d20

. Welcome to the d20 point-buy section!

. Eclipse Classless d20 Character Construction Cribsheet and Sample Character List

. If there are any special requests, rules questions, or things anyone wants to know how to do in point-buy, simply leave a comment and I’ll try to get back to you on it as soon as possible. The links on this page have now been updated and organized: I’ll try to keep them up to date from now on. Non-d20 material can be found on its own tabs – or you can take a general survey of everything on the site on the Index tab. If you’re looking for the most recent entries try the Home tab and scroll down: the main index and this page are organized by topic, not date.

. All of our campaigns use the classless point-buy rules from Eclipse: The Codex Persona and the magic design rules from The Practical Enchanter (both available via the links below). Eclipse is the only d20 character-creation and power book we’ve needed in quite awhile – and none of the local players are willing to use anything else any more anyway – so all of the various characters, races, and templates listed under the general d20 or specific campaign settings are suitable as sample designs. Since Eclipse is fully compatible with 3.0, 3.5, Modern, Future, and many other d20 products, there should be something here for most d20 gamers.

The Books We Use:

  • Eclipse: The Codex Persona: Print Edition (Lulu.Com), Electronic Edition (Lulu.Com), Electronic Edition (RPGNow.Com), Shareware Edition (at RPGNow.Com), and Shareware Edition (Box.Net Download).
  • The Practical Enchanter: Print Edition (Lulu.Com), Electronic Edition (Lulu.Com), Electronic Edition (RPGNow.Com), Shareware Edition (at RPGNow.Com), and Shareware Edition (Box.Net Download). Handy for designing special powers and items. There’s a nice RPGNow Staff Review too.
  • Paths of Power (a free d20 magic supplement, including a revised spell and psionic ability acquisition method with numerous new paths, domains, spells, and other systems). Paths of Power II, Monstrous Pathsis available in PDF form HERE. The Complete Paths of Power – combining the two – is available in Print Here.
  • Eclipse Web Expansion One: a free expansion for Eclipse: The Codex Persona. Includes races, a level-by-level sample build, levels without XP, d20 without levels, and FAQ.
  • Magic the Gathering; The RPG. This was originally designed as a submission to WOTC, but they were uninterested in any submissions related to M:TG. The system stretches d20 to the limit, since it uses magic cards as character attributes – but since the playtesters have let the draft files out, here it is. Who knows? Maybe Wizards of the Coast will see it and decide to pick it up after all (not likely, but we reserve any commercial rights that may apply just in case). The playtesters had a lot of fun with it, and – for personal use in its current form – it’s entirely free.

General d20 Point-Buy Sample Characters, Races, and Templates: Similar information for particular settings can be found under the campaign headings.

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Random d20 information:

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Federation-Apocalypse Campaign:

Subpage: Since this is the primary game in play at the moment, it gets its own subpage for updates…

Federation-Apocalypse Characters and Templates:

Federation-Apocalypse Background Information:

Federation-Apocalypse Campaign Log:

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Twilight Isles Setting:

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Shandar Campaign

Shandar was the original test setting for Eclipse: The Codex Persona. As such, the players were allowed to go hog-wild with their builds. They needed to: the place was incredibly lethal.

  • Shandar: The Fallen World. An introduction – History, the World, the Balefire of the Cinghalum, Glowstone, and Languages.
  • Starting Areas. A selection of starting locations, with the advantages, disadvantages, and usual character types for each.
  • Glowstone Alchemy: the Basics (including the benefits and costs of using Glowstone) and the Items – for when you want to introduce radioactive temptation into your world.

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Ironwinds Campaign

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Atheria Campaign

Sample Characters:

Atheria Background Material:

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Darkweird Campaign

Sample Characters:

Campaign Character Design Sheet. The restrictions and bonuses which apply to all Darkweird characters.

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Cemar Campaign Setting:

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Thera Campaign Setting

  • The Book of Thoth: The count of ages, the great cycle, the prophecy, and the relationships between the elements, races, gods, and powers of Thera.
  • The Mystic Companion Prestige Class. For aides, assistants, and familiars.
  • Thera: The Runelord Epic Class and the Epic Hero Class. Thera’s two possible epic paths – the Path of Godhood and the Path of Exaltation.
  • Thera: Channeling Exotic Forces. Rules for channeling order, chaos, fire, transformation, and many other forces beyond positive and negative energy.
  • Thera: Magical Basics. Rules for Mana, acquiring and casting spells, using items, the Rule of Three, and working circle and rune magic on Thera.
  • Thera: ShuKenja. The spell-improvising wizard-priests of the eastern empire.

743 Responses

  1. Just curious,

    On p 189 of Eclipse: The Codex Persona there is a blurb saying:

    “If you want to run a game without using experience points at all, you’ll want to consult our OGL web supplement. We can’t tell you how to do that in a d20 product”

    What exactly was this referring to and what became of it?

    • Well, I don’t know about you, but I think an Elementalist should only be the cardinal elements of history – Air, Earth, Fire, and Water – with one exception. What do you get when you remove Air, Earth, Fire, and Water? I believe this indicates that there is a fifth element – that I call Void. I also wonder about the demi-planes – Mud (Water and Earth), Magma (Fire and Earth), Smoke (Fire and Air), and (here’s the one I’m not sure of) Fog (Air and Water). What do you think of my ideas Eclipse wise?

  2. Hmm. Checking back, it looks like that file went missing when the original site was hacked. I’ll get a revised version up here shortly. As for what it was, well, the d20 license – as distinct from the open game license – prohibits including rules on how to apply experience to a character to advance their level. Ergo, no experience point chart and no options for doing without one.

  3. I’d love to see that file if you have it somewhere.

  4. The Practical Enchanter says that curses can be cast by people who do not have magical abilities, yet then it goes on to categorize curses as spells with levels. If curses are spells and commoners have no spellcasting ability, how’s that work?

  5. It’s easy enough: almost uniquely, the spell level modifiers on a curse can reduce it’s level below zero – and there are no requirements for casting such “spells”. For example, if an ordinary person – possibly after being aided by someone who kept them from dying or having a lingering death for dramatic purposes – is cursing a child of theirs (-2) who personally inflicted a mortal wound on them (-2), and is willing to suffer severe backlash (-2), and fuels the curse with (1d4 x 500 XP) (-1), they wind up with a net modifier of -7 spell levels. If they attempt a curse with a base level of 6 or less, they’ll wind up with a net spell level of (-1) – which anyone can manage.

    Of course, that’s an extreme example, and a rarity even under such circumstances. Most people don’t have the focused malice, the concentration, or the inclination to lay good curses – although this does provide a reason to avoid pointlessly slaughtering the peasantry. Even minor curses can be annoying.

    Still, if the foul Prince Karnacht stabs his father the King with a poisoned blade and leaves him to die (a prelude to blaming a neighboring kingdom for his death and declaring war upon it while simultaneously seizing the throne), he should not be surprised to find that his father, while only an eighth-level noble with no spellcasting ability, has cursed him with his dying breath and words written in his own blood “to be brought down by the children of his deeds”. As a sixth-level curse this Affliction can use a “Suggestion” effect six or seven times per day – which it will use against the King and his commanders to try and allow the occasional vengeful child to escape the upcoming massacres. When a few such children grow up and become adventurer’s (thanks to more subtle Suggestions), King Karnacht may well meet his doom at their hands. After all, the avengers will be mysteriously “lucky” enough to have an suggestible old servant absent-mindedly reveal the location of the secret passage to his chambers…

    Now that’s a pretty classical plot, but now you actually have some reason for it; King Karnacht often failed to follow the rules of the Evil Overlord List because he was being magically manipulated. His officers mysteriously took pity on the occasional child, or committed obvious blunders, for the same reason. Why did the kids come together? Why did they become adventurers? Why did they stay determined to seek revenge? Why were they the only ones to stumble on the secret passage? Because the curse is fulfilling it’s wording. There may be more efficient ways to get things done, but this is a curse, not an engineer on assignment.

    In classical terms, the existence of such curses equates to the purported ability of dying people to curse their murderers with terrible fates and with the supposed ability of parents to lay curses and blessings on their offspring – a notion goes back as far as we have records, and can be found in sources ranging from Sumeria to pre-dynastic China and the old testament.

    In d20 terms, spells with negative spell levels are only possible if they’re either bits of folk magic with no actual game effect – such as kitchen charms to keep cakes from falling, cellar charms to help keep the bugs out of the stored vegetables, cleansing charms, and a thousand other tiny items – or if all the real work is carried out by someone else. Thus you have the occasional efficacy of perfectly ordinary people offering prayers to gods or cursing their tormentors. There are things out there that listen – sometimes even to people who don’t have the magic to reach them directly and reliably.

  6. Hey, thanks for the great reply. Before I read your response, I had thought about a system like what you described. I had a problem with it because I would think a spell level cap would apply even for a -1 spell. In other words, you need an ability score of 10 + the spell level to cast that level spell. So for a -1 curse, you’d need an ability score of 9 to cast it. But what ability is used, for commoners who have no main spellcasting stat? Also, how do you calculate the DC?

    Also, with your system curses are very easy to pull off, and even players would get into the action, casting them “for free” all over the place.

    So… I posted to En World a different homebrew method of applying your book. That is here:

    http://www.enworld.org/forum/d-d-3rd-edition-house-rules/257391-curses-those-who-cant-cast-spells.html

    It’s far more harsh — it sets level -5 spells as the only ones that are free, and it eats up levels instead of just a bit of XP (my problem with the XP cost as it normally stands is that it is a HUGE cost for a commoner with no XP, but is downright insignificant to a level 20 fighter, making them super-cursers). By eating levels instead, it seems to reign in the overpoweredness.

    Anyway, although your system is probably much simpler and much more enjoyable to you, I hope you can appreciate at least some aspects of my proposed implementation. I’m wishing for a way to combine the ease of your system with the “only gets used in rare situations” structure of mine.

    Feel free to add my alternative system to your document, if you wish. Just keep my name in there somewhere if you do. :)

  7. Easy enough again:

    Normally spell level caps don’t apply to effects with negative levels. As noted, those include things like folk magic and “praying”, which seem like they ought to be available to anyone. That would also mean that the save DC would normally simply be (10+Effective Spell Level) – which, since the spell level is normally (-1) or less, means a DC of 9 or less. This will work sometimes – but most high-level opponents are likely to have at least a +7 will save after bonuses (and may have some method of making occasional rerolls too) – hence such targets will only fail to save on a 1 and 95% or more of all unskilled curses directed at powerful opponents will be wasted. That’s a definite pain if you’re using the “fueled with XP” modifier.

    If you want to use a spellcasting attribute you can either use constitution (as used with monster abilities), use Charisma (following the tradition of innate-magic Sorcerers), or just let whoever’s laying the curse pick one if you’re feeling really really generous.

    Unskilled curses by player-characters are unlikely to include any “Target is” modifiers (major villains usually aren’t a player character’s children, close relatives, or beyond their ability to harm otherwise), and usually haven’t personally killed the character laying the curse, that means that the maximum modifier they can stack up is (-6) – including automatic backlash, an escape clause, and a lengthy delay in taking effect. That’s enough for a curse with a base level of 5, but not enough to put it outside the range of curses that can be removed with “Greater Remove Curse” (exactly like Greater Dispel Magic). They can throw in the “extremely difficult to remove” modifier, but that will both weaken the curse and make it even harder for them to get rid of the backlash.

    Players are quite welcome to have their characters start throwing around curses; after all, with each curse they throw, they’re intentionally demanding the attention of malevolent spirits that like to cause trouble for people. Ergo, the note about “Backlash” occasionally occurring even if you don’t use the modifiers that force it to. Player characters who throw a lot of curses are likely to cause a great deal of trouble for themselves. That’s why cursing is traditionally a last resort. Player characters may throw curses to give their friends an advantage against the foe that just struck them down – but this is poor strategy, since they’re likely to inflict long-term problems on themselves in exchange for a very short-term advantage. Most of the time the player characters either win or fall back anyway; total party kills are relatively uncommon.

    As a secondary problem, characters who attempt to select specific results and the mechanics thereof , rather than wording a dramatic curse and letting the game master pick the exact mechanics to fit within the level of the curse they’re using, are subject to the +2 level penalty for “worded in terms of game mechanics”. Players who try to min-max the mechanics for maximum efficiency are thus automatically penalized.

    Now, the base range of a curse is touch, +1 level for +1 range category (Close +1, Medium +2, Long +3, Unlimited +4). That makes it awkward to strike back at people you can’t see. I was assuming that Prince Karnacht either touched his father while pulling his dagger out of his back or later passed through the hall or room where his father’s curse was waiting for him, but that seemed reasonable enough.

    The final requirement for an unskilled curse is that it be backed by a powerful emotion – preferably by “festering bitterness” and a sense of powerlessness. Player characters are rarely powerless – and are usually involved in making practical plans for dealing with or escaping their opponents rather than in brooding over their grievances. Trying to curse their enemies as a tactical maneuver simply isn’t likely to work.

    The same goes for most NPC’s. Most dying people focus on prayers and professions of faith, providing for friends and relatives, issuing final instructions, the pain and other symptoms, trying to cling to life, disbelief or denial, and sheer shock, rather than on spewing vindictive curses. Most people throughout history have believed in the power of dying curses – but they’re still unusual.

    Many real deaths are much more lingering than is usual on d20, which is why I allow mortally-wounded or just-deceased characters to issue some final words or take some small action if they want to have a dramatic death scene (if they were merely mortally wounded, the strain of doing this automatically kills them). Presumably their soul animates their body for a few final moments before taking it’s leave. That actually comes up more with NPC’s than PC’s; it means that a technically dead – and thus beyond the reach of healing magic – individual can speak a few final words, or entrust some item or errand to the characters, without the pesky party healer simply fixing him or her up. I’m sure you’ve seen that routine when the Game Master tries to be dramatic:

    “The dying man is gasping through the blood that’s dripping from his mouth. He feebly pulls you down so that you can make out his dying request to save his daughter from the bandits before he falls back – dead.”

    Except for the fact that the pesky healer will inevitably announce “Cure (Whatever) Wounds” around the third or fourth word. Ergo, the “Death Scene” rule.

    I’ll take a good look at your alternative system this evening or tomorrow, and probably mirror it here as an alternative. More options are always good.

  8. […] Having written that house-ruled system, I also asked the author about it, and he posted that anything below a cantrip/orison was clearly a freebie. So his rule is actually almost exactly like mine, except that he made level -1 spells free. My […]

  9. Over a year ago, I wrote my own version of a section of The Practical Enchanter regarding the number of unique spells in a game world, stretching it out a bit to also include a population breakdown. Looking back, I think that I completely forgot to mention it to you, even though you wrote the original essay.

    Here’s the link: http://www.enworld.org/forum/blogs/alzrius/732-spells-spellcasters-campaign-world.html

    I’ll say it again: The Practical Enchanter is a SPECTACULAR book! ^_^

    • Well, it’s always nice to see people putting the material to use – and I’m glad you’re evidently still enjoying the book!

      I hope that you’ll find some of the other material on this site useful as well – although I must admit that there have been a lot more questions about Eclipse (mostly “how do I build this?”) than about The Practical Enchanter.

      That’s a nicely-developed essay over there; I fear that restricting things to one page wasn’t really enough to do the topic justice.

      I have considered going back and fixing the left-out modifier in the campaign resources section – but it wouldn’t change the basic result and, so far as I know, you’re the only one who’s ever noticed. Still, I really must get to it one of these days. So many projects, so little time.

  10. A quick question on something I noticed in The Practical Enchanter. The nullfield spell notes that, when used for creating a golem’s magic immunity, spellcasters can design spells that beat said magic immunity for the cost of the spell being +3 levels. Would that also be the formula to create a spell that can affect a creature through a nullfield or standard antimagic field?

    • Not precisely; Golems – being animated by magical energies – have to leave the way open for some types of magic to operate on themselves. Thus the rules under Nullfield; a spell can be designed to work on specific types of golems for +1 level – targeting the specific weaknesses of that type. A spell designed with the +3 level modifier will automatically adjust itself to attack the weaknesses of the type of golem it’s targeting, essentially acting as a “smart” attack.

      Straight up Nullfields and Antimagic spheres allow only one magical effect – the caster dismissing them. Of course, it might be possible to design a spell that sought out that particular trigger and dismissed the spell. (Hm; “Dismiss Spell”. Much more subtle than “Dispel Magic”, and often less useful since it would target an individual spell. Probably level four or five, which is why it’s rarely researched and used).

      There are some notes on Antimagic under the Greater Antimagic Field spell (Eclipse, page 130); Antimagic can be broken by sheer overload – by an external spell that exceeds twice the level of antimagical spell used or by an internal spell of at least three times the level of the antimagical effect used (usually something that only gods and powerful epic characters can pull off).

      For a realistic comparison, I’d say a golem is like a well-insulated machine; find the uninsulated points to hit with an electrical discharge and you’ll fry the insides. Hit the insulation, and nothing much happens. An antimagic field, however, is just a big wad of insulating material; if you want to get rid of it with electricity, you’ll have to overload it’s resistance and destroy it.

      • Looking back over this, what would the “dismiss spell” spell look like? Since it has to be specifically tailored towards a particular spell, how about seeing it as “dismiss antimagic field” since that’s probably one of the most useful variations. Or would it be better as a spell template? Presumably, it only works on spells that are dismissible at all (that is, they have the (D) notation in their duration listing).

        For that matter, could you cast this spell within an antimagic field? Or would it fall victim to the “must be three times the antimagic field’s spell level” clause?

        Also, regarding that rule about overloading an antimagic field/nullfield, does that take metamagic into account? I ask only because conventional wisdom is that metamagic doesn’t increase the spell’s actual level (Heighten Spell notwithstanding), hence why an empowered maximized magic missile wouldn’t get past a globe of invulnerability. So a spell that’s supercharged on metamagic would still fail no matter how heavily it was strengthened, right?

        Finally, using your analogy that a golem is like a well-insulated machine, at what point can you simply overcome its “insulation” with brute force the same way you could a nullfield or antimagic field? Surely, if a power word kill can punch through a nullfield (since it’s ninth level, and thus one level about twice the spell’s level), a spell of similar or greater power could hit through a golem’s magic immunity. Would that permanently collapse its immunity the way it would the spell, or would only spells that powerful get through, with the immunity still remaining intact?

      • Ah, this too got too long for comments – so I’ve compiled this set of questions together and answered them all at length over here: https://ruscumag.wordpress.com/2010/10/26/eclipse-d20-nullfields-antimagic-dismissal-and-arcane-overloads/

  11. I’m not sure where else to post this particular Eclipse d20 request, so I’m posting it here; let me know if there’s a better way to make such requests in the future.

    I recently watched the latest episode of the anime, Bleach. In this, the protagonist had been utterly defeated by his enemy – wounded near death – and the leading lady was screaming for him to save her. At the last possible instant, out of pure desperation he suddenly transforms into a new, more powerful form, and is able to effortlessly thrash the foe that he previously hadn’t been able to scratch.

    This is a somewhat common trope in certain genres of anime/manga – that when all is lost, the hero will suddenly find a new, stronger power within himself, usually transforming into a mightier form to be able to defeat the enemy. This transformation usually comes with a cost, such as having a short duration, making the user go berserk, exhausting or causing damage to the user while transformed, etc., though in some cases they’ll later overcome these drawbacks.

    Presumably, this would be purchased as a template in Eclipse d20. Given the variable nature of the powers such a template would convey, however – and more problematically, the level of power they’re supposed to grant the character, since these tend to be overwhelmingly strong instead of just a small power-up – how would you design this? (On a related tangent, I do realize that this would be one of those places where character knowledge is separate from player knowledge, in that the player would pay the CP cost for the template, but the PC won’t know it’s there until it suddenly is used for the first time.)

    On a final note, is it possible to make such a template stackable with itself? Anime heroes often undergo multiple transformations to boost themselves in accordance with new and stronger foes (in the example I cited at the beginning of this post, for example, this is the character’s third transformation).

  12. Another Practical Enchanter question this time.

    On page 104, for the Summoning spell, it says “Summoning calls forth one creature of a CR appropriate to the spell, 1d4+1 creatures appropriate to a spell one level lower, or 4d4 creatures of a CR appropriate to a spell two levels lower than the one used.”

    My question is, can you take this particular aspect of the spell any further – e.g. can you summon even more creatures of a CR appropriate to a spell three or more levels lower than the one used?

    Suppose an evil conjurer wants to assault a town, for example. Knowing most townspeople are weaklings with only a single NPC level, he casts an 8th-level summon to bring forth X number of monsters of a CR appropriate to a 3rd-level summoning spell (five levels lower). How many creatures would he have summoned then?

    • Sadly, it doesn’t keep multiplying; you wind up with an additional 2d4 creatures per additional level drop. The evil conjurer would wind up with a total of 10d4 creatures suitable for a third-level summoning spell.

      That didn’t go in the book simply because it – like letting people use the spell templates to build spells of above ninth level – is a headache to administer, and “ease of use” is a consideration too.

  13. Another question (man I’ve had a lot of questions lately):

    In Paths of Power II, the Deathlink spell (pg. 51) is a 9th-level spell that allows you to try and kill a specific person at range by killing someone else (possibly a friend or family member for heightened damage) as a proxy, sending the damage to them that way.

    In contrast, the Extinction spell from Eclipse (pg. 150) is a 23rd-level spell that allows you to wipe out a particular (sub-)species.

    My question, then, is to ask about a spell that has some sort of middle-ground between these two. That is, what sort of spell would it be to cast a spell that wipes out every member of a particular bloodline (which may cross species boundaries)?

    Also, how do you defend against spells such as these? I know Extinction can be blocked relatively easily, but Deathlink has no such protection, which seems to make it easy for an enemy to eventually kill you from afar with it (though they’d have to keep casting it over and over, given its low damage).

  14. How would you translate the existing epic-level spells from the Epic Level Handbook to Eclipse’s high-level magic system (the ones that aren’t already represented by the existing high-level spells, that is)?

    For the most part, it seems like a matter of determining what spells would be what level, but some of them (such as Origin of Species) could probably use a more in-depth conversion.

  15. Couple quick questions for you.

    1) Since 4th ed came out, Pathfinder took over d20. In the process they have revamped a few things, consolidating skills a bit, cross class skills arent really that much worse, a bit more powers in each class, a capstone power at 20th. Has there been any look at updated to take into effect the new d20 system with the point buy?

    2) I’m currently running a pathfinder game, low level, and I have a character that’s looking for a bit more oomph. He’s an alchemist, so is looking to use poisons, particularly with a blow gun. Any thoughts or designs for a set of d20 poisons that just add extra damage to the attack on the quick, without having to worry about onset times, and damage through ability damage? We’re trying to keep it fairly fast moving, so the expensive toxins that do ability damage but can take a while aren’t too appealing, but I don’t want something that’s going to be so usefull that everyone is tempted to use it.

    Thanks

  16. Another fanboy request:

    Recently, a friend introduced me to a manga/anime entitled “Sekirei.” It’s a complete piece of fluff, dedicated mostly to showing half-naked girls, but I thought it’d be fun to ask for Eclipse statistics for the eponymous sekirei race (which translates to “wagtail,” a type of bird).

    I’ll assume you’re not familiar with the series, so I’ll outline their powers and abilities below. Note that Sekirei are basically human in form and function, differing only by the following:

    * All sekirei have some sort of singular power or special ability which is unique to them. One, for example, is pyrokinetic. Another can telepathically interface with internet-based systems. A third is basically a super-sword fighter, etc.

    * There are 108 sekirei in total, and each has a specific number from this sequence. This is notable only in that the nine single-digit sekirei are far more powerful than their double-digit counterparts.

    * All sekirei operate under a compulsion to find a master (which they call an “ashikabi” – this seems to translate to “bud in the reeds,” but I think that what it’s meant to convey is “nest”), regardless of whether they want one or not. In some cases, this is a specific individual that they’re drawn to (having precognitive dreams or visions about that person prior to meeting them), while in other cases it’s the first person they meet who acts kindly towards them.

    * It’s implied that only certain humans have the potential to be an ashikabi (and that among those who are, some are more capable than others); however, this particular X-factor is never expounded upon. (In the case of a sekirei having precognitive dreams about a particular ashikabi, often that ashikabi will have matching dreams/visions about that sekirei)

    * A sekirei who finds an ashikabi may bind herself to his service. This is done by exchanging a kiss, but is referred to as “receiving wings” since the sekirei will momentarily manifest large, transluscent wings from her back as the kiss happens (subsequently, these wings will momentarily reappear whenever she and her ashikabi kiss). This bonding is permanent – she can only ever have a single ashikabi – and severing it results in the sekirei’s death (see below). Note that an ashikabi can kiss an unwilling sekirei to forcibly bind her to him.

    * A winged sekirei gains more control over her powers. This doesn’t actually grant her additional power, but rather greater refinement over the powers she already has.

    * A winged sekirei may also use a norito (literally “prayer”); that is, a super-charged version of her power – a sekirei with great strength, for example, can use a norito to deliver a punch so strong that it collapses a large building in a single blow. In order to use her norito, a sekirei must kiss her ashikabi and then recite a short incantation. The norito lasts for a single attack, but there’s no apparent limit to how often it can be invoked via another kiss and recitation.

    * A sekirei who has gained wings permanently displays a pinkish crest on the skin between her shoulder blades, a tattoo really, depicting the silhouette of a bird in flight under which are the yin-yang symbol and the image of four magatama. This crest is a point of vulnerability (see below).

    * A winged sekirei immediately dies if her connection to her ashikabi is ever broken (her crest disappears when she dies, apparently denoting the loss of her wings). While they can otherwise be killed normally, if a winged sekirei recites her norito incantation while touching the crest of another winged sekirei, that sekirei’s crest will vanish and her connection to her ashikabi will be broken, resulting in her demise. This does not work between sekirei of the same ashikabi.

    * An ashikabi may have multiple sekirei. However, if an ashikabi dies, all of the sekirei bound to him or her immediately die as well.

    * A winged sekirei keeps her own personality and mindset, but becomes submissive towards her ashikabi (most tend to adopt a loving/worshipful attitude towards their ashikabi), and will obey orders from him. This doesn’t change their feelings towards other sekirei their ashikabi may have (though they tend to develop at least a working relationship as a matter of course).

    * A winged sekirei and her ashikabi seem to be empathically connected. The ashikabi can sense when their sekirei is killed, for example.

    * It’s stated that training will have very little effect on a (winged) sekirei’s abilities; their power is stated to grow in direct proportion to their bond (this apparently means their emotional connection) to their ashikabi.

    * Almost all sekirei have the ability to leap prodigious distances; they tend to “roof-hop” when traveling quickly.

    * All sekirei are notably pulchritudinous.

    * Though it’s more of a recurring bit of fan service than a quality of theirs (perhaps a world law?) sekirei who get into a fight tend to lose the majority of their clothes in the battle.

    While there is more to the series (such as a series of eight items that, when gathered, can kill all sekirei everywhere), but that pretty well covers their racial traits and qualities. What would sekirei look like in Eclipse?

  17. The Magical Languages of the Twilight Isles: The unusual effects of languages. Eclipse d20 mechanics, but not much of them.
    this is a mislabeled link. it goes to high level spells index.
    it is under:
    Random d20 information:

    • And so it was; I wonder how that happened? Regardless, that sort of thing is easy to fix. Do let me know if you find any other bad links please.

  18. Sir,

    On behalf of the gaming community, and generations yet to come, let me extend proFound congratulations to you for your (and there’s really no other word for it) HeROic efforts to fix D20. Seriously, kudos.

    Coming up with an off the cuff point-buy translation is one thing. But methodically deconstructing an existing system to find the hidden equivalences between myriad disparate elements, and then back testing it against all available core classes, to demonstrate a variance of <1% (!!) over 20 levels . . . well, I'm speechless.
    (An uncharitable man might be moved to wonde if one of the reasons D&D 4th ed was rushed out was that they got the word that you were in the process of 'hacking their source code' so to speak)

    I do have 2 questions, if you have the time:

    1) Familiarities – the 1 pt/3 skills is clear enough . . . but did you intend for that to take "cross-class" doubling? That is, if a Monk takes "Handle Aminal" (a cross-class skill for him) as part of a familiarity buy, does it cost 2/3 (or, put another way, take up two familiarity 'slots'), while, say, "Swim" would not?

    2) Martial Arts – If I am reading the text right (always an issue), on page 53, the "Combat Enhancement" version of Martial Arts does not mention being able to switch to subdual damage without penalty (as Monks are explicitly allowed to do). "By the book", do I need a rank in the skill version of Martial Arts (page 80) (to buy Strike which allows such) to do that?
    Since one usually needs the first 'level' of the combat Enhancement version to be able to buy any of the Skill version, that implies that easy switching is not part of that base Enhancement, otherwise everyone who would be in position to chose the "Strike" option from the Skill version would already have it, from the prerequisite. Right? Wrong? Let me know.

    Sincerely Yours,

    Jasper Merendino

    • Well, I’m glad you find Eclipse interesting, and thank you for the compliment! It’s always pleasant for any author to hear that someone appreciates their work.

      Questions and requests are pretty much always welcome; many wind up turning into articles or sample builds. To answer your immediate questions:

      1) Familiarities are normally simply purchased at three per character point, regardless of whether a skill is in- or out-of-class. Since Familiarities represent a mere passing acquaintance with a skill (as well as being tied to an optional non-proficiency penalty which doesn’t exist in the basic skill rules) it doesn’t much matter if a character would normally consider those skills relevant.

      2) Combat-enhancement Martial Arts can be used to inflict either lethal or subdual damage without penalty. Sadly, editing the book down to a reasonable number of pages left a fair number of things implied (in this case by simply not specifying what kind of damage the ability did) rather than clearly specified.

      The skill based martial arts provide the option to inflict lethal or nonlethal damage under “Strike” for a couple of reasons – most notably, to make it available to weapons forms. If you’re importing the Martial Arts skill(s) into a standard d20 game, then there are three possible entry paths – Improved Unarmed Strike, Weapon Focus, and Weapon Finesse – so Strike lets you inflict nonlethal damage with weapons without penalty.

      In pure Eclipse point-buy games, the entry requirements for a particular style are up to the game master. Thus, while the compiled martial arts list includes quite a few styles with requirements like “Weapon Focus: Sword” or “Improved Unarmed Strike or Equivalent Point Buy”, it also presents styles with requirements such as “Natural weapons/claws and fangs and limited shapeshifting ability or better” (Cangmarg) or “Inherent ability to Produce Flames” (Fire Juggler), as well as a few weaker arts with no special requirements at all.

      There are a selection of martial arts styles posted here: https://ruscumag.wordpress.com/2009/10/28/eclipse-compiled-martial-arts-forms/

      As well as an article on specialized martial arts styles here: https://ruscumag.wordpress.com/2010/07/10/specialized-martial-arts-techniques/

      I hope that answers your questions; if there’s anything else you’d like to know, please go right ahead and ask.

      Paul Melroy

      • Oh, it does, thank you.
        I am “in” game design myself just now, working on a project with David Pulver, so I have some idea how hard it can be to implement a ‘fix’ that seems easy at first; ain’t always so.

        New question: At the risk of broaching heresy, I note that others in your circle play Hero system, and I believe I note some [constructive] cross-pollination of philosophy. So tell me, if you had to hazard a guess, what would be a reasonable translation Eclispse CP to Hero CP?
        Eclipse CP SEEM to be about twice as effective for raising skills. But the high cost of Self Development would seem to make them Muuuch weaker for ability/characteristic buys.
        And I am thinking Hero 5e; 6e, while MUCH better edited, I am still a bit leery of. Probably have to switch over, when my book disintegrates.

        And, apropos of nothing, I will add here that I TOtally agree with your review of D&D4e. Sure, some of the class abilities are cool (I’ve translated quite a few of them for my Hero campaignm, and use by my characters in another, and am translating more), but Where’s the Professions? Crafts? non-adventuring Knowledges?
        Example; My next 3.5 character is going to be a wanna-be merchant prince(ss). Lot s of knowledges and professions. Can’t do that in 4e.

        Jasper

      • Oh, there’s some relationship to Hero System; it is, after all, the grandfather of pretty much all point-buy character design systems. For that matter, there are resemblences to GURPS, CORPS, and several other games.

        Now, the comparison of points was a bit long for a reply, so it’s been turned into an article over here:
        https://ruscumag.wordpress.com/2010/10/25/eclipse-and-the-hero-system/

        Now, if you’re looking for point-buy systems, there are several more of those available here; you can find the Shadowrun and World of Darkness point buy systems in the download box in the righthand column. There are several others scattered around the site as well.

        As for Fourth Edition – I’d have to say that my opinion is still pretty much the same. I’ve had several requests for another revisit to the improvised “Magic Praerie Dogs versus the Oblivious Land Developers with Bulldozers” system, but not a single request yet for a Fourth Edition game after the initial experiments.

  19. Purely for fun, I wanted to ask how you’d build an Eclipse class based around dancing. While any sort of “performance art” would generally fall under the purview of the bard, that class seems to lend itself more to vocal and instrumental abilities rather than visual/somatic ones.

    Some basic ideas would involve a dancing martial art(s), possibly dancing-based spellcasting (e.g. the spells are cast with only somatic components – dancing – and no verbal or material ones; though there’d doubtlessly be some sort of price for this).

    Beyond that, what other dancing-related special abilities could a class have? There’s a lot of ideas out there, from dancing that causes tremors and earthquakes with each step, to dancing that has a semi-hypnotic rhythm causing enemies to move with the beat and position themselves disadvantageously, to lots of other crazy ideas (my personal favorite being that an entire team – e.g. an adventuring party – can dance in sync during a battle to overcome an enemy/enemies, basically performing a combat musical number).

    • Don’t know if we got back to you. First, if you like the Bardic-type abilities, all the standard set and much more can be used by dancers, painters, sculptors, and so forth. In fact, we’ve had several games in which people used them as architecture for some really great benefits.

      However, apart from that you answered your own question: anything you can plausible define as “dancing” will fit. Whether it’s combat bonuses, the Earthquake spell, or the bard’s fascination ability, there isn’t really a hard limit.

      I’d probably create a sexy female melee-based spellcaster for (high) kicks. Take a lot of dodging bonuses and appropriate spells for defense, while using Streamline once to remove the verbal component from all spells. Stack Tumble and just enough attack bonus to hit hit touch targets, and you can hop into battle, screw with your opponents minds or hit them with something fun. Take some mobility-enhancers and maybe Reflex Training, and you can potentially dodge in and out while casting.

      Then this character would hook up with Baron Ectar, the Evil Wizard who shouts his enemies into defeat.

  20. I’ve had very little exposure to the various Star Wars role-playing games (what experience I have comes largely from reading the Wizards of the Coast web column regarding the Star Wars d20 game, and flipping through the Core Rulebook for it once or twice), but I wanted to ask about this.

    George Lucas apparently once said in an interview (in Vanity Fair, of all things) that had Darth Vader not been injured so badly on Mustafar, he would have been twice as powerful as Emperor Palpatine; however, as a result of those injuries, Vader was only 80% as strong as the Emperor. This matches with something I once saw in the SW d20 Rulebook, which listed Darth Vader as being 16th level to Palpatine’s being 20th.

    So then, what would an uninjured, full-power Darth Vader look like? That is, I’d like to see your take on this incarnation of Darth Vader, for any particular incarnation of the Star Wars RPG.

    • Well, I fear this took awhile – mostly because I had to review some stuff before starting – but there’s now a version up over here: As usual, it’s based on “abilities confirmed in the source material” (the movies) and on the assumption that access to fourth level effects does indeed represent a major advance over access to third-level effects.

      That may not always be true, but I do find that it usually seems to work that way if the spellcasters/psychics are using their abilities at all effectively.

  21. As I’m playing a utility mage in my current Pathfinder group, I wanted to ask about feats and spells (or other special abilites) that would let me bend or even break some of the usual rules regarding spellcasting. Most of these are things that can’t normally be done with metamagic.

    For example, what would let me cast a spell that’s undetectable both while it’s in effect and leaves no lingering aura? That is, Detect Magic and similar spells wouldn’t pick it up (presumably, this would let my character craft undetectable magic items also).

    When you’re asleep, you normally automatically fail all saving throws. How would my character retain the ability to make saving throws against spells and effects even while slumbering?

    Normally, when a person makes a saving throw against a spell, they know that some sort of effect just targeted them, though not what it was or who used it. However, that can still be more information than I’d like someone to have. If my character is alone with someone, and subtley casts Charm Person on them, if they make their save they’ll likely be suspicious.

    How can I make a spell last a truly long time in a sort of “stasis” until I activate it? I know that Persistent metamagic will extend a spell’s duration for a varying length of time depending on the increase in spell level, but that’s for an active spell. I’m talking about a spell that, once cast, remains dormant until activated (e.g. a conscious contingency effect). This is the old “Remember back when I clasped your shoulder in a friendly way all those years ago? I cast a spell on you then, and now *snaps fingers* I’ve got you,” routine. Given how similar this is to Triggering metamagic, perhaps a better way to ask would be, can you somehow extend the duration of a Triggered spell after it’s been cast, since you can’t otherwise make a Triggered spell last more than a few days normally?

    Is there any iteration of the Temporal metamagic (part of the Easy theorem) that will let my character cast a given spell as an immediate action?

  22. Thank you for answering my questions! I hope you don’t mind, but I thought up several more that I wanted to pitch. In this case, I’m primarily looking for new spells for various purposes.

    A theme I see in a lot of stories about magic is that, for spells of truly great power or area, a wizard will build various edifices to help channel or spread the power around a vast area. Notwithstanding heartstones or wards major, how would my arcane spellcasting character accomplish this?

    The Practical Enchanter offers some great spells for creating extradimensional spaces, but what about ways to manipulate such spaces (though this borders on planar travel in some areas)? How do I break into someone else’s extradimensional space, or ward them from breaking into mine? How can I take something in the real world and shunt it into a personal extradimensional space or demiplane? How would I force something in an extradimensional space or demiplane back into the real world? Would size be a factor (e.g. a demiplane the size of a continent or world that I wanted to merge with my native world)?

    In regards to spell research, what modifiers are there for trying to invent an arcane version of a divine spell or psionic power? Notwithstanding GM fiat, is such a thing possible (e.g. an arcane cure light wounds, or an arcane hypercognition)?

    (Major) Artifacts tend to be difficult to fight with spells. The only thing that really affects them seems to be Mage’s Disjunction, and that has only a small chance of working, and carries major penalties if it does. What’s a good way to try and combat an artifact with magic? And, for that matter, how does an arcane spellcaster guard against being hit with mage’s disjunction?

    What’s a good way for an arcane spellcaster to try and deal with enemies that use the old “grapple the mage!” routine to prevent him from casting spells successfully?

    There doesn’t seem to be any sort of spell or effect that will selectively let you remove a limb from another creature. It’s not hard to see why this is, since a few such castings could quickly descend into the realm of Monty Python and the Holy Grail’s Black Knight; or even just one-off decapitations all over. Nevertheless, what would a spell with the ability to sever limbs look like (and what would be the game effects of losing an arm or leg)?

    Finally, you’ve posted a lot of new spells here and there throughout your blog, such as the Dismissal spell in your article on nullfields and antimagic, or your speed-spells in the speedster article of Mutants of the Eclipse. It’s a big project to ask, I know, but is there any hope of getting an index of all of these?

    • You know, I got so caught up in the wording of those questions that I forgot to ask the one that tickled me most to think of:

      Given that alignment is determined by planar forces (as laid out in The Practical Enchanter for the rational discussion and change alignment spells, could there be a spell to stop you from changing alignments when you normally would?

      I like to call such a spell morality shield, since it would presumably not only protect you from having your alignment changed by using spells/magic items with an alignment descriptor different from your alignment (e.g. you can be a good spellcaster using spells and magic items with the [Evil] descriptor and not become evil over time), but also from actions that would change your alignment, whether immediately or gradually (e.g. betraying your friends, burning down an orphanage, etc.). Is such a spell possible? What effect would it have on spells that relied on alignment to determine their effects (e.g. blasphemy)?

      • And the – rather lengthy – answer is over HERE. Unfortunately, the mechanics of alignment have long been a contentious subject…

      • And a bonus reply from Editorial0, who also – seeing as how it was taking me some time to get to everything – has answers (not the same as mine) for some of your questions over HERE.

    • Well, this is going to take awhile… but your first answer (on building structures to help with magic) is over here:

    • And the Extradimensional Spaces answer is now up over HERE.

    • The spell research question answer is over here:

    • And casting while grappled is over HERE.

    • And here we go with the amputations…

      A spell index is a bit iffy, but I may get to it one of these days; there are simply such a lot of them – and a great many posts to go through to find them all.

  23. I have no idea where to ask this so I will ask here.

    I recently bought Legends of High Fantasy after looking at the ad in Eclipse (page 194). I noticed there are some differences between the ad and the product. I get that much of that was moved to TPE but not the advanced ritual magic “far beyond the basics in Eclipse”. Am I blind and not seeing it in TPE or are you planning on a seperate book (or file) on the subject? It, and the metaspells, that encouraged me to buy LHF.

    • Here works just fine.

      The advanced ritual magic should be in the skills section – but upon checking the file it looks like something has gone wrong. I don’t know if it happened over at RPGNow or while I was uploading an update, but the download file has somehow been reverted to a very old test file. I’ll fix that and send out a notification of the proper update.

    • And RPGNow has been updated with the correct screen copy.

  24. Ah, much better- thank you! When I get done reading it, I will post a review at OBS.

    • You’re quite welcome. Thank you for letting me know there was a problem.

    • It’s nice to hear that people are interested. I created LoHF, though “Thoth” did a lot of the work in designing the Ritual Magic and spells. Sadly, that’s the very best part. I can’t say my setting or other additions made much of an impact. Ah well, live and learn.

      • Ah well. I lean a lot more towards mechanics and finding ways to make things work than towards sorting out what a setting really needs.

        That’s why my settings tend towards the “kitchen sink” approach.

        Look at the Manifold – “everything that anyone has ever imagined and everyone who has ever lived or been imagined is a part of this setting – usually in multiple versions”.

  25. It is good work and I wish that the Cemar had been released.

    Thoth, you mentioned living magical items in TPE yet there is nothing on the tables for creating those that reproduce. How would you price a tree that casts Create Food and Water as a 10th level cleric daily and produces one viable seed per year?

    • Sadly, the Legends of High Fantasy series was being set up for print and ran into some severe problems with the supposed publisher (as in; they took our payments, stalled for the next year and a bit, and then simply informed us that they were dropping the project without returning the money – and legal action would have cost more than we could recover or afford). By that time, Editorial0 – who was developing the setting while I did the mechanics – had moved on. I still have what material was finished of course, so perhaps someday we’ll be able to pick up that project again.

      Thanks for the kind words though; I’m glad you liked it.

      In any case, as far as living and self-reproducing magic items goes, your wish is granted! You can find the how to set them up, and the pricing, over HERE.

      • Yes, it was avery sad. I must admit it was pretty sloppy compared to our later efforts, but I really poured everything I had into the game. I wanted to develop a setting which enabled a lot of great adventures, not just treasure-raids. So many, if not most of your opponents were probably more-or-less humans at war. There were plenty of elves and ancient civilizations, but they were hardly overwhelming. And there was an essentially infinite supply of evil plots, random interdimensional creatures, and terrible minions for the GM.

        Since it was never published, I never got to really detail the cities and sites of the world as well as I liked.

  26. I have some questions about the spell lifemaker (Eclipse p. 145). What can and can not be made with it? Could a human make a dragon or treant? What are the limitations of the spell? Could a hydra with immunity to all magic be created? Can unique creatures be replicated via this spell? Other than the number of creatures, what is the difference between genetic reconstruction (p. 141) and lifemaker?

    • Well, once again this got far too long for the comments section and became a short article…

      Thus your complete reply can be found on the other end of this finely-crafted LINK.

  27. I don’t have the spell in front of me, so I’m working from memory here. I will try to answer again later if I find I’ve steered you wrong, but…

    It depends a bit on the game world – always an issue. What limits are present depend on what goes into them. We can and do present generic concepts (spells here) to answer reasonably common worlds and situation. So your homebrew world might not support this.

    The Genetic Reconstruction spell alters an existing creature. It’s a handy way to add templates or customize an existing being. It does not create ex nihilo, which is why it notes that you need a lot of medical kowledge (far more than is usually available in DnD) and even divination to test.

    The Lifemaker spell lets you create almost anything your mind can imagine, though it’s something of a plot device and a GM may require you to put some time and thought into it.

    No, can you replicate a “unique” creature? It depends on the universe. Why is it unique? If it’s the last of its kind, it may be quite easy. If it’s a one-of-a-kind cosmic being whose existence is a fundamental aspect of the universe… then no. The question here is “Is there something which *prevents* another such creature from existing?”

    More later.

  28. Now, after double-checking the spell, it does appear that you could probably put together a hydra which was immune to magic – but remember, this is Eclipse, and “immunity” is a power with real upper limits.

    Of course, you also have to be capable of throwing off 19th level spells and permanently sacrifice hit points, so whether you want to do this casually is up to you. Further, the resulting creature is just that: an animal or person creature with its own ideas about the world. It might view a wizard as a tasty snack.

    The real downside, however, is that this creature will be pretty beefy and require a considerable amount of sacrificed HP. Sure, you pay for the creature according to hit dice, but that’s going to be closely linked to its ECL. But Lifemaker doesn’t require any special knowledge and if you’re willing to dump 15 hit points permanently and have yourself an extremely dangerous “pet”, go for it.

  29. Simple question this time. Why is distillation a 6th level spell in Paths of Power II (p. 45) and a 10th level spell in Eclipse (p. 124)?

    • Different spell, same name (sorry, we have a small problem with that, simply from having the same concepts).

      The 6th level spell is a lot weaker than the 10th level spell, the latter being a very distubing way of screwing with reality in any number of fashions. Not that the 6th-level effect is bad, mind. It’s just not as crazy as the 10th.

    • In this case it’s simply because the tenth level Eclipse version has some upgrades. Unlike the sixth level version in the Paths of Power series (or the collected book):

      *It can be cast as a standard action instead of a one-minute ritual
      *It can affect unrestrained targets, thus allowing its use in combat.
      *It does not automatically kill the target – allowing a good caster to, for example, hire a dozen peasants, drain various useful qualities from them, let them recover, and pay them for their trouble.
      *It does not require material components or have the 6’th level versions (admittedly small) XP requirement.

      It’s also harder to save against and will penetrate defensive magic more effectively, but those benefits would also apply to the sixth level version if you put it in a tenth level spell slot, so that’s basically irrelevant. It will let you get away with more weirdness, but that’s simply because the guidelines for tenth level effects are looser – and it’s rather hard to quantify.

      The same basic effect is in both books because I thought it was an entertaining effect that offered a lot of options. Thus I included a weaker version in Paths of Power because that was, after all, a book about magic – whereas the high-level spells in Eclipse were mostly there as samples of the kinds of things that really powerful spellcasters could do.

  30. The 6th level version is lethal to creatures?

    And some questions on the dweomer skills on page 104 of Eclipse.

    What can electrokinesis and nucleokinesis do at high level? What makes them different from reconstruction?
    What dweomer skill can alter planar traits (if any listed)?
    Which skill can turn energy to mass and mass to energy?
    Which skill(s) can be used to create permanent hot or cold springs (for arctic and desert conditions respectively)?
    Under telepathy, would links or projection allow the transfer of skill ranks? What would be the maximum number of people allowed to receive those skills?

    • The 6th level version of Distillation tends to destroy what you target, which may obviously cause some problems for a wide array of tricks. Even evil characters won’t find that inevitably convenient.

      Electrokinesis: control over electrons and electrical forces. Nucleokinesis: control over matter and atomic nucleii. (This is all taken from memory; I don’t have the books in front of me this very second.) Electrokinesis is very handy for controlling electrical forces, whereever they occur. Nucleokinesis is more subtle and changes matter.

      Altering a planar trait? Well, it depends on what, exactly, you want to alter. If you want to alter the matter of the Elemental Plane of Earth, that’s probably Nucleokinesis.

      And trying to do this over anything greater than a modest area calls for either Battle Magic or a spell powerful enough to start re-writing whole sections of the cosmos.

      Permanent Hot Spring? Ooh, that might not be such a good idea with Dweomer. You can do it, but you may be exposing people to nasty radiation as a consequence. Remember, this particular technique is about using fundamental forces of the universe. Making hot rocks isn’t so hard – it’s just dangerous, because you’re borrowing the energy from somewhere, with some side effects. That said, almost any Dweomer path might eb able to manage it. More later.

      Simple mental contact does NOT allow you to transfer skill ranks. (Actually, I’m curious as to how you got that idea. It’s not a bad idea, just not supported by the rules.) Now, some Mindspeech upgrades and Mystic Links can set things up so you can cast a spell, use Blessing, throw somebody a Positive Level or whatever, which could grant them some temporary bonuses including skill ranks.

      Depending on the skill, it may allow normal assistance bonuses from people helping. A Knowledge skill to research could easily get bonuses this way, because knowledge is more easily shared. A Swim check really isn’t, because no amount of urging and instruction is going to help in the short term. You might also be able to person you’re talking to do the check for you. If you’re in communication with a great scholar, you might reasonably ask them if they know who the Fourteenth Emperor of the Maelderoc Dynasty was (because you’re in his tomb and he’s kind of pissed at you). They could then respond back to you and give information about him.

      The principle here is that telepathy (Mindspeech in Eclipse) are basically “normal conversation, but in the mind”.

      • I think he’s talking about the Dweomer Telepathy field there, not Mindspeech. Dweomer, since it’s spellcasting, allows a great many things that Mindspeech doesn’t.

    • Ah, multiple questions!

      Well, as far as the 6’th level version of Distillation goes, it generally “reduces the target to dust” (although the game master is welcome to have some pathetic bits of bone or scraps of material survive). Thus the need to restrain living creatures so that they’re helpless targets; they usually object to being reduced to dust. I suppose you can skip the restraints if you find something that really wants to be reduced to dust, but I’d use restraints anyway, just in case my “volunteer” lost his or her nerve.

      Now, the Dweomer questions take a much longer set of answers – which can now be found right over HERE. For that matter, at the end of that article, you’ll find links to a few other articles on Dweomer and Thaumaturgy.

  31. Editorial0- what I meant by a hot spring is something like those bodies of water that a species of Japanese monkey use to survive the winter (ie not radioactive). And as for where I got the idea of “borrowing” skills, I am currently reading Eclipse Phase, a sci-fi rpg where the characters are data that can be downloaded into various bodies. One thing that doesn’t exist in EP that I am considering for a fantasy game is something like a hearstone but skills rather than spells.

    And again, thank you both for being so helpful!

  32. Well, radiation isn’t always so bad. Any heat is radioactive. Even talking about what most people mean by the word, most radiation isn’t harmful, or is so small as to be unimportant. ou could use some of the dweomer abilities to make the surrounding rock radioactive, heating a spring, and that could last a long time.

    As for granting skills, that sounds like a good use for Enthusiast (in the Eclipse general feats and abilities section). Given the setting, you’d want to put it into a Template, and Corrupt and Specialize for the same cost but Triple Effect: only in skills available for download.

    Second, I mentioned that any kind of communication link can let you basically use another character, computer, or other magic source as if you were chatting to them over a phone (or whatever). So you could use a “Hearthstone” as a reference library. Give one the Image Link effect and put posters on the wall filled with information, and you have an instant Encyclopedia.

  33. No, heat is radiation. Radioactive is something completely different- it means the emission of alpha or beta particles or gamma waves.

    • Or, in some cases positron emission, neutron emission, or a few other exotic modes…

      Fortunately, given a nice thickness of rock to absorb such particles, pretty much everything but the neutrinos (which go away doing virtually nothing) winds up as heat – which can drive a hot spring or some such just as well as the more typical volcanic activity.

      I always did like the natural nuclear reactor…

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_nuclear_fission_reactor

  34. here is a strange question about a spell level: what level spell is Thespia. from here http://nodwick.humor.gamespy.com/gamespyarchive/index.php?date=2011-03-11 and here http://nodwick.humor.gamespy.com/gamespyarchive/index.php?date=2011-03-16

    just thought it might be one of the greatest practical jokes ever, but might be a relativly high level spell. It seems to make the targets (every one in 60 ft of the casting) actually good at putting on a musical and turns whatever they are doing into one. (forcing them to break into song and dance at appropriate times without their control or the ability to stop until “the end of the production or the first rotten tomato is thrown”)

    • Well, some skill grants – say at about +7 to a group – is level two, the compulsion is more than a charm and less than dominate, so about level three. That’s level four for the combined effect, another +3 spell levels for area effect, gives it about level seven. You might get a level off for the inherent limitations though. Ergo level six to seven. Probably allowing a save. Disallowing one would push it up a bit.

      Not as bad as the Invocation of the Ring Cycle (which lasted nine days, affected creatures that were normally immune to magic with no save, and only let the caster and friends sneak off after a full day of the production) – but that was chaos magic, and had other difficulties.

  35. Yes, but the resulting genetic damage isn’t something to ignore. Get a bath and grow a tumor doesn’t sound very pleasant.

    Some more questions. Genetic material lasts in the soil up to 100,000 years (and magical DNA may last forever). Can genetic reconstruction use (or an undead creature for that matter) that to rebuild a species? Or does it need a live creature to work on? If not, what spell would you suggest?

    • I’d have to note that that does depend on your radiation source; alpha radiation can be stopped by a sheet of paper, yet it will still yield heat – and the environment is full of radiation. Brazil nuts are quite radioactive and bananas are too – but I eat both with no particular problem.

      Now, personally I’d rate a special-purpose “extract genetic pattern” spell as well below level ten, but I suspect that Editorial0 is thinking of a general purpose spell that interprets the information for you so you can make repairs. Still, if you’re casting 17’th level spells anyway, a mere level nine or ten spell shouldn’t present any problems.

      Genetic Reconstruction doesn’t necessarily call for a live creature; you can rebuild the DNA of a corpse if you want to – but there’s usually no point. If you want a live result, it’s much easier to just grab some random critter and use it for a base.

  36. Actually, with the right thickness of rock you simply get hot rocks and no radiation poisoning. In fact, there are natural places where radioactive materials make awfully hot cave systems, but they’re no more dangerous to explore than any cave.

    Genetic Reconstruciton does require a living creature. That said, you could still use trace DNA you found somewhere, take a similar or related creature, and adjust to match. In fact, this has many advantages: you have a workable creature’s genetic code and need not spend so much time making sure your new monster/animal/whatever will turn out healthy.

    The downside is that you need to FIND the DNA. it might be sitting around somewhere, but good luck locating it. Get ready for you very high-level divination spells – well beyond 10th level effects. Of course, if you can locate a more certain source of intact trace DNA, go for it.

    Now you may be able to cheat the limits on altering an existing creature if you can put together a freakish biology lab with experimental “blank” creatures in forced growth incubators. You could then load your genetic structure and grow the blank into whatever you wanted. If you’re dedicated enough for that much effort, you’ve probably invested a lot of time and energy in the project.

  37. Several more random questions regarding magical issues.

    To what degree will Personal Immunity protect me from the “direct effects” of the spells that I cast? Can I walk through my own wall of force or prismatic wall? Can I stand behind them and cast spells through them?

    What level spell would it be to cast a spell that summons multiple unseen servants at once? WotC has a (closed content) spell from the Spell Compendium that lets you summon 2d6 + 1 per caster level unseen servants (max bonus of +15) as a 3rd-level spell; is that about right?

    What if I want to summon an unseen servant that has a greater Strength score, or better yet, can actually perform skilled tasks, what level spell is that? Would being able to perform skilled tasks include operating siege equipment and weaponry? That would technically violate the “unseen servants can’t attack” rule, but it seems like a gray area since they’re operating mechanisms rather than actively swinging/throwing weapons at someone. What spell level would it be to summon multiple skilled unseen servants at once?

    The prerequisites for The Opening of the Ways feat (Practical Enchanter p. 143) are slightly confusing to me. Is the “OR” meant to mean that you need to get your GM’s permission and be able to cast 3rd-level spells OR that you need contact with the world in question, an innate Fort save bonus of at least +5, and be at least character level 7? Or is it saying that you need your GM’s permission, an innate Fort save bonus of at least +5, be at least character level 7, and be able to cast 3rd-level spells OR contact the world in question?

    Does The Opening of the Ways, since it draws on the magic of a particular world, let you ignore all local conditions of a given world or plane affecting your magic (when you’re on a different world than the one you’re drawing magic from)? That is, does it let you ignore planar traits regarding magic? Would it let you ignore an antimagic field since you’re drawing your magic from somewhere else?

    The Practical Enchanter mentions that inherent bonuses (such as from a wish) can grant feats. In this case, do you need to meet the prerequisites for the feats so granted? Also, does limited wish lack the power to grant any sort of permanent/instantaneous inherent bonus?

    • Well, most of those are quick and easy…

      Personal Immunity will indeed let you walk through your own Wall Spells (or at least those with a duration or which can be dispelled, rather than those that create real and solid walls). That won’t let you cast spells through them though, since the spells aren’t a part of you. For that you want “Obliging” under the Stabilize metamagic – so that the the spell sustaining the wall can actively get itself out of the way of your other spells. That will also let your friends pass back and forth through it – or let you have it pass enemies through it selectively.

      For a quick approximation, Unseen Servants work like any other summoning spell – you get 1d4+1 at +1 spell level, 4d4 at +2 spell levels, and (at least) +2d4 per additional spell level. Given how feeble they are, and how easy it is to get an item that can have a great many in existence at a time anyway, +1 per caster level is quite reasonable, and a “horde” is likely to turn up around level five.

      Creating skilled Unseen Servants is most readily done through the Unseen Supervisor spell in The Practical Enchanter (under the Master’s Badge). As a combined spell, that would only be level two. General modifications – such as making them stronger and such – would call for the Amplify metamagic – but making them attack is awkward, simply because with their duration it’s easy to make a device which would let you have hundreds at a time. I usually handle that by requiring a couple of levels of the Amplify metamagic to give them a basic ability to attack and treating them as a swarm capable of doing 1d6 or 2d4 (or, for much higher caster levels, 2d6) points of damage.

      For the Opening of the Ways, it’s level three arcane spells or contact with the world in question; you need one or the other to set up the link. It does let you ignore planar traits that affect magic (unless the game master decides that a plane actively blocks or warps magic instead of simply having strange magic or lacking magic entirely; when it comes to custom dimensions every GM makes their own rules). It won’t bypass Antimagic however, since that actively blocks magic within the area in question.

      A Wish can grant the user a feat that he or she is not qualified for – but, as usual, he or she cannot actually gain the benefits of that feat, or use it as a prerequisite, until he or she DOES meet the requirements. A Limited Wish could reasonably grant a temporary inherent bonus; spells that do that are at least three levels higher than other temporary enhancement spells though, so the effects (as per “duplicating other spell effects” will be much more limited.

      A Limited Wish might be able to grant modest inherent bonuses – perhaps toughening the user’s fingernails to the point where they work as feeble claws, or adding tattoos all over the user’s skin which break out his or her outline and enhance the ability to Hide – but such benefits will always be rather limited and must always be linked to some fairly obvious physical change, which might cause some social difficulties.

      • It’s worth noting that bonus feats don’t require the character who has them to meet their prerequisites; I had thought that perhaps wish-granted feats would fall under that purview.

        Regarding the unseen servant question, would that same level of Amplify metamagic be necessary to have them operate siege weaponry? That seems like it’d be different from having them fight directly.

      • While normal d20 bonus feats don’t require pre-reqs, in this case you can’t do that. Usually you have to get bonus feats from some temporary source or a PrC, in which case you’re having to take a package and get a limited choice. Here you’re just picking what you want, and hence you can’t skip the feats leading up to things. You could wish for Supreme Cleave, but what you’d have to do is to sort out what Supreme Cleave grants that Cleave and Great don’t, and then you’d be left with only that).

        Of course, combo that with Eclipse and quite possible.

      • Well, we seem to have nested the comments as far as the current settings allow…

        As far as Bonus Feats go, I presume that you’re referencing the SRD descriptions of Monks and Rangers, who are allowed to select particular bonus feats even if they don’t meet the prerequisites?

        In this case, that’s because Eclipse (and The Practical Enchanter) axed most prerequisites; the ones that are left are generally functional. In Eclipse, if something has a prerequisite, the prerequisite is normally needed for whatever-it-is to work properly.

        Ergo, a Wish can grant you a feat – but if you don’t have the ability to use what you’ve wished for properly as of yet, then so be it.

        As for siege weapons – Unseen Servants can help wind, load, and otherwise operate them, but whoever is actually firing the thing needs to be able to make an attack check. Ergo, you might need to go beyond the +2 levels that let them swarm. If you want them to actually fire anything, you’re looking at plus three or four levels – if the game master allows it at all.

        He or she probably shouldn’t – or should rule that making something able to attack creatures directly subjects it to the natural magic resistance of all the things that don’t want to be attacked, greatly decreasing its maximum duration (in which case a lower-level spell might get the same effect).

        Otherwise you could put that level-five “Unseen Servant that Attacks” in an unlimited-use item at caster level ten and have 6000 around at any given time. Even if they need a “20” to hit and only do 1d4 with thrown rocks, you can just roll around crushing anything with insufficient Damage Reduction. That might well be worth the 90,000 GP, even without considering all the other things that many unseen servants could accomplish.

  38. Practical Enchanter question-

    I have an idea for a wand of fire that can only harm orcs, nothing else. Would that be a decrease in cost as the target is extremely limited or an increase as the wand won’t cause collateral damage (eg forest fires)?

  39. It’s an upgrade.

    Practical Enchanter notes that spells are controlled by Power AND Complexity. Spells which hunt orcs are more complex, not less. Hitting only orcs is probably a +1 or +2. (Have to double-check some sources on that).

    Granted, sometimes you can get away with a cheaper effect based on the “natural” forces of a certain game universe. If fire elementals and similar creatures are actively harmed by water, then a spell which creates some water also functions as an effective combat spell against them and only them. And you can cut the magic which ties an outsider to the world. But generally, focused and discriminate magic is more complex, and more expensive, than otherwise.

    There might be some variations, too. You possibly could work on a sickness spell which only creates illnesses which hurt orcs. That’s be uncommon, but at least theoretically possible. And that might be eligable for a cost break. On the other hand, it’s a lot less practical than a Fireball, too.

  40. Thanks again, gentlemen, for your responses.

    One last question so I don’t overstay my welcome. How might you represent the changes in the Cronenberg version of The Fly? A curse that twists the body over time yet provides some amazing physical abilities.

    • Oh, questions are always welcome. They provide more topics – and it’s always nice to know that someone is actually reading the books.

      A curse that turns someone into a monster is fairly straightforward mechanically; as per The Practical Enchanter (page 64), it’s a Transformation Curse with a base spell level of five. Like lycanthropy – which this very much resembles save that the transformation is always active and the weretype is insectile – this particular curse will be providing a package of physical enhancements, progressive insanity, and an obvious “becoming a monster” motif.

  41. In TPE you mentioned that alchemy isn’t cost effective (p 49). How so? How might you change it to make it cost effective?

  42. A couple questions relating to TPE:

    What would should the modifier be for a potion in the form of smoke that affects everyone who inhales it (say a 25′ diameter cloud with a single round duration)?

    You have a lot of good stuff for spell design but one thing is missing- failure. I was thinking about failure for psionic power design (ie screwing up one’s own mind) and it hit me that it could be applied to magic (screwing up the unnatural order) as well. Have any ideas on this?

  43. First, what is that smile doing in the upper right part of this page? I have been meaning to ask about that for ages.

    Second, with the creation of magical items that can use skills and feats, is there any good reason not to allow some to do magical research (other than a golem uprise)?

    • You can make robots, golems, and spirits to research things for you. But there are trade-offs, and it’s not necessarily a winning move.

      First, they do need to do just about everything you can, which means giving them bodies. Sadly, you can’t stick some heads on a wall and get useful information out of it: research, experimentation and practical testing is part of the design process.

      Second, it’s costly. You’re going out of your way to make a potent, specialized intelligent construct, which at the end of the day is going to hopefully save you some time (assuming it actually makes its design test rolls). So right there you’ve got to estimate the time saved is worth the cost of enchantment.

      Third, you need some way to give it class levels. Normally, you can only make new spells for classes you possess, and golems and constructs don’t have any. Now, in our games we’d probably bend the rules in your favor a bit. And it is possible for golems to earn class levels. But all in all it’s a lot of work for relatively meager gain. You’re better off paying someone to do it or taking the Leadership feat and having a follower do the same.

    • I think the smile is part of the hit counter. I can’t be sure, since this is a wordpress-hosted site, but I believe the system counts the number of times that tiny little image is downloaded to track page views.

      As far as magic items doing magical research goes, unless your game master rules that such research requires an unbound spirit, or some creative essence or mortal experience or something that you can’t get in an enchanted item, there’s nothing in the rules to stop it.

      Personally, I’d rule that it was rather risky though. After all, a normal researcher usually has an organic basis for their mind – but the mind of a magical item is based on magic. Running experimental magics through the mind of a construct might be a lot like running experimental chemicals through an organic brain; the results may be pretty damaging.

      That’s not to say that you can’t set your items to researching things anyway, or that you can’t just resort to applying the -20 “working from pure theory” penalty to avoid such difficulties, it’s just that it’s either riskier or more difficult – and so it might be a better investment to just hire a living spellcaster to do your research for you.

  44. Or make a slave race that does spell design well. Just program them not to rebel and make their lives easy- as not to encourage a desire for freedom.

    • Oh yes – although, at some point, it’s easier just to take up the study of one of the spontaneous magical systems instead.

  45. Are the varieties of basilisk mentioned on page 116 of Legends of High Fantasy based on “real” mythological creatures? What makes a true basilisk different from that in the MM stat-wise (beyond the poisonous nature)?

  46. Two potential errata questions-

    LHF, p. 113 Under Burial you mentioned an Established modifier. It isn’t mentioned on page 109.

    TPE p. 163 In the first paragraph about the ring, you use both EP and XP. Is there a difference?

    • Ah, easy ones!

      For Legends of High Fantasy and the Burial Ritual the “Established” modifier is just shorthand for the note under “Special Modifiers” on page 109 – the bit that says that “Some [rituals], such as the burial rite, have been performed so often that their pattern has become embedded in the world’s magical fields”.

      The cultures book was going to expand on that, with a selection of each regions established rituals, and how those were shaped by, and shaped, those societies. Sadly, that has yet to see print.

      For The Practical Enchanter, the manuscript originally had “EP” wherever the sentence would read “experience points” and “XP” wherever it was just “experience”. Eventually we decided that – given that there was no real confusion to correct – to simply stick with “XP” in most cases. EP still turns up in three spots though – under the Hall of the Mountain King (page 30), under Draupnir (page 163), and Wards Major (page 213) – mostly for emphasis on the idea that those were very special items.

      I’ll make a note for the errata sheet. There isn’t that much there, but there’s ALWAYS something.

  47. LHF related.

    Probably a stupid question, but is there any difference between a spell (as per the druid/sorcerer chart) and a spellweave?

    For example, p. 48. Does a sorcerer get Agonaire or Torment as a spell? I would guess it is the former but am unsure after rereading that section.

    • Yes, which is why they get so few. A Spellweave is simply the type of spell they get.

      Of course, you don’t have to pick Agonaire or Torment. (Heh.) But if you wear gothy clothes and read Twilight, it’s perfect for rounding out your style. (Double Heh.)

    • There’s no difference in that section. It’s just that “New Spellweave” made the chart look broader than I liked and wasted space. “Spell” and “Spellweave” were pretty much used interchangeably for that section. In hindsight, we probably should have avoided that. Like the use of “level” in D&D, the multiple meanings aren’t always as clear as it seems when you’re writing.

      That black-magic Sorcerer would get Agonaire. Torment is just one of Agonaire’s agonizing and malevolent functions.

      In general, there are eight Spellweaves – the bolded, larger-type, listings – per magical field. The underlined, sublistings are functions of the spellweave.

      Of course, a Sorcerer or Druid in Legends of High Fantasy has some tough choices to make; do you dabble, or do you burn off attribute points to master additional spellweaves? You won’t get quite enough spells to fully master even a single field unless you make some sacrifices.

  48. Yes, but mastering an entire field does matter much when they already have access to so much more power than a normal d20 caster (at least in terms of flexability).

    I am not sure which I like more, paths or spellweaves. Paths make sense to me (in terms of wizard learning) but spellweaves do away with fixed spells (something I have thought odd since 1e).

    • Oh, the usual dilemma is that most Cemarian Sorcerers and Druids want a LOT more Spellweaves than they can afford. Of course, tough choices are a part of the fun.

      As for favorites… It all depends on what I want to do really. For someone with intuitive gifts, definitely Spellweaves. For studious Thematic wizards – Paths. For dabblers, Rune Magic, and so on.

  49. Damn it, I thought I wrote doesn’t. Grumble *can’t edit posts* grumble

    Ever since 1e (for me that would be about ’88) I have wanted to give each of the major spellcasting classes (druids, clerics, wizards and now sorcerers) a different method of spellcasting. I like spheres and think that domains were a major step backward (along with taking healing away from necromancy). With LHF, Eclipse and Paths now I can start building such settings.

    The one thing I haven’t mentioned is that I really dislike d20 and have been converting the ideas into Alternity and Gamma World (spells make some of the best mutations). Fortunately, for me, most of what you have written is actually fairly easy to convert.

    Thanks!

    • I’d definitely agree that domains were a big step back from spheres – even if it did neatly answer the complaint that specialty clerics weren’t generic enough, “that’s a stupid complaint” would have been a much better answer.

      And d20 works for some things – and there are much better games for other purposes. I tend to feel that the best games are the ones that are tightly tied to their settings, so that the vagaries of the rules are reflected in those settings – like World Tree, Weird West, Baba Yaga, or some versions of Runequest.

      The trouble with that is that – while those games are wonderful in their settings – they’re usually very difficult to separate from those settings, which limits things a lot. Good luck with the conversions though; any way you find things useful is the right way to use them!

      Well, OK: maybe not using the game book to beat your neighbor over the head. There are probably much more suitable objects in your garage for that.

  50. If I were to give every clas it’s own spellcasting method, I would…
    give Sorcerers Rune Magic*
    give Clerics Spellweaves**
    give Druids Thaumaturgy.

    *Or Theurgy. But Theurgy is a bit butch and I think Rune magic fits better.

    **You may wonder why we didn’t in Legends of High Fantasy. The short answer is that Clerics were a bit more traditional and synced nicely to Wizards in terms of theme in that manner. If anyone got more flexible magic spells, Sorcerers and Druids should probably take priority.

    I can more readily believe the pre-designed spells following specific formula of the Wizard should be the old anican style than the supposedly flexible magic of the Sorcerer… using the exact same basic system in D20. I can more readily accept a Cleric being handed spells by divine fiat or bureaucracy than a Druid solemly memorizing his daily alottmen, which he got from the arbitrary force of “Nature.”

  51. My problem with d20 is that it is so rules heavy. Alternity is fairly rules medium. It only has skill rolls, ability checks, armor rolls (to reduce damage) and damage rolls. Everything can be placed in those four catagories and the modifiers (for the first two) are easy to memorize.

    I have worked more than 6 years on the Alternity fan site (Alternityrpg.net is my second home) and we have proven that it can be used for just about any kind of game. Yes, like d20, it can be clunky with some settings, but it can do fantasy, science fiction, supers and historical gaming easily.

    And we (well some of us) are very happy d20 happened- so much material to adapt, much of it easily. I think the only kind of magic that has yet to be tinkered with is incarnum. We also adapted the idea of feats as optional rank benefits. And I am starting to ramble.

    Eh, the point is that you are producing great material that can be used for much more than d20. Every time someone on rpg.net asks about point buy or spell design, I direct them to DH’s products. When Oathbound was revived by Epidemic Books, I asked the authors to look at Eclipse and TPE to get ideas for the ultimate sandbox setting (at least in 3.X format). I bulldog for stuff I like and your stuff is among the best. I just wish that you were into OSR, then I could write for you as well as Skirmisher.

    • d20 is indeed rules heavy (although there are a few even more rules-heavy systems out there). Like most things though, that has both advantages and disadvantages. Rules-heavy simulationist systems tend to be easy to adapt material from, to have more thoroughgoing control systems built in, and to work better when you have fractious – or exploitative – players in the group. Rules-light systems are easy to learn and play and call for a lot less fiddling around – but call for a more cooperative group.

      With a sufficiently cooperate group, you don’t actually need a system. It’s hard to get a group like that together though – and it works best when the setting is so well established that everyone knows what will, and will not, work in it without worrying about the game mechanics.

      d20… well, everyone is familiar with it. That makes it a LOT easier to get a game together. It can be kind of hard to find players for obscure games, no matter how good they are.

      Thanks for the recommendations – but as far as OSR and Distant Horizons Games goes, for that, you’ll want less Eclipse and more the Baba Yaga rules. Baba Yaga gets very little support on the blog here for two basic reasons; there are a lot more people using Eclipse than Baba Yaga and because – as a rules-medium or light old-school RPG, Baba Yaga doesn’t need nearly as many explanations and examples.

      And if you’d like to write an article for here or some such, you’d be perfectly welcome. It’s always nice to get another point of view.

  52. hey I got a dum Question
    Had a thought for an Alchemist specialsied in Spell Storing feats and upgrades.
    And thought, why not just Buy the Immunity to the XP Cost?
    Think as a GM would you allow that?
    I figured a Common, Major, Major (or bigger) and used the points {30 in this case} as to how much he would be immune to and would have to pay diff.

    • Well, a properly phrased Immunity could – in theory – do almost anything, but it’s usually best to use already-defined abilities rather than going to a catch-all. Thus the (somewhat limited) options for getting a “free” supply of XP to use under the item creation abilities or the option to use action points.

      As a game master, I’d only allow such an immunity with some limiting factor. After all, it potentially allows the user to accumulate a near-limitless number of stored spells – especially if you combine it with an immunity to the time requirement and/or the gold piece costs. On the other hand, if you can only store spells related to particular exotic astronomical conjunctions for “free”, and so must manage and conserve your stock (rather than, say, being able to stockpile small nations), that makes things interesting again.

      As always though, it ultimately comes down to what your game master is willing to let you do.

  53. I have a request, if you have the time and interest. What would make a good path (of power) for the zerns (MM IV)?

    • Well, I can’t really deal with the Zern, since they’re not OGL – but they’re also a rather obvious derivative of the Zerg given a fantasy twist. Visually, the comparison between the Zerg Hydralisk and Zern Bladethrall is probably the most obvious, but the similarities in the mechanics and description – and the one-letter difference in the name – are also pretty blatant.

      Now, Zerg I can talk about under Fair Use rules – and they do inspire some notions that I may get to. For the Zerg we might have…

      1) A racial path for dimensional or interstellar travel – starting off with some simple spells for scouts (Speak Language, Detect Poison, and so on) on up through a ritual to establish a long-term gate or rift to invade through.

      2) A technological path, allowing them to temporarily power and use the artifacts of high technology (or fantasy-slanted versions thereof).

      3) A nearly-lost path related to their original racial form and type might be interesting; that way you could have some who have concluded that their racial quest for the “perfect form” is a delusion, and are attempting to revert to their races original nature. That group, of course, would need help and protection from the rest of their race.

      *The inherent contradiction in giving standardized stats for a race that’s supposed to be changing itself constantly is fairly obvious. Worse, in d20, increasing your species ECL modifier is generally a poor exchange, since it reduces your numbers.

  54. Actually those sound perfect for ethergaunts (from the FF). They were one of the most interesting sounding and underdeveloped races in any edition of D&D. Thanks for the ideas.

    And since when do zerg use technology?

    • You’re welcome.

      And, as listed, Zergs don’t use technology – but that’s simply the “Fantasy Campaign” setting default for pretty much everybody. Now, if they happen to be running around in Modern, Future, or a specific setting like Dragonstar, they might need to be able to use it – no matter how much they disdain non-biological abilities.

  55. LHF questions:

    On page 84, you mention trees of life. Did you mean something like the Dark Sun trees or something else?

    Could a druid combine Hand of Earth (strange harvest or bonsai, p. 84) with Tincture of Alchemy (extract the essence, p. 82) to produce a tree that harvests the alchemical substances from the plants around it? In other words, can spellweaves from different “schools” be combined?

    • In Legends of High Fantasy a “Tree of LIfe” is simply a plant that’s been modified to link multiple dimensions together and to draw energy from the interface(s) between them.

      That means that they’re hard to damage and almost impossible to kill. After all, they’re only partially in any one dimension – so even battering one entirely into splinters in a single dimension is no worse for such a plant than sawing off a limb is for a normal tree. Worse, with an endless supply of energy being supplied straight to every cell, they tend to regenerate their tissues with astounding speed – chop one down to a stump (a murderously difficult task in itself) and it will likely regrow itself within a day.

      Now, depending on WHAT dimensions such a plant is linking together, things may get strange.

      The Dark Sun “Trees of Life” would basically be a subvariety. I’d say those were most likely linking the elemental, material, and positive energy planes. Thus they could tap into massive amounts of life energy and raw elemental material to replenish themselves – and to fuel Dark Sun’s defilers.

      Spellweaves can be combined, usually by simply adding the “secondary effect” modifier on page 41 – although, sadly arcane spellweaves can only have arcane secondary effects and divine spellweaves can only have divine secondary effects unless the game master is feeling exceptionally generous.

      In specific, there wouldn’t be much reason to combine Strange Harvest of Bonsai with Tincture of Alchemy; Tincture of Alchemy generally just extracts substances – and you can generally do that with Strange Harvest anyway, it’s just that Strange Harvest calls for a much higher level spell if you want to accomplish it at the same speed.

      I hope that helps!

  56. Well, what I was thinking was a druid garden where alchemists and herbalists come to plant certain vegetation and then get the refined material from the tree in the center of the garden. Strange harvest would have to be extraordinarly high level to replicate almost every kind of herbalistic trait. This would make it much easier (and popular with those druids who use the political power gained from controlling advanced alchemy in the region).

    And it does help, thanks!

    • Sorry about the delay here: it’s been quite chaotic for the last few days…

      That would be an interesting application, although there might be problems with mixed-up formulas and keeping things separate if the tree isn’t also given the ability to switch between various formula somehow. That would be a relatively simple spell though, or you could probably do it manually by simply making sure to dig out the remaining bits of your last set of ingredients a day or so before starting in on a new formula.

      You could get even more elaborate by making the tree itself sapient and skilled in Alchemy. That way you could just plant or pile a wide variety of ingredients around it and get it to produce requested alchemical mixtures.

      And you’re quite welcome.

  57. Some times I wonder if I would leave my head behind if it wasn’t attached.

    The one question, the important question, that I forgot is does wood magic apply to fungi? Being that fungal spores are everywhere, this means even a wood druid stuck in a empty room could have access to an army. All it needs is growth and animation.

    • Again, sorry about the delay…

      In d20 terms, fungi do count as plants. Of course, in d20, rather a lot of mobile, active, and very dangerous creatures also count as plants. the definition seems to be pretty broad.

  58. TPE questions.

    There is nothing about multiple casters working on making a single object. Should a feat be required if they are of the same kind of caster (arcane vs divine) or should it only be if they are of different kinds?

    Could a large number of casters set up a production line? What advantages (in time, xp and money) might this provide?

  59. Multiple casters can work on a single item. After all, we know from the SRD that a character can get a spell he or she needs to use to enchant an item from another source – and that a spellcaster can upgrade items that he or she didn’t actually make regardless of who made them originally.

    That’s why page 106 of The Practical Enchanter only specifies the amount of gold and XP that must be expended, the time required, and that the item-crafter must have any relevant spells available. (They could also use Orichalcum (from page 154) or – if they’re making a Ward Major – the Cooperative modifier).

    Now, the actual caster determines the spell level and minimum caster level – so using a poorly-chosen friend as the source for some spells may make your creation more expensive than it needs to be.

    You could set up a production line of sorts, even under the SRD rules: have one caster make something +1, the next upgrade it to +2, and the third to +3. That would save a bit of money (you won’t need as many shops), but it really doesn’t save much else.

    Unfortunately for progress, magic – and enchantment – depends a lot on individual talents. A primitive shaman in a hut can turn out magical devices just as well as a scholarly mage in a university of magic – which means that better labs and such just don’t help much. Ergo, an assembley line won’t help much either. When everyone needs the same feat, and access to the same abilities, to make a contribution to the work, there isn’t much point in passing items along a line – save, perhaps, to reduce the time by working twenty-four hours a day instead of eight or so.

    I’d be inclined to let multiple qualified artificers work on the same item and divide the time accordingly. After all, page 106 provides a time requirement; it doesn’t say that it all has to come from a single character.

    Overall, however, there just isn’t a very big advantage there. That doesn’t mean that you can’t do something though. You might like this article here, on living

    magic: https://ruscumag.wordpress.com/2011/02/22/living-magic-the-harvest/

  60. Shouldn’t it save some time? The spellcasters could work around the clock in shifts. If creating an item means 16 hour days (8 for sleep and regaining spells*), then the time should be cut by a third by just using two casters. Or two thirds if a caster can only use 8 hours per day in item creation. That is huge for industrial production (esp for a culture that doesn’t have machines making stuff). A city could have its shadow burning continual flames** in days rather than weeks.

    And you do bring up a great point, one I hope you cover in TPE II- how (or why) can a shaman in a hut do as well as a guild mage in terms of item creation?

    *Meals are for the weak.

    ** Continual flame + a variant of burning hands that only harms undead shadows.

    And I very much remember the living harvest. It was my first question here and still my favorite article based on my questions. I hope it will be in TPE II.

    • Oh I just meant total working time. Turning stuff out faster is always possible, if only by visiting (or creating) a plane or pocket-realm with a different time rate. Given that one of the examples in the SRD is a plane with a time rate of one year per second that goes by in the prime material, if you’re really in a rush, and have a Plane Shift effect available, you can complete almost any crafting project in an arbitrarily small interval as measured by “real” time.

      I tend to restrict time rate differentials to somewhat more reasonable levels personally. That sort of thing is far too easy to exploit otherwise.

      And I must apologize: I fear I’d forgotten that you were the one who asked that question and just pasted in the link since it was related. I’ll leave it there though; other readers may find the reference useful.

  61. Nothing to apologize for. You have what 2000-4000 pages worth of articles here? I have designed over 2000 Mutant Future creatures so I know about forgetting stuff I have written.

    But why do think that round the clock creation isn’t faster than normal crafting? I get that planar tricks can make it much faster but you seem to be dismissing the idea of round the clock work completely.

    • I think we’re just counting the time differently. I’m counting time spent by the enchanters – ergo, if it takes twenty-four total hours of work to enchant an item, three days at eight hours a day works, and so does one day at twenty-four hours a day – but either way the enchanters still spend twenty-four hours of work on that item.

      Thus if a group of three mages all work on their own projects, they can turn out three such items every three days. If they all work on the same item in shifts*, they’ll be turning out one per day – which is basically the same, and can even look pretty much the same from the outside if they started on successive days.

      *And we presume, as the SRD rules on upgrading items could be taken to imply, that there’s no special requirement for that.

      Now, one of the major bottlenecks in enchantment lies in the requirement that the enchanter have access to the spell he or she needs every day. That does suggest a possible mass-production method: create a large item that casts the required spell at the desired casting level an unlimited number of times per day, institute a training program that teaches some minions the relevant item-enchanting feat, and provide some way for them to get experience (probably another feat); Thus the minions can prepare the item, bring it by the casting device to receive the spell in question, and take it away to do whatever has to be done to it during today’s step in the enchantment process.

      That spellcasting “Foundry Stone” will be pretty expensive, and the procedure does presume both that the only point in in enchanting where “caster level” is relevant is in the casting of the actual spell and that the spell involved is simply cast rather than gradually being woven into the enchantment – but it might work.

      Personally, I’d have to rule that caster level does come into the process, and so this will only work for stuff who’s required casting level is no more than three higher than that of the minions – but that still means that quite a lot of basic potions and scrolls and such could be turned out.

      I did put up a relic that allows ordinary folk to make minor potions and scrolls. Relics are expensive to make, but will work indefinitely thereafter. It’s the Philosopher’s Stone, over in this article: https://ruscumag.wordpress.com/2009/07/21/eclipse-sample-relics-part-v/

  62. What sort of spell(s) would it look like to summon an army for a considerable amount of time?

    I recognize that the problems with this request are the inherent relativity of the terms “army” and “considerable length of time.” As such, let’s presume that we’re talking about summoning no less than twenty (though certainly more) 2nd-level fighters (of a standard PC race, such as human) for 1 hour per caster level.

    My instinct here was to use the rules for summon monster spells, wherein if you sink a higher-level spell into lower-level creatures, you can summon more of them, but between the number of creatures and the length of time you want them to remain, that rapidly becomes infeasible.

    Hence, would a specialized spell that was less flexible than a standard summon monster spell (which allowed for a choice among several monsters, and could be scaled through lower-level summons) allow for such a spell to exist at sub-epic ranges? Certainly, not granting the standard celestial/fiendish template to “normal” creatures (which any standard humanoid race would surely be) would help too.

    In short, what would the “summon army” spell look like?

    • I really should stop doing additional research on questions I want to ask after the fact.

      Having tried to find a good definition for the word “army,” my initial estimate of “no less than 20” seems a bit too small. Wikipedia (in its entry for “army”) tells us that a contemporary western military usually has a given army (e.g. the First Army of the United States) as a corps. A corps is at least two divisions, each of which is at least three brigades, each of which is at least three battalions, each of which is at least 600 men.

      That’d make a single corps army have at least 10,800 men, dead minimum.

      However, this numbers inflate further when you look at (Wikipedia’s definition of) a field army – three corps, three divisions, plus headquarters and troops (which themselves seem to have an indeterminate number. At the very least, a “troop” seems to have about 50 men). And beyond that are army groups, consisting of several hundred thousand to over a million men.

      Obviously, this is beyond impractical for a d20 game, unless some sort of mass combat rules have been introduced. Even then, any such summoning spell would be far and away too high-level for pretty much anyone to ever cast.

      So yeah…20 soldiers seems good.

  63. Purely for crits and giggles, I wanted to ask how you’d stat up the character Malachite, the villain from Suburban Knights.

    For reference, that’s a seven-part mini-series consisting of about two hours (give or take) of footage. It’s pretty funny for gamers and fans of fantasy games and movies, but if watching through the entire thing all to get a good reference for one character is too much, let me know and I’ll outline his powers and abilities here.

    • Well, it will probably have to wait for a couple of days, but I’ll have a look then. Sadly, things have gotten extremely busy lately.

      • I hate to nag, but any forward motion on this particular request?

      • I must admit that I forgot about it before finding the time to watch it. Thanks for the reminder; things are a bit frantic, but I will try to find the time to take a look and see what the character actually does…

    • I’ll take a stab at this soon. I’ve watched the first episode and thus far I’ve seen the villain splatter a man’s head and then blow up a car. So far that looks like a magic missile and a fireball spell and not much else, but I still have six more parts to go.

      • Excluding the Gauntlet, Malachite to me seems at best a Level 5 sorcerer with immunity to aging and a significant number of attack spells.

        Offhand, I saw fireballs, lightning bolts, wind wall, clairvoyance, basic hand to hand skills, magic missile, and rope trick. Why rope trick? Well, I am fairly certain that if you hit someone hard enough that they proceed to orbit the Earth twice and then impact the ground where they started again in a matter of a few minutes, you’ve exceeded escape velocity and you’ve exceeded the upper limits of a internet critic’s ability to absorb damage. Ergo, the internet critic was instead shoved into a special rope trick (or maze spell) that made him think he was fired around the world a few times. And while this particular spell is a bit more complicated than most of the others, it was only really demonstrated once he had the Gauntlet. Given that, I am willing to figure that was a power of the Gauntlet and not Malachite.

        The hardest one to really describe off hand is ripping a person’s heart out barehanded (and without making a horrendous mess either). Closest thing I can come up with a Finger of Death spell with a special effect to kill the target via the removal of the heart on a failed save. That’s still a level 7 spell though. However it is the one demonstrated instance that using a spell caused Malachite to become visibly weakened afterwards. Ergo, I would lean towards the idea that the spell level was dropped by imposing a “damages caster when used” effect. Throw in that the spell also exhausts the caster and leaves them vulnerable and weakened for a time, plus a shortening of the caster’s lifespan and you might be able to talk the GM into letting you have the spell at spell level 3. If not, well there is the option out there to let you buy down the spell level of a specific spell by permanently sacrificing attribute points (can’t remember the ability off hand and can’t find my book).

        That brings it down far enough for our level 5 Sorcerer to cast it, but not frequently.

        The Gauntlet I would argue is merely a magic item with a number of use activated spells available for the user to pick from. Those are usually expensive to say the least, so throwing in a limited number of available charges to power said spells and a long and costly ritual to recharge it periodically would seem about in order. That would reduce the cost significantly given the rules for magic item creation.

        I also don’t typically charge for theme music and looking like a Matrix extra given that it fits the setting, and in this case it certainly seems to.

        I know that isn’t a detailed breakdown on how to build Malachite and the Gauntlet, but it at least should point you in the right direction and presumably provide ideas. Thoth may come up with a much more detailed writeup or completely different way of building him though.

      • actually you could build it easier with 3 points of mana with the spell enhancement option.

        building it with atheria’s world law that allowed purchasing down the level of a spell is not possible out of atheria… but is not unreasonable since immunity to the difficulty of a specific spell sufficient to drop it by one level is likely to come out cheaper than the 12 points to buy back a point of attribute.

      • Ah, you’re right. For some reason I was thinking that was under the rules in the Eclipse book instead of a simple campaign world law. And your idea does end up working out better than mine. Sadly most of the characters I’ve built have been for npc’s to use in the Federation Apocalypse Campaign, and since as GM I get to give them as many character points as needed, efficiency hasn’t typically been an issue.

  64. Using Eclipse, what’s a good way for a character to protect themselves from the adverse effects of time travel/manipulation? Is it as simple as just buying “Immunity: temporal paradox” or is there more to it?

    Certainly, there are more ways to use time to mess with someone than just trying to kill them before they’re born (e.g. trapping them in alternate universes, scrambling their fate/destiny, putting them on the wrong side entities and organizations that maintain the stability of time, etc). What’s a good way to protect yourself from someone using this very indirect method of attack?

    • There are a couple of different ways to do that.

      First up (from the Atrocity Build example): Energy Infusion/Dimensional Energies (6 CP): The user is immune to paradox, can meet him- or her-self without trouble as long as he or she indulges in a little caution, can resist the effects of having his or her past interfered with – and is immune to minor annoyances such as Slow, Time Stop, and similar manipulations. On the other hand, the user takes double damage from Cosmological Energies, and may be harmed or affected by the strange forces released by weird dimensional-destruction weapons that other characters will not even notice.

      Of course, the entire Atrocity Build is based around various cheats and abuses. The cheat on this one lies in the mention of Time Stop; this ability won’t stop other people from using Time Stop since it speeds up THEIR time. It prevents YOU from using it (or even lesser effects, such as Haste). Other than that, it works fine – even if it does leave you with weird “Dr. Who” style vulnerabilities.

      The next way is indeed an Immunity – but it’s an expensive one; time manipulation isn’t all that uncommon and goes right on up through epic effects. If you’re working in a world that allows characters to be eliminated through changes in the past, it’s effects can be Severe – and you’ll want legendary protection (for a base of 48 CP). Of course, that is controllable, so you can still gain the benefits of such effects. You could, however, Specialize and Corrupt this – leaving yourself subject to the minor, common, effects while resisting major disruptions of space and time.

      Other ways tend to depend on how time works in a given setting. For example, in a branching universe, where disturbances in time created new timelines, Temporis the Time Wizard (Champions) had a plane-shifting ability which automatically transferred him and everyone in a radius into the new timeline whenever someone meddled with history. Given that this is not, in fact, generally helpful, in Eclipse you might be able to count it as a form of the “Accursed” disadvantage.

      Now, if the old timelines ceased to exist as history was revised, that would be a pretty useful power – probably a rather restricted combination of Reflex Action and Inherent Spell.

      One or more of those approaches should cover scrambling fate or destiny, depending on what those actually are or do in a given setting.

      The remaining item – “putting them on the wrong side entities and organizations that maintain the stability of time, etc” – is harder. While the previous methods should protect their users against most of the effects such entities might deploy, an immunity to other people stirring up trouble for you seems awfully far-reaching (and dull). In this case I think I’d go with Favors from Major Time-Governing Entities and Organizations. That covers establishing some basic-good will, and you can always say that your “generic favor” is that they look into any accusations or apparent evidence against you thoroughly before coming to any conclusion. That’s also relatively cheap – probably 3 or 6 CP, depending on whether or not the GM thinks that this is a “major” favor.

      I hope all that helps!

      • Here’s a follow-up: what effect would either of these protections against temporal tampering (either an infusion of dimensional energy or a flat-out immunity) have on an individual’s connection with fate/destiny?

        To put it another way, can you look into the future of a creature that’s so altered its connection to time? That doesn’t seem to interact with fate, but people ascribe the future to fate/destiny just as much as the linear progression of time. Would any of the spells with the [fate] descriptor in in Paths of Power I and II work differently on a character like this? Or would this all be GM’s prerogative?

      • Given that there isn’t much information on how “Fate” or “Destiny” works, I’d have to say it’s a firm “It depends!”.

        If we go with “You cannot escape your fate!” then making it more difficult for your fate to catch up with you might extend the time until it does. Thus, if your fate is to “Die by the hand of Malindar!” so you shall – but if you kill Malindar, cross half the galaxy, and flee into the distant past, it will probably (but not certainly) be a long time before that fate catches up with your.

        Of course, if Malindar was the last one to check your time machine, and left it accidentally jammed on “The Big Bang” in such a way that the instruments don’t show any error (he meant to fix it before putting it back into storage), your attempt to flee your fate will have just brought it about.

        Thus if “Fate” or “Destiny” is an external force that manipulates events to bring about certain conclusions, protections against temporal tampering won’t have any effect; that force pretty much has to be outside of time anyway or it couldn’t foresee all those consequences and perform a near-infinite number of simultaneous manipulations. After all, presumably your character is not the only one in the universe with a fate or destiny.

        If you CAN “escape your fate” then immunity to temporal tampering might well help you do so; it cuts off a powerful selection of options for meddling.

        Now if “Fate” or “Destiny” is a part of time (which doesn’t make a lot of sense given that time isn’t a force, but might result from some sort of “incarnation of time” meddling with the course of history or some such) – then protections against temporal tampering probably would help against it – and would allow your character to be one of the few who can oppose such meddling, and thus doubtless a major target (lucky lucky you!).

        As far as looking into the future of a creature that’s protected from temporal tampering goes – that works just fine presuming that your method doesn’t in itself involve tampering with the existing timeline. Now, if the setting default is that “looking at the future sets it” then such precognition will fail since that WOULD be temporal tampering.

        As far as the “Fate” spells in Paths of Power go there shouldn’t normally be any interaction; those are spells that (more or less) simply wait for an opportune, vulnerable, moment to strike.

  65. Hey Thoth and all others. Started adding my character builds and concepts to my site. most articles should link back to Ruscumag. Let me know if they dont.

    • The automated pingbacks only show up if you reference specific articles – but I’ll just add a link to the blogroll and cross-index things the next time I get time to update the indexes (which is, sadly, long overdue).

      And your builds do look interesting! It’s always nice to see what someone else does with things; sometimes people completely surprise me with builds I never would have thought of.

  66. I hate keeping going back over the same stuff but I do have a question related to LoHF (tide of blood and hand of the earth) and the awaken spell:

    What level would the effect have to be to be heritable? I find it odd that WoTC never had a version of awaken that allows offspring to be intelligent when they did have a few variants (like awaken ooze).

  67. Hi Thoth
    Interpretation of Inherrent Spell
    I want to take Freedom of Movement (4th level spell) consider it as a first purchase of Inherrent Spell.

    Dont need any other spells
    Reduce the duration so that it activates on auto – much like the ability from a cleric’s Travel domain.

    Your thoughts?

    • Well, “Inherent Spell” can be any spell effect the game master will approve, regardless of whether or not it’s an existing spell – so there’s no problem there.

      “Freedom of Movement” can normally be applied to others, and has a duration of ten minutes per level. From your description what you want is a personal-only version that only lasts for a minute or so (taking it down to level two) but is triggered by an attack. You could build that as…

      An innate enchantment (L2 Spell x L3 Caster x 2000 GP For Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x .4 (Twice Per Day) = 4800 GP or 6 CP and a few XP.

      An Immunity to the appropriate movement restraints (Common, Major, Major, 9 CP), Specialized/only available for one round per level per day [thus matching the priestly ability] comes out to only 4 CP, but isn’t quite so easily upgraded and has less overall duration.

      The short-term, personal-only, reactive effect does sound like a reasonable third level spell – and so can be purchased as an Inherent Spell for 6 CP.

      Hopefully one of those options will be a good match for what you want!

      • Hi Thoth

        Thanks for feedback. Was leaning towards a variant immunity (ie save bonus, check bonus) followed up by a Ref Training – on success save/escape gain a standard action.

        Never thought of lowering the level of the spell. :)

        Thanks again

      • Oh, you’re quite welcome.

        And that will work too; like most things, there are a lot of ways to build any particular effect; all you need to do is to pick the one that’s closest to what you want.

        Have a good time there!

  68. Hey Thoth – Question re Spirit Weapon.
    Default damage dice? What is it?
    I initially assumed it was as the weapon you choose – or can this be changed every time ?
    Thanks

    • Sorry about the delay; things have been a bit frantic…

      Basic Spirit Weapons generally have the same base attributes as the weapon they’re emulating, which is chosen when the power is taken. You’re paying for the ability to smuggle it into “weaponless” situations, for being able to simply re-manifest it if it’s somehow broken or you get disarmed, and so that no one else can use it. They work nicely for various cyberweapons too.

      Spirit weapons, and the missiles they fire if you’re simply manifesting those, vanish a few moments after leaving the user’s hands.

      Of course, particular settings may modify things. For example, this character – https://ruscumag.wordpress.com/atheria-d20/matthew-paladin-archer/ – was for a world that allowed modern weapons. On the other hand, the game master liked “archaic” spirit weapons. Ergo, big, flashy, spirit weapons got an extra die of damage (so as to keep them competitive with guns) but that only muscle-powered weapons could be used as templates for spirit weapons.

  69. Immunity/aging seems to be a relatively cheap ability to purchase, costing from 2 to 4 CP (that I’ve seen here – it seems to vary depending on if you want to live for a long time, or a very long time, or indefinitely unless killed).

    My question is, does purchasing this immunity affect the ability score modifiers that go with aging in d20? Will this make you immune to the penalties to your physical ability scores? Will it still let you earn the bonuses to your mental ability scores? If the answer to the latter two questions is yes, then what’s to stop someone from taking this immunity at character creation and declaring that their character is starting their adventuring career at venerable age, and earning a free +3 bonus to their Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma?

    Also, given that you can presumably purchase this anytime, what’s the in-game rationale for why most characters don’t make the relatively small investment required to become virtually immortal? Fear of death seems universal, so only 4 CP to live forever seems like it’d be worthwhile; given that, why don’t we see societies where deathlessness is common?

    • A lot of this depends on what you define as “aging”.

      The physical and mental deterioration of a human being is a complex process involving a number of factors. One of the most important is the lack of replacement cells that eventually occurs. Another is the accumulated genetic damage caused by oxidants, mutagens, UV, and random copy errors. Then you get the various forms of tissue and organ damage that occur as a natural part of living (i.e. teeth wear, bone loss, accumulation of scar tissue in the heart, and lead accumulation in the body). That isn’t even beginning to address the more minor issues like the fact that memory retention appears to be largely finite (even if it is still amazingly good from an engineering standpoint).

      Let’s say that your immunity grants you the ability to continually generate replacement cells as needed through the course of “normal” experience. That will stop a great number of the issues we associate with aging, but is also going to make diseases like cancer inevitable at some point. After all, everyone will get cancer if they live long enough, it’s just the accumulation of enough errors in the genetic code to cause out of control replication of cells. Such a person could live for quite a long time if they are careful, but eventually something will get them and their body will still deteriorate, just at a substantially slower pace. That one is probably worth 2 cp.

      So you throw into this immunity the ability to ignore the buildup of damage to the various organs, tissues, and even genetics involved in keeping a person healthy. That will make the cost of said immunity higher. This is also going to protect said person from a lot of things besides “aging”, like tooth decay, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, liver damage, smoking, and cataracts. That is going to cost more, probably in the 4 cp range.

      If your immunity is stopping even more than this, then expect it to cost more unless you throw more disadvantages at it to compensate.

      Next up is the question of what those ability score changes represent and what your aging is preventing. Offhand, I would say the 2 cp version I just described would delay the onset of the physical attribute penalties without doing much to delay the mental ones. The 4 cp version would delay the onset of both the mental and physical attribute changes substantially. After all, there are indications that memory formation is a form of brain damage, and if your immunity is repairing said damage slowly, it is hard to become a more mature individual isn’t it? You might do well enough in the short term, but you could expect to start losing skills and memories you don’t use very often over the years and decades that follow. That space for new memories has to come from somewhere after all.

      While I might allow a character to be brought into my campaign that has immunity to aging and has been around for sometime, I am going to be asking for a lot more from the player in terms of what that character has been doing all this time, where his stuff is, and why did he choose now of all times to recklessly go adventuring. That could provide enough plot hooks, trouble, and character background to easily pay for what would seem like a “free” attribute boost. I would also be demanding at that point that the character have points investing in something besides being an adventurer. After all, he has to have been paying the bills up till now somehow.

      Finally, I would say the reason why you wouldn’t find entire peoples with this advantage is the same reason you don’t typically find it in nature: it doesn’t enhance breeding advantage all that much in the long term. While a nigh-immortal might be able to have hundreds or thousands of children over the millennia, they are all going to be likely to suffer from the same adaptive issues (i.e. disease vulnerability) he would. Whereas that village doing things the old fashioned way has been constantly reshuffling combinations of adaptions every generation until everyone in a generation had the better adaptions to the local environment. Not to put too fine a point on it, but death serves wonderfully at getting the old combinations out of the way to provide room for newer and possibly better combinations. Then there is the double whammy that populations that live longer also tend to have fewer children.

      Personally, I look to the note included with the Immunity power in the book: can be taken at GM discretion. That typically means that it isn’t something the average person is going to be able to take, and only exceptional people (like adventurers) are likely to be able to take it.

      Just my two cents, although I imagine Thoth might have his own to put in.

      • Ah entropy. What doesn’t it take the blame for in the end?

        A fine and useful answer indeed (and thank you very much for stepping in while I was over-busy Spellweaver81!). That is the wonderful thing about the more sci-fi settings; you can provide details…

        That lack of replacement cells may be fixable though; most human body cells can normally only divide themselves a limited number of times; once they hit that limit, no more replacement cells can be produced – and the end is nigh. Thus most “higher organisms” are pre-programmed to die off and make room for their descendents. Why? Because this accelerates the rate of change in the species – and thus helps keep them ahead of the competition. If longer lives are an advantage for a particular species genes (or whatever), longer-lived individuals will soon predominate – and the average life span for a species will go up.

        Depressingly, that means we’re about at our optimal aging rate from an evolutionary standpoint; we probably won’t be “evolving into immortality”.

        Now, for d20 worlds with less relationship to real-world physics – where “aging” may be the result of a mystical drift “away” from close contact with the positive material plane, or where everyone is born with a fixed quantity of life force*, or aging is the result of some curse, or is the will of the gods to keep everyone humble and downtrodden, or is the result of accumulating disharmony between the body and the spirit, or some such, the situation may be very different.

        *Some early versions of wizards used that theory; magic gradually used it up – so every spell you cast weakened you permanently. Thus older wizards knew powerful magic, and had studied for years to make it as efficient as possible, and very rarely used it – while young wizards tended to see their reserves as near-infinite, and threw far more spells than was wise. If they didn’t quickly BECOME wise, they soon became dead.

        Thus I lean a bit more towards “how does the game mechanics work in building a character” with general questions (after all, I wrote the mechanics); to go into detail on how things work, you need a lot of details on the setting.

    • Well, this once again got kind of long for a comment (and meandered, as such things so often do) – so it became a small article over HERE: https://ruscumag.wordpress.com/2011/08/23/immunity-to-aging-and-other-peasant-powers/

  70. Nice reply Spellweaver81. Also at the end of the day how often do adventurers ‘live’ to see old age? Does been ‘immortal’ fit the character concept? Why would he have it. Using Eclipse is not just about taking the powers that sound cool or look good, you have to have the concept or idea before you begin.
    Personally I would never have a character with immortality (or Timeless Body as the monk ability is called) – I just don’t see the point. But it might fit in other regards – your monk that is 100 years old, but still has the body of a twenty year old. Mostly this kind of immunity simply prevents the physical ability scores from decreasing as you age.

  71. Thanks for the reply Thoth. All good.

  72. Thoth, you mentioned in Eclipse that rangers had a reduced number of “offensive, illusionary, or stealth based spells” from 3.5 from 3.0

    I was looking at both spell lists (3.5 here: http://www.d20srd.org/srd/spellLists/rangerSpells.htm and 3.0 in the book) and have no idea what you mean. There are a few changes but nothing like gutting the offensive spells that you seem to imply.

    Please clarify.

  73. The modifier is gone but the comment remains in Eclipse II.

    • Sorry about the delay; things have been a bit busy…

      In this case it’s not really quite the same note. The original note simply referred to a reduced number of spells. The later version is referring to a restriction on the spells that Rangers can develop and use*. The lengthy list of 3.5 domains pretty well established that almost any arcane spell was fair game for a divine spellcaster provided that it was in-theme – and a Ranger’s theme certainly includes the “Scout-Commando” role.

      A 3.5 Rangers spell list might thus include Fireball (most commandos carry some explosives after all), Call Lightning, Invisibility (for slipping in and out of enemy camps), Hallucinatory Terrain, Dimension Door, Silence, Envenom Blade, and many similar spells.

      Thus a commando-style Ranger might become Invisible, Dimension Door into an enemy strong point, stab the commander with a venomous blade, and drop a Fireball on the pursuing troops during the daring escape – but none of those spells are on their list, despite fitting into many ranger concepts and their obvious utility. Ergo the restriction.

  74. Psychic construct (Practical Enchanter)

    What do you consider reasonable upgrades to each aspect of a psychic construct when metamagic Amplify is applied to that spell/power? Some of the columns from the psychic construct table are pretty easy to visualize, but not all. For example how many additional menu choices per spell level increase from Amplify?

    How would you duplicate the Boost Construct feat (Expanded Psionics Handbook) with Eclipse?

    Thanks in advance,
    Phantom

    • Oops, almost missed this one. Sorry about that.

      As far as the Amplify metamagic goes, it’s usually the other way around; the user describes what he or she wants to add and the game master tells him or her how many levels of amplification it will take. Still, for a quick rule of thumb, if you’re boosting specific aspects of “summon construct” with Amplify, I think I’d just say “Pick a column; bump up two spell levels for each level of Amplify devoted to that purpose. No more than four for any one aspect”. You might have to extend the tables a bit if that goes over level nine, but the patterns are fairly straightforward – and you can’t really get it “wrong”. If the characters are playing around with amplifying things past ninth level, a die or minor power more or less won’t make that big a difference.

      As far as “Boost Construct” goes, you’d want Metamagic / Amplify and Streamline, both Specialized and Corrupted / only with “Summon Construct” effects, only to provide one extra ability from a menu that the construct is already qualified for (4 CP).

      I hope that helps!

      • This does help.

        Thank you.

      • How many levels would you charge to give them an ability from a higher table?

        I ask because I’m looking at making a character would could do an effect similar to Kage-Bushin from Naruto and was thinking of using streamline to add the level C mindful ability to all of his constructs.

      • Hm. I’m busy for a couple of days and the questions abruptly start to pile up… In this case I think I’d go with +2 levels. That’s Metamagic/Amplify (6 CP) and Streamline x2 (12 CP), both Specialized and Corrupted / only to add the Mindful ability to all constructs (final total of 6 CP).

        That should be useful, without being overwhelming. There are some abilities I might want another level of Streamline for, and a few which might get by one one – but the difference would only be a few CP in any case.

  75. Hi Thoth
    Me Again.
    Query: Kinetic Master (Dragon Path) – could you use it to make attacks with pure force or by picking up a weapon and stabbing someone. (I have already thought of picking up rocks/items and dropping on people :))
    Cheers

    • I’ll take a stab at this one. Personally I would be putting a number of limitations here.

      First off, while I would allow someone to use Kinetic Master to wield a weapon, I would be applying various bonuses or penalties depending on the circumstances. For instance, the typical human is pretty well optimized for throwing things, but it includes a number of assumptions of where the hand is in relation to the eyes. Ergo, telekinetically picking up a rock 30 ft to my right and flinging it at an opponent ahead of me and to my left is going to be moving something at an angle the brain isn’t really adapted for. Ergo, a circumstance penalty on targeting. You might get a bonus on the other hand for throwing something with your hand and then using Kinetic Master to help correct the aim in mid-flight.

      This also leads to the inevitable discussion of trying to use this for multi wielding various weapons. In this respect I would be arguing that the Kinetic Master ability is in many ways simply a third hand. If you want to use this in conjunction with your own hands in really complicated and semi-independent fashion, then I would require that the character take the various multi weapon or dual weapon abilities listed elsewhere. (if I recall, those end up falling under Bonus Attack corrupted to require an additional weapon in another hand, but I don’t have my book in front of me)

      Unfortunately, pure force attacks are where things get complicated. The lack of a simple action-reaction makes things difficult to find easy analogues in the real world to use as a guide. So you have to make a number of assumptions at this point regarding the nature of momentum, kinetic energy, inertia, and how these are all interacting with whatever you are trying to attack. Personally, I would argue that the effect of Kinetic Master is being applied to the object (or person) as a whole and thereby attempts to crush a person’s chest in simply by pushing them too hard will only result in pushing the whole person backwards. That still leaves open the possibility of then flinging said target against a hard surface like a wall.

      I would also allow the purchase of an additional ability to more specifically target portions of a person or object so that one might rip off limbs, crush organs, snap doors into so much splinters, and such. In that case what you would be buying is the ability to apply forces with different magnitudes and directions to the target simultaneously to make a direct attack or simply not transferring momentum, kinetic energy, or inertia to the target as a whole.

      On an interesting side note, there has been a significant debate in military circles for years whether it is energy transferred to the target or hydrostatic shock that ultimately leads to greater “stopping power.” This has a number of implications on what it means to attack someone with force and whether you are transferring momentum, kinetic energy, or inertia to the target (or some combination).

      Thoth will probably have his own answer to this question though.

      • @Spellweaver81. Thanks for the reply mate.

        My thinking is any ‘weapon’ or taking an object to attack with might very well apply the -10 (as per Sleight of Hand etc) or perhaps been a bit more lenient, and apply a -4 non proficiency?

        The description does say manipulates ‘objects’. I would probably think that that does not apply to living creatures or animated things like constructs or undead.

        In hind sight, would agree that you could not use it to deal direct force damage. (My character only has an effective Strength of 5 in it). Anyway, thanks again :)

        Could probably organise ‘feats’ to improve it.

    • Well, simply in terms of the game mechanics, Kinetic Master doesn’t generate “pure force” since it only manipulates objects – and so can’t be used to attack that way (and so isn’t much use against noncorporeal opponents).

      You could shove someone’s clothing against them and push or hit them with it – but given the very limited strength this isn’t likely to be more than annoying, like any other unskilled unarmed attack. In theory you could also “hit someone with the dirt on their skin” or a focused blast of air; in practice, you need to be able to see or feel groups of particles to manipulate them well – so you’re back to the “-10” penalty unless all you want is a bit of an unfocused draft.

      You certainly can pick up weapons and stab people; although the low strength is (once again) rather limiting. Since d20 doesn’t have facing, it’s reasonable enough to rule that that the disadvantage of flinging stuff at an opponent telekinetically (not being used to judging the angle when the attack isn’t coming from where you are) neatly balances the advantages of attacking from an angle while the opponent is (presumably) focused on where his or her opponents actually are and of being able to somewhat correct the shot in flight. That’s a good desperation or surprise tactic, but not really all that effective.

      Actually trying to – say – fence with an opponent is going to be subject to the -10 penalty; you aren’t getting the constant kinesthetic feedback about where your blade is, are too far away to see details properly, and are – sadly – working in a fashion that’s a lot less instinctively polished than using the motor centers of your brain.

      Overall, the main utility of the basic ability is probably going to lie in less direct assaults, such as sending a staff floating ahead of you to check for tripwires, cheating at darts and cards, pushing buttons you don’t want to be standing near, getting the keys to your cell off the wall and into your hands, flipping your pancakes without tools or burning your fingers, pulling your sword back into your hand when you’ve been disarmed, getting a rope up that wall, distracting guards, tugging someone’s arm when they’re trying to cast a spell, getting gems out of that pool of acid, or wafting that hand grenade into position and preparing to pull the pin.

      If you want it to be more effective in combat, I’d suggest something like a martial art that uses Telekinesis as a weapon; You might even be able to persuade your game master that it should be Intelligence based.

      Take – say – Strike, Power III (for 1d12), Versatility, Whirlwind, and perhaps Inner Strength and Wrath (Fire). Now you can use your ability to slash, bludgeon, impale, or subdue, to attack small areas, and even to generate small blasts and storms of pyrokinetic flame.

      OK, you’re still going to have poor base damage from that lousy strength – but there are plenty of ways to improve that.

  76. Thanks Thoth. Dont know the Martial Arts all that well (well actually have not looked at that section at all). Wanted the power more for utility than anything.

    Thinking damage wise like that Kinetic guy in Heroes. S… cant recall his name. But that might lean towards the Martial Arts you are suggesting.

    Thanks again. :)

    • You’re quite welcome.

      I’ll admit that, so far, I’ve been pleased with the martial art rules. They may be only four pages – but I do try to make my pages work as hard as possible.

  77. Yet another question about ritual magic in LHF. On page 108 you mentioned how memorizing a specific rite is worth +5 (on it alone). Is that/should that be a feat, a skill point or two or just a listing like spells?

    • It’s a specific knowledge. In Legends of High Fantasy those are just a bit further on – in the “Skills” section after the Ritual Magic examples.

      That’s page 117 (at least in the print version and by the page numbers); the final paragraph of the lower right hand column.

      As a side note, it’s very common in d20 to underestimate what “a few skill points” really mean. They’re a casual side issue in many games – but the difference between a bright high school student and a graduate engineer comes down to four skill points or so in a particular specialty and maybe four more scattered around in skills like “socializing”, “job hunting”, “driving”, and a secondary technical field.

      “One skill point” represents rather a lot of work and study. A feat… well, a normal person would be lucky to master one of those with a year of hard work and dedicated study.

      • Thanks. Now I have a question about investing skill points (p. 117). What variable does the +d20 apply to for a spell? I get the rest of the column but I have no idea why anyone would invest skill points into spells- that is what metamagic feats are for.

      • Ah, that one’s easy; that’s for wizards who want to get along without spellbooks – and thus the reference to the Spell Mastery feat and otherwise needing tomes. If your roguish wizard suspects that he may be locked up without his spellbook at some point, he may want to spend a couple of skill points to allow him or her to prepare – say – Sleep, Unseen Servant (1 SP for two first-level spells), and Knock (1 SP for a spell of level 2-3) without a spellbook.

        The die-roll bonus would, however, apply to Spellcraft checks to recognize those spells being cast or to recognize their effects. That isn’t usually very important though. Even if you’re really into counterspelling you’d be better off just building up your Spellcraft skill for that.

        In Eclipse, where you can Specialize and Corrupt things to modify their costs, and where there’s no longer a firm division between skill points and feats, you just use Spell Mastery – so this particular option doesn’t appear amongst the Specific Knowledge options there.

  78. One of my fellow players requested this a little while back (and I’m only mostly sure he was kidding): How would you put together stats for a sentient couch? And, for that matter, how would you put together other “living” things that are normally inanimate objects?

    Presumably, these would be like the living furniture in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, but that’s just a guess.

  79. I have a request. In Eclipse II, there is a couple articles (Spooky Powers) for characters who have died or have access to negative energy.

    How about an article that involves positive energy? Not that namby-pamby 3e healing is positive energy, but rather the 1/2e plane that creates and destroys life and gives the mummy the ability to destroy life (its rot was life energy overwhelming life).

    There has been so much about the negative energy plane and yet almost nothing about its opposite. 2 creatures (the ravid and xag-ya) and almost nothing else. It would be nice to see what you (either of you) can come up with.

    • You know, it’s never made sense to me that mummies were tagged as “positive energy” undead. I can understand creatures like Third Edition’s “deathless” type, as it’s the polar opposite of the undead, but mummies as positive-energy creatures? Pshaw.

      I think there’s some evidence that Gary felt that way as well. On page 47 of Mongoose Publishing’s Slayer’s Guide to Undead, Gary writes a notation (albeit in-character as “Zagig”) decrying the idea of mummies as positive-energy undead, saying that it was a mistake he made once, that has now been endlessly repeated.

      Ultimately, some may take the notation as less-than-serious, but I think it was his way of trying to set the record straight.

      • I suspect that it comes from the original Egyptian notion that the properly-preserved corpse remained “alive” as host for a vital fraction of the deceased’s eightfold soul. It wasn’t “dead”, or even “undead”. It wasn’t a creature of destruction, or a guardian, or a demonic horror possessing a corpse (like the classical Vampire) – it was a bank vault for the owners life force and a gateway to immortality.

        That was the notion that went into the original “Mummy” movies as well; the Mummy was still alive – it just didn’t have the vitality to move without the help of those Tana leaves (possibly the most powerful stimulant ever imagined).

        The “Positive Energy Mummy” may have been a mistake in terms of the game system – but the mistake may lie in the fact that Mummies were more or less written up as undead horrors with a “positive energy” label slapped on rather than as much more unique entities. The labels hung on through quite a few revisions and sets of errata after all, which usually means that the underlying idea is strong, even if the implementation is weak.

    • Well, why not? It may be a few days though (not in time for Halloween I fear) since I’ve been too busy to even keep up all the logs – but there’s no reason not to do something with the notion that pure life force is just as dangerous as pure entropy.

      After all, the naked flame of life should be as pure and terrible as the fire at the suns heart, a spark that – if uncontrolled – will cancerously overwhelm and destroy as relentlessly as the entropic darkness of the powers of death will drag the cosmos slowly into itself until achieving final oblivion.

  80. This is a Request for Clarification.
    I am shortly to embark on actually running my first ever Eclipse campaign, and I am having trouble understanding your intent on a few points.
    In Codex Persona (which I actually bought physical copies of), on page 9 it says “instead of Feats (for certain levels), you get +6 CP.”
    In the sample builds on your website (for example, the prominently presented, level by level build for the Merchant), I see the Feat-equivalent points accounted for at first level, but no extra 6 points being accounted for at level 3, 6, etc.

    And the reverse applies to 3.x-style attribute gain: On the Same page in Codex Persona, it states that you Don’t get these, but can achieve similar results through the “development” ability (and that’s a Fine rule). BUT the Merchant build mentions “the free attribute raise” at a certain level.

    This is generating a bit of cognitive dissonance for me, and will for my players as well (which will make it hard to ‘sell’ them on the variant. So ANY guidance (especially prompt guidance) you can offer would be Most Welcome.

    • The trick with the Merchant build was that it’s set up to illustrate “building your own class as you go”. Thus the Free Feats = Character Points relationship was listed with the first level point total, but the level-based bonuses – both “feat” and attribute – are discussed in the italicized segments after each level. That avoided cluttering up the progression with varying points-per-level and hopefully kept it useful to those using variant bonus feat and/or attribute increase progressions. (The better-formatted version in the web expansion may be easier to read).

      Eclipse characters normally gain free levels of Improved Self-Development in place of the usual +1 bonuses to attributes (thus the “instead of… character’s gain” wording). That was necessary for back-compatibility – although the Eclipse version does make it worthwhile to invest in improving a bad characteristic, since you get a bigger bonus if the attribute is very low. Sadly, you can’t normally convert those bonus levels of self-development into character points.

      Most of the other higher-level characters on the site are examples from pure Eclipse games – and so simply figure in the bonus feats from whatever progression was in use for that game directly into their total.

      There’s a Primer and a Cribsheet (with links to rather a lot of character examples) up as well.

      I hope your game goes well, and if there’s anything else you’d like clarified, please let me know.

      If there’s something you’d like an example of, let me know about that too; there may well be something relevant up already; there’s a lot of stuff around here.

      • Thank you for your prompt reply. I understand now.

        THis brings up another question: Since you have a default equivalent for Feat worth (6 CP), WHY did you not just fold that into the base starting points? +6 for everyone. +12 for Master Ra… er, humans?

        Taking that notion further, why not do the same wit the point equivalents for Feat/ levels, and Stat Raise/4? 6/3 + 12/4.
        This keep big lumps of points from arriving all at once (something I tend to think is Bad for character development).

      • You’re quite welcome. The blog is faster than the Email ever was anyway really; I look at it a lot more often.

        There are a couple of reasons why we didn’t fold the bonus feats and bonus ability points into the base point allotment.

        First up was simply back-compatibility; Eclipse was intentionally set up so that you didn’t have to rewrite existing characters; you just gave them a few bonuses to cover the greater efficiency of just buying what you wanted and tossed them into the game. That allowed easy use of the mountains of modules, NPC’s, and other writeups available as well as accommodating mixed groups of Eclipse and Non-Eclipse players. Folding those points into the base would have made that far more awkward – and have rendered the book less useful to those using variant progressions for feats or attribute bonuses.

        The notion of Bonus Feats serves a useful purpose anyway however – as an allotment of points that don’t need to fit into a character’s concept at all. That lets them represent things that a character had simply have picked up from their experiences or other characters independently of their basic description. If your mighty barbarian-type decided that, on a vision-quest in the northern forest, he or she had communed with the glacier and picked up a touch of Ice Magic (perhaps represented by taking Occult Talent) then so be it.

        As for the attribute increases… Well, the trouble with turning those into points is that some character concepts have very little use for attribute increases. Sure, that Wizard might go for +5 Intelligence, but many other characters would prefer to spend those 60 CP buying ten extra Feats. That fouls up back-compatibility again – and if attributes can increase at all it seems reasonable enough that all that adventuring will lead to some increase. Simulating that would involve requiring that a certain allotment of character points be spent on attribute increases – which takes things right back to where they started except with extra math. Splitting up the attribute raise into “in a specialized situation” and “in general” would work – but the gain didn’t seem worth the extra bookkeeping.

        There is a table for splitting up various level-based benefits in the web expansion – but I must admit that that is one of the few things in the rules which hasn’t seen much of any use in our local games. Too much work, too little benefit.

  81. Also, is your company e-mail, mentioned in Codex Persona, still working? I tried to send the above query to that address, and it bounced.

    • Sadly, for the most part it did nothing but accumulate spam – while the actual questions and requests tended to wind up here. Given that putting things here gives other people a chance to find the answers to those questions and requests anyway, and that various products should be updated to direct people here, it’s been shut down for some time.

      If there’s enough interest at some point I may reactivate it.

  82. Got a New one for you –
    I have frequently had characters (or their allies) beset by those who try to disarm, or Sunder, out weapons. And the “Block” Combat Augment is another trouble.
    When running/playing a hero swordsperson in a Hero system game, I designed a Talent I called “Lightning Disengage”, which made it harder to block my attacks (in Hero, +2 OCV, only for Block contests).
    I Know the mechanics I want to use – just make all contests involving attacks on weapon, or attempts to actively parry it, 2 harder (thus, for example, the Block target roll becomes 22).
    My question is, HOW to I price that? I find no ability that just hinders an opponent’s roll (usually just buffs your own) . . . but then, there’s a lot of abilities, I may very well have missed one.

    • Although Cristopher noted we have a couple already-named abilities, those are also just specific examples of a very weak form of Immunity. With a little creativity, Imunity is an extreely flexible feat which can cover for surprising number of abilities in the game. If you want something unusual, Immunity is often a good way to figure out a price.

    • I’m busy for a day or so and look what happens…

      Anyway, that’s mildly tricky, simply because the subsystems use two different sets of mechanics at the same time: Disarm/Grabbing Something and Sunder versus an opponents weapon call for opposed attack checks – while trying to Sunder something that’s being worn or carried by another character calls for an attack roll against it’s AC (apparently even if, say, it’s inside their armor but you’re aware of it somehow) and has a special exemption that keeps people from sundering worn (but not carried) armor – although shields aren’t apparently so protected.

      That calls for a bit of GM judgement of course; the rules may not say it, but unless the situation is rather weird, or the setting is more than a little cartoonish, you probably will not be allowed to grab someone’s underwear through their plate armor and give them a spinning combat wedgie.

      It’s a little easier in Pathfinder, where all of that has been lumped into your combat maneuver bonus and you can simply buff up your BAB, Specialized in Combat Maneuvers.

      Block, of course, using a saving throw. It could have been set up with an opposed attack check – but it was supposed to be usable to represent characters who were just good at dodging, or defending, or lucky, or who erected mystical/psychic shields as well as expert fighters while still never being 100% reliable. It does include the option to make the save harder by giving up some BAB to it though, thus allowing skilled fighters to get by inexpert blocks.

      If you want to be good at special maneuvers in general, you’re best off buying some extra Base Attack Bonus and Corrupting and/or Specializing it to limit it to what you want. If you want to be really good at a particular ability, such as “getting by a Block” you can use Specialist (page 54), labeling it “when giving up some BAB to make blocks harder”. That would essentially give you a +4 on the DC of the Block save. I might even allow such purchases to be considered “Corrupted”; after all, used offensively they’re under your control. Used to defend against Sunder or Disarm, or used to help penetrate Blocks, they’re totally useless unless you’re up against an opponent who wants to use that particular tactic. Ergo: Three incidents of Specialist (Versus attempts to Sunder the user’s weapon, attempts to Disarm the user, and attempts to Block the user), Corrupted/relies on opponents using the appropriate maneuvers to be of any use, comes out to 6 CP and provides a +4 bonus. If you only want a +2, Specialize it for Half Effect – and Half Price.

      Potentially well worthwhile if those particular tactics come up too often.

  83. Hey Jasper. I think Specialist (in Eclipse: 6cp I believe, gives a +4 bonus to x ability ie sunder) and specialise or corrupt that. I think that can be either Defending or Attacking but would have to buy per benefit.

    If you only want a +2, then I figure 3cp for the Sunder version and 3cp for Disarm.

    There is also Feats that still grant AoO if someone tries to sunder or disarm you, even if they improved.

    and remember, with Block you can always take neg on your attack roll to increase their DC. (and in that sense you could take Augment Attack specialised only for Block DC’s)

  84. Correction Specialist on page 54 is only 3cp for the +4 bonus. So for above, a total of 6cp would give you +4 bonus on each.

    Dont see why you cant ‘specialise’ that to Block attempts. Ie increasing the DC of the Block to get through instead of adding the bonus to your Attack Roll.

  85. Okay, thanks, I clearly misread that part of the Block rule.

    • Really easy to do with Eclipse I fear. It was always a tradeoff between “examples” and “page count”. Thus, of course, this blog and Eclipse II; examples without making the basic book so bloated as to be unusable.

  86. No worries there. Hope I helped.
    Also thought of Specialising War Craft for use in Blocking Only. :)

    In our games,we also ruled that the Blocker has to choose which attack to block before attack rolls are made (thus can waste attacks) and creatures also add their size modifer (like grappling) to the DC of the Block.

    • Both of those work quite well. Sadly, combat is one of those places in d20 where the abstract “everyone gets their own private turn” structure can make things really counter-intuitive.

      Older-edition simultaneous-action systems are a lot more realistic in many ways, but can be more complicated too. I put one into the Mad Scramble rules over on RPGNow – but it does increase complexity in some ways.

  87. Good Point there Editor. Never thought of Immunity (usually rises the eyebrows in our group :))

  88. @Christopher:
    *I* thought of it. But Immunity struck me as such a ham-handed approach, when all I wanted was a little bonus (= just enough to throw the cheese weasels off their carefully calculated sweet-spots).
    And How on earth would I calculate the cost of a +2 from a total immunity?
    Besides, I Like the notion of a continuous scale for opposed rolls, as opposed to a flat out negation.

    • Well, Immunities generally aren’t total – unless you pay for a level beyond any reasonable attack. Immunity is a bit ham-handed in a lot of ways though, since it is a general catch-all for oddities. Thus, for example, “Immunity to the normal limits of a particular skill or ability” – allowing the user to use that ability in ways that go well beyond what the game normally permits. For an example of that, we have Haurgrim and the advanced Heal skill:

      https://ruscumag.wordpress.com/2009/06/13/d20-haurgrim-the-sagacious/

      In this case you’d probably be looking at the segment on adding bonuses.

  89. Hey Jasper

    One section was if Resistances Dont Fit add typless bonuses…
    Trivial adds +2, Minor +4 etc.

    Just above the description of Improved Precise Shot.

    :)

    Also, you can name an ability ‘anything’. :)

  90. Two more issues.
    1) During character generation session, someone asked me about starting wealth, and I SUDDENLY realized that this was classed-based in 3.x, and Eclipse is a classless system!
    Did I miss something? Any advice on how I should proceed?

    2) The Ritual rules in Codex (page 96)seem awwfully thin.
    I had the impression that they might be expanded in Complete Enchanter, but I could not find it (and I have Two, slightly different versions).
    Again, just because I can’t find it doesn’t mean it is not there. Did I miss something?

    • Can’t help with #1, but the expanded rules for ritual magic are not in the Practical Enchanter, but rather Legends of High Fantasy.

    • Well, the answer on starting wealth turned into a small article – so it’s posted over HERE as part of my attempt to get caught up after several hectic weeks.

      Ritual Magic in The Practical Enchanter is a bit limited, simply because the book is primarily concerned with putting effects into devices rather than with where you get the effects in the first place. You’ll still find a far more detailed system under Applied Spellcraft (pages 120-124) once you get into the Combined Effects – especially if you use the applied spellcraft rules in conjunction with the Arcanum Minimus and/or the High Magic feats from the feats section.

      As Derek noted, Legends of High Fantasy also includes a more elaborate ritual system – although it’s approach is radically different from the systems for applied spellcraft.

      • I had a question about Apllied Spellcraft from TPE.

        Is there a more complete explaination for how long it would take to make one of the diagrams and how much space they would take up?

        Other than a few examples that don’t have breakdowns for how the time and space were figured, I can’t seem to find any guidlines. (Other than larger than 3 x 3 feet)

        Also the part where it says it takes (Spell Level / 2) 8-hour work days? What if you want to make a power amp or caster level modifying disgram without a runic formula as part ot the diagram?

      • Well, each effect does have it’s own timing note in the descriptive paragraphs:

        It’s (Spell Level/2) eight-hour days for Runic Formulas – with a special note that building them into megalithic structures may take years.

        It’s an hour (plus or minus a bit according to GM whims) for caster level modification pretty much regardless of the medium. They just aren’t very complicated.

        Power Amplification setups require about a day to set up in easily-disturbed media, a week or so as paint, months as inlays, and years as architecture.

        Now, if you want to combine more than one of those, just add up the times and double the total.

        Thus the first example (Fabricate) takes 2.5 days (Level Five) plus an hour (Caster Level Modification) plus a Week (Power Amplification in Paint) = a few hours short of ten days of work. Doubling that makes it a little under twenty days of work – or about three weeks.

        If you’re working in chalk, that’s only an hour for the Power Amplification instead of a week – for a net time of (2.5 days + 1 Hour + 1 Hour) x 2 = five to six days.

        Of course, if the characters are prepared to spend a week to a month working on this kind of thing, precise time usually isn’t all that important anyway.

        I hope that helps!

  91. Many thanks for the timely answer on starting $$.

    New questions:
    1) Overwhelm lets me push a guy back one with a successful attack. How much Extra to make it multi-directional – that is, I can knock him sideways if I like? Double?
    2) Is there a way to “Finesse” the defense of an attack?
    For example, could I design a Trip where the defense is a Will or Refl save? A pain-inducing Disarm, where the defense is a Fort save?
    I suppose that could be bought as Immunity to AC?

    My intention is to create a maneuver like the “Positioning Strike” 4th ed (hisss!) Rogue encounter ability. If I can baffle you with my footwork, I’ll hit you and you’ll stagger in the direction I want. If you keep your presence of mind, you’re safe.

    • Upon a careful read through of the rules, I think I can build #2 by basing it on “Immunity to AC in excess of target’s Will+”
      Common/Major/Major
      Everything after that is details.

      I see what you guys mean about Immunity being a powerful emulation tool.

      • That will also work nicely. There are usually quite a few ways to build anything in Eclipse, although it does take some practice to develop a knack for picking out best one for any particular purpose.

        That is one of the things I enjoy about Eclipse really; other people’s builds are almost always nicely distinct from mine. It helps keep the characters unique.

        And Immunity can be used to simulate a very wide variety of special abilities. Of course, that does mean that the game master has to keep a bit of an eye on it.

    • Ah, Overwhelm… Rarely used in most of the local games due to most of them being played without maps – but useful when you do have a map, if only for shoving people into hazards, over cliffs, and into your allies attacks of opportunity.

      The quickest and cheapest way to do part of that is to take a five-foot step to the opposite side from the way you want your opponent to move and attack from there. That may not always be practical, but it is free.

      Effectively being able to attack from any desired direction could be taken to represent fancy footwork, an ability to force an opponent to step where you want them to, or the ability to acrobatically dance around an opponent. The quickest mechanical implementation there would be Immunity/static positioning; the user may presume that his or her attacks are being made from any desired facing. Since d20 lacks facing rules that’s generally (Common, Minor, Minor, for 4 CP). If you want, Corrupt that (Only from the front and sides, 3 CP) to represent not being able to leap over opponents entirely.

      There are a couple of ways to alter the defense that applies to an attack. The simplest is just the note that variants are fine in the “how do I use this product” section. Under that same clause you could use Finesse to do it, or you can just set it up as a Trick or another Immunity – which is good for simulating a lot of oddball abilities.

      The most efficient way to learn some special combat tricks may be to buy some Innate Enchantment and buy some mutually-exclusive use-activated weapon-boosting spells like the Bulwark build does; a weapon infusion effect that lets you move an opponent you hit and who fails to resist five feet seems pretty reasonable. Of course, that approach is pretty vulnerable to special defenses and dispelling.

  92. Oh, and one more . . .
    Codex. page 11+. Bottom of page tells me spells cost 1 CP.
    Is that to buy spells Up To the “spells known” number for your magic level?
    Or in Addition To those spells?

    Says “spells known” only useful to those with “Studies” limit.
    So . . . does that mean that the “spells known” number meaningless for others, who buy their # of spells straight?
    Does that mean that those With Studies limitation CAN’t use the 1CP/spell mechanic to buy them?
    That seems slightly backwards.

    • Buying spells comes in multiple levels – but basically it’s “in addition” to the usual allotment (discovered and purchased spells for casters with Studies who prepare their spells and their innate list for spontaneous casters with the Studies limitation).

      For 1 CP you’re simply acquiring access to a spell formula. If your Wizard really wants Fireball, but can’t find anywhere to acquire the formula from, he can just spend 1 CP and add it to his or her books. This is why the standard Wizard built is listed with Fast Learner Specialized in acquiring spell formula for double effect; that lets the automatically add two spells of any level they can currently handle to their books each time they level up.

      For 2 CP your wizard may similarly acquire an original, customized, spell that no one else has without all the trouble of researching it.

      It’s cheaper in CP to find or research spells, but requires more time and resources.

      Spontaneous casters normally get their specified allotment of inherent spells (original or not) automatically – but if there’s an extra formula or two they really want to get, they can pay twice the cost to go ahead and add a spell to their “known” list.

      Effects which can be cast spontaneously and which can be augmented – pumped up with extra power to do more – cost three times the basic one or two point cost; they’re effectively a package of spells in one.

      I hope that helps!

  93. If you’re playing Pathfinder, you can do that already, as outlined in the Advanced Player’s Guide.

  94. I got that, Alzy.
    But I’m not. So what’s the extra to be to in a world where most can’t?
    Also, that maneuver doesn’t let me do damage (though I suppose I could get ’round that with as Reflex Attack).

  95. About puchasing spells with cp, what modifier would there be if I wanted to pick up a spell or power that my character couldn’t cast normally? Either because it isn’t on the normal spell list or is just higher level than the character can cast.

    I was thinking of having a character who would use the spell enhancement option of Mana to reduce the level of a higher level spell to something he could normally cast.

    • Buying a spell formula does require that you be able to cast the spell in question – but using some special power to boost your abilities to let you do so works just fine.

      If you really want to have some formula that you can’t currently cast stuck in your head using up your character points, I’d probably let you get away with that too – with the provision that you couldn’t teach it to anyone until you’d actually been able to use it a few times.

      Sadly, spells usually count as a form of “Specific Knowledge” as far as powers like Enthusiast (or any other source of temporary CP) go – so you can’t normally come up with one with a bit of study or some boosting effect, write down the formula, and then trade out the temporary character point(s) for something else. Otherwise there’d be no need for spell research.

      The game master may let you get away with calling it an “intuitive understanding that cannot be taught”, or with taking an immunity to that restriction – perhaps to simulate a comic-book style sorcerer who’s spells vary from time to time. Perhaps…

      Double Enthusiast, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect/only for spell formula, spells are intuitive and cannot be taught, spell selection is up to the game master, and depends on the (very rarely repeated) time of year and positions of the stars and planets (6 CP).

      That would give your sorcerer-type a trio of floating spells that the GM could change regularly to suit himself or herself – and the demands of the plot. Thus, just as in the comics, your sorcerer could occasionally haul out just the spell that he or she needs – and then it may never show up again, no matter how convenient it would be in a later story.

  96. Codex, page 25: Augmented Bonus.
    In the text, it states that Paladins, for example, buy the Improved version of this 3 times (to apply to all 3 saves.
    Does this mean they spend 6 (base) + (3 x 6) (Improved x 3)?
    OR
    (6 + 6) x 3 ?

    Examples on page 179 imply the former. Is that intentional?

    • They’re buying Improved Augmented Bonus (Cha Mod to a particular saving throw) at a cost of 6 CP (the Augmented Bonus part) + 6 CP (the Improved part) three times. That would be 36 CP – but they’ve specialized the entire package, bringing the cost down to a total of 18 CP.

      In this case, they’re just buying the basic ability three times and applying it to similar situations.

      The triple-cost rule would apply if someone wanted to add three modifiers to a single roll – lets say they wanted to apply their Charisma, and Intelligence, and Dexterity modifiers to reflex saves. Adding the second modifier costs 12 CP (Improved Augmented Bonus) – but adding a third costs another 36 CP, since that triples the cost of Improved Augmented Bonus.

      That’s almost certainly not worth it – but it’s not forbidden, some weird build might call for it.

  97. Again, thanks for the positive energy articles!

    When I was reading them, something came to mind. When the two original energons (sp?), the inhabitants of the energy planes (yag-ya and yeg-yi or something similar), came into contact, they exploded. I wonder what kind of energy would result from that. It isn’t positive or negative as those are canceled by the reaction. Any thoughts on that?

    • You’re quite welcome – and there may be another along eventually. So many notions, so little time…

      As for positive-negative energy explosions, I can think of a number of ways to see those.

      1) The contact triggers a massive energy-surge from the positive material plane – only a small part of which can pass on into the negative plane. The explosion is positive-energy based, and does Sacred damage, possibly with fire and lightning side effects.

      2) We go with physics, and say that waste energy normally goes to heat (or, since some of the “waste energy” will be negative energy, to heat and cold).

      3) The damage results from two opposing fundamental forces neutralizing each other, tearing apart the structure of the prime material plane in the area. That could be a disintegration-type effect, it could be physical damage as “cracks” spread momentarily through nearby space like a network of infinitely-sharp cutting blades, or it could be dimensional-distortion effects – crushing some areas while bloating others, with the damage occurring at the interface.

      4) Negative energy, being an active, life-devouring, thing surges into the material plane when such a contact is made – causing entropic decay to everything in the area (profane damage or disintegration again), or draining local life forces (inflict wounds or negative levels).

      5) The two do indeed neutralize each other. While this would result in nothing happening if it was perfect (and boring), we can presume that there’s a repulsive factor involved; otherwise just setting up a permanent gate between the two planes could cause major damage to the universe. When positive and negative energy are forced into contact, there is a massive explosion (force damage) and whichever one was present in greater quantity floods the immediate area. If the two quantities were equal, some spots get blasted with negative energy and some with positive.

      6) Depending on whether positive energy is related to magic, there may be side effects on spellcasting and supernatural abilities in the area – at the least, a disruption equivalent to a Dispel Magic spell, at the most a Disjunction effect (if the contact is large enough).

  98. How would you buy the ability to use a two handed weapon with one hand? Specifically, a spiked chain.

    I’m leaning towards an Immunity at the moment but was curious if there was another way to accomplish this.

    I’m making a character like a soulknife using a Spiked Chain as the base for the spirit weapon ability and exotic appearance of a segmented blade but want to keep one hand free for other things.

    • The easiest way is probably Anime Master (Specialized and Corrupted in a particular weapon); that will turn the specified two-handed weapon into a one-handed weapon for the user for a mere 2 CP. That still leaves the -2 penalty for using an inappropriately-sized weapon (if the GM thinks that’s appropriate) – but for that you can buy +2 Warcraft, Specialized and Corrupted/only for use with a particular type of weapon, only to make up for mismatched user and weapon size penalties, 4 CP).

      That’s a total cost of 6 CP or one feat – which fits in nicely for most builds.

    • One way would be to buy Inherent Weapon and upgrade the damage. You could also just fudge the rules. There’s no reason a character with enough strength couldn’t weild a larger weapon, or a heavier one. If he doesn’t have the strength, it might not make sense regardless.

  99. In Eclipse, using the Disabling enhancement from Augment Attack, you can’t drop a target’s Move below 10′.
    But the Scorpion Style Feat from Pathfinder (which I dare say is the conceptual father of this Special Ability), drops it to 5′.
    How do I do a buy that matches Pathfinder?
    Immunity? (it’s always Immunity?)
    “Immunity to Normal Limits on Disabling”?
    Common, Minor, Minor?

    Any other ideas?

    • Well, first a correction; Eclipse is three years older than Pathfinder – so, if there is any relationship, it would be the Scorpion Style Feat which is derivative. I’ll admit that I do find it pleasing that I haven’t seen anything in Pathfinder yet that you can’t do in Eclipse.

      There probably isn’t any direct relationship though. After all, the notion of hitting a target in the leg so that it can’t move as fast seems to go back well before humans existed.

      In any case, the Pathfinder version of this general ability requires that the strike be unarmed (fulfilling the Eclipse requirement for “a specific situation”) and also provides a saving throw and a limited duration, rather than for the duration of the encounter. Ergo, to build a rough equivalent buy Augment Attack/Disabling (when making unarmed attacks), Specialized and Corrupted (allows a saving throw and wears off quickly) for increased effect – raising the speed reduction to 30′ and reducing the minimum to 5′ (or, arguably, even 0′).

      Immunity is very useful when you’re building really odd powers, but it isn’t really necessary in this case.

  100. Thank you for your prompt reply.
    I stand corrected re derivation.
    Still a little hazy on some of this justification.
    I Get that It’s an Augment Attack; I get the unarmed = the specific situation required.
    But the Base Augmented Attack rules spell out that “Creatures . . . who make a Fortification check are immune . . . to Augment . . . effects.”
    I have looked all over Eclipse, and 3.x, and can find no reference to “Fortification”. Was that supposed to be “Fortitude”? If so, does this not mean the saving throw is already built in (and thus not grounds for Corruption)?
    Also, would you really call it specialized for an attack to wear off in (level) rounds? How long does the average D20 encounter last?

    • Fortification is a standard system reference document magic armor property that can negate sneak attacks and critical hits on a 25%, 75%, or 100% chance for Light (+1 equivalent), Medium (+3), and Heavy (+5) Fortification. Whether or not it’s worthwhile is a bit debatable; most d20 opponents aren’t too big on sneak attacks.

      The Specialization is in allowing a simple saving throw (which every opponent gets) versus not allowing the vast majority of opponents to resist unless they’re wearing magical armor with a specific, and fairly uncommon, function.

      Wearing off relatively quickly (in a number of rounds equal to the user’s wisdom modifier (not level)) is being taken as a corruption; for most characters (Wis Mod) rounds is indeed a rather short time – it greatly reduces the effects utility when you want to escape something, during extended encounters, during long chases, and in similar situations.

  101. AAhhhh! THANk you for finding that for me – while I thought I remembered such a game mechanic, I did not remember the name, and “Fortification” does not appear in the index of my 3,5 DMG.

    Ditto pointing out my error re duration.

    You know, one of the few things nicer than a well designed system, is being able to actually Ask the DeSigner when you come across something you don’t quite get. (Are you listening , Steven Long?)

    • You’re quite welcome. At this point I’ve been back and forth through the SRD so many times that it’s halfway memorized anyway.

      Pathfinder not so much so – all the local games use Eclipse – but they’ve got a nice online database.

      And thanks for the compliment there! (Although I must admit that, if Eclipse was one of the most popular d20 variants, I’d probably have to make answers to questions more of a “check the index to see if that’s been asked before first” sort of thing).

  102. Well, then . . . thank you for not FAQing us. Yet.

    And I guess here’s to you remaining obscure (?)
    : )

    • Ah well. Perhaps one of these days I will compile a FAQ page. The only trouble is that I hardly ever get the same question twice anyway…

      Publicity and such, or at least some reviews, would be nice – but I sent off review copies of the various books to an assortment of reviewers and got no response. Just too far outside the usual d20 box I suppose. I fear I’m better at writing systems than I am at publicizing them.

  103. Suppose you want to use an oversized version of a weapon you already have a Proficiency for – say, a bow, or throwing axe.

    I see Anime Master lets you do that . . . but does it do that by itself? Or do you also need a separate (Exotic?) weapons Proficiency?

    • Anime Master will cover that by itself, pretty much the same way you could use a colossal bow normally if you happened to be under the effects of a spell that put you in that size category.

      The +2 BAB in the spiked chain example was to make up for the penalty for using a (presumably) medium sized weapon two handed weapon as a one-handed weapon for an (effectively) large-size wielder.

      I hope that helps!

  104. There’s a weird issue in d20 where they never quite figured out how to deal with weapons of various sizes. I would prefer a specific “line” of weaponry for each type of blade, mace, or whatnot, and then let people scale them to their own size categories (a weapon of your size is one-handed, one higher is two-handed, one lower is a Light weapon, etc). The basic game tends to assume that every character uses the medium size chart, despite the presence of halflings and gnomes, various shape-changing spells, and other weirder races. But this is what we’re stuck with for now.

  105. What are the consequences of borrowing power from a patron (that is, a sentient entity, typically extraplanar), such as when using the Compact metamagic theorem? Specifically, what happens if you try to renege on the debt you owe it for the borrowed energy?

    To put it another way, does borrowing power create a purely “economic” debt, in that it has to enforce collection through mundane methods (e.g. pay us back or we’ll break your thumbs, burn your house down, beat up your friends, etc.)? Or does the act of borrowing their power leave you open to metaphysical consequences (e.g. they drain some of your vitality, or can take control of you a la dominate monster, or affect where your soul goes after you die)?

    Further, what other ways are there to use a patron’s power besides Compact metamagic or being a divine spellcaster (and, I beieve, using witchcraft)?

  106. First, the answer is Yes. It all depends on exactly from *whom* you’re borrowing the power from. You don’t get to use a “generic” patron unless your GM is very lenient, so you have to specify where the extra mojo comes from.

    This should guide you in terms of what the patron can do. However, if virtually every case, stiffing a patron will comes back to haunt you. Any beign with enough power to sell to spellcasters on demand has energy to burn, lots and lots of friends and favors owed it, and likely a lot of very unpleasant abilities to use on those who do the aforementioned stiffing. That said, patreons vary a lot, and what resources they can bring to bear varies greatly as well. As rules of thumb, a Patron…

    1. Knows exactly who is using their magic, including name, species, rough abilities* and description. They can usually find out a whole lot more, and a patron you owe a great deal will know everything you do, magically speaking.
    *Since players use Compact to push their spellcasting, this means they know mostly what kind of magic you can use, or however else you use Compact.

    2. Has some way of punishing those who don’t pay. Quite often, they byuild geases into their power, and failure to pay can trigger an automatic and difficult-to-remove curse.

    3. Has immense magical energy and enough magical skill to funnel it in the ways you need from another plan, which usually means Godfire. If you piss them off enough, they can indeed use Godfire to do very horrible, unavoidable things to you, or get someone else to do it for them. Removing such curses or dooms involve services equal to paying that Godfire back twice over – at least one epic adventure! Of course, lesser crimes might manifest in lesser curses, or perhaps in a whole sequence of them at the most obnoxious times.

    Use the Witchcraft rules for some tips on how sample pstrons might behave. In short, Law won’t usually take revenge but will completely cut you off and spread word you’re untrustworthy, Chaos is extremely unpredictable and might vary from unstoppable vengeance or simply ignore it, Evil will respond with especial cruelty and malice, and Good forces will often show up (in overwhelming force) to ask some extremely pointed questions about the matter.

  107. Enhanced Strike’s various options are all full attack actions.
    How would you go about constructing a version that is not?
    (or, for that matter, anything Else normally requiring full actions?)

    Reflex action (Move) would not appear to work, as it would have to be before Or after. Opportunist?
    Whichever mechanism you suggest, could you spell it out a bit? I see, to be a trifle dense about these things.

  108. Here’s another one:
    In D20 here is a Feat in the Improved Unarmed Strike tree, called Versatile Unarmed Strike; lets you change unarmed strike type to cut or pierce,

    Your Martial Art SKILL system allows for that, an ability available at 7 ranks.
    Is there a way to change the damage type outside of that?

    • There are several;

      At the simplest, the “Martial Arts” ability is generic and represents all forms of natural weapons – hence the type of damage it does is not specified. Even if the game master won’t let you stretch it to cover a couple of simple physical damage types (after all, quite a lot of creatures can both claw and bite, but usually only buy their unarmed attack once) you can always simply buy the ability again, specialized and corrupted/only to change the damage type. That way, if your martial artist wants to ignite his “Godfire Palm Technique” to battle the undead (and bypass some annoying damage reduction), he or she can.

      Imbuement will also work; the ability to shift weapon damage types is, I recall, a mere +1 equivalent. While I can’t recall offhand if that one is a core function, it’s certainly reasonable enough. Even better, at higher levels you can get additional bonuses this way.

      Augment Attack is related – and it’s another ability that can be used to represent a wide variety of types of bonus damage, since it’s damage type is likewise unspecified.

      Alternatively, as you note, you can use the Martial Arts system – which is, indeed, what I’d recommend. Since established martial arts – with key ability scores – do get to use the overall skill level to determine the number of abilities available, a +3 attribute bonus can put an advanced technique – such as Versatility – within easy reach of a first level character for a mere 3-4 skill points and will include some other worthwhile bonuses as well. If you want to drop those other bonuses for the moment, or the game master won’t agree that there’s an existing art that does what you want, simply Specialize your art (for double effect) in reaching Versatility – and you can again do it with 3-4 skill points, albeit without the lesser bonuses.

      You can do some exotic things with Innate Enchantment (see the Mutants of the Eclipse series – especially the Paragon and the Stealth Expert), Inherent Spell, and a wide variety of other abilities as well, but that’s headed off into a generic discussion of how to buy “martial arts abilities” – which could take up several pages.

  109. Again, thank you for your swift replies.
    (And season’s greetings – may the Dark Gods of the winter Solstice eat only a tiny portion of your soul)
    I must admit, I never thought about Specializing the Martial Arts skill to reach one Advanced Technique. The resulting points cost is about where I think it should be. Seems to be a blind spot for me, as I am always thinking about getting prices down, rather than expanding effects.

    • You’re quite welcome.

      And when the Elder Gods arise, and we ride the Shantak-Birds beyond the miniscule circles of the mundane earth, I shall save you a seat…

      More seriously, Specialization and Corruption are extremely powerful tools – and I am still often surprised by other people’s character designs using them. They often build abilities that would never have occurred to me – which is a lot of fun to see and it helps keep things fresh.

      I wouldn’t worry about blind spots; I’m still finding new combinations myself, and I wrote the thing.

  110. Using Eclipse’s epic spell system, what level would a spell need to be to create a planet, star or other cosmic feature? It is a bit confusing as the spell to regenerate a star is of higher level than the one that allows the creation of a solar system within a demiplane.

    And gravity isn’t an issue as the setting is Spelljammer.

    • What’s going on there is that – at least in d20 – a lot of the traits and contents of a new dimension are determined by the creator. Ergo, the primary difficulty involved is simply a matter of scale; even if you want to fill in the details later, you just make the place highly accepting of your creative efforts.

      Rejuvenating a realistic, existing, star where the dimensional traits aren’t so obliging is a lot more complicated. Stars can blow up for all kinds of reasons – and dumping a lot of new hydrogen into the core of an existing star is just asking for it to do so. Governing all the complex feedback loops, and basically rebuilding that star bit by bit – breaking heavy elements back into hydrogen, removing excess heat, re-balancing radiation pressures, and so on – is a lot more trouble than adding stuff (even a great deal of stuff) to a dimension that you’ve set up to suit yourself.

      For Spelljammer, creating simple chunks of basic matter – stony or iron-bearing asteroids, superheated hydrogen, water, ice, or clouds of gas and dust – is fairly simple; the basic spell is about level three (for your choice of basic material and a bit of sculpting). From there you can simply scale up – about +7 levels for a castle-sized chunk, +10 for your basic asteroid, +11 for a large asteroid, +12 for a continent-sized mass, +13 for a good-sized moon, +14 for a stony planet, +15 for a gas giant, +16 for a small star, +17 for a large star, and +18 for enough materials for a solar system. All of these will, however, get a -3 level credit as independent spells for their masses of built-in metamagic – for a net spell level of ten to eighteen.

      Summoning up appropriate inhabitants calls for an additional effect; conjuring a simple plant is only level one (“Summon Basil Plant” just isn’t that hard, regardless of how handy it is for a chef) – and the massive dose of scaling metamagic will handle taking “a tomato plant” to “a massive forest”. Given that, and for a quick approximation, call it L3 for animals, L5 for monsters and relevant spirits, and L7 to get a poor confused “native inhabitant”. I’ll figure that each of these covers the lesser effects as well.

      So “Create a Complete World (In an existing dimension)” calls for a L7 primary effect (inhabitants), +2 levels for the secondary L3 elemental creation effect, +14 levels of area, and -3 levels for built-in Metamagic – for a level twenty effect. You could drop it to L17 for a good-sized asteroid, or – for that matter – raise it to level twenty-four to create a Dyson Sphere.

      I hope that helps!

      • Yes, it does.

        And it gives me an idea for a level 18 spell: create sargassum sea- the giant patches of plants that have an anti-magic quality.

  111. 1) The “Doubled Damage” combat ability requires a “very specific situation” for use. Would a requirement of a Full round action, AND a -2 attack, be sufficient?
    (Drawing from the “Decisive Blow” option for Monks in Handbook II)

    2) If an Ability has another as a prerequisite (e.g., a certain Strength), and can thus be ‘turned off’ by the right ability drain, is that worth Corruption?

    • Well, the Monk version is also limited to unarmed attacks and monk weapons – which certainly seems workable. It would come closer to the Player’s Handbook II version if it simply halved the number of attacks you got during a full attack. The per-level upgrades would require a few more points here and there – but then it is supposed to be a bit more effective than the basic Flurry of Blows it’s replacing.

      I, personally, don’t think I’d let it apply to Attacks of Opportunity though. “I see an opening in passing and take a quick shot!” really doesn’t seem compatible with “I take extra time to focus on a precise and more damaging attack”.

    • Oops, I was interrupted and missed answering the second half; ergo, here it is.

      As a rule, adding prerequisites isn’t worth a price break. There are several reasons for that;

      Firstly, in an open system you aren’t giving up anything up front. Since you’re picking your own prerequisite, you will, of course, pick something you easily qualify for.

      Secondarily, prerequisites are rather difficult to take away. In the case of strength, how often do you run into strength-reducing effects? And how easy are they to fix? That can wind up with a character with a “corruption” that almost never affects them – and then only for a few seconds.

      You can get around that of course by adding an element to the Corruption that requires natural, or at least slow, recovery of reduced attributes – but that risks running into all-or-nothing bottleneck designs; the character is extremely powerful until a trigger condition comes up – and then is useless. Such characters rarely play well.

      Of course if someone simply wants to save a enough points for an extra feat by shaving a bit here and there it doesn’t much matter; marginal power-level differences don’t mean much if you’re presenting a fairly wide range of challenges anyway.

      • I will dare to offer a disagreement, there.
        Party I am currently reffing got worn down (how did That happen!?) use up all their heals . . . and then two of them lost Wis to sanity challenging art, And another had caught a seVere case of rate bite fever. Now, as it happens None of them were depending on prerequisites, but it Can happen.

      • Oh it certainly can happen – and if various forms of draining and disabling effects are common in a particular setting that would indeed be a worthwhile corruption. Setting-dependent limitations do vary though – “only works at night” is usually Corrupted (since the characters can often choose when the activity takes place) – but in Asimov’s “Nightfall” setting it would mean that your power was only usable for a few hours every thousand years (that’s WAY past Specialized). It usually works better in more structured settings, where the characters aren’t free to simply purchase anything they like. I tend to run wide-open games though, and – at least in those (and to a lesser extent in other settings) – there are some problems with it to watch out for.

        -If an attack form is common, it’s hard to blame the characters for investing a bonus feat or a few points in a defense – and harder still if it keeps neutralizing their powers. Thus, if a character relies heavily on abilities with attribute prerequisites, and keeps getting hit with attacks that reduce his or her attributes, then investing in things like Grant of Aid, Inherent Spell (Restoration, Lesser Restoration, Protections, Etc), or an Immunity is only natural. If they take that route, soon enough their prerequisites will no longer be limiting – and thus will no longer be worth a price break. Of course, if you make them buy off those limitations entirely, now the protective abilities they had just purchased have far less value. It’s awkward either way.

        -Players are generally quite accepting of situational limitations; if their character’s powers don’t work underwater, they try to avoid that situation – and steer clear of underwater adventures or take special precautions. It their Sacred Blow power only works against undead, then that’s the way they bought it. Inflicted limitations are another matter though; quite a few players will – unfortunately – see them as “the game master is specifically targeting my character with crippling effects!”. That’s usually a false perception – but it can be hard to avoid when a limitation is invoked by a particular attack.

        -I, personally, usually find it a bit flavorless. That’s purely personal though.

        Either way, if it works well for your games, that’s the only criteria there is for “doing it right.” That’s why there’s no rigid list of “what is Specialized” and “what is Corrupted” in Eclipse; that will, inevitably, vary from setting to setting since things that work well for one game master may not work at all for others.

        And thank you by the way; that’s one of the more complex questions about the “why?” of various features of the Eclipse rules that’s come up so far. That’s always interesting!

  112. And now a new one,
    If a character buys Journeyman, at the intro level, but only usable for his first level build (only to buy up some skills to 5, and only for the initial character build), is that Corruption, or would that qualify for Specialized?
    I am thinking the value of that disad depends on how higfh the character is expected to get. If he dies/retires at level 3, it’s not that big a deal; if he goes to 20, MUCH greater reduction in utility

    • It would usually – at least in my games, which I do usually mean to last for a long time, qualify as “Specialized”.

      Of course, in practice, this usually means that “I want to save a few points at first level!” since – in longer games – such limitations are usually bought off later.

      For very short term games such a limitation would be pretty meaningless (and would be a complete waste of points for characters who were being built at second level or higher).

      I’d guess that someone wants to reach a particular ability available at skill rank five? A skill specialty or package deal or some such might work better.

  113. 1) One of my players wanted me to tell you he has the intention of giving your channeling system a thorough test.

    2) I think I may have found a flaw, and omission in your otherwise excellent framework.
    The rules let me have the internal equivalent of pretty much any magic item, whether through Innate Enchantment, Inherent Spell, or Spirit Weapon . . . but the only mechanism I can find for specifying EXternal enchantment is Really clunky.
    Equipage, with the Signature, lets you specify a Very expensive set load-out, which self replenishes. I suppose if it doesn’t replenish, that’s a Specialize. But then its an overPowering amount of $$/gear (at least, at 1st level) for just 9 (or less!) points.
    I think you would do better to just have a simple Wealth system. EIther a continuous scale of points, or a simple doubling function.

    • Well, for the player, I hope he has a good time with the system. The rules can always use a good workout!

      As for the external equipment question, the answer to that one got a bit long (and took a few days to finish up) – but here it is at last!

  114. I was reading Eclipse and Eclipse 2 and saw something that I can’t explain in how the Aquatic Elf’s swim speed is bought with Celerity.

    As I understand it (which I assume to be wrong) the package would work as follows to get the 40′ Swim speed listed in the MM.

    Additional Mode: 10′ Swim [12 CP]
    Celerity: +10′ to Swim, total Swim 20′ [+6 CP, 18CP total]
    Improved: +10′ to Swim, total Swim 30′ [+3 CP, 21 CP total]
    Improved: +10′ to Swim, total Swim 40′ [+3 CP, 24 CP total]
    End result being Swim 40′ for a total of 24 CP.

    The listed CP cost in Eclipse 2 is “Celerity/Swim +30 (12 CP)”.

    So again from my understanding it just presumes that because elves can swim (just by taking a 10 on the skill untrained) that the only thing that needs to get added is the first +10 which costs 6, then two more +10s for a cost of 3 and 3, totaling 12 for a +30′. This matches what is in Eclipse 2 but I do not know if that is the intended.

    A separate concern is that the Celerity ability is counted as “bonus movement for the purposes of skills” which I take to mean it would not impede the use of Hide, Move Silently and Survival (for tracking) and other situations in which a character must limit their speed or have a penalty to some other skill.
    Would this then mean that all purchases of Celerity could be Corrupted: counts as normal total speed for penalties based on movement” or something approximate.

    Thank you for your time.

    • For the Aquatic Elves that is, indeed, the case; Elves can already swim, so it’s not a new movement mode. Something like an Iron Golem – which presumably, thanks to it’s density, cannot swim – would need to purchase a new movement mode, and so has to pay more.

      For humans and other creatures who can already swim, learning to swim more quickly is a lot easier than learning to do something they can’t do – such as a human learning to fly.

      For Celerity in general, you’re quite right; it doesn’t count when assessing skill penalties for movement. Whether or not that’s sufficient to count as a Corruption is up to your game master. If – as in many games – such penalties rarely come up, he or she will probably disallow it. If they do often come up, then it may well pass.

      Sadly, that is the price of a flexible rules system; some game masters will find options that are perfectly acceptable in other games unacceptable in theirs – and vice-versa. Thus the importance of the Campaign Options checklist and page 163.

      I hope that helps – and questions are always welcome.

      • So to give a character a Climb speed of 30′ would be
        Celerity +10′ (Climb 20) 6CP
        Celerity +10′ (Climb 30′) 3 CP, 9 CP Total
        Would that be correct?

        As a random bit of trivia, IIRC the Alexandrian made a calculation about the density of an iron golem based of of its 3.5 MM listed weight, it turned out they were mostly hollow and arguably would float like a cork if they were water tight, and if they weren’t a separate issue of freezing water expansion comes up.

      • Well, your prior question will take a little longer, but these are much simpler;

        That would indeed give a normal humanoid character a climb speed of 30′ – although a centaur would probably have to spend some more points, given that they don’t naturally climb much of anything.

        For iron golems, that’s quite true as far as it goes; calculating weights for golems is an old routine that goes back at least to the early issues of Dragon Magazine – in particular the “How heavy is my giant” article (Dragon Magazine #13, back in 1978) – however, unlike earlier editions (which mostly did not give a weight), the current illustrations for an Iron Golem appear to show animated suits of superheavy armor – and appear to be anything but watertight.

        Fortunately, when water can easily escape, water expansion from freezing is far less of a problem; the excess will simply be pushed out – which is why the expansion of freezing water does not normally crush boat hulls or smash dams.

  115. I want to develop a setting where ritual magic ( as per LHF) is the only form of magic the PCs have access to. However I still want them to be able to make some magic items. I am going to replace all the creation feats with the ritual magic skill. Might you have any suggestions on modifiers for this?

    • Rather than modifiers, you might use the Create Artifiact ability. That can include rituals, of course, and lets you arbitrarily add whatever modifiers, materials, or other nuisances you care for.

    • Well that depends a lot on what you want the characters to be able to make.

      As a general rule, the main control mechanism should probably be the required ingredients. No matter what difficulties you assign, if they’re possible for a reasonable number of NPC’s to make, a PC who decides to work at it will easily blow past them. Ergo, it’s all right to have a reasonably low DC – provided that the ingredients are hard enough to come by to keep anyone from setting up for mass production. After all, you probably don’t want the characters to have access to stacks of magic items in a setting without direct spellcasting,

      Of course, this also means that magic items should be worthwhile and – at the high end – often unique. If the characters get their hands on some “healing potions”, then they should heal quite a lot of damage – and probably be useful against diseases, poisons, and similar problems that are difficult to heal without magic.

      For one-shot, and not especially powerful, items, it’s generally best to use ingredients that can be produced – but only slowly. If producing a “healing potion” requires water that has passed a cycle of the moon being purified on the high altar at one of the three great temples of the kingdom, then “healing potions” will be available – but there will only be a few per kingdom per month. Expect the great temples and the local ruler to have a small stockpile, for one to be dispensed occasionally as a minor miracle of the church, and for major individuals to be able to get one once in awhile – albeit more often for the “save my dying child” sort of motive than for “save myself a week of healing up”.

      In one of our playtest games one character wanted to forge a holy sword – and wound up chasing all over the map to reassemble the lost formula from the fragments in ancient libraries, then chasing halfway around the world after the components. Actually making the thing was the easy part.

      I hope that helps. If it was something else you had in mind, please let me know.

  116. Do they (both replies) help, yes. Are they what I was looking for, not so much. What I was asking for were numbers like caster level* X3, X 2, X1, X.5 or something else as a modifier to the ritual magic skill check. Considering that you have been using your system for a while and know the balance issues much more than I, what modifier would you use?

    *As in CL required to make said item

    • Well, if you’re using the Legends of High Fantasy ritual system, the basic DC for enchanting a “permanent” item via ritual is going to be Area (-), Duration/Eons (+20), and Effect/Severe (+10) or Grandiose (+20). You could throw in a special modifier for the items caster level – but each such item is going to be a semi-unique project calling for weird ingredients anyway. Legends of High Fantasy doesn’t allow as many modifiers and bonuses as Eclipse.

      Going with the basic Eclipse system, the basic DC is ten plus twice the caster level of the item you want to make – since that’s twice the level of the character who’d be needed to do it normally. Thus a ritual to create an item with a caster level of 12 would be DC (10 + 2 x 12) = 34. Given that you want a permanent or semi-permanent item without any erratic curses or limitations, you want the absolute minimum possible side effects – ergo, you want to get at least DC + 10 (for “Minimal side effects”( or – preferably – DC +20 (for minimal or nonexistent side effects). Ergo, what you’re really shooting for is DC 54. Even with Luck, that calls for a +34 bonus.

      That kind of DC can be overcome of course – but it generally will call for scraping up some special bonuses, which takes things right back to ritual components – which means that, if you want that Wand of Lightning you’re going to be hunting for a stormfruit from the Tree of Winds which (blooms at the edge of the world once every hundred years) and a dagger blessed by the King of the Fire Elementals.

      I hope that that was more what you wanted to know!

      • Yes, it is and it looks like I will be doing some modifications so the Eclipse system.

        I don’t know if you get a notification for every response made, but I was looking through some of the older articles you wrote to answer my questions and I noticed I did not answer a question of yours. It is in one of the alchemy articles and I finally provided the s15 info for the EN World magazine article. Sorry about that.

      • Well, modifications and recommendations as to what to allow and not to allow are always possible of course. I think I could help a bit more with a better idea of what kind of results you want since each tweak has various consequences.

        Ritual Magic is normally there to let the players do unique things – and to substitute a bunch of little side-quests that they can manage for some major act that they can’t.

        A high, but reachable, DC in Eclipse is functionally just an announcement that “you’ll need to buy some highly specialized abilities to do this – but then will be able to do it fairly routinely”. The intent with ritual magic is that doing without the little side-quests that make it interesting should be expensive enough to make simply buying the abilities you want directly more attractive.

        Still, if all you want is to brew a few potions (caster level one), the net DC for that in the standard system is a mere 12 – and a temporary item can afford a few side effects at DC 22 if you can’t reliably make the DC 32 check for none at all. Of course, this implies that Luck with Bonus Uses (Specialized in making Potions only, 6 CP), or some skill boosting abilities specialized in ritual magic, are fairly cheap – and that it will be easy enough to find a potion-seller who’s capable of making low-end potions pretty much on demand. That is, after all, the d20 default.

        Do you want – say – low-end potions and temporary charms to be fairly readily available while keeping powerful items rare, wonderful, and requiring quests to make? The standard system will handle that – but, if no more direct magic is available, you can expect your would-be magicians to be hauling around arsenals of one-shot gizmos in batman-style utility belts.

        Do you want major enchantments to be fairly readily available to the wealthy? Let rituals for making major items require relatively common, but very expensive, components. Now there’s no questing involved; just lots of cash.

        Do you want even potions to be rare objects of wonder? This will require a larger tweak, since that’s a LONG ways from the d20 default. Ergo, the long-term storage of any magic may require some very special catalyst or be of great difficulty. That keeps stuff off the streets, but once a character CAN handle that, they may be able to make a wide variety of permanent items. Still, this is a pretty simple world law.

        If you want a more first-edition style – where potions required specific and somewhat hard-to-come-by ingredients – then you may want to use “Create Artifact” as the magic-item creating basis and simply make a ritual magic check a final component of assembling your item. Thus making a healing potion might be a pretty simple ritual – once you had a thread from a saint’s garment, or a shaving of unicorn horn, to provide the healing power for the mixture.

        And thank you for the reference. Perhaps I’ll be able to find the OGC portion online somewhere.

  117. To ask a completely separate question, in the 3.5 PHB2 the Druid is given an alternative for Wild Shape and Animal Companion. This allows at will Swift action shifting to a form that starts out as a generic quadruped (that can be skinned to look like any the user is familiar with allowing a VERY good disguise option) with a modest strength and natural armor boost, 1d6 Bite and a base move of 50′, which is true for any of the previously mentioned skins. It also has a few more advanced shifts at higher levels getting a flight based one at 5th and a Large bruiser one at 8th

    The obvious ways I see about how to replicate this would be one of the following; Path of the Dragon, Innate Enchantment and a modified version of Shapeshift.

    The Path of the Dragon version would seem to be the most simple to build as a direct replication. In general use the same build idea as the Warlock to buy the different forms as an effect.

    The Innate Enchantment would use an Alter Self variant and progress out from there.

    The Shapeshift options presents some of the largest problems. The # of uses per a day is just something that would need to get worked out between player and DM along the lines of “How many bonus uses do I need to buy in order to handwave the whole thing”. Likewise the swift action has a ready answer in using a version (possibly corrupted) of reflex action to “grant an additional standard action after using shapeshift to change to or from a shape”. The real point of contention seems to be in that Shapeshift is based around assuming specific forms and becoming a generic (10s and 11s scores with mods) and all of the ancillary abilities. The PHB2 option is based around a generic framework that has a set of static boni that are added to a characters natural scores.
    In Shapeshift it would be built as having the Attribute Mods option. It also might have the entire package be corrupted or specialized as despite looking like a different creature the form is always the same with a different appearance.

    On a somewhat related note to my first question, could you explain in greater detail what exactly is meant by the Variants options and its exact implementation and rules. IE is it really like just having Alter Self up at all times, such that you could become any presumably humanoid that you wished subject to HD caps?

    I also would like some clarification on the Power Words ability. What and where do the spells that it stores come from, is it only giving you an ability to cast a limited number of your own spells from a possibly separate pool as a move action or is it capable of storing any spell you could somehow put into it? If the latter, how do you charge up that pool?

    • The basic shapeshift response has turned into a fairly long article, which is not yet done (pesky real life; it’s put the entire blog behind) – but the last couple are easy enough;

      Variants is basically identical to Alter Self. A shapeshifter with that ability doesn’t really have a “default” form when transformed and may make small changes at will without it counting against their shapeshifting limit; they may change their hair color, facial features, and all other details within the bounds of the basic form. Thus, if they’re being a human, they could be an immensely fat human, a midget, a towering seven-and-a-half foot “giant”, a weird mutant with claws, or whatever.

      Power Words is simply a spell-storing ability. You can fill your storage capacity with your own spells or with spells provided by any other cooperative source as you would a Ring of Spell Storing or similar device. As for the exact procedure… I can think of many special effects, but it mostly comes down to “Are you ready? I’m going to be releasing the spell into the spot you’re focusing on – ah, your cupped hands, yes? – in 3… 2… 1… Now!”.

      For a more technical comparison, it’s a bit like charging a battery or a capacitor.

      When I get the shapeshifting article done I’ll put up another response here to link to it.

  118. Do you have any thoughts on the announcement of 5e?

    • Primarily that it’s not exactly news. A games company that’s looking for reasonable profits needs to sell lots of material – and the RPG market is relatively limited. Modules only appeal to a small section of that already-limited audience. Selling expansions and new “core” books and materials soon reaches saturation; the people running the game don’t really need any more materials after a point – and may find the rules set becoming impossibly unwieldy, leading to them not wanting any. Ergo, you appeal to the players by introducing ever-more-powerful stuff for them – which soon leads to game master rebellion as they refuse to allow the new options.

      Thus each new book sells less and less – and the only way to reset the process is to sweep away all the old material, tell everyone that it’s obsolete, and produce a new edition. If you try to stay back-compatible, people will just keep using the old stuff and you won’t get that fresh start. Thus my old Champions books are still mostly compatible with the current rules – and so I don’t buy much new Champions material; I’ve got plenty now.

      Personally, I suspect that a section of the design department was put to work on exploring options for the fifth edition pretty much as soon as fourth edition was sent to the printers.

      I also suspect that the results may be disappointing; at this point the fanbase is so divided that a new edition may not make that much of an impression.

  119. Is the Stable modifer for Extradimensional Spaces (pg 73 in TPE) meant to be +0 or was the number omitted? And can I apply Stable to the Wizard pack spell listed previously?

    • Looks like it got omitted somehow; an item for errata there (fortunately, the errata list is pretty short). It should be +1 for tolerating small, well-contained, portals (bags of holding and similar) and +2 for larger gates.

      While you can apply Stable to a Wizards Pack spell, putting one extradimensional space inside another will not further reduce the weight; that 5% figure will just be transmitted up the line.

  120. About Action Hero – Crafting:

    Do you think a gp value equal to (AP)^2 * 1000 gp is about right?

    I had someone interested in specializing it for effect and came up with that by comparing the stated examples. It does seem to break down at the Grandiose level though.

    • The formula your player is proposing works reasonably well as a guide to what fits into each category. It does get wonky for epic items though; that x10 cost modifier throws things off. At that level it’s probably easiest to just consider the 21-point “Epic” purchase as “and up”.

      If he’s proposing treating it as an amount of cash to spend, that probably should not be allowed;a first level characters action points would thus have a value of 9000 GP – perhaps twelve wands of first-level spells. At second level that character would be adding another 16,000 GP worth of gear, then 25,000 GP worth at level three, and so on. It also doesn’t work well if one character – say – spends his AP on separate occasions (getting a total of 3000 GP worth of gear out of them), while someone else spends all three at one time to get 9000 GP worth of gear out of those same three points.

      Overall, of course, Action Hero / Crafting and Money are normally modeling somewhat different things – which is why Crafting doesn’t cover the monetary costs of creating an item or bypass other prerequisites. Otherwise a sixth level character could nearly max out his or her action point pool at level six (saving up points over levels four through six to accumulate 21 points with a maximum pool of 22) and craft an epic item. Thus Crafting normally only covers the time and experience point requirements – leaving those upper-end and epic items safely out of reach of low-level crafters.

      Now, if you let someone Specialize it for increased effect – expanding bypassing the XP cost to cover bypassing the monetary cost as well and expanding bypassing the time to bypassing prerequisites as well (instead of, say, doubling the number of action points they get) – then you do have the potential for some game-breaking tricks. I wouldn’t suggest going with this variant.

      Inverting the effect – bypassing the monetary cost instead of the XP cost – has some precedent from first edition days; a very early Dragon magazine article (Dragon #5) suggested allowing wizards to create instant enchantments of great power by burning rather a lot (200,000 for a wizard blade, 300,000 for a ring of power) of experience points and 1d8 permanent hit points – but third edition costs are nothing like that. Unfortunately, relatively small amounts of experience points are fairly easy to come by in comparison to vast amounts of gold – so this option (or, game master forbid, a combination of this option and the standard one) pretty much amounts to “a big heap of free gear”. That does come at the cost of a modest character point investment, but it’s still probably over-efficient.

      Hopefully one of those is what you had in mind and helpful; if those aren’t answering what you and your player wanted to know, please just drop me another line.

  121. I don’t know if you two buy other companies material for ideas, but I just found a couple pdfs with spell ideas that are not in the metamagic section of Eclipse. Necromancers of the Northwest have Advanced Arcana and Advanced Arcana II.

    AA- spells that take up more than one slot (they are more powerful than others of their level) and spells that can be cast at two different speeds (immediate or standard) for two strengths.

    AA II- spells with two possible effects (use one or the other, like fire shield), spells that can gain a boost from the environment (night time boost darkness spells) and spells that can take up more than one slot (instead must take up more than one).

    No, I don’t work for them and this is simply an FYI.

    • I’ll take a crack at this, but since I haven’t seen specific examples of spells so modified I am going to have to use generalities:

      “Spells that take up more than one slot” – This sounds like a corrupted variation of the Spell Pool feat that doesn’t allow you to break apart the spell levels but still allows you to add them up. Perhaps 1/2 cost. I might also allow this as two separate spells: a metamagic-mimicking power boosting spell and the base spell. It would take two actions to cast (one for each spell) and still be subject to the limitations of maximum level of a spell that could be cast. If you wanted to still keep it as a single action, then that might be an application for Reflex Action (for casting a preparatory spell).

      “Spells that can be cast at two different speeds” – If the base spell is the faster one, then I would say the slower spell is under the effects of Compact to slow it down and another metamagic to boost the power accordingly. If the base spell is the slower one and you are boosting the speed, then that sounds like a combination of Easy and Compact.

      “Spells with two possible effects” – This sounds like a use of the Multiple – Combine metamagic with a Compact option (i.e. you have to choose which effect occurs). Offhand, I would rule that one is worth a -1 Spell Level for Compact purposes.

      “Spells that can gain a boost from the environment” – If the environment is somehow complimentary to the spell effect (i.e. fireball cast in a room filled with gunpowder) then I would give some sort of bonus for free. If the relationship is less direct, like casting spells relating to lycanthropes on the night of the full moon, then I would suggest that this is a combination of the Compact (for working at an appropriate time or place) and some other metamagic for boosting the power accordingly.

      “Spell that can take up more than one slot” – I am going to presume that means you can add an arbitrary number of additional spell slots as opposed to the one discussed above which I presumed required a specific number of spell slots. Again, this sounds like the Spell Pool feat used to add metamagic to a spell by combining the spell levels of multiple lower level spells. Since the version I proposed above wasn’t subject to a limit of how many you could add together beyond basic maximum spell level casting limitations, I would say the same answer applies.

      Now all of these can be used by a spell caster willing to put in a little research to build the metamagical effects into a base spell to create a version that does this automatically for you. That way your spell caster can whip out different versions of a spell to suit the situation seemingly on the fly with a little preparation.

      Hope that helps.

      • Which is, of course, a differing approach from mine – and thank you for that; it’s always good for there to be lots of ways to build any particular effect.

    • Well, I generally don’t buy material for ideas. After all, ideas are easy – it’s just finding the time to work them up that’s hard.

      Now, from what you’ve said here, it sounds like you’ve got five basic effects – most of them usually taken as metamagic built into the spell formula.

      1) Spells that take up more than one slot. Under Lerandor’s Rule (from The Practical Enchanter) taking up two slots is equivalent to adding +1 spell level in terms of raw power (not complexity). In Eclipse that’s the Compact Metamagical Theorem; using a second slot falls under “using expensive components or foci” – also saving one spell level. Thus, for example, a Fireball designed to take up two spell slots would be second level.

      2) Spells that can be cast at two different speeds for two different strengths (presumably the faster version is weaker). That’s Easy (Temporal), with the provision that using the temporal modifier drastically weakens the spell so that the “Easy/Temporal” modifier will be a good deal cheaper. That’s not one of the explicitly-listed variants, but that’s why there’s a note stating that “The matamagic feats listed below aren’t limited to just the effects mentioned here”.

      3) Spells with two or more possible effects are actually fairly common. First edition had quite a few of them – such as Chromatic Orb, or the various “Rainbow” spells. You can find more in The Practical Enchanter (such as Greater Invocation) or Paths of Power (II or Complete: the Weave of Magic path contains a selection of such spells). The general rule has always been that more options at a given level means either a higher price or weaker options – but it’s easy enough to design such spells either way. There’s no apparent need for metamagic there at all.

      4) Spells that can gain a boost from the environment aren’t new either (for example, using electrical spells underwater in first edition). Putting that into a spell formula is the equivalent of adding a level of the Amplify metamagic to provide a large boost when the spell is cast under specific conditions, rather than a smaller boost all the time. That’s just another application of Amplify.

      5) This is actually pretty much the same as (4) except that I suspect that the boost is middle-of-the-road rather than major since it’s easier to control when you want to invest extra slots in a spell than it is to control the environment. Thus in this version your boost condition is simply “when I’ve invested more slots than usual in this spell” – another minor bit of built-in Metamagic.

      Now I know that you weren’t exactly asking “how to do it in Eclipse” – but it really is hard to be very original in writing rules for games. There are enormous thickets of rules now.

  122. Thank you spellweaver and Thoth for those ways of using these spells.

    The one thing I forgot to mention is that the segmented spells (those with more than one slot) is that each slot requires a casting. So a three segemented spell takes 3 rounds (or 3 whatevers) as well as 3 slots to cast.

    • Ah, that sounds a lot like the old modular magic system. The classic example there was four level one effects – “Flaming Touch”. “Amplify Energy”. “Add Range”. and “Add Area”, all of which thrown in sequence added up to “Fireball”. Some players used to have a lot of fun with that system back in the hallowed days of first edition.

      Given that, I’m not really sure you need metamagic at all; it just sounds like “This very complicated spell formula includes several subspells which each contribute to the effect when cast in sequence. Any one by itself is useless”.

      • I don’t see it that way at all. A standard segemented spell (those that require more than one slot and casting time) allow lower level characters more access to more powerful spells with a significant risk. How many spellcasters are going to be ignored when they are obviously building power for more than 3 rounds?

      • I’m not sure where there’s a mechanical difference really – although I, of course, don’t have the sourcebook that this is from, so I may be missing something that’s obvious there.

        On the rules side, that’s simply a note that casting a segmented spell – a series of spells which each contribute to the effect when cast in sequence – can be disturbed at any point, since you’ve got to hold each partial spell ready to go while you cast the rest.

        That takes more time, occupies multiple spell slots, and can be disrupted at any point – but the caster is indeed building up power for a major effect (one probably beyond his or her normal limits or this wouldn’t be worth bothering with) over several rounds. It’s also going to be very tricky to design…

        That classical “modular spell” effect was fairly effective at lower levels, but got pretty expensive at higher ones; in current terms, combining those four first level slots and four rounds worth of casting to get a Fireball effect isn’t so bad if you really need a Fireball – but the expansion is geometric. It takes eight first level slots to build a fourth-level spell, and so on – which rapidly gets prohibitive. The practical limitation is usually picking up two or three spell levels.

        The effect got ported over to d20 as Lerandor’s Rule (from The Practical Enchanter) and was used in the Runesmith build – which is pretty good for a higher-level character with some magical abilities on the side.

        https://ruscumag.wordpress.com/2009/08/11/eclipse-lerandor%e2%80%99s-rule-and-the-level-one-runesmith-build/

        Anyway, I hope that helps out.

  123. About Siddhisyoga: If you get Fey or Efficient, do they apply to things aquired before you got them?

    Example: Gained Siddhisyoga at level 2, sacrificed 5000 gp to pick up various abilites.

    Then at level 6 you get Fey. Do you just increase sacrifices done later or can you spend xp to improve the 5000 gp used earlier?

    Same with Efficient, do you get 2/3 value of sacrifices from then on or does it apply retroactively?

    • Normally Fey and Efficient only apply to later purchases; trying to go retroactive can produce a lot of awkward bookkeeping – and once you have an innate enchantment it’s usually a done deal. It’s pretty much the same as buying an upgrade to item crafting that would have let you make twice as many (or better) wands; the one’s you’ve already made won’t automatically be improved or multiplied.

      Of course an Immunity (or a generous GM, which always works) might let it apply retroactively – but it would mean cooking up a reason why your old powers quit working suddenly until you spent some XP on them.

  124. Ok. The wording seems to imply that sacrificing treasure/GP sets a maximum budget that you then use to get enchantments with. I thought that maybe Fey and Efficient would boost that budget to allow for more enchantments.

    • Well, there’s no wrong way as long as you’re having fun with it and your game master will allow it. After all, anyone who wants to invest in Siddhisyoga at all seriously will probably buy the upgrades as soon as possible anyway – so it will probably never involve a particularly large sum.

      Either way you wind up going, I hope you’ll have fun with it!

  125. I forgot about the runesmith. I will have to reread it in Eclipse 2.

    I have a TPE question. I want to apply the conditional idea to potions. There are three basic ways that I thought of on applying it: internal versus external, environmental and species specific effects.

    If a potion has a different effect for each the 6 basic races (ignoring half elves), how should I price it? Or if it has a different effect above and under water?

    I would post a link to some examples, but I don’t know if you would want that on your blog.

    • Hm. Well, if the complexity is in the spell formula, that would just be a standard potion – so that’s probably not what you mean.

      As far as stacking multiple conditional formulas into a single potion go… that’s potentially useful, but you only get to use one of them. Thus if you have – say – three formulas, then your base costs would get a cost modifier (page 106, probably in the “Special” category) of about x.4. After all, there’s a two-in-three chance for each effect that you wouldn’t get to use it.

      Since that chance goes up as more effects are added, x.2 each for a set of six seems reasonable.

      Generalizing that pattern gives us a cost for each sub-effect of x (1.2 / the number of effects).

      And I’d be delighted with a link to some examples; relevant links (as opposed to all those annoying spammers) are always welcome.

      It’s kind of late here, and so I may be overlooking something obvious – but I hope that helps!

  126. Keep in mind that they are in Labyrinth Lord format and I didn’t use the spell lists for ideas. They are the result of brainstorming. Still some ideas on how to price these things (if different from you suggestions above) would be more appreciated.

    http://skirmisher.com/node/405

    • Not a problem – and I will try to find a little time to do some deconstruction on them.

    • Given that the link is dead, I’ve recovered the page from the wayback machine – and here’s the content. Hopefully Derek will not mind.

      Complex potions are those that have more than one effect or require some sort of environment to function correctly. There are three basic types: external versus internal, environmentally or magically enhanced and species specific effects. Some act as cursed items if used incorrectly and others are just plain cursed. Some examples in LL format (keeping in mind my ability to come up with names sucks):

      Potion of the Insect turns the character into a giant insect for 2d4 turns. Humans are turned into giant ants, halflings into giant locusts, dwarves into giant ground beetles and elves into giant wasps (with a non-lethal poison).

      Potion of Horror turns the user into something permanently. If taken aboveground, the drinker becomes an illithid head. If taken out to sea, the result is a morkoth. If taken underground, the result is a hellhound. A save versus poison negates the effect.

      Darkness’ Blessing acts a poison when the user is exposed to sunlight, a healing potion when the user is in darkness and extra-healing at night.

      Wolf Slayer turns werewolves to stone the moment they are touched by direct moonlight.

      Battlefield Corpse changes the appearance of the drinker to a hacked up carcass and acts as a feign death spell for d4 hours

      Rootbound is a potion that is usually used by druids. It turns the drinker into soil and allows an extended version of commune with nature. It lasts 2d4 hours and allows a question per hour.

      Troll Blood Potions are tricky. If made in correctly, the potion is cursed and turns the drinker into a troll over 3d4 hours in a very painful manner. Those that are made correctly act as a regenerate spell for humans and halflings, a neutralize poison spell for dwarves and will either animate dead elves or turn their corpses into a plant growth spell (GM or player’s decision).

      Fallen Starlight allows a line of sight teleportation during the day and astral projection at night. Alternatively, at night it allows the character to wander the stars, however the GM defines that.

      Fallen Moonlight turns the user into a wolf during the day and a giant bat at night. This lasts until sunset or sunrise.

      Fallen Sunlight makes the user glow. If taken during the day, the glow has a 30′ diameter. If at night, the diameter is 100′ and it automatically drives off undead weaker than a lich.

      Potion of Elder Insight gives a wisdom bonus for d4 hours. Elves get +4, dwarves (and gnomes if you use them) get +3 and everyone else gets +2.

      Potions of Slime convert sweat and bacteria on the skin into a grey ooze. Aboveground, it attacks the drinker. Below, it serves the drinker. In either case the ooze is permanent but the control only lasts d6+6 turns, then the ooze turns feral.

      Potion of Inner Strength adds to one feature of one’s race. My suggestions are humans can not be tired, halflings hide in shadows as elven cloaks, dwarves can not become lost under ground, elves gain 2 caster levels and with the AEC, gnomes gain speak to plants and animals and half orcs gain +2 to strength and +2 to constitution.

      Potion of the Peasant’s Feast turns 50 pounds of objects into food. Metals provide one meal per 10 pounds, stone provide one meal per 8 pounds, wood one meal per 5 pounds, soil one meal per two pounds. Magic items are immune to this potion. It is meant to be a food version of sweetwater.

      The one I am not sure of how to do exactly is the Potion of Creation. It allows the consumer to take an object from his dreams (minimum 4 hours sleep). It can cost no more than 500 gp. What I can not figure out is how race and/or alignment would affect what objects can be created.

      I have no idea how to price any of these. Have any suggestions? How about suggestions for more complex potions?

  127. How would I go about making a character who could apply metamagic thorems to an inherent spell or innate enchantment?

    I have a character who I want to have a usuable-at-will magical attack as well as a normal spell progression with several metamagic thorems and I wanted to use the rationale that he advanced his metamagic abilities by experimenting wirh his magical attack instead of book knowledge.

    Other than an Immunity( to being unable to apply metamagic to innate spells or innate enchantments), I don’t really see a way to do this.

    • Personally, I would look long and hard at using Enthusiast to buy either the Inherent Spell or Innate Enchantment. Normally Enthusiast is 3 cp spent to get 1 floating cp, but if you specialize it so that it can only be applied to a specific set of abilities, you can typically get 2 floating cp for every 3 cp spent. Choose the higher level spell slot you’ll need to support the metamagics you want to cast on the base spell and then figure out the point cost for that slot.

      Add a 50% markup to represent the Enthusiast cost and that should cover what you are looking for. You’ll now be able to cast an Inherent Spell or use an Innate Enchantment with varying metamagics applied to it. You’ll be stuck with a 72 hour lockout before you can swap out what metamagics you’re using though, unless you buy another ability to speed that up further.

      It’s certainly not a cheap way of doing things, but it avoids having to ask permission for that Immunity power (which I feel is always a positive). Plus I’m a fan of Enthusiast despite it being one of the less used abilities in my experience.

    • Inherent Spells and Enchantments are usually fixed effects, rather than being open to being filled with any kind of effect like a spell slot – but there are still several ways to go about that.

      The simplest way is to buy your metamagics and Streamline – possibly Specialized and Corrupted to apply to a few inherent spells or innate enchantments. Both Inherent Spells and Innate Enchantments can be upgraded – and an “upgrade” that doesn’t add any spell levels doesn’t cost anything. That way, for a relatively modest number of character points (the Streamline cost), you could experiment with a wide variety of boosts to your magical attack. The Shadow Elves from Eclipse II take this approach.

      To do things another way you could use a variation on Greater Invocation from The Practical Enchanter, and simply take a spell that produces an extremely narrow range of effects – such as “Flame Dart (L1) with +1 Level of any Metamagic (+2 levels or so). That’s likely to be more expensive in terms of character points, but doesn’t limit things to metamagics you’re currently familiar with.

      The Immunity approach – say paying for a second-level Innate Enchantment or Inherent Spell while only taking a first level effect and buying an immunity to let you swap in +1 level of metamagic to fill the
      rest of the slot – would work, but it does seem like a rather clunky way to go about it.

      The Path of the Dragon – a Specialized version of the Pulse and Heart of the Dragon abilities – would let you get away with creating spells that included the equivalent of various metamagics on the fly – but that will only work as an unlimited attack in games where the game master is willing to let you get away with a liberal interpretation of things (or you take an appropriate immunity – but an immunity to a rules requirement also requires special permission).

      The Enthusiast approach that Spellweaver kindly mentioned is the most versatile way of all, since it can easily be upgraded to put those floating points into all kinds of other abilities – or even into specialized abilities to fit particular quests. (For an example of that, see https://ruscumag.wordpress.com/2010/07/26/you-have-no-power-over-me/ )

      I hope that helps!

      • Thanks for the help and ideas.

        But I do have a question about Enthusiast. Does Adaptation need to be multiple times if you get Enthusiast more than once?

        Most abilities say if an upgrade only needs to be bought once to apply to an ability bought more than once (Create Item for example). Adaptation could be read either way.

      • Adaption need only be purchased once. Sadly, the flip side is that bit about “redirect a CP”. That limits things to shifting around 3-4 CP a day. Still, that’s still only a couple of days to swap out a basic 6 CP feat; it just means that you can’t swap around a bunch of CP overnight.

        And you’re quite welcome there. Questions are always welcome!

  128. In Paths of Power, the third appendix is “Other SRD Domains”. Looking at the SRD, I can’t find them. What is the source(s) for these?

    • Ah, that one’s easy. Almost all of them are under “Divine Domains and Spells”, but the Mind domain (which may be the one you’re looking for) is under “Psionic Spells”.

      • Damn. I have always used http://www.d20srd.org/ and now I find out that it is incomplete.

        Thank you for that insight.

        And an FYI- the preview pdfs on OBS for your stuff leads to a dead site. You might want to contact them with some new ones.

      • It’s in there – it’s just that the original RTF files aren’t all that well organized, and that’s been carried over into a lot of the online presentations.

        And botheration. The preview links were now supposed to link back to the first few pages of the OBS files. Evidently that’s not working; I’ll have to see about fixing it.

  129. It’s not incomplete, you can find it right here.

  130. One of my players want to know if they can use the Shaopeshift mechanism just to by Large. No intent of an animal form – just want to be big.

    • There are several ways to do this. If they want to be a big Human for example, you could custoimse the human ‘race’ template.
      Personally I see no reason why you can’t use shapeshift to be large (specialised effect) – still limited to daily uses however.
      Alternative is Inherrent Spell – Enlarge Person (Self Only)

    • In this case the base ability is insufficient: the problem with Shapeshift is that you take on both the advantages and limitations of a form – and it has to be an existing form.

      Ergo, what you need is Shapeshift (6, the base ability), Dire (3, to cover a “giant person” form), Growth (3, also to cover being an oversized creature), Attribute Modifiers (6, so that you keep your own base attributes instead of an average set for your new form), Hybrid (6, to stay mostly whatever-you-are and to retain your own racial abilities, +6 for clear speech), Variants (3, to look like an normal-if-oversized member of your species), and Exemption (3, to keep your gear from vanishing on you).

      That’s 36 CP. To make it physical (and thus immune to antimagic and such) we’ll want to specialize it for increased effect – and to bring the price down we’ll want to corrupt it. Ergo… It’s a physical change, leaves the user unable to fit through many doors or into many places, makes the user stand out, makes him or her a target, results in having to pay extra for gear, in having to eat a lot more, to being unable to use most mounts, and so on. It cannot be turned on or off, or changed, or used for any purpose other than being one size category larger than usual, and these limitations cannot be bought off later.

      All of that comes out to a net cost of 24 CP.

      It also takes us to one of the few spots in Eclipse where I’m personally torn about a cost. Growth is listed with a cost of 48 CP per level. That’s because it comes with big bonuses to Strength and Constitution and can be really useful in a fight. In a game that mostly revolves around fighting things, and where the game master doesn’t play up the problems with being so much larger than the other characters, it’s worth it.

      In games which rely less on combat, not so much so – which is why whether or not Growth can be turned on and off is unspecified. That leaves game masters free to rule on it either way – with the expectation that those running combative games will probably rule that it can’t normally be turned on and off, and those running more subtle games ruling that it can be – and thus opening the door to halve the cost to 24 CP (not coincidentally the same cost as the effect being bought above) by adding “Specialized / physical feature that cannot be turned on and off and otherwise suffers from the problems noted above”.

      In games where straightforward physical combat in open spaces is a rarity, a cheap spell will work just fine since the game master will see it as a rather limited power anyway.

      I hope that – rather lengthy – reply helps out with what you want to know though!

  131. With path magic, how does researching new spells work? Is the research costs in addition to the path’s cost or is it included?

    • It’s included. When you research a path according to the rules on page 28 of Paths of Power you’re researching all of the spells on it as well.

      The GM might give you a break on the price and/or time required if you already know some of the spells on it from other paths – but given the limited number of Paths a character can have, they’re usually better off filling them up with spells they don’t already know.

  132. Ah, I thought so but it wasn’t entirely clear to me.

    I have a request. Could you please write a book on magical biotechnology and monster creation (as in spellcasters who make monsters, not GM monster design)?

    Looking at most of the existing examples in d20 land: http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?553878-Sources-for-making-monsters-(wizard-edition) I find most of them lacking. There are plenty of good ideas but there isn’t a single source that I can say “that is the best of the best”. I know you guys know your stuff and obviously can write at the lengths the subject needs. What I am hoping for is a fantasy version of GURPS Biotech for d20.

    Might you consider this?

  133. Two questions

    In Eclipse, the multiple metamagic feat allows for combining spells by adding their levels and then subtracting one. Doesn’t that mean first level spells can be cast freely as long as they are combined with another spell? (3+1)-1=3

    And back to living magic: https://ruscumag.wordpress.com/2011/02/22/living-magic-the-harvest/

    What would be the modifier for a breeder caste creature. For example, an ant queen that produces workers that cast light or mage armor at will.

    • For the first part… as far as the Multiple metamagic goes, I think you’re looking at the Combine option. In that one it’s not the spell level that’s reduced by one. That lets you pack a total number of spell levels equal to the slot level minus one into a higher-level slot. Thus you could pack five Magic Missile spells into a single sixth level spell slot and have them all go off at once. Useful at times, but hardly the worst thing that’s ever been done with metamagic and a sixth level spell slot.

      • So, it doesn’t allow combining Mage Armor with Shield and Shocking Grasp?

      • It does indeed allow that; it’s just that stacking together three levels of spells requires a fourth level spell slot since the slot used must be one level higher than the total levels of spells put into it.

        Sadly, today will be full of meetings. With any luck I’ll be able to get to the second part of this late tonight.

    • For the second part… Creatures that cast spells at will are simply using an Unlimited-Use Use-Activated effect rather than spell storing. That will require another extension of Enchantment (Living Magic and Multiple) and switching from an immobile plant to a “queen” – which may eliminate or reduce the “immobile” price break depending on how mobile the “queen” is.

      The creatures themselves are pretty straightforward; if their spells only affect themselves, the personal-only modifier is in order (and a low caster level will be fine; who wastes time dispelling spells on the giant ants who keep popping up?). If they’re pets who can also protect and aid their masters, than you’ll probably want a higher caster level.

      They’re still generally considerably more expensive than those first-level cure light wounds wants though – and so the “production” will be relatively small. In this case it will probably be more effective to add a small template to some existing creatures – which takes us back to biomancy and monster-making.

      Those articles are underway – but my gaming and game-design time has really been getting squeezed lately (as you can see by the article shortage). I may have to just give up on catching up and just go for alternate days or something, much as I hate to do that.

  134. Hello? Any chance I could get an answer to either of those questions?

    • My apologies there: I fear I’ve been so busy that I haven’t been able to keep up with even the quick-and-simple Exalted stuff, and forgot all about this set of questions. Ergo, inserting some answers…

  135. This question is about the lower limits of Leadership. Specifically, translation of 3.x fractional CRs into the 0 or negative levels found in Eclipse, and how that might impact the lower end of application of the Leadership ability.
    The formulae, on face value, seem pretty straight forward, appearing to set a ‘floor’ limiting effective use of the ability until 4th level (barring Journeyman or such) – level-3, and can’t be <1.
    HOWever, noting the italicized paragraph about youths and small children on the same page, AND then considering the table with effective levels from t\he "Children, Growth, And Adventurers Table" (Page 9), I got to thinking, what Other sorts of critters might qualify for 0, or even negative, levels on that scale?
    For perspective, most of 3.x recognizes fractional CR levels. Pathfinder has pages and pages of them, some quite detailed. For example, a goblin commoner is CR 1/3, and a goblin child is 1/4.
    The reason I ask is, given your "dozen or so" guideline for what are effectively "-1" level followers (and depending on what sort of conversion could be agreed upon for translating 3.x fractional levels into Eclipse negative levels) , might, for example, a mere second level Druid use Leadership with Beast lord to command a rather large flock of, say. ravens? "Dozen or so" per ECL…

    NOT trying to break the system – trying to get guidelines on expanding its application.

    • You’re quite right; you can indeed translate. CR 1/2 is effectively level zero, level “-1” covers down to CR 1/6’th or so – and anything lower than that is level (-2) and typically totally irrelevant, even for low-level characters. Offhand, I can’t recall any creatures with CR’s much under 1/4’th; anything that inconsequential usually gets represented as a swarm if it’s worth actually bothering to write up.

      The bit about level zero youths and level (-1) small children is set off a bit because it can easily become gamebreaking at low levels in the hands of a clever character. There’s nothing wrong with your Charisma eighteen Warrior Lord having a swarm of pages. Similarlily there’s nothing really wrong with your Charisma eighteen Druid taking Leadership and Beastlord at level one and getting (Level + Cha) x 12 small animals of CR 1/4’th or less – perhaps, as you say, a flock of ravens (after all, variant abilities are specifically allowed). That can be annoying when Mr Druid has them swarm some low-level opponent – but it’s hardly the most annoying thing that can be done in Eclipse. Being able to reproduce the stuff from almost any other d20 sourcebook meant putting in ways to reproduce a lot of really broken things, which is why there’s a section on keeping things under control and GM oversight is a must.

      The real problem comes up when you take Emperor’s Star and use it to give each raven in your mighty flock Cure Light Wounds and Magic Missile twice a day each or some such. Now you suddenly have your own personal aerial legion of doom. That’s not forbidden of course, but pet-spamming is one of the easiest ways to reach epic levels of cheese and it’s almost certainly asking the game master to haul out the cosmic anvil of doom and drop it on your character.

      As long as your game master is aware of the potential problems and keeps an eye on things though, this works just fine.

  136. I’ve been wondering about a possible discrepance regarding the companion and leadership feats. Looking over the companion benefits I calculate:

    * Link (8 CP): +4 competence bonus (2 CP), specialized to count only for animal companion and Reflex Training (6 CP)?
    * Share spells (13 CP): Spell Transfer (6 CP) + Spell Sharing (6 CP), Spell Transfer requires Mindspeech, which RAW the druids don’t receive. Closest would be Immunity against one specific prerequisite/Uncommon/Minor/Trivial (1 CP), which seems fine as the character won’t receive the benefit of the prereq anyway.
    * Evasion (6 CP): Fortune variant
    * Devotion (6 CP): Resist variant on Will saves against enchantment spells and effects.
    * Multiattack (6 CP)
    * Improved Evasion (6 CP)

    That makes overall 46 CP, which you pay for only 6 CP. But that is not a fair comparison, as except for Link and Share Spells it’s the companion who benefits. So I’d say, it’s only 21 CP, which is still 3.5 half times more than you invest. Do I overlook something?

    Other questions I’ve thought of while mulling over this:
    Mindspeech + Mind Link allow you to establish a link with one person within 60′ and to keep this link indefinitively? Also, if you’d switch to a second person you can’t switch back to the first one, if she is out of reach? Is switching a free action?

    House rule question: My GM exchanged Link with the familiar’s Empathic Link, but with clear thoughts. Do these count as: Mindspeech (3 CP) + Beastspeech (6 CP) + Mind Link (1 CP), specialized for: Allows only animal companion as target, reach is limited to 1 mile, which I count here as twice specialized. 1 mile is limiting. Or is it too much specialization?

    And if I still may be bold to make one request: Can you build an Eclipse Kitsune? I’ve seen that you did something like this for another system, but I’d prefer something more Japanese myth like. I’ve bought “Kitsunemori” which is a wonderful book about these spirits, but their kitsune are kinda balanced to allow no ECL, as their abilities are spread over 20 levels and require also feats. This makes them feel to lack the oomph – it doesn’t sit well with me, if you – going pure fighter otherwise – need 20 levels to get sufficient abilities which can be duplicated and surpassed by a 5th level wizard. I prefer having abilities up-front, even they cost a dip in power in other areas.

    • The difference is basically that a Companion is more or less an aspect of the character. It’s tightly linked to him or her, its powers are what the character gives it, and it improves in power along with him or her. Its powers are only important insofar as they benefit it’s master. Ergo, as the characters power increases, so does that of his or her companion – or it would soon stop being useful or become a point-sink rather than a net benefit.

      Leadership gains you followers (potentially in large numbers) which can go off and act independently, and can have powers unrelated to yours – but they’re generally enough weaker that most of them function as support staff, rather than as fellow adventurers.

      Either can be a very efficient way to gather power – but most actual adventures focus on the individual player-characters involved, rather than on background figures.

      Mindspeech lets you mentally converse with as many people as you like within sixty feet, with no special link required.

      Each Mindlink you can maintain lets you contact someone within 60′ and then stay in touch no matter how far away they go – but once you drop the link, you have to get them back within 60′ to set it up again.

      As an alternative version of Mindlink, you can spend 1 CP on setting up a permanent bond with a specific character. That lets you reach that particular individual at any range, bypassing the 60′ limitation – but the choice of target is permanent.

      House rules questions… Well, you wouldn’t need beastspeech. A familiar is sensibly intelligent and shares your skills – including your languages. It would be quite reasonable to count it as Mindspeech (3 CP) + Mind Link (1 CP), specialize and corrupt it (only for companion, only one mile), and call it 1 CP. The link is only a subsidiary aspect of taking a familiar after all.

      As for building a Kitsune… Why not? I would have to request some information on what version you’re looking for though. There really isn’t a lot of consistency to the original source material, and even less in more modern adaptions.

      • Now I am a bit confused: You state in Eclipse several times that people prefer Leadership + Beast-Lord upgrade over Companion. But if followers are more support stuff what is then their advantage over companions? An animal still doesn’t receive an Intelligence increase, yet you state that companions are less reliable.

        Also, some further questions tying back to my first post:

        Can you improve the house-rule option by buying off the specializations/corruptions? I’ve been thinking of expanding Mindspeech to include my party as well.

        Companion-Template: May it increase the Intelligence score as well? If you can increase, how does this play with Leadership + Beast-Lord options?

        Regarding Leadership: Am I assuming correctly that your followers also level up once you do it yourself?

        While reading through Eclipse again, I’ve noticed the combination Mystic Link + Communications + Transferable. How does it differ from Mindspeech + Mindlink?

        Regarding the Kitsune write-up: I have to admit that I’m not that well versed in original Kitsune myths. I have seen a few (modern?) interpretations of the originals and I don’t know how off the mark they actually are. If you think I missed something interesting, I’d like to hear it.

        From what I have gathered, they are fox spirits (which makes it reasonable to set their type to Magical Beast I suppose). They live at first as normal foxes for 100 years until they gain their second tail and their sentience. For every additional 100 years, they earn another tail, until they die at 1000 years. Their power increases for every tail they earn. They are tricksters which prefer to play pranks, although on whom depends on if a kitsune is Myobu or a Nogitsune. Myobu follow the god Inari and are generally protectors of humans, so they focus on mean people. Nogitsune follow no gods and are neither discriminating in their victims nor in their methods.

        Regarding powers, kitsune have many: They are talented illusionists, able to enchant minds and can also shapeshift into different forms. They seem to be capable to create own pocket dimensions or to cross over into some parallel world. They can enter peoples’ dreams, turn incorporeal, possess other’s bodies or simply control them from afar.

        BTW, thanks for taking time to answer all these questions. That’s really cool. :)

      • I think you might be referring to the note under Companion that “If you want a normally sentient sidekick, take Leadership ability instead.”

        That’s not really a preference; it’s that Companion turns a normally non-sapient creature into an extension of the character – although more powerful companions are necessarily more loosely bound and ones with animal mentalities may not always understand what you want or how to behave themselves.

        Followers gets you NPC’s who work for you. That means that they can lose their nerve, be blackmailed, be distracted by their families, want occasional favors from you, and so on. They’re reasonably loyal, but they’re not you – and fundamentally aren’t reliant on you. If you drop dead, they may remember you fondly, or transfer their loyalty to someone else, or just go on with their lives.

        If you want a familiar, a mighty mystical war-steed, or a pair of deadly hunting cats bound to your life force with mystic energies to join you on your adventures, you want a Companion. If you want to stack templates and boosts on the creature to turn it into Godzilla Junior, you can – but getting a second Companion will call for more character points. On the other hand, you get to design your own Companion.

        Followers – including animal followers gained by the Beastlord extension – are designed by the game master with some player input and tend to come in mobs. If you’re – say – a 12’th level sorcerer-type with a +5 charisma modifier and you have Leadership you get 34 levels worth of followers of up to ECL 9.

        So: Take two helpful sidekicks (Say a L9 fighter-type and a L9 cleric type, for a total of 18 levels; since you only automatically get +2 ECL’s to spend on upgrades per level, there’s no point in trying to have more than two sidekicks), a L6 Beastmaster to train your animals and run avian security patrols around your mystical tower (up to 24 levels), a L4 Captain to supervise your tower (28 levels), a L3 Alchemist to brew some potions (31 levels), and – just in the spirit of wish-fulfillment – six cute youthful concubines (three sets of two L0 types counting as 1 level each), and you have your followers.

        When you go up to level thirteen, the limit on your companions goes up to level ten – and you get another two levels worth of companions. You can either use those to upgrade an old companion (perhaps raising the priest to L10 and the Alchemist to L4 – or you can get some new companions.

        Followers can be quite useful – and the sidekicks can be helpful on adventures, especially since their powers have nothing to do with their leaders – but they’re substantially weaker than the character and are NPC’s with lives of their own. If your friend the cleric is busy with his delinquent son, then he’s just not available to go assail the Keep of the Necromancer. Furthermore, unlike Companions, Followers can’t be easily upgraded in weird ways; there are usually just too many of them.

        The less-tightly bound Companion options, such as Animal Companions, remain animals and may behave erratically – but they don’t come with personal lives. They don’t wander off on their own and they don’t ask for major favors. Your pet grizzly bear with the flaming breath weapon and kung-fu action will never be busy with a sick cub when you want it to come along with you. That’s why Companions are more reliable than followers – and why there’s no direct relationship between the Companion and Follower lists; they’re doing different things.

        For the general questions…

        As a general rule there’s no problem with buying off Specializations and Corruptions that limit a power. Removing modifiers that increase it’s effect is more problematic, and your GM is likely to ask for a good explanation; abilities rarely become more general but less powerful.

        Templates may increase a companions intelligence. In fact it is possible to take a freely-accepting intelligent creature and make it a Companion – but you’re overwriting large chunks of it’s mind to do it, an act most characters find more repugnant than enslavement.

        For Leadership your total ECL allotment goes up slowly with your level and charisma modifier, and faster if you buy enhancements; you can assign those levels wherever you please.

        Mindspeech and Mindlink can do a few equivalent things early on – just as there are many different ways to get a character the ability to cast a Cure Light Wounds spell – but develop differently; Mindspeech starts as a ranged telepathic ability and develops into the ability to establish links at long range, to contact entities in other dimensions without direct links, and so on. Mystic Link never develops any way to create a link at range (although how quick it is depends on the setting). It develops into the ability to travel, to transfer supernatural powers over the link, and to remotely draw on items and places of power. It doesn’t even require that the target have a mind – but you have to buy an upgrade to be able to change what you have a link with at all.

        As for the Kitsune, it sounds like you’re mostly thinking of the classical version. That’s both good (a relatively limited selection of available source material) and bad (the original myths follow the usual fairy-tale pattern of “whatsoever is convenient for the story”) rather than really trying to be consistent). From your note that most of the abilities you’re looking at can be duplicated by a relatively low-level wizard, I’d guess that you’re not looking for the ability to take the place of the moon, create entire cities, or other grossly overpowered abilities – at least not without the character spending a LOT of effort developing their racial talents. That should be straightforward enough.

        And you’re quite welcome on the questions. That’s one of the things the site is here for.

      • All right… this took awhile to get to and still isn’t quite done – but here are the first couple of segments: Kitsune Basics, and One-Tailed Kitsune. Multi-taled Kitsune will have to wait for the next article.

      • And here we have the multi-tailed kitsune article… Hopefully that’s more or less in line with what you wanted! https://ruscumag.wordpress.com/2012/06/26/kitsune-of-the-eclipse-part-iii/

  137. I have semi-related questions.

    What ways are there to convert Power, Spell Levels, and Mana into one another? I’m planning on using Rite of Chi with a corruption that it drains equivilent Power for the Mana generated.

    And.

    Is there a way to make Rune Magic more efficent if I want to run it off of Power instead of Mana?

    I have a character in mind who is going to be primarily a Psychokinetic (Done as Kinetic Master and Will of the Dragon) and I want to use Rune Magic to represent his abilities in areas other than straight on shoveing around and lifting.

    • As a rule, Mana is more or less Eclipse’s version of “Cosmic Power” – a primordial energy that can be used to drive pretty much any ability. Thus it’s fairly easy to convert Mana into Power and/or Spell levels, but relatively hard to turn it back. Rite of Chi is the best solution there; since you’re only using it for power conversion, it can be specialized and corrupted (you aren’t really making a profit) and will cost about 15 Power per use (just above the 14 it would normally yield).

      And yes, that’s expensive.

      The trouble is that Rune Magic is about the most basic form of magic available (“I take some raw power, crudely shape it into something approximating what I want, and fling it at my target”). Thus it’s cheap to buy and has few special restrictions – but the price of that ease and simplicity is inefficiency.

      Making Rune Magic more efficient… calls for more sophistication. That’s more skills and a casting level – which takes us to one of the more advanced magic systems, such as Theurgy or Dweomer.

      The simplest way to get what I think you want is to take the Magician modifier on Rune Magic (6 CP) and convert the available spell levels to Power (Multiply by 1.8, as per the rules on page 12). Now your rune magic spells will work off Power like psionic disciplines – and you have a power pool that can be expanded in a variety of ways (perhaps the most effective in the long run is to just buy self-development for your “casting” stat for rune magic purposes only (6 CP per +1, may be specialized to be just for bonus slots if you wish).

      • Thanks for the advice.

        It does bring up a question for me though. How would the Invocation ability interact with someone using power instead of spell levels? Especially with the options like split, double, and mighty.

        And does the Magician option on Rune Magic count as a spell progression?

      • Oh, you’re quite welcome. It’s always fun to see what other people do with the rules. They tend to produce nice fresh concepts and approaches that would never occur to me.

        For a Psychic, Invocation will normally provide one free use of any of the user’s powers. Split would turn it into enough Power Points to use the user’s most expensive psychic ability once. Double would double that supply of Power Points. Mighty is a little bit different for a psychic; it would open a chance to use a power beyond the normal point-cost limits – but that could be a very high-order power, something loaded with metapsionics, or simply something being augmented beyond normal limits AND it would contribute the appropriate number of Power Points to the user’s pool.

        The Magician option on Rune Magic isn’t technically a spell progression – but it’s certainly close enough to one to be treated as one for most purposes. If you want to modify it using some of the progression-related effects – well, variations are explicitly allowed if your GM is willing to allow them. I think that I’d have to be a bit clearer on what you wanted to do to give you a better answer than that.

  138. I have a challenge for you – something I can’t seem to translate into Eclipse on my own.

    First, let me preface this by saying I am pretty good at translating between game systems. I have translated a Lot of D&D4e into Hero and 3e, mostly without too much trouble.

    But now, I’ve found an ability, from 4e (a relatively low-level one, just to make a little more embarrassing for me), that I can’t seem to translate into Eclipse. So I present it to you.

    The ability is a a “per day” ability for 4e Monks, called “Whirling Mantis Step”. . It sakes a standard action, and does three things:
    1) You “shift” (= move without taking AoO) you move.
    2) Every enemy you pass adjacent to, you may slide one hex in any direction.
    3) up to three of these have to make a Fort save, vs. a DC based on your Dex, or take 2d10 (save = half damage)

    I see that that’s a tall order. Several parts of the above (save for half, once/day) led me to think of trying to use Inherent Spell. But I have run aground trying to model the spell level.

    I can do this in Hero, but this seems to be beyond me.

    If you yell me it is beyond the system’s capacity to model, I will accept that. But I wanted to at least present it to you.

    • It would indeed be easiest to just to just arbitrarily assign a spell level to the effect and make it an inherent spell – but for illustration purposes I prefer to buy the sub-abilities separately. To do that take:

      Evasive (Move without provoking attacks of opportunity, 12 CP), only works for one turn per day, only allows normal movement.
      -A movement power the only works for a few seconds per day? Personally I think that qualifies for double-specialized, and the “only allows normal movement” is still a Corruption – leaving us with a net cost of 2 CP.

      The “Shove someone five feet” part is a bit of a problem simply because – in 3.5 – when you use an ability which affects an opponent they normally get a chance to resist. It can also be rather more effective in 3.5 where, when you shove someone over a cliff or some such, the damage has nothing to do with the attackers level.

      On the other hand, shoving someone ten feet with a save for half certainly seems like a first level effect. The old “Push” spell comes to mind. Ergo, it will be simplest to use Presence (an aura that moves opponents). That would be a stretch – an aura that shoves people away is kind of weird, and could be FAR too convenient for a spellcaster – but the old “flare my aura and throw people away” routine is common enough in anime and a few other settings. You’d want to either play up the problems (no one can touch you to help you either) or restrict it a good deal. As a compromise, I think this needs to be Specialized for Increased Effect.

      Of course, we are restricting it a good deal – to during the course of a single normal movement action once per day, opponents are presumed to automatically make their saving throws (and so are automatically moved 5′), only works in conjunction with the previous movement ability. That, once again, looks like it’s double-specialized and corrupted. (Once a day for things that you can normally use all you like really is quite limiting). Ergo, our net cost is – once again – 2 CP.

      Finally we have “at the end of your move you can make an attack against up to three adjacent enemies. This inflicts 2d10 damage and slows them until a save is made”.

      Disregarding the difference between third and fourth edition saves (once versus a fixed duration versus again each round until made) we can compare this to a slow spell; it’s replacing a single attack so it’s a standard action (no change), it has no verbal or material components – but inherent spells normally don’t have minor material components either (+1 level), it has no range (-1 level), it affects a more limited number of targets (-1 level), duration is presumably unchanged (no change), and it’s contingent on a successful physical attack on each target (-1 level since it already allows a save). That gives us a base level of one for this effect.

      The 2d10 physical attack effect could be built in several different ways – but it’s simplest to throw it in as part of the spell effect. I think I’d prefer to do it as an attack-boosting spell of about level two – “Adrenal Strike; L2 Transmutation, target gains a brief burst of incredible speed, during which he or she can make three normal attacks at your full BAB against adjacent opponents. Trying to use this effect more than twice in any one encounter will lead to fatigue, muscle injuries, and overstress.”

      That doesn’t precisely match – you don’t automatically get 2d10 base – but you will get to use any other boosts to your attacks that you’ve purchased. I could build the 2d10 effect, but it would take more comparisons (probably with Ice Storm) and I rather prefer an ability that will scale effectively.

      Stacking a secondary first-level effect onto a second level spell costs +1 spell level – for a net level of three. That’s standard for Inherent Spell (6 CP). Given that this doesn’t look much like magic (“I spin around and kick some people so hard they’re unable to move at full speed for a bit”) and has already bought off the spell-style limitations, calling it an extraordinary ability without bothering with the “internal” modifier is fair enough. Of course it’s only usable in conjunction with the two previous abilities and requires that the user be entirely free to move – Corrupting it for a net cost of 4 CP.

      Altogether that gives us a net cost of 8 CP – which seems pretty reasonable for a once-a-day ability of this nature. For about another 8 CP you could relax some of those limitations and get some bonus uses on the Inherent Spell – turning this into a per-encounter ability.

      Anyway, I hope that helps!

      • Oh, it helps mutchly! (you a Genius, man!)
        Some slight differences from your proposed structure:
        1) The maneuver takes standard action, not just a Move (But is already so limited, that’s probably not significant)
        2) The 5′ “Push” is a “Slide”, can be in any direction, not just away. (You once told me that is an Immunity, but I reckon I could specialize it for omnidirectionality)
        3) I think I may have to mak the damage portion a proper areaspell/supernatural ability, as having to hit And giving a save just defangs it too much.
        Thanks again!

      • Oh, you’re welcome – although it’s really pretty easy to be familiar with the system when you wrote it.

        This version of the ability is actually a full-round action though – a move action to move plus a standard action to invoke the spell effect. I shouldn’t have buried that down in the “slow” effect modifiers though.

        Not to worry on the slide; the basic idea was “an aura that moves opponents”; it’s just that the vast majority of the times I’ve seen that effect it’s been pushing people away.

        And please do tweak away! It’s your game! I was just trying to stick with the 4e version – which seemed to say that it required an attack check to do the damage and then allowed a save against the slowing effect. (I’m not all that familiar with fourth edition I fear; so I may well have read it wrong. Our games tend to spend very little time on combat and a lot on research and puzzles – which just didn’t work so well when we tried using fourth edition to run it, so I’m short on practice there).

  139. Something you might want to think about while you are writing the biotech articles- things that aren’t monsters. Things like magical herbs and other plants and fungi.

  140. Thoth,
    Re the original 4e version ,of that ability, there Is an attack roll, but it still does half damage on a miss, which I find functionally identical to a save mechanic.

    And yes, 4e is clearly a combat game – no professions, no perform skill, most knowledges gone. All very disappointing. It’s like the ‘New Coke’ of the role-playing community.

    • Ah, I fear I was reading the description wrong then; I thought a miss was a miss. (Hopefully the original book is clearer than the online notes I found, since whatever book the fourth edition monk appeared in, it wasn’t one that I bought).

      We did try 4’th back when it first came out – there’s a review up somewhere on the site – but it only took a few sessions to bore everyone.

      • Most of the 4e “per Day” Class abilities are “auto-hits”, doing at least half damage on miss. It seems to be sort of their central assumption for such abilities.

        And I quite agree about boring. As I said, ‘New Coke’.
        Still, there are occasional kernels of interest in 4e. For instance, I used it to test my capacity to translate into Hero. The resulting abilities were pretty lame, but it was doable.

  141. In Eclipse, do targets/subjects of default “Presence” effects get saving throws? It does not appear so from the wording of the effect in Codex Persona. BUT, in your above discussion about using Presence to push people around, you imply saving throw.

    • For the basic minor emotion-influencing options, no – if only because most of the non-villain user’s stick to positive effects so as not to penalize their allies.

      If you’re opting to emulate a first level spell though, then whether or not there’s a save depends on the spell being emulated. You have to take the bad with the good.

      Of course, given that that opens the field to “any first level spell you can come up with”, the standard “subject to GM Veto” caveat always applies. An endless aura of – say – Cure Light Wounds is generally out. A special divine gift of a healing aura you can only use a few times per day or at some cost? Much more workable.

      That is one of the things to watch for in Eclipse; trying to set up a system that covered pretty much “everything d20” necessarily meant putting in ways to reproduce the broken stuff as well as the reasonable stuff. Thus page 163.

  142. I went through your internal search system, and couldn’t find this, so I’ll present the question here: ANy thoughts on the how to cost out a Pathfinder Alchemist? Just the first couple of levels worth of abilities would be all I ned to get me started.
    The “spell” (formulae) progression is not exactly like any of the others. It’s kinda like a sorcerer, only without the level 0’s, and even fewer spells.

  143. Again, thank you for your prompt response.
    I thought I remembered the Pathfinder classes being done, but just could not find them on the site on my own.
    Since I was only interested in low level abilities, the keys for me were the assignment of Bardic progression cost (which I must admit never occurred to me) and Bombs as a Inherent Spell The second is obvious, once you point it out, but I have some questions about the first.
    Bards have 0 level effects, alchemists don’t (though arguably a lot of their 1st level effects equate to 0 level spells). And their “use/day” and “effects known” ratio is different from Bards. So I gather this is a case of ‘Best Fit’. Any guidelines on your thought processes there?

    • Simple enough: The Improved Specialist ability grants this build one extra slot at each level of “spell”/extract they can use. While this makes the progression a very good overall match, it is often off by a spell or two at lower levels. For example…

      At level five this version has four cantrips and 4/2 spells/extracts instead of 4/2 spells – and is ahead by four cantrips.

      At level ten this version has four cantrips and 4/4/3/1 spells/extracts instead of no cantrips and 5/4/3/1 spells – ahead by four cantrips and behind by a first level spell/extract.

      At level fifteen this version has 5 cantrips and a progression of 5/4/4/4/3 instead of 5/5/5/4/3 – ahead by five cantrips and behind by a first and second level spell/extract.

      At level twenty this version has 5 cantrips and a progression of 5/5/5/5/5, just like the 5/5/5/5/5/5 of the basic version. This version is still ahead by five cantrips, but by level twenty a few cantrips don’t matter much.

      I could have matched the progression precisely – but it would be far more effort than it was worth; nobody playing Eclipse ever actually follows a standard progression very far anyway. If someone wants to trade in the cantrips for an extra spell/extract at some levels to exactly match the original progression… well, so be it; the difference is trivial and minor variants are explicitly allowed.

      In my experience they’re far more likely to use Mana to get some generic spell levels to boost the number of low-level effects they get per day, or Rite of Chi, or some such anyway.

      There isn’t actually any difference in the number of formula known though; the Alchemist is using the “formulas must be found and mastered” variant on studies, rather than the “limited number of inherent spells” option.

      I’m going to copy your question, and this reply, over to the Alchemist entry in case anyone ever asks the same thing; I hope you don’t mind!

      • My 15 minutes of fame. Well, I suppose I couldn’t stay in Witness Protection forever . . .

  144. Is there any way to have a spirit tool set instead of a spirit weapon and or in addition to being a weapon. Example: be able to form a lock pick set to aid in picking a lock through spirit energy.

    • Certainly; That falls under the “minor variants” rule. You could either buy it as “Spirit Tools” (3 CP – giving up the weapon function like not buying range), taking Specialized version of the basic Spirit Weapon ability (not useful as a weapon), buy Immunity/penalties for being without (various sorts of tools). You could also look into Summon Tools (The Practical Enchanter, Page 12). A lesser-duration version of that effect would make a simple and convenient Innate Enchantment. There are other ways, but most of them are too roundabout to bother with.

  145. I’ve been looking at your conversion of the Arcane Archer class. I’m thinking of talking a player into taking some of the abilities, as she has a lot of fun when firing explosive arrows at and into enemies. Instead having a limited amount of special arrows, it would surely help to improve them (bought as well found) on the fly. … Pun intended. :P Anyway, looking at your entry in Eclipse, I see:

    * Imbuement (Missile Weapon only): 12 CP
    * Inherent Spell 5: 30 CP

    Imbuement is easy: Missile Weapon only means Corrupted, so we get the Basic, Improved and Superior options for 4 CP each. But I have trouble with Inherent Spell. Looking at Inherent Spell I see only the Advanced option which mentions something like grade 5, but that would cost more than the allotted CP. More likely is that you mean to buy Inherent Spell 5 times. This would correspond to the 5 other abilities: Imbue Arrow, Seeker Arrow, Phase Arrow, Hail of Arrows and Arrow of Death.

    Taken from SRD:

    “Imbue Arrow (Sp)

    At 2nd level, an arcane archer gains the ability to place an area spell upon an arrow. When the arrow is fired, the spell’s area is centered on where the arrow lands, even if the spell could normally be centered only on the caster. This ability allows the archer to use the bow’s range rather than the spell’s range. It takes a standard action to cast the spell and fire the arrow. The arrow must be fired in the round the spell is cast, or the spell is wasted.

    Seeker Arrow (Sp)

    At 4th level, an arcane archer can launch an arrow once per day at a target known to her within range, and the arrow travels to the target, even around corners. Only an unavoidable obstacle or the limit of the arrow’s range prevents the arrow’s flight. This ability negates cover and concealment modifiers, but otherwise the attack is rolled normally. Using this ability is a standard action (and shooting the arrow is part of the action).

    Phase Arrow (Sp)

    At 6th level, an arcane archer can launch an arrow once per day at a target known to her within range, and the arrow travels to the target in a straight path, passing through any nonmagical barrier or wall in its way. (Any magical barrier stops the arrow.) This ability negates cover, concealment, and even armor modifiers, but otherwise the attack is rolled normally.

    Using this ability is a standard action (and shooting the arrow is part of the action).

    Hail of Arrows (Sp)

    In lieu of her regular attacks, once per day an arcane archer of 8th level or higher can fire an arrow at each and every target within range, to a maximum of one target for every arcane archer level she has earned. Each attack uses the archer’s primary attack bonus, and each enemy may only be targeted by a single arrow.

    Arrow of Death (Sp)

    At 10th level, an arcane archer can create an arrow of death that forces the target, if damaged by the arrow’s attack, to make a DC 20 Fortitude save or be slain immediately. It takes one day to make an arrow of death, and the arrow only functions for the arcane archer who created it. The arrow of death lasts no longer than one year, and the archer can only have one such arrow in existence at a time.”

    Of these five abilities, only 3 explicitly state they are usable once per day. Imbue Arrow requires area spells instead, which are likely to be in supply more than one. Arrow of Death has a stricter limitation, on the other hand, upgrading this would make this ability more useful and more comparable to the Assassin’s Death Attack. The Assassin can use Death Attack as often they wish, but requires 3 rounds of preparation and the opportunity to sneak attack, which is problematic during a fight. Effectively a once per encounter power.

    Imbue Arrow itself doesn’t seem to be something what I consider to be spell-like anyway. That’s more a feat, and Corrupted or even Specialized as well thanks to the limitation regarding the usable spells. Seeker Arrow seems to be a True Strike with different tradeoffs. True Strike is level 1; Inherent Spell gives for 6 CP two level 1 spells which are usable twice per day. So I double specialize it for only one spell once per day.

    Phase Arrow is a more limited Blink spell: Only one round, so I’d say the effect is only level 2. Again it is specialized for half of the effect. Hail of Arrows stumbles me. First of we have this level limitation, which doesn’t make sense in Eclipse. Then we have more than one attack at full BAB. I don’t know any effect which would allow anything similar, not even considering level 3 spells. Arrow of Death doesn’t seem to be spell, but again a special ability like the above mentioned Death Attack. This is simply Trick (Death Attack), double specialized for both usage limitation (1/day instead 3/day) and crafting these special arrows.

    Overall, I can’t seem to replicate your conversion notes. :( What do I miss?

    Note regarding Imbue Arrow: I wonder how useful “use your bow’s range instead of the spell’s one” actually is, as area spells have likely bigger ranges anyway. I suppose you still have to roll an attack (Against what DC? 10? Where does the arrow land if you miss? When you fumble?) compared to simple casting, so this seems to be actually disadvantegous. If you could put any spell on it (even Personal, as such spells are actually beneficial) then for exmaple you could turn touch attacks into range touch attacks – something worthwile indeed.

    Seeker Arrow looks kinda weak as well. I’d rather use True Strike instead four times per day and pay the full 6 CP.

    • What’s going on here is simply that a character can have any “Inherent Spell” that the game master is willing to approve at a given level – regardless of whether or not it’s ever appeared in a sourcebook.

      Ergo…

    • “Imbue Arrow” essentially falls under the “Add Metamagic” effects – it gives you an extended range, but now requires an attack roll and – obviously – only works on area effects. Honestly, that’s not really all that advantageous most of the time. Ergo, level one.

      Seeker Arrow is mildly interesting – but really isn’t especially effective when compared to True Strike. Ergo, level one again. Since it’s only once per day – instead of the four times a day you could get with this purchase – it’s Specialized and Corrupted for (2 CP).

      Phase Arrow is, once again, mildly interesting – but still really isn’t especially effective when compared to True Strike; it’s application is pretty specialized. Ergo, level one again.

      Hail Of Arrows does allow a lot of “attacks”, but they still require a roll to hit each. I think that the best comparison is something like “Scorching Ray” (at level two) – which may not have quite the potential for damage as an Archer with +1 Flame, Acid, Lightning, Cold bow, but does allow for multiple shots at a single target and is a touch attack to boot. For a quick judgement call… level five (as presented in Paths of Power II).

      Arrow Of Death really looks pretty comparable to “Slay Living”. The DC is a bit higher, you do arrow damage on a hit instead of (3d6+Caster Level), and it has range – but a version of “Slay Living” where you had to specify your target when you prepared the spell and which couldn’t be cast spontaneously would either drop notably in level or get some substantial improvements; it’s a LOT less useful. Ergo, level five.

    • So

    • Inherent Spell: Imbue Arrow. That’s only level one, so put it into both available slots. If you really want effectively unlimited use, add +4 uses per day to each slot (+6 CP) for a total of twelve uses and (12 CP). That really ought to be quite enough.

      Inherent Spell: Seeker Arrow (L1). Since it’s only once per day – instead of the four times a day you could get with this purchase – it’s Specialized and Corrupted for (2 CP).

      Advanced Inherent Spell I: Phase Arrow (L1). Once again, since it’s only once per day – instead of the four times a day you could get with this purchase – it’s Specialized and Corrupted for (2 CP). I’ll ignore the fact that Advanced Inherent Spell I could get you a much higher level spell effect once per day and go for the low cost instead. You don’t HAVE to have a higher level spell if you don’t want one.

      Advanced Inherent Spell II: Hail of Arrows (L5): Advanced Inherent Spell II allows a level five effect – which is just what we need (6 CP).

      Advance Inherent Spell III: Arrow of Death (L5). This would allow a level six effect, so we’re once again overpaying a bit – but not enough to really matter. Once again, (6 CP).

    • Now, that actually only comes out to 28 CP – but I wanted to leave it open to quick-and-easy variations. If someone wanted to use the basic build but preferred…

    • Masterful Shot (True Strike), Corrupted for increased uses (6) per day/only with bows (6 CP).
      Arrows of the Storm (Electrical variant on Scorching Ray), Corrupted for increased uses (3) per day/only with bows (6 CP).
      Explosive Arrow (as per Fireball, trading a potential range boost for requiring a bow and a roll to hit), 1/Day (6 CP).
      Arrow of Appearance (as per Dimension Door, trading a potential range boost for requiring a bow, a roll to hit, and line of sight) (6 CP for Advanced Inherent Spell I).
      Crippling Shot (as per Bestow Curse, adding range but at +1 level and requiring a normal roll to hit) (6 CP for Advanced Inherent Spell II).
    • then so be it.

      If they want to scrape up a few more CP, why not buy…

      Arrow of Shiva (Disintegrate) (6 CP for Advanced Inherent Spell III).

      The only problem there would be persuading me that “Arrow of Appearance” really belongs in that sequence with the rest of the litany of destruction – and our Arcane Archer could always substitute something else if the game master disapproved.

      Hm. I may just add some more examples and turn this into an article; it’s getting long enough. Sadly, there simply wasn’t room in Eclipse for anything even approaching complete breakdowns for all the existing classes. Fully expanding everything would have required several hundred more pages – and no one would ever have tried to read it…

  • TPE questions.

    I want to create an extradimentional space that has more than one entrance, all of them on different planes (though planes are something you can walk or fly to in my cosmology). What level bump would you suggest for each additional entrance?

    Would casting spacewarp on an existing EDS extend its duration?

    What is the level bump for Stable (it is missing)?

    • Hm. The first one… Basically what you want is to create a dimensional nexus. While that can’t be used to summon creatures, it can be used to transport massive amounts of goods between dimensions, to stage dimensional invasions, and to substitute for teleportation, planar travel, and many applications of gates.

      Worse, if you break that up on a “per entrance” basis, it can potentially be tweaked down to a rather low-level effect. That really won’t do.

      To preserve the integrity of the multiverse, I’m going to peg that one at somewhere around +8 (well above the +4 levels for being able to shift your entry point into coexistent planes) – but applying that modifier will provide you with built-in portals to (Casting Attribute Modifier) additional planes.

      Casting another Spacewarp of the same type to extend the duration of an existing one works fine; the new duration replaces the old one, much as a second casting of Bears Endurance keeps the effect going without a lapse.

      The level bump for Stable was answered up here – https://ruscumag.wordpress.com/atheria-d20/#comment-17433 – but it was indeed left out by mistake. It should be +1 for tolerating small, well-contained, portals (bags of holding and similar) and +2 for larger gates.

  • Well, the first idea isn’t meant to be a way to transport stuff so much as to protect the owner from planar destruction. Here is a short description of my cosmology: http://www.skirmisher.com/node/629 If a plane was destroyed, all the EDS entrances on that plane would be cut off forever. This allows people to escape somewhere else on the multiversal plane.

    And the reason I asked the second question is that I wondered about those who didn’t want to spend the xp to make a permanet space when one that lasts for a decade or better is a bit easier to create. But if the duration ended, everything in the space would be dumped or freed. Allowing a recasting would help the longer lived races.

    And now I have another. Can another spellcaster extend the duration of a Spacewarp spell? A caster that didn’t create it in the first place.

    And thanks for the answers.

    • Ah. Not a gate nexus then, just a highly-specialized modifier – “The portal to this extra-dimensional space automatically relocates to another nearby or coexistent dimension if the dimension it is currently located in ceases to exist”. I’d say +1 level for a basic relocation, +2 levels for a semi-intelligent effect that automatically relocates the entryway to a convenient location in a compatible universe. (Although it might just be easier to stick a Plane Shift scroll to escape with inside).

      That sort of thing didn’t make the book since it’s pretty unusual for a basic d20 plane of existence to cease to exist.

      As long as a spellcaster is using the same spell and the same options in renewing a spell it doesn’t matter who casts it. The longest remaining duration takes precedence.

      And you’re quite welcome to answers; questions often inspire things to write, so I find them quite useful at times…

  • How exactly would you build a character that was going to be based around the Chameleon in Races of Destiny or for a non IP source this forum build. http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=100597#
    I have a specific curiosity as to how the Jack of All Trades from the forum post would be built. I assume at least one version of Enthusiast will be used but I wanted to see more specifically how someone who is more experienced will do so. My issue in a few weak attempts was that once you have Specialized enthusiast to be a “using Masks” type situation the power curves start to stutter a bit in terms of being a 3:2 ratio rather than just what could normally be built using a set point value -24 CP making it a character that can become any “class” at their level -2 which seems to be about the right power point for the flexibility while keeping the numbers in the same ballpark enough to be reasonably effective.

  • I took a look through the link and this is my take on the chamelelon.
    This only a rather rough cut.

    Masks –

    6 cp Ethusiast +double Specialized for effect : only for use with Mask Relics
    4 cp to bind with mask relics below

    2 cp Create Relic Specialized and corrupted only to turn ethusiast points into a GM approved ‘Mask’ relic
    To do the exclusive class abilities Mask Relics

    12 cp Immunity to having Mask relics stolen or damaged ( Common, Minor, Great) Reflects the fact that the Mask ‘Relics’ aren’t physical objects.

    The following allows for the relatively rapid changing of masks. Possibly of Chaos rather than pos or neg energy
    2 cp Channeling 2/day (3/day corrupted to 2/day) Specialized : only to power spell conversion

    6 cp — Spell Conversion 1 5th level spell effect ‘Change Mask’ Corrupted (cost)20 min meditation
    Limited Wish is 7th level, Change mask is a extremely specialized form of that.

    Jack of All Trades is really kinda broken if skills have any importance to a campaign.

    One way to do it is
    12 cp Immunity to being able to stack the Universal option of the JOAT ability (Com, Maj, Great)
    and then spend 6cp for the Universal option of JOAT every other level

    The tricky part of it is that you are considered to have ranks rather than a bonus of some sort.

    Ability Boon can be built into the Mask Relic or done thru an innate enchantment.

    Chamelon Lore: Lore Ability

    Mimic: seem like a bunch of 1 level spell effects that can be done thru Innate Enchantment with a needs 5 min rest before uses modifer ( about .7 or so) Turn undead being the exception. I’d either drop it or get a seperate channeling pool to reflect it.

    Floating Feat: More Ethusiast, would be affected by the Change Mask channelling effect.

    Impersonate: Can done thru Guises, Cloaking, innate enchantment,

    Quick Change: 20 mins to 5 mins would still count as corrupted to me

    Dual Facade : get enough Relic Ethusiast points to run two masks at once

    Dangerous Unpredictability: Add another Spell conversion of change mask and change to the corruption to takes two uses instead of meditation. + 6 cp

  • This is a question about the amplify metamagic theorem.
    How much would you charge to increase the scalng of a spell?

    For Example: Turning the arcane cantrip Disrupt Undead from a 1d6 flat damage to 1d6/ level?
    I’m leaning to +2 levels to scale at 1d6/2level, then +1 to scale at 1d6 per level.

    This came up when I wanted to recreate an Illumine Soul character I played a few years back and wanted to recreate the flare ability as an innate enchantment.

    Also do you think +1 spell level to raise the damage cap of a spell by five is too little or too much?

    • Well, the generic version of Disrupt Undead might be:

      Disrupt (Creature Type): L0, Components V and S, Casting Time Standard Action, 1d6 to Limited Target Type, Close Range/Ranged Touch Attack, No Save).

      After all, there’s no reason why you can’t come up with Disrupt Lycanthrope or whatever.

      Now, Shocking Grasp does 1d6/level at L1 – but has no range and does not have a limited target restriction. That’s +3 levels to make the jump, or +2 if we regard the “limited target” restriction as a wash (Compare Ray of Frost, doing 1d3 instead – a net boost of +1 1/2 points of damage).

      Metamagic is generally a little less efficient than designing a new spell, entirely, so +2 to scale at 1d6/2 levels and +3 to 1d6/level is certainly fair enough.

      Raising the damage caps will have to wait for a detailed look until I can get home and get the books out – but I suspect that is too much.

    • As for the damage caps… classically +20D to the damage cap takes a spell all the way from L1 to L9 in four increments of +5D. Still, some spells – such as Disintegrate and Harm – violate those caps already, and save-or-die effects bypass them.

      There are some arguments for discarding damage caps entirely given that the effects of many other spells continue to increase indefinitely – but many of the save-or-die spells have very little effect on a successful save, which is a definite limiting factor. With uncapped direct-damage save-for-half spells there eventually comes a point where – for many, many, creatures – the save is irrelevant, and the spell becomes “Die or Die!” – just as they did in first edition.

      (First edition actually handled that very well by making it extremely difficult to actually cast a powerful spell during a fight; ANY interruption or injury ruined a spell, and powerful spells took a long time to cast. Thus, without careful planning and support from the rest of the party, mages often did not get to use major spells and had to content themselves with Magic Missile – but that’s really not relevant here).

      Ergo, +1 spell level to remove damage caps entirely – with the provision that a spell so modified has very little effect on a successful save. +1 spell level per +5 dice on the cap to raise the caps while keeping half damage on a save.

  • Page 156 in TPE has the Create Water template. I find it much more useful than Minor and Major Creation but am wondering what level bumps should there be for solids and gasses? I want to use the template to replace all creation spells except those that make life forms.

    • Just to let you know, I haven’t forgotten this; I’m just finding it awkward to make it fully compatible with the various “Wall” spells. I may just give up on that though.

  • I haven’t made a request in a while, so I hope you don’t mind if I pitch one just for fun now.

    How in Eclipse would you design a character around the theme of being a “spellcaster saboteur”? What I mean by that is a character with the power to disrupt other characters’ spellcasting. This wouldn’t (necessarily) mean simply disrupting/countering/negating spells as they’re being cast, but rather changing spells as they’re being cast so as to be harmful or otherwise disadvantageous to the spellcaster and his or her allies.

    For example, disrupting the range of a fireball so that instead of shooting off several hundred feet to explode in the midst of enemy forces, it goes off at the caster’s feet. Reversing the “polarity” of a healing spell so that it uses negative, rather than positive, energy. Diverting communion-type spells into contacting hostile forces, etc. This character basically turns a spellcaster’s powers against them.

    Presumably they’d also have some sort of ability to sabotage magic items and other magical-but-not-spellcasting-per-se abilities.

    What would such a character build look like in Eclipse?

    • Oh, requests are always fun, even if they take a few days sometimes…

      As for this one, that’s going to be both a bit tricky and expensive. The problem is simply that – when an opponent might make your Disintegrate ray fire at your own foot, detonate your own fireball on top of your party, or turn that “cure serious wounds” you’re casting on an unconscious friend into “cause serious wounds” people either soon find a countermeasure or they stop trying to cast spells in combat at all. On the other hand, if your opponents aren’t spellcasters, this ability is going to be entirely useless.

      Worse, it’s also one of those “your character does what I want, not what you want” things – and those are never popular.

      Still, there are a couple of ways to to do it. The easiest is Inherent Spell and the Dispel (Various) spell template from The Practical Enchanter.

      You’d probably want…
      *Dispelling Touch (L1, basically as per Dispel Magic but no range)
      *Disrupt Item (L2, Close Range, no roll required but only affects a targeted item, otherwise as per Dispel Magic).
      *Dispel Magic (L3, Standard Version).
      *Disrupt Supernatural (L4, Touch attack that disrupts the targets supernatural abilities for 1d4 rounds and inflicts 1d6 damage per caster level to a maximum of 15d6. A successful will save reduces the disruption to one round and the damage by half)
      *Redirect Magic (L5, As per Dispel Magic [counterspell effect only] with the Redirection option, allowing the user to change the target of a spell that he or she would normally successfully counter.
      *Warp Magic (L6, As per Dispel Magic except that it causes a spell that would be affected to go drastically wrong, inverting and/or retargeting it. Thus a Fireball could be caused to detonate somewhere where the original caster didn’t want it, extinguish all flames in the target area instead, or get retargeted as a Frostball.
      *Greater Disrupt Item (L7, Medium Range, as per Disrupt Item but targets up to one item per level of the caster in range).
      *Greater Disrupt Supernatural (L8, up to four targets at medium range, otherwise as per Disrupt Supernatural).
      *Greater Warp Magic (L9, as per Warp Magic except that the user may get up to +25 on the roll).

      Buy those with some extra uses and it will pretty much cover the “mess with other people’s magic” routine. You might also want some Reflex Action, but that depends on your character build and tactics.

      Now, if you just want to reflect people’s magic back at them, the Path of the Dragon and some Reflex Action can be used to absorb and throw back incoming spells.

      For a more limited, but cheaper, version, buy the Dispel template as a Domain/Path (If the GM lets you get away with it) and buy Invocation with the Thematic modifier.

  • Any chance an index page could be created for all of the level 0 and 1 innate enchantments that get used fairly commonly? Maybe another for all of the ways immunity or privilege have been used?

    • Maybe one of these days. Unfortunately, at the moment, I’m behind on updating most of the existing indexes. For an immediate guide to innate enchantments the best bet is the Mutants of the Eclipse series; it contains a rather large number of innate enchantments.

      It would be easiest to go to the d20 tab and run a quick find on “Mutants”. There’s a fairly long list of types. Immunities is a little harder; I’ll have to think about that.

  • Just a few random questions I’ve been wondering about.

    Thaumaturgy/Dweomer:

    What effect do skill enhancing items have on Thaumaturgy skills? How about spells? Do they all just work normally?

    On p101 of Eclipse, it says that metamagic/metapsionic feats don’t work with Thaumaturgy, but several spells in the Practical Enchanter already have metamagic built in and it says that you can design spell formulas with built in metamagic anyway.

    Couldn’t someone using Healing Thaumaturgy cast

    Bolster Fortitude

    Enhance Attribute LV 5
    +3 spell levels to extend to 1 day (per the spell).

    This 8th lv spell grants a +8 enhancement bonus to the touched creatures constitution for a single day.

    Vigor of War

    Fast Healing (Cure Light Wounds based)
    +8 boundless
    +3 targetting
    -1 becoming exhausted when cast
    -3 practical enchanter price break for more than 7 lvs of metamagic

    This 8th level spell can easily turn the tide of a war, granting fast healing 1 to every friendly troop on the battlefield for 2d8+10 rounds (double the healing power of cure light wounds), at the price of exhausting the caster.

    Relics:

    Can relics be dispelled/disjoined? Do they turn off in Antimagic?

    Is it possible to make an Incarnum Wielder that isn’t entirely insanely overpowered? Either I’m doing it wrong, or having access to that many relics with a reasonable int/con makes it really really strong, even without trying to optimize.

    Can you take Fast Learner and have a Relic that grants Fast Learner?

    Other:

    How do you know what Abilities can be taken multiple times?

    Some Abilities say they can be taken multiple times, or have special rules when you take them multiple times. I assumed that if it didn’t say it could be taken multiple times, then it could only be taken once. However, I see Enthusiast and Leadership: Emperor’s Star being taken more than once in various how-to articles/character builds on this website.

    Finally…

    When is Eclipse III coming out? :)

    • By default, skill enhancing items and skills do work on Thaumaturgy skills – and yes, that can (like many other things) be abused. Fortunately, no amount of skill bypasses the basic caster level requirements for casting a spell (Page 10, bottom right – casting a spell requires a minimum caster level of [Spell Level x 2] -1).

      Personally, I tend to let people go ahead and overcast – with the provision that they cannot fully control spells beyond that limit. That way desperate spellcasters can try things that are normally beyond their abilities – and incautious ones can cause various disasters.

      The restriction on Metamagic/Metapsionic feats doesn’t keep characters using Thaumaturgy and Dweomer from building any modifiers they like into their spells; there really isn’t any distinction between a higher-level “fireball” spell that covers a larger area and and adding appropriate metamagic. What it does keep them from doing is using the Glory and Streamline metamagical modifiers – which can offer substantial advantages to more classical spellcasters.

      Both of your sample spells are quite possible. Vigor of War could indeed easily turn the tide of a battle – but an unopposed caster with access to eighth level spells can do that in a lot of ways (such as by summoning some teleporting demons to take out the enemy leadership, or a Boundless Magic Missile (much easier with the Glory modifier). Sadly, taking low-level troops to high (or even moderate) level d20 battle is more of an act of sadism than a reasonable strategic choice.

      In general, Relics cannot be dispelled or disjoined. Whether or not they “turn off” in antimagic fields depends on the relic; an adrenal pump wouldn’t, a ring of Inherent Enchantments would.

      You do have to watch Incarnum builds carefully; relics are very efficient, and characters with lots of them do tend to be very powerful. In making it freeform – instead of limiting characters to a specific list of pre-designed “melds” – it opens the way for a character to swap from being a highly-specialized magical blaster to an atrocity melee build to a super-healer. If you let people create – say – “The War Helm of the Archmagi” (Metamagic/Area (6 CP), eight levels of Streamline, Specialized/only to apply the Boundless modifier (24 CP)), and perhaps another relic that grants them some decent spellcasting, things will get out of control very fast indeed.

      Now, if they go ahead and make something that gives them +4 strength instead, that’s a lot more manageable. Overall, you simply have to keep a close eye on the character and enforce page 163 strictly – and if the player wants to know “why you’re keeping a strict eye on them in particular”, simply point out that an immunity to having their relics broken or taken away should be a big enough slice of cheese for any character.

      It is possible to have both Fast Learner and a Relic that grants Fast Learner IF the game master is allowing two incidences of Fast Learner when one isn’t a racial characteristic. Basically a relic won’t let you exceed whatever limitations the game master wants to enforce in a game.

      As for taking things multiple times… In general, abilities that stack directly are so noted. Most abilities can be taken multiple times in different variants; if you want to have fifteen different Occult Senses, or three different pools of luck that are used for different things, that works just fine. Enthusiast is a bit of an edge case; if you aren’t trying to stack abilities taken with enthusiast points it falls under the “multiple times for different things” category.

      As far as stacking other things goes… that falls under the general meta-rule of “Can you talk your GM into letting you do it”. After all, ability variants are explicitly allowed if the GM is willing to put up with them. Emperor’s Star is a bit iffy – but I suspect that you were looking at “Dark Lord Kevin” – a character from a campaign that features starship fleet battles, nuclear hand weapons, and which let him buy Godhood at level three. (I really must get back to those logs, they’re WAY behind). That’s so wide open that very very little isn’t being allowed – and somewhat tougher minions are still no match for a fusion cannon.

      Finally… Eclipse III was originally delayed by computer failure – but the major trouble since then is simply that I finally had to shift Distant Horizons Games projects from “work time” to “hobby time” (Sadly, it never did make much of a profit; a lot of people simply found Eclipse rather overwhelming). Thus Eclipse III is now competing for time with actual gaming, support for existing products, and so on – and a book takes up quite a lot of time. A few people have inquired though, and it is a pity to just leave the files to molder, so I’m trying to give it a little time each day.

      • Thanks for replying! Your answers were really helpful in clarifying a few things.

        If/when eclipse III comes out, I’ll buy in a hearbeat! So you’ve sold one copy already. :)

      • Oh, you’re quite welcome; questions are always interesting – as is seeing what other people do with the system. They often come up with characters that would never have occurred to me.

        And Eclipse III will probably turn up eventually. Until then, please do feel free to ask Eclipse questions on the blog here; they often turn into article inspirations!

  • One of my favorite parts of Eclipse and The Practical Enchanter is that they so closely meld the flavor text and the mechanics of the game. This is particularly true for aspects of it that don’t normally receive much explanation for how they work in the game world, such as magic.

    Having said that, I know spell levels are a measurement of both the power of a given spell and its complexity. What I’m curious about is where various elements of a spell fall in regards to those two distinctions. Are things like caster level power or complexity? What about save DCs?

    For example, suppose that you have an artifact that can cast charm person over a continent-size area at caster level 25, save DC 25. From what I can tell, the ability to cast it over such a large area – being a metamagic function – increases the spell’s complexity more than its power, as the actual spell level hasn’t increased.

    Which brings me to where things aren’t so clear. The spell is still a first-level spell, and so can be blocked relatively easily (e.g. a lesser globe of invulnerability, or a lower-level effect attuned specifically to enchantments), which seems to indicate that it has little power. But it’s also extremely hard to dispel (caster level 25) or resist (DC 25), which seems to indicate that it has a lot of power.

    How is that apparent contradiction reconciled?

    • What’s going on there is that Caster Level really isn’t a part of the spell as such (otherwise it would be built into the spell formula – which would be an interesting variant, but certainly isn’t the d20 default).

      Caster level is basically a measurement of Craftsmanship. It’s a measure of how well built the spell is. You have to buy caster levels at six points each instead of skill levels at one point each because it applies to many different types of spells and because using your mind to work with mystical energy is a lot less natural for a corporeal being than using it’s hands is.

      As an analogy, an amateur gunsmith may build a gun that fires poorly, often jams, falls apart when dropped, and leaks so much gas while firing that the bullet won’t travel a hundred feet. On the other hand, a master gunsmith using the same materials and design can produce a lighter, far more powerful, reliable, and impact resistant gun that would grace any firearms collection.

      Save DC depends a lot on natural talent (Whether or not applied metamagic increases the save DC partially depends on GM taste and partially on when it was applied; if it’s built into the spell formula it definitely applies. If applied afterwards the GM may opt to treat it as an add-on module (no save DC boost) or just go with the resulting spell level. There are reasonable arguments to be made for either.

      To continue the physical analogy, we’re talking about a component of how well you use the gun – which has nothing to do with the properties of the gun itself. Making it harder for an opponent to save against a spell because of your high casting attribute is basically analogous to getting bonuses to material attacks for your high strength. That’s why you can apply DC increasing feats to a wide variety of spells.

  • Pacts seem like a lot of fun, but they’re unfortunately restricted to characters that use witchcraft (in that the 6 CP they grant can only be spent on advanced witchcraft abilities).

    What would I do if I didn’t want pacts to be restricted to witchcraft, but say wanted them to function towards other forms of magical ability, e.g. mana? Would simply allowing the 6 CP to be spent on something else (either generally, or in particular) be the way to go, or should something more specific be done?

    A few additional questions: does a character need to have taken any basic witchcraft at all to make a pact? I can’t see anything specifying that they do, so it seems like a character could make a pact and gain (a single) advanced witchcraft ability without knowing basic witchcraft.

    Also, what does it take for a character to be the entity that others make pacts with. The Dark Lord Kevin character seems to, so does it require godfire?

    • Pacts are fun aren’t they? If you want to allow them for other types of magic, you certainly can; as you say, just allowing the points to be spent elsewhere works just fine.

      Of course, if magic is a major investment for a character, and they want pact-style problems, it’s usually more efficient to specialize or corrupt their magic rather than taking pacts. Pacts are only really cost-effective when it comes to giving lower-level characters a boost on a relatively modest point investment – which is where witchcraft is at it’s most effective anyway. A lot of people dabble in witchcraft, but hardly anyone past level five or so relies on it for their primary powers.

      Pacts do have a backdoor limitation on them; A Pact gives you access to some Advanced Witchcraft abilities – but you can’t use advanced witchcraft abilities until you have at least 12 CP invested in basic witchcraft (Page 115, top left). Thus, in the base system, you can take Pacts without knowing any witchcraft – but you won’t get anything for them. If you open up Pacts to other magical systems, you’ll probably want to apply a similar minimum.

      As for what it takes to be able to make pacts… I fear that’s a firm “it varies”. Kevin, as a deity with his own private afterlife, witchcraft as a domain, vast magical powers, and reality shaping, can power up pretty much any kind of pact. Some pacts don’t need to be with anything specific; things like Taboos, Duties, and Rituals could just be necessary to your power or amplifiers for it – while the “Energy” pacts may simply represent personal limitations or accepting the problems that go with doing things the “easy way”.

      We’ve had some characters who took a privilege of “acting as a broker” and simply described themselves as acting as an intermediary with greater powers, others who said they had the ability to trigger some sort of power-granting mental focus in their targets head, and a few who said that they simply taught magical styles, each with it’s own strengths and weaknesses.

      Overall, pacts are generally assumed to be available to any Witch who wants them by default – thus being one of the (many) sources they can go to to set them up is just a privilege / you can get some minor favors from the local witches in exchange for ratifying their pacts.
      About the only ones that go beyond that are the Arcanum, Spirit, Souls, and Gateway pacts – all of which will require some powerful links if you want to take real advantage of them.

  • In Eclipse Witchcraft Advanced, Birth of Flames when it says cast at level 6, does it mean the level of the Astral Construct on the 1-9 spell level scale, or the caster level on the 1-20 scale?

    • It’s the level of the astral construct (classically known as a “Tulpa”). Those can be formidable assistants at lower levels and are still pretty useful at mid-level – making Birth of Flames one of the more powerful options in the Witchcraft system.

      Of course, the pesky GM may opt to insist on the minimum caster level rule, requiring that the witch reach at least level eleven before taking that ability – or perhaps before being able to fully control it – but other GM’s may not find it necessary.

  • Could you please create a spell template that allows any spell (or almost any) to be used as a Symbol (2e/3.0 version)?

    • Well, a symbol :
      *Lasts ten minutes per caster level once activated.
      *Affects everyone in line of sight within a 60′ radius.
      *May be set up for later triggering. This takes longer, and is expensive, but also adds 4 to the save DC.
      *The caster may specify an unlimited list of potential targets who will not be affected.
      *If rendered permanent, it may activate many times for about ten minutes each time – refreshing any limitations each time. Still, that’s it’s interaction with the Permanency spell, and really doesn’t enter into calculations about the basic effect.

      The trouble with trying to turn that into a spell template is that you don’t actually know what you’ll need to add to a given effect; spell templates only really work when you want to expand on a basic effect.

      For example, if you want a Screaming Symbol that does 10d6 sonic damage to everyone affected and gives the alarm you’d probably be starting with a sonic version of your basic Fireball and you’d be adding +3 levels of Area and +3 levels of Sculpting. It will only affect any given target once (at least during any one activation), so giving it a duration will only give it a chance at a few more targets at best. On the other hand, a Symbol of Healing which induced Fast Healing ! would be tremendously improved by being given a ten minute duration. Ergo, Persistent, +3 levels.

      We are dropping the Range, but that won’t apply to all spells – so there’s no point in trying to account for it.

      Setting it up for later triggering requires a big chunk of the Triggering metamagic – albeit requiring a big boost in the casting time and 5000 GP worth of components. That’s enough to get a basic purchase of +3 levels up to an effective one of +6 or so. Given that this is only going to be for making symbols, I’ll call it a variant rather than also calling for the Compact metamagic. Triggering doesn’t normally last indefinitely, but – at +6 levels or more – it’s not an entirely unreasonable notion.

      Ergo, a Symbol Master is going to want to buy the Area, Sculpting, Persistent and Triggering Metamagics, with six instances of Streamline – at a base cost of 60 CP. Of course, all of that is Specialized; it’s only to turn normal spells into Symbols.

      Now this is potentially more than a bit abusive, which is why the original 3.0 Symbol spell was only good for a carefully limited range of effects in 3.0 and – in 3.5 – was split up into separate spells and generally had the direct-casting option removed. After all, you can put six Symbols onto a folding fan, render them permanent – and then just flourish the fan at your enemies at the start of each battle. Just remember to fold it up and put it away when you don’t want to use it – and, preferably, construct it out of adamantium and with some protective spells on it.

  • How would you build a “body-snatcher” type of character in Eclipse/The Practical Enchanter?

    To be clear, this isn’t meant to be a character with their own body who leaves it temporarily to possess someone else, but rather a character with no physical body of their own, who possesses the bodies of others (perhaps they’re limited when not in a physical form) on a long-term/permanent basis (e.g. until driven out)?

    This seems to be particularly complicated, because you essentially need two complete characters (the possessor and possessee) with complete stat blocks, which you then have to merge into a single unified stat block, determining whose statistic overrrides the other’s for each aspect of their stat block. While some aspects of this seem obvious (e.g. keep the body’s physical ability scores and hit points, keep the possessing spirit’s mental ability scores), others are more nebulous (can the possessing spirit use the possessee’s spellcasting abilities? What if the spirit has its own?).

    The best solution that I can see is to model this off of the “channeling” variant of summoning (with the option where the summoner gives up control) – in which case the summoned spirit seems to have access to all of the host’s abilities, but uses its ability scores where higher, has access to its own spellcasting and spell-like abilities (but, I think, not the extraordinary or supernatural ones…which seems to eliminate most Eclipse special abilities), and maybe something else (I need to re-read that section).

    How would Eclipse handle this kind of body-hijacker?

    • This is a complicated question. For starters, it’s not usually possible to have no physical form in d20. The rules always assume that you have some kind of body, and that magic, enchanted weaponry (sometimes specifically attuned to hurt you), psychic powers, and even many more-or-less physical abilities can indeed kill you. It may not be easy, but it can be done.

      The simple way is to buy intangibility, as per the racial template ability. You take 0 Strength and for 12 CP, can buy Incorporeal.

      If you want to be completely immune to anything remotely physical, you’re looking at buying permanent high-level spell effects. That would be a level 8 or 9 effect, with a duration normally measured in rounds. You’d need a lot of power to make that permanent.

      I shall think about what best to use for posession effects, but they aren’t as easy as Channeling. There’s a huge difference between actively inviting something in while using considerable magic to grease the way, and using magic to force your way in. You’d be looking at a lesser effect, or a pretty powerful spell.

    • There are a couple of ways to go about this.

      The simplest is probably to just use Magic Jar – either with an upgrade to avoid having to use a receptacle or (easiest) an immunity to that requirement – and an immunity to a single aspect of a specific fifth level spell is probably going to be cheap. Similarly, you could extend the spell, renew it regularly, or take an immunity to the normal duration limit. I’d also suggest an immunity to dispelling focused on dispelling only being able to drive you out of a currently possessed body, rather than negating the spell entirely.

      Such a character would probably still be vulnerable through either the astral plane (where it would be quite reasonable to presume that any kind of a mind is manifest, on the theory that minds are what the astral plane is made of) or – perhaps – through the ethereal plane like a ghost. Of course, Magic Jar does not grant access to the target bodies full set of abilities. Some special vulnerability – an exorcism ritual performed at our disembodied entities original grave or some such – is probably in order as well.

      To possess a creature with full access to it’s abilities wherever they exceed yours, and to be able to project your own magical and psychic abilities through it, you want some version of Dominate (Animal, Person, Monster, etc), some way to extend the duration of that effect (metamagic and perhaps glory, a higher level version, an immunity, or some such), a good chunk of Mindspeech (up through Sense-Sharing), and one of the Telepathic Link variants from The Practical Enchanter (in the Party Magic section). If you’re using a Mindlink already, simply take the Telepathic Bond with spell transmission effect as an Innate Enchantment to keep the costs down.

      Once again, your possessing character will probably “really” be an astral entity with no body but it’s naked mind / soul – but dealing with it directly will involve some sort of astral quest, mighty ritual, exploiting some special weakness, or some such.

      There are other ways, but they can get a lot more complicated (or call for REALLY high level magic), and depend very heavily on how you want the ability to work.

      I wouldn’t really recommend this kind of thing for a player-character – the “I am invulnerable to everything save for this special set of attacks which pretty much kill me automatically” gets dull VERY fast – but it makes for a good puzzle-villain.

  • I may have overlooked this in Eclipse, but when spending power points on Witchcraft abilities, are you subject to the usual rule regarding spending power points? That is, that you can’t spend more than your total (manifester; which presumably is your character level for Witchcraft) level?

    In other words, if I wanted to, as a first-level character, spend 3 power on a Witchcraft ability I’m using, is that possible?

    • Yes it is; Witchcraft abilities really aren’t “psionic powers” as the SRD defines them – and it is designed to let low-level characters have some cool toys too; they just can’t use them all that often.

  • I noticed something recently regarding a lot of the innate enchantments that many of your sample characters use. The gp cost of innate enchantments is built around the creation cost, which is why a minor relic or a dark lord that use shield have it priced as 2,000 gp.

    That’s fairly easy to figure out. Using the rules for magic item creation, a “use-activated or continuous” magic item is (spell level x caster level x 2,000 gp). So if you set shield – a first-level spell – at caster level one, then it’s (1 x 1 x 2,000 gp = 2,000 gp). Easy as pie.

    However, as Innate Enchantment says that it uses “the standard d20 rules,” it seems to be ignoring the footnote regarding the cost of use-activated or continuous items. According to that footnote (which is number 3 in the “Table: Estimating Magic Item Gold Piece Values” in the link above), the cost of creation for such items varies according to the spell’s duration. Insofar as shield is concerned, it says “If the duration of the spell is 1 minute/level, multiply the cost by 2,” which – as a spell with a duration of 1 minute/level – should turn the price of an innate enchantment shield to 4,000 gp,

    This doesn’t seem to be the case in any example that I’ve seen here, however. Is this something that was overlooked, or is there some sort of mitigating circumstance that I’m not aware of?

    • That’s an edition wars artifact; that particular modifier appears in the 3.5 SRD, but not in the 3.0 SRD. Since Eclipse is compatible with both, by it’s usual “choose in favor of the character” rule, the characters (like various grandfathered item costs) usually ignore that modifier.

      The sample characters are also usually built using The Practical Enchanter (most of the people using Eclipse do seem to use The Practical Enchanter as well) – which also eliminates that modifier (see Constant Devices, page 107).

      The 3.5 SRD logic seems to be that short-duration spells are often more powerful for their level than longer-duration ones. On the other hand, “Unlimited Use” is up to once per round anyway (telling us that the power available is the same) – and an item that casts a long-term spell can easily be set up to enhance dozens of people at once – giving a choice between, say, a +4 sword and a +3 sword that also makes every other weapon in the party AND any companions +3. Basic d20 doesn’t really give much consideration to party-affecting magic items – but they do turn up at times in our games, and I know which one I’d go for.

      In terms of the setting, why should an item that can cast a given spell once per round anyway care how often it needs to do it? (players metagame enough without having their items doing it…).

      As a mechanics headache, what if your item is based on a spell like a Greater Invocation which can produce effects of varying duration?

      If we go the other way, and assume that items with longer-term spells in them are cheaper because they have a limitation (x.9 at most since a mere four times per day is only x.8) on how often they can be activated, why isn’t there a limitation on reactivation after the effects of items using long-term spells are dispelled?

      Overall, that multiplier just doesn’t seem to work well, whether in terms of the game world, in terms of balance, or in terms of logic. Other people’s mileage may vary of course, but going with the original version has worked well so far.

      • In that case I have to ask (though I suspect I know the answer already) – is it allowable to use the “Personalized” cost modifier (Practical Enchanter, p. 106) when designing innate enchantments to cut down on the price?

        Admittedly, the note on that page warns against it, but it talks about items that are personalized in this way; that’s a warning that doesn’t apply to innate enchantments, as they are already personalized (though I suspect that that fact is why that cost modifier can’t realistically be applied to innate enchantments to begin with).

      • As you’ve already deduced, “Personalized” is a limitation because you can’t readily exchange, sell, or loan out the item. Given that you can’t do that with Innate Enchantments anyway, they’re effectively already personalized – and so it’s worth no price break.

  • Eclipse tells us on page 12, and again on page 14, that because 3.0 psionics were more specific than 3.5 psionics “the 3.0 [power progression] charts thus offer substantially more powers.” However, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

    Looking at the progressions in Eclipse, a 3.0 psychic warrior has a very slight advantage over his 3.5 counterpart in terms of power points and the total number of powers known. The comparison between the 3.0 and 3.5 psion is far more stark, however.

    Notwithstanding high attributes, a 3.0 psion at 10th level has 43 power points and knows 14 powers. The 3.5 psion, by contrast, has 88 power points and knows 21 powers! This isn’t even taking into account that the 3.5 psion doesn’t have 0-level powers, and by that point will most likely have at least two 5th-level powers (whereas the 3.0 psion will only have a single 5th-level power if he has a high attribute).

    Isn’t it the 3.5 charts that offer substantially more powers for psionic progressions?

    • There are a couple of factors there:

      The Eclipse calculations are based on L20 – simply because we had to standardize somewhere for calculation purposes, and the level where a class was “complete” (and the rules started changing) seemed like a natural choice.

      Thus, at level 20, the 3.0 Psion gets 44 powers and 183 Power Points. They don’t get extra powers for having high attributes; they get one extra power of each level automatically.

      The 3.5 Psion gets 36 powers and 343 Power Points. Of course, they also have to deal with an increased dependence on augmentable powers, which can burn through those points a great deal faster. A 3.0 Psion using 3.5 powers will soon run out of Power. A 3.5 Psion using 3.0 powers will have to deal with those powers being somewhat more specific, thus decreasing his or her versatility – but will be able to keep going a good deal longer.

      Overall, enough of the underlying assumptions about psionic powers changed between 3.0 and 3.5 that – at least in my experience (which I must admit is somewhat limited; magic and the various new systems in Eclipse have proven more popular than psionics in our local games) – it seemed best to keep the two subsystems separate.

  • Here is something I would LOVE to see translated into Eclipse:
    http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/19527714/Inventor_core_class_v_20

    (sorry, couldn’t figure out a way to paste it as a link)

    Note that I am NOT asking for a level 20 translation of the CLASS; but rather, a translation of the “tech point” system (and maybe the associated construct system). ‘Cause even a few levels of this can add a Lot to a campaign.

    • I took a look. To be honest, I would just swap out the tech points for psionic points. We discussed a similar concept during design, but decided it wasn’t worth including: somewhat specialized and not that different from just casting spells, in the end. Additionally, the cost breakdowns for items can, and *should* vary widely from one game to the next, depending on the local physics. As such, the list presented would have to be trimmed and tweaked heavily by every gamemaster – and thast’s something which you coudl spend a good-sized sourcebook on.

      It’s not a bad idea, of course. Thats’ basically what The Practical Enhanter is. If not uing Eclipse, then TPC is a good bet – you can use feats which grant enchanting xp and reduce its costs to create a long flow of minor to mid-range magical machinery with the same effects as the technology.

      If, on the other hand, you don’t want to treat them as spells, Specialized Action Hero, along with the ability to reclaim points invested in items made (an Immunity), is your best option.

    • As so often happens, this reply turned into a fairly lengthy article – far too long for the comments section – so it’s gone up over here: https://ruscumag.wordpress.com/2012/08/02/eclipse-d20-mayhem-and-mad-science/

  • EXcellent guidance, thank you.

    By the way (at the risk of seeming to answer my own question), it also occurred to me that, as durable changes to the world, they might also be modeled with Mystic Artist, as an analogy to sculptures.

    Oh, and how would the immunity you mentioned in the last option be costed?

  • What’s the practical value of having someone’s spirit be present when you want to resurrect them?

    To clarify, I’ve read in several entries now that Kevin makes a Spirit pact with most of the people who serve him (e.g. thralls, his consort, etc.) so that their spirit will always return to Kadia, his realm, allowing for them to be readily brought back to life.

    My question is, how is the convenience of this reflected in game terms? As written, none of the life-restoring spells require that the spirit itself be present (the presence and condition of the body are much more important), as they reach across the planes to pull it back. Does having the person’s soul be right there make the resurrection easier somehow (e.g. the spell is a lower level or costs less power)? Or is it simply a precaution (e.g. to protect against those who’d bind it to ransom it back, soul-threatening planar hazards, etc.)?

    • In general, having the soul handy and willing makes it a lot easier to resurrect people; that’s the principle of the post-death healing spells in The Practical Enchanter. Even in real life you can often get a body going again well after brain death and keep it going for quite a long time. Thus the basic components of level five “Raise Dead” spell are a sequence such as “mend body”, “freshen body”, “oxygenate body”, “provide cellular fuel”, “warm body”, “get body to “just dead” status”, “wipe out excess bacteria”, “restart metabolism”, “restart heart”, “stabilize neurology”, “heal wounds”, “contact spirit”, “brief spirit”, “establish travel link for spirit”, “temporarily anchor spirit”, and “reunite spirit with body” – sixteen specific first-level spells which must be cast in very rapid succession and with precise timing to work.

      Thus having the spirit handy lets you use fewer, lower-level, spells – but it’s not enough of an advantage to be worth the trouble except under special circumstances.

      Kevin did indeed purchase the soul-protection effect, specializing it for increased effect so that no spell or effect of below level nineteen can interfere with a bonded soul returning to him – or threaten it – but that isn’t really the basic purpose of the bond; he’s using it to bypass a world law.

      In the Federation-Apocalypse setting there normally isn’t much of any time spent between incarnations; you die in one dimension, you instantly step into a vacant role in the Manifold – most often one of your own imagining or a place where you often imagined yourself or spent a lot of time immersing yourself in – the worlds of favored games, novels, movies, etc. Thus that particular setting does not normally allow resurrection effects; they’d require that the spell somehow trace down the soul you wanted in a nigh-infinite multiverse, kill its current body (often in a no-magic universe), drag it back, and force it to take up an old role again. Buying “returning” simply means that something is allowing you to keep your memories straight in your new incarnation.

      A soul that arrives in an afterlife realm in the Manifold just embodies in a copy of a recent body – and so has an easy time keeping it’s memories sorted out; there’s a “hard copy” on hand in their new brain. Memories are never truly lost permanently – but they can be buried pretty deep on the spiritual side.

  • How does flight maneuverability relate to Celerity? When you purchase flight with Celerity + Additional what is the base maneuverability? How would you duplicate feats that improve flight maneuverability, such as Improved Flight?

    Thanks

    • By default, movement comes with “perfect” maneuverability – comparable to a human walking and running around on a smooth floor. (If you want real perfection, buy some immunities – starting with inertia as far as it relates to movement). If it’s actual physical flight (EG; Corrupted/requires room to spread wings and maneuver) it’s generally “good”. Corruptions and Specializations that directly reduce maneuverability would cover Average, Poor, and Clumsy.

      Feats which improve maneuverability would translate (if you wanted to bother translating at all) as buying down the relevant limitation.

  • The witchcraft system seems to have several basic abilities that are built on replicating some L0-L2 effects of a specific flavor and are pretty open ended. Hyloka seem a bit of an exception as it has a pretty line specific item list of things it can do which seem to limit down how flexible it is. Is that the intent as a few of those numerated abilities are quite potent, or would some other things be appropriate and if so could you give any examples?

    • Hyloka can do quite a few other things; the list simply represents the major applications with game effects – physical attribute manipulation and direct metabolic control. It can also, for example, be used to enhance or virtually eliminate fertility, reduce blood pressure, cure hangovers, help metabolize or resist various drugs or reduce cravings, negate allergic reactions, induce gradual changes in pigmentation, ease sunburns and itching, treat enzyme disorders, aid against cancer or radiation sickness, help ensure a comfortable and healthy old age, induce weight loss or gain, and more.

      The trouble here is that – in d20 terms – most of that has no effect. Most of those things are long-term, or too minor to reflect in the game system, or chronic (and thus no fun). In d20 terms… Who cares if your character is less-than-normally-fertile, has high blood pressure, a hangover, is addicted to nicotine, sneezes all the time, itches, will eventually die of a particular natural cause (the game just says that eventually you die of “old age”, not what you specifically die of), and is thirty pounds overweight? Almost all of that falls under “description”.

      If you really want to change your skin and hair color for a disguise… There are cantrips and dyes for that that are a lot faster than adjusting your metabolism. In the real world – and in a few hyper-realistic d20 games – Hyloka would be invaluable. In most games… only the most dramatic uses really come up.

      And sorry about the delay on this; your question wound up a little far down the list.

  • The Unarmored disadvantage doesn’t speak to what it does when someone with it wears armor; what penalties does the character take while wearing armor? Similarly, does it have any interaction with the purchasing of armor proficiencies?

    I ask because I’ve had players dance around around the standard nonproficiency penalties for armor and shields before – since the penalties for nonproficiency are based around an armor’s/shield’s armor check penalty, they just find ways to reduce that penalty to 0, and then can wear the armor with relative impunity (even if the armor bonus itself is low, it can still gain enhancement bonuses, etc.).

    Given that the Unarmored disadvantage seems like it should convey something worse than merely not being proficient with armor, what does it do to someone with it who wears armor? Also, does that disadvantage apply to shields?

    • “Unarmoured” can represent things ranging from a sacred oath to having overly-sensitive skin. It generally doesn’t affect shields.

      In terms of game mechanics, disregarding a disadvantage is simple; if a disadvantage isn’t causing problems, than it’s not a disadvantage and is worth no points – which means that it’s being bought off. As listed on page 20 or Eclipse, that costs CP equal to twice the point value of the disadvantage if it’s done without a good in-game explanation, CP equal to it’s value with a good in-game explanation – and nothing at all if the game master feels that it’s warranted by a mighty quest or some such. That generally means that – next time the character gets some character points – they’ll have prespent either 3 or 6 of them. If that’s likely to be awhile, it’s entirely appropriate to take away some abilities right away instead. Maybe that armor chafes your sensitive skin so badly that you take a -1 to hit (Taking 6 CP off your BAB) or a save penalty or some such.

      There’s no need to be fussy about it – if a character with the “Recorder” disadvantage misses making notes one session, or someone with Obligations forgets them for a bit, that’s no big problem; it IS only three or four character points there. Still, if they make a habit of it, either assess a penalty, make them spend the points, or trade things out for a disadvantage that they’re willing to play or which does have straight mechanical effects.

      Now, at least in my games, the players generally can get away with the no-check-penalty armor and shields. After all, if the armor check penalty is down to zero, that generally means that the stuff is no more troublesome to wear than clothing – and, since clothing doesn’t interfere with much, neither does the armor. After all, as far as I know, there’s nothing that prevents you from having an armor bonus enchanted onto normal clothing – or using something like the Ironcloth Loom talisman.

      I hope that helps!

  • This is about the details of the Occult Talent ability from Eclipse.
    Are the spells that go with those slots dedicated or do they work like Cleric casting pulling from the whole list, or some studies version, if they are dedicated as the description suggests what would be an appropriate CP cost to give them some flexibility for selecting or changing those spells? What would a psionic version be like, slots or point based? Are their any obvious expansions for it that have been done, I am familiar with the limitation of requiring it to have props to simulate some gadgets but am curious to know if there are more.

    • As will happen, this reply got a little long and then turned into a small article – so it’s up over HERE.

      If that doesn’t cover what you wanted, or if you have any other questions, just let me know.

  • Another question for an upcoming game, a player wants to use a psionic style caster but wants to use the erudite casting mechanic from Complete Psionic. The general idea is that rather than having an Inherent List they have something that approximates a Studies limitation. Instead of a physical book powers are learned and recorded in their mind paying for it in XP at the usual 5gp:1XP ratio. Once a power is used it is “locked in” until a night’s sleep. The effective limitation is the comparatively smaller # of individual powers that are available at one time.

    My thoughts on it were using a Studies limitation, buying an Immunity to spellbook being stolen with a Corruption of spells must be bought using XP rather than GP and cant be loaned out for someone else to use without the character being present. Then another Immunity to Spell Preparation time which would be Specialized with the limitation of spells being locked in until a rest cycle.
    The first Immunity seems to be Uncommon (usually spellbooks are well protected and usually an ineffective thing to do in any situation in which the caster is not basically already defenseless due to the ease of things like Void Sheathe) 3CP, Major for Severity for 3 CP, and as a Major resistance for a total of 6 CP which is then Corrupted to 4 CP with the GP:XP change.
    The second Immunity seems to be Common or Very Common so 6 or 12 CP, Major for 3CP, and finally Minor or Major resistance so either 2/3rds or normal cost. The total cost then ranges from (6+3)*2/3=6 or 12+3=15 both of which are then Specialized: can only use (CL/2)+1 individual effects in any single ‘day’ which actually seems overly limiting given it is a primary caster progression so the one I would actually implement would be the above for Powers of maximum level and max level -1, meaning that Powers that are two levels behind your EL are freely selectable.

    I would however want to see what other approaches seem viable and different points of view are possible.

    • An alternate way to do that would be to simply remove the studies limitation entirely for +2 cp and then corrupt the progression to represent needing xp to learn new powers and specialize to represent only being able to use caster level/2 +1 unique powers *per level* per day. For either cost or effect is up to the player and/or GM.

      You could use the savings to buy powers known at level up as it would take 6cp to learn the two the ‘studious psion’ should nominally get every level.

    • Well, the Erudite isn’t OGC, so I’m just going to have to build a Studious Psionic instead.

      Studious Psionic:

        Available Base: 504 CP
        Basics: 20d4 Hit Dice (0 CP), Saves +24 (72 CP), Warcraft +10 (60 CP), 20 3.5 Wilder Magic Levels (120 CP), +46 SP (46 CP).
        Special: Proficient with a limited set of Simple and Martial Weapons (6 CP), Companion (Psicrystal Variant, 6 CP), Five bonus Feats (30 CP), Fast Learner, Specialized in Buying Powers for Double Effect (6 CP)
        Restriction (-20 CP): The character must apply the Specialization “Power Lockout: no matter how many disciplines a studios psionic purchases or develops, they may only be used to fill out the character’s list of available disciplines on a daily basis – although the choice need not be made until they’re needed.” to all his or her “wilder” and purchased disciplines. The Specialization does, however, reduce the cost of additional disciplines normally. Just as annoyingly, powers beyond those available through the Wilder Chart and points from Fast Learner must be sought out or researched before they can be purchased.

      That’s a total of 326 CP – leaving 178 with which to buy more powers. That’s enough for quite a list – or for building some specialty themes and variants.

  • Could you rephrase the Restriction from above? I don’t follow the intent.

    • Ah. Too many subclauses. Sorry about that.

      There are two basic components to the restriction:

      1) The character must research or seek out the disciplines he or she wishes to acquire beyond the ones purchased with points from Fast Learner or gained from the Wilder chart.

      2) All the disciplines that the character acquires must be Specialized as follows:

      “Each time the character uses a discipline for the first time in a day it fills one of his or her available “discipline slots” from the Wilder chart. Once the character is out of slots he or she is stuck with the powers he or she currently has in them until he or she has time to rest and clear out those disciplines.”

      That way the character operates just like the original.

      I hope that helps!

  • A tangential followup, say you have Occult Talent or other spell slot or such mechanic, it is Corrupted for increased effect, how exactly do those increases work in both increasing number and increasing level

    Say 3 0th slots and 1 1st slot.
    Increased for # of slots by 50% would give a single added 0th slot as the others all round down?
    For increasing the level ie like a 2nd level slot becomes a 3rd due to easy math, but how would the rounding work for that 3/1 set of slots?

    • The general rule for Eclipse is that – unless otherwise specified – under .5 rounds down, over .5 rounds up, and .5 rounds in whatever way the player wants.

      Given that cantrips are usually calculated as being spell level 1/2, increasing them by 50% takes them to level .75 – rounded up to one.

      It is a fantasy game; unless someone’s being really abusive somehow it’s usually best to err on the side of the characters being able to do neat things.

  • I had a question about Talents from Practical Enchanter. Does the Talent system count as Siddihisyoga? Or as innate enchantments?

    Also should a disjunction effect work against talents?

    • Well, Innate Enchantments, Siddhisyoga, and Talents are all pretty closely related; one says “I buy personal enchantments with character points”, the next says {I buy personal enchantments with money”, and the third says “Everyone is getting a version of Siddhisyoga for free since this world doesn’t have traditional d20 magic items!”.

      As an example, Sylthis Torr uses Siddhisyoga to build his Talents.

      Now, since all of those abilities do work like magical items they are affected by disjunction – but, as living parts of a character, will “heal”, and so are never permanently destroyed.

      I hope that helps!

    • I’m hoping to run a campaign where there is no economy in the background at least to start. (Part of the opening quest lines are going to be about finding the resources to allow a currency economy to exist).

      I was going to use the talent system to make up for the complete lack of economic support. The PC’s won’t be getting any currency as treasure so I’m trying to find ways to compensate for that. My original questions were to help me clarify how the talent system interacted with Innate enchantments and Siddi.

      • Ah. Essentially they’re all the same thing, they’re just set up a little differently.

        The Talent system was set up for a world where magic items fell into two basic categories – a few small conveniences of lesser magic (Charms and talismans) and amazing artifacts of past ages – and wealth was abstract. Thus the characters could go broke, or find amazing treasures (and spend them ruinously) without it much impacting their power level.

        If there’s no currency economy, and things are mostly limited to barter (and thus standard magic items, which call for massive concentrations of resources to make, are likely to be almost nonexistent for much of the campaign), the Talent system should work nicely – although I still advise some caution in using it with Eclipse; combining two “design your own abilities” systems allows for very specialized builds.

        Siddhisyoga was is basically a backdoor to Talents for a standard game where money is a major source of personal power; thus it’s set up to keep the user from getting free talents while using his or her share of the treasure to buy even more stuff – or to boost the rest of the party.

        Innate Enchantments are another way to go money-independent again – but get expensive in terms of character points very quickly; they’re best for dabblers or for people who want a few fairly specific talents – especially at lower levels, where the money for Siddhisyoga can be scarce.

        In play, they’re essentially identical once you have them; if you have an innate use-activated unlimited-use “Mage Armor” effect at caster level one, it doesn’t matter if you bought it with “cirtual gold” from Innate Enchantment, Siddhisyoga, or Talents. You could even combine all three systems to build up your “virtual gold reserve”.

        I might or might not allow it; it depends a lot on the world background. (I’d have to be using Talents in the setting just for a start).

  • How would you make the magus Pathfinder class using Eclipse?

    Presuming I haven’t overlooked anything (which is a distinct possibility), I originally wanted to know how to use Eclipse to grant the ability to unleash a touch-range spell as part of a melee attack. This, however, is one of the magus’s signature abilities, called spellstrike. Given that the magus has a number of other versatile powers, though, I wanted to ask how you’d convert it all over.

  • My question is about the use of the psychic construct from the Mutants of the Eclipse Part VIII – The Exokinetic https://ruscumag.wordpress.com/2010/06/21/mutants-of-the-eclipse-part-viii-the-exokinetic/ article, as well as something about the Psychic Constructs in general.

    I wanted to know how the Enveloping Special ability worked exactly and when to use the Construct’s or the Exokinetic’s stats. For example say a character has a Str and Dex score of 10 and 14 and the Construct is a L1 version having Str and Dex of 15 (which also begs the question of a Medium sized creature wearing a small construct). Other things that I would like clarified are how saves and AC would function, if disparate movement modes would matter, if the exokinetic got to use the Dark Vision and Low Light Vision of the construct, if Innate Enchantments based off of Personal Only spells would affect the construct, etc.

    The last and partially related question goes to the Combat section of the description of Psychic Constructs on p230 of the Practical Enchanter and the Bonded options from Menu A. Bonded lets the caster command the construct as a free action, but in the description under Combat it states that directing the construct is a free action. Is the Bonded ability meant to do things beyond the seemingly tactical intent of the other or is this more of an editing error?

    • With Enveloping, the character can use whichever attribute he or she wants to – usually the best. Thus, in your example the character would normally use the constructs 15 Str and Dex until it’s destroyed, dismissed, or the duration runs out. Thus you use the best saves of the combination, the best AC, the user’s or constructs movement modes (whichever is better at the moment), the user or constructs senses (whichever is better), and so on.

      Personal-only innate enchantments continue to affect the user and don’t affect the construct; it may be wrapped around the user and will augment him or her – but it is not him or her (and wouldn’t be a valid target for a lot of the usual innate enchantments either.

      The question of wearing a smaller construct doesn’t normally come up with the Exokinetic; given the modifiers they’re using to get the Enveloping option before Class-C abilities become available at spell or ability level seven means that the minimum construct size they can normally get is “Medium”. This does beg the question of wearing a smaller construct with a large Exokinetic though, but you really can’t fit inside a construct that’s smaller than you are.

      AS for “Bonded”, the important word in that ability is “mentally” – thus allowing the caster to command his or her construct while Silenced, holding their breath underwater, being strangled, or in any other situation where the creator either cannot speak or does not want to. This can be quite useful with long-term or permanent constructs, although it’s usually less important in a short fight.

      I hope all that helps!

      • Is there a certain range for that exercise of control with the Bonded ability, like within the range of the spell, or is it more of a one way link to transmit instructions to any remote construct presumably on the same plane?

      • It’s a one-way link; you can send instructions to your construct at any range that the GM is willing to put up with, but the utility is rather sharply limited once you can’t see what the thing is doing any longer. Of course, you could always scry on it (and presumably extend the duration) – in which case you have a convenient and disposable minion, if likely a higher level spell.

  • I have a question relating to the metamagic section in Eclipse. Does Elemental Manipulation include converting one element (earth, air, fire, water, void, wood, etc.) to another? With it could I create a Stone Bolt (lighting bolt that now does piercing damage), Smog Arrow (acid arrow that now does poison damage) or Salt Ball (fireball that now drains the target of water)?

    Or does that fit within another catagory?

    • It would indeed cover that – although converting from elemental damage to physical would usually be at least +1 level and converting to exotic effects would be +2 or more if it’s possible at all. There are, after all, plenty of creatures that are highly resistant to fire – but relatively few are anywhere near that resistant to (say) piercing damage.

      As for introducing new types of damage – such as “dehydration” – that’s something of a nightmare. You wind up having to rule on creatures biology, and sort out which are resistant, and decide what items help protect from it, and so on. I’d probably rule that “dehydration” is just fire damage (if usually slower). As for “Poison Damage” – well, a directly damaging chemical attack in d20 is called “acid”, regardless of how the chemical actually works.

      • I didn’t mean a new damage type with dehydration, just a way to get around energy resistance. How about the needed level bump to go typeless (it bypasses all energy resistance/immunity)? I would think +5 or even as much as +8.

        Poison damage as a type already exists- there are plenty of sourcebooks with their own forms of poison resistance and immunity. I think Bastion did it first with Pale Designs.

        And another question, how much of a bump would you give for a Stone Bolt that is not reduced to dust and may even impale targets (to trees, the ground, walls, etc.)? For some reason I am liking the idea more and more.

  • Do you have the time and inclination to look at specific builds and offer feedback or not so much?

    • I can certainly look, although I can’t say how much time I’ll actually be able to give it – although a large fraction of the builds on the site are the result of various requests. However, that does tend to come out of gaming / posting time – so anything I tweak extensively, or makes a really interesting example, may wind up getting some additional tweaking (usually name and background changes and other details) and being posted as another example.

  • How would you build the thrallherd ability from the PrC of the same name? Specifically the fast recruitment, inherent loyalty and the method of recruitment, ideally as specific costs.

    I am imagining it can be built using Leadership with some Immunities, or perhaps another model would be using Lure of Darkness and Web of Shadows ?

  • Have you ever thought about rules for researching feats? There are feats that should not be researched, such as background and many racial, but then there are those that should, including metamagic, fighter bonus feats and (for kicks) spelltouched. The first two would go a long way in customizing characters in a regular (ie non Eclipse) game.

  • One other thing that needs research rules, in my opinion, is weapon and armor qualities. They follow different rules than other magic items. I know there is a series of spells for it in TPE, but do those work in the same way as the qualities in the DMG?

    • The individual qualities are identical, but there’s a choice for the game master; either use the generic spell that can provide all kinds of qualities (essentially replicating the current system in which anyone who CAN enchant weapons and armor can give them pretty much any qualities that he or she wants) or use the specific variants – so that only someone with the specific “Make weapon +2 frost Lightning” spell can make such a weapon.

      Personally I go with the second option in most games. It’s a lot more interesting and helps make magical weapons something special again. Handily, since the qualities are derived from spells, it also means that new weapon qualities can be researched simply by researching the appropriate spells under the standard rules.

      • Now that I have thought about this, qualities are different from the spells they incorporate. Two different qualities can have the same base spells and yet have different effects. So they should have research rules.

        And wouldn’t individual spells for enchantment screw over spontaneous casters?

  • Is there a way within Eclipse to construct the sort of “Retributive Aura” that the Jovoc demon, from 3rd ed., has?
    The closest I could think of is to buy Augmented Damage for Presence, but that doesn’t strike me as quite right.

    • That one’s kind of tricky – mostly because it’s rather badly written. To be generic:

      “When creature (X) takes damage, all creatures not of the same general type within thirty feet take equal damage, DC 15 Fort save for half. Regardless of the source of damage, the damage dealt is not subject to negation or reduction because of resistance, immunity, damage reduction, spell resistance, or the like.”

      There is no upper limit and no defense – however epic or divine – stops this. For that matter, it contradicts itself; it’s not affected by immunities, despite the fact that it’s description grants a particular group of creatures an immunity.

      So shrink down a bunch of these things – say about a thousand – put them in a box, and toss in an area-of-effect damage spell doing (say) 20 points of damage. Everything except their type of creature within thirty feet – monsters, gods, tarrasques, whatever – dies instantly, save or no save.

      Can you see putting this ability in the hands of a bunch of player characters?

      But yes; you can buy it. Immunity/the distinction between your own hit points and those of other creatures within thirty feet, Corrupted for increased effect (creatures of your own type are immune)/only works for damage infliction, creatures get a DC 15 fortitude save to half that. That’s Very Common, Major, Great (sixty points seems like an appropriate limit) for a base cost of 30 CP. Of course, it’s also a rather grotesque natural law immunity – and subject to the usual caveat for natural law immunities; you should think REALLY carefully before you allow something like this.

  • Thank you.
    As for grotesque, yes – but no more so than the PC I will be using the effect to discipline: He is a Channeler (among other things) with Smite and maxed out Intensity. He routinely does over 100 points when he cracks that one out. Kinda makes working up the details for NPCs feel futile. “THis one is the rightful heir to a Dukedom, but he was kidnapped by Gypsies, and raised a brigand. He prefers to start of combat with . . .” SPLAT! “…oh…”

    • Oh you’re welcome. Sorry about the delayed reply; I’ve just been swamped for the last few months.

      Ah; one of the type who tries to turn it into “who shot first” since that’s the easiest way to “win” (as opposed to actually having fun of course; at least in my games casually blasting all the people who have the information you need tends to lead to total failure…). Sadly, making sure you could build pretty much anything in d20 in Eclipse meant putting in ways to build the stupid stuff too.

      Fortunately there are always counters to use.

  • Hi Thoth – just wanted to make a note that my old blog has moved and I have a new RPG forum up :)

    have posted a summary of Eclipse there

    cheers

    • Thank you for letting me know; I’ll have to check the links and see if they’re still working.

      Sorry about the slow replies recently, I’m afraid that I’ve had very little time to keep up with things recently…

  • It’s self-evident by now that I’m a big fan of Eclipse. It gives you (near-)total freedom to design the character you want, both in terms of class and race.

    But it doesn’t address the “third pillar” of character design, which relates to character gear.

    Now, this is to be somewhat expected. It’s a book about character-design, after all; neither it, nor The Practical Enchanter (which is about spells and magic items) are supposed to necessarily deal with wealth-by-level issues.

    Having said that, the issues are still there (and perhaps more prevalent for being the only major “by-level” issues remaining with class and race made into a point-buy system).

    To reiterate the problem, the basic d20 System assumes that PCs will have so much gear (mundane and magic items, mostly, along with wealth-on-hand) per level, measured by its total market value. (Irritatingly, NPCs have their own wealth-by-level values, which are more austere, and monsters have their own separate treasure tables.)

    Unfortunately, the system works in a way that, if you deviate from these prescribed values too much, the game starts to suffer as you go up in levels – PCs who fall below these values find themselves lacking in the necessary magic items (e.g. the “Big Six“) to increase their statistics to the point where they find themselves fighting monsters of the “appropriate” Challenge Rating with undue difficulty; the reverse is also true, where PCs with too much wealth will purchase better magic items and more easily undo their enemies.

    Now, Eclipse does lap on the fringes of this problem. With powers like Innate Enchantment and Siddhisyoga, you can deal with some of the outlying problems of magical gear, such as its loss or destruction – but it doesn’t deal with the underlying problem of the inherent assumption of a certain amount of magical gear being available at each level.

    How would you deal with this problem in the context of Eclipse/TPE (assuming that you can at all)? The best I can come up with is to try translating the wealth-by-level charts into a certain amount of “bonus” CP gained at each level in lieu of the gear. This has many problems, however, even beyond trying to figure out what the appropriate CPs would be – such as if a PC receives those bonuses and then finds a way to gain some magic treasures in-game (meaning that at least part of those CPs would need to be revoked…which is a whole ‘nother kind of headache).

    One could, I suppose, try and ignore the issue of wealth-by-level altogether, simply handing out rewards and magic items randomly (for, say, random encounters) or as the story dictates (“we finally broke into the Vaults of Dagon!”) and let the chips fall where they may, but that carries the risk of falling back into the “yes, that encounter was CR-appropriate, you all just didn’t have the magic arms and armor necessary to make it a fair fight” problem.

    What’s the answer here, if I wanted to be free from the shackles of wealth-by-level in my Eclipse game, without throwing power-levels off?

  • A-MEN, brother!
    I, too have felt the profound cognitive dissonance of a(n otherwise excellent) system that allows me to build magic item equivalents into my body, but won’t address buying them with some enhancement of starting wealth.

    • Well, insofar as having an ability in Eclipse that lets your 1st-level character start out with, say, a horse, a masterwork weapon, and a full suit of plate mail, for instance, I believe I once saw Thoth write that you can use Privilege for that.

      It’s the reliance on magic items as necessities for your character (especially at higher levels) that Eclipse doesn’t address.

      • This deserves a response, because it’s a good question. It’s also one where we agree with you, and if you look closely we built a lot of ways to deal with it. However, I think you are asking for THE ONE TRUE WAY to end the problem, and unfortunately that’s not practical for two reasons.

        First, we have a lot of ways to use our systems, but it’s fundamentally a modular and flexible tool. it isn’t a solution, and it still has to function even if plugged wholly or partly in an existing game or setting that may use existing feats, classes, and so forth. That does fundamentally limit how far we can deviant from the expectations of the audience. There are workarounds: you can use wealth level templates, charms & talismans, action points, or even

        Second, what’s “appropriate” is going to vary with your game and GM. In our books, we say what you can do: what you *ought* to do is a judgement call and we state that more than once. At no point do we say what foes you should be facing, or what magic items you supposedly need to face them. We’ve had games where virtually every character rocked a minor artifact, and games where nobody broke a +3 bonus on their favored weapon even at high levels. It’s all in what you *want* to do. To be blunt, we don’t care about the challenge ratings and so on, and can’t predict how everyone will play, and don’t care to dictate how they should play.

        You see, I once considered doing exactly that. And it didn’t work. It couldn’t, without a complex scalable system that made wealth magically appear in your hands later on. The solution was worse than the problem; Thoth persuaded me to try a flank attack. If we couldn’t correct the problem of wealth, we’d bypass it entirely.

      • I guess I will take a crack at this:

        The problem is that much of the standard d20 gear/treasure isn’t so much about character design as it is about world design. For instance it assumes that no character ability exists that allows the generation of wealth independent of the level/power curve. This is why so many spells keep getting redesigned/errata’d between editions in D&D. It also assumes the whole mess that is the “Challenge Rating Appropriate Encounter” which has been discussed elsewhere on this site. Both of which make major assumptions about how the campaign world works and how the characters fit into them.

        Admittedly, this works rather well when you run a campaign as a series of encounters with minimal background or story to tie them together. Things start to break down once you start trying to build a coherent campaign world where things make sense. Why gold is used as a form of currency in campaigns where dragons, orcs, and wandering spheres of annihilation drop pounds of the stuff begins to make people question the logic of the setting (although I do like the idea that gold is really dragon manure). Who has access to what types of equipment, who can make it, and how much of it is available say a great deal about the setting and it’s flavor.

        For instance: in the Shandar Campaign that was used to play test a number of Eclipse features magical items of significant power were common. Monsters of horrific power were also very common. A ECL 16 character in that campaign managed to solo an Iron Colossus in a single round (much to Thoth’s annoyance). That was also the campaign where the party at low levels (I think average ECL was level 7) stumbled upon a city of undead commanded by a draco-lich and after much planning, preparations, and numerous fatalities over the course of months game time managed to kill the draco-lich and reclaim the city from the undead. That campaign suffered a number of character fatalities too because a number of players kept assuming that the enemies they encountered were always going to be “level appropriate”. We quickly learned to abuse our abilities whenever possible, scout ahead, horde every scrap of power we could find, and most importantly have an escape route set up ahead of time in case things went south.

        Our campaigns tend to assume that the world exists regardless of what level the characters are. If you go into the mountains where dragons are known to reside, then expect to encounter dragons that may well squash you flat if you aren’t powerful enough. Likewise, any npcs coming after the party are assumed to have done their homework on the party’s abilities and equipment and will have a plan of attack they believe will maximize the chance of success. It is up to the characters to figure out which encounters they are prepared for, which ones they should flee, and which ones they might be able to overcome given time and additional resources.

        So my advice:

        Decide how much equipment you wish to be generally available in your campaign and then consider how this affects your world. How much equipment is the King’s guard likely to have? What about the court wizard? The retired adventurer now working as a bartender? It doesn’t have to be detailed write-ups and could just be a few notes on saves, attack bonus, damage, and hp with a few odd abilities for flavor. If the party steamrollers the palace guard only to get pasted by the court wizard because they failed to deduce he had an iron golem in his lab then they either need to surrender/bargain, escape, or come up with something really clever fast. In time the players will learn to ask questions, think about the motives and abilities of your npcs, and spend time considering how to use the tools you’ve given them to minimize potential threats and defeat truly challenging encounters.

        Now: fudging hit points on the fly or adding elements to the encounter in response to the fight can help matters where you badly over/underestimated the party’s abilities and don’t want to have a party wipe or let your villain get annihilated just yet. If the characters manage to subdue the court wizard and gain control of his iron golem, then congratulations are in order. If the wizards escapes via teleport because they were busily trying to destroy the golem then they know to anticipate this in the future and to look for teleport counters for the next time around. if the golem instead chases them off then the party knows that they now have to consider how to deal with it if they try again.

        If done right, the players will pay more attention to your setting and descriptions (The court wizard specializes in constructs and animation to aid the kingdom), learn to ask questions when they see potential issues (What sort of materials does the wizard tend to buy?), and plan for contingencies (That sounds an awful lot like the list of parts for an iron golem, maybe we should rethink storming the place….). Close calls, desperate retreats, and the satisfaction of defeating an opponent well beyond their own power via cleverness use of an ability will make more memorable tales than simple encounters designed to consume 25% of the party’s resources with minimal planning or preparation.

        Just my two cents anyway….

  • How would you build the thrallherd ability from the PrC of the same name? Specifically the fast recruitment, inherent loyalty and the method of recruitment, ideally as specific costs.

    I am imagining it can be built using Leadership with some Immunities, or perhaps another model would be using Lure of Darkness and Web of Shadows ?

  • Looking at the Thrallherd class located at http://www.d20srd.org/srd/psionic/prestigeClasses/thrallherd.htm, we can analyze the differences between the Thrallherd bonus and the Leadership feat, located at http://www.d20srd.org/srd/feats.htm#leadership .

    And, well, there aren’t many.

    OK, ok. There are three differences. The Thrallherd gets to count the Prestige class level twice and eventually gets an additional Companion – which Eclipse allows anyway; just shift some follower levels around. Throw in an extra 6 CP for Born Leader, assuming you use the “normal” Leadership feat as a variant. Maybe throw in another 6 CP for Emperor’s Star.

    The “replaced daily” bit… honestly, that’s just silly. Where do they come from? You could get an Immunity to cover it, but I don’t recommend it, as it’s incredibly annoying to other players and seemingly designed to be as obnoxious as possible. The Eclipse Leadership version works differently because it’s designed to be less “troop of useless grunts” and more “flexible coterie of skilled sidekicks”. It’s less trouble for the GM, more useful to the player, and less likely to steal the focus from players who don’t choose to take the feat. It also works differently unless you fiddle with it, but meh, a small price to pay for a better experience.

  • Presuming that I’m not misremembering something from Eclipse, or an article on here, what options are there to make Eclipse-based characters that can engage in cooperative spellcasting?

    To be clear, what I mean by “cooperative spellcasting” is the idea of individual spellcasters combining their power for greater results; the old “alone we’re strong, together we’re stronger” idea.

    I’m not too sure what can be done to create this. Blessing seems to be the closest direct equivalent, but it’s limited in giving someone weaker than up (up to) the difference in power between you. Between that and aid another actions for skill-based spellcasting, that seems to be it.

    • Blah, should be “someone weaker than you.”

      • WordPress ate my first post.

        Short version: Corrupt and Specialize a magical system you want to use. It’s not recommended to actually have group abilities because d20 doesn’t really work well with them. It sounds great until William can’t make the game and suddenly the group magic doesn’t work right. The ritual system also does the job, but it’s detailed more in the Practical Enchanter.

        Hence having one character use Corrupt and Specialization metamagic feats or something. Requiring skilled assistants (which other PC’s can provide), special ritual materials, or special circumstances drops the cost down to a pretty minimal investment.

        Now, if you really want to do group magic, then you need everyone to buy some Blessing and a specific bonus to hand out to another character, such as Glory, metamagic, some generic spell levels or mana, etc. The group can then throw it on anyone. But it all has to be agreed-upon ahead of time and as mentioned, missing players can really mess you up.

        While I wouldn’t exacly reccomend it, you *could* have a “virtual character”. The players could invest points in a pool and buy abilities solely for this virtul character, which can then be used for the group.

    • Ah well, we now have two articles in response here… Editorial-0’s HERE, and mine over HERE.

  • So when might we see TPE II, Eclipse III or something else new on DH’s OBS page? You guys are some of the best game authors, d20 or otherwise, and I want to buy more from you.

    • Or on that note have you considered having a kickstarter for either or both projects, I would imagine I am not alone in wanting to contribute to both of those.

      • I’d rather like to – but honestly, both Eclipse and The Practical Enchanter seem to be too complex to really enjoy widespread popularity – and Distant Horizons Games has never really made money. I’d rather not put something out there as an offer that I might not be able to afford to finish.

        I suppose I really ought to look into Kickstarter or something like it though; it would be nice to be able to get some more books out. There’s certainly enough notes accumulating in the “when I have time” files to provide material for some.

  • One thing I wanted to double-check on: Eclipse is fairly clear that, when taking a given magic progression, the spell list can be tailored (e.g. buying levels of wizard progression does not automatically mean that your spell list is the standard sorcerer/wizard spell list). Likewise, it’s understood that the more expensive the form of magic progression, the more broad the spell list should be (comparative to the “standard” spell lists).

    Given that, and that Thoth seems to have disavowed the “very limited spell list” magic progression modifier, should that particular modifier be overlooked/ignored/considered to be “errata’d out”?

    Likewise, does Eclipse presume that magic progression uses the standard ability score for judging things like spell DC’s, bonus spells, what your maximum spell level that you can cast is, etc.? For example, if you take levels of the wizard magic progression, does it automatically “key” to your Intelligence, forcing you to buy Finesse if you want to set it to Wisdom? Or is it set to whatever ability score (presumably mental, since nobody seems to want to put forward an idea of “physical spellcasting”) you want, determined when you first buy it?

    • “Given that, and that Thoth seems to have disavowed the “very limited spell list” magic progression modifier, should that particular modifier be overlooked/ignored/considered to be “errata’d out”?”

      Feel free if you choose! I believe our philosophy was thatif me made a mistake, we’d just have to live with it. We generally dislike using erratas to go back in time and fix our mistake, because they’re incredibly messy and it’s grossly unfair to expect our customers to download some bonus .pdf to fix our stupidity.

      “Likewise, does Eclipse presume that magic progression uses the standard ability score for judging things like spell DC’s, bonus spells, what your maximum spell level that you can cast is, etc.?”

      It runs off whatever your GM decides it does. While it’s fully accepted that you’ll almost certainly put your highest attribute roll as your spellcasting attribute, you don’t get to arbitrarily shuffle it around because you want better WIll sales, more skill points, really good Charisma checks and so forth. You use whatever everybody else in your world uses, so if Clerical magic is run from Wisdom for everybody – then you’d better like the Wisdom attribute even if *you* want to have a high Intelligence instead.

      You can even split it up if you want to match the Favored Soul or whatnot – in the end, this is just a variation done for the sake of the campaign world.

    • Oh, I haven’t disavowed the Very Limited Spell List modifier – I think I’ve seen it used in at least two builds since Eclipse came out – it’s just that compared to Corruption and Specialization it’s a very minor and specialized tool that isn’t usually worth bothering with. I probably SHOULD have left it out just to simplify things, but it’s like “toughness”; leaving it in doesn’t really hurt anything and it’s very occasionally useful.

      Magic Progressions do not need to use the “standard” ability scores; but going to a “physical” score is usually going to cause the game master to start asking questions about just what this magic progression represents.

      I, personally, usually take going with a physical attribute as drastically limiting the kind of “spells” you get. For example, a strength-based caster using the Wizard progression got “spells” (“Ki Powers”) related to personal physical enhancement, martial arts, and mighty blows – and that was pretty much it. That was useful – especially when he picked up Innate Magic later on and started converting spell slots into permanent boosts – but the limited uses at lower levels made the build rather weak compared to more conventional ones until later on. It worked, but the player eventually decided to make his magically-boosted fighters in other ways; the wizard progression was just too expensive for what he was getting out of it until rather late in the game.

  • A few questions this go around.

    From Eclipse 2 the Channeling:Shadow Casting ability, what would having that as a spell be? I would assume it would be some spell of a sequence but having the XP scale to the shadow clone might be enough to not warrant the spell itself increasing in level as a higher level shadow clone was desired.

    What exactly does “demon sorcery” from https://ruscumag.wordpress.com/atheria-d20/shadow-of-dark-wings/ Adept description entail, I assume it is from Legends of High Fantasy but it is not fleshed out there either from what I can tell and I can’t seem to locate the Magical Arts Of Cemar book?

    In the 2nd Path book the various pacts are outlines (warlock, forest, greater). Could you give some examples of the patrons, their CR or LA realtive to the powes they can bestow as well as what detriments these pacts have on their own power? A player is wanting to have a more personal interaction with them rather than a remote one that has a few quests and desires sent to them (when the PC needs to fill up on their reserves), likewise said player is something like the CompArcane Warlock and is planning on eventually being a patron at higher levels.

    Does the Globe of Invulnurability spell line, if taken as Globe spell of level “X” negates spells of level “X-1”, basically mean that they are a massive weak point in any Innate Enchantment build because it would be so ‘easy’ to take Globe of Invulnurability for X=2 for example to negate completely any spell effects of L0 or L1 in a 10′ around the character?

    • On Shadow of Dark Wings:

      Demon Sorcery was a knowledge skill for Shadow of Dark WIngs, covering all the various black magic used by evil beings of that dimension. It wasn’t an actual magical ability of the character – although SoDW’s thaumaturgical powers weren’t far off.

      On Globe of Invulnerability:
      I suppose you *could* provided you were willing to pay the cost of doing so, forfeit a great deal of healing and protection magic from allies, and your party members are willing to tolerate it. It’s as likely to screw you up as much as help you, however, even at low levels.

      • On the Globe part, couldn’t you have it down, people use abilities on you, then you turn the Globe effect back in? The spell itself only works on incoming effects and it would seem to me that using the magic item rules the effect can be turned off/on as a standard action.

      • Yes indeed. Buying that ability would be pretty horrendously expensive, but it will indeed protect the user against most innate-enchantment effects pretty readily. I think there might even be an example of that sort of build in the Mutants of the Eclipse series.