Eclipse D20 – Playing Into The Holiday Spirit

It happens in every game system sooner or later. Someone wants to know how to build Santa Claus. Or the Easter Bunny. Or Cupid. Or the Spirit of Thanksgiving. Or Halloween. Or whatever. I’ve dodged it for years, but I suppose that it’s my turn at last.

Of course, like all imported characters, the first question is… what are these characters actually supposed to be able to do?

That’s hard enough to answer with literary characters who have a limited number of appearances that can be checked. When it comes to characters like Santa Claus… is he a more-or-less realistic St. Nicholas / Sinnterklaas? Do we count the pagan influences of Odin and the Wild Hunt that got adopted in? Kris Kringle comes from the German “Christ Child”, does that make him an aspect of Jehovah? Is he refurbished solar deity from the ancient midwinter festivals? Why is he also known as Grandfather Frost? Where does Pere Noel come in? And how about all those self-contradictory Christmas movies and television specials? For that matter, does the “Hogfather” count? Why or why not?

It’s not like the sources that use the same name are particularly consistent either. And even where they are… if Santa Claus can visit everyone in the world in a single night, knows that they’ve been up to, and can give them what they deserve, could he decide to visit each unrepentant murderer in the world and drop a grenade in their beds? Why or why not? Because if Santa Claus is a player character, he is certainly going to try to do SOMETHING that absurd, or possibly even more ridiculous, using Father Christmas’s stated or implied powers.

Or would his assistant the Krampus be taking care of that? After all, when you’re looking at it form the prospective of immortal supernatural beings… which mortal humans qualify as being “children” is just a bit indeterminate.

Since that sort of thing generally doesn’t happen in holiday stories, evidently Holidays can’t abuse their powers like that – and if that applies to all of them, it strongly implies some standardization.

So what powers do pretty much all the Holiday Spirits have?

Well…

  1. They know everything they need to know about things involving their holiday, but otherwise can be woefully ignorant.
  2. They have all the powers needed to carry out their holiday duties, but can’t use them for anything else except in fairly trivial ways.
  3. They’re conditionally immortal; holidays can be “killed”, or forgotten – but they very often pop up again a few years down the line as good as new.
  4. They commonly have some ill-defined, but generally competent, minions. Santa has his elves and reindeer, the Halloween King has ghosties and ghoulies, Cupid has his little helpers, and even the Thanksgiving Turkey has some stereotypical pilgrims and indians in his or her employ.
  5. They’re incredibly obvious. Even if they look basically human, people just KNOW. Children flock to Santa even if he isn’t in costume – and he usually will be. The Easter Bunny isn’t going to be able to disguise himself except, perhaps, as Bugs Bunny,and even that isn’t likely to last. Cupid will draw women, men, and random romantic entanglements, wherever he goes.
  6. They are obliged to support, promote, and care for their holidays.
  7. They usually seem to be just a bit tougher than a baseline human – but not too much so. Santa Claus has incredible powers during the Christmas Season, but (at least in some sources) he can still be killed by falling off a roof.

Outside of that… most incarnate holidays seem to be fairly normal people. Veterans Day may be courageous, very skilled in combat, and equipped with an array of weapons – but he or she may also be suffering from some injuries (old or new), is past his or her prime, and is probably fairly human otherwise.

If we presume that most holidays started off as humans… they were probably competent level two or three types who’s talents were a reasonably good match for the holiday that incarnated in them. Minor observances – such as Talk Like A Pirate day – probably start out at level one outside of their “Holiday Spirit Template”.

So; lets make that acquired Holiday Spirit Template.

  • Innate Enchantment: (6 CP for a effective value of up to 5500 GP). All effects Spell Level One at Caster Level One Unlimited-Use Use-Activated (2000 GP Base).
    • (Holiday) Magic: L1, produces any L0 effect appropriate to the holiday in question (2000 GP). This isn’t especially powerful magic (even with the boost from Sphere Of Influence, below), but it’s good enough for a wide variety of minor holiday tricks.
    • Rapid Recovery Package: Personal-Only (x.7) Cure Light Wounds 2/Day, Relieve Illness 1/’Day, Relieve Poison 1/Day, Lesser Restoration 1/Day (1400 GP). Holidays do tend to recover fairly readily from injuries that would leave a normal human down for weeks – but there are definite limits from a d20 prospective.
    • Skill Mastery: L1, Personal-Only +3 Competence bonus to four skills related to the holiday (1400 GP).
  • Immunity / The XP costs of the innate enchantments above (Uncommon, Minor, Trivial, 1 CP).
  • 1d6 Mana with the Spell Enhancement Option, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only to augment their (Holiday) Magic, above (2 CP). That means that they can produce the occasional more powerful effect – but only things that are related to their holiday, and not very often.
  • Rite of Chi, Specialized and Corrupted / only to restore the Mana Pool above, only works overnight (2 CP). A holiday can pull off a few more impressive tricks each day – but outside their time they are quite limited.
  • Universal Damage Resistance (affects both Physical and Energy Damage) 2/- (3 CP).
  • Dominion (Holiday). Sadly, this counts as Specialized, since it usually only yields dominion points for about a quarter of the year (3 CP).
    • Path Of The Pharaoh:
      • Manipulation, Specialized and Corrupted / Only as a Prerequisite (2 CP).
      • Sphere Of Influence Specialized / Cannot grant spells (3 CP). Holidays are always aware of the traditions and customs of their holidays, where they’re being celebrated, and of any trends or major events affecting them, but cannot actually grant holiday magic to celebrants.
      • Godfire, Specialized for Reduced Cost / Cannot gain more than two points per year, can only use godfire on holiday-related effects, and even then only if the action is taken within one month of their holiday.Note that this DOES allow a “slain” holiday to come back to life – although they may have to wait until next year if they’re outside their usage window (3 CP).
      • Divine Attribute (Holiday), Specialized and Corrupted / only works within the week surrounding your holiday, does not make you particularly invulnerable (3 CP). This gives the user whatever holiday-themed powers are required to support said holiday. Thus St. Patrick’s Day can drive away serpents, provide beer, get everyone dressed in green, and appear at many places at the same time – as long as it’s St. Patrick’s Day and he’s supporting the holiday. The Easter Bunny can hide eggs and deliver candy across the entire planet as needed – and do various other things that embody the festival, renewing spring, and resurrection – as long as it’s Easter. Those tricks may or may not last afterwards, but on Easter Day… there is little that can stop the Bunny. Unfortunately, this also gives the game master a lot of input into the characters decisions, which helps to forestall any attempted abuse.
      • Minions, Specialized / your minions are only good for holiday-related tasks and are entirely themed in accordance with your holiday (3 CP).
      • Creation, Specialized / only creates a pocket-realm or base (such as Santa’s Workshop) suitable for holiday specials. This tiny realm is, however, protected from normal mortal methods of approach (3 CP).
      • Template Disadvantage: Accursed. Holidays are automatically recognized by those who are attuned to them and must live up to the relevant expectations (-3 CP).

That’s a base of 30 CP. Not bad for a dose of godhood, however limited.

The entire template is, however, Corrupted: Bearing a holiday means…

  • Taking on its aspects, both light and dark. Yes, Santa is a cheerful giver of gifts – but he is also blood on the snow, sacrifice, and associated with the Krampus.
  • Accepting that holidays shape the hosts life in a myriad ways, affecting their attitudes, behavior, and personality. Like it or not… if you’re “Talks Like A Pirate Day”, you can expect the cops to be after you for illegal distribution of copyrighted material, to dress like a pirate, and to spend lots of time watching pirate movies and reading novels about pirates. If you’re St Patrick’s Day you’re probably either a bit drunk or hung over all the time and inclined to get into barroom brawls.
  • In most cases, normal people will tend to forget about – and lose the records on – your “real” identity. Why would Halloween have a drivers license or school records?
  • Accepting that holidays are competitive, and may have enemies. Are you Halloween? How may people will object to you?
  • Undertaking holiday-themed duties. How much time does Santa waste checking his naughty or nice list? He may get around the world in minutes, but he’s not much of a sprinter is he? “The Santa Clause” is a good example here; being a holiday tends to take over your life. On your holiday, you’re pretty much under the game master’s control.

So the entire Template is Corrupted, for a net cost of 20 CP.

That means that a baseline d20 human – with a racial cost of only 9 CP – can become an incarnate holiday with no ECL adjustment. So if you want to have a party of holidays out to do something, there you are!

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