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?

-Jirachi

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.

Safehouses:

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).
Advertisements

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

Shadowed Galaxy Vampire Bloodlines – The Yytsuri Pilots Guild

While the vampire “bloodlines” (First Stage, Lifecycle, and Second Stage) of the galaxy are now diversifying, with a generation time of several thousand years the process is relatively slow. Still, while the various vampires strains are easily recognizable as variations on a theme, the vast size of the galaxy has ensured that numerous variations have arisen. 

The Warp Drive is the standard for most physical races; it avoids spacefield complications, the horrible risks of hyperspace or subspace, and quite a lot of other problems. Unfortunately, even the fastest (and exponentially more dangerous and power-hungry) Warp Drives require days per light year – while a Subspace Drive with a skilled pilot may require only an hour or so and is considerably simpler to build and maintain.

Sadly, Subspace Drives lead to the ships experiencing decades or centuries of time during the trip – and ships vanish entirely all too often.

Except, of course, for the ships of the Yytsuri.

Long centuries past, during the Yytsuri’s first attempts to reach the stars, a wealthy research sponsor proved to be remarkably gifted. Zhir could not only coax incredible performance out of even a basic subspace drive, but could reliably pilot a ship through subspace, apparently tapping into the energies of that realm to enter partial stasis and so easily survive the trip. Zhir piloted between the stars for the years of a greatly extended lifespan, and even managed to train a few others to do the same – although whatever mysterious process Zhir used to do so had a high casualty rate. Still, there were always more starry-eyed youngsters eager to gamble death against a long, long, life of wealth, luxury, and a service to their people that no others could provide amidst the freedom of the stars.

Eventually the Founder, grown old at last, took Zhirs private ship into space and vanished between the stars – a tradition that those of zhirs successors who beat the odds of space to grow old in the service of commerce, exploration, and defense, still observe.

Adrift between the stars, shielded from the “subspace mines” and other “haunted ships” by Zhir’s own projected aura, the Founder let Zhir’s crumbling physical form slip away to at last begin the long process of melding with Zhir’s ship – a task greatly eased by having a private ship, designed and built to Zhir’s own specifications, and saturated with several centuries worth of personalized attunements.

And some three thousand years later, a new Yytsuri Vampire Core found a world inhabited by a species that might – given a little protection and subtle nudging across the next few millennia – begin to reach for the stars.

And so protection and subtle nudging was given – and when the flowering came at last, there would once again be research sponsors and potential pilots waiting.

And eventually, after many more centuries of expansion and piloting… some of those pilots would take their personal ships on one last voyage, to vanish between the stars they’d opened the path to – and to eventually become new Yytsuri Cores to repeat the cycle once again.

The Yytsuri “Bloodline” has – fairly obviously – reached near-full symbiotic status with it’s host civilizations and has begun to spread fairly rapidly – at least by vampire core standards. It is, however, limited by slow recruitment (the desire that most “recruits” be willing and survive requires very careful selection of candidates and a lot of extra work), slow development (the desire for personalized ships calls for some very specific circumstances), and the need to locate and civilize suitable candidate-species.

Worse, of course, the Yytsuri may be helpful – but they push new species out into the galaxy and are not sufficient protection in themselves from the remains of other self-reproducing weapons. The galactic ecosystem is very dangerous, and pushing new species out into it is not always doing them a favor.

The Yytsuri Bloodline:

Disciplines: Cyberwarp (used to gradually attune ships systems to themselves), Electricity Master (fairly obvious), Entropic Blast (allowing fast drive startups), N-Space Adaption (to allow the use of subspace drives), and Subspace Piloting.

Traits: Breath of Puruza (used, among other things, for spacewalking, drastically slowing their subjective time while piloting through subspace, and detaching from their physical forms in a controlled fashion) and Cloaking (used to present the appearance that their ships are already hosting a Vampire Core or Haunt).

And I should now be able to get back to posting and answering questions here. Hopefully I can get caught up before something else comes up to interrupt.

Eclipsing Mirage

Danielle Moonstar or “Dani”, A.K.A. Mirage (or, briefly, “Psyche”)

Level Six Psychic Illusionist with a +1 ECL Valkyrie / Vakyrja Template, for ECL 7.

Mirage was fairly straightforward: originally she could manifest images of things that you feared or desired and thus either frighten / distract you or make you happy / confused. As she gained control, she could get more subtle about it. She also had some rapport with animals and soon developed a mental link with Wolfsbane.

And that was well and good. She had no actual offensive abilities outside of being decent (for a teenager) with a bow and knife, but she revealed secrets, confused targets, created diversions, got an overview of things through animal eyes, and scared groups of minions quite well. She worked very nicely in an investigative team.

Later on she developed the ability to manifest other images as well, becoming a useful general illusionist.

Still later she became a Valkyrie / Valkyrja (getting herself a flying horse, high resistance to soul- and death-related magic, the ability to sense death coming, and the ability to “fight off death” (basically being able to keep people alive if she “won a duel with death”. Usually she did, but sometimes she lost – and sometimes Death arrived peacefully and told her that it would be a bad idea to fight because the injuries were beyond mending). That still wasn’t much of a tactical power though.

Eventually a power-altering device upgraded her illusions to be able to manifest as quasi-real things – although she’d been stated to have that potential very early on. That didn’t last that long since it made a bunch of plotlines awkward, but she had fun with it for a bit.

Currently she’s had her mutant powers removed – although, in fact, looking at some current pictures… she seems to have simply traded in her illusions for membership in SHIELD (giving her access to advanced tech and spy gadgets) and the ability to have more weapons on her than a dozen heavily armed men could normally carry.

Anyway, we’ll be seeing how the Eclipse version (using the Superheroic World Template) stacks up to the Mutants & Masterminds version over HERE.

First up, it’s the elephant in the room. Becoming a Valkyrie / Valkyrja is actually a very big deal. Sure, they were only minor goddesses – but they traditionally had some fairly major powers, even if Marvel’s writers only bring them up on rare occasions.

Valkyrie / Valkyrja (32 CP / +1 ECL Acquired Template):

Classically the Valkyrja CHOSE the slain, shaped the course of battles and the destinies of men, granted health and fortune, or brought misery and death. They were spirits of Death, War, and Battle – servants of Odin and Freyja, yes, but extensions of their power and powers in their own right. In the Marvel Universe the Valkyrja tap into the Odin-Power – and, as a group, have been shown (in “What if the New Mutants stayed in Asgard?”) stripping Hela of her power and status and empowering Danielle Moonstar as the Asgardian goddess of death in her place. Going by that and by the old stories… being a Valkyrja offers a lot more power than Mirage has ever really used. It’s too bad that she doesn’t really know that.

  • Occult Sense/The Forces of Death: May sense the coming and presence of Death (both the entity and the process), and communicate with Death and the Dead (6 CP).
  • Grant Of Aid, Mana Powered, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (Uses mana at one point per use, works up to three rounds after death has technically occurred) / Only for “doing battle with Death”, only to get those affected to stable condition (not good health), occupies the user during the rounds it’s used (6 CP). In effect, if a Valkyrja is near someone who has just been mortally injured or slain, she can fight death for their life – spending up to the next three rounds (and probably all the mana she gets during that period) on Grant of Aid. If she can “heal” them enough for them to reach normal stability during that time, they will live. If not… she loses her duel with death, and they die (although she is unharmed save for the waste of time). Technically, Valkyrja can also do battle for their OWN lives – making them pretty tough to kill.
  • Blessing, Specialized and Corrupted/only to allow the use of Grant of Aid on others (2 CP).
  • Privilege: May arrange a peaceful and easy passing and a smooth transition into a the afterlife or into a suitable reincarnation for those under their (3 CP). Valkyrja can escort the dying into the realms of death, making their passage easy and offering a choice of destinations.
  • Weave of the Norns: Adept (Wisdom-Based Death Rune Magic and Destiny Rune Magic, both Mastery and Casting in Each, 6 CP). +4 in each Adept Skill (8 CP). Valkyrja can, of course, build this up – but even the least skilled start with some abilities along these lines, even if they never use them much.
    • In Mirage’s case that’s +7 all around – enough for first level spells and caster level three if she was really aware of those powers. At the moment, any use of these powers is likely to be unintentional.
  • Spell Resistance, Specialized for Increased Effect / only against Death and Soul Magic (6 CP). This provides a resistance of (10 + 2 x Level). It can be upgraded with a further +10/+20 at the cost of another 6/12 (3/6 after the template specialization) character points.
  • Bearers Of The Dead: Immunity to Dimensional Barriers (Very Common, Severe, Major, Specialized and Corrupted / only to interact “physically” with spirits and move between the realms of the living and the dead (instead of all dimensions), costs 2 Mana to activate for one minute) (5 CP). Valkyrja in non-superheroic settings will need to modify this slightly or buy some mana.
  • Spectral Stride: Shapeshift with the Shape of Death and Incorporeal Forms enhancements, Specialized and Corrupted/only to take Incorporeal Form, costs 2 Mana per round maintained. Note that if the user opts to remain incorporeal and on the edges of the realms of death, he or she will be effectively invisible, just like any other unmanifested spirit (6 CP). Valkyrja in non-superheroic settings will need to modify this slightly or buy some mana. Classically this was mostly used to remain unseen while awaiting the outcome of duels and such, but the Valkyrja could get in pretty much anywhere; no place in the mortal realms was barred to the handmaidens of Death.
  • Immunity to Aging (Uncommon, Major, Minor, 4 CP). While not truly immortal, Valkyrja can expect to live for many centuries with little sign of the passing years.
  • Companion: A Mystic Mount with a +2 ECL Template, 12 CP): Typically an Asgardian Horse with a variant on the Spirit Fetch template (less Favors, more Wings and Flying).
  • Contact: Death (2 CP). Valkyrja get to know Death the Entity – and it hasn’t got many friends. It’s usually quite willing to talk. It also rather approves of people putting up a good fight, and bears no ill-will for being “defeated”. After all, that’s really only “Just a moment, OK?” from its prospective.

At 64 CP this would normally be a +2 ECL template, but Valkyrja are…

  • Drawn to death. They will often find themselves called to attend and escort heroes to their rewards, to guide those dying untimely, to shape the course of fights, to teach lessons to young warriors, and to help calm the unquiet dead.
  • Automatically entangled in the various Asgardian, Death-God, and Demonic disputes over the Dead and intervention in the material plane.
  • Expected to be highly skilled in combat, A Valkyrie must be skilled in several different weapons and must maintain a BAB of at least 3/4’th their level to use their powers.
  • Generally regarded as servants and harbingers of death. Most people will NOT be happy to see a Valkyrja and often blame or attack them for things that are in no way their fault.

This counts as a Specialization that reduces the cost to 32 CP – a +1 ECL Acquired Template.

Four Color Package (24 CP):

  • This includes Superheroic Physics, Superheroic Durability, Superheroic Build, Rapid Recovery, Minor Conventions (Ready for Inspection, Comics Code, It’s Sufficient, Heroic Will, Heroic Rally, Coincidental Catch, Heroic Health, and a Minor Benefit (in her case, +2 Charisma).

Pathfinder Package Deal (Free).

Pathfinder Human (Free)

Basic Attributes: Str 12 (+2 Totem = 14), Int 13 (+1 Level = 14), Wis 14 (+2 Human = 16), Con 14 (+4 Totem +2 Enh = 20), Dex 14 (+4 Totem = 19), and Cha 14 (+2 Four-Color Minor Power = 16). Pathfinder 25 Point Buy.

Danielle needs an attribute booster, mostly because she’s almost always been either lacking in effective offensive powers (especially when she’s fighting robots) or powered down – and so the writers have usually given her the “badass normal” treatment (making her skilled enough to hold her own against millennia-old asgardian warrior women). Since it works when she’s powered down this can’t be a “mutant” ability – but she is Amerindian (and proud of her heritage), spent years training with a Shaman with significant magical ability, and showed an immediate rapport with a wolf-shapeshifter – declaring her her “soulmate”. Ergo, she’s channeling her spirit animal – in her case, obviously, a wolf. That’s Shapeshift, with the Attribute Modifiers, Hybrid Form, Clear Speech, and Variants (human appearance) modifiers, Specialized/a single animal form only and Corrupted/cannot actually Change Forms, for a net cost of 9 CP. This, of course, is one of the cheapest exploits in Eclipse – but is most helpful to physical-combat focused characters of races that don’t get a lot of bonuses to their physical attributes and fits into a superhero setting very readily indeed given the number of animal-themed characters running about in them. Her Wolf Totem grants her Str +2, Con +4, Dex +4, +2 Natural Armor, Trip (automatic attempt with a melee attack), Track, and Move +10.

Skills:

  • Upgrade Human Fast Learner to +2 SP/Level (3 CP). Net Skill Points: (Int Mod + 2) x (Level + 3) +12 (12 CP) = 48 at Level Six.
  • Tribal Heritage: Adept, pays half cost for Athletics, Expertise (Cheyenne Heritage), Intimidation, and Martial Art / The First Rays Of Heavenly Fire, 6 CP). All at a base of +9 (18 SP). Totals of Athletics +13, Expertise +11, Intimidation +12, and First Rays +12
  • Other Skills: Acrobatics 2 (+6), Deception 3 (+6), Expertise (SHIELD Agent) 3 (+6), Insight 5 (+8), Investigation 4 (+6), Martial Arts (Generic Hero Style, Str) 2 (+6), Perception 5 (+8), Stealth 4 (+8), and Vehicles 2 (+6). (30 SP).
    • Bow Techniques (6): Attack +3, Instant Stand, Rapid Shot, and Inner Strength.
    • Unarmed Techniques (3): Attack +2, Improved Disarm.

Mutant Powers: Fast Learner, Specialized in Skills for +2 SP/Level, Corrupted / only to keep this set of Adept skills maxed out (4 CP), Adept (Wisdom-Based Rune Magic, both Casting and Mastery for Beastmastery and Illusion, Beastmastery Specialized for Increased Effect / telepathic effects only, no summonings/transformations/etc, 6 CP). Augmented Bonus (Add Con Mod to Wis Mod for skill purposes, Specialized for Double Effect/Only for Rune Magic, 6 CP). Total: 9 (Level + 3) +3 (Wis) + 10 (2 x Con Mod) = +22. Caster Level 11, Effect Level 5 for Illusions, x1.5 for Beastmastery.

  • Her Illusions were originally mostly Figments based on strongly-emotional memories pulled from her target’s memories. These days she can give them a certain degree of reality with shadow magic and create illusions that can bring joy, induce potentially lethal levels of fear, and pull off a wide variety of other tricks.
  • Her Illusions were originally Corrupted for Increased Effect (sometimes “cast themselves” when she didn’t want them to), but she’s since bought that off – so her actual upper limits haven’t changed that much.
  • When “Depowered” this turns into Rune Magic: Weapons (mostly guns, knives, and various trick arrows) and Rune Magic: Spy Gadgets (Corrupted/only small and subtle stuff, she does not rate “James Bond” spy cars and such).

Soulmates: Mindspeech with Mindlink and Sense Sharing, may be established at any range with Rahne Sinclair / Wolfsbane (+1 CP), Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / ONLY with Rahne, only really works well in her Hybrid or Full-Wolf form, does not extend past death (or didn’t; now that Dani is a Valkyrja, who knows?), relies on her mutant Beastmastery and stops working if that does (4 CP).

This was the second half of a wonderful scouting combination; Mirage gets the general layout from mice, rats, birds, pets, and the other small animals that are found everywhere humans are, Wolfsbane slips in inconspicuously and gets any needed details, and Mirage relays them to the rest of the team. The fact that it was almost never used was kind of disappointing.

Basics:

  • BAB +7 BAB (Corrupted, does not contribute to iterative attacks, 28 CP), +1 BAB with Bows (2 CP).
  • Hit Dice: 12 (L1d12, 8 CP) +14 (L2-6dd, 0 CP) +30 (Con Mod x 6) = 56 (Mutants & Masterminds: Toughness 8, 11 with Costume).
  • Saving Throws: +3 Fort (9 CP), +4 Ref (12 CP), +5 Will (15 CP). Fort +8, Ref +8, Will +8, all +2 Resistance (see Equipment) for +10 Total.
  • Proficiencies: Proficient with all Simple and Martial Weapons and Light Armor (12 CP).
  • Armor Class: 10 (Base) +4 (Dex) +3 (Armor) +2 (Natural) +5 (Enduring Combatant / Improved Augmented Bonus: adds (Con Mod) to (Dex Mod) for calculating AC, 12 CP) = 24.
  • Attacks
    • Bow: +8 (BAB) +4 (Dex) +3 (Martial Art) -2 (Rapid Shot) = +13/+13, 1d6+4 (+1 Magic +4 Str) +1d6 versus Evil Outsiders, Crit 20/x3.
    • Unarmed: +7 (BAB) +4 (Str) +2 (Martial Art) = +13, 1d4+4, plus automatic improved trip attempt.

Minor Items:

  • Martial Arts I: May inflict 1d4 damage in HTH, is considered armed when “unarmed” (3 CP).
  • Expertise x2: AC and Attack, Attack and Damage/Effect (12 CP).
  • Immunity/the normal limits of Intimidation. Mirage may opt to inflict a Dazed condition for one round with a successful Intimidation check (Common, Minor, Trivial, 2 CP).
  • Minor Favors: SHIELD (3 CP), X-Groups (3 CP).
  • Immunity/Fear (Common, Minor, Major, 6 CP).
  • Track (Wilderness, using Cheyenne Heritage, 3 CP).
  • Privilege: Unlike most heroes, Mirage actually has access to magical gear (3 CP).
  • Privilege: Salaried (Secret Agent, Hero Team Member, Etc) (3 CP).

Total Costs:

  • Four-Color Package: 24 CP
  • Wolf Totem: 9 CP
  • Skills & Mutant Powers: 19 CP
  • 12 Extra Skill Points: 12 CP
  • Mindlink with Rahne: 4 CP
  • BAB: 30 CP
  • Hit Points: 18 CP
  • Saving Throws: 36 CP
  • Proficiencies 12 CP
  • Armor Class: 12 CP
  • Minor Items: 38 CP

Grand Total: 214 CP.

Available Character Points: 168 (Level Six Base) +24 (Human, L1, L3, and L5 Bonus Feats) +10 (Disadvantages: History, Enemies (Originally the Demon Bear, later various), Vows / Cheyenne honor code) +12 (Duties; superhero, agent) = 214 CP

For the remaining details:

  • Four Color Minor Power: +2 Charisma (as previously noted).
  • With a +1 ECL Template on top of being Level Six, she’s entitled to 23,500 GP worth of gear. In Mirage’s case she has the standard “X-Man” package (13,000 GP):
    • Kevlar Reinforced Costume (“Leather Armor”, but 40 GP and only 5 pounds), Masterwork (+150 GP), +1 (+1000 GP), Amulet of Tears (2300 GP. This can provide up to +36 HP per day. Throwing that into his HP total for the purposes of calculation in M&M provides Toughness 12 normally, 13 when “blasting”. Armor Crystal: a Lesser Iron Ward Diamond (2000 GP). This isn’t a big deal, but every little bit helps.
    • Advanced First Aid Kit / Healing Belt (750 GP).
    • “Pocket Secretary”/Hero Team Comlink: Satellite Smartphone with HUD and hands-free links (250 GP), Smartsearch (As per a Tome of Worldly Memory, 1500 GP), Intelligent (500 GP), Int, Wis, Chr all 10 (0 GP), 30′ senses, uses Message at will (1000 GP). Note that, since smartphones can talk anyway, there is no need to buy speech for it.
    • Reactive Contact Lenses / Raptors Mask (3500 GP).+5 to Spot (Perception), Immunity to being Blinded or Dazzled.
    • Utility Pouch: Keys, LED minilight, multitool, chalk, nylon ties, etc. All the little junk that pops up once in a blue moon (10 GP).
    • And some individual items with the remaining 13,500 GP: +1 Composite Longbow (Str +4) (2800 GP), Medicine Pouch (+2 Constitution, 4000 GP), Least Fiendslayer Crystal (1000 GP), +2 Vest of Resistance (4000 GP), and Boots Of The Mountain King (1500 GP).
  • That leaves some 200 GP (about four thousand dollars) for minor supplies – although her salary covers a rather good lifestyle.

Mirage is still primarily a team booster and illusion-crafter – a very useful member of a team, but not the one you turn to to defeat a rampaging menace. Oddly enough, in her “Depowered” mode, she’s actually a lot more destructive (capable of pulling out all kinds of guns, grenades and other explosives, missile launchers, and advanced energy weapons as well as various “spy gadgets” as needed) – if far less sneaky.

The fact that she can almost always save a dying teammate if she can devote a few rounds to it – being able to pull them back to stability from an average of negative 150 hit points, 40 points of Constitution (or other attribute) drain, or being energy drained to level (-14) – is pretty handy too.

Underlying The Rules: The Social Contract

There was a request a little while back for an article on what I thought of the social dynamics that underlie gaming groups even before you get to considering any particular set of rules.

That’s an interesting question, although I’m not sure that I’m the best one to be directing it to, or – for that matter – exactly where this series is going to go or how long it will take to get there (if it ever does). It seems likely to meander a bit – which at least makes it a bit of a new challenge.

Is everybody ready then? I think the best place to start is what might be called the Primal Datum of RPG’s…

Gaming is a social activity, which people engage in for the purpose of having fun.

If you show up for a game you’ve implicitly agreed to that, even if you’re only there because somebody dragged you along. It’s just like being there to watch a football game or listen to a band; there are some unspoken social rules – unspoken because human beings generally know them instinctively.

(If you’re just there to harass and annoy people there’s no point in talking to you. You’re actually there to participate? Good!)

The three biggest social rules are the same for every group. They’re a part of the basic “being sociable” deal. In fact, they’re pretty much the same (albeit in simpler forms) for chimpanzees, dolphins, and most other social animals.

  • If what you are doing is inexpensively (whether the expense is financial, emotional, physical, or temporal) increasing everyone’s fun, keep doing it. If it costs too much… you’ll have to find another way to contribute.
  • If what you are doing is decreasing everyone’s fun, stop doing it unless it’s a dire necessity. You probably will automatically because you’re ruining your own evening too, but some people are very stubborn.
  • If what you are doing is increasing your own fun while seriously decreasing that of the other participants… then you are being a greedy, selfish, !@#$%^&* – and if you choose not to recognize that fact and do not change your behavior, then the group should throw you out on your ass.

These three rules are self-enforcing in most social groups. The Bridge Club, and the Monday Night Football Party Crowd, and the Rich Kids Clique won’t hesitate to stop inviting a disruptive individual to their gatherings. Gaming groups, however, commonly contain a high proportion of socially awkward introverts, who (having so few) are deeply reluctant to reject any social relationship and often make enormous allowances for obnoxious behavior. After all… they know that often annoy people without meaning to, and they’re not very good at telling if someone does mean to annoy them or if it’s inadvertent.

That means that some players will be allowed to get away with being greedy, selfish, !@#$%^&*’s for a very long time without being called on it. Long enough so that such individuals will often come to regard being allowed to get away with it as an entitlement – and will react to any suggestion that they’re misbehaving as if it was a horrible infringement on their “rights”. It can be very hard to tell though, given that most such individuals will deploy “indignantly blaming the wronged parties” as an automatic defense mechanism in any case. In any given case it might well be an act. (Don’t ask ME to sort that out for you. As a socially awkward introvert myself, how would I know?)

Still, after a bit… even socially awkward introverts will realize that they’re being taken advantage of, and soon after that they will come to resent it bitterly. They’ll resent it even more bitterly if they’re socially awkward enough to be unsure of how to do anything about it. In a gaming group such behavior is usually considered to be “cheating” (which is how gamers tend to describe “being obnoxious and unfair to everyone else”) – although this can confuse other socially awkward people who are looking at the rules of the game being played, rather than at the three social rules given above, and thus don’t see any “cheating”.

You want some more direct rules-of-thumb for avoiding messing up?

Commandment the First: Thou Shalt Create Personas That Can Fit Int The Player Group.

This doesn’t mean that you have to make a character who makes any sense as a part of the party, or has the same style, or anything else except for being able to work with the party. For examples…

A new player joined a fantasy-setting game. Against advice to wait until he knew what the party was like he made a half-ogre berserker barbarian who hated Elves, and detested puny mages, and equipped him with a magical halberd called “Elf-Slayer” that did extra damage to elves. He then announced that he was approaching the party on the road – and the player gave a rousing speech about how they should join him in his bloody crusade to strike down all Elves and their puny, effeminate, magic!

And then the new player looked at the bemused expressions of the six current players and asked “Uh… is anyone playing an elf?” And five hands went up, and the last player asked if half-elves counted. Because the current characters were two elven mages (a wizard and a powershaper), an elven priest, an elven swashbuckler who dabbled in magical swordsmanship, an elven illusionist, and a half-elven elementalist.

And there was a brief pause until the guy playing the wizard said “Charm Person!” and the half-ogres player did not bother to roll a save – but simply said “Except for youse guys! Youse guys are all right!”

And so the half-ogre joined the party (which needed the muscle), cheerily continuing his verbal crusade against elves along the way, and everyone had a good time. The notion that “Charm Person” could wear off or be dispelled (even if it was quite long-lasting in that edition) was never mentioned. Some NPC’s had some comments along the way, but no one had any trouble working with the half-ogre even if some of the characters professed to be relieved “because that charm spell could have worn off at any time!” when he got sucked through a gate into some terrible dimension about twenty sessions later and they couldn’t find a way to get him back. The player made a new character and found another reason to join the party.

And that worked. The other players provided an excuse and the half-ogre player made a quick concession to making the game work, and all was well.

The Shadowrun player who made a giant autobot character who insisted that magic did not exist and that everyone should obey the law and act like an idealized squeaky clean boy scout hero worked too. He proved willing to bend the law and work with dubious characters when it was blatantly obvious that the authorities were corrupt, was willing to accept the observed effects of magic even if he insisted that it was actually something else, and was perfectly willing to act as a diversion and as transportation when he was simply too big and too obvious to participate in the stealthy parts. Just as importantly, the player was willing to let me show him how to build the character he wanted as a starting character under the rules of the game, rather than demanding some sort of conversion. In fact, it worked well enough that another player used the same basic bag of design tricks to create “Thor, God of Thunder!” when the autobot player was no longer available a year or so (and fifty-odd sessions) later.

For high-fantasy Malavon one player made a BLATANTLY evil demonologist-necromancer and cheerily arrived to join the neutral-to-heroic party – offering to aid them in their quests if they would aid in his. He then directed his demon servant to just grab his daily sacrifice from a nearby village and made it utterly apparent that he was a horrible mass murderer, a torturer of children, utterly evil, and could in no way be reformed. The rest of the players quite accurately observed that – in the character’s eyes – there was no difference between player characters and non-player characters and promptly killed the “random monster”. The player then laughed, announced that “twelve minutes was two minutes longer than I thought he’d get!”, and got out the character that he actually expected to play. He didn’t expect his character to be able to join an incompatible party even if he WAS a player character – and that was good. He may have actively fought the party, and more or less created a throwaway character – but the player worked just fine with the other players even if it was in performing an elaborate suicide.

His new character was a fantasy ninja type, and was always voting for more stealth, and scouting, and less of the “charge in!” plans – but rather than fighting with the rest of the party he would generally just groan, announce “Oh not AGAIN!”, and vanish into the shadows to support whatever the rest of the group was up to now. And that was good too. He urged stealth, and took the lead on stealth missions – but he let the other characters do their own things too.

The naive blue whale werehuman, the more sensible paladins, the pragmatic evil robot assassin, and more, all fit in. They might have very strange goals (The blue whale had come up on land to see what was above the water – so all too soon he wanted to climb mountains to see what was above the land. The robot assassin wasn’t even truly sentient, had to be reprogrammed to accept the party, and rolled against it’s control program to see if he could come up with ideas or handle anything overly complicated) and equally weird ways of achieving them – but their players were willing to work with the other players to make the game work smoothly.

That’s pretty much ALWAYS possible. And it’s part of the “we’re all here to have fun” deal. It’s not a part of the game mechanics, it’s a part of the player group mechanics.

On the other hand I’ve seen plenty of bad examples too.

The werewolf kickboxer who – in a superhero game – had a backstory focusing on his massacring thirty-odd innocent people got the same second chance the half-ogre had years earlier (and with a completely different group). The (freeform magic system) superhero mage cast (unspecified) binding spells “as powerful as he could manage” on the character that were supposed to allow him to maintain control.

But the player liked massacres and saw them as being in-character for a werewolf, and promptly killed a lot more people. This was NOT compatible with an idealistic superhero group. In lieu of sensibly killing him or turning him in (probably to reappear all too soon as a villain) the group made allowances for his player-character status and resorted to binding spells that actually had game effects rather than just being an excuse for playing a little differently.

The player promptly abandoned the werewolf (who became an NPC and got put to work as a “rescue dog” – clearing normal people out-of-the-way of the superhero battles to help make up for the people he’d killed) and made another character since he didn’t like the idea of playing a werewolf with restraints (whether self- or externally- imposed) oh his behavior – and insisted on continuing to play murderous anti-heroes. The rest of the players, quite rationally, continued to play superheroes, stuck to their superheroic guns, and continued to capture the crazed antiheroes and send them to jail. Eventually he gave up and made a sane character. Now, if he’d been willing to make his ruthless anti-heroism more of a roleplaying item… he could have done just fine complaining about how weak everyone else was. It’s possible after all. Marvel Comics teamed up the Power Kids with The Punisher, Wolverine, and Cloak and Dagger. In fact, they teamed up Katie Power – a very nice five-year-old girl – with Wolverine repeatedly, and made it work. The player, however, wasn’t willing to try.

Then there was the saga of the bear shapeshifters.

The player wanted a character who could turn into a bear, so he made a shapeshifter character (who could turn into any animal but preferred bears). He joined the fourth level party, and the party decided to run off some bandits who’d been blocking the route they wanted to take. The bandits turned out to camp in a shallow cave beneath an overhanging cliff – so the shapeshifter decided that his only possible tactic was to turn into a bear, leap off the top of the cliff, and attempt to land on the bandit leader.

Pointing out that bears did not steer well when falling, could not fall in curves to get under the overhang, and, tended to just plummet and splatter made no impression. Pointing out that he could fly over the mans head as a hummingbird and THEN turn into a bear if he had to made no impression. Telling him that a natural 20 (that he did not roll when he insisted on making a die roll that he’d been told did not apply) did not automatically hit unless you were making a reasonable attempt to hit the target in the first place made no impression.

Splat.

The player grumbled about poor rolls, inquired about being raised (and was, once again, told that the party was only fourth level), and made another bear shapeshifter.

A few sessions later he tried a solo attack on their (much higher level) warrior-target atop a tall tower – turning into a bear, throwing himself onto the guy’s sword in order to grab him, and then plunging over the side to try and squash the guy beneath him ten stories below.

Higher level high hit point target wound up on top, said “Ow!”, regarded the deceased shapeshifter with disbelief, and continued the fight. Admittedly the target was now down a fair chunk of hit points – which helped the rest of the party win after a bit – but it was hardly an efficient way to do it.

A few more sessions later bear shapeshifter #3 attempted to leap off a flying carpet at 10,000 feet to land on someone (the party had no idea who, but the bear shifter presumed that it had to be an enemy) who was using a flying broomstick five thousand feet lower and a couple of miles away. He then refused to take any other form…

Splat.

Bear shapeshifter #4 was rejected by the rest of the party; they told the player that they weren’t letting any other bear-specialist shapeshifters join because their characters had concluded that bear shapeshifters were cursed or bad luck or something. Like it or not, the player would not work with everyone else and just kept wasting time on his one, fixed, idea – and so the players refused to have their characters associate with his characters until he decided to do something else.

After a few sessions of being left out he proceeded to make a mystic swordsman, and things did just fine after that.

There was a classic problem player who kept creating characters who were either constantly obstructive or who kept vanishing into the shadows to go on private scouting and stealth missions – demanding that half the game time be spent on him, rather than sharing it equally between the characters. He got quite indignant and tried to be even more obstructive when informed that he would get his share of the game masters time and no more. After a bit… he had to be told that he would be welcome to come back to play when he’d decided to behave himself, but until then he was not welcome. He never did come back. That was too bad – but he wasn’t really contributing to the game anyway.

One player saw the game simply as a way to blow off steam after his stressful work days – and thought that any game time not spent in combat was venting time that was being wasted. So whenever the players tried to have their characters gather clues, talk to the NPC’s, sneak around, or investigate something… His characters would attack. Guards tried to ask him some questions? They got attacked. Characters tried to investigate a crime scene? He tossed in an incendiary grenade “in case someone was hiding in there”. Trying to negotiate a hostage situation? He sniped the hostage and then went after the bad guys. Caught in a paralysis spell? He teleported high into the air directly above a church steeple and impaled himself rather than let the rest of the players talk to an NPC – and then made a new character who behaved in exactly the same way. Despite all requests, he wasn’t interested in letting anyone else do anything other than what he wanted to so – which was fight – and soon he wasn’t playing much. He still isn’t; he mostly plays online ship and tank combat games these days. He’s still welcome to drop by once in a while though; the group can always find some target to point an expendable mercenary type at.

I don’t often have to bounce anyone, and very much prefer not to – but enforcing the rules is one of the responsibilities I take on when I agree to game master – and that includes the social rules.

That’s actually segued into the next commandment of social gaming and what will be the start of the next segment in this: Thou Shalt Share Spotlight Time (Relatively) Evenly With The Other Players.

Making Magical Minions, Affordable Warlordism and Henchmen

Stormtroopers. Gangers. Toughs. Devotees, Stooges. Toadies, Vassals. Lackeys. Thugs. Pawns. Underlings. Aides. Retainers. Made Men. Flunkeys.

Evil Masterminds, mafia bosses, and gang leaders always seem to have their swarms of thugs about – but they never seem to train them properly. Their thugs fall for the same silly ruses, and people claiming to be sick, and simple distractions, over and over again. Their aim is always terrible. They get treated as being completely disposable by their bosses, they get wiped out by heroes in hordes (and without inducing any guilt whatsoever), and there are always – ALWAYS – more. They don’t seem to demand hazard pay, they don’t require recruitment, they don’t even seem to eat and drink. They’re just THERE.

And unless you’re in a deconstruction, they never surrender, or lament that they will never see their children grow up, or beg for mercy. You never see mourning relatives either. They just march to their anonymous dooms. Where do bad guys GET all of these obedient, disposable, unremarked, faceless minions?

Well…

You take Summon Monster as a Summon Minion variant. This version summons an NPC minion of the caster’s race with an effective level equal to (spell level -1) OR 4 thugs with an effective level of (spell level -2) or ten lackeys with an effective level of (spell level -3). All come with appropriate gear for an NPC of their level, although it will vanish with them. All have effective attribute scores of 12 in everything. The spell is otherwise identical to Summon Monster.

Getting minions designed using Eclipse is more expensive; it requires +1 level of the Amplify Metamagical Theorem to get one type of minion and +2 levels to get the usual summon monster style selection. Even then, the caster will have to work with the game master to design them and will need to keep them useful in a variety of situations and roles. Otherwise, given the ease with which Eclipse characters can be specialized for particular tasks, you can expect to see a lot of “Army eh? I summon (extremely specialized high powered lightning mage) and have her blast the entire area”.

The Basic Minion (48 CP):

  • Universal Jack of All Trades: All Minions are considered to have a +1 base in any unrestricted skill (12 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment: +2 to All Skills (1400 GP), Greater Invocation of Convenience (Produces any L0 Hedge Magic Effect, 2000 GP), Power Tool (2000 GP), Enchant Tools (L0, +1 Circumstance Bonus, 1000 GP), Mage armor (1400 GP), Force Shield I (1400 GP), Resistance (+1 Resistance Bonus on Saves, 700 GP), and Immortal Vigor I (+14 HP, 1400 GP) = 11,300 GP (12 CP).
  • Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized in Skills (6 CP).
  • Proficient with Simple Weapons (3 CP).
  • Immunity/having to worry about where their gear is beyond tracking it’s encumbrance (Uncommon, Minor, Major, 3 CP). Yes, this subsumes worrying about drawing weapons and such.
  • Minions normally come equipped with:
    • Explorer’s Outfit (10 GP, 8 Lb)
    • Light Crossbow with 3 cases of Bolts (38 GP. 7 Lb)
    • 2 Spears (4 CP, 12 Lb)
    • Heavy Mace (12 GP, 8 Lb)
    • Wooden Holy Symbol (1 GP, -)
    • Common Musical Instrument (5 GP, 3 Lb).
    • Thieves Tools (30 GP, 1 Lb)
    • Block and Tackle (5 GP, 5 Lb)
    • Pitons x10 (5 SP, 5 Lb)
    • Caltrops (1 GP, 2 Lb)
    • Chalk
    • Grappling Hook (1 GP, 4 Lb)
    • Lamp (1 SP, 1 Lb)
    • Oil, 5 Pints (5 SP, 5 Lb)
    • 100′ Silk Rope (20 GP, 10 Lb)
    • 10′ Pole (2 SP, 8 Lb)
    • Masterwork Artisan’s Tools (55 GP, 5 Lb)
    • Assorted Minor Bits – comb, string, tacks, candlestub, etc.
    • Light Riding Horse with saddle, bags, etc (75 GP)
      • With Workhorse, this leaves them with a Light Load.
  • Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized in Saving Throws (6 CP).
  • Workhorse (6 CP). A minions encumbrance level is reduced by one. They can carry roughly another two hundred pounds before exceeding a heavy load.
  • First Level Bonus Feat: Occult Sense / Detect what their summoner would like them to do in their current situation. This means that you don’t have to worry about issuing orders or having them misinterpreted; they just know.
  • Minions get four skill points. These are automatically invested in the Duck and Cover martial art, providing them with DR 2/-.

That gives our generic first level minions +1 to Attacks and Damage, AC 19, 23 HP, +2 on Saves, +5 on All Unrestricted Skills, and Initiative +1. They normally speak Common and one other language suitable to their race. They do get racial abilities.

Basic Minions are just all-around competent. They can cook excellent meals, manage your accounts, take care of your horses, provide first aid, find food and warmth in the wilderness, run bars, steal stuff, fix your mundane gear, baby-sit your kids, and paint your portrait with all the skill you’d expect of a well-trained professional – with occasional flashes of brilliance.

So are minions only for spellcasters? Certainly not!

Gangsta Wrap: This elegant scarf (many other variants exist) does not take up an item slot, since it need only be activated once per month in any case. It summons four basic minions to serve the user,

  • Summon Thugs III (Specific Summons -1; four L1 thugs with no higher level options) with Improved Persistent +8 (lasts one month), Amplify +1 (Gets “Generic Eclipse Minions, as written up above), -3 (seven or more levels of built-in metamagic) -1 (takes a full minute to activate) -1 (can only be activated at a place suitable for hiring aides – whether that’s your office or a favored hangout) = SL 6 x CL 11 x 1800 GP (Unlimited-Use Command Word) x .05 (one use per month) = 5.940 GP. You will have to wait a month to “hire more” if they get killed though.

Four are not enough? Go to the Minion Employment Agency (Nodwick Import-Export Services) and hire some M.E.A.N.I.E.S

And how does that service get them?

  • A Minion Employment Agency uses Summon Minion IV with Persistent +1 (lasts one minute per caster level), Amplify +1 (Minions are written up in Eclipse, although you only get one type per level, which must remain generic enough to be suited to a variety of tasks), Renewable +1 (when the spell is recast an existing summons may be extended, eliminating any one status condition or purging one negative level and regaining 3d6 hit points, one lost attribute point, and one use of a limited-use ability each time the spell is recast), Amplify +1 (being deceased does not prevent a minion from regaining hit points, and coming back, when it’s turn for renewal comes around – but it will suffer short-term amnesia as to exactly what happened), -2 (five or more levels of built-in metamagic) = Level Six.
  • Effective Cost: Spell Level 6 x Caster Level 11 x 2000 GP (Unlimited-Use Use-Activated) x .5 (Immobile) = 66,000 GP. This can sustain 110 castings in total (each providing one third-level minion OR four second-level thugs OR ten first level lackeys), for an effective rental cost of about 1 GP per day (25 GP/Month or 250 GP/Year) per casting. (Interestingly enough, this comes out reasonably well in line with the rules on hirelings and such).

In either case, if first-level minions don’t do it for you, the simplest thing to do is to boost the level of the base spell.

  • A Gangsta Wrap II (L2 Minions) costs 8190 GP, III (L3 Minions) costs 10,800 GP, IV costs 13,770 GP, V costs 17,100 GP, VI costs 22,770 GO, VII costs 24,840 GP, and VIII costs 29,250 GP.
  • A Minion Employment Agency II costs 91,000 GP and provides 130 sustained castings (each providing 10 L2 Lackeys OR 4 L3 Thugs OR 1 L4 Minion), III costs 120,000 GP and provides 150 sustained castings (and L3/L4/L5 lackeys/thugs/minions), IV costs 153,000 GP and provides 170 sustained castings (and L4/L5/L6 lackeys/thugs/minions), V costs 190,000 GP and provides 190 sustained castings (and L5/L6/L7 lackeys/thugs/minions). I’d recommend some caution here; it wouldn’t take very much optimization to create an army of elemental blasters or some such.

You can also improve the duration another one or two steps instead of improving the summoning level, taking it to tens of minutes or hours per level – effectively dropping one or two levels on the minions in exchange for the ability to sustain ten or sixty times as many. Do you happen to need a clone army for your Star Wars game?

For a “ten times as many” example take a version III and give yourself 12,000 L2 Veteran Troopers, 800 Grizzled L3 Sergeants to command squads of 15 Troopers each, and 100 L4 Dashing Captains to command Companies of 8 Squads each, and your Warlord has the iron core for his army – and an answer as to how anyone can afford to actually field an army in d20. Yes, 120,000 GP is a big investment – but it buys you a fair-sized military force with perfect loyalty, unbreakable morale, a load-out of basic equipment, little need for supply lines, and the ability to reform itself from total annihilation in a day – at least as long as you maintain control of your central castle, or capital, or wherever you’ve put the place (video game special effects are optional). The resulting numbers are also a reasonably good match for the typical army sizes in medieval Western Europe. You’ll want to go for the “sixty times as many” option if you want to represent the armies of the Middle East or Asia.