Eclipse And What NOT To Do

Today it’s something unusual for me – an example of what NOT to do with Eclipse.

In this case, a player who was new to Eclipse wished to make a first level character. He then…

  • Refused to consult with, or take advice from, the game master – or from anyone who knew the system.
  • Provided a character history which consisted of “He was a slave. He was freed by some people who attacked the slavers. He then wandered off with some of the other slaves who elected to follow him (although he explicitly denied doing anything to lead them). After arriving at an isolated village, he refused to interact, come up with a way to make a living, or find a home – for a year or two.
  • Ignored the setting – which happened to be the 3.5 Forgotten Realms – in favor of Pathfinder references.

These were not good signs – but the most serious problem was that he refused to come up with a concept. Instead, he skimmed through Eclipse, through various builds on this site, and possibly some optimization boards and tried to grab the”best” abilities he saw – ignoring the supporting abilities that made them work. Thus he wound up with a first level character who…

  • Had a custom racial template (some sort of experimented-on mutant fey), despite that being a “Game Master Permission Only” item. Unfortunately, he tried to put a number of abilities that had prerequisites into it. These included…
  • Took undefined “Duties to Custom and Tradition” on a unique creature that had neither.
  • Took Innate Enchantment to get less than 250 GP worth of basic stuff – clothing, leather armor, a few simple hand tools, and a piece of rope instead of any actually useful enchantments or gear. This power would function, but – as set up – was essentially worthless.
  • A part of the Lesser Fey template – the Channeling / Conversion ability it used to produce some spell effects – without the immunity to the level requirement that allowed it to work for fey of below fifth level. This power would not function in a racial template.
  • Took Extra Limbs to get a Prehensile Tail, but didn’t put enough points into it to actually buy the ability – so this did nothing.
  • Took Returning despite the game master telling him “no” – but with a one month minimum delay and severe memory losses. Given that I am told that the game was known to be plotted for a series of crisis’s over a period of a few months, actually attempting to get any use out of this power would effectively put him out of the game for a year or more of real time. Still, this ability might function in a long-term game – but is saving one point really worth giving yourself amnesia?
  • Took Immunity to Aging. That would function, but again… the game was plotted for a few months.
  • He did take Grant Of Aid for a bit of self-healing. That power doesn’t really belong in a Racial Template – at least not without some restrictions and a description that would describe why ALL of the members of the race have some exotic entity interested in helping them – but it did function.

Personal Powers

For his personal powers, he did start out reasonably enough: he…

  • Took a d10 hit die, a +1 BAB, some save bonuses, and proficiency with a limited group of simple weapons (and no armor or shields). So he was reasonably tough, and had some talent for hitting people – but had no effective attacks and no way to defend himself.

Unfortunately, the then…

  • Took Leadership – ignoring both that the basic effect would not work below fourth level and that it was on the “special permission from the game master” list. Result: Points spent on a power that did not actually function.
  • Grabbed a part of the Path Of The Dragon (the entire path was on the “special permission from the game master” list, but at this point why worry about that?) – a crafting-boosting effect that let you accomplish certain tasks more quickly and a small boost to certain skills. Unfortunately, he did not take the basic “Shaping” ability that was a prerequisite and neither did he take any crafting abilities. Thus this ability did not function at all, and – even if it had – would only make him capable of doing basic housework and chores more quickly than usual. That isn’t a lot of use on an adventure.
  • Took Hysteria, but declined to select what it could be applied to – rendering it functionless.
  • Took a bit of Power to pay for Hysteria with. Sadly, with Hysteria functionless, this was too.
  • Took Universal Jack Of All Trades – an ability that effectively gives you a +1 on skills linked to a particular (unspecified) attribute and a minimum +1 in all skills, although this does not stack with actual skill point investments. Unfortunately, since the game used a severely condensed skill list, and he had already invested skill points in almost all the skills, this – once again – did very little.
  • Took “Lunge” (extra reach) for his tail. Since he hadn’t actually paid for a tail, this did nothing.
  • Took Charmsmith – the ability to make trivial magical devices with effects equivalent to selected “Prestidigitation” effects. Thus he could, for example, make boots that kept your feet warm. Unfortunately, he did not take any of the abilities that built on Charmsmith to allow him to make something that would actually be useful. Nor did he have the perquisite Shaping ability, rendering this nonfunctional in the first place.
  • Took Dominion – yet another ability on the “Game Master Permission Only” list and one which requires actually ruling a domain of some sort to do anything. He had no domain and apparently had no actual plans to rule anything, rendering this ability utterly useless.

The net result, of course, was a completely ineffectual character with virtually no useful abilities – unless, of course, an adventure called for an unusually durable field hand or housekeeper.

I’m informed that once the game started he refused to interact with the other characters and rejected the game premise (“small, isolated, village meeting a series of crisis), apparently wishing to be a lone wolf – but that’s not what this is about.

At that point I was asked to look the character over since the game master had  no idea of what the player was attempting to build. Given the complete train wreck, I took a few hours and wrote up a functional version. Sadly, while I could make it function to some degree, that did not overcome the lack of a concept and nonsensical ability selection. Still, here it is, just for comparison.

First up was making an acceptable race. To keep as much of the original structure as possible that also meant fixing the unusable racial abilities and cramming as much as possible of the “special permission only” abilities into the racial template. Ergo…

Far Darrig (A type of minor Irish fey) Racial Template (31 CP / +0 ECL Race):

  • Speaks Sylvan (1 CP).
  • Minor Privilege: Welcome among the Fey (3 CP). Far Darrig, along with Brownies and other varieties of “House Elves”, are welcome in fey circles.
  • Extra Limb(s): Prehensile Tail (6 CP). A third hand often comes in handy.
  • Immunity to Aging (Uncommon, Major, Minor, 4 CP). A Far Darrig can expect to live for many
    centuries.
  • Returning: Unless slain by Cold Iron or Old Age a Far Darrig will be reborn from the forces of nature in about a month – albeit with partial amnesia (3 CP).
  • Shaping, Specialized and Corrupted / only to provide the basic structure for seven Fey Spells – Chain Of Obligation, Feygift, Mastery Of The Named, Major Image, Phantom Steed, Shadow Enchantment, and Suggestion (2 CP).
  • 1d6 (4) Mana with Spell Enhancement, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / only for Spell Enhancement, only for use with Shaping (above) – allowing the user to spend 1 Mana to use one of the listed effects (6 CP).
    • These abilities replaced the Channeling / Conversion abilities. While more limited in higher development, this allowed more basic abilities and would actually work at first level.
  • Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted / only to restore the specialized mana pool above, only works between encounters (4 CP).
  • Charmsmith (6 CP). A Far Darrig can make many minor magical devices.
  • Taskmaster (6 CP). Divides the time required for small-scale mundane tasks by (Intelligence).
  • Disadvantages: Accursed (True Name), Compulsive (Must offer hospitality, keep their word, and respect their pacts). Accursed (Cannot directly lie) (-10 CP).

That race isn’t an atrocity of power – but it does offer some handy tricks and lays the foundation for later advancing several of the normally-restricted Path of the Dragon abilities.

Basic Attributes were Str 13, Int 16, Wis 9, Con 13, Dex 14, and Cha 17. I don’t really know why, although I suspect that the player was trying to get the biggest possible benefit out of his later attribute gains.

Available Character Points: 48 (L1 Base) +12 (Disadvantages: Outcast, Broke, Irreverent and Illiterate) +12 (L0 and L1 Bonus Feats) = 72 CP.

Basics (26 CP):

  • Hit Dice: 10 (1d10, 6 CP) +1 (Con Mod x 1) +14 (Immortal Vigor, 12 + 2 x Con Mod) = 25 HP
  • Skill Points: 6 (Purchased, 6 CP) +12 (Int Mod x 4) = 18 SP
  • BAB: +1 (6 CP).
  • Saves:
    • Fort +2 (Purchased, 6 CP) +1 (Con) +1 (Mor) = +4.
    • Ref +0 (Purchased) +2 (Dex) +1 (Mor) =+3.
    • Will +0 (Purchased) -1 (Wis) +1 (Mor) = +0.
  • Proficiencies: Small Group of Simple Weapons (Club, Dagger, Gauntlet, Staff, Sickle, Sling, Unarmed, 2 CP).
  • Initiative: +2 (Dex)
  • Move: 30′
  • Armor Class: 10 (Base) +2 (Leathers) +2 (Dex) = 14

Usual Attacks:

  • Quarterstaff: +3 (+1 BAB +1 Str +1 Mor), 1d6+1 (Str) +1 (Mor), Crit 20/x2
  • Thrown Dagger: +4 (+1 BAB +2 Dex +1 Mor), 1d4+1 (Str) +1 (Mor), Crit 19-20/x3, 10′ range increment.

Special Abilities (46 CP):

  • Adept (Pays half cost for four skills – Acrobatics, Insight, Stealth, and Thievery, 6 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment (5500 GP value or less, 6 CP. Currently 5972.4 GP value):
    • Universal Skill Mastery: +2 Competence Bonus on All Skills and Attribute Checks. (Personal-Only, x.7 = 1400 GP).
    • Fortune’s Favor: +2 Luck Bonus on All Skills and Attribute Checks (Personal-Only, x.7 = 1400 GP)
    • Inspiring Word: +1 Morale Bonus on saving throws, attack rolls, checks, and weapon damage (Does not apply to attack rolls or weapon damage, x.5, Personal-Only, x.7 = 700 GP).
    • Net: +5 to all Skills, +1 to all Saves
    • Immortal Vigor I (Personal-Only, x.7 = 1400 GP). Clurichaun are tough and durable
    • Armor and Clothing: Leather Armor (10 GP), Cold Weather Outfit (8 GP), and Explorer’s Outfit (10 GP).
    • Tools: Bedroll (.1 GP), Crowbar (2 GP), Flint & Steel (1 GP), Hammer (.5 GP), Miners Pick (3 GP), Signal Whistle (.8 GP), Shovel (2 GP), Artisians Tools (5 GP), Thieves Tools (30 GP), Quarterstaff (-).
  • Action Hero/Crafting, Specialized for Increased Effect (double points) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only to cover the XP costs of Innate Enchantments and using Charmsmith at 1 AP = 20 XP (4 CP).
  • Lunge, Specialized for Increased Effect (10′ Reach), Only with Tail (6 CP).
  • Mana, 1d6 as 3d6 Power, Specialized for Increased Effect / only to power Hysteria (6 CP).
  • Hysteria (Skills) (6 CP).
  • Grant of Aid with both Regenerative Functions (12 CP).

Skills (18 SP):

  • Acrobatics (Dex) (Balance, Escape Artist, Tumble): +4 (2* SP) +2 (Dex) +5 (IE) = +11
  • Arcana (Int) (Spellcraft, Knowledge/Arcana): +1 (1 SP) +3 (Int) +5 (IE) = +9
  • Athletics (Str) (Climb, Jump, Swim, Escape Artist): +1 (1 SP) +1 (Str) +5 (IE) = +7
  • Background (Int) (5x Craft, Profession, or Perform): All unskilled, so universal +3 (Int) +5 (IE) = +8
  • Deception (Cha) (Bluff, Disguise): +1 (1 SP) +3 (Cha) +5 (IE) = +9
  • Endurance (Con) (Concentration, Control Shape): +1 (1 SP) +1 (Con) +5 (IE) = +7
  • Handle Animal (Cha) (Handle Animal, Ride, Profession/Teamster): +1 (1 SP) +3 (Cha) +5 (IE) = +9
  • Insight (Wis) (Gather Information, Sense Motive): +3 (1* SP) -1 (Wis) +5 (IE) = +7
  • Linguistics (Int) (Decipher Script, Forgery, Speak Language): +1 (1 SP) +3 (Int) +5 (IE) = +9
  • Perception (Wis) (Listen, Search, Spot): +1 (1 SP) -1 (Wis) +5 (IE) = +5
  • Persuasion (Cha) (Diplomacy, Intimidation): +1 (1 SP) +3 (Cha) +5 (IE) = +9
  • Religion (Wis) (Knowledge/Religion, Knowledge/The Planes, Heal, and performing various religious services and rituals): +1 (1 SP) -1 (Wis) +5 (IE) = +5
  • Scholar (Int) (Architecture, Engineering, Geography, History, Local, and Nobility): +1 (1 SP) +3 (Int) +5 (IE) = +9
  • Stealth (Dex) (Hide, Move Silently): +4 (2* SP) +2 (Dex) +5 (IE) = +11
  • Survival (Int) (Dungeoneering, Nature, Use Rope): +1 (1 SP) +3 (Int) +5 (IE) = +9
  • Thievery (Dex) (Appraise, Disable Device, Open Locks, Sleight Of Hand). +3 (1* SP) +2 (Dex) +5 (IE) = +10
  • Use Device (Cha) (Use Magic Device, Use Psionic Device, and Use Technological Device): +1 (1 SP) +3 (Cha) +5 (IE) = +9

Equipment (23 GP, 1 SP): Backpack (2 GP), Bedroll (.1 GP), Canteen (2 GP), Ragged Clothing (Free), Rations (7 Days, 3.5 GP), 100′ Hemp Rope (2 GP), Grappling Hook (1 GP), 10 Pitons (1 GP), Quarterstaff (-), Whetstone (-), Fishing Line & Hook (.1 GP), Tarp (1 GP), 10 Torches (.1 GP), Hammock (.1 GP), Glue Pot (.5 GP), 5 Daggers (10 GP).

Dominion and Leadership got dropped because neither would do anything for several levels to come and because the game master had said “no” quite firmly.

This rewritten version of the character did, at least, function. Substituting Shaping and Mana for Channeling and Conversion took care of the level requirements, expanded on the available list of magical tricks, and covered the Shaping prerequisites for the later Path of the Dragon abilities. Throwing in skill and hit point boosters under Innate Enchantment, and determining that Hysteria was applied to Skills made him a reasonable skill monkey and Immortal Vigor provided enough hit points to take a few blows – but the character still has no focus. He has a few magical tricks, but nowhere to go with them. He has enough hit points to take a few blows but little offensive or defensive capability otherwise. He is pretty good with skills – but d20 characters really need an effective combat role.

And that is why the CONCEPT is vital in Eclipse. Unless you have a good idea of what you’re building, how are you going to pick the proper parts to make it?

2 Responses

  1. Reading this article brought a technical question to mind: in Eclipse, the Extra Limb ability explicitly says it doesn’t grant you extra actions. So having a prehensile tail wouldn’t let you make an additional natural attack with it (either as a primary or secondary natural weapon). In that case, to make the limb be capable of making an attack, you’d also need to purchase Bonus Attack, right? I ask because the rules around additional and iterative attacks are different than those regarding making attacks with primary or secondary natural weapons, and Bonus Attack seems more focused on the former than the latter.

    Also, the ninth bullet point from the beginning of the article ends in the middle of a sentence.

    • I really must find a way to cut down on the interruptions during my typing time mustn’t I? You keep finding spots where the sentence was complete in my head, but didn’t entirely make it to the keyboard… As usual, thank you for proofreading; it’s complete now! (And a couple of other typos are fixed too).

      And natural weapons really could use a look, so I shall put it on the list!

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