Eclipse – Lesser Path Magics, Part I

The Great Powers inhabit the capital cities and hidden fastnesses. There they practice the martial skills that challenge the gods themselves and the magics that reshape the world. They Resurrect The Dead, they bring Wishes into reality, and they forge devices of godlike power.

But there aren’t very many of them about – and so smaller villages often go many years between seeing one of them, and even THAT is usually just a glimpse as they pass through.

Most people don’t have the talent, the will, the resources, or the luck, to develop powers like that. They aren’t riding the outer edge of the bell curve and the forces of destiny. They aren’t drawing on the blazing, unfettered, energies of the planes beyond. They don’t weild ancient artifacts or embody cosmic forces. They aren’t Powers of the Realm, and they never will be.

They aren’t without magic though. The magic of the world is a resource as great or greater than its mines, forests, and waters, and no successful sapient race allows it to go unused. The common folk of the world have the practitioners of the Lesser Paths – village witches and hedge magi, minor healers, lay priests, and various small talents – to make their lives easier and more secure.

  • Lesser Paths are generally 2-24 CP “long” – and most of their effects come into play at fairly low levels given that most NPC’s will never get past level two or three. This doesn’t mean that they can’t be useful to adventurers though, they just won’t be very effective at higher levels.

Peasant Powers (6 CP).

The common folk in most d20 games don’t really resemble medieval peasants, serfs, and crafters very much. They’re a lot more like reasonably prosperous farmers and craftsmen from a mere century or two back. That isn’t very surprising, given that both the players and game masters are a LOT more familiar with relatively recent history and find it hard to discard all those preconceptions – and the rules don’t help much either, since most of what they cover involves high-powered, wealthy, player-characters. Ergo, here’s a small package that accounts for most of those differences – and may well just be assumed in the setting.

Focused Skill Magic (2+ CP).

In a world of magic, there is little difference between using a firedrill and calling on the spirits of fire or between case-hardening steel with careful quenching and case-hardening steel by chanting runes as you forge it. Even a task as mundane as cookery is filled with kitchen witchery – charms to clean pots and pans, to heat the stove, and to make sure that things don’t burn – among many, MANY, others.

  • Occult Talent, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / all spells must be related to a particular skill, user must gesture and speak, requires a spell component pouch or equivalent focus to use, user must make a DC 15 skill check with the skill to invoke a Cantrip and a DC 20 check to invoke a first level effect. (2 CP for 4 Fixed Cantrips and a First Level Spell, 4 CP for 5 Floating Cantrips and 3 Floating First Level Spells).
  • You can double the cost to convert to first and second level spells or triple the cost to convert to second and third level Spells, at a casting DC of 25 for second level effects and 30 for third – but this will require a slightly higher level. Still, it is perfectly possible for that veteran blacksmith to have 20 CP in Forge Magic, getting 10xL0, 6xL1, 5xL2 (minimum of level three to use safely), and 3xL3 (minimum of level five to use safely) spells and an equal number of slots to cast them with. He or she will also want Luck with +8 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted / only for spellcasting (6 CP) – but that will make him a fairly effective, if highly specialized, mage.

General Skill Magic (6 CP)

  • Shaping, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (up to L1 Effects), only for producing effects related to the user’s skills, only works with skills at skill rank four or above, requires a DC 10 check to produce a Prestidigitation Level Effect (up to three times per day per skill), a DC 15 check to produce a Level Zero Effect (up to two times per day per skill), and a DC 25 check to produce a First Level Effect (up to once per day per skill).

Or

  • Shaping, Specialized and Corrupted/requires a DC 15 skill check to produce a level zero effect, each skill is associated with a specific effect, each effect can only be attempted once every five minutes, the user must have at least four skill points in a particular skill before it’s effect can be employed, such effects are swift actions where they assist another action, standard actions if they have independent effects.

The first version is better for skill monkeys who want access to those first level spells and have plenty of skill points anyway, the second is better for the kind of low-level charms you want to use all the time.

Religious Acolyte or Lay Priest (6 CP):

This package requires early indoctrination, but virtually no actual talent – and so most villages will boast an Acolyte or two who tends to their religious needs, lessens the impact of illnesses, performs rituals of marriage, blesses the livestock, orchards, and fields, and puts up wards against minor trouble. It’s also one of the few packages that includes disadvantages – mostly because an early religious vocation cuts off a LOT of other options.

  • Disadvantages: Obligations and Vows. Acolytes generally start off quite young, and make a substantial commitment to their faith. This (-6 CP) pays for…
  • Religious Training: Fast Learner, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / only for Skills, only for religious lore, taken at level (-1) (6 CP): That’s +6 SP at L1 and +3 per level thereafter. At level one they will have:
    • Knowledge/Religion +2 (2 SP). Most Acolytes spend a few more points on this to max it out, but this is not required.
    • A +3 Specialty in Knowledge/Religion (Their Religion) (1 SP)
    • Specific Knowledge / has memorized, or at least intensively studied, the primary holy book, collection of doctrines, myth cycle, or similar basis of their religion (1 SP).
    • Specific Knowledge: has memorized (Int Mod +3) minor rituals and one major ritual of their faith (2 SP). This gets them a +5 bonus on performing those specific rituals.
  • Religious Rites: Occult Ritual (Knowledge/Religion based), Specialized and Corrupted / only for the practical religious rituals of their particular faith (2 CP).
  • One Base Caster level, Specialized in Clerical Spellcasting, Corrupted/does not allow for anything beyond first level spells (2 CP).
  • 1d6 Mana as 2d4 (5) Generic Spell Levels, Specialized and Corrupted / only for binding into prepared clerical spells, save for Cure Minor Wounds spells may only be prepared as needed, not in advance (so basically you must take 15 minutes to get a spell ready), at least one spell level is always devoted to two instances of Cure Minor Wounds daily, user must live up to the precepts of his or her religion to be granted any spells (2 CP).

Master Healer (6 CP)

A Master Healer is always welcome in a village; and isn’t bad to have along on an adventure – although, since I usually limit characters to 12 CP worth of Innate Enchantment (not counting any in Templates), adventurers often have better things to spend their innate enchantments on. The problem here is that using monthly charges allows a Master Healer to have a reserve with which to meet local emergencies, but active adventuring tends to blow through those reserves in short order – and simply upgrading to unlimited use generally isn’t allowed for healing magic. An adventurer is usually better off with a healing belt, or uses/day, or just (as usual) writing off the occasional Wand of Lesser Vigor as an adventuring expense.

  • Innate Enchantment (5320 GP Value, all effects Spell Level One, Caster Level One, Use-Activated).
    • Skill Mastery. +5 Competence Bonus To Healing Ranks, Personal Only (1400)
    • Healing Lorecall (Unlimited-Use Use-Activated, 2000 GP). Note that, in Pathfinder, an additional function becomes available at Skill 10: when you are treating a patient for poison or disease they may use your skill check as their save if they so desire.
    • Cure Light Wounds (50 Uses/Month x.6, Maximum Twice/Day on any one target x.8 = 960 GP)
    • Lesser Restoration (50 Uses/Month, Maximum of 1/Day on any one target x.6 = 720 GP)
    • Moment Of Insight (Skills) 4/Day: Gain a +20 Insight Bonus on a skill check, Only for the Heal skill (x.3) only for Treat Poison/Illness (x.5) = 240 GP.

Minimal Werebeast (6 CP)

Being a Minimal Werebeast is actually extremely useful to a commoner or a low-level character; he or she will be considerably tougher, can run around much faster, survive better if caught out in the cold, and recover from most injuries much more quickly than usual. Higher level characters may not find it an efficient use of half their 12 CP innate enchantment allowance, or may want the (much better) bonuses of being the real thing – but if you want to be a survivalist, this is a pretty good base for it. Besides, werewolf kids can be heart-meltingly cute.

  • Damage Reduction, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost/only versus physical attacks, not versus Silver, 4/- (3 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment. All enchantments Spell Level One, Caster Level One, Unlimited-Use Use-Activated, and Personal-Only. Specialized for Reduced Cost / comes with wolfish instincts (and the need to make occasional will checks to resist such impulses), pack loyalty, and the traditional signs of being a werewolf. It may or may not come with a compulsive urge to party all night during the full moon. 6480 GP inherent value (3 CP).
    • Aspect Of The Wolf (2000 GP). The user may continue to walk on two legs and keep his or her pants on if desired (or may describe this as “Aspect Of The Cat” or “Aspect Of The Bear” or some such) but this has no game effect.
    • Speak with Animals (1400 GP).
    • Wrath. Morale bonuses of +2 Str, +2 Con, +1 Will, and -2 AC when in use (1400 GP).
    • Endure Elements 1/Day (280 GP).
    • Fast Healing I for 18 Rounds 2/Day (560 GP).
    • Relieve Illness (Hedge Wizardry List) 1/Day (280 GP).
    • Relieve Poison (Hedge Wizardry List) 1/Day (280 GP).
    • Lesser Restoration 1/Day (280 GP).

The Woods Witch (6 CP).

The Woods Witch has a knack for the magic of nature, and can – with practice – sense the innate properties of plants and herbs and call then forth in effects equivalent to powerful cantrips or weak first level spells. Does Aloe soothe burns? Then a Woods Witch can provide minor healing for burn victims until he or she runs out of Aloe.

  • Innate Enchantment: Handy Haversack (2000 GP), Enhance Herb (2000 GP), and Classify Plant (1000 GP) (6 CP).

For a few quick examples of herbal magic…

  • A pinch of Allspice provides +2 caster levels to the effect of another herb. A precious resource for a Woods Witch, but usually an expensive import.
  • Amaranth Smoke carries prayers, and will allow an effective séance.
  • Angelica reduces the impact of illnesses, preventing any loss of attributes from them during the next roll.
  • Barberry provides the same mental protection as Protection From Evil for several minutes – although it does not provide bonuses otherwise.
  • Basil Suggests thoughts of love when a pinch of the dust is scattered.
  • Birch Powder damages the undead, causing 1d2/Caster Level (5d2 max) damage to them when cast over a small area.
  • Blessed Thistle will protect the user against one witches hex or other minor malevolent effect of level two or less cast at them within the next one hour. Sadly, you can’t carry more than three sprigs without the extras losing effectiveness.

And so on. More examples of herbal magic can be found with the Enhance Herb spell in Paths Of Power II, but they’re all over online anyway.

A Woods Witch can be quite effective – but it may take a lot of time to stock up their supplies of herbs and they don’t keep forever. If they use a lot of their stuff up for some reason it may take weeks to restock even if nothing is currently out of season. If something is out of season… well, maybe they can find some growing in a greenhouse somewhere.

Other common packages at this level include:

Novice Of Mysteries (6 CP):

The Novice and Initiate Of Mysteries have developed an affinity for a particular type of magic – most often effects that augment a particular activity – thievery, shadow manipulation, illusion, weird martial art powers, force effects, or whatever. While they lack the raw power of high-level spells if they combine specialized enhancements with other abilities they can be fairly formidable – and it’s still a fairly cheap path to take.

  • Improved Occult Talent, Specialized for Half Cost / all spells must fit a specific theme, all require invocations (the user must use anime-style “called effects”), requires the use of a special focus (rune-inscribed bracers, gloves, or whatever). Gain 5 Cantrips and 3 First Level Spell effects, with a similar number of spell slots to cast them with. The effective caster level equals your level (6 CP).

For an example let’s look at Wind Blade Style Swordsmanship

  • Level Zero Effects:
    • Call Weapon: an unattended weapon leaps into your hand from up to thirty feet away as a swift action.
    • Fast Draw: a weapon on your person appears in your hand as a swift action.
    • Mend Weapon: A swift-action Mend that only works on weapons.
    • Void Sheath (The Practical Enchanter):
    • Wind Weapon: You conjure a normal weapon for one minute as a swift action.
  • Level One Effects:
    • Fancy Footwork: Gain +5′ Natural Reach for one minute as a swift action.
    • Master’s Parry: Block 15 points of incoming damage as an immediate action.
    • Sudden Strike: Make a single attack at your full BAB as a swift action.

That’s a fair selection of tricks for a low-level swordsman, even if they are limited use.

Initiate Of Mysteries (12 CP):

  • Improved Occult Talent, Specialized for Double Effect / all spells must fit a specific theme, all require invocations (the user must use anime-style “called effects”), requires the use of a special focus (rune-inscribed bracers, gloves, or whatever). Gain 5 first level and 3 second level spell effects with a similar number of spell slots to cast them with – although the use of the level two effects requires a minimum level of three. The effective caster level equals your level (12 CP).

Advanced Wind Blade Style Swordsmanship:

  • Remove: The L0 Effects.
  • L1) Add: Wind Blade Mastery (use any L0 blade magic effect).
  • L2) Add: Bloodfire (as per Scorching Ray), Storm Of Blades, and Whirlwind Kata (as per Protection From Arrows).

Common Level One Alternatives: Adamant Strike (weapon acts as Adamant for one minute), Bless Weapon, Deafening Clang, Lead Blades, Magic Weapon, Peasant Armaments, Personal Haste, Ranged Strike, Strategic Charge, Sweep (as per Burning Hands, but Force Damage), True Strike, Warding Blade (as per Shield), and Whirlwind Strike (standard action, as per Whirlwind Attack).

Common Level Two Alternatives: Burning Sword, Death Blossom (standard action, as per Whirlwind Attack with +10 reach), Flame Of Faith, Grandmaster’s Parry (block 25 points of incoming damage as an immediate action), Litany Of Warding, Righteous Vigor, Versatile Weapon, Whirling Blade, and Winged Step (Swift Action, for the next one minute per level you may take a move action as part of a full attack action).

A higher-level character will usually get more out of a sequence of greater powers – but a low to mid-level blademaster may find this quite useful – and may even invest another couple of feats in a mobility sequence or in doubling up on the Wind Blade Style with a mostly different list of effects to use.

Hedge Mage (12 CP):

  • Four levels of the Wilder Progression (Charisma Based), Specialized and Corrupted / provides no actual psionic powers, Power can only be spent to use Hedge Magic Disciplines, not for other purposes (8 CP), This gives them an effective Caster Level of Four and (17 + 2 x Cha Mod) Power.
  • Hedge “Magic”, Corrupted for Reduced Cost / does not include the ability to make Conjures (4 CP). As psionic disciplines it costs 1/2 a point of Power to use a “level zero” effect, one for a “level one effect”, and three for a “level two” effect.

This package does require a reasonable amount of talent, so full-out hedge mages are relatively rare – but they can be extremely helpful when it comes to daily life.

Magecrafter (12 CP).

Making tools and weapons was one of the original great fields of magic. A maker of spears harnessed the power of earth and wood and death, placing them in the hands of men to strike down their enemies – whether cast like thunderbolts or braced to withstand some monstrous onslaught. Today, the wonder of those early tools is long forgotten and that ancient magic sleeps – but the sleeper can awaken.

  • Immunity/the distinction between (Rune) Mastery and a related Craft Skill (Uncommon, Minor, Minor, 2 CP). Thus someone who knows (Archery) Mastery (allowing him or her to cast spells involving bows and arrows) can also use that magical skill to make bows and arrows. Someone who knows (Fire) or (Forge) or (Metal) mastery might work as a Smith – or perhaps a Jeweler.
  • 1d6+2 (6) Mana, Specialized / only for use with Rune Magic (4 CP).
  • Rite Of Chi with +2 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted / only to restore the Rune Magic Mana Pool, above (3 CP).
  • Augmented Bonus: Adds a second attribute modifier to the Modifier used for their Rune Magic Skills, Specialized for Reduced Cost / only applies to Rune Magic Skills (3 CP).

A magecrafter integrates magic and craftsmanship to imbue tools with temporary magic, call up items when they need them, and enhance their ability to craft things in a variety of ways – a very practical choice.

Dreamspawn Bond (10 CP)

  • A Dreamspawn Bond offers an insane amount of power for 10 CP. Unfortunately, it also means sharing your dreams with a unique Lovecraftian horror from beyond space and time that loves you, and wants you to be happy, and does not comprehend creatures of this plane of reality in the slightest. They also usually bond with small children, whom they render antisocial and more than a bit insane. This is not Pokemon. This is Monsters And Other Childish Things – or perhaps Pokethulhu. It’s usually not a good idea to have someone with such a bond in the party unless EVERYONE has one (which is generally not a good idea for the rest of the world). For examples we have The Basic Template, Timothy and Verendior, Dunangylaz and Antaeus Varin, Lerona and Queen Yintor, Oridon and Yinsloth, and Sevarangin.

The Enlightened One (12 CP).

The rare Enlightened One has found some relic of the divine – a bone of a saint, a part of the regalia of some god, or some such – and contemplated it until he or she opened a channel to the infinite, allowing that radiant force to shine through him or her and into reality. To make this work… they must settle down at a shrine/on a mountain/beneath a tree (or some such) and meditate on the cosmic all. After a few days of this… they will begun to function as a minor Reliquary (The Practical Enchanter) while they are in their place of meditation – allowing those who follow the same faith to come to them, listen to their wisdom, and be infused with the magic of the divine, gaining a handful of clerical (or druidic) spells that must be used with twenty-four hours or they will fade away.

  • Innate Enchantment / a Minor Reliquary (The Practical Enchanter, 11,385 GP Value, 12 CP). The Enlightened One gains a +4 Enhancement Bonus to Wisdom, 2L0, 2L1, and 2L2 clerical spells, plus a L3 spell if their enhanced Wisdom is 16+ and a L4 spell if their enhanced wisdom is 18+. Listeners gain access to 1L0 spell at Wis 10+, to a L1 spell at Wis 12+, to a L2 Spell at Wis 14+, to a L3 spell at Wis 16+, and to a L4 spell at Wis 18+. All such spells have an effective caster level of nine.

So how hard is to get a hold of a “True Relic”? And are they good for anything else?

Who knows? Generally, a “True Relic” is a part of the body of a very powerful Cleric or has been touched by a major power of the outer planes – so it depends on just how often such beings show up, what they usually do, and exactly what counts. Or you could only allow Eclipse-style Relics imbued with one or more character points by such a being, or you could go with the Magic Item Compendium and make them fairly powerful magical items (in which case they’re moderately expensive; the cheapest one I recall seeing in that book was Ehlonna’s seed pouch at 1400 GP), or you could go with the Book Of Exalted Deeds, where a Rack Of The Tortured Saint relic is given a value of only 180 GP – although that book also says that relics “cannot be manufactured, bought, or sold” (it doesn’t say what happens to stop the sale it if, say, one player character tries to sell one to another player character who wants it). For simplicity?

  • Owning a True Relic is a Minor (3 CP) or Major (6 CP) Privilege.
  • True Relics count as 1 CP (Minor) or 2 CP (Major) Eclipse-Style Relics.
  • True Relics are holy / unholy / anarchic / axiomatic items that do 2d6 (Minor) or 3d6 (Major) divine damage to creatures with opposing alignment subtypes by touch.
  • True Relics provide their bearers with a +2 (Minor) or +4 (Major) Sacred Bonus to any social skill roll targeting an audience that will respect the Relic in question.

That makes True Relics reasonably effective for their cost – but not something that Adventurers will usually want to invest in given that they provide less raw power than a design-your-own relic package.

Other popular power packages in this range include:

  • Basic Shamanism (Companion (Familiar) with the Spirit Fetch template (Eclipse II), granting Occult Sense / Spirit Sense (it’s “master” can see and hear spirits, 12 CP).
  • Houngan Conjurer (12 CP)
  • Obol Maker (12 CP)
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7 Responses

  1. Random relevant thought: You could probably buy being a decent hedge mage for a feat (even without any spellcasting abilities). Innate Spell (invocation of hedge magic), with + 4 bonus uses (Specialized / material focuses and regular prayer to relevant gods) (6 CP).
    That’s enough for a peasant to make a living off of, and lets you not have to worry about powering it.

    • You could, although it gets you fewer spells – but it would require at least a third level Greater Invocation to work, and so requires that the user have at least five hit dice to be sure of maintaining control. Given that these small packages are oriented towards levels 1-3, you’d need a small immunity to that requirement or to buy some bonus hit dice.

      Now, Orin – who was absurdly hyper-efficient – used Magician (Wisdom), Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / only usable for noncombative utility magic (6 CP) and Hearthcrafting Rune Magic, which basically covered Hedge Wizardry. Thanks to having a high wisdom, he wound up with rather a lot of utility magic on the cheap. It wouldn’t work for most NPC’s of course; they’re lower level, lack the high attributes that made it work, and don’t have Augmented Bonus to boost their magical skills beyond all reason. It was very handy for taking care of all those refugees though.

      • I mean, I’d probably wave the level requirement considering how harmless they are, but that is a potential problem.
        Yeah, that seems like a bit of a nuclear option, as far as getting hedge magic, and is uncomfortably power buildy for a hedge magic package.

      • Oh, I’d probably waive for a player character type too – if only because the applications for hedge magic are very rarely gamebreaking – but I do try to avoid waiving things for generic packages.

  2. As a very minor note, the aspect of the wolf spell listed here is from the 3.5 Spell Compendium (druid 1, ranger 1), rather than Pathfinder’s Advanced Player’s Guide (druid 5, ranger 4).

  3. […] Exalts lose their old racial variant in favor of 6 CP worth of Innate Enchantment. Lunars get the Minimal Werething package. Solars get personal attribute boosts, Dragon-blooded get minor elemental powers, Sidereals […]

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