Sith Sorcery and the Multiverse – Eclipse d20 and d6

Since the characters in the Anomaly game currently have enough sources of information to get a good idea of how “Sith Sorcery” works, and one of their opponents is using it, here’s a summary of the current state of their research. I’m not guaranteeing that it is 100% correct, but they do have enough information to be sure that it’s pretty close even if a few details have been left out. Technically this only applies to the Anomaly campaign and our d6 Star Wars games, but parts of it may be useful elsewhere. 

Some universes have no variants at all. Some have a few. A very few have a great many – but that number is always very, VERY, small compared to the number of possible variants. Some people call that “probability summation”, but the actual exclusionary principle is much more general than that.

Everything organized above a certain level – dependent on perceptual feedback from the local sophonts – is at least a little different in two different universes. Personalities. Appearance. Composition. Cultures. Natural Laws. Whatever. There are no two universes where everything is the same except for some tiny difference. There are no two universes where ANYTHING is quite the same, although it can be pretty close. Did you “split the timeline”? Your original universe continues, and the “new one” will prove to be simply a shift into another locally-similar existing universe.

Perhaps Timeline One Earth will soon be confronting the dread million-year-old Bladoon Empire and their psychic dinosaur steeds, while Timeline Two Earth will be dealing with an influx of Space Gypsies because the Bladoon never existed to wipe them out. You may be able to find some “Nazi Worlds” – but there will be differences in their histories all the way back to the beginning, the people will always be notably different, and if you liberate one of them… it actually means something. There may be a number of other Nazi Worlds out there, but the number is finite and relatively small on the cosmic scale. That’s probably a good thing. Most people don’t LIKE Nazi Worlds.

Honestly, the “Quantum Fan” model turns into a mathematical disaster as soon as dimensional travel comes into play.

Lets say you transfer a rock from one Tier 2 Universe to Another. The universe that lost the rock now has fewer particles. Its rate of branching drops by many orders of magnitude, and its branch of the quantum fan and all subsequent branches become less important to overall reality by many orders of magnitude every second. The universe that receives the rock experiences the opposite effect; it’s now branching many orders of magnitude faster than the rest of the fan. It’s reality is rapidly heading towards dominance.

Don’t even THINK about time travel. It makes that sort of problem retroactive.

If you want dimensional and/or time travel, you really need to discard the Tier-2 Multiverse Quantum Fan model – and for games, that’s a good thing. It means that the characters actions can actually make a difference in the wider universe and that they can actually be somewhat individual. They may still be able to meet an alternate versions of themselves, but they won’t be just a part of a nigh-infinite set of indistinguishable duplicates with every successful intervention just splitting off a world where they didn’t succeed.

As it happens, the Star Wars Universe Cluster is one of those with a great many variants. That’s due to a local definition of “hyperspace” that adds several additional degrees of divergent freedom to the cluster. These universes are non-relativistic, maintain an absolute “now” even in the face of locally varying time rates, do not permit true time travel, and offer a localized system of “Force” and “Anti-force” powers that interact with those extra hyperspace axes. That has its advantages – the Force and Anti force have as many effects and uses as (say) electromagnetism does – but there are disadvantages too.

In particular, it cripples most forms of True Magic.

While there are many local technologies that offer weird powers in particular universes and clusters thereof, True Magic relies on the same perceptual feedback effect that helps define universes through the exclusionary principle – allowing its practitioners to interact with other universes and the substrate that separates and defines them (whether that substrate is known as “subspace”, “the informational level”, or whatever). In crude terms… a practitioner of “true magic” draws on a world where what they want to happen makes sense and manifests a bit of that universes structure on their local universe. Or perhaps they perceive, and then manifest, a tiny pocket reality that’s more accommodating. Or they just distort the laws of nature locally. All or none of those options may be correct, depending on how you look at it.

There are an awful lot of techniques to make that (whatever “that” is) happen. You can draw on the substrate directly or you can take various shortcuts – such as attunement to specific worlds, asking powerful entities to help out in exchange for spreading their influence and promoting their goals, drawing energy slowly and binding it into prepared effects, drawing on natural “subspace channels” that provide links to particular universes, and so on – to make it easier). Sadly, as a rule… you get what you pay for. Each technique has its advantages and limitations, more general techniques are more work to master, and the range of effects that any one technique can produce tends to be limited. In universes where there are complicating factors, access to True Magic may be very limited indeed.

Basic Sorcery is very limited in the Star Wars universe cluster because the substrate is supporting a large number of timelines separated by local rules – and thus in very close proximity from the viewpoint of the substrate. When power is drawn from or through the substrate the vast, vast, majority of it gets uselessly lost into “nearby” timelines. Unless you find a way to compensate… learning or using True Magic in the Star Wars Universes is extremely difficult, time-consuming, and grossly overshadowed by Force and Anti-Force powers. You can do it – but gathering up enough power to fuel any notable effect will take a great deal of time even if you know how to collect and store it. Those few small oddities that do occur are generally simply taken as minor force, anti-force, or force/anti-force “monotalent” effects. It’s not like the difference is readily discernible to anyone except the user (and possibly not even to them unless they’re exceptionally well-informed about the local physics).

About the only upside is that the Galactic Censor – the self-protective part of the Star Wars Galactic Mind that inhibits cheap super weapons and other major threats to life – doesn’t pay much attention to people dabbling in True Magic. It’s not very threatening on a planetary scale and it doesn’t really interact with the Force anyway.

  • D20: There isn’t enough power available for spontaneous casting. Prepared casting is possible, but it takes a full day to prepare a set of one-use Cantrips, a week to prepare your spells of levels 1-3, a month to prepare your spells of level four to six, a year for levels seven to nine, decades for levels 10-12, and so on – and trying to shortcut that time with things like Rite of C’hi simply does not work. Similarly, items that store magic will work until they run out of magic – but constant-use and rechargeable items will soon deplete their reserves and then take a very long time to charge up again before they can be reactivated.
  • D6: Whatever you name your magical field, you can build up to seven (arbitrary, but a traditional magic number) prepared effects, How powerful they are depends strictly on how long you spend building them – although, for comparison purposes, their “level” cannot exceed the number of dice you have in your magical skill.

There is one natural way to compensate: just as their are natural hyperspace routes, which tend to speed travel and funnel traffic through themselves, there are natural subspace routes or nexi (Since most of the “route” is outside the local universe) – areas which are better connected to some other universe. Those lose less energy to alternate timelines that aren’t a part of the nexus and make it easier to draw on more power to compensate for what is lost. Thus, if a world happens to be linked with a nexus, minor tricks drawing on whatever effects are most natural to the linked universe are actually practical – often giving such worlds a reputation for being haunted, or odd occurrences, or for being home to species with exotic powers.

  • D6/D20. L0 (minor nexi) or L0 and L1 (major nexi) effects can be produced spontaneously. Minor nexi reduce the time required to prepare greater effects by one level (A week becomes a day). Major nexi reduce the time required to prepare greater effects by two levels (a day becomes an hour). In both cases, however, only effects suitable to the energies provided by the nexus are affected.

A skillful user of True Magic can tap into such nexi to produce reasonably impressive effects with little delay, and can even store some of them for later use elsewhere – but will still be limited to the effects that a particular nexus makes available. It doesn’t matter if you know how to produce a thousand different effects if the local power sources will only support ten of them. Of course, location-specific skills that are immensely difficult to develop aren’t well-supported in the Star Wars Galactic Mind – making it extremely difficult for any resident of the Star Wars galaxy to develop them. After all, who wants to waste time on “(Planet) Magic” that only works in one place when they can learn “piloting” and use any starship in the galaxy? Thus native skill-based True Magic Users are virtually unheard of in the Star Wars Universe.

Monotalent Sorcery uses the Force and Codex to cause many of the local timelines to overlap, so that energy can be drawn across the substrate without impossible losses – while simultaneously anchoring the user so that he or she can pull harder without yanking himself or herself out of the Star Wars universe. A monotalent can pull off any minor tricks they know how to use anywhere. If they happen to be at a nexus, however, they can pull off or store reasonably impressive stunts appropriate to the nexus considerably more quickly than normal.

  • D6/D20: L0-L1 effects can be employed spontaneously anywhere. Minor nexi allow the spontaneous use of effects of up to L2, major nexi allow the spontaneous use of effects of up to L3. Preparation time for effects beyond that are reduced by an additional level, albeit to a minimum or one hour. In D6 this is a normal monotalent. In d20 this is usually purchased as a specialized form of Mystic Artist / The Path Of Whispers / through Worldgate

While many sorcery monotalents never really put their ability to use, and those who do often never bother to learn anything beyond a few basic tricks, those few who do make a determined effort to try to exploit their power often wind up being labeled as Sith or working with the Sith. After all, how many Jedi are really focused on enacting strange rituals on distant, haunted, worlds in hopes of acquiring bizarre and unnatural powers that violate the very laws of nature?

Hybrid Sorcery: A hybrid Force-Anti-force user can theoretically learn to duplicate the relevant Monotalent – but a full hybrid has many more power options than they can explore in a lifetime open to them, many of them far more obviously rewarding than trying to force a localized timeline convergence. Even worse, force-based precognition has a very hard time showing things being imported from other universes where the Force doesn’t reach – so anyone trying to let the force guide them will see this particular avenue of development as a complete waste of time. Similarly, using the anti-force to peep into other timelines in search of guidance will generally reveal nothing. After all, getting anything useful out of the project will, at least initially, rely on nexi that don’t extend into all that many timelines – and so this method will also tend to show “no results”.

A sufficiently skilled wielder of True Magic can learn to set up remote links into nexi or even into other universes, becoming a master of unnatural, alien, powers and a likely figure of myth and legend – but without advanced training from a genuine master of True Magic, the chances of anyone getting THAT far are so close to zero that it probably only happens once or twice in the history of a hundred galaxies.

  • D6: This is another specialized skill for each nexus. Fortunately, you only two dice to tap a minor nexus and three to tap a major one.
  • D20: You want Mystic Link with Power Link. Sadly, the monotalent “generating an overlay” effect really doesn’t work with remote links unless you can project it over them to the nexus you want to affect.

The most common form of Sith Sorcery on the Anomaly in Eclipse d20 is Rune Magic, drawing on a particular Nexus – most commonly Specialized for Increased Effect (Double effective rating of the user’s Mastery and Casting skills) and Corrupted for Increased Effect (Spells can be prepared in advance and held. although the total number of spell levels that can be so prepared is equal to the user’s effective Casting skill level). This is usually coupled with the ability to draw Mana only at power nexi. This allows a Sith Sorcerer to have a limited selection of fairly powerful preset effects ready – but he or she must return to an appropriate nexus and spend a good deal of time there to renew them, making Sith Sorcery a very limited resource.

Unfortunately, given that we’re using point-buy systems for both d20 and d6, every Sith Sorcerer is going to be somewhat different – but hopefully that’s enough detail on the general theory to allow for some sensible builds and guesses about the current Sith Sorcerer running about.

d20 – Tomes Of Distant Lore and Remote Tominals

And for today, it’s another question…

How would you build a magic book that can be used to read any information stored in a linked library? I got the idea from an episode of Angel where the titular character is looking up legal references from the library of the inter-planar evil triad of Wolf, Ram, and Hart (in the main plane of the show, they are the law firm Wolfram and Hart).And how would that change if the book could also access magical writings like scrolls and spellbooks?

-Chrislanak

Well, there are a number of ways.

At the most basic, the Eclipse effect you want is Mystic Link/the library in question (3 CP) with Communications (Specialized for Increased Effect (works on an inanimate target) / only one way; you can “read” what is in the library but not add to it (3 CP). Accessing Scrolls that happen to be in the library requires Power Link (3 CP) – a total of 9 CP or one-and-a-half “feats”. If you just buy it that way, you don’t need a book. If you Corrupt it so that you need an actual book with some minor special qualities that is hard to replace to use this power you’re back down to 6 CP, or one Feat.

Book Of Shadows Of (Library).

These tomes, so named because they “shadow” the contents of some distant library, are invariably bound with exotic materials, chased with black gold or deeply tarnished silver inlaid in curious symbols, and surprisingly heavy for their size. Depending on the nature of the library they are linked to, they may have an aura about them that anyone can feel.

  • A Book Of Shadows is basically the package above in Relic form, granting the user access to whatever is in the library it is linked to, scrolls and spell books included. If you buy it as a Relic, you divide by six – giving this a cost of 1 CP.
  • Of course, as a relic, I’d probably also add Returning, Specialized / only for the Relic, not the user (3 CP) so as to make the thing pretty much indestructible. That raises the total base cost to 12 CP and the cost as a relic to 2 CP.
  • If you wish to make sure that you always get your relic back again you’ll want to have a personal link to the thing – Mystic Link with Summons Link, both Specialized and Corrupted / Only to get your stuff back again (not to locate or draw upon it), may take a fair amount of time and effort to do so (2 CP, +1 CP per additional item so linked).

Admittedly, that’s doubling the effective cost of your Relic, but if you’re in a game where your stuff keeps getting blown up or something… turning (say) your prized magical item into a very minor relic with “Returning” so that it can’t get destroyed and slapping a link on it, may be worth a feat or two.

  • Depending on what library it’s linked to, paying two, or even four, character points to have access to it whenever you need to know something is probably well worth it.

The Abyssal Revelations, Necronomicon, Cthäat Aquadingen, Zhou Texts, Et Al.

  • Now, if your relic is linked to some mighty alien library of the Cthulhu Mythos or something… then we can Corrupt the thing for Reduced Cost / each user finds different things in it, obtaining access to their own personal list of terrible, sanity-blasting, occult secrets, spells, and dread rituals that man was never meant to know. That reduces the total cost of our indestructible book of madness to a base of 8 CP – or 1 CP as a relic. You can thus have your own, personal, copy of some dread elder tome filled with mind-destroying secrets for a mere 1 CP, and the dread power locked within its pages will mean that the thing will always show up again somewhere even if you lose it (that’s probably not actually a good thing). Add the linking effect above and you will always get the thing back too – whether the actual character likes it or not.

Next easiest is the Sapient Tome. I’d start off with a…

Scholar’s Tome:

This handy item takes the form of a book that can be “fed” other books and scrolls. It is only a move action (that does not provoke AOO) to open it to the contents of any given book or scroll that it’s “eaten”. Sadly, it is limited to 120 pounds of books and scrolls at any given time (although used scrolls are “digested” and no longer count against the weight limit). Dispel Magic will render it impossible to access the stored materials for a time and if the book is destroyed everything it’s “eaten” will go with it. .

  • Buy this as a Handy Haversack, can only be used to store books and scrolls (x.6), will not give up books after they’re inserted, but used scrolls can be discarded/”eaten” (x.8) = 960 GP.

I would make sure to put a Fortifying Stone on it (+5 Hardness, +5 Break DC, +20 HP, 1000 GP), but that can be done at any time. Adding Ungent of Timelessness (+20 GP) will add a +1 Resistance Bonus to all it’s saving throws. Since good quality durable books are 25 GP and so are Backpacks, making them with Bulette Hide (Hardness 12, 30 HP/Inch, so 8 HP at a quarter-inch thickness) will raise the base cost by 225 GP. A Hardening spell (Level Six, say Caster Level 16, for +8 Hardness) will cost 960 GP, but will also affect “an item” of up to 160 cubic feet. So all you need do is stick your stuff together so it’s “one item” (after all, a suit of armor with many different pieces is “one item”), and that expense is negligible. Call it 20 GP.

That gives our Tome a net cost of 2225 GP, Hardness 25, 28 HP, and a +1 on it’s (almost never needed) Saves. That really ought to be good enough for most adventures.

Grand Scholar’s Tome:

The quickest and easiest way to get the Remote Access function is to use Ensoulment (The Practical Enchanter) on a Scholar’s Tome.

  • A Rank 3 Spirit (+2500 GP) has one free Feat to use (allowing reading what is in the library) and a Rank 6 Spirit (6000 GP) has two (allowing you to use scrolls that are in the library) – and that will give your tome the capabilities you want. It may even have enough skill points to be a good librarian and will be able to do research in the library for you on it’s own while you do other things.
  • If you use a Rank 9 Spirit +12,000 GP) so as to get a third feat and give it Device Use (Scrolls), it will be able to use scrolls from the library on it’s own. Of course, it will also have an Ego high enough to be pretty independent.

The Akhasic Library:

Now, doing this in baseline d20 or Pathfinder is a little trickier. What you want is to first enchant the library.

  • Give it Unlimited Use-Activated use of Mending (only to repair books, x.4, 400 GP) and Prestidigitation (only to snuff out small fires, clean and tidy, and look after the library, x.6, 600 GP). The game master may or may not let you apply “immobile” modifier to half the cost again – but it’s only 1000 GP to start with. Saving 500 GP isn’t really that big an issue, so your game master will probably go for that in either 3.5 or Pathfinder. After all, who cares?
  • Now give it Intelligence (3.5 1000 GP, Pathfinder 500 GP). Our library is now a “creature”, even if a fairly minimal one, at a net cost of either 1500 or 1000 GP.
  • Now give your remote-access tome(inal) Unlimited-Use Use-Activated L3 Scrying / Only to Scry on the specified creature – library and it’s contents (x.2. After all, going from “anyone anywhere” to “one specific target” is about as limited as it gets), Only to read books in the library, not to see what is going on there (x.8) = 4800 GP.

We may be stretching the point to let this read what’s in the library, but there are plenty of other items that stretch their base spells a bit.

  • Still, if there’s an objection, you can always give your book its own Intelligence (500 GP), Darkvision (500 GP), and “Speech” (Display Page, 500 GP). That will let it “read” in the target library and show you the results even if the books you want to read are closed and shelved. That comes to 7300 GP for the Tome and 1000 GP for the Library, but this version can search the target library for particular pieces of information while you’re busy with other things and take care of the books for you.

This doesn’t include the “read scrolls in the library” function, but there’s really no good way to do that in baseline 3.5/Pathfinder that I can think of offhand. You could, however, just enchant the thing with Unlimited-Use Spell-Completion Effects, each usable 1/Day at a cost of (Spell Level x Caster Level x 100 GP), which would be a much better deal in the long run.

The Willful Tomes:

For a hybrid version – using Eclipse only as a source of Feats – we need some way to give an intelligent item feats. Unfortunately, outside of very expensive feat-granting spells, the only way to get an item feats is to get it some hit dice – which is quite awkward. About the only way to do it within the system is to turn it into a Construct Creature – and neither 3.5 nor Pathfinder include any generally accepted method of designing or pricing Constructs. The Practical Enchanter DOES, but includes a lot of qualities that aren’t really needed here.

Ergo, about the only thing we can do this refluff and tweak existing constructs – and it looks to me like the most suitable ones are the

Journeyman’s Eldritch Libram:

  • Soulbound Doll (Three Hit Dice, 2 Feats, 4300 GP):
  • Remove: AC (as per carried item), HP 16, all Saves +1, Speed and Melee Abilities, Dex and Str.
  • Refluff: looks like a book. Can display text and images on it’s pages instead of speaking.
  • Spell-Like Abilities: Four Cantrips 3/Day Each, Two Level One Spells 1/Day Each, One Second Level Spell 1/Day.
  • Feats: Use these to set up your library link.
  • Special: The game master might let you throw in a first level spell or two usable 2/Day in place of the stuff we’re removing, but you can’t count on it.

Using a Soulbound Doll as a “book” is probably the cheapest semi-standard option – and, while it’s magical powers aren’t really very impressive, they can certainly be handy.

The Grand Grimoire:

  • Guardian Doll (6 HD Version, 8100 GP Base, +2L1 Spells 3/Day (as per Intelligent Items) = 10,500 GP (11,500 GP with Fortifying Stone).
  • Remove: Cold Subtype and Fire Vulnerability, AC as per carried item, Immune Cold, Speed 30, Melee, and Dolls Dagger (Extra Cold Damage and Paralysis).
  • Refluff: looks like a book. Can display text and images on it’s pages instead of speaking.
  • Feats: Three. One will cover the basic library link, a second would allow the use of scrolls in the library if taken, otherwise select something.
  • New Stats (Mostly from HD and Stats Change); Initiative +0, HP 33, all Saves +2 Base, Will +3, +6 BAB with Rays, 18 Skill Points,
  • Spell-Like Abilities: Caster Level Six. One Cantrip at Will, Four at 3/Day Each, Four First Level Spells at 3/Day Each, 2 Second Level Spells at 1/Day Each.
  • Special: The 17 Dex should become a 17 Int, which has no great effect other than getting more skill points (total of 30). You may be able to talk your game master into allowing an upgrade on the Ray Of Frost (Perhaps to Magic Missile?) to make up for the loss of the “Doll’s Dagger” ability, but I wouldn’t count on it. On the other hand, a Fortifying Stone should provide DR 10/Adamantine and +20 Hit Points for +1000 GP. This is a bit arguable, but the thing isn’t animate, so it should work.

Using a Guardian Doll as a “book” is a fairly good option. Admittedly, it’s a bit pricey – but given that what we’re really looking for is the remote library access, and that it can cast its spells on it’s own to help you out, I’d still count it as a very good deal. Go ahead. Hang a little healing belt on the thing while you’re at it so it can heal you too.

The Scroll Of Blood

  • Finally, we have what is in some ways the most appropriate construct of all – the Guardian Scroll. At a cost of a mere 5000 GP they come with five hit dice and three feats straight off the rack – so all you need to do is spend one or two of those feats on access to your library and another on Innate Enchantment (a way of displaying things and some other useful tricks) and there you are.

And I hope that helps!

Eclipse d20 Power Packages – The Skirmisher Ranger and the Nightmare Kingdom

The Skirmisher Ranger:

Pathfinder’s Skirmisher Ranger replaces Ranger Spellcasting with one of Pathfinder’s favorite gimmicks – a pool of points and a choice of “tricks” they can be used to power. In this case… about 14 “Points” at level 20 (presuming an 18 Wisdom) and eight Tricks at level 19.

Now, admittedly Ranger Spellcasting is not one of the great magical powerhouses – but there does seem to be general agreement that it does the intended job and that you have to get something really good to justify trading it out. There also seems to be general agreement that the Skirmisher abilities just aren’t good enough – although they are nicely thematic and they do role-play well.

Well, the easiest way to compare things like that in Eclipse is to go ahead and build them. Honestly, however, there are going to be some improvements here. Some of the Skirmisher abilities simply are not very useful and others are kind of weak – and limiting things down to those levels would be more trouble than it’s worth (as I’ve noted before, Eclipse wasn’t really designed to build ineffective abilities; so it is often more work to build useless powers than it is to just take effective ones). As usual Pathfinders “Point Pool and Tricks” abilities translate into a Mana Pool in Eclipse terms. So that’s…

  • 5d6 (18) Mana with Reality Editing, Specialized for Increased Effect (Minor Edits – generally equivalent to first or second level spell effects – cost 1 Mana and do not count as actions or provoke Attacks Of Opportunity), Corrupted for Reduced Cost / Only for Reality Editing, user may only spend 3 Mana per Turn, only to produce a limited (Level / 2) list of Minor Edits which cannot be changed once selected. Will Save DC is (18 + Dex Mod) where applicable, all edits are considered Extraordinary Abilities (20 CP).
  • Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses (18 Points), Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / Only to restore the “Tricks” pool given above, takes at least half an hour per d6 (4 CP).
    • You can split this up if you want – perhaps the first feat getting you 6 Daily Mana and the next three getting you +4 Each. A new trick every even level in any case, since they don’t cost points. Why not? That could give you a fair handful of tricks quite early on.

Common Skirmisher Tricks:

  1. Alchemic Strike: Once per round the user may add the effect of a Tanglefoot Bag, Woundweal, Liquid Ice, or Flash Powder, or that of two flasks of Alkali, Alchemists Fire, Defoliant, or Holy Water, or that of three flasks of Acid, to a successful attack.
  2. Call To Heel: The user’s Animal Companion(s) is/are now in an adjacent square(s).
  3. Cats Fall: You land safely on your feet after a fall, taking no damage.
  4. Dirty Trick: You may attempt a Dirty Trick as if you had the Improved and Greater Dirty Trick feats.
  5. Evasive Stance: You do not suffer attacks of opportunity for 1d4 rounds.
  6. Hindering Strike: Slows target for 1d4 minutes, rounds on a successful save.
  7. Hunter’s Eye: Gain a +10 insight bonus on Perception checks for 1d4 rounds.
  8. Hunters Rush: Once per round you may stand up or move (run, swim, climb, jump, etc) twice your base movement without suffering a stealth penalty or attacks of opportunity. Note that, since this is not an action, you may then make a full attack if you wish.
  9. Mighty Effort: You may burst free of restraint. This negates being Dazed, Fascinated, Entangled, Grappled, Stunned, or Paralyzed when activated.
  10. Mighty Blow: As per Disfiguring Touch, but hours/level, Will DC 20 save for one round / level.
  11. Pack Leader: Up to seven animals you own will be well-behaved for you. When you activate this ability they are considered trained for a particular purpose for the next hour.
  12. Primal Reflexes: Gain a +5 bonus on your initiative and negate Surprise. If used in conjunction with a successful Reflex Save you suffer no effect from whatever triggered the check.
  13. Quick Maneuver: You may attempt any one Combat Maneuver as a free action that does not provoke AOO.
  14. Quick Expertise: You may reroll a skill or attribute check.
  15. Stalkers Wheel: Gain a +4 Morale Bonus to Str and Con and a +2 Morale Bonus to Will Saves, for one round per level.
  16. Subjective Gravity: You may treat walls and ceilings as level ground for 1d4 rounds.
  17. Surmount Wounds: You may use Close Wounds OR Cure Moderate Wounds without provoking an AOO.
  18. Swift Fortune: You may reroll a failed saving throw.
  19. Swift Strike: Once per round each either the user or his or her Animal Companion may make a single attack at their highest BAB.
  20. Trap Maker: If in an unprepared area set off a Trap of CR (Level / 6, rounded up) or less. If in an area that you have been in for at least one hour (Campsite, etc) the CR may be up to (Level / 3, rounded off). Traps may be up to 60′ away.
  21. Trick Shot: The user’s next attack gains a +20 Insight Bonus to Hit and ignores miss chances.
  22. Vanguard: You and your allies gain a +2 Circumstance Bonus to Attacks, AC, Saves, and Checks this round.
  23. Warning Cry: Your animal companion is unaffected by an attack.
  24. Wars Master: You may reroll an attack check OR critical confirmation check once.
  25. Whirling Blade: Once per round you may effectively use the Whirling Blade spell without provoking an AOO.
  26. Whirlwind Strike: Once per round you may make a Whirlwind Attack.
  27. Wild Empathy: Gain a language for twenty-four hours. Languages such as “Tiger” or “Mule” are available.
  28. Wild Forge: Given twenty-four hours in the Wilds the user may provide himself or herself with an “equipment package” with an effective value of up to 200 GP. Given a week, the effective total rises to 1000 GP. While the equipment in this package is too crude and temporary to be sold it is completely functional and may include simple vehicles or even animals (too feral to be sold).
  29. Wilderness Stride: The user’s movement is not hindered by terrain for 1d4 hours as long as it can be traversed with normal movement, even if slowly.
  30. Wrathful Blade: A weapon (or 50 projectiles) gains the Keen property for one minute/level.

Now Ranger Spellcasting is quite a bit more flexible, and somewhat more powerful, than the ten tricks you get with this ability even with this expanded and upgraded list – but, on the other hand, this comes to 24 CP while Ranger Casting comes to 52 CP, so if you’re substituting this package for Pathfinder Ranger Spellcasting you have 28 CP left over.

Now you can step it up a bit by throwing in….

  • Rite of Chi with +9 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted / Three uses (10 Mana) “Per Encounter”, only to restore mana to the Tricks pool, only between “encounters” (7 CP). This lets the Skirmisher use ten tricks per battle without depleting his or her reserves. Given a reasonable number of encounters twelve is probably fine since the base pool remains at 18/Day.
  • Additional Form Of Natural Magic / Reality Editing, Specialized and Corrupted / adds + (Current Level / 4) tricks to the user’s selection (2 C). If taken twice, for (4 CP), the user simply gets his or her choice of (Level) tricks. After that? Well, +2 CP per additional trick works well enough.

That would come to 35 CP (basically six feats) for a choice of 20 tricks and 12-14 Mana per encounter to use them with – and will still leave room for three more feats. That should make the Skirmisher Ranger (or Skirmisher whatever) much more competitive with the normal Ranger.

The Nightmare Kingdom:

With this exotic talent the user can invite others to visit a Kingdom Of Nightmares – undertaking a nocturnal visit to a realm of dark adventures! If they succeed in their adventure they will each awake with some prize, a treasure gleaned from the realms of dream. If they fail…

…Well, they will wake up anyway, albeit with symptoms of having slept badly – a bit of a headache, a feeling of tiredness, and a forfeiture of the usual nights healing. The “treasures” are a bit random and run towards the carnival-prize end of things sometimes as well, but they are always of some use and value. As the “guests” go in level, the “treasures” tend to improve as well.

Secondarily, the dream-adventures tend to act as a group training exercise.

This 12 CP (two feats) power is built using…

  • Group Blessing, Double Specialized / only to share the effects of the Equipage and Mentor powers below, only works on sleeping groups (3 CP). Double-Specialization is normally a red flag, but “only while asleep” is a pretty big limitation – and it only saves 1 CP.
  • Equipage, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only works while the user sleeps, user is not in control of the items gained, although they do tend to meet basic needs, user experiences dreams of small adventures wherein such goods are acquired (2 CP).
  • Plus Returns, Specialized for Increased Effect (the user may sell nonphysical items, such as unused spells and their nightly natural healing, albeit for only a fraction of the normal valuation) / only works while the user sleeps, only things that are renewed daily may be sold, user experiences a dark adventure in the realm of dreams with the nature of the transaction depending on success or failure (a failure sells your nightly natural healing as well as any leftover spells / powers / etc and leaves you a bit tired and possibly head-achy, although aspirin works. A success simply sells leftover spells of your choice and has no side effects save for not having any daily effects that you sold ready if you’re woken up in the night). In general, the odds of “success” are about 50-50, although well-organized groups can get it up to about two out of three (3 CP).
  • Plus Purchasing, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only works overnight, only if the user “wins” the dream-adventure, the “prizes” gained are always of some use but run towards a “carnival” feel; a low-level user may get some supplies and a stuffed animal, or perhaps a minor Charm, a map to some place of interest, a few spare blaster power cells, or some such. Higher level users – having more leftover spells and powers to “sell” – may get bigger and more useful prizes (2 CP).
    • Technically such “prizes” come out of the general fund built up by all of the users over time, so tracking individual “accounts” for each user is not necessary.
  • Mentor, Specialized and Corrupted / only works to add a bonus feat to a Party Template developed by spending time training together in dream-adventures, requires some months to develop, party must agree on their party template (as usual) (2 CP).

The Nightmare Kingdom package can be a fairly effective party-booster, providing minor supplies and an enhanced Party Template. It is not, however, a particularly effective combat package; the user may have a steady supply of snacks and trinkets, and will probably charge a bit for their services – but enabling people to win prizes in dreams won’t help much when a monster is attacking. Most adventurers will be quite willing to hire a dream-guide if they can find one though; the utility is fairly obvious.

Plants, Survival, and Fantasy Mapping

In the realms of fantasy there are magical herbs, strange fruits, plants that walk about and attack, wood that is lighter than air, and so much more. Useful plants will be spread by those that use them, others will tenaciously cling to what they have, and still others will survive in wildly hostile environments where little else can live. The magic of plants is subtle, and slow – but it is deep and strong, a basic part of most fantasy worlds. Like all life… plants seek to reshape the world to suit themselves. Those that are best at it will spread and prosper.

Even in reality… soil deepens as leaves are shed. Rocks are broken up. Nitrogen is fixed. networks of roots hold soil and water. Some plants thrive in levels of salt, or heat, or dry conditions, or cold, that would destroy most others. Others host colonies of ants, or bribe birds and animals to carry their seeds, or nurture deadly fungi, or defend themselves with thorns, poisons, or tiny packages of explosive toxins. Yet others release compounds that attract carnivores when they are damaged by herbivores. As with human cities, plants help to shape their own microclimates. Single plants – often existing as clonal colonies – may be tens of thousands of years old. “Pando” – a single mass of Quaking Aspen roots with many trunks – covers 106 acres, and is a small biome of its own.

In fantasy settings… when the plants need water, or are threatened, or the weather turns too cold, they will respond, each in their own way. Some may summon (or animate parts of themselves as) more active guardians, some will toughen or swiftly heal themselves, some will shape the area around them creating enchanted lands, and many will seek to control the weather. At the most extreme, they may summon storms to stop forest fires, taking advantage of the way that a fire modifies the local weather for their own purposes. Overall… there will be a compromise in any given biome: as it rains, the call for “more water” will fade – and eventually some plants will start trying to stop the rain in favor of sun. The natural climactic patterns are shifted in favor of the plants – but not wholly overturned, simply because plants that are reasonably well adapted to the local weather patterns will need to spend less effort to modify it – leaving more energy with which to grow.

But when the climate shifts, the plants resist. Where some natural barrier prevents easy takeovers by better adapted plants, where a particular biome is well-established, or where the change is extreme enough, sufficient magic is available, and all the plants of a biome are threatened… the course of nature may be dammed as effectively as men may dam a river. Thus are “lost worlds” born – patches of ancient biomes, often complete with creatures long extinct elsewhere, located in the most unlikely of surroundings. Thus one may find sections of ancient dry-weather savanna on plateaus in rain forests, tropical jungles in hidden magical valleys in arctic wastelands, and so on. Moreover, such places are slow to change – for much of the ambient magic that helps speed life’s change and adaption elsewhere is being channeled into maintaining the environment.

And thus it is that fantasy maps show such sharp divisions and strange-by-earthly-standards juxtapositions. Rain forest may well abruptly give way to desert – indeed, they may in some ways complement each other. For the Rain Forest will be pulling in all available water to maintain itself in an area that would normally be a somewhat drier forest – thus helping the desert get rid of water to maintain its own status in a similar area. Both, of course, may be in a stalemated battle against the standard temperate forest that is attempting to invade through the mountain passes, wipe out the desert and the rain forest, and claim the territory for itself. For with the Rain Forest and the Desert effectively cooperating to split the existing temperate area into dry and wet areas rather than simply attempting to force it all to be wetter or drier, they are neutralizing the temperate forests natural advantage.

Such inadvertent alliances may extend to animals as well. A jungle that just happens to be filled with valuable spices, useful mystic herbs and fruits, and other valuable vegetable resources… will be cared for, defended, and even extended by the tribes that live there. A jungle that provides the locals with deadly poisons and beasts of war may well spread rapidly into less formidable biomes.

Does the desert provide a nurturing environment for the sensitive eggs of dragons and great reptiles? Does what grows there harvest the raw energies of the sun, producing magical gems and crystals filled with light? Do quests, visions, and purity grow where one can be surrounded by the power of light both day and night? Thus may the desert may gain its own defenders.

Just as importantly… most such biomes will host their own Realm-Spirits to guard and ward them.

So go right ahead oh designer of worlds. Put that desert next to that rain forest. A tropical lost world will do just fine in the middle of a glacier. Perhaps the people of the sunken realm cultivated air-trees as their realm slowly sank into the sea and now live a hundred fathoms down in a land of thick mists where the trees hold air around themselves. Does fire-flora like to root itself in molten lava? Do those cavernous fungus-farms defy entropy to feed a massive population of underworlders with no reasonable source of energy to make that possible? Why not? The plants of a fantasy realm are every bit as magical as the lightning-throwing sorcerers and cannonball-bouncing warriors. They’re just quieter and more patient about it.

In a time long since lost to myth and legend, the nigh-immortal LyjosAlfar of Malavon wove the great Planetary Bindings – laying their will upon the world itself, to bring a halt to the annoyance of erosion and geologic change for two hundred million years. During those ages, in a lonely forest now known as Malinlassor, the ancient stronghold, the Aursuntelyn grew – trees which were natural foci for life, binding, and nature magic.

Long after the age of the LyjosAlfar had passed the ancient Bindings were broken at last across much of the world – and millions of years of geologic change were unleashed in mere weeks. But an oncoming continent shattered against Malinlassor and the Aursuntelyn, mounding up in mountain-mazes of broken stone. For the Aursuntelyn had become foci for the Bindings, and they and the lands they sheltered endured, as they had endured the ages and every power that had been directed against them for two hundred million years. Beneath their sheltering branches many of Malavon’s other plants and creatures survived the cataclysm – and eventually found their way through the shattered mountains that now surrounded Malinlassor to spread out once more and fill the barren places of the reshaped world.

A few priests and mages of nature and life have been gifted with a talismanic bit of wood, a seed, or – greatest of all – a living Aursuntelyn sapling-staff, but such things can only be gained at the will of the realm-spirit of Malinlassor and the near-eternal trees themselves.

Even today, some twenty thousand years later, forests are still considered a place of refuge – and some among the long-lived races maintain ancient shrines, where young Aursuntelyn gather to themselves the deeply buried remnants of the ancient Planetary Bindings and the energies fed to them by generations of caretakers. If and when planetary catastrophe strikes again… then refuge-outposts of Malinlassor shall be near at hand.

Eclipse – The Bloodmage Healer

Life and Death. Positive and Negative Energy. Vitality and Unlife. They flow and they ebb, they can be gathered and they can be transferred. Where a draught of life is given, wounds and afflictions are washed away before the sparkling flow. But there is always a price. What is given… must first be taken from another.

Such is the path of the BloodMage Healer.

Everyone in the neighborhood had heard of the youngster. A child with the healing touch – and one who was generous in it’s use to boot – was rare enough that it was surprising that there had not yet been attempts to snatch the kid.

Actually, there had been. But there had been no survivors.

But sooner or later… there will be.

BloodMage Healer

Level One Master Of Life And Death

Race: Any. Preferred a Bonus (or at least not a penalty) to Cha.

Available Character Points: 48 (L1 Base) +10 (Disads: Dependent (finds draining life force quite addictive), Secret (has killed many times), and Valuable) +6 (First Level Bonus Feat) = 64 CP

Basic Attributes: Str 7, Dex 14, Con 14, Int 12, Wis 12, Cha 16 (Pathfinder 20 Point Buy).

Basics (18 CP):

  • Hit Points: 8 (L1d8, 4 CP) +12 (Immortal Vigor) +6 (3 x Con Mod) = 26
  • Skill Points: 2 (Purchased, 2 CP) +8 (Fast Learner Specialized in Skills, bought at L(-2) with disadvantage points, 6 CP) +4 (Int) = 14. At least four will be invested in her Death Touch martial art.
  • BAB +2 (Specialized in Touch Attacks, 6 CP).
  • Saves:
    • Fort +2 (Purchased, 6 CP) +2 (Con) = +4
    • Ref +0 (Purchased) +2 (Dex) = +2
    • Will +0 (Purchased) +1 (Wis) = +1
  • Proficiencies: None (0 CP).
  • Initiative: +2 (Dex)
  • Move: 30 (Base).
  • Armor Class: 10 (Base) +2 (Dex) +4 (Armor) +4 (Shield) +2 (Martial Art) = 22
  • Primary Attacks: Touch Attack +7 (+2 BAB +3 Competence +2 Martial Art), 1d8 Drain Effect (Power or HP if victim has no Power), Crit 20/x2, 20′ Natural Reach. May use a Witchcraft Healing effect whenever she gains power from this attack.

Special Abilities (48 CP):

  • Witchcraft III with The Inner Fire and Leaping Fire, Pacts of Vampirism (may touch others to drain 1d4 Power, or hit points if they have no Power, gaining the same amount of Power – but cannot naturally regain power) and Gateway (18 CP).
      • The Adamant Will. Very handy for covering up the user’s true nature.
      • Healing. A primary ability at the moment.
      • Hyloka. Another option for healing.
      • Dreamfaring, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect: May see/hear/smell and strike into coexistent planes without cost. This does not count as an action.
      • Witchsight, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / The user is constantly aware of the physical and spiritual health of everyone within a 30′ radius. The user may tell if they are injured, diseased, cursed, blinded, near death, dying, undead, and so on.
      • Witchfire, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / the user may either strengthen or disrupt structures by touch, spending one power to either use a Make Whole effect or to add 3d6
        “Acid” damage to a successful touch attack. This does not count as an action.
      • Elfshot, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / User may spend power to add an Elemental Manipulation Metamagical Infliction effect to a successful witchcraft-based touch attack. The user may add a +1/+2/+3/+4/+5 total levels of effects for 1/3/5/7/9 Power at levels 4+/8+/12+/16+/20+. This does not count as an action, but saves apply against the Inflicted effect(s).
    • The Inner Fire: Specialized for Increased Effect (Bonus spell slots are converted to Power, spells run on Power) / paired sets of medical/anti-medical effects only, cannot exceed level four effects even with a successful will check). Note that the user’s level must at least equal the level of a bonus slot to activate it and will saves will be required until the user’s level is at least four times that of the spell being cast.
      • L1 (1 Power): Dentistry (Hedge Wizardry)/Inflict Pain, Cure/Inflict Light Wounds, Remove Sickness/Ray of Sickness.
      • L2 (3 Power): Lesser Restoration/Death Knell, Ease Pain/Disfiguring Touch, Remove Paralysis/Ghoul Touch
      • L3 (5 Power): Contagion/Remove Disease, (Remove) Blindness/Deafness, Bestow/Remove Curse.
      • L4 (7 Power): Restoration/Enervation, Poison/Neutralize Poison, Panacea/Mortis (Inflicts damage and – if the target fails to save – one of the effects Panacea removes per seven caster levels or part thereof up to a maximum of 3 at level 15+).
    • Leaping Fire: The user may heal [1d4 + (Con Mod)] hit points per round for 5 rounds for 1 Power. add a Move-Equivalent Action in any given round by spending 2 Power or gain a +4 bonus to Initiative for the same price. For 3 Power they may Haste themselves for 3d4 rounds. to Eliminating fatigue costs 1 Power and eliminating exhaustion costs 3.
  • Whirlwind. Specialized and Corrupted / only for use with her Power-Draining Touch, only (Cha Mod +1) Times Daily instead of 1/Minute (2 CP).
  • Lunge, Specialized for Increased Effect (10′) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only with touch effects, cannot be used with a physical weapon (4 CP). (Provides +10′ Natural Reach with Touch Attacks).
  • Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted / Only for Saves, only for Will Saves (4 CP).
  • Finesse (Uses Dex Mod instead of Str Mod for Melee Touch Attacks, Corrupted / only applies to her Draining Touch (4 CP).
  • Opportunist: May use a Witchcraft Healing Effect whenever she successfully drains power from someone (6 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment: 5476 GP Effective Value (6 CP):
    • Weapon (Hand) Mastery: +3 Competence Bonus to BAB with Hands (L0, Personal Only, 700 GP)
    • Immortal Vigor I (L1, Personal-Only, 1400 GP). +12 + 2 x Con Mod HP.
    • Force Shield I (L1, Personal-Only, 1400 GP). +4 Shield Bonus to AC.
    • Force Armor I (L1, Personal-Only, 1400 GP). +4 Armor Bonus to AC.
    • Summon Rat L0, 3/Day, x.6 / Rat does not actually appear, it simply has 1 HP and can be drained for up to 6 power (dying at -5) – however cheap that is (360 GP).
    • Perpetual Candle (25 GP): Has a little speck of flame which hovers by her to light things when she needs it to.
    • Ioun Torch (75 GP).
    • Comfortable Anywhere: Outfits: Explorers, Hot Weather, and Cold Weather Clothing (26 GP), Ice Skates (1 GP), Skis (5 GP), Snowshoes (5 GP), Holy Symbol (1 GP), Armchair (5 GP), Workbench (10 GP), Bed (10 GP), Cooking Kit (3 GP), Grooming Kit (1 GP), Umbrella (2 GP), Snowshoes (5 GP), Down Comforters (2 GP), Large Tent (30 GP), Compass (10 GP). The surging vital force within the BloodMage Healer makes them comfortable and mobile in many places where a normal mortal would be quite miserable.
  • Immunity to Personal Martial Arts not having a Key Ability Score (Common, Minor, Minor, Specialized / only for the Death Touch Martial Art, 2 CP).

Death Touch Martial Art (Cha). Specialized for Increased Effect (Techniques are doubled in effect if possible, otherwise you get two per choice) / Only usable while wearing light or no armor and no more than lightly encumbered, user is easily detected as a powerful psychic nexus, and so will tend to draw both interested creatures and opponents. Requires: Vamparism Pact.

Since this is a design-your-own style, and will currently have a score of at least +7, she can have at least four techniques. Personally, I’d recommend Power 1 (Doubled, getting her Draining Touch up to 1d8), Attack 1 (Doubled, for a +2 to her Touch Attack), Defenses 1 (Doubled for a +2 to her AC), and Reach (Doubled, for a +10 Natural Reach – giving her a current Natural Reach of 25 feet with her draining touch).

Like most Witchcraft-based characters, the BloodMage Healer comes into their power fairly early on – but they will, like most other fighters, tend to start falling behind at high levels. On the other hand, in the early levels they are devastating – able to use the energies they drain from opponents to heal themselves and their allies as a part of their attacks. Admittedly, it’s only 1d8 damage and 3d4 Healing per strike – but that can be quite effective in conjunction with a whirlwind attack on every enemy within 25 feet even without throwing in “acid” damage or an Infliction effect. If they are up against a swarm of mooks, they may be almost unstoppable.

Further Advancement? Well, a couple of more points in Lunge to get the draining effects out to the thirty foot base range of Witchcraft would be nice. More Martial Arts of course. Imbuement on the hands to add more damage and effects. More Power and Charisma. Reflex Training (the Combat Reflexes variant). Increasing the DC of the saves against his or her Witchcraft is definitely in order. More Witchcraft – Breath Of Life, Venomed Touch, and similar effects seem entirely appropriate – and the usual fighter-style stacking of bonuses. Sneak attack and Presence (to provide flanking) is a possible route as well, but it’s a bit specialized

Eclipse And the Sha’ir

And for today it’s another question…

How would you build a sha’ir (from the Al-Qadim setting) with the Eclipse rules? The class had a 3rd Edition conversion (in Dragon magazine, reprinted in the Dragon Compendium), but that version made some small-but-significant changes to how the class functioned.

-Alzrius

Ah, sha’ir spellcasting! Any spell you want, at any time, with no books or memorization! All you have to do is send your minor Genie Familiar – your “Gen” – out to fetch them!

It has been a long time since anyone asked about sha’ir – and I must admit that that is for fairly good reason. As written in second edition…

  • They can only have one spell ready at a time.
  • They lose that spell it in thirty minutes if they don’t cast it (not long enough to scribe it, so they can’t be a source of scrolls or spell formula).
  • They can only ask for “Common Spells” (Level one or two and normally available in the setting) or spells which they’ve seen used. (How did you decide what spells a new sha’ir might have witnessed before starting play? Wasn’t it at least POSSIBLE that you’d seen a magic show, or witnessed a duel, or seen their great-uncle the retired adventurer use a few spells, or something? There never was an answer for that).
  • They need to supply the spell components for their spells, which can seriously hinder the use of some of them.
  • They will often find that they can’t get spells at all, since their gens don’t like to be disturbed at night, and take vacations, and so on.
  • They don’t always get the spells they want, since their gens don’t always succeed at finding them. The base chance of success is [50% + (5 x shair Level) – (10 x Spell Level)]%. For special modifiers we have: +10% for Common Spells, -30% for Divine Spells (plus a 10% chance per level of the spell of suffering minor divine retribution when you cast it), -30% for spells that weren’t on the list for the setting, and a cumulative -10% for each prior failure looking for a particular spell in a day. And even at best, the chance is capped at 90%.
  • It takes (1d6 + Spell Level (+1d10 on a “00″)) minutes (arcane spells of Level/2 rounded up or less that are normally available in the setting), tens of minutes (arcane spells of higher level that are still normally available in the setting), or hours (divine spells or arcane spells that are not normally available in the setting), to have a gen fetch a spell.
  • If you lose your gen, you can’t do any spellcasting until you get a new one – and each new gen is less loyal and slower (+1 time increment) about getting spells than the one before.

Sure, your first level sha’ir may be able to get a fifth level arcane or second level clerical spell that he or she has seen used, but the chance to get it is only 5% – and trying requires (1d6+5) x 10 minutes for the arcane spell and (1d6+2) HOURS for the clerical spell. Worse, with the failure penalty, they’d only get one try per day. If it was a foreign or clerical spell… they’d need to be at least level nine to get that 5% chance.

A ninth level sha’ir looking for Wall Of Stone? 1d6+5 Minutes, 45% chance of success – and a 22% chance that they would not be able to get it today at all. Of course, if they were lucky they might get it six or seven times – albeit at 1d6+5 minutes each time.

So what were the writers thinking?

This actually gave a sha’ir a lot more spells per day than a standard magic-user. It took a magic-user (or cleric) fifteen minutes per level of the spell to memorize one spell. If you spent four hours memorizing spells each day, your daily magical budget was sixteen spell levels – perhaps a fourth level spell, a third level spell, three second level spells, and three first level spells. If you cast more than that you were draining reserves that might take days out of action for you to rebuild – which was why a wand or even a few scrolls were such good treasures. Had you gotten a hold of a Wand Of Frost (100 charges, Ice/Sleet Storm or Wall Of Ice for 1 Charge, 6d6 Cone of Cold (treating 1’s as 2’s) for 2 Charges, rechargable)? It might well become your magic-users go-to weapon for most of his or her adventuring career – just about as vital as the paladin’s holy sword (should he or she be so lucky!).

The ideal situation for a sha’ir was 1) Party scouts out area, 2) Party waits until the sha’ir has managed to get a hold of a spell that will be really useful (or vital!) to whatever plan they come up with, 3) Party moves in, sha’ir casts his or her spell, and immediately sends his gen out after another spell – probably something low level – that he or she thinks will be useful. 4) If the sha’ir is lucky, he or she may get another low-level spell to use during the initial fighting. If not, it will most likely be ready for the next problem if the party keeps moving. Otherwise… the sha’ir will have to rely on scrolls and magic items, just like the standard magic-user (who will probably have used a fair chunk of their sixteen level daily spell budget already).

Did the surviving orcs set a fire for cover, fall back, barricade the corridor, and turtle up? That gave the sha’ir plenty of time to get a hold of another spell.

The trouble was, that the way the game was actually played often greatly favored the standard magic user, who knew just what he or she had available and had it available RIGHT NOW. It was very common to just treat the “maximum number of spells prepared” chart as “spells per day” (which it was never meant to be), and that meant that spells were thrown around in every fight instead of being saved for special situations. Similarly, it was easy to ignore the limits on how many spells a magic-user could learn, to ignore how easy it was to disrupt spells (and how long they took to cast), to skip past much of the difficulty of acquiring spells, to simply kick in the door instead of carefully scouting and planning, and to press the attack rather than risking giving the enemy time to prepare (even if that left you with no time to prepare yourself). After all… no one BUT the sha’ir really needed time to prepare once the adventure was underway.

Of course, when the party was stuck, and needed a specific high-powered effect to proceed… they could sit back for a while and let the sha’ir try to solve their problem. They needed to teleport to another continent? A first level sha’ir could try to do that if (and it was a pretty big IF) he or she had ever seen that spell in action – but it would take an average of twenty days to actually do it. Adventurers usually wanted to get things done faster than that, so that sort of thing was never a particularly popular option in actual play.

In a lot of ways the sha’ir was the first “per encounter” spellcaster – albeit with a side-order of ritualist. Unfortunately, in a game of resource management, that made them far too weak (one or maybe two spells) when it was time to blow resources in a tough situation, often useless in sudden emergencies, and far too powerful during downtime. After all, a high-level sha’ir could – in theory – throw a LOT of spells. At level twenty they had a 90% shot at sixth level spells in (1d6+6) minutes (call it an average of ten), and so might well be able to throw an average of fifty-four sixth level spells in a day (ten eight hour days worth of spell preparation for a standard magic user!) – even if they WOULD have to change what they were asking for fairly regularly.

That gave them plenty of out-of-combat use of spells like

  • L1) Comprehend Languages, Mending, Mount, and Read Magic.
  • L2) Continual Light, Locate Object, Rope Trick, and Whispering Wind.
  • L3) Clairvoyance, Clauraudience, Explosive Runes, Find Water, Invisibility 10′ Radius (which lasted until you attacked), Item (currently “shrink item”), Non-Detection, Phantom Steed, and Sepia Snake Sigil.
  • L4) Detect Scrying, Enchanted Weapon, Hallucinatory Terrain, Magic Mirror, Remove Curse, Wizard Eye, Fire Trap, and Dig.
  • L5) Animate Dead, Dream, Fabricate, False Vision, Sending, Teleport, Stone Shape, and Airy Water.
  • L6) Contingency, Enchant An Item, Geas, Guards and Wards, Legend Lore, Permanent Illusion, Move Earth, Stone To Flesh, Part Water, Transmute, Control Weather, and Invisible Stalker.
  • L7) Mass Invisibility, Sequester, Teleport Without Error, and Vision.
  • L8) Antipathy-Sympathy, Clone, Permanency, Polymorph Any Object, Symbol, and Glasteel.

Sadly, since they did have to keep swapping what they were asking for regularly, what they had at any given moment would be more or less random – and so they didn’t actually get to cast those spells nearly that often. And if that twentieth level sha’ir asked for a ninth level spell… there was only a 60% chance of getting it and it took at least (1d6+9) minutes to even try.

Then third edition turned a lot of “the way it’s usually played” items into hard rules. Now the “maximum number of spells prepared” chart was indeed spells per day, it only took an hour to prepare all of them, spell formula were easily purchased, concentration checks often let you cast a spell even if you were interrupted, and turn-based combat meant that spells were cast much more quickly – so opponents no longer got many chances to interrupt (and thus a mage no longer had to be carefully defended by other characters to cast any major spells), most spell components were assumed to be available in your spell component pouch, and you were no longer limited in the number of spells you could learn.

And now the sha’ir was blatantly inferior to a normal wizard in everything but out-of-combat utility – which wasn’t a big thing in most games. Out-of-combat utility spells tended to be taken along in wands and scrolls just in case you needed them.

Fourth Edition could have revived the concept, but while Fourth Edition embraced the “per encounter” system, it wasn’t big on scouting, delays, or wildly flexible abilities that could seriously disrupt those encounters. Fifth Edition… well, it could still shift course, but it doesn’t seem to be headed towards the sha’ir’s “can try for anything” style at the moment.

So there are several ways to look at this. We can either copy what the Sha’ir actually did or we can give them an ability set that works like they were probably intended to work as updated for 3.0/3.5/Pathfinder.

For the “what they actually did version” we’ll want…

The Sha’ir (96 CP if bought gradually or can be taken as a +3 ECL Template for “Born” Sha’ir).

  • Skill Specialties in Knowledge/Arcana, Spellcraft, and Knowledge/The Planes, Corrupted / all the same: “Genies and their Works” (2 CP).
  • Power Words, Specialized and Corrupted for increased effect: User can only store one spell at a time although it may be of up to level nine, user must “cast” it normally (complete with Arcane Spell Failure) and must provide any components for it, only to store spells transferred from the user’s Companion, spells are always cast at the user’s level (6 CP).
  • Major Favors (Geniekind) with +4 Bonus Uses (12 CP). Among many other possible favors, sha’ir can ask the desert Janni for guidance and hospitality, ask the greater spirits to provide transportation to and from the Elemental Planes (they normally throw in about a months protection from the local planar effects as a bonus), or even ask for an audience with a great lord of Geniekind. Genies do tend to want return favors later on of course and won’t grant wishes without a compensating service, even as a favor.
  • Immunity / Elemental Attacks (Very Common, Severe, Minor, 10 CP). Provides 12 points of resistance or – if resistance is not relevant – +4 to either AC or the relevant save as needed to protect against a particular elemental effect. This will allow the user to survive on the elemental planes for some time. (Note that their gen familiar increases this to Major Resistance (30 points of Resistance or a +6 bonus) against the element their familiar represents).
  • Major Privilege (6 CP): Geniekin. Genies consider sha’ir to be relatives, treating them fairly and with some goodwill. Moreover, sha’ir can use items made for Genies (a form of “Device Use”, but basically free since no such items normally exist). Finally, a sha’ir can recruit a Genie (Janni, Djinni, Efreeti, Marid, or Shaitan) as an ally provided that it’s ECL is no more than two higher than his or hers. Such an ally will want at least a half share of treasure, counts as a party member for experience point computations, will not grant wishes without proper payment (25,000 GP), and has it’s own motives. While it is there to help the sha’ir, it will not do suicidal things or fulfill unreasonable requests. If it’s more powerful than the party, it will tend to regard itself as being a babysitter at best. Furthermore, Genies aren’t very sociable with mortals. Asking a Genie to run a minor errand in town may lead to all sorts of problems. Only one Genie will accompany a Sha’ir at any given time; they aren’t very sociable with each other either.
    • Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that an enemy Genie will refrain from fighting – but it will probably offer to recruit the Sha’ir before the fight starts.
  • Genie Summoning:
    • Inherent Spell / Dismiss Genie with +4 Bonus Uses (L3, requiring user level 5, as Dismissal, but Genies Only. A Dismissed Genie cannot return for a year and a day) (12 CP).
      • The original sha’ir could use “Genie Traps”, but there were long term penalties for trapping Genies (even if you didn’t demand wishes). To avoid that mess I’m giving them an option to call Genies to help out, but not to grant wishes. Similarly, a Genie Prison has become “Banished for a year”, which is close enough in most games.
    • Summon Genie I: L4, requiring user level 7, as per Summon Monster, but 1 Janni or 1d3 Mephits. (3* CP).
    • Summon Genie II: L5, requiring user level 9, as per Summon Monster, but 1 Djinni or 1d3 Janni or 1d4+1 Mephits. Note that summoned Genies – regardless of type – cannot grant wishes. (3* CP)
    • Summon Genie III: L6, requiring user level 11, as per Summon Monster but 1 Efreeti or Shaitan or 1d3 Djinni or 1d4+1 Janni. Note that summoned Genies – regardless of type – cannot grant wishes. (3* CP)
    • Summon Genie IV: L7, requiring user level 13, as per Summon Monster but 1 Marid, 1d3 Efreeti or Shatan, or 1d4+1 Djinni. Note that summoned Genies –  regardless of type – cannot grant wishes. (6* CP).
      • *All the Genie Summoning spells are Specialized; once one is used, that particular spell cannot be used again for seven days. In addition, using them requires a Genie Seal – an palm-sized disc of precious metal set with small gems and inscribed with intricate elemental and magical sigils. It has a minimum value of 100 GP x the Highest Level of spell it can be used as a focus for – thus a minimum of 300 GP for Dismiss Genie up to 700 GP for Summon Genie IV. Summoned Genies will, however, remain for an extra round if the item is worth 2000+ GP or enchanted (it counts as an Amulet, and so uses the throat slot).
  • Basic Magical Lore: +1 Level of Wizard Spellcasting with no Base Caster Level, Specialized and Corrupted / only to let them understand the basics and use magical items (4 CP)
  • Empowerment, Corrupted for Increased Effect (user may add charges as well as substituting his or her power for them) / only works with Wands and Staves (6 CP).
    • Empowerment Pool: 4d6 (14) Mana, Specialized / only for use with Empowerment (2 Mana = 1 Charge) (9 CP).
    • Rite of Chi with +3 Bonus Uses, Corrupted for Increased Effect (automatically gets 14 points) and Specialized for Reduced Cost / only works overnight, only to refill the Empowerment Pool (5 CP).
      • Most sha’ir should be able to get a hold of a wand or two fairly quickly. After all, given a week they can charge up a mostly-depleted one – a very valuable service.
  • Mephit Companion (Familiar) with the +2 ECL Sha’ir Gen Template, Specialized / Demands occasional quests on behalf of geniekind under penalty of no spells, is difficult or impossible to contact while it is resting (8-10 hours per day), must be paid 10 GP/Level/Month, insists on being treated as an honored ally. If mistreated, a sha’ir gen takes two to three times longer to get spells, may take off for a month, or may demand a fee of up to 1000 GP/Level to return to work (9 CP).

Classical Sha’ir Gen Template:

  • Spellforging:
    • Immunity / the normal limitations of Ritual Magic. Spellforging Rituals are quite quick, immune to most external modifiers, and require little or nothing in the way of components (Common, Major, Epic, 27 CP). Note that, as a natural-law immunity, this can be expected to have a pretty major impact on the game.
    • Immunity / Interaction With Reality (Very Common, Severe, Great, Specialized / Only works while the gen is conducting it’s rituals or resting, 18 CP). Only very high-level effects, such as Wish, can interfere with a gen’s “search for a spell”. Gens normally find spells, rest, and take time off, on the elemental planes – with no defined mechanism for finding them and at no risk. This covers that.
    • Ritual Magic, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / only to duplicate spell effects, the spell effects produced are always transient and unstable; they cannot be stored for more than half an hour, cannot be used to make items, and cannot be inscribed into spell books. Components have no effect on the ritual check, only produces effects duplicating spells which must be either released or stored immediately, failed rituals have no consequences (6 CP).
      • Check: 1d20 + Level versus DC ( 10 + 2 x Spell Level, +6 for Exotic or Clerical Spells, +2 per unsuccessful try in a day). Spellcraft lets you recognize all standard spells – so Familiarity with any given spell is pretty much a non-issue.
      • Requires: (1d6+Spell Level) Minutes (for Arcane Spells of up to half your level, Tens of Minutes for Arcane Spells of higher level than that, and Hours for Divine Spells.
        • Given the existence of Ur-Priests, and the Magic domain, and dual-progression casters, and so on… I’m dropping the idea of divine retribution for daring to duplicate a divine spell effect. There’s no longer any firm division anyway.
  • Power Words, Specialized and Corrupted for increased effect: User can only store one spell at a time although it may be of up to level nine, only to store the results of it’s own rituals, only to transfer them to a companion (master) with a similar power (6 CP).
  • Immunity/having to give up it’s own hit points to be a Familiar (Uncommon, Severe, Major, 6 CP). Just add it’s hit points as a familiar to its own hit points.
  • Speaks the Genietongue (whatever that may be in a given setting) 1 CP.

Originally a Sha’ir could expend money, time, and other resources using rituals to upgrade his or her Gen. To do this in Eclipse, simply invest a few more points in your Companion to improve it. Innate Enchantment is always good, but there are lots of other ways.

I’m not actually sure if this template – or sinking enough levels into the project to avoid taking it as a template – is worthwhile. It could be extremely useful in some games, and utterly useless in other games, all depending on playstyle – and I’ve got no way of knowing what that will be.

For a modern Sha’ir?

Well, if we’re going to think about an updated version we’re going to have to think about what role the sha’ir was intended to fill – and it looks to me like the intent of the sha’ir was as a patch to the magic-user.

  • If a magic-user lost his or her spell books, they might well be semi-permanently crippled. Ergo, sha’ir had no spell books. If a gen was lost, it slowed things up slightly, but was hardly crippling. On the plot level… you could block access to a gen, or simply decree that they were on vacation, and so had an easy way to take away the mages powers temporarily – unlike removing their spell books.
  • Magic-Users were often frustrated at being unable to obtain a favorite spell. If they rolled badly, they could NEVER add a particular spell to their spellbooks unless they somehow managed to raise their intelligence, which (in early editions) was a rare, game-master-only, thing. No more of that!
  •  Magic-Users had a bad tendency to “Go Nova!” and burn through many days worth of spells at once – and then the players griped about not having anything to do save toss daggers. Ergo, a shair only got one or two spells per situation but never ran out – and automatically encouraged scouting and planning to boot.
  • Magic Users had a strong tendency to ignore much of the spell list. They learned and prepared only the “best” and most versatile spells. A sha’ir, however, would often find that their first few choices for a given situation were unavailable – and so would find themselves sorting through the spell list for the perfect spell for a given situation.
  • Magic-Users were pretty much never found undertaking weird quests or doing strange stuff. No matter how flavorful it might be Why should they? The rules didn’t call for it. But sha’ir… sha’ir got little tasks from the Genies all the time and sometimes got major quests from them. Their magic required some character interaction and occasional prices.
    • Secondarily, as a party patch… if the Cleric was down a normal magic-user couldn’t do a thing about it. A Ssa’ir could try to fill the gap – albeit very poorly and at a heavy price.

The trouble with all that is that most of those problems no longer exist. For a modernized sha’ir you want them to have more spells in (much faster) combat but a lot less out of combat, be able to recognize any spell with Spellcraft, but not know about them to ask for them, to have wide but unreliable access to spells, but not to keep halting the game while sorting out what they get. This is pretty awkward since those are kind of self-contradictory.

The 3.5 / Pathfinder Sha’ir:

  • Sha’ir channel all kinds of spells. Thus they need an unrestricted Base Caster Level, at 6 CP/Level, for a total of 120 CP.
  • Favors (Geniekind), Specialized for Increased Effect (Effects become available next round and may be “held” for up to three minutes) / Can only be used to obtain spell-like effects which may include metamagic but which the user must supply the caster level and components for. Minor Favors suffice for levels spells of level three or less, Major Favors for spells of Level six or less, and Enormous Favors for spells of level nine or less. Unfortunately, Genies are elemental beings; they may have trouble providing high level priestly magic and with whatever other spells the GM feels are inappropriate to their powers (IE: Whatever effects he or she does not wish to deal with – usually the most “broken” spells). Unfortunately, since these are spell-like effects rather than spells, they cannot be used with the standard crafting feats in the creation of magical items or be transcribed into spell books (although they can be used to recharge Pathfinder-style Staves). Save DC’s are based on either Intelligence or Charisma, at the option of the sha’ir, although the choice is permanent once made.
    • Three Minor Favors, Corrupted for Reduced Cost / once per “encounter” (6 CP).
    • Three Major Favors, Corrupted for Reduced Cost / once per “encounter” (12 CP).
    • Three Enormous Favors, Corrupted for Reduced Cost / once per “encounter” (18 CP).
      • As “per encounter” abilities these provide our Sha’irs primary magical firepower – at least one big, and potentially two lesser, spells per major scene.
    • Three Minor Favors, Corrupted for Reduced Cost / once per hour maximum (6 CP).
    • Three Major Favors, Corrupted for Reduced Cost / once per hour maximum (12 CP).
    • Three Enormous Favors, Corrupted for Reduced Cost / once per hour maximum (18 CP).
      • As “Daily” powers these favors can be used out of combat, or – in the case of a “boss fight” or emergency – tapped into within a fight for extra magic. Perhaps fortunately, however, a Sha’ir cannot expend all of his or her resources during any single battle. This also prevents our sha’ir from endlessly casting spells like “Shrink Item” during downtime. 
  • Immunity / Having to repay favors at full “value” (Very Common, Minor, Epic, 36 CP). Genies don’t really value spell effects all THAT much. After all, they are beings of magic explicitly capable of granting mortal desires. When operating from their own planes, channeling through enough elemental power to grant some sha’irs request for a “fireball” doesn’t count for much. This does not mean that they won’t want occasional services, payments, or favors – but that’s on occasional thing, despite the fact that a sha’ir will be calling on them pretty much every day.
  • Immunity / Elemental Attacks (10 CP): As above.
  • Major Privilege / Geniekin (6 CP): As above.
  • Genie Summoning (27 CP): As above.
  • Mystic Companion (CR 3 Mephit) with a +2 ECL Template (+1 ECL to buying down it’s CR for purposes of being a companion, +32 CP), Specialized / is difficult or impossible to contact while it is resting (8-10 hours per day), must be paid 10 GP/Level/Month, insists on being treated as an honored ally. If mistreated it may take off for a month or demand a present to return to work) (6 CP).
  • Basic Magical Lore (4 CP): As above.
  • Empowerment, Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only works with Wands and Staves (4 CP).
    • This version of the sha’ir cannot recharge wands and staves outside of the usual methods for Pathfinder staves, but can still preserve their charges to some degree.
  • Empowerment Pool: 4d6 (14) Mana, Specialized / only for use with Empowerment (2 Mana = 1 Charge) (9 CP).
  • Rite of Chi with +3 Bonus Uses, Corrupted for Increased Effect (automatically gets 14 points) and Specialized for Reduced Cost / only works overnight, only to refill the Empowerment Pool (5 CP).
  • Speaks Genietongue (1 CP).

That comes to a total of 300 GP – 15 CP per level through level twenty. Of course, the package includes a fair number of things that wizards buy separately.

Modern Sha’ir Gen Template:

  • Shapeshift with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized / essentially cosmetic, no game-statistic modifications (6 CP). Gen commonly take on the form of androgynous children, good-looking young men or women, or small (winged) animals, but this makes no real difference in their abilities. (Looking like Barbara Eden is optional).
  • Speaks the Genietongue (whatever that may be in a given setting) 1 CP.
  • Gains +1 SP in Knowledge / Mortals (1 CP). Gen don’t understand mortals very well, but they do have a few clues.
  • Innate Enchantment (Belt Of Many Pockets, 11,000 GP), Specialized and Corrupted / can only hold the gen itself and its personal items (4 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment: Six Unlimited-Use Spell-Completion Cantrips at Caster Level One (3000 GP), Force Shield (2000 GP) (6 CP).
  • Blessing, Specialized for Increased Effect (Cantrips are cast at the users Base Caster Level) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only to let its master use some of its Innate Enchantments (the Belt Of Many Pockets and it’s Spell-Completion Cantrips) and Spell-Like Abilities while it’s in it’s in the “pocket” (4 CP).
  • Two Bonus Feats (12 CP).

A gen can “turn to smoke” and tuck itself safely away in one of its masters pockets, a bottle, or some similar sanctuary its master carries. While it is there, its master may employ it’s Cantrips and even it’s Spell-Like Abilities. It’s important to note that this Gen is not a Familiar – it’s a mystic companion, similar to a Paladin’s celestial mount. If you want it to have some of a familiars abilities, it will have to purchase them with its bonus points from being a companion.

So:

The Sha’ir: 20d6 Hit Dice (Fast Learner, Specialized in Hit Dice, 6 CP), +24 Saves (Good Will Saves, 72 CP), +10 BAB (60 CP), Sha’ir Magic (300 CP), Proficient with All Simple Weapons (3 CP), +46 Skill Points and Adept I and II (58 CP) = 499 CP out of 504 CP, so there’s enough left over for a bonus feat – possibly Ritual Magic if you want to maintain the “can occasionally pull off major wonders” aspect of things. “Create Artifact” might be better if you want to make yourself an older-edition style wand or two though.

If you wish, you can add something like “Duties”, and add an additional 40 CP worth of abilities – perhaps some bonus feats or the Ranger or Paladin spellcasting chart (perhaps focusing on Illusions or some such) to take advantage of those unrestricted base caster levels and to have some magic independent of Geniekind.

Now, in general, I recommend a buy-as-you-go approach – but this is also a good point to illustrate breaking up your new “class” into a level progression by simply slapping it’s abilities into a table so that it looks reasonable. That’s a bit sloppy – if you sat down and calculated the prices some levels would be overpriced and some would be underpriced – but it’s not like the base classes aren’t that way anyway and the game still functions just fine.

 

Char Level / BCL BAB Saves Daily Favors  Special Abilities
For Ref Wi Mi Ma En
1 0 +0 +2 1 0 0 Encounter Favor (Mi), Basic Lore, Gen Familiar, Bonus Feat.
2 1 +0 +3 1 0 0 Elemental Immunity (Trivial)
3 1 +1 +3 1 0 0 Genietongue, Empowerment 1/Day
4 2 +1 +4 1 0 0 Geniekin
5 2 +1 +4 2 0 0 Dismiss Genie 1/Day, Empowerment
2/Day
6 3 +2 +5 2 1 0 Summon Genie I 1/Week
7 3 +2 +5 2 1 0 Encounter Favor (Ma),
8 4 +2 +6 2 1 0 Elemental Immunity (Minor),
Empowerment 3/Day
9 4 +3 +6 3 1 0 Summon Genie II 1/Week
10 5 +3 +7 3 1 0 Dismiss Genie 2/Day
11 5 +3 +7 3 1 0 Empowerment 4/Day
12 6 +4 +8 3 2 0 Summon Genie III 1/Week
13 6 +4 +8 3 2 1 Encounter Favor (En)
14 7 +4 +9 3 2 1 Dismiss Genie 3/Day
15 7 +5 +9 3 2 1 Summon Genie IV 1/Week
16 8 +5 +10 3 2 2 Empowerment 5/Day
17 8 +5 +10 3 3 2 Dismiss Genie 4/Day
18 9 +6 +11 3 3 2 Empowerment 6/Day
19 9 +6 +11 3 3 3 Dismiss Genie 5/Day
20 10 +6 +12 3 3 3 Empowerment 7/Day

And there we have the sha’ir. They’re actually substantially more powerful than a wizard for the first few levels, during which even one modest per-encounter spell plus the abilities bestowed by their Mephit’s will easily outshine a wizard’s few spells – but the power balance will shift back the other way at higher levels, After all, a 12’th level sha’ir will get two spells per encounter (one of levels 1-3 and one of levels 4-6) and has five extra spells per day to draw on (three of levels 1-3 and two of levels 4-6) out of combat or in emergencies. Say four encounters? that’s 13 spells. Admittedly, they will probably be well-chosen spells fitted to the exact situation – but it’s still only 13 spells in a day. They are close to being unmatched in flexibility however,

Building Better Martial Characters Part II – The Magic Ingredient

Portions of this article are adapted from, or at least inspired by Jirachi’s look at this topic. It’s over HERE.

Higher level d20 is all about magical power. That doesn’t have to be actual spellcasting, but there comes a point where skills and physical prowess – probably best defined as “things that would be at least somewhat plausible in the real world” – just aren’t enough. Samurai versus another expert swordsman? Sure. Samurai versus a dozen bandits led by an ogre/really big guy with a massive maul? Still OK. Samurai versus a dozen men with guns/low-level magic? We’re pushing the edge of action-movie territory here. Samurai versus Godzilla? Reality loses its temper and stalks off the set.

There are still people who like to pretend that having hundreds of hit points has to do with “skill” or “luck” or “divine protection” – but until they can reasonably explain how “skill” and “luck” helps with “you’ve been knocked out, chained up, and dropped into a blast furnace.” they do not have much of an argument. After all, a high level character with a couple of hundred hit points can just take his or her time waking up, let the chains melt, and emerge from the molten metal to massacre the guards with his or her bare hands before stealing their clothing and money to go on his or her dinner date. Sure, he or she will not be entirely healed up for two or three days (at least without help), but it’s not like that matters much.

“Divine Protection” might allow that, but now you need to explain why the gods get tired of helping you after a couple of sword blows, but are compelled to regain interest by a Wand of Cure Light Wounds. And how other spells can measure the “Amount” of divine protection you have, and why it’s so consistent, and so on.

But even if we carefully avoid considering that kind of issue… there comes a point where even being implausibly tough and strong will no longer make you an effective adventurer. Superman starts needing his X-Ray Eyes, Flight, Heat Vision, Super-Speed, and Life Support, Batman starts needing his near-precognitive planning ability and arsenal of blatantly magical gadgets, and your Barbarian starts needing to take increasingly nonsensical “rage powers” and magical equipment (and may have a hard time even then as actual spells increasingly dominate scenarios).

So you’re going to want some magic.

You can get that by taking individual powers. After all, something like…

  • Life Drinker: Presence, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / only functions (Cha Mod) times per day, requires a standard action. All enemies within 10′ are affected by Vampiric Touch, you gain hit points from this as usual up to a maximum total of 60 (6 CP).

Isn’t at all bad.

  • Throw in Immunity / The usual radius limit of Presence (Common, Minor, Major) to get +30 feet – so you can target everyone within a forty foot radius with your presence powers – and suddenly your Presence effects are powerful selective-target Auras, with first level effects for 2 CP, second level (or double first level) effects for 4 CP, and third level (or +50% second level or triple first level) effects for 6 CP, that affect either enemies or allies as you specify when you buy them. Throw in Bonus Uses (+2 per CP, since the same limitations apply) if you really like something.

Yes, these are powerful. Fundamentally, any “Martial Feat” should be just as useful to a warrior as “Craft Wondrous Item”, “Quicken Spell”, or “Persistent Spell” is to a wizard. Similarly, you don’t have to take a sequence of feats to go from Burning Hands to Scorching Ray to Fireball, so why should martial characters have trees of feeble feats to get to the good stuff? Why should they have mostly-useless feats in the first place? Thus, in Eclipse, I tried to avoid requiring those.

You can get some magic in a LOT of ways. For example…

  • The Bokor / Binder (45-60 CP) package is built using Witchcraft – and while it definitely has its limitations, it offers tremendous flexibility. It’s a good deal for most martial types.
  • Entreaty Magic (87 CP), is built using the Path Of The Dragon. It involves making some fairly major commitments – but tying your character into the setting is generally a good thing and it can be fun to imitate Dr Strange in many ways. You’ll want to think carefully about what entities you’re calling on though.
  • Skill-Based Partial Casters (Mostly around 70 CP) can be plugged in to replace Paladin, Ranger, or (at more expense) even Bard spellcasting with few other changes – usually offering higher level spellcasting and a broad choice of themes. They do, however, tend to be a bit more tightly focused, so you’ll need to think about what you want the character to be able to do. If you want to be a traditional Paladin-type the Solar Guardian might do. Barbarian? Battlerager. Antipaladin? Demonologist. These are freeform systems however, and will require a lot of judgement calls and improvisation.
  • Gun (Or Other Weapon) Fu (18+ CP) is built with Reality Editing – and can be easily expanded or used with other weapons. (Sadly, the full-out Martial Maneuvers are much more expensive).
  • Martial Disciplines (2L1, 2L2, and one each of L3-9 “martial maneuvers” for 48 CP) are built using Inherent Spell. A Fighter, Paladin, Ranger, or Rogue could fairly easily afford one or two.
  • Gravespeaking – or at least the major powers – are built using Channeling. Why not go into battle encased in necromantic armor and with some undead allies by your side? Join up with Howl-Of-Death and start rampaging.
  • The Serpent Master (86 CP) uses the Wilder Psionic Progression to summon and control hordes of snakes and use venomous and/or hypnotic powers.
  • Sir Laurent’s Video-game style Holy Auras (36+ CP) are built with the Path Of The Dragon to enhance all his allies – although scaling them up too much further will get expensive.
  • The Basic Shamanic Magic Package (24 CP) is related to Entreaty Magic and lets you draw on a wide variety of spirits for powers.
  • The Pulp Hero (64 CP or +2 ECL Template) provides a wide variety of boosts (including options for vehicles and such) for larger-than-life heroes.
  • The Master Of Stars (64 CP or a +2 ECL Template) offers endless firepower, some defenses, and perpetual access to a selection of handy spells. Of course, you can just buy the parts you want separately. .
  • Raven’s Power Package is primarily built on Witchcraft, but works quite nicely if you want to be a superhero with dark powers.
  • Kelelawar uses an Immunity to allow skill-powered Martial Arts Magic,
  • A Ninja’s Ki Pool and Recovery Boost (30+ CP) provides a variety of handy tricks, and is easily expanded if you want to build a (much improved) “Skirmisher Ranger” or some such.

Given that we’ve already pulled 102 CP out of their hit dice and base attack bonus it wouldn’t be hard to give a standard Fighter some magic and still buy some other enhancements. Paladins and Rangers, however, already spend about 70 CP on their magic packages – which makes it easy to augment them or substitute something else.

Still, Spell Progressions – basically sets of prepackaged one-shot special powers that you can trade around – are pretty much the d20 standard. They’re versatile, useful, and very, VERY, well-supported, so paths that provide fixed lists of limited-use abilities have to work hard to keep up. The Full Casters (Cleric, Druid, Wizard, Sorcerer, Psion, etc) and two-thirds Casters (Mesmerist, Bard, Psychic Warrior, etc) are a bit too expensive to squeeze into a Martial Specialist – but the Ranger, Paladin, and Assassin’s four-level spell progressions fit in there already. In fact, they may well be a bit overpriced in Pathfinder, which spends a fair number of points buying Caster Levels for them that don’t do much. After all… most of the Assassin, Raner, and Paladin spells aren’t very level dependent. Third editions ten caster levels mostly do just fine.

Still, of those, Ranger and Assassin Spellcasting seems to function tolerably well. They’re not all that optimized, but they don’t really have to be. Paladin spellcasting, however, is all too often seen as underpowered. Given that it costs the same as Ranger and Assassin casting… there’s an obvious place to look – the spell selection. Paladins do have some pretty good spells, but they mostly take too long to cast or are things that more powerful divine casters get long before. Given that I don’t want to rewrite the entire Paladin spell list at the moment, lets see about ways to reduce the cost and/or improve effectiveness.

  • The quickest solution is to just Specialize the entire deal for half cost / only grants access to a small number of spells (Probably Cha Mod +2 per level or some such). This will, of course, lead to careful cherry-picking of the best spells – but the Paladin list hasn’t got all that many spells that you’ll want to make a lot of use of anyway. For alternative ways to build things, try…

Servant Of The Gods (68 CP):

  • Inherent Spell, Specialized/Only As a Prerequisite (3 CP).
  • Advanced Inherent Spell I, (L4 Greater Invocation, Minimum Level 7; Any L1 Paladin or Suitable Cleric Spell, +3 Bonus Uses = 11 CP)
  • Advanced Inherent Spell II, (L5 Greater Invocation, Minimum Level 9, Any L2 Paladin or Suitable Cleric Spell, +3 Bonus Uses = 11 CP)
  • Advanced Inherent Spell III, (L6 Greater Invocation, Minimum Level 11, Any L3 Paladin or Suitable Cleric Spell, +3 Bonus Uses = 11 CP)
  • Advanced Inherent Spell IV, (L7 Greater Invocation, Minimum Level 13, Any L4 Paladin or Suitable Cleric Spell, +3 Bonus Uses = 17 CP)
  • Streamline x4 plus Metamagical Theorem/Compact, all Specialized / only to Quicken the Inherent Spells in this package (15 CP).

This package upgrades things considerably – providing four spells of each level, allowing the spontaneous use of any Paladin (or Clerical Spell suited to Paladins) spell of those levels, and using the characters level as the caster level – but it also invoking the power of an appropriate Divine Patron sixteen times a day. Said Patron is going to NOTICE. And while there are much worse divine beings to have noticing you than a Patron of Paladins, a Servant Of The Gods can still expect to see divine quests, missions, and requests coming his or her way fairly regularly. I’d be very cautious about buying Ranger, Assassin, Healer, or similar thematic groups this way.

The Inward Source (18+ CP).

  • Witchcraft II, Specialized for Half Cost / only as a prerequisite (6 CP).
  • Witchcraft Path Of Fire / The Inner Fire, Corrupted for Increased Effect / Cannot cast spells “Unsafely” (6 CP).
  • Augmented Bonus (corrupted for increased effect (only applies to get additional spells) / Adds Con Mod to Cha for computing Inner Fire spell slots) (6 CP)

For the price of a mere 18 CP, accepting a very limited spell selection (six of each level), and a slight delay on getting access to spells (gaining spells of level 1/2/3/4 at levels 4/8/12/16 instead of 4/8/11/14) this provides fairly modest spellcasting.

  • For (+8 CP) you can add buy two D0 HD / Specialized for half cost / only for the Inner Fire progression and get your spells at levels 2/6/10/14 instead.

Jirachi recommends buying The Inner Fire again (For Int or Wis) to get more slots and a wider spell selection – but I suspect that neither of those will be high enough to have many bonus spell slots associated with them, so I’d recommend just buying Mana as Generic Spell Levels, Corrupted / only to be bound into additional spells for the Inner Fire progression (+5 total levels per +4 CP). In either case, you might want to buy off the Specialization on Witchcraft II (since Witchcraft offers some very hand options on the cheap) and/or the Specialization on those Extra Hit Dice – since more hit points and a higher effective level for Inherent Spells, Presence, and so on is always nice.

Channeling (24+ CP)

  • Channeling, with 1 + 3 x (Cha Mod) uses a day, with + 2 base intensity (21 CP)
  • Channeling / Conversion: Invocation of the Holy Knight* at Spell Level 3/4/5/6 at character levels 5/7/9/11. This can produce any positive-energy based paladin spell effect of up to spell level 1/2/3/4 (3/6/9/12 CP). Sadly, due to the built-in limitations of channeling, effects other than buffing, healing, and sacred stuff are off the table unless you buy an (expensive, special GM permission, natural-law) immunity to that limitation, or buy a variant of Dualism (6 CP) with the ability to cast spells from another power source and a second Greater Invocation to use with it (another 3/6/9/12 CP) to cast spells that fit into its theme.
    • *In practice, this might as well be ‘invocation of positive energy’, but calling it this because it seems appropriate in context.

Jirachi likes this method since it allows a more traditional progression, is nicely thematic, and is easily expanded by buying additional uses and more higher-level conversion effects – possibly even using some Mana with the Spell Enhancement option to allow occasional access to ninth level effects. You can even make it sightly cheaper by limiting your Channeling uses to being used for Spell Conversion, but I’d prefer to leave them open and taking some of the advanced channeling effects instead. Some of them have quite impressive applications.

You could use this approach to purchase some of the other Paladin abilities – but the minimum level requirements for casting such spells will put off their use to considerably higher levels than simply buying the various abilities.

  • 1 + Cha mod Channeling uses (6 CP) (May or may not be specialized in spell conversion)
  • Additional Conversion effects / set of four level six spells (15 CP, requires 11+ Hit Dice for full control while using them).
  • Day Long Armor Of Light (base level 3, + 4 levels of persistent – 1 for more than three levels of metamagic = level 6
  • Day Long Good Hope (base level 3, + 4 level of persistent – 1 for more than three levels of metamagic = level 6)
  • Week Long Detect Evil (Base level 1, + 6 levels of persistent, – 2 for five or more levels of metamagic) (While the spell is somewhat less effective than the basic Paladin ability it should still work well enough).
  • Day Long Disease Immunity (base level 3, + 4 levels of persistent – 1 for more than three levels of metamagic = level 6
  • Immunity to dispelling (Specialized for reduced cost / only for channeling effects, only for ‘personal enhancement’ spells) (Uncommon/Major/Epic) (12 CP)
  • For another 3 CP, you can select three more spell effects to use, upgrading them along with the Invocation Of The Holy Knight effect – either things specific to your character or spells designed to mimic more paladin powers. High end healing powers are always nice…
  • To get around that “level eleven” requirement you can either buy 1d6 (4) Mana with Spell Enhancement, plus Rite Of Chi with +6 Bonus Uses, all Specialized and Corrupted / only to reduce the level of your conversion effects, only while meditating, only to refill the pool above, etc (7 CP) to let you cast them at level five. If you’ve really got to get it lower, you can buy some bonus hit dice too.
  • Alternatively, you could buy Reflex Training (6 CP) to let you apply short-term versions before entering combat.
  • In theory you could also buy some Feat-Bestowing spells (Very Complex Mental Feats if the GM opts to allow such spells – Companion/a holy mount and Healing Touch with similar modifiers – but buying ways to make them usable at low level probably isn’t really worth it. Those abilities are only 6 CP each, so you might aw well just buy them straight.

Or you could tweak things in a lot of other ways. Eclipse is a point-buy system after all.

And, of course, there are still more ways.

  • You 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 +12 Bonus Uses, and +4 to base will saves) and simply channel the power of your god into divine effects.

And I hope that helps!