune (Evasion Variant, 6 CP). Takes no damage on a successful Reflex Save.
  • Witchcraft II (13 Power) (6 CP), Basic Abilities: Hyloka, Hand Of Shadows, and Witchfire, all Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / each only allows the use of three specific abilities costing 1/2/3 power, all abilities must be combat focused, none may be blatantly supernatural.
    • Hyloka, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / only provides (Int Mod, 1 Minimum) specific abilities:
      • 1) Adrenal Surge: Spend 1 Power when rolling Initiative to gain a +5 Enhancement Bonus on it.
      • 2) Combat Fugue: Spend 2 Power as Swift Action to gain +1 Attack at your full BAB each round for 3d4 rounds.
      • 3) Fight Or Flight: Spend 3 Power as a Swift Action to gain a +4 Alchemical Bonus to Dexterity for 3d4 rounds.
    • Hand Of Shadows: Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / only provides (Int Mod, 1 Minimum) specific abilities:
      • 1) Expert Shot: Spend 1 Power as a Swift Action ignore the penalties for range, less than total cover, and less than total concealment for 3d4 rounds.
      • 2) Precision Shot: Spend 2 Power as a Swift Action to gain a +10 insight bonus to your next Attack check.
      • 3) Firestorm Surge: Spend 3 Power as a Standard Action to make one attack at your full BAB against every desired target within one range increment. Such attacks may only be made with a Semi- or Full-Automatic Slugthrower Small Arm.
    • Witchfire:
      • 1) Reserve Power: Spend 1 Power as an Immediate Action to keep a vehicle, weapon, or other device that you are operating functioning for 3d4 rounds after it would normally shut down for overheating or for lack of fuel/power or ammunition.
      • 2) Jury Rig. Spend 2 Power as a Standard Action to use the equivalent of Make Whole (Greater) on a technological device – although the effect only lasts for 3d4 rounds unless you then spend that time tinkering to make it permanent.
      • 3) Deflecting Attack: Spend 3 Power as an Immediate Action to use a weapon to shoot or strike down an incoming attack or effect with a target within one range increment or within reach. The attack or effect is considered to have struck an opaque ten foot by ten foot ectoplasmic wall with hit points equal to twice the damage output of the weapon used.
  • +3d6 Power, Specialized for Increased Effect (21 Power), only to power Witchcraft Abilities (6 CP).

Felix actually has 19 CP left over – but the player hasn’t really decided what he wants to buy with them yet, although he was considering starting down the “Blue Mage” path.

Felix is a splendid demonstration of why I allow those who play more dedicated mages to get away with various sorts of cheese in high-technology settings. The ability to throw a Fireball just means a lot less when the fighter can easily pick up a bandolier of phosphorous grenades and an assault cannon. When they can get powered battle armor… throwing a low-level party up against a giant or minor dragon looks a lot more like an even match-up.

Nobilis and Eclipse – Bonds, Gifts, Shine, and Cool

And to finish up with Nobilis’s major mechanics…

Bonds:

Bonds, at least as Nobilis defines them, can be strengths, motivations, emotional commitments, beliefs, or weaknesses – but, unlike an Affliction, invoking them is voluntary. Nobody is forcing your character to act on their “Love For My Family” bond; they just get bonuses when they do (or, if you’re using them like Mortals do… they can help reduce penalties that would otherwise hinder you). Invoking a powerful bond can help a Nobilis “Miracle” break through an opponents defenses. You make an extra effort because something is important to you. Bonds help define who and what you are and what you stand for.

Of course, in Nobilis not all bonds are created equal. “Love For My Family!” will give you a nice boost when you need it to help out your family – but “Demonstrate My Might!” will probably give you that nice boost on two-thirds of the things you do. That is not a good thing, especially given that d20 games are full of character optimizers. Ergo, the boosts from a Bond are going to have to be limited uses to help hold that sort of thing in check – and the game master will have to keep a careful eye on what the activation conditions are to make sure that they aren’t effectively “at any moment I find convenient”.

Still, common Bonds include things like “I always escape!”, “I love my family!”, “Nobody drives Megas but me!”, “I will save them all!”, “No one can take what is mine!”, “I am the good guy!”, “I love to gloat and monologue!”, “I can’t resist drinking!”, “I follow the Code of Bushido!”, “I leap into things without thinking!”, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night shall stay me!”, “Protect the Innocent!”, and “Follow the Plan to Victory!”. When a bond is threatened or can be invoked, its trigger condition is met. “I always escape” can thus be activated whenever you’re about to be captured or have been captured and need to escape. “I love my family” can be activated whenever your family is threatened or you want to do something for them. “I love to gloat and monologue!” can be activated whenever you get a chance to gloat and monologue, and so on. Basically you should have a chance to activate a Bond fairly often – but not all the time.

The basic structure for Bonds is thus

  • Reflex Training / Can invoke a Bond as an Immediate Action when it’s trigger condition is met (6 CP).
  • Each Bond is purchased as an Inherent Spell (Improvisation, Level One) with Multiple +4, Specialized for Reduced Cost and Corrupted for Increased Effect (Points spent stack with the benefits of the Aspect Innate enchantments and may also be spent on Caster Level Checks and to increase the DC of saves against your abilities – although it costs 4 points to increase the DC by +1) / can only be activated when its trigger condition applies and the user only gets a single first level spell, rather than the two that Inherent Spell would normally provide (6 CP).
    • If you want a stronger bond, Specialize it for Increased (Double) Effect and pay 12 CP. A weak one? Cut down on the number of uses and pay just a bit less. A major motivating factor? Pay some more for even more uses.

Gifts:

In Nobilis, Gifts are special powers that aren’t necessarily related to your Estate. You have them just because you have them. Perhaps you’re unaffected by fire, or have wings and can fly, or can touch people and cast them into another realm. In Nobilis these are specialized miracles. In d20… these are absolutely normal. Can you materialize a deadly sword from nothing? That’s Spirit Weapon and Imbuement – and is a trick that every Soulknife, or Bokor (Binder), or any of dozens of other character types can pull off. You’re a shapeshifter? A werewolf? An elf? You have dragon powers? You can use mystic martial arts? You can touch people and toss them forwards through time?

Congratulations. You’re an d20 character, just like everybody else. Just buy some powers to suit yourself.

Shine and Cool:

For the last of the major Nobilis mechanics we have Cool and Shine. Both Cool and Shine are technically skills (passions? qualities?) available to Mortals, but in Nobilis we’re only really interested in player characters – and these are two of the Nobilis mechanics that go out of their way to illustrate that. Most Nobilis characters will have some of both, and it’s not at all hard to have “5″ in one or both since mortal qualities are cheap. Lets have a look at Shine first.

Shine:

According to the Nobilis rules, whenever a mortal wants to honor you or implement your agenda they can use your Shine as if it were one of their own Passions or Skills, making it the basis for an Intention. You don’t have to interact with them to this happen, although you do have to more-or-less approve of their action (you don’t have to know about it though; you’d only have to be inclined to approve if you did know about it).

So my Estate is “Making An Effort” (Side benefit! The game master can’t even get rid of me without ending the game since no one will ever be able to make an effort to do anything again if I’m destroyed). Any mortal who decides to make an effort honors me. So any mortal who decides to get up and do something (or invest a point of will in an intent) can draw upon my Shine 5 in place of their own Passion or Skill.

Yay! Without any real effort on my part, I have just given every mortal in the universe great skills, health, wealth, magical powers, athletic abilities, and unending happiness! At least as long as I approve of whatever it is they want to do… Fortunately, I dislike Child Abuse, Murder, and a lot of other stuff like that.

Although that may not help much. After all, even Nobilis’s relatively tiny cosmology includes a few billion worlds and Shine 5 isn’t that uncommon among Nobilis characters. How likely is it that pretty much any action you could want to take has a patron with Shine 5 somewhere out there? Presumably the Gods of Murder, Massacre, Crime, Anger, Weapons, and more all approve of Murder and at least one of them is sure to have a nice high Shine score.

Er… no. Eclipse does include a way for actual gods to bestow enhancements on their followers – Endowment and Greater Endowment – as well as plenty of ways to buff up people in the area (Mystic Artist, boosting spells, Presence, Executive, Dominion, and a lot more) – but there isn’t any equivalent to Shine because Eclipse tries to have mechanics that will actually function in a game. This mechanic doesn’t even function as written in Nobilis. There’s no cost, because abilities that don’t work are free.

Cool:

Then, of course, we have the opposing ability – Cool.

Cool acts as a penalty on mundane actions that cause problems for, injure, or influence someone cool or an organization, person, or situation that the Cool person is actively watching over

So if I have Cool 5 and my Estate is “Depression” (“Depression is not doing anything”), anyone who actually does something is injuring my Estate/Self. As long as I am watching over my estate… all mundane actions everywhere in the Nobilis multiverse take a -5 penalty. Mortal magicians may still derive some motivation from their Bonds, but for the most part… all the mortals in the multiverse lie down and die because Depression is so Cool.

No, Eclipse doesn’t really include any way to make everyone, everywhere, fail at everything, with little or no effort on your part. That’s because it’s really, REALLY, boring. Especially since it’s a VERY big multiverse, and that means that this will have been going on since long before the player characters were born. (And would mean that they were never born at all since having and caring for children involves doing stuff).

So according to these rules in Nobilis… mortal abilities are actually totally irrelevant to mortals. Only Nobles – who are immune to other people’s Shine (although not to Cool when taking mundane actions) actually have any use for mortal abilities – although there’s no reason that they would ever have acquired any in the first place since they spent their time as mortals in a world where mortal skills are totally irrelevant.

Nobilis isn’t actually played that way of course. Its “mechanics” really only apply to player characters. They only exist to differentiate them, to give the players something to fiddle with, and to provide a way for the characters to say “I’m just coasting”, “I’m making an effort”, and “I’m going all in” – which the game master compares to an internal difficulty scale consisting of “they can win this one easy”, “they can win this one if they make a minor/major effort and/or get really creative” and “they can’t win this one” – with the definitions of “winning”, “losing”, and “injuries” being open to interpretation and discussion by everyone at the table.

Eclipse d20 – The Blue Mage

And for today, it’s a quick answer to a question…

I’m curious. You’ve done a lot of builds that would work for Final Fantasy,. but I can’t come up with a way to do the Blue Mage given that it’s pretty setting-specific. How would you do it?

-Editorial0

Well, the defining feature of a Blue Mage seems to be the ability to copy monster powers after being exposed to them – in d20 terms, being affected by an ability and either surviving it or being brought back.

It’s very hard to say what this covers. Unlike Final Fantasy, d20 doesn’t have a limited list of effects that you are only exposed to as you’re ready for them. Would this only cover Spells? Spells and Spell-Like Abilities? How about exotic powers that might be partially represented by spells or which could inspire a related spell effect?

Can you be “affected” by a dinosaur stepping on you and develop a “multi-ton stomp” ability?

I’m going to say “yes”. A Blue Mage COULD develop a multi-ton stomp effect after being stepped on. It would have to be a version that fit into an available open slot though; if all you had was a level one slot… you might get a version of the “Stomp” psionic power. If you had a third level slot open? You might get an 8d6 radius stomp that also knocked people down.

I’ll buy this ability as…

  • Charisma-Based 3.0 Psion Power Progression, Corrupted / learns specific powers inspired by effects that he or she is hit with, whether from a character or from an item. Turning any given ability into a Power requires a Psicraft or Spellcraft check at a DC of (10 + 2 x the level of the slot being filled). This ability may be used up to (Cha Mod + 1, 1 Minimum) times daily and may be used to “overwrite” currently filled slots if the power currently occupying a slot has not been used for at least a week (8 CP/Level).

Many of the various versions of the Blue Mage that I’ve just taken a quick look at give them some extra defenses against the list of powers they currently have copied. This can be bought as:

  • Improved Spell/Power Resistance (10 + Level), Specialized and Corrupted / only versus effects currently occupying your Power Slots (4 CP). This applies against spells and spell-like effects that are affected by Spell Resistance.
  • Damage Reduction 3/-, Specialized for Increased Effect (6/-), Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only versus effects currently filling your power slots. Thus, for example, if you have a slot filled with “hit opponent with big axe for a fair amount of damage”, you will be resistant to Axes. This applies to more-or-less conventional physical and energy attacks that do not offer saves. (4 CP).

This can be very handy to adapt on the fly. If you’re up against a swarm of goblins armed with swords… It may be worth putting Spiritual Weapon (Sword) in one of your slots and picking up DR 6/anything but swords. Sure, it’s pretty specialized – but you can always trade it out once it is no longer convenient.

  • Specialty Resistance +4, Specialized for Increased Effect (+8) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only for non-spell or spell-like abilities which you currently have power slots filled with that do offer saves, such as – say – Drow sleep poison (4 CP).
  • Augmented Bonus, adds (Cha Mod) to (Dex Mod) for AC purposes, against supernatural effects that bypass Spell Resistance, and Saves by requiring a roll to hit, Corrupted/only versus effects currently occupying your power slots (4 CP).

That’s 24 CP at level one, and 8 CP per further level.

Other First Level Stuff:

  • Proficient with Simple and Rogue Weapons (6 CP).
  • Augmented Bonus: Adds (Cha Mod) to (Con Mod) for Hit Point Purposes for levels 1-6 (6 CP).
  • Fast Learner, Specialized in Skill Points for Double Effect (6 CP). Normally taken at L0 for +4 SP at level one and +2 SP/Level thereafter.
  • Occult Talent: 4 Level Zero Effects / Cantrips, One First Level Effect (Starting abilities, 6 CP). These are a permanent part of your repertoire – although, to be fair… probably not a particularly important one after the first few levels.

Later Abilities:

Each Level:

  • +1 level of their spell progression (8 CP)
  • +2 on Saves (6 CP)
  • +1 Skill Point (1 CP) (+3 with Fast Learner)
  • +1/2 BAB (3 CP)
  • +1 ability from below:

Optional Level-Based Abilities:

  • Aquamarine Panoply: Medium Armor Proficiency (6 CP). Prerequisite: Naval Blue.
  • Aquamarine Lore: Mystic Artist (Perform  skill of choice) with Echoes, Specialized for Reduced Cost, Corrupted for Increased Effect (Includes the Emotion ability (Inspiring Allies) as a bonus effect on top of whatever other inspiration ability is used) / only to use the inspiration abilities, the duration is only derived from the Echoes modifier. only to provide bonuses in combat against specified enemies (6 CP).
  • Azure Ward, Greater: Upgrade Fortune abilities to Improved Fortune, with the same conditions (+6 CP). Prerequisite: Azure Ward (Below).
  • Azure Ward: Fortune (All three varieties), Specialized and Corrupted / only works against effects in your current list of powers (6 CP).
  • Azure Memory (Level 3+): May summon a glowing blue ectoplasmic construct based on the creature from which he or she learned the ability occupying a current slot (Astral Construct, 3 CP), and Psionic Repair Damage (3 CP). Unlike a Blue Mages normal slot based abilities these may be augmented normally and these abilities become a permanent part of his or her repertoire.
  • Blue Of Steel (Level 3+): Channeling (+2 Power Required) version of Augmentable Astral Construct (3 CP), plus Augmentable Animal Affinity (3 CP). These effects become a permanent part of your repertoire, over and above your slots.
  • Blue Of The Deeps: Spell Formula (Level 5+): Dispel Magic/Psionics (2 CP), Conjurer’s Tricks (L3 variant, 1 Hour/Level, 2 CP), Wizards Pocket (L3 version, 2 CP). These become a permanent part of your repertoire, over and above your slots.
  • Bonus Feat (Four Maximum).
  • Cerulean Ward: Countermagic with Reflexive, Specialized for Reduced Cost and Corrupted for Increased Effect (can “counter” nonmagical effects) / only allows you to counter effects that you currently have occupying your power slots (6 CP). Thus, if you had “hit opponent with an axe” in a first level slot, you could counter someone hitting one of your friends with an axe. You have a “Volley of Arrows” effect? You can counter a Volley of Arrows – as well as things like Fireball, or Dragon’s Breath.
  • Cerulean Infusion (Level 7+): Spell Formula: Personal Eldritch Armor (L3, 2 CP), Personal Eldritch Weapon (L4, 2 CP), and Haste (L3, 2 CP). These effects become a permanent part of your repertoire, over and above your slots.
  • Cobalt Radiance: Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized in Saving Throws (6 CP).
  • Cyan Fortune: Luck with +8 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted / only for Psicraft, Spellcraft, and Knowledge Checks (6 CP).
  • Eyes Of Violet: Occult Sense/Detect Magical Abilities: You can spend a round to get a list of the Supernatural Spell-Like, and Spell abilities of a single creature within 60′ (6 CP).
  • Naval Blue: Light Armor Proficiency with the Smooth Modifier (6 CP).
  • Strength Of Sapphire: Advanced Improved Augmented Bonus (Level 13+): Continue adding (Cha Mod) to (Con Mod) for HP indefinitely (+6 CP).
  • Turquoise Durability: Improved Augmented Bonus (level 7+): Continue adding (Cha Mod) to (Con Mod) for HP through level 12 (+6 CP).
  • Ultramarine Rite: Absorbing Power: Rite of Chi with +8 Bonus Uses, Specialized / only to restore Power, must have a source of power to tap into which will be temporarily depleted. Thus another character with Power could let you tap into it, a charged psionic item would lose charges, and a permanent psionic item would be temporarily nullified (6 CP).

This version of the Blue Mage isn’t outrageously optimized and (pretty much by definition) won’t normally have any of the overly-broken abilities since they generally aren’t deployed against the player characters. They generally won’t have much metamagic (or metapsionics) either – but their ability to rapidly adapt to changing situations and variable ability load-out should still keep them interesting in play.

Besides. Who can resist a chance to counterspell a volley of arrows?

Nobilis and Eclipse – Estates, Persona, and Domain

“Estates” are one of the core concepts of Nobilis – and are entirely subjective, described by seven “points” worth of sentences, assigning more “points” to more central properties. Your estate could be Time, or Dragons, or Clockwork, or Pillows, or Cooking Programs, or Sid Mier’s Computer Games, or pretty much anything else. It really doesn’t matter what you call it, since it’s defined by those (usually four or five) sentences – not by external expectations. Are you a power of “Cold”? Perhaps…

  • (2) Cold isolates the heart, destroying an entities traits.
  • (2) Cold is an undisturbed void, rejecting reality through not caring.
  • (1) Cold is the death of self, with mind and body soon to follow.
  • (1) Cold is outside, always waiting to force its way in.
  • (1) Cold is eternal and timeless, while all else passes.

Or perhaps…

  • (3) Cold negates energy, for all ends in cold.
  • (1) Cold crystallizes, preserving what lies within.
  • (1) Cold allows things to function far beyond their limits.
  • (1) Cold opens the way for new beginnings.
  • (1) Cold lurks in the depths.

Or perhaps…

  • (2) Cold rides the winds everywhere, stealing heat and life.
  • (1) Cold kills, desiccates, and shatters.
  • (1) Cold is winter, the season of scarcity, famine, and death.
  • (2) Cold is ice, from the smallest snowflake to the greatest glacier.
  • (1) Cold isolates and entraps, preventing or forcing interaction.

The Nobilis book also gives a couple of other examples for “cold”.

  • (2) Cold freezes things.
  • (2) Cold makes things sick.
  • (1) Cold is melancholy.
  • (1) Cold descends.
  • (1) Cold is the snow and the ice and the dark.

Or:

  • (1) Cold slows things down.
  • (1) Cold chills the heart.
  • (3) Cold brings silence, stillness, and peace.
  • (2) Cold is driven to fill emptiness.

Or you could be a power of mathematics, necessity, finance and logic, and still call it “cold” (although altering the rules of logic is a REAL headache).

For that matter, you can be a power of Illogic or Acausality and make anything at all happen as long as it has no rational connection to whatever you did to cause it. You could also make A = Not-A – at which point nothing can be distinguished from anything else.

In any case, Domain and Persona give you powers based on your Estate – Domain focused on affecting objects and the environment and Persona focused on affecting creatures (including yourself). You get a bunch of minor stuff that you can always do and you get major stuff that you can do, but not at all often.

Of course, Nobilis then goes on to say that “The Power of Fire can make someone more fiery, or give them a dangerous feel, or make sure that now and again in life their plans will burn them.” – without talking about what Estate of Fire it’s referring to. What if the Fire Estate that’s currently in play is all about nuclear fusion, metabolism, explosions, and cooking?

I’m going to ignore that bit. D20 focuses a lot more on consistency.

Buying the Domain and Persona Attributes:

  • Both of them are 4d6 Mana, with Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, all Specialized and Corrupted / only for use Spell Enhancement, only for use with the “Shaping” ability below, only for effects targeting objects or the environment (Domain) or effects targeting creatures, including yourself. Rite of Chi, only recharges the specific mana pool it was purchased for and then only between sessions or when the game master opts to award a die (24 CP in total).

You’ll also need:

  • Dominion (Your Estate). This lets you draw power from administering, defending, and otherwise promoting your Estate, as well as allowing you to use it to influence large-scale events (6 CP).
  • Occult Sense/Estate. You can detect things related to your estate, whether that’s something affecting it on a large scale or its relationship to particular creatures. Note that – since you are the embodiment of your Estate – you can make perception rolls to figure out where attacks are coming from, even if they’re being launched by magic from another dimension. They are, after all, “things affecting your estate” (6 CP).
  • You can produce minor effects related to your estate. That’s Shaping, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (Level 0 and 1 Effects) / only for effects related to your Estate. Note that this includes Destiny Spells related to your Estate, but they’re no more controllable than usual (6 CP).
    • This is also the foundation for higher-level Estate-related “Miracles”/Spells. Thanks to that “Increased Effect” modifier, 1 Mana will get you up to fourth level effects, two to seventh level effects, and three to tenth level effects. “Imperial Miracles” or Grandiose Edits can reach level 13, but pushing things that far generally leads to all kinds of backlash.

This is incredibly cheesy. Applying “Specialized For Increased Effect” to the Mana used in Spell Enhancement is pretty ridiculous. This sort of thing is only acceptable if EVERY major character is using equally horrible cheese. Fortunately, in a Nobilis styled setting… they all will be.

  • Adaption: Nobilis characters are avatars of their Estates, As such, they adapt to how their Estate fits into the local environment as a basic function of their Persona attribute. They will learn local languages within a few moments of their arrival, take on a suitable local guise (while remaining clearly themselves), and fit into their local role – whether that happens to be as one of the octopus people of an undersea dimension, a towering kaiju in a dreamworld of battling powers, the depths of space, or a mere exotic culture. Thus, if the game master decides to set a session in an exotic city or an alien dimension or something, Nobilis characters need not worry about “can they speak the local languages?” or “can they breathe the local air”.

    • This is an automatic self-polymorphing effect – a small part of their innate Estate-related Shaping – which is entirely under the game masters control (although a Noble may ask the game master to spend 1-3 of his or her Persona mana to trigger it – (lets say if they’re lost at sea with no boat and are about to drown). This will occasionally call for effects of well above level one, so this is they need to buy +1d6 (4) Mana that counts as part of the Persona Pool for recharging purposes, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost; controlled by the game master, only to power self-transformation spells to adapt the user to the local environment, has whatever effects that the GM thinks will be fun (2 CP).
  • You can become one with your Estate, either possessing an instance of it (wherever that is) or “communicating” with it. That’s Blessing, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (Treats “your Estate” as a valid target, permits easy communication) / only to allow communication with the Estate and to get instances of it to act within their nature (for example, a gun might go off or misfire) or to fully transfer yourself into your Estate, leaving your body behind and undefended to possess and act through one or more instances of it (6 CP). Sadly, possessing more than one instance of your Estate at once requires an Immunity to disorientation to work effectively. Ergo, buy Immunity to the disorientation of spreading your “self” over massive areas (Uncommon, Minor, Major, 6 CP), allowing you to – for example – find which of the hordes thousand fires has the chieftains council going on around it.
  • You may take on an Affliction related to your Estate – or give one to someone else. That’s two instances of Double Enthusiast, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / only to take on an Affliction related to your Estate (12 CP) plus Adaption (Specialized for Increased Effect / may spend 2 Mana to change the points around instantly, Corrupted for Reduced Cost (cannot change otherwise), only for your Estate-Related Afflictions, above, 2 CP), plus Blessing, Specialized and Corrupted / only to lend someone else an Affliction (2 CP).

Persona and Domain 4-5 are a problem; they’re where you can Create, Animate, Summon, Destroy, Adopt, or Cast Out (make something a part of your estate or not a part of your Estate, so that it transforms – although how is up to the game master). And while this is limited to a relatively small scale… unlimited Raise Dead, Create Undead, Slay Living, Animate Object, Summoning, and similar effects generally wreck the game.

The trick here is to recognize that such abilities aren’t really “unlimited” in Nobilis either; they may not have a base cost at this level – but trying to use your “Life” Estate powers to raise all the dead of a great battle will very shortly bring you into conflict with other powers. Nobilis conflicts expend resources to pump up your miracles very quickly too – so there won’t be many chances to use the free stuff there either. Finally, of course, the game master has a lot more input on what you get from any given attempt in Nobilis than in d20, where they’re basically just high level spells. That’s one reason why I’ve given the various Nobilis “Attributes” mana / “Miracle Point” pools of 4d6 instead of 5. They have some to spend on such effects, and so will get to use them about as often as they get to use them in Nobilis anyway. There’s no further cost here, since I’ve already included that.

That gives the equivalent of Domain and Persona 5 a total cost of 60 Character Points. Once again, that’s relatively cheap in d20 because most Nobilis “Miracles” are actually pretty straightforward in d20 terms. They may be high-level spells – but they’re just spells. D20 is a system where Raistlin – a mortal wizard – could challenge the entire pantheon of his world and destroy them all (OK, that was second edition, but the settings haven’t changed that much). In d20, power is a smooth scale; there isn’t any sharp division between “Mortal Magic” and “Divine Powers”.

Ponies Of The Eclipse – Stygian and The Pony Of Shadows

After the write-ups for the six Pillars of Old Equestria Alzrius requested a writeup for Stygian, the Pony Of Shadows – and so here we go. As always, the first thing to do is to look at what Stygian and The Pony Of Shadows are actually shown doing – admittedly, mostly in campfire tales and in the My Little Pony: Legends Of Magic comic book series.

  • To start with the obvious, pony names are often pretty good indicators of their talents. Stygian is “of or relating to the river/deity Styx”- a part of the Greek underworld, associated with darkness, witchcraft, and hidden lore, and with dark waters that granted near-invulnerability,. That’s really rather suggestive. Moreover, Equestria includes Tartarus (another part of the Greek Underworld), Minotaurs, Centaurs, Hydra, Manticores, and more – all elements of Greek Mythology made real and tangible in the setting. It may be worth taking Greek Mythology references fairly seriously.
  • Stygians Cutie Mark has never been revealed. He covers it all the time, just like Sombra. That’s also rather suggestive, and more than a bit ominous.
  • Stygian is supposed to be fairly young. Of course, given that it’s a kids show, most of the characters are fairly young – so this isn’t exactly a power unless he’s immortal as the Pony Of Shadows. (The Pony Of Shadows was no longer in charge when his world was revisited more than a thousand years later – it had apparently been taken over by an alternate version of Discord – but we aren’t exactly shown that much of the alternate world in either case and we’re not told why there was a change).
  • Stygian is an expert on the sea, biology, and folktales, is at least competent at strategy and tactics (that’s probably pretty rare among generally-peaceful ponies) and astronomy, and is apparently quite knowledgeable about the various creatures of Equestria. That’s more than a bit weird for a villager. Serious scholarship kind of calls for either access to libraries, mentors, and support for your studies or a great deal of natural talent in a field to develop everything from scratch (and is likely to go badly wrong even then; Aristotle was very clever, but most of his “scholarship” was very badly flawed, to say the least). Secondarily, that’s a LOT of fields of study for a youngster with no resources to master. A way to support himself and a teacher or teachers of some sort would make this a lot more reasonable.
  • On the practical level he’s a competent sailor, a skilled maker of baskets, a horticulturist, a good housekeeper, and can apparently handle an immense list of other chores (presumably involving other practical skills) in one evening. He’s good enough at survival to wander the wilderness in relative safety, became a successful commercial author (after being freed from the darkness) and may have various other practical “village” skills or spells.
  • He was a skillful telekinetic, with excellent fine control and – as shown in My Little Pony: Legends Of Magic #8 – enough telekinetic strength to hold back water across a canal with force barrier. Even if it was only ten by ten… that puts the total force in the ten to twenty ton range. Admittedly the writers probably had no idea of what they were showing, and unicorn telekinesis tends to be as strong as the story calls for (since he then found lifting Rockhoof mildly awkward), but even lifting Rockhoof seems likely to be fairly impressive for your basic unicorn. Perhaps it was a force barrier or “wall” effect though? Those might be a lot easier.
  • As a unicorn scholar, who has specifically noted that “he wanted to go back to studying spells (Legends Of Magic #9), his magic is probably fairly versatile, even if mostly focused on practical spells and effects that could be found and practically employed in a seaside village.
  • When the Sirens attacked his village, he was the only one to escape their influence. He stated that it was because he was “out of range” – but he got more than close enough, and then resisted for long enough to go and consult his books before running away. Even if the sirens gave a concert, surely the place had farmers, woodcutters, and others who worked much further away and who didn’t come? Why didn’t any of THEM get away? Some special resistance seems likely.
  • He then evaded, escaped, or fought giant sea serpents, crab monsters, timberwolves, and gryphons, and possibly more obstacles than would fit in the single page devoted to his solitary travels to reach Rockhoof’s distant, apparently “northern”, viking-styled village.
  • He gathered a group of heroes to stop the sirens, even getting crochety old Starswirl to come along. Sure, ponies are generally helpful and willing to go a long ways to help others (as established in the first couple of episodes!) but surely legendary heroes had other urgent requests to deal with. Ergo, he’s probably fairly – and perhaps unnaturally – persuasive.
  • He could command the minions of an alternate-universe version of himself. This might be a power, or it might just be that they were too obedient/cursed/stupid/whatever to tell the difference.
  • That alternate-universe version of himself had, however, apparently killed off most of the pillars, eliminated or chased away all other ponies (at least there were none shown), commanded many minions, had corrupted large areas of the world, and wanted to become a cross-universal corruptor (strongly implying that he’d either finished with his current world or was being forced to run – and he didn’t seem to be running). Evidently, given time, the Pony Of Shadows became fairly dangerous directly and extremely corruptive.
  • When he confronted the alternate-universe Pony Of Shadows, their magic proved ineffective against each other – canceling out, despite the Pony Of Shadows supposedly being much more powerful than plain Stygian.
  • He borrowed the Pillars signature artifacts and went to Ponehenge to make copies of them so that he “could be a Pillar too”. Given that several of those artifacts are purely symbolic, that may have been purely irrational thinking – which would help explain why the Pillars misinterpreted what he was up to. It’s hard to understand something that makes no sense.
  • When he was prevented from making copies of the Pillar’s artifacts he wandered off, only to return later hosting a powerful force of darkness. Again, that seems likely to be an uncommon (if dubious) talent, simply because – while it seems likely that a lot of ponies get really upset – most of them don’t wind up hosting mighty evil forces.
  • Starswirl The Bearded, scholar of magic, didn’t know how to deal with him as The Pony Of Shadows. That rather implies that there was something pretty unusual about the magic that was in use in that form – and perhaps normally.
  • Stygian actually seemed to be fairly strong and versatile for a Unicorn in practice. Why wouldn’t that power be apparent to others?
    • Stygian can Teleport at least three ponies at a time for fairly long distances – possibly hundreds of miles – in Nightmare Knights #2 – but that series is only halfway completed, and didn’t even start until October 2018, so I think that it probably represents a somewhat later version of the character who has picked up at least one more level; otherwise his journey to find the Pillars would be just a bit less impressive. So no teleportation for this version.

For his primary attributes…

  • Strength: He’s a really scrawny little guy, so his Strength is going to be pretty underwhelming.
  • Constitution: He seems to be reasonably tough and enduring though, pointing towards a decent Constitution. Sure, he needed more rests than Rockhoof while they were traveling together, but a stream locomotive probably needs more rests than Rockhoof.
  • Dexterity: When it comes to Dexterity Stygian is probably fairly average for a pony. He did move pretty quickly, and with no obvious fumbles, when he needed to – but it was nothing all that impressive.
  • Intelligence: Genius plus. He definitely seemed to have a better appreciation for what might go wrong with a plan than Starswirl did despite being much younger and presumably less experienced, he’s apparently a self-trained scholar in many fields, and he has a LOT of skills.
  • Wisdom: Wisdom is always a bit harder to pin down, but being a field naturalist, and surviving solo journeys across the wilds of early Equestria, implies that (at the least) there’s no major deficiency here – and he certainly shows a reasonably strong will, both in resisting the Sirens (whether he used a power or not) and in setting out on a solo quest to bring help.
  • Charisma. Rockhoof finds Stygian pretty affable, and he’s apparently pretty persuasive – but he’s certainly not that good at being the center of attention, dominating a group, or showing that much force of personality. Of course, some Charisma is pretty much built into ponies.
  • Finally, while Stygian is fairly adamant about “not being a hero”, he certainly is one from an observers standpoint – so I’m going to use the same 25-point attribute buy as I did for the rest of the Pillars.

When it comes to level, Stygian did a lot of wandering around as a scholar, then went on a quest to find the Pillars, and then participated in some degree in the various adventures after he started finding them. Since the low-level adventurer template would keep him from advancing at the breakneck speed of a normal d20 character, I’m going to put him at level three. That would actually be a bit high for his known “number of encounters” – but presumably he did some things that didn’t make it into the comics. After all, he was a pretty busy guy even before he started collecting the pillars.

The world of My Little Pony is a world of friendship, harmony, and rainbows. So… why ARE their true villains? Sure, Trixie, the Flim-Flam Brothers, Spoiled Rich, pre-reformation Diamond Tiara, and even Discord were really annoying, but they mostly just misinterpreted or failed to “get” all that happiness.

So what is powering a (possessing) Nightmare? Or Tirek? Or Sombra? What powers dark magic?

For Nightmare… it was Jealousy. For Tirek, Greed. For Sombra, Fear.

For the Pony of Shadows? He seemed to be powered by the greatest of all dark magics in the world of Friendship Is Magic – Friendship Betrayed. For the Pony Of Shadows may have been somewhat separate from Equestria-primes version of Stygian – but as the MLP: Legends Of Magic annual showed… over the years they would have become one, for that alternate version of Stygian bore tattered batlike wings. He had ascended to become a Dark Alicorn. So it is time to create…

Stygian Shadow, potential Prince Of Friendship Betrayed.

Basic Attributes: Str 8 (-2 Unicorn = 6), Dex 12 (-2 Pony = 10), Con 12 (+2 Pony +2 Enh = 16), Int 18 (+2 Knack, +2 Unicorn = 22), Wis 13, Cha 13 (+2 Enh = 15) (Pathfinder 25 Point Buy).

Available Character Points: 96 (Level Three Base) + 10 (Disadvantages: History (a bit of a freebie for most converted characters), Obligations (takes responsibility for all kinds of things), and Accursed (tends to be misunderstood, ignored, and uncredited) +18 (Unicorn, L1 and L3 Bonus Feats) = 124 CP.

Basic Abilities (36 CP):

  • Hit Dice: 6 (L1d6, 2 CP) +9 (L2-L3d6, 4 CP) +12 (Template) +15 (5 x Con Mod) = 42 HP. With pony damage reduction this makes him reasonably durable.
  • Skill Points: 6 (Purchased, 6 CP) + 36 (Int) + 18 (Fast Learner) = 60 SP
  • BAB +1 (6 CP). Stygian isn’t stupid, but he just isn’t a physical fighter.
  • Saves:
    • Fortitude +0 (0 CP) +3 (Con) +1 (Tem) = +4
    • Reflex +3 (9 CP) +0 (Dex) +1 (Tem) = +4
    • Will +2 (6 CP) +1 (Wis) +1 (Tem) = +4
  • Proficiencies: Simple Weapons (3 CP).
  • Initiative: +0 (Dex)
  • Move: 40 (four legs, 20 on three or less).
  • Armor Class: 10 (Base) +7 (Force Armor III) = 17. May rise to 24 when he adds a Force Shield III.
  • Stygian really doesn’t do physical combat, so he has no “usual attacks”.

Sage (35 CP):

  • Adept x 2 (12 CP). Pays half cost for Knowledge: Arcana, Geography, History, Local, Nature, and Planes, Linguistics, and Spellcraft.
  • Fast Learner (6 CP), Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / only for Knowledge Skills.
  • Universal Jack Of All Trades, Specialized and Corrupted / Only for Craft and Profession skills (4 CP).
  • Augmented Bonus / Adds (Int Mod) to (Wis Mod) for Skill Check Purposes, Specialized and Corrupted / only for Profession Skills (2 CP).
  • Augmented Bonus / Adds (Con Mod) to (Int Mod) for Skill Check Purposes, Specialized in Knowledge Skills Only (3 CP).
  • Tactician (8 CP): Mystic Artist (Knowledge / History) with Echoes, Specialized for Double Effect, Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only to use the inspiration abilities, only to provide bonuses in combat against specified enemies, requires that the player provide a plausible plan.
    • This is actually pretty potent; sure, it only lasts for ten rounds once a fight starts – but a good plan / +2 Positive Levels from Mass Greatness can go a long ways in ten rounds.

Skills:

  • Craft (Universal): +1 (JOAT) +6 (Int) = +7
  • Diplomacy: +6 (6 SP) +1 (Cha) +3 (Tem) = +10
  • Fly: +3 (3 SP) +0 (Dex) +8 (Fly Speed as the Pony Of Shadows) = +11
  • Heal: +6 (6 SP) +1 (Wis) = +7
  • Knowledge: Arcana, Geography, History, Local, Nature, and Planes: +6 (3* SP x 6 = 18 SP) +6 (Int Mod) +3 (Con Mod) = +15.
  • Linguistics: +6 (3* SP) +6 (Int) +3 (Tem) = +15
  • Perception: +6 (6 SP) +1 (Wis) +3 (Tem) = +10
  • Perform (Sing): +3 (3 SP) +1 (Cha) +2 (Race) = +6
  • Profession (Universal): +1 (JOAT) +1 (Wis) +6 (Int) = +8
  • Spellcraft: +6 (3* SP) +6 (Int) +3 (Tem) +2 (Race) = +17
  • Survival: +6 (6 SP) +1 (Wis) +3 (Tem) +3 (Unicorn Skill Mastery) = +13
  • Swim: +6 (6 SP) -3 (Str) = +3

Stygian Magic (53 CP).

Like Trixie Lulumoon centuries later, Stygian wields a strange, and often frightening magic. He is so used to thinking of it as “wrong” that he conceals his cutie mark and has denigrated his own skills to the point where he believes himself weak, ineffective, and incapable of fighting. Stygian doesn’t lack power though, even if it doesn’t show up very well on Equestria’s usual scales. What he lacks is self-confidence.

Mana-Powered Witchcraft III (18 CP) with Finesse (Uses Int Mod in place of Cha Mod for Witchcraft, 6 CP). Will Save DC 19, Base Power 11. (The Superheroic World Template provides him with 3 Mana – equivalent to 12 Power – per round).

Basic Witchcraft Abilities:

  • The Adamant Will. This allowed him to resist the Sirens,
  • Elfshot: He can inflict minor hindrances on opponents. This is rarely worthwhile unless he’s trying to do something subtle or create an opening for someone else.
  • Hand of Shadows: He can perform a wide variety of telekinetic tricks (and do lots and lots of chores).
  • Infliction. The basic “I do magical damage” effect. In his base form Stygian isn’t very good at this, although he can vary his attacks to whatever he thinks is most likely to scare off his targets. It’s not generally his first option though.
  • Glamour, He can enhance his persuasive abilities and project mental orders to creatures that have been bound to his will – even if they were so bound by an alternate version of himself.
  • The Inner Eye, Specialized for Increased Effect / Only to “hear” whispers of the Akhasic Record (+10 Insight Bonus to a skill check for 1 Power) or the outer ones beyond reality (this provides an excuse for taking any desired knowledge skill, for prophetic or weird dreams and nightmares, and so on).
  • Witchfire. Stygian uses this – in conjunction with boosting metapsionics – to generate basic force effects, such as Mage Armor, Shield, basic barriers – such as the one he used to hold back all that water.

Advanced Witchcraft Abilities:

  • 2d6 Mana as +6d6 (21) Power (12 CP). Even if somehow cut off from the flow of Mana, Stygian has some reserves.
  • Metapsionics / Amplify, Specialized and Corrupted / only for Hand of Shadows and Witchfire (force effects) (2 CP). With this ability Stygian can spend more Mana to boost his Hand of Shadows to handle much heavier weights and his Witchfire force-effects to create reasonably durable force barriers and Force Armor/Shield effects of up to level three.
  • Tenebrium’s Coin, Specialized and Corrupted / Stygian always has access to basic supplies for a scholar – food and drink, camping gear, ordinary clothing (such as it is for ponies anyway), reference books, a lamp or candles, blank journals, pens and ink, and a comfortable lifestyle, but cannot accumulate or spend funds from this ability (2 CP).
  • Ridden By The Loa, Specialized and Corrupted / Stygian only knows of one entity to channel per +2 or part thereof of his total Knowledge: The Planes bonus, must intentionally seek out a “weak point” between the dimensions and conduct a ritual to for the first “summoning” of such an entity (and must do so again if the link so created is later broken), cannot upgrade his level of control or use The Adamant Will to resist or expel such an entity, and (unfortunately) is focused on nigh-incomprehensible Lovecraftian Entities (2 CP).
  • Metapsionic Theorem / Elemental Manipulation with two levels of Streamline, Specialized and Corrupted / only to automatically add a Dispel Magic or Dispel Psionics effect to his Witchcraft-based single-target attacks (6 CP).
  • Reflex Training (Three extra actions per day variant) with +3 Bonus Uses, Specialized for Reduced Cost / only to use Witchcraft (5 CP).

The Pony Of Shadows: Stygian plus a (157 CP / +4 ECL Acquired “Black Pharaoh” Template):

The Pony Of Shadows is Stygian channeling Nyarlathotep, the Crawling Chaos, Corrupter Of Worlds. Unfortunately, even with a +4 ECL Lovecraftian Template stacked onto him… Stygian is still only an ECL 4 character at base. Without time to grow he is severely limited.

  • Journeyman, Master, and Grand Master (Hit Dice, 24 CP)
  • +6d4 Hit Dice (48 CP). While an extra thirty-five hit points never hurt, the real bonus here is that Witchcraft’s “casting level” is based on hit dice – so this gets his “casting level” up to nine. In Equestria that’s a fabulous level of raw power.
  • Apparition, Specialized for Increased Effect (Construct VIII) / must take the “Enveloping” ability (see The Practical Enchanter / Psychic Constructs), can only be manifested around himself, can only take one specific construct-form with the choices of A) Fly 40′, Armored (+1 Deflection Bonus to AC), B) Fast Healing II, Trample, Versatile (Increased Flight to 80′), and C) Energy Bolt (Adds +5d to Infliction effects) and Enveloping (6 CP). This forms the dark body of the Pony Of Shadows.
  • Immunity to Casting Level Requirements (Very Common, Major, Major, for six levels off the requirement, Specialized and Corrupted / only for the Construct-VIII effect, as given above (5 CP). This gets his casting level for the Apparition effect up to level fifteen.
  • Additional Advanced Witchcraft Disciplines:
    • Master Of The Sabbat, Specialized and Corrupted / only for use with Elfshot, only to lay curses of slow corruption, only usable once per day to a game master decided maximum effective level of curse (2 CP). The Pony Of Shadows can corrupt lands, creatures up through Alicorns, and entire worlds – but it will take considerable time and effort.
    • Seize The Wandering Soul (6 CP): Entrap unanchored souls. A dark and terrible power.
    • Spirit Binding (6 CP): Bind souls into creatures or objects. Another dark and terrible power.
    • Nightforge (6 CP): Create solid objects of shadow.
    • Mouth Of The Earth (6 CP): Upgrade Infliction to d8’s and add other effects.
    • Ashen Rebirth (Shadow) with Teleportation (12 CP). Become a creature of shadow.
    • Leaping Fire (6 CP): Accelerate it’s own movement, healing, and attacks,
  • Other Abilities:
    • Cloaking. Detection and Scanning Magic will simply show a normal unicorn pony of little power (6 CP).
    • Celerity: +10′ Ground Movement (6 CP).
    • Reflex Training (three extra action per day variant) (6 CP).
    • Amorphous (6 CP). The Pony Of Shadows can move through cracks and spaces that are logically too small for it.
    • Immunity to Aging (Uncommon, Severe, Major, 6 CP).

The Pony Of Shadows does not wish for simple destruction, It seeks madness, corruption, and to lead intelligent beings into destroying themselves. Thus it’s attempt to corrupt Celestia and Luna, so as to send them against still more worlds, rather than simply passing through the mirror-portal, lurking, and slowly corrupting the world with it’s own power. Unfortunately for it, it’s not really all that good at interacting with normal creatures, so it’s attempts at corruption are both direct and more than a little crude.

Equipment:

  • Charms: Astrolabe, Foulflesh Amulet, Loaded Brush, The Ocean’s Arms, Sands Of Time, Traveler’s Bedroll, and Vanishing Coat (Cloak),
  • Talismans: Preserving Chest (for specimens), Rubydraught, and Stone Of Sustenance.
  • Stygian presumably keeps a pocket-knife, current journal, bit of rope, snacks, and other minor items wherever it is that ponies keep things, but ponies don’t rely on equipment very much.

Stygian is more or less right. He’s not a hero. Under normal circumstances he can provide a nice boost to a group of heroes, repair or build pretty anything, is a bottomless well of exposition, and can throw some decent protective spells. He’s an invaluable sidekick to a hero or heroes, but just doesn’t have much offensive punch – leaving him safely in the rear echelon providing support services. Of course, he has a lot more offensive capability and options when channeling a spirit – but when he resorts to that he pretty much loses control to the spirit he’s channeling. .

Now, if only he could figure out what this odd little golden thing – like a bit with most of the center drilled out – that he found in Rockhoof’s volcano was. He keeps getting this odd urge to put it on, but it’s not like there’s any portion of his anatomy where the silly thing would fit.

Since these have appeared over and over again, they’re here at the bottom for easy skipping:

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 Stygian we’ll take a +2 bonus to his Intelligence and Enduring (providing him with a +1 bonus on his 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 while the use of Mana powers it.
    • 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).
    • L1) Greater Mage Hand.
  • 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.

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.

Eclipse And Nobilis – Aspect and Destiny

In Nobilis, Aspect says that you are Physically and Mentally better than human.

Your will is inexhaustible, your mundane skills and traits are all effectively professional, your attributes inhuman! You complete tasks with incredible speed, at just the right time or in the nick of time! You can balance on a thread, fight fifty men at once, and survive terrible hazards and weapons that should kill any normal person in an instant. Even if you should be injured, your wounds heal swiftly and without scars or long term damage!

Well, yes. You are a midlevel or higher d20 character.

Even WITHOUT using Heroic Scaling (which I recommend for a Nobilis game)… you may want a few special bonuses, but a total of +3 in any skill makes you a professional. A +5 makes you an expert. Einstein did really tough original research in his field. That’s DC 30. So… +2 (Modern Library / Masterwork Tool) +3 (Skill Focus) +20 (Take 20)… means he needed another +5. +3 if we allow him a +2 Assistance Bonus for consulting with other scientists. You can have that at level one. Easily.

The world record long jump is 29 feet. That’s DC 29. Again, you can easily beat that at level one. Spend your bonus feat on Innate Enchantment (Personal Haste (2000 GP), Jump (1400 GP), and Light Foot (1400 GP) and that alone gives you at least +36. Throw in Masterwork Running Shoes (+2), a decent attribute bonus (+3), and your base level one skill (+4) and you can easily “Take 10″ and jump 55 feet – close to double the world record. YOUR record would be 65 feet, even if you don’t throw in any of the other readily-available bonuses.

So yeah. By d20 standards this isn’t going to be all that tricky. If Heroic Scaling is in play it’s actually pretty trivial.

Aspect (36 CP):

So to buy an “Aspect” Attribute in Eclipse?

  • That’s 4d6 Mana (you rolled a 17? Congratulations! You have an “Aspect Attribute” of 17), with Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, all Specialized and Corrupted/only for use Reality Editing, only to produce effects calling for raising the user’s normal abilities to superhuman levels, Rite of Chi only recharges this specific mana pool and only between sessions or when the game master opts to award a die (12 CP).

Or, if we already have Rite of Chi we can just generalize it and buy bonus uses / only to recharge this particular pool instead. That would save a few points in a build with several of Nobilis’s super-attributes.

If you want to pull off those level-9 Nobilis Miracles… you’re basically just saying “I can do this amazing thing” and giving it a long duration. Again, in d20 terms… it’s not that impressive.

To be just generally superior (even beyond the superhuman baseline of d20), buy

Nobilis Demigodling (12 CP): Innate Enchantment (11,100 GP value, 12 CP):

  • Inhuman Speed: Personal Haste (2000 GP): +30′ Move, +1 Attack when making a full attack sequence.
  • Immortal Vigor I (1400 GP): +12 + 2 x Con Mod HP.
  • Inspiring Word (1400 GP): +1 morale bonus on saving throws, attack rolls, checks,
    and weapon damage.
  • Wrath Of Heaven/The Infernal (1400 GP) +1 Sacred (Infernal) bonus to Attacks and Damage.
  • Skill Mastery (1400 GP): +2 Competence Bonus to all Skill and Attribute Checks.
  • Fortune’s Favor I (1400 GP): +2 “Luck” bonus to all Skill and Attribute Checks.
  • Resist: (700 GP): +1 Resistance Bonus on all Saving Throws.
  • Divine Health (1400 GP): Fast Healing I (for 18 Rounds) 2/Day, Relieve Illness 1/Day, Relieve Poison 1/Day, and Lesser Restoration 1/Day. From the Hedge Wizardry list on this site and The Practical Enchanter).

This package provides +2 to Saves, +2 to Attack Checks, +5 to Skill and Attribute checks, +2 to Damage, +30′ to all Movement Modes, +(12 _ 2 x Con Mod) hit points, +1 Attack when making a full attack, 36 points worth of Rapid Healing per day, and helps out with poisons, diseases, and attribute damage – quite enough to make you significantly superhuman even without Miracles or Heroic Scaling.

Oh, you want to be able to resist injuries over and above being inhumanly durable? Buy…

Heroic Durability (12 CP).

  • Damage Reduction 3/-, Specialized in Physical Damage for Double Effect (6/-) (6 CP). That will let you bounce small-caliber bullets, arrows, and similar annoyances unless they’re backed by more-than-human power.
  • Damage Reduction 3/-, Specialized in Energy Damage for Double Effect (6/-) (6 CP). That will let you dip your hand in molten metal, stand around in a burning building to have a chat, handle considerable electrical shocks, and even helps with spells, force bolts, and “divine” or “infernal” damage. It’s all energy.

And that’s about it for Aspect in d20. Clocking in at a total of 36 CP for pretty much everything you get for Aspect-5 isn’t especially expensive, but that’s because you get most of what Aspect covers in Nobilis simply by being an adventurer in a d20 world to begin with.

A few Nobilis Aspect Miracle examples – such as “taking out your gun and shooting down a star” – may still be beyond you, but that’s mostly setting-dependent. If the stars are lamps hanging from the celestial dome, or chips of sparkling crystal in the roof of the world-cavern, sure; you can shoot one down. If they’re holes in the cosmic dome revealing the light of eternity beyond, you might be able to shoot a new one or plug an old one, but you can’t “shoot down” a hole. If they’re the welcoming lights of the cities of the dead, lit by the ancestors to lead the spirits of their descendants to their eternal homes once their time in the physical world is done… well, even if you shoot well enough to extinguish a light somehow, they’ll just fix it. And if they’re gargantuan masses of fusing hydrogen light years away… Well, the path of least resistance is to just divert the light that’s going to reach the earth for a few years, since you’ll probably be pretty heavily out-miracled by the locals who like their sun right where it is, thank you very much.

Destiny (30 CP):

Destiny grows in victory, in loss, and in discovery. Your adventures, your tales, and your lessons learned can change the world.

The trouble with the Change The World part is that, in d20, the world is a lot bigger than it is in Nobilis. Do you want to bring the World Ash into being, to shape a reality where the tenets of Nobilis hold sway?

Then you want Dominion – and then some items from the Path of the Pharaoh – Manipulation, Sphere of Influences, and Godfire. All Specialized / they only function within the reality you are creating. That’s (12 CP). Now take Creation (6 CP) – and create the World of Nobilis as your Divine Realm. It won’t do you a lot of good, but with the permission of the Game Master you could be the creator god of the Nobilis universe at level ZERO.

And as you collect Godfire within that world of your dreams, you may set rules and laws for it. In general, the creator of a realm gets to:

  • Determine whether or not people can be injured there and, if they can be, whether or not they can “die”. For example, in dream- and cartoon- realms it’s often impossible to be truly injured. In hell-dimensions you may not be able to “die”, or even lose consciousness, no matter how badly hurt you are. In many “afterlives” you can “die”, but will simply wake up again at an appropriate location – whether that’s beneath the great tree of life, in Odin’s great hall, or in bed. Secondary effects in this category include enhancing or negating healing, aging, and similar effects.
  • Determine the general nature of the realm – it’s layout and description, whether the local timerate is fast or slow in comparison to the Creators original plane, and the realm limitations on technology, magic, psychic powers, and other special abilities.
  • Grant ability packages worth up to 24 CP within the realm. These can be set up on a general basis (such as in the Dragonworlds, where everyone gets 24 CP off the cost of buying draconic powers if they choose to do so), be handed out to individuals, or a mixture of the two.
  • Define any stable dimensional access points, such as links to other realms. The creator can also define whether the realm is easy to reach, can be reached normally, or is difficult to reach otherwise, as well as how difficult it is to open gates or create overlays within it.
  • Buy Sanctum abilities, and have them apply to the entire realm.
  • Selectively suppress or enhance particular powers within the realm as long as he or she has access to at least one point of Godfire. Unfortunately, this is limited to (Cha Mod) modifications at any one time. In general, the realm-creator can suppress particular types of powers (reducing their effects by 3 levels) or enhance them (increasing their effect by one level, either making effects easier to use or adding metamagic), but is not him- or her-self subject to this suppression. The available modifications tend to default to suppressing the efforts of other deities: An intruding deity must expend one point of Godfire per point of suppression to invoke Godfire against the will of the dimension-creator, but that will suffice to overcome such resistance for hours or days.

Quite a lot of these sorts of rules apply to the little pocket-realms created by high-order spells and psychic powers too. Extradimensonal Spaces can be very versatile, although a lot of the most common basic modifiers are found in The Practical Enchanter under the Spacewarp Spell Template on page 72.

But most people want to change the world they currently occupy, not dream one up to suit themselves. Just as importantly, Nobilis doesn’t usually allow true godhood as Eclipse defines it. You can do many of the same things, true – but they’re mighty projects of destiny, not “activate a power” and the scale is a lot smaller. Even affecting the “billions of worlds” of the entire tree is a drop in the bucket compared the the estimated hundred billion solar systems in the Milky Way Galaxy – and you can multiply that by the estimated two hundred billion galaxies in the observable universe. And even that gargantuan number doesn’t even register on eh scale of the theoretically infinite number of Hubble Volumes beyond the observable universe. True Godhood in Eclipse has a lot of perks.

Well, you can do that. The powers you want are:

  • Action Hero / Crafting if you want to create some mighty work, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / spending Action Points requires a great deal of inter-player discussion and planning. (6 CP).
  • Action Hero / Invention if you want to discover or develop new things for all to use. Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / spending Action Points requires a great deal of inter-player discussion and planning. (6 CP).
  • Action Hero / Influence if you wish to restructure the relationships between the great powers of the world – or to raise up new powers and cast down old ones (6 CP).
  • Returning with Rewrite (12 CP). Nobilis characters are very difficult to get rid of permanently. They also get to occasionally shuffle some of their abilities around. Ergo, they have Returning with Rewrite. You may kill them, but you have to break their connection with their Estate to make them stay dead – and they get to tweak their abilities occasionally between adventures.

Dominion works if you wish to use the power of your Domain (Estate) to influence large-scale events. It too is a bargain at only (6 CP) – but will inevitably involve you in the maintenance and defense of your Domain (Estate). In theory you could also use advanced Dominion abilities – such as Divine Attribute, Sanctify, Endowment, and Greater Endowment – to alter the world on a wide scale, but for that you need to be a True God, and Nobles generally are not. Ergo, I’m going to be leaving even basic Dominion to go under Persona and Domain, where it fits in better.

Of course, all of that is a lot more direct than Destiny in Nobilis, where destiny is required to be ambiguous, subtle, and slow. That’s because – in d20 – the world has large-scale rules. You don’t necessarily need the cooperation of the game master, or to go with the plot or theme. If you figure out a way to take out the campaigns ultimate enemy in the first session… then so be it! The Game Master will just have to come up with something else.

Now, as for Personal Destiny – improving your personal powers and traits – d20 has a basic mechanism for that built right in. It’s called “Gaining Levels”, and it is – once again – much more definite than in Nobilis, in part because a d20 game can readily function with a new game master, or (for quite some time) with no game master at all.