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.

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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.

Eclipse And Nobilis – Treasures

And for today it’s part of a question sequence – a follow-up on Nobilis Afflictions in Eclipse.

I assume that Domain and Persona would probably just be dweomer based spellcasting, but Aspect, Destiny and Treasure (especially the stuff that doesn’t easily fit into normal item creation) would be of interest.

-Jirachi

If something doesn’t fit into normal item creation, couldn’t you use “Create Artifact” for it? Maybe specialized and corrupted, depending on how restrictive it is/you want it to be.

-krackothunder

Somewhat? But there’s a couple of specific things that don’t have obvious translations to the create artifact system for complicated reasons.

-Jirachi

Well, lets consider Treasure in Nobilis.

Treasure is stuff that is linked to you, infused with your divine power and a part of your personal mythos – your panoply, associations, or what-have-you. You can treasure objects, memories, symbols, collections of stuff, and almost anything you can describe. As far as I can tell, Treasures can’t be destroyed without destroying YOU and they’re usually just presumed to be around somewhere when you want to use them (although there is a Treasure-4 effect that can summon them to you if, for some reason, they aren’t handy).

The trick here is that – in Nobilis – basic Treasures are channels for their owners powers much more than they are items with their own functions. At Treasure 3 you can have the equivalent of d20’s mid-level magic items as Treasures – Wings of Flying or some such – and you can have the equivalent of fairly major items at Treasure 5 – but their effects are still based on their owners “Treasure” trait. They can provide some small bonuses, but really only become effective on the Nobilis scale when you start channeling Miracle Points through them.

At Treasure-0 ordinary items and people that you bond to yourself as Treasures become – at your option – one of the best of their kind mundanely available and/or free of maintenance – as well as being mystically linked to you. So yes, if you really love your kid, but she’s sulky today, a passing thought can annihilate her balky body, mind, and soul and replace her with a wonderfully obedient, ideal, incredibly talented, straight-A student kid who won’t need to eat, sleep, or have a place to live. She’ll just be around when you want to play with your perfect little doll. Won’t that be wonderful?

Well, maybe we should leave kids out of this.

Lets think about a car instead. It won’t need gas, oil, or maintenance and it will perform like the best and fastest car around!

Wait a minute though. Everything in reality (and, with access to even a few other worlds, a lot of stuff that isn’t) is “mundane”, and can be obtained through mundane means if you happen to be visiting a world where it’s available.

  • So, just to stick with current-day Earth… if you and the game master happen to know about the vehicle siphon and waterproofing systems that let a car be driven underwater, you can presumably drive underwater.
  • How about the supersonic rocket drives for land speed record cars?
  • Did you know about amphibious cars that function as boats too?
  • How about the flying Aerocars? First built in the 1940’s!
  • Perhaps you’d prefer a Rinspeed sports car submarine?
  • Military vehicles cars often have mounted weapons and other gadgets. So do ambulance cars, even if their gadgets are a lot more peaceful. Executive limos often have some impressive armor plating and safety features. And then there are stunt cars and all the things you COULD put in a car, but generally don’t.

So what is your “mundane” car-treasure capable of or equipped with?

How would I know? That’s between you and whoever is game mastering your Nobilis game.

And there we see, once again, the basic problem with converting Nobilis to d20. D20 says “Ok, it’s called the Chalice Of Spring, what can it do?, How was it made, how hard is it to break, and how expensive is it?” while Nobilis says “Ok, you have the Chalice Of Spring, you can channel your power through it to do “Chalice of Spring” miracles – each likely a unique event.

In Nobilis the sword Severance could be used to win battles, sever fond memories from regrets, cut Death away from Life in a wounded character (leaving scars, but no wounds). It might make people get divorced, or seal gates, or make annoying kids no longer be related to their families.

To paraphrase Nobilis…

A Miracle-6 can declare that a Treasure uses its powers or abilities to create a definite outcome. Perhaps your sword wins the fight for you or you or your rocket car brings a new era of peace and prosperity to Mexico. The more absurd your choice of outcome, the longer it’s likely to take – but it WILL happen unless someone invokes an opposing miracle.

So how does that opposition work? Well, Nobilis is a diceless bidding system; you pick an attribute or special ability to use, possibly spend one or more “Miracle Points” to boost it, and compare the result to the difficulty. Given that the characters are all gods, that even a attribute of “0” is superior to a normal human (See: Heroic Scaling), and that the player characters all get a +3 on any mundane task (when a total of 2 indicates success) you generally don’t need to worry about any unopposed mundane action.

So lets take two Nobilis characters with Treasure II.

  • The Lizard Wizard happens to have a treasure described as “A legion of time-traveling cyberallosaur samurai with laser cannons. They do shadowruns.” Depending on where The Lizard Wizard picked them up, they might even be a Mundane Treasure. Nobody says that your treasures have to come from Earth.
  • Madame Olga has a Treasure she describes as “Incense Of Superlative Aromatherapy. It settles things down”.

Finding himself offended by the Chicago Museum Of Natural Histories exhibit that says that the Archosaurs are extinct, The Lizard Wizard decides that Chicago MUST BE DESTROYED!

Now, what level of miracle is required for this? It might not be any; after all, Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow (or possibly a neighbor with a pipe or similar minor accident) pretty much managed it once before. Having your minions set things on fire isn’t particularly outside the norm.

  • So The Lizard Wizard can send in the Saurian Legion (with its base rating of Miracle-2), to enforce his will and Chicago will be automatically destroyed (or at least set on fire) unless something else with miraculous powers intervenes. Mortals cannot oppose miracles!
  • But Madame Olga leans out her window and waves a fan, wafting the smoke from her Incense into the Saurian Legion to settle them down. They both are defaulting to Treasure II, and defender wins ties. So is Madame Olga defending? She is intervening on behalf of Chicago, but she’s doing it by trying to alter something else – but what she’s “altering” is negating an opposing miracle. Ergo, she’s defending, she wins, and the Saurian Legion mellows out and goes home. If the game master happens to feel otherwise though… well, Chicago is in trouble.
  • The Lizard Wizard, badly frustrated, blows his top and spends four Miracle Points to get to a level six Alter Destiny Treasure Miracle; Chicago shall be forever known as a place of monsters, reduced to a few ruined hovels that none save the beasts will ever dare inhabit again! The Saurian Legion goes back in time, to destroy Chicago before it ever gets beyond an Indian settlement! (Not that history is anything but a special effect in Nobilis).
  • If Madame Olga has four miracle points to spend, thinks that it is worth doing so, and fans harder… the smoke will go back in time, calm down the Saurian Legion once again, and Chicago will never have been in peril. If she does not, perhaps it is time to use her travel spell and move to New York City!

There are a few complications – mostly other traits that can come into play to provide free miracle points or to boost or diminish other miracles – and there might be other Nobilis involved, but that’s the essence of it.

Now, why mortals can’t oppose any of this when there are no laws of nature and thus their actions are also miracles (wouldn’t there being a distinction be a law of nature?) is a good question, but it’s the nature of Narrative games to ignore almost everyone except the major characters. Otherwise we’d be worried about the intervention of the hundreds or thousands of other major supernatural beings who might have an interest in Chicago, and the player characters wouldn’t be the primary focus any longer.

So Treasures are basically manifestations of the user, have a consistent Theme, and can produce all kinds of effects within that Theme when the user channels power through them. They aren’t necessarily individual objects, or creatures, or even physical.

Buying a “Treasure” attribute in Eclipse:

  • That’s 4d6 Mana, with Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, all Specialized and Corrupted/only for use with “Treasure” effects, no Natural Magic option, 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).

Buying Treasures in Eclipse:

  • Mundane Treasures are normal things that get souped up. For this you want some Rune Magic (Specified Treasure, such as Cars), Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect / only for that particular treasure at (3 + Att Mod) x 3 (6 CP). This will let you summon, repair, and boost beyond all reason, mundane treasures of the appropriate type.
  • Followers and Allies and such get are bought as Leadership or Companion with various modifiers, all Specialized / you have to spend Mana to get them to do anything important for you (6 CP).
  • Symbolic Treasures – where a particular symbol or set of symbols acts as channels for your power and senses – can be purchased as Immunity/The Distinction Between the Symbol and You (Uncommon, Major, Great, Specialized / must expend 2 Mana to activate with respect to specific instances of the symbol) (6 CP).
  • A collection of minor devices (Charms and Talismans from The Practical Enchanter) can be purchased as: Shaping, Corrupted and Specialized for increased (level one and possibly weak level two) effects/can only produce the effects for which the user has the appropriate foci ready, can only support a limited number (seven and three) of minor charms and more notable talismans at one time, charms and talismans take some time to attune for use (6 CP). Another option that doesn’t cost Mana, since they’re pretty minor by d20 standards even in less-magical worlds.
  • Powerful Magical Devices are usually purchased as a Create Relic package: Create Relic, Specialized and Corrupted/only for making a particular four-point Relic or four-point collection of lesser Relics (2 CP), plus Double Enthusiast, Specialized for Increased Effect and corrupted for Reduced Cost / only for making those particular relics (4 CP) – for a grand total of (6 CP). They don’t usually require Mana, since they’re associated with a very high Treasure rating anyway.
  • Labs and such can be purchased as “Where Does He Get Those Wonderful Toys” from The Golden Ones sample powers list. These can allow you to have a collection of minor items to use on your adventures.
  • For a collection of more-or-less “normal” d20 magical devices, buy Natural Magic / Reality Editing, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / only for Reality Editing, only to summon, repair, or briefly boost up your normal wealth-by-level equipment (6 CP). Now you have a full-scale panoply of stuff – at least once you’re of a high enough level.
  • Mysterious Devices – like the sword Severance, or the Chalice Of Spring, or the Remote Control Of The Machine God or The Flying Dutchman’s Phantom Pirate Ship – are purchased as Natural Magic / Reality Editing, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / only for Reality Editing, only to produce effects within a specific theme (6 CP). This can produce some pretty impressive miracles at times – but not very often.
  • For a mess of Technological Tools and Gear, purchase Innate Enchantment (5000 GP = 100,000 Dollars or Credits worth of d20 Modern / Future equipment) for (6 CP) and supply yourself with gear that simply appears when you need it and disappears otherwise.
  • If you just want Money, buy a Stipend or Privilege/Landlord. In either case, this basically defines you as being rich, having a nice lifestyle, and so on (6 CP).

There are other abilities that could be fitted into this category, but that should cover most things.

Thus a Nobilis character with Treasure-5 would have perhaps a eight to ten Treasures and the basic Treasure Attribute – for a total of 60 to 72 CP. Expensive, but Treasure-5 represents 60% of their available points for attributes.

And I hope that helps!