Mystaran Immortals And Eclipse D20

The question here (From “Frank”) is whether or not I ever did an Eclipse conversion for Mystara’s Basic Dungeons and Dragons Immortals.

Now I have to admit that I hadn’t: most of the early games I played in or ran started with the little blue book edition – the “starter kit” that led into 1’st edition AD&D rather than with “Basic D&D”- and the AD&D rules had been almost entirely supplanted by Continuum II rules by the time 2’nd edition came along. Still, it’s an interesting question – so lets take a look at it. After all, Basic D&D had some campaign options, and a mass battle system, and the Immortals rules, all of which were well ahead of their times.

Basic D&D to Eclipse covers a pretty big jump in editions, mechanics, and game assumptions – but probably the biggest difference between the Immortals of Mystara and the Gods of Eclipse is that Immortals cross a sharp dividing line after they hit level thirty-six – basically starting over again at “Immortal Level One” with a modest selection of Immortal-level powers, a brand new thirty-six level progression to work on, a modest number of hit points, and the ability to (fairly cheaply) create mortal-level avatars of any mortal level up to thirty-six. Now, admittedly basic D&D levels didn’t offer nearly as many options as levels in Eclipse and were generally less powerful – but “level thirty-six” was still a pretty high bar to clear and those levels were scaled to the game environment just as much as the levels in later versions of the game were. For comparison purposes I’d peg a level thirty-six basic D&D character at at least low epic level in Eclipse – call it level twenty-four. That’s two-thirds their base level, which seems fair enough.

Secondarily, Mystaran Immortals were subject to a lot of social rules about their interactions with mortals – basically handwaving away why Immortals didn’t just handle a lot of their own affairs. Most settings will not have this universal treaty between the gods or anything similar to keep PC’s from running amuck – so the rules will have to allow for mortals and immortals to interact on relatively even terms rather than drawing a sharp distinction between “mortal” and “immortal” abilities.

Eclipse, of course, treats godhood / immortality / gaining a sphere of influence as a slow evolution; With GM permission it is perfectly possible to have a god as a part of a first or second level party – and the system is set up to make that playable. A low level god has purchased a few extremely powerful “divine” (and almost never usable) powers instead of more typical stuff that may be weaker, but can be used far more often. Those rules have been used a number of times, mixing minor gods in parties with mortals – and it worked just fine. The player-character gods did indeed have major divine powers in the form of Godfire – but Godfire recovers so slowly that such gods had to rely mostly on the same sorts of abilities that every other character relied on in their everyday adventures.

Thus Eclipse has no hard-and-fast dividing line between mortal and immortal powers beyond “I upgrade this power beyond all reason by backing it with Godfire” – and even then a powerful “mortal” can boost their powers to match. In Eclipse, there is nothing actually preventing a normal character from learning to create galaxies or throw planets around; it will just take a lot of work and levels. Sure, the spell for creating a dimension of your own design of arbitrary size is level twenty-one – but there are several ways for mortals to achieve the ability to cast that spell well before level thirty-six.

So there’s the first major difference: In Eclipse terms, “Immortals” are just high-level characters who have bought a few specific abilities. Since buying Godhood doesn’t cost them any of their old powers – in fact, those usually continue advancing – quite a few a few of Mystara’s “Immortal Powers” are utterly irrelevant. An Eclipse character who controls undead, or turns into a dragon, or is an expert thief, doesn’t need any special abilities to retain those abilities when they ascend to godhood, unlike Mystaran Immortals who only got to take four “Immortal Powers” and lost their “mortal” abilities. For that matter, Eclipse “Immortals” get to keep their racial abilities too.

So we can eliminate the Mystaran Immortal Powers of…

  • Control Undead. This is Negative Energy Channeling – a basic cleric ability that commonly starts at level one. Like a lot of this stuff, if you want it, by level twenty-four you should have had it for a very long time.
  • Dragon Form: Shapechange. The original version provides lots of extra attacks, but the Eclipse version provides various inherent powers and a LOT more uses of a breath weapon. It’s a wash – and if a character wants this, they should (once again) already have it by level twenty-four.
  • Dragon Breath: Inherent Spell with Bonus Uses or Path of The Dragon or similar. Dragon Breath in Eclipse is just a high-powered attack spell. Why not try a set of Martial Maneuvers instead?
  • Extra Attacks: Any skilled combatant gets some of those automatically thanks to iterative attacks, and there are plenty of ways in Eclipse to get more.
  • Fighter Abilities: Half of the special maneuvers of Basic D&D are now standard elements of the combat system – which is good; you do not need to be a high level fighter to learn to brace a weapon against a charge – and the rest are just combat feats. Are you a fighter type? You probably already have the maneuvers that you want.
  • Increased Movement. Immortals basically get a +20′ on their movement modes. Is there an epic level type running around without access to Haste? (You can buy it later with Legendarium)
  • Leech: This attack lets the user drain levels or “Immortal Power”. So… Trick (6 CP).
  • Mystic Abilities: You get some Classical Monk-style powers. As usual on this list… If a character wants these, they should already have them. The Monk Package is relatively cheap.
  • Poison Bite/Sting: Trick (6 CP). Yes, the venom described is exceptionally deadly – but given that the save DC’s for Tricks go up with level, that will happen automatically.
  • Spit Poison: Trick (6 CP). Possibly combined with a way to make melee attacks at range. There are first level spells for that.
  • Summon Weapons: Spirit Weapon, use of Charms and Talismans (Tulthara), various spells and lots of other ways – including just paying for the appropriate enchantment. In fact, the cheap weapon enchantment is better than the original immortal ability; it doesn’t cut out if someone moves your weapon.
  • Swoop: Basically double damage on a flying charge. So (Doubled Damage, 6 CP) if you don’t already have it – which you should if you’re into charging.
  • Thief: This lets you keep your Thief skills (although the basic rules didn’t offer the equivalent of modern “epic uses” or even a lot of the current standard ones). Again, unnecessary in Eclipse where your skills won’t vanish just because you developed Godfire.
  • Turn Undead: This is Positive Energy Channeling, a mainstay of every basic good cleric.
  • Weapon Mastery: This lets you be exceptionally good with a few weapons, like almost any d20 fighter – or any combatant at all in Eclipse, where Martial Arts skills are a thing.

A few “Immortal Abilities” are things you might want to buy – but as “divine powers” they’re kind of pathetic. They’re also available to perfectly normal people.

  • Detection Suite lets you detect stonework traps, sliding walls, sloping corridors, new construction, and hidden or secret doors like a Dwarf or Elf. As an “Immortal Power” that is more than a bit sad. Just take Occult Sense / Architecture (6 CP) and you can do all that and much more.
  • Height Decrease lets you escape bonds fairly easily and makes sneaking easier. Otherwise it’s entirely cosmetic. That’s… the equivalent of a first level Liberating Command effect and some Skill Bonuses. As an immortal power this does not impress.
  • Height Increase lets you throw rocks like a giant and is otherwise cosmetic. So a basic rock-throwing spell? Why is your EPIC LEVEL IMMORTAL DEMIGODLING throwing rocks? If they actually have nothing better to do in a fight (or virtually any other situation other than, perhaps, a rock-throwing contest), they should probably go home and think about their wasted levels.
  • Improved Saves is a specialized and weakened version of the Fortune ability. 6-9 CP altogether. Also something that almost any epic-level character will already have a better version of.
  • Increased Damage lets you add up to two extra dice to your damage with weapons or unarmed attacks – but Eclipse offers lots of better ways to do a little more damage.
  • Increased Initiative is just (3 CP) worth of Improved Initiative.
  • Snap lets you grab an opponent up to twenty feet away, drag them in, and hit them. This is another waste-of-time power. Sure, you could use Lunge or Telekineisis or Taunt or something to build an equivalent ability – but why bother? Buy a harpoon.

Honestly, if you think that any of this stuff is really worth bothering with in your character build, a high-level Eclipse character should almost certainly have it already. And if you don’t want it… well, that solves that problem. Ergo, this entire section is basically “no cost”.

Immortal Powers that are actually somewhat useful include:

  • Call Other: This is a much weaker version of Gate that costs 10 Temporary “Immortal Power”, has a fair chance of success but no certainty, cannot be used to simply escape, and is expensive for any immortal to travel through. You ‘ll want Path Of The Pharaoh / Gateway – and with anything approaching those limits it will only cost about (2 CP). Don’t be cheap. Pay the other 4 CP and travel for free. (This is the only thing in the “Immortal Powers” list that actually calls for being an “Immortal” by the way).
  • Groan costs 20 Temporary Immortal Power and forces everyone within a 180′ radius to save or be paralyzed for ten rounds. That;s actually a pretty good effect – but 20 TP is fabulously expensive and this edition used fixed saves (so anyone important was very likely to resist). What you’re going to want in Eclipse is Hold Monster with Battle Magic (Specialized and Corrupted / only for Hold Monster, 2 CP) and Power Words (Specialized for Increased Effect and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only to store Hold Monster Effects (4 CP). That has limited usage at any given moment, but will let you try bind entire armies – and you don’t need any “Temporary Immortal Power” to run it.
  • Howl causes those in a 180′ radius to flee in terror for 3d6 rounds, although it suffers from the same low save DC’s as Groan. Since this has no listed cost, this is actually pretty good – although fear immunity/protection seems to apply normally. I’d probably go for a Fear effect, with Battle Magic (Specialized and Corrupted / only for Fear, 2 CP) and Power Words (Specialized and Corrupted / only to store Fear Effects (2 CP). That has limited usage at any given moment, but will let you try and terrify entire armies.

Presuming that any given Immortal will want to pick up Gate and perhaps Groan or Howl… setting aside 12 CP should cover that.

Now, to actually become an Immortal / God, you will need to buy Dominion (6 CP. By level twenty-four you are almost certainly in charge of SOMETHING), Manipulation (6 CP), Sphere of Influence (6 CP), and Godfire (6 CP). Congratulations. At the low, low, price of 24 CP you are now a God – if a fairly minor one. Unlike Mystaran gods, who all use basically the same power set, your choice of your Sphere of Influence will affect a lot of aspects of your character.

Next up we have the Immortal Spells. Some (Most? All?) will not actually be spells in Eclipse of course, but these are powers that all Mystaran Immortals have.

  • Bestow/Diminish. Costs permanent Immortal Power, can grant or remove abilities. This is a basic function of Godfire.
  • Conceal Magical Nature: This is capable of concealing artifacts and such for up to a year. You can do this with cloaking spells and Metamagic, a tailored spell (designed or freeform), Godfire, or Reality Editing – but as a God you have access to Seal Of Silence (6 CP), which is a much more impressive and far more versatile way to hide things.
  • Create Species: Another function of Godfire.
  • Detect Immortal Magic: Since there’s no difference between mortal and immortal magic, the basic detection function isn’t complicated – but the global area and one-day duration is trickier. On the other hand, you’re only interested in genuinely major acts of magic, not in having an alarm going off every time an avatar of some mercy goddess casts “Cure Light Wounds” or better (probably about twenty times a round, all day, every day. Mercy goddesses are popular, numerous, and BUSY). Ergo, you could take this as an Occult Sense (6 CP). Of course, “Automatically sense related major events” is a built-in part of the path to Godfire, so you don’t even necessarily have to buy anything at all for this.
  • Hear Supplicants: For this you want Ears Of The Wind and Multi-Tasking (12 CP in total). If you want, you can extend this with Know The Flock (+6 CP), and automatically know what’s up with all of your followers and anything that’s influencing them. Multi-Tasking also has the benefit of letting you do many things at once, which Immortals normally cannot.
  • Immortal Eye: Lets you use Clairvoyance on anywhere you have an interest. Arguably covered by Know The Flock, but you could easily add an Occult Sense, use Spells, or just Specialize the Multi-Tasking for increased effect.
    Increase Spell Duration: There is metamagic for this. Taking it with with Glory will let you do this readily enough (12 CP, or only 6 CP if you specialize down to this specific effect).
  • Power Attack: This really doesn’t mean anything in Eclipse, where there is no such thing as “temporary (divine) power”, but various forms of power draining or blocking, or other incapacitating effects, can be built – most easily with Trick (6 CP) and an option to make melee attacks at range.
  • Probe: In Eclipse terms, this tells you if someone has Godfire. Given that Godfire is a massive cloud of magical potential that gathers around gods… this can be done pretty easily. It also tells you peoples names – which is a very impressive parlor trick, and is sometimes taken as an Occult Sense (basic information about those you look at, 6 CP). Rather like MMORPG’s. You can see the tags – “Arif Meldoon, Level Six Expert (Tailor and Crafting Magic), Has a Minor Quest to offer.”. The original version will not reveal mortal avatars, which is less than helpful.
  • Probe Shield protects against Probe. Unfortunately, as written, it is short-term, moderately expensive, and only protects against the “name” part of Probe. It’s a game mechanic meant to help enforce the non-intervention rules. In Eclipse you can just buy Cloaking (6 CP) and be done with it forever.
  • Reduce Saving Throw: This makes a mortal-level spell harder to save against. Of course, with three or four levels of the Amplify metamagic, you can basically eliminate the save entirely. You can get Amplify and Glory, Specialized in this specific trick, or in drastically reducing saves, for a mere (6 CP).
  • Shape Reality: This one is a biggie! It has several separate functions:
    • Create a Heavenly Body. They start uninhabited, but that’s fairly readily fixable. In Eclipse, this calls for very high level magic – mostly because it is recognized that creating heavenly bodies with an arbitrary size, velocity, and composition, can easily destroy solar systems. Say “Asteroid, One Foot above the Campaign Planet, Orbital Velocity of 99.9999999999% of Light Speed, Directed straight towards the Campaign Planet”. For a Mystaran Immortal that’s 5 Immortal Power and well within the capabilities of a first-level new Immortal. Eclipse wants to know “then why is the setting still around?”. So this one converts as “you must work very hard and have vast magical powers to be able to do this”. No cost, because most immortals in Eclipse CANNOT do it. And thank them for that.
      • Sadly, this was one of the items that Frank was specifically interested in – but it’s simply too potentially destructive. On the other hand, you can easily create your own dimension in Eclipse; you just can’t ram it into another one.
    • Move a Heavenly Body: Another job for very high level magic – and for the same basic reason. This one also basically converts as “you need loads of power for this” and has no cost because, if lots of people can do this, the setting will have been destroyed before the game begins.
    • Create a Plane: Ah, an easy one! Take Creation (6 CP) and get your own dimension built to your personal specifications. You want more? Take Bonus Uses (+6 CP).
    • Move A Plane: This doesn’t actually make sense in Eclipse. Even in Mystara it really only moved established planar access routes and only worked if no other immortal was on the plane – and in Eclipse it’s not really a big deal to create and destroy dimensional weak points and you don’t actually have to use them to travel anyway. There are spells for manipulating portals, color pools, and similar, or you could just take a little Mana with Reality Editing to do it. Most simply, take it as a Minor Privilege (Can re-arrange planar access routes if no other divine power is objecting, 3 CP).
    • Alter A Plane: This lets you control your personal planes. This is a basic function of Godfire. – and there are some rules for dimension design in this article. (The subject was too esoteric to make space for it in Eclipse).
    • Transform: Basically a high-powered Polymorph or Reincarnation effect. Like most things that cost permanent Immortal Power, this is a function of Godfire.

Now that mess is a little more expensive – a total of up to 69 CP. Admittedly a 24’th level character will have around 650 – 700 CP as a base, and a 48’th level character may have twice that – but 69 CP is still enough to buy plenty of other tricks for the non-immortals in the party.

Basic Immortal Abilities:

  • Armor Class: An Immortal has a base AC of 20, and gains up to a +20 bonus at level 48. Buy Defender (All three possible variants, 18 CP). Done.
  • Artifact Creation: Take Create Artifact (6 CP). A level one Eclipse character can make artifacts – although an epic level character will probably find it a great deal easier to do so.
  • Aura Attack: Awe. A basic function of having Godfire.
  • Combat Abilities:
    • Proficient with All weapons and armor. By the time you hit level twenty-four you should be proficient with whatever you want to be. No cost here.
    • Base Attack Bonus: While the Immortal class basically sets this at (Level/2), or (2 x Level / 3) when translated, Eclipse characters are free to buy more or less – and should already have BAB. Again, no particular cost.
    • Damage: Immortals do up to two extra dice of damage, on top of a 2d6 punch. That’s convenient I suppose, but fairly meaningless in Eclipse. If a character is interested in doing extra direct damage in combat, they should be doing a LOT more than this by the time they reach epic levels. For this, I’ll refer you to the Advanced Fighter series.
  • Communication (Telepathic): Mindspeech (6 CP).
  • Creation Of (Temporary) Magic Items: Now this is a little odd by later edition standards, where your array of magic items is a much more important part of your character. To do this buy access to the Occult Skill Dream-Binding (3 CP) and spend some skill points. Viola! Temporary magic items.
  • Granting Power Points: A basic function of having Godfire; you can use it to boost yourself or others.
  • Improving Ability Scores: A function of Levels, Dominion, Godfire, and Epic Items. Immortal Statistics went up to 100, but the actual bonuses were spread out more and only went up to +20. Ergo, in current d20 scaling, Immortal Attributes peak at 50. Still pretty high – but hardly unreachable. Worse, most of the attributes other than Strength pretty much no longer had any effect for Immortals. Really, no cost. If you want to leverage your better scores, try Augmented Bonus and/or Finesse.
  • Immunities:
    • Immunity to Aging and Diseases is a part of having Godfire.
    • Immunity to “Mortal Dragon Breath” is nonsensical in Eclipse, where there is no sharp dividing line between “mortals” and “immortals” – but is mostly just equivalent to having a decent Energy Resistance, or Fortune and Luck (for Saves) or any of several other defenses that any epic level character should have. No cost.
      Immunity to Level Drain. There are pretty basic protective spells, as well as a choice of armor enchantments, to cover this. Any epic level character should have this covered already. No cost.
    • Immunity to having to Eat and Drink. If you actually care, less than a single CP worth of Innate Enchantment (a couple of Everfull Mugs (400 GP) and Everlasting Rations (350 GP) – perhaps x.8 (Cannot Share) covers this. When was the last time that your epic level character was at risk of starving to death anyway? Legendarium (see below) will cover this easily.
    • Immunity to having to Breathe: You could buy this straight as a minor Immunity, or just buy a Necklace of Adaptation (9000 GP) – but the effective way to do it is to buy access to Occult Skill (Legendarium) (3 CP). At level twenty-four that will provide a fair amount of inherent items/powers, which will come in handy later.
    • Immunity to Life Trapping: Godfire will handle this.
    • Immunity to Mortal Magic. Again, meaningless in Eclipse – but being nigh-immune to minor spellcasters is appropriate enough. Buy Spell/Power Resistance (6 CP). At epic levels this is pretty well proof against normal spellcasters.
    • Immunity to Mortal Poisons. Well, that’s Immunity (Common, Major, Major, Corrupted / not against attacks by creatures with Godfire, 6 CP). That won’t completely protect you against really powerful poisons – but that also is fairly classical. Buy a small attribute-healing effect with your Legendarium to recover quickly from anything that does get through.
  • Resistant to Mortal Attacks. Meaningless in Eclipse due to the lack of a hard division between “mortal” and “immortal” abilities, but the basic result was that ordinary creatures had a hard time damaging an immortal. Buy some Damage Reduction, Specialized in Physical Attacks and Corrupted / not versus creatures with access to Godfire, both for Increased Effect (6 CP for DR 9/creatures with Godfire). Buy a small healing effect with your Legendarium to handle any damage that does get through.
  • Infravision: Occult Sense (6 CP). Darksight has long since replaced Infravision in the system, but this is Eclipse: you can buy either one you want.
  • Movement: Immortals can walk, swim, turn incorporeal, and fly a bit faster than normal. Buying this gets expensive in CP terms, but by the time level twenty-four rolls around your Legendarium will neatly cover some of those abilities (and probably a good deal more).
  • Regenerate 1d8 HP/Day. D20 characters heal a lot better than this automatically. No cost. Immortals may have lots of hit points (the sources contradict themselves somewhat) – so this is probably Augmented Bonus (18 CP to add a second attribute modifier to their Con Mod for Hit Point purposes).

That’s 78 CP. Again, somewhat pricey – but easily manageable at epic levels.

Forms: Mystaran Immortals can take on their True Form, a non-corporeal Spirit Form, and Mortal Forms – but they can only take on one form at a time. Eclipse characters can use Multi-Tasking to keep an eye on many places at once (pretty much what the Spirit Form is good for) and communicate with followers. Eclipse characters can use Godfire to make mortal avatars (Basically by Creating Life as the desired Avatar), and thus can be in many places at once and do many things at once – an optional rule for Mystaran Immortals. Overall, this is a bit of a wash, and so has no cost.

Unlimited Spellcasting: This costs a lot of Temporary Power each day, but offers unlimited access to all the mortal-level spells in the book. Of course… those spells were weaker, were of far more limited level, and had far less variety than the current d20 spell lists – even discounting the multiple styles of freeform magic in Eclipse. Just as importantly, Eclipse d20 has no “mortal level” magic. It’s just magic. Worst of all… this makes no sense. The writers had to throw it in on Mystara because non-spellcasters had no options comparable to spellcasters – and they had to allow spellcasting, or the players would rebel. Yet if they threw in a spellcasting option like the “Fighter Abilities” option it would be a must-have, or you’d be crippling your character. Yet most classical godlings didn’t do much spellcasting, if any. Hercules and Frey had some powers, but they certainly weren’t druids, mages, or d20 clerics. So it had to be something optional, yet available to every immortal. Ergo… spend a bunch of temporary power, get unlimited magic for the day.

But nothing in any mythology works this way. This compromise simply will not work in the game. It was acknowledged that it didn’t work properly in the original rules with the bit about “Most immortals… spend 100 TP every day so as to be able to cast any spell (magical, clerical, and druidic) any number of times per day”.

Honestly, you can punch people, or use a dragon’s breath weapon twice per day – or cast limitless high-powered spells. Which do YOU pick?

So this one is a flat “No”. Immortal characters in Eclipse get whatever spellcasting they’ve purchased, just as they get whatever combat abilities and skills they’ve purchased. That offers monstrous amounts of power at epic levels already. Go ahead and dabble in Hexcrafting, if you want a cheap option that allows some epic-level casting for your dramatic deific effects. Or just take Divine Attribute (6 CP). If you are REALLY lucky you may be able to persuade your game master into letting you Corrupt and Specialize it for Increased Effect – you only get a few effects, but you retain something reasonably close to control when you use them. Regardless, I’m not going to count that option since it goes well beyond what a Mystaran Immortal could normally do simply because Divine Attribute takes you straight into “Game Master Fiat” territory.

In practice, this super-spellcasting option is mostly unplayable anyway. D20 quite literally offers (thanks to Distant Horizon’s own Spell Templates in The Practical Enchanter) hundreds of millions of possible spells. There are tens of thousands of individual spells scattered over hundreds or thousands of sources. There are dozens of types of spellcasters with their own spell lists. To use this power effectively the player and game master would have to be familiar with a large chunk of that material, sort through it for items to allow and disallow, and keep track of it. Even –>I<– do not want to try and do that! The game is for having fun, now for nightmare thesis projects!

So that gives us a total: “Immortal Powers Template” cost of (12 CP) + Basic Godhood (24 CP) + Immortal “Spells” (69 CP) + “Basic Immortal Abilities (78 CP) = 183 CP. That’s in +5 ECL territory (albeit with a few points to spare if I’ve forgotten something) – and I don’t see much in the way of drawbacks to cut down that cost with.

So: you hit level twenty-four (or higher), go on a series of mighty quests, and – at the end – pick up a +5 ECL template and then sit out of play until the other characters catch up with you. After that… you use your new powers to adventure on a larger scale until you hit level 48 (ECL 53), where it’s probably long past time to retire.

4 Responses

  1. I’ll mention that destroying planets isn’t actually that hard. The old “open a portal to the sun” trick comes to mind, and if you want to do it in a more conventional way, you can Specialize and Corrupt Glory to take a big chunk off of the +20 SL cost of affecting an entire planet. Should be very do-able by level 10 at the latest. Not gonna write up a whole character to see how early you could actually get it.

    Also, for three or four spell levels you can remove the saving throw from a spell? That seems extremely good.

    Also also, you can take Bonus Uses for Creation? Creation doesn’t seem like a uses/time ability.

    • Ah, the good old days! Back in second edition, when a first level psionic (presuming a high attribute score, enough power, precisely the right psionic abilities, and a good roll) could indeed do that!

      At least presuming that he or she could survive the result long enough to hold the portal open long enough, and that the settings sun actually resembled a real sun instead of being just a radiant rock (possibly livable) or a portal to the elemental plane of fire (those often powered volcanoes too) or the Chariot of Apollo, or was otherwise something that an astrophysicist would not consider a star.

      Perhaps sadly, these days about the only portal-opening spell to be found in the SRD is Gate (Dimension Door is described as a teleportation effect, not as making a portal and has far too short a range anyway). Sadly, Gate generally does not transmit environmental conditions (there is no mention of – say – flooding the area by opening a gate to the Elemental Plane of Water. I think this is explicit in Pathfinder instead of implied). Planar Rifts have some rules allowing them to modify the environment in their immediate area, but only affect a limited radius. There are teleportation-based portals, but they have mass per time limits and require a physical device on the transmitting end – and it is very difficult to build something that can stand up to a genuine suns core and get it there.

      Eclipse will allow you to get a planet-destroying effect at relatively low level – presuming that you focus almost entirely on doing so, that the game master thinks you have an allowable character build, and that no powerful entity with an interest in the world remaining where it is stops you.

      The point there is not that it needs to be impossible; it merely needs to be sufficiently difficult to make it plausible for the campaign setting to still be around. It’s basically a fantasy version of the Fermi Paradox. In a setting with Immortals of Entropy, giving them all a “destroy the world at will” button really seems like asking for it.

      As for spells with no saves… the usual mechanism for that is to take a spell that has half effect on a save, apply enough of the Amplify metamagic to make it do have double effect (+4 levels) – and then take off one level for “Spell offers no save; it just automatically has half it’s doubled effect”. Net result… normal effect with no save. For other options, you can use makes the saves much more difficult, or require more than one, or any of a variety of other tricks.

      And you can indeed take bonus uses for Creation. Bonus Uses supplies extra uses within the abilities use-period. Thus you can apply it to Tricks (normally usable once per minute) to make them several times per minute, or to Creation – which is normally once per lifetime (or at least once per long enough that it might as well be never) and make it usable multiple times per lifetime (or whatever). There’s rarely a lot of point to doing that, but it’s certainly possible.

  2. Honestly, when it comes to things like trying to explain how a campaign setting came about, I usually to take the suspension of disbelief approach, rather than bending myself into knots trying to make it all make sense. One of the perks of not being the GM, I suppose.

    It’s funny you mention the Fermi Paradox though, because that’s another thing that I always assumed didn’t make sense. Specifically, there are a lot of sentient beings in the multiverse (possibly infinite, my DnD cosmology is a bit rusty), and some percentage of them should be visiting the Prime Material, and I suspect that at any given point in time and at any given point in space, there should be all sorts of outsiders and aliens and whatnot appearing.

    Those may not be good examples. Maybe you could give an answer for how those things make sense. It just seems to me like an exercise in futility, because ultimately something made up by some people, added to by other people, and then cobbled together by another person isn’t going to be perfectly internally consistent, and that’s fine because it’s just a game and all you really need is enough for the players to get immersed in the world and enjoy the game. To me, pointing out that the world should have been destroyed, or that technology should have been developed, or that everyone should be mind-controlled, or anything like that is the same as asking why you can only punch somebody once every six seconds.

    That’s just me, though. As I mentioned, if I were a GM I’d probably need to come up with something in case a player did ask these questions, and there are plenty of people I’ve encountered who have a much higher threshold of realism than I do in order to be able to get into a game (although ironically, I generally find whatever answers they come up with to be pretty unrealistic).

    (I’ve been reading through your Underlying the Rules series, so I was thinking a lot about this stuff even before I saw your reply)

    • Oh, that can certainly work – but the viability of it as a game master depends on how long, complicated, “sandboxey”, and mystery-based a game you run. Megadungeons, adventure paths, and similar games can work quite well – but run into problems when the players announce that they are headed to another continent to see what is happening there or in pursuit of some rumor.

      Now, my personal games tend to run 100-200 sessions, have a great many things to investigate, are full-scale sandbox games (where the characters may go anywhere and try to do anything, even if they all split up to go off by themselves) in original (or highly modified) settings, and have numerous mysteries to unravel. Any inconsistency is a de facto mystery – and the players tend to be take them as things to be investigated so as to find out what is going on. The fact that the players generally include multiple engineers, a historian, and have included biologists, chemists, physicists, and various other specialists, can make keeping things consistent very important. It really bothers them when things don’t seem to make sense. Those same mysteries – and the fun of figuring out what is going on – also tends to keep those games being referenced, and stories from them being retold, many years later.

      For an example of that the Star Wars logs are probably the most complete on this group of sites – too many of the other logs got interrupted at some point – wherein the players spent a hundred sessions battling some enemies, recruiting others, determining the relationships between droids and extra-galactic silicon life forms, looking at the physics of the extra-galactic red shift, low-energy biology, subjective time rates and how they were related to stasis storage, black holes, and the Death Stars planetbreaking beam, why no one knew about the “anti-force” and how it operated, and a lot more. That campaign wound down in 2013 – but some of the players are still playing related or derivative characters and poking into “how things work” and “what came next” in the current multiversal campaign in 2021. Just as importantly, since it is multiversal, some of the events from that game – and from several others and other settings – are currently playing out. Now I’m well aware that that is atypical – but I think it adds to the fun.

      Of course the Fermi Paradox is not generally meaningfully related to RPG’s in it’s original form (although it was in the Champions and Shadowed Galaxy campaigns; there are always exceptions). That is why it is noted as a “fantasy version” of it. The Fermi Paradox itself does not apply to most settings directly, but the logic of “filters” does apply to the history and development of a setting – at least if anyone cares.

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