Character-Defining Feats

The original request here was for a few “character-defining” Feat Packages – things that would be useful, reasonably effective, and highly thematic packed into a 6 CP / One Feat framework. In Eclipse that most often means either one major ability or several minor abilities with serious thematic limitations to cut down their costs. So here are a few examples of that sort of thing – Feats that I’m going to call Amulet Crafter, Bloodline Of The Tomb, Dreaming Of R’lyeh, Favor Of Prometheus, Heroic Aegis Of Fate, Infernal Liking, Musical Theater, and Wind Child.

Amulet Crafter: Complex symbols painted on bits of wood and paper, crude and tiny carvings of totems both mundane and mythical, twists of elaborately knotted rope, bits of inscribed pottery… a multitude of forms, but all bits of magic, of the unseen world, bound by a mystics will and the work of his or her hands into material form. Perhaps the oldest and simplest of magics – but one requiring far less of lore to bring to fruition. Most Amulet Crafters have a particular style that they prefer, but with careful focus… magic can be invested in the most unlikely objects.

Thus a modestly skilled Amulet Crafter focusing on Totems might have prepared three Amulets today – a Bear Figurine containing two Mana, a Fox Figurine containing one, and an Eagle Figurine containing one.

Presuming that the Crafter’s abilities are sufficient, the Bear Talisman might be used to frighten away a pack of wolves, or to Cure Moderate Wounds, or to Speak With Animals, or to induce hibernation in someone, or any other feat suited to a couple of first level spells or a single second level one and thematically related to the Bear Totem. Foxes / Kitsune are notorious for tricks and illusions, so that Fox Figurine might be good for an instant disguise, hiding the door the characters are lurking behind, a few moments of invisibility, a Grease spell, or any other suitable first level effect. The Eagle Figurine? Good for breaking a fall, sending a brief message communicating with birds, enhanced eyesight, or whatever. A shinto-flavored Miko might use Omamori and Ofuda, perhaps dedicated to the Kami of the Sun, of War, and of Travelers today. A tribal hunter might carry a medicine bag for luck, a viking warrior a hammer pendant and a spiritualist a skull – but the system is always the same.

  • Mana, 1d6 (4), with Unskilled Magic, Specialized for Increased Effect (efficient mana use – none is wasted and the side effects are usually merely visual) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / Only for unskilled magic, mana must be invested in symbolic amulets each morning and can only be expended to produce effects symbolically appropriate to that type of amulet, amulets can be taken away and require a bit of time to prepare – although that can be done in advance.
  • Rite of Chi, Specialized and Corrupted / only to refill the Mana pool above, requires a brief ceremony in honor of the forces the Amulet Crafter draws upon.

While Amulet Crafters will soon run into the (rather low) limits of Unskilled Magic, it’s easy enough to expand on this a bit – add another die of Mana (4 CP) and Bonus Uses on the Rite of Chi (2 CP) and you’ll be a fairly flexible and powerful spellcaster at low levels. The dedicated spellcasters will leave you in the dust at high levels – but in all but the most combat-focused games there will never come a time when a pocket full of very versatile, if low-powered, magic cannot be used to good effect if you’re clever about it. This is also a perfectly good way for minor members of the clergy, shaman, and hedge wizards to operate – or a way to run a low-magic game.

Bloodline Of The Tomb: In you, the blood of some ancient overlord has run true, and the ancient Tomb Lords recognize that fact. Should you die, you will be gathered unto your ancestors a bit more literally than most. Their servants will help you out on occasion and you will be gifted with some (GM Determined) relic of the ancient ways – although you can only get it replaced or exchanged when you happen to die. While everyone has ancestors… yours are paying attention and willing to intervene.

  • Returning, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / While the user’s body will disappear in about a day, they will not return for some weeks – and even then it will be as a mummy, deep in the catacombs beneath an ancient pyramid, and as a minor part of the court of an ancient mummified god-king, where you will have duties, and get sent on errands, and likely be expected to marry some mummified minor princess or handmaiden. It will be tricky to get away (2 CP)
  • Minor Favors, Specialized for Increased Effect (favors need not be repaid) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost (2 CP) / Once every few days you may call on the services of a handful of Ushabati, the Phantom Servitors of the Kingdom Of The Sands. They may prepare and serve a splendid (if INCREDIBLY old-fashioned) meal, pull you and your friends out of a pit, delay pursuers for a minute or two, patch up wounds, pay for a night on the town with a handful of ancient gold coins, march ahead to check for traps, and many other services. Ushabati are invariably reasonably competent (as suited to their master’s level), but are hardly an overwhelming force.
  • Enthusiast, Specialized for Reduced Cost (1 CP) / only to provide points for personal Relics, plus a Contact with Occult-2 (a relic- and item- creating mummy, Specialized for Reduced Cost / is only available in the catacombs beneath the pyramid you return under, tends to have it’s own ideas about just what you need (1 CP).

Having your long-dead ancestors looking out for you from a haunted underworld of dust and darkness is an ancient idea, and an oddly comforting one; what awaits beyond is welcome, haven, and rest – and, if you are clever and determined, a chance to watch over those you care for in turn. The dead need not hate the living, for life is a mere blink of the eye in the face of millennia, and the living will stand among them soon enough.

Dreaming Of R’lyeh: The servants of the Outer Gods have taken a liking to you. Every month or so, shambling things will emerge from between the dimensions to eat intruders in your home or sanctum, bring strange visions wrapped in crystalized ichor, leave disturbingly-formed trinkets of unknown provenance around the place, tell you incomprehensible stories, leave cryptic clues in near-forgotten languages, and provide modest payments of random types of Obols (usually 3d4 per month) for things that you hope were only dreams – whether or not Obols normally exist in the setting. If they do not normally exist, they cannot be duplicated. You can use them anyway. Did you expect the Elder Ones to be bound by rules? In any case, the neighbors are likely to be MOST unhappy.

  • Major Favors, Specialized for Increased Effect – only to receive occasional gifts that need not be repaid – and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / You become known as eccentric and attract investigation, 4 CP).
  • Major Privilege (Known and respected by Lovecraftian Entities, Specialized and Corrupted / may cause rather violent reactions from other groups, 2 CP).

The unwilling magus is one of the classic protagonists of magical tales – a character who is entangled in incomprehensible mystic affairs and who must deal with that as best he or she can, using whatever favors and bits of arcana they have managed to extract from the insanity of their lives. In d20… Obols are not a bad way to represent the dubious favors of incomprehensible entities and the use of mystical secrets gathered from such interactions.

Favor Of Prometheus: Whether it is peat burning in a lodge of sod and mammoth bone, logs burning in a cave, or even the flickering flame of a lamp warming an igloo on the tundra, the fire of the hearth means light, warmth, safety, and home. It is the gathering point of friends and family, the beacon of civilization that shines across the wilderness. It marks a place that people care for, a place where they gather, a place that they defend, and a place that they will not allow to grow cold and dark. A fire may be used for cooking, crafting, lighting, heating, hardening wood, or a thousand other things – but at it’s heart this is the fire of civilization, of humanity gathered and grown strong. While that fire burns… the darkness shall not take them.

  • Mystic Artist / Survival, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost (2 CP) / only allows the construction of one fixed piece of artwork at a time – a hearthfire to warm and light a camp or structure, only offers access to Inspiration and Synergy abilities, requires fuel and a properly prepared spot for a fire, only usable for one particlar combination of effects per day, requires at least ten minutes of work to set up in any given location.
  • Innate Enchantment (6 CP) Plus Immunity to the XP cost of these enchantments (Uncommon, Minor, Trivial, 1 CP): (Field Provisions Box, Sphere of Awakening, Healing Belt x2, all Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only functions when the characters are encamped and a Hearthfire has been built, takes up to an hour to get ready (2 CP).
  • Inherent Spell (Secure Shelter, reduced to L3 by inclusion of an elaborate focus (assorted camping gear) and requiring up to an hours time to set up, appears as a well set up camp, goes away when you break camp). Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost (2 CP) / requires a DC 20 Survival check plus the use of assorted tools, can never include the arcane functions (Arcane Locks, Alarm, Unseen Servant), and requires assistance from other characters.

“Attacked in camp” is something of a cliche (and a not uncommon complaint from players who feel that being attacked while unready is “unfair”) – but as the Romans regularly demonstrated, a well-prepared camp is not necessarily a soft target. With this feat, a parties camp can be a place of strength and safety, its hearthfire a beacon and a rallying point.

Heroic Aegis Of Fate: It is a dubious privilege to hold the gate, pass, or bridge, to be the one who takes a stand against onrushing doom – for while the tale of your epic heroism may live across the centuries, it is all too likely that it will be in memory of your sacrifice.

Then out spake brave Horatius; The captain of the gate “To every man upon this earth, death cometh soon or late, And how can man die better, than facing fearful odds, for the ashes of his fathers, And the temples of his gods.”

-Lays of Ancient Rome by Thomas Babington Macaulay

  • Major Privilege: The character always gets to face, and attempt to deal with, major problems before they involve the ordinary folk of whatever community he or she watches over (6 CP). While there are upper limits to the number of folk who can be so protected, the chosen of fate may turn that dubious favor to the protection of others. As long as they endure, and attempt to defend some local community, no great disaster will befall it. A house may burn, a raid steal some cattle, crops may be poor, and a few may die from some dread illness – but there shall be no great fires, no mighty army that devastates the countryside, no great famine, and no terrible plague as long as the chosen hero places himself or herself between that which threatens and the ordinary folk he or she is defending. That marauding dragon will focus on YOU, the invading army will pursue YOU, the dark entity which has sent the spirits of disease to plague the people will first send them after YOU, and so on.

You could probably justify this as a curse (a sort of variant of “preferred target”) or perhaps a Corruption of a package of rulership-related abilities, but even characters who do not rule, and who place themselves between others and harm entirely voluntarily, quite often seem to have this ability. While you hold the pass, or bridge, or docks, or walls, or frontier fortress, or gather and tend the sick to keep the plague from spreading… disaster will not fall upon those you defend while you endure. There are few acts of heroism greater than that.

Infernal Liking: Devils have taken a liking to you. From their burning twilight halls to their dark embassy in the heavens, they all recognize you and keep an eye on your doings. For reasons only they comprehend every month or so they will send you friendly notes written in blazing hellfire runes (displaying, in their commentary, a disturbingly intimate knowledge of what you’ve been up to) and care packages of the eternally burning minerals and metals of the hells, subtly deadly drugs and foodstuffs, invitations to corrupt social events, introductions to those who have made dark bargains with devils, bizarre alchemical ingredients, and occasional low-value souls too weak to bother with or too innocent for hell to easily hold or utilize. Somewhat more often they will drop by for tea to encourage you and to tell you tales of infernal matters. On rarer occasions they may offer to hire you for various tasks, possibly paying with holy items that they regard as toxic waste.

  • Minor Favors, Specialized for Increased Effect – only to receive occasional gifts that need not be repaid (3 CP)
  • Major Privilege: Known and liked by Devils, Specialized / may cause odd reactions from other groups (3 CP).

Classically Devils were tempters, they came bringing gifts – eventually corrupting, but outwardly fair. Most games, of course, treat them as war machines, bringing blood and death or granting power to the target of the week. There’s no subtlety there, no question of whether it is better to keep your eye upon them or to simply turn away steadfastly. With this feat, there are indeed questions again.

Musical Theater: A Theatrical Master knows that life is a performance – and sees no reason why it should not be a good and enjoyable one!

  • Mystic Artist (Most often Perform / Dance or similar), Specialized for Reduced Cost (3 CP) and Corrupted for Increased Effect (See below) / effects must be taken in the order given, most effects have no statistical game effects, does not allow the use of advanced abilities save for related purposes,
  • Opportunist: Can maintain a Mystic Artist effect as a free action each round, Specialized for Reduced Cost (3 CP) / only for this list of mystic artist effects and only if the performance is taking place at an appropriate venue.
    • (Skill 3) Life Of The Party (Inspiration Skill 3, Emotion): Everyone at an event where you perform will have a really wonderful time, and enjoy themselves greatly.
    • (Skill 4) Good Times, Good Times (Synergy Skill 3, Block): No party-pooper ever dampens an event where you perform. People may leave if the place catches fire, but they will still remember having a great time!
    • (Skill 5) The Event Of The Season (Manipulation 3, Fascinate): Everyone has heard about your performances, and wants to get in to wherever you are at! There will be envy and crowds. You pretty much get free invitations to every social event in the vicinity.
    • (Skill 6) The Party Never Ends (Manipulation 6, Hold Audience): Any event that you liven up tends to run late. Everyone is having such a good time that they hate to leave!
      • Skipped – Inspiration 6 (Competence) and Synergy 6 (Group Focus).
    • (Skill 9) Spontaneous Choreography (Inspiration Skill 9, Greatness): Everyone near you when you perform is suddenly a competent dancer (+2), decent singer (+2), knows the music (1 SP), knows the choreography (1 SP), and gains (1d10+Cha Mod) social HP, allowing them to look good and to shrug off a few faux paus, insults, or social barbs.While no one is actually forced to cooperate, who says that life cannot be like a Hollywood musical? !
    • (Skill 12) Inspiring Presence (Synergy Skill 9, Amplify): You make everyone at an event look good. There will be no sour notes, flubbed performances, or minor accidents among the servants while you are present! You can live comfortably simply by circulating around a town through it’s various social events.
      • Skipped – Manipulation 9 (Suggestion).
    • (Skill 15) Why Choose? (Synergy 12, Harmonize): Rather than two effects you can combine up to (Cha Mod + 1) effects from this art! (Not, of course, that it matters a lot).
    • (Skill 18) The Focus Of Attention (Inspiration Skill 12, Excellence): You may designate one individual as the “Belle Of The Ball”. The just seem to be amazingly good looking, clever, and witty. Everyone will recognize them, want to talk to them, and accept them.
    • (Skill 21) Master Choreographer (Inspiration Skill 15, Mass Greatness): Your Spontaneous Choreography now covers the entire event, including the servants and random passers-by!
    • (Skill 24) Feeling Good (Synergy Skill 18, Serenity): No one at an event where you perform ever gets hung over, throws up, gets their clothing damaged, or suffers any consequences for over-indulgence.
    • (Skill 30) Social Expectations (Synergy Skill 24, Rule The Horde): Violence never seems to break out at events where you perform. Even mortal enemies will merely snub each other, not attack.
    • (Skill 36) The perfect Venue (Manipulation Skill 12. Emotional Auras): When you perform, somehow the setting is always perfect – the temperature and breezes are just right, the decorations are wonderful, and everyone is delighted to be present!
    • (Skill 48) A Splendid Meal (Synergy Sloll 36, Concerto): The food and drink at an event where you perform functions as a Heroe’s Feast (this is stretching it a bit, but seems acceptable as a variant ability – especially at Skill 48).
    • (Skill 60) (Manipulation Skill 15, Freedom): When you perform at a gathering, lesser manipulations cannot hold. Those attending who might require it are affected as if by a Break Enchantment spell.

OK… This is pretty bluntly the equivalent of spending a Feat on privilege (you always get invitations to events and don’t have to worry about minor expenses in town – but this lets you do it with style and can effectively turn the world into a musical. In an intrigue or politics heavy game – and depending on the character – the style, the invitations, the parties, and the connections this ability will bring may be well worth the 6 CP price.

You dare challenge Megamind?
This town isn’t big enough for two supervillains!
Oh, you’re a villain all right, just not a super one.
Oh yeah? What’s the difference?
Presentation!

Wind Child: The wind roams. It hears the words that are spoken, whether in wisdom, in foolishness, or in passion. It hears the incantations, knows the summons, and has carried the words of the pacts that were young when it was old. It carries the magic of weather, of the seasons, of the aurora, of music, of language, of lightning, and of movement. It is the first breath of life and the final sigh of the escaping soul. Without the life-giving wind, the world would bake beneath the sun and freeze beneath the stars, the oceans wafting away before heaven’s pitiless fires. The winds are the patrons of life, of the turning of the world as it should be.

And there are things they want done. There are aberrations, and undead, and outsiders to banish or destroy. There are places where fools have disrupted the order of the world which must be mended. There are quests to be carried out and prophecies to be fulfilled. There are agents, men and women who can focus the formless power of the winds, channel it with greater precision than a tornado’s path of destruction or the undirected lightning of a storm. A Wind Child Hears, and Channels, and Serves the purposes of the winds.

A Wind Child will regularly hear the voices of his or her patrons, the whispering words of the winds that girdle the world. Prophecies. Warnings. Missions. Moreover, the Wind Child knows that the fate of many lies with them. If they fail a mission – or worse, refuse – the world may endure… but will be lessened.

A Wind Child may call upon each of his or her patrons – the winds of the North, East, South, West, and Heavens – once per adventure, crying aloud for their intervention in a great voice. For, while their power is vast, a mortal cannot endure channeling it often.

  • Buy this as Enormous Favors with the Wind Spirits, Specialized for Reduced Cost (6 CP) and Corrupted for Increased Effect (Favors can be repaid at reduced value and piecemeal).
    • The Wind Spirits are “Paid back” by the user undertaking various missions and listening to the winds bizarre advice (the winds do not relate to mortals that well).
    • The user may only claim one favor from each of the five winds per adventure.
    • Favors may only be expended for significant acts of magic.
    • The winds only respond to requests that they find appropriate (although, if they do not respond, no favor is expended).
    • The user must wander where the winds takes him or her at least one month in three.
    • Requests must be stated loudly and firmly. No stealthy requests are possible.
    • The user cannot be of evil alignment and must always keep to his or her oaths.
    • If the user betrays the winds, he or she will suffer their wrath.
    • The winds often opt to manifest and speak at very inconvenient times.
    • The user tends to be somewhat “primal”, tending to dress and speak as one from the dawn of the world.
    • The user may never ignore the presence of Aberrations, Outsiders, or (especially!) the undead.
      Are known, recognized, and assumed to be heroes, for the Winds carry the words of their deeds. Their presence will not pass unnoticed.

A Wind Child does have access to quite a lot of power. Call on the North Wind to drop a small glacier on an enemy stronghold? The East Wind to carry the party to the fabled isles before the competition can get there? The Wind of Heaven to breathe new life into the dead? Such things are easily accomplished by the Winds. On the other hand, a Wind Child cannot use that power often (and so will often save their favors for emergencies), has endless arbitrary built-in plot hooks, has obligations to his or her patrons, and pretty much always get involved with dangerous situations. You will never have any trouble getting a Wind Child involved in an adventure.

2 Responses

  1. Thoth, I’ve looked over literately hundreds of your pages today (and kept a copy of most of them).

    What you need is a Patreon page. I, for one, would be willing to chip in a few dollars a month….. What do you think?

    https://www.patreon.com/

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