Eclipse, Lesser Path Magics, Part II

Magical packages at the 18-24 CP level are fairly major investments for a low-level character, and invariably require a reasonable level of talent and/or working on developing their talents from fairly early childhood. As such, they’re quite uncommon; a village is unlikely to have more than a few people with powers on this scale – and it’s not uncommon for someone with the potential to never really put in the work to develop it effectively.

It’s worth noting that all of these packages – as well as the ones from last time around – are set up as fairly high-efficiency options. NPC’s typically aren’t all that optimized, but it’s also true that the point balance on minor villagers is pretty unimportant. PC’s are generally assumed to be a lot more talented than most NPC’s (although not as much so as in first edition, where actually having the potential to go past “level zero” was reserved for the one-in-a-thousand who had “adventurer potential”) though – and point balance matters a lot more to them. Ergo, these packages are all optimized to where they’d be a reasonable investment for a player character who wants some convenient low-level magical packages to pick from.

Witchcraft (18+ CP)

Many folk have small knacks. Before they know what is and isn’t possible… they can stir the mobile over the crib to delight their infant eyes, they can tell what the cat is saying, or call the butterflies. But such talents are very personal, and tend to fade as children begin to come in groups. What fun is a trick when it can’t be shared? 

But in a world of magic, some children refuse the abandon those tricks. Instead they develop their inner strengths, expand on those tiny psychic knacks, and – eventually – turn them into actual useful powers. Where things go from there tends to depend a lot on how the other children reacted to the kid who kept talking to themselves and doing weird things.

Witchcraft is probably the most common magical package of all. It’s fairly low-powered, but it is versatile, efficient, and extremely cheap. It also allows it’s users to take Pacts – each worth +6 CP to spend on advanced Witchcraft powers. Since a character can take two Pacts at level one, and another at levels three, seven, and twelve, a mere 18 CP can get you 48 CP worth of Witchcraft. Throw in a few extra Power and you can have quite a lot of tricks.

  • At the most basic, take Witchcraft II (12 CP) with Two Pacts – paying for +3d6 Power (6 CP) and Rite Of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized / only to recover Power (6 CP). That gives you a choice of three of the twelve basic abilities and enough Power to make good use of them. For some sample selections…
    • Expert Healer: Healing, Hyloka, and Witchfire.
    • Illusionist: Glamour, Shadowweave, and Witchsight.
    • Crafter: Hand Of Shadows, Witchfire, and Witchsight.
    • Shaman: Dreamfaring, Glamour, and The Inner Eye.
    • Telepath: The Adamant Will, Glamour, and The Inner Eye.
    • Combat (or Vengeful) Witch: Elfshot, Infliction, and Witchfire.
    • Mystic: Healing, Shadowweave, and Witchsight.
  • For another 6 CP you can get some more power and another four basic abilities or an advanced ability. Go ahead, learn to contact beings on other planes, or to project your spirit as a formidable creature, or channel spirits, or become a shadow, or to take minor animal forms, or any of a lot of other things.

The basic Bokor (Binder) Package also falls under Witchcraft, and costs 24 CP. Similarly, the Sith and Jedi 24 CP packages can be found in this category.

I tend to recommend that – unless they’re primary casters or extreme specialists – most characters take some Witchcraft. It can provide a wide variety of tricks and boosts quite cheaply – and thus gives fighter- and rogue-types a nice boost.

Entreaty Magic (21 CP)

The art of calling on mystical entities to empower your spells directly is quite versatile – if still limited to the type of effects that any specific entity is able to supply – but demands a fair amount of service to such entities to pay for their power. While 21 CP worth of Entreaty Magic only covers spells of up to level two and requires that the user have a minimum level of three to fully control those second level effects – entreating minor entities of Childbirth and Healing, Villages and Households, Hunting and Farming, Nature, and similar fields is unlikely to lead to any especially burdensome demands on a low-level character – and (unlike the 12 CP Hedge Wizard package) can both include effective offensive and defensive spells and is easily expanded to greater powers (+12 CP and a minimum level of five for level three effects, although getting up to the maximum of level six effects gets expensive) if some villager should prove to have enough magical talent for that.

Shamanic Magic (24 CP)

While closely related to Entreaty Magic, Shamanic Magic includes long-term (if very minor) blessings, some minor animalistic shapeshifting, and the ability to intervene on behalf of the dying, as well as the ability to call on various spirits for magic. A shaman will never possess vast magical power, but he or she is extremely flexible and well-suited to providing the kind of magical services that a small village or wandering tribe needs.

Spellbinder (24 CP)

A Spellbinder possesses a good deal of Mana, a vivid imagination, and a strong will with which to channel that Mana into the effects they imagine. That’s not a very efficient way to work magic, and it’s very prone to backfires and side effects since a lot of the Mana they shove in discharges at random – but it is quite versatile. A Spellbinder can produce virtually any arcane effect within their level limits, even if those same wild discharges keep them from storing their magic or using it to create magical objects.

  • 3d6 Mana with the Unskilled Magic option, Specialized for Increased Effect (only costs 1 Mana per Spell Level) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / Only usable for unskilled magic, calls for Gestures (limiting the user to light or medium armor and at least one free hand), Incantations (incoherent screaming works though), and a spell component pouch (variants may use other foci) (12 CP).
    • The Casting Level equals the user’s Level or (Mana Spent + Int / 3), whichever is less.
    • The maximum level of effect is the users base Will Save Bonus or (Wis / 3), whichever is less.
    • Keeping the side effects (normally of the same level as the spell attempted or one level less) down to inconvenient effects rather than dangerous ones requires a Cha check at a DC of (6 + 2 x the Mana Used). The side effects are always up to the game master.
    • The user MIGHT (GMO) gain “free” mana to use if under great emotional stress.
    • The user may invest an additional (Spell Level) mana points in a spell with a duration to keep it running until he or she drops it, something dispels or negates it, or he or she chooses to recover that mana. This is, however, limited to a maximum of (Con/3) levels of spells.
  • Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized for Reduced Cost / only recovers at 1d6 per half-hour of rest or sleep (6 CP).
  • +2 to the user’s Base Will Save (6 CP).

Spellbinders are quite rare, and often become actual adventurers (usually taking some Reflex Training and more Mana so as to get off more spells), although even if they pump their Wisdom, Intelligence, and Will Saves they are unlikely to reach particularly high-level magics. On the other hand, they can cast a (sloppy) version of pretty much any low-level arcane spell that you might want – including Hedge Wizardry effects – which is pretty useful and can keep Shield and Mage Armor up all day at first level, which is pretty handy.

Animist (24 CP)

An animist depends on talking things into helping him or her out – usually by simple appeals, but sometimes by trickery. It’s a subtle art, but one that requires little or no personal power besides a persuasive tongue.

  • Immunity/the normal limits of Diplomacy and Spoken Language (Common, Minor, Major, 12 CP). This ability allows the user to effectively communicate with ANYTHING – and to attempt to persuade it to help them out. They can speak with plants and animals, attempt to persuade locks and doors to open, fires to leave open a path of escape, spirits to answer, air to remember when it was stone, or stone to remember when it was molten rock or simple sand or whatever it once was. It’s usually fairly easy to persuade things to act within their natures – for example, doors are made to let people through, so getting one to open itself is fairly easy. Getting a lock to open without the key is considerably harder; locks are MADE to keep unauthorized people out.
  • Minor Privilege/most things that are not naturally communicative are pleased to be spoken to, and will be reasonably friendly (3 CP).
  • Spirit Favors: Major from the spirits of the physical world, minor from the spiritual entities of the elemental and appropriate alignment planes (9 CP).

An animist can occasionally pull off some pretty major stunts – getting a massive avalanche or tornado to turn aside, getting a ship safely through a hurricane, triggering an eruption, or otherwise massively influencing the course of events – but for the most part they’re going to be doing things like asking a rope to tie itself securely when they toss one end to the top of a cliff, or getting a lockpick to twist itself around to help them open something – and they have few limits on such minor tricks.

Cultist (24 CP).

Cultists are a bit tricky in d20. After all whether you are calling upon strange gods, eccentric demons, gibbering lovecraftian horrors, fey, or long-forgotten entities… they’re very rarely offering you anything that you can’t get in much more socially acceptable ways. In Eclipse, the answer is simple: the abilities in the Cultist package are generally Corrupted for Reduced Cost or Increased Effect / they have some weird side effect and call for odd, exclusive, rituals and such, Maybe they attract strange creatures, or corrupt nature, or spawn strange weather and other problems, or they drive their users insane if they overuse their powers, or whatever. That makes a cultists powers relatively quick and easy to obtain and simultaneously provides a reason for their being social objections to the cult. Even if they’re not evil… cultists make difficult neighbors The Standard Cultist Powers are simply:

  • 3d6 Mana, Specialized and Corrupted / only for Rune Magic, whatever limitations the specific cult involves (6 CP).
  • Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted /only to restore the Mana Reserve for Rune Magic, requires a brief cult ceremony, specific cult limitations (4 CP).
  • Adept, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / Two Skills Only (Rune Magic Casting and Mastery for a specific field), specific cult limitations (2 CP).
  • Augmented Bonus, adds (Second Attribute Bonus of Choice) to (Skills based on chosen attribute for Rune Magic), Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / Only for Rune Magic, only for the Cult Rune Magic Skills, specific cult limitations (6 CP).
  • Rune Magic Casting and Mastery, Specialized for Increased (Double) Effect / doubling values only applies to the base skill points at level one, not to attribute or other bonuses, spellcasting is always seen as strange and unnatural, specific cult limitations. +4/+4 SP (+8/+8 to base total) (4 CP).
  • Knowledge / Religion +1 (1 CP). +3 Speciality in their own cult (1 CP).

Cultists do need an attribute bonus to really shine – but one attribute of 14 is quite sufficient. That will give them (+8 Base +6 (Augmented Bonus) = +14 in Rune Mastery and Casting at level one – an effective caster level of seven and access to third level spells in that specific field. That also, of course, helps to explain why Cults – despite all their negative effects – hang on. If the cultists of Shangarath The Fiery One all happen to be able to throw 7d Fireballs (among other fire effects), then attacking them might go really badly for a bunch of low-level types. Even without an attribute bonus… Burning Hands or Scorching Ray at caster level four can really ruin a normal persons day.

Cultists strike an interesting social dynamic: thanks to whatever weird side effects they produce, nobody really wants them around, or wants to get involved with them – until something is going badly wrong, at which point the relatively high-powered magic they can wield may suddenly be absolutely critical to the communities survival. Thus Cultists are usually tolerated, if isolated, parts of the community.

On a practical character-design level… Cultist magic tends to be extremely efficient at getting a narrow field up to mid-range power levels at low level – but thereafter slows down drastically, since another +19 skill points will only get them to +33 at level twenty. Admittedly, that’s eighth level spells and an effective caster level of sixteen – but it’s in one narrow field, you don’t get the price breaks for being a cultist on more Mana, and the rate of increase beyond level one is a lot less impressive than it is for a more conventional spellcaster with a proper, general, education.

There are quite a few other 24 CP Archetypes and Roles up that also fall into this category. As a sampling we have the  Aristocrat, Berserker, Commander, Laborer, Magus, Messenger, Shadow, Wanderer, and Wise Companion, Broken Spirit, Brute, Elder, Great Leader, Official, Scholar, and Shaman, Centurion, El Diablo, Performer, Romantic, and Thief, Fortunate Scion, Merchant, Seducer, and Stoic, (and the How-to-use-them guide), as well as the Star Trek Power Packages Ensign, infiltrator, and Engineer, Captain and Second In Command, Transporter Officer, Counselor, Mystic Counselor, and Doctor, Chief Security Officer, Cosmic Wedgie, Annoying Brat, the Mudd, and Holographic Characters.

Sacredos Pastor (24 CP)

The Sacredos Pastor is the intermediary between the greater realms and the circumscribed worlds of the peasants and farmers – and a dabbler in many different forms of magic. In practice, this is probably the most efficient package on this entire list, exploiting the inherent bonuses of first level Clerical Spellcasting, Ritual Magic, Witchcraft, a Shamanic Familiar, and Creating Relics to provide all the magical services a small village will normally need outside of serious emergency situations – although those will, as always, call for adventurers.

The Sacredos Paster – and the Oath Of The Postulant that leads to it – were actually part of an experiment; I rather wondered what might happen when a visitor introduced a very high-efficiency social optimizer package in the guise of a religious philosophy to a fairly classical d20 world. Sadly, the game folded up all too soon, and so I never got to find out. Oh well.

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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5 Responses

  1. I mean, buying specific options for witchcraft can be useful, sure, but it isn’t necessarily strictly superior to building it another way. I’d probably say ‘Use witchcraft unless you have a good reason not to – like being a primary caster, a narrow specialist or buying enhancements elsewhere’.
    Witchcraft isn’t nesscarily better than say, buying a bunch of inherent spells, channeling, or buying limited flexible magic for self-enhancement.

    • Oh, of course not – but it does let you squeeze a selection of tricks down into a single feat-equivalent (all those “A Feat Full Of Tricks” options) or – for a mere 12 CP – you can just take Pacts as they become available to add more tricks. For a Rogue or Fighter type… is it worth sacrificing 6 HP (the average difference between 2d4 and 2d10, worth 12 CP), or a bit of Will Save, or some other item, to pick up the ability to ignore a failed will save (Adamant Will), heal yourself and others (Healing), pick all the locks to release all the prisoners in a 30′ radius simultaneously as a single action (Hand of Shadows, an hours work), create shadows to conceal yourself (Shadowweave), see Ethereal creatures (Dreamfaring), add Special Senses as needed (Witchsight), gain flight, incorporeality, and teleportion (Ashen Rebirth I and II), get a +6 untyped boost to your Strength (Wrath Of The Sea), Animate Objects (Breath Of Life), and share your successful saving throw with your friends (Warding) among many other tricks?

      Sure, they’re all limited use – but I tend to find it well worthwhile just on the “have more options and keep it interesting” front alone. Still, you’re quite right; there are lots of abilities that will get you more raw power for 12 CP. It’s just hard to get more versatility.

      Of course, to be fair… the vast majority of characters are specialists to begin with, and will tend to rely on their major tricks. If you can summon powerful monsters or something most of the time you have no reason to do anything else.

  2. Random extra package:
    Minor Priest package
    Channeling with 3 uses (6 CP)
    Enthusiastx3 (specialized for double effect / only for channeling) (9 CP)
    Optionally, you could add the following:
    Adaptationx2 (specialized for increased effect, corrupted for increased effect / only in an appropriate holy site) (6 CP)
    For a total of 21 CP, you get someone who can bless sites, arrange for minor spellcasting services, turn undead, and a few other things.
    With a number of such priests existing, you can expect that any site of significance will be blessed, and it gives them holy power while still likely leaving them less than amazingly helpful in an adventure.

    • That would work fine – and potentially gives them some (if not a lot of) immediate power, which something like Ritual Magic won’t do.

  3. […] could, for example, simply spend 48 CP on a doubled-up version of the Spellbinder package devoted to Divine Magic instead of Arcane Magic (6d6 Mana with Unskilled Magic, Rite of Chi with […]

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