D20 – The Narrative Voyager:

And for today it’s a spell that’s been requested a number of times…

Narrative Voyager

  • Transmutation
  • Level: Wizard 4, Druid 5, Destiny 4.
  • Components: V, S, Magical Focus (a permanent Extradimensional Space), MF (a complex mechanism of turning gears, crystals, controls, and things that slide back and forth costing 100 GP), Narrative Focus (see below). .
  • Casting Time: Three Turns.
  • Range: Touch.
  • Target: An Extradimensional Space that the caster is already in.
  • Duration: Instantaneous (Special, See Below).
  • Saving Throw: None (Environmental Target).
  • Spell Resistance: No.

Destiny is not an absolute. Few if any points or outcomes are fixed and unalterable. Rather, it is a current – in some places sweeping forward with force, in others a gentle drift, and in yet others a gentle holding gyre or devouring whirlpool, carrying those who do not steer boldly and well into the stygian depths. Still, it has power. It flows around, or over, or ever-so-slowly wears away at obstacles – and, if contained in one place, it bursts free at three others.

Adventurers ride those currents. They may tack and steer to turn them to their advantage, but the seas of fate have always the final say. Still, where those currents come together, where potential accumulates, and where reality itself is but thinly bound… the power of destiny can be tapped.

The Narrative Voyager spell is best cast during a pause, when the currents of destiny have reached a decision point and are gathering together to rush onwards once more. It can only be cast only where the boundaries between the worlds are thin, in a space that is anchored to reality by a mere thread of magic. But if those conditions are fulfilled… it can set a group loose upon the seas of fate.

Narrative Voyage must be cast while inside a permanent extradimensional space. When cast it breaks the link between the extradimensional space and it’s host reality – setting the space adrift upon the currents of destiny, to wash up upon realities shores somewhere else.

  • If it’s cast while the occupants of the space are entangled with the local currents of destiny (A.K.A. while actually on an adventure) it will take a mere 1d6+1 turns for it to relocate the entrance to the extradimensional space used to somewhere within medium range of its original location – but the spell will have no other effect. The waves of the great sea will toss you back upon your original shore.
  • If it’s cast during a pause between the segments of an adventure, the space will almost always “arrive” (or at least re-establish the location of it’s entryway) in position for the next segment to begin – although it shows little or no respect for time, space, and dimension when doing so. The subjective duration of the trip is usually 1d6 minutes, but occasionally extends to hours for no apparent reason (at the will of the game master).
  • If it’s cast after the unsuccessful conclusion of an adventure, the space tends to fetch up somewhere gloomy and claustrophobic, with little in the way of supplies or help available, where a grim adventure, foreshadoing for some later adventure, mysterious entity who will provide puzzle-clues, or similar interlude awaits. Such locations tend to be incredibly isolated villages or settlements if they aren’t space stations, ships at sea, lonely islands, outposts in incredibly hostile regions, or even small demiplanes or other pocket realities. In any case… they are usually virtually devoid of other means of escape. Leaving will usually require resolving the local narrative – one way or another – and thus opening the way to make effective use of this spell again.
  • Occasionally, if cast after the conclusion of an adventure (whether successful or not), the spell will just take the caster (or someone else in the extradimensional space) “home”, usually in about an hour or so. Sometimes there’s an adventure there, but just as often it’s purely for character development and social purposes – or for someone to leave or join the party.
  • If it’s cast after a successful adventure – or when nothing is going on at all – it will normally take you to the start of a new adventure in a subjective time ranging from hours to days. While this does have an annoying tendency to dump you right into the middle of things with little or no chance to find out what is going on before getting involved, get a handle on the local area, or access friends, allies, or supplies, they are invariably environments and situations that the caster and any companions can reasonably handle if they respond cleverly and don’t make any really irretrievable mistakes. After all… the forces of destiny have brought you there to deal with the situation. If they just wanted you to die, THAT could be done with considerable ease. The universe is bigger than any little group of adventurers.

Complications: While being swept along by the Currents of Destiny, an Extradimensional Space will occasionally (about one trip in four) intersect another pocket-realm and become temporarily stuck to it. This will give the occupants a little while to interact with whatever’s there and possibly let them go on a side-adventure.

D6:

  • 1) Incursion: Something else that was traveling the planes comes aboard. This may be good or bad.
  • 2) Passenger: You either pick up, or disembark, a passenger.
  • 3-6) Location: You get to visit a pocket-world for a while. Roll 1d100:
    • 01-04) Badlands. Whether desert, plains, tundra, ice, or just rocks, there’s not much here.
    • 05-09) Wilds. Woods, jungle, or plains, this wild and uninhabited landscape is a great place to camp and relax for a bit.
    • 10-14) Isolated Holding. A small family farm or similarly isolated settlement. They will probably be surprised to have visitors.
    • 15-17) Ghost Town. This abandoned settlement may have a few locals, but not many.
    • 18-21) Camp. It may contain hobos, or boy scouts, or loggers, or fishermen, or a goblin warband, but mostly it’s just a temporary encampment.
    • 22-23) Caravan. Whether merchants, gypsies, or star voyagers, it’s a place for traders to stop before moving on. Occasionally this may be aboard a giant ship or some such.
    • 24-28) Thorp. This tiny settlement is a good place to get lunch, but usually not much else.
    • 29-34) Hamlet. You can probably find a bed-and-breakfast and some basic supplies.
    • 34-39) Village. A tavern/inn, possible basic hirelings, and some sort of local healer or priest are all likely attractions of visiting a village.
    • 40-43) Small Town. There are enough people around that you may not be instantly apparent as strangers, as long as you don’t stand out too much. You may be able to find a general store and a few basic specialists.
    • 44-47) Large Town: You can find specialists, currency has pretty well replaced barter, and common supplies are readily available.
    • 48-50) Small City. You can probably find a garrison, traders, banking, and money. There may well be a market for potions, scrolls, and other minor gadgets.
    • 51-53) Large City. Universalizes, libraries, sages, and exotic goods can all be found in a large city.
    • 54-55) Metrapolis. Ethnic districts, enclaves of exotic species, and organized crime have arrived.
    • 56-58) Megapolis. Often the center of a realm, politics, intrigue, wealth, and poverty all exist side by side with trade from distant lands.
    • 59-64) Imperial City. The center of an empire or great realm, this vast city is a center of events.
    • 65-70) Planar Metropolis. Filled with technology or magic so esoteric that it’s pretty much incomprehensible, a Planar Metropolis offers enough activity to support a campaign all on it’s own.
    • 71-80) Warning Realm. This realm is basically a quick survival-run through a “possible bad future” – what might happen to your homeland (or your next stop) if you let the zombie plague get out of control, or the big war starts, or whatever.
    • 81-83) Erroneous Past. Somehow you’re in the past, and – unless you fix whatever’s going wrong there – your future will cease to exist!
    • 84-86) Party. You’ve arrived at some social event. It might be austere, decadent, or simply strange, but you might make some contacts that will be useful later.
    • 87-88) Faerie. Or some other magical realm.
    • 89-91) Ruins. The remains of a fallen civilization, an abandoned megastructure, or something similar. There will be resources to be found, but likely dangers too.
    • 92) Arena. A place where giant monsters, or gladiators, or mecha, or whatever, do battle for some sort of audience. You’ll probably have to participate.
    • 93) A Monster Realm. A lost world full of dinosaurs, or place overrun deadly spiders, or a mist full of horrors, or wherever.
    • 94-98) Dark Realm. It may be full of undead, or be a city of Drow, or otherwise be a deadly place of horror, but there are always people to rescue or a revolution to start.
    • 99-100) Oracle. The place is inhabited by a mysterious being who seems to know much more than they should – and who can offer advice, or warning, or even send you to a particular place.

The game master is always ultimately in control of where the Narrative Voyager spell takes the caster. After all, he or she has to come up with and run the adventure – but characters who take Profession: Narrative Piloting (or something similar) will often be able to influence things a bit – arriving a little earlier than they otherwise would (giving them more time to scout and prepare), occasionally escaping some horrific destination before they can get entangled in a local plotline and have to deal with it, managing to make an intentional stop at a pocket realm to get something they need, or just arriving at a better starting point. Such influence is always limited, but it may be worth putting a few skill points into such a skill if you intend to cast this spell a lot. And yes, this is basically a “TARDIS” spell – but that has been requested several times. After all… a “TARDIS” is a near-ideal way to gloss over the usual bar-crawling, looking for patrons, finding treasure maps, and getting-the-characters involved routine. Instead the characters simply arrive someplace and get tossed straight into the action, acquiring background information and their “briefing” while on the adventure. Even better, they are pretty much stuck with actually going on the adventure before they can leave. There’s none of that bothersome backing out or deciding to go elsewhere.

d20 and Rapid Hiring

And this small request is, perhaps, a bit silly – but it struck me as amusing and didn’t demand much time, which has been in very short supply.

Voice Upon The Winds

  • Conjuration (Calling)
  • Level: Variable, normally a base of L2 Cleric, Wizard, Skill-Based Magic for Contracts, Management, and Playboy (among others). Probably suitable for various specialty classes and Hedge Wizardry as well.
  • Components: S, M (a written notice).
  • Casting Time: Ten Minutes.
  • Range: Special.
  • Effect: Calls forth a possible employee or employees.
  • Duration: Special (The message is instantaneous, arrival usually is not).
  • Saving Throw: None (Harmless).
  • Spell Resistance: Yes, but irrelevant; someone who doesn’t want to be employed will not be targeted anyway.

This unusual spell causes qualified potential employees to arrive (or merchants to pass by). The caster writes out a list of primary duties, any necessary special qualifications, and a list of what salary and benefits are being offered, and hangs it beside his or her door. Presuming that the job is suitable for a relatively normal person, that the benefits are reasonably good for whatever the job is, and that the location of your door is at all reasonable (whether or not anyone would really be likely to pass by under normal circumstances), a suitable potential employee will normally turn up to inquire about the job shortly. The spell may be cast at a higher level to enhance it’s effects. Possible enhancements include calling for a small group of applicants (+1 Level), calling for rare and/or exotic types (+1 Level), having very specific qualifications (+1 Level), and asking for basic magical capabilities (+1 Level). On the other hand, if you are simply looking for an apprentice, houseboy, dishwasher, lantern-bearer, or similar unskilled entry-level employee that is (-1 Level).

You can look for very specific and powerful groups – perhaps you want a group of adventurers who are capable of killing that miserable dragon that’s moved into the caves nearby – but while casting this at level six will ensure that an appropriate group hears about your offer, it in no way guarantees that they will bother to respond and – if some do – you will just have to put up with whatever you get. Adventurers are like that.

  • You want to pay a few coins for a reasonably reliable local kid to guide you around town for a day? Level one, and unlikely to take more than a few minutes. Pretty much every town has some bored kids. It may get odd if it’s a ghost town and you get a ghost kid, but what can you expect if you look for employees in a ghost town?
  • You want an apprentice/aide who has at least a slight acquaintance with and talent for magic but you will be providing more advanced training along with support and occasional pocket money? That’s a pretty standard apprenticeship deal. Level two, but it might take a week or two. Kids don’t travel very fast even if the requirements aren’t very exacting there..
  • You want a skillful nanny to look after the kids? Level two, usually in a few hours presuming that you’re in or near a reasonable settlement for raising kids in. They might want particular days off or something – and you probably won’t get Mary Poppins or Nanny Mcphee – but there are lots of older women who are good at handling children.
  • You want a group of pretty-and-compatible young women to be light duty house servants and concubines? Level three, and usually in a day or two if your terms are good. It’s not like housekeeper/mistress is a particularly unusual position – and cute young women are not all that rare either (unless you’re of some exotic species of course, in which case you may be out of luck).
  • You want an acolyte of a particular faith to look after your shrine and teach your kids some basics? Level three (if followers of the required faith are reasonably common in the area) or four if they are not. Could take a few days or weeks (and may well fail) if someone would have to come from hundreds of miles away and you’re not offering enough benefits to make it worth it.
  • You want to hire a group of competent Drow Spies? That’s a group (+1) of rare (unless you live in a Drow City or some such) types (+1) with some very specific qualifications (+1) for a total level of five – and if there aren’t any drow spies around who would be willing to work for you… it won’t work.
  • You want a pathfinder-style “Team” of Archers? That’s a group with some fairly specific qualifications, so level four if there are any such groups within a reasonable range. You want Elite Elven Archers who each know a little bit of Weapons Magic? Level six, and very likely to fail entirely if no such group is available for hire.

It is important to note that this is a Calling spell; what you want has to be out there and available. If you’re asking for people to work in an impossible environment, are looking for a qualified hyperdrive technician in a medieval setting, want to hire Drow in a setting that doesn’t include them, or some such, the spell will probably not be able to find a candidate. On the other hand… it IS a calling spell. If you fail to live up to your contract, or there’s some major difficulty, your employees have the option of simply going home. So if the Dark Lord teleports in and starts burning your castle to the ground at least you can pretty well count on your servants and clerks making their escape.

d20, Giant Otters, and Upgrades Thereof

Giant Otters have been bouncing around D&D games since Blackmoor – but haven’t usually been a major menace. In this case, however, they may be, since the original base species got experimented on – first creating the Untremi of the Anomaly and later the Militarized Untremi – also known in some regions as the “Zerg”. So here are the base statistics. Also a minor experiment in using the Pathfinder format.

Giant Otter:

  • Challenge Rating: 1/2
  • Neutral (Playful) Medium Animal
  • Initiative +3; Senses Low-Light Vision, Scent; Perception +10

DEFENSE

  • AC 15, touch 13, flat-footed 12 (+2 Natural, +3 Dexterity)
  • HP 13 (2d8+4)
  • Fort +5, Ref +6, Will +2

OFFENSE

  • Speed 30 ft, swim 50 ft.
  • Melee bite +1 (1d4 plus grab)
  • Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
  • Special Attacks rake (2 claws +2 (1d3)), Improved Trip (running between your legs).

STATISTICS

  • Str 10, Dex 16, Con 14, Int 2, Wis 14, Cha 12
  • Base Attack +1; CMB +4 (+8 grapple); CMD 17 (21 vs trip)
  • Feats Finesse (Uses Dex Mod instead of Str Mod for Combat Maneuver purposes).
  • Skills Acrobatics +7, Disable Device +5, Perception +10, Stealth +5, Swim +8.
    • Racial Modifiers: +2 Disable Device, +4 Perception, +2 Stealth, +8 Swim
  • Special Qualities: Cute (people often keep them as pets), Hold Breath, Weather Tolerance (can live outdoors with few issues).

ECOLOGY

  • Environment: rivers and lakes, warm swamps and marshes, wet jungles, and shorelines.
  • Organization: solitary, pair, family (1d6+2), or clan/pack (3d6+3)
  • Treasure: Mildly valuable pelts. 20% chance of playthings in lair which might (but likely will not) include something shiny and potentially valuable.

Giant Otters are native to rivers, lakes, and shorelines, where they feed primarily on fish, including (in a fine demonstration of the advantages of a warm-blooded air breathing metabolism over a cold-blooded water breathing metabolism) predatory fish such as piranha, and secondarily on reptiles, crustaceans, and molluscs. They hunt in the daytime, are very alert, and live in family groups of up to eight individuals centered on a breeding pair. They are highly social, fiercely territorial, and can be quite affectionate, with many behaviors resembling wolves or dogs. Attacks on people (usually while swimming) are rare, but do occur (mostly when they are defending their territory or young). They are clever with their paws and can get into all kinds of things (sea otters are actually took users, which is fairly rare in the animal world). Males can reach almost 8 feet long (although a sizeable part of that will be their muscular tail) although females are usually slightly smaller. Unsurprisingly, their short (and mostly) brown fur is very soft, dense, and water-repellent. They are quite clever for animals, and make good (if excitable and bouncy) companions. Unfortunately, they are notorious for scaring horses and knocking things over.

Thanks to their “Playful” and “Cute” qualities, characters will often find it more profitable to catch and sell giant otters alive than it is to kill them – which also generally counts as defeating them. It’s also perfectly possible to take them as familiars or animal companions, although probably not as riding animals unless you are very small or you make your otter a great deal larger.

I would, out of fond memories, recommend The True Story Of Okee The Otter – but evidently enough other people share those memories to make obtaining a copy absurdly expensive.

Dungeon Crasher Style (Str)

There was a point in d20 where the “Dungeon Crasher” option for fighters was fairly widely recommended. After all, it opened up a niche that nobody else really had access to at the time – repositioning opponents without effectively giving up your actions to do it. It wasn’t the most powerful option of all time, but it was one of the few genuinely special toys that fighters could get. Personally I never ran into it much, simply because my games never ran much to Dungeons OR Classes; they tended to be wide-open transdimensonal Eclipse-based space operas where mages had trouble keeping up with martial types because a low-level fighter could be using advanced power armor, a microfusion missile launcher, ultratech grenades, and armored vehicles or spaceships. But there was a recent question about it, and it fits in among the other martial arts requests, so here is a (better edited and much more detailed) version of the quick notes that I gave that questioner to pass on to whoever-it-was that wanted it.

Dungeon Crasher is all about being a living wrecking ball – plowing through walls, traps, and opponents, smashing them between you and solid objects, and ignoring the consequences more or less as if you really were a huge ball of steel. You could build this as a spell or something – I once built a young 1’st edition mage who’s pride and joy was his thesis-project “boots of heavy kicking” that let him kick down doors, punt small creatures, and kick larger ones away from him as if he had 18/00 strength in his legs (only, and only a limited number of times per day, which made them MUCH cheaper than Gauntlets Of Ogre Power) – but this is a fighter thing, so I’m going to go with a nice cheap Martial Art. Any halfway decent Eclipse-built fighter will have several of those anyway.

Dungeon Crasher Style (Str-Based):

Requires: Improved Bull Rush (You no longer suffer an Attack Of Opportunity when you Bull Rush and gain a +4 bonus on your strength check to push back a defender) or equivalent point buy. A high Strength, a BAB of 2+, and an overwhelming desire to smash into things is highly recommended.

Basic Techniques:

  • Defenses 4, Specialized for Double Effect and Corrupted for Increased Effect (Applies to Saves too) / Only versus Traps. This will provide a bonus of +2/4/6/8 to the user’s AC and Saves against traps.
  • Power 4, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect / adds +1d6 per level damage to the effects of Bull Rushing someone into a wall or similar obstacle. There’s a better technique later, but the basic technique is a start.

Master Techniques:

  • Breaking: You may add your Dungeon Smasher skill total to your rolls to break things. This can let you smash things REALLY effectively.
  • Sneak Attack 3: Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (3d6 per time taken) / only with a successful Bull Rush maneuver ending in a wall to smash the opponent into.
    • Alternatively, you could reduce the maximum Sneak Attack rating to 2 and throw in Mind Like Moon: Specialized for Increased Effect / if the user is Surprised, he or she may roll initiative normally, but the only action they may take in the surprise round is to attempt to Bull Rush an opponent. If all opponents are too far away to be Bull Rushed, the effect is up to a full move towards them. This variant is a bit less damaging, but if surprise is a problem in a game can work surprisingly well.

Occult Techniques:

  • Inner Strength 2: This grants the user 6 or 12 (if taken twice) phantom “Constitution Points” to power other occult abilities with.
  • Light Foot: Specialized for Double Effect. The user may burn one point of Constitution (or a point from Inner Strength or Mana from Resilience) as a free action to gain +60 to a jump check or to Leap or run across water, grease, or other difficult terrain without difficulty / only to Bull Rush a target. This, of course, will let you slam people that you have no reasonable way to reach into walls.
  • Ki Block: Specialized for Increased Effect, The user may burn one point of Constituition or a point from Inner Strength or Mana from Resilience to may make a DC 20 Reflex check to block or dodge a single successful melee attack OR may make a second save (DC 15) against any attack which normally allows a Reflex save. If either save succeeds the effect is normal for a successful save. If both do the effect is entirely negated / Requires the use of a +3 or better shield.

So how does this match up with Dungeon Crasher?

Well, when Dungeon Crasher becomes available at level two (costing one feat) it offers +2 Competence Bonus to AC and Saves versus Traps, a +5 bonus on Strength checks to break a door, wall, or similar obstacle, and the ability to Bull Rush an opponent into a wall or other solid object to inflict 4d6 + twice your Strength bonus (if any) points of bludgeoning damage.

A level two character in Eclipse can spend 5 skill points on this martial art (or half that with Adept). If they have a +4 Strength Modifier (not hard to do in Eclipse if expensive in baseline d20) they’ll have a +9 total – five techniques.

If they take Defenses I, Power II, and Sneak Attack I they get a +2 (Typeless) bonus to AC and Saves versus Traps, a +9 bonus to breaking stuff, and can Bull Rush an opponent into a wall for (5d6 + Str Mod) damage.

That’s not a precise match – the bonus to breaking stuff is +9 instead of +5 and the Bull Rush damage is (5d6 + Str Mod) instead of (4d6 + 2 x Str Mod) which (presuming Str 18 again) would be an average of 21.5 versus 22 – but the overall costs are cheaper. If you really MUST get the average higher… Try taking “Doubled Damage” (6 CP) or persuade the game master that a body-check with a shield counts as using it as a two-handed weapon (which certainly sounds reasonable to ME).

At level six, the Martial Art version will have +4 Skill Ranks, for +2 Techniques/ Putting them both on the “Sneak Attack” effect would put the martial art at a +2 (Typeless) bonus to AC and Saves versus Traps, a +13 bonus to breaking stuff, and let the user Bull Rush opponents into a walls for (11d6 + Str Mod) damage instead of +4 (Competence), +10, and (8d6 + 3 x Str Mod). Still, the total Eclipse cost (presuming Adept) is only 1.5 CP for one-quarter use of Adept and 4.5 Skill points – the cost of one feat instead of two. Sticking another feat into it could upgrade the Martial Art version in all kinds of ways and still cost no more than the original ability.

Rather more importantly, the Martial Art version can continue improving at higher levels with more skill points, up to a maximum of a +8 (Typeless) Bonus to AC and Saves versus traps, (13d6 + Str Mod) damage on smashing targets into things, and an uncapped bonus to breaking things with a couple of extra abilities – being able to Bull Rush across chasms, water, and difficult terrain and being able to block an unlimited amount of damage several times per day. All at the cost of a half-feat plus (Level / 2) skill points. There are ways to boost that even further, but they start involving spending more character points or buying specialized gear.

I must admit that – while the idea is amusing – Dungeon Crasher isn’t my usual style. There’s nothing at all wrong with it of course, but I do tend to have a personal preference for subtle, clever, mages. Fortunately, there are usually other people playing who like being brutal fighters and such, so that my subtle mages have something to hide behind. Ergo, this style is for them.

Valdemar D20 Part II – Gifts And Spells

For Part I, go HERE.

So what sort of powers do the books actually show Mages and Heralds using? Looking at the books, for Heraldic Gifts and Spells we have…

  • Animal Mindspeech: You can “speak” with animals. That’s pretty basic.
  • (The) Bardic Gift: Rather ill-defined, but it seems to be able to convey feelings, suppress pain, and convey impressions – so possibly subtle, internally-directed illusions. One of the few gifts that can directly affect a crowd though.
  • Bonding: You can bond with something. Like a Hawk. Or Warsteed. Or Companion. Or Firecat. Or Lover. Or Twin or other Sibling. Or you can settle for a lesser version and fall in Love with pretty much anyone. This seems to be pretty much universal. Bonding with a Companion seems to allow the use of Truthspell – but that also relies on Vanyels old web-spell which creates a link with the Vrondi.
    • Personally, I’d forget about the Truthspell in any game setting. Heralds in the books often refrain from using it out of political considerations, or respect, or being forgetful, or not wanting to give people the impression that they aren’t trusted. Gamers will FIND an excuse to use it ALL THE TIME – and there go all your intrigue and manipulation plots. Mistaken identity? Falsely accused? Hidden traitors? We’ll have none of THAT.
  • Channeling: The ability to act as a pipeline for raw magical energy that other people can direct or use. Rare and generally useless until the author decides that it’s needed as a plot device.
  • Earthsense: You can vaguely detect damage and disturbances that affect the land and the creatures that live there. If they are suffering, you will do so as well.
  • Empathy: Picking up emotions, truthsensing, and – for those with powerful gifts – the ability to compel weaker-willed individuals to speak the truth. Powerful empaths may be able to cause mental damage, which is best represented as some sort of curse.
  • Farsight: Clairvoyance. When controllable, it seems to be fairly short ranged. It also shows visions to suit the plot.
  • Final Strike. You can ramp up your power enormously by dying. Of course, EVERYONE with ANY kind of special power seems to be able to sacrifice themselves for a big boost when they want to save others, or take revenge at any cost, or whatever. Probably a world law or bit of divine assistance in recognition of your sacrifice or some such.
  • Gift Of Tongues: Companions have this, but it’s rare among humans. You understand all languages but can’t bypass speech impediments (such as having a horses voicebox). So… a L2 version of comprehend languages?
  • Mage-Gift: The ability to sense and manipulate the flow of life-energy about you. Doesn’t let you pick up the presence of living things nearby though. Why not? Because it would make mages hard to ambush. Comes in three stages – ability to handle ambient magic, ability to handle ambient magic and ley lines, and ability to handle ambient magic, ley lines, and ley line nodes. A good focus-stone seems to help somewhat in making things less tiring. Now here we have the good stuff! Generate Lightning! Make reasonably bright lights! Uhm… What other spells do we see?
    • Make a tent nice and warm! Or you could carry blankets with your adventuring supplies. Just Sayin.
    • Make a willing male gryphons body temperature stay low long enough for them to produce fertile sperm! Or sit in a cold bath for a while.
    • Summon Elementals! Abyssal, Air, and Fire elementals are mentioned – although they are quite small, none seem especially powerful, and most are timid.
    • Make new magical creatures or golem-things! Presuming that you are a master biologist as well as an uber-archmage or a blood mage villain, and even then it takes decades or centuries to make new creatures, they rarely reproduce well, and most of them have quite a lot of serious flaws and weaknesses. Golems and Frankenstein-constructs are easier, but are full of weaknesses and can never reproduce.
    • Open Gates / Teleportation Portals! Well, if you have some major power sources to draw on. Like being an adept using a node, killing a lot of people for blood magic, or having a big team of very well-trained mages. And you don’t mind being exhausted afterwards. And have time for it, since it often seems to call for a ritual. And there are no major magical disturbances in the area to disrupt your gate.
    • Summon Magical Creatures! If there are some about anyway. And you have enough raw power to gate them in (see Gates). And controlling them is quite another matter.
    • Make amplifiers for magic or other gifts! Which are expensive, unreliable, and take a lot of charging up – which is why they’re terribly rare.
    • Make a big magical greenhouse! If you have a node to tie it to, help in setting it up, and a lot of time. This may also provide some defense against divination, if only in the same way that a houses walls help against people spying on you from afar.
    • Summon or drive off magical entities! Given time, knowledge, and various rituals.
    • Make Videophone Calls! Well, if the people on both ends happen to be Adept or Masterclass mages of the White Winds school and they don’t mind throwing up a beacon of “here I am”, opening themselves to magical attack, and getting drained or exhausted in the process.
    • You can perform a ritual that will allow those betrayed unto death by an Oathbreaker to come back as spirits and take vengeance! If you’ve already captured and restrained the target, and have the help of a Priest, a Mage, and a Common Man of Goodwill who have all been betrayed by the Oathbreaker, and have lots of time, and the targets oathbreaking has resulted in other deaths. Or you could stab them a few times. Again,I’m just sayin…
    • Entrap other Mages in constraints that reflect their own magic back at them! If you have it all set up in advance for your targets and they don’t know how to get out. Given that the inventor made sure to spread knowledge of the spell around after using it, so that everyone WOULD know, this makes it a lot less useful.
    • You can Create Daggers Of Light! They last for a few moments after you let go of them, so you can throw them at people. Their effects are… exactly identical to those of any other decent dagger. You will always have a backup weapon though.
    • Throw various forms of Energy Blasts. Lightning. Fire. Er… maybe Force. I can’t recall much in the way of Cold, Sonic, or Acid blasts though. Usually targeting an individual or a small group. For a lot of “mages” this is about their only combat technique.
    • Spells Of Mass Compulsion! You can brainwash and compel entire armies! If you don’t mind being an irredeemably evil blood mage and performing lengthy rituals of human sacrifice. This also makes you a prime target for assassination of course.
    • Start Fires! Like with a match/tindertwig! Or, in advanced cases, like Alchemists Fire!
    • Hide Your Magic! So that the extremely rare people with Mage-Gift can’t automatically notice it if they look. Also, this only works if you’re an adept. Mostly only turns up in the Vows & Honor series before the magic system changed but I think that it got mentioned later.
    • Create Illusions! Well, this one is a bread-and-butter effect in many places, mostly being used for disguises. Larger scale, combat, or beyond-the-visual illusions seem to be much rarer. About the biggest combat effect seems to be the “Blur” spell.
    • Slow or Reverse Aging! Well, mages can live a long time; it comes of tapping into extra life energy. Few of them seem to die of old age though and getting younger seems to involve stealing other peoples lives or bodies. How often do RPG characters die or old age anyway?
    • Reincarnate! Like normal, except that you get to keep more of your memories at the cost of stealing one of your descendants bodies, driving yourself madder and madder, being evil, and being judged by the gods or possibly having your soul annihilated at some point.
    • Put low-resistance people to sleep! Like… you know, a Sleep spell!
    • Create an Adept Manifestation! Basically a Psychic Construct. If you happen to be an adept and are willing to put so much power into it that you endanger yourself if it is destroyed. Yet another effect that is used once in an early book and never really comes up later except to show “I am an adept!”. Mostly only turns up in the Vows & Honor series before the magic system changed.
    • Summon small Whirlwinds! Like… Dust Devil or Wall Of Wind. Mostly only turns up in the Vows & Honor series before the magic system changed, and so may be an air elemental effect.
    • Make Walls of Fire! Like… Wall Of Fire, but generally smaller and weaker. Probably a third level version.
    • Perform minor Divinations, drawing on notions of Sympathy and Contagion! Mostly only turns up in the Vows & Honor series before the magic system changed. Perhaps an air elemental effect?
    • Create a Dueling Circle, which contains your own attacks and prevents outside magical interference. Turns up in the Vows & Honor series (once I think) before the magic system changed and did not prevent multiple forms of cheating and external interference.
    • Empower your other Gifts with energy from Ley Lines and Nodes! If you’re Vanyel Askevron, and have had all those magic and gift “channels” blasted open in a horrible magical accident. Otherwise this doesn’t seem to happen much at all.
    • Project your spirit into the void between gates! Where there is… well, where there normally isn’t anything at all except a massive energy drain. Unless a mega-adept has hidden something there – which turns up ONCE – this is effectively “I can sink into a trance I might not awaken from and accomplish nothing!”.
    • Create a country-wide alert/spy system connected to all the other Heralds! Using the help of several other mages, a node focused through a Heartstone, and a small legion of divinely-empowered plot-device Companions… So no, this isn’t going to work for you.
      • Advanced Masters can set spells on triggers, to go off later. Almost like they know a bit of Metamagic.
  • Mind-Healing. Well, this is SUPPOSED to cover a boosted understanding psychology, calming emotions, treating traumas and mental control effects, and so on. In the actual books it’s more heard of then seen, because stories about mentally healthy, well-adjusted, sensible people tend to be BORING.
  • Precognition: This usually comes in a specialized variant; tactical precognition that gives you bonuses in a fight is very different from dreaming the distant future – and neither have much relationship to being able to predict the weather weeks in advance.
  • Psychometry: Ability to “read” information and impressions from objects. Like that minor psionic discipline.
  • Pyrokinesis: Mostly limited to the equivalent of “throw alchemists fire” if you can do anything beyond getting along without a cigarette lighter or match. A few people with this as a major gift show up, and can do things like start forest fires very quickly or perhaps throw fireballs.
  • Shields: Pretty much all Heralds are taught to stabilize their mind and resist being influenced by effects resembling their own gifts. In d20 terms, they invest a bit in Will Saves. A lot of the more subtle stuff apparently automatically fails against anyone with a decent will save bonus. Mages use the same technique to help them resist magical attacks. Like… you know, buying up your saving throws.
  • Summoning Rituals: What little is left of the old “call on entities from other planes” magic system. Mostly minor, easily turned back on the user, and dangerous. Mostly used by bad guys to summon “demons”. Since “Demons” never actually put in an on-stage appearance in most of the books beyond the Vows & Honor series – and that was before the magic system changed – we know little or nothing about them save that “they are bad”.
  • Telekinesis: Usually minor, but handy for guiding missiles, snagging cell keys, and similar tricks.
  • Telepathy: Usually fairly short range, but some few can check in on people they know at great distances. Often limited to either receiving or projecting, but it’s not too uncommon to do both. Stronger gifts can be used to cause insanity, charm people, make suggestion effects, and so on.
  • Teleportation: Usually short range and of small objects to and/or from the user. Under great stress, and with a powerful gift, you can move something as large as a small person a short distance. Like a one-shot blink or very short range, low-capacity, Dimension door.

In case it wasn’t sufficiently obvious… most Gifts basically cover first level stuff. The occasional Major Versions of those Gifts cover a rather limited selection of stuff of up to level three or four. We aren’t talking vast cosmic power here. Next time around I’ll look at actually building this stuff.

Eclipse and Skill-Based Partial Casters II

And for today, it’s another offline question…

Is there a way (other than Stunts) to cast spells or otherwise empower magic with your normal skills?

Well, yes; of course. This IS Eclipse after all. Even discounting the Martial Arts Skill Magics that Kelelawar uses, you could buy:

  • 30d6 Mana with the Unskilled Magic Option, Specialized and Corrupted / only for Unskilled Magic, cannot spend more mana per day on unskilled magic in a given field then one point per rank in an associated skill (60 CP). That’s about 105 points of Mana, An approximation, but many characters have few skills and others are unlikely to be called on much. How often are you going to need your full supply of Knowledge/Geography spells?
  • Rite of Chi with +48 Bonus Uses, Specialized / only to restore the mana pool for unskilled magic (39 CP). Even with seriously below-average rolls that ought to do it. The total of 49D6 will pretty reliably beat the total of 30D6 – reliably enough so that there is little need to bother rolling.

Of course, unskilled magic eventually starts becoming ineffectual. You’d want some Augmented Bonus or Berserker (or both) to boost it, and perhaps an Immunity to wasting Mana with side effects, and so on. Worse, since this covers every skill… so eventually you’re going to start wondering what kind of magic “Profession/Lawyer” and “Craft/Carpentry” cover. Not all skills are really that well-suited for powering spellcasting.

Worst of all… this involves extra bookkeeping since your Mana pool is very unlikely to match your skill ranks exactly and you’ll need to keep track of both. This only approximates what is wanted.

As is fairly common when someone wants a new magic system, The best option here is to go with Immunities: Admittedly, these will be natural-law immunities, and so will require permission from the game master, but – as such things go I suspect that these are going to be relatively low powered compared to most natural-law immunities. Permission shouldn’t be a problem.

So first up…

Crafting Skills should probably be better at empowering items than at spellcasting – although you could do both. Why can’t you use Smithcrafting Magic to produce a “Heat Metal” effect? Still, the number of suitable spells for “Craft/Perfumer” is going to be fairly limited. Ergo, take…

  • Touch Of The Svartalfar: Immunity/The Normal Limits Of Craft Skills. Each Craft Skill now provides “points” equal to it’s base rank. These may be invested each day in personal magical devices suited to the skill in question. It takes 1 point to empower a Charm, 2 for a Talisman, and (2+ Value / 2000 GP) to empower a more powerful (permanent-type) item – although item slots are not relevant, since these run on personal magic. (Very Common, Major, Variable: 5 CP to empower 1-point items. 10 CP for 1-3 point items, and 15 CP for up to 5-point items (6000 GP). After that… this starts becoming prohibitively expensive. It’s 30 CP for up to 7-point items, 45 CP for 9-point items, and 60 CP for up to 20-point items.

This is very useful at lower levels, where a handful of low-powered items can be a major power boost, but becomes less relevant at higher levels – although a handful of slot-free minor items can still be fairly handy. Whether or not that’s worth 15 CP and keeping some Craft skills up is up to you.

For most other skills we’re going to want actual spellcasting. To get that, take…

  • Occult Master: Immunity / The normal limits of 2-4 Skills (2 for low magic settings, 3 for moderate magic settings, and 4 for high magic settings – like most standard d20 games). Each affected skill now provides daily “points” equal to it’s rating. These “points” can be used for Unskilled Magic, but only for effects appropriate to the skill. The point cost can be halved, and the side effects eliminated, by using the points to set up prepared spells instead of using them spontaneously. Very Common, Major, Trivial (maximum of level one effects, 5 CP), Minor (maximum of level three effects, 10 CP), Major (maximum of level five effects, 15 CP), Great (maximum of level seven effects, 30 CP), Epic (maximum of level nine effects, 45 CP), and Legendary (maximum of level 20 effects, 60 CP). Of course, since this is still limited by the rules for Unskilled Magic (below), this means that most characters might as well stop at the 15-point level – and they’ll likely need to buy further boosts to fully exploit even that.

Unskilled Magic:

  • Whatever-it-is you’re trying to do will cost 2 Mana (“Points”) per level of the effect – half of which is wasted and a quarter of which goes into random side effects.
  • The Casting Level equals the user’s level or (Int/3 + the effect level), whichever is less.
  • The maximum level of effect which can be produced equals the user’s base Will save bonus or (Wis/3), whichever is less.
    Keeping the side effects down to displays and inconvenient effects (rather than dangerous ones) requires a Cha check at a DC of ([2x the Mana used] + 6). The side effects are always up to the Game Master

 

This Immunity is useful, and actually reasonably powerful – but after going for the most obvious set of skills (Knowledge/Arcane (Wizard Spells), Knowledge/Religion (Cleric Spells), and Knowledge/Nature (Druid Spells), you’re going to be trying to figure out what can be done with spells appropriate to Profession/Lawyer, Survival, and Perform/Woodwinds. I can think of plenty of useful things to do with all three of those – but few of them are going to be major contributions to any specific adventure and most are extremely situational. Worse, at lower levels… if you have +10 in Knowledge/Arcana, you’re going to run out of your spontaneous Wizardry after five levels of spells – and while a timely Fireball, a Magic Missile, and a Grease spell are all very useful, that’s not going to carry you through an adventure.

Just for fun, you can give these individual names:

    • The Lotus Of Jade for Knowledge Skills. Probably the first choice, since it provides classical, broad-themed, spellcasting.
    • Channeling The Dragon Lines for Physical Skills, such as Acrobatics, Escape Artist, Ride, and Martial Arts. This will let you pull off anime-style stunts like a cut-down Tome Of Battle character.
    • The Cunning Man for sneaky skills – Bluff, Disguise, Intimidate, and Stealth. If you want illusions, enchantments, and shapeshifting, this is for you.
    • The Secret Arts for skills like Diplomacy, Handle Animal, Heal, and Survival. With this you can fascinate and persuade, summon and control animals, heal, and create traps and camps.
    • Master Of The Secret Order for Profession skills.
    • Master Of Sleights for Disable Device, Linguistics, Sleight Of Hand, and Use Magic Device. Go ahead, destroy your enemies weapons, speak power words, teleport items about, and enhance and manipulate devices.
    • For Perform Skills…there is nothing at all wrong with simply using art-based magic. Still, you might want to consider taking either Mystic Artist (6 CP Each) or Performance-based Ritual Magic (6 CP) – perhaps committing a few rituals to memory with the remaining (3 CP).

To be an even halfway decent spellcaster, you’re going to want to take three or four versions of Occult Master – totaling 45 to 60 CP. You’ll also need to take…

  • The Immaculate Will/Immunity: Loss of Mana/”Points” to Side Effects when using unskilled magic (Very Common, Major, Variable Trivial (the first point, 5 CP), Minor (the first three points, 10 CP), Major (the first 5 points, 15 CP), Great (the first 7 points, 30 CP), Epic (the first 9 points, 45 CP), or Legendary (the first 20 points, 60 CP).

Once again, the first 15 CP worth of this is generally sufficient. Still, we’re now up to 75-90 CP.

Lets now throw in…

  • Tongue Of Magic/Augmented Bonus: Add (Att Mod, Choice of Cha Mod, Con Mod, or Dex Mod) to the calculated Minimum Caster Level and (Att Mod/2) to the Maximum Spell Level when using Unskilled Magic – both Corrupted for Increased Effect (adding an Attribute Modifier to things that don’t normally get one) / this will not increase the caster level above the user’s level and only increases the maximum spell level by half the relevant attribute modifier. Sadly, this will not let the user exceed the spell level limits of the purchased immunities that let him or her use this version of Unskilled Magic in the first place (6 CP).

Without this, even a high-intelligence character is going to peak out at around caster level eight or so. With this… they can keep up for a few levels longer, which is pretty reasonable for a cheap power.

After that, they’ll need…

  • Occult Focus/Berserker with Enduring: +6 to effective Caster Levels, +4 Charisma, -2 AC for (Con Mod + 3) rounds, activated as a free action (1 + Level/3) times daily (9 CP).
  • At really high levels they’ll need to add Odinpower and Odinmight for Berserker (increasing the total to +12 Caster Levels, +8 Charisma, and -2 AC for +6 CP). They’ll still be using lower-level magic, but at least it will be reasonably EFFECTIVE low-level magic.

Finally, of course, to make this build work you’re going to need to keep 9-12 (or even more) skills at or near maximum. That’s going to call for both permitted instances of Adept (12 CP), Fast Learner Specialized in Skills (6 CP), and Advanced Improved Augmented Bonus (Add a second Attribute Modifier to your Intelligence Modifier for Skill Purposes, 18 CP).

Which takes us up to… 126-141 CP. Plus any more skill boosters or Mystic Artist you decide to throw in.

That puts us firmly in the “Partial Caster” category – which, with a maximum of fifth level effects, fits nicely. The Skillmaster Caster will have quite a lot of magic to work with at high levels – but it will be divided into many small special-purpose (if freeform) pools, so they’ll have to be pretty clever about using it if they want to be effective at really high levels. Still, they’ll have a much easier time remaining relevant than most skill monkeys.

You could pursue things up to the “Full Caster” level with skill boosters, but at least those are dual-purpose; higher skill bases are generally useful for more than magic. As a better alternative… Take a Companion (Familiar) with a +4 ECL Template (18 CP): Returning (Corrupted / must be resummoned by master), Occult Master x 3 (45 CP), and The Immaculate Will (15 CP). Since a Familiar has your skills – if not all your bonuses – this will let it cast spells too, if at a much lower caster level. Getting to routinely cast two spells a round, even if they are lower level spells  and the second one is at a lower caster level, can be quite useful. It probably still isn’t a match for the ability to cast ninth level spells, but even at 160+ points its still notably cheaper than spending 280 CP buying the full Wizard spellcasting progression.

A Skillmaster Caster neatly breaks down the boundaries between Skills and Magic – which is entirely sensible in a world of magic. I think I’d welcome one in any one of my fantasy-based settings.

Eclipse and Exalted

And it’s another question! In this case it’s about Exalted d20.

I’m curious how you’d go about running an exalted game in Eclipse. I imagine there’d be an ‘exalt package deal’, some odd world laws and building most things (as) stunts and reality editing but it seems to be far enough away from standard d20 and superhero stuff to be confusing.

-Jirachi386

Well, Exalted (1’st, 2’nd, 2.5, and 3.0) has a number of distinguishing features. They aren’t all quite the same for each edition, but in general…

  1. You can buy almost anything you want at character generation. You start as a heroic mortal, get handed a can of cosmic power, and then get to throw in things like artifacts, wealth, power, ownership of magical fortresses, followers, leadership of organizations, or being worshiped by a quarter of the world. Maybe not all at once unless the game master gave you some extra points – but you start at the peak of most mortal ambitions.
  2. The action is usually completely over the top. Even extremely skilled normal people are generally irrelevant (and just have to grin and bear it) and you start off on a par with the mighty powers of the universe. You can build characters who can seriously damage the cosmos right out of the gate. This can be a lot of fun, but doesn’t leave much of anywhere to go – which may explain why most of the Exalted games I’ve seen that actually ran by the Exalted rules didn’t all that long.
  3. The special powers are generally based on your skills or attributes being enhanced beyond all reason while still following general themes set by your character class type of Exaltation. That’s a fun concept, even if you did wind up with lists of near-required powers that everyone of a given type tried to buy as soon as possible and occasionally ran into strict power limits based on your characters type and age.
  4. Describing your action in an over-the-top way to get a bonus on it is a fun idea. Of course, it was the normal way of running role playing games until game designers (perhaps influenced by computer games) started writing stricter rules sets and trying to downplay stuff you couldn’t put on a chart. The implementation in older editions of Exalted was a bit of a kludge and made many fights drag on and on, so the current version relegates the effect to nothing but a few bonus dice and relies on it extensively for excitement in combat.
  5. Effective Exalted characters are extremely complicated, with long lists of charms with evocative but uninformative names that need to be used in (unspecified) combinations with each other to work well. They take hours to build and are impossible, even as individuals, for most game masters to run properly without long study. In substantial groups they are nigh-impossible for one person to run properly. This means that small groups of PC’s, with players who are only running one character each, tend to run roughshod over everything.
  6. The characters all have tragic flaws, They may be grand, and powerful, but they have rules for their flaws that will lead them into disaster. Personally I’ve never seen much need for that – the players have their characters cause plenty of tragic disasters without a need for a mechanism built into the game – but the mechanism was basically “you occasionally go completely out of your mind”. I’d have preferred accumulating more limited flaws as your power level went up beyond the limit of a human minds ability to handle it safely and you saw ever further into the chaos underlying reality – but that’s just me.
  7. Attacks tend to be decisive or near-decisive when they do get through the defenses. If you were hit by that twenty-ton giant maul, you were in trouble. Of course, this turned a contest of grinding your way through hit points into a contest of grinding your way through defensive resources. In 3’rd edition fights tend to be short – but that only works because the PC’s pretty much always win. It wouldn’t really be Exalted if “OK, your characters are dead… make some new ones” was a routine part of the game.
  8. The universe, right down to the paths taken by individual raindrops, is 100% run by intelligent, and mostly not-at-all-powerful beings. If they have cheap “perfect defenses” (very few things do), punching them is fairly useless. If they don’t… then almost any problem can be solved by beating on someone. And when almost every problem can be fixed by kicking the stuffing out of someone, and you can begin the game as a Superman/Batman combo buttkicker (with or without a weapon depending on personal style), it doesn’t leave much of anywhere to go – or much point in learning other ways of dealing with problems.
  9. Organizations, overlords, large-scale resources, and managers all tend to be useless backstabbing bureaucratic nightmares that make you long to disassociate yourself from them. That, of course, is because the characters are supposed to do things THEMSELVES. You aren’t supposed to send in ten thousand men to dig a canal. You are supposed to smite the ground to open up a new canal and then fight the river god and make him consent to filling it.
  10. The game master is always supposed to say “yes you can”, although it might be difficult. For example, the rules made it quite possible for an Exalt hiding under a bush in the royal gardens to decide that he wanted to find a fabulously powerful magical nexus there that everyone else had overlooked for centuries – and if he could roll well enough (which wasn’t all that hard), so he did. Whether or not it had existed before was irrelevant; a player had wanted it and rolled well, so it had always been there. This ensured that much of the plot (if any) was in the hands of the characters, but made it VERY difficult to actually prepare for a session.
  11. The PC’s are always supposed to be the best and greatest. Sadly, since PC’s often come up with dumb ideas, this means that any idea short of “I hammer nails into my eyes!” still has to be better than the NPC’s best plans – so all canon NPC’s are incredibly short sighted and blind to obvious consequences – and their plans pretty much amount to “I set myself on fire and wait for it to start feeling good!”.
  12. You can’t go back in time or raise the dead. No do-overs and some stuff can’t be fixed. Of course, a lot of game systems don’t allow this stuff either. D20 usually allows Raising the Dead – but that’s easy enough to ban.

Now, I suppose that any given point might be argued – but those seem to be the core points where Exalted differs from most games.

Now to adapt that to d20…

  1. The power level implies being at least sixth level to start – the point at which a d20 character graduates to being more than mortal. It also strongly implies a maximum of level ten to twelve for anyone and everyone – the point at which d20 demigodhood really starts and about the last point at which a group of well-coordinated sixth level characters may still be able to win. Finally, of course, it means that normal mortals are usually level one and are limited to level two or so for heroes and elite types – mostly to figure out what they might be able to do on their own, since they’re never going to effectively oppose the Exalted.
  2. This is exactly what the Heroic Scaling rule does, so it is obviously in use.
  3. This implies that most “powers” are actually going to be Skill Stunts or something thematic (such as some Shapeshifting for Lunars or low-grade Elemental abilities for the Dragon-Blooded).
  4. This is the “Cinematic Combat” ability. It’s considerably more flexible than Exalted stunts are, but there’s nothing wrong with that.
    https://ruscumag.wordpress.com/2013/08/14/eclipse-cinematic-combat-at-the-narrative-convenience-store/
  5. This… is a bug, not a feature. Now admittedly, Eclipse can be very complicated too – but it can use all that published d20 stuff, doesn’t obscure what stuff does with needlessly flowery names, and rarely relies on complicated combinations of effects to make effective characters. We don’t need to do anything here.
  6. Tragic Flaws in Eclipse are basically either Disadvantages or Witchcraft Pacts. Personally I’d go with some Witchcraft; it’s a great way to pick up personal boosts at a relatively low cost.
  7. While the “decisive hits” idea can be taken to imply a reliance on high-damage weapons and damage boosters as well as on Blocks and Armor Class. On the other hand, “break through the defenses and try to land a decisive blow” is pretty much the classical first edition definition of hit points – they were “luck, skill, divine protection, evasiveness, and so on, with only the last few actually representing a serious physical wound”. This doesn’t match up well with many of the other game systems – such as “cure” spells – but at this level of abstraction it doesn’t much matter.
  8. When you come right down to it, this implies that there is no physics. Now honestly… I don’t like this. Philosophically it runs into infinite recursive loops, it’s a silly way to try and run a universe, and I kind of think that “hitting things is the ultimate problem-solving technique!” is bad for the game. My advice on this one? Go ahead and stress nature spirits and such if you like, but leave some basic physics in play.
  9. This can, once again, be covered by the Heroic Scaling rule. Mortal organizations simply are not important.
  10. Well, if the characters want to take a little reality editing to bend things to the way that they want them, that’s one thing. Rewriting your setting history to accommodate the players whims is a no-go for most game masters. TORG and a lot of other games have done this much better, usually relying on something like “Whimsy Cards”. Go ahead, use something like our own Runecards for this.
  11. NO. Just no. I don’t even do this when actually RUNNING EXALTED, and I do NOT recommend importing it into any other game system. The players will just have to put in a little thought and come up with decent plans of their own if they want to compete with the more competent NPC plans. Sure, NPC’s will do stupid things on occasion – but not ALL THE TIME.
  12. So no time travel and no resurrections – although reincarnations might work just fine. Banning a couple of relatively rare effects is not too complicated.

So:

World Laws:

  • Starting Level Five.
  • Heroic Scaling.
  • Limited Power Sets (Campaign Sheet Character-Building Restriction).
  • All characters are Human, but there are 6 CP Racial Variants. Exalts lose their old racial variant in favor of 6 CP worth of Innate Enchantment. Lunars get the Minimal Werething package. Solars get personal attribute boosts, Dragon-blooded get minor elemental powers, Sidereals get stealth boosts, disguise boosts, and “natural weapons”. Other third edition types get something appropriate, I’m not familiar enough with them to say what.
  • No time travel or raising the dead.
  • Beyond Fate: give every player one Runecard (or Whimsy Card) at the start of a session. Give them another during the session if they do something really fabulous. The game master gets (Number Of Players / 2, rounded up, +1) for his own use.

The Exalted Template: Cinematic Combat (18 CP), Witchcraft (Either as “thaumaturgic talents” or as some specialized personal boosts) with Two Advanced Abilities and Three Pacts (Personal Flaws) (12 CP). +2 Specific Knowledges (Knowledge from former possessors of the Exaltation, 2 CP). That’s 32 CP or a +1 ECL Template.

And that about does it. Your d20 game will now function a lot like Exalted. Just take Exalted’s Artifacts as Relics, Manses as Wards Major, and there really isn’t a lot more you need to do. Like it or not, most of what makes Exalted distinct lies in the descriptions and setting, not so much in the rules. After all, we had no trouble at all running Exalted with the Baba Yaga rules.