Eclipsing the Shows – World versus Marketing and My Little Pony

For today it’s some general discussion on setting games in media universes – and then a few specific answers to the question that brought it up. To start with the general theory…

There’s a subtle roadblock in the way of converting shows – whether we’re talking about Star Trek, Survivor, or My Little Pony (which this question was originally about) – into role-playing game settings. It’s simple enough that it’s often missed.

The shows are driven by marketing toys and advertising and details don’t matter, while in RPG settings the details matter a lot – and so they generally strive for internal consistency.

Why is that? Well, consider this situation.

The characters are pursuing a deadly assassin. An hour ago he slipped aboard a train that (the last few times the characters rode it) took ten hours to reach the city where the assassin’s targets live. The party frantically finds the evidence they need to identify him and readies a rocket plane that can make the trip in an hour. By dint of many heroic efforts, the party launches after seven hours. They will beat the assassin there by two hours and can get ready to capture him and/or defend the targets!

And then the game master informs the players that the train trip only took two hours. That might be because he forgot, or because his plot demands that the assassin take out at least some of his or her targets, or “because the train accidentally skipped several hundred miles of the trip thanks to quantum fluctuations”. The targets were all dead hours before the characters got their plane launched, and by the time the characters arrived the assassin had made good his escape.

Does that really sound like fun?

On a show it doesn’t matter if the setting is inconsistent because the writers are in control and things only matter when they want them to. That train travels at the speed of plot and will arrive just when it needs to to make the story work.

In a game where the players make most of the decisions consistency matters a great deal. Even games like Toon are internally consistent; the rules of cartoons may be a bit silly, but they are still rules. Otherwise… players rarely want to invest much time in a setting that they can’t make sense out of.

This can get quite awkward when you find yourself trying to come up with an in-setting reason for elements of the show that were driven by external factors. Since it was what the original question was about, I’ll take my examples from My Little Pony.

Looking at that show from an objective external point of view… major characters generally have:

  • Distinctive Features. They’ve all got easily recognized color schemes and clearly symbolic cutie marks. They inhabit a familiar-looking world full of easily recognizable stand-alone items that can be readily reproduced in bright plastic. A pony family can include almost any subtype of pony, since you want your collectable sets to include as many varieties of plastic models as can be managed. After all, toy sales are a big thing for the My Little Pony franchise.

Fortunately, this one is relatively easily “explained”. We can make noises about recessive genes, about how – in a world of special talents – quick identification of the right pony to handle a threat mattered a lot more than camouflage, about the effects of personal magic on appearance and how every pony has their own specific “frequency” and color, and how cutie marks are expressions of pure personal magic (although this fails to explain why so many of them are of human symbols that shouldn’t mean anything to ponies… Trixies wand? Unicorns use horns! A Judge with a gavel? Shouldn’t that be a hoofstomp? A garden sprayer with a looped pump handle (for hands) and a sprayer wand with a thumb-switch (made for hands and thumbs)? Wouldn’t a foot-pump and a pressure-operated jaw handle make a lot more sense? A gumball machine with a twist knob instead of a button? Scissors with finger-loops?

We can probably get away with not explaining the cutie marks and the horrible ergonomics of various pony tools though. Hardly anyone pays much attention to the “why” of various symbols and tools. Similarly, unless someone is REALLY big on creating artwork for the game details like “color intensity” will never come up – and even if someone is an artist, details can just be dismissed as “artistic license” by anyone who worries about them.

  • Strong – and Straightforward – Personalities. Allied characters like Big Macintosh and Shining Armor (somewhat idealized older brothers) have good and noble traits. Opponents, such as Sombra, Chrysalis, Discord, Starlight Glimmer, Trixie, and Sunset Shimmer, have ignoble traits and/or redeemable flaws (usually the opposite of the elements) – or are just big monsters, like Tirek or the Hydra. Minor characters, like the Flower Trio, tend to be defined by one or two basic reactive traits – in ponies, most often a tendency to overreact, panic, and either faint or run away (thus forcing the focus characters to fix things on their own).

This is the mental equivalent of the bright colors and distinctive features; the show doesn’t have a lot of time when it introduces characters to start with and it is primarily targeting youngsters. Ergo no complex motivations, unsolvable moral dilemmas, or really gray characters. Instead you get relatively simple, immediately apparent, and easy to distinguish motives and personality traits.

This tends to affect any production that has a limited amount of time to introduce characters in, but a twenty-two minute cartoon format tends to exaggerate things. It often passes without notice in actual play of course. After all, GM’s are rarely expert actors and also usually lack game time in which to introduce and extensively develop NPC’s since the focus is always on the PC’s – so most of the world is painted with very broad strokes indeed and the players are left to fill in the details. Still, we actually do have something more to work with in Equestria – where a set of six personality traits have been promoted to the status of cosmic forces. We actually have a good reason why a very limited, broadly defined, and easily portrayed set of personality traits will underlie all sorts of things – including a blatant link to special powers. Lets not waste it.

  • Special Powers. As befits a world full of minor superpowers, all adult major characters are going to have at least minor special abilities (if only so that they can get into trouble that the rest of the cast can’t just wave a hoof and fix). Kids usually get an incredible ability to get out of potentially lethal situations essentially unscathed, the ability to pop up out of nowhere whenever a plot complication or target for some exposition is needed, and the ability to create incredible messes or assemble massive projects the moment they get offscreen – although these will not usually be counted as “powers” since they exist to complicate the focus characters lives. The same goes for “Magic Surges” in infants; they need SOME way to make trouble beyond dirty diapers or they won’t be of much interest. In any case, good guy allies mostly just get powers because they are good guys – but opponents will usually either be tapping into “dark magic” (what I labeled the Discordant Powers), by stealing power like Tirek, or will have achieved their power through self-development over lengthy periods (neatly establishing that they really worked at being evil without actually having to show very much actual evil).

In RPG’s special powers are a large part of what makes the player characters interesting, so we need not account for their presence in a setting; the game system should handle that detail – but an in-universe justification for how they work and why some characters are more powerful than others is always welcome.

In this case we can simply reverse causation. Marketing gives special powers to major, recurring, characters to help keep them interesting and make their problems dramatic. We can just turn that around, stating that individual NPC’s become major, recurring, characters because they have special powers and dramatic problems.

  • Relationships. A lot of the allies – and likely some of the opponents – will either be a part of a focus characters family or at least strongly connected thereto. This makes it simple to introduce new characters, is a shorthand route to establishing connections with the focus characters, and provides a way to add some easily related to gratuitous complications (and opponents whom they won’t want to actually hurt) to the focus characters lives.

Here we’re fortunate; RPG’s usually have more time available to introduce characters – and all we really need to explain most of the existing relationships between high-powered types from the source material is to make some noises about “powerful bloodlines” or “secret rituals”, or some such. In Equestria, thanks to the Elements of Harmony, we can throw in family traits and traditions as well. Who is to say that Granny Smith’s weird rituals for growing Zap Apples don’t have effects beyond (or instead of?) growing the things? Maybe she’s actually six hundred years old and the Apple families enormous size, unity, and apparent general prosperity is the result of centuries of patient, matriarchal, earth pony rituals and witchery. Who knows?

Hm… now there’s another interesting character concept that I may or may not ever find the time to write up. I’ll see if it’s still sticking with me in the next week or so.

  • Unreasonably Tight Focus: The writers don’t want risk the viewers losing track of the characters – and want to focus on the best-developed and best-known characters because that’s what much of the audience wants to see. Ergo you get ineffectual guards, politicians and nobles who are either useless or obstructive, bystanders who never do anything but panic, get in the way, and need to be rescued, powerful elder mentors who do nothing but provide obscure advice and get readily defeated to establish various threats as genuine, and many similar tropes. You wind up with a small cast of very effective characters, a few specialized allies with potent abilities in very limited fields so they can be called in without overshadowing the focus characters, a bunch of near-helpless responsibilities, and some opposition – which can be slice-of-life and pretty much ineffectual as long as it really annoys people. That’s why Diamond Tiara and Prince Blueblood – an obnoxious child and a narcissistic snob – often outrank King Sombra (the local version of Sauron) and Starlight Glimmer (a grossly overpowered “dark wizard”) on fan villain lists.

Fortunately for our purposes, this one often gets by without explanation because RPG’s tend to assume an unreasonably tight focus on a set of player characters anyway – and if you really need an explanation, you can always fall back on various versions of “you’re just on the high end of the bell curve”, “destiny”, “the chosen ones”, mentor manipulation, or even “you just happened to be the ones in the area who fit the role enough to use the plot coupons”.

  • No Controversies. Shows shy away from anything that might hurt sales – especially in a series, where repeat viewers are are all-important to ratings (and thus advertising revenue) and merchandising. You aren’t, for example, going to find out much of anything about the characters sex lives, or see an episode about severe child abuse, or a school shooting, on a children’s show.

Finally, this one you really don’t have to bother with. A lack of data just means that you can fill in anything that fits the setting reasonably well in your head – and if a group doesn’t want to discuss something you just don’t spend any time on it. You can run a game set in the roman empire without going into detail on just what hideous fates Caligula is inflicting on his enemies families, or how decadent the parties get, or – for that matter – the mechanics underlying flooding the coliseum (and yes, they did that) for a “naval” event.

The writers don’t really bother with in-universe rationales for these decisions of course. Why should they? They’re focused on writing salable material and setting up for future episodes. A bit of world-building may come into that, but it’s generally not going to be the primary objective. Still, while “toy sales”, “targeting kids”, “because they’d bore the audience otherwise”, a double dose of “it makes it easy for the writers”, and “we’d lose money!” may be the actual truth, those reasons really won’t work as an “in the setting” explanation.

Ergo role playing gamers who want a consistent setting must resort to speculative theories – such as the theory from the prior article which prompted this – that, in the My Little Pony universe, strong virtues (and anti-virtues) provide characters with extra power. Of course, none of those theories will ever be explicitly stated, or even firmly supported, by the show that they’re about since they’re trying to map external marketing decisions to internal theories about the setting – but you can often come up with something that will match closely enough to pass.

Now as for the questions about this article that brought this up…

I’m not sure that I agree with regards to Cheese Sandwich. It’s true that he only got his “Cheesy Sense” after he started to emulate Pinkie, but there appears to be a key difference there: Pinkie’s “Pinkie Sense” (and, for that matter, Maud’s “Maud Sense”) is unrelated to her special talent, unlike with Cheese Sandwich.

As a party pony, Pinkie shouldn’t have any particular ability to sense incoming danger (nor Maud, with her fixation on rocks, be able to find things that have gone missing). That’s why Twilight is obsessed with explaining Pinkie’s ability in Feeling Pinkie Keen. (To my eyes, it looks like having a psionic wild talent runs in the Pie family.)

Cheese Sandwich, by contrast, is a party pony himself (even if his cutie mark is a little odd), and his Cheesy Sense lets him sense the direction of imminent parties. That seems like it’s just a (admittedly rather strong) aspect of his special talent. It may also be precognitive the way Pinkie’s Pinkie Sense is, but it’s precognitive in a way that fits with the magic of his cutie mark, and so seems like a different thing that just happens to resemble what Pinkie can do (the same way a lot of psionic powers have magical equivalents).

Also, this article references changelings as possibly being between dragons and ponies, but I have to wonder how Discord’s being a “draconequus” fits in there, even if he does seem like he’s a living inversion of Harmony (perhaps the Discordant Powers should be called the “Elements of Disharmony”?).

-Alzrius

Well, the point there was simply that Cheese Sandwich has abilities well beyond those of a normal earth pony – and apparently acquired many of those talents after working hard to become a paragon of laughter. After all, even if you discount most of the stuff from his musical numbers (wherein he warps reality with even less restraint than Discord does – well beyond the far more common “montage scenes” you get with most equestrian musical numbers), he still produced various things (including a giant cheese wheel, a seal (although it might just be Fluttershys), a hippo, a parade float, and a huge party tank) during the actual party, animated a rubber chicken, and more. It’s not that association with an element necessarily boosts your primary talents (thus the bit about Rarity’s rather exceptional strength). It just seems to let you do more things.

As for “Cheesy Sense”… I really don’t know what it does. Cheese Sandwich stated that his Cheesy Sense told him that his next party would be in Ponyville and told him about Pinkie’s Pinkie Sense – but two one-sentence examples aren’t much to go on.

Maud is another victim of insufficient data. Perhaps she can find rocks, metals, and things in contact with the earth? Or do the equivalent of “Locate Object?”. She also shows enough (reactionless!) strength to toss large rocks over the horizon and kick up mushroom clouds much bigger than hills.

But we didn’t see any of the royal guard tossing changelings over the horizon.

Of course, Maud is… extremely loyal to her friend and relatives, tactless and blunt (the socially awkward form of honesty) and is pretty generous with her time and effort. She’s not especially exemplary when it comes to kindness and laughter, and she’s not really a paragon of any single virtue – but under this (speculative) theory she’d be getting a reasonably balanced boost.

Is there anyone else around who fits that theory?

How about Big Macintosh? He shows pretty much that same package of traits (an “idealized big brother” set) – and he can effortlessly bounce along while towing a house by flexing his ankles.

We see one more pony (a filly with a hedgehog cutie mark) with freakishly supernormal strength (as explicitly called out by Diamond Tiara on the playground) – but I can’t recall any other information about her at all. Just going by the hedgehog… perhaps another prickly introvert like Maud Pie?

And strength is a basic earth pony talent.

Then we have Shining Armor – a loyal captain of the guard who is willing to generously expend every bit of his strength on shielding others, is probably pretty honest (if only because trying to deceive Celestia is probably an even worse idea than trying to deceive the usual superior officer). He probably isn’t all that strong on kindness and laughter though. After all, you can’t afford to be unconditionally kind as a guard – and guard work is often pretty serious.

And he has an absurdly hyped up ability to generate shields that can protect entire cities. True, that’s his particular special talent, but we don’t see that unicorn with a talent for puppetry sending a swarm of giant puppets out to build roads or battle monsters.

Now in reality those talents are the result of marketing and scriptwriter decisions – which means that any in-setting theory is going to be a bit contrived in places – but it fits in well enough since it relates to several of the writers motives. (I must admit that “wild talents” also work perfectly well – especially in d20 systems – but I have a personal fondness for elaborate, generalized, theories with extensive implications. They’re such fun to come up with).

As for Discord… well, he seems to be the principle focus of chaos – or change – magic, and was the major reason for labeling the inverse elements the DISCORD-ant powers. In terms of that theory… he shows a fair chunk of the draconic powers – and the Lord of Chaos template I set up earlier is a +2 ECL template and so falls within the limits of a dragon channeling the “Discordant Powers” if he either purchased an upgrade similar to the epic level upgrade for a Bokor or found a way to dump a level of growth in favor of more power. Discord does look even stranger than the adolescent dragons do – but his basic body layout is the same and the changes are probably within the limits of draconic shapeshifting.

Who knows? Maybe Celestia hatched her own dragon as a youngster, tried to meddle with the draconic ability to channel the Discordant Powers, and wound up with Discord. After all… she kept him around and seems inclined to argue with him rather than starting in blasting – and later took the risk of him running amuck again (and possibly hiding the elements effectively first) in hopes of reforming him. That’s not exactly what I’d expect from a reasonably wise ruler who is abruptly confronting a newly-returned satanic figure. It’s a great deal closer to the parable of the prodigal son…

Now that doesn’t fit in with the “he’s Starswirl the Bearded after a badly-bungled attempt at Alicorn Ascension” theory from his writeup – but it’s not like it needs to; both theories are pure speculation. Still, speculation is what the Changeling and Dragon articles were all about.

Ponies of the Eclipse – Dragon Speculations

And today it’s another offline question… “What would Spike (from “Friendship is Magic”, not Buffy the Vampire Slayer) look like in Eclipse?

Well, the trouble with creating a racial template for Equestarian Dragons is that it’s going to be pretty speculative. Yes, we see a fair amount of Spike (although his activities are often rather repetitive since he’s mostly a foil for Twilight and personal mail system) – but we also know that he isn’t entirely typical and other draconic appearances are few and far between. To fill things out a bit, I’m going to see what I can deduce from how Ponies interact with Equestria’s Dragons.

Ponies are the masters of Equestria. They control the sun and moon, the weather, the seasons, and more. They are powerful practitioners of Harmony and Love – the two greatest forces in their universe. Tireks scholarly mentor even outright states that ponies (and Unicorns in particular) have the most powerful magic in the universe. His viewpoint is likely biased, but there’s probably something to it.

Ponies seem to become even more powerful as they attune themselves more closely to the various virtues of the Elements of Harmony. Does it really seem likely to be a coincidence that…

  • Rainbow Dash, a paragon of loyalty, is the fastest (and possibly the toughest, at least judging by the “Rainbomb”) pegasus in all Equestria. What’s more, her abilities can’t be blamed on direct contact with the physical Element of Loyalty without timey-wimey shenanigans since she showed some of them many years before the Elements were reactivated.
  • Applejack, a paragon of honesty, stops stampedes, faces down monsters, and does quite incredible amounts of work. After all, the farm went down the drain in days without her despite everything that Big Mac, Apple Bloom, and Granny Smith could do.
  • Rarity, a paragon of generosity, can carry and toss around multi-ton boulders, outperform a small factory, use far more magical effects than a normal unicorn (including remotely teleporting large objects), is a skilled fighter, and can easily manipulate small swarms of enemies into giving her their treasure.
  • Fluttershy, a paragon of kindness, can stare down cockatrices, communicate with animals and make them all live together peacefully, wrestle bears, model, sing, conduct music, sew, and even reform gods of chaos.
  • Twilight, the “Princess of Friendship”, may be the most powerful mage in Equestria – and certainly demonstrates the desire and ability to make the universe conform to her will that is the essence of magic.
  • And then there’s Pinkie Pie, who can do almost anything.
  • For that matter there’s Cheese Sandwich, who clearly demonstrates that other ponies can tap into such powers without being element-bearers.

Yet we also know that such power is a rare and special thing. How do we know that? Because Equestria has problems AND keeps coming back to the mane six to solve them instead of just letting the general population handle them. Ergo… while ponies are empowered by the forces the Elements of Harmony represent it’s rare for one of them to be enough of a paragon of virtue to get a LOT of power.

And yet… dragons worry even the paragons. In a universe that primarily runs on the harmony of loyalty, honesty, generosity, kindness, laughter, and magic, and secondarily on love, dragons defy those powers. They may appear in small packs as adolescents, but the adults mostly seem to be solitary apex predators. They have a “king”, but their traditional method of choosing one seems to be based on skill in evading traps, competing with each other, raw power, and luck. On their own dragons show distinct tendencies towards…

  • Treachery. Rejecting a kid the moment he disagrees about pointlessly killing something? Spike expects to be betrayed by his “mother” and get replaced by an owl?
  • Deception. The adolescent dragons act accepting and then try to rig their contests? Spike getting their pets and the Cutie Mark Crusaders to deceive the Mane Six?
  • Greed. Spike growing into a monstrous dragon out of greed? Dragonhoards in general?
  • Cruelty. Wanting to smash phoenix eggs? Spike labeling his friends “Hairity, Rainbow Crash, Spitty Pie, Apple Teeny, Flutterguy, and Twilight Flopple” when they’re poisoned and panicked?
  • Wrath. Trying to hurt or kill a toddler for snagging some of your snacks? Inspiring fear the way that they do?
  • Chance: Leaving your kids to roam around unsupervised? Using an obstacle course to decide the potential fate of your entire species?

Dragons still seem to be affected by Love, but it, at most, tempers their behavior. Adult dragons obviously aren’t normally filled with love or keeping a dragon egg in a school and using it to test students would have been pretty horribly offensive wouldn’t it?

When Spike, who was raised by Ponies in isolation from other dragons, gives in to Greed he grows immensely in size and power – but he is restored to normal by the power of his affection for Rarity (incidentally demonstrating that the emotion is both genuine and serious).

So the primary behavioral traits – and apparently power sources – of Dragons are the Inverse Elements. Treachery, Deception, Greed, Cruelty, Wrath, and Chance (the inverse of magic – twisting the odds perhaps, but accepting the way of the universe instead of demanding that it do what you want). I’m going to call these traits the “Discordant Powers”.

Harmony may permeate the world – but that simply means that the outbreaks of the Discordant Powers are tightly focused, and very powerful locally – as shown by Discord himself. There are hundreds of times as many ponies as dragons and their overall power is far greater than the dragons – but that’s not a lot of comfort when it’s only a few dozen ponies against a Dragon who is channeling a lot more of one of the Discordant Powers than the ponies are channeling Harmony.

That… gives us a draconic power source, a reason for Ponies to be very wary of dragons, and a set of motivations all in one. It tells us why Dragons are so individually powerful but yet ponies dominate the world.

It may also imply a relationship between Dragons and Discord and between Dragons and Changelings, but there isn’t much support for that so far.

So what do we need to buy to build an Equestrian Dragon racial template?

Dragons:

Are Extremely Tough. They can leap from a height into magma without being hurt, chew, swallow, and digest sharp fragments of diamond, are highly resistant to energy (especially fire, even if you can get them sooty), and can take one of Rainbow Dash’s full kicks – shown to be capable of smashing through four sizeable trees – without injury.

  • Damage Reduction 5/-, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect; Only versus Physical Attacks, not versus Adamantine (12 CP).
  • Berserker with Odinpower and Enduring, Powered by Mana, +15/- Universal Damage Reduction (also protects against energy) (12 CP). That’s fairly expensive – but will allow a powered-up Equestrian Dragon to shed most weapons like drops of rain.
  • Energy Infusion (Fire, 6 CP). Given that ice cream can upset Spikes stomach when rocks can’t… a vulnerability to excessive amounts of Cold doesn’t seem unreasonable.

Eating gems really isn’t especially advantageous, even in Equestria where they’re absurdly common and inexpensive. After all… a modest gem does seem to have enough value to trade it for a substantially larger sandwich even there – and given that Spike sometimes gorges on them, their effective caloric value can’t be THAT high. Elsewhere… it’s just absurd. Eat that gem worth several hundred gold pieces – or use it to get a hundred gallons of ice cream and other goodies? Dragons seem to like those too… Ergo, no cost.

Are Limited Shapeshifters. They can change size and the details of their appearance – although this does not seem to be entirely under their control. In addition, they are naturally armed and armored. They can also dig well (although they don’t seem to have a burrow speed like Diamond Dogs) and seem to have little use for material possessions (or shovels).

  • Accursed. A dragon’s appearance reflects it’s personality, state of development, and (at least to a limited extent) current mood. This makes them extremely distinctive, hard to fit for equipment, easy to “read” (other creatures get a +5 bonus on Sense Motive against dragons), and makes it easy for other creatures to pretend to be dragons with flimsy disguises. After all, a dragon could easily look like that… (-3 CP).
  • Immunity/having to actually have mundane equipment to get it’s bonuses (mundane equipment is Very Common and not having it is a Minor problem for an adventurer. The Trivial level covers basic tools and clothing, Minor covers light and medium armor and simple weapons, Major covers heavy armor, masterwork stuff and martial weapons, and Great covers exotic weapons, materials, and alchemical gear. That’s 4, 8. 12. Or 24 CP. Dragons normally start at (12 CP).

Once again, I could speculate on a connection with Changelings here. After all… a dragon-pony hybrid might well not have a strong connection to either the Elements of Harmony OR the Discordant Powers. If so, it would be an incomplete creature, lacking a natural source of magic, drives, and emotions – and perhaps needing to take those things from others. A bit of a dragon’s natural toughness for an effectively armored insect-like hide, some fangs, spitting mere sticky goo instead of magically charging the stuff to act more like napalm, the draconic shapeshifting… I could even argue that the holes are due to their shapeshifting reflecting their inherent incompleteness. That may not be what this article is about – but I am being speculative here.

Seem to have a good Constitution, but show no other exceptional attributes save strength – which may just be due to size bonuses – and aren’t especially sociable.

  • Attribute Shift: +2 Con, -2 Cha (6 CP).

Are implied to be very long-lived and easily capable of surviving in the wastelands. Spike – despite being at least ten years old – is considered a baby dragon.

  • Immunity to Aging (Uncommon, Major, Major, 6 CP). Dragons can expect to live for thousands of years.

Are apparently magic-resistant when they want to be – or at least the various unicorns around Ponyville don’t seem to have much luck in dealing with Spike when he’s gotten bigger.

  • Spell/Power Resistance II (12 CP).

Are Firebreathers. They can breathe enormous amounts of fire and/or smoke, possess considerable control over that ability – enough to either melt masses of snow or ice or to make toast – and can use it for at least some magical purposes.

Can, at least as adults, sprout wings and fly at considerable speeds and with fair maneuverability

  • Instinctive Dragon Magic: Innate Enchantment (total value 6320 GP, net cost of 7 CP).
    • Enhance Attribute: Str +2 (Spell Level One x Caster Level One x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x .7 Personal Only = 1400 GP).
    • Enhance Attribute: Con +2 (Spell Level One x Caster Level One x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x .7 Personal Only = 1400 GP).
    • Feathermail (a touch-range Transmutation effect targeting armor, +3 to maximum Dex, -3 to Armor Check Penalty, reduce movement penalty by 10 for 2 rounds/level, Spell Level One x Caster Level One x 2000 GP (Unlimited-Use Use-Activated) x .7 (Personal-Only) x.8 (“Armor” from Immunity Only) = 1120 GP. Dragons can generally move easily despite their scales.
    • Montage Scene/Power Tool: Spell Level One x Caster Level One x 2000 GP (Unlimited-Use Use-Activated) x .5 (Only on their internal “tools”) = 1000 GP. Dragons can get a lot more done than would normally be credited – digging like a backhoe, jack hammering through stone, and so on. In general, dragons gets a lot more done than any normal human.
    • Immortal Vigor I (The Practical Enchanter): Provides +(12 + 2 x Con Mod) Hit Points. (Spell Level One x Caster Level One x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x .7 Personal Only = 1400 GP).
  • Immunity/stacking limitations when combining innate enchantment effects with external effects (common/minor/trivial; only covers level 0 or 1 effects) (2 CP).
  • Immunity/the normal XP cost of racial innate enchantments (uncommon/minor/trivial) (1 CP). Dragons are born with their innate enchantments, and need not pay any extra experience for them.
  • Immunity to Dispelling effects (Common/Minor/Great, Specialized and Corrupted / only to protect Racial Innate Enchantments, 4 CP).

This stuff just comes with being a dragon.

Learned Dragon Magic: Inherent Spells, all powered by Mana. Unfortunately, all of these require extensive training to use. Dragons must either spend years wandering and working on self-development, seek out “appropriate” tutors and get them to teach them, or simply level up until they can control these abilities without training, before they can use these. Secondarily, inexperienced dragons fairly often have minor “accidents” with these powers. That’s Corrupted for Reduced Cost (36 CP in total).

  • L2: Essence of the Dragon (SC, Costs 1 Mana)
  • L3: Giant’s Wrath (the Practical Enchanter, +2 Size Levels) and Dragonskin (SC)
  • L4: Flight of the Dragon (SC), Voice of the Dragon (SC)
  • L5: Dragonsight (SC), Grand Earthward (L5)
  • L6: Greater Invocation of Flame (SC), Aura of Terror (SC)

Grand Earthward: L5, activates once per round on it’s own, on or off action, blocking 60 points of damage from any one attack as well as any special effects – poison, energy drain, or whatever – that it might have).

A L6 Greater Invocation of Flame produces Fire effects of  up to level five – ranging from making toast and baking on through near-instant alchemical transformations and a wide variety of fire blasts.

Discordant Channeling. The ability to channel the power of the Discordant Powers is advanced Dragon Magic – and, in Equestrian terms, blatant dark magic. It is obvious to unicorns when used, always runs at least a slight risk of loss of control (basically a roll of “1″ on a will save when using the stuff), can provoke reactions from Harmony Magic, and can be countered by Harmony Magic. Any dragon can use, it, but only practice and mental discipline will provide even a modicum of control. It counts as being Specialized.

  • Witchcraft II. Provides the use of The Adamant Will, Healing (Specialized in Self-Healing for Double Effect), and Witchsight (Specialized in Scent, for no cost), with a base Power score equal to (Sum of Physical Attributes/3), and a base Will save DC of (13 + Cha Mod) (6 CP):
  • 1d6 Mana, taken as 3d6 Power. Only usable for Witchcraft (3 CP).
  • Ridden by the Loa with Partial Control, Corrupted/Only to draw on the Discordant Powers (2 CP).
  • Immunity/the one-point-per-hour cost of keeping Ridden by the Loa Running (Common, Minor, Major (up to 30 Power/Day equivalent, Corrupted/cannot normally be turned off to get rid of an inconvenient Discordant Power, 2 CP).

Drawing on the Discordant Powers generally provides +2 levels of Growth (96 CP) and 35 CP related to the particular power being channeled – the remaining 32 CP plus a disadvantage. It’s no coincidence that the “particular powers” match the basic structure of Mysteries. In fact, a Bokor in Equestria can also learn to channel the Discordant Powers – although they won’t get the “Growth” function. That’s another reason to regard them with fear and suspicion (as if another reason was needed). Perhaps, in Equestria, Bokor are the equivalent of basic d20 Sorcerers – ponies and zebras who just happen to have a dragon ancestor somewhere.

What about Lust? Well, you can include Lust as a perversion of Love or Harmony – but I doubt that the powers it grants require any real game rules. I may throw something in just to make sure that I cover everything – but it certainly isn’t necessary.

In any case… all of that comes out to 126 CP – a +3 ECL race. Of course, in a standard game, without the Superheroic World Template to provide a steady supply of Mana to work with, you’d probably want to invest another 32 CP or so in buying Mana and Rite of Chi with Bonus Uses to replenish the stuff.

Next time around on this topic I’ll see about the Discordant Powers.

Randolf Upton Pickman, A.K.A. Pharaoh Nephren-Ka, E-poh of the Tcho-Tcho, Mylakhrion of Theem’hdra., and others.

The planes where mankind can exist are a tiny island in an infinite sea, surrounded by reefs of possibility and dedicated guardians. Yet there are things – some minor, others vast and powerful – which sometimes walk our realms when the stars are right and a gate is opened. Some find our little island little more than a shortcut, an amusing path less trodden, or a source of some desired oddity. Others… take an interest. Some even wish to understand, and seek that understanding in strange and maddening ways.

If some mortal is very, VERY, unlucky… they may even take a liking to him or her. Whether that means that said mortal was never entirely mortal at all, or whether they become so retroactively has never been determined.

Favored of the Outer Ones

+2 ECL Race or +3 ECL Acquired Template – although baseline d20 humans can “acquire” it for a mere +2 ECL since their racial advantages can simply be subsumed into “In The Guise Of Humanity”.

In The Guise Of Humanity (9 CP):

  • Fast Learner, Specialized in Skills (3 CP).
  • Bonus Feat (6 CP).

Randolf appeared (mostly) human as a child, and – at least for now – can easily pass for one as far as conventional examaination goes.

The Hidden Eye That Sees Unveiled (30 CP):

  • Adept: Craft/Visual Arts, Diplomacy, Knowledge/Arcane Lore (Specialized in Mythos Lore for Double Effect), and Perform/Oratory (6 CP).
  • Fast Learner, Specialized Skills, Corrupted/only to give his Adept skills a “racial modifier” of +(effective Level) (4 CP).
  • +3 to each Adept Skill (4 CP).
  • 2d6 (8) Mana with Resilience, Specialized and Corrupted/only usable for the Resilience Natural Magic (4 CP).
  • Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted/only to restore Mana, only usable for the Resilience function (4 CP).
  • Occult Ritual, Specialized and Corrupted; Can only perform the terrible, sanity-blasting, rites of the Outer Ones using his Mythos Lore (2 CP).
  • Major Privilege: Gets along with virtually all of the Outer Gods and their Servants, despite how incredibly awkward this is (6 CP).

Randolf, while still rather human, sees what is hidden – and can present it to other humans. He is also highly resistant to the dread effects of interacting with the Outer Gods and their servants in their true (or near-true) forms (those he explains to are rarely so fortunate) – although too much of that sort of thing will overwhelm even his defenses and slowly erode his (debatable) humanity. Oddly enough, most of the Outer Ones are quite willing to go along with this.

Guardian Spawn of The Dark Tapestry (15 CP):

(Dreamspawn) Companion, with +4 Template Levels, Great Form, and Transform (Corrupted; only the Companion can transform), +3 Speciality in Managing it. Specialized with the Standard Dreamspawn limitations (15 CP).

I’ve only put up a few specific Dreamspawn. To save time, I’d suggest using a minor variant of Queen Yintor. As Randolf is level one,:”she” gets a 3 CP bonus – in “her” case buying a particular Trick; the first time anyone sees Randolf’s companions true form” he or she will suffer 1d4 points of Wisdom Damage, 1d4 points worth of Wisdom Drain, and 1d4 rounds of Confusion. A successful Will save will reduce this to the minimum effect – one point of damage, one of drain, and one round of confusion. This is, however, Specialized; it can only affect any given creature once during their lifetime (3 CP).

The Outer Ones have vouchsafed Randolf a companion on his voyage beyond the gates of sanity, a guardian and supporter that may at times appear human, but is anything but. In it’s questioning and attempts to understand it’s new master it may, perhaps, become a little more human – or it may simply wind up increasing Randolfs upcoming dementia faster than ever.

Still, the enhancements and powers it grants him make surviving the many enemies that Randolf has acquired for simply existing a lot easier.

The Dreamer In The Labyrinth (66 CP):

  • Mystic Artist (Craft/Visual Art, including Painting, Drawing, Etching, and – possibly – Film-making (6 CP).
    • Basic Abilities: Skill: 3: Fascinate, 4: Emotion, 5: Block, 6: Hold Audience, 9: Suggestion, 12: Emotional Auras, 15: Freedom, 18: Amplify, 21: Harmonize, 24: Mass Suggestion, 30: Serenity, 36: Alter Attitudes, 48: Puppet Master, and 60: Rule the Horde.
  • Bonus Uses: +4 (6 CP).
  • Path of Whispers: Subliminal, Conditioning, Compelling, Immersive, Undertow, and Worldgate (36 CP).
  • The Art of the Occult: The Hidden Way, Spellweaver, and Sphere of Mastery (18 CP).

Randolf paints and draws – and dreams and visions of things that cannot exist in the world as it is pour through his pen and into reality, each work a potential gateway for that which is beyond and a crack in reality that helps to reshape the world into somewhere where such beings CAN exist. Those who gaze upon a work that happens to be “active” at the moment may find themselves subject to strange compulsions, experiencing memories and visions of the realms beyond, subject to the plots and themes of inhuman entities, or possibly can even be drawn into the realms beyond. Unfortunately, at the moment, he has little control over such events.

Similarly, while he little knows it at the moment, his images can also back any magic he happens to learn with the energies of the Outer Realms or even carry him partially beyond the boundaries of the world.

Whispers Of The Black Tapestry (108 CP):

  • Mystic Artist (Perform/Oratory) (6 CP).
  • Bonus Uses +8 (12 CP).
    • Skill: 3:Block, 4: Emotion, 5: Fascinate, 6: Competence, 9: Greatness, 12:Excellence, 15: Mass Greatness, 18:Mass Excellence, 21:Group Focus, 24:Harmonize, 30: Serenity, 36: Mass Heroism, 48: Double, and 60: Rule The Horde.
  • Basic Modifiers: Amplification, Echoes, Rapid, and Seeking (24 CP).
  • Path of Dissonance with Selective Targeting (+6 CP): Dissonance, Distracting, Disrupting, Stunning, Maddening, and Banishing (42 CP).
  • Chords of Fate: Harmonics (affects Undead), Spirit Summons, Spirit Channels, and The Great Summons (24 CP).

The Voices of the Outer Ones leak into Randolfs voice – and disrupt the very structure of reality and the creatures within it, whether living or dead. With time and practice he may be able to learn to disrupt the restraints that keep his targets from using their full potentials and store borrowed magics in the inflections of his words – but at the moment, only the disrupting energies of alien realms are really his to call upon, and he’s barely aware of even that.

High Priest of the Outer Ones (20 CP):

  • Dominion (Cultists) (6 CP)
  • Path of the Pharaoh: Manipulation, Sphere of Influence (Mortal Ties with The Outer Realms, Corrupted/he is drawn to points where contact is occurring, and there will try to sort it out so that everyone involved comes out OK), and Godfire (Corrupted; cannot actually spend any save to return from death but does get the side effects – such as not aging and not losing attribute points to disease) (14 CP).

Randolf doesn’t actually control any cults yet – but he’s their natural leader. He senses it when they open gates and call upon the outer ones, he can grant them a certain amount of actual power through various unspeakable and incomprehensible Offices, and he can manipulate events to help enable or cover up their activities.

As Randolf makes the acquaintance of more Cultists, and (willing or unwillingly) becomes a major figure in their rituals and beliefs, he will become ever harder to keep dead – and he will come ever closer to the ability to warp the Earth into a pocket-realm where the Outer Ones can easily come and visit, whether he wishes to do so or not.

His Unspeakable Destiny (38 CP):

  • Unique Returning with a Minor Rewrite, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost: Randolf reappears at a point in time and space chosen by his unnatural patrons, each time he reappears he becomes less human and more a creature of the “Cthulhu Mythos”, each reappearance sends him into a predestined role. The only way to stop the sequence (and his eventual rise to join the ranks of the Outer Ones) is to travel back in time to one of his prior appearances and there find a way to massively disrupt the timeline and thwart his destiny. In effect, he must be raised or resurrected quite promptly or he will become very difficult indeed to retrieve (8 CP).
  • Privilege: The “Favor of the Outer Ones” doesn’t have to be “paid for” up front – although that also means that the character doesn’t start off with much knowledge of his abilities, much less understanding how to use them or how they work. Levels Two and Five are (or will be) devoted to paying for the template and picking up an increased understanding of his talents. Randolf thus had a somewhat disturbed, but otherwise fairly “ordinary”, childhood (3 CP).
  • Double Enthusiast, Specialized for Increased Effect (4 floating CP) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost (4 CP) / only for use with “Create Relic”, all the Relics Randolf “creates” are actually borrowed from the Outer Ones; they’re usually very weird, they’re only available when the Outer Ones feel like lending him something, and what he gets is entirely up to the game master. (4 CP).
  • Create Relic / Specialized and Corrupted / All the Relics Randolf “creates” are actually borrowed from the Outer Ones; they’re usually very weird and what he gets is entirely up to the game master (2 CP).
  • Inherent Spell with +6 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased (Level Nine) effect (15 CP). L9 “Anyspell” effect, producing any Arcane effect of up to L6. Note that this requires that he call upon an appropriate Outer One, is considered blatant blasphemous and horrible black magic by pretty much everyone except the Outer Ones, will not be fully under control until he reaches L17 (and the ability to control a ninth level inherent spell properly), requires a modest ritual at least 1d4 minutes long, calls for a minor offering, and gives the Outer One invoked a limited point of entry into the “normal” universe – allowing some sort of tinkering or even a minor manifestation (15 CP).
  • Major Favors: The Outer Ones (6 CP).

Randolf has encountered several of the Outer Ones – although the forms they have chosen to take in his eyes are a lot more “normal” than any other entity could reasonably expect and it generally hasn’t been for long. They are, however, definitely taking an interest.

  • Baba Shiby” (“Mother of Shiva”, Life Manipulation, Monsters, Conjuration, and Relationships) usually acts sort of like a genial “house mother”. After all, she DOES have a thousand young – even if they are all aberrations of one sort or another. She seems to see Randolf as being one of them. Hopefully, she is wrong.
  • “Gnarly Hotep” (“The Twisted Way At Peace”, Darkness, Mind Control, Transformation, and Conflict) shows up in a variety of forms. Gnarly just can’t resist stirring up trouble, just to see how far people will go – and the greater the powers they bring into play, the better he likes it. He’s still especially proud of “The Rain Of Colorless Fire” – whatever that was.
  • “Uncle Yoggy” (“Elder Conjunction”, Time, Space, Dimensions, and Gates) is surrounded by a fiery froth of opening and closing wormholes traversing space and time, and as a result is never more than partially in any one place. He’s extremely distracted and quite obliging – but almost always gets whatever-it-is quite wrong.
  • “Ozymandias” / “Ozzy” (“The Fallen Eternity”, Chaos, Creation, Destruction, Music and Werewolves) acts like a stereotypical drugged-out hippie full of nihilistic wisdom, tells people not to worry or plays music that drives mortals mad while weird monsters appear nearby and eat them, and often leaves the people who survive his visits with strange curse/powers – commonly including forms of Lycanthropy which render them near-mindless monsters while transformed.

No, Randolf has no idea why any of them have chosen to look the way that they do for him. He thinks that they’re just whimsically pulling images from somewhere, and for once he’s right. 

For when Randolf has lived his second-to-final incarnation, and been slain at long last by what-he-must-become, all mortality and humanity will be subsumed, and what once was Randolf will return at last to Earth, sliding down from the far realms, the spaces between the stars, abandoning his place in the dark tapestry to come again to his birthplace. There he shall wait, dreaming in a death which is not a death, until R’leyh rises once more, and he – the perfected high priest of the Outer Ones and now their Native Guide – shall stride forth to stand beside his ancient friends as an equal. And he shall show them around the place, and they shall make themselves comfortable upon the Earth which is his house, and there shall be a party at the twilight of the gods that none save the Outer Ones will understand.

That is not dead which can eternal lie, and with strange aeons, even death may die.

ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn


At 286 CP that is one heck of a template. That’s in +8 ECL territory, and it probably well deserves it even if most of the powers it grants are a bit more subtle than blasting the enemy. After all, this is a Template that grants godhood (even if rather limited) to a first level character. Fortunately for Randolf, however, the entire thing is Specialized and Corrupted.

  • His abilities attract attention of the Outer Ones and their Servitors. This is not a (direct) problem for him beyond the occasional damage to his sanity, but can be hard on the rest of the world.
  • He feels responsible for managing the impact of the Outer Ones and their Servitors on the world – often frantically attempting to manage them so as to minimize the impact.
  • His abilities attract the notice of investigators, demon-hunters, and similar groups. Generally they are not happy about them and would like to see him dead.
  • His artwork is easily-recognized, and can be used to trace his incarnations across space and time.
  • He is subject to nightmarish visions of the Outer Ones and their Servitors, which he is compelled to express in his imagery.
  • He is occasionally asked to run “errands” or perform rituals for the Outer Ones. Declining results in ill fortune and (once he knows about them) his powers becoming even more erratic.
  • He is compelled to display his artistic talents, but often has little control over the results.
  • His occult powers are easily recognized as forbidden black arts by anyone who pays attention to his activities and their effects. In most places they are banned.
  • The “performance” of the Whispers Of The Black Tapestry cannot be sustained; the duration is thus limited to the basic 5 rounds plus the Echoes duration.
  • He occasionally utters terrible prophecies or unleashes dark forces without even meaning too.
  • He is a veritable magnet for strange and bizarre events, rifts in reality, dark artifacts, and other people’s prophecies. Oddly enough, this often makes it possible to anticipate him by finding a relevant prophecy.
  • His mere presence often causes conventional devices to malfunction. At best, he effectively only gets one-third to one-half of the treasure and equipment his level would normally grant.
  • His mystical abilities with the visual arts only work in conjunction with his nightmarish visions of the Outer Ones; only images of such visions express these powers.
  • He is compelled to draw his visions, activating at least some (GMO) portion of the Path of Whispers on one each day without even being aware that he is doing so.
  • He starts off mostly unaware of his various potential abilities.
  • His magical powers are too bizarre to be used in the creation of conventional magical items, and will influence any conventional talents he develops enough to bar their use as well.
  • The Template subsumes Duties (to the Outer Ones) and Restrictions (cannot use divine powers from any “normal” deities, including those bound into items). Given that this would eventually be worth rather more CP than the character gains from the items that wind up double-Specialized and/or Double-Corrupted (normally a big red flag) I’ll let this particular Template get away with that.
  • The user counts as whichever of a human, a non-human, an outsider, and a native of the prime material plane is most disadvantageous at any given moment.
  • Mortals who are psychically or magically sensitive, or are aware of the presence and nature of this Template, are instinctively wary of the user, generally preferring to avoid them entirely. The user’s social life is going to suck.

That brings Favored of the Outer Ones down to 95 CP – the upper limit for a +2 ECL race (or +3 ECL Template). Are those enough limitations to justify that?

Probably. After all, at low levels Randolf doesn’t have the knowledge or control to use his nifty powers that effectively. Sure, he can optimize the use of Whispers Of The Black Tapestry, His Unspeakable Destiny, or the abilities granted by bonding with a Dreamspawn (all of which have some serious downsides) at mid-levels, but it’s not like other characters can’t optimize and Mystic Artist is hardly the go-to path for raw power. At high levels… there will be lots of more outrageous characters around.

Randolf Upton Pickman

Level One Would-Be Hapless Bystander

Randolf is a nice, obliging, fellow. Unfortunately, he’s so out-of-tune with humanity that he’s had a terrible childhood – and finding himself to be the chosen high priest of the outer ones (or even a potential Outer Lord) has not really improved matters. In a rather weird way, Randolf is baby-sitting his patrons in their interactions with earthly creatures while they baby-sit him in his interactions with the creatures and powers of the outer realms.

Racial Package: Favored of the Outer Ones.

Available Character Points: 48 (Level Base) +2 (Untraveled, a variant on Illiterate. Randolf has never really been beyond his country birthplace and the local woods and town. He has a little bit of theoretical knowledge of the world, but is essentially unfamiliar with other cultures, species, and places) + 12 (Racial and L1 Bonus Feats) = 62 CP.

Package Deal: Student (Privilege/gets basic housing and support for free, has access to university facilities and libraries, 3 CP), +1 each with Computer Use, Craft (Writing), Drive, Knowledge (Art and History), and Research (6 CP), and Enthusiast (Specialized in Skills, for Double Effect, 3 CP). If transplanted from d20 Modern into a fantasy world the Pathfinder Package Deal is probably preferable.

Basic Attributes: Str 8, Int 14, Wis 16, Con 12 (14), Dex 8 (10), Chr 10. (22 Point Buy).

Languages: Common, Latin, and the “Dark Speech” of the Outer Ones.

Basic Abilities (31 CP):

  • Hit Points: 20 (L1d20, 16 CP) + 2 (Con) +16 (Dreamspawn Link) = 38 HP.
  • BAB: +1 (6 CP).
  • Saves:
    • Fortitude: +0 (Purchased, 0 CP) +2 (Con) = +2 (Effectively +8 due to Companion)
    • Reflex: +0 (Purchased, 0 CP) + 0 (Dex) = +0 (Effectively +8 due to Companion)
    • Will: +2 (Purchased, 6 CP) + 3 (Wis) = +5 (Effectively +6 due to Companion)

Combat Information:

  • Proficiencies: Simple Weapons (3 CP) and Pistols (3 CP).
  • Initiative: +0.
  • Move: 60′
  • Armor Class: 10 (Base) +4 (Mage Armor) +2 (Judo) = 16. Also, Protection from Law.
  • Usual Weapons:None

Special Abilities:

  • Bestowed by Template Companion: Need not Eat, Drink, Sleep, or Breathe, effectively immune to poison*, Fast Healing I (up to 20 points/hit die/day)*, Protection from Law*, and True Strike 3/Day*. May employ 4L1, 4L2, & 4L3 Absolute Command effects daily used as Reflex Actions at caster level equal to his level. These require making both a Fortitude and a Will save against the spell at +4 to avoid fatigue. All use-activated. Effects marked with an “*” are subject to dispelling and antimagic versus caster level one – but will come right back again next round.
  • Adept: Pays half cost for Decipher Script, Disable Device, Research, and Spot (6 CP)
  • Fast Learner, Specialized in Skills for Double Effect (6 CP).
  • Witchcraft II with the Rituals and Karmic Links Pacts paying for Witchcraft III and +3d6 Power (24 total) (12 CP). Save DC 13. Basic Abilities: The Adamant Will, Glamour, The Hand of Shadows, Healing, The Inner Eye, Shadowweave, and Witchsight. Notably, combining Glamour and The Inner Eye allow him to bypass language barriers – at least for living things.

Skill Points: 7 (CP Spent) +8 (Int Mod x 4) + 8 (Racial Bonus Feat spent on Fast Learner at L(-2)) = 23

  • Computer Use +1 (1 SP) +2 (Int) +1 (Package) = +4
  • Craft/Writing: +1 (1 SP) +2 (Int) +1 (Package) = +4
  • Craft/Visual Arts: +4 (2 SP*) +2 (Int) +4 (Race) = +10
  • Decipher Script +4 (2 SP*) +2 (Int) = +6
  • Diplomacy: +4 (2 SP*) +0 (Cha) +4 (Race) = +8
  • Disable Device +4 (2 SP*) +0 (Dex) = +4
  • Drive +1 (1 SP) +0 (Dex) +1 (Package) = +2
  • Knowledge/History +1 (1 SP) +2 (Int) +1 (Package) = +4
  • Knowledge/Arcane Lore (Specialized in Mythos Lore for Double Effect), +2 (1 SP*) +2 (Int) +4 (Race) = +18
  • Knowledge/Art +3 (3 SP) +2 (Int) +1 (Package) = +6
  • Martial Art/Tai Chi: +1 (1 SP) +3 (Wis) = +4 (Provides Defenses 2, already in his AC above).
  • Perform/Oratory +4 (2 SP*) +0 (Cha) +4 (Race) = +8
  • Research +4 (2 SP*) +2 (Int) +1 (Package) = +7
  • Spot +4 (2 SP*) +3 (Wis) = +7

Note that his Companion can grant a +20 Insight Bonus on a skill check three times per day. A “*” indicates half cost due to Adept.

Personally Randolf is a competent starting sage-type and has a number of psychic tricks to call on – but he really isn’t much of an adventurer. He isn’t likely to master most of his template powers very soon either – but he will learn to use the powers his Companion grants fairly rapidly, if only because she’s quite capable of explaining them and because the passive durability-enhancements will work whether he quite understands them or not. That will make him a tolerably effective and surprisingly durable minor mage.

Of course, Randolf intended to be an artist, not an adventurer or mage. If he really MUST develop some combat abilities he has lots of levels to go as of yet.

Future Development: Randolf could REALLY use some luck for Saves and some for Skills, but that’s cheap enough to pick up quite soon. More Witchcraft – and some more durability effects, such as a bit of damage reduction, will help his career as well.

Really though, he’s set up assuming a more or less “realistic”, even if Lovecraftian, setting. Massive leveling up is not really a thing under those assumptions.

Randolf is loosely inspired by “Ow, My Sanity”, a webcomic spoofing the Magical Girlfriend and Harem genres in a Call of Cthulhu setting. Of course, given that this is d20 and that the characters quite commonly achieve godlike power in the setting, Randolf is a lot tougher and more powerful than the hero of that comic. Unfortunately, “Ow, My Sanity” is on indefinite and possibly permanent hiatus – but what there is of it is well worth a look.

Eclipse d20 – Binding Mysterious Spirits VI. Apophis, Barbatos, Ruh Göbekli-Tepe, Haures, Ipos, Shax, The Triads, The Heartless Shadow, Mucha Lucha – and why not Zceryll.

As usual, all of these Mysteries build on the powers of the basic Bokor Package – although that is cheap enough that it’s normally well worthwhile.

Apophis (32 CP + 3 CP Disadvantage / Outcast. Sensitive individuals can sense the aura of destruction that Apophis radiates, and will want nothing to do with his host).

Chupoclops was a predatory eater of ghosts from the Forgotten Realms setting and has no real history from elsewhere. As an apocalyptic beast it was supposed to bring about the end of all things by devouring hope. With it slain, there is no longer a destined end of the world . Still, that’s not exactly an unprecedented role for a monstrous mythic figure. So let us go classical and create one of the earliest apocalyptic beasts we know of.

Apophis the Chaos-Bringer, the Oblivion of Souls, Destroyer of Ma’at, that which was Before Creation and Will Be After, rises again and again against the Gods. Each coming of the dawn proclaims their victory, that Apophis has once more been slain and cast beyond, preserving the cosmos for another day. Yet there can be no final victory. Apophis, like a thousand-headed hydra, rises ever again from the spaces which are not, the void beyond existence, to assail once more the structure of creation. Whether calling upon Apophis grants the Chaos-Bringer an opening to attack or diverts some portion of the power that would otherwise be hurled against the world cannot be said.

Yet Apophis answers those who call for the Oblivion of Souls upon the hidden ways – and for the wise perhaps that is answer enough.

  • Presence of the Destroyer/Doom, Corrupted/affects everyone else within ten feet rather than merely his enemies when activated – perhaps because Apophis has no true allies within creation (4 CP).
  • The Devourer of Ghosts: Immunity/Dimensional Barriers (Very Common, Severe, Major, Specialized and Corrupted/only the barrier between the Ethereal and Material, must return to the material plane after taking an active move, standard, or full-round action other than waiting and watching). This allows the user to become Ethereal as a Move Action up to once every five rounds, to see into the Ethereal Plane (or from there into the material plane) as a constant effect, and to attack or cast spells / manifest psionic abilities in both planes at once as desired (5 CP). Sadly, this also allows the user to be attacked by ethereal creatures and affected by their spells and manifested powers regardless of which plane he or she currently occupies.

Why is this only a “Major” immunity? It’s because the dimensional barriers in basic d20 worlds aren’t very hard to penetrate. Various creatures do it routinely. The Blink spell does it over and over again at level three, Astral Caravan takes entire groups into the astral plane at level three, Plane Shift jumps entire groups across multiple dimensional barriers of choice AND teleports them at level five – and even if it has targeting problems, it can be used offensively. D20’s dimensional barriers are more akin to paper screens than walls.

  • Martial Arts/1d4 Natural Weapons (Claws and Bite), is always considered armed (3 CP). Note that – if you are larger or smaller than Medium size – this scales appropriately. If you have claws and/or a bit anyway, just add +2 damage to their effects.

Nothing prevents humans from going for the basic mammalian claw-claw-bite attack routine save for their teeth and claws (fingernails) being generally ineffectual. Those channeling Apophis will find that the power of the Destroyer makes their natural weapons effective – if still not all that impressive.

  • Occult Sense/Detect Souls. Specialized for Increased Effect/20 foot maximum range. You detect living creatures within 20 feet as if you possessed Blindsense and can automatically determine their Type, Subtype, and level of vitality (Number of hit points. The character doesn’t actually get a number; he or she can simply see how “bright” a soul is. The Player gets a number, since that’s the only way to meaningfully rate that “brightness” without wasting time constructing and consulting a scale) (6 CP).
  • Opportunist/You can make a full attack (including the natural attacks for free appendages) at the end of a charge (6 CP).
  • Embodiment of Oblivion: Witchcraft III, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect/each basic ability is limited to a fairly specific, simple effect (rather than allowing dozens), often with additional limitations (6 CP).
    • Phantom Charge/Shadowweave. None can know from where Apophis will strike, or which of his thousand feints is true. Those channeling Apophis may spend one power as a part of a charge or attack action to generate a Mirror Image effect.
    • Entropic Cascade/Witchfire: Apophis’s touch can inflict terrible wounds on any creature of the cosmos. His channelers may spend two Power and a Swift Action to add “+2″ worth of weapon enhancements of choice to their natural weapons for one minute per level. This need not include an enhancement bonus and does not stack with itself, but it does stack with dissimilar weapon enchantments.
    • Draught of Life/Hyloka: Apophis drinks the life of the cosmos. When one of his channelers hits an opponent with an unarmed attack or a natural weapon he or she may spend 2 Power as a Swift Action to add a Vampiric Touch effect (albeit at only 1d6/2 levels, 10d6 max) to the attack as a supernatural effect
    • Shattering Strike/Infliction: The mere presence of Apophis weakens unliving material, causing flaws and cracks to spread through it. When one of his Channelers strikes an unliving target he or she may spend a swift action to amplify this effect – inflicting an extra five points of damage per level to a maximum of 15/25/35/50 damage for 1/2/3/4 Power or affecting all unliving materials other than what he or she is carrying in a five foot radius of the point struck for an additional +3 Power. If used against a force construct this counts as a Disintegrate effect, and can allow the user to continue straight through such a barrier.
  • .+3d6 Mana as +9d6 (32) Power, Specialized and Corrupted/only to power the Embodiment of Oblivion powers listed above (6 CP).
  • Rite of Chi with +7 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted/only for Power, only to rebuild the power pool for the Embodiment of Oblivion Powers, above (5 CP).

Apophis won’t make you a great warrior if you don’t bring some other abilities along those lines to the table – but the Destroyer of Ma’at can certainly give you a pretty good boost. If your Bokor is going in for melee combat, there’s a pretty good chance that Apophis will be in the his or her lineup of Mysteries. Apophis also illustrates something very important about Eclipse; with the “good” abilities no longer at the ends of chains of Feats, martial characters can afford to buy a selection of them as well as various quasi-magical powers. They may have a slightly harder time becoming super-powered specialists like the Ubercharger, but they can easily pick up a great deal of versatility. How many melee builds would find it useful to be able to generate mirror images, steal hit points, operate while blind, and tailor their weapons enhancements to individual enemies on the fly?

Barbatos (Bonus Mystery) (32 CP + 3 CP Disadvantage / Uncivilized. Those channeling Barbatos will find it nigh-impossible to deal with complex social situations, banking schemes, and similar complexities, suffering a -4 penalty on any such attempts).

According to the Ars Goetia Barbatos is a spirit of the woods, similar to Robin of the Woods, the Green Man or Knight, and other trickster spirits. His unique attribute amongst the array of (very similar) powers most of the spirits of the Ars Goetia grant is the understanding of beasts – so that’s what I’m going with.

Ruh Göbekli-Tepe (32 CP + 3 CP Disadvantage / Obligations. Those channeling Ruh Göbekli-Tepe may never abandon a city under attack save to cover the evacuation of it’s citizenry if the defense fails and must do what he or she can to aid a city in distress).

All I can make out of “Desharis” is “Country Patron”, and even that is a bit of a stretch based on “Desh” being Hindi for “country” or “land” – leaving “Aris” to Google to translate as a patrician, noble, or magnate. While that fits in well enough with the basic idea, I would prefer a less-fictional name – perhaps Ruh Göbekli-Tepe; the Spirit of Göbekli Tepe (a religious center founded about 9100 BC). Of course, Çatalhöyük was founded about 7500 BC and showed many (but not all) of the characteristics usually associated with cities. Jericho had fortified walls in 6800 BC, but seems to have been abandoned several time. The title of oldest continuously-inhabited city is contested – although Athens, Argos, and Byblos / Jubayl can all make fairly good claims on being the “oldest permanently inhabited city on Earth” since they’ve all been inhabited for at least seven thousand years.

…All of which, I suppose, is interesting but none too relevant.

Ruh Göbekli-Tepe is the spirit of the agricultural revolution, the urban dream – of food in plenty, of the safety of a gathered tribe in a strong place, of the strange tongues of visiting traders, of cyclopean walls, of the tales that brought structure to the world, and of the marketplace full of the exotic wonders that skilled craftsman create and visitors from afar bring. Today, when cities and towns crowd the earth, the wonder of approaching one in the dawn of the world has faded to a forgotten whisper – but while thinned, and scattered, and no longer a thing of wonder… the Spirit of the City lives still, it’s power a foundation of the modern world – even if, like all foundations, it is rarely actually seen.

  • The Urban Dream / Access to two Occult Skills – Dream Binding and Stealing the Scene (6 CP).
  • Lore of the Elder World: Augmented Bonus: Add (Cha Mod) to (Int Mod) for Skill Points through L1, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect/may only be spent on the three Adept skills, must be evenly split between them. This effectively provides a bonus of (Cha Mod x 5) skill points in Dream Binding, (Cha Mod x 4) + (Con Mod) skill points in Stealing the Scene, and (Cha Mod x 4) in Linguistics (6 CP).
    • Dream Binding – “the Wonders of the Markets” – means that Desharis “comes” with (Cha Mod x Cha Mod) x 2500 GP worth of equipment, although no single item may be worth more than one-third of that total. This can be very important indeed at lower levels – or if you happen to not have access to your usual sources of equipment.
    • “The Ancient Tales” cover Stealing the Scene. It’s Shticks, and the Languages spoken for Linguistics, may be chosen anew each time that Desharis is summoned. (In general, unless you unexpectedly encounter some really weird creature with an unknown language as a plot device – in which case you can speak it tomorrow – this should be more than enough languages to speak anything you’re at all likely to run across in any given region save for a dimensional crossroads).
  • Spirit of the City / Witchcraft III, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect/each basic ability is limited to a fairly specific, simple effect (rather than allowing dozens), often with additional limitations (6 CP).
    • Pulse of the City / The Inner Eye: You may sense the currents and pulse of the city, moving with it’s flow and easily navigating it’s currents. Crowds do not hinder your movement and you gain a +6 bonus on Diplomacy, Gather Information and Knowledge (local) checks which counts as being skilled – but only within settlements. This is a constant effect, with no cost.
    • Breath of the City / Hand of Shadows: You may Animate Objects as per a caster of equal level at the cost of a Standard Action and 2 Power.
    • Sword of the City / Infliction (Limited target set for more power). Once every five rounds you may add a triple-damage Infliction effect to a successful melee attack against an animal, elemental, fey, or plant creature.
    • Hands of the City: You may use a Standard Action and up to one Power per level to accomplish the equivalent of 25 GP worth of work per point of Power so expended. Basic materials for such work (clay, mortar, stone, timber, fiber, etc) – are automatically drawn from the environment, but metals, gems, and other special materials must be provided normally. Similarly, basic tools are not required, but the effects of superior tools can be added in. Any required rolls are made with a +6 bonus and count as being skilled. If repairing a Construct, each Power repairs 3d6 + Level (15 maximum) damage.
      • Install door and suitable framing, with bar, to fit 10 x 10 area: Wooden (Hardness 5, 10 HP) 10 GP, Reinforced Wooden (Hardness 5, 20 HP) 40 GP, Iron (Hardness 10, 60 HP) 500 GP.
      • Build 10 x 10 Wall: Masonry (2′ thick, hardness 8, 180 HP, Break DC 25) 250 GP, Packed Earth (3′ Thick, Hardness 2, 30 HP, Break DC 19) 10 GP, Wood (1′ Thick, Hardness 5, 120 HP, Break DC 26) 100 GP.
      • Dig out 10 x 10 x 10 cube of: Earth 5 GP, Clay/Rocky Soil 15 GP, Stone 50 GP. Yes, you can put holes under creatures, but it’s only a DC 16 Reflex save to avoid falling in. Just as bad, going more than fifty or sixty feet down in earth tends to lead to the walls collapsing before anything can fall that far, leaving any possible victims landing on a pile of soft earth about sixty feet down for 3d6 damage.
      • Build a Well (5 x 5, 100 feet deep) 200 GP. It comes with rope, winch, and bucket. While fitted stones hold the well open, trying to open one under someone allows them a DC 11 reflex save to jump away in time – which is unlikely to catch anything of the least importance.
      • Build a Trail 1 GP/100 Feet. This means clearing out the trees and brush, and enough leveling to let a small wagon get dragged through.
      • Build a Road: 1 GP/30 feet, x5 for difficult terrain. x2 for Gravel, x3 for Cobblestones, x5 for a solid base and mortared stones.
      • Build a Bridge: 5′ x 5′ section: Rope-and-Board 2 GP, Wood 10 GP, Stone 25 GP, Iron 150 GP.
  • All Cities One City: Ashen Rebirth with Teleportation, Specialized and Corrupted: only usable once every five minutes, must be passing through a door, walking down an alleyway, or otherwise be engaged in a scene transition, must emerge from a similar door/alley/arch/whatever, and must be able to trace an open path between the entrance and exit points. This costs 2 Power for any jump within a city or 7 Power to jump to another city within 100 miles per level (4 CP).
  • +3d9 Mana as 9d6 (32) Power, Specialized and Corrupted/only for use with the five city-related powers above (6 CP).
  • Rite of Chi with +10 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted/only to restore Power, only to restore the City Powers Pool, above (7 CP).

Ruh Göbekli-Tepe brings treasure, craftsmanship, and communications, as well as a powerful affinity for cities and the ability to move between them. He’s still somewhat specialized, and offers no general-purpose combat powers – but he’s got some extremely useful practical powers to offer a Channeler and if you happen to be in a jail or something he’s ideal.

Haures (32 CP + 3 CP Disadvantage / Accursed. Anyone channeling Haures suffers a -2 penalty on saves versus Illusion effects and will often provoke doubts about their sanity by talking to, and taking advice from, an imaginary friend).

According to the grimoires, Haures (also Flauros, Flavros, Hauras, Havres) gives true answers of many things past, present and future, but must compelled to do so, otherwise he will deceive the conjurer and beguile him. He can also destroy all the conjurer’s enemies with his infernal flame. If the magician requests it, he will not suffer temptations from any spirit or in any form and can be avenged upon demons.

Yes, we’re back to the Ars Goetia.

Now according to Wizards of the Coast, Haures grants a continuous Mind Blank effect (probably derived from the “protection against temptations” bit). While this is useful, it is also very boring – and shuts down many communications spells, status checks, divinations that gave bonuses to healing you, and so on. Secondarily, Pathfinder severely nerfed Mind Blank; it still protects against Divination, but now merely provides a +8 resistance bonus against Mind-Affecting stuff – which, since most characters of high enough level to be using Mind Blank in the first place will already have good Resistance bonuses, makes it virtually useless on that front. He lets you ignore the effects of difficult terrain (a pretty minor effect), move through enemy-occupied spaces (like Tumble or Acrobatics in Pathfinder), and gives Attacks of Opportunity against you while you’re moving a 50% miss chance (also like Tumble or Acrobatics, but less effective). He lets you create Major Images and wield Phantasmal Killers.

  • Immunity to Divination (Uncommon, Minor, Epic, Corrupted; This cannot be turned off. You are thus immune to many communications spells, attempts to determine your status, divinatons that give bonuses to Heal checks, and similar (8 CP).
  • Witchcraft III (6 CP). This is being purchased without limitations, to allow the full range of subtle and immediate uses without having to bother with a Bokor’s “spellcasting”.
    • The Adamant Will: In many ways this basic Witchcraft power is a better deal on the Mental Protection front than Mind Blank; while it does have a small cost, you only activate it when needed (and thus helpful effects are unhindered) and it allows you to falsify the results of various divinations, instead of just returning “no reading”.
    • Shadowweave with the Advanced Upgrade (+6 CP). This allows the user to generate Illusion effects of up to level three at a cost of 1/2/4 Power for effects of levels 1/2/3 – including Major Image, Invisibility Sphere, Mirror Image, Hypnotic Pattern, Color Spray, Disguise Self, and a wide variety of other tricks. Given that the Eclipse version of the Binder already gets some minor illusion-casting, this is a simple upgrade.
    • Pyroclastic Gaze: Glamour, Specialized and Corrupted/The user may spend 2 power and a Standard Action to unleash a Phantasmal Killer effect (Save DC 16 + Cha Mod), but has no other options.
    • Phantom Stride: The Hand of Shadows, Specialized and Corrupted/only to enhance your movement with three specific effects: Surefoot (Spell Compendium, level one), Surefooted Stride (Spell Compendium, level one), and allowing you to ignore speed reductions due to carrying a medium or heavy load or wearing medium or heavy armor. This effect lasts for one hour per user level at a cost of three power and an immediate action.
  • Augmented Bonus: Add (Cha Mod) to (Int Mod) for Skill Points through L1, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect/may only be spent on Tumble (Acrobatics in Pathfinder), Use Magic Device, and Bluff and must be evenly split between them (6 CP).
  • Rite of Chi with +8 Bonus Uses, Specialized/only to restore Power (9 CP).

Haures is a fairly solid choice, if only for the illusion-casting – which can be a very effective suite of abilities in the hands of a clever player, even if it is limited to fairly low-level effects. The immunity to Divination has its uses as well – but really, how often is a personal immunity going to protect you against attacks targeting the party? And how often are your enemies going to be relying on using Divination to attack you? That’s only at its best when you want to do some sneaking about.

Ipos (32 CP + 3 CP Disadvantage / Insane. Ipos knows no fear – and so the game master may ask for a DC 18 check if someone channeling Ipos wants to act with stealth and caution).

Ipos is another visitor from the Ars Geotia, but is also another rather generic entry even there. He reveals secrets, he grants valor and wit, and he has leonine attributes – and that’s about it. He’s so bland that he doesn’t even turn up in popular culture much. According to Wizards of the Coast, he grants 1d6 cold iron claws, flashes of True Sight, boosts the DC of saves against the powers of the Mysteries you host by one and gives you a +1 level boost on your usage of them, lets you resist the deleterious effects of various planes, and lets you make a Rend attack.

Evidently Wizards of the Coast couldn’t find anything really interesting to say about Ipos either. Worse, the basic Bokor build already includes a better way to get True Seeing – and the standard Binder build already grants immunity to fear one level after Ipos becomes available, so either way at least one of those powers is quite useless.

  • Double (Claw) Damage, when you hit with both claw attacks, Corrupted/requires an additional successful attack check, albeit one made at your full BAB (4 CP).
  • +2 Charisma, only for increasing the DC of saves against your abilities (6 CP in a Template).
  • +1d4 Hit Die, Specialized/only for increasing the usage level of your hit die/level-based abilities (2 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment (6 CP, 5000 GP net value):
    • Avoid Planar Effects (Level One Single-Target Variant, Personal Only, 1400 GP).
    • Remove Fear (Personal-Only, 1400 GP). Anyone hosting Ipos cannot be affected by Fear.
    • Surefoot (2000 GP): Gain a +10 competence bonus on Balance, Climb, Jump, and Tumble. You do not lose your Dexterity bonus to AC when balancing or climbing.
  • Immunity to Dispelling effects (Common/Minor/Great, Specialized and Corrupted / only to protect Innate Enchantments, Only those that come with this Mystery, 4 CP).
  • Leonine Form: Shapeshift, Attribute Modifiers (Replaces the user’s physical racial modifiers, if any, with Str +6, Dex +8, and Con +4, +10 Move, +1 Natural Armor, +8 to Balance and Climb, Low-Light Vision, Scent, and 1d3 Claws), Hybrid Form, Clear Speech, Variants (Near-Human Appearance). Specialized: Mountain Lion Form Only, Corrupted: Cannot actually Change Forms (27 CP base, net cost 9 CP).

This is classic shapeshift cheese; you summon Ipos, you become a lion-man, and you pick up some major physical boosts. Of course Ipos is a L6 Vestige. At Spell Level Five (Druid) we have Bite of the Weretiger – granting enhancement bonus of +12 to Str, +4 to Dex, +6 to Con, +5 Natural Armor, a Claw/Claw at full BAB (1d8+Str) and Bite (at -5 BAB, 2d6 + 1/2 Str) attack routine 1d8 , Blind-Fight and Power Attack. Ergo this bit of cheese is perfectly in line with other bit-of-cheese spells – at least if you don’t mind being a petting zoo person and your armor won’t cramp your tail.

  • Imbuement (Unarmed/Natural Weapons): Counts as Cold Iron at Level 4+, plus Adamantine at Level 11+, and Silver at Level 18+. Corrupted/only for giving your natural weapons the qualities of various materials (4 CP).

Ipos is another strong candidate for inclusion in a melee build, at least if your Bokor isn’t of a race with massive physical advantages already. There are much more interesting sets of abilities out there – but a set of nice, dependable, attribute, speed, and skill boosts is pretty much always useful to any combatant. They don’t require actions, or special gear to take advantage of, or any other trick. They just quietly provide statistical benefits all day. The fact that they’re available on the cheap, while being far less useful to full spellcasters, is another little boost for the martial types of course.

Shax (32 CP + 3 CP Disadvantage /Untrustworthy. Anyone channeling Shax might as well be wearing a sign saying “I am a Dark Wizard! Beware! Beware!”).

According to the Ars Goetia Shax “takes away a persons the sight, hearing and understanding at the conjurer’s request, steals whatever the conjurer asks and brings it to him or her, can discover hidden things if not thwarted by evil spirits, and sometimes gives good familiars, but sometimes grants familiars that deceive the conjurer. He should not be bothered too often. Shax is thought to be faithful and obedient, but is a great liar and will deceive the conjurer unless obliged to enter a magic triangle drawn on the floor. He will then speak marvelously and tell the truth. He knows when lies are told and uses these to teach lessons.” He takes the form of a swan.

Wizards of the Coast turned Shax into an possibly evil goddess of storm giants and had her grant limited Freedom of Movement, Immunity to Electricity, an extra 2d6 damage in melee (if you hit, and it takes up your swift action to prime it), and a swim speed. This makes very little sense and, quite frankly, is almost worthless to a PC. One round in five of Freedom of Movement is only useful as a way to activate another countermeasure or get out of an entangle or some such, and something as cheap as a Third Eye Freedom (2600 GP) can give you that. +2d6 damage to a single target but only on a successful attack, wasted if you miss, and requiring a swift action is trivial, and there are lots of (cheap) ways to get a swim speed if you need it. OK, Immunity to Electricity is nice – but Energy Immunity is only level six and lasts for twenty-four hours. Immunity to Electricity (Only) – call it “Faraday Cage” – would probably only be level five.

No, I have no idea of why Wizards of the Coast went to the effort to invent a history and then give their new Vestige no worthwhile abilities. Even basing their vestige on Shakespeare (“Shax” seems to be a nickname for him) would have been SOMETHING. Even worse, in the Eclipse version, Focalor – a level three Mystery – grants Resistance to Electricity, stronger (and ranged) attacks, a swim speed, water breathing, and lets you move and attack normally underwater – as a level three Mystery. This makes Shax even more useless.

That will never do.

  • Winds of Creation: Companion (Hawk Familiar) with the Spirit Fetch Template (12 CP). Shax may be a Mystery, but he – unlike so many others – can be both bound and free to transverse the Multiverse at the same time, serving his channeler as both a source of power and as a Spirit Fetch.
  • Dark Sorcery: Witchcraft III, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect/each basic ability is limited to a fairly specific, simple effect (rather than allowing dozens), often with additional limitations (6 CP).
    • Hyloka/Daemonic Resilience. The channeler may spend 2 Power to negate a Confused, Dazed, Fascinated, or Stunned condition as it would take effect. This does not count as an action.
    • Dreamfaring/Between the Realms. The channeler may spend 3 Power and a Swift Action to infuse his or her physical form with the energies of the astral realm, making movement more of an act of will than a physical thing – creating a personal Freedom of Movement effect.
    • Elfshot/Accursed Gaze. The channeler may spend 7 Power and a Standard Action to generate a Feeblemind (Save DC 17 + Cha Mod) effect.
    • Hand of Shadows/Hand of Shax. The user may spend 2 Power and an Standard Action to attempt to steal an item weighing up to eighty pounds from any target within 60′. If the target fails to save (Will DC 17 + Cha Mod) the item (armor, weapon, ring, pants, or whatever) appears in the user’s hands. The user must have a free hand to use this effect.
  • Dark Sorcery II: Advanced Witchcraft, Specialized and Corrupted as per the basic Bokor Witchcraft Package. Grounding, Flesh Like Mist and Weathermonger (6 CP).
  • +3d6 Mana as +9d6 (32) Power, Specialized and Corrupted/only to power the Dark Sorcery abilities listed above (6 CP).
  • Rite of Chi with +7 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted/only for Power, only to rebuild the power pool for the Dark Sorcery Powers above (5 CP).

Shax brings flexibility. His dark sorcery is not enormously powerful, but it offers a wide variety of exotic options and he provides enough power to use it freely. He’s not particularly strong on direct damage, but either his Accursed Gaze or Hand of Shax gives him a fair chance at pretty much incapacitating most opponents. A Feebleminded Spellcaster or Disarmed Martial Character is in deep trouble.

The Triad (32 CP + 3 CP Disadvantage/Compulsive. Those channeling the Triad find themselves unable to put up with pretty much any mortal government; they are all fatally flawed, need to be overthrown, and should not be offered respect. Channelers will support revolutionaries without much thought and will be pointlessly rude to governmental authority figures).

According to Wizards of the Coast, The Triad is a fusion of three fallen gods from a mighty psionic civilization that fell to shadowy side effects of their own infrastructure. Apparently no one in the mighty psionic civilization was any good at precognition, or dimensional awareness, or sensing subtle psychic intrusions, or boosting their knowledge skills past their presumably high base in knowledge/the planes and psionic lore, or… you know what? I think I’m going to go with the secret-society Triads instead – especially since the Triad, as written by Wizards of the Coast, is really not worth bothering with. That’s actually a common problem with the “official” vestiges; with no real underpinning to designing them but guesswork, the quality is very unreliable. Some are clearly winners, others clearly losers, and the rest are mostly all right. Sure, even using Eclipse you can still put in useless powers and such – but at least you’ll know if you have points left over or have spent far, FAR, too much.

Oppression bred secrecy, rebellion, and a thousand hidden conspiracies, tunneling through the society like the roots of some invasive weed, finding rich and fertile ground amongst the lower classes, dispossessed aristocrats, the ambitious, the criminal, and the desperate – flowering into outbreaks of resistance, of violence, of marching men. And like flowers, they fell to the scything weapons of professional soldiers. The White Lotus Society, the Taiping Rebellion, the Boxer Rebellion, and the Heaven and Earth Society… all fell, and were forgotten, the last remnants swept away.

Yet seeds fell in other lands, blown from the homeland in the red storm. The teachings of the Three Harmonies had focused on Body, Spirit, and Mind – and the power of the mind was the mark of its leaders. Unseen. Needing no sorcerous tomes, exotic components, or strange rituals, ready to respond in an instant to a channeled and focused will. And that power will answer still to those few who know how to call the last traces of the masters from the misty reaches of the past.

  • The Inner Fire, Specialized for Increased Effect: Bonus “Slots” are converted into Power (2 Points/Level of the bonus slot, bonus slots converted to Power cannot be used for other purposes) and the user may select psionic abilities from the basic Psion/Wilder list), but the number of available effects is halved and the caster level and safe usage level limits (Casting Level = 1/2 User Level, Maximum level of spell usable safely = User Level/4, rounded down) of The Inner Fire continue to apply. These are normal manifestations, not supernatural powers (6 CP).

The Triads Inner Fire Discipline List:

  • L1 (1 Power, Level 4+): Call to Mind, Empathy, and Entangling Ectoplasm.
  • L2 (3 Power, Level 8+): Body Equilibrium, Detect Hostile Intent, and Knock.
  • L3 (5 Power, Level 12+): Dispel Psionics, Energy Wall, and Time Hop.
  • L4 (7 Power, Level 16+): Correspond, Dimension Door, and Freedom of Movement.
  • L5 (9 Power, Level 20+): Ectoplasmic Shambler, Plane Shift, and True Seeing.
  • L6 (11 Power, Level 24+): Cloud Mind (Mass), Retrieve, and Temporal Acceleration,
  • L7 (13 Power, Level 28+): Divert Teleport, Energy Wave, and Personal Mind Blank.
  • L8 (15 Power, Level 32+): Iron Body, Shadow Body, and True Metabolism.
  • L9 (17 Power, Level 36+): Etherealness, Microcosm, and Timeless Body.

Note that most of these will not be usable until very high levels due to the restrictions on The Inner Fire. Using Charisma-Based Bonus Spell Slots… Charisma 12+ = +2 Power, 14+ = +6 Power, 16+ = +12 Power, 18+ = +20 Power, 20+ = +32 Power, 22+ = +48 Power, and so on.

  • Adept: Diplomacy, Psicraft, Sense Motive, and Spellcraft, Specialized/only to double the boost provided by Augmented Bonus, Below (3 CP).
  • Augmented Bonus/Dedicated Student: Add (Con Mod) (totaling +2 x Con Mod with Adept) to each of Diplomacy, Psicraft, Sense Motive, and Spellcraft (6 CP).
  • Lore (As per Bardic Knowledge) (6 CP).
  • Upgraded Proficiencies: A Bokor is normally proficient with Simple Weapons. This is upgraded to being proficient with all Simple, Martial, and Exotic Weapons (12 CP).
  • Additional Psionic Ability: Psionic Blade. L3, costs 5 Power. Manifested as a Swift Action; the user pours psionic energy into a weapon, adding his or her Charisma to Attack Checks and (level, +10 Max) to Damage for the next three minutes (2 CP).

The Triad isn’t very powerful at low levels even if the skill bonuses will have a larger relative impact there – but at mid-levels and up combining a high Charisma with the Triad can provide quite a lot of Power and a fairly decent array of abilities to use it with. Going further, the Triad will continue to provide new powers well into the epic levels. Most of the rest is just lagniappe, although the Psionic Blade ability can be a useful contribution to a melee build and the weapon proficiencies can come in handy at times. Still, if you want to rely on a weapon you’ll hopefully have learned to use it long before you can call on the Triad .

The Heartless Shadow (32 CP + 3 CP Disadvantage / Dependent on Shadows. Those channeling The Heartless Shadow suffer a -3 penalty to all rolls when they are out in intense bright light, such as direct sunlight).

Vanus is, once again, not really a name; it’s another obscure word (likely Latin or Estonian) that can be translated in various ways (boastful, ostentatious, vain, empty, vacant, void, unsubstantial, and untrustworthy) – which at least explains where the “legend” came from. He radiates fear, he lets one nearby ally take a free move action once per round, escaping almost any confinement, he does +1d6 damage when attacking a weaker foe and gives you a big bonus to Listen checks. Ergo we have the Heartless Shadow. An obsession with capturing or killing Keyblade Wielders is optional.

  • Augmented Bonus: Add (Cha Mod) to (Int Mod) for Skill Points through L1, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect/points may only be spent on Listen (Perception in Pathfinder), Hide (Stealth in Pathfinder), and Ride and must be distributed evenly between them (6 CP).
  • Presence/Aura of Fear: As per Doom to enemies who come within 10, Specialized for Increased Effect (Those who fail to save are Frightened, those who save are Shaken) / will not take effect again until the duration of the effect expires, once a creature saves it is immune for twenty-four hours (6 CP).
  • Presence, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (Vaporous Jaunt) / only affects a single ally within 30 feet per turn, only usable once every three rounds. Designating the ally to be affected is a free action (6 CP).

Vaporous Jaunt: Transmutation, L2, Components V, Casting Time 1 Standard Action, Range: Medium, Target: One willing creature, Duration: Instantaneous, Saving Throw: Will Negates (Harmless), Spell Resistance: Yes.

The target dissolves into mist, reforming at a place of it’s choice within it’s normal movement range – although, since no physical movement is required, chains, bars, hold spells, grapples, and similar obstacles will not prevent the Jaunt and no attacks of opportunity are triggered. Similarly, this does not require an action on the part of the target.

  • Innate Enchantment (11 CP). All effects are Swift or Immediate, SL1, CL1, Unlimited-Use Use-Activated for an effective value of 2000 GP each.
    • Void Cloak/Invisibility, Swift
    • Shadow Walk/Swift Expeditious Retreat
    • Night Wings/Feather Fall
    • Form of the Void/Windy Escape (Pathfinder)
    • Shadow Strike (Your weapons do +1d6 damage for the round)
  • Shield of Shadows/Block (Melee) (6 CP).

The Heartless Shadow is a surprisingly capable team fighter, and almost always gets to use its Swift Actions, even if its swift abilities are fairly minor. The ability to shuttle allies about, cause fear in the enemy, and block attacks makes it a reasonably effective fighter as well.

Mucha Lucha (32 CP + 3 CP Disadvantage / Accursed. Mucha Lucha comes with an elaborate mask, and the channeler will resist all attempts to remove it. If someone manages to remove it anyway, the innate enchantments he grants will not work until the channeler puts it back on).

According to the Ars Goetia, Zagan makes men witty and wise, changes various liquids into wine or oil or water (sources vary) and turn metals into coins. Considering what many of the others are supposed to be able to do… that’s not much of a portfolio. Wizards of the Coast gave him various snake-themed abilities, possibly due to his being a patron of counterfeiters and deceivers. Both are a bit meh, so I bring you Mucha Lucha, the Spirit of Masked Wrestling.

  • Anime Master, Specialized and Corrupted/only for Grappling (2 CP): Increases your size by one level for grappling purposes.
  • Evasive/Grapple: takes no attacks of opportunity for making a grapple attempt (3 CP).
  • Specialist / Grapple: +4 to Grapple (3 CP).
  • Presence/Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (Only usable once every five rounds, only affects a single target within 30′), produces an Aversion effect (6 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment (10 CP):
    • Embrace The Wild: +2 to Listen and Spot, Gain Low-Light Vision and either Blindsense out to 30′ or Scent (chosen when the Mystery is summoned) (2000 GP).
    • Fist of Stone: +6 Enhancement Bonus to Strength for the purposes of attack rolls, grapple checks, or breaking and crushing items. May make one natural slam attack, dealing 1d6 points of damage + your new Strength bonus (or 1-1/2 times your Strength bonus if you make no other attacks in the round) (2000 GP).
    • Corrosive Grasp: Gain a touch attack doing 1d6+1 Acid Damage (2000 GP).
    • Grip of Iron: +4 Enhancement Bonus to Grapple Checks (Psionic, still 2000 GP).
    • Serpents Bane: You gain +2 to Attacks and +2d6 Damage against snakes, snakelike creatures, and creatures with a natural poison attack (Personal-Only, 1400 GP). . This lets you easily out-wrestle huge boa constrictors and anacondas.
  • Immunity to Dispelling effects (Common/Minor/Great, Specialized and Corrupted / only to protect Innate Enchantments, Only those that come with this Mystery, 4 CP).
  • Augmented Bonus: Add (Cha Mod) to (Int Mod) for Skill Points through L1, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect/points may only be spent on a Wrestling Martial Art (although each summoner may create their own Dex or Str based style), Tumble (Acrobatics in Pathfinder), and Intimidate and the points must be distributed evenly between them (6 CP).
  • Specific Knowledge/The Lore of Masked Wrestling (1 CP)

Mucha Lucha is obviously a bit of a niche Mystery. He’s quite good at what he does, and grappling can be quite effective up until Freedom Of Movement is a pretty standard precaution – but most adventuring parties really don’t need a professional wrestler along. Still, if you ever need that sort of cover, or are up against  a swarm of minor casters or some such… Mucha Lucha may be right up your alley.

Zceryll

The last level six Mystery is from a Class Chronicles article – and Zceryll raises four major red flags.

First off, it’s from a web article. There ARE very good web articles out there, but web articles are notorious for dubious quality and wonky mechanics for a reason.

That articles initial premise – that Vestiges, originating from any dimension in the multiverse and now resident beyond it, somehow need “adapting” to local histories setting to make them usable – demonstrates that the author doesn’t get the basic idea of what a “Vestige” is supposed to be. Given that, it’s all too likely that he or she doesn’t understand how to build one either.

It’s for the Forgotten Realms – a setting notorious for mechanics like “Spellfire” and for Mary Sue and Marty Stu characters.

It’s widely considered the best vestige available before epic levels. There’s a certain relationship here with the first problem on this list isn’t there?

So Zceryll:

  • Grants the (non-epic) “pseudonatural” template. So… you become an Outsider, get a +20 insight bonus on an attack check once per day, get some (15 Max) resistance to Acid and Electricity, get some Damage Reduction (10/Magic max), and Gain (10 + Level, Max total 25) Spell Resistance, can take a weird form that causes attackers to suffer a -1 Morale Penalty when attacking you, and you get a +0 to +2 to your CR. And yet there are – quite specifically – no penalties to diplomacy, or perform, or any other activities for becoming a writhing lovecraftian horror from beyond. It doesn’t even make you hard to recognize. And here I would have thought that most people would find it awkward. So you get a poorly-implemented template that was meant for monsters only. Do any other vestiges grant +2 ECL templates? No?
  • You gain immunity to Confusion, Insanity, and Weird spells. Not to Confusion or Insanity effects, but just to those three specific spells. Why not, say, Phantasmal Killer since Weird is just an area of effect version? Who knows? In addition, you receive a +1 bonus per four binder levels on saving throws against mind-affecting effects. Well… OK.
  • You can fire a ranged touch attack ray up to medium range that dazes an opponent who fails a will save for 1d3 rounds. Once you have used this ability, you cannot do so again for 5 rounds. A fairly good ability, but at least it makes some sense and the mechanics are clear enough.
  • “Summon Alien: You can summon any creature from the summon monster list that a sorcerer of your level could summon. Any creature you summon with this ability gains the pseudonatural template. Thus, at 10th level you could summon any creature from the summon monster I-V list. When you reach 14th level, you can summon any creature from the summon monster I-VII list. You can only summon creatures that can be affected by the pseudonatural template. Once you have used this ability, you cannot do so again for 5 rounds.”

OK… Disregarding that the ability does not say how long your summoned monsters stick around (I’d say that it’s most likely intended to be one round per level, like the Summon Monster spells), whether or not you can call multiple lower-level creatures like the Summon Monster spells (I’d say no), and whether or not you can control what you summon (probably yes, but it doesn’t say so), there are problems with this over and above the author’s poor implementation (yet another confidence-reducer – as if I needed any more).

Most obviously… you get to do more summoning than any actual summoner – up to 2880 times per day. Producing effects of up to level nine (since this ability scales instead of being limited to effects based on the level at which this vestige can first be summoned). And that gives you similar access to an immense range of spells. Just to start off with, this provides effectively unlimited access to Repairing Touch, Spider Climb, Invisibility, Magic Missile, Dispel Magic, Glitterdust, Gust of Wind, Neutralize Poison, Pyrotechnics, Scorching Ray, Suggestion, Wind Wall, Obscuring Mist, and Cure Moderate Wounds – among many other spells. Just for some further highlights…

  • Level Twelve? Add Animate Dead, Bestow Curst, Create Food and Water, Dominate Monster, Cure Serious Wounds, Quickened Fireball, Fog Cloud, Lightning Bolt, Wall of Stone, Magic Circle Against Evil, Speak with Animals…
  • Level Fourteen? Add Greater Command, Commune, Death Ward, Dimensional Anchor, Fly, Holy Smite, Major Creation, Major Image, Phantasmal Killer, Raise Dead, Remove Curse, True Seeing, Wind Walk, Wall of Ice.
  • Level Sixteen? Add Blade Barrier, Cone of Cold, Entangle, Heroism, Knock, Passwall, Polymorph Other, Scrying, Stone Shape, and Telekinesis.
  • Level Eighteen? Add Blasphemy, Death Ward, Dismissal, Dispel Chaos/Evil/Law, Greater Dispel Magic, Divination, Enervation, Enthrall, Find the Path, Freedom of Movement, Heal, Hold Monster, Holy Word, Greater Invisibility, Locate Creature, Locate Object, Nondetection, Prismatic Spray, Reincarnate, Greater Shadow Conjuration, Stone to Flesh, Symbol (any), Trap the Soul, Tongues, Wall of Force, and Wall of Fire.

So… your minions can do the fighting, the healing, the blasting, the battlefield control, and the construction work, get you all the information you like, dispel enemy magic, and help you sneak about and get into places. They can charm and manipulate people for you. They can create illusions and provide undead minions just in case keeping two or three monsters around all the time is not enough. Admittedly you have to spend 20% of your time summoning – but there are entire core classes which are far less potent and versatile than this single ability.

Now I COULD build this. I could throw in something like Kagura’s specialized reality editing to get the summoning and lesser effects, put in another template-bestowing effect, and kludge some sort of dimensional overlay (with a superhero universe to get a continuous flow of mana to power everything with) ability together (an immunity or some of the mystic artist powers could do it). It would be a HORRIBLE kludge though, and no sane game master would allow it any more than they would allow the original Vestige.

I’m not going to bother. If you must have an “I Win!” button there’s not much point in playing.

Eclipse d20 – The Great And Powerful Trixie, Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns, the Alicorn Amulet, and the Ursa Minor

Trixie Lulamoon has made several appearances in My Little Pony, albeit with significant personalty changes from appearance to appearance – even after allowing for the effects of the Alicorn Amulet. She has a wand and either a cape or a stylized moon for a cutie mark.

Wait. Isn’t there something a little weird about that? Unicorns have a horn. No one in Equestria uses a wand. From that point of view… Trixie’s cutie mark is saying “I use an alien system of magic!”. (Given her profession it also says “my show is going to be exotic and well worth watching” – but that’s secondary).

So Trixie performs unusual magic. Is it just stage magic and tricks? After all, “I use props and tools” could reasonably be taken from her mark.

No. It can’t be. “Stage Magic” relies on preparation, props, visual angles, and misdirection. How do you set up in advance to deal with whatever comes of an open challenge to an audience in a world where almost everyone has a special talent that they’re proud of? If Trixie’s special talent is to use her magic to pull back the cloak of time (star-tipped wand, cloak of stars… I could make a case for her being an astrologer too) and see the future well enough to get ready for whoever will challenge her… why isn’t she a top advisor to Celestia? Even if it was strictly limited to challengers, stubborn bureaucrats, underhanded nobles trying to slip something past her, and would-be assassins would all qualify.

That seems pretty unlikely.

Trixie does use smoke bombs and similar gadgetry, and it’s obvious enough that she’s good at bluffing and often simply claims that her way of doing things is better than a challengers – but she’s also blatantly incredibly versatile compared to most unicorns. Normal unicorns seem to be capable of low-powered, short-range, telekinesis, sensing magic, making light, and doing something related to their cutie mark. Trixie is capable of skillful telekinesis, firework and light displays, illusions, changing hair colors, briefly shutting up a heckler with an (easily-removed) “mouth zipper”, creating electrical energy discharges sufficient to be annoy and startle a Pegasus (cartoon joy buzzer style), animating rope, and producing what appear to be small weather effects – and it isn’t likely that dealing with only three challengers in a brief segment would display all of her abilities. While her power level is nothing like Twilights (although she seems to be more versatile at this point; it is pretty early in the series), she seems to be a match for Rarity – and Rarity is pretty powerful compared to the average Unicorn.

So Trixie is reasonably powerful compared to low-level NPC’s, very versatile, uses exotic magic, and is apparently far more attractive and persuasive than her skills and personality seems to warrant since she apparently does make a living with her shows. She (at least per Lauren Faust) was admitted to Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns – which may not be uncommon, but does at least show the ability to pass the entrance exams. It’s implied elsewhere that she left before graduating – possibly because of personality problems and possibly because the school wasn’t helping her much.

On the other hand, Trixie gives relatively brief shows, and only one or two a day. Perhaps, unlike most other unicorns, she runs out of magic fairly quickly. Additionally, it seems like a lot of her magic may be self-taught.

Hm… Self-taught, highly versatile, powerful at fairly low levels but no match for a high-level specialist, runs out of power quickly, but has some ability to manipulate social situations in her favor, and rather poorly socialized… Trixie, unlike the vast majority of unicorns, is a Witch.

To account for the personality changes, I’m going to make her into a Bokor – a Spirit Channeler.

So; this version of Trixie hails from Neigh Orleans, where a small colony of Zebras has brought along their exotic magic and mixed with the local earth ponies to produce even more exotic hybrids – both of blood and magic. Among them… the magic of the Bokor. Trixie, with few unicorns about to provide training in Equestrian Unicorn Magic, learned some of those arts – and easily qualified for Celestias School for Gifted Unicorns. Unfortunately, her somewhat difficult baseline personality, the constant shifts resulting from her spirit channeling, and the fact that the teachers there didn’t know much of anything about her style of magic except that it was weird and scary, soon led to her leaving. Trixie took up with some traveling performers (“ran away to join the circus”) and picked up some of their skills before breaking up with them as well (albeit on more friendly terms; circus performers are used to odd behavior patterns) – setting out on her own career. Sadly, Trixie was over-proud of her skills and not yet an especially polished performer in season one, and so tended to be far, FAR, too provocative. She has improved a good deal since then though – although, for her, even “bearable” is a big improvement.

Trixie Lulamoon, The Great and Powerful (when channeling Ile Zeremika), The Clever and Discerning (when channeling Andromalus), The Mysterious and Resourceful (Haagenti), The Humble and Penitent (Naberius), The Swift and Deadly (Cheshire Cat), and The Avatar of Flame (Amon). Also known as “The Complete Fruitcake” when influenced by The Alicorn Amulet.

Level Five Bokor

Racial Package: Unicorn Pony (30 CP/+0 ECL race)

  • Attribute Shift, +2 Charisma/-2 Strength (6 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment, caster level x spell level 1 x 2000 gp (7 CP; 6000 gp)
    • Greater Mage Hand x2 (allows handling two items at once), (4000 gp).
    • One additional 0- or 1st-level spell. In her case that’s Greater Prestidigitation (from the Trickster Mage spell list). That provides a LOT of flexibility for minor tricks.
  • Immunity/stacking limitations when combining innate enchantment effects with external effects (common/minor/trivial; only covers level 0 or 1 effects) (2 CP).
  • Immunity/the normal XP cost of racial innate enchantments (uncommon/minor/trivial) (1 CP).
  • Immunity/needing to concentrate on spells (common/major/trivial – only for spells of level 0 or 1), specialized for half cost/only applies to innate enchantments (1 CP). This allows Trixie to use her telekinesis (and Greater Prestidigitation) without actually paying attention to it, just like a human uses their hands.
  • Immunity/verbal, somatic, and material components when casting spells (very common/major/minor – only for spells of level 3 or below) (10 CP). Note that this also affects her spells as Bokor, although it does not entirely overcome the limitations; it just means that you have to be watching closely and make a DC 15 Spellcraft check to spot them.
  • Eldritch, a unicorn’s horn glows when using innate enchantments or spellcasting, and a matching glow surrounds the target (0 CP).
  • Skill Focus (6 CP). In her case that’s in (Unicorn) Gadgetry.
  • Accursed. Any damage, or other harmful effect, that befalls a unicorn’s horn (e.g. must target their horn specifically, rather than the unicorn overall) causes all innate enchantments and spells cast to immediately end. No more can be used until the effect is healed (-3 CP).

I’m using Alzrius’s racial description rather than my own because mine relies on treating the ponies as superheroes – while this character is meant for a more-or-less standard game.

Available Character Points: 144 (Level Five Base) +10 (Disadvantages: Accursed (due to the extreme difficulty in finding information on Mysteries in Equestria, Trixie only learns of one for every two ranks or part thereof of her Knowledge/Arcana skill), History and – inevitably – Showman) + 12 (L1, L3, Bonus Feats) = 166 CP.

Package Deal: None. If used in a Pathfinder (or Ponyfinder) game, apply the Pathfinder Package Deal.

Basic Attributes: Str 8 (6 after racial modifier), Int 16, Wis 10, Con 16, Dex 16, Chr 8 (10 after racial modifier). Given that Trixie is supposed to be working on her character flaws, her +1 from fourth level will probably go to Charisma. It won’t be enough.

  • Strength: There’s not much to go on here. Trixies Wagon doesn’t even seem to have a harness in season one (and judging from the amount of gadgetry that seemed to be built into it, it may have had some sort of motor like the cider machine), but her new (or heavily-rebuilt and modified) wagon has a harness in season six and she’s seen casually strolling along while pulling it. Of course, that may not mean anything but “showing off less” or just “ponies are presumed to have no trouble towing small wagons”. I’m setting her strength to a minimum simply because she’s a caster and there’s no indication that she’s particularly strong.
  • Intelligence: Trixie seems to be pretty clever about magic and shows a variety of skills, so a fairly high rating here makes sense.
  • Wisdom: For this… Trixie falls to her pride and overdoes her challenges and attempts to confront an Ursa when completely unprepared (honestly, it’s a big bear. A few stink/smoke/irritant bombs might well have driven it off), gives into the Alicorn Amulet before she even TOUCHES it, and certainly doesn’t seem all that perceptive. Even by the old-school notion of Wisdom (are you sensible?) it’s not her strong point.
  • Dexterity: Trixie does sleight-of-hand with hooves, and does some escape artist tricks and such. That’s probably not all telekinesis and magic; Equestrian audiences are unlikely to be impressed with telekinetic tricks.
  • Constitution: Trixie wanders Equestria alone, getting plenty of healthy outdoors exercise – and likely dealing with various minor monsters. If she got too sick or injured… she’d be dead. Ergo, a decent Constitution (and probably some healing magic) is in order.
  • Charisma. You’d think this would be a priority for a showpony wouldn’t you? Well, you are apparently greatly and powerfully wrong. Trixie isn’t greatly evil, but she is powerfully abrasive. Fortunately, a practiced routine goes a long way towards covering that while she’s on a stage.

Languages: Common (A.K.A. Equestrian and English), Draconic, Zebrican (a somewhat bastardized dialect), and Sylvan.

Basic Abilities (77 CP):

  • Hit Points: 12 (L1d12, 8 CP) +14 (L2 and 3, d8, 7, 7, 8 CP), +10 (L4 and 5, d6, 5, 5, 4 CP) + 15 (5 x Con Mod) = 51 HP
    • Trixie has been touring, on her own, to towns on the fringes of the Everfree. She may or may not have fought an Ursa, but she’s almost certainly fought Timberwolves and dealt with other perils – and she is still alive. A decent number of hit points is definitely in order, although she’s focusing less on hit points as her magic improves.
  • Skill Points: 12 (Purchased, 12 CP) + 24 (8 x Int Mod) = 36 SP. 32 have been invested in her eight Adept skills, giving them all a base of +8.
    • Access to Occult Skill (Unicorn) Gadgetry, as a “Relevant” skill (6 CP). This is probably a fairly normal skill in Equestria, but we are more or less presuming a visit to a fairly standard setting.
    • Adept: Bluff +8* (+2 Synergy to Diplomacy, Disguise, Intimidate, and Sleight of Hand), (Unicorn) Gadgetry (+11 +3 Skill Focus +2 Synergy from Knowledge/Arcana= +16 with a +3 Specialty), Perform (Stage Magician, covers many tricks) +8*, and Sleight of Hand +11* (6 CP). Skills marked with an “*” are often augmented with Witchcraft.
      • Usual Unicorn Gadgets (16): “Motorized” Wagon (+6 to pullers effective strength, 1), Opens into an elaborate Stage (2) with Lightshow, Magician’s Props, and Fireworks (2), Smoke Bombs (1), Refrigerator / Freezer (1), Stove / Water Heater (1), Charmed Cloak (+4 Deflection Bonus to AC, 3), “Smart” Cards (display whatever is needed and reform if damaged. This provides a +10 bonus to performing card tricks and individual cards can serve as a license, pass, or business card, 2), Ectoplasmic Mirror (Spend 3+ Power, generate a minor ectoplasmic construct that you can use as a stand-in and speak through. Unfortunately, while “real”, it is about as effective as an Unseen Servant with a Mirror Image and Ventriloquism, cannot get more than thirty feet away from you, and lasts no more than three minutes per point of power supplied (although the first three count), 1), Veil of Maya (This can be set up to cover her stage, or a carnival booth, or similar – covering up the signs of Trixie’s magic use, so that her powers will appear even more mysterious, 2).
      • Stage Magic Gadgets (From +3 Specialty): Vanishing Stone (A part of her cloak clasp): This activates as a free action up to three times daily, turning her Invisible – but the effect lasts for a maximum of one turn (1), Stone of Transit (Also a part of her cloak clasp): Teleports the user to a pre-prepared box, circle, or similar “receiver” within the range of a normal move as a move action up to three times per day (1), and an Innocent Blade: This vicious looking, wickedly sharp scimitar that can, if the bearer wills, pass through living creatures (and, optionally, their clothing) without harming them. It has no other special function (1).
    • Adept: Concentration +11, Knowledge/Arcana +11, Spellcraft +13 (with +2 Synergy from Knowledge / Arcana), and Survival +8 (6 CP).
      • Known Mysteries: Amon, Naberius, The Cheshire Cat, Haagenti, Andromalus, and Ile Zeremika.
    • Specialties and Other Skills: (Unicorn) Gadgetry/Stage Magic (1 SP), Craft/”Gypsy” Items (2 SP for a +5 total, mostly for fixing her wagon), and Magic Tricks (1 SP).
  • BAB: +2, Specialized in Ranged Combat for Double (+4) Effect (12 CP).
  • Saves:
    • Fortitude: 2 + (Purchased, 6 CP) +3 (Con) = +5
    • Reflex: +2 (Purchased, 6 CP) +3 (Dex) = +5
    • Will: +0 (Purchased, 00 CP) +0 (Wis) = +0
  • Combat Information:
    • Proficiencies: All Simple Weapons. Trixie knows how to effectively wield all the common items you’d find around a circus – hammers, mallets, clubs, poles, knives for throwing acts, crossbows for the “shooting” games, spears/prods for poking at misbehaving acts/attacking monsters, and so on (3 CP).
    • Initiative: +3 (Dex) -3 (Showman) = +0
    • Move: 30′ (60′ with Horseshoes).
    • Armor Class: 10 (Base) +3 (Dex) +4 (Deflection) +4 (Armor) = 21.
    • Usual Weapons: Trixie normally relies on her mighty magic, not weapons! Still, if she must… she usually has a few knives about (they are so useful after all) to chuck telekinetically. That gives her a +7 to hit and no damage modifier, which isn’t bad for a small blue unicorn.

Special Abilities (89 CP):

Bokor Powers (48 CP).

  • Basic Power Package (24 CP)
  • Initiate of the Mysteries I (14 CP).
  • Witchcraft Pacts:
    • Missions. Trixie wanders Equestria, is in contact with strange spirits, and has highly versatile abilities. It would be hard to find a better special agent wouldn’t it? Ergo, Trixie undertakes occasional missions for the spirit world – and so can be found almost anywhere, doing almost anything, that the plot demands for her patrons mysterious and unexplained (even to her) reasons. Could you ask for a better adventure hook? (-6 CP).
    • Rituals. Trixie performs an assortment of minor rituals – speaking of herself in the third person to avoid giving her location away to malevolent spirits, making small offerings, visiting obscure shrines when she passes them, and telling certain tales as a part of her act (-6 CP).
    • Duties: Trixie must never take up permanent residence anywhere or adhere to a regular route of travel, must take and train at least two apprentices during her lifetime, must constantly (and abrasively) test the patience of those who wish to befriend her, and must often mysteriously disappear into the wilderness following the omens of the winds (-6 CP).
  • +2d6 Mana, taken as 6d6 Power. Bokor Limitations, Only usable for Witchcraft (4 CP). This gives Trixie a total of 55 Power – quite a respectable amount!
  • Rite of Chi with +8 Bonus Uses, only to restore Power, Bokor Limitations (6 CP)
  • Witchcraft II to Doubled Effects father than one-third cost (allowing Trixie to produce Telepathic Projection, Telekinetic, Animation, Light, and Illusion effects of L0/1/2/3 for .5/1/2/3 Power. These have a base range of 60 feet and a base Will save DC of (16 + Cha Mod) (+4 CP).
  • Breath of Life (2 CP). Allows the user to Animate an object of up to Large size for an hour for 3 Power. When necessary, Trixie is perfectly capable of animating her wagon and telling it to go and take care of itself.
  • Finesse; Substitutes (Int Mod) for (Cha Mod) when it comes to Witchcraft (6 CP).
  • Double Enthusiast, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (6 Bonus CP) / only active when channeling a Mystery, only changes only when summoning a Mystery, only to an ability associated with the latest Mystery to be summoned, the acquired ability may not be used more than three times before it fades until a new Mystery is summoned (6 CP).

Introductory Courses at Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns

What does get taught at Celestia’s school? Well, at least in Eclipse terms it seems likely to go something like this…

  • Magical Kindergarten (ages 6-7) presumably teaches Unicorns to control their innate magical talents. By the end of it… they should have a fair handle on basic telekinesis and should only surge under serious stress.

As for Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns…

First Year: Honing your Natural Magic and General Education

  • All students: +6 CP Innate Enchantment (usually expanding on their special talent), plus courses in the ethics of magic, and some basic knowledge of history, literature, elementary mathematics, and basic science – or what passes for it in Equestria plus general socialization. (Other ponies get this stuff in their normal schools and apprenticeships since it’s pretty much presumed for every character, like Literacy). Trixie did not complete this year – making her severely undertrained for her potential and leaving her with woeful gaps in her general knowledge.

Second Year: Basic Magical Theory.

  • For magical-talent students the start of a Spell Progression.
  • For students with limited affinities the basics of Rune Magic – Some SP (or CP if necessary) in Rune Mastery and Rune Casting and a little Mana (Specialized in Rune Magic only). Usual minimum of +1 Mastery (allowing Cantrips), +2 Casting (providing a casting level of one), and 1d6 Mana Specialized in Rune Magic.
  • Given that Trixie was already using an entirely different magic system it’s not surprising that she dropped out when she saw this coming up. Celestia’s school simply wasn’t much use to her.

Third Year: Practical Magical Focusing

  • For magical-talent students: Storing Mana with which to enhance spells and continuing their Spell Progression.
  • For students with limited affinities: Storing Mana to power spells and developing their rune magic skills.

Fourth Year: Gathering Mana

  • All Students: Rite of Chi, possibly with Bonus Uses.

Fifth Year: Professional Certification, followed by Graduation

  • For magical-talent students: Advancing their Progression and expanding their list of known spells.
  • For students with limited affinities: developing their rune magic skills to professional levels.
  • Graduation: All students should now be competent enough to start careers, usually as first level characters. Celestia’s school graduates some of the best magical healers, shielding experts, communication mages, and other specialists in Equestria – greatly improving the lives of her little ponies throughout the land. Those talented students with actual spell progressions tend to head into research and (since they can teach a wide variety of students with specialized talents) into teaching – although they usually get some practical experience (and pick up a level or two) out in the world first.
  • Post-Graduate Studies (Years Six and Seven): Individualized studies. Commonly Spell Research, Creating Magical Items, Runic Ritual, Alchemy, Combat Magic, and so on. Yes, this means that even an advanced Equestrian Education is often over by age fourteen or fifteen, while most other students are educated . Is that really a surprise? The show IS, after all, aimed at kids

Most first years will acquire a few effects that they can use almost without limit. Trixie, by the usual standards an incurable dabbler, learned a variety of tricks – but most of them were not associated with her special talent, and so are each only usable a very few times per day at best. Worse, she dropped out quite early, leaving her with only part of a first year magical education. She may be a powerful Bokor (even if she thinks of that as her “stage magic”) but, by normal Equestrian unicorn standards she is mostly untrained.

Partial First Year: +4100 GP to her Racial Innate Enchantments (4 CP):

  • Wizard’s Pocket (SL 1, The Practical Enchanter) Caster Level One Unlimited-Use Use-Activated, x.4 (may only be renewed when the duration runs out, may not be spammed) = 800 GP.
    • Trixie has the equivalent of secret pockets, and can store five cubic feet / 50 pounds of material about herself at only five pounds of encumbrance and retrieve items as a move equivalent action. This makes all kinds of Sleight-of-Hand MUCH easier to pull off.
  • Handyman (SL0, repairs one point of damage to an inanimate object. While this will put pieces back together it does not restore magical properties or repair constructs). Spell Level Zero reduced to -1 by Ambient Magic limitation, Caster Level One, Unlimited-Use Use-Activated = 500 GP.
    • Trixie, not being an idiot, presumably slipped back into town during the night after Boast Busters and used a combination of Hand of Shadows (Getting all the pieces picked up and put back together) and Handyman to put her wagon back together. Being homeless is pretty miserable!
  • Goodberry (SRD SL1, 0 after the Ambient Magic Limitation). Caster Level One Unlimited-Use Use-Activated, x.2 (Once Per Day) = 200 GP.
    • An invaluable trick when on the road. Find a few berries – or force a few on a bush out of season with Greater Prestidigitation – and you have food for days.
  • Obscuring Mist (SRD SL1). Caster Level One Unlimited-Use Use-Activated, x.2 (Once Per Day) = 400 GP.
    • When you really need to run away there’s nothing like a sudden fog.
  • Relieve Illness (Hedge Wizardry, SL1, 0 after the Ambient Magic limitation): Caster Level One Unlimited-Use Use-Activated, x.2 (Once Per Day) = 200 GP.
    • When you’re traveling alone, a minor illness can be dealt with. A major one is often a death sentence. This spell will reduce the severity of an illness considerably.
  • Cure Light Wounds (SRD, SL1, 0 after the Ambient Magic limitation) Caster Level One Unlimited-Use Use-Activated, x.6 (Three Times Per Day) = 600 GP.
    • Similarly, minor injuries can become infected, or accumulate, and swiftly prove fatal on the road – so any sensible long-distance solo traveler needs to learn to deal with them.
  • Hearthfire (Hedge Wizardry, SL2 reduced to SL1 by Ambient Magic limitation), Caster Level One Unlimited-Use Use-Activated, x.2 (Once Per Day) = 400 GP.
    • A small fire and a stove will suffice for heating, cooking, baking, hot water, and light, with no trouble or expense.
  • Expeditious Retreat (SRD, SL1) Caster Level One Unlimited-Use Use-Activated, x.2 (Once Per Day) = 400 GP.
    • Are there a lot of monsters? Bandits? Going faster is often quite enough to save your neck. This has since been superceded by her Horseshoes, but it was very useful back when she was starting out.
  • Shield (SRD, SL1) Caster Level One Unlimited-Use Use-Activated, x.2 (Once Per Day) = 400 GP.
    • It may not last very long, but when you’re principally interested in getting away, stopping magic missiles can be pretty important.
  • Alarm (SRD, SL1, 0 after the Ambient Magic limitation): Caster Level One Unlimited-Use Use-Activated, x.2 (Once Per Day) = 200 GP.
    • Another invaluable effect for the lone traveler. After all, it’s not like she has anyone else with her to stand guard.

Other Abilities:

  • Reflex Training (3/Day Bonus Actions Variant) with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized in Movement and activating Movement-Boosting Effects (6 CP). Trixie is very good at ducking out when necessary.
  • Action Hero/Stunts (6 CP). Trixie will occasionally pull things off that she has never done before – and will quite possibly never do again.
  • Immunity/Needing to wear clothing or light armor of up to 100 GP value to enjoy it’s beneficial effects (Common, Minor, Major, 6 CP). Trixie need not wear heavy clothing in winter to keep warm, raincoats to keep dry, minor armor to avoid injury, swarm suits to keep off bugs, or anything at all to avoid public indecency and to have pockets. Yes, this is a pretty standard part of being a pony – but it certainly isn’t a normal part of most other settings. Trixie, like the Royal Guards, has an upgraded version, covering armor as well as simple clothing. Given that this version of Trixie may show up in other worlds… it’s worth calling it out, as opposed to simply leaving it as a background assumption.
  • Damage Reduction 3/-, Specialized in Physical Damage for Double Effect (6/-) (6 CP). Ponies are TOUGH. And it starts young. We can tell, because the Cutie Mark Crusaders are still alive. It’s another thing that isn’t called out in the show because EVERYONE in Equestria is resistant to injury – but when you’re interacting with outsiders, it’s worth noting.
  • Opportunist: Trixie gets to provide herself with special effects (via Greater Prestidigitation and minor (no cost) touches of Witchcraft) without it requiring an action of any kind. She can have a bit of faint background music, her cloak may blow in a non-existent wind, simple spells may have impressive special effects, and so on. In general, this is worth a +2 bonus on relevant rolls and makes her act look more impressive (6 CP).
  • Damage Reduction 3/-, Specialized in Energy Damage for Double Effect (6 points of general energy resistance) (6 CP). Like most cartoonish characters, ponies tend to shrug off minor energy discharges – including things like being set on fire – with a bit of superficial blackening that goes away in a few moments. Once again, this isn’t really called out in the show because this kind of thing applies to everyone in Equestria – but it’s worth noting when you’re interacting with normal mortals.
  • This actually leaves 1 CP left over. I’d spend it on a Specific Knowledge of Stage Magic – covering tricks, its history, and great stage magicians.

Equipment (9000 GP):

  • Amulet of Tears (2300 GP). If you’re trying to run “Equestria” under the standard rules, this item is probably almost standard issue. Even the kids survive outrageous stuff quite regularly.
  • Horseshoes of Speed (3000 GP). What traveling equine entertainer could pass up these?
  • Hat of Disguise (1800 GP). Invaluable for any stage magician.
  • Everfull Mug (200 GP). Not a major item, but combined with Goodberry it lets you travel with very little risk of going hungry or thirsty.
  • Bag (Hat Lining) of Tricks (900 GP). You never know when a small assistant will come in handy – and pulling an animal from your hat is about as classic as you can get.
  • Trixie’s Wagon is a large two-pony fully-furnished Caravan (requires Str 10 for easy pulling). It includes built-in seats, cabinets, and a wardrobe, two one-pony (two if they’re intimate) bunks in the rear, a chest of drawers who’s top serves as a table, a small larder, a wine rack, a glass-fronted china cabinet, and shelves with bars to keep things from falling off. Small windows and a skylight allow for light in the daytime, at night there are brackets for oil lamps – although Trixie mostly uses magical effects. There is a small porch on each end. Racks and cases along the outside fold out to provide storage for trade goods, a set of masterwork artisans tools and a workbench, a small forge, and a wide variety of storage spaces and barrels. An assortment of minor items – pots and pans, a water tank, a supply of food (about a months worth for one pony), a spare cape and hat, bedding, an (average) door lock, soap, and similar miscellany – is included at a net cost of 350 GP (Caravan 250, Tools 55, minor goods 45).
  • That leaves 450 GP for minor stuff – a few books on stage magic, some extra props, some bottles of decent wine, hiring an assistant or a venue for a big show, hiring a youngster or two as shills for her show or servants, a selection of posters to put up, and other minor gear. After all, Equestria isn’t that big on magic items outside of household Gadgetry anyway.

Translated into d20, Trixie is actually a very impressive stage magician – mostly because powers that don’t do much in combat are really, REALLY, cheap in d20. Most d20 games are focused on fight-the-monster, get-the-treasure, and save-the-world – with more mundane careers relegated to the backstory. It being d20, however, her left-over points have gone into combat related abilities – leaving her a competent, if minor, trickster-styled adventurer.

What about the Alicorn Amulet? Well, given that it was evidently in a junk shop with no takers for quite some time… I’m going to assume that appropriate users are scarce. It’s a 4 CP Relic, all powers Specialized: using it makes the wearer crazier and crazier until the game master takes over the character – and it makes the user fairly obviously insane or possessed long before then.

  • The Alicorn Amulet: 3d6 (12) Mana with the Spell Enhancement option, Corrupted/only to enhance the user’s spells and psychic powers (18 CP, 1 point adds +3 spell levels, but only one point may be used), Rite of Chi with +8 Bonus Uses, Corrupted/the ritual is to gloat, explain your plans, and otherwise act like a stereotypical villain (6 CP), Immunity/Having the amulet removed against the user’s will (Uncommon, Minor, Major, 3 CP).

That lets Trixie toss around sixth level spells quite readily – which should be sufficient, given that most of her “major” effects were likely short term or were so flawed that they were easy to get around.

As a bonus, here are some statistics for the Ursa Minor.

My (very rough) calculations give the Ursa Minor a height of about 24 feet (figuring that Ponies are about four feet tall when not crouching a bit). That’s on the lower end of “Huge”, so figuring from a Dire Bear, an Ursa Minor would look something like this…

Ursa Minor:

  • Huge Magical Beast (About 24 feet tall). (Possibly Augmented Animal if the limited magical powers are taken as being provided by the rules of Equestrian reality rather than being innate).
  • Hit Dice: 20d8 + 120 (210 HP).
  • Initiative +0
  • Speed 40 Feet (8 Squares)
  • Armor Class 18 (-2 Size +10 Natural), Touch 8, Flat-Footed 18
  • Base Attack/Grapple: +15/+23
  • Attack: Claw +29 Melee (2d6+14)
  • Full Attack: 2 Claws +29 Melee (+2 Weapon Focus, -2 Size, 2d6+14) and Bite +22 Melee (3d8+7).
  • Space/Reach: 15 Feet/10 Feet.
  • Special Attacks: Improved Grab, “Shooting Stars” / Magic Missile as a Supernatural Ability 5/Day (10 Missiles). This attack is only used when something is really annoying and hard to hit physically.
  • Special Qualities: Low-Light Vision, Scent, Immunity to Blinding and Light-Based Effects, Immunity to Magic Missiles. Radiates sufficient light to dimly illuminate a radius of ten feet per hit die, this automatically dispels all Darkness effects within that area with caster levels of less than it’s hit dice.
  • Saves: Fort +18, Ref +12, Will +13
  • Abilities: Str 39, Dex 11, Con 23, Int 2, Wis 12, Cha 10.
  • Skills: Listen +10, Spot +10, Survival +15, and Swim +15
  • Feats: Alertness, Endurance, Run, Luck with +4 Bonus Uses (only for Saves), +2 BAB specialized in Claws,
  • Extra Skills (+6 SP), and Grant of Aid (Stellar Powers).
  • Environment: The Everfree Forest, Equestria
  • Organization: Usually Solitary, pairs possible.
  • Challenge Rating: 10
  • Treasure: None
  • Alignment: Always Neutral
  • Advancement: 37-64 HD (Colossal Ursa Major).

Combat: An Ursa Minor attacks notable opponents by tearing at them with its claws. Up to one minor opponent per limb may simply be stepped on as per Grappling (see Improved Grab).

Improved Grab (Ex): To use this ability, an Ursa must hit with a claw attack. It can then attempt to start a grapple as a free action without provoking an attack of opportunity.

Like all Equestrian Animals, Ursa’s are strongly affected by Friendship and Harmony, suffering a -6 penalty on saves against such effects – including against musical effects.

OK, Trixie almost certainly could not defeat an Ursa Minor, much less an Ursa Major. She might well, however, be able to escape from one – or (if she had time to channel the right Mystery, get up a Shield spell to handle the Magic Missiles, and prepare some alchemical toys) be able to stay out of reach and harass one with spells, smoke, stink, and other irritants until it leaves.

This version of Trixie is – quite intentionally – versatile enough to fill a great many different roles, just as she does in fanworks. You want Trixie the Noir Detective? Trixie the Mad Bomber? Trixie the Crimelord? Trixie the Rebellious Arsonist? Trixie the Mage Duelist? Trixie the Foil for Twilight? Here you go. Just pick a relevant Mystery and associated Bonus Feat and you’re all set.

This one just kept getting longer, so it’s a couple of days late…

Eclipse Character Sheets and Clerical Support

And for today it’s a bonus post, in the form of a quick response to a question…

Not a big fan of reinventing the wheel. Feel other new players & I would benefit from a sheet to fill out when creating characters, but can’t find one & don’t want to make one. Also might miss something I don’t understand about where the base abilities come from. Not just “abilities,” stuff like weapon proficiencies & spellcasting. Ordered Eclipse Compiled last Sunday & it hasn’t come yet so I downloaded the shareware. Becoming obvious why there isn’t a page with just a few blanks to fill out, but there’s got to be something easier than copying templates. One other thing bothering me. Not much about clerics on this blog, but I assume somebody’s going to want to play one so everybody else doesn’t die of their wounds.

-Radpert

The problem with making an Eclipse character sheet is that very little on an Eclipse character is standardized – if only because it covers many versions of the d20 rules and pretty much any setting.

It’s possible for characters to have extra attributes. The skill list varies with the setting – and there are ways for a character to alter their costs, gets skills that don’t normally exist in the setting, or change how they work – and  then there are skills like Martial Arts which call for a lot of subnotes. The setting may or may not offer Package Deals. While almost all characters will have hit points, they may get them from things other than hit dice. Of course, they can buy extra hit dice too.

Given that degree of freedom… there really isn’t any fixed fill-in-the-blanks character sheet that will work for Eclipse. On the automated side PCGen has an Eclipse dataset that makes character sheets depending on what you buy – but as last I looked it doesn’t let you copy-and-paste chunks of material that you happen to like from another build. Personally (and it’s mostly a matter of habit), I just use a word processor and paste in a generic list like this one, deleting items that don’t apply to a particular character.

Name/Title
Personal History
Personal Data: Height; . Weight; Lbs, Hair; . Eyes; . Skin; . Age . Occupation; . Marital Status; . Birthplace; . Religion; . Education; . Alignment; .
Racial Package:
Template Package:
Package Deal:
Available Character Points: (Level Base) + (Disadvantages) + (L1, Bonus Feats) +
Basic Attributes: Str, Int, Wis, Con, Dex, Chr.
Basic Abilities:
Hit Points:
BAB:
Saves:
Fortitude: + (Purchased, CP) + (Con) = +
Reflex: + (Purchased, CP) + (Dex) = +
Will: + (Purchased, CP) + (Wis) = +
Skill Points:
Combat Information:
Proficiencies:
Initiative:
Move:
Armor Class: 10 (Base)
Usual Weapons:
Special Abilities:
Skills:
Specialities:
Languages:
Martial Art:
Requires:
Basic Techniques:
Advanced and Master Techniques:
Occult Techniques:
Known Techniques ():
Initial Wealth Level:
Current Wealth Level:
Usual Charms:
Usual Talismans:
Relics and Special Equipment:
Game Role:
Combat Tactics:
Further Advancement:

Weapon proficiencies, spellcasting, and similar items are simply more abilities, to be purchased with character points. The only difference between “basic abilities” and other abilities is that the vast majority of characters have the basic stuff and it gets referenced a lot, so I put it into it’s own section on the sample characters to make finding it easy.

As for Clerics… There’s a level-by-level breakdown of the standard 3.5 cleric build, a breakdown on converting the 3.5 Cleric to a Pathfinder Cleric build, and a selection of sample characters using clerical spellcasting (and several healers using other ways of healing). It’s just that hardly any of them call themselves “Clerics” since that’s the name of a standard build – and the sample characters are generally devoted to illustrating how to make more exotic builds. For some examples…

  • Dallyn Vortys, a would-be dark lord and priest of the dark gods.
  • Hisui Tsume, a mystic samurai-priest.
  • Orin Markala (and his level two upgrades), a priest of the High One. Incidentally a high-optimization character designed to provide magical support, enhancement, and coordination for a small military company.
  • Varek (a support cleric linked to on Alzrius’s site)
  • The Balancer of Scales – A Dragonstar “paladin”, although his clerical abilities are minor as of yet.
  • The Servant of a Fallen God – a cleric with a personal god, just for him.
  • The Sacerdos Pastor, a package deal for village priests that makes a good basis for an adventuring cleric.
  • Ptaysanwee – although, as an epic character, she may be a bit much for most games.
  • Volund Saril, budding thief lord, priest of the Masked One, and Dreamspawn Partner.
  • The Walker in Darkness, a servant of the lower planes.
  • Raymund, a starting priest in the Village Heroes series.
  • Amilko Moonshadow, Epic Level Squirrel and Herald of Chaos.
  • Antaeus Varin, a young noble, priest of The Hidden One, and Dreamspawn Partner.
  • The Paladin of Death. A psychopomp and spirit guide.
  • The Collector. A mystical dabbler with a powerful patron.
  • The Mystic Adept has the option to use clerical-style magic, albeit not actual clerical spellcasting. It does represent another approach though.
  • The Scholarly Priest, an expert in channeling positive energy.
  • Tarlin Malority, a Thunder Dwarf. As a resident of the Twilight Isles, Tarlin gets most of his initial powers from his race, but is a minor cleric.
  • Liam Ko, is an insanely intricate Eclipse conversion of a character from a Legends of High Sorcery campaign – but is a fairly high level build.
  • The Kabalistic Ritualist build has a priestly option, but is primarily focused on rituals. Still, there’s no reason why those can’t be religious rituals.
  • A’ikana is more focused on her martial arts and “Chi Powers” then on her clerical magic – but that’s simply because she’s more of an eastern style priest than a western one.
  • Terin Aderath, a priestly monk-assassin of the Nightwraith Order.
  • Julius Gaius Maximus is a pacifistic healer from the Atheria setting, with powerful – but highly limited – clerical spellcasting for his level.
  • The Cleric Tricks package gives your cleric a quick theme at a very low cost.

Of course, since Eclipse is back-compatible… you can simply use a “standard” build, or just take inspiration from any other source.

Zhan Rayden, Master of the Earth, Levels 9-12

Zhan Rayden, Master of the Earth

“Earthbender” (Eclipse Kineticist-Style Build) Mystic Architect

Zhan Rayden is now approaching what used to be called “Name Level” – the point at which the characters were supposed to start collecting followers, founding domains, and otherwise having a larger-scale impact on the world rather than simply going out to fight monsters. The faster level gains and classes-for-all system introduced in third edition have pushed that to a much later point (if it ever happens) – but I happen to think that people who battle dragons, create mighty magical devices, teleport across the world, and explore other dimensions SHOULD be very important and noteworthy people. Given that Rayden was already an architect-builder, expanding his influence beyond his personal reach is a fairly obvious path to take anyway – so I’ll be including some such options in these levels.

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Level Nine:

Basics: +4 SP (+2 Int Mod, +2 Human Fast Learner, Committed to Adept Skills, +2 Doubled Pathfinder “Favored Class” Bonus)) +30 CP (Base plus L9 Bonus Feat), +1d4 (+Con Mod, +Wis Mod) HP. “Healthy One” (+2 CP to become more durable).

Basic Attributes: Str 15 +2 (Wrath) +6 (Shift) +1 (Level) +2 (Enh) = 26, Dex 16 +8 (Shift) +2 (Enh) = 26, Con 19 (17 +2 Pathfinder +2 (Wrath) +4 (Shift) +1 (Level) +2 (Enh) = 28, Int 14, Wis 16, Cha 13.

Adept Skills:

  • Avalanche Fist Martial Art +12 (Base) +6 Con +3 Path: Net +21, Toughness IV, Attack II, Combat Reflexes, Breaking (Specialized for double effect/only against earth, stone, and metal), Versatility, Vanishing and Inner Strength.
  • Craft/Stonemason: +12 (Base) +3 (Int) +3 (Path) = +18
  • Earth Rune Magic/Casting +12 (Base) +3 (Wis) +3 (Path) = +18
  • Earth Rune Magic/Mastery +12 (Base) +3 (Wis) +3 (Path) = +18
  • Perception: +12 (Base) +3 (Wis) +3 (Path) = +18
  • Profession/Architect +12 (Base) +3 (Wis) +3 (Path) = +18
  • Profession/Engineer: +12 (Base) +3 (Wis) +3 (Path) = +18
  • Use Magic Device +12 (Base) +1 (Cha) +3 (Path) = +16

As for those 30 (+2 from “Healthy One”) CP…

  • +1 BAB (+11 Total) Specialized in Melee (3 CP)
  • Hit Die: d4 (0 CP). Rolls: L1d5 (5), L2d4 (2), L3d4 (3 +2 Path), L4d6 (6 +2 Path), L5d6 (6 +2 Path), L6d6 (3 +2 Path), L7d4 (2), L8d4 (4), L9d4 (2), Immortal Vigor +2d6 (12), +11 x (Con Mod + Wis Mod) = 185 HP.
  • Increase his Damage Reduction to 3/- (Specialized for Double Effect (6/-, 10/- with Toughness) / Only versus physical damage), (1 CP + 2 CP from Healthy One). That’s getting quite impressive; in combination with his massive number of hit points, he can wade through quite a lot of minor foes with no difficulty.
  • Body of Stone: Immunity / Sneak Attacks and Critical Hits (Common, Major, Major, 9 CP). This reduces the extra damage from Sneak Attacks and Critical Hits by 30 points. That won’t stop a serious crit-build, but it should suffice versus
  • Saves: +1 Will (3 CP) (Net Fort +6/Ref +6/Will +4)
  • Skill Points: 2 SP (Pathfinder Bonus, 0 CP). These are going to Linguistics and Stealth.
    • Linguistics +4 (SP) +2 (Int) +3 (Path): Common, Terran, five other languages.
    • Ride: +1 (SP) +3 (Dex) +3 (Path) = +7 (+11 when Armored).
    • Stealth: +12 (SP) +4 (Dex) +3 (Path) = +19 (+23 when Armored).
  • Hammer of the Underworld / Augmented Attack/+2d6 (taken as +5) Damage to overcome Damage Reduction and Hardness Only, Corrupted / only with melee combat (4 CP).
  • Upgrade his Metamagical Theorems: (Elemental Manipulation and Amplify with Streamline II, Specialized and Corrupted: Only to add +2 levels of Infliction and Empower to Fists of Stone and Stone Mountain Stance (8 CP)) to Specialized Only (Also adds two levels of Empower to his Force Shield and Force Armor – raising their effective bonuses to +6 and providing a now-needed +4 to his AC) (4 CP).
  • Strengths of the Earth IV: +4 Bonus uses for Rite of Chi, Specialized and Corrupted / only to restore Mana, requires at least one hour of sleep per die regained (2 CP).
  • Upgraded Strengths of the Earth: Rite Of C’hi, Specialized and Corrupted/only to restore Mana, requires at least one hour of sleep per die regained (2 CP). This gets his effective Mana Recovery Rate up to 2d6 per hour of sleep (Since he has two instances of Rite of Chi, even if each takes an hour to work), up to a maximum of 17d6 per day. Given that Rayden only has 5d6+6 (25) Mana at the moment, this is far more than enough unless he takes a nap later on in the day.
  • Upgrade Runic Ritual to cover Combat Spells – however rarely this is practical (2 CP).

Magic Items: With 46,000 (or +13,000) GP to spend, it’s time to consider these again:

  • Armor:
  • Belt: Healing Belt (MIC, 750 GP. 3 Uses/Day, spend 1/2/3 to heal 2d8/3d8/4d8, +2 to the Heal Skill). Includes Attribute Boosters: Str, Dex, and Con, each +2 (12,000 GP. Per the rules in the MIC these functions can be added at cost to any item which occupies an appropriate slot).
  • Body: Ghost Shroud (MIC, 5000 GP): +1 Deflection to AC, all Melee Attacks are treated as Ghost Touch.
  • Chest:
  • Eyes:
  • Feet: Combined Item; Boots of the Earth (Pathfinder, Inner Sea Gods, user may plant his or her feet as a move action, gaining Fast Healing I and a +4 bonus to CMD to resist bull rush, reposition, and trip combat maneuver attempts. These effects end if the wearer moves or is moved, knocked prone, or rendered unconscious, 5000 GP) and Vanguard Treads (MIC, 3100 GP, lets you ignore difficult terrain, slippery surfaces, +8 CMD versus bull rush and +4 CMD versus reposition attempts – but +10 to attempts to track the user). As combined, these have a net cost of 9650 GP). Given how many HP he has for his level… he needs these badly, just to get healed up each day.
  • Hands:
  • Head:
  • Headband: Third Eye Clarity (MIC, 3000 GP, 1/day immediately remove daze, stun, etc).
  • Neck:
  • Ring:
  • Ring:
  • Shield:
  • Shoulders: Cloak of Protection +1 (1000 GP)
  • Wrists: Wristbands of the Poseur III (8000 GP. Note that between his Use Magic Device check and attributes he can get full use out of these quite easily).
  • Slotless Items:
    • Everfull Mug (MIC, 200 GP)
    • Handy Haversack (2000 GP).
    • Ioun Torch (75 GP)
    • Cracked Dusty Rose Prism Ioun Stone (+1 Competence to Initiative, 500 GP). He may have implanted this, since that only calls for skill checks, not money.
    • Cracked Magenta Prism Ioun Stone (+2 Competence Bonus to any one skill, may be changed once per day, 800 GP). Mounted in a Wayfinder (500 GP) to provide a Resonant Power (a +1 nameless bonus on any one saving throw. He usually takes Will).

This comes to 43,475 GP – leaving 2525 GP available for minor supplies. He really ought to upgrade to at least a +2 Cloak of Resistance – but he can’t quite afford it at the moment. It is worth noting that he has rather a lot of unused item slots. As usual for an Eclipse character, the magic items are nice, but they aren’t really required for him to do his thing.

Ninth level brings Rayden the ability to penetrate Damage Reduction to a modest degree, as well as a bit more magic and a drastic boost to his ability to resist sneak attacks and critical hits. Those aren’t especially dramatic powers, but they’re very useful. One thing he still doesn’t have is any Energy Resistance. He’ll probably have to come up with some soon.

————————————————————————————-

Level Ten:

Basics: +4 SP (+2 Int Mod, +2 Human Fast Learner, Committed to Adept Skills, +2 Doubled Pathfinder “Favored Class” Bonus)) +24 CP (Base), +1d4 (+Con Mod, +Wis Mod) HP. “Healthy One” (+2 CP to become more durable).

Basic Attributes: Str 15 +2 (Wrath) +6 (Shift) +1 (Level) +2 (Enh) = 26, Dex 16 +8 (Shift) +2 (Enh) = 26, Con 19 (17 +2 Pathfinder) +2 (Wrath) +4 (Shift) +1 (Level) +2 (Enh) = 28, Int 14 +2 (Enh) = 16, Wis 16, Cha 13.

Adept Skills:

  • Avalanche Fist Martial Art +13 (Base) +6 Con +3 Path: Net +22, Toughness IV, Attack II, Combat Reflexes, Breaking (Specialized for double effect/only against earth, stone, and metal), Versatility, Vanishing, and Inner Strength.
  • Craft/Stonemason: +13 (Base) +3 (Int) +3 (Path) = +19
  • Earth Rune Magic/Casting +13 (Base) +3 (Wis) +3 (Path) = +19
  • Earth Rune Magic/Mastery +13 (Base) +3 (Wis) +3 (Path) = +19
  • Perception: +13 (Base) +3 (Wis) +3 (Path) = +19
  • Profession/Architect +13 (Base) +3 (Wis) +3 (Path) = +19
  • Profession/Engineer: +13 (Base) +3 (Wis) +3 (Path) = +19
  • Use Magic Device +13 (Base) +1 (Cha) +3 (Path) = +17

As for those 24 (+2 from “Healthy One”) CP…

  • +1 BAB (+12 Total) Specialized in Melee (3 CP)
  • Hit Die: d4 (0 CP). Rolls: L1d5 (5), L2d4 (2), L3d4 (3 +2 Path), L4d6 (6 +2 Path), L5d6 (6 +2 Path), L6d6 (3 +2 Path), L7d4 (2), L8d4 (4), L9d4 (2), L10d4 (3), Immortal Vigor +2d6 (12), +12 x (Con Mod + Wis Mod) = 200 HP.
  • 4 CP – two from “Healthy One” and (2 CP) – are being invested in buying an Extra Hit Die, but that costs 8 CP, and so will not be available until next level.
  • Saves: +1 Fortitude and Reflex (6 CP) (Net Fort +7/Ref +7/Will +4)
  • Skill Points: 2 SP (Pathfinder Bonus, 0 CP). These are going to Linguistics and Stealth.
    • Linguistics +5 (SP) +2 (Int) +3 (Path): Common, Terran, six other languages.
    • Ride: +1 (SP) +3 (Dex) +3 (Path) = +7 (+11 when Armored).
    • Stealth: +13 (SP) +4 (Dex) +3 (Path) = +20 (+24 when Armored).
    • (From Int Boost) Concentration +12 (Hit Dice) +9 (Con) +3 (Path) = +24
  • Gather Power II: Immunity/the Mana Cost of using Rune Magic, Specialized and Corrupted: Requires a move action, produces a spectacular display of elemental energy, usable for earth rune magic only, if the users spell is interrupted he or she must make a concentration check (DC 10 + Damage Taken) or lose the accumulated energy taking 3d6 Damage per point of Mana Gathered (Common, Major, increased from Major to the Epic (2 Mana Point maximum) level), +6 CP after limitations).
  • Initiate of the Earth V: +1d6+2 Mana, Specialized in Rune Magic, Corrupted/includes no Natural Magic (3 CP). This gives him a total of 6d6+8 (30) Mana. For most utility effects he’s going to be relying on Gather Power and Runic Ritual to conserve his Mana. That’s not such a good idea in combat, but in combat he will usually be relying on his blasts.
  • Mystic Artist/Modifiers/Seeking, Specialized for half cost / Only works with massive fortresses, soaring cathedrals, and similar mighty and enduring works (3 CP). This allows him to build targeted effects into his works. Given that he’s making fortresses and temples and such, bonuses that target their rightful occupants are likely.
  • Mystic Artist / Stonemason, Specialized for half cost / Only works with massive fortresses, soaring cathedrals, and similar mighty and enduring works (3 CP).

With this combination Rayden can design and build some very impressive structures indeed. Since he’ll presumably be using Harmonize on both sets of abilities, this will let him build in two double-effect abilities and two standard ones – which offers rather a LOT of options.

Magic Items: With another 16,000 GP to work with, it’s time to invest in an upgraded Cloak of Resistance (Increasing it to +3, at +8000 GP), a Pathfinder Style Amulet of Mighty Fists (gives his fists the Warning ability as per a +1 Modifier, 4000 GP), and adding Intelligence Enhancement (+2, provides (Hit Dice) ranks in the Concentration skill) to his Headband (4000 GP).

With this level Rayden basically picks up another attack, gets a bit better on his utility earth magic and becomes a better architect. That’s potentially VERY useful later on, but – at least at the moment – isn’t particularly dramatic. Still, despite his defenses Rayden still has several major vulnerabilities. Perhaps most notably, he has damage reduction and armor class for physical attacks and can automatically make a few saves to avoid save-or-die (or save-or-suck) effects – but he doesn’t really have any special defenses against energy attacks. He’ll have to pick up at least a little.

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Level Eleven:

Basics: +4 SP (+2 Int Mod, +2 Human Fast Learner, Committed to Adept Skills, +2 Doubled Pathfinder “Favored Class” Bonus)) +30 CP (Base plus Level Eleven Bonus Feat), +1d4 (+Con Mod, +Wis Mod) HP. “Healthy One” (+2 CP to become more durable).

Basic Attributes: Str 15 +2 (Wrath) +6 (Shift) +1 (Level) +2 (Enh) = 26, Dex 16 +8 (Shift) +2 (Enh) = 26, Con 19 (17 +2 Pathfinder +2 (Wrath) +4 (Shift) +1 (Level) +2 (Enh) = 28, Int 14 +2 (Enh) = 16, Wis 16 +2 (Enh) = 18, Cha 13 +2 (Enh) = 15.

Adept Skills:

  • Avalanche Fist Martial Art +14 (Base) +6 Con +3 Path: Net +23, Toughness IV, Attack III, Combat Reflexes, Breaking (Specialized for double effect/only against earth, stone, and metal), Versatility, Vanishing, and Inner Strength. Note that – when it comes to smashing rock and metal – his effective “strength check” now has a +46 Bonus. This will allow him to casually smash iron doors, reinforced masonry, and most walls.
  • Craft/Stonemason: +14 (Base) +3 (Int) +3 (Path) = +20
  • Earth Rune Magic/Casting +14 (Base) +4 (Wis) +3 (Path) = +21. Rayden can now throw his earth spells at an effective caster level of ten.
  • Earth Rune Magic/Mastery +14 (Base) +4 (Wis) +3 (Path) = +21. Rayden can now throw fifth level earth spells.
  • Perception: +14 (Base) +4 (Wis) +3 (Path) = +21
  • Profession/Architect +14 (Base) +4 (Wis) +3 (Path) = +21
  • Profession/Engineer: +14 (Base) +4 (Wis) +3 (Path) = +21
  • Use Magic Device +14 (Base) +2 (Cha) +3 (Path) = +19

As for those 30 (+2 from “Healthy One”) CP…

  • +1 BAB (+13 Total) Specialized in Melee (3 CP).
  • Completing the purchase of an extra d4 Hit Die (4 CP – two from “Healthy One” – for a total of eight character points including those spent last level).
  • Hit Die: d4 (0 CP). Rolls: L1d5 (5), L2d4 (2), L3d4 (3 +2 Path), L4d6 (6 +2 Path), L5d6 (6 +2 Path), L6d6 (3 +2 Path), L7d4 (2), L8d4 (4), L9d4 (2), L10d4 (3), L11d4 (3), second L11d4(3), Immortal Vigor +2d6 (12), +14 x (Con Mod + Wis Mod) = 244 HP. Honestly, after a point hit points are no longer a very important part of your defense – but having a lot of them is nice and Rayden automatically gets a fair chunk of them every level now anyway.
  • Saves: +1 Will (3 CP) (Net Fort +7/Ref +7/Will +5)
  • Skill Points: 2 SP (Pathfinder Bonus, 0 CP). These are going to Linguistics and Stealth.
    • Linguistics +6 (SP) +3 (Int) +3 (Path): Common, Terran, seven other languages.
    • Ride: +1 (SP) +4 (Dex) +3 (Path) = +8 (+12 when Armored).
    • Stealth: +14 (SP) +4 (Dex) +3 (Path) = +21 (+25 when Armored).
    • (From Int Boost) Concentration: +14 (Hit Die) +9 (Con) +3 (Path) = +26
  • Feet Upon The Ground / Leadership with Strength in Numbers and Horde, Specialized in Stronghold Staff – servants, repairmen, guards, minor clergy, cooks, a couple of mages with repair spells, your friendly alchemist, and so on. This thus provides support personnel and a garrison for his holdings, but not direct adventuring assistance (6 CP).
  • Continental Drift / Immunity to Effects that Impede Movement (Common, Major, Major, 9 CP). This provides protection against effects that impede movement of up to level five – including grappling, being underwater, and effects such as paralysis, solid fog, slow, and web. Higher level effects are not cancelled, but the user gets a +6 bonus on saving throws and other rolls to resist their effects.
  • Master Builder / Action Hero; the Crafting Option. Specialized for Double Effect, Corrupted for Reduced Cost / provides 2x the base number of Action Points to work with and covers the GP cost rather than the (non-existent) experience point cost (4 CP). Basically, Rayden can now complete at least one really major project, whether the rest of the party has been helping or not. This is also why I haven’t gotten him a Lyre Of Building (or variant thereof); between his earth magic and Crafting he doesn’t really need it to get things up rapidly.
  • Endurance of the Mountain: Damage Resistance 2/- (3 CP), Specialized in Energy Resistance for Double Effect (4/-). That isn’t a LOT of general energy resistance, but he can build on it later.

Magic Items: With another 20,000 GP to spend… Add +2 Enhancement Bonuses to Wis and Chr to his Headband (8000 GP, no surcharge per the MIC) and get a Hat of Disguise (1800 GP), just for the fun of it. Yes, that does leave 10,200 GP unspent – but I’ll just be saving that for his next level. You never know when there will be unexpected expenses in a new domain.

With this level Rayden basically gets a bit better on his utility earth magic – and gets to use his powers to build himself a free castle, complete with Mystic Artist and Ward Major functions. I’m going to presume that he (sensibly) gets himself a dedicated crafter of some sort (and perhaps someone like Verdigrised Forge to help maintain things), so as to be able to get his items on the cheap. From this point on, his magical items are 50% off.

He hasn’t, however, really upgraded his offensive capabilities or armor class since level eight very much beyond simply getting another attack. They were high-end then, and are still decent, and his other capabilities are quite good – but he IS a dedicated “blaster” type after all. He’ll have to be getting a few upgrades here too. He still won’t even remotely be a match for an Ubercharger, the “Mailman” Optimized Blaster, or a battlefield control Wizard – but he should be doing just fine in competition with Swordsages and such.

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Level Twelve:

Basics: +1 Attribute Point (Cha), +6 SP (+2 Int Mod, +2 Human Fast Learner, Committed to Adept Skills, +2 Doubled Pathfinder “Favored Class” Bonus)) +24 CP (Base), +1d4 (+Con Mod, +Wis Mod) HP. “Healthy One” (+2 CP to become more durable).

Basic Attributes: Str 15 +4 (Wrath) +6 (Shift) +1 (Level) +2 (Enh) = 28, Dex 16 +8 (Shift) +2 (Enh) = 26, Con 19 (17 +2 Pathfinder +4 (Wrath) +4 (Shift) +1 (Level) +2 (Enh) = 30, Int 14 +2 (Enh) = 16, Wis 16 +2 (Enh) = 18, Cha 13 +2 (Enh) +1 (Level) = 16.

Adept Skills:

  • Avalanche Fist Martial Art +15 (Base) +6 Con +3 Path: Net +24, Toughness IV, Attack III, Combat Reflexes, Breaking (Specialized for double effect/only against earth, stone, and metal), Versatility, Vanishing, and Inner Strength.
  • Craft/Stonemason: +15 (Base) +3 (Int) +3 (Path) = +21
  • Earth Rune Magic/Casting +15 (Base) +4 (Wis) +3 (Path) = +22
  • Earth Rune Magic/Mastery +15 (Base) +4 (Wis) +3 (Path) = +22
  • Perception: +15 (Base) +4 (Wis) +3 (Path) = +22
  • Profession/Architect +15 (Base) +4 (Wis) +3 (Path) = +22
  • Profession/Engineer: +15 (Base) +4 (Wis) +3 (Path) = +22
  • Use Magic Device +15 (Base) +3 (Cha) +3 (Path) = +21

As for those 24 (+2 from “Healthy One”) CP…

  • +1 BAB (+14 Total) Specialized in Melee (3 CP)
  • Hit Die: d4 (0 CP). Rolls: L1d5 (5), L2d4 (2), L3d4 (3 +2 Path), L4d6 (6 +2 Path), L5d6 (6 +2 Path), L6d6 (3 +2 Path), L7d4 (2), L8d4 (4), L9d4 (2), L10d4 (3), L11d4 (3), second L11d4(3), L12d4 (4), Immortal Vigor +2d6 (12), +15 x (Con Mod + Wis Mod) = 278 HP.
  • Saves: +1 Fort and Ref (6 CP) (Net Fort +8/Ref +8/Will +5)
  • Skill Points: 2 SP (Pathfinder Bonus, 0 CP). These are going to Linguistics and Stealth.
    • Linguistics +7 (SP) +3 (Int) +3 (Path): Common, Terran, eight other languages.
    • Ride: +1 (SP) +4 (Dex) +3 (Path) = +8 (+12 when Armored).
    • Stealth: +15 (SP) +4 (Dex) +3 (Path) = +22 (+26 when Armored).
    • (From Int Boost) Concentration: +15 (Hit Die) +9 (Con) +3 (Path) = +27
  • Mastery of the Elements: Elemental Manipulation and Amplify with Streamline IV, Specialized in specific boosts for his innate enchantments (6 CP after the twelve CP already spent).
    • Stone Strike and Mountain Stance: Double Effect (total of 2d6 Base with +4 Enhancement for Stone Strike, +4d6+2 for Mountain Stance), Two levels of Infliction Effects (Save DC 10 + Spell Level 1 + 10 Con Mod due to Empowerment), and two levels of Twining (adds a secondary elemental effect, for +50% (3d6+3) damage). That still isn’t as strong a blast as a Kineticist will have, and he has no area-effect options and fewer boosting tricks for it, but he gets more of them.
    • Force Shield and Force Armor: Double Effect (+8 AC Each – although this is reduced again by his Wrath ability).
    • Storm Of Stone: Range Increment becomes 200′
    • Ride the Earth: +60 Speed, +1 attack whenever attacking (not just with full attack).
    • Volcanic Wrath: +4 to Str and Con, +2 to Will, -4 to AC.
    • Immortal Vigor: +24 + 4 x (Con Mod) HP.
    • Geokinesis: The “Unseen Servants” can now perform multiple tasks without implicit direction.
    • Dust Weaving: Can now include minor sounds – although they always have a whispery, “dusty”, quality.
      • Unfortunately, the item-class enchantments do not use spells directly, and so cannot be affected by adding metamagic. This is, of course, some fairly heavy optimization – but it’s definitely time for it.
  • Endurance of the Mountain II: Increase Energy Resistance to 6 (1 CP + 2 CP from Healthy One).
  • Upgrade Mystic Artist/Stonemason from Specialized for Half Cost to Specialized for Double Effect (3 CP).
  • Contact (1 CP): The local overlord, governing council, or similar. If you’re going to be erecting at least one major public work (likely a mighty castle) of great magical power you had BETTER get acquainted with the local power structure.
  • Contact (1 CP): The local religious authorities or similar. They are almost certainly going to want to get in on the “mighty cathedral action” too – and ignoring them is NOT a good idea.

Creating a mighty castle offering various benefits and massive defensive bonuses for the secular authorities, or a cathedral with numerous boosts for the faithful, and then throwing in a Ward Major that bestows permanent benefits on any of the kings loyal knights / faithful followers who visit the place might be worth a great deal – quite enough to “buy in” as a major noble. If you prefer to build in the wilderness, and start founding your own nation… this sort of thing is a big, BIG, step towards doing so. A player character is likely to want his or her own base first – but there will be plenty of Crafting points available for construction later on.

Castles are an awkward thing in d20 and many similar games. Trying to sort out their “real cost” is an exercise in futility (Edward I spent about 80,000 English pounds building ten castles in the late 1200’s – one of few sources for their actual cost. Sadly, converting that to modern currencies beyond saying “a whole lot” calls for an endless maze of assumptions. D20 currencies are even worse, since they’re rarely even remotely consistent and pay no attention to actual economics. Common conversions run from $10 = 1 GP to $100 = 1 GP, but those are based on little more than handwaving). Still, the 3.5 DMG said 150,000 (a “Keep”) to 1,000,000 (a “Huge Castle”) – pretty pricey.

But in d20 a castle is pretty worthless. It remains an administrative center and a place to put your stuff, but a simple adamantine blade can easily take down your walls even before we start talking about magic and monsters. It may provide quarters and working room for a lot of folk, but there’s a funny thing about that; when you hire people they usually handle most of the details of getting themselves set up on their own. The “build a smithy to put a smith to work producing tools” sort of procedure is an artifact of games like “Civilization” and “Colonization”.

Thus I usually allow would-be landlords to just spend a few character points on a castle if they wish, as covered in the Castle Hieronymus article. If you want to go with cash… just remember that that 20,000 GP Holy Sword costs enough to feed and clothe 5000 Orphans, or to hire 137 laborers (normally with families), for a year – and it is still virtually nothing next to the actual cost of a useless castle.

  • Upgrade One With The Land: Immunity/Dispelling and Antimagic from (Common, Major, Great) to (Epic), Specialized and Corrupted/only protects his Earthbending abilities, 3 CP). This covers Dispel Magic, Greater Dispel Magic, Antimagic Sphere, Disjunction, and similar abilities of up to, and including, level nine.

Magic Items: Rayden picks up 26,000 GP worth of stuff at this level (and 10,000 GP left over from last level), and is now getting his stuff at half cost. This time around he’s going to be upgrading things. Cloak of Resistance to +4 (3500 GP), Upgrade Wristbands of the Poseur to Type V (Jumping right past Type IV, 24,250 GP), Upgrade his Amulet of Mighty Fists to +2 (Provides Warning (+5 to Insight to Initiative) and Whirling (3/Day you may spend a full round action to make one attack at full BAB against each opponent within reach. Given that Rayden effectively has Reach 35, this can be quite effective), (6000 GP), and double up the charges on his Belt of Healing (+750 GP, discounting the cost break from not needing another +2 on the Heal skill). That leaves 1500 GP left over for minor equipment.

  • Armor:
  • Belt: Doubled Healing Belt (MIC. 6 Uses/Day, spend 1/2/3 to heal 2d8/3d8/4d8, +2 to the Heal Skill). Includes Attribute Boosters: Str, Dex, and Con, each +2 (Per the rules in the MIC these functions can be added at cost to any item which occupies an appropriate slot).
  • Body: Ghost Shroud (MIC): +1 Deflection to AC, all Melee Attacks are treated as Ghost Touch.
  • Chest:
  • Eyes:
  • Feet All-Conquering Brogans (10,000 GP): The wearer ignores the effects of non-magical difficult terrain (such as rubble, undergrowth, steep slopes, stairs, and snow) and slippery surfaces (such as ice, wet stones, etc) and gains a +4 to his or her CMD versus attempts to move him or her (Bull Rush, Drag, Trip, Reposition, Grapple (being thrown or moved), etc) attempts – but anyone attempting to track him or her gets a +10 bonus. In addition, the user may plant his or her feet as a move action, gaining Fast Healing I and increasing the CMD bonus to +8 – although these effects end if the wearer moves or is moved, knocked prone, or rendered unconscious. (This is a combination of Boots of the Earth (Pathfinder, Inner Sea Gods, 5000 GP) and Vanguard Treads (MIC, 3100 GP). Given how many HP he has for his level… he needs these badly, just to get healed up each day). (Yes, I’m giving these their own name and a slight price increase, just because).
  • Hands:
  • Head: Hat of Disguise (SRD). This lets him look normal while still “wearing” his “armor”.
  • Headband: Third Eye Clarity (MIC, 1/day immediately remove daze, stun, etc). +2 Enhancement to Int, Wis, and Chr (Per Pathfinder, the boost to Intelligence provides the Concentration skill).
  • Neck: Amulet of Mighty Fists II (Pathfinder, provides the Warning and Whirling abilities).
  • Ring:
  • Ring:
  • Shield:
  • Shoulders: Cloak of Resistance +4 (SRD)
  • Wrists: Wristbands of the Poseur V. Now with Caster Level Seven and spells of up to the fourth level.

Slotless Items:

  • Everfull Mug (MIC)
  • Handy Haversack (SRD)
  • Ioun Torch (Pathfinder).
  • Cracked Dusty Rose Prism Ioun Stone (+1 Competence to Initiative). He may have implanted this, since that only calls for skill checks, not money.
  • Cracked Magenta Prism Ioun Stone (+2 Competence Bonus to any one skill, may be changed once per day). Mounted in a Wayfinder to provide a Resonant Power (a +1 nameless bonus on any one saving throw. He usually takes Will).

Given that I’m well past the requested levels, it’s time to get back to heavy optimization, and this level has a pretty big dose of it; upgrading all those innate enchantments boosts his armor class and damage output substantially. Becoming a major factor in local politics is, in optimization terms, simply a bonus associated with arranging to buy his magic items at half cost. Personally, I’d say that getting into politics is a fairly major step for a character, but I do have to admit that it doesn’t add much to your combat abilities in a dungeon.