Eclipse – The Advancing Warrior, Part III

This got out of order, so for today it’s fighters with Mounts instead of Archers and Tricksters. Ah well.

The Mounted Warrior:

The first step in becoming a mounted warrior is getting a (preferably either intelligent or combat-trained) mount. The problem here is that normal-animal mounts short of elephants, mammoths, and major dinosaurs have about the same life expectancy on an adventure as Cure Wounds potion – and cost about the same too. That’s why one of my first edition Paladin’s rode a transfomed Brontosaurus. While this does suggest getting “mounts-in-a-bottle” at some small surcharge (Pathfinder’s L2 Carry Companion spell covers this) that doesn’t solve the “easy to kill” problem.

  • The most obvious and easy way is, of course, to take a Companion and – for practicalities sake – stick a +2 ECL Template on it that includes Returning and some boosted speed and self-healing and such to go along with its basic enhancements. This also makes it easy to get an intelligent mount and skip control checks. You’ll have to wait to fairly high level to – say – ride a dragon, but it’s quite possible and you can start out with a decent mount at level one. (12 CP).
  • Leadership, Specialized / only to get a companion that serves as a mount (3 CP) is classic – but you’ll need to wait until level four or more to get anything at all. In practice, you’ll probably have to make do with real mounts until level five or six. Worse, many game masters won’t allow Leadership at all.
  • If you’re using Witchcraft (and if you’re a Fighter, why aren’t you?) you can take Birth Of Flames to create a permanent sixth level Astral Construct (per The Practical Enchanter). That’s about the toughest mount you can get early on, quite customizable (I like to give them Fast Healing and Intelligence so they get Feats), they return after 2d6 days if “killed”, and can be Summoned or Dismissed for one Power point. That’s a fairly impressive – and convenient – mount right out of the box for a mere (6 CP).
  • You can use temporary summons: while most spells aren’t great for combat mounts there’s Hound Of Doom at L3 – just right for an Inherent Spell with +4 Bonus Uses (12 CP). Those are actually pretty decent mounts.
  • If you want to get – say – a little Rune Magic (Summoning) and Mana, Specialized and Corrupted (Probably for Reduced Cost, since if you can talk the game master into Increased Effect you will only need a +12 total to hit caster level eighteen and ninth level effects) / only for Summon Mount spells you can quite easily produce mounts as needed.

Summon Mount (Simple Spell Template):

The general Summon Mount spell closely resembles Summon Nature’s Ally, but it only summons creatures to ride on, offers a considerably smaller (three at each level) selection, and they always show up next to the caster. It does, however, includes appropriate saddle, tack, and harness and the creatures are considered to be well-trained mounts. If you summon a mount one level less powerful than you are entitled to you get two of them. If two or more levels less you get four. Variants on the basic spell include: 1) summons a specific creature (-1 Spell Level), lasts for one minute per caster Level (+1 Spell Level), and lasts for one hour per caster level (+2 Spell Levels). This isn’t a bad route either.

Available Mounts from Summon Mount:

  • L1: Riding Dog (Medium), Equine (Pony/Mule/Light Horse) (Large), Hippocampus (Large).
  • L2: Axe beak (Large), Hippogriff (Large), Heavy Horse (Large).
  • L3: Giant Eagle (L), Pegasus (Large), Large Wolf (4 HD).
  • L4: Dire Boar (Large), Griffon (Large), Giant Scorpion (Large).
  • L5: Manticore (Large), Orca (Huge), Unicorn (Large).
  • L6: Elephant (Huge), Nightmare (Large), Wyvern (Large).
  • L7: Kirin (Large, CR7 version), Mastodon (Huge), Triceratops (Huge).
  • L8: Dragon Horse (Large), Roc (Gargantuan), Young Dragon (Chromatic, Metallic, or otherwise as the GM permits. Usually Large).
  • L9: Androsphinx (Large), Celestial Charger Unicorn (Large), Dragon Turtle (Huge).

Yes, you can vary the list if you like. There are lots of other things you could ride.

Finally, if you want to be really over the top take…

  • Blood Mount: Shapeshift, with the Growth, Dire, and Dragon modifiers, all Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / the user cannot actually shapeshift, only to allow the user to produce creatures to use as mounts and combat aides (6 CP) plus Extended Creatures Of Blood and Magic Of Blood (18 CP). That will let the user take a number of points of damage equal to the maximum a creature of the Animal, Dire Animal, or Dragon type of equal or lesser hit dice could have to create an obedient creature of that type that will last for the next (Level) days unless slain sooner. Sure, you will need a few Heal spells to do it – but if you’re high enough level, you can make yourself a pack of dragons or something.

So you have a mount. Fortunately, the summarized rules for mounted combat aren’t all that complicated:

  • The mount acts on your initiative, but has it’s own actions, movement rate, and attacks.
  • If it moves, it carries you along, so you can use your movement action for something else.
  • If it charges, you are charging.
  • You can use a standard action to attack someone your mount passes.
  • While you can take a full-round action while the horse moves, you can’t normally make a full attack on a single target – although the rules don’t really say if you can use a full attack to strike multiple creatures along the mounts route. I’d say “yes”, but that’s just me.
  • When the mount moves, it triggers Attacks Of Opportunity on itself, not on you.
  • Being mounted often provides an “On Higher Ground” advantage.
  • Ranged attacks made while the mount is moving are made at -2 per full movement multiplier used (-2 for 1x Speed, -4 for 2x, -6 for 3x, -8 for 4x, and so on).
  • Spellcasting while your mount is moving requires a Concentration check.
  • Lances get a +1 Damage Multiplier on their first attack when used to Charge.
  • If you ride a mount out of a threatened area, it provokes one Attack of Opportunity which may be taken against either the mount or the rider.
  • There’s a bunch of stuff about Ride rolls for various tricks, but you can look that up when you need it. Usually you won’t. In fact, if you’re making a serious mounted warrior you will make sure that you don’t ever need to roll.

Now, as for the basics… in Eclipse, most of the damage boosters, charge boosters, or similar items care if you are on a mount or not. Your extra damage, charge multipliers, and other tricks from the Smasher and Charger paths still work just fine. About the only things that don’t are the things that let you move when they’re triggered. Those won’t work unless you get off the mount because the mount isn’t moving.

  • Natural Rider: Mastery: You can “Take 10″ under stress for (3 x Int Mod, Minimum 3) skills, Specialized and Corrupted / only for Ride. So for 2/3/4 CP you may take 10/15/20. You should be able to just pick what you need to avoid every having to make Ride checks at all.
  • Mounted Caster: Mastery, as above, but only for Concentration checks required for spellcasting while riding.
  • Battle Dance: Blessing, Specialized and Corrupted / only to transfer triggered movement opportunities to your mount (2 CP). With this, for example, if you have the equivalent of Great Cleave available, your mount can take the 5′ steps instead of you and if you have Reflex Training it could be used to allow your mount to move.
  • Shielded Mount: Blessing, Specialized for Reduced Cost and Corrupted for Increased Effect / The user’s Shield Bonus to AC, including any Enhancement, Martial Arts, or other boosts applies to his or her mount while he or she is riding it (3 CP).
  • Legendary Rider: 1d6 (4) Mana with Reality Editing, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / only for tricks that directly involve your mount, Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only to recharge the Legendary Rider pool above (10 CP). Do you want your horse to gallop up a rolling avalanche? Skip across the bits of rock floating in a mighty river of lava? Appear out of nowhere when needed? Carry you safely through that pyroclastic cloud? Smash down that might adamant door? Stomp on and break the chains holding you? Carry that child to safety through the mountains despite that legion of demons in pursuit? Do you want your Night Fury to breathe down the great dragons throat and set off it’s own breath weapon internally? Then you want Legendary Rider. You won’t be able to pull such stunts more than once or twice a fight unless you upgrade your Mana reserve, but when you really need to do something that’s pretty much impossible, you can pull it off.
  • Finally, of course, you’ll want a good chunk of the Rider ability sequence. It can get expensive, but most Riders will be able to Specialize and/or Corrupt it to reduce the cost – perhaps applying it only to the Astral Construct they got with Birth Of Flames, or to their Animal companion rather than to anything they try to ride (Or, for that matter, pilot). So a character could purchase Rider (roll to negate attacks on the mount), Might (Add the Faithful Steed Template), Psychic Bond (with Calling) (Communicate with and summon your mount), Improved Stable Seating (eliminate all penalties for acting from a mounts back), Battle Dance (add your Wis Mod to the mounts AC), and Spirited III (+30 to the mounts base movement) for a total of (18 CP).

The Mounted Warrior path costs 50-60 CP – about five levels worth of special purchases for our Fighter – if he or she wants the whole thing. That’s expensive – but the advantages of extra mobility, actions, and damage can be well worthwhile.

Character Optimization in RPG’s and Eclipse:

Today it’s an offline question – but it’s very relevant to the latest article series, so I’m sticking it in here:

How do you optimize a character in Eclipse, or in RPG’s in general?

First off, you remember that RPG’s are social events. You “Win” by contributing to everyone having fun. A moment of drama, of defiance, or of inspiration, or even a really good death scene, will be remembered, and can be enjoyed over and over again, for years to come. Good scenes and stories are what it’s all about. Which was most important and still gets remembered and talked about decades later in The Empire Strikes Back? That Darth Vader must have at least a +5 combat advantage over Luke or the “I AM your Father” reveal? The creature bursting out of the victim’s chest in Aliens or your impression of the likely skill bonus provided by the futuristic medical resources that were in use to to try and help him? The challenge rating on the fight with the flying monkeys grabbing Dorothy or “There’s no place like home”? The likely damage done by the proton accelerators in use in the hotel or “He slimed me”? Oliver’s pickpocket training or “I would like some more please”? The burning of Atlanta or “Frankly My Dear I don’t give a damn”?

Jackie Chan may be famous for his fight scenes, but don’t they all blur together?

Game statistics are a framework for your character, but by themselves they are little more than a skeleton. An optimized RPG character for actual play – as opposed to a solitary exercise in mathematics and sourcebook-mining for an “optimization” board – is one that is fun to play and that everyone else who’s playing, including the game master, enjoys having around.

That means that there are two levels to optimize on – the Strategic / Social (making a character that the game master and other players will WANT to have around) and the Tactical / Mechanical (making a character that can contribute effectively).

Not surprisingly, “Strategic” comes first. All Pun-Pun’s “brilliant exploits” are useless if you can’t get him into a game. For that, here are six rules for Strategic Optimization:

  1. You want your character to have a variety of useful, but not conclusive, options applicable to a broad variety of situations. Doing the same thing over and over again – even if it’s an automatic “I Win!” button – is boring. In fact, “I Win!” buttons are ESPECIALLY boring, if only because they tend to shut down interactions rather than getting everyone involved. A character who can contribute in a lot of different situations and help keep the other player characters involved too is far more strategically optimized than one who can only do a few things – even if they are very powerful things.
  2. You want your character to have a strong backstory and a memorable personality – making him or her much more difficult to simply replace with another character. That will often take a good deal longer to develop than the game statistics, but RPG’s usually last for quite awhile. You generally have the time.
  3. You want your characters to be connected to the other characters and willing to interact. While secretive lone wolves are fun to read about, demanding that the other players remember what bits they’re supposed to know about and which are only known out of character is extremely rude. Wanting to go off and monopolize chunks of game time – preventing everyone else from playing – is even ruder (although it’s easier to manage in Play By Post – although then you need to accept that everyone else will have moved on and will not care what you were up to in your solitary side game). RPG’s are social things. If you’re failing to socialize, you’ve already lost.
  4. You want to respect other character’s special niches. Unless you’re willing to play second-string backup to everyone else, leave other people’s specialties alone even if you’re so mechanically “optimized” that you can outshine four or five of the other characters at the same time. If you don’t let other people do their thing, the game will fall apart because the other players will lose interest – and you won’t get to play your shiny “optimized” character any longer. That’s an automatic loss again.
  5. You want your characters to have motivations and ethics. Things that they want to do and accomplish, and other things that they just will not do. The Shadowrun Medic who would NOT participate in Wetwork – and who would warn the targets and try to protect them if the rest of the group was discussing taking such a job – was a lot more interesting than a generic runner who would do anything. Just as importantly… being an actual ethical physician let him maintain a lot of allies and contacts that a character with no ethics would have had a lot of trouble with. That often turned out to be a very valuable niche.
    1. Go ahead. Do things that are extremely dramatic or in-character even if they are not optimally efficient (or even possible) mechanically. Remember that it’s a game and that EVERYONE is there to have fun. Give it a chance and you’ll find that most game masters are quite willing to let the Rule Of Cool override (or at least stretch to the breaking point) the actual game mechanics when you’re having a moment. The rules didn’t really cover it when the Shadowrun Medic found the Slasher’s latest victim – decapitated mere seconds ago – and promptly oxygenated the brain, healed the major blood vessels, supplied blood and nutrients, and started putting the guys head back on. The rules said “He’s dead Jim!” Rule Of Cool voted with biology and said “that might actually work!” – and the fact that the setup was supposed to wind up with the character accused of the crime got tossed right out the window – and the scene turned into “Cops! Good! Lt. Richards, call an ambulance, Leonard, you apply pressure here while I heal this segment… maybe this guy can identify the Slasher!”.
  6. You want to make yourself important to the story in some way so that it – if something happens to you – the game master will have to do extra work to keep the game on track. Perhaps you can provide the exposition, have given your character stacks of plot hooks, be searching for kidnapped relatives and thus driving the “find the bad guys” plot, or you’re linked with a bunch of handy NPC’s that you wrote up, or have taken the mystic oath of service, or are really deeply committed to pursuing the current McGuffin, or are the one providing items and boosts for the party. If you can, be more than one of those things – or provide filler details for the setting. GM’s hate extra work, so this makes your character a LOT safer. There is no protection stronger for any character than plot armor.

Tactical Optimization is what the people on most “Optimization Boards” are talking about. Of course, you can be “optimized” even if the game has no mechanics beyond “your character is good at that” and “you don’t know how to do that” based on your background and description. If you decided to play a hardbitten detective, good with a gun and tough as nails and wrote up a character history and description for that – and the game master opted to run a 1920’s Chicago-based Gangsters game – then you are well optimized for the game. The fellow who opted to write up a history and background for a Peruvian jungle runner probably is not.

That means that there are two basic rules for Tactical Optimization even before we get to the game mechanics – although they overlap into the “Strategic” level a bit.

  1. You want to be competent. It’s fun to watch Inspector Jacques Clouseau, or Cheech and Chong, or the Marx Brothers – but it’s less fun to try and play them, even if you can keep the jokes rolling well enough to make a creditable try at it. You want your decisions to mean something and to achieve results on your own merits – not to have victories handed to you.
  2. You want to avoid becoming the primary target. At it’s most basic… if you open a door and see three men – two of whom reach for knives while the third is bringing up a submachine gun to point at you… which one do you shoot first? Similarly, if one PC demonstrates the capacity to do immense amounts of damage, or is throwing really powerful magic about, or some such… every enemy with any intelligence at all is likely to say “OH @#$%& NO! GET THAT GUY!”. Don’t be “That Guy”. Don’t give the opposition an obvious focus for their efforts. It is much better to be one of the crowd so that individual opponents will be basing their priorities on factors like “who is closer to me”, “I never did like elves”, “somebody else can bash the cleric, I’m going to have a glorious duel with that fighter”, and even “maybe I can duck out while everyone else gets killed”. Being way more powerful offensively than everyone else in the party is asking to die. Worse, if you got that way by building an mathematically-optimized character and shorting the role-playing part… No one will care if your character dies. After all, if that happens you’ll probably just bring in another “optimized” build and the game will continue just the same. Don’t make your character disposable.

Finally, firmly on the tactical level…

  1. You want some decent defenses. Despite d20’s general rule that “The best Defense is a good Offense”, Eclipse includes several limited-use ways to avoid individual attacks or attack sequences – which means that the guy who inflicts five hundred points of damage per round is likely to see what he does be completely avoided or nullified while the guy who inflicts thirty or forty points of damage per round may well wind up being more effective. That’s not worth spending limited-use defenses on when the first guy is around – so those smaller point attacks may well get through while the five hundred point strikes will not. There’s a series of articles on that over here that you might want to look at, but Action Hero (Stunts Variant), Reflex Training (Extra Actions Variant), and Luck are all very helpful. In fact, with Action Hero (Stunts)… you only get a limited number of points per level, but you can generally spend one to simply have something not work against you. That’s pretty much the equivalent of a bunch of “extra lives” each level.
  2. For Offense… at least for offense against important targets rather than swarms of mooks – you want a balance. You have to either settle for being the one who burns through those limited-use defenses or annihilates mooks while other people actually do the damage or inflict hindrances on the important targets or you want to try to strike a balance – enough offensive power to be reasonably effective without necessarily triggering the use of those special defenses. The system isn’t perfect of course, but at higher levels Eclipse is intentionally set up to try to reward cleverness and restraint over mathematically-optimized power.

But I LIKE fishing through rulebooks and trying to mathematically optimize things! You’re leaving me out!

Not at all. There IS a place for that kind of thing in Eclipse. It comes with your character concept – but not really in the sense of what you CAN do. It’s all about what you CAN’T do.

Are you a dashing Errol Flynn type? Master of a Rapier, but knowing little about other weapons? Buy your Base Attack Bonus (Warcraft) Specialized in Melee Weapons Only and Corrupted / Only with Rapiers – both for Increased Effect. Have a +6 BAB with Rapiers at level one for a mere (12 CP). Buy Improved Augmented Bonus / Adds (Int Mod) to (Dex Mod) when figuring Armor Class, Specialized / Only while wielding a Rapier (6 CP). Buy Fighters Tricks (6 CP). Buy Presence (Specialized; only affects opponents you hit with your Rapier, 3 CP) and cause anyone you strike to be afflicted with a Shocking Grasp effect. Look for places where you can make things cheaper by narrowing broad abilities into exactly what you want – either making them more potent or saving points to spend on other tricks.

Low level Eclipse characters can be quite powerful. But they’ll have gotten that way by taking specialized versions of the abilities they want – plucking the low-hanging fruit. Well-optimized Eclipse characters generally don’t increase in power with level nearly as fast as classical d20 characters do. Instead, they usually start broadening their abilities – continuing to use their old abilities while exploring new ones. Sure, that Fencer may buy the Augmented Bonus (Int Mod to AC) to Double Effect instead of half cost and add a second Presence-based “Chilling Grasp” effect – but branching out into Ninjitsu, Illusion Spells, and the ability to strike immaterial creatures makes him far more versatile and interesting to play.

You aren’t playing against the Game Master or competing with the other players. You’re trying to have a good time with your friends. Arguing about the rules, wrecking the game, hogging the spotlight, and similar tactics can’t help you “win”. They can only help you spotlight yet another loss.

And I hope that helps!

If someone wants more on this topic… this article series might help too:

Eclipse – The Advancing Warrior, Part II

Gold is for the mistress, Silver for the maid.
Copper for the craftsman, cunning at his trade.”
“Good!” said the Baron, sitting in his hall,
“But Iron — Cold Iron — is master of them all.”

-Rudyard Kipling, “Cold Iron”.

And now it’s time to continue with a few of the most common Fighter upgrade paths. I’m still using Hiten as a base, simply because he’s an effective and versatile second level build – but that does mean that he already has a few ways to boost up his damage.

The Smasher:

The Smasher is straightforward; it calls for having multiple attacks and high damage. Hiten already has both of those, so we’re looking at improvements (over and above the extra Attacks of Opportunity he needs to be a reasonably effective area-control build). For simple smashing upgrades consider…

  • Unrelenting Blade: Opportunist / may make an additional attack whenever you drop an opponent with a melee attack (6 CP). Again, this is easily limited to particular types of weapons to reduce the cost.
  • Wandering Blade: Opportunist / may take a 5′ step after each melee attack you make (6 CP). Specialize and Corrupt to your hearts content.

If you’re up against a lot of minor targets, this is basically the “Improved Cleave” combination.

  • Aggressive Strike: Expertise (AC and Damage), Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect / Only to trade AC for Damage Boosts, not Vice-Versa, only with a particular group of weapons (6 CP). With this, the user may reduce his or her AC by up to 5 (to a minimum AC of 10) to gain up to +15 damage on his or her attacks. Taking the Improved version (another +6 CP) lets you take up to 20 off your AC (albeit still to a minimum of 10) to add up to +60 to damage. I’d stick with the base version personally; it’s much less likely to upset the game master.

In Eclipse, you can just buy what you want directly; there’s no need to fiddle around with Power Attack, Shock Trooper, and other chains of feats to get the components you want from each one.

  • Iron Thews: Berserker with Odinpower and Enduring (to remove the Fatigue afterwards) (12 CP). Assign this as +12 Str and +1 to Will Saves with no penalties (or +10 damage and +2 to Attacks or whatever). Again, this isn’t game-wrecking – but the +6 damage is nice and if you have a fair chance of hitting to begin with an extra +6 to your attacks should result in rarely missing. It’s basically icing on the cake of Aggressive Strike though.
  • Deadly Strike: Luck, Specialized in Confirming Critical Hits (Specific Situation Option): The user gets to roll twice and take the best result when confirming a Critical Hit. (6 CP).

You could take an Immunity to having to confirm critical hits at all – Pathfinder does it for certain spells and high-level fighters, and not a few game masters don’t bother with confirming criticals – but I’ve never liked the way that works when a creature is hard to hit. After all, if you have a Critical Range of 19-20, and no need to confirm… If you need a “2″ to hit, only 10.5% of your hits are criticals. If you need an “11″, then 20% or your hits are criticals. If you need a “19″… then 100% of your hits are criticals. So “this incredibly tough monster is really hard to hurt, but any time you hurt it you automatically do double damage”? That kind of thing really offends my simulationist tendencies. Still, there’s no wrong way to have fun; if it works for you, so be it.

  • Finally, if you want to be gratuitous… Improved Augmented Bonus (Adds another Attribute Modifier to the user’s Strength Modifier for melee combat purposes) (12 CP) can give you a nice boost if you have a second high attribute.

A dedicated fighter should be able to afford to buy everything they need to be a decent Smasher in about two levels.

The Charger:

The basis of a Charger is pretty simple; you get into melee range as quickly as possible, whereupon you inflict a lot of damage on as many targets as possible. The only thing that distinguishes this from any other melee fighter is that d20 normally only allows a single attack on a charge while a Charger has a way to get multiple attacks on charging and/or makes use of some of the various spells, enchantments, and feats that multiply the damage a character inflicts when they charge. True Uberchargers also make use of ways to achieve great size and nigh-limitless strength so as to get an enormous base damage to apply those multipliers to, thus achieving a mathematical “victory” in combat situations while simultaneously losing the game (a social event) by being the one who makes it uninteresting and likely unplayable.

For a powerful, but not-game wrecking, Charger you’ll want to look at…

  • Tigers Pounce: Reflex Training (May make a second attack at your full BAB as part of a charge, 6 CP). Taking Improved (another 6 CP) allows a full attack after a charge. However, taking this approach means that the usual iterative attack penalties apply. If you aren’t stacking attack bonuses to the point where you will almost never miss, you needn’t get the improved version; those attacks at -10 and -15 aren’t likely to be too useful. As usual, limiting this to a particular group of weapons will make it cheaper.

Alternatively, take

  • Lion’s Charge: Bonus Attack (one extra attack when charging, 6 CP, may be Specialized or Corrupted as usual). This allows you to make two attacks at -2 instead of one at your full bonus.

Now, if you combine Tiger’s Pounce I, Lions Charge, and Innate Enchantment / Personal Haste (also adding +30′ to your movement) you can take four attacks at -2 when you Charge an opponent – and nothing requires that they be on the target you specifically charged: anyone who happens to be adjacent will do too.

  • Wild Charge: Double Damage when you Charge, Corrupted for Increased Effect (x3 Damage) / Only with a particular weapon (6 CP).

And that pretty much completes the basic Charger. Aggressive Strike (6 CP, although you’ll probably already have this from the “Smasher” part of your build), Tigers Pounce (with weapons group, 4 CP), Lion’s Charge (with weapons group, 4 CP), and Wild Charge (6 CP) lets you get off four attacks for triple damage each with a Charge. If that’s not enough damage to hurt something really badly, then you probably shouldn’t be trying to fight whatever-it-is physically anyway.

Note that Eclipse doesn’t care about HOW you move when you charge: Jumping, Flying Swimming and Mounted charges are all perfectly valid – although I don’t know about burrowing charges unless you’re attacking the foundation or a wall or some similar stationary underground object.

If you’re seriously devoted to Charging, you might also want…

  • Evasive (Charge) (6 CP). You do not suffer Attacks of Opportunity while Charging.
  • Sure Footed: Immunity to Movement Penalties (being unable to Run or Charge, the double movement cost) for Difficult Terrain (Common, Major, Trivial, 3 CP). Or you could invest in some Vanguard Treads (MIC), which do the same thing and provide some other benefits for 3100 GP. Or use Witchcraft or various spells. Or use Sandals Of The Light Step so that you can charge over water (even if they ARE 9000 GP).
  • Augment Attack: +1d6 (to 6d6 Maximum) damage when making charging attacks (6 CP). This usually isn’t your best investment, but if you just want to add a die or two without causing the Game Master to throw things at you, this might do.

And that’s about it. Again, a dedicated fighter can probably pick up everything they need to be a good charger in about two levels. In fact, they can overdo it very easily; with the Advanced version of Aggressive Strike… they could easily drop twenty points off their AC to inflict +60 damage – or +180 damage when charging. A thousand points of damage on a charge is usually more than enough to either wreck most games or to get the game master to nerf your character – and neither makes for a good gaming experience.

Thrown Weapons Master:

Thrown Weapons other than Shuriken (which have their own problems) suffer from several limitations when it comes to standard d20 games. You need to have Quick Draw to be able to throw a lot of them in a round, they lack the kind of range you can get with a bow, they have to be individually enchanted at full price (even if you can usually recover them after a battle), and it’s hard to match the versatility of carrying a selection of exotic ammunition. You do get to add your strength bonus to the damage without paying for a composite bow – but that’s a trivial expense after the first few levels whereas magic items to fix the problems with throwing weapons cost quite a lot. Now in some ways that’s fair enough – there are reasons why bows mostly supplanted javelins and slings in battle – but d20 is about individual exotic heroes, not practicalities.

  • First up, you’ll want the Use of Charms and Talismans (6 CP). Those aren’t particularly powerful devices, but you can use seven Charms and three Talismans – and Charms only cost 10 GP while Talismans only cost 25 GP. For a Throwing Master you’ll want the three Talismans to be…
    • Shimmermail. That provides a +4 Armor Bonus with no penalties. You don’t even need Light Armor Proficiency to wear it properly.
    • Bracers Of Hurling. These let you throw things with the range of a light crossbow. It’s not quite as good as a Composite Longbow, but it will usually be enough.
    • A Tulthara. These create temporary “weapons” made of magical energy that are considered magical and can do either stun or normal damage, but are otherwise equal to normal weapons. How they look is, however, more or less up to the maker. If you want a “holy book that fires bolts of black lightning” (likely equal to a bow of some sort), you can get one. If you want to throw daggers, and have them look like shards of black ice… A “Black Ice Dagger Tulthara” will put one in your hand whenever you want one there. Sure, they’ll fade a few moments after you throw them – but at that point who will care?
    • The Charms are just gravy. Pick a few convenient or flavorful trinkets.

If you want to make sure that no one can ever take your Charms and Talismans away, turn your favorite selection of Charms and Talismans into Innate Enchantments; space for a mere 145 GP worth of “mundane” gear is generally easy enough to squeeze in.

  • With the Quick Draw and weapon supply problems out of the way, this build will also want Imbuement (6 CP or more if upgraded) attuned to the chosen weapon type, giving any such weapon they wield or throw magical bonuses – at least if the Game Master isn’t willing to go for “gloves of hurling” or an enchanted Atlatl or some such, which work for throwing weapons like magical bows do for arrows. (Pathfinder addresses this problem with the Blinkback Belt – an item which teleports your weapon back into its sheathe as soon as it hits something – but it costs 5000 GP, making it unavailable at lower levels unless it’s taken as an Innate Enchantment, which might be well worthwhile).
  • With Evasive (Throwing Weapons, 12 CP, probably Specialized in a particular type of weapon for 6 CP) you won’t have to worry about provoking Attacks Of Opportunity for throwing your chosen weapon.

You’ll want to spend one of your Martial Arts slots on a Throwing Style unless you just buy it normally. You might as well do SOMETHING with those skill points. Any decent Fighter type will already have paid for that though (0 CP). You may well want your style to include Mighty Blow (to trip up opponents automatically on a critical hit), Deadly Accuracy (add Str Mod to Dex Mod to attacks with the styles thrown weapon, add Dex Mod to Str Mod for damage with the styles thrown weapon), Called Shots (Immunity to the restrictions on attempting combat maneuvers with a ranged weapon within sixty feet, Common, Major, Minor), and Quick Draw (in case you want to go with a Blinkback belt or some other gimmick).

  • Expert Aim: Immunity / circumstantial penalties to attacks, such as fog, cover, shooting into melee, shooting while riding a moving mount, etc. (Common, Minor, Minor, 4 CP). This reduces the penalties for such attacks by up to four. This can be increased to up to six for 6 CP or up to eight for 12 CP. As usual, Specialization and Corruption (likely to a single type of weapon) may be applied to reduce the costs.
  • Aggressive Strike (see above, 6 CP) will work just fine to get you a damage boost. If you already have a Specialized version, it will probably be best to simply unspecialize it instead of buying multiple specialized versions.
  • Martial Arts (the basic damage-increase ability, not the skill) can boost the die size of your weapon at modest expense – but most Fighters will be taking care of this with their martial art in any case.
  • Snap Throw: Since thrown weapons can be used in melee, and threaten normally, all you need to make them effective in making Attacks of Opportunity is to improve your effective “reach” with them. That’s Lunge, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (+15′ Reach) / only to extend Reach for AoO purposes, only with the user’s chosen weapon, AoO use the values for throwing the weapon, not melee, involves throwing the weapon in question (6 CP).

The major attraction of a Thrown Weapons build is the same as it is for an Archery build; it’s getting to routinely make full attacks because you don’t need to roam around the battlefield. Ergo, you’ll want to increase your number of attacks. While most fighters will already have Innate Enchantment (Personal Haste) there are several other major possibilities along this line:

  • Bonus Attack (with your favored weapon, 6 CP). While this is another item that’s tricky to specialized further, combined with Personal Haste this can get you up to three attacks at level one. Admittedly, they’ll all be made at (-2) – but that can still be a fair amount of firepower.
  • Reflex Training, Specialized in Attack Actions for Increased Effect (provides a full attack) and Corrupted (only with the user’s chosen weapon) for an Increased Number Of Uses (5) (6 CP) will – up to once per round five times per day – allow the user to take a full attack as an immediate action. When you REALLY need to stop that mage from casting something, or have to make sure that some creature on the edge goes down… this is the talent for you.
  • Rapid Strike I/II/III for a total cost of 6/18/36 CP changes your iterative attacks to every 4/3/2 counts – and it’s already limited to a particular weapon type, so coming up with a Corruption or Specialization to make it cheaper will be just a bit tricky. Still, this can effectively turn the character into a machine gunner and is probably well worth it once your Base Attack Bonus is getting up there. At lower levels you might prefer
  • Will, Not Weapon: Enhanced Strike (Crushing) (6 CP). This allows you to make a single attack that sums up the damage of all your entire attack sequence – not only effectively making all your attacks at your full BAB but drastically reducing the effects of Damage Reduction and Blocks. Sadly, this can only be used once per minute unless you buy some Bonus Uses (6 CP for +4/minute), but it’s very handy. Even better, since it normally applies to every form of combat, you can easily limit it to make it cheaper.

Throwing Mastery is expensive. A fighter will probably need to devote five or even six levels worth of special ability purchases to master this path. On the other hand, a lot of the elements in it are shared with other paths – so they don’t have to be bought again later on.

Next time around on this series, Archers, Tricksters, and possibly some exotics.

Eclipse – The Advancing Warrior, Part I

The warrior’s look is like a thunderous rain-cloud’s, when, armed with mail, he seeks the lap of battle. Be thou victorious with unwounded body: so let the thickness of thy mail protect thee. With Bow let us win kine, with Bow the battle, with Bow be victors in our hot encounters. The Bow brings grief and sorrow to the foeman: armed with the Bow may we subdue all regions.. The sword lops limbs, thou smitest down the sinner,.. Let blinding darkness follow those our foemen, while these shall have bright shining nights to light them… Urge thou these heroes on to slay the enemy.

-The Rig-Veda

A fair number of the questions about Eclipse can be summed up as “What does it do for Martial Characters” – and while the real answer is that “There’s no division between Martial Characters and Casters in Eclipse” (as shown by Hiten’s supernatural powers) – there has been a recent spate of questions along the lines of “How do I build a Charger / Archer / Throwing Master / Critical Hit Fighter / Dirty Tricks Master / Two Weapon Fighter / Two Handed Fighter”. There are already a few articles on this – Building Better Martial Characters Part I and Part II, the Man-At-Arms article has some useful notes even if you’re not building a Dark Ages character, and there is plenty of other material such the article on Weapon Specialists lying about – but there are always new things to talk about. In this case it’s going to be some of those “standard builds” – and why most Eclipse fighters can afford to fill quite a few of those roles instead of just one or two.

The first bit is simple: As a first level general d20 Eclipse Fighter thou SHALT TAKE:

  • Muscles Of Steel: Advanced Improved Augmented Bonus (Adds a second Attribute Modifier to your Constitution Modifier for Hit Point Purposes, Specialized and Corrupted / only adds through level six, 6 CP. Note that when you hit level six, it will be time to upgrade this). This will – as has been mentioned before – save you enough points to get an extra feat at every level. Between that and Eclipse’s cheaper martial abilities  a fighter can afford a LOT of extra tricks and upgrades.
  • Dedicated Drill: Adept (may purchase four chosen Martial Arts Skills for half cost, 6 CP).
  • Arts Of War: Fast Learner, Specialized in Skills for +2 SP/Level, Corrupted / only to keep the user’s Adept Skills maxed out (4 CP).

To save those points… leave Medium and Heavy armor proficiency for later, when you can afford it (-12 CP), take your BAB with No Iterative Attacks (Corrupted, -2 CP) and buy that up later when it will matter if you want to (Or you may just want Double Damage / only when you take a Full Attack action while making only one attack, 6 CP), and take 1d8 HP instead of 1d10 (-2 CP).

Admittedly, Martial Arts skills are usually limited to unarmed and/or a particular weapon or two – but they can get you the equivalent of +4 to Attacks, +4 to Damage, four Feats, and a various other abilities, both mundane and mystical, with that weapon when using that art without further expenditure, even if it will take some levels. That’s better than the entire Weapon Specialization feat tree right there – although you can still buy that and throw it in if you wish. It’s cheaper in Eclipse anyway.

You’re also going to want to consider

  • Innate Enchantment. Small boosts don’t do nearly as much for Spellcasters, but for a Fighter effects like Personal Haste, Immortal Vigor, and other small boosts can really add up.
  • Imbuement (especially if you’re using Thrown Weapons), so as to save money on buying magical weapons (6+ CP).
  • Favored Techniques (Favored Foe variant, 6 CP). While favoring particular weapon groups divides the bonuses between Attacks and Damage, and favoring Armor Types divides the bonuses between AC and DR. You can also favor particular maneuvers, environments, or types of opponents.
  • Penetrating Strikes: Augment Attack, +1d6 damage only to overcome Damage Reduction (3 CP). If you want to Specialize and/or Corrupt this – perhaps to a particular weapon – you can get the price down to 1 CP/d6 – so 2 CP to penetrate DR 5, 3 CP for DR 10, and so on.
  • Grant Of Aid with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized in Hit Points (6 CP) isn’t VITAL – but five uses of healing (1d8+5) damage without taking an action is very, VERY, useful at lower levels – and at higher levels you can buy off the Specialization and repair attribute damage and negative levels as well. Sure, you can get more healing other ways – but healing that goes off when the player wants it to even if the character is helpless or unconscious can be quite helpful.
  • Melee Block: This allows the user to give up an AoO to attempt to block up to 60 points of damage from an incoming melee attack once per round (6 CP). While this calls for a good Reflex save or Luck if you want it to work at all reliably, either of those is worth having anyway – and even an unreliable block can be helpful.
  • Ignoring Armor. Yes, you will want SOMETHING to stack armor enchantments on – but even if you don’t want to take Use Of Charms and Talismans (6 CP) to gain access to Shimmermail (+4 AC Bonus, no penalties) and various other toys, you can use Ironcloth (The Practical Enchanter) or Pathfinder’s Haramaki (4 CP) or Silken Ceremonial Armor (30 GP) to get a +1 Armor Bonus with no penalties and no required armor proficiency. Admittedly, Full Plate provides another +8 Armor Bonus (in exchange for a hit to movement, killing your Dexterity bonus, and a huge Armor Check Penalty), but to use it effectively you’ll need to buy Light, Medium, and Heavy Armor Proficiency (15 CP) and then deal with those penalties. At that point you could buy Defender (+1 Dodge AC Bonus), Specialized and Corrupted / only while carrying a Light Load or less, only while wearing one of the minimalistic “armors” given above, your effective armor is obvious to observers, bonus does not increase with level (2 CP per +1 AC). For 16 CP – only 1 CP more than Heavy Armor Proficiency – that will make your Haramaki as effective as Full Plate Armor without any of Full Plates penalties or limitations other than appearance. Is there any reason not to turn armor into a special effect? After all, that’s all it seems to be in the movies. If you still want armor – perhaps to take advantage of special materials or modifications… well, the Smooth modifier, or an Immunity to its penalties, or some such, may be in order.

Now Hiten already illustrates the basics of a two-handed attack / tripper build. For further development building on his (level two) setup…

Lockdown / Tripper Build:

  • Flickering Lightning Dance: Reflex Training (Combat Reflexes Variant) with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized in Pole Arms Only, Corrupted / Guisarmes only (4 CP). This will provide +4 AoO over what “Combat Reflexes” would normally provide (in Eclipse, Dex Mod, minimum 1). Combined with sufficient Reach, this can lock people down in quite an area and is handy against chargers.
  • Wall Of Steel: Double Damage versus Charging Attackers, Specialized for Reduced Cost (Pole Arms Only), Corrupted for Increased Effect (Guisarme Only). This lets you do triple damage against a charging attacker. When combined with extended reach, decent damage and attack bonuses, and an increased number of AoO, this very effectively inhibits Charging – especially since said charging character need not be attacking you; he or she need only be passing through the area you threaten (3 CP).
  • Lance Of Storms: Lunge, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / Pole Arms Only, Only for Guisarme (6 CP or +4 CP over Hiten’s existing Will Of Destruction ability). +15 Natural Reach will let the user cover quite a chunk of territory.
  • Lightning Strikes Twice: Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only for Attacks, only with Pole Arms (4 CP). This, of course, is good for both “I cannot miss this time!” and “I REALLY need a critical hit right now!”. Game masters should keep a lid on Luck though; characters who basically never need to roll are rarely very interesting.
  • Bladestorm Dance: Presence, Specialized for Double Radius of Effect (20′) / only while the user is using a Guisarme, only affects opponents within reach. Anyone whom the user currently Threatens within a 20′ radius is considered Flanked if they are also being threatened by any other friendly character (6 CP).
  • Hurricane Stance: Opportunist (Specify) / The user gets to make an AoO when someone they threaten does something that normally would not provoke an AoO. For example, if someone…
    • Attacks someone else.
    • Attacks you and misses.
    • Takes a 5′ step or attempts to withdraw.
    • Casts a spell, whether or not they are casting defensively or would not otherwise provoke an AoO.
    • Gets Tripped.
      • This is normally 6 CP, but it can be reduced to as little as 2 CP/Instance if Specialized and/or Corrupted.
  • Hook Of Fate: Overwhelm, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (Target may be moved up to 10′ in any direction, may spend an AoO to automatically move an unresisting ally without inflicting actual injury) / only with Polearms, only with a specific weapon (6 CP). With this trick you can shuffle people around the battlefield, move your friends (who are “provoking” an AoO at your option because they are not defending themselves against you) about as needed, toss attackers into hazards, and break most charges.
  • Eventually you’ll want to be tripping very large creatures. That’s Immunity/The normal size limitations on Tripping. That’s Common, Major, and Trivial (for +1 Size Category, 3 CP), Minor (+2 Size Categories, 6 CP), Major (+3 Size Categories, 9 CP). As usual, this can be Specialized and Corrupted to either reduce the cost or to add a special effect; would you, perhaps, like to give your friends a chance at an AoO when you trip someone?

The Lockdown / Tripper build is actually fairly expensive – a fighter would have to devote four or five levels worth of special ability purchases to it to get everything – but being able to strike at any target within 30 feet or so, move them around, break charges, and keep multiple opponents from acting even as you inflict large amounts of damage, and disrupt spellcasters is probably well worth it.

For a Fear build…

  • Avatar Of Death: Presence, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect (30′ Radius, Enemies become Shaken for one minute if they fail a Will save at DC (10 + Cha Mod + Level/2) / Only works once per day on any given opponent, user must demonstrate their power in a threatening manner – charging, making a full attack, casting a major offensive spell, or taking a similar action.
  • Aura of Awe: Improved Superior Presence, Corrupted / the user must be prepared and ready for battle – although a fight over contracts in a business boardroom, or political influence at a kings court is just another form of battle as long as the user us prepared for it (12 CP). With this you gain a +4 on any skill checks to dominate, command, or intimidate, all enemies within 10′ who are vulnerable to Fear are considered Shaken, and would-be attackers must make a DC (13 + Cha Mod) Will save to attack the user each round, although they do get a +5 bonus if the user is currently attacking them.

Martial Art: Lion Presence Style

The visage is commanding, the eyes as hard as iron. The stance projects POWER, the gestures assurance. The voice rumbles, echoing and seeming to shake the ground. The user stands like a tower, hisor her aura that of an unquestioned king, with a gaze as piercing as an eagles. The strength and dominance is that of a lion in it’s prime, ruling it’s pride with an iron claw.

  • Requires: Avatar Of Death or Aura of Awe.
  • Basic Techniques: Attack 4 (Variant, adds to Cha-Based Skill Checks), Defense 4 (Variant, adds to Will Saves), Synergy/Intimidation, Synergy/Bluff, Synergy/Diplomacy, and Synergy/Intimidate. Toughness 1 (Variant, reduces your effective (but not actual) personal level of Fear by one level).
  • Advanced and Master Techniques: Voice Of Thunder (Battlecry), Rule The Mod (Whirlwind Attack, only for intimidation and dominance effects but is not an independent action), Immediate Dominance (Reflex Training, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (nine uses/day) / only for intimidation and dominance effects, using the per-encounter power rule to make this “twice per encounter”). and Fearmonger (Immunity / the usual limitations of Intimidation (Common, Major, Minor, User may apply Pathfinders “Unchained” effects when using Intimidation, 6 CP)).
  • Occult Techniques: Inner Strength x 2, Ki Focus (+4 Charisma), and Wrath (Variant; any creature you strike must make a DC 15 Will check or have it’s current level of fear increase by one level, you are immune to Fear while this power is in use).

Now this DOES stretch the Martial Arts rules a bit, but the art in itself shouldn’t break anything; there are plenty of spells that produce massive fear or social effects.

The Fear Build is relatively cheap – 18 CP and one of a fighter’s four Martial Arts slots – bur all too may creatures are immune to fear (and often to other social skills). On the other hand, it offers a marvelous defense against swarms of lesser attackers and has a decent chance of turning away midlevel attackers in any given round. That’s a pretty large boost to your ability to hold back a horde. It’s probably well worth the two levels it will take to acquire it.

Next up; The Charger / Two-Handed Smiter, Throwing Master, and a few others.

Eclipse: Hiten Raiju, Thunder Warrior

Today (And for a few more times coming up) we have an unusual-for-me request – a weapons expert. I usually tend a lot more towards spellcasters, simply because I can play around with medieval weapons in real life. On the other hand… a genuine weapons expert in d20 is going to have some form of magic to work with anyway; it’s simply too important to ignore.

In this case, I’ll be building this character around using the Guisarme

Why the Guisarme and not, say, the Duom? Or Talenta Sharrash? Or Executioner’s Mace? Or Spiked Chain? Or Minotaur Greathammer? Or Scorpion-Tail Whip? Or various other oddities that have been published at one time or another?

Mostly because almost all of those have serious problems. They’re from Dragon magazine or third party sources (and not allowed in many campaigns), were nerfed by errata or in Pathfinder, have blatant typos in the information on them, have a primary advantage (such as being reach weapons that can attack adjacent targets) that’s easily and cheaply purchased in Eclipse, are exotic weapons with benefits that fail to outweigh the cost of learning to use them, have no prices, come from unique sources that aren’t available in many campaigns,, or simply (and worst of all from my viewpoint) make no sense. The Guisarme, however, is from the SRD, is unchanged in Pathfinder, and actually makes sense – as demonstrated by the fact that it’s a real-world weapon. It’s also got decent damage, Reach and Trip – both of which are quite useful.

You could also go with Falchion, and double up the Reach bonus while eliminating the ability to ignore it and get much the same result with 18-20/x2 Criticals instead of 20/x3 – but that’s less helpful than it seems once Luck comes into play.

Since I find that some visuals and background always help bring some focus to vague requests (“A weaponsmaster who does a lot of damage”), I’ll be pulling some background from THIS character. Just watch out for Inuyashu, Shippo, and Kagome…

Finally, this build won’t be taking the Ubercharger route, or anything similar. Eclipse simply includes too many ways to no-sell single attacks, no matter how overwhelming they are – which means that all the alpha-strike builds are often going to find themselves out of luck. What we want here is a high BAB, extra attacks, a high Base Damage, and a lot of tricks. That way this guy will have a lot of things to do even if someone negates his favorite attack and will get a lot of chances to inflict decent amounts of damage.

Hiten Raiju, Level Two Thunder Warrior

Basic Attributes (3.5 32 Point Buy): Str 16 (18, +4), Int 14 (+2), Wis 12 (+1), Con 14 (+2), Dex 14 (+2), Cha 8 (-1).

Racial Modifiers: Yokai Human: Bonus Feat (+6 CP), Fast Learner, Specialized in Skills for Half Cost (3 CP).

Yokai Humans are naturally attuned to the energies of negative emotions. This translates to a form of Dominion: if they can get enough people to hate and fear them, and are utterly obnoxious villains who commit all kinds of evil acts just for the fun of it, they get Dominion Points based on the area they terrorize. Technically this is Specialized Dominion, and worth 3 CP. Of course, it also comes with a minor disadvantage; Yokai Humans always show obvious signs of their dread heritage, They are widely, and for rather obvious good reasons, distrusted (-3 CP).

Available Character Points: 72 (L2 Base) +10 (Disadvantages) +4 (Clan Duties) +18 (Human, L1, L2 Feats) = 104 CP.

Basic Purchases (68 CP):

  • Base Attack Bonus: +2, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (+6) / Pole Arms Only, Guisarme Only (12 CP)
  • Hit Points: 16 (L1-2d8, 8 CP)+12 (Immortal Vigor) +24 (4 x [Con Mod + Str Mod]) = 52 HP
  • Saving Throws:
    • Fortitude +2 (Purchased, 6 CP) +2 (Con) = +4.
    • Reflex +0 (Purchased) +2 (Dex) = +2.
    • Will +2 (Purchased, 6 CP) +1 (Wis) = +3.
    • Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized in Saving Throws (6 CP).
  • Proficiencies: Simple and Martial Weapons (9 CP).
  • Skill Points: 4 SP (4 CP) +20 (Fast Learners. Upgrade Human Fast Learner to Double Effect only for buying Adept Skills (+1 CP), buy Fast Learner Specialized for Increased Effect (Skills), Corrupted / only for buying Adept skills (4 CP)) +10 (5 x Int Mod) = 34 SP.
    • Adept x 2 (buys four skills of choice and four Martial Arts for half cost, 12 CP). All Adept Skills at +5 Base (20 SP), leaves 14 SP left over for other skills.
  • Armor Class: 10 (Base) +4 (Shimmermail) +2 (Dex) +2 (Shield) = 18 (Or more if Shield effect augmented). This is quite variable depending on what Martial Art and Enhancements he is currently using.
  • Initiative: +2 (Dex).
  • Movement: 30′ + 30′ (Enhancement) = 60′.

Usual Weapons:

  • Guisarme: (Storm Fist Style): +13/+13/+8 (+6 BAB +3 Comp +4 Str), 3d8+6, Crit 20/x3, 15′ Optional Reach, drawn as a free action, +2 to Trip Attacks, may use Whirlwind Attack, no penalty for use in tight spaces.
  • Javelin: +7/+7 (+0 BAB +2 Dex +4 Str +1 Martial Art), 1d10+4, Crit 20/x2, 30′ Range Increment 80′, on a critical hit the target must make a DC 19 Fortitude Save or suffer a -2 penalty on Attacks, AC, and Saves and a 20% chance of spell failure for 2d4 rounds. This will not work on creatures two sizes or more larger than the user or who are immune to critical hits. It also looks like the user is throwing small lightning bolts.
  • Shikon Jewel Shard: Two instances of Double Enthusiast, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (6 floating CP) / only changes once per user, only to buy magical boosts that are in-theme for the character. Basically, this is a 2 CP relic that’s different for each character – although it’s only useful to those who HAVE a magical theme. This brings his Thunder Yokai Ki (see below) into action.

Special Abilities (36 CP):

  • Advanced Improved Augmented Bonus: Adds (Str Mod) to (Con Mod) for HP Purposes, Specialized and Corrupted / applies to levels 1-6 only (6 CP).
  • Grasp Of Sun Wukong: Anime Master, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost, Pole Arms Only, Guisarme Only. This allows the user to wield a Guisarme that is “one size larger” (well, usually just heavier) than usual (2 CP).
  • Iron Stave Grip: Immunity/the reach of your own weapon (Common, Minor, Minor, Specialized / only for Pole Arms, 2 CP). This talent allows the user to ignore the Reach quality of pole arms when he or she does not wish to use it – allowing them to threaten and attack adjacent spaces with ease.
  • Will Of Destruction: Lunge, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only for Guisarme (2 CP). This useful talent allows the user to increase his or her effective Reach with a Guisarme by five feet.
  • Spirit Of Steel: Immunity/the distinction between weapons and the self (Common, Minor, Major, Specialized in Pole Arms, Corrupted for Guisarme Only, 2 CP). The user’s Guisarmes are an extension of themselves. They are treated as natural weapons and any touch-based powers and “unarmed” combat enhancements or martial arts that the user possesses operate through them.
  • Honing The Blades: Augmented Attack / +2 Damage with Pole-Arms, Corrupted / only with Guisarme (4 CP). This effectively increases the base damage of a Guisarme from 2d4 to 2d6.
  • Demon Ki Mastery: Innate Enchantment: All Spell Level Zero (1/2) or One x Caster Level One x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated (1000 or 2000 GP Base), Corrupted for Reduced Cost / each individual effect requires an specially-crafted token to work .Up to 8500 GP Base Value (6 CP). In theory – at least in 3.5 if not in Pathfinder – this costs 220 XP to activate everything. In this case, I’m going to ignore that since a single adventure a level behind the rest of the party will pay off enough XP to catch that up.
    • Broach Of Defense: L0. Lesser Force Shield (+2 Shield Bonus to AC, x.7 Personal-Only, 700 GP).
    • Buckle Of Might: L1, Enhance Attribute (Str) +2 (x.7 Personal-Only, 1400 GP).
    • Enduring Girding: L1, Immortal Vigor I (x.7 Personal Only, 1400 GP).
    • Ring Of Clay: L1 Morphic Touch (Personal-Only x.7, Guisarme Only, x.5 – 700 GP).
    • Runic Guisarme: L1 Lead Blades (Guisarme Only [raises damage to 3d6], x.5 = 1000 GP).
    • Thunder Bracers: Lo Weapons Mastery: +3 Competence Bonus to BAB with Guisarme (Personal Only x.7 = 700 GP).
    • Void Gloves: L0 Void Sheathe (Guisarmes Only, x.5, no more than (Dex Mod + 1, 1 Minimum) at a time x.8 = 400 GP). The user can put his or her Guisarmes away… somewhere. Don’t ask where).
    • Wind Fire Wheels: Personal Haste (60′ Move, Bonus Attack on Full Attack = 2000 GP).

Morphic Touch (Transmutation 1, Casting Time: One Swift Action, Components V, S, Range Touch, Target Weapon or Armor Touched, Duration ten minutes/level, Saving Throw None. Lets you make the weapon or armor touched look however you like. For armor Max Dex increases by one and Armor Check Penalties are reduced by two. Weapons can be drawn as a free action and may be used in confined spaces without penalty.

  • Lung Ki: Shaping, Specialized for double effect (Cantrips) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only for weapons magic tricks, requires the use of a rune-inscribed staff (or pole-arm shaft…) as a focus (4 CP).
    • Reflex Training (Extra Actions Variant), Specialized and Corrupted / only to “cast” weapons magic tricks, requires the use of a rune-inscribed staff (or pole-arm shaft…) as a focus (2 CP).
    • 1d6 (4) Mana with the Spell Enhancement Option, Specialized and Corrupted / only for spell enhancement, only to enhance shaping-based Weapons Magic Tricks (2 CP).
    • Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted / only to restore the spell enhancement pool, above (4 CP).
      Lung Ki allows the user to work weapon-enhancing spells of up to level three as supernatural abilities – albeit not very many of them beyond level zero during any one fight.

Sample Level Zero Effects:

  • Call Weapon: an unattended weapon leaps into your hand from up to thirty feet away as a swift action.
  • Fast Draw: a weapon on your person appears in your hand as a swift action.
  • Mend Weapon: A swift-action Mend that only works on weapons.
  • Weapon Blaze: Cause your weapon to glow as a free action, gaining a +2 Circumstance Bonus on Intimidation and Feint attempts.
  • Wind Weapon: You conjure a normal weapon for one minute as a swift action.

Sample Level One Effects:

  • Adamant Strike: Weapon acts as Adamant for one minute.
  • Deafening Clang
  • Fancy Footwork: Gain +5′ Natural Reach for one minute as a swift action.
  • Magic Weapon
  • Master’s Parry: Block 15 points of incoming damage as an immediate action.
  • Sudden Strike: Make a single attack at your full BAB as a swift action.
  • Sweep: As per Burning Hands, but Force Damage.
  • True Strike
  • Warding Blade: Weapon functions as per a Shield spell.
  • Whirlwind Strike: A standard action, otherwise as per Whirlwind Attack.

Sample Level Two Effects

  • Death Blossom: A standard action, as per Whirlwind Attack with +10 reach.
  • Eldritch Weapon II (The Practical Enchanter)
  • Grandmaster’s Parry: Blocks 25 points of incoming damage as an immediate action.
  • Guardian Stance: Weapon provides a +6 shield bonus to AC and negates magic missile attacks.
  • Litany Of Warding
  • Storm Of Blades
  • Whirling Blade
  • Whirlwind Kata (as per Protection From Arrows).
  • Winged Step. Cast as a Swift Action, for the next one minute per level you may take a move action as part of a full attack action.

Sample Level Three Effects:

  • Eldritch Weapon III (The Practical Enchanter)
  • Greater Magic Weapon
  • Lightning Dance: Cast as an immediate action, gain +3 AoO for the next minute.
  • Paragon Defense: Weapon provides a +7 Shield Bonus to AC and negates Magic Missile attacks.
  • Paragon Parry: Blocks 35 points of incoming damage as an immediate action.


Skikon no Tama Shard Power: Thunder Yokai Ki

  • Thunder Yokai Ki uses the same basic structure as Lung Ki, but shapes Storm Magic effects instead – allowing the user to employ his or her Guisarme to project blasts or balls of lightning, call up fogs, hurl blasts of wind, and many similar tricks. Not surprisingly, you can also learn Fire Demon Ki, Healing Hand Ki, and lots of other variants. All of them use different focus items and work independently.

Thunder Clan Storm Fist Style (Str):

Surprisingly enough, the Storm Fist style is a gentle one – albeit it generating a bioelectrical display that is incredibly obvious to everyone nearby. Even the weather seems to participate, often providing dramatic bolts of lightning to backlight the user or punctuating his attacks with dramatic crashes of thunder. Of course, when you’re “blows” are often electrical arcs, the speed of your physical movements is often irrelevant.

  • Requires: At least a +2 Melee BAB, Yokai Blood.
  • Basic Techniques: Attack 4, Power 3, Defenses 4, and Strike.
  • Advanced And Master Techniques: Improved Trip, Improved Disarm, Reach, and Whirlwind Attack.
  • Occult Techniques: Storm’s Fury (Inner Strength), Thunderbolt Strike (Touch Strike), Lightning Stride (Vanishing), The Living Storm (Wrath, Electrical).
    • Known Techniques (5): Power 3, Reach, Whirlwind Attack

Thunder Clan Roving Wind Style (Dex).

The wind passes over the earth, and the earth knows it not. No man knows from where it comes or where it goes, it leaves no tracks. It travels where it will, for none may harm it. Practitioners of the Roving Wind Style touch but lightly upon the earth and set down no roots. They seem to drift lightly away from attacks, traveling where they will without harm.

  • Requires: Dex Mod of +1 or more, Light or No Armor.
  • Basic Techniques: Defenses 4, Toughness 4, Synergy/Stealth, and Synergy/Survival,
  • Advanced And Master Techniques: Expertise (Trade Attack Bonus for AC), Instant Stand, Mighty Blow, and Mind Like Moon.
  • Occult Techniques: Inner Strength, Healing Hand, Ki Block, and Light Foot.
    • Known Techniques (4): Defenses 3, Mind Like Moon.

Thunder Clan Lightning Bolt Style (Str)

Given how common the power of Flight is among the Thunder Demon Tribe, it is little surprise that the Clan has an art devoted to hurling missiles (Javelins) against their foes. Given the egotistical nature of the Yokai… it is also not unexpected that the style relies on the power of a pair of Talismans – Bracers Of Hurling that grant thrown weapons the range of a bolt from a Light Crossbow and a Tulthara (Javelins) lets the user have a small thunderbolt / javelin appear in his or her hand whenever he or she wants one.

  • Requires: Use of Charms and Talismans (in this case provided by a World Law since there seem to be very few basic d20 magic items about).
  • Basic Techniques: Attack 4, Power 3
  • Advanced And Master Techniques: Mighty Blow (Automatic Trip on a critical hit), Expertise (Trade up to -5 AC for up to +5 Attack Bonus), Augmented Bonus (Adds Str Mod to Dex Mod for attacking with Javelins), Blinding Strike (target must save on a critical hit or suffer penalties).
  • Occult Techniques: Inner Strength x2, Wrath (Fire), and Ki Focus (+4 Strength).
    • Known Techniques (5): Attack 1, Power 2, Augmented Bonus, Blinding Strike

For his fourth style… how about Dungeon Crasher? That’s quite handy sometimes.


  • Talismans: Shimmermail, Bracers Of Hurling, Tulthara (Javelins).
  • Charms: All-Weather Cloak, Amulet Of The Stallion, Captain’s Torc, Diplomatic Sash, Foothold Boots, Sculptor’s Smoke, and Sealed Helm.
  • Otherwise Hiten has several rune-enscribed Guisarmes to focus his power, a nice outfit, and few bits of basic supplies (food, water, rope, etc) stashed around his person, and a rather nice house. He rarely carries money. Why bother? He takes what he wants from the local peasants.

Hiten is already a formidable damage-dealer and (if he’s running the proper enhancements) a fairly good battlefield controller. He needs a few more levels and tricks to fully handle that role – but that’s sort of inevitable for a level two character. In fact, if he draws on his weapons magic he can already pull stunts like Charging and then going into a Whirlwind that covers a 15′ radius – not all that often, but he CAN.

Of course, he’s also pretty heavily optimized for many games – but physical fighters often need all the help that they can get.

Skill Stunts And Epic Skill Stunts part XIII – General Knowledges

This one took ages for some reason, but here it finally is. Given that the various entries in this series so far are kind of scattered, here’s a complete list:

And now for Part XIII – General Knowledges.

Most skills include both knowledge and practice. Craft (Cooking) doesn’t just include being able to work a stove. It’s knowing how to build a good cooking fire, being able to use an oven, a grill, or several other heat sources, knowing many recipes, knowing which spices are poisonous if overused, knowing how to remove toxins to make meat edible, anatomy and butchering, and so much more. Timing, cutting, practice in dozens of different ways of preparing and preserving foods, extinguishing kitchen fires, keeping orders straight, inventorying your ingredients, and a myriad other practical details go into Craft (Cooking).

Yet at first glance Knowledge (Whatever) seems wholly abstract. Its not like knowing about History will let you reshape the past. In most games about all it does is let you listen to game-master exposition – and if he or she went to the bother of coming up with all that stuff, getting it out of him or her is rarely very hard. If all you want is to be the official mouthpiece for exposition, all you really need is Lore (6 CP). Knowledge skills are all about knowing things that the game master ISN’T eager to tell you.

Plus, of course, every Knowledge Skill includes practical scholastic skills – study habits, self-discipline, data analysis, logic, at least some practical information, research skills, and more. In a world of magic, they also include a lot of information about magic – if not necessarily the power-handling capacity to do too much with that information.

That was why a first-edition Sage was “capable of carrying on a discussion in any field of knowledge”, had extensive, and detailed, knowledge in several specific fields, could answer questions about things they had no actual way of knowing (such as the whereabouts of ancient lost artifacts or the command words of items imported from other planes), and could cast spells (type dependent on what fields they studied) of up to level (1d4+2), knowing (1d4) spells of each level that they could cast even if they could only actually prepare one spell of each level they could use at a time.

They could also use relevant magical items, got 8d4 hit dice (more than any other non-adventurer character), and got excellent attributes (Str d8+7, Int d4+14, Wis d6+12, Dex 3d6, Con 2d6+3, and Cha 2d6+2 in a system where player characters got 3d6 for everything). Admittedly, they were presumed to be very much self-selected, but the local sages were likely to be some of the most powerful people in town. Knowledge was very much power – even if that’s not all that relevant to later editions.

Sample Stunts For General Knowledges:

  • DC 10 (normally no stunt required).
      • Identify Items, Creatures, and Locations related to the field of study. Thus Arcana covers magic items and various types of magic and magical effects, Religion covers gods and their servants, various faiths, and holy (or unholy) things, Geography lets you determine your location and spot the signs of various geographical hazards, Architecture lets you sort out the purposes and general features of buildings, Engineering covers vehicles, History covers old nations, battles, and how to organize groups. Nobility covers some of the same stuff as History, but is more focused on politics and leadership. Each five points by which you make the check will yield another useful bit of information. Unfortunately, the more exotic the thing to be identified, the more the GM is likely to upgrade the base DC. This still won’t make this a stunt though.
      • Practical Application: Any character who has invested skill points in a given Knowledge Skill may, three times per session for each such skill, attempt to briefly describe how their knowledge can help them out in a given situation. If the game master finds the explanation reasonable, the character gets a (Skill Level / 2, to a maximum of +4) bonus. This limit increases to +6 if uses of two applicable skills are expended and to +7 for three or more.
      • Sagacious Insight: Insights come from many fields. If the user is has invested skill points in two or more knowledge skills then he or she may add (Number of Knowledge skills with skill points invested in them / 2) to his or her knowledge skill checks. Any knowledge skill in which the user has ten or more actual ranks counts as two knowledge skills for this purpose.
    • DC 15 (may not require stunts).
    • Basic Rituals: You may create minor ritual magical effects related to your knowledge skill. Minor Rituals generally require at least one minute, a masterwork Spell Component Pouch, and an undisturbed workspace. In many ways they are the precursors of spells – albeit without the ability to leave them hanging on the verge of completion for later use.
      • Arcana: View the Hidden (reveals magical auras), Phantom Lights (a larger-scale version of Dancing Lights or Dancing Darkness), Offering (opens a minor link to an entity you’re making an offering to),
      • Architecture and Engineering: Insulate, Clear Drains, and Draw the Wind (makes fireplaces, stoves, and forges work better), Household Blessing (protects against a wide variety of minor misfortunes, and Gaze of the Earthborn (evaluates the foundations and stability of a structure).
      • Geography: Dowsing for Water, Common Minerals, or Base Metals, Charting a Ley Line,
      • History: determining the age and origins of objects, determining how someone died, or assembling a basic timeline of major events in an area.
      • Local: Finding Paths (including human routes, animal routes, or intentionally-hidden routes), predicting the weather for a few weeks, and finding good fishing or hunting spots.
      • Nature: blessing the fields, checking the edibility of plants and fungi, keeping domestic animals from straying, and contacting the local fey.
      • Nobility and Royalty: parentage tests, addressing a large group clearly, the marriage ritual, and properly calculating taxes (an act of magic if there ever was one).
      • Planes: detecting dimensional energies, gaining erratic visions,
      • Religion: offering sacrifices, burial, simple cleansings, blessing/cursing water and holy symbols, and asking for a guiding dream.
    • Dissertation: You may write a paper on a topic that functions as a Masterwork Tool or as an Aid Another attempt (whichever would let you provide a better bonus) for a particular knowledge. This will, however, require weeks of research and writing.
    • Recognized Professional: If you can consistently hit DC 15 by “taking 10″ you can demonstrate that you are a serious scholar – worthy of being admitted to libraries, examining restricted books, consulting with other experts, and tutoring students.
  • DC 20 (require stunts to preform in a reasonable length of time).
    • Cramming: You may pick up (Int Mod + 1) CP worth of Specific Knowledges by spending a day in a library, consulting sages, or otherwise in studious downtime. These last until you change them around.
    • Involving Tutoring: You may make your topic exciting, interesting, and capable of holding the interest of those who would normally be quite indifferent to it – effectively communicating your enthusiasm for the topic. If you are teaching, your students will want to return and will do well – and you are capable of teaching them relevant Package Deals.
    • Tactical Lore: When you successfully identify a creature, you gain a +1 insight bonus on attack rolls, damage, opposed ability checks, skill checks, and caster level checks against creatures of that specific type for (Int Mod + 1, 1 Minimum) minutes. This bonus increases to +2 at DC 25, +3 at DC 35, +4 at DC 50, +5 at DC 75, and +6 at DC 100. If you can communicate with allies, you may share half this bonus (rounded down) with up to (Charisma) of them.
  • DC 25 (always require stunts).
    • Know The Weakness I: You may “recall” a convenient minor weakness – an entity that can be called on to lend a modest boost to attacks, or to attempts to penetrate spell resistance, or a weak knee joint that will slow a golem down if you attack it, or something similar – in an opponent covered by your knowledge. If the target(s) fail a Will save, you are correct, and they are subject to that weakness until they do something about it. If they succeed, it indicates that this particular specimen has found a way to compensate for that weakness or you made a mistake). Sadly, this may only be attempted once against any single enemy in any one day.
    • Lessons Of History: You may make a Knowledge check in place of a relevant active skill check up to (Int Mod + Wis Mod) times daily. “Ah, I seem to recall a battle I read about where the general was able to win a situation similar to this one by” or “Hmm, I seem to recall that a famed engineer by the name of Z was able to pick a lock like this due to a flaw in the design”
    • Mythic Lore: You know deep secrets about your field of study. You may either ask the game master what related adventures, treasures, and tales are available or you may invent your own tale and submit it to the game master – who may tweak it, but should adopt some version of it into the campaign history as long as it doesn’t directly contradict known facts. For some examples of such tales, see The House, The Ship, The Well, The Grove
  • DC 30:
    • Coconut Tech: Other people don’t understand how your stuff works, but they eventually learn to just accept it because the incomprehensible “explanation” will only give them a headache. What with your demonstration of the strong anthropic principle, the universe is doing the same. You may assemble an item relevant to your field of knowledge worth up to (Check Result x 400 GP). It will work for (1d4 + Int Mod) minutes or uses if it is a permanent item. If it is a temporary item it will work once – but the game master is entitled to come up with weird side effects or just have it fail entirely. Making scrolls of “Wish” is just asking for it. (As a minor side effect, anyone who can use this ability can arrange a comfortable lifestyle for themselves virtually anywhere).
    • The Real Story: You may translate an exotic inscription, reconstruct an ancient chant from a few clues, or get the complete true name of a thing from a few hints because you have seen the original source before and can recall it once you’re reminded of it.
    • Legend Lore: “Oh, well if you’re going by the Epic of Trelellis regarding the location of the holy sword, you’d be looking in the wrong place as current editions incorrectly translated the critical section describing the whereabouts. I, however, have read the First Edition and can tell you where to properly look.”
  • DC 35:
    • Intuit Design: You may deduce the overall design of something within your field of expertise. An architect could deduce the floorplan of a fortress from looking at the outside, including any major secret passages. Other experts might deduce the purpose of a political gambit, the function of a great occult ritual, the likely contents of a mineral deposit, what a historian was attempting to cover up, and many other things.
    • Selective Amnesia: You may forget some inconvenient fact. Your head is so full of knowledge that you may entirely honestly claim that you don’t recall something – and will not until it would be convenient for you to do so. You may thus, for example, study the dread magics of the Cthulhu Mythos without going insane since you will only recall the bits you need at any given moment.
    • Teaching Tale: You may tell great tales of your field of knowledge, conveying memories and visions to your audience. This can be used simply to let people experience tales and myths or it can be used to grant listeners up to (Skill Check / 2) experience points, up to a maximum of once per week and a lifetime limit of 1500 XP for any given target.
  • DC 40:
    • Advanced Rituals: You may create intermediate-level magical effects related to your knowledge skills. Advanced Rituals generally require at least one hour, a trunk full of ritual components (200 GP), and an undisturbed workspace. Advanced Rituals are in many ways they are the precursors of lesser enchantments.
      • Arcana: Revelations of the Fey (analyzes a specific magical effect), Speak with Local Spirits, and Casting the Circle (enhances other magics.
      • Architecture and Engineering: Lay Cornerstone (helps bind a building together), Reinforce Walls (makes the walls of a structure mildly resistant to magic), and many more.
      • Geography: Dowsing for Gems and Precious Metals, getting Warnings of Earthquakes and Volcanic Eruptions, determining if a site is stable enough for a construction project,
      • History: repairing decrepit items, obtaining a detailed history of an area, getting an annotated translation of some ancient inscription,
      • Local: spreading rumors by mysterious means, translating ancient inscriptions, locating haunted places, and finding minor treasures.
      • Nature: requesting (not controlling) weather, curing diseases, poisons, and moderate amounts of damage, and finding local mystical resources and places of power.
      • Nobility and Royalty: sealing an area against divinatory effects, administering oaths of office and appointing people, binding oaths, tracing bloodlines back for a few generations,
      • Planes: gaining more reliable or informative visions, calling up minor elemental or outer planar beings (these may be contained for a time or dismissed, but must be bargained with for other services. Such bargains are, however, binding), and opening existing gates.
      • Religion: ordaining a new priest, holding a successful seance, binding a spirit, and allowing willing haunts to pass onwards.
    • Intuit Usage: You may deduce how to properly use something covered by your field of study. Tunneling machines, starship engines, blackmail material, weapons, toxins, religious relics, juicy gossip… you know just what can be done with it and how to use it properly for the rest of the day.
    • Know The Weakness II: You may “recall” a convenient notable weakness – a bonus to hit and extra damage for aiming at a weak point or gap in armor, a vulnerability to Magic Missiles, or a way to block some of a creatures powers – in an opponent covered by your knowledge. If the target(s) fail a Will save, you are correct, and they are subject to that weakness until they do something about it. If they succeed, it indicates that this particular specimen has found a way to compensate for that weakness or you made a mistake). Sadly, this may only be attempted once against any single enemy in any one day.
  • DC 50:
    • Call Of The Bodhisattva: You may unite your mind with the Akhasic Plane, becoming one with perfect knowledge of your topic. For a few moments, you know all. The trouble is, you then need a Will Save with a DC set by the game master to return to normal existence with the equivalent of a new Specific Knowledge of whatever you were looking into which lasts for one month. As a side effect, however, if you succeed, you may reappear wherever you wish. Unfortunately, the DC of the required save starts increasingly drastically if you use this ability more than once a month since you won’t have had time to throughly anchor yourself in reality again.
    • Glance Of Skepticism: As long as it’s within your field of study you can momentarily enforce your opinion of why something will not work by roll-off similar to Dispel Magic. You might thus stop a skeletal undead from moving (It has no muscles!), or Dispel or Disrupt Magic / Psionics / Technology / Innate Powers/Etc as appropriate. You may also disrupt troop formations or organizations, attempt to cause structural failures in buildings, render traps innocuous, and so on. This is an immediate action.
    • Preceptor: You may provide unique training in something within your field(s) of knowledge for up to (Cha Mod + 1, 1 Minimum) targets over the course of a week. A second week becomes possible at DC 75 and a third at DC 100, for a maximum total of 3d6 bonus character points.
  • DC 60:
    • Active Knowledge: A scholar may occasionally pull out some ancient word of power, or extremely specialized trick, or similar secret in a critical situation. You may successfully invoke Active Knowledge once per level for each qualifying knowledge skill to gain…
      • Arcana: 2 Action Points which may be expended on arcane Stunts or arcane Crafting.
      • Dungeoneering: 3 Action Points which may be expended on physical Stunts.
      • Engineering: 4 Action Points which may be expended on Crafting.
      • Geography: 3 Action Points which may be expended on Influence.
      • History: 3 Action Points which may be expended on Influence.
      • Local: 5 Action Points which may be expended on Heroism.
      • Nature: 2 Action Points which may be expended on druidic Stunts or druidic Crafting.
      • Nobility: 3 Action Points which may be expended on Influence.
      • Planes: 2 Action Points which may be expended on any magical Stunt.
      • Religion: 2 Action Points which may be expended on clerical Stunts or clerical Crafting.
    • Know The Weakness III: You may “recall” a convenient major weakness in an opponent covered by your knowledge. Perhaps many of a casters spells will fail without his staff, or the creature is unexpectedly vulnerable to cold, or it goes berserk and focuses on a particular foe that does thus-and-such. If the target(s) fail a Will save, you are correct, and they are subject to that weakness until they do something about it. If they succeed, it indicates that this particular specimen has found a way to compensate for that weakness or you made a mistake). Sadly, this may only be attempted once against any single enemy in any one day.
    • Walk The Realms: You may speak of your realm of knowledge with such truth and conviction that reality will reshape itself around you and those you are addressing, carrying you into the realm that you describe. You may thus participate in the defense of a city long fallen or explore a castle before it fell to the forces of darkness – remaining until the tale is complete. While you may return with items, and even people, from such realms, you may not return with a duplicate of a unique item that currently exists. Items that have been destroyed are, however, fair game. On the other hand, any consequences of your actions will carry over; if you lose an arm in the fighting, it will remain gone.
      • While there are occasional reports of consequences remaining in the real world once the pocket realm collapses – small changes in history and legend – such things are, by their very nature, quite difficult to confirm. Even if such changes were “real” rather than being merely changes in current records and tales, it matters little to the flow of history whether an apocalyptic monster was driven off wounded before the city was quite destroyed or whether it triumphed almost unopposed, or whether a child – even a very talented or important one – vanished instead of being killed, or if some ancient wondersmith taught some of his lost secrets to someone who then vanished from history until the present day.
  • DC 75:
    • Grandiose Rituals: You may create advanced magical effects related to your knowledge skills. Grandiose Rituals require hours to days, a mystical laboratory and dedicated ritual chamber (most often a “mages tower” or similar structure) OR expensive components, and being able to work undisturbed.
      • Arcana: Create Orichalcum (more or less liquified or solidified magical energy).
      • Architecture and Engineering: Raise a modest fortress or restore a long-fallen one, shield a city against an incoming natural disaster, construct a dam or irrigation system, build a bridge.
      • Geography: stabilizing an avalanche or landslide site, setting up a monolithic structure to tap into ley lines or open/seal a gate, or adding a selection of simple pits and traps to an area.
      • History: properly excavating and conserving an archeological site, postcognition, and Legend Lore.
      • Local: finding/creating a place of adventure, recalling a lost town, or finding notable treasures.
      • Nature: binding an animal spirit to someone to grant them totemistic powers and detecting the presence of extradimensional beings and other disturbances.
      • Nobility and Royalty: crowning a king (and creating a minor mystical link to the land), determining bloodlines for many generations back
      • Planes: summoning powerful elemental or planar beings (otherwise as above), stabilizing dimensional pathways, and opening or sealing dimensional rifts.
      • Religion: anointing a new high priest (who shall receive divine guidance), raising the dead, creating undead, and seeking divine wisdom.
    • Narrative Of Fate: You may enforce narrative conventions within your field of expertise – a form of prophecy. Unlike True Prophecy, however, your words shape fate, but do not compel it. Thus you may state that “A rebellion shall rise against the Dark Lord, his rule shall be overthrown, and his citadel shall perish in fire!” – a very standard plotline. Distant events that would support this plot are weakly influenced – an emissary seeking aid for the rebellion from a distant land would get a +1 bonus on relevant rolls. A group of farmers fighting back against the Dark Lords troops in an outpost a hundred miles away would get a +2 bonus. A thief stealing supplies from one of the Dark Lords warehouses to support the rebellion in the same town as the user would get a +3 – and anyone in the same party or fight as the user would get a +4. Unfortuantely, the Mana invested in such a Narrative cannot be recovered until the plotline concludes – whether in success or failure.
    • Universal Amnesia: You may forget why something should not or could not work, and – at least for 1d4 rounds – it will. Sadly, this is a triumph of perception and imagination over reality, is limited to “Notable” Reality Edits, and can only be used (Wis Mod + 1, 1 Minimum) times daily.
  • DC 100:
    • Know The Weakness IV: You may “recall” a convenient grandiose weakness in an opponent covered by your knowledge. Perhaps the creature can be banished by invoking a particular name, or it is horribly allergic to some common herb that will inflict massive penalties on it, or some similar disastrous problem. If it fails its Will save (and thus you are “correct”) this will be an easy fight as they will be subject to that weakness until they do something about it. If they succeed, it indicates that this particular specimen has found a way to compensate for that weakness or you made a mistake. Sadly, this may only be attempted once against any single enemy in any one day.
    • Skeptical Gaze Of Intellectual Eminence: As long as it’s within your field of study you can momentarily enforce your opinion of why something will not work by roll-off similar to Greater Dispel Magic. You might thus stop a Dracolich from using its breath weapon (It has no lungs!), or Dispel or Disrupt Magic / Psionics / Technology / Innate Powers / Etc as appropriate. You may also disrupt troop formations or organizations, attempt to cause structural failures in buildings, render traps innocuous, and so on. This is an immediate action.
    • Tenure: You have become one with the informational structure of the universe. If you can make this check when you are about to die or suffer some other horrible doom (this does not count as an action) it turns out that you were on sabbatical at the time, somewhere very far away, and therefore were not harmed. You will, however, be obligated to spend at least one month doing nothing of importance other than teaching your topic when you get back.

Epic Stunts For General Knowledges:

Obviously enough, most of the Divination Effects, Hypercognition, and similar spells can fit in here under one knowledge or another. Prying Eyes and Greater Prying Eyes? Knowledge / Local. True Seeing? Knowledge/Arcana or Religion. Legend Lore? Most obviously History, but it could fit in with most of the others. Commune (upgraded to avoid the costs) or Contact Other Plane? Religion, Planes, or Arcana. Find The Path? Local or Nature. Tectonic Communion? Geography or Nature. Hyperdeduction? Almost anything; it is pretty much a general “scholar” effect after all.

  • Study At A Glance (L10, DC 50): You may, at a glance, gain a full understanding of something within your field of expertise – deciphering a complex set of records of the royal bloodline, knowing how a structure is built and its purposes, learning all the traps and features of a small complex of dungeon rooms, and so on.
  • Binding Words (L11, DC 54): You may make a Limited Wish with no special costs for doing so. The desired result must, however, be related to the field of knowledge used to cast the spell.
  • Blood Calligraphy (L12, DC 58): You may create a temporary 1-4 CP relic with effects related to the field of study used to cast this spell. The first CP costs 1d6 hit points, the second 1d8 more, the third 1d10 more, and the fourth 1d12 more. The relic can be maintained for up to (Con) days, but the hit points invested in it cannot be recovered until the relic is dismissed.
  • Calculated Rite (L13, DC 62): You may learn the steps – basically a ritual of sorts – needed to accomplish some great goal. They may not actually make any sense, but if you can carry them out properly… they will work. Exactly how long and difficult the sequence of steps is is up to the game master however.
  • Summon Exemplar (L14, DC 66): You may summon forth a perfect example of your field of study – a True and Noble King, Skilled in Both War and Peace, the Finest Citadel Ever Built, the instructions for the Most Destructive Ritual Ever Created, and so on. Unfortunately, this does not mean that the Exemplar will be particular friendly or helpful – just that it will be an example of the very best. This can be a nuisance of the very best fortress belonged to a hostile group, for what is a fortress without it’s garrison?
  • Resplendent Panoply (L15, DC 70): You unlock hidden secrets of magic. The cost of researching this “spell” is effectively invested in Siddhisyoga powers.
  • The Spark (L16, DC 74): As per Animate Object, but the number of small items that can be affected is equal to the (Casting Check/2) and the duration is twenty-four hours.
  • Symposium (L17, DC 78): You may immediately hold a multi-hour conference on a topic with the worlds greatest mortal experts in attendance. During this time you gain a +20 circumstance bonus on any relevant skill checks and may opt to have the basics of any information you choose to present publicized, with the basics becoming immediately known to every creature in the local solar system with an Intelligence of eight or more.
  • Call The Mystery (L18, DC 82): You may call forth a Mystery to bond with for the next twenty-four hours. Sadly, only one such Mystery can be bound at a time – but, given that there are a nigh- infinite number of Mysteries, each user may design their own list of seven personalized mysteries to call upon.
  • Summon Star Beast (L19, DC 86): Knowledge Lives. You may embody some portion of your knowledge as an entity, calling forth a Colossal Psychic Construct (as per The Practical Enchanter) for (Casting Check) rounds. The construct has 36d10 +80 HD, Initiative -2, Speed 70, Natural Armor +36, Attacks 4x +52 for 2d12+25, Crit 20/x2, Space 30×30, Saves Fort +12, Ref +10, Will +12, Str 52, Dex 7, Abilities 5A, 5B, and 5C, construct traits. The effect is, however, fixed: each individual Summon Star Beast spell calls forth a particular star beast.
  • Occult Lore (L20, DC 90): You may attach three Bestow Curse effects related to a particular bit of knowledge to that bit of knowledge (note that “forget this”, “forget you’ve been affected by something”, and “don’t think about this topic any more” are a perfectly viable set of curses) – and only you are naturally immune, although others may choose to forget the information rather than suffer the effects. Saves will provide protection for one lunar month, but after that anyone who still recalls the information must save again. The Deep Mystery will remain in effect for one thousand years, which may well suffice to bury the information permanently.
  • Command Of The Elder World (L21, DC 94): You may make a Wish with no special costs for doing so. The desired result must, however, be related to the field of knowledge used to cast the spell.
  • Heroic Planning (L22, DC 98): Up to fifty targets within medium range are considered to be in a Superhero Universe – gaining (Con Mod) Mana per round which must be spent immediately or be lost – for twenty minutes.
  • Incomprehensible Truths (L23, DC 102): You may proclaim truths that no mind can hold without shattering. All those who hear you directly – even if the audience numbers in the thousands – have their Int, Wis, and Cha reduced to one if they fail to save, and will remain in this state until a limited wish, miracle, or wish spell or a point of Godfire, is used to erase the terrible truth and rebuild their minds. Those who successfully save block out the words, gestures, and images, becoming Blind and Deaf for the remainder of the day. This bypasses all natural type-based immunities.
  • Dungeon Worlds Within (L24, DC 106): As per Lair Of Dreams (Eclipse).

The Anomaly and Eclipse d20 – The Untremi and Vespene Gas

Quite some time back. It’s hard to be sure when multiple timerates, shifting dimensions, and true time travel may be involved. 

The research vessel/fortification now known as Sturmkanal (“The Lightning Channeled?”) had been established to allow certain… extreme…experiments to proceed unhindered by ethics, practicality, legalities, expense, sanity, and uncooperative natural laws.

It was hard to keep the help around though. Maintenance men, lab assistants, even the people who provided cleaning services all tended to want to leave for another galaxy after getting a good look at the things they were supposed to deal with or take for granted. Worse, all that offering “get rich in a few days” salaries did was get people to sign up for the training program and stay just long enough to become rich before buying a ticket for the opposite side of the galaxy and reporting a nest of lunatics meddling with insanely dangerous stuff.

So naturally the mad scientists who’d built the place tried to address the issue with mad science. Short of finding a reliable source of Igors, what else could they do?

  • Droids were too uncreative and limited. They could not be given the flexibility of a living mind – although, in rare cases, and for unknown reasons a few developed it. Relying on Droids led to all kinds of system failures and a lack of response to novel emergencies – and there were lots of those. They had to rebuild Sturmkanal twice.
  • Raising their own aides didn’t work. Sapient organic beings took to long to mature and teach and all too many of them wanted to do their own thing after they grew up rather than working for the lunatics who’d raised them. Even worse, attempting to rush the development of a sapient brain too much let to unpredictable breakdowns and insanities. They had to rebuild Sturmkanal three times, since some of them liked to think that they were reasonably ethical, and so they couldn’t just dump the kids.
  • Implants stressed the body-spirit link, adding too many of them to an organism – say, enough to give it all the skills and abilities the researchers needed in their support crews – would kill it all too soon. They saw the warning signs soon enough to stop that line of experimentation before any of the test subjects died, but it still didn’t work.

With three failures under their belts, the next experiment attempted to combine technologies from several realms – the Federations genetic manipulations, the Republics droid programs. Stardocks Energy Crystals, the quasi-crystalline extra-galactic silicon-protein bridge molecules of the “Furrypedes” and several more, with an animal base to reduce the ethical conundrums.

The goal… was genetic and biochemical restructuring, allowing later generations of the test species to “grow” quasi-organic “cyberware” as they developed. The systems were meant to include a programmable “droid brain” capable of loading a skill database, training and a basic personality matrix with the organic side to provide flexibility and better learning ability. Built-in tools, communications systems, power sources, and other equipment would make them more capable. Since that equipment would grow as a part of the body during gestation, it would be a natural part of the body, and so would not damage the body-spirit link. Even better… the system could take in power from external sources starting soon after birth, allowing the creatures using the system to grow more quickly, need less food and oxygen, and live longer. The modifications were meant to be an uplift module capable turning later generations of the simple animals they were experimenting on into competent and well-equipped aides, crewmen, and technicians that could be educated in minutes without wasting all that time on actually being taught.

Unfortunately, the result was flawed. The test animals – a species rather closely resembling the Giant Otter – did not fully express the advanced processing and memory capabilities of the computer design even as adults. The droid and skill programs needed more room to run – and so the processing load had to be shared between a small group. Still, even if that meant that a “pack” of six to twenty or so were required for full operation – digital “telepathy” provided communications that were fast enough to compensate as long as the members group stayed within a few miles of each other.

Worse, rather than getting to focus on fixing the problem, the exigencies of life led to an urgent attempt to create a militarized variant. It turned out that setting their research center down in an area that was currently overrun with mad scientists led to problems. Who could have guessed?

Even worse, while that was, at least in principle, simple enough – you simply added second-stage programming that led the quasi-cyberware to upgrade itself into an organic power armor shell – that left even less processing power available for other purposes. All those military systems and designs were pretty processing-intensive. Militarized Untremi were even less able to function on their own than the standard models.

And matters were left there as circumstances caused Sturmkanal to be abandoned. The Untremi sent out militarized scout groups in an attempt to regain contact with their designers – but as the natural laws of the Anomaly shifted, their scouting parties were often cut off in distant regions by intervening zones of reality where they could not function. Back at Sturmkanal, the military groups wanted to use the drive systems to move the installation – and its stable reality bubble – to go to the rescue of their cut-off scouting parties. The maintenance crew, however, had orders not to let anyone try to move the place under any circumstances. The ensuing stalemate would not be resolved for many centuries.

Meanwhile, one of the cut-off scouting groups settled down in the Stardock region, where the local natural law baseline allowed most of their systems to work – but where they were soon exposed to Vespene Gas.

Vespene Gas Geysers only occur at natural energy nexi. While the process is ill-understood, the energy concentration gradually builds up until it converts otherwise normal groundwater into Vespene Gas – which can be used to produce all kinds of gear from rather basic mineral materials with very little actual manufacturing involved. Sadly, the supply takes a good deal of time to build up again after the eruption dies down.

Like most such transformational catalysts, Vespene Gas is linked to a source of patterns. Oddly enough, however, the entities it is connected to offer a rather limited list of patterns, and seem to segregate them by the nature of the people using the stuff; each user-species gains access to it’s own, personalized, list of items. Worse, it doesn’t work on just ANY matter; most of the basic elements must be present already and the overall mass must be reasonably close in form to what is wanted. Still, it can affect a considerable volume of material – much more than similar transformational catalysts with less specific requirements.

Unfortunately, exposure to Vespene gas – including the traces left behind in the equipment and supplies it is used to produce – has serious mental effects. It induces violent tendencies and various fixed delusions designed to turn the various species using it against all the other species using it. So, while the stuff provides a fabulously quick-and-easy technological base (and, in fact, allows young Untremi to mature even faster than they normally would), it inhibits all real progress past whatever technology base it provides. Still, given a good supply of the stuff from a geyser… even a small colony can suddenly produce massive amounts of military hardware. Of course, each faction is roughly balanced against each other faction – and when one faction is in serious danger of being eliminated, they somehow seem to find a bunch of fresh Vespene geysers while the opposing factions stocks start running low, allowing them to rebound or at least to escape to re-establish themselves elsewhere.

Vespene Gas (Relic):

  • 1d6 (4) Mana with Reality Editing, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / Only for Reality Editing, only to transform mockups of the right general materials into real equipment, the available equipment list is limited by the faction to which the user belongs, only available from “natural” Vespene Gas Geysers (6 CP).
  • Disadvantage: Exposure to traces of Vespene Gas – including the traces left behind on the equipment it’s used to create – induces Insanity. In particular, a set of delusional beliefs designed to turn the user’s faction against all other factions of vespene gas users and a tendency towards excessive violence.

Net Cost: [6 CP (Base) – 3 CP (Disadvantage)]/6 (Relic) = .5 CP, rounds down to 0 CP.

Yes; a modest supply of Vespene Gas has no cost. Sure, you can get some cheap equipment with it, but it probably isn’t worth the ensuing bouts of insanity.

The group-minded Untremi (the militarized variants are locally known as “Zerg”) are actually much less seriously affected than most since it’s harder for paranoia to take root in their partially-computerized group mind – but they are still affected. They’re quite unable to realize that most of the rest of the galaxy has seriously erroneous, and at least partially irrational, ideas about what they’re up to.

Jacob, the Star Trek Engineer, was able to connect the mysterious pattern-suppliers with the Gamesters Of Triskelion.

The Untremi Uplift Template (Net 32 CP / +1 ECL).

Very young Untremi are basically playful small animals (normally Otters in the current setting, but the same template could be applied to other animals), albeit small animals with a certain amount of built-in protection – one reason why their parents do not worry about them much. Shortly after birth they can accept set of Stardock Power Crystals – allowing them to grow more quickly and play even more energetically. More and more of their systems will gradually come online until – shortly after achieving the medium size category but shortly before they become young adults at about age three – their computer systems successfully boot up.

At that point the youngster makes an instinctive choice, selecting a personality program out of those available to the local clan, any nearby clans, and in any local backups. Factors “considered” include compatibility with their existing (very) clever animal personality, the needs of the larger community, whether a particular local romp (a group sharing a particular Personality Program) needs more members, and the choices made by their siblings, if any.

The Personality Program is basically a Droid program – normally a specialty such as “starship engineer”. With it comes an assortment of skills appropriate to the chosen speciality, languages, and intelligent thought. While each Untremi in a romp is an individual, and has its own twists on the basic persona, they share a common set of skills and functions. In effect, each Untremi gets an instant education – however, since they do not experience a sapient childhood, Untremi tend to remain more than a bit childish, naive, and (absurdly) playful throughout their lives.

Finally, now that they are old enough to handle them reasonably responsibly, the really dangerous systems upgrade to full power or come online and the now-adult Untremi is ready to start helping out with whatever their romp is working on.

  • Immunity to normal campaign restrictions on high-tech equipment availability (Up to Progress Level Eight. Very Common, Major, Great), Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only for Innate Enchantment purposes, only for template abilities, any systems that require ammunition or fuel must have it supplied by normal purchases (10 CP).
  • Assistant (6 CP): Their “Aid Another” actions provide a +4 bonus instead of +2.
  • Cybertolerance / Immunity to the systemic impact of Cyberware (Uncommon, Major, Major; the first six Cybrenetic Implants do not count against the number that can be taken without side effects, 6 CP).
  • Enhanced Lifespan / Immunity/Aging past Adulthood (Uncommon, Severe, Trivial, 2 CP): Rather than 12-20 years, Untremi have a roughly human lifespan.
  • Innate Enchantment (11,457 GP Value), Corrupted for Reduced Cost (8 CP) / functions are significantly degraded, and some items may not work at all, in areas with incompatible natural laws. This may not be a serious problem in many campaigns, in which case the disadvantage (and, very likely, the entire template) should be disallowed, but it is pretty awkward in dimension-hopping settings or those, such as the Anomaly, with shifting natural laws.
  • Action Hero / Crafting, Specialized and Corrupted / only to pay the XP costs for their built-in gear (2 CP).
  • Immunity to Dispelling and Antimagic (Common, Major, Great, Specialized and Corrupted / Only to protect Innate Enchantments, renders protected systems vulnerable to anti-technological measures, 6 CP).
  • Immunity to difficulties in swimming due to lack of buoyancy (Uncommon, Minor, Trivial, 1 CP). Despite all the built-in metal and crystal, Untremi have a net neutral buoyancy in water.
  • Skill Bonus: +1 to Speak Language (Basic “Otter”, 1 CP).
  • Template Disadvantages (-10 Points):
    • Blocked / Cannot Speak: The Template does not include an improved voicebox; Untremi can understand languages, but can only communicate via animal noises, body language, and through digital radio in computer code. This also inhibits attempts to learn most systems of magic.
    • Compulsive / Childish: Untremi never really “mature”. They get bored very easily, spend a great deal of time at play, and are easily diverted. They must make a DC 18 Will check to remain focused when bored and suffer a -5 penalty on rolls to do things like long-term crafting or resist joining a game.
    • Insane / Naive: Untremi aren’t big on being deceptive, and have a hard time unraveling other beings being deceptive. They tend to take all statements, bluffs, and deceptions at face value until or unless the deception becomes blatantly obvious or someone takes time to explain it to them. This makes them quite vulnerable to Bluff, Illusions, and similar effects.

As for those Innate “Enchantments”…

  • Cyberware Equivalents (4175 GP):
    • Artificial Twitch Fiber II (600 GP): +4 Dex.
    • Augmented Sapience Module: Neural Boosters II (450 GP): +4 Int. Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect (+12 Int) / limited to +2 plus +1 per two additional Untremi who are running the same droid persona program in the immediate vicinity,
    • Droid Program Module: Feat Plexus with Four Feats (2250 GP):
      1) +6 Skill Points, Specialized for Increased Effect (12 skill points) / Only to provide an “instant education” as appropriate to the droid persona program selected (three skills at +4).
      2) +6 Skill Points, Specialized for Increased Effect (12 skill points) / Only to provide an “instant education” as appropriate to the droid persona program selected (two additional persona-related skills at +4, +2 Languages, +2 to Heal (somehow the mad scientists needed a lot of first aid at one point or another) or another secondary skill).
      3) Any one speciality-related Feat.
      4) Any one speciality-related Feat.
    • Neural Computer Link (450 GP): Computer Use and Research checks become free actions.
    • Redundant Organs II (325 GP): +4 Con
    • Power Saver Chip with Integrated Anti-Shock Implant (100 GP). A PSC allows the user to slow his or her effective metabolic timerate by a factor of twenty-four – similarly reducing aging, the progress of diseases or poisons, and the need for food, water, and air.
  • Arcane Equivalents (Cyber-Upgrades) (5750 GP):
    • Baseline Programs / Automatic “proficiency” with all Racial Innate Enchantment gear: Masters Touch (Spell Level One x Caster Level One x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use Activated x.7 Personal Only x.7 (automatically covers all their racial “equipment”, but nothing else) = 980 GP).
    • Electrically Augmented Metabolism / Sustenance (The Practical Enchanter): Reduces the need to eat, drink, sleep, and breathe to one-quarter normal. (Spell Level One x Caster Level One x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use Activated x.7 Personal Only x.8 (Dependent on energy from Power Crystals or other sources, will not work if those are deactivated or removed) = 1120 GP.
    • Aquatic / Touch Of The Sea (Swim Speed 30, +8 to Swim Checks): Spell Level One x Caster Level One x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use Activated x.7 Personal Only = 1400 GP).
    • Personal Haste (+30 Movement, +1 Attack when making a Full Attack): Spell Level One x Caster Level One x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use Activated x.8 (Adds to Swim Speed, but not other movement modes) = 1600 GP.
    • Built-In Toolkit / Traveler’s Any-Tool (250 GP): An Untremi is always considered to have masterwork tools available.
  • Defensive And Survival Equipment (1046.5 GP):
    • Claws and Teeth / Straight Razor, Purchase DC 4 (Tiny, 1d4 Slashing, Crit 19-20), Small (+2 DC, 1d6 Base), Electrified (DC +2, +4d6 Electrical Damage), Mastercraft +3 (+9 DC, +3 to Attacks and Damage): Net +3 to Attack, 1d6 + Str Mod + 3 + 4d6 Electrical, Crit 19-20/x2) (45 GP, x2 = 90 GP)
    • Cyberskin / Boost Armor (DC 18) with Gravlight (+4 DC), Environmental Seal (8 Hours, +4 DC), Reduced Defense II (-4 DC), Segmented (+2 DC), and Increased Range Of Motion I (+2 DC) (600 GP): Net: +5 Armor, +6 Max Dex, Armor Penalty 0, Speed +10, +4 Str, +2 Reflex Saves.
    • Energy Shield (x5, 162.5 GP): Normally these provide 5 and call for the user to specify what type of energy when the system is activated. Using five, this simply provides Energy Resistance 5 to all forms of energy. While that isn’t a lot, it does mean that they can work in areas that happen to be radioactive, work with live electrical equipment, rush in to extinguish small fires, and deal with all the laboratory accidents that are a normal part of working with mad scientists.
    • Kinetic Barrier / Grav Shield: DR 5/- (175 GP). This helps a lot with lab explosions.
    • Nutrient Reserves: 8 Days worth of Food and Drink (5 GP): An Untremi can store enough internal reserves to handle eight days without power, 32 days with power, or up to two years with power but in “power saver” mode – such as for a long spaceflight. Of course, they will have to eat and drink a lot to replenish their reserves depleting them.
    • Portable Environment Generator (14 GP). Between this and the Environmental Seal, the Untremi can effectively hold their breath indefinitely and are comfortable in pretty much any livable environment.
  • Sensor and Communications Equipment (720 GP):
    • Computer Functions / Desktop Computer (175 GP). If they want to, the Untremi can play video games (they often want to do this VERY MUCH, and do) and run a variety of programs directly in their own heads.
    • Cybersenses / Class-II (Starship) Sensor Array: High Resolution Video, Infrared, Electromagnetic Sensors, Radiation Detection, LADAR Detection. DC 15 computer use check to determine location and general nature of those in the area, identify and locate all visible hazards, identify major weapons and defenses, survey and analyze the environment. Corrupted for Reduced Cost (500 GP) / Unless operating in a large group (and so able to apply interferometry) the Untremi have a very limited range compared to a spacecraft.
    • Internal Records / Neural Recorder (25 GP): Untremi can record both sensory information and thoughts so other Untremi can experience them. Given that this is a basic component of their operation, this should surprise no one at all.
    • Sensory Overload Filter (15 CP): Untremi got a +5 equipment bonus on saves versus blinding flashes, loud noises, and similar sensory assaults.
    • Universal Communicator with Satellite Datalink (5 GP): Send and receive audio, visual, and digital information. Untremi are constantly on the network – if only because they have to be to maintain their intelligence.
  • Power Supply (8 GP):
    • Stardock Power Crystal Implants / 2x Power Backpack, Specialized for Double Effect (LOTS of power) / semi-external; power crystals must be installed into the appropriate sockets for this to work (8 GP). Stardock Power Crystals are cheap, easy to use, and can provide enormous amounts of energy with little weight. After all, it would normally take a power pack heavier than they are or a hookup to a major stationary power generator to keep an Untremi running at anywhere near full capacity. Unfortunately, most universes say “Oh, HELL NO” when you tell them that you want to set up a proton matrix locked in a rather distant grid, set up a cloud of electrons around it to balance the electrical charge, fill it up with a sizeable portion of it’s rest mass in photons, and tap the resulting crystal for power with a rather simple bit of circuitry. This little problem limits the Untremi to operating in a rather narrow range of universes. Of course, since their creators were looking for lab assistants and (later) defenders for their transdimensional laboratory, that was not originally considered a problem, but a wise precaution.
  • Electromagnetic Discharge Systems (157.5 GP):
    • Hologram/Audio Player/Recorder (10 GP).
    • Laser Pistol with Stun Module II (137.5 GP): 2d8 Fire, Crit 20/x2, Range Increment 40′, Fort DC 15 or 1d4 rounds.
    • Microtorch (10 GP): Arcwelder/Cutter, 2d10 Melee Touch Attack. Cuts, welds, etc.

Thanks to it’s embrace of the Innate Enchantment 1 GP = 20 Cr Technology exploit, the Untremi Uplift Template is absurdly powerful for it’s +1 ECL cost. Of course, the corresponding downside is that the affected creatures are only capable of functioning in areas where the local natural laws allow said exploit AND all the technology they’re using. That’s… rare. And where it does occur, it also means that the other local species are likely to be running around in power armor and wielding high-tech weapons of their own. Introduced into a normal (Progress Level 2) d20 setting they effectively have a six progress level advantage. Note that “Cruiser versus Big War Canoe” is only a four progress level advantage.

Eclipse – Bosses, Creeping Doom, Lair Actions, Mythic Actions, and The Lion At Bay

And for today it’s a selection of abilities for running boss encounters since the original article has developed all sorts of side branches long the way…

Creeping Doom Caller (6 CP):

With this ability greenish-purple iridescent ectoplasmic ooze spreads out around you whenever you stand still long enough – delimiting the boundaries of a Ward Major (per the Practical Enchanter) that provides it’s “residents” with concealment, boosted movement, healing, and sustenance. Unfortunately, the ooze (and it’s borders) is blatantly obvious, it evaporates back into the astral plane if it ceases to be sustained, and it spreads relatively slowly – and never, of course past the appropriate limits of the Ward. One Creeping Doom Master can maintain enough Creeping Doom to cover a small house. If they’re compatible, three or more can cover a great mansion or small castle. Nine or more can cover a manor, a normal castle or some other great structure. Twenty seven or more can cover a city or small valley. and eighty one or more can cover a region with a maximum radius of up to four miles, although that’s the maximum limit. If you happen to have a legion of Creeping Doom Callers, they’ll just have to set up somewhere else and start blanketing their own area. Regions of Creeping Doom may but up against each other – they don’t need to be circular – but they never overlap.

  • Innate Enchantment, Ward Major IV (12,500 GP, 13 CP), Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / requires that the user stand still, only spreads out to cover an area gradually, leaves area coated in extremely obvious “ooze” (4 CP).
  • Action Hero / Crafting, Specialized and Corrupted / only pays the XP cost for the Ward Major (2 CP).

The ward, of course, recognizes all members of whichever group it is set up for as “residents”, and grants them the following four benefits – its minor ward powers:

  • Continuous Camouflage: +10 to Stealth when hiding or moving within the ooze
  • Continuous Expeditious Retreat: +30 Enhancement Bonus to Movement within the ooze.
  • Grant Of Aid with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized in Hit Points Only. The ooze will flow up to patch it’s residents wounds. Note that this does not stack; you can’t exhaust the provided healing, move over to another Ward / separate patch of Creeping Doom and get more healing.
  • Sustenance: Within the Ward it’s “residents” need not Eat, Sleep, or Breathe as they are sustained by the ooze.

Other powers can, of course, be substituted – but would call for changes in the special effects.

Creepy Master (6 CP):

A skillful summoner of the Creeping Doom can manipulate and use the ooze in a variety of ways – causing it two swap two unresisting creatures positions, using it to strike at targets remotely, sensing nearby creatures touching it, causing it to heave itself up into low walls or obstacles, letting it fall away to create pits, and causing it to erupt into protective barriers. Although the Creepy Commander still cannot move and maintain the ooze… he or she may not need to.

  • Innate Enchantment, Specialized for Half Cost / only works within an area covered by the user’s Creeping Doom. All effects Spell Level One x Caster Level One x 2000 GP Unlimited Use Use Activated. Benign Transposition (Swap the positions of two nearby, willing, creatures), Blood Wind (Melee Attacks gain a 20′ Range Increment), Embrace The Wild (Blindsense out to 30′, +2 to Perception), Expeditious Construction (create 10′ of low wall), Expeditious Excavation (create a small pit), and Shield (+4 Shield Bonus to AC, gain Immunity to Magic Missiles). (6 CP).

Creepy Commander (6 CP):

A true master of the Creeping Doom may direct it almost instinctively, and – in fact – binds to it so tightly that it can act on it’s own on a larger scale to help out the commander and his or her troops.

  • Opportunist / may expend his or her Attacks Of Opportunity on using Innate Enchantment Effects, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / Only works within the ooze, only for Creepy Master Effects, continues to require standing still (2 CP).
  • Advanced Blessing (Shared Powers), Specialized and Corrupted / only works with the Creepy Master package, only to share those powers with the Ward itself (4 CP). This allows the Ward to use a Creepy Master effect on it’s own (using the granting characters initiative) once per round – but, as usual for a magic-using Ward Major, it can use them to affect large numbers of targets over a considerable area. This allows it to erect barriers, open pits, swap allies positions, and shield allies without requiring anyone else’s actions.

Creepy Pasta (5 CP):

Those who truly understand and immerse themselves in the Creeping Doom may begin to tie exotic sources of power into their Wards, spinning threads of power both great and small inwards and outwards. While that power is somewhat unpredictable – those who learn to spin the Creepy Pasta are all at least slightly different – the technique can make the Creeping Doom considerably more effective.

  • Leadership with Exotic Followers (Elementals, Nature Spirits, Demons, whatever), Specialized and Corrupted / these never actually appear and only act indirectly, “flavoring” the area around your home, notifying you of disturbances and attackers, and manipulating the environment to assist you. They only act a limited number of times per turn (taking up to three minor actions, one minor and one notable action, or one major action) to assist you – and they can only help you out when you’re defending your home. Worse, the actions must always fit within a particular theme and the selection is limited (3 CP). This, of course, is the equivalent of Fifth Editions “Lair Actions” and lets you easily represent some source of assistance that isn’t directly involved in the fight.

So what sort of things are suitable?

  • Minor Creepy Lair Actions: Minor and inconvenient traps, smoke obscures the field, there is an earth tremor or unsteady footing, a gust of wind fouls up archery for a bit, someone gets entangled in a curtain, the lights go out, thunder crashes making it impossible to communicate this round, a huge boiling cauldron spills.
  • Notable Creepy Lair Actions: A large tree falls, a crevice opens up, part of the roof collapses, something explodes, a dangerous trap goes off, some caged pets get unleashed, the hostages are placed in danger forcing some characters to turn away from the fight and go to the rescue, a blinding flash of light occurs, the place catches fire (if already on fire, floors can give way, flames erupt, and so on).
  • Major Creepy Lair Actions: Small volcanic eruptions or other drastic and dangerous changes in the local environment, toxic mists, tentacles try to grab several characters, an escape route opens up, an enemy creature regains thirty hit points or recovers from some nasty condition, a wall pops up.

At lower levels it’s usually best to reduce things – likely to a Notable or two Minor actions, or even to a single Minor action.

It’s usually best to use “lair actions” to try to add interest rather than direct damage. A bear trap that keeps someone from moving away as the monster charges changes the tactical situation interestingly. Being hit by a falling rock? Now that’s just random damage.

  • Ward Upgrade to L5 (Adds 1 Major Power, 2 CP): Major Powers can be found in The Practical Enchanter, but effects such as Haste (for a total of ten minutes per day), Freedom Of Movement, True Seeing, Recovery, Spell Absorption, a powerful Barrier, Teleport Suppression, Spellcasting, and more are all possible. With this upgrade the Creeping Doom can become an even greater tactical factor.

Mythic Creep (12 CP):

Some monsters go well beyond the normal limits of reality, their legends take on a life and power of their own, twisting the world around them to suit their narrative. The creature is no longer “A Hydra”, but the legendary “Hydra of Terlence”, not “An Adult Red Dragon” but “Nightfire The Reaper” – a unique entity of terrible power. Such creatures are no longer entirely bound by reality, and are often capable of opposing a group of adventurers entirely on their own.

  • Mana with Reality Editing, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / only for Reality Editing, only for a list of 3-7 minor (1 Mana), Notable (2 Mana), and Major (3 Mana) effects unique to each user, no more than three Mana may be spent per turn, edits can only be made at the end of another creatures action. This costs (6 CP) per die of Mana,
  • Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized die Reduced Cost and Corrupted for Increased Effect (May be activated once per round during active combat by expending an Attack Of Opprotunity) / only to recharge the Reality Editing pool above (6 CP).

While Mythic Creep Effects have the same general hierarchy as Lair Actions, they’re usually direct actions of the creature, rather than things it causes by its mere presence.

  • Minor Mythic Creep effects commonly include making single attacks, using minor spells or other special abilities, and movement powers.
  • Notable Mythic Creep effects include low-level spell effects, taking a target out of the fight for several rounds, launching a full attack on someone.
  • Major Mythic Creep effects include forcing everyone else who fails to save to lose an action or two, stronger spell effects, and triggering various unique abilities.

With Mythic Creep the characters will always be a bit unsure of just what THIS creature might be capable of.

The Lion At Bay, A.K.A. A Party Of One (12 CP)

You’ve all seen this one in novels, comic books, or movies. The Hero or Villain stands alone against a group of attackers, and basically dares them to come at him or her. They do so, coming forward in a wave of simultaneous attacks designed to overwhelm the sole defender.

Yet somehow, that sole defender gets to deal with that mass of opponents either one at a time or – at most – in pairs. It doesn’t matter if it’s ninja, or power armor troopers, or the X-Men. Always they seem to wind up attacking one at a time even if the start of the sequence clearly shows them moving in to attack simultaneously. Thus when the X-Men start a coordinated attack on Magneto… somehow Wolverine leads off, and gets entrapped in twisted metal. Colossus moves in, there is some banter, and he gets tossed away by Magnetos magnetic powers. Magneto then turns to face Storms lightning bolt, which is deflected as he simultaneously hurls a chunk of metal into her, knocking her away, Shadowcat gets ignored or power-tasered, depending on the writers, and Cyclop’s shot misses or bounces away – but he gets to remain standing to make a defiant speech (which Magneto politely waits for him to finish, since talking is a free action). Of course, being the bad guy, Magneto then either stands and gloats over his scattered foes or argues with Cyclops, = giving the rest of the X-Men plenty of time to recover and to try again – launching attacks which suddenly really WILL be simultaneous. And no, that doesn’t really make any sense. Lets build it anyway.

  • Reflex Training (three actions per day variant) with +6 Bonus Uses, Specialized for Increased Effect (the user gets to take a full rounds actions) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only usable when facing a substantial group of foes on your own, user and each individual attacker (or pair thereof) basically exist in their private time-stop effect: the user may only attack those currently attacking him or her (rather than, say, throwing area effects that take out the entire party) – although, on the upside, outsiders using immediate actions never get to interrupt these private duels either (9 CP).
  • Opportunist (User may trigger a Reflex Action whenever an opponent takes their turn instead of being limited to one per round), Specialized / only when facing a group of opponents alone (3 CP).

There. For a mere 12 CP / two Feats your boss villain, legendary dragon, or similar creature can entirely ignore the overwhelming action economy advantage a part of adventurers has over him or her for two or three rounds. Admittedly, the bad guys bonus-action luck will soon run out – but it will make the fight a lot more interesting and allow your bad guy to show off his or her power, rather than (as they all too often do) going down like a chump.

Now, for those who want a lair on the cheap… they want the Sanctum ability (6 CP), which provides 24 CP worth of abilities, but only in a specific location.