Skill Stunts And Epic Skill Stunts XII – Information Gathering

Gather Information, Profession (Detective), Investigation, Find Clue, Locate Plot Element, and Knowledge (Local) are all basically variants on “Find Out What’s Going On” with a side order of “find out or know about the area” thrown in – and have fewer supernormal uses than many other skills, simply because they’re already basically “the game master either just gives you information directly or points out some clues and helps you put the pieces together” – and there are few powers more convenient than THAT. At least one character found that taking “hyperdeduction” as his primary talent was rather more useful than “getting to be a full-grown dragon at no cost” or “being a gestalt character” (which were what some of the other players took). About the only thing that limited him was if he got too focused on a particular issue and forgot to ask about other items.

Fortunately, that player was fairly easily diverted – and character turnover in that game was quite high – because if you aren’t REALLY careful this can easily become the equivalent of a “tactics” still that the user can roll to automatically win fights.

In d20, investigations usually require 1d4+1 minutes (current headlines, stuff everyone is talking about), hours (old public news, juicy rumors, dull facts), days (stuff that people are intentionally hiding, such as confidential police reports, the location of criminal enterprises), or weeks (stuff that people are intentionally hiding and which were never widely known – secret weapon plans, the D-Day targets, plans for the Death Star). Costs escalate similarly. A silver piece for the current paper and a few minutes spent standing around looking at it and listening to the conversations around the newspaper booth will usually suffice for the current major news, but uncovering the D-Day targets before D-Day may costs tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars – and may still not work.

Other basic modifiers include:

  • Upping spending money or resources by one level gets a +10 on the check.
  • Calling in contacts or favors gets +0 to +10 on the check, depending on relevance.
  • Repeated attempts to gather information about anything past the current gossip may attract suspicion. The first retry while making sure to avoid suspicion is at -10, further retries are at -20.
  • Reducing the time by one level modifies the check by -10
  • Having other agents about provides the usual assistance bonues up to a maximum of +20.
  • Being extremely suspicious or wildly abnormal for the area (you’re a blatant dragon or a fire elemental in a human town) or notorious or something might get you small bonuses, but it’s much more likely to result in massive penalties.

Pathfinder folds Gather Information into Diplomacy – which isn’t entirely inappropriate, but also means that this list can reasonably be combined with the Social Skills list.

Sample Stunts For Information Gathering:

  • DC 10 (Normally no stunt required):
    • Locate Person: You can track down someone who is hiding in or moving through a populated area. If they are making active attempts to conceal themselves, this becomes an opposed check with a -15 penalty on the “location” side
    • Querulous Search: You are looking for available, but more-or-less difficult-to-find information about a specific topic or individual. This can range from the reasonably general and obvious (“is so-and-so in town for their concert already?) at no penalty on up through -5 (looking for a fence, supplier of illegal goods or services, or similar), -10 (looking for restricted information, such as military deployments or where specific people are), through -15 or more (information which others are taking deliberate efforts to conceal but which there are still plausible sources for – even if they aren’t supposed to tell anyone). Things like “where is the thieves guild?” – something that a fair number of locals have to know even if they’re afraid to talk about it – fit in here. Information which simply isn’t available in the area cannot be found this way. Looking for more details – blueprints instead of descriptions perhaps – causes yet more roll penalties.
    • The Local News: You get the local news, major items of gossip, rumors, and hot topics of the area. This very rarely attracts attention because much of it can be accomplished by standing near a local crier, buying a newspaper, or simply sitting in a public location and listening.
  • DC 15 (May or may not require a stunt):
    • Locate Adventure: You can obtain likely-profitable adventure leads – whether it’s someone in need of couriers or smugglers, a hidden dark temple, rumors of some terrible monster, a sketchy map of an island that none dare explore, the location of a near-buried pyramid in the desert, an abandoned mages tower, guarding a caravan, or whatever. Sadly, a serious failure may lead you to a dead end. Sadly, the more profitable / higher-level you want the adventure to be, the larger the penalty on your check.
    • Profiling: You can build up a reasonable description of someone, including their appearance, their general abilities, their usual methods of operation, and their major personality traits, through reports of their (likely) doings.
    • Surveillance: You may set up a watch on someone or something, gaining a +10 bonus to rolls made to keep track of it and whatever it may get up to – while they suffer a -10 on any rolls made to spot the surveillance operation.
  • DC 20:
    • Consulting The Experts: You may identify items, creatures, and locations by consulting hobbyists, rumors, and experts. The salient features of mysterious artifacts, ancient ruins, bizarre creatures, and long-sealed powers can all be obtained in this fashion. Success includes a basic description, each additional +5 you make on the check provides an additional useful detail.
    • Fixer: You may support an Average lifestyle by spending one day a week putting people who need one thing or another in contact with people who can supply those things. Sadly, if you restrict yourself to brokering ethical services, this requires two days a week.
  • DC 25:
    • Blackmail I: Provided that you have no ethics, you may support yourself at an Average lifestyle by extorting money from others. Alternatively, you can attempt to obtain a minor favor, although making a habit of this is likely to result in backlash, up to and including attempts on your life.
    • The Delphi Method: If you want to find secret passages, ancient ruins, hidden caverns, long-hidden secrets, and mystic prophecies you may take the scholars route, consulting libraries and sages, you may go forth and physically search – or you can crowd-source it, consulting rumors, casual opinions, and random individuals, in confidence that – in a world of divination, prophets, meaningful dreams, telepathy, and magic… summing up those opinions is quite likely to tell you what you want to know. While this is at -15 compared to a similar physical search or to getting what you want through scholarship, that may well be smaller than the usual penalty for searching an immense area physically or prying into long-forgotten lore through scholarship.
    • The Serpent’s Tongue: You may spread rumors and false “truths” as readily as you collect them. In this way you can concoct slanders, libels, baseless accusations, and noxious rumors, spreading them through the population – causing them to believe that “there must be something to it”! Or “Where there’s Smoke, there’s Fire!”. You may thus spread a web of lies, as effective in entangling your victims socially as a spiders web might be physically. DC 40 it will soon become a popular meme with a fair number of believers, at DC 60 a widely credited whispering campaign sure to draw official notice, and at DC 100 a trigger for an official investigation / witch-hunt by the targets enemies.
  • DC 30:
    • Locate Resources: You may find dealers in rare, unusual, or illegal items, materials, and services. The DC will, however, increase with the rarity of what you’re looking for. Mercury is fairly easy, dimethylmercury is much harder, and anti-mercury is pretty much impossible. You may also find people with particular skill sets similarly. Do you need a specialist in a particular ancient culture? This ability will let you find one of one exists.
    • Riddlemaster: Riddles and tales thereof are a popular game, and tales of them are widespread. You may use Gather Information in place of an appropriate knowledge or specific skill to answer a riddle up to (Int Mod + 1, 1 Minimum) times daily.
    • The Whole Picture: If you have access to the information derived from three or more successful Gather Information checks you may combine and cross-reference them. If you succeed, you may derive additional information from the original checks as if each was ten points higher than it was on the original roll.
  • DC 35:
    • Dark Whispers: You can hear the subtle voices of the dark powers – and not merely the common temptations to misbehave. You can hear the offers of demonic magic in exchange for sacrifices, the whispers of devils making offers on your soul, and the twisted spells and lore muttered by the elder things haunting the abyss beyond the stars. It is rarely wise to listen – but sometimes, if the situation is desperate enough… you may judge it better than the alternatives.
    • Glean The Remains: You may hear the voices of the past and the echoes of great events, whether from places or things. You might hear a part of a call for war, the final words of a murdered man, or the humble voice of a smith presenting his or her finest work to the mage who planned to add some great enchantment.
    • Thiefsign: You may read the subtle signs left by those who have come before – obtaining at a glance an excellent notion of the dangers and opportunities lurking in a house, along a trail, or in some similar situation, provided only that others have passed that way before.
  • DC 40:
    • Genre Awareness: You may survey a group or area, talking briefly to any people and soliciting random opinions on the items, to sort out which ones are relevant to upcoming plotlines. This will not, however, tell you why.
    • Incite Hostilities: You may spread rumors that will soon raise a lynch mob, rile up some witch hunters, or get a barroom brawl going, directing the hostilities at some group of targets. At DC 50 the mob you’ve raised becomes set on serious violence. At DC 60 it can spread to a moderately-sized group, such as a football crowd. At DC 75 you can spread the violence across a city – and probably become a high-ranking public enemy. At DC 100, you may include it’s suburbs and supporting settlements.
    • Whispers Of The Shades: You may now gather information from the dark realms, where the shades of the dead whisper in voices of dust. This is not the true afterlife, but even the shadows of the dead have some power. “Available Information” now includes items that are only known to the dead.
  • DC 50:
    • Blackmail II: Provided that you have no ethics, you may support yourself at a Wealthy lifestyle by extorting money from others. Alternatively, you can attempt to obtain a major favor, although this is likely to result in backlash, up to and including attempts on your life.
    • Rumored Reality: You can weave rumors so juicy, compelling, and plausible that they will begin to manifest as more and more people hear about them. While this requires a minimum of seven uses of this ability over the course of a month, at the end of that time your narrative will take its place in the world. Such creations are relatively minor – a haunt in an abandoned building, a rumored love affair, or some such. At DC 60 notable creations are possible – adding a shrine or altar in the woods or similar. At DC 75 major creations are possible, making a forest a cursed and dangerous place or adding a cult or other small adventure to an area. At DC 100 you may add lost dungeons, hidden mesas full of ancient beasts, and similar creations to the world.
    • Voices Of Gaia: Your ability to gather information now extends to the supernatural communities of nature spirits, fey, and djinn, and elementals. You may seek for information that is only known to such entities without penalty.
  • DC 60:
    • Cliche enforcement: Some scenes appear over and over again. They are the building blocks of greater tales. The bridge collapses, someone who should have died is captured, the portal closes in the nick of time… such narratives are their own imperatives, playing out again and again across space and time. With this stunt, if the game master agrees it’s appropriate, you may force such a vignette into reality, causing it to play out in the current scene. A selection of such tropes can be found under Stealing The Scene, and TVTropes more or less specializes in collecting them.
    • Gossipmonger: You may make up to (Cha Mod + 1, 1 Minimum) Gather Information checks daily as free actions. You keep your ear to the ground so much that you’ve probably already heard about whatever-it-is!
    • Interview Shades: You may seek out and interview the shades of the dead, the sort of impressions probed by spells such as “Speak With Dead”. Shades know little emotion, speak mostly of the high points and great events of their lives, and are dry as dust – no more than the echoes of ancient lives – but they can sometimes provide important information.
  • DC 75:
    • Mythic Tale Gate: Tales have their own reality, gather together enough of their information and you will find them as real – or perhaps more truly real – than the material world. Places out of legend that the user and his or her friends can venture into and explore. While it tends to be fairly (to incredibly) difficult to derail the major plot of such realms, it is possible.
    • Poll the Multiverse: You can gather information from alternative timelines, whether or not such timelines every fully exist. Unfortunately, since they ARE alternative timelines, you can never quite tell if what you get matches your universe – so you get a spread of odds, and the finer the detail you’re looking for, the wider the spread. “Is this the work of a Vampire?” will probably return three or four probabilities, with one in the lead and one trailing. “What password are they using today?” is more likely to return dozens of possibilities, none of them very likely.
    • Voices Of The Divine: Your web of gossip extends to the realms of the gods themselves. You may use Commune, Legend Lore, and Contact Other Plane, once per week each.
  • DC 100:
    • Akhasic Echoes: Your gathering has progressed to the point where you can opt to simply experience a section of the past, spending an hour to effectively live through up to a weeks worth of events from up to (Check Result x 10) years ago. If you have an appropriate relic – you are in a ruined city and wish to witness its demise, or you have some ancient bones and wish to see the death or funeral, the time limit is waived.
    • Produce Tome: You may produce a copy of any book or tome, whether the spellbook of some wizard from a thousand years ago, the Necronomicon of Abdul Alhazarad the Mad, or the True Sacred Book of some long-forgotten faith.
    • Voice Of The Cosmos: You can use the equivalent of Hypercogition.

Epic Information Gathering Skill Stunts

  • Analyze Creature (Level 4, DC 26): Also known as “Consult Sourcebook”. This gives you a full description of any single target creature within long range – at the least, equivalent to making an appropriate knowledge check with an extra +40 insight bonus.
  • Pivotal Point (Level 5, DC 30): You may intuitively identify the next important plot nexus, such as where a deciding battle will be fought, the climactic confrontation with the evil overlord, or the location where the great ritual must be performed. Once you know where you’re going, you can simply ride with the flow of events to reach it, halving the time, effort, and random difficulties which would normally be involved. Once there, the caster enjoys a +5 circumstance bonus on any actions directly related to resolving the situation.
  • Organizational Chart (Level 6, DC 34): You may find out how a group is organized and identify its major members. Sadly, members with spell resistance only show up as a little blank box with a function title if the spell fails to penetrate their resistance. In general, this provides as complete a chart as will fit on one page. For small organizations this may seem quite detailed. Larger ones typically only show departments and major members.
  • Lost Symphony (Level 7, DC 38): You may recover scale duplicates of lost works, including monographs, plays, symphonies, ballets, songs, statues, and architectural plans. Unfortunately, such copies are in ordinary materials and will not exceed one cubic foot in size. A version with appropriate metamagic applied to the formula may, however, increase the possible volume.
  • Catalyst Event (Level 8, DC 42): This ability allows the user to set a chain of events in motion which will have great consequences later on. The user simply states a large-scale problem, casts this spell, and becomes aware of several possible long-term solutions. Some of these may not make much sense to the caster, since the spell does not explain. For example, if the problem is periodic floods
    along the river, possible solutions might include:

      • Importing and releasing some giant northern beavers. This will stabilize the watershed over the
        next few generations
      • Digging a series of canals to divert the excess water.
      • Negotiating with the water elementals and river spirits.
      • Burying some caches of silver in obscure locations and starting a rumor about adamantine ore. Unknown to the characters, this will lead to enough mining on particular mountainsides to trigger a series of massive avalanches over the next few years – creating a series of natural lakes and reservoirs which will moderate the flooding.
      • Encouraging clear-cutting of the forests in the foothills. This will change the climate enough to reduce the yearly rainfall somewhat.
      • Building a house on stilts while establishing a plantation of Mondiko trees. Mondiko trees produce excellent fruits and lumber and like being flooded periodically; the lifestyle will catch on and make the periodic floods a benefit rather than a problem.
      • Disenchanting or removing the statue of Karis, god of storms, which is hidden high in the mountains.
      • Instituting periodic sacrifices to the river god.
    • Any of these should work. Which, if any, the players decide to attempt, is up to them. Catalyst Event will generally present 2d4+1 possible solutions (or as many as the GM can think of). All of them should be reasonably effective if carried out, at least semi-permanent, and free of severe side effects. They are rarely immediate. The spell is quite effective, but it isn’t really meant for questions which require answers in the next few hours or days, such as “How do we stop the onrushing Orc horde”?. There simply aren’t many subtle options at that point.
  • Piercing The Veil Of Memory (Level 9, DC 46): You may revisit your memory of any place that you have ever been, During the spells one-minute duration you may investigate that place as it then was for up to (Wisdom) subjective hours. Nothing there can harm you (unless you discover some secrets that “man was not meant to know” or some such inherently harmful knowledge), you may move around the memory at will, you may read books that you did not open, investigate secret compartments that you did not find, run detection spells that you did not cast, and otherwise ransack the place utterly. Any resources you expend in doing so are, however, expended when the spell ends.
  • Magnum Opus (Level 10, DC 50): You may reconstruct a lost culture, civilization, or time, creating a work on the level of Gibbon’s Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire on the topic. While complete accuracy is not guaranteed, and interpretation is up to the reader, this will produce a multi-volume, encyclopedic, survey of the target containing many, MANY, obscure details.
  • Lost Lore (Level 11, DC 58): You enable everyone within a city or city-state to “put together the clues”. Do you wish to grant everyone the knowledge of Zyl’Kna’Lythk The Eyeless King Who Tramples Mountains and the all-too-simple ritual that will call him once more into the world? A through understanding of how the king is keeping the peasantry poor and oppressed? A good understanding of crop rotation or the germ theory of disease? So you can.
  • Walk The Hidden Paths (Level 12, DC 58): You may initiate your target into any class, system of magic (or psionics of whatever you may call it), path of power, or similar that is 1) directly accessible by mortals without the use of magic above level eight and 2) that the game master agrees will function in the setting, whether or not it has ever existed in the current setting. It’s a big multiverse, and it has existed SOMEWHERE.
  • Weapon Of Legend (Level 15, DC 70): You may call forth a legendary weapon, vehicle, or other device. It will remain for up to twelve hours – but there is no guarantee of your being able to use the thing. You may have to crack the command codes and figure out the systems to use the Enterprise, prove your right to wield Link’s Master Sword, or fight a battle of wills with Stormbringer.
  • Nemesis Mirror (Level 18, DC 82): Every mighty force has it’s counter somewhere. All one need do is open the way. The Midgard Serpent on the rampage? You may call forth Thor to battle it. R’lyeh rising from the waves and Great Cthulhu of the Waters coming forth? Perhaps it is time to call forth Cthughu of the Celestial Fires. Unfortunately, this usually simply turns an ongoing disaster into an immediate catastrophe – but at least it will be over fairly quickly and you can start picking up whatever pieces are left.

Several of these effects are actually adapted from spells in Paths Of Power II or the Complete Paths Of Power – but they do fit in here nicely.


Adventures in Familiars II – Master And Commander

And today, it’s another question – although this one took a while.

Looking at the rules for Companion bonuses (Eclipse, p. 189), I’m given to wonder if there are other sorts of companion bonds that could be formed rather than familiars/psi-crystals, mystical mounts, or animal companions. If so, presumably those would have different benefits (and penalties, if the bond were broken such as by the companion being killed) than those listed for each of those different types of companions, before taking any purchases of upgraded Companion abilities into account.

What other sorts of bonds could there be, and what abilities would they have?


Well, Eclipse already address taking pretty much any kind of creature with a Challenge Rating as a Companion. with the basic distinctions lying in the strength of the bond and the power of the creature(s) being bonded. To take a look at that:

Familiars are strongly and tightly bound to their owners, in large part because they are weak enough to be pretty thoroughly dominated by their master’s mind – which is why they automatically share their masters skills, can deliver touch spells, and have a mental link with their master. That’s why turning a sapient creature into a Familiar without its full, informed, consent is so unethical – and remains dubious even with consent; it’s slavery and mind-alteration. That tight bond is also why losing a Familiar is so traumatic and damaging.

Familiars get a specified series of bonuses as their master goes up in level, but you can Corrupt or Specialize the Companion ability to modify it. In Eclipse terms the various Pathfinder Familiar Archetypes are all simply “Specialized or Corrupted for Increased Effect; remove abilities A, B, and C and replace them with abilities X, Y, and Z”. Do you think that your hummingbird should invest the points that would normally go into it’s (non-existent) Natural Armor Bonus in bonuses to it’s movement skills and ability to dodge instead? Does your raven have Mystic Artist (quoting classical literature) instead of Alertness? Will your cat eventually learn Power Words instead of Spell Resistance? Is it actually an imaginary friend with Returning instead of Improved Fortune (Evasion) so that it comes back in the morning if slain or dispelled? Go ahead and shift a few points around.

Mystic Mounts and Companion Creatures are less tightly bound to their liege/employer/boss, whether that’s due to simply using a weaker link or because they are simply too strong to have so much of their bosses mind imprinted on them – which is why they maintain their own personalities and motives, even though they still draw power from the character. Thus creatures that are currently too powerful in their own right to get anything extra from a character cannot serve as Companions, which is why more powerful characters can take higher powered creatures as companions but enhance them less than they would a weaker companion. Their bonuses can be modified just as a Familiars can – Specializing or Corrupting the Companion ability to reassign their basic bonuses (Improved Fortune (Evasion), +(level /2 rounded down) to their Natural Armor and Warcraft, + (level/5 rounded down) to their Str or Con). Maybe your creature gets bonuses to Dex instead of strength or something. That’s relatively rare though; most companions find bonuses to Str, Con, Armor, BAB, and Evasion pretty convenient.

Animal Companions get weak links. These still provide some power, but only strongly influence the creature, rather than subordinating it – although once again, the benefits depend on the extent of the power difference between the creature and its patron. Nonsapient creatures do not understand what is going on with a weak link, but such weak minds are fairly readily influenced – turning them into Animal Companions. Personally, I generally don’t allow easy modifications to the Animal Companion bonuses. Since most of the power sent to an animal is channeled by their basic instincts and every animal wants to be strong, healthy, tough, and fast, that’s where most of the power goes. (A good bit probably goes into reproductive enhancements as well, but that has no game impact).

Sapient creatures, however, may be influenced by such weak links, and sometimes draw power from them – but remain very much independent and individual creatures, which is why they’re classified as Followers, and are obtained via the “Leadership” ability instead of “Companion” – and why they go up in level as their liege does but always lag somewhat behind him or her.

Thus, for example, pre-existing Intelligent Items can become Followers – but having established (and generally well-protected and somewhat pre-programmed) minds cannot become Familiars. Items that you create CAN, however, become Familiars since you can imprint your mind on them when you’re making them.

To buy intelligent item followers, take Leadership with the Exotic and Constructs modifiers, Specialized for Reduced Cost / Constructs only, Corrupted for Increased Effect (Only 50% of the cost of item followers counts against your Wealth By Level) / only one Cohort may exceed one-third the users level (6 CP). Since they are Followers, multiple intelligent items will get along reasonably well. Note that, in Eclipse, followers normally get NPC wealth by level, and will continue to do so without their boss having to worry about it. If their boss or the party in general wants to give them something extra, that’s up to them. Construct Followers get their choice of actual equipment (which works for golems and things) or built-in slotless equipment (equivalent to Siddhisyoga), which is less trouble but effectively halves their allotment since everything costs twice as much as usual.

Finally, of course, if there’s no link at all… then you have employees, beasts, slaves, contacts, and other creatures that you exchange services with, buy with money, or draft into service with raw power, diplomacy, or charisma. Such associates may “cost” a few character points spent on social abilities or some gold – but they aren’t really bound to the character and so get nothing extra from him or her. They are what they are, and associating with a powerful character does not inherently change them.

3.5 and Pathfinder have quite a selection of “Familiar” feats – Betrayal of the Spirit Linked, Celestial Familiar, Construct Familiar, Darkness Familiar, Dragon Familiar, Enspell Familiar, Evolved Familiar, Extra Familiar, Familiar Spell, Familiarity, Improved Familiar, Improved Psicrystal, Improved Spell Sharing, Item Familiar, Obtain Familiar, Planar Familiar, Shadowform Familiar, Shadow Familiar, Share Healing, Stitched Flesh Familiar, Token Familiar, Undead familiar, and Unfettered Familiar. There are some similar feats for improving Mystic Mounts, Mystic Companions, and/or Animal Companions (Improved Mount, Celestial Mount, Dragon Cohort, Dragon Steed, Fast Rider, Heroic Companion, Improved Fiendish Servant, Talenta Dinosaur Bond, Exalted Companion, Natural Bond, Monstrous, Mounted Fury, Nightmare Steed, Totem Companion, Vermin Companion, Etc) as well.

To look at these…

  • More powerful Companion creatures can be obtained / used by simply going up in level or by buying the Template upgrade and using some one or more “Template Levels” to cover a creature with a higher base challenge rating; there’s no feat requirement in Eclipse. Similarly, mystic mounts and companion creatures get a pool of character points to buy freeform benefits with anyway – and buying your creature a template can modify and enhance it in innumerable ways. This covers Celestial, Construct, Darkness, Evolved, Improved, Planar, Shadowform, Shadow, Stitched Flesh, Token, and Undead Familiars / Psicrystals – as well as improving your familiar with Betrayal Of The Spirit LInked, Enspell Familiar, Familiar Spell, Familiarity, Improved Spell Sharing, Share Healing, and Unfettered Familiar as well as pretty much all the stuff for mounts and animal companions.
  • Obtain Familiar and Extra Familiar simply call for purchasing the Companion ability again.

That leaves…

  • The Spell Sovereign (Dragon 357) who can take Living Spells as Mystic Companions and effectively Awaken them. Of course, in Eclipse, this isn’t especially abnormal, even if it IS an unusual choice. Living Spells are just another type of creature after all. A few other classes also offer odd choices of Familiars, but nothing really out of the ordinary in Eclipse. Why shouldn’t you take a Swarm if you wish? It’s treated as a creature isn’t it?
  • Pathfinder’s Summoners employ Edolions – basically relatively minor variations on psychic constructs (as per The Practical Enchanter). They can be built as Companions, obtained by Leadership, bought as permanent spell effects, generated by Witchcraft, or created in a wide variety of other ways. Admittedly, Pathfinder uses “Mutation Points” instead of menu choices, but the basic structure and malleable nature of the result is quite recognizable.
  • Dragon Familiars from the Draconomicon. These require an extra feat on top of the ability to have a Familiar in the first place and get a greatly reduced set of the Familiar bonuses and a lot more independence than most Familiars. To do that in Eclipse you just take one as a Mystical Mount / Companion Creature – which will provide enough bonus points for the creature to buy the relevant Familiar bonuses (Alertness, Share Spells, Empathic Link, Deliver Touch Spells, Spell Resistance and Scry On Familiar) if you (and it) want them. Or you could spend the feat that would have gone to buy “Dragon Familiar” on a template upgrade for your draconic friend to make him or her the envy of other young dragons. “Returning” is always a good choice (hint, hint!).

In Eclipse, of course, you can take Children as Familiars, create Frankenstein’s Monster, have lots of annoying Dragon Cats, have Ancestral Spirits hanging about, have Robots or Warbeasts, a Shamanic Fetch, Lifling, or Shadow Guardian Familiar, or a Religious Advisor, or Minidrakes, bond with a lovecraftian entity from beyond space and time, or any of lots of other things – such as converting your Companion into a Vehicle.

There are a few possibilities that haven’t been addressed though. What happens if you bond with an object, group of objects, or a place? After all, classically there was the “Item Familiar” – a semiofficial optional variant from Unearthed Arcana.

Item Familiars could give your character a lot of extra power – but the character had to invest his or her own power (over and above the feat used to get an Item Familiar) in the item to get it. And if the item was destroyed or even taken away for very long the character lost everything they had invested in it permanently.

That’s not necessarily terrible. The Relic system in Eclipse works the same way unless you add in some upgrades, but a basic Relic rules are set up for a maximum investment of four character points (less than one feat). Losing four CP for a while is not a big thing, just as being unable to use one of your feats for a while isn’t particularly crippling. After all, even without buying any upgrades / “insurance policies”, if your relic gets destroyed it may be really annoying – but you can get another one to replace it if you search long enough. They are just another form of treasure after all.

But according to the Item Familiar rules “If you ever lose the chosen item (have it removed from your possession for a continuous period of more than one day per level) or if the item is destroyed, you automatically lose 200 XP per level as well as all benefits derived from possessing the linked item (plus any resources you put into the item). If you recover the item, you regain these XP. You may replace a lost or destroyed item familiar after you have advanced one level, as if you were gaining an item familiar for the first time.”

And, of course, the more resources you’ve invested in the item, the more power you get back. So to optimize your item, you need to invest heavily. So if your item is never destroyed or taken you get loads of free power. If it is destroyed or taken at some point your character is permanently crippled to the point of unplayability. Either way it’s no fun and potentially game-wrecking.

  • If you want to let someone take an “Item Familiar” as a variant on “Companion” you can – but I really do not recommend it. Instead I’d recommend Create Relic (Specialized and Corrupted / only to make a particular relic or four-point set thereof) (2 CP) and Double Enthusiast, Specialized for Increased Effect and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only provides four floating CP for creating the specific relic or set of relics above (4 CP). With that… you’ve basically spent a feat on having a few nifty toys. If something happens to them you may have to do without for a bit, but once you have a week or two of downtime you can recreate them.

An Imbued Staff (Dragon 338), on the other hand, was fairly useless. Sure, it turned into a +3 /+1 special ability staff eventually, could deliver touch spells, and could be easily repaired and summoned – but if your high-level Wizard was relying on poking things with a stick, or kept mislaying his staff, something was wrong. Even worse, it couldn’t do anything on it’s own, which pretty much eliminated the point in having a companion in the first place. It went too far the other way.

Still, that brings up the topic of “how much magical gear should a Feat (or the equivalent) be able to get you?”

I’d say “quite a bit”, given that a couple of Crafting Feats will halve the cost of much of your gear AND allow you to make gear for other party members at prices that will save them money and still make a profit for you. It’s not really that hard to effectively double or triple your usual “Wealth By Level” as a magical crafter.

That does take time and carry the risk of losing some of it of course. I think what we want here is something similar to the “Imbuement” ability, which days that “here is a signature item, if something happens to it I will shortly get it back”- less profit, but less risk. Ergo, lets build that with the existing mechanics. I’ll call it…

Soul-Forged Item: This “feat” allows the user to shape a portion of his or her soul into a powerful, personal, magical item or linked set of items, Sadly, this item or set of items must be

  • Access to Dreambinding, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (200 GP multiplier, the item created is considered a part of the user; he or she can release touch spells through it, will always know where it is, may percieve its current location as if he or she was there, the item uses his or her saves, and – if sapient – is always cooperative). (3 CP) / only creates a single item with an effective 66.667 GP multiplier, specific item or set of items; functions may be added as the user’s skill increased, but may not be altered once added, skill cannot be increased beyond (Level +3 +Cha Mod) save through Skill Emphasis and Skill Focus.
  • Fast Learner, Specialized for Reduced Cost, Corrupted for Increased Effect / only for Skills, only for Dreambinding, skill can be further augmented by Skill Emphasis and Skill Focus, but not by other means, increased effect is to always keep the Dreambinding skill it’s associated with maxed out (3 CP). The user’s effective score will thus normally be (Level +3 + Cha Mod). The GP value for various effective levels is: 1: 67 GP, 2: 267 GP, 3: 600 GP, 4: 1067 GP, 5: 1667 GP, 6: 2400 GP, 7: 3267 GP, 8: 4267 GP, 9: 5400 GP, 10: 6667 GP, 11: 8067 GP, 12: 9600 GP, 13: 11,266 GP, 14: 13,067 GP, 15: 15,000 GP, 16: 17,067 GP, 17: 19,267 GP, 18: 21,600 GP, 19: 24,067 GP, 20: 26,667 GP, 21: 29,400 GP, 22: 32,267 GP, 23: 35,267 GP, 24: 38,400 GP, 25: 41,667 GP, 26: 45,067 GP, 27: 48,600 GP, 28: 52,267 GP, 29: 56,067 GP, and 30: 60,000 GP.

Sample Soul-Forged Item – A Wizards Staff:

Dreambinding Total:

  • 1) Lantern Staff (Two Handed Metal Hafted Weapon, can shed light as a Hooded Lantern, 9 Lb, Hardness 10, HP 30, 15 GP)
  • 2) Add Folded Metal (+4 Hardness, 14 Total, +200 GP) (215 GP Total).
  • 3) Add Masterwork (+1 to Attacks, +300 GP) and Resilient (+5 HP, 35 Total, 100 GP) (615 GP Total).
  • 4) Add a Wayfinder Fineal (+500 GP, Light on Command, acts as a Compass, -100 GP, cannot yet hold an Ioun Stone (1015 GP Total).
  • 5) The Wayfinder can now hold an Ioun Stone if one is available (1115 GP Total).
  • 6) Add a Cracked Orange Prism Ioun Stone (Pathfinder: +1 Cantrip Known/3.5: +4 Cantrip Slots, either way grants a random power while in a Wayfinder, 1000 GP) (2115 GP Total).
  • 7) Add first level Pearl Of Power effect (100 GP) (3115 GP Total).
  • 8) Staff is now considered a +0 magic weapon (1000 GP, 4115 GP Total).
  • 9) Staff is now a +1 Weapon (+1000 GP, Hardness 16, HP 45) (5115 GP Total).
  • 10) No Improvement.
  • 11) Staff now functions as a Staff Of Entwined Serpents, although it only fires one Magic Missile (-100 GP to 8065 GP Total).
  • 12) Staff now fires Two Magic Missiles (+100 GP) (8165 GP Total)
  • 13) Add a second first level Pearl Of Power effect (1000 GP) (9165 GP Total).
  • 14) No Improvement.
  • 15) Staff gains a +1 Weapon Ability (+6000 GP) (15,165 GP Total). This is technically slightly over the available amount, but I’m not worrying about 165 GP given that several other steps have been under the allowable total.
  • 16) Add a third first level Pearl Of Power effect (1000 GP) (16,165 GP Total).
  • 17) Add the function of a Lesser +1 Spell Level Metamagical Rod (3000 GP) (19,165 GP Total). (Or 6 uses of Minor Merciful since it’s only 1500 GP)
  • 18) No Improvement.
  • 19) Upgrade base material to Adamant (+2700 GP, now Hardness 26, HP 55) (21,865 GP Total).
  • 20) Upgrade a Pearl Of Power incidence with Sapience (500 GP), Int, Wis, and Cha 10 (no cost), Telepathy (1000 GP), 120′ Senses (1000 GP), Darkvision (500 GP), and Magic Missile 3/Day (1200 GP) (26,065 GP Total).
  • 21) No Improvement.
  • 22) Add Called: you can summon your staff to you from anywhere in the same dimension as a standard action (2000 GP) (28,065 GP Total). “Called” is normally only for Armor, but – given that the staff is technically a part of you, it doesn’t seem like much of a stretch to apply it here.
  • 23) The Sapient Pearl can cast Greater Magic Weapon on the Staff Only (x.7 = 4200 GP) once per day (raising it’s enhancement bonus to +4 for 17 hours) (30,265 GP). In effect, the staff becomes a +4 weapon.
  • 24) The Sapient Pearl can cast Mending at will (1000 GP) and gets the equivalent of a Healing Belt (750 GP) (32,015 GP Total).
  • 25) The Sapient Pearl can cast Silent Image 3/Day (1200 GP) (33,215 GP Total).
  • 26) Staff gains an additional +1 Weapon Ability (+10,000 GP) (43,215 GP Total).
  • 27) The Sapient Pearl can cast Grease and Unseen Servant 3/Day Each (2 x 1200 GP) (45,415 GP Total).
  • 28) The Sapient Pearl can cast Nerveskitter and Protection From Evil 3/Day Each and Magic Missile six times (3 x 1200 GP) (49,015 GP Total).
  • 29) The Sapient Pearl can cast Web 1/Day (2400 GP) and Glitterdust 1/Day (2400 GP) (53,815 GP Total).
  • 30) The Sapient Pearl can cast Dispel Magic 1/Day (6000 GP) (59,815 GP Total). (While that’s thematic, it won’t work too often at this point. If you really want to be Gandalf, use Phantom Steed instead).

After all, if it doesn’t take up an item slot… you can stack it onto something else – if necessary by gluing it there.

Sample Soul-Forged Item – The Sword Of The New Dawn:

Dreambinding Total:

  • 1) Greatsword (Hardness 10, HP 10, 50 GP).
  • 2) Add Folded Metal (+4 Hardness, 14 Total, +200 GP) (250 GP Total).
  • 3) Add Masterwork (+1 Enhancement Bonus to Attacks, +300 GP) (550 GP Total).
  • 4) Add Illuminating (May shed Bright Light in a 20′ radius and shadowy illumination in a 40′ radius, 500 GP) (1050 GP Total).
  • 5) Add two Wand Chambers (200 GP) (1250 GP Total). These may or may not be much use to you, but – at worst – you can put some Eternal Wands in them.
  • 6) No Improvement.
  • 7) Weapon becomes +1 (Hardness 16, 20 HP, 2000 GP) (3250 GP Total).
  • 8) Add Dwarvencraft (+2 Hardness (18 Total), +10 HP (30 Total), +2 on saves, +600 GP) (3850 GP Total).
  • 9) Hollow Pommel acts as an Ehlonna’s Seed Pouch (1400 GP) (5250 GP Total).
  • 10) Seed Pouch becomes Sapient (500 GP), Int, Wis, Cha 10 (No Cost), Healing Belt Functions (750 GP) (6500 GP Total).
  • 11) SP can cast Nerveskitter 3/Day (1200 GP) (7700 GP Total).
  • 12) No Improvement.
  • 13) Weapon becomes Adamantine (Hardness 28, HP 33, +2700 GP) (10,400 GP Total).
  • 14) SP becomes Telepathic with the bearer (+1000 GP) (11,400 GP Total).
  • 15) SP can cast Resist Energy 1/Day (2400 GP) (13,800 GP Total).
  • 16) No Improvement.
  • 17) SP can cast Greater Magic Weapon on the Sword Only (x.7 = 4200 GP) once per day (raising it’s enhancement bonus to +5 for 20 hours) (18,000 GP Total).
  • 18) No Improvement.
  • 19) Weapon gains a +1 Weapon Ability (+6000 GP) (24,000 GP Total).
  • 20) SP can cast Protection From Evil and Liberating Command 3/Day Each (2400 GP) (26,400 GP Total).
  • 21) SP can cast Personal Haste 3/Day (1200 GP) (27,600 GP Total).
  • 22) SP can cast Frostbite 3/Day (1200 GP) (28,800 GP Total).
  • 23) SP can cast Light Foot 3/Day (1200 GP) (30,000 GP Total).
  • 24) SP can cast Lead Blades 3/Day (1200 GP) (31,200 GP Total).
  • 25) Weapon gains a additional +1 Weapon Ability (+10,000 GP) (41,200 GP Total).
  • 26) Functions as per a Rod Of Bodily Restoration (3100 GP) (44,300 GP Total).
  • 27) No Improvement.
  • 28) Functions as per an Orb Of Mental Renewal (3100 GP) (47,400 GP Total).
  • 29) SP can cast Scorching Ray 1/Day (2400 GP) (49,800 GP Total).
  • 30) Grants the True Believer Feat (10,000 GP) (59,800 GP Total).

Both of those are pretty optimized – and are exploiting the Pathfinder rule that “intelligent items use the base caster level of the item without having to pay for it” rule quite unmercifully – but neither of them should be particularly game-wrecking, especially in Eclipse. A handful of low level spells, even being cast at high caster levels, won’t make that big a difference in higher level play.

Alternatively, you could add enhancements to an existing item – perhaps, in your hands, whatever magical longsword you are using will soon pick up intelligence and some secondary abilities. That could follow the same general pattern as the Dawnsword, you’d just be substituting other bits for the weapon abilities.

Still, that covers our “intelligent item familiars” niche.

Taking nonmagical, inert, things as “companions” (presumably in downtime backstory) may transform them into animated objects or conventional creatures – but that just puts them into the appropriate “Companion” category and offers an explanation for where they came from. Actually taking an entirely non-magical inert item as a “Companion” is allowable – but it doesn’t cost anything because it doesn’t actually DO anything. Your “pet rock” remains a rock, just as your favorite fern, or tree, or other inert item, remains whatever it is.

You can bond with an area too. If you draw on it’s power while you’re there, or set up special facilities, or some such, you can just use the Sanctum ability or the Castle Hieronymus setup.

Alternatively, if it’s a relatively small (and mostly un-empowered before you got to it) area you can exercise some control over the place. Purchase this as…

  • Mystic Link with Communications and Power Link, Corrupted for Reduced Cost / links you to a specific, relatively small, location, does not interact with any further mystic links you may buy rather than stacking as Mystic Link upgrades usually do (6 CP) plus Leadership with Exotic Followers, Specialized and Corrupted / only one follower (a Ward Major at one-third your level), follower never accompanies you anywhere (obviously) (3 CP).

With this package you can draw on the powers of a Ward Major and direct it’s influence over the area it controls – although this does leave you obligated to regularly return to and defend that area. Still, if you want a dark forest where the mist rises at your command, there is always a pack of wolves ready to attack your enemies, and you know everything that happens… this is a way to buy it.

Large and powerful domains tend to have their own existing consciousness – a Realm Spirit (Eclipse, 169). And no, you generally cannot have one as a Companion, or even as a Follower. Realm Spirits are invariably up in the epic levels, so you’d need to be up around level sixty or so to qualify. If you’re bonded with a Realm Spirit… then YOU’RE the companion, and you’ve been let out to play for a while.

  • To buy this, buy a Contact (with Occult x 2) / a Realm Spirit (3 CP), Mystic Link with the Communications and Power modifiers (9 CP), and Major Favors (The Realm Spirit, 6 CP)., all Specialized and Corrupted / the user is the mouthpiece, envoy, and troubleshooter for a semi-divine entity with little or no comprehension of creatures that don’t exist on a geologic scale and timescale. Certainly, you can ask the Realm Spirit of the Emerald Forest to swallow up an army tht happens to be marching through the area – but you will also be responsible for explaining to the king that the forest doesn’t want him building a castle in it. The link is not under the user’s control, and the user cannot prevent the Realm Spirit from exercising it’s powers on him or her if it so desires (not that there is usually a lot that can be done about a Realm Spirit anyway).

And I think that about covers the possibilities. There are still things like Forces out there – but having a special bond with (say) “Gravity” probably simply makes you a telekinetic specialist or some such. It’s not even remotely going to fit under “Companion”.

Eclipse – The Sagacious Advisor

This package gives you the classic sage, mentor, or royal advisor – someone who can tell you that the unseasonable winter blighting the land is almost certainly the work of the Winter King wielding the reforged Fimbulwinter Blade from his Otherworldly Castle Of Ice, and that some heroes must journey there to stop him by shattering the blade once more so that the seasons will turn properly for another age of the world.

He will even – after enough research (waiting to draw the right card since he only gets new ones for his Hexcrafting magic when important things happen) that the situation has become utterly dire and the party has had to hold off multiple attacks by Polar Bears, Winter Wolves, and other ice-monsters – be able to open a path into the mystic realms of the Seasonal Spirits, so that you can reach the Castle Of Ice to do battle with the Winter King.

He won’t know that the Winter King was recently overthrown by his treacherous son Prince Iceheart wielding the reforged Fimbulwinter blade, and that to restore the balance of the world the party will have to rescue the old king, defeat the Prince, shatter Fimbulwinter once more, and perform a ritual to reinstate the link between the Realm of Winter and it’s once and future King. After all, that information is far too recent to appear in the Sagacious Advisors ancient tomes – but he can still get the party started on their adventure.

Similarly, he can put the dying king afflicted by the nigh-unstoppable mystic venom into stasis, and greatly slow the decay of the land that ruler is linked to – but he will have to stick around to keep recasting that stasis (after all, it starting to wear off is probably an important enough event to justify refreshing his powers), leaving the quest for the cure up to the player characters.

Of course, if you wind up having to take a Sagacious Advisor along on your adventures – perhaps you need one of those vastly powerful spells performed at a particular place – then you will have to babysit them through the trip and then protect them from the inevitable massive attack while they perform their ritual casting because they probably won’t be any use at all along the way.

The Sagacious Advisor (Usually an NPC):

Basic Attributes: Str 8, Dex 8, Con 12, Int 14, Wis 12, Cha 16 (Pathfinder 15 Point Buy).

Available Character Points: L3 Base (96 CP) -18 (Untrained) +12 (L1 and L3 Feats) = 90 CP.

Basics (25 CP): Hit Dice: 3d6 (6 CP), Skill Points +8 (Fast Learner at L0, 6 CP) +6 (6 CP) = 14 (six knowledges at +1, 8 points for other skills), BAB +0 (0 CP), Saves +0 (Luck with +2 Bonus Uses, Specialized in Saves, 4 CP), Proficiencies: All Simple Weapons (3 CP).

Other Abilities (65 CP):

  • Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect: only for Skills, only for Knowledge, Skills, user must spend a lot of time rummaging through ancient tomes and lore, information often contains gaps (especially about recent changes) that will need to be filled by adventurers, user is afflicted with great curiosity and a certain lack of caution (12 CP).
  • +6 Base Caster Levels, Specialized in Hexcrafting. (18 CP).
  • Hexcrafting: 4 Free Invocations (8 CP), 3 Cards (8 CP), 2 Fixed Cards (6 CP). All Corrupted for Reduced Cost / the user must fumble around with assorted arcane ingredients, speak, and gesture to do anything at all. The Cards are also Specialized for Reduced Cost / Ritual Only, it requires at least one minute of ritual per card expended to create an effect.
  • Berserker with Odinpower (+15 to Base Caster Level, -2 to AC) and +2 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / each use only allows the casting of a single spell, user forfeits his or her dexterity bonus while casting, only half effect when using a free invocation, (4 CP).
  • Choice of Houngan Conjurer (9 CP) or Where Does He Get Those Wonderful Toys (9 CP).

While the Sagacious Advisor is useful to have around, and makes a wonderful government official… he or she does not have the quick, or regularly-usable, power needed to be a real threat to the current rulers or to overshadow the player characters. Like it or not, he or she is effectively a plot device. Still, every so often, the Sagacious Advisor can perform a major ritual – opening the path to a realm of myths, transporting a city away from an attacking horde to an unknown alien realm (which will, of course, offer it’s own menaces and which will urgently need exploring), or stopping that volcanic eruption (while simultaneously upsetting some Elementals) – and then be quite unable to deal with the further consequences. Que the player characters having a new mission.

Given that the game is supposed to be focused on the player characters, that’s a good thing. I’ve played in entirely too many games where the megapowerful NPC’s could (and obviously SHOULD) easily fix the problem – but it gets shoved off onto the player charters for some unspecified reason. As an example from a game I once played in…

(My character) “So let me get this straight, The kings widely-loved daughter has been Kidnapped. So the King sent his most skilled (high-level) guards out to scoop up what must be the six weirdest, most incompatible (we had a Drow, a Minotaur, my chain-smoking modern Egyptian tomb robber who’d been drafted by Anubis to be a priest in a fantasy world, and several other weird types), people in the capital, whom he had no information on, who are not known as adventurers, and who he has no reason to trust, to send after her. He’s doing this on the advice of his supposedly good-guy Mind Flayer advisor. We’ve been told that she’s being held in a legendary tomb in the middle of the enchanted forest by bandits. The King refused to lend us a guide, or any guards to provide backup, or give us a map, or provide us with any gear. And we will be thrown in the dungeons if we don’t take on this mission. Well… Now that we’re approaching the forest… I vote that we make a break for it!”

The game master was extremely surprised when the party assumed that we were, at best, a sacrificial diversion for the real rescue mission – and that, at worst, the “lawful good king” was actually covering up the elimination of an uncooperative daughter. And why would we be asking for gear or a map or help? We had our first-level character creation funds!

With this build… that sort of thing is not a problem. The Sagacious Advisor can meet the magical needs of the kingdom, tell the party where to find the necessary plot coupons and mcguffins, and still remain low level and incapable of doing the actual adventuring himself. It also means that – in a setting where most of the world is low level – one can fairly readily find or train an effective royal advisor without having to assume that they just appear from nowhere when it’s convenient.

What’s a “Ruscumag” anyway?

A question that’s long overdue: what exactly is the “ruscumag” that’s part of your blog’s URL?


Well, that will take a little digging, so bear with me…

Once they stretched across continents. Not Forests, but THE Forest. Trackless. Primeval, Unknown.

And in hidden places, where subtle vortexes of primordial energies and vagaries of geography have kept patches of forest relatively undisturbed across the ages, THE Forest remains.

Preserved within those vortexes, fed and given form by the burgeoning ancient life of the trees, are realms of history and imagination merged, mythic time and space, archetypal places governed by tales and magic. Within those realms you may find ancient peoples, beasts long extinct, and tales in a thousand forms to draw you into their narratives whether you like it or not. Within a few weeks outside, in a patch of woods a half a mile across, you may spend decades exploring thousands of square miles of hidden realms, lakes, and mighty rivers – sometimes even traveling through time and space or perhaps emerging from another patch of ancient forest entirely. Perhaps you will reclaim those lost years when you emerge, perhaps not.

All Forests One Forest.

Before Will, and Word, and Spirit, before the Gods walked… Sympathy, Contagion, and Similarity WERE,

Old, OLD, Magic.

Occasional myths and tales given form – Mythagos, whether manlike or monstrous – may emerge from the hidden realms as well, called forth by the dreams of men living beyond it’s borders – but beyond their realm, things such as the Wild Hunt, the Great Predators, and the Dark Cults will fade away into nothingness in a few weeks unless they return to the sheltering trees. Still, the borders of the Primordial Forest are an uneasy and perilous place, no matter how modern science seeks to explain what it is that walks in the darkness and then vanishes without a trace.

At the deepest? Past Witches and Warlocks, Past Arthur and his Knights, beyond the Fomori and the Nature Spirits, you will find the youth of the race. Delve deeply enough, and encounter the shamanic masters of fire, who first tamed it to the will of men, the lightning-hurling reflections of the homids who created bows, and spears, and throwing stones. Beyond them? A place that men find almost impossible to reach. The realms of innocence before the rise of mind, the ancient ice, the ages of beasts, the deep realms of the dragon lords, the green world before more than insects had emerged from the seas, and – at the last – the most ancient seas of a young earth. Perhaps fortunately… few indeed are the undisturbed patches of woods large enough to contain such depths. Even in this fantastic realm… there are limits.

Ryhope Wood – the centerpiece of the setting for Robert Holdstock’s Mythago and it’s sequels and prequels – only covers about three square miles, so it doesn’t go back much past the last ice age, but that’s still a rather long ways.

Within that novel the Urscumag Mythago – or on a couple of occasions (at least in the edition I happen to own) the Ruscumag – was both a guardian of the forest and a subtle and dangerous guide to the magical realms within.

Personally, I found the original book, and later the series, to be quite good. While the basic premise of an ancient place that served as a gateway to a mythic realm. of tales that play out again and again within that realm, and of masks – both literal and figurative – which give form to the formless forces of magic at play there, are not especially new, they’re well handled here, the books have interesting depths, and the tale offered up more than a few elements that suggested stuff for games, When I was setting up this blog, and found that the first few names I tried were already taken, I decided to go with something more obscure – and that the Urscumag / Ruscumag made a reasonable good game master metaphor. So I tried it with the Ruscumag spelling which I happened to like better. And thus Ruscumag.Wordpress.Com. The fact that the “Ruscumag” spelling turned out to be an obscure typographical error within a 1986 paperback printing left the origin of the word next to impossible for anyone else to find, but was at least unique.

That may not be terribly important, but I suppose that “why is this blog called something so odd” is worth clearing up – and since you have asked, I hope that help clarify things!

Stealth and Safehouses

And today it’s another question…

I am curious how you might create subtler stealth / warding effects. For example, what would a spell look like that made people around you find you unimportant or beneath consideration or whoever they expect to see most? Or warding a building so that only people who don’t wish the residents harm can find it?


There are a lot of different ways to accomplish such things – some effective, and others less so.

A spell that convinces people looking at you that you aren’t important could be a mind-affecting effect (allowing a save), or a complex illusion, or a way to extend the Bluff skill. It has an advantage over Invisibility in that you won’t give away your presence by opening doors and such.

Using Bluff:

Extending the Bluff skill is slightly tricky. There aren’t any existing spells that work this way that I’m aware of, but you can build it using Eclipse and The Practical Enchanter. The basic effect is simply “You get to make a Bluff check when people see you to make them think that you’re harmless and too unimportant to pay attention to”. That’s equivalent to the Eclipse Opportunist ability – a Complex Mental Feat. The Surprising Mastery spell template in The Practical Enchanter can be set up to bestow that; the base will be level three, for one minute per level. Getting a nice big bonus on that specific check is basically the Glibness spell, also at level three. So this spell will be level four (likely for a Bard) or five (Likely for a Sorcerer/Wizard), depending on how well your game master thinks that the effects go together. Both base spells are Transmutation, so it will be too, it will last one minute per level, it will take a Standard Action to cast, and it will have Verbal and Somatic Components. Since it only directly affects the caster, Saves and Spell Resistance don’t apply – but all the usual methods of dealing with someone Bluffing will.

This general spell build is interestingly versatile. Go ahead; build a similar spell that uses Disable Device, or which fires every Wand in the area with Use Magic Device (although attended ones will get a save), or some such. I usually use Specialized Witchcraft to build effects like that, since they’re best for skillmasters who aren’t entirely focused on magic – but there’s no reason why you can’t build them with standard spells.

Using Disguise:

When it comes to disguises… there are a lot of easy ways to craft an actual disguise, but the problem here is that you’ll need to make one that every observer you encounter will consider unimportant – and while a generic servant or bum will pass in a LOT of places, you never quite know what exactly you will need to be disguising yourself AS.

The game master may let you get away with imitating Terry Pratchett and disguising yourself as a “Sweeper” or “Mendicant Monk” or “Bum” (which only works when people expect to see such types around; if it’s a top secret lab cleaned by Roombas, a “Janitor” will be VERY suspicious) or (if you are INCREDIBLY lucky) as “someone of no importance” – but there are likely to be really big penalties on that last check if you don’t have some detailed inside information on just what, in your current situation, is going to be considered “unimportant” by the people who are going to see you.

So there are at least two approaches here are 1) coming up with enough bonuses to overcome whatever absurd penalty the game master applies (a job for stacking different types of bonuses or a specific skill enhancing spell of whatever level turns out to be necessary) and 2) finding out what disguise is appropriate – which strikes me as a job for a level six to level seven specialized version of the Metafaculty effect. It may not sound all that tricky – but it’s still determining who you are likely to meet, what each of them is likely to dismiss at a glance, and how to disguise yourself in a way that simultaneously satisfies each such set of conditions.

Using Mind-Affecting Powers:

The mind-affecting version already exists as a level two Psionic Power. It’s called Cloud Mind, and is more or less exactly what you’re looking for. The problem here is that it only has close range, starts at level two, and has to be bumped up to level six to hit one target per level. I probably wouldn’t bother imposing a penalty for converting the effect to a spell; the fixed, and rather limited, nature of the effect seems like enough of a penalty compared to the original power. That would give us a level six Illusion (Phantasm, Mind-Affecting) spell – but it would only affect the original targets, not anyone who came near you. That’s a major vulnerability.

A simpler version – basically a specialized and shorter-term version of Mass Suggestion (“There’s nothing of interest about these people or going on here”) might be only level three or four depending on the spell list. It would be handy for – say – getting your party versus a group of guards. The problem here is that every one of them gets a save, and that your range and number affected is still pretty limited. Secondarily, of course, spending a fourth level spell slot on this is usually not a good investment unless you’ve restricted your spellcasting a lot to make it cheaper.


Using spells to protect an area or structure is tricky because you want the effect to last. When it comes to spells, that generally means either a cheap spell with a long duration, a permanent (or “instantaneous”) effect, or a magical item using such spells. There are a few decent ones for that – most notably Anticipate Teleportation (L4, 1 Hour/Level), Mages Private Sanctum (L5, one day), and Psychic Poison (L4, one hour/level). Honorable mentions go to Detect Scrying (L4, one day, good to let you know you’re being watched but does nothing to actually prevent it), Scry Trap (the damaging version, L5, one hour/level. I personally would encourage the use of Scrying Guardians – on the theory that, Scry Trap can do 15d6 damage – the cap for a fourth level single target damaging spell. Ergo, add +1 level to a spell and you can cast it as a trap that will affect anyone who scrys on you. Go ahead; have some summoned monsters show them the error of their ways or something), Teleport Trap (L7, one day per level, may be made permanent, but is somewhat expensive) and Dimensional Lock (L8, but lasts for one day/level), all of which are good but situational and – at least for Teleport Trap and Dimensional Lock – rather high level. False Vision (only l5, but expensive and may be vulnerable to True Seeing) generally isn’t worth bothering with. Guards and Wards (L6) can annoy intruders, but usually annoys defenders just as much and does nothing for privacy or to stop teleportation. Hallow can have some good defensive options attached, but using dedicating the place to a particular god as a security system may be a bit off-color. Screen lasts for a full day and isn’t expensive – but it’s eighth level, takes ten minutes to cast, and may still be penetrated by True Seeing. Again, it’s probably not worth it. Some of the spells from the “City On A Hill” article might help as well.

The trouble here is that all of these – and most other methods – are vulnerable to effects like Commune, Contact Other Plane, Hypercognition, and Metafaculty. There isn’t anything below the epic level which will completely frustrate information-gathering effects – and for good reason; since the player characters are usually on the offensive, they’re usually the ones trying to figure out where to attack. Putting in a way to completely block that off simply stops the game until they come up with something else or get frustrated.

Overall, if you just want a reasonably well concealed spot… Mages Private Sanctum is your best bet. If you want to hide from unwanted visitors, Mirage Arcana (L5, one hour/level) works for a building – although it’s probably easier to just build underground and hide the entrance. To be cheap, “lead sheeting” blocks scrying and some other divinatory effects, and thick stone walls block some other effects – so simply tacking up sheets of lead all over the walls, floors, doors, and ceilings (and then I would hope adding paneling or paint) would work against many divinations. It doesn’t help with too much else though.

A character could buy the ability to boost the duration of a few such spells very easily, since it is a highly specialized field – but if you’re going to spend character points, you might just as well invest a few points in a Sanctum, or Ritual Magic (specialized and corrupted in privacy rituals only), or Cloaking a radius, or something similar,

On the “Item” front, a Ward Major (from The Practical Enchanter) is expensive – but if you want to protect a large area, powers like Forgotten, Veiled, and Otherworldly are just the ticket.

On a smaller scale, given that d20 makes it very easy to create extradimensional spaces, the simplest way to set up a short-term “safehouse” is to use Rope Trick at level two – or the “Mirror Hideaway” variant (also at level two), or just use the Spacewarp Spell Template from The Practical Enchanter to design your own space – and there you are; you’re immune to anything that doesn’t cross planes and have an invisible door. Go ahead. Add Hide Campsite (Ranger 2) and add another huge margin of safety.

For a longer-term effect… use Spacewarp with Barriers (allowing you to close the portal) and a duration of one day per level is merely level four. Go ahead; add some more options at +1 spell level each (Supplies, Furnished, or Hidden are all very good choices for a safehouse). In theory you could make an item capable of casting the fourth level version once a week after being given a command word at a cost of a mere 5000 GP.

For an all-in-one solution you can use either a Rod Of Residence (39,000 GP) or a Rod Of Security (61,000 GP).

For a lower-level, and more versatile, solution you could try the Panic Rune:

Panic Rune:

This simple bronze doorknocker portrays a sleeping gargoyle. It is only when it is pressed against a surface (a wall, tree, or similar) that it awakens – sinking into the surface and, after a minute or two, creating an invisible secret door with no magical aura (Spacewarp, Create Door on the inside of the portal, Magic Aura to conceal the magical aura of the portal, Arcane Lock to improve its security). Spotting it without the aid of the Panic Rune requires Detect Invisibility (to perceive the door at all) and then a DC 24 Perception check. The door itself has a Break DC of 35 and the Lock is DC 35. Neither Dispel Magic nor Knock nor ordinary magical methods of detecting secret doors will have any effect, since the door is just beyond a dimensional portal that such spells will not cross.

Beyond the door is a spacious hall, with private nooks, tables, comfortable furnishings, enough decent-quality food and drink for eight medium-sized creatures (renewed daily), and plenty of blankets and cushions. Sadly, the various furnishings vanish if they are taken out of the hall and no more than 120 pounds of additional material may be stored in the hall when the Panic Rune is inactive. As the hall is an extradimensional space, it is secure against divinations and other effects that do not cross the dimensions. The hall will always remain pleasantly scented, neat and clean, and well-organized (courtesy of Prestidigitation and the Handy Haversacks organizational effects). Residents will also be cleaned up within the limits of Prestidigitation. While there is a peephole to look out of in the door, the knocker itself maintains a tireless watch and will warn those inside of disturbances or creatures outside (while it’s Perception Roll is only +0, it does have 60′ senses and Darkvision). A Panic Rune can function up to twice a day, each activation lasting for up to 18 hours – a duration which it will simply overlap if left active for longer periods. When it deactivates, everything taken inside over the 120 pound weight limit, and any living creatures left inside, will be dumped into the area around where the portal was.

Obviously enough, the Panic Rune is generally a party item; whoever is carrying it slaps it onto a surface and everyone takes advantage of a place to rest that may not be absolutely safe, but is about as safe as you’re going to get for a few thousand gold per character until much higher levels. It’s Alignment and Ego are generally irrelevant given that it’s only active when no one is actually carrying it and it’s major interest is in keeping whoever is using it (and their friends) safe while they’re inside.

The Panic Rune is built as an Intelligent (+500 GP) Handy Haversack (2000 GP, caster level nine, holds up to 12 cubic feet or 120 pounds of material). Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 10, Ego 13 (0 GP), Speech (500 GP), 60′ Senses and Darksight (1000 GP), (Basic) Spacewarp 2/Day (4800 GP; items inside the Haversack wind up on shelves inside the warp when this function is used), Prestidigitation at Will, Only inside the Spacewarp (x.5) = 500 GP), Magic Aura 2/Day (Only to conceal the spacewarp doors aura, x.5 = 400 GP). Create Door (2/Day, Only to install a door on the Spacewarp x.5 = 400 GP), Arcane Lock 2/Day (Only on the conjured door on the Spacewarp x,5 = 400 GP), plus Field Provisions Box function (minor variant: provides food for eight instead of fifteen, but it’s much tastier and you get juice and beer instead of water, 2000 GP) – for a Grand Total of 12,500 GP.

  • If you want an immobile version to use as secret headquarters or some such you can slap the “Immobile, x.5) modifier on the entire thing – taking the cost down to a mere 6250 GP.

Luxury versions add more functions.

  • A Hearth (as per a Fireblock with the Immobile Modifier) adds a happy little smokeless fire to cook or otherwise work on for a mere 90 GP.
  • Add a quartet of Ioun Torches, for Light (+300 GP. These can be taken outside if necessary).
  • Upgrade the Sensory Range to 120 feet (+500 GP).
  • Give it a +5 on it’s Perception Rolls (+2500 GP, +1 Ego).
  • Add Hide Campsite 2/Day (+4800 GP, +2 Ego). Now no one is likely to get close enough to try and spot your invisible door when you’re camping in the wilderness.
  • Give it a Healing Belt (+750 GP) function.
  • Add a Stable Annex (A Supply Pouch, +3300 GP, +1 Ego).
  • Give it more 3/Day first level spells at 1200 GP and +1 Ego each. Alarm, Ventriloquism, and Restoration – among many others – all have obvious uses.
  • Or just add Mages Private Sanctum on a command word once per day (+16,200 GP, +2 Ego) and move every few days and it will be very hard for anyone to pop in on you.

New Spells:

Mage’s Comfort (Bard I, Sorcerer/Wizard I, Illusion (Shadow), Casting Time 1 Minute, Components V, S, Area: Special, Duration Two Hours Per Level, Saving Throw None (Harmless), Spell Resistance No).

  • Mages Comfort makes an area (campsite, apartment, extradimensional space, etc) pleasant to stay in – with blankets, cushions, comfortable chairs, endtables, beds with nice mattresses, and other “real enough” furnishings. Anything removed from the area will, however, vanish instantly and none of the items can be effectively used as weapons, restraints, or for purposes other than comfort.

Create Door (Cleric 1, Sorcerer/Wizard II). Conjuration (Creation), Casting Time: One Minute, Components V, S, M (a model door), Area: One arch, doorway, or portal, up to 3 feet x 6 feet, Duration: Instantaneous, Saving Throw None (Harmless), Spell Resistance (No).

  • Creates a strong wooden door with a lock and a wooden bar up to fill a space of up to 18 square feet. AC 3; hardness 5; hit points 22; Break DC 25 when barred or locked (Lock: Disable DC 25, Hardness 15, 30 HP). The caster may opt to make it a Secret Door, with a perception DC of (15 + Level, to a maximum of 25).

Skill Stunts and Epic Skill Stunts II – Movement and Personal Control

Skill Stunts and Epic Skill Stunts allow you to attempt wild and wonderful things with your skills – provided that you can pay the price. Since there aren’t all that many examples provided in Eclipse, here are some for two additional sets of skills: Part One of this series (Basic Notes and stunts for Appraise / Finance / Etc) can be found HERE

Sample Stunts for Acrobatics/Balance/Burrow/Climb/Fly/Jump/Tumble (and sometimes Drive or Pilot) and similar skills:

All of these skills are about movement, and are already treated as being pretty flexible. I’ve yet to encounter a game master who would say “there’s no rule about trying to roll under the quickly-descending door! You can’t try to do that!”. Similarly, if you want to try to run on that tightrope, rather than walking slowly, or climb quickly and recklessly… it may be much more difficult, but that’s what DC modifiers are for. Ergo, this is a relatively short list as skill stunts go.

  • DC 10 (normally no stunt required):
    • Balance on one hand, or sit on a flagpole for days, or do a triple-inside-out loop, or perform some other impressive but basically useless trick demonstrating your expertise. The better your roll, the more impressive your trick.
    • Maintain movement discipline with a group – marching, piloting, or otherwise – so as to avoid accidents (including “friendly fire”) and interfering with other members of the group. Sadly, while you can march all day in combat the duration drops to 3d6 minutes.
    • Make slow progress under moderately difficult conditions – picking your way over rough terrain, across ice floes, or climbing a somewhat-rotten tree. The duration is however long it takes to do it .
  • DC 15 (May or may not require a stunt):
    • Accurate Measure: Accurately track how far you have traveled in various directions and at what angles, providing accurate measurements for mapping. Activating this stunt is good for twelve hours.
    • Instant Stand (or evade falling when tripped or otherwise knocked prone) with no AoO. (This is allowable, but much more difficult, under the basic rules. In Eclipse, however, it is a built-in part of many martial arts and available at first level).
    • Roll with the Punch: Subtract (Check Result – 10) from the damage inflicted by a fall or blunt force attack as an immediate action.
    • Sea Legs: Stand, fight, or act without penalty while on top of a relatively stable moving vehicle. Once active, this lasts until the situation changes or the user falls unconscious (including going to sleep).
  • DC 20:
    • Ascension. You may move up walls or along ceilings as a part of your ground movement.
    • Evasive Maneuvers: Retain your full dexterity bonus even when moving at full speed in a straight line. Once active, this lasts for 3d6 minutes.
    • Tree Striding: You may move normally through forested areas or forest canopies. This remains in effect until the trip is interrupted.
  • DC 25:
    • Communicate a clear message through interpretive movement. This requires however long it would take to give a similar speech and allows the use of other oratorical or communicative abilities.
    • Smashing Charge: Use a standard action and your (check – 15) as a strength check to smash a door, wall, or similar inanimate target.
    • Storm Legs: Stand, fight, or act normally while aboard a ship in a storm, atop a car during a chase, or while dealing with violently unstable or minimal footing (such as the classic “while standing on posts” martial arts duel). . This lasts 3d6 minutes after combat begins, but for hours otherwise.
  • DC 30:
    • Dervish Dance: You may sacrifice your move action to gain an extra attack at your full base attack bonus, adding another bonus attack for each +30 on your check result to a maximum of +4 attacks.
    • Light Foot: stand or move on narrow surfaces, thin ice or branches, and other surfaces that would not normally support you without difficulty. AT DC 75 this includes clouds, illusions, and beams of light. This normally lasts for 3d6 minutes, but can be extended with concentration.
    • Navigate through whirling blades, bouncing boulders, or similar erratic obstacles. (Or, for that matter, pilot a small starfighter through a parking garage). If this is an ongoing problem rather than a single check, this remains in effect for 3d6 minutes.
  • DC 35:
    • Coaching: Share your base movement skill with a group of up to (Charisma) others by focusing on giving them directions. This generally lasts as long as you continue to concentrate on giving directions.
    • Dream Stride: Somehow catch up with someone who is moving much faster than you are.
    • Implausible Maneuver: make a mid-air turns, perform a full attack while leaping or falling, execute a bootlegger reverse with an eighteen-wheel tractor-trailer.
  • DC 40:
    • Evasion. Take no damage from an area effect attack after a successful saving throw.
    • Move normally despite severe damage – run on broken legs, drive a car despite having lost both tires on one side, and so on. The effect lasts for 3d6 minutes or for the duration of a dramatic scene, such as piloting a badly damaged ship that ought to be sinking through a terrible storm.
    • Take a move as an Immediate Action – for example, running across a roof quickly enough to catch someone who is falling off.
  • DC 50:
    • Bowling for Minions: run into or sideswipe a creature, inflicting (Skill Check – 50) damage and a bull rush effect as a part of your move action.
    • Breach a dimensional barrier to move onto a coexistent plane as a standard action. You may take along whatever you can carry as usual.
    • Leap from chunk of debris to chunk of debris to run up an avalanche or collapsing roof.
  • DC 60:
    • Leap of Clouds; move up to a mile as appropriate to the skill in use as a standard action. .
    • Water Dividing Fu: Swim up or divide a waterfall, tunnel through molten rock (leaving the tunnel open behind you), or leave a “tunnel” of vacuum in the air behind you. Such pathways will remain open for 3d6 minutes.
  • DC 75:
    • Sonic Boom: Your movement generates a powerful shockwave in the ground/air/water/whatever is appropriate, inflicting up to (Check Result/10) d6 of damage to everyone and everything within 20 feet of your movement path. This will be modified by the base skill; if you are causing a shockwave in the ground, flyers will be unaffected.
    • (The) Toe Crusher: As a standard action move by up to (Dexterity) targets within long range, inflicting (Check – 60) damage to each. You may wind up anywhere within long range.
  • DC 100:
    • Chasm Crossing Stride: move up to ten miles as appropriate to the skill in use as a standard action
    • Optional Gravity: Treat your personal gravity as having whatever direction is most convenient for you at any given moment for 3d6 minutes.

Epic Stunts:

  • Ghosting Technique (Research Level 4, DC 26): You move so quickly that you generate afterimages equivalent to Greater Mirror Image. You may maintain this effect for 3d6 minutes, generating more images even if all of them were destroyed in a previous round.
    • This illustrates an important point. “Epic Stunts” don’t have to be particularly over-the-top in game terms. They’re just over the top in skill terms. Generating mirror images through illusion magic is easy. Generating them by moving so fast that you’re leaving afterimages? Definitely epic – and a good way to help keep a skillmonkey relevant at higher levels as well.
  • Racing Cheetah Strike (Research Level 5, DC 30): Move to any location within extreme (800 feet plus 80 feet per level) range, become hasted for 3d6 rounds, and make a full attack.
  • Spiders Dance (Research Level 7, DC 38): You may move across walls, ceilings, narrow ledges, twigs, individual strands of spider silk, water lily leaves, through horrible storms, over the most difficult terrain, the thinnest of ice, and through other environmental hazards, without hindrance or penalty.
  • Leap Between Worlds (Research Level 8, DC 42): You may move from one world to another – perhaps leaping from Earth to Barsoom, from Planescape to Faerun, or from the depths of the Abyss to Greyhawk. You can bring along anything you can carry.
  • Stance Of Clouds (Research Level 9, DC 46): You may appear at any location within one mile, stand and fight there without penalty (whether or not there is a surface or environment that can support you, and then reappear at your original location.
  • Shadow Step (Research Level 10, DC 50) The user may move via the equivalent of a Dimension Door, three times as an immediate action, picking up and dropping off passengers along the way.
  • Cometary Impact (Research Level 11, DC 54): The user may ascend several thousand feet, creating a takeoff shockwave which causes 8d6 damage in a 20′ radius and descend on any 40′ radius within long range, creating a str 40 pressure wave that will attempt to force anyone there prone and still, and impacting to cause (Check / 2)d6 damage within that area – although there is a choice of lethal or nonlethal damage.
  • Scarlet Ribbon Dance (Research Level 12, DC 58): The user gains a +25 Dodge Bonus versus Ranged Attacks. Whenever this bonus causes an attack on the user to miss he or she may expend and AoO to redirect it at any valid target within 20′.
  • Whirlwind Stance (Research Level 14, DC 66): The user’s movement is sufficient to generate tornado-force winds, for the next 4d6 rounds all desired targets within long range will be exposed to the effects of a Tornado.
  • Avalanche Charge (Research Level 16, DC 74): Move up to five times your normal movement, automatically smashing through any obstacles in your path, including Antimagic Fields, Walls of Force, small mountains, and similar “impenetrable” barriers. Everything within a 20′ radius of any point along your route can be dealt up to 20d6 damage at the user’s option. If the route leads “through” a creature, it will be carried along until you drop it off or your movement ends.

Sample Stunts for Autohypnosis/Biocontrol/Biofeedback/Concentration/Control Shape/Meditation and similar skills:

As a “Psionic Skill”, Autohypnosis was rather awkwardly tacked on to the d20 system, has never had any real expansion or development beyond a few “epic level” uses, and primarily focuses on a suite of limited-use biocontrol abilities – not exactly a normal approach to a skill. You usually get to use skills all you please. It thus occupies it’s own little niche, somewhere between a skill and a suite of psionic powers. The Control Shape skill was a minor note under Lycanthropy (used to control their transformations), was given no other uses there, and got no real further mention or expansion anywhere at all – although I usually let it be used in place of Disguise if you wanted to use a transformation to conceal your identity. Since it’s functions were little more than a badly crippled subset of what you could do with Autohypnosis, I’m including it here. In any case, this is a straightforward pattern to expand on.

  • DC 10 (normally no stunt required):
    • Deep Slumbers: You may fall deeply asleep at a moments notice, moving immediately to the most restful stages of slumber. You need two hours less sleep than normal each day.
    • Moderate Addiction: You may eliminate the cravings and penalties of a personal addiction for a day with a few minutes of meditation.
    • Tweak Form: When using any kind of shapeshifting you may control its fine details, granting a +5 bonus to Disguise checks to impersonate particular creatures or simply make yourself harder to recognize. This effect is automatically included when using a higher-DC shapeshifting effect to provide unique details in your default transformations.
    • Wipe Memory: You may forget inconvenient facts to avoid interrogation, mental probes, and similar. They are, however, gone for good barring the use of much higher-level effects.
  • DC 15 (May or may not require a stunt):
    • Control Bleeding: As a swift action you may make a check to stop any bleeding you may be experiencing or act while at zero hit points without suffering further ill effects.
    • Endure Elements: You may protect yourself with an Endure Elements effect for a full day.
    • Firewalking: You may expend a standard action to gain Energy Resistance 5 versus any one energy type for 2d4+2 minutes. A check result of of 30+ increases this to Resistance 12, and a result of 60+ increases it to Resistance 30.
    • Purge Overindulgence: You may negate the effects, side effects, and after-effects of intoxication, the use of various drugs,
  • DC 20:
    • Beastspeech: You may communicate with animals – although this does not ensure that they will have anything worthwhile to say.
    • Ignore Pain: You may resist torture, the effects of caltrop injuries, and spells and penalties based on pain.
    • Least Warp Spasm: Duplicate the effects of Pathfinders Beast Shape I (for Control Shape or Meditation) or Monstrous Physique I (for Autohypnosis or Bio- skills) .
    • Resist Domination: You may substitute the results of an Autohypnosis check for a failed will save against an Intelligent Item in a dominance battle against an intelligent item or items.
  • DC 25:
    • Focused Mind: You may reroll a knowledge check with a +5 circumstance bonus. Unfortunately, this may only be used once per check.
    • Hibernate: You may enter a deep sleep, during which your need for food, water, and air is reduced to one-fifteenth normal. You will awaken if seriously disturbed, at a chosen signal (“Spring!” is very classic), or after an (approximate) chosen duration.
    • Remove Paralysis: You may negate a Hold, Paralysis, or related effect, whether or not you could normally act.
    • Soothe The Beast: You may retain control through an episode of Lycanthropy or a similar curse.
  • DC 30:
    • Adrenal Boost: You may apply a +2 Alchemical Bonus to your Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution or a +4 Alchemical Bonus to any one of the three.
    • Tap Reserves: Once per day you may tap into your reserves, regaining 1d8 Power or Hit Points, 1d6 Damaged Attribute Points or Negative Levels, 1d4 Spell Levels or Drained Attribute Points, two Drained Levels or two uses of a daily-use special ability. The user may add another choice from that list (the same one may be taken more than once) for each additional 10 points in the check result.
    • Trance: You may substitute entering a waking trance for sleep without losing sleeps benefits. While in such a trance you remain as alert as if you were fully awake and can tolerate interruptions totaling up to ten minutes without losing the benefits of a full nights rest.
    • Walk of Memory: You may “revisit” a segment of your personal past, reviewing every sensory impression and thought that was going through your mind in exhaustive detail in only a few minutes
  • DC 35:
    • Death Trance: You may die, releasing your spirit freely and cleanly into the outer planes, despite any attempt to entrap your spirit, force you to remain alive, or restrict you to a particular realm.
    • Feat of Endurance: You become immune to exhaustion and fatigue, and may continue even the most strenuous activity without food, water, or rest, for a full day.
    • Lesser Warp Spasm: Duplicate the effects of Pathfinders Beast Shape II (for Control Shape or Meditation) or Monstrous Physique II (for Autohypnosis or Bio- skills) .
    • Pattern Weaver: You may analyze your opponents movements and contacts, gaining a +1 Insight Bonus to your attacks and damage against them. A check result of 50+ grants a +2, and 75+ a +3.
  • DC 40:
    • Clarity Of Focus: You may temporarily give yourself (Check Result / 5) extra skill points, although they may not exceed normal limits.
    • Purge Disease: Given a few minutes of meditation you may purge a disease from your body.
    • Sight From Beyond: Your senses, communications, and your ability to attack with unarmed strikes or natural weapons, extends into coexistent planes.
    • Stasis Trance: You may sink into metabolic stasis. In this state you are immobile, and only very distantly and slowly aware of your surroundings, but you are impervious to the passage of time, immune to poisons, radiation, and similar hazards, require no food, water, or air – essentially becoming a statue. You will awaken after a preset time, if you are forcibly damaged, ifany of up to (Int) preset triggers occur, or if someone applies an appropriate special ability.
  • DC 50:
    • Memorize Scroll: You may transfer the contents of a scroll into a series of symbols embedded in your own consciousness, storing a maximum of (Wisdom / 3) such effects.
    • Perfect Resistance: If the user makes a saving throw for a partial effect, he or she can then use this check to negate the effect entirely.
    • Purge Poison: You may expel a poison from your system. If you start on your first action after it takes effect, this will negate the initial damage and any further required saves.
    • Warp Spasm: Duplicate the effects of Pathfinders Beast Shape III (for Control Shape or Meditation) or Monstrous Physique III (for Autohypnosis or Bio- skills).
  • DC 60:
    • Iron Fist: Your natural weapons or unarmed strikes gain a total enhancement bonus of +3 (+4 at DC 75, +5 at DC 100). You may reduce the total as usual to add +1 or +2 weapon properties.
    • Memory Vault: You may conceal your true personality, skills, pieces of information, alignment, or other mental qualities in a sealed pocket of your subconscious. Until you opt to once more unveil your true self, all probes, divinations, or similar effects will reveal only your cover persona. This includes the ability to use appropriately-aligned sentient items without penalty.
    • Personal Panacea: Three times per day, whether or not you would normally be capable of taking an action for any reason short of death, you may generate a personal Panacea effect.
    • Psychic Reformation: As per the psionic ability.
  • DC 75:
    • Greater Warp Spasm: Duplicate the effects of Pathfinders Beast Shape IV (for Control Shape or Meditation) or Monstrous Physique IV (for Autohypnosis or Bio- skills) .
    • Pierce The Veil: You may meditate for an hour and cast your inner vision across the world, duplicating the effects of a Scry, Legend Lore, or Commune spell.
    • Purity Of The Self: You may eliminate any forced alignment change, cast off enchantment/charm effects, restore any lost or erased memories, eliminate any transformation effects, and otherwise return to your true self.
    • Unconscious Concentration: You may place the responsibility for maintaining concentration on an effect on your unconscious mind, allowing said effect to continue until you decide to drop it. Sadly, no more than three effects may be sustained in this fashion – one for the Id, one for the Ego, and one for the Superego.
  • DC 100:
    • Akhasic Shadows: You may open yourself to the astral echoes of the past, consulting the long dead. While you can have dreadful experiences this way, it isn’t dangerous – but there is nothing that forces any given echo to be cooperative, and no way whatsoever to force them to be since they are mere reconstructions within your own mind; if they will not cooperate, it’s all too likely that you’ve either hit a spot you couldn’t reconstruct or your mind is suppressing something that could damage it. Whether or not getting some clues to that ancient vault is worth listening to Dark Lord #372189 monologue for a day and a half is up to you.
    • Gate of Worlds: You may duplicate the effects of an Astral Projection spell.
    • Nirvanic Ascension: You may achieve Nirvana. From now on your image can appear anywhere and can speak with anyone or anything, dispensing whatever brand of “wisdom” you favor. You are indestructible, undispellable, unrestrainable, can use out-of-character information, and are as eternal as you wish to be. You can, however, do nothing else whatsoever – and the GM is entitled to veto your activities if they are too mundane (such as acting as a scout, messenger, or convenient information source). Note that you can make a check for Nirvanic Ascension up to once per year, including up to three times after death.

Epic Stunts:

  • Reincarnation (Research Level 0, DC 10): You may carry your memories and abilities into a new incarnation. They will gradually emerge as your new self grows into them.
    • This has no cost; anyone capable of epic stunts in this field can do it. Of course… getting a nice, simple, “Raise Dead” is generally preferable to coming back decades later, potentially worlds away, with a new personality, and having to grow up again – complete with the risk of dying again before you unlock this ability again.
  • Hypercognition (Research Level 9, DC 46): This functions exactly like the eighth level psionic power of the same name.
  • Total Awareness Meditation (Research Level 10, DC 50): You gain a +10 Insight Bonus to your perception skills, may make checks against anything within (Check Result x 5) feet, and your senses extend through solid matter – although concealment effects allow a save against you. You could sketch a map of a network of underground tunnels, survey it for the current location of any monsters, determine what is in a tomb without unsealing it, and so on. Unfortunately you must choose what to focus on amidst the overwhelming flood of information. The game master may volunteer some obvious bits, but if you – for example – don’t ask what the tapestries look like, you will miss the terrible, sanity-blasting, eldritch horrors they portray and the symbols which can call them into being.
  • Shapechange (Research Level 12, DC 58): While this requires no material component, it is otherwise identical to the (Pathfinder) ninth level Shapechange spell.
  • Contemplation Of The Bodhisattva Nature (Research Level 14, DC 66): You may tap into the energies of the outer planes directly up to (Wis Mod) times daily, invoking the equivalent of any standard clerical spell of level seven or less without components.
  • The Allegory Of The Cave (Research Level 15, DC 70): What is reality and what is shadow? This effect makes a projection – a clone, remote body, projected image, simulacrum, or what-have-you one and the same with whatever it is linked to. Thus stealing an item from a projected image is the same as stealing it from the caster, wherever he or she may be – as is stabbing a simulacrum, or giving a remotely operated body a cold. The effect normally lasts for 2d6 hours.
  • Expressing The Soul (Research Level 16, DC 74): You may express the outer-planar attunements of your own soul, in effect Channeling (as per The Practical Enchanter) a summonable Outsider of your alignment of up to CR 15 for 3d6 minutes (add 1d6 minutes per -1 CR). The type of outsider is fixed once selected (you must work with the game master on this to select something compatible that exists in the setting), barring a change of alignment on your part.
  • Shadows of the Past (Research Level 18, DC 82): Tapping into the akhasic shadows you may weave a pocket realm in the spaces between worlds to temporarily embody the past and place yourself and your companions within it – allowing you to, say, fight in an ancient war, visit a long-lost library, or discover what really happened to the princes in the tower. While physical items cannot be removed from the pocket realm, being killed in it simply results in needing to rest for 1d3 days after returning to reality. While the pocket realm lasts for a mere 2d6 hours by outside clocks, within it it’s duration may be up to a year and a day.

Eclipse: The Codex Persona is available in a Freeware PDF Version, in Print, and in a Paid PDF Version that includes Eclipse II (245 pages of Eclipse races, character and power builds, items, relics, martial arts, and other material) and the web expansion. Here’s a Featured Review of it and another Independent Review.

The Practical Enchanter can be found in a Print Edition (Lulu), an Electronic Edition(RPGNow), and a Shareware Edition (RPGNow).  There’s an RPGNow Staff Review too.

Eclipse – Sample Races, Templates, and Characters Update

Here, at last, is an updated index to all the Eclipse-Style Races, Templates, Power Packages, and Sample Characters on the blog.I’m going to sticky this and try to keep it reasonably current from now on.

If you’re building a character, the usual sequence will be Race – Template (if any) – Basic Build, so that’s how this is organized. If you’re looking for “how-to” information, next up is the level-by-level class breakdowns and the general power-package information and examples. After that, for inspiration, swiping power packages from, and use in other games, comes the sample higher-level characters.

Character Creation and System Primer

Sample Races:

Sample Templates:

Eclipse Pathfinder:

Eclipse handles Pathfinder just fine – so here are Eclipse breakdowns for Pathfinder –Basics and Races and the class breakdowns for the  Alchemist, Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Druid, FighterMonk, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, Sorcerer and Summoner. The sample characters are pretty much all compatible with Pathfinder; if they don’t already have the Pathfinder Package Deal from Basics and Races simply add +2 to an attribute and +3 to their skills.

Sample Level One Character Builds:

Level-by-Level Class Breakdowns:

General Build Information and Power Packages:

Sample High-Level Characters:

. . Note that these characters were generally built for particular campaigns, and so are sometimes built using campaign-specific variants – usually a price break on especially-relevant abilities. These are covered in the Campaign Sheets for the relevant campaigns – Federation-Apocalypse Campaign, Ironwinds Campaign, Atheria Campaign, Twilight Isles Campaign, and Darkweird Campaign.

Level Two Sample Characters:

Level Three Sample Characters:

Level Four Sample Characters:

Level Five Sample Characters:

Level Six Sample Characters:

Level Seven Sample Characters:

Level Eight Sample Characters:

Higher Level Sample Characters:

Level Ten and Twenty Breakdowns:

Alzrius has also put up quite a few Eclipse characters on his Intelligence Check blog – including quite a few interpretations of popular characters from a variety of sources. Pretty much all of them are written up for Pathfinder, and usually use the Pathfinder Package Deal.

  • Rinoa, from Final Fantasy via Dead Fantasy, a powerful 15’th level spellcaster – along with the Hyne Witch template and a discussion of many of the other characters.
  • Pyrrha Nikos, a 7th-level Huntress-in-training, along with statistics for Vytal Humans, three Martial Arts, and some world background and discussion.
  • Sharalia, a Level One Fire Dancer – a character who controls flame through dance.
  • A 20’th level breakdown for an Antimage –  a “class” that specializes in negating the powers of dangerous spellcasters.
  • The Maedar – a racial template breakdown for a male medusa.
  • Sailor Saturn – a fragile young woman from the Sailor Moon anime with some exceptionally over-the-top powers.
  • Scorpion from Mortal Kombat, written up at the peak of his powers – along with the Netherrealm Ghost template and three Martial Arts.
  • Sam Winchester, a level three paranormal investigator from the Supernatural television series.
  • Varek, a Level Six Cleric with some support abilities.
  • Abraham Lincoln, Level Twelve Civil Warrior of the United States of America – with a touch of Vampire Hunter and including his Martial Art.
  • Agent Spin – a Second Level Elite Beat Agent who gets sent… to encourage people in trouble.
  • Gargamel, a First Level Incompetent Ritualist and Bumbler – perhaps fortunately, without statistics for Smurfs.
  • Spinnerette, a Level Five Spider-Style Superheroine/
  • Malecite, a Level Ten Villainous Mage from Suburban Knights, along with Malecite’s Hand, a vastly powerful relic and various new spells.
  • Dirk Markson, a Level One Dark Witch – and possible hero.
  • Barney Stinson (Scroll Down), a Level One Sitcom Inhabitant – from How I Met Your Mother.

Alzrius’s Eclipse d20 Ponies:

Alzrius built his ponies so as to fit into “standard” d20 games – whereas I used the “Superheroic” world template because it would allow my builds to reproduce the things that the ponies did on the show. Of course, that means that my builds will only work well in games based on the assumptions of Equestria; they won’t do so well in basic games. For those, courtesy of Alzrius, we have…

  • The Pony Races:  Earth Ponies, Pegasi, and Unicorns.
  • The Elements of Harmony:  Built as Eclipse Relics.
  • Rarity:  Starting off the series at level one! Commentary: Using the Elements of Harmony to cover the characters occasional incredible stunts.
  • Princess Celestia: As she generally appears on the show – as a ninth-level mentor-type who explains why she can’t handle things.
  • Adagio of the Sirens: Unreformed, still at large, and needing only an enchanted gem to make a comeback.
  • Lex Legis (And his Picture): Alzrius’s original character – and a very “gray” potential opponent.
  • Notes on Zecora: A discussion of just how much power – or lack thereof – is needed to build Zecora. Comments: My take on Zebras.
  • The Journal of the Two Sisters – and lapses in logic therein. Comments: Unicorn populations and birthrates, basic demographics – and why the “Unicorns losing their magic” story makes no sense in any terms.
  • Iliana, the Ponyfinder Queen: An examination of how to use Eclipse to customize – and slightly upgrade – a Ponyfinder queen to fit her history.
  • Lashtada, Ponyfinder Goddess:  As set up using The Primal Order for second edition.
  • Sonata Dusk: As appearing in his Fanfiction.
  • A Magical Medieval Society: Equestria: Building equestrian society using “A Magical Medieval Society”.
  • Baby Got Backlash: Flurry Heart and Magical Surges
  • Tempest Shadow: The movie antagonist escapes into d20, rather than remaining to face the friendship